Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another Life Milestone

Right now I sit under a jaundice-yellow umbrella in the 'Atrium' at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.  My brother and mother are also here, Mom doing a crossword puzzle, Matt tapping away stylishly on his MacBook.

Why you ask? 

My dad is somewhere in the bowels of the hospital having some part of his heart 'cauterized.'  I thought they stopped doing medical cauterizations somewhere in the Dark Ages, but a doctor actually used the phrase yesterday, so that shows you how much I know about cutting edge heart procedures.  Matt on the other hand, seems to know a great deal in that he edits a magazine or two that cater to exactly to the kinds of guys zapping my dad's heart right now.  The docs talk mostly to Matt.  I frown and nod a lot.

Dad mentioned several times yesterday that he had not planned on being admitted to the hospital yesterday.  That he felt fine and had things to do, etc.  His cardiologist, who admitted him to the hospital within 10 minutes of meeting 'Pop' noted his 157 heart rate and used words like 'non-compliant patient a lot.'  The drugs have not slowed down the 'atrial flutter' he is suffering from, hence the zapping currently being done.

This episode likely marks the beginning of the next phase of life for us adult Pesotski children, that part which will likely involved an increased number of visits to hospitals and calls to bosses explaining our sudden absences.  As Matt noted yesterday, 'once a cardiac patient, always a cardiac patient.'  That being said, if you had told me 9 years ago, when my dad had his quintuple bypass that he would not be back into the hospital for 9 years, I would have said you were nuts, especially given his 'non-compliance.'

He'll likely be just fine after the procedure today, though it will be a few days before he is home.  I am guessing he will take this as the wake up call that it it and increase dietary and exercise compliance for a bit.  But who knows for how long. I probably should as well.  I'm carrying an extra 10 pounds and can't likely run around the block.  I should probably put my money where my mouth is.

Thanks to all of you who have called and texted with good wishes.  We appreciate them. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Sad Loss

24 year old Washington Redskins Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor died early this morning as a result of a gunshot wound he sustained in his home from an intruder.  Taylor was in his 4th year in the league and had been an All-American at the University of Miami, which bizarrely did not note his passing as of 9:30 am EST.

While not a close follower of the NFL, I basically thought of Taylor as the proto-typical Hurricane pro.  Brash and hard-hitting, he sometimes drew the ire of the zebras and opponents with his over the top style.  His teammates where telling a different story yesterday, saying he had 'matured' and holding a candlelight vigil for him last night. 

Whatever the case, every person deserves to be safe in his own home and my condolences go out to Taylor's family, friends and teammates.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Good Day

I spent much of yesterday helping Bopper re-hab his parents' kitchen.  They live in a great 1920's stone twin in beautiful Media, PA.  The old kitchen is pretty much gone, they are salvaging the dining area floor, but basically everything else will be new.  Bopper is a top-shelf carpenter and fixer of the highest order, so my role was to do whatever he needed done.

The project is a few weeks old at this point and most of the demolition had been completed.  I did some fairly basic wiring and carpentry, tried to keep Mr. Ranson on task, and enjoyed the camaraderie.  Kevin did yeoman's work chipping 1970's-ear adhesive of a wall that can now be skimcoacted.  Bopper and I have done a bunch of these kinds of mini-projects and it was good to be able to still have enough ability to help out a true master carpenter. We solved a few puzzles, thought out the next couple challenges and actually got some work done.

The real discovery of the day was Bopper's new 'screw machine.'  HIs dad bought him an early Christmas present last week, a Makita BTD142HW Cordless Impact Driver.  Bopper had talked about it early in the day, but I have never been a big Makita fan, so I basically ignored him.  Later, as I was struggling with the beast of a 18v Milwaukee monster Driver he has, Bopper said uhh why don't you try the Makita.

