Tuesday, September 29, 2009

RANT: Being Rude in Public Spaces

During the fall I try to work out outdoors as much as the weather allows. On days that I work from home, I like to hit the park during my lunch break and do sprints on the soccer field. Since I am a big guy, I don't run on pavement or any hard surface because I don't want to destroy my knees, and running on normal grass has it's own perils (little holes in the ground that I trip on). The soccer fields at this park are well worn and tested, so they are flat and mostly hole free - perfect for running.

Today was a great day (in the late morning) to run outside. I optioned an early lunch and took advantage of a nearly empty park with every soccer field to choose from. I started my sprints and got lost in my own head for about 25 minutes when I noticed a group of 4 dudes standing in the middle of the field. They had a football and they kept looking at me. I knew immediately that these assholes intended on playing football on the field that I was running on - why they couldn't choose the other three empty fields is beyond me, but they had to take the spot that I was currently using.

I look around to see if I was missing something obvious - like a game scheduled on the field. Nope - it was just the 4 guys. They start passing the ball down the middle of the field, zipping in front of me during my latest sprint down the field. When I hit the opposite end, I just say "Fuck this" loud enough for them to hear me and hop to the next field directly behind the one I was using. I continue my run for another 20 minutes and then loop around the park - giving these assholes the death stare the entire loop. When I reached the original field, they start to pack up and leave.

I know it sounds trivial since there were so many fields to choose from, but I cannot figure out why these assholes picked the field they saw me running on (I am kind of hard to miss) instead of the empty ones. They didn't say "excuse me" or even "hey asshole - we are using this field now", they just started playing right in front of me. I sort of regret not confronting them and then the other part of me says "who gives a shit".

That's all I got... what would you do?






What would you do?








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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 46

Howdy true-beloggers – welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This week we will discuss bachelor parties (woot!), a subject near and dear to my heart: sandwiches, and we are featuring a clever retort to Lily Allen’s stance of music piracy. Let’s open the fridge and see what is leftover:

[Bachelor Parties]

Last night I went to a classic style bachelor party: party bus, bars, bad food, and strippers. Unlike the last few bachelor events that I went to, I didn’t know everybody on the bus. I started thinking about how such an event can bring strangers together and concluded that it is the absolute worst possible time to meet another adult male. All of your worst instincts and vices are center stage for other people to form inaccurate opinions about you if you “do the night up right.”

You could think “who the hell cares, I will never see any of these people again.” But you are wrong – you will see them one more time and I don’t think being greeted at the church by your new friend saying, “Hey buddy – how are you? – The last time I saw you, you had your head shoved so far up that stripper’s ass that I thought you were wearing her as a hat” is a good ice-breaker for introducing that person to your wife.

I don’t really have anything else to add on my thoughts about bachelor parties – I have stated my thoughts about bachelor parties, but with all that being said, I had a nice time and hope my friend did too.

[Cheese Steaks]

Almost any bachelor party in Philadelphia is going to entail getting cheese steaks – it is some rule that was decreed in unofficial Philadelphia law. Inevitably an argument will break out about which steak joint to go to. Tony Luke’s has become a popular choice by default because many bus drivers won’t even attempt parking by Pats/Genos. Pats/Genos is a popular choice because people have a choice between the two most famous locations.

Our bus driver was okay with driving to Pats/Genos so that is where we went. It amazes me that these two glittering beacons of mediocrity have become such a tourist attraction. Within 5 minutes of being in line, one of the dudes from the party starts point at me to a group of tourists and says I can give the definitive cheese steak ruling. I don’t know how the hell I have been deemed an authority on this sandwich but I do have an opinion:

I looked at these fresh faced kids and said – “it doesn’t matter – it is the same exact sandwich and they are both below average. You are going to get terrible service with an attitude and no place to piss after standing in line for 40 minutes to clog your arteries. So go to whoever has the shortest line and get on with your night. “ The young girl asks “why are you here then?” I pointed to my friend with whom we were honoring with said bachelor party, smiled, and said “it’s what he wants”.

After watching this week’s “Man vs. Food” in Philadelphia, I am over the whole damn thing. This city has to been known for something else besides shoving meat into an Italian roll and putting cheese on it. If you are a tourist, have fun doing the Pat’s/Geno’s thing – just don’t expect to have your mind blown. It is just a simple sandwich served by incredibly rude people that became an institution by chance.

Speaking of sandwiches…

[Recipe of the Week: Simple Italian Hoagie]

Ingredients
1 crusty Italian foot long roll
1/4 lb of Provolone cheese
1/4 lb of Salami
1/4 lb of spicy Italian ham
1 cup of shredded lettuce
Optional: Sliced tomato (I don’t like it in my sandwich)

Dressing
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 table spoons of worstichire sauce
1/2 teaspoon of mustard
1 table spoon of white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of hot sauce
pinch of salt, pepper, oregano, thyme
Mix together in a bowel

Directions (if you really need them):
Cut the bread, scoop out the extra soft bread in the middle, drizzle dressing on the bread. Lay down the cheese, (then the tomatos if you got them) then the meats, top with lettuce and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

[DIY of the Week: Halloween – Make your own Foam Skull]

Since Halloween is upon us, I figured this is fun to share:



[Image of the Week]



[Video of the Week]

I love that Lily Allen put her foot in her mouth, but I don’t entirely disagree with her stance. Regardless, this video/musical retort by Dan Bull is brilliant:



[Conclusion]

I am messing around with a new public radio feature that I hope to share soon (I need to get some more information before I invest my time in the arena). I have sort of given up on the v-log idea because I am not that interested in hearing my own voice spew the opinions I am covering here (and you can skim this!). While I have given up on the v-logs, I am working on a documentary and will be filming in the middle of October – which I am very excited about. I don’t know how I am going to air it, but you will hear about it here first.

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.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Joey Lombardi | Create Your Badge

Sunday, September 20, 2009

JoeyLombardi.com is back

Since I was on vacation, I didn't know that my main website was down for several days (I don't often check the main site every day). On Thursday I noticed my blog wasn't posting certain pictures but I thought it was the hotel's slow internet connection. My mom mentioned she had trouble connecting to the site to look at vacation pictures, but I assumed there were minor DNS issues again (that has happened a lot in the last month), but when I went to check something on the site today - it was down and so was the web-hosting company I used.

