Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wordful Wednesday

"'You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.'- Ansel Adams

I'm in a rut creatively.  I have not taken many pictures lately, have not posted much, or done much writing lately. 

This is not to say that I am not happy. I am. I am lucky and enjoying myself. Kids, friends and family are all too good to be true.  There are a few dark clouds around, but heck, everyone has those.

So just a few words here to let you know that despite the silence, all is well and I am trying to find the spark.

'If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe.' - Joe Rogan


Friday, March 01, 2013

Friday Fantastic Four - Spring Portends

I was awakened - at 5 freaking 30 am - today by the sound of birds chirping outside the window.  After I shook the cobwebs from my head, I was actually fairly pleased to realize that if birds were back in town the spring can't image from www.flickr.com be far away.

What are the 4 best things about spring?

1. Daffodils and tulips - As a kid, we had these flowers everywhere.  My grandfather bought them by the bushel at Frank's. At my last house, we planted hundreds of daffodils. The place looks great every spring.  I missed planting in the fall, but I have put it on my calendar for this year!


2. The Phils - Even after the disappointment of last year and the mysterious acquisitions of Ben Revere and Delmon Young, I am still excited by the sounds of spring training on the radio.  Can't wait!


3. Open Windows - I love to sleep with the windows open.  Winter in this area makes that pretty tough, so some fresh air will be welcome.

4. Marshmallow Peeps - While Just Born now has a year-round supply of marshmallow treats for us addicts, there is still something perfect about a Peep!

How about you?  What are you looking forward to about spring time?


Thursday, February 28, 2013

On The 'Courtesy Interview'

Being out of work, or 'underemployed' is no fun. We've all been there, combing the online ads, sending out resumes over and over, hoping for an interview, sweating bullets in the lobby while we wait for someone to ask us 10 questions in 30 minutes that could possibly change your life.

Being on the other side of the desk is no fun either.  Trying to figure out who fits best for an opening, who will play nice with the team, who you can afford, who has puffed up their resume or may be a secret psycho is no cake walk.

Still, I certainly prefer to be the guy on this side of the desk.

A good friend of mine is currently one of the millions of Americans working part time, without benefits, while looking for full-time work.  That scenario is bad enough if you are a recent college graduate looking to break into your field, but imagine you are a single parent trying to get back into the workforce after 10 years.  You've got a master's degree and are an expert in your field and you can't get an interview.

Except the 'courtesy interview.'

Which brings me to my point. 

There is nothing courteous about a courtesy interview. Nothing angers me more than to hear a friend or colleague saying that they already know who they are hiring, but hey have to do a courtesy interview.

If it was me, I would prefer the courtesy of you telling me I did not have to waste my day coming to talk to you about a job you are not going to give me.  If you feel like you have to interview me because I work here, or I am a friend of a friend, you're wrong.  Be a big boy. Call your friend and tell them you are hiring someone else and you don't want to waste anyone's time with a courtesy interview.  They will respect you more for that than for any courtesy interview you might offer.

If I work for you and you think you need to offer me a courtesy interview, then you are clueless and I am probably interviewing all over the planet to escape from your cluelessness in case it's somehow contagious.  Bring me in and tell me who you are giving the job to and why they are better qualified.  It will save time and the eventual embarrassment that you will feel when it comes out - and it will someday - that it was a sham interview from the start.

If you are bringing someone in from outside for an interview, having them take time off from another job, get child care, pay for transportation or parking, learn about you and your organization, and get their hopes up, they better have a shot at the job.  It is the height of rudeness to interview a person who has no shot at the position.

You may think that you need to do it because you have to interview a certain number of people before you can make a hire, but you're on shaky ground here.  There is nothing ethical about making a decision before you interview people and then bringing in a few hopeless fools before making an offer.  It's dirty pool and it may not even protect you legally.

Anyway - I will climb down off my soapbox now.  Return to your regularly scheduled day.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Underway at Jump Rope for Heart!

Emma and nearly 200 school friends are jumping up a storm to raise money for the American Heart Association today.

Everyone is having a great time. Thanks to ask who donated!
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Fantastic Four - Oscars Edition

It's a big weekend around Another Delco Guy, with Jump Rope for Heart, a visit to the grandparents and the Seneca War Eagles Beef and Beer on tap for tomorrow.  Sunday it's time to settle in front of the TV to watch Danica in Daytona and THE OSCARS!

So the Oscars got me to thinking about best performances.  DeNiro in Raging Bull, Brando in On the Waterfront, Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy, Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Amazing performances by some of the best actors who have ever lived.

Which got me to thinking...

What are the best performances from otherwise bad actors?

  1. Nicolas Cage as Ben Sanderson in 'Leaving Las Vegas' -  Cage is generally awful, thinking that YELLING a lot is acting, but this is a really nuanced, haunting role.
  2. Brendan Fraser as Clayton Boone in 'Gods and Monsters' - Fraser may well be the worst actor on earth, but his minimalist approach to this role was impressive.
  3. Ben Stiller as Chas Tenenbaum in 'The Royal Tenenbaums' - It's been all down hill for Stiller since this great job.
  4. Helen Hunt as Carol Connelly in 'As Good as it Gets' - I've never liked her and she was passably appealing in this one, so I will give her the #4 spot.

Discuss quietly among yourselves.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ritual

Every night
I turn and flip
and
Fluff my pillow.
I turn out the light.
My cheek chases the coolness
and
I think of the past,
Consider the future,
and
I am still.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday fantastic Four - Time Travel

It's been a while, but I am happy to report that the Friday Fantastic Four is BACK!

Monday is President's Day here in the US, which got me to thinking a bit about history.  Wouldn't time travel be cool?

Assuming time travel existed, what time periods would you most like to visit?

  1. The Wild West - how cool would it be to hang out with Butch Cassidy?
  2. The Roaring 20s - Paris, flappers, speakeasies.  My kind of era!
  3. The Renaissance - 15th Century Florence would be an amazing time to be part of.
  4. The late 1960s - Flower Power, MLK, RFK, Vietnam, the Moon, Woodstock ... Sounds like a BIlly Joel song!

