Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 02: Issue 29



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This was a delightfully long week. I had some co-workers over for dinner, did some writing, some research, some cleaning, and LOTS of cooking. Let's open the fridge and see what's leftover...

[The Back Window]


CREDIT: WSJ



CREDIT: Tallest Man on Earth

[Good Experiences with Vendors]

ScanCafe

A few months ago I told you all about ScanCafe.com: a website that will scan your old pictures and slides and send them back to you digitized. Due to the freaking Iceland volcano going off, it took an extra month for me to get slides and high quality scans back. While annoying, the wait was worth it. The pictures came back crystal clear.

Most of the pictures were of my mom's family and people I don't know (which is sad in itself), but I did find some old pictures of a day spent at a carnival and put this together.



When I was looking at the online preview of the pictures and saw these old (kind of haunted) pictures this Jeff Buckley song immediately popped into my head, so when I got the finals, whipped up the video.

ManGroomer

Yes I am Italian and I have a semi-hairy back. I don't rock the "gorilla in the mist" look, but it certain could use a little grooming. Last year I got a ManGroomer. It worked well, and then I needed a replacement head. I had to order it online since nobody sold the replacements retail and when it arrived, I was annoyed to find the replacement didn't fit properly. I compared the old and new and saw a minor design variance, so I emailed the company. Turns out they redesigned the groomer.

I sent a note back asking what I should do as I don't think it is fair that I should have to buy a new one when they did a redesign and stopped supporting the old version. They agreed and sent me a new one.

Way to go ManGroomer - you certainly kept this customer happy.

[Recipe of the Week: Joey's Awesome Salad Dressing]

You might need to add more or less depending on the size of your salad. I don't like to drown my veggies.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of white rice vinegar
1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons of A1 steak sauce
1 tablespoon of jalapeño mustard (spicy brown will do if you don't have it)
1 squirt of Sriracha Hot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

Whisk in a bowl

In case you were wondering what I put in the salad:

Fresh spinach leaves
Red peppers
Onions
Feta cheese
Croûtons
For this particular dressing - london broil works really well, but chicken is good too.

[DIY of the Week: Cord Management]

I HATE wires and cords making my workspace look messy. Check out this DIY from Lifehacker:

The Cordless Workspace

[Video of the Week]

I just found this new web-series about a Zombie Apocalypse. It's called Universal Undead



[Conclusion]

It's the holiday weekend, so I have to pretend to care about places with ocean and sand. 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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Old Family Photos

My mom found a box of old Kodak slides at my grandmother's house. I sent them to ScanCafe to get them scanned and cleaned up. Going through I found these old pictures at a carnival and came up with this idea....




UPDATE: I also uploaded a version without the old film filter. Which one do you guys like better?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 02: Issue 28



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! I am going to be honest, I got to keep this one short this week. I ran out of time over the weekend and the Lost Finale is coming on in like 30 minutes. I am opening up the fridge and throwing my food out the door... come and get it.

[The Back Window]





CREDIT: The Love Language - Heart to Tell

[Section Missing]

You may notice that this week's Leftovers is a little light. Sorry about that. I had every intention of recounting a funny story from my childhood about a very religious aunt and a bible camp. Unfortunately I didn't have time to finish writing it, so it will not be published today (but I hope that I have you interested to check back later this week).

If you are curious, most of my free time this week was spent doing things for the Home Owner's Association that I help to run - sorry I don't have any interesting stories about people beating each other up at meetings, I just created a lot of online web forms. I spent most of my weekend cleaning my house because I have co-workers coming over for dinner on Tuesday. The end. Pretty boring right?

[Building Rant: Education]

About 20 weeks ago, I did a rant about the education system that resonated with many readers. I also resonated with me. I couldn't shake the idea of a kid getting out of school with $120,000.00 in debt and can't get a job waiting tables (and how college kids competing for those jobs screws over kids who don't go to college).

The issue bothered me so much that I started reading books about education in the US and abroad. I am not quite ready to post yet (I am in the solution stage), but I wanted to get you interested and start the debate again. Incomes in the United States haven't come close to matching the rate of tuition increases. Combine this with the fact that most education institutions are not striving to give you an incredibly challenging educational experience, in fact, they are striving to keep it quite average.

The issues of high costs, dumbing down school so average people can go, and the expectation that to get a job you need a 4-year college degree is creating a massive problem that is going to explode over the next two decades.

It is going to be a good read - trust me.

[Recipe of the Week: Bacon Fruit Cups]

Obviously this isn't one of mine, the good people at Instructables saved me the trouble of having to copy and paste...


Bacon Fruit Cups - More DIY How To Projects

[DIY of the Week: Compost Heap Hot Water]

File this one away for when the Zombie Apocalypse happens.

Get Hot Water from a Compost Heap

No point in doing anything other than tell you to read the whole post over at OneStraw.

[Video of the Week]

We got an educational on this week. I'd avoid that Diet Soda if I were you....