I did and that was all it took.  I am not sure where it has been all my life.  Light and easy to handle, the BTD142HW has a TON of torque and a nice bright LED that shows you what your are doing.   The battery holds a charge for a good long time and charges up in 15 minutes.   Mr. Ranson notes that it even plays a song when it's done charging.  I'm in love.  I added it to my wish list immediately.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Food and Drink Reviews

As I bloatedly recline on the couch and prepare for a busy day of watching college football and encouraging my kids to be quiet, I reflect on the bounty that crossed the tables yesterday.

First, thanks to Wawa for getting the day started with a 20 ounce cup of java yesterday.  While it wasn't up to the usual standards, Roy of the Moorestown store served it up and got me moving after my Wednesday night out with the boys.  Not a bad way to start the day.

The GF served up a tasty mid-day snack of a very basic ham and cheese on multi-grain bread with sliced tomato sprinkled with fresh ground pepper and sea salt.  Sounds simple, but the execution was perfect and it got me though until dinner.

Late in the afternoon, it was time for the turkey feast at the GF's mom's house.  The Company was great as always, and the food was top notch.  A few specific items deserve note.  The perfectly prepared dark meat of the bird hit the spot for me.  I just wish I had some more now for a cold turkey sandwich.  The GF's cousin made an amazing macaroni and cheese that was EASILY the best I have ever had.  Need to find out how she does it.

Also of note at the first gathering of the evening was the marshmallow ambrosia that the GF's grandmother made.  It took me back to the holidays with my own grandmother.  It was darn near the same thing in my memory!  Marshmallow, cherries, coconut and mandarin oranges.  MMMMMMM-MMMMMM!  The Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio provided by GF's little sis was also excellent!

Then we packed everyone up and headed over to PA and my sister;s house for dessert.  We arrived at the perfect time, as they were finishing their meal and in time for dessert!  I headed right for the fridge, as my brother Matt had tipped me that he had a selection of great holiday beers for my sampling.  He did not disappoint.  The Anchor 2007 Christmas brew is their usual big, bold bottle of hoppy brown excellence.  But the beer of the night was Dogfish Head's Olde School barley wine.  Weighing in at 15% abv, Matt and I split this one.  Caramel, citrus and a bit of hops on the end.  Very nice!  My sister sure knows how to make a pumpkin pie.  The flavors were fresh and complex and it was one of the best in my memory.  I don't do crust, but many raved about it.  Kudos to the chef!

We all had a great day eating and drinking and enjoying each other's company.  I hope that you all did too! 

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Give Thanks

19430306saturdayeveningpostnormanro I don't have too much to say other than the headline today.  It's been a good year in so many ways and we should all pause for a few moments amid the feasting and drinking and family and football today to remember that Thanksgiving is about remembering all that we have and giving thanks for it in our own way.

I am not a particularly religious person, but I am mindful of the fact that for someone like me to have done so well, there MUST be a higher being.  I see that higher being's work daily in the smiling faces of my children and their joyful noise each morning.  I see it in the rolling hills and stunning beauty of our nation.  I see it in the men and women who protect us and serve us so that we can stay free.

As a lifelong Phillies Phan, I also give thanks for the wonderfully exciting season they brought us and look forward to next year.  I also pray for mercy on Sunday.

It's becomes something of a Thanksgiving tradition around here to 'borrow' Norman Rockwell's 'Freedom From Want' for today's post.   Thanks Norm!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The First Basket

Today the NBA, and basically all of basketball, is dominated by black athletes.  For anyone younger than say 35, it has always been this way in their memory.  So it's pretty hard to imagine that the dawn of the NBA was dominated by short Jewish guys.  In fact, much of the history of basketball until roughly the mid-1950s was centered on Jewish players and coaches.

Did you know that Red Auerbach was Jewish?  That there are dozens of Jewish players and coaches in the Basketball Hall of Fame?  That a largely-Jewish series of teams at CCNY and LIU were a major college basketball powers of the 40s and 50s?