None of the email addresses for their support teams were working either - I was getting IMMEDIATE mail failures - that is not a good sign. Since it was down for a few days and there was no way to contact them, and they are based in the UK so there wasn't going to be a phone number to reach them. I decided to change hosting providers. After having to mess around with some custom DNS settings on my end, it looks like everything is up and running again.

I used this list to help me decide in case you are in the market for a new hosting service. Be warned, the super cheap prices are for locking in for several years, but 6-10 bucks a month is still low for what any of these guys are offering.

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 45

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to issue 45 of Sunday Leftovers, we have less than two months before Volume 1 is officially closed and we open up Volume 2. I am trying to come up with a way to celebrate the milestone, suggestions are always welcome. Since I have been traveling, my fridge is empty, so this week we are doing take out....

[Chicago!]

Most of this week was spent in the excellent city of Chicago, if you would like to know about that adventure, you can read about it starting here

Here is a little montage I put together which will also be my video of the week:



And here is a quick review of where we went...
Joey's Chicago Vacation | nextstop.com

[Plane Etiquette]

On the flight home from Chicago a rather loud older gentlemen spilled his drink a few rows behind me. I know this because the man managed to make a huge spectacle spilling a plastic cup (and I was sitting right on the wing and could hear all of this). As I turned my head to look at what was going on, he got his finger and flicked it hitting me and my new fucking laptop with whatever his was funneling down his gullet. No apology to anyone sitting around him who also got splashed.

The man then proceeds to make loud general statements to anyone that would listen - I could again hear this moron over the engine and with my headphones on. He ended the trip by having a loud lengthy cell phone conversation mere seconds after the plane hit the ground. He was going to a wedding and he wanted to know how to meet up with his family members - in case you were wondering - I know I wasn't. I hope for their sake he gets lost - very lost.

I saw this man lumbering around the airport looking for baggage claim (which was clearly marked) like Frankenstein's monster looking to drown a little girl in a well. As my bag came up from the bowels of the airport, I looked around for the monster and he hadn't yet found the baggage claim, filling me with perverse glee.

[Best Buy Issue]

As you might recall, I puchased a laptop last week. During my usual daily deal scouring, I found out that Office Depot is selling the same laptop for $50.00 less, but I wasn't worried because Best Buy said they will do a price match up to 14 days after the purchase. I called the stores and they refused to give me the refund saying the Office Depot in Voorhees was too far (5.8 miles from the Best Buy in Deptford and about 6 from Marlton).

I called customer support and they did nothing to help.

Congratulations Best Buy you are now officially on the boycott list. I will never recommend anyone purchase anything in your store again and I do quite a bit of recommending.

[Website Note]

If you have been attempting to access JoeyLombardi.com this week, you might have noticed the main site has been down while the other services have been running. I just found this out today and it looks like my web hosting provider for the main site has been down for a few days. I can't get in contact with them, so I don't know what is going on.

Thankfully I spread out my hosted services to a few providers so if something goes down it doesn't take down everything (hence the blog being up and running and all of the sub sites). Right now I can't do anything, but I might make a move tomorrow to a different hosting service - more to come on that.

[Recipe of the Week: Smoky Pimiento Cheese]

The month of spread concludes with this cheesy spread full of flavor. Good with chopped veggies. Taste it!

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients
4 ounces smoked gouda cheese, shredded (we used Willamette Valley Cheese Co. brand from New Seasons)
4 ounces gouda parrano cheese, shredded (we used Uniekaas brand from New Seasons)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped peppadew peppers (see note)
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton de la Vera; see note)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

In a medium bowl toss together the smoked gouda, gouda parrano and parmesan cheeses. In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, peppadew peppers, smoked paprika and black pepper. Stir the mayonnaise mixture into the cheeses until well moistened. This keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

[DIY of the Week: Cell Phone Camera Car Mount]

This is a neat little hack if you are interested in filming your car rides for some odd reason. The example is an iPhone but you can do it for smart phone. I read about it in Lifehacker but they snagged it from Make, so here is the original post:

DIY Cop-style dash cam

Here is a video the inventor took so you might be inspired by your own commute collage...


[Conclusion]

Thanks for reading this week, I hope you enjoyed my little adventure to the Windy City. While I figure out what is wrong with my hosting site, you can still email me at "blog at joeylombardi.com" should you have any questions. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell you later,
~ Joey
Joey Lombardi | Create Your Badge

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chicago - Days 3 and 4

Our last full day in Chicago found us scrambling to get in as much as possible; the city is truly packed with things to do and 3 night were not enough to take it all in. The weather for the duration of our trip has been outstanding - I could not have asked for better bluer days and with those clearskies in mind, my top priority on Friday was to find my way on the water. I had read a lot about the famous Chicago river boat tours and was eager to be a tourist for one of these educational jaunts down the river...

Before we could get to the river, Allison and I had to visit the Chicago Center of Tourism right on Chicago & Michigan Streets. As I mentioned on my Day 2 summary, they have a booth that sells half priced tickets, we snagged seats for the High Fidelity play at 8 PM and we wanted to see Chicago comedy at Second City; thankfully they had tickets to "Stud Turkel's Not Working" at 11 PM. Now that we had plans for the evening, we ventured down Michigan towards the river tours.

When we arrived, most of the tours were sold out. The "most famous boat tour" - the Architecture tour - was sold out until Saturday, but there was another company running a similar tour for $5 bucks less (and 30 minutes longer). We went for it not expecting great things, but it turned out the extra 30 minutes were for a boat ride on Lake Michigan itself - it was a PERFECT day for a boat ride and we had seats right in the front. The tour was educational - ORDERED CHAOS FACT: Chicago has wider "sofa shaped" buildings instead of the "wedding cake" (famous in New York) because there was more land available. The reason they do the cut outs was because when the buildings were put up, not every section had electricity so they needed more windows to let the light in.

