Monday, August 31, 2009

47 States!

I just checked my site stats and in the last 6 months this blog has been read in almost every state in the USA. Who am I missing?

Iowa
South Dakota
Montana



I need to figure out how to get a visit or two from the fine people of Iowa, South Dakota, and Montana.

For the other 47 states - thanks for reading - tell your friends in those three states to visit my blog. A man needs goals!

Regarding international viewers - it certainly makes the world feel small to see the international map light up on my analytics dashboard. When I see "The Night we got Beat Up" become one of the most popular stories on the site, I hope I am not reinforcing negative stereotypes, but it is the truth; good, bad, and ugly.

I'd like to say "Selamat pagi" to my Indonesian readers, where my traffic has been growing steadily for the last two months. The internet certainly is wondrous at times.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 42

Howdy true be-loggers... welcome to Sunday Leftovers. This week we will discuss the pros and cons of buying used pianos, a super sandwich spread, and how to make noise canceling head phones to block out my lovely piano playing when you are over. Let's open up the fridge and see what is "Left Over".

[The Quest for a Piano]


I made the decision when I bought my house that I wanted to have a proper piano in it. None of that keyboard shit for me. I had and have no intention of being a piano snob by getting a top of the line piano; frankly the idea of saving some old piano from the dumpster was appealing to me. Over the last few months I have made the appropriate preparations for this endeavor: I moved all of my music equipment to one section of the (finished) basement, removed a rather large ping pong table that was hardly used and took up half the basement, and cleared other things we had lying around Now that I have the space, I just need the instrument.

The last two weeks I have been trying to understand exactly how much this will cost. Scouring Craigslist, I noticed that most of the pianos seems to fall into three categories: Free, $300-600, and over $2000. While doing my Craigslist searching, I also came upon a couple of internet purchasing guides that gave me the "seed of doubt" about purchasing a used piano via Craigslist:

1. Pianos typically start to go bad after 20 years - The pin block that holds the strings starts to get loose and the piano can't hold a tune anymore
2. Unless the piano is one of the great ones - rebuilding a pin block is cost prohibitive, it's much easier to buy a new piano.
3. Most of the pianos I am seeing on Craigslist are 30+ years old and it is pretty clear that they haven't been taken care of.
4. Moving a piano costs 200-400 dollars (talking about an upright piano)
5. When a piano is moved, it should be tuned, which costs on average $120 bucks
6. Almost all of the Craigslist piano ads state that the instrument needs tuning. So you can't tell if the piano needs a little work or if the pin block is shot until you get it home (unless you bring a tuner with you to evaluate the piano)

So if you start to factor in the costs of buying a cheap used piano (300-500 for the piano, 200-300 for a move, and 120 bucks for a tuning) you are looking at $600-1000 bucks for a potential piece of junk. Once I figured this out, I wanted to see what a new upright piano would cost. I took a ride over to Jacob's Music in Cherry Hill and talked with the sales manager. He took the time to show us their limited used inventory and their new pianos. Bottom line is that a new upright piano from a "mid range" brand like Samick or Essex would run about 2000 and a lower end Yamaha (which is basically the 2nd best brand behind Steinway) would cost about $3500. New pianos come with a 15 year 100% no questions asked warranty (which is comforting) and Jacobs will give you 100% of your purchase price towards a new piano should you want to upgrade later. With that said, I still felt like I was talking to a used car salesman.

I went from spending a few hundred bucks to a few grand in the course of a two weeks. Not sure what I am going to do in this situation, but that empty space in the basement is getting on my nerves....

(Readers - I'd love to hear your piano buying experiences and advice)

[Restaurant Etiquette]

GTT (Guitar Teacher Tom) called me on Friday and asked if I wanted to do lunch. I was elbow deep in paper work and was grateful at the opportunity to get the hell away from my desk. Tom wanted to go to a Mediterranean restaurant in Cherry Hill since his favorite place on the Black Horse Pike closed a few weeks ago. So off we went to Normas Eastern Cuisine - I am not going the review the restaurant - it was very good, and I enjoyed myself.

When we entered the building, it was empty save for one gentlemen sitting by himself. The waitress seated us and gave us menus. GTT and I discussed the numerous offerings and were pretty excited about what we saw. The gentlemen was seated by himself overheard our discussion and offered "Everything they have is great, so order anything". I was glad to hear the endorsement from an obvious regular. As GTT and I made our orders, this gentlemen then asks us what we ordered mere seconds after we made our orders (which he clearly must have heard). I happily tell him but start to size the guy up. Polo shirt with outdated 90's style pattern, black jeans, black work shoes/sneaker hybrid... defeated look on his face.