I might have known some of this in the vaguest of senses, as I hail from the town that spawned the greatest Jewish basketball team of all time, the South Philadelphia Hebrew All Stars (SPAHS), but it had been pushed to the back recesses of my mind by the high-flying acrobatics of today's NBA, and even college and high school game.

And then I had the chance to go to the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival's presentation of filmmaker David Vyorst's 86 minute documentary "The First Basket" on Monday night.   Vyorst did a wonderful job weaving together vintage black and white footage of mid-20th century hoops games, modern day interviews of many of the major Jewish players of the 40s and 50s, as well as contextual material on basketball, the Settlement House movement and Jewish-American history.  The film is richly narrated by actor Peter Reigert, who lends his nasal Bronx accent to the images.

The title of the film derives from the fact that the first basket in NBA history was scored by a Jewish player, Ossie Schectman on November 1, 1946 as the New York Knicks beat the Toronto Huskies 68-66 at Maple Leaf Garden in Toronto.   Yup, the first NBA game ever played was played before  7,090 confused Canadians in a hockey arena.    

Vyorst covers the men who made the NBA a force in American athletics, guys like south Philly's Eddie Gottlieb, who owned the SPAHS, the Philadelphia Warriors and ran the NBA into the 1960s.  He interviews Auerbach at length, who tells giant stories of little men though clouds of cigar smoke.  Vyorst spends a great deal of time detailing the accomplishments of Nat Holman, the Hall of fame coach of the CCNY Beavers at their heyday.  He also talks to about a dozen Jewish superstars of the 50s, many who animated re-tell the best stories of the glory days of their youth.  Their stories really carry the film and it was sad to note that several of them passed on before the film was completed. 

The film is a touch New York-centric, though it covers Philly ball a good bit.  There is an inexplicable 15 minutes devoted to basketball in Isreal, which seems a late appendage rather far from the core of the movie.  The Jewish-dominated points shaving scandals of the early 1950s are covered, though briefly.  The later scandal involving Jack Molinas is ignored completely.  David Stern appears, but with little context and one is left to wonder  who he is and why he is there.

All in all it's a very good film, but one is left wondering if Vyorst was making a feel-good film about the heyday of Jewish athletics in America or a true documentary.  It ends up feeling a lot more like the former.   It's a good film that deserves wider attention, and should be seen in the context of the contributions that the profiled pioneers made to today's game, and also a commentary on how much has changed.  Today there isn't a single Jew in the NBA, CCNY is a mediocre team competing among the worst of the Division III teams and LIU is an is a shadow of its former self on the D1 scene.

I'd like to thank my good friend Bob Arrow, the coordinator of the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival for the opportunity to see the screening of "The First Basket."  Bob recently announced that he will shortly retire from his posting at the PJFF of the last six years.  I wish him all the best!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Philly Dangerous, Not as Bad as Detroit or Camden (WHEW) reports today that a private firm has analyzed FBI crime statistics for US cities and that Philadelphia came in as the 21st most dangerous city in the US.  Camden was the 5th.  Detroit, the most miserable place I have ever visited, was the worst.  Shockingly, instead of acknowledging that there is a crime problem in her fair city, the Detroit Police Chief, complained that the report is only available for purchase. 

Ella Bully-Cummings, Detroit's top cop apparently thought that was more egregious than the fact that Detroit had as many violent crimes as did Philly in 2006.  For the record, Philly is almost twice as large as Detroit and has a major tourist and night life industry that attracts non-residents.  Detroit, umm, doesn't.  By all means Ella, if you cant' argue with the facts, dispute the distribution method.

Last year, Philly had 406 murders to Detroit's 414.  1.5 million people live in The City of Brotherly Handgun Crimes, compared to 850,000 in the Motor City.  Over 300 people have been murdered in Philly this year, the worst pace since the high of 503 in 1990. 

