Archive for the Life category


What was that number again?

Life, Random No Comment

Two days ago I got a text from a strange number. Since I’m nice, and since my dad sometimes gives people my number instead of his by accident, I replied. Here is how the conversation went…

Stranger (12:19pm): hello
me (5:21pm): Hi?
Stranger (8:41pm): This is Bob* from match
Stranger (10:15pm): sorry about the dentist crack
me (10:32pm): Sorry, I still don’t think I know who you are…who are you looking for? Do you have the right number? :-/
Stranger (10:33pm): i am looking for a hooker named amy* i got this number off facebook
me (10:51pm): Sorry, can’t help you there.
Stranger (10:34pm): bummer
Stranger (11:35pm): good night amy
Stranger (8:49am): omg i did have the wrong number i am so sorry
me (5:13pm): Haha, told you 😛
Stranger (5:14pm): And i am so embarrased
me (5:48pm): Why? I don’t know you. Have fun with Amy 😉

*Names have been changed in case Bob ever somehow comes across this.


Curbside Chef

Life, Mike No Comment

Curbside Chef For some reason a food cart type deal is on the road behind my apartment complex. It appears to be called ‘Curbside Chef.’ I found some references online, but the web site seems to be dead. I was able to find a picture of something that probably looks the same, I didn’t get a good look today.

While the concept makes sense, why here? This is not a high traffic area. The road hasn’t even been fully paved yet. Perhaps there was some sort of event that I wasn’t aware of. We’ll have to see tomorrow.


Old in Subway

Life, Mike No Comment

Conversation with the high school workers at Subway last week after my softball game. I was wearing my ‘Happy Valley’ shirt.

Worker: You going to Penn State?
Me: Yea, I did.
Worker: Main Campus?
Me: Yep.
Worker: Awesome. What are you going for?
Me: Computer Engineering … but I graduated in 2005.
Worker: Oh.
Me: (Leaves feeling old, except that I can still convince people I’m a freshman.)


The Long Plane Ride Home

Life No Comment

Last week I went to Seattle for a few days. Last time I went I flew US Air non-stop. The non-stop was great but I was very very sick for that trip so 6 hours in a plane was not going to be a good time in any way.

This time scheduling and prices for US Air did not work out in my favor. US Air is the only airline that offers non-stop to Seattle from Philly. So I went with the cheapest option: Continental with stops in Houston each way. That’s right, Philly to Seattle through Houston.

On Wednesday I started as a normal day getting up around 5am and going to work. At the airport things were smooth. This was my first time not checking any luggage. It was nice to not have to wait for baggage but since I was traveling by myself I had to take my bag everywhere I went. The plane boarded early and we were on our way. The movie for this leg of the trip was 27 Dresses. It was alright. Not great but kept my attention which is all I ask for on a plane. I had headphones but I noticed they were only $1. I’m pretty sure they were $5 when I was on US Air. During the flight I saw the flight attendants handing out what looked like some sort of snack pack. I was shocked at how many people were getting them. I’m used to it being something like $5 for one. As they got closer I realized it was free. When it got to me I found that it was not a snack, but more meal-like. A salad, hot pocket type thing, and a Kit-Kat. I had gotten Burger King in the terminal in preparation for the flight because I would not have time to eat during my stop in Houston. The mean was solid. I was impressed that a domestic airline still served food. I was only in the Houston airport for 10 or 15 minutes before my flight to Seattle started boarding. The movie for this leg was Sabrina. Yes, the Harrison For movie from 10 years ago. I’m not sure where they picked that out of. Luckily I had never seen it and again it was good enough to hold my attention. The snack on this flight was peanuts. They were excellent. I hate when they try and fancy up the peanuts or go with some sort of trail mix. My other favorite airplane snack are pretzels that are stored on the beverage cart so they are chilly when they arrive.

