Speaking Jose…


Time to do some reading – Two Book Picks
February 24, 2009, 4:18 am
Filed under: Books | Tags: , , ,

Finally hit Spring Break from the MBA classes! It’s been kind of a rough semester so far, papers due every week for Service Marketing class and a huge report for Strategy class. Now that I have a couple of weeks off, I’m going to catch up with some good books that my sister-in-law, Amie, recommended over the Holidays.

The Lightning Thief is the first book in a series by Rick Riordan that follows the adventure of Percy Jackson and his friends in a world were Gods (the old school types – Poseidon, Zeus, etc) and Magic are real. It’s fun,light reading with a good pace, which is perfect for when you want to entertain yourself with a good story without having to follow complicated story-lines or plot developments (except you may have to recall some of the Greek or Roman mythology you learned in school). I will pass on the same warning that Amie gave me, the first book has story elements very similar to Harry Potter and you may find that a little distracting or off-putting. The good news is that this becomes less the case as you work through the rest of the books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and the character development from one book to the next is well done. I am through the third book in the series so far (The Titans Curse) and hope to get through book five by the time break is over!

Additionally, I wanted to recommend another book in case you were looking for a heavy duty, involved book to help past the time as you wait for Spring to actually show up (hey it snowed in Detroit this past Saturday, so Spring can’t get here soon enough). Coincidentally enough, it also has a tie to mythology, but is not about a young boy and quests for glory. It’s a story about a world where people and the government have given up the drive to better themselves and have instead chosen to wallow in mediocrity. A world where achievement is not applauded, but is scorned as a being unfair. A world where the empire one builds can be taken away and redistributed to others in the name of “fairness”. What happens when the driving force behind the the economic and creative engine of our country disappear? What happens if Atlas Shrugged? I read this book last year and it has truly left an impression on the way I look at my life and the world around us. Now, fair warning, this is not an easy read and it will take some time to go through the story. Still, as you follow the story and find the answer to the infamous question “Who is John Galt?” I hope that you will see the same thing I saw in this story; that mankind was meant to struggle and fight for its achievements, for that is what makes us unique. It is a timeless story by Ayn Rand and one that I think is very important to read considering the current political and economical climate.

Enjoy the books and I hope to write more soon!

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Fourth Day in LA – From Magic Kingdom to a Magic Castle
January 24, 2009, 2:01 am
Filed under: Family, Pictures, Travel | Tags: , , , , ,

First of all, sorry for the delay in getting this next post out, school and work commitments got in the way after we came back from Los Angeles.

The morning of our fourth day in LA we hit the road early to get to Anaheim to visit Disneyland. So after making the drive down in 40 minutes from Burbank (perfect traffic conditions) we were promptly introduced to the Disney experience by waiting 30 minutes to get a parking spot.  After getting our tickets we made our way to see the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride, where Kristen proved that she was a crack shot, then we hit the Finding Nemo ride which was very cute.  From there we went over to tryout the Jungle Cruise and enjoy a couple of Dole Whips, Kristen loved hers!  We also did a run on the Matterhorn, which was so awesome!  About that time we needed to head out to meet up with David and Amie to go to the Magic Castle.

So unfortunately no cameras were allowed inside the Magic Castle itself, but we had a great time. There was a table magician who did some great card tricks up close and a piano that played requests on its own. The highlight of the evening was a teenage magician who had a great act delivered in a deadpan manner that was hilarious! We also did see a celebrity, Dr. Drew was in the audience during our magic acts (didnt see anyone from Celebrity Fit Club in attendance with him though). Overall it was a great day filled with some unique experiences!



Third Day in LA – New Years Day Relaxation
January 6, 2009, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family, Food, Travel | Tags: , , , , , ,

We started out 2009 the best way possible, by hitting the snooze button on the hotel alarm clock. After finally deciding it was probably a good thing to get up and moving, we met up with David and Amie to grab lunch at Poquito Mas, a great Mexican fast food restaurant when you want a good inexpensive Mexican meal. Afterwards we headed back to the Gibb’s apartment and spent most of the afternoon snoozing, playing Mario Kart and watching British mini-series (Amie and Kristen are big Jane Austen fans).  Though we didn’t go out and run around the city, it was very nice to relax and reenergize before our foray the next day into Anaheim and Disneyland.



Second Day in LA – Rodeo Drive and New Years
January 6, 2009, 4:44 am
Filed under: Events, Family, Food, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Second day in Los Angeles and after trying to sleep off as much of the jet lag as possible, we went out to Porto’s Bakery in Burbank for breakfast.  Porto’s is a Cuban bakery that offers great breakfast and lunch options, while the bakery puts out amazing pastries and cakes.  We had been there once before with David and Amie, so we had an idea of what we were doing (its a little overwhelming at first, especially if its crowded).  I had a great chorizo omelette on Cuban bread with a cortadito coffee (similar to a cafe au lait but with espresso) and fresh squeezed orange juice.  The absolute best item to get there are the potato balls, imagine a mashed potato ball the size of a tennis ball, but stuffed with some ground beefed and then deep fried! Very delicious, but not exactly breakfast fare. 