"I love to come here but my wife hates it, it doesn't agree with her, so I come by myself when I can."
He confirms my suspicions that he is a defeated man.

"I am just getting back from a funeral, my friend died, I figured I would come in here and then head off to work".
I start to feel bad for this guy almost thinking I should ask him to sit down with us but I see GTT's face... this man is clearly starting to cross a line he shouldn't.

"Yeah I work as a psychologist"
I wonder why this man is telling me this.

"Not looking forward to going back to see those lunatics."
And I am thinking - you mean your patients.

"This one kid, this is his 2nd offense - I am his third psychologist - If he doesn't shape up he will be in jail soon. His mother is taking him out of the program. He is going to end up killing her."
First I think - "what program?" and secondly "WHY THE HELL IS THIS MAN SHARING THIS INFORMATION WITH ME?"


The gentlemen then asks what we do and I just give a generic - "Work in IT" statement. GTT does not answer and is starting to give me a look like "what the hell is wrong with this guy". Thankfully GTT had his back to him, I had to make eye contact. I was equally annoyed and felt bad for this guy as it was obvious he just wanted somebody to talk to, but on the same token, I got a very bad vibe from him.

He asked a few more questions and I did my best to be as generic as possible without making it seem that I was trying not to give him any personal information. The waitress brought him his bill. He lingered for a few more minutes and then left. I offered my sympathies for his deceased friend and wished him good luck on his project as he left. GTT and I waited in silence until he was in his car and then both laughed and wonder what that guy was all about. His lingering misery quickly dissipated when our freshly made hummus appeared.

[Recipe of the Week: Garlicky Roasted Red Pepper Spread]



Welcome to the "month of spread"! We are going to be doing 4 weeks of sandwich spreads - make it, eat it, love it.

Makes about 1.5 cups

Ingredients
1 clove garlic
1 cup diced toasted bread (about 2 slices toast)
1 16-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
Big pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions
With a food processor running, drop the garlic clove through the feed tube and let it bounce around until it is finely minced. Add the toasted bread cubes and continue processing until they are reduced to fine crumbs. Add the roasted red peppers, red pepper flakes, salt, smoked paprika, balsamic vinegar and honey and process until the mixture is fairly smooth. Scrape into a small bowl and stir in the olive oil. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep several weeks.

Note: You can order smoked paprika which isn't too easy to come by at: www.penzeys.com).

[DIY of the Week: Cheap Noise Canceling Ear Buds]

I saw this over on Lifehacker and thought I would share. I hate ear buds personally because they always fall out of my ear but I can see this helping quite a bit.



[Video of the Week]



[Conclusion]

Thank you for reaching the end of this article and spending another week reading about my non-adventures. This is the last weekend of August, and while I am sad to see the summer go, I have to admit I am glad "the season of swamp-ass" is over and the fall is coming. In the next seven days, I will officially turn 30 which I am not all that bugged out about, but it certainly is something to consider (some people don't make it to this milestone). I am thinking about writing up a 30 year historical summary from my point of view... we shall see. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at "blog at joeylombardi.com". As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell you later,
~ Joey

PS: I found this video on Youtube yesterday - its a great version of "Dear John" by Ryan Adams - Enjoy! My wife thinks Ryan looks like our friend Frank in this video.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 41

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This week I brought back the reviews section and have some interesting suggestions, a failed recipe of the week, a tool to wake the dead or Rob Austin, and much more. Let's open up the fridge and see what's left over.

[GMATs]

I have decided to get off my ass and attempt to take the GMATs so I can start grad school. I feel I should start before children come into the picture. Plus I don't want to get too mentally lazy. In order to pass the GMATs, I need help, so I enlisted a private tutor who was very reasonable. This is week one, I will be writing in to let you know how it is going. My plan is to take the GMATs in 2 months and be registered by spring term. (If I can, I might take a class before depending on what school because some have quick starts).

Wish me luck.

[Recipe of the Week: Coca-Cola-Brined Fried Chicken]

I saw this recipe while I was reading Esquire Magazine and decided to try it on Tuesday. To make it healthier, I decided to bake it instead of frying - DO NOT DO THAT. Follow the instructions.