I flew back on Monday. I was excited for the Fish Bar at the airport for breakfast. I stopped there last time I flew out of Seattle. The meals all look excellent but fried fish and fries before 8am isn’t my idea of a good time. They also have breakfast sandwiches and hash browns. That’s my pick in the mornings. A sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich with a hash brown. I made my way through the airport, into areas I didn’t know existed and things were trouble free. On the plane they served breakfast: Total cereal, a pound cake with chocolate chips, and a banana. Once again, like dinner, I was not expecting this but pleased. The movie on this leg was Step Up 2. I had not seen Step Up 1 so I passed thinking I would be lost. Instead I watched Grandma’s Boy on my iPod. The iPod isn’t ideal for watching movies, as I found last trip. I think part of the problem was that I was so sick last time. It could also be that Grandma’s Boy is good enough to overcome the tiny screen.

My stop in Houston this time was 3 hours. I went for some lunch at Papa John’s. Time passed pretty quickly and we were on our way. All my other seats were window seats. For this last one I was on the isle. Then things started going downhill. Some people came down the isle and put guitars in the overhead compartment. Who travels with guitars? I say only hippies and Jesus Freaks. I figured it was some group who’s name included ‘Good Time Family Band.’ If you are in any sort of real band you are not traveling in Coach. One of the guitar players sat next to me. A lady with a baby arrived to take the window seat. Awesome. Crank up the tunes. The movie for this leg was The Bucket List. I hadn’t seen it but I was a little confused by the selection. I’d like something moderately upbeat. About 15 minutes into the movie the captain comes on. He tells us that there may be a problem with the fuel gauge so we were turning around and heading back to Houston. Nobody was happy but we’d much rather be safe. When we got back on the ground the captain came back on to say that in the air they weren’t sure if the problem was a broken gauge or a fuel leak. Good enough reason to turn around. We had to stay on the plan while the mechanics did their thing. It got very hot. People weren’t too frustrated at first. After a while the lady with the baby decided to get off. I’m not sure how that works, if they give her a ticket for another flight or if she has to buy one. I also don’t know why she decided to get off. The baby was incredbly well behaved. He let out a few whines but there was no excessive crying. So guitar player slides over to the window and guitar player’s wife moves into the middle. We’re told that things are fine and they just have to refuel and we’ll be ready to go. About this time guitar player spots some black spots on the wing. I took a look, they were at the edge of the flaps. I have no idea, and neither does he, if they were there before. The baby had been playing with the window so we weren’t able to look out that much during the first trip. He gets the flight attendant and tells her what he sees. He wants it taken care of or he wants another plane. A mechanic climbs up and looks. The flight attendant comes back and says he told her it was just dirt. Guitar player is not pleased. He claims the mechanic didn’t have a good angle. He has her ask again. This time a guy goes out and looks from the ground and sees nothing wrong. Guitar player is really unhappy now. The attendant tells him there is nothing more she can do and he can talk to the captain if he likes. At this point he has convinced himself that these black spots indicate a severe oil leak and that the wing is going to come off at some point during the flight. At least that’s what I gathered from his tone. I am just sitting there with them talking through me while I look around trying not to get involved and giving the people who are now looking in our direction looks that he is crazy and there is nothing to worry about. That look would be a slight eye roll. He now tells the flight attendant that he is willing to bet the captain $1000 that its oil and wants him to come back and look for himself. The flight attendant isn’t really sure how to handle this latest development. At this point she is mostly staying silent until the crazy guy stops talking. She finally says she’ll go get the captain but guitar player has accepted death at this point. He doesn’t want to talk to the captain, he doesn’t care, he’s done all he can to save our lives and he’s out. He transformed from a concerned somewhat-adult (he was probably in his 40s) to a complete child. He then starts repeating that he ‘hopes to god you’re right’ to the flight attendant. The flight attendant left him alone. She was hoping he was done, she didn’t want to have to kick him off the plane. That would cause even more trouble. Luckily she was right and he was done.

So back to the flight. We wound up leaving the 2nd time about 2.5 hours after our original departure time. We were supposed to have dinner on the flight, which for the first time I had planned for and was expecting. Unfortunately with the delay the food had expired and they were not allowed to serve it. Everyone was willing to take the chance but they wouldn’t allow it. To get another delivery and heat it back up it would have delayed the flight another hour. So no meal. They did hand out the Kit-Kats later. For being patient passengers headphones were free, but I already had my own, and your first drink was free, but I wasn’t getting a drink. So all I got out of the delay was the story. The Bucket List was good but I was correct in wanting something more upbeat. Somehow after being so late we arrived in Philly only an hour late. My sister was there waiting and sadly my trip was officially over.