[Conclusion]

I am out. Check back later this week for the story about me and bible camp. 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, May 17, 2010

Chicago 2.0: Hotel Review (Hotel Palomar)

I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't finish up my Chicago summary with a review of our hotel.

The Hotel Palomar: Chicago
Website: HotelPalomar-Chicago.com
Location: 505 North State Street



This recently completed hotel is planted in a perfect location. Right next to the red line giving you easy access to everything (and not having to carry luggage for several blocks after a flight), the hotel is perfectly positioned for people who want to experience the what the city has to offer and want to be tucked a few blocks away from the "Mag Mile" tourism.

Unlike other Palomar/Kimpton Hotels we have stayed out, this room was not the typical shoe-box space (big enough for a bed and a tv and nothing else). We had enough room for a real desk and an extra lounge chair. It was the perfect size. The hotel's amenities included an indoor pool, a decent gym, outdoor lounge, and a nightly wine tasting.

This hotel enhanced our stay in Chicago, the staff was friendly, and the location was perfect. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 02: Issue 27



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! I spent most of my week in Chicago, and I hope you have been keeping up with that adventure. Chicago aside, I still have plenty of stuff to talk about, so let's open up the fridge and see what's left over.

[The Back Window]





CREDIT: Madeleine Peyroux - Between the Bars (Elliot Smith Cover)

[RANT: Foreign Travelers]

I spent a good portion of the week in Chicago (read about that here). I had a great time and I think it is great that Chicago is an international tourist destination except I can't stand foreign vacationers. Why you may ask?

1. They don't respect personal space. They get close in elevators, cut lines, and are generally annoying crowded situations.
2. THEY DON'T RESPECT PERSONAL SPACE.
3. They stop in the middle of the busy sidewalk thinking there is nobody else walking (I may be traveling, but I am a city boy). PS - you would think Asian tourists would know to keep moving since they come from such tight places (sorry to generalize Aimee, but you know I'm right!)?
4. Just because you want to take a picture, you don't have the right to get in front of people
5. Randomly stooping and crouching to read a sign or a piece of information (at exactly crotch level) - you are foreign, we both know you can't read English.

(Okay, I am joking at the last one because most foreign travelers are probably more educated than their American counterparts)

I am usually great with foreign travelers, but there was ALOT going on in Chicago. If you are from another country and reading this, don't be so god-damn eager to take pictures and read the stupid signs when you are in line (there is plenty of time, it's a god-damn line!)... be patient, your moment will come.

[Recipe of the Week: Deep Dish Pizza]

In honor of this week's trip to Chicago, here is a recipe for Deep Dish Pizza

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 green or red pepper (2 x 1/4 inch strips)
1 medium onion, thin sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. thinly sliced pepperoni
1/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. basil flakes or 1 tablespoon fresh, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tube refrigerated pizza crust (or you can make your own or buy some from your local pizzeria)
3/4 cup pizza sauce (or make your own, which I highly suggest)
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 pkg. (8 oz.) shredded Mozzarella
olive oil

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to hot 425°F.
2. Remove casings from sausage and crumble into large heavy skillet. Brown over medium heat, stirring often until meat is no longer pink. Drain on paper towels, pouring off excess fat.
3. In the same pan, sauté peppers and onions in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms, pepperoni, basil, oregano and black pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes. If the mixture seems too dry, add 1-2 tablespoons water.
4. Unroll the pizza dough and place in a well seasoned 9-10 inch cast iron skillet, stretching dough slightly to fit up sides about 1 inch. Roll pointed corners under or cut off and re-roll to make a small pizza.
5. Lay down some olive oil on the dough, and then add the cheese as the bottom layer.
6. Then add the sausage
7. Then the vegetables
8. Spread the sauce over the top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
9. Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes (depends on your oven) or until edges of crust are browned and cheese is bubbly.

[DIY of the Week: Admiral Ackbar Puppet]


LINK: Admiral Sacbar Instructions

Here is a fun geek project to do with your child. If he or she is like me, they don't know who the hell General Ackbar is, but it is fun regardless.

I will tell you what you need, but move over to the link for pictures and full instructions.

MATERIALS:
2 small brown paper lunch bags
Craft glue
Large googly eyes (optional)
Black, cream, white, gray, yellow, and light brown felt squares

[Video of the Week]

So this is what thousands of gallons of oil spilling into the ocean looks like...


[Conclusion]


I did a good amount of writing this week, and I hope you enjoyed the increased output. I have a massive rant on the education system coming in the next few weeks (I am actually reading a couple of books about the subject). 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

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chicago 2.0: Day 3

After an even later start than the previous day (thanks to a very late night enjoying Second City), we didn't get moving until Noon. We did register for our flights and get a work out in, but the morning defiantly moved slow. Since it was already lunch time, we decided to skip breakfast and an insane idea popped into our heads...

[Food Hattrick]

Allison and I could not decide if we should go to Big Al's Italian Beef or Portillo's Hog Dogs. I came up with a solution, get both...