Lost in all of these statistics, and the national attention they have brought, is the fact that gun violence in Philly has begun to creep out of 'the neighborhoods,'  and is now affecting Old City, Center City and other places tourists and business people frequent.   I work on The Avenue of the Arts and all of the high priced condo folks I talk to in restaurants and bars in the area are beginning to worry that crime is soon going to be more than something they see on the evening news.  They're afraid and Michael Nutter should be too.

Nutter is inheriting a city where there aren't enough cops, guns flow free and easy and cops have become targets.  His solution is 'stop and frisk' and Charles H. Ramsey.  You may remember Ramsey as DC's police boss actually had his patrol car stolen.  Philly's currently ineffective top cop, Sylvester Johnson says 'stop and frisk' risks urban unrest and amounts to racial profiling.  I'd argue that we're in the middle of a war here and arguing about what might happen while people die is rather like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

News stories aren't going to solve the violence problem.  More prisons wont either.  Stop and frisk might be a good start, but violent crime comes down to 2 things.  first, there are too many guns and it's time to make it tougher to buy and sell them.  One a month is a JOKE, and will still allow you to amass a personal armory, yet the NRA has it bottled up a year later.    Second, we need a plan to provide opportunity and jobs for the people in the city who can't afford to live away from the violence.  That's a big statement and it's easy to just say it, but we've know it for decades and need to get started.  It's time for a New New Deal.

it's easy to focus on Philly or Camden or Detroit and say , 'Oh god crime there is terrible!'  But the real story is that there has been a continuing increase in violent crime in most large US cities and it's a threat to national security.  Local anti-crime and education programs have fallen under the ax at every level as we have focused on 'The War On Terror.'  It's time to admit that the war on terror abroad has been an abject failure and start to focus on winning the war on terror in our neighborhoods.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hair of the Dog 2008

Hod_lightsAs many of you know, I like to get dressed up and go out.  While I am perfectly comfortable eating pizza and drinking Yuengling in my Jeans for Ellie's First Birthday (at Carin's last night), I also like to don the tux, grab a flute of bubbly and escort the lovely GF to a formal ball.  One of the best every year is Hair o' The Dog. 

I've been a few times over the years and will make a return this year on Saturday night, January 12, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Penn's Landing.  Headlining the event will be my favorite local band and my good friends, Mr. Greengenes.  Something tells me Bryen will skip the tux.

It's a cool even, usually with good food and plenty to drink.  In the past ladies rooms have been an issue, but i have been assured that the organizers have this one under control this year at the Hyatt.  The crowd is wide-ranging from young hotties to The Guv.  In my (ahem) mid-30s, I am solidly in the heart of the age range. It's black tie for the guys and the ladies come SERIOUSLY dressed up

I won't say it's cheap.   At $125 a head, it's at the top end of prices for Philly charity events, but it's worth it.   The event benefits PAWS - The Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society this year.

I'd recommend you get your tickets early, especially if you are thinking about the VIP section option.  I've waited in the past and been disappointed.  Let me know if you are going, or what the other hot dates for the winter ball season are.  I'll see you there!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kyla Ebbert Nude This Time

Remember this past summer when some moron at Southwest Arilines took it upon herself to decide that a paying customer was wearing a too-short miniskirt and threw Kyla Ebbert off the plane?

Yeah.  I had forgotten too.

After that, Southwest issued an apology and used the situaion in their ads for a bit, Ms. Ebbert, either a college student, an aspiring lawyer, or Hooters waitress, depending on where you read, appeared on every bad TV show on the tube.

Then, blessedly, she disappeared off the face of the earth, except for parody writers and on myspace.

Until yesterday, that is, when Ebbert announced that she had posed nude for Playboy.  Like we all didn't see THAT one coming!  It took about 12 minutes for the photos to be leaked to the internet.  If you must see the images, here they are, but you have to go to confession later. 

Don't worry mom, "they are very tastefully done" according to Ebbert.

Great Commercial?