Everybody have a great weekend!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Exhibited!

It may not be my best work, but three of my images are on display until the end of the month! They are part of the annual Staff Show at The University of the Arts. It's pretty cool when you are having a bad day to look over and see your work hanging in a real exhibit hall. 

Stop by and see how talented my co-workers are!


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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cabrini Alumni Game 2013 Unites the Eras!

image from www.flickr.comOver 20 guys played, nearly 40 attended, children outnumbered the players and everyone had a great time.

Yesterday was a chilly, beautiful day outside and a warm, family kind of day inside the Nerney Field House at the Dixon Center.

First the women's alumni came out for their annual game, joined by current coach Kate Pearson.  The current women's squad then flattened Cairn 61-37 to run their record to 11-0 in the CSAC and 16-3 overall.  Junior Brittany Sandone led all scorers with 18.

Then the men's team took the floor. looking to avenge a loss earlier this season to CSAC rival Keystone. The Cavaliers started slow, but senior Jeremy Knowles powered the offense with a career-high 29 points against a very athletic Giants team.  The 94-79 win places Cabrini atop the CSAC at 16-5 overall and 10-2 in the league.

A healthy 200 or so friends and family stuck around for the climax of the scheduled events yesterday, as the coaches divided up the alumni and the Blue took on the Gray for alumni game bragging rights.  While some former greats like Jim McMahon, Dave Kerchner, Bill Rookstool and others just watched, 22 guys suited up.  I had the pleasure of calling subs and time outs for the Blue team, while Steve Harrow lent his expertise to the Gray squad.

The game opened with a thunderous dunk by Laval Pickney off a beautiful feed from superguard Corey Lemons.  Competitive throughout the first half, the Blue took a sizable lead before age caught up a bit and the pace slowed. Event organizer John Mack scored 2 baskets in the late going to seal a Blue victory, 74-63.  In a playful dispute about playing time that brought back some vivid memories, gray teamer Derrick Grayson defected to the Blue squad mid-way though the second half to grab a steal and layup in his first action for his new team.  Dom Farello noted 'One minute I am guarding him and the next minute you're subbing him in for me!'

The real story yesterday had nothing to do with the score.  Alumni for all three eras of Cabrini basketball were out on the floor together, joking and having fun but also showing some pretty serious competitive fire.  The 'pre-Dzik' period always brings out a few guys and this year was no exception.  Men of the Dzik Era were disappointed the Big Dog was not in the house, they came out to see each other and Coaches Kelly and Keeley, with all-time leading scorer Bill Carr captaining the Blue team. The usual cast of excellence from Tidwell, Hargrove, and Sticks filled out the group of guys rapidly approaching middle age.  Marcus Kahn's crew provided the fresh legs with recent stars Cory Lemons, Kevin Misevicius, Dom Farrello, Greg Zabel and others more than willing to put up a few shots against the old guys.

I'd like to thank the guys on the Blue bench, especially Greg and Cory, who entertained my kids, John and Emma, throughout the game and kept it all pretty clean!  Thanks to Mailsy and Paul, super fans to the core. Finally, thanks to Marcus Kahn and his great staff, Brian Beacham and everyone in athletics and development who helped make this a great day.  I skipped the post-game party, I am sure a fun time was had by all, but I had a few very important things to take care of.

Photos of everything are up at my photo site.  Great job by Patti snapping the shots while I had fun with the boys!


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Dawn of a New Year

New Year's Day is always a bittersweet holiday.  Saying goodbye to a year full of memories, both beautiful and difficult.  Looking forward to the challenges and opportunities and all that may be for the year upcoming.

It's a natural time for reflection and evaluation, of reviewing and setting goals and considering who and what are important to you and why.

2012 was a year of much personal growth. Of finding a new comfort zone and living within it.  Of celebrating what I have and those who are with me. But, like any other, there were hard moments and times of sadness.  People who have left us and the end of some great times. Of accepting that I can't be everything that I want to be every day.

My friends and family made the year bright, both for me and for my children. We were rarely idle, laughed much, enjoyed a varied menu of activities, locations and people.  I often forgot to photograph the festivities, rarely wrote about them, but still they are ours.  Still, there was a sharp tone in my voice too often and more than a few sleepless nights wondering about the future and asking 'what if?'

I'm looking forward to 2013.  To see where friends old and new fit into my life and make it richer and fuller througout the year.  To see what new places I can visit and what old places I can see with new eyes.  To continue to learn and to grow as I do more and watch less.

I will always look back on 2012 with a mix of excitement, sadness, and wistfulness.  Isn't that really how we should look at all of life's experiences, though?

Happy New Year!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Emma Loves to Dance!

That's Emma in the Santa hat shaking her little butt for her holiday dance showcase piece!

 


Monday, December 03, 2012

Running Before the Sun

Chasing the blackness

The mist and fog

Glow violet

Then burn golden

With anticipation

Of the new day


Friday, November 30, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Not A Bad Place for a Meeting!

The Castle on the campus of Arcadia University.


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Monday, October 15, 2012

Guapos Tacos Truck Spotted


Between the Kimmel Center and Hamilton Hall of the University of the Arts!

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Random Observation

In case you were wondering if getting an ad in the yellow pages will help your business ....

That's an entire dumpster full of brand new yellow page books. Try advertising on Facebook or Google!


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Monday, September 17, 2012

Look Who Got Glasses This Weekend!

Purple and lavender glasses and super happy about it!


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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 - 11 Years Later and Still at War

It's 11 years since cowards took advantage of the open, free society that we enjoy and flew airplanes filled of innocent people into buildings filled with still more innocents. Nearly 3,000 people died. America had been attacked on her home soil and we reacted like the proud, wounded nation we are.

For all of my daughter Emma's life and 90% of my son John's life, America has been at war. But it's not a war that has really affected them in any way. Or me either. Or most folks.