Get gas while it’s raining?

Life No Comment

I got gas on the way home one day last week. That in itself isn’t all that exciting. I usually stop at the Wawa gas station on the way to or from work. The place is always packed, no matter what time, even 6am. People trying to get at the pumps from both directions doesn’t help the situation either. In IDM 23 I talk about how gas stations should be one-way, not my point here, but I figured I’d mention it. When I went on this day, there were tons of pumps available. I was going at a usual time, 3 or 3:30. It was so strange. My only guess is that because it was raining people didn’t want to go get gas. The gas station is covered so I don’t see why rain would cause people to not get gas. Since that’s the only thing that I noticed being different that day its my current theory. I’m going to keep my eye on this to see if my theory is factual.

One other thing while I was at the gas station … both cars next to me were there the entire time I was there and neither one got out of their car. They were both on cell phones, I’m assuming talking to each other. I appreciated that they weren’t breaking the no cell phones by the pumps rule but instead they were just sitting at the pump and not using it. Would they have done this if the place had been packed. Is this a greater offense than people who leave their car to go inside and pay (and do some shopping)? I say if the place is crowded its equally offensive. Anything keeping other people from accessing a pump is no good. Just the person in the car on the phone is much more accessible to be yelled at.


Amazon Point of Sale Gimmick

Life No Comment

I love a good point of sale gimmick. I discovered a new one one just the other day while browsing on Amazon. I was curious how much Gillette Razors were on there as compared to any other store, not that I remember how much they are at other places. On the page there was an option to have them sent to you every month, 2 months, 3 months, or 6 months. Plus, you save 15%. Now I have no idea how often I would need these but I love the idea. On the info page it also shows coffee, diapers, and laundry detergent as items eligible for subscription. It would be great for someone to not have to think about ordering or running out without any extra on hand. Its also great for Amazon because people are lazy and could wind up selling Huggies on the black market because they forgot to cancel.

My all time favorite point of sale gimmick is at the KFC/A&W in State College where they offer you some sort of side at a discount for whatever amount will round you to the next dollar. You almost can’t resist that one.


GPS for Parents

Life No Comment

My parents are now interested in purchasing a GPS Navigation System. The units have become cheap enough to be attractive to them. That means that I must start on researching all the options available and what will be best for them.

I have GPS in my car. It was one of the features I was thinking about when I started looking at cars. It happened to be installed in the car that I wanted on the lot. While it may have been the much more expensive option, as opposed to a portable unit, I like having it built in much better. Sirius came with the car as well (after I told them I wanted that instead of XM, there was still an option at that time). The Sirius units offer a lot more presets and options but having it built in is so much easier to deal with.

I am a huge fan of my GPS. I’ve had the car for almost a year and a half. I haven’t used the GPS a ton but its well worth it when I need it. I don’t have to worry about printing out directions and if I need to get somewhere all I need is the address. If I’m going to be headed to a few places in different directions I’ll get the addresses before hand and plug them into the unit. I know where all these places are but I don’t know the roads that connect them. I’d wind up driving home and then back out to the next destination. Finding those new routes is always handy. On occasion I will have it on when I’m going through an area that I know very well. This causes me to start having discussions with my GPS. “I know where I’m going!” “Shut up!”

My friend Dave came to visit a while back. He had one of the portable TomTom units. I was very excited to try out a different flavor of GPS. The most exciting part was the choice of voices. In my car I have a female voice with no other options. The TomTom had a variety of voices, male and female, plus accents. I certainly would enjoy having a British navigator.

While doing the research I came across the TomTom voices section. You can purchase additional voices for your device. As soon as you load the page up Mr. T starts yelling at you. The $30 pack of Mr. T, Dennis Hopper, and Burt Reynolds sounds like a steal. Although Gary Busey on his own might be worth more than that.