Ingredients

* 12 chicken thighs (skin on)
* Peanut oil and lard, for frying

Brining Mix:

* 1 qt Coca-Cola
* 1 tsp Liquid Smoke (optional)
* 2 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
* 1 tbsp Tabasco
* 3 tbsp ground black pepper
* 3 tbsp coarse salt

Batter:

* 1 egg
* 3/4 cup peanut oil

Dry Mix (well combined):

* 2 tsp baking powder
* 2 tbsp coarse salt
* 4 tsp ground black pepper
* 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
* 1 tbsp onion powder
* 1 tbsp garlic powder
* 2 1/2 cups flour

Instructions


Rinse chicken, drain, and set aside. Blend together brining mix until salt dissolves. Place chicken in brine in a large covered bowl and marinate, refrigerated, for 4 hours.

Whisk egg well in a stainless-steel bowl and add peanut oil and 21/2 cups water. Add in dry mix, whisking slowly so batter doesn't clump.

To prepare chicken: Fill a large cast-iron skillet halfway with equal amounts peanut oil and lard. Slowly bring temperature to 375 degrees. (Use a candy thermometer.) While oil is heating, remove chicken from brine and place in a colander in sink. Once chicken has drained, pat dry with paper towels (a critical step) and season with salt and pepper.

Dip chicken in batter and place (carefully) in hot oil. Adjust heat, as the chicken will bring the oil temperature down dramatically — you want it back up to just above 350 degrees. Turn chicken regularly using tongs to prevent burning. After 8 or 9 minutes, remove a piece, prick it to the bone with a fork, and mash it. If the juices run clear, it's done. Continue cooking if necessary.

Serve with pickle-garlic relish. Cover any leftovers with a dish towel and leave out at room temperature (or in the fridge, if you must). This keeps it crispy.

Read more: Esquire.com

[DIY of the Week: Heavy Sleeper Super Alarm]

FOR: Rob
FROM: Joey


Heavy sleepers' alarm clock - More DIY How To Projects

[Reviews]

MOVIES

Inglourious Bastards: If you are looking for a historically accurate film that tells the story of a small group of soldiers that try to kill Hitler, do not see this film. If you are looking for an action movie loosely based in a WWII setting were Nazis get completely destroyed, go see this movie. I don't know if you can make the subject of WWII and Nazis fun, but Tarantino made me laugh during this film. I enjoyed it for what it was and as long as you accept the movie's fantasy take on history you will have a good time watching.


Public Enemies: I saw Public Enemies a few weeks ago and forgot to review it. I thought the film was very good and surprisingly accurate. I have seen a few documentaries on Dillinger and Purvis and I felt that the movie did an excellent job of factoring in the available information instead of going Hollywood and trying to make an easier movie to swallow. Typical of 1920's and 30's gangster cinema, this movie had you rooting for the bank robbers and booing at the Fed's increasingly unethical tactics. I would assume the movie is out of theaters by now but I would recommend it as a rental in a few months.


DVD Rental: Fired Up: I thought this would be a funny Teen Comedy. It wasn't. It might rank in the top 20 worst movies I have ever viewed in my life - there was nothing funny, the main characters are too smug, the plot is something from a bad episode of Saved By The Bell except this is 90 minutes long. I watched this movie on 1.5 speed and it was still too slow. If you see this movie at the store - BURN IT.

MUSIC

The Dead Weather - Horehound: new output from Jack White's 15th band this year, I wasn't expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. White steps back and lets The Kills singer Alison Mosshart do the heavy vocal lifting and focuses on dark and evil blues tones on the guitar. This is a moody but aggressive album and it nice change from the sugary summer pop that is oozing everywhere at the moment. My favorite tracks are "I Cut Like a Buffalo" and "Treat Me Like Your Mother".



Third Eye Blind - Ursa Major: I heard 3EB had a new album out and I wanted to see what the years have done to them. NOTHING. The entire CD sounds like the single from the last CD "Blinded". Check it out:

BLINDED:

(The real video seems to be missing so just listen and imagine it faster)
DON'T BELIEVE A WORD:


Imogen Heap - Ellipse: Imogen sounds more like her Frou Frou project on this album. Darker and more atmospheric than "Speak For Yourself". Honestly I have to mix the album with some other music to get through it. It's too much sound and atmosphere for me in one sitting. I like what she does in small portions.
Here is the first single "First Train Home":


This was a performance from a song on her last album, but I think it is cool that she did this live with the looping:


BOOKS

The Ghost Writer - John Hardwood: This book managed to capture my interests the first few chapters and writer John Hardwood moved the plot along with the "story in a story" technique, and executed it well. However the end completely falls apart and leaves you feeling flat. I wouldn't recommend it but it wasn't terrible.