Portillos
Location: 100 West Ontario Street
Website: Portillos



Classic Chicago Hot Dog at it's finest. This thing was delicious. The inside stunk of tourism, but the Jumbo hot dog was only 2.75 which was cheaper than Wrigley, and we got a much better dog. After we quickly ate our hotdogs, we moved down Ontario and came upon...

Big Al's Italian Beef

Location: 169 W. Ontario Street
Website: Al's Beef



The last time we were in Chicago, we missed this place and it really bothered me. It's like going to Philadelphia and not getting a cheese steak (which you shouldn't - but I have done that rant enough). Luckily, we made it a point to go and it was TOTALLY worth it. The sandwich was moist (because it was dipped), had a little heat because of the peppers and there was a hint of sweetness lurking somewhere in the juices. So freaking good.

While stuffing my face with sandwich - I spotted Gino's East; I joked that we should complete the Chicago food hattrick by getting a deep dish pizza (and also freeing up our evening). Allison was up for it, so we finish up our sandwiches (we got a medium and a small) and went across the street to...

Gino's East
Location: 633 North Wells Street
Website: Gino's East



This classic deep dish pizza was well worth the 45 minute wait. We used the time to recover and enjoy the local 312 beer as well. We ordered a small pizza and it was perfect for the little appetite we had. The smaller pieces went down easy (2 for each of us) and after 20 minutes of eating we were on our way.

[The Sear... I mean Willis Tower]

Location: 233 South Wacker Drive
Website: Willis Tower: SkyDeck



We decided to take the decent walk over to the Willis Tower (formerly known as The Sears Tower). Is the view awesome? Yes. Is the surrounding piazza impressive? Yes. Was it worth the hour long wait to get up and deal with standing in line to look out of a window? NO. The John Hancock tower offers almost the same view with less people and it is in the center of activity. So if you want my travel tip, pop in there if you happen to be in the area.

My hatred for lines withstanding, that building is most definately impressive.

[Boston Blackies]

Location: 164 East Grand Avenue
Website: BostonBlackies.com



We visited Boston Blackies on our last trip based on a recommendation from a friend, we felt like we couldn't miss going again. Since we were so full from today's eating bonanza, we decided to split a cheese burger. It was awesome. Like last time, we had a great waitress - just fits in with the place. Blackie's custom beer is also excellent, so I helped myself to three. After some onion rings and steak fries, we headed on out.

[Conclusion]

As I type this we are debating on having one last drink at the hotel restaurant. While I am undecided on the need for another drink, one think I am sure of is that Chicago has been an excellent host to us yet again. Thanks for the memories Chi-town, until next time, stay windy.

Chicago 2.0: Day 2

Our second day in Chicago started slowly. We took our time getting up, then I hit the hotel gym. By the time we were ready to get breakfast, it was 10:30 AM. We planned on eating at the hotel, but they stopped serving at 10 AM. The hostess suggested a place a few blocks away and off we went...

[Eggsperience Cafe]

Location: 35 W. Ontario
Website: EggsperienceCafe.com



About 5 blocks from our hotel, Eggspereince Cafe was a great way to start our morning. Even though it was light and open, Eggsperience was packed with people. Since I knew I was going to be eating terrible the rest of the day, I decided oatmeal and egg whites were in order. Even with the less-than-exciting ingredients, my meal was delicious. Allison's vegetable crapes were too much for her to handle. Our service was extremely quick and we were in and out in 30 minutes.

[Tickets Again]

After our breakfast, we walked over to the tourism office to see if they had tickets for Second City again. They didn't. They girl gave us a phone number to call and Allison managed to snag tickets to the 11 PM show (I was going to have so much fun trying to stay up). We headed back to the hotel area and I run into a used book store to get something to read on the flight home.

After buy a few books, we freshened up at the hotel and headed back to the "Red Line" to take us to Wrigley Field.

[Cubs vs. Pirates]




Like our last trip, Wrigley Field is always an interesting experience. IT WAS PACKED. PACKED doesn't do it justice. After navigating our way through the sea of people, we managed to get to our seats, and I was pleased with our location: right behind home plate. The people around us were great, the weather was awesome. We decided to leave a little early to enjoy the weather/city and the Cubs were in the lead.

I checked the score later and they lost 10-7. Busted.

[Weber Grill]

Location: 539 N. State St.
Website: Weber's Grill



After walking around the city and enjoying a wine reception at our hotel, we headed over to the Weber Grill for dinner. Since the weather was mild (and they had outdoor heaters) my wife requested outdoor seating. While the weather was nice, the seats were TERRIBLE. They really impacted my enjoyment of the meal.

Seating aside, the food was very good. It wasn't mind blowing. I don't know if red meat at a restaurant will ever blow my mind since my old man is the king of steak. My brisket was cooked well, but I think it should have been taken off the grill a little sooner (and that would make sense since it took a long time for the main course to come out).

Overall, it was a good experience, not great.