My Mom came across an article from Reader’s Digest about a guy going on a trip with his brand new GPS. Give it a read, it hilarious and almost exactly what I expect to happen on my parents’ first adventure.

The research has been done and a Garmin Nuvi 350 has been ordered. The trip is in a few weeks. I’m hoping they take along plenty of actual maps for this first run.


Birthday Wishes

Life No Comment

No, its not my birthday. That’s still a few months away. A few friends have had birthdays recently and it go me to thinking about the wishing of Happy Birthday with all the various forms of communication available.

I used to keep on top of birthdays through a variety of methods. All of which left out a large portion of people. Still, it was better than nothing. My first line was my friend Matt, who remembers every birth date he hears. Its really quite remarkable. My other method relied on Away Messages. Either the person who’s birthday it was, posting a ‘Hey, its my birthday! Yay me!’ type message, or a mutual friend having a ‘Happy Birthday so and so!’ Away Message. So if people did not know Matt or did not go on IM, they didn’t get a birthday wish of any kind.

Then Facebook came along and would let you know, when you visited the site, which of your friends had birthdays coming up. The birthdays aren’t quite as obvious as they used to be on Facebook, but I’ve moved on from that method. It was very helpful to keep track or to look up a date if you couldn’t remember.

Currently I try and keep track of birthdays by adding them to my Address Book on my computer. I have gathered the dates from all the previous methods. This is part of a larger initiative of mine to try and keep email address, phone numbers, and addresses as up to date as possible in a single convenient location. Birthdays are part of the Mac Address Book. What makes that so great is that it also incorporates them into iCal. Then I found this amazing widget called Happy Birthdays! It lists all the birthdays you have in your Address Book. It tells you the date of their birthday, how many days away that is and the age they will be.

When the birthday comes around the question is how to handle the acknowledgment of the event.

To me Facebook is the lowest on the list of ways to wish Happy Birthday. While its simple to do and you can mean the best by your wish I feel that you get roped in with lesser wishes, thus weakening your birthday wish. For one, its possible the wisher didn’t know it was your birthday until they logged in and saw it. The larger problem is when this person is someone you haven’t talked to in a really long time. Now if they just wished ‘Happy Birthday!’ then fine, thanks for thinking of me. However, there is no reason to go any further. Any sort of ‘It’s been a while’ or ‘We should hang out’ has no place here. If I haven’t talked to you in a few years I don’t think you wishing me a happy birthday is suddenly going to turn us into best friends. Essentially you want to avoid any sort of exchange that would like similar to this:

Wisher: Happy Birthday! It’s been a while. We should catch up, what’s new?

Me: Thanks! Things are good. Let’s see … a lot has happened since we last talked. I got my driver’s license, graduated High School, went to college, graduated that, got a job and did about a million other things that I can save so we have something to talk about next year when you wish me a happy birthday. Sorry, but don’t expect me to post on your wall whenever your birthday is.

Get the point? Now I’m sure I’ve been guilty of doing some of this. I have since become aware and will try to control my actions in the future. Who knows, maybe I do want to be friends, and I remember the person being pretty cool, you know, when we were teenagers.

So without Facebook, what are my options?

My method of choice recently has been text messaging. Just a simple happy birthday, possibly with an additional message. No questions or reasons for the person to text me back anything more than a ‘Thanks!’ Personally I don’t even need the thanks. I just want to send the wish along but not mess with any part of their otherwise enjoyable day that I really have nothing to do with.

A phone call is an example of the messing with the day. The phone call will inevitably turn into a conversation and an awkward one at that. Some people do fall into the phone call realm. At this point that list is incredibly short. My phone usage level is at a 2 (out of 10) right now so its going to take a lot for me to dial someone these days. Dial means finding the person in your contact list and hitting Send these days, correct?

E-Cards are an excellent idea. I just haven’t gotten into the habit of using them. There are a couple of options and you can write whatever you want at the end to make it personalized. For some reason I’m more likely to send out E-Cards to a bunch of my friends on some obscure holiday than on your birthday. I think I’m going to start considering E-Cards from now on.