Priceless Memories - Bob Barker: This is a candy coated bright shiny happy book. Bob tells stories from The Price is Right and his first game show Truth or Consequences. There isn't any meat to this book, Bob just tells stories about his life or who he worked with or the famous people he met. It was very similar to the Don Rickles book I read last year. I loved Bob on The Price is Right, but his book was so so wrong.

[Picture of the Week]


[Conclusion]

I am skipping the video of the week because there are a shitload of videos in this issue. I have quite a few that I want to share, so I will bank them for future issues. The summer has evaporated so quickly - I am shocked that September is almost here; this is good for this blog as the fall is my busy season and I will have interesting topics to share with you. Thanks to the power of Google Analytics, I am noticing Ordered Chaos is being read in several countries, so visitors please feel free to drop me a line via email "blog at joeylombardi.com" - let me know what is drawing you to my little blog and what you like and don't like. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later
~ Joey

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 40

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers. This week we will discuss perspectives at work, peach pizza, more fun things to do with wine bottles (besides drinking what is in them), and a big scary dog. Let's open up the fridge and see what is left over.

[Work]

The last few weeks have been very busy with my job as my manager has been out on vacation. Some people might think this is a time to relax (and I have done that at times), but I would suggest another avenue: While my manager was out, I tried to take on as much of their work as possible. A few things are happening when you do this:

1. The very obvious thing is that it shows your management that you are capable of handing more responsibility and all of that lovely HR talk.
2. An interesting side benefit that you may not consider is that you might appreciate what your manager is doing more. In this case, I knew that my manager was a work horse, but it was good for me to understand all of the chatter that goes on during the week - which is stuff that I am usually shielded from. Getting sucked into countless spur of the moment emergency meetings allowed me to understand my own job better, improved my understanding of the bigger initiatives, and has allowed me to streamline some projects into one effort. Sometimes doing more work means doing less.

I know this isn't the "cool kids" approach to working at a corporation and to that I say "Grow Up Peter Pan, Count Chocula...". Any broader corporate skills you can learn makes you more employable.

On a side note, I hate meetings and if you are like me - check out what Productivity Specialist Seth Godin has to say about improving your meeting problems (I am going to bring this up at my next staff):
Some folks are going to eight hours of meeting a day. At Ford, they used to have meetings to prepare for meetings, just to be sure everyone had their story straight. If you're serious about solving your meeting problem, getting things done and saving time, try this for one week. If it doesn't work, I'll be happy to give you a full refund.

1. Understand that all problems are not the same. So why are your meetings? Does every issue deserve an hour? Why is there a default length?
2. Schedule meetings in increments of five minutes. Require that the meeting organizer have a truly great reason to need more than four increments of realtime face time.
3. Require preparation. Give people things to read or do before the meeting, and if they don't, kick them out.
4. Remove all the chairs from the conference room. I'm serious.
5. If someone is more than two minutes later than the last person to the meeting, they have to pay a fine of $10 to the coffee fund.
6. Bring an egg timer to the meeting. When it goes off, you're done. Not your fault, it's the timer's.
7. The organizer of the meeting is required to send a short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting.
8. Create a public space (either a big piece of poster board or a simple online page) that allows attendees to rate meetings and their organizers on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of usefulness. Just a simple box where everyone can write a number. Watch what happens.
9. If you're not adding value to a meeting, leave. You can always read the summary later.

This is all marketing. It's a show, one that lets your team know you're treating meetings differently now.

You can read more at Seth's Blog

PETER PAN REFERENCE:


[Recipe of the Week: Mesclun Salad Pizzette with Peaches and Pecans]

I snagged this recipe from an article about green cooking. It is suggested you use a toaster oven to cook this recipe (saves energy)


INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons canola or flaxseed oil
2 medium yellow or white peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Two 8-inch whole-wheat lavash flatbreads or pocketless pita breads
1/3 cup finely crumbled blue cheese
3 cups mesclun mix or chopped mixed leafy greens
1/4 cup raw pecans, chopped

DIRECTIONS

1. In a blender, combine the vinegar, oil, a quarter of the peach slices (slices from 1/2 peach), 1/4 cup of the onion, the salt and pepper. Blend until just combined, about 15 seconds. Set aside.

2. One flatbread at a time, broil in a toaster oven on a tray or baking sheet. Broil until lightly toasted, about 30 seconds. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with cheese.

3. In a medium bowl, toss together the mesclun, remaining peach slices, the remaining onion and 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasonings. Arrange the salad on the toasted flatbreads. Sprinkle with the pecans.