[Second City]

Location: 1616 N Wells St.
Website: SecondCity.com
Show: The Taming of the Flu

After a "itis"-induced rest thanks to Webers, we headed over to Wells Street. Second City is one of the few places there isn't easy public transportation to, but a $7 dollar cab right isn't going to break the bank. Earlier in the day, the teller recommended getting there early since our general admission tickets could put us anywhere. We arrived at 10:20 PM and ended up getting great seats a few rows back from the stage.

The show was very much in the same template as the Stud Turkel show we saw last May. I was pleased to recognize some of the same cast as well. The show was funny, took shots at the city of Chicago, the nation, the state of the economy, education and whatever else they came up with.

The cast seemed to be having a lot of fun as they "broke character" a few times and actually laughed during the skits. I always like when that happens on SNL. My wife hoped there were more interactive parts like the Turkel Show, but I can see how that's a gamble if you pick a lame duck in the audience. I had a great time and managed to stay awake during the show.

We got back to the hotel around 1:30 AM and I was exhausted. I am curious what tomorrow (actually today) brings since we don't have tickets, plans, or an agenda. Free form vacation day in Chicago, tune in tomorrow to find out what happens.



Click on the link to read: Day 3

Friday, May 14, 2010

Worst Wedding DJ Ever

Saw this on BoingBoing

Chicago 2.0: Day 1

"It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago-she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time."
~ Mark Twain "Life On The Mississippi," 1883

People asked me "why go back to Chicago? You were there last September!" I think Mark Twain's quote sums my thoughts up about that matter quite well. It also helps that my wife and I scored awesome flight and hotel deals, we couldn't say no. I went into this trip less planned and organized than the last. We saw all of the typical things you might want to see in the city last time, to me this trip was more about relaxing and seeing what the city offers.

We arrived in Chicago around 10 AM local time. No real issues on the flight, but Southwest was BUSY in Philadelphia. This was the first time we had a line going outside to check in luggage (make note of that if you are traveling out Philadelphia using Southwest). We easily found our way to the city's public transportation in the airport and off we went. Our hotel is basically located right at the subway exit which was great, since I didn't have to carry our luggage several blocks like last time.

We were able to immediately check into the hotel (we didn't ask, they offered). So far, our hotel has been great (I will do a full review at the end of the vacation). After freshening up and answering some work emails (I know I am a sucker), we went to lunch. I spotted a Thai restaurant that we both wanted to try.

[Star of Siam]

Name: Star of Siam
Location: 11 E. Illinois St.
Website: StarofSiamChiago.com



We didn't read about this place before, we just saw it and walked in - and I was glad we did. The food was very good. I will always rate Thai cuisine based on Somsak (Voorhees, NJ) and I thought Star of Siam was very close in quality, but the food was different, more Chinese in sauces, but the combination of ingredients was very Thai.

The service was excellent, the decor was open and inviting. Great experience.

[River Tour: Chicago's First Lady Architecture Tour]
Location: 112 E. Wacker Street
Website: CruiseChicago.com

After lunch we walked over to the tourist center to see if there were any tickets for shows during our stay. Slim pickings for the weekend as we were told weekend tickets get released on Friday morning. I saw a adaption of a Neil Gaiman script and got tickets for that night. The rest of the weekend's activities would have to wait until tomorrow.

We decided to see if we can get tickets to the fabled Architecture Tour on the river. Our last time in Chicago, it was completely sold out and we and do use a "lesser competitor". Thursday's weather had been cloudy with scattered rain, but it was blue skies at that moment. As I approached the ticket gate, I asked the teller for a schedule, he said there was a tour leaving in 2 minutes and it wasn't completely full. I looked at wife and decide to take the opportunity because of the (temporarily good) weather and the popularity of the tour.

While the tour was very educational, and the guide was great, I must admit that the tour we did last time was better. First Lady had more information about the buildings (not alot more), but the other tour takes you out on Lake Michigan (which gives you great views of the city), this tour doesn't and is a bit more expensive. So if you are planning a trip, make sure you do the one that takes you out on Lake Michigan.

Overall, it was nice to be on a boat for a sunny 90 minutes learning about a great city.

[Theater: Neverwhere]

Location: 6912 North Glenwood Avenue
Website: Lifeline Theater
Play: Neverwhere

After the boat tour we headed back to the hotel to shower and make plans for the show. The theater was 35 minutes outside of the main loop of the city, but a quick search on Google told me the "Red Line" subway would take us right there (and Google was right!). Because the show started at 7:30 we decided to do dinner after, so we cleaned up, rested, and left around 6:30 PM.

We easily found the theater and settled into the lobby waiting for the show to start. I will admit that looking at the lobby, I started to get flashbacks to my "High Fidelity" experience from my last trip (summary: really amateurish musical with terrible lead). I could not have been more wrong about this theater company.

The story is heavy science fiction about a man who get stuck between two realities while helping a mysterious girl. The stage crew used every square inch of the stage to introduce a sense of movement that was critical to the play's plot. The cast was excellent, the special effects were pretty good for a low budget production, and the actual stage was very cool. My wife and I had a pact that if the play was bad, we would leave at intermission, I was glad to have stayed.