After a great tour we caught a cab (the first time we used one the whole trip) to the Museum of Science and Industry. I had been fascinated with this building since reading Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City". The Museum was built as the centerpiece of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and it has withstood the Chicago winters to become a premier attraction in the city. The complex is massive - big enough to easily contain an entire train, a Nazi U-Boat, a full sized Boeing 747 and several un-used space vehicles. For Philadelphians , the Museum feels like a much bigger version of the Franklin institute. We arrived at 3:00 and were informed after waiting in line for 20 minutes that the museum was closing at 4:00 PM. We still paid full price and ran around like lunatics. This is a great place to take a kid, not so much for adults (but there were several attractions closed for renovations or due to it being late in the day). I wouldn't mind giving the Museum of Science another go - but I will wait until I have kids who can really appreciate it.

Coming out of the museum, some drama occurred: I wanted to check out the grounds since it was on the site of the former World's Fair. After walking around and taking pictures, we decided to skip the bus and take a taxi back and we hopped into the nearest one. As we were leaving, another taxi blocked our path. It seems that the taxi drivers expect customers to walk to the front of the line (which is a city block, maybe two) and take the taxi in the front. At first I was going to comply not wanting to break a social norm, but as another taxi driver demand my wife get out of taxi, I started to tell the other driver blocking our way to fuck off. This empowered our driver to hop the curb and get around them. Our taxi driver was a nice guy and we spent the rest of the trip discussed the Chicago climate.

Back at the hotel, I researched places to eat near second city and decided on Adobe Grill which was right next door to the second city theaters. A quick cab ride (it was a $6.00 fare) over to Wells Street and we were quickly seated. Before I knew it, our server was presenting us with delicious margaritas and had a girl come out and make guacamole right at our table - excellent. I took the waiter's suggestion had a sampler of their lamb and marinated beef for dinner. The meat was cooked perfectly and the portions were just the right size. Allison and I ended the meal with a tres leches desert which was a nice way to cleanse the palate.

We went next door and waited for High Fidelity to open. While we were waiting, we heard and saw a man on his cell phone talking about the play's finances (or lack there of). We saw the actors coming into the theater (you could just tell they were actors) and we both were amazed how late they were coming in. 20 minutes before the show was supposed to start and they open the doors and a crowd finally shows up (there were probably 30 people in total). My thoughts on the play? Here is my review:

*** High Fidelity: The Musical - Route 66 Production Company ***

Official Web Site: High Fidelity - The Musical: Chicago

When I purchased tickets for the show, I didn't realize it was a musical; I thought it was a play - I hate musicals. The subject matter is near and dear to my heart, but I was getting bad feelings when I overheard the lead's phone conversation about bouncing checks. Regardless, I cleared my head and went into the show with an open mind.

What I liked:
1. They managed to change the plot to make most of the story occur in the music shop. This worked out well and the minor differences were enough to make it feel different.
2. The two actors playing Dick and Barry (the Jack Black role) were excellent. The guy playing Barry was doing an impression of Jack Black but it was a good one and the guy who played Dick was a good singer and guitar player.
3. The stage set up - it worked out well for a small theater
4. The gentlemen playing Ian made me laugh, but my wife hated him - he seemed like he was having a lot of fun.

What I didn't like:
1. The lead actor - every time he repeated a Cusack line from the movie it made you realize how much of a poor man's John Cusack he was. In all honestly, this guy had all of the charm of a date rapist. The dude playing Dick would have been much better in the lead.
2. The songs - some were okay, most were not. A particular gripe - the song "Laura"
3. Most of the women in the play were not so good - the one exception was the girl playing Allison Ashmore/Ana Moss (duel role) - she had a good voice and seemed to be more natural.
4. The length: The play was longer than the movie - about 2 hours.

When the show was over, I was glad to get the fuck out of there. But my escape wasn't very far because our next show was just a floor below...

*** Second City Players: Stud Turkel's Not Working ***

I knew nothing about the show, the people in it, or who Stud Turkel was before seeing the performance and that was just fine. Stud Turkel was a real person - he was a Chicago humorist and radio star that passed away a few years ago; the show had nothing to do with him, they just named it after one of his books because the theme of the show was about the Chicago lifestyle, but it easily could have fit into any urban setting (not much was lost in translation to this tourist).

The show was a mix of sketches and improve with the audience and it was hilarious. The cast was excellent as they made funny and acute commentary on local and national affairs. I didn't recognize any of the staff, but I wouldn't be shocked if I saw any of these actors onSNL in a year or two. I could go into greater details, but I wouldn't want to give the jokes or the improve surprises away should you happen to be in Chicago and catch the show. Just take my word for it, it is worth going to see.

*** End Reviews ***

By the time the shows were done, it was 1 AM and Allison and I had to be at the airport by 8 AM to catch our flights home. So back to the hotel for packing and a few hours sleep.

When the morning came, we grabbed our stuff, checked out of the Avenue Hotel, walked a few blocks to Chicago & State to catch the red line. We got off a Roosevelt to catch the orange line back to mid-way. It took 40 minutes but I don't think a cab would have been much faster.

The luggage check-in lines were huge, but thankfully they moved quickly. We managed to get through check-in and security in about an hour and got to the gate with an hour to spare. I watched Drillbit Taylor as we waited for the plane and one of the little boys in the movie reminded me of my godfather's son Antonio, but that has been happening a lot lately. The flight was without incident and I am now home to finish this post.

I am going to summarize my thoughts on Chicago tomorrow, but I will end this post by saying Chicago is one hell of a town and I can't wait to go back. Thanks for reading, here are the last of the pictures I took (most are from the boat tour).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chicago – Day 2

Thursday morning found us feeling more refreshed thanks to an early nights sleep. We got up early and headed up to the hotel's “sky lounge” for breakfast. I was hesitant to start putting items on my plate once I saw the instant eggs, stale bread, and mini boxes of cereal – been to too many hotels to fall for this scam – but my wife had already started. After a brief breakfast with a lovely view and $50 dollars later, we were on Michigan Avenue trying to figure out how to kill a few hours until the Cubs game.

