Monday, September 26, 2011

Remembering Nancy

This weekend my wife’s family had a memorial service for her Grandmother Nancy. Nancy died several weeks back, but the family decided to hold off on formal services until the entire clan could gather from various locations. It was a very practical decision. It was very Nancy.

I was essentially an outsider in this situation, I wasn’t a part of the collective memories that was a direct result of this woman’s existence and the decisions she made (BTW, I am not saying I haven’t been embraced by my wife’s family, they have always been quite welcoming). Because of Nancy’s decisions, I have my wife, and my life with her. So I thought I would take a moment to reflect on Nancy and thank her in my own way.

I don’t remember the first time I met Nancy, I am sure Allison brought me over there to introduce me at some point during our first summer together, but my first real concrete memory of her was Christmas. When I was single and dating, I used to have a rule about spending Christmas with other people’s family. I didn’t. My thoughts being the same as the 2nd paragraph of this post, you are an outsider in an intimate family moment. I was not entirely thrilled with the idea of going into a house full of people I didn’t know (or didn’t know well) and getting mixed up in their memories.

But a funny thing happened when I walked in... all hell was breaking lose in the best possible way. Every square inch of Nancy’s home was occupied with activity. Nancy immediately welcomed us into the house and then cut us lose to fend for ourselves. No pretense, no formality. These people were just trying to have a good time and she was the force at the center of it, keeping all of these very different people together and tethered.

I walked away from that evening glad that I was there, glad that I got to be a part of some collective memory building (wondering if there would be more in the future), and managed to develop an outstanding misunderstanding thanks to Allison’s sister (she had me thinking their aunt had a gambling problem, it just turned out my sister-in-law didn’t want us playing cards).

At the root of this whole dynamic, there was Nancy. I think the adage “they don’t build them like they used to” would be a very appropriate statement about Nancy Danks. Over the last 6 years, I managed to sneak over and have a few “deep” conversations with Nance about the state of the world, religion, living, and dying which would always somehow be mixed into conversations about the best brand of mayo or her favorite brand of chips...and it all made sense.

I am glad I had a few years to get to know Nancy. I am damn grateful that she was here on this planet and made the decisions she made (good, bad, and covered with gravy). She was a warm-hearted, funny lady that did things her own way... something that I will always remember and respect her for.

Courier Post

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 46

( #SundayLeftovers )

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! Sorry to sound like a broken record, but it was another crazy work week. I had some co-workers come down from up North for the week, so it entailed lots of socializing after work. So, not boring, but not necessarily good for blogging either (unless you want to review an average Italian joint in Center City, which I do not). I ran into an interesting situation mid-week that has me thinking of a blog post, but I am not sure if I can distill the situation enough to keep it generic, need to think about it (I will probably write something). That being said, lets open the fridge and see what is leftover.

[The Back Window]

CREDIT: Wilco - Born Alone

[Recipe of the Week: BBQ Sweet Potato Chips]
Credit: Living on the Vedge

2 sweet potatoes, peeled
1-2 tbsp oil (I like coconut or sunflower)
3 tbsp taco seasoning (chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, pepper)
1 tsp hickory smoked sea salt, ground

1. Use a mandoline to slice your sweet potatoes on the thinnest setting. If you like them thicker, you can go up a notch, but you will have to bake them longer.
2. Bake on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, turning the sheet halfway through so that they don't burn.
3. Sprinkle with more salt after baking if you like.

[DIY of the Week: RFID Wallet]

Want to avoid getting some hacker/thief from accessing your bank or credit card?
How about just messing around with making things from Kevlar?

Check out this DIY: Embedded Edge - Super Wallet

[Video of the Week]


Thanks for reading. I am starting to put together a decent body of assignments for the next few weeks, hopefully you will enjoy the output. If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 45

( #SundayLeftovers )

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! Yet another fun-tastic week of late night spreadsheets and reports. I am rapidly becoming the most boring person on the planet. I haven't been doing much of anything: no drinking (which is why you have not read a Drinking Made Easy post from me in months), no crazy trips (although we will be in San Fran next month, so there will be a glut of articles coming from that I am sure), and no fun projects. I did read "The Handmaiden's Tale" this week and found it to be not worth reviewing. That being said, lets open the fridge and see what is leftover...

[The Back Window]

CREDIT: Kathleen Edwards - Change The Sheets

[Recipe of the Week: Jalapeno Popper Dip]
Credit: Closet Cooking

My wife actually found and made this recipe, and everyone has been asking for it. She tweaked the original slightly.