It's a real war.  Ask those who are fighting it.  They are sacrificing , giving lives and limbs.  Months and year of their lives.  Losing jobs and houses, coming home bankrupt with PTSD and an indifferent public.
But there's no rationing.
No shortages.
No real significant protests.
No body counts on TV each night.
Would we have tolerated 11 years of war if we had personal sacrifices required of us?
If our tv shows and sports events had been disrupted?
If we had not been able to get strawberries in February?
If gas or chocolate or razor blades were only available on alternate weeks?
Or how about, if, god forbid, middle class, white people from northern states would be compelled to serve?
Not a chance.
There is no way 'The War on Terror' would still be going on if you and I had been forced to make the same sacrifices of the men and women serving today.  Or those of the generations who have been conscripted to protect this nation from evil (immediate or potential) in previous generations. Or even if the sacrifices expected of those on the home front in World War II were expected of us today.
There would have been massive protests, perhaps riots. Politicians would have been run out of office and pay and benefits for the military would have been seriously adjusted.
As sad as it is to note on this day of memorial, in some ways, I fear the terrorists have won this war.  Yes, we got Bin Laden and toppled Saddam Hussein. Yes, we drove the Taliban from power (sort of). No, there have not been any other Al-Quaeda  attacks on our home soil. These things all point to victory.
But the cost has been massive. 6,280 American have given their lives since 9/11 in service of our cause.  We have spent around $4 trillion to accomplish our war goals. At home, our freedoms and liberties have been curtailed or eliminated, infrastructure funds diverted to hardening targets and strengthening the homeland. 
While we may not feel the effects of a decade of war every day, they are there. 
Our 11 years of war have had their toll. And it's one not often thought of by most of us and that seems completely lost in today's presidential campaign. Today I remember all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, as well all the heroes who risked and gave so much to save lives that day.
But I also remember all the warriors who have fought on my proxy, going where I can - and would - not.  And their families, silently suffering so that Emma and John don't. 
So many heroes to whom we give so little.
Thank you and I am sorry I have not made your struggle part of my every day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Emma Loves Jazz Dance!

Emma's my supersweetheart, a great daughter who always keeps me laughing and on my toes.  Tonight was the last session of summer dance and there was a little show for the parents.  Turn down the music, while it's the great "Lovecats" from The Cure, the combination of abused dance studio boombox and my phone's recording ability don't do it justice.  Just check out the happy little girl all the way to the right!

Thanks to Miss Mea for a great summer class and to Miss Rachael at Dance Xperience in Mount Laurel.  Rach - we'll miss you!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Nearly Sleepless Night

We all get them from time to time I guess.  The night so filled with dreams, vivid in imagery and intensity that we sit straight up trying to force them from our heads. Last night was one such night for me.

I'm a bit groggy today, having roused myself at something like 5 AM after a few cycles of trying to clear away the dreams and find inky dark sleep.  I dream a good bit, sometimes about things form my past, sometimes the dreams seem to be a bit predictive. I've never written them down, or really tried hard to remember them.  Usually they just fade away like the darkness running from dawn.

Last night's were full of color and energy, burning candles blown out in a darkened room that forced me awake, thinking I smelled smoke. A large white cat that I tripped over in a in a shiny, hardwood-floored hallway which clawed gently at my bare foot.  A half-closed door beyond which I am certain my parents slept. A window, filled with a deep blue sky, luminous with millions of hard, cold stars, the ground below suffused oddly with reddish moonlight. The window image was strong enough that it seemed to stay there on the far wall of the bedroom even after I opened my eyes and shook my head.

Finally, fitfully back to sleep, the sound of a plastic cup clattering in the sink, loud enough to wake me again and force me to wander the dark house looking for the offending item. 

There was nothing.

At that point I had had enough and roused myself to peruse the overnight news, review medal counts and read a library book.

Where did it all come from?  I have no idea really.  White cats seem to represent all kinds of things, some good and some not so good.  Candles, as well, seem to mean all kinds of things as well.  In the end I guess they could mean anything I want them to mean.  Or they could just the the idle workings of a mind trying to create things for me to write about.  If so, it worked!


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Happenings on South Broad Street

If you have tried to drive around The City of Brotherly Love anytime in the last 6 weeks, you know there is a movie being filmed in town. Paranoia is currently shooting right outside my window at the Kimmel Center.  In the 1400 block of Spruce St, there is a row of trailers which I am told house the cast while the shooting is going on.  image from www.flickr.comOver on Broad Street, the entire block from Spruce to Pine is lined with equipment trailers stuffed full of rack of lights, colored plastic sheeting for the lights, scaffolding, and all kids of other cool equipment.

Paranoia will star Harrison Ford, Liam Hemsworth (who has brought skanky Miley Cyrus to town to entertain him) and Amber Heard.  Sadly I have not run into Amber Heard yet.  Harrison Ford won't regularly be in town during this part of the shoot but will be here in December when shooting resumes.

In other News, The Atlantic Building at Broad and Spruce, formerly site of Ted's Montana Grill and before that Avenue B by Neil Stein, has sold. Apartment developers the Post Brothers bought the mostly-empty but still-stately property for a cool $33 million.  Apartments are sure to follow.


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy Birthday America

image from www.flickr.comIt's America's birthday and our family has come from farther than ever for our annual summer gathering in Kennebunk Beach, Maine. 

On our way up, the kids and I stopped on what I consider hallowed ground, the Battle Green in Lexington and the North Bridge in Concord.  Along the Battle Road between these towns and back down to Boston, the first blood was shed in the defense of American freedom. 

While I have been there before, it was the first visit for John and Emma.  Emma is a kid who loves history and was very excited for her opportunity to better understand what happened at the beginning moments of our country's fight for independence.  John was uhh ... tolerant ... of the stop on the way to Maine.

It's a bit rainy and gray here on the 4th in Maine, but the rest of the week has been pretty glorious so far.  I hope that you and yours are enjoying your day together loving life, exercising liberty, and pursuing happiness.