[Dinner: Rock Bottom Brewery]

After a long ride back to the hotel, we were definitely hungry. I had spotted Rock Bottom Brewery earlier walking around the city and thought it would still be serving food when we got back and I was right. I had assumed that Rock Bottom was a local Chicago restaurant based on it's appearance. Appearances can be deceiving. As soon as I saw the menu, I knew this place was a chain.

There isn't anything wrong with restaurant chains, but I like to spend my money supporting local small business. Regardless of my culinary philosophy, I found the beer at the "brewery" to be terrible. The food was okay (I got a club sandwich), and the service was TERRIBLE. I didn't expect much going into a place at 11 PM, I just wanted to get some food and leave. The waitress told us we had 15 minutes to order, and then disappeared. She comes back takes the orders, disappears again (no water, etc). Another girl brings the food out, and when it was time to get the check that whole process took a good 20-25 minutes.

After a long day, we went back to the hotel went right to bed. It was a good first day and I am excited to see what tomorrow brings (well it is actually today since I am posting it this morning).



Click HERE for Day 2.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Look at this dog...



Apparently this image is super-viral on the internet. I haven't seen it before today, when I saw a link to a Maryland NPR station that did a story on it's origin. NPR attempts to find the guy who made the poster, it takes 15 minutes of listening to boring people who saw the poster to FINALLY getting to the kid who actually made it.

So this guy makes the poster, puts it around this his town. A girl who works at a comicbook shop sees two posters, takes one, puts it in the shop. Another girl at the shop takes a picture, puts it on the internet. BoingBoing finds it and puts it on their website, it blows up.

(You can listen to the story here)

The creator thought there was no middle ground with dog flyers: You have lost dogs and found dogs. He thought what about a poster for a dog that isn't going anywhere? That was the joke btw. The creator hasn't stepped up to claim credit over the years because he didn't want to be known, he wanted it to be random (and once it got huge, he didn't think anybody would believe him anyway).

... random indeed.

Computer Joey: How to set up a RSS Reader

For those technically inclined, this may seem a little rudimentary, but I cannot tell you how many times I tell people "I found this article in my RSS reader and I thought you would like it" and I get a blank stare back. My motivation for this article comes from Facebook's ever increasing privacy violations - I am prepping to get away from the service and I plan on taking everyone with me.

Personally - I don't need Facebook. I have a website where I can publish whatever I want and control how it is viewed. I know most people don't want to run their own websites and are perfectly content with Twitter or Facebook, but I want to make sure you can keep in touch with... me!

My own ego aside, RSS feeds are a fantastic way to read news, keep tabs on your favorite musicians, and much more. Another great feature is you can mark them as saved and go back later or even share them with friends in a variety of ways.

For this tutorial, we are going to use Google Reader. Yes, I know Google does some semi-creepy stuff with your data, but at least they don't force you into sharing things you don't want to (first week of Buzz aside).

INSTRUCTIONS
1. You need a Google account. If you don't have one, go to Gmail.com and sign up for a new account. If you have a Gmail account, skip to step two.

2. Once you have signed up, go to Reader.google.com. You will be see a welcome screen...



3. In the top left side of the screen, you will see a button that says "Add a subscription". Click on that button...



4. Type your favorite blog or website and then click the add button (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT!)



5. You will see that once you hit add, the blog or website will be added to your "Subscriptions" section



As you read through the posts, the RSS reader will mark that selection as read and the number of unread items highlighted in bold will decline.

6. By default, Google Reader shows all items in your RSS feed all the time. You can change that setting in the upper area of the article window. By clicking on "Show: New Items" the reader will only display new posts. This can be changed back and forth at any time.



7. At the bottom of each article, there is a control panel that will allow you to star, share, email, and do other things with the post. You can look at your starred items in the left side control panel, there is a "Starred Items" Folder (the same goes for shared items)



8. If you look at the left side control panel, you will see "People that you follow". Click on "Search for some people". This will take you to a screen where you can put in your friends Gmail addresses and be able to easily see what they are sharing and visa-versa.



That takes us through the basics of setting up RSS feeds. Have fun finding sites to add to your reader.

Before I go - one last hint. Several websites like LifeHacker and even the New York Times have different RSS feeds formatted in different ways. Some sites only give you the headline of the article, other sites give you the full article. Most sites offer both, but you will have to find the link to the full feed. Don't get frustrated, you should see an RSS feed icon that looks like this:

That should give you the link to the properly formatted RSS feed. But give it a try, you will get the hang of it very quickly.

Costa Rican Paradise - only $135,000.00



I saw this article on BoingBoing a few days ago: A man moved his family to Costa Rica basically near the beach and rain forest. Makes you think what 135k gets you in the USA (bot-flys aside)

Check out the slide show here

Monday, May 10, 2010

Leftover Leftovers: Reviews

Howdy true be-loggers! Since I was a day late, I figured I would write up a bonus feature this week. Over the last few **gasp** months, I have been stockpiling reviews of movies, books, movies, and TV shows. Not that my opinion counts for much, but this is what I have come across and my thoughts on all of it.