I tend to tune out commercials or jump up to grab a beverage or pee during them.  So I had heard this one several times before I actually saw it.  Then I had no idea what they were selling because I was too confused by the animals.  So I started waiting for the commercial to see what the heck they were trying to get me to buy.

Turns out that Jeep is trying to get me to buy the new Grand Cherokee by running this spot on ESPN and Discovery all night long.

The music is "Rock Me Gently" a #1 Billboard hit by Andy Kim from 1974.  I'd never heard that one, but I do remember his other #1, "Sugar, Sugar," which he sang with Ron Dante as part of "The Archies."

I'm torn on whether  this is a great commercial.  I mean I had NO CLUE what the product was for the first 3-4 times I was exposed to it.  However, the unusual music and the animated animals drew me back enough times for me to figure out what they were selling.  Heck, I even went and found the video and did a post on it. 

Now what's the wolf eating and regurgitating the bird about?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Fantastic Four

Every now and then you have a day that makes you realize how amazing the small things are in life ... In that light here is today's Fantastic Four:

What are the four most amazing things in everyday day?  They could be occurences, people, items, events ... you name it!!!!

  1. Airplanes - how amazing it is to get into an aluminum tube hurtling at 600 mph and step off 3000 miles away and have it be nearly the same time?

  2. The amount of noise that two kids can make at 7 am on Saturday morning.

  3. German butter cake

  4. Sunsets over the ocean

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Photo Set Up

  Glessner Covered Bridge 
  Originally uploaded by Cavalier92

After a bit of a delay, the first of the autumnal photos from my recent trip to southwestern Pennsylvania have been posted over at my Flickr site.  I'm still working on the images from the Flight 93 Memorial, which I also visited on that trip.

These images have been a bit of a struggle for me.  I am using the rather crappy kit lens that I have had for years.  It's served me well, but you see a lot of noise on the long focal lengths as it isn't image stabilized.  The focus is also a touch soft. 

I am also struggling to show the deep blue of the sky and also catch the pop of the fall foliage colors.  I am a novice Photoshop CS3 user, but gosh, what an amazing program!  For the most part, I have erred on the side of the leaves, but probably would have had better results working a bit more with my filters as I was actually shooting the images to try to enhance the blues.

Let me know what you think!

Lighting Up Broad Street


A really cool project is going on evening right now on South Broad Street in Philly.  Students at The University of The Arts are lighting two buildings at Broad and Pine and the effect is spectacular!

Yeah this a crappy cell phone picture but I think you get the idea of how cool the lighting is on the neo-classical architecture of Hamilton Hall.  The lighting accents the building and adds figures ad details that make you imagine the setting could be Ancient Athens!

The projection on Anderson Hall on the east side of Broad is more abstract, but still VERY cool.  Don't take my word on it.  Get down there and see it!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Test post

While I have tested the photo post possibilities for my new Samsung SCH-i760 smart phone a few times already, this is my first attempt to use it for an email post. It's a pretty cool little mobile computer, complete with a sliding full QWERTY keyboard, Windows Mobile 6, a 1.3 mp camera and a bunch of other stuff.

The GF hates it. I like it but am not in love yet.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Fantastic Four

We all have that outfit that just feels perfect, or makes us feel invincible, or that always gives us that extra measure of confidence on a date or interview.  Thus, today we take on clothing

What are your four favorite articles of clothing?

  1. My blue and white striped Polo Oxford dress shirt - classic

  2. My aged LL Bean Burgundy Flannel -Lined Canvas Shirt good for work or just hanging out

  3. My black Cabrini Basketball mock T - won a lot of games in that shirt

  4. This bathing suit - hey I didn't say it had to be YOUR clothing

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Playing for Pizza

And now for something a little different.  I just got done a fairly recently-published audio CD of John Grisham's Playing for Pizza and thought you all might enjoy a bit of a review.