After the delicious breakfast we headed out to Rodeo Drive to take a look at the shops and mainly people watch (Kristen) and car watch (Jose). Actually saw a lot of Penn State fans who were in town for the Rose Bowl and Kristen saw Larry King walking along the street talking on his cell phone (“Caller, hello!”). We had lunch at Cheesecake Factory and then headed back to the hotel to rest up before New Years Eve at Amie and David’s apartment.

The party at David and Amie’s was a lot of fun, we got to meet some of Amie’s friends from Yahoo! (including the minds behind the Daemon’s TV blog) and eat some great Italian and Brazilian food. I learned to be very humble after Americ and David both schooled me in Wii Tennis, but I got my revenge when we played Buzz! It was a great party and its becoming a little bit of an annual tradition for us now. Got to see the ball drop in New York (again, we caught the original at 9 PM on the West Coast) and brought the New Years in with family and friends.



First Night in LA – Katsu-ya
December 31, 2008, 3:31 pm
Filed under: Family, Food, Travel | Tags: , , , , ,

For our first night in LA we went to dinner with Amie and David (sister in law and husband) at Katsu-ya in Studio City.  (Dont confuse it with the new place in Hollywood, the quality of the sushi is better at the Studio City location) This is one of the best sushi places I’ve ever been to and probably one of the best in the country.  You wouldn’t know this from looking at the exterior, it’s a little hole-in-the-wall place in a strip mall and looks completely nondescript, except for the line of people outside waiting to get in. You know its a good place once you sit down at your table and they bring in a white board with today’s specials (piece of advice: order off the white board, asking for a menu will instantly identify you as a newbie to Katsu-ya or sushi itself).  Pictures and details after the break.

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Santa was good to Jose this year
December 26, 2008, 3:54 am
Filed under: Events, Food, Pictures | Tags: , , ,

2008-christmas-tree

Santa brought a lot of good presents to me this year 🙂 Got a couple of great cooking books from Mom and a copy of The Starbucks Experience from my brother. Kristen rocked and got me a pair of nice flannel PJ bottoms and a universal remote (which I spent all day playing with and programming 🙂 )

My in-laws got me a new bottle of Sapphire Gin which we got to break out today at Christmas Dinner. We had a few people over and it was a little crazy getting everything ready, but we had a good time. Highlight of the evening was my mother in-law leaving us some of her home-baked cookies and buckeyes (pictured below)!

ruths buckeyes



Preparing for Christmas Eve
December 24, 2008, 3:47 pm
Filed under: Events, Family | Tags: , , ,

Greetings to everyone! I hope your Holiday season is going well. It’s been about a month since my last post, but its been quite a month. Between wrapping up this semester at Business school and working on a new rebalance project at Detroit Diesel, the time to sit down and put pen to paper (or in this case fingers to keyboard) has been difficult to come by. The last few days have been especially crazy as I wrap up work stuff while getting the Christmas shopping done. Thankfully its all done, so tonight we can go have a nice Christmas Eve dinner with Kristen’s family. I had thought about writing something about what Christmas means to me, but I think Linus from the Charlie Brown Christmas special says it best (see the video below).

Even though its a happy time of year for us, I get a little blue because my Grandfather Pico passed away around this time in 1996.   We usually went to his house on Christmas day to meet up with the rest of the Pico clan and have a big Christmas buffet where everyone had a great time.  He was a well known Ear Nose Throat doctor (Otolaryngologist for those want the complicated title) in Puerto Rico who was passionate about the care of his patients. He was born one of seven children at the family farm in Coamo, an agrarian area of Puerto Rico (more so in 1912, when my grandfather was born).  He worked hard and  got into Villanova University in Philadelphia (no small feat when your commute to school involved a weeklong trip on a steam ship), where he got his medical degree.  

One of my favorite stories about my grandfather was that he and a friend would go to the some of the poorer Italian neighborhoods in Philadelphia on the weekends and provide free medical help.  The people they helped would then invite them to huge Sunday dinners to repay them for their help, which was great if you were a Puerto Rican in Philadelphia with little money of your own.  He lived a great life, traveling throughout the world and having adventures in the oddest places, like the time he ended up treating a relative of Harry Winston while taking on a steam ship to Spain.

 The main reason I bring this up is that I didn’t learn most of this about my Grandfather until after he died and I wish I had spent more time talking to him and learning about his life, I would now be a richer and better person for it. So for the Holidays I ask that you take some time out from the Egg Nog and Fruit Cake and talk to your elders a little more, maybe you’ll learn something you never knew before!

So before this post goes out of sight, Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!