We happened upon the Old Water Tower and the adjoining pumping station. The water tower was a bit of a let down (we weren't allowed in the Tower part) and the pumping station didn't let us get far in it's innards, but it was next to Chicago's Tourism Department and they sell half price tickets to shows. We managed to pick up tickets to the play form of High Fidelity and have to go back this morning to snag ticket for a Second City show after.

After getting the tickets we went to the John Hancock Center to catch the crazy views of Chicago that the city of skyscrapers is known for. The building did not disappoint. It costs $30 bucks to get to the top which makes it an official tourist trap, but it was still and excellent view. After taking some pictures we came back down and headed back to the hotel to dump our stuff and head to the game.

Once again we used the city's excellent sub-way system (the Red Line) and managed to get to Wrigley Field before the game started. Sadly the Cubs were defeated by the Brewers... there were a lot of Brewers fans in the house. Why can't the Cubbies get love in their own stadium? It was a fantastic day to see a game and we had an official Chicago style foot-long which Allison had to take the peppers off of.

We decided to visit the Art Institute of Chicago on our way back from the Cubs game. Once again my feeling is that while it was a wonderful museum, they aren't as good as Philadelphia's. There was a whole wing dedicated to modernist paintings (aka color splotches) – which I am completely convinced is a total scam. To each their own. After a solid two hours, it was time to go back to the hotel.

Knowing red meat was in my immediate future, I decided to hit the treadmill and my legs were like jelly from walking around the city all day. After a shower, my wife informed me that we were going to Boston Blackies. Our friends Jack and Lorraine recommended this establishment as one of the best burgers they have ever had. That was enough for me. The burger was outstanding, the onion rings were tasty, their own amber ale brew had me buzzing and our waitress was wonderful. At one point she sat down with us and talked Chicago politics and told us what “true Southies” thoughts were about the city and the new president. Outstanding.

It was dark, so we decided to head back to the hotel to plan the next day because if things go according to plan, it is going to be a long day packed with Chicago theater and tourist attractions.

To Be Continued....


Click here to read Part 3

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chicago - Day 1

We had to wake up earlier than I had mentally prepared myself for yesterday and that cost me on our first day in the Windy City. The guy we use for airport service was booked solid and had to pick us up at 5 AM. When he says 5 AM, he normally means 5:30, but in this case, he meant 5. I couldn't get to sleep before midnight so I was left with exactly 4 hours and 15 minutes of rest. I was tired when I woke up and I wouldn't shake that feeling all day.

The Philadelphia airport was relatively empty and provided no obstacles (this is our of character for our fair city's only major airport), so we actually manged to land in Chicago 15 minutes early. After reading very complimentary articles of Chicago's public transit system, I wanted to forgo using a taxi from the airport, but Allison had her doubts... until her uncle Rusty (who has traveled to Chicago often for work) not only encouraged it, he said it was the best way to get to the hotel - Allison agreed. The train leaving from the airport is the Orange line and we found it with no issues. It cost $2.25 to get on (and this includes any transfer). Once we reached the loop, we had to get off and board the red line (which is a traditional subway) - we managed this very easily (well my wife did since she didn't have to carry the heavy suitcase). Once we got off at Chicago Ave, Allison - who was acting as a navigator, got a little confused and we ended up going several blocks in the wrong direction. After 6 blocks of lugging the suitcase, I hailed a cab - by this point we were way off - so the taxi was a good idea. Five minutes and $5.68 later we were at our hotel. I should note that a taxi from Midway to the heart of the city is $50.00 flat fee and we ended up paying $10.18 and it was much faster (this city is all stop and go traffic).

We got to the hotel at 10:00 AM central time and they didn't have our room ready. Instead of aimless wandering, I suggested we hit one of the museums, so the clerk told us how to take the bus to the Field Museum on Lake Shore Drive. The bus stop was around the corner from the hotel and a very helpful girl informed us which bus we had to take (the 146 line for those keeping score at home). Being on the bus, I got a feeling for Chicago traffic in the city and I think having a car in downtown would be impossible. The subway and train system is the way to go. The bus took about 30 minutes to get to the museum which reminded me very much of the Philadelphia art museum in appearance and in the interactive displays (but I think Philadelphia's museum is better than the Fields - sorry Chicago).

The exhibits were great and we actually visited on a free basic admission day. One thing I didn't like about the museum is that all of their special exhibits were extra cost (individually I might add). I think they should just charge you the cost to get in to see everything. We opted for an exhibit about pirates. It starts with their origins in slavery and the slave trade and then takes you through to the end of the "Golden Age" of pirates. It was educational and interesting. I felt that as a whole - the museum tries to hard to be interactive and kid friendly, Philadelphia does a better job at being interesting but letting the pieces speak for themselves. But as a whole - excellent start to the day.

Walking around for a few hours - and I was exhausted. It was almost 2:00 and I was hoping our room was ready, so back on the bus and to the hotel. Once we got back, our room still wasn't ready, so we went into the attached bar for a drink or two to wait. And hour later, our rooms were done. Allison managed to get us an upgraded suite which is awesome and has panoramic views of the city. I decided to rest for a while, so I popped in a movie and vegged out (Watched Knowing based on a friend's suggestion - FTP - we got to talk).

Once the movie was over, I felt rested so I hit the gym for a little cardio knowing that Chicago style pizza was next. A nice run and a shower later, we were off to the famous Gino's East. It takes 45 minutes for a pizza to be made and there is always a line (our hotel clerk gave us a special skip to the front card - which I felt like an asshole for using, but I wasn't standing in a line if I didn't have to). 50 minutes later the monster came out. After eating one, I have trouble calling it pizza. It is excellent and tasty, but I think it is a meat pie not a pizza, but that is just me - I will also calling it filling - I could only handle two slices before I tapped out.

We walked back to our hotel and went to bed pretty quickly to rest up for the day head...

TO BE CONTINUED



Click here to read Part 2

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 44

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This week we will discuss computers, meat-heads, continue with the month of spread, and much more. Let's open the fridge and see what's left over.