1 (16 ounce) container cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
1 cup parmigiano reggiano
1 (8 ounce) can sliced jalapenos (pickled)
2 fresh jalapeno peppers (sliced, optional)

1. Mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, most of the cheddar cheese, parmigiano reggiano and pickled jalapenos in a bowl and pour into a baking dish.
2. Take remaining cheddar cheese and sprinkle over the top, followed by sliced fresh jalapenos (optional).
3. Bake in a 375F oven until bubbling, about 10-20 minutes.

[DIY of the Week: Cellphone Powered Robot]

Materials and Directions

[Video of the Week]


Advance warning, don't look for too many updates this week - I have co-workers coming in from out of town and it going to be a series of late nights. If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Twitter | Facebook

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 44

( #SundayLeftovers )

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This was another long work week. Lots of late night conference calls and catching up with management, which basically made me feel like a zombie all week. With that being said, I managed to write up an article that focused on the 9/11 attacks 10 years ago. Since it is actually 9/11 today, I wanted to carry that theme into Sunday Leftovers. So lets open the fridge and see what is leftover...

[The Back Window]

CREDIT: Jason E. Powell

CREDIT: Bruce Springsteen - Waiting on a Sunny Day

[Recipe of the Week: Etco-Cooler]
Credit: The Nerdist

Normally I come up with, or pass along, relatively healthy cooking suggestions. This is not one of those weeks. If you grew up in the 80's you will remember the animated Ghost Busters cartoon. A slew of toy and food tie-ins (like the Slimer pie) existed, one that I foundly remember my mother not letting me go near is the Ecto Cooler. Joke is on you Mom, because I can make my own...

3/4 cup orange juice (no pulp)
3/4 cup tangerine juice
1 packet orange Flavor-Aid
1 packet tangerine Flavor-Aid
1 spoonful Country Time powdered lemonade mix (or 1 packet of lemonade Flavor-Aid? Just throwin’ it out there)
1 3/4 cup sugar
Blue and green food coloring

Stir all ingredients in a gallon jug. Add water to fill the jug. Add food coloring until it’s just the right, unsettling shade of green.

[DIY of the Week: Shoe Organizer]

Here is another Ikea Hack that helps to organize shoes.
Check it out: Young House Love: Shoe Organizer

[Video of the Week]


Thank you for reading this week. For fans of the weekly Sunday Leftovers column, I am starting to rethink format and function for Volume 4 (or if there should even be a V4), let me know your suggestions and thoughts. If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Twitter | Facebook

Ryan Adams: New York, New York

( #911 )

Friday, September 09, 2011

My 9/11 Story

This story is intended to be read with a little humor and sadness. I was fortunate, nobody I knew died in the 9/11 attacks 10 years ago, and because of that, it was easy to take the event for granted. Once the initial threat had passed, I went on with my life and didn’t think much of it. Events like this story, brought the situation home and made it real for me.

Prelude: September 11th, 2001

I guess 9/11 will be my generation’s “where were you when Kennedy was shot”. Like the Kennedy stories I heard my parents tell often, I remember exactly what I was doing when the planes hit the Twin Towers. I was in an odd conference room in the front of my company’s old office in Voorhees, NJ. I had requested a television and VCR because I was training a co-op and future friend (who I call “Shame” in this blog) and we were watching networking basics videos.

I had just started the film when a manager (his name was Rich Cafferty, who was a really cool guy, he has since passed away) burst into the room and said “Holy Shit, you have a TV, get the news on.” I asked what was happening and he told us that a plane had hit one of the towers in New York. At the time we still thought it might have been an accident. The television quickly dismissed that thought.

The rest of the day was spent worrying about friends and family and we wondered what would happen next. But that day passed and things went back to normal for most people, it certainly did for me.


18 months after the events of 9-11, my favorite co-op Shame was now up for a full time job with the company. At the time, it helped your chances to secure full time employment if you went out to intern and development program social events (aka happy hours). I was on the development team’s leadership group and usually forced Shame to go to these events (against both of our better judgement).

On this particular evening, we happened to be at Tir Na Nog in Center City (Philadelphia). After the typical networking requirements were out of the way, some people left and the rest of us started to seriously drink. Shame had gone outside to smoke and I went to the bar to grab a drink. I noticed an attractive girl looking at me, so I asked the bartender what the girl and her friend were drinking and asked her to give them a refill (I was on the other side of the bar). The girls accepted my drink and came over to speak to me. As if on command, Shame appeared to claim one of my new friends.

Having witnessed Shame in action, I knew it was better to let him get first pick and be done with it. Through a series of facial ticks and gestures, Shame established his preference. It so happened that he did not pick the girl I was interested in, so I thought we were going to have a good, conflict-free night. Wrong.