PS - I am trying out this new Amazon Associates thing where I get credit for referring products. This is test (I added this in after the fact as I thought this article would be a good candidate as I already had links to Amazon for the books).

[Music]

Works Progress Administration: WPA

One day I decided to see what Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket was up to and was pleased to see he was working on a project with the Watkins siblings from Nickel Creek. WPA has it's overly sweet moments, but I love the independent, collective vibe that the music comes from.
Website: WPA
wpa

The Watson Twins: Talking to me talking to you

I first heard the single "The Devil in You" and thought it was an Amber DeLaurentis tune that I had never heard. When I found out that it was the Watson Twins I immediately tracked down more songs (the album wasn't out yet). After listening to live tracks and finally the completed album I am glad they haven't completely stolen DeLaurentis' sound, but I think it would have suited them better than what they produced. Besides "Devil in You" the songs are slow and labored which eventually drags me down and out.
Website: The Watson Twins
Talking to You Talking to Me

The Hold Steady: Heaven is Whenever

Sounds very much like all the other Hold Steady albums - getting wasted, overcoming, salvation through rock. One thing is missing... the keyboards and backing vocals of Franz Nicolay. I think the Hold Steady will always produce mentally interesting story rock - that's all there is to say.
Website: The Hold Steady
Heaven Is Whenever

Jacob Dylan: Women and Country

Bob Dylan's son has burned me before: the last few Wallflower albums were terrible and first solo effort wasn't much better. I say this because I really liked "Bring Down the Horse" and thought their live act was very good. I gave his latest effort a listen only because Neko Case and Kelly Hogan are both heavily featured on this album. The results? It doesn't suck. Having seen Jakob live a few times, there is just something about him that makes me think he is a douche-bag (nothing directly obvious). Overall, the musicians he put together to back him up sound VERY good. If you want a darker alt-country vibe, this is a pretty good CD.
Website: Jakob Dylan
Women and Country

[Movies/TV]

Tin Man (TV, Mini-Series)

I found this on Netflix the other day. This is a re-interpretation of "The Wizard of Oz" starring Zooey Deschanel and Alan Cumming. Totaling 4.5 hours (and me watching it hung over), this was pretty interesting until the last hour. I was surprised there was so many name actors and actresses in a Syfy mini-series. Cumming was entertaining as a character based on the scarecrow, but Deschanel's Dorothy or "DG" as she is called was a little flat. The part was written too child-like for her and I think she coasted.

The series was called Tin Man, but the "Tin Man" character had no more focus than the Scarecrow or the Lion. Not sure if that was due to editing, but I found it odd. For a TV mini-series, the CGI looked pretty good and the story is similar enough, yet different to be entertaining. The story builds up to a major confrontation, and while it pays off exactly as you expect, it doesn't feel satisfying. If you like the "Wizard of Oz" you will enjoy this, but if you are looking for an excellent story - go somewhere else.
Tin Man (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

It Might Get Loud (Movie, Documentary)

What happens when you get Jimmy Page, Jack White, and The Edge in a room talking about music? This movie. If you love guitar and "behind the music" type of documentaries, you will love this movie. I surely did.
It Might Get Loud [Blu-ray]

The Goods (Movie, Comedy)

This Jeremy Piven comedy falls flat, not because Piven or the rest of the cast is bad, but because this type of comedy is so formulaic that it would be impossible to overcome the material. Typical stuff, no reason to shit on it, but no reason to watch it either.
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

Where the Wild Things Are (Movie, Drama?)

I finally got around to watching this movie, and I don't think it works as a movie. In real world terms, it is a 12 year old kid carrying 80 minutes of screen time by himself with CGI characters. When you break it down like that, it doesn't seem like such a good idea. I appreciate where the creators were coming from, and their marketing person was a genius, but some material shouldn't be turned into movies.
Where the Wild Things Are

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Movie, Children)

Ever since WALL-E, I don't turn my nose at children's films, I will watch them and pass them along to my friends with kids. I watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and I wasn't impressed. People who make children's films don't have to make everyone so frantic and jumpy, kids can relate to more quiet moments so they can catch their breath. The only good point was Mr. T did a voice and was awesome.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Single-Disc Edition)

Astro-Boy (Movie, Children)

See above. This is a tough one because I don't think children under 9 should see this because the main character dies in the first 10 minutes and his memories are put into a robot (and I don't think the film does a good job dealing with that issue at all -its like - oh he is a robot now and so much cooler!). The problem is the movie is made for kids under 10. Go figure.
Astro Boy

Treme (TV, Series)

I have been watching Treme on HBO and think it is fantastic. It is the story of post-Katrina New Orleans (the story starts three months after the storm). I love the characters, the music, and the whole reason they are doing the show. John Goodman is awesome as is Steve Vaugn.
Treme: The Complete First Season

Last of the Living (Movie, Horror)

Australian low budget zombie movie with a twist of comedy. Think Shawn of the Dead without any of the talent. This movie was a waste of time and I watched most of it on fast forward.
Last of the Living