Happy Independence Day America!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

image from www.flickr.comBeing a father is at the center of who I am today.  Most of us will not leave this life having made significant contributions to the arts and humanity, or have invented a major scientific or technological breakthrough.  Darn few of us will leave behind the kind of wealth to make an important impact on society. 

But those of us who are lucky enough to be parents will, if all goes well, leave our children behind to make their impacts.  Like ripples on a still pond after you throw a stone in, their effects will be far broader than our small efforts.

Being a father is more important that anything I can thank of.  Teaching discipline without being harsh.  Encoraging success without work or activites becoming all-consuming.  Helping the little ones learn that respect for everyone is important.  Developing a balanced sense of self, family and community.

Having great kids helps.  I sure know it helped my dad!  I have been gifted with two young people who humble me. I am a dance dad and a baseball dad and I love every minute of it! They have no idea how happy I am when family friends and even strangers tell me that John and Emma are smart, happy, children who value fairness and enjoy life. They've made my journey as a father far easier than I know it is for others.

I've spent the weekend in the company of some of the best fathers I know at Tabernacle's 17th Annual Pinelands Classic.  Whether it's coaching the young men (and women), dragging and lining fields, or working the concession stand grills, these men have it figured out. I am lucky to have so many friends who put parenting first.

After we get moving a bit, we are headed back to Delco to celebrate our annual Father's Day Crab Fest.  There, I will again be surrounded by some of the best fathers I know.  People who have taught me that blood is thicker than water and that family comes first in all things. It will be a lot of work, but a lot of fun and that's why we have done some form of Crab Fest for four generations now.

A special thank you to the fathers who are serving our country both at home and abroad.  The sacrifices that you and your families have endured for the benfit of the many do not go unnoticed. The police offices, fire fighters and first responders who leave the comfort of their homes each day not knowing if they will kiss their children again also deserve 'most-favored father' status today.  I can't imagine doing it and all I can say is thank you.

Finally, thank you dad.  I appreciate all you have done and continue to do for me, for Carin and Matt, and for your grandchildren.  I love you.


Saturday, June 02, 2012

Goodbye Marianne

image from www.flickr.comMy youngest aunt left us this morning.  She was one of the sweetest people I have ever known.  My mom's baby sister, Marianne was dedicated to her family, and was lucky enough to meet her grandson in her final months.  She was the person in the world who most reminded me of my grandmother and in some ways I am feeling a double loss this morning, remembering a cold January morning as well.

While she lived most of her life in Atlanta, Marianne grew up in Essington, Delaware County.  She visited often enough that my children knew her and her children well.  She has been to our house at Christmas, baked cookies with them, laughed over a glass of Pinot Grigio after they were tucked away.

I will always remember her in Cape May Point last summer, clearly weakened, but still strong enough to enjoy being with everyone.  She was planning her recovery, trying to find way to help people, and talking about visiting us again this summer.

You'll be missed Marianne.  I am happy for you that the fight is over but so sad for your children, Mason and the rest of us that your kind heart has left us for somewhere easier.  Say hi to the rest of the gang from Saude Avenue.  I am sure they are happy to see you again.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Saying Thank You

image from www.flickr.comThis isn't my standard Memorial Day post.  I waited until the end of the long weekend to re-work my thoughts to make them a bit more personal than my standard patriotic thank you on the final Monday in May.

This was a wonderful weekend for me.  I was able to coach my final games with my son's baseball team, and despite some hard losses (and bad calls) I enjoyed every second.  I was able to enjoy my daughter's sweet personality and the love and companionship of good friends, new and old.  While baseball made it impossible to see my any family except my kids, I know that they gathered and enjoyed time together as well.  It was an All-American weekend and I hope that yours was as well.

Today we walked a block or so to our town's Main Street and honored veterans and first responders for the sacrifices they have given to keep us free and safe.  Later we watched humbly as those who gave everything they had were honored with a final reading of poetry, a 21 gun salute, and a quiet rendition of 'Taps.'

I honor the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who have served our  country with the pledge that our freedom is more important than their lives.  It shames me that it generally takes national holidays for us to remember their work, their blood, the pain of their families, the tears of their children.

There is another group I honor today, the nations's first responders.  The police officers, the fire fighters, and the emergency medical personnel who help us live safely under the freedom our military service persons provide.  Without these millions of people, both paid and volunteer, we would be a sad nation indeed.  It is time they have their own day of recognition.

So for all who have given so much and for those who continue to do so, I thank you with all of the energy I can muster.  My wonderful weekend, and indeed, life, are lived under your protection and I appreciate it very much.

Happy Memorial Day!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hello There!

It's been a while ...

Things are busy, so I can't say the site has been at the top of my list of priorities. May is deposit season, so work is as busy as it gets. It's also the heart of youth baseball season, so the weekends (including Mother's Day) have been full of games and time with friends.  My daughter's social butterfly stage is in full bloom and I even understand she may have a boyfriend. Sigh.

I've been a bit better on the eye health front, but there are still some mornings where getting the lenses in is darn near impossible.  The crazy days of greenish yellow tree pollen coating everything seem to be waning, but who knows what will come next.

I haven't read much lately, but did finish the audio versions of the Dragon Tattoo series.  I'm working on reviews and looking forward to listening to the new John Sandford 'Prey' novel that is out.  I've also become acquainted with 'Mad Men,' and it's as good as everyone says.

I'm eating better, getting some exercise in and have found some new things to interest me and make me happy. I'm still here and will be checking in more as baseball winds down. 


Friday, May 04, 2012

Friday Fantastic Four - Light

It's kind of a gray morning here in the Philly area.  The color palette is subdued and quiet, almost drained of energy.  It's my least favorite light.  That got me thinking ...

What are your four favorite kinds of light?