4. Cut each pizza in half and serve immediately with the remaining vinaigrette on the side.
(Recipe adapted from Jackie Newgent's "Big Green Cookbook," Wiley, 2009)

[DIY of the Week: Wine Bottle Torches]

Since my father-in-law owns a wine shop I am always on the looking out for crafts to do with old wine bottles and corks. I figure it might be good conversation topic for his customers. This is an easy and cool project.

What you will need:

1. Empty Wine Bottle (You can use any bottle you like as long as it’s glass and the neck is 1” in diameter. Be clever!)
2. Teflon Tape 1/2”
3. Copper Top Plate Connector (threaded for 3/8”-16 thread rod)
4. 1” Split Ring Hanger (threaded for 3/8”-16 thread rod)
5. 1/2” x 3/8” Copper Coupling
6. 1/2” Copper Cap
7. Two Hex Nuts (threaded for 3/8”-16 thread rod)
8. Two #10 x 1” Zinc Plated Wood Screws (if your mounting it to wood)
9. 3/8”-16 Zinc Plated Threaded Rod (I bought a 3’ rod and cut it down to 8, 4-1/2” rods with a hacksaw.)
10. Tiki Replacement Wick
11. Torch Fuel (For safety reasons, only use fuel made specifically for outdoor torches. i.e. Tiki brand)

Helpful Tools: Channellocks, adjustable wrench, hacksaw, power screwdriver, and a funnel

You can read the directions at the actual post - HERE

PS: On thing I would add: Spray the hanging devices with a rust proof paint so it has a uniform look AND is protected from the elements.

[Geek Warning: IM Client Digsby is totally full of shit-ware]

My buddy told me about the Digsby IM client last year but I was happy using Pidgin to manage all of my IM conversations until Yahoo changed something rendering Pidgin useless (for Yahoo IM). I took my friend's advice and installed Digsby since it had facebook support too. Before it finished installing I already hated it: the installer program tried to put all kinds of useless software on my machine. Once it was on my system I felt that it ran slow. I un-installed.

I read the other day that they have all kinds of shady stuff running in the background.

Source: Lifehacker: Digsby Joins the Dark Side

Stick with Pidgin kids - it is open source, it runs clean, and you don't have any spy-ware on your system.

If you don't know what I am talking about - I am sure you know what Instant Messaging is if you are reading my blog. If you have IM, it is probably AOL Instant Messenger, but if you are like me, you probably have a Google account, a yahoo account, a facebook account, and an AIM account - instead of having 4 programs and an internet window open, you can run all of those chat clients in one clean program. I have been doing it for years and never looked back.

[Restaurant Review: IndeBlue]

I took my wife out to lunch while we were running errands yesterday and decided upon IndeBlue in Collingswood, NJ. I pass IndeBlue every time I go to the PATCO station in Collingswood and wondered if it was any good. I got my answer last week when my wife brought home Philly Magazine's "Best Of" Edition. IndeBlue got the top spot for local Indian cuisine so I had it in my head to go, and we passed it yesterday - Karma perhaps?

The menu was what you would expect for an Indian place although there were some modern takes (taking certain dishes and putting them in Nan and presenting them as wraps). I wasn't interested in modern takes, I wanted to see how they nailed the basics, and nailed them they did. The food was fresh and delicious. I am not going to type up 1000 words about how good it was, just take my word - it was an excellent meal.

The restaurant is small, so if you plan on sitting in there to eat, you might want to call ahead. The decor is bright and airy the tables and silverware are all from Ikea - so expect clean sharp lines. The service was friendly and prompt. The bill - SUPER CHEAP. My wife and I stuffed our faces and the bill was $23.00 (and we ordered a bunch of things on the menu to try).

Go now - your mouth will thank you.

[Video of the Week]

I found a clip on Boing Boing of someone posting the entire Beach Boys album "Pet Sounds" (which I think is one of the best American records EVER - and I don't like the Beach Boys) stripped of all the music. So it is the a Capella versions. I put "Wouldn't it be nice" on facebook and people seemed to like it, so here is my favorite BB song a Capella:



Since that last one didn't give you a visual, I thought this picture was pretty cool:



[Conclusion]

I am tapped. Thanks for reading this week. If you need to reach me, you can do so via email: "blog at joeylombardi.com". As always, don't take shit from anybody!

Smell You Later
~ Joey

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 39

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! It was a bit of a slow week, but I still have some content ideas to share with you, less adventure, more informative. Let's open up the fridge and see what is leftover....

[The Return of Computer Joey?]