Here’s a throwback: A Card. No E in front. This means you actually went outdoors, picked out a card, purchased said card, signed your name, maybe included a message, located a stamp and that person’s address, and put it in the mailbox. These days I’m pretty sure that if you go through all that, and its not a family member, you are legally married to that person. I’m going to guess that its been almost a year since I mailed a birthday card. Who knows when or if I will ever send another.

Now you think you’ve got me all figured out. If you’re my friend you may now be offended if I post on your Facebook wall or that you didn’t get a phone call. This is just what I’m thinking today. Maybe on your birthday I will be in an E-Card mood or have some sort of other crazy idea. Perhaps you’ll get some land on the moon or a membership in the cheese of the month club. If I do post on your Facebook wall, maybe I’m being ironic and figure you will get the joke and enjoy it that much more. Don’t try and keep up, you’ll hurt yourself.


Just a Few More Hours

Life No Comment

For a while now I’ve been trying to think of a logical way to add some time to the day. All I really want is two more hours each day. I feel that will allow me to stay up until I’m sufficiently tired and get the sleep I need. Still, with a little extra time, I don’t think I’ll be able to squeeze everything I want into a day.

Besides sleep, the #2 use of my time is work. 40+ hours and 5 hours of driving to and from each week. Not much I can do about that since I enjoy paychecks. It could be worse, I’ve had a job that was 7 days a week and anywhere from 50-70 hours a week.

TV takes a large chunk out of each day. There are all the shows I watch, which thankfully are coming to their season’s end. A few are getting cancelled which will free up some time in the fall. Of course its the ones that I don’t want to get cancelled. Then you have the shows that are on every day. I keep up with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Eventually I get to watching every Letterman (skipping the guests I could care less about). Still there are some that don’t make the cut just because of time. These include Conan, PTI, and Countdown. Can’t the late night shows put out some sort of best of the week shows? I’d pay to see the clips of Letterman and Conan that are worth my time. Even if I hear about a good Conan clip NBC has it yanked from YouTube. I’m not sure what NBC is thinking by doing that. Now I’m less likely to watch Conan.

There is also a lot of TV that I’ve missed. Shows that I didn’t jump on board from the beginning require me to catch up, and there are some that I missed altogether. Currently the show I’m catching up on is The Wire. I’m getting the discs slowly through Netflix. While this is a pain to have to wait when I want to get to the next disc, its the safest approach. If I had them all in front of me I might as well just call off a week of work to watch the entire thing.

For some reason at work I don’t have a TV at my desk with cable and a DVR. I also don’t have internet so I have to search for other forms of entertainment. Its a good thing that we have an amazing morning show in Philadelphia: Preston & Steve. Its also a good thing that they post the whole show every afternoon for download. Otherwise I might have to ignore people all morning because I don’t want to miss anything. When I did have internet I would just listen after they posted the show in the afternoon, then I could pause when needed. I’m not allowed to have Sirius so I haven’t been able to get hooked on Stern. Possibly a good thing. I enjoy Stern’s show, its just that these radio shows are so long.

Let’s not forget about sports. I don’t watch nearly enough of Phillies’ games. I wish I had the time to watch every pitch. At least every pitch until they drive me crazy enough to change the channel. Then there are all the other games on and events throughout the year. I wish I could watch more NHL Playoff action, I’d even consider the NBA. Soon the College World Series will be starting and last year ESPN was nice enough to carry some of the Regional and Super Regional action, because they want as much of my time as they can get.

I also have a mountain of sites that I visit on a daily basis. I have to keep up with the many areas that interest me: sports, TV, movies, video games, social networking. Oh, did I mention tech sites? On top of that I try to keep on top of my sites. Writing the occasional blog post and adding some features to Ice Cream Helmet.

Have I mentioned I miss my Xbox 360? We barely get to spent any time together. I know its jealous of the Wii.

I do my best to combine some activities. When I do my web surfing I will catch up on Preston & Steve or watch something on my DVR that does not require my full attention.