  1. Sunsets - It's a no brainer.  I love them all.  The Hazy yellows, the fiery oranges, smoky reds, the pastel purples and pinks.  Sunsets infuse everything with last light of the day and prepare us for tomorrow.
  2. Moonlight on Snow - The bluish cast of moonlight on freshly fallen snow brings me a peace that I can't really explain.  Until I think about shoveling!
  3. GE Reveal Bulbs - I know they are not good for the environment, but the light these bulbs give off just seems so perfect at home.  It's less yellow, colors, especially wood tones, look so much fuller.  The quality of light in homes has been going down a lot in my opinion, with too much harsh light from cheap CFLs. Nighttime outside is being spoiled by the horrid orangey cast of mercury vapor lamps.  Treat yourself to a few of these bulbs where you relax at home.  You will be glad you did.
  4. Campfire light - Either from a back yard firepit, a fire on the beach or a real campfire, there is something magic about a fire.  The way the oranges and yellows fight back the enveloping darkness is one of my favorite things to see.

Anyway - kind of deep for the day before Cinco de Mayo, but let's hear what you think.  Have a great weekend and enjoy safely!


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Things You See In Philly

I went for a lunchtime walk today and saw these signs. I did not see any elephants though. I was quite disappointed. I suspect that they have something to do with the Occupy Philly May Day Protests, but I am not sure. Anyone know?


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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Very Cool Turf Field

It's a beautiful morning for baseball! We are not playing on this field, this one is for special needs baseball!


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Thursday, April 26, 2012

On Youth Baseball

Hello, my name is Chris and I coach youth baseball.

There.  It's out in the open.  Though if you have spent more than 10 minutes with me in the last 5 years you probably already knew this.

There are crazy dance moms, obsessed theatre dads, grandmoms who take their charges to Makin' Music 5 times a week to encourage the slobbering 3 year old to channel her inner Taylor Swift and grandpops who dress the youngest of kids in camo, hand them a shotgun and drag them into the woods every morning.

And then there are the baseball coaches. I freely admit that during the season (March to June, August to November, January to March) I have very few conversations that don't have youth baseball mixed in some how.  I looked last year at the percentage of my income I spent on baseball teams, travel, fees, training, equipment and lessons.  It scared me.

I had intended to step away from coaching this year.  I have been coaching my son for 6 years now, from T-ball to travel and over the winter I decided I had done enough.  There were better coaches available I reasoned. I wanted to sit with my daughter and watch. Like they always do, things happen, and here I am again, shouting repetitive instructions at 11 year olds, desperately hoping something sinks in.

It's an obsession. It dramatically affects our relationships with our significant others. Our other children have baseball day packs, filled with art supplies, snacks, water bottles, blankets, sunscreen and electronic diversions. Lunch hours are spent calling other coaches looking for games, staring at cell phone videos of pitchers and batters or fielding calls from parents concerned (inevitably) about their son's playing time.

I've watched other dads give it up. It's not pretty. They shout instructions though the fence at their sons. They tremble and shake in the bleachers when an umpire blows a call. They grumble and groan and hold parking lot meetings with their son's coach after the games. All of the symptoms of withdrawal are there. (One note: the guy pictured does none of these things. He's a model ex-coach.)

I'm not alone in my coaching obsession. Nearly all of the friends I see reguarly  anymore I have met through youth sports. We talk briefly about a new restaurant in town, our daughter's dance recital or taxes, but things move quickly to 'Did you see what so-and-so's kid did the other night? or 'Did you see so-and-so's email about whatever tragedy is confronting the team?'  We compare the latest catalogs from JustBats or Baseball Express and swap coupons to Dick's and Sports Authority.

We borrow each other's kids to fill out our lineups, throw countless batting practice sessions and show up at random rec league games to check how other coaches are using our travel team players. We spend hundreds on gear and apparel and look for every advantage for our kids and our teams. I recognize this is probably some form of insanity, but when everyone you know is doing the same thing, it all feels pretty normal.

We practiced last night until 8:45. On a school night.  We've got tournament games for the next 3 weekends.  Including Mother's Day. Today is an off-day and I am going to resist the temptation (I think)  to hit a rec game to see which kids are throwing tonight.

It's just what we do.  And every year I swear this will be the last year I coach, and every spring I am right back out there.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Even the Littlest Ones Grow Up

image from www.flickr.comToday was one of those moments as a dad. 

Emma dresses herself most days.  It takes about 35 minutes on a good day.  An hour on a bad day.  This morning she came out of her room wearing the dress and boots outfit pictured here.  I raised my eyebrows a bit.  It's not her usual look for school, but she switches it up now and then.

So when we got home tonight I asked her why she wore the dress today.  She said 'I know it is getting too small and that it's a winter dress. I wanted to wear it one more time.  My doll has a dress just like it.'

She wasn't sad, just matter-of-fact. She's growing up. A little more every day.

'Let's go take a picture,' I said. And we did and she went back to memorizing her poem for school. My little one is getting so grown up.

 


Monday, April 23, 2012

Serendipitous Sunday

Yesterday was a day where nothing went the way it was planned to go, but the result was still a surprisingly pleasant day in the end.

I was running a bit later than I wanted to be to get John and Emma picked up and over to John's game, but just as it was time to get moving to the fields, the game was canceled due to rain.  We were able to have a leisurely morning and not race around like crazy people.  We also avoided having to play and watch baseball in the rain! We headed home ahead of the forecast nor'easter and decided to do some long-delayed chores around the house.

Alas, I had not remembered to pick up John's bookbag the night before (why is that my job?) so we haded over to the Duff's to retrieve it.  What I had expected to be a 15 minute trip there and back (I had told Emma we were not staying) turned into an impromptu Flyers Eliminate the Pens and The Phillies Really Suck party as Emma and John got to catch up on the goings on back in Mount Laurel, we cheered on the Flyers to victory, met a new friend and generally had a good time.

I meant to do a load of laundry when we got back, but it just seemed like a far better idea to watch some Don Draper and catch up with some friends on Facebook.  Thanks to those who introduced me to Mad Men, I am now out of clean socks.

No baseball was played and not a bit of housework got done, but it was a really great Sunday.  I hope everyone else enjoyed the rainy day as much as we all did!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

On Vision

I have spent the last few weeks in an allergy-induced haze.  Not a mental haze, mind you, but a visual haze.  Itchy, watering eyes, abraded corneas, general unhappiness.  It's generally an annual thing for me, coinciding to the arriva l of tree pollen in my area.  Given the mild winter and warm spring, this has been my worst episode ever.