[Computer Purchase]

With our trip to Chicago rapidly approaching, me and the wife have been mulling over getting a newer, smaller laptop to bring with us on our travels. Like everything I do, I have been mulling this over for MONTHS. I have been focusing on the netbook laptops (miniature fully functioning laptops that range between 8-10.1 inches). I read about all the major brands: ASUS, DELL, HP, Lenovo, MSI....

** HP MINI 110 **

Eventually I focused on the HP Mini 110. I broke down and purchased one last week at a local retail store. After using it for a few minutes, I start to realize that this was not the pleasant user experience I was looking for.

What I liked:
FAST ENOUGH: Many reviews noted that the netbook's ATOM 1.6 ghz processor isn't fast enough for modern needs, I call bullshit on this on; while not the fastest processor on the market, it is perfect fine for surfing the net and watching youtube.
LIGHT: 2.8 lbs with the 6 cell battery. Nothing wrong with that - very mobile
BATTERY: Makes a little titled stand so it is easier to type.
VIDEO: I was expecting pure crap when it came to resolution and video playback. It looked much better than I expected.

What I didn't
TRACK PAD: The track pad is a small bar at the bottom with buttons on each side. It was terrible to use and the buttons felt very flimsy.
BLOATWARE: HP included a good deal of useless shit - but I guess all computer companies do that now.
RESOLUTION: The mini runs Windows XP at 1024x600 resolution - most programs don't correct for this odd size and it makes for awkward computing.
KEYBOARD: My fat hands just didn't getting along with the tiny 95% ratio keyboard

Deal-breaker:
WIRELESS: My opinion is that netbooks should just work out of the box when it comes to the internet. It didn't. The mini uses a broadcom wireless g driver that is known to have bugs when connecting to routers that support Wireless-N formats. I have a CISCO (Linksys) router that is pretty average (this is the best selling company/router on the market). After three hours I could not get the mini to connect to my wireless network (I have a Wii, an Xbox, and PS3, a Linux system, my wife's laptop, and some odd things I have made myself - never had an issue connecting any of them). After doing some research, I found out that HP and Broadcom have known about this bug for at least 18 months and haven't correct it, and that is when I decided this thing had to go back.

Even if I figured out a work around in my house, I didn't want to have to deal with that every time we traveled. DEALBREAKER. Thankfully my local retail store returned it with no issue. But this left me with the problem of still needing a travel laptop...

** HP DV4 **

Over the last 6 months I have been prepping for Windows 7 to come out and acknowledging that my computer gear is reaching the point of no repair. I have been keeping my eye on deals and reading a ton of reviews trying to figure out what my next purchase should be. My friend Paul bought a Dell XPS and it looked damn impressive - but two motherboard replacements later, he isn't happy with the product. I had recommended that model to some other friends before I heard about his issues, and they had similar experiences. A couple of other friends bought Dell's studio line and they arrive configured (very) incorrectly. I didn't want to buy a Dell.

I never liked Sony Laptops from my Computer Joey days - overpriced and prone to overheating (they never fix that problem). Compaq is HP's junk brand so that is out, I like ASUS's motherboards but they aren't good at producing a whole product. Lenovo makes damn fine laptops but they are focused on business and very expensive. I have been hearing good things about Gateway lately, but I have been burned before and I am not ready to go back. I bought my wife a Toshiba a few years ago and it has been very reliable, but I have read very bad things about the ergonomics of their recent models (but they make solid laptops). A co-worker who manages hardware always said HP makes excellent products and I have kept my eyes open for good deals....

Last week HP was running an online sale and I was messing around their online store figuring out if I liked the offerings and the price. I knew I would have to buy the PC at a retail store because it wouldn't arrive in time for Chicago, but research is good. HP tends to make heavy laptops - they can't help themselves - but I am okay with another half pound for sturdier equipment.

I have been eye-balling the HP DV4 for a while. At 14.1 inches - it is a real laptop, no compromises on the keyboard, mouse, or screen resolution. The system weighs in at 5 pounds 8 ounces - a bit heavier than the netbook, but much less than my old Dell laptop and it's testicle cooking battery. It has a decent 2.1 ghz duo core process with a 800 mhz FSB. Rounding out the hardware specs is 4 GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard drive.

The laptop feels very fast, it installed my usual suite of open source programs quickly. Very quickly. The system does not have a dedicated video card, and shares v-RAM with the standard operating ram. I am not a fan of this, but getting a dedicated video card adds weight and about 175 bucks. For my purposes, this was a fair trade considering the laptop is loaded with as much RAM as it can hold (and with the free Windows 7 Upgrade, the OS will be using less ram freeing even more for video). I downloaded a couple of 720P movie trailers and it played them back like a champ (something my current desktop can't do without stuttering).

The look and feel of the laptop is very nice. They keyboard has the right ergonomic feel and touch. The mouse pad has the right level of sensitivity. Overall a very pleasant end user experience. The retail store model came loaded with a remote control and features an HDMI out port which means we can use the machine as a DVD player/media center on our travels and we don't even have to get out of bed to change the channel. Not bad at all.

A few days in, and I really like the machine, I am suspecting the battery might not be as long lasting as advertised (although CNET gives it very high reviews in that department - going to have to watch that). So far - I give it a thumbs up.

[Adelphias]


For reasons I am not inclined to provided, I ended up at Deptford NJ's finest meat-head watering hole - Adelphias. For another set of reasons I am not so inclined to share, I spent most of my time at this lovely establishment on their outdoor patio which was pleasant enough until it started to get crowded with old Italian men and their very stupid and much younger dates. Mixed in with this crowd were the younger studs looking to make their conquests, and of course the college girls who "just want to dance"... All of them with cigarettes in their mouths.

Barring the ambiance, I found myself having a good time with the company I was keeping and was glad to help enable the situation. In spite of my pleasant company I found myself wondering: If an ancient race of gods or aliens came down to Earth to pass judgment, and had they chosen to pick Deptford, NJ, and more specifically the people at Adelphias as their sample population to judge ... I don't image we would be waking up to Sunday morning.