What’s missing? Doing any sort of physical activity. For now, let’s just pretend its because Summer is just getting started. The pool is open and the weather is warming up, eventually allowing people into the pool sans wet suit. Playing softball and maybe a little effort on my part will take care of all that. But as you can see, where am I going to fit that into my day?


Sporting Goods Overload

Life No Comment

A strange thing happens whenever I find myself wandering around a sporting goods store. I decide to take up at least a dozen new sports and activities. Everything I see I think ‘I need that’ or ‘that would be fun to try.’ So far I’ve always been able to resist. Someday though I will come home with a car full of new equipment and a dream.

This weekend in Modell’s I found myself in the boxing section. I’m fairly certain I’ve never been in a boxing section before, otherwise I’d be a boxer right now. First I saw the boxing gloves. $20 for a pair of your standard boxing gloves. At that price you don’t really have a choice. Further into the section there are the speed bags and punching bags. I need all of this. During the weigh in of the Mayweather/De La Hoya fight I wondered why I hadn’t become a boxer. I think I’m that size, which a little effort I could punch someone and I have pretty good balance. Problem is I guess, that I break easily. One punch and I’d be done. Still, it’d be a blast to have the gloves and something to punch that wouldn’t punch back.

Further travels found me in the tennis section. I always seem to wind up there. Thinking that tennis looks like fun to actually try and get good at. I love watching it on TV. I’m just lacking a court and someone to play against (who would be willing to put up with me sucking for a while). Unfortunately they are pretty important parts to playing tennis. Good thing I’m not hooked on doubles.

This was just Modell’s at a Sports Authority or Dick’s I could spent all day dreaming of activities. Baseball bats, hockey equipment, roller blades (is that still a relevant term?), swimming goggles, lacrosse sticks, wakeboards, and golf. Seriously stop me if I’m ever about to drop a fortune on some clubs. For some reason buying golf clubs always seems like a good idea at the time. If I in the store long enough the camping, fishing, and hunting gear all starts to look interesting to me. When I start pricing tents or kayaks I know its time to leave.

For now I will have to keep myself entertained with Wii Sports. I don’t need a buddy to play that. Of course even when I do have a buddy around we’ll just play Wii instead of going outside and doing the real thing.


I’m not what you’d call a reader

Life No Comment

Of books at least. I actually read constantly: Web sites, blogs, newspapers, magazines. Just to actually be a ‘reader’ you are supposed to read books. It’s not that I don’t like books, they are just time consuming. I have a long list of things I’d rather occupy my time with. I also don’t read the book if there was a movie made from it. Spare me your ‘the book is always better than the movie’ speech. The amount of time it would take is not worth that little extra goodness.

I just don’t have the time. I did a lot better when I had no job and had plenty of free time in my day. Since I started working I haven’t read much at all. I have a growing pile of books that I’d really like to read. When I come home from work I usually read all my web sites and then settle in front of the TV to watch sports, a DVD, or catching up with my DVR.

I did actually finish a book this weekend. It was started somewhere around a year ago. I’d read a chunk and not get back to it for months at a time. I should really keep track of that next time. It was Naked by David Sedaris. So it wasn’t really something plot driven. I could go those months and not need to remember anything before picking it back up. I read his most recent book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim really quickly. It was back when I did have that free time. It was also so enjoyable that it moved up through the ranks of thinks that I’d like to use my time to do. Naked wasn’t quite as good (though it was still excellent) and I had many more distractions. I’d have to put him as my favorite author outside of politics and sports.

I decided to finish it this weekend for two reasons. First, on Tuesday Paul Shirley’s book comes out: Can I Keep My Jersey? I’m really excited about that one because I’ve enjoyed his ESPN (link to his most recent journal)/MySpace (you may have to be friends with him) blog entries so much. Second, I saw that David Sedaris is going to be performing here in October and that reminded me to finish the book. I’m getting tickets this week for that appearance. How an author performs and how its worth $40, I’m not sure. I first remember seeing him on Letterman a few years ago and he actually read from his book from a podium on the show. Just like a band or comedian would do. I thought that was pretty cool and it made me start reading his stuff. He always sells out when he comes to town so he must be good.