I've had to spend a couple of days being driven around, skip some baseball and work, and the laundry basket is full of washcloths used as cold compresses.  The variety of drops, sprays and pills I have needed in the last few weeks is astounding.  Good docs, friends and drivers have been very helpful too! 

Being able to see is a pretty important thing, but I have been amazed at how much I can do despite my uncorrected vision being somewhere around 20/2000.  Yup.  That's the right number of zeros.  I can't see very well without contacts.  Still, I have been able to get around.

Part of that is because the brain is so remarkable.  What I can do by feel, general memory, scent, and with fuzzy sight has been pretty amazing. I have been able to work, take care of my kids, cook, write and even read a bit.

The rain last night and soon today has helped settle the pollen down a bit and my vision is pretty normal today.  I think that I've turned the corner, but the experience of the last two weeks has really given me new appreciation for both my vision as well as the quality of the health care I am able to afford.

So the next time you get something in your eye and tear up, consider for a moment how lucky we are to be able to see anything at all and how difficult life would be if we alwasy ahd to walk though life in a fuzzy haze.

l of tree pollen in my area.  Given the mild winter and warm spring, this has been my worst episode ever.



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stephen's on State - A Review

This week I had the unsual opportunity to have dinner back in Delco with my dad.  After reviewing the State Street options, I selected Stephen's over Iron Hill on the basis of better steak offerings for him and a lower potential for noise pollution from Flyers fans. 

Stephen's was a good choice overall, but unspectacular.  The decor is clean and neat, but nothing special.  The old-fashioned I enjoyed at the bar (while I waited for Pop to slide the Camry into a primo parking spot out front) had never heard of bitters and suffered from a few too many maraschino cherries.

My cold appetizer of rare tuna seemed to have been pre-prepared and was a touch dry. The sesame oil infused bed of greens was quite tasty and the overall effort was refreshing. The bread course was very good, with crusty, yet soft, recently sliced bread accompanied by herbed olive oil.  It was actually a highlight of the meal.

My crab and scallop broiled tilapia special was flavorful, but poorly cooked.  One side was very over done and the flip side was barely cooked, leading to an overly dry crunchy mouth feel.  The scallops were excellent however and the crab meat was a nice, if sparse addition.

My father had mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat as an appetizer.  SInce there were only 5, I passed on his offer to share, but he enjoyed them immensely from what I could tell.  He also filled up on the crab in his entree, choosing a filet oscar while skipping the bearnaise sauce.  He subbed out the asparagus for Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and was very happy with both the main course and his side.

I passed on a pretty pedestrian dessert menu, but Pop tried the cheesecake.  Obviously recently liberated from a cardboard box, the texture and flavor were pretty below average.  The service was very good, with our local waitress keeping the tea glass filled and endured my father's usual line of questioning about her educational background and future plans.

All in all Stephen's on State was a nice Wednesday night out for two guys without much else to do on a spring evening.  The Food was good, if a notch below the pricetag.  The service and ambiance were enjoyable and unobtrusive.  I recommend hitting restaurant.com for discount certificates if you go.  Ours cut $15 off the $100. bill, which included tip.

There are better restaurants in Delco, but Stephen's is worth a shot if you're a carnivore out looking for a meal in Media.  My dad is a steak guy, so this worked well for him.  We ate, talked about family and friends, upcoming vacations and sport.  It was a good night for both of us and the food was a big part.


Monday, April 16, 2012

A Week In Review and A Funny Coaching Moment

I have not been writing much.  It's that time of year, where, despite the ingestion of 4 different medications daily, I am still often unable to get my contacts to stay in my eyes for more than a few hours because of allergies.  I try to save those times for driving and kid time, since driving without the contacts not recommended and the kids are pretty darn cute.

So the blog takes a back seat since it it pretty hard to write when you can't see what you are writing!

The kids were on Spring Break last week, so I took a few days off from work and spent a lot of time with them.  It was filled up with trips to the park for Emma, baseball (and braces) for John and a bit of family time for egg hunts and the like.  The park at the end of our street isn't much, but Emma loves the slides and swings and keeps trying harder and harder on the monkey bars each time.  John has had a solid start to baseball, nothing spectacular, but he's hitting the ball and playing with enthusiasm, which is all a dad could want.

Despite my allergies, I have been trying to get outside a lot. Saturday I coached some basebell and got some sunburn and a new look for spring. Yesterday, only half-blind for the day, I had to forgo Sadie and Gretl's birthday party, but I did manage to spend some glorious time outside in the sun and got a little (too little) exercise in.

It was a quiet, fun week with a lot of downtime for everyone to enjoy each other.  the funniest moment of the week though, came while coaching baseball, when this little gem transpired:

Coach: Ok. So that's what we do on a bunt.  Now everyone understands.  Any questions?

Kid: Coach, I have a question.

Coach: Ok, go ahead.

Kid: Did you know that all three of you coaches are wearing New Balance sneakers?

Coach: Umm, no, but that's a good observation. Anyone else have any BASEBALL questions?

So if you've ever wondering what the kids talk about when there is a discussion on the field, it likely has NOTHING to do with baseball.

Have a good week!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Xfinity Live - A Review

image from www.flickr.comBy now many of you have probably had the chance to get down to Xfinity Live, the new party venue in South Philly sports complex. Crowds have been huge, filling the place to capacity when there is an event at any venue. The opening night, when Third Eye Blind did a free concert, was seriously packed with the crowd overflowing long before showtime.

I had a chance to check things out last weekend as the place was opening and was pleasantly surprised at how much they have packed into what is a pretty small footprint. For a place that isn't quite done yet, there is certainly a lot going on!

The music stage out back is pretty sweet for the local band scene, offering a nice raised stage flanked by a short turf football field and a back bar faced with bricks from the original Spectrum. Even on a cold early April evening last Saturday, several local bands were able to generate some warmth as fans came out for long-time favorites Burnt Sienna, Mr. Greengenes, The Flamin' Caucausians, a Strange as Angels reunion and Kristen and the Noise all rocked for the Flyers fans and later the 76ers faithful.