The girls finished their drinks and suggested we head over to Rotten Ralphs. They must have been reading my mind because I did not want my other co-workers around to start gossip, off we went. We started doing shots. And more shots. This evening had the potential to make one hell of a story. Shame and his friend got up and walked away for a while. I got to know my new lady-friend a little better until Shame came back alone...

“Where is Kate?” I should note that I am making this name up, both to protect the innocent and also because I do not remember either girl’s name anymore. Shame pulled me aside and asked me if I could go out to talk to her. He said that she started crying and didn’t know why. I knew exactly what his move was. He viewed “Kate” as a lost cause and wanted to move into my territory. We go back to the table and he basically repeats his request in front of my lady-friend. He trapped me: I looked like an asshole if I don’t go out, but if I do, he gets the green light to commit the robbery.

Looking back, I have to wonder why my lady-friend didn’t go to check on “Kate”, I have to think "Kate" either pulled this crying move before or my lady-friend was just a rotten person, either way, I got up to talk to "Kate". Her eyes were red and puffy and she was still sort of crying, I assumed Shame made an inappropriate advance. I asked her what was wrong and if there was anything I could do to help; she immediately started to tell me that her fiance died in the 9-11 attack and she still wasn’t over it. Certainly not what I was expecting. It didn't help matters that “Kate” had too much to drink and was staggering. I was wondering where this was going to go (if she was going to come back inside), but she did not leave me wondering for long.

“Can you walk me home?”

Before any of you perverts get the wrong idea, the thought never crossed my mind to do anything other than take this poor creature home. I hooked her arm over my shoulder and walked her to her apartment complex nearby (which is why I am assuming they picked Ralph’s in the first place). There were benches in the front and I sat her down. I wanted to make sure she was at the right place and that she was okay to get up to her apartment (I made it clear I was staying down in the lobby).

I asked her if she had spoken to anyone professionally about what happened. She said she talked to a counselor at work but stopped after a few sessions. “Kate” basically told me she tried to talk to friends and family but they were starting to get sick of hearing it. I told her she should see someone not aligned to work, or friends because she needed an objective opinion. She nodded as another tear rolled down her red puffy cheek. She got up and thanked me for walking her home, called me a “gentlemen” and staggered into the gold doors and up the elevator.

If you are wondering what happened with Shame and my lady friend. Exactly what you would expect to happen happened. I came back and they were making out. I told Shame I was leaving but he asked me hangout (aka I was his ride home at the train station). I detected that justice might rear her head in this situation... and she did. Shame got a tad too aggressive (he might have told the girl that he loved her), she freaked out and took off. He was heartbroken for about 15 seconds until we got on the train and he passed out. I must have fallen asleep too because a PATCO employee woke us up in Lindenwold.

I often wondered what happened to “Kate”. I would like to think she eventually ditched her crappy friend, found a nice guy and made peace with everything that happened. Things don’t always end happily ever after, but in this case I sure hope it did for her...

… and I also hope that her friend got herpes.

I would say the same for Shame, but we know he is STD free thanks to his yearly December check-ups and subsequent memo.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 43

( #SundayLeftovers )

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Monday Leftovers! This is the "last weekend of summer" (even though summer doesn't end until Sept 21st), kids are going back to school, vacation rates are going "off-season" and I can find a table at the food court in Two Liberty again. I also turned 32 this weekend, and I am feeling pretty "blah" about the whole thing, I actually kind of forgot. Its not that I am depressed about my age or anything, I just have stuff I need to do (like writing this blog)...thinking about my birthday is not one of them. This week will have an lazy end of summer theme, so lets open the fridge and see what is leftover...

[The Back Window]

CREDIT: Big Star - September Gurls

[Recipe of the Week: New Orleans Hurricane]

I found this last week due to Hurricane Irene, and I figured it would make a good labor day weekend drink!

2 oz light rum
2 oz dark rum
2 oz passion fruit juice
1 oz orange juice
juice of a half a lime
1 Tbsp simple syrup
1 Tbsp grenadine
orange slice and cherry for garnish


[DIY of the Week: Linux Installation]

Among all of the other DIY activities I took part in this weekend (lots of sanding and painting), I messed around with a new linux distro called Pinguy. It is based on Ubuntu but has a lot of media functions built right in. If you have an older PC (Vista era) and want to do something different with it, check out this.

How to Forge: Pinguy 11.04 Perfect Desktop Experience

[Video of the Week]


My hands and arms ache from sanding for two days, but I am going to lay down another coat of primer on this cabinet. If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

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