[Books]

Sex in the Second City

This pop-history book is written very much in the same vein as "Devil in the White City" which we all know is one of my favorite books. This non-fiction retelling of the rise and fall of the semi-famous Everleigh sisters. Two sisters from the south (unclear where) who moved to Chicago in 1900 and operated the most famous brothel in the world for over a decade. The book documents the simultaneous rise to power of the sisters and the religious and right-wing politicians and their eventual confrontation.
Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul

Brothel: Mustang Ranch and it's Women
Joey, why are you reading so many books about prostitution? I could say that I am interested in the obvious social contradictions surrounding prostitution or it could be that the table I usually sit at for my GMAT class is right next to the "whore" section in the library (which is also next to Ann Coulter's books I might add). This book started as a clinical health study at the fabled Mustang Ranch in Nevada. It turned out to be a bit of a psychological study and minor history of prostitution in Nevada. Not nearly as good as Sex in the Second City, but it did give me some of the critical historical data I was looking for regarding how Nevada is the only state with legalized prostitution.
Brothel: Mustang Ranch and Its Women

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 02: Issue 26



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! What a hell of a way to celebrate the half-way mark for Volume 2 - I am posting this a day late. I won't BS you my readers, I was recovering from a pretty long Saturday and your favorite blogger might have had too many libations towards the end of the night. With that said, let's open up the fridge and find out what's left over....

[The Back Window]











CREDIT: Bronx Cheerleader - Camelot

[BBQ]

Every year I throw a pretty large BBQ at my home (where-ever that may be at the time) and every year I say it will be the last. I have this argument in my head about how many people we can accommodate (and then still over inviting), the days of preparation leading to the event, all day cleaning/shopping/food-prep during the day, and a marathon 4-5 hour grilling session during - all the while cleaning trash, plates, etc to make more room for the endless chain of food and people.

Like I said, every year I say I am not going to do again, but then I see my guest come together in interesting ways. Some family members who don't get to see each other as often as they could sitting down and telling stories and sharing a drink, people who don't know each other well having hour long conversations, my father roaming around doing whatever the hell it is that he does, and in recent years kids running around getting crazy while their parents listlessly jump from one tray of food to the next (I am looking at you Rob). I see all this and say - how can I not do this?

Yes I stress... about the food being cooked well, about not having invited more friends and family, about the people who bailed without letting me know (and taking someone else's spot), about the mess, about the kids having a good time, about the kids getting into something they shouldn't, about not having any room for leftovers, about people leaving before I get to talk to them. Then I sit down in front of the fire, covered in grease, smoke, cow DNA - someone hands me a drink and I get to enjoy the carnival for an hour. Half of the guests are gone by then, and the other half stay long enough to allow me to have this moment because they know that's what I look forward to every year... and that's when I start thinking about...

This BBQ evolved as my life has. At one time it was nothing more than a glorified kegger, and it has become more a yearly statement of where life is at the moment. On Saturday morning as my mother drops off supplies, as I pick up the meat from my dad, as I pick up the beer from my in-laws, as I see my wife baking brownies, and later as I help my cousin bring in the firewood he chopped for the fireplace, I realize that if this BBQ is some form of reflection of my life, it is is a pretty damn good one.

...until next year.

[Nashville]

This time last year, my wife and I were enjoy the wonderful city of Nashville. Last week, the city was demolished with floods. I thought it was bad, but not this bad...



If you would like to donate, here is the link to the Nashville Red Cross

If you want to read about Nashville's better days - here are my blog post from last year:
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Conclusion

[Recipe of the Week: Grilled Egg Plant Burgers]

(This will make anywhere from 12-18 servings)

INGREDIENTS:

2 Medium sized egg plants that are pretty wide (as wide as a hamburger)

RELISH
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 red onion (small) diced
1 sweet onion (small) diced
2 roasted tomatoes (just put them on the grill for three minutes on each side, medium heat) diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

CHEESE TOPPING
6 oz ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix the relish ingredients together
2. Mix the cheese topping ingredients together (really whip the ricotta in a bowl, it becomes easier to work with)
3. Cut the eggplant in rounds about 1/2 inch in width. Discard the smaller tops (you want something close to the diameter of a hamburger - a little smaller is okay)
4. Grill the eggplant 3-4 minutes on each side on medium-low heat.
5. Add the cheese topping then the relish. Serve on a plate or in a nice round roll.

[DIY of the Week: Glass Guitar Slide]

You know I love making things with old booze bottles....

1. Go to your friendly bottle shop/liquor supplier and look for a bottle that has a long, straight neck. (Many high class sherry and port bottles are ideal.)
2. Drink the contents.
3. Next day put a stone cutting disc onto your angle grinder and using water as a lubricant gradually cut around the bottleneck, just above the shoulder . Use eye protection.
4. Smooth off the inside of the cut with a fine round file. If you don't have a grinder, cut a line around the bottleneck with the edge of a file and put the bottle inside a garbage can.
5. Again using eye protection, smash the base of the bottle with a hammer and with any luck the neck will break off almost cleanly around the file cut. You can then grind the edge smooth on some concrete pavement.