One musical off-note from opening weekend - whoever the idiot was that booked Crazy in Stereo needs his head examined.  They were so bad I thought that some drunken wait staffers had stolen instruments and stormed the stage.

Inside there is the main space, the NBC Sports Arena, with it's MASSIVE 32 foot HDTV towering over bars, tables and banquettes. Each time I have been to Xfinity Live, this space has been packed.  It's a great place to watch the game if you don't a ticket and the food is certainly on par with sports complex places like Chickies and Pete's and McFaddens.  You will have to deal with some jostling around and it's hard to hear over the thunderous sound system and crowd noise, but you really aren't taking a date here for the conversation, right?

I was pretty impressed with the Victory Beer Hall, which was was packed with beer lovers sucking down pints of Downingtown's best brews.  While there is certainly some learning curve on the staff beer knowledge (No beautiful, the Storm King Stout is NOTHING like a Guinness, but you sure are cute in that outfit!) the place was electric.  The outside bar and fire pit were also a really nice addition to the space.

PBR (no idea what that stands for) is an odd duck of a bar.  It's got a mechanical bull in the middle of the bar, women in backless chaps, some very pretty margaritas and some solid smoked BBQ ribs.  So you can watch your drunk buddy last .8 seconds on the bull while your suck down a few big drinks served to you by someone who looks like she should be at Hooters.  This place seems to be a staff favorite after they get cut from other spots.  Broad Street Bullies Pub is your basic sports bar, replete with Flyers memorbilia and a quieter vibe than the other bars in the complex.

Finally, there's the Spectrum Grille, a quiet, high-end steakhouse featuring soft lighting and sleek, dark wood decor and my friend Noelle making great drinks at the bar.  The tuna carpaccio was very good and other bar customers had high marks for the steaks.  In the time my guest and I were there, we saw several former Flyers slip in the back entrance and order up some massive steaks.  It looks like the Flyers Alumni has a new clubhouse!

XL certainly answers the question 'Where should we meet before the game?' It is now THE destination for pre-gaming in South Philly.  McFaddens will still have its crowd for Phillies nights, but my guess is the C&P crowds will take a hit as folks realize they don't need to take a bus from the bar to the game. Groups will be able to meet here easily, have a few drinks before game time and then head off.  Folks without tickets won't be out of luck either, given the plethora of TVs and the mega giant HDTV screen in the main hall.

I think XL also has a lot of potential on non-game nights. The music venue will be a fun addition to the local rotation of spots you can see your favorite cover bands.  There is also room inside for smaller acoustic sets at Victory, PBR and Broad St., something that I think will make for and interesting evening, as you can walk from venue to venue as long as you are willing to carry your drink in a plastic cup.

I'll be headed back down soon to see how the place looks as it works out its growing pains.  XL was obviously overstaffed and overcrowded for opening weekend, so it will be interesting to see how the place looks on a 'normal' weekend. So far though, Xfinity Live looks like a winner!


Friday, April 06, 2012

Friday Fantastic Four - Easter Candy

Hello all -

It's been a great week in the Region of Brotherly Love, with the Phils beating the Pirates yesterday, 1-0 to open the season, The Masters underway, the Flyers clinching a playoff date with the Pens and doughnuts in the office to celebrate a birthday!

But it's also Easter weekend for the Christians or bunny lovers among us. We have not finished the Halloween candy at my house yet, but it's time to hunt for eggs and check out what the Easter bunny left in the baskets this year.

What are your four favorite Easter Candies?

  1. Peeps - absolute #1.  The ones covered in dark chocolate are pretty darn good too, but they don't get stale and chewy.
  2. Jelly Belly Jellybeans - I've had a weakness since the Reagan administration when they were the rage and I would walk up to Kelly's Kandy in the Brookhaven Shopping center and scoop out my favorites into a plastic bag.
  3. Cadbury Creme Eggs - They're a bit smaller than they used to be, and darn pricey, but oh so good.
  4. Dark Chocolate Marshmallow Eggs - Yeah.  I have a thing for marshmallow.

Have a great weekend of family, sports, observations and food!


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Madness Has Ended - Or Has It?

Last night the Prince of Darkness and his minions smashed the forces of All That Is Good and Holy and took the national championship for NCAA Men's Division I Basketball. There was a score, but the score was not really indicative of how much The Prince's (John Calipari) forces dominated the boys from Kansas.  This was as thorough a destruction as I have seen of one team in a championship game and despite a late attempt by Kansas to make things look respectable, the game was really never in doubt.

This was the predicted outcome. The gifted recruiter Coach Cal would finally get his national championship ring and his players would disperse to the winds to prepare for the NBA draft, possibly never having seen a UK classroom this semester. Bill Self's KU squad, already a loser to Kentucky back in November didn't have the firepower then and it didn't last night. Kentucky may not either next year, as they are set to lose freshmen superstars Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for certain and probably also Marquis Teague.

But Kentucky will reload with new talent, the recruiting of top prospects fueled by Coach Cal's first ring and the likelihood that the NCAA is still a few years away from catching up to him at Kentucky.  I don't really have a problem with the players to spend a year 'at school' and then head to the NBA draft.  For me, an educated, suburban, white guy to tell these kids who generally have so little academic preparation for college that they need a college degree to be successful while the NBA beckons with guaranteed millions is just stupid.

However, I do think that this is just another example of how college sports are nothing like what we pretend them to be. There is very little honorable or noble about universities making millions off the labor of athletes who will never graduate. Similarly, the athletes participating in this sham are little more than mercenaries, serving their term of enlistment for the bonus at the end of the line.

And it's not going to change. The NCAA tournament TV contract is an $11 BILLION deal. Anyone who has been to a Final Four has seen the obscene amount of money that gets thrown around in bars, restaurants and clubs wherever the games land each year. Then there is the merchandise.  People who can't find Kentucky on a map are bedecked in school color, wearing foam fingers and painting their faces. It's a virtual orgy of consumerism around a few games played by kids, who for the most part are not even able to drink yet.