I provided a large amount of computer assistance this week, and since it ate up a large chunk of time, I figured I should share it with you my readers, plus it might help you.

Case 1: Cheap Laptop

My father recently learned how to use the cell phone he was given two years ago and has started to call me on behalf of his friends for computer advice or repairs. This week one of his co-workers burned out an old IBM R51 laptop (which I had to diagnose), once I determined it to be a boat anchor, my father requested that I find this gentlemen a new laptop on the cheap. My budget: $300-$400 bucks. His use: General internet surfing and email. Since he was using a R51 before, I knew he probably wasn't doing much in advanced graphics editing.

Since this is the age of Vista, I knew I needed a machine with at least 2 GB of ram. I thought about a netbook, but my dad's friend is older and I don't think an 8 inch screen would be right. After doing searching on TechBargins and the Dell, HP, IBM, and Toshiba sites, I found a Toshiba Satellite L305 for $300.00 bucks (at Best Buy). I make no bones about this laptop, there are no extras except Wi-fi which I guess is standard now on laptops - even cheap ones.

I had very low expectations going into the purchase, but once I fired it up, I have to admit this entry level laptop impressed me. Vista came right on, not too much lag. I installed anti-virus and anti-malware software which also didn't slow it down. The only real negative (for a $300 laptop) is the track pad. It has a textured surface which is terrible. You need a mouse if you are going to use for more than 5 minutes. Also - it has a very "prone to finger-print smudges" surface, so if you are a neat freak, beware.

Overall - this was a nice machine for the money and a great alternative to a netbook if you want a bigger screen and a little more ram.

NOTE: The Laptop is now $330.00 at Best Buy (still a good deal).

Case 2: Uncle Phil

My Uncle Phil called me the night I dropped off the laptop to my father complaining of slowness on a machine I built for him a few years ago (actually it was probably 5 years ago). I have redone this machine quite a few times due to viruses so I know how to diagnose it quickly. I had him stop by and to my surprise, the laptop wasn't infested with viruses, he was just running a very shitty anti-virus program that was slowing the whole machine down.

I un-installed and put in my own blend of security spices. To be safe, I ran a few full scans on two different programs, and while we waited, we drank some Cuervo.

Everything came up clean and the PC was running better - so off he went... but before he left, he mentioned his son had some computer problems....

Case 3: Little Phil's Laptop

My cousin "Dr. Little Phil" brought his laptop over on Friday and it was infested with viruses. This wasn't going to be a 40 minute job, so I sent him home and started to remove the terrible av software he had and install my own. For those keeping score at home, here is what I use:

Anti-Virus: AntiVir Virus Protection Software - I started using this free-ware when I opened Computer Joey and I think it works great. People like AVG and that is a fine piece of free software, but for me, AntiVir always seems to detect and remove best.

Anti-Malware:

My all time favorite anti-malware is Spybot Search and Destroy, although I have been noticing it doesn't play as nice with Vista 64 Bit edition as I would like, so I researched an alternative, CNET seems to think Malwarebytes Anti-Malware software package is the new top dog and I think it is a very good tool. My suggestion - run them both if you can and be sure to run the Spybot immunization tool for optimum protection.

Now that you know the tools, the other secret is to install the software in normal windows mode, then reboot the computer and hit F8 (before windows starts) to run the system in safe mode. A low-level virus is less likely to start running in safe-mode making it easier to remove the virus. After 3 scans taking 90 minutes each, I felt comfortable enough to put it on a sectioned piece of my network to I can update the protection definitions of the software I just mentioned. Once I did that, I went back into safe-mode and ran the scans again. The computer is now running like a champ. One other thing I will mention - if you are not using Firefox, you should; It is a secure browser and you can customize it. Make sure you install it before you run spybot's immunization so that browser is covered too.

Once I ran the tools, Dr. Little Phil's computer was back to normal and I hope you use this advice to make your computer run like a champ again too.

[Restaurant Review: A Little Cafe - Voorhees, NJ]

NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let you know that my wife's cousin owns "A Little Cafe". With that said, I think I have met her once and we never tell her when we are going into the restaurant, so we aren't getting special treatment and I had been there a few times before I knew of the connection.

On Saturday night, my wife and a few friends went to A Little Cafe for dinner. The cafe runs a special limited menu three course meal for $30.00 (per person) fairly often and it so happens this weekend featured the special. When we walked in, it was a little empty, but that quickly changed. The music is always ranging from good to excellent for dining and the wait staff are always friendly. Saturday's specials veered heavily on the seafood side which I generally don't partake in, but there were a few last minute specials that interested me.