The combination of heavier strings, higher action and a heavier slide allow you to get a beautiful clean slide sound without scuffing the bottleneck onto the frets. You can vary the pressure on the strings to get different voices but you can still play finger style and chord comfortably.

Credit: Slideplayer.com

[Video of the Week]



[Conclusion]

It's been one hell of week, so I am going to wrap things up. Check back later this week as I will be blogging from Chicago (starting Thursday - at least one blog a day). 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, May 02, 2010

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 02: Issue 25



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! I spent most of my week at my company's city office and with my co-workers after work. It was certainly good to get out, but I didn't spend too much time scouring the internet for things to talk about. I guess I will have to talk about my experiences instead. Let's open the fridge and see what's left over....

[The Back Window]











CREDIT: Phosphorescent - The Mermaid Parade

[RANT: Spreadsheets]

If you work for a company that makes more than $30,000.00 a year in profits and run EVERYTHING on spreadsheets... STOP. Use SQL or even access databases and quit the fabled "million dollar spreadsheets". That's all. There is nothing more to say about this.

[RANT: Quizzo]

While out with a large group of co-workers this week, I played Quizzo. For those who are unaware, Quizzo is a bar trivia game that comes in different shapes and sizes, but the general idea is to show off your completely useless knowledge base. I didn't go out of my way to find Quizzo, it found us.

At 8 PM, I noticed the bar was suddenly crowded and a group of extremely old men in dusty baseball jerseys and backwards baseball caps were sitting at the table next to my group. Smaller tables also started to fill up around the bar. The leader of the old men was wearing a thick golden bike chain around his neck (which I assume denoted his leadership). I immediately sized him up as an asshole. I was right.

The DJ decided to call himself "JohnnyGoodTimes"; he certainly was not a good time. Quizzo quickly took over the entire bar. We were basically forced to play. This would be okay if the regulars didn't take the game so seriously. During the first round as my table shouted answers and tried to continue our good time, the old dust-buster started yelling at us to be quiet. JohnnyGoodTimes had to come over and reprimand us several times as if we actually cared about winning. This continued for the next three rounds.

When the hell did bar people become so uptight (this is coming from a pretty uptight person)? Last time I checked, booze was the main attraction at bars; which usually makes people loud. If you don't want to be around a bunch of loud drunk people, don't go to small bars (or bars at all for that matter). This isn't the first time I have seen Quizzo participants take this shit too seriously, but I can normally get up and hide in a dark corner of the bar. But why the hell should I have to hide? In this scenario, I was there first and more importantly - they were a group of old people wearing backwards baseball caps and bike chains- they shouldn't have even been allowed into the bar. Economically speaking, these bastards probably played every week and tried to win the gift certificate (and re-using previous week's earnings), thus probably spending very little at the bar vs. my group's rather hefty 4-hour-tab. Who would you want to keep at the bar?

Not to digress, but there is such a thing as aging gracefully. I tried to get my wife to take a picture of them with her phone, but the bastard saw her with the smart phone and assumed we were cheating at Quizzo with our "fancy internet phones" and had JohnnyJerkOff came over to tell us to shut off our phone in which I told him to "fuck off". He wisely did.

To summarize: Don't go to bars if you don't want to be around drunk, potentially loud people. To bar managers: Tell Quizzo DJ's to get a sense of humor and stop hiring shitty cover bands (I know it has nothing to do with this rant, but I am tired of listening to some asshole sing old Creed tunes - once was more than enough).

[Recipe of the Week: Roy's Hot Chocolate Souffle]

Since I wasn't home the entire week, I didn't do much cooking. However, while out to dinner, Roy's kindly shared their Souffle recipe.

(Serves 4)
INGREDIENTS:
8 oz. semi-sweet dark chocolate
12 tbsp. butter
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
soufflé rings

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix sugar and cornstarch
2. Have eggs and yolks mixed together in a separate bowl.
3. In a saucepan, bring butter to a simmer. Add chocolate and mix until smooth. Continue mixing until chocolate begins to simmer along the edges.
4. Add the chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
5. Add eggs and mix at low speed until smooth and sugar is dissolved.
6. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate overnight.
7. On the next day pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Take out the souffle rings and line with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.
8. Place each ring on a square of parchment paper and then on a baking sheet. Fill the ring 2/3rds with the chocolate mix.
9. Bake for 30 minutes.
10. Take out the baking sheet, lift rings with tongs and get underneath with metal spatula to transfer to a plate.
11. Lift mold and remove parchment paper.
12. Serve immediately with ice-cream

[DIY of the Week: Old Shirts into Grocery Bag]

My wife would LOVE for me to do this to several of my old t-shirts that I can't part with...



[Video of the Week]

Holy Shit...


[Conclusion]

I think I am going to go any enjoy this 80 degree weather by sweating some more outside. 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