It's a giant mess and it isn't going to get better.  I've always been a huge fan of March Madness, but this year may have been the beginning of the end for my enjoyment. The Madness isn't in Lehigh beating Duke (ouch that hurt) or in Butler making it all the way to the final game. It's in the masses believing that this is really amateur athletics and that the experience is somehow important to what colleges and universities are supposed to be about - namely education.


Monday, April 02, 2012

March Madness!

I'm enjoying the D1 national championship game tonight where I am hoping Bill Self and the KU Jayhawks win another national title over the Prince of Darkness and his band of minions who will be playing in the NBA Rookie Game next year.

Enjoy!


Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Fantastic Four - Dancing On Air

Tomorrow, a TV staple of my teenage years returns to the airwaves as WPHL-TV 17 revives 'Dancin' on Air' at 10 am.  The original show, much like its predecessor 'American Bandstand,'  featured local kids dancing to the latest 80s dance and pop hits. While I never appeared on the show due to my hereditary inability to dance, I do know several folks who appeared on the show.

The show helped make Madonna, Kelly Ripa, Duran Duran and others big stars and later went national as 'Dance Party USA,'. I was working as  DJ at the time and it was always great to see how crowds reacted to new music on the show.  While I will be busy tomorrow night for the new show's premier, I will definitely DVR it. 

All this got me to thanking about other things that I would bring back from my teenage years ...

What are the top four things you would bring back from your teenage years?

  1. Pulsations - a great place to dance and party all night, but not as great a place to work!
  2. Cruising In the Jeep - Top off, George Thorogood blasting, was a great way to start the weekend!
  3. The Big Green, '77 Chevy - If Goot hadn't totaled it the day he bought it, the thing would still be running.
  4. The Wharf - oh wait!  The Wharf still exists (Sort of)  And I was NEVER there as a teenager!

It's a big weekend for the Final Four, College Open Houses, Baseball Opening Days, Xfinity Live opening and so much more.  Relax and enjoy!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

On Government and Health Care

If you are a Supreme Court junkie, as I am, it's been a pretty interesting week.  three days of oral arguments before the court over The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has had NPR's Nina Totenberg breathless since Monday.  I followed closely the radio and print accounts of the arguments and all of the analysis that came afterwards.

There were three basic areas of dispute.  The first, seemingly dismissed by the Court, is that the an obscure federal tax law from 1867 called the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) essentially bars bringing a case against Obamacare.  The law prohibits tax protesters from filing suit against a tax until the tax has actually been paid.  The Supremes seems dubious that there was even a tax involved here, even given that when the act is in force those who do not have health insurance will have to pay a penalty, which the IRS will collect.  It's a fine point I guess, but that's why lawyers are involved.

The second day was really where the fireworks were, with Obamacare opponents making the argument that the law is unconstitutional because it forces everyone in America to purchase health insurance.  Their essential argument was that the constitution does not permit the government to compel a citizen to purchase anything and that if the government could do this, it could compel people to buy anything at all, including broccoli.

The government's counter to this argument was that broccoli, no matter how much you like it, does not provide for a basic human need like access to health care does and that the government certainly has the right to regulate trade in such a huge area of the economy.  The government also argued that the only wa for health insurance to work was to have everyone in it all the time or else only sick people would buy it, making the whole system a horrendously expensive mess.

The final day's arguments were based around the complaint to the states governed by Republicans that the regulations that the act placed on Medicare were an unconstitutional violation of states rights by the federal government. The states also made the argument that the entire act must be struck down if any portion of it were deemed unconstitutional.

In the end, despite favoring universal care on a human rights basis, I found the arguments presented against Obamacare to be compelling.  I specifically agreed with the idea that individuals can't be told to buy a product, no matter how useful the product is or how much the product is needed to provide for the common good.  While we all agree that everyone should have access to comprehensive, affordable healthcare, we can't provide it by requiring everyone to buy personal coverage.  It's not who we are as a nation.  We don't solve our problems by mandating behavior.

So a government-funded, single-payer insurance system like Canada's must be the answer, right? 

I will surprise my libertarian and conservative friends (and my liberal friends too, I guess) by saying no, I think that government control of the healthcare system is not the answer either.  I work in higher education, where I have seen first-hand how the government can take over programs that have some problems but are working and regulate them into a costly, inefficient mess in a matter of years. Government can't even figure out how to collect trash efficiently and we want to entrust 1/6 of the economy and our health to its organizational ability?  I think not.

The real answer is that the solution is a lot harder than a health care bill. It will added efficiency such as a realization that not every hospital needs every new device. It will take philanthropy.  One of the reasons that health care has gotten so much more expensive is that non-profits and religious groups have been driven out as healthcare mega corps have been able to outbid them for top docs, leaving only charity care for the NPOs to provide. 

America has to invest in itself to get though what I consider a health care crisis.  That means those who have resources making a concerted effort to voluntarily provide for the less fortunate though philanthropy.  It's not good enough to buy proton guns for major research hospitals.  Someone has to be willing to subsidize mammograms and and infant care for folks who can't afford it on their own.

It also has to start with individual responsibility. One of the reasons that health care is so expensive is that we are so out of shape. Obesity, heart disease and diabetes are epidemics in the country, starting with toddlers. You don't have to join an expensive gym or hire a personal trainer, but it's time to get off our butts and go for a walk, to volunteer to clean up a park, or to coach a youth team.  We're lucky enough to live in a country with abundant access to clean, fresh water.  We should be drinking more of that and a lot less soda and juice.

I know I sound a lot like a small government conservative here, but I think that a regulated private healthcare system with significant philanthropic care is the best way to solve this problem. People also have to realize that their choices affect the community at large.  The Supreme Court is going to gut Obamacare when the justices rule in June. But that's not a bad thing.  It was a bad compromise on a grand idea.  Now it's time to more forward with a better plan.