I ended up getting a pear & spinach salad, spicy calamari, and Fettuccine with prosciutto, sun dried tomatoes, and asparagus. Everything was outstanding: the portions were excellent for a "special menu" not too small, but not too much - the pasta was the perfect al dente, the calamari had an great combo of spicy and sweet (I would liken it to Thai flavoring), and the salad was insane - caramelized onions, feta cheese, pears, on a green bed of spinach. My wife got almost the same thing but went for the lamb for the main course; I snagged a bit and it was delicious.

For desert, we split their white chocolate bread pudding which wasn't jumbo-sized (thankfully) - it was the perfect way to end the meal. This has been the third or fourth time I have been to A Little Cafe and I have never had a bad meal, I highly recommend it (I also recommend reservations).

Speaking of food... it's time for the recipe of the week...

[Recipe of the Week: Carne Asada]

Take some cheap meat and a nice marinade and you have a meat party in your mouth....

INGREDIENTS:

1 skirt steak

MARINADE
1 lime (for the juice)
1/4 C olive oil
1-2 Serrano chillies minced (to taste)
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp ground cumin seed
2 tsp kosher salt
black pepper to taste
OPTIONAL: 1 Tablespoon of pureed kiwi - I spotted this in a few recipes, I don't know if it is for me, but the enzymes will break down the tough meat better, so if you are into the flavor, go for it. If you do, DO NOT MARINADE OVERNIGHT - 2 hours is plenty.

GARNISH
1/4 C sweet onions minced
1/4 cilantro minced

INSTRUCTIONS:
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a box, and then toss in the meat. Let is sit overnight (8 hours is perfect). Make sure you cover the blow with plastic wrap. Take out the meat 30 minutes before you use it so it settles to room temperature.

Fire up the grill and 4-5 minutes on each side should do you right (unless you have a really thin cut - keep tabs)

Let the meat sit for 5 minutes before cutting. Chop up the Carne Asada and mix with with the sweet onions and cilantro (you can skip this Anthony). Put it in some tortillas and top with pico de gallo.

[DIY of the Week: CD Dumbbells]

Get your pump on with all those old used CDs



PS - instead of cutting it yourself, you can just ask the hardware store to cut 6 1/2 inch rods for you.

[Video of the Week]

Revenge from lernert Engelberts on Vimeo.



[Project Poster]

Here is a glimpse at the final poster that Hatch Show Print in Nashville created for me. Have you guessed what it's for yet?




[Conclusion]

Okay friends, that is all I have for you this week. If you need to reach me, you can do so via email at "blog at joeylombardi.com". As always don't take shit from anybody. I am going to leave you with a Bug Bunny cartoon because the world loves a ball-breaker.



Post Published Note(PPN): I didn't watch the last minute of the clip until this morning (Monday) - I didn't realize this was one of the banned Bugs cartoons that features some very racist acts. I am not going to take this down because it is part of American history - good, bad, or ugly. What are your thoughts about the clip readers?

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Monday, August 03, 2009

Gin Wigmore & The Cardinals?

Ryan Adams former backing band The Cardinals have agreed to work with Australian singer Gin Wigmore. I haven't heard of her but her American debut is coming out in September. Check out this tune...



Will reserve judgment until I hear the combined product.

Antonio?

Be warned readers: this is an Lombardi family inside joke (or at least I am trying to turn it into one)...

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 38

Howdy true be-loggers... welcome to the .38 Special! This week we are going to discuss guitar store clinics, mac & cheese, a concert review double-dip, and much more. Let's open the fridge and see what is leftover.

[Bass Clinic]

Guitar Teacher Tom asked me to attend a bass clinic this week in Deptford. The guest speaker was Billy Sheehan; probably most known for his work with 90's pop-metal band Mr. Big. Sheehan was also a member of David Lee Roth's first post Van Halen band giving him the white trash credibility I am sure he most desperately wants. I have never attended any kind of music store clinics before so I didn't know what to expect but like any good teacher, Tom prepared me. He warned that there would be many wanna-be hair metal rockers there (which I didn't believe as I thought that breed of people had gone extinct north of the Mason-Dixon; I was wrong), he also warned of a certain kind of smell and general lack of personal hygiene; once again Teacher Tom was right on the money.

Getting past the initial shock of walking into a time bubble to the 1980's, I started assessing the situation. It was very clear that the clinic was a sort of social gathering to this group of people. Lots of friendly embraces, phone number exchanges, and catching up. I am assuming that once hair metal fell out of favor with the general public these fine specimens had to go underground, never really giving up on their dream of fellating the drummer from White Snake (that goes for both the women and the men).