On a side note to you old Italian men who feel the need to party at Adelphias - don't shove your hand up some stupid girl's shirt in public, you make the whole culture look bad and besides - the shirt? - really? If I was in the business of obscene public acts of groping, I would be going for the gold.

[Recipe of the Week: Toasted Chile Oil]

The month of spread continues with an oil. Perfect for a nice hoagie.

Makes 1¼ cups

Ingredients
8 dried chipotle chiles
2 dried ancho chiles
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Juice from 1/2 lime

Instructions

Place a cast-iron skillet over medium heat for several minutes. When hot, add the chipotle and ancho chiles. Toast the chiles, turning them frequently with tongs, until they puff up and become fragrant. Remove from heat and let the chiles cool.

Discard the stems from all of the chiles as well as the seeds from the ancho chiles. Place the chiles in a food processor or blender and blend until broken into small pieces (if one or two of the chiles don't break up into small pieces take them out and toast a little longer). Add the oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt and lime juice. Process until fully incorporated. Store chile oil in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

[DIY of the Week: BBQ Barrel]

I know this is the end of the BBQ Season, but get ready for next year fuckers!


How to Build Your Own BBQ Barrel - More DIY How To Projects

[Video of the Week]




[Tiny Review: The Force Unleashed for Xbox 360]

If you read the blog, then you know I am not much of a gamer, but my friend sent me articles about this game when it was still in development and he got me interested. I really don't like Star Wars, but I am not against it either, but the concept of a rouge agent for Darth Vader sounded like a great story (and from what I have seen so far it would have made for a much better prequel than the last three movies that came out). Anyway - Amazon was selling it for $9 brand new and I thought - what the hell...

I played the game the last two days and it is fun but repetitive, but the story is rewarding which keeps you going. The game itself is actually full of bugs and terrible camera angles. It can be really distracting and makes it a poor gaming experience. I will let you know how it turns out because the game is for the story only.



(I suspect our anti-hero will be eliminated somehow to explain his lack of appearance in the original star wars movie)

[Conclusion]


That is all I have for today, but please check the blog starting Wednesday evening as I will be doing live blogs in CHICAGO! The wife and I are very excited about this trip as we feel Chicago is one of the world's great cities and I want to see and learn as much as I can in our time there. 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!

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Joey Lombardi | Create Your Badge

Monday, September 07, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 43

Howdy true be-loggers - welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This week we will review the virtues of being 30, revisit an old character, and learn how to make a wallet of of duct tape - this is some exciting shit isn't it? Let's open up the fridge and see what's left over...

[Thirty Years]

I wrote up a summary of my last thirty years. Here it is:
A Thirty Year Retrospective

[30th Birthday Party]


I organized a little party for my 30th. I didn't feel like having anything at my house and if we just went out to a bar in the city without preparation it would be a mess, so I just called my favorite bar Jose Pistolas and "Bartender of the Year" Casey hooked us up. We had a great time and I am glad everyone could make it (even Rob who was 3 hours and 15 minutes late).



[Crazy Train]

A few months ago, I was on the PATCO train going back to New Jersey really late. On the train, there was a very drunk man who decided to talk to everyone and asked me if I had any blow on me. Me and the wife got a chuckle out of the guy and I always wondered if he made it home...

... Well he must have because last night when I was going home, who do we run into... Drunk Guy. He was still drunk and still creating a scene. There was a family on the train with a young daughter and Drunk Guy insisted on dropping F-bombs (which actually got Nate all excited and he did the same). Drunk Guy then started asking us the meaning of life and if he should continue his engagement to some poor girl - Nate told him he was an asshole to want to get married, and I did my best to calm the situation down.

Thankfully we arrived at Collingswood and I was left to wonder if Drunk Guy got home again. Until we meet again Drunk Guy.....

[Recipe of the Week: Black Olive and Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade]

The month of spread continues - use this tasty spread on a nice roast beef sandwich.

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients
8 ounces black olives (such as kalamata), pitted and drained
4 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
8 sprigs thyme, leaves only
1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

Instructions

Place the olives, anchovies, capers, garlic, cayenne, orange zest, thyme and roasted red peppers in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until evenly combined. Add the oil and butter and pulse a few more times until it forms a cohesive paste. Store tapenade in an airtight container. It will keep refrigerated for several weeks.

[DIY of the Week: Duct Tape Wallet]

quality duct tape wallet - More DIY How To Projects

[Video of the Week]

let yourself feel. from Esteban Diácono on Vimeo.



[Conclusion]

Today's Sunday Leftovers is actually being published on Monday - I did that so I can include pictures from last night's party, I am sure nobody minds on this holiday weekend. I am still feeling the effects of last night's fun so I am going to keep this brief. If you need to reach me, you can do so via email at "blog at Joeylombardi.com". Remember, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Thirty Year Retrospective

Since I am turning 30, I figured I would take a look back at the last 30 years from my perspective.

[1979 - 1983]

The first four years of my life are a little hazy. My father's family was my whole world - literally - they all lived across the street from us, so I was always with my Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. I remember my Uncle Joe being a huge ball buster and always taking my legos, my sister attempting to kill me a few times, my Grandmother buying me vanilla ice cream cones with rainbow sprinkles from Mr. Softy, "Painting" my Grandfather's shed (using water) with my cousin Laurie, chasing my Grandparent's dog Pebbles under their couch (that was the dog's name right?), my cousin Clara (aka Fonzie) putting Combos in my cheese sandwich starting a life long love affair with that particular snack, Clara creating plastic with an easy bake oven and it promptly being taken away from us, my Godfather shoving squid between my teeth (because I wouldn't eat it) knocking out a tooth, my Grandmother (Mom's side) buying me an organ, eating freshly grown grapes from everyone's back yards, watching Thriller and "Faces of Death" with my cousins, My mom buying us 45s of "Born in the USA" and "Thriller" (and playing them non-stop), Ida's Ice Cream shop, Eating Fruity Pebbles at Jackie & Paulette's house, walking around with Ernie, the Lebanese Festivals where I went on my first rides and making friends with the Vietnamese family next door - they had a son my age that they called "Chewy".