Playing for Pizza
by John Grisham
Unabridged Audio CD
Published by RH Audio on Septermber 24, 2007
6 CDs - Read by Christopher Evan Welch

I am not much of a John Grisham fan.  I like legal thrillers just fine, but his seem to be written all to often to be turned into a film later.  Things explode often.   Private jets are frequently used.  Kisses happen on the beach at sunset.

Still, I was looking for some light listening for a recent trip and the premise of Grisham's latest novel intrigued me.  Since it wasn't a lawyer saving the world or a hooker exposing insurance fraud, i decided to pick up Playing for Pizza.  The liner notes mentioned a down on his luck NFL quarterback looking for a last shot at redemption playing American football in Italy.

It sounded just interesting enough to spend the $20 on so I would not have to be punching buttons on my car radio for a day of driving across Pennsylvania.

And it was interesting enough to prevent that.  But not by a whole lot.

It's a fun read about a lovable loser, Rick Dockery, who, after losing a game no one could have lost to cost the Cleveland Brows a shot at the Super Bowl, heads to Parma, Italy to play QB for the Parma Panthers.  He's out of money, running from a possible paternity suit and desperately interested in seeing the cheerleaders of Italy.  Dockery soon finds himself immersed in a city in love its food, wine and opera, and though a fish out of water, makes the best of his few months there.

The passages about the food and sights of Italy are amazing.  It's some of Grisham's best writing. The football sequences make it clear Grisham knows a bit about the game.  But if you're looking for a story, there isn't much here.  It's a Tom Cruise movie of a novel.  You know, talented rouge gets a break, faces adversity, bonds with unexpected people, overcomes said adversity, learns to enjoy life and triumph in the end.  All the while, he beds a hottie and leaves us wondering what's next.

It's fun.  Just not that special, which is a shame given all the material Grisham has to work with here.

It'll make a great movie.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Another Bad View In Atlantic City

The Trop is a great hotel, but I never get a good view. Driving into this town is so depressing! At least there are great people here at the NJASFAA conference.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

In Philly For Brunch!

The lobster-cheddar omlette at Valanni was excellent, but we wanted something special for dessert so we headed to S. 8th St. and the original Termini Brothers Bakery.

A dozen ricotta stuffed cannoli should hold us for a while.

Go Birds!

3 AM at Geno's

All I am saying is Bachelor Party.

Good luck Billy (left with tongue out)!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Emma Likes Her Ice Cream!

We had a few hours to spend with Emma on her 4th birthday yesterday. she was just as sweet as ever, enjoying her two favorite things, presents and ice cream.

She's still a tiny little thing, but she is the sweetest little girl I have ever known. I look at the picture of her four years ago in the NICU and I realize how luck we all are to have her today. !s snall and quiet as she is, Emma is a tough little girl who knows her own mind.

Stubborn doesn't nearly cover it. But she pulls it off with a giggle that makes you melt and give in to her wishes with a laugh.

She's my little princess and I hope her birthday was as happy for her as it was for me!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday Fantastic Four

Today is Emma's fourth birthday.  To celebrate my little princess's special day, we have a birthday theme.

What four things do you like most about birthdays?

  1. Cake - in my late 30s, I still love it

  2. The smiles of children

  3. Champagne - one of the great things about being in my late 30s is celebrating with bubbly

  4. Looking back at old birthday photos

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gross but hilarious!

I have to admit that the first time I saw this commercial i had to tell myself that it really WAS on network TV and that I was not imagining the visual puns.

I have to hand it to Kellogg's for not taking themselves too seriously in this ad spot for All-Bran.  Not many commercials on the air for products like this handle it as humorously.  I mane how often do you see a construction worker talk about 'doing it' with All-Bran while a truck TAKES A DUMP just behind his ass?  Even Slate magazine has picked up on it/


Really.  Go ahead.  Laugh.  It's ok!

This ad is WAY better than the 3 guys in the car talking about a 4 hour erection being 'a scheduling issue.'