The clinic itself wasn't set up well due to the store's generally small size. Billy was given a stage in the back portion of the store and he opened up with a energetic bass solo which made all of the drum equipment behind me rattle... this was going to be annoying. Sheehan quickly stopped playing and began to extol the virtues of Yamaha bass guitars (the fine sponsors of this event). He started to list all of the modifications he made to his basses over the years and Tom suggested that we go look at the guitars - I could tell he was annoyed at the lack of seating and viability. We looked around but I think the store was picked over pretty well and their stock was a little low, so we went back to the clinic. Teacher Tom knew some of these people from his own hair metal days, so he caught up old contacts as I watched Billy answer questions.

During my investigation of the store's guitars a large man wearing a child's purple cow boy hat asked one of the owners to use the rest room. I wouldn't have noticed that interaction had it not been for the fact that a very overweight man was wearing a small sparkling purple cowboy hat. I forgot about the man, but then 20 minutes later I noticed him coming out of the restroom.... who takes a shit a guitar store? WHO DOES THAT? This same man asked a series of idiotic questions during the clinic that made me hope he lived in Delaware because I didn't want to be from the same state as this fool. It was very clear that Sheehan's patience was also tested.

As Teacher Tom had encounters with people he wished he hadn't, I summed up the experience as "washed up almost-rock-star trying to sell his crappy product is demonstrating why he is doing clinics instead of playing because he is so out of touch with what is going on with music today." Quick Example: He said he didn't follow music today and didn't know much about iTunes... good luck getting those new Mr. Big CD's to fly off the shelves buddy. Teacher Tom eventually gave me the signal to get out of there and off we went to a better use of our time... Chick-fil-a

Here is Mr. Big in their shirt-less hey-day... Mr. Sheehan is the bleach blonde:



[Neko Case @ The Kimmel Center]

Saw Neko Case this week. You can read all about it here

Here is another video about the making of the CD which makes me want to get a barn and a start an old piano orchestra



[Congrats Casey!]

My favorite bartender Casey Parker of Jose Pistolas has just been recognized as the best in Philadelphia by Philly Magazine. A very well deserved honor for a local great.

Glad Philly Magazine is catching up to what this blog has been saying for over a year:
Issue 21 and way back in Issue 6.


[Recipe of the Week: Homemade Mac and Cheese]

Here is a sure-fire way to become a bigger lard-ass:

INGREDIENTS
1 lb pasta (elbows or spirals work best)
1 cup diced onion
splash of olive oil
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon of yellow mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4-5 Cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
A few drops of Tabasco or Sriracha Sauce (this is optional and you need to do this to taste)

For the topping:
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
(Mix)
OR
You can just crumble potato chips and put them on top to give you and extra special heart attack.

DIRECTIONS
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Once the water is at a boil, add the pasta and cook for 7-9 minutes depending on the pasta you use. When it is done, remove from heat and set aside (leave it in the water for now)

Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan, add the onion and allow it to saute for 4 minutes. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Add the milk and bring it to a bubbling simmer (medium heat). Add the pepper, salt and whisk. Now you can start to add the cheese. Add three cups of cheese stirring constantly. Once the mixture has a nice smooth, even texture, you can the mustard then you can add a few drops of hot sauce - keep tasting and adding until you get it the way you like it.

Drain the pasta and mix it together with the cheese sauce in a serving platter.

Take the remaining cheese and the topping and put them on top of the mixture in the serving platter at 400 degrees for 4 minutes

[DIY of the Week: Fix Wobbly Tables]

Don't you hate it when you go out to a nice restaurant and then you press down on the table and your wine goes flying? Now you easily stop it with the wine you just ordered... (Not much of a DIY but very useful)


Stop table wobbles! - More DIY How To Projects

[Random Video of the Week]

While I normally pick a video that mocks humanity or is just plain odd... this one just proves that music is universal. Don't worry, be happy!

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.



[Draft Poster]

Here is the first draft of a poster I have having the good people at Hatch Show Print design for a special event. Can you figure out what it is?



[Conclusion]

That's all for this week loyal readers. I want to thank my Chicago readers for some excellent suggestions on non-touristy things to do in Chicago - I am totally going to eat that burger...please keep the suggestions coming! If you need to reach me, you can contact me via email at "blog at joeylombardi.com". As always, don't take shit from anybody!

Smell You Later,
~ Joey