I also remember a show called "Automan" being my absolute favorite because the dude could make anything with a "computer buddy".

Does anybody else remember this show?

[1984 - 1994]

We moved into a bigger house in 1984 near the Philadelphia football and baseball stadiums. I remember my mother and grandmother going to the house cleaning it and getting ready to move in. I don't remember much about my pre-school days, but it is where I inevitably met my childhood friends because the school nor the classroom changed much over the next 9 years. I remember my mother's father passing away and my father's mother following soon after while I was in Kindergarten.

There were plenty of kids in the neighborhood and typical of children, sometimes we got along, and sometimes we didn't. One thing that was clear from the beginning was were were all very competitive with each other in the grades department I never really shook of the fear of getting anything "less than an A because I will look dumb". Going to a Catholic grade school certainly had pros and cons: The nuns were excellent teachers who had complete control of the class (they didn't beat us with rulers btw), but you had to deal with the whole religious aspect of a Catholic education, but I didn't know what the hell was going on back then. I have a strong affection for nuns even though I loathe the church - they were good ladies.

First Holy Communions shifted into Confirmations and by that time we weren't all sugar and sweetness. The desire to be "cool" started to manifest itself - it might have started with haircuts and clothes (fucking Air Jordans, Z-Cavariccis, and "spike" haircuts), then it was minor acts of vandalism, and then it was going out and wanting to fight the kids who lived on 13th street "by the tunnel". My first window to the world outside of South Philadelphia came from my growing annoyance at my peer's taste in rap music. Kriss Kross did not make me want to "Jump Jump" and I wasn't into wearing my clothes backwards. I was sort of shocked how quickly Kriss Kross morphed into 2-Live Crew, Black Sheep, and NWA. This may have been historical music for a lot of reasons, but my 12 year old ears heard a lot of angry shit that I could not relate to. I ended up befriending an older guy named Mark who lived across the street that was in a bar band who taught me about Led Zeppelin, the Stones, the Beatles and that led me into the grunge age (I always liked Pearl Jam more than Nirvana in case you were wondering, but as an adult, I think the Pixies were the best of the genre).

My last years of grade school saw the Soviet Union collapse, ending the cold war and Bill Clinton take office (with a nice box of cigars in his desk drawer). Music was an entry drug to books, which then got me interested in history, which then got me interested in how fucked up the Catholic church was (this was heavy shit for a 12-13 year old going to Catholic school). By the time I entered my first year at St. John Neumann High School (SJNHS) I was done with the church but knew enough to keep that to myself. The school employed blatantly homosexual priests... okay I have to side track here for a moment because I will never have another reason to write about this:

At St. John Neumann High School, we were required to (of course) take a religion class. The messed up thing about this class was after a few weeks of teaching the new testament, the priest blows off the curriculum and starts teaching basic health, spending a considerable amount of time on "wet dreams". I know what you are thinking because I was thinking it too while I was trapped in the classroom with this lunatic who threatened to spank us if we were getting out of line.

I didn't have an issue with the priest's preferences (whatever my understanding of the lifestyle was at the time) but I knew enough to determine that he had serious internal conflict between his orientation and his "employers" (thinking about it makes me very sad for this guy because I don't imagine his life was easy).


Back to my time at SJNHS - it was terrible. It sucked at the time and looking back, it really sucked. That school was a dark and miserable place. The Catholic high schools in Philadelphia had track systems based on your ability. Honors Track and Track 1 were the best, Track 2 was average, Track 3 not so good, Track 4 - well - you didn't see many track 4 kids leave the basement. I was placed in all Track 1 and honors classes, but it was clear to me that many parents got their kids into these classes who didn't belong - there was a dude who used to sit behind me that I don't think could read - he used to try to cheat off of me, which I would have been cool with had he not been so open about it. I used to get into fights with this dude and his cronies all the time. It was a joy to be educated in such an institution.

By the end of that school year my old man informed us we were packing up and moving to South Jersey. My sister and I were appropriately horrified at the time and after a few visitations to my new high school, my opinion did not change (the school smelled like cow shit and all the kids looked like they just got done surfing). Leaving the world of South Philadelphia was hard at the time, I knew it wasn't perfect, but I liked the freedoms it afforded me (an ever increasing mobility thanks to public transportation). I knew Jersey would make me very dependent on my parents for transport and that was not appealing - but in the end it was one of the best decisions my father ever made.

[1994 - 1997]


By the time we moved, I don't think I was talking to any of my childhood friends; most of it was due to the typical high school split - we just didn't see each other and we moved in different circles, so it made cutting ties to the old neighborhood easier than I thought. The hardest part was not having the access to my family that I used to have, but weekly music lessons in the city kept up visitation for a few more years until I was independently mobile (but I am getting ahead of myself).

Moving to New Jersey was an adjustment; at first I thought the kids at my new high school were "simple". That was a costly error in judgment. Having just gotten out of an all boys Catholic high school, co-ed public school offered unique freedoms regarding dress code and the opposite sex. I became friends with Rob Austin on my first day of classes and he still is one of my best friends and actually the only person I still talk to from High School. Rob was friendly with a group of girls that I had assumed would be friendly to a new person. They weren't. That created an interesting dynamic and earned me a reputation with Rob's merry little group of band-chicks (I wasn't taking their shit lying down, hence the reputation).

I had a small window of opportunity to get in with the cool kids the first 2 weeks of class and I had no clue that there was a window, thus resigning myself to an odd form of anonymity. Most of these kids knew each other for years (all 264), so even though nobody gave a shit about me, they all knew me because I was a new face. A new school gave me a chance to reinvent myself a bit, but I didn't really know who the hell I was, so I went through the motions, but overall I was relatively content in my new surroundings.

In the summer of 1995, my Uncle Joe agreed to take me to Italy for a few weeks (the same Uncle Joe that took my legos from me as an infant) - this was a game changer: 3 weeks left to my own devices with distant relatives who were awesome people. I immediately struck up a friendship with my cousin Luca and we spent the next few weeks playing music and running around my family's ancestral home. I came back a changed man (internally).

The remainder of my high school years were blissfully uneventful. I joined a little rock and roll band and indulged some rock star fantasies for half a second (covering Oasis and Beatles tunes - which thanks to hours of practicing, I can't listen to anymore), I remember watching the OJ trial in my English class and thinking justice does have a price, Smashing Pumpkins were the all the rage ("Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage" - I fucking hated that song and the douche-bags that wore the zero t-shirts). I worked at a woman's shoe store in the mall and made friends with a lot of strippers. I had a few great mentors\teachers that steered me in the right direction career wise (Thanks Mr. Cromer) and then I went to college.

[1997 - 2002]

The guy I was in Italy made a strong comeback when college hit - I wasn't afraid of offending people's delicate sensibilities or worried about "what my mother might think". I immediately made a new friend a few minutes on campus and we have been thick as thieves ever since. Sean and I quickly assembled a posse in college - we were all good kids that wanted to do well, some of them had their issues which led to some philosophical disagreements, but I didn't really meet any bad people at Drexel.

Freshmen year was a haze of unrestricted freedom, building friendships, bi-sexual girls, and the end of any remaining threads of childhood. My grandfather (dad's side) passed away in November of 1997 and effectively marked the end of childhood. School was turning into "punish the bad professors" with some professors supporting my verbal terrorism on the lazy professors. A funny side note - I had won a GPA based award in the spring of 1998 and they had a little dog and pony show for the parents; one of my favorite professors, John Hall, was there to give the awards. During dessert, I introduce him to my mother and he says to her "you look too nice to be his Mom!" I think my Mom started to actually believe the stories my friends were telling.

Sophomore year brought steady employment (with it some excellent friends - Jack and The Good Looks Crew) and steady romance which brought upon forced maturity; looking back I wished I had another year of not being too responsible, but responsibility suits me. During the next few years my cousin Anthony introduced nature into my social scene organizing camping and rafting trips which have become a staple for years to come (Nate in particular enjoyed these outings and has bonded with Anthony). Somewhere in the middle of this bliss George W. Bush managed to become president of the United States. Like an asshole I didn't vote (but Gore carried in my town anyway) but I have never skipped an election since (and never viewed Florida the same way).

Some time in 2001 I went to see Glenn Philips (lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket) playing at the Northstar bar in Philadelphia. The guy opening for him was late and my friends were at the bar wondering what the hell was going on. This tall kid was drinking a beer next to us (overhearing us complain about the delay) says: "I hear the guy opening is pretty good". We were all glad to hear that, so this dude puts his beer down, walks up to the stage, picks up the guitar and starts singing this song:



Remember, this is before John Mayer became any form of famous, and a douchy celebrity dater. I maintain that Mayer is one of the best guitar players of my generation and he blew our minds. Excellent performance. He was very nice after the show, selling his self-made EPs of what became "Inside Wants Out". That fucking CD was the soundtrack of my college years.

I worked hard in college and graduated a term early, allowing me to start working early and earn some money, I shifted easily from full time student to full time worker.

[2003-2006]

In mid-2003 I broke up with a long time girlfriend and made some major life changes. I fully embraced the out with the old mentality: I rid myself of troublesome acquaintances, about 140 lbs of excess weight, started focusing on my corporate career, and opened a computer repair shop.

During this time I went on a ridiculous amount of dates. I tried all methods: bars, dating sites, blind dates - anything I could think of or suggested to me - why? - because why not? I met alot of nice girls and always tried to do the right thing. The added bonus about going out on all of those dates was it made me much better at job interviews. I had some opportunities inside and outside of my company (I kept my corporate job in addition to running my business for those not in the know) that I attribute to the girls I spent time with during those years. In the middle of this storm, I started my first blog - "Traffic in the Skyline" (I don't mess with it anymore, but it's still out there).

As Mayer got more famous and became more interested in being a celebrity, my musical mascot became and continues to be Ryan Adams. This song is a personal favorite:


Eventually I met my wife and those single days were all over.

[2006 - Present]

With my future wife in the picture, my life started calming down quite a bit (sometimes naturally, sometimes I forced it). We closed the computer shop down to everyone's relief (eventually) and I started spending my free time looking at houses. Since the housing market was in such an unsteady state, it took us two years to find a place we felt wasn't going to lose value. We moved in December 23rd 2007 - it was a pretty good Christmas that year. In October of 2008, I made an honest woman out of Allison and we got married...



With thirty years behind me, I am looking ahead to a future that is isn't assuring: that pot belly has come back, the economy is still depressed, oil supplies will continue to drop as energy concerns rise, fresh water has the potential to be in short supply in thirty years as we continue to pollute the oceans (making it less beneficial to develop desalinization technology), but I maintain hope that everybody can get their shit together and I can bring a child into the world that still has potential to do amazing things. Responsibility: You can hide from it - but it will always find you, so you might as well embrace it.

Sure some other stuff has happened along the way - promotions, fights, reconciliations, new family members, a new president, - and I am sure all of those stories will be told in some way, by me or someone else, but this is good for now.

I will end this article and this period of my life with a few pearls of wisdom:

1. Be brutally honest with your family, it is better to have it all out in the open than to try to spare someone's feelings or your concept of your own self-respect.
2. Good friends are truly a rare gift; bad friends are a dime a dozen (I like to throw my dimes at cars that cut me off).
3. If you can, make friends with people who are of different backgrounds and ages than you, it helps you get different perspectives of life and you borrow some of their hard earned wisdom.
4. Accept that you, like most people (myself absolutely included), are probably a total asshole. Once you accept that you can move past it and attempt to live a decent life.
5. Sitting on the couch will get you nothing but a fat ass.

That just about sums up 30 years, thanks for taking the ride with me. I am looking forward to the next trip.

Take it away Bruce...

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: BBC4 Performance - 2007: Oh My God, Whatever

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: BBC4 Performance - 2007: Let It Ride

NOTE: This is a follow-up to this week's Sunday Leftovers - I found several more clips of Ryan Adam's BBC4 performance, so I will post a new one each day this week. Enjoy it, I know I will.