Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Fantastic Four

Let's say you had an iPod that only held four songs.  What would they be?

  1. Take it Easy - The Eagles - at different times we've all had a mess on our hands

  2. Miami 2017 - Billy Joel - some of his best writing and a wonderful arrangement

  3. You Shook Me - AC/DC - classic 80s rock.  Maybe the best latter-day rock song of all time

  4. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding  - I've always loved it and it gets better every time I hear it.

If it held five, I'd have to have the best grunge ever:
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana - remember mosh pits?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Good Coffee Harder to Find

2056525944_066dace5ea_m Tonight, Wawa will close its Rittenhouse Square store in Center City Philadelphia.  It marks the fifth closure of a Wawa in Philly's downtown since I started working here in 2005.  There's another Wawa only a few blocks away in the Rittenhouse neighborhood, but I still mourn the loss that leaves us only 3 places that make good coffee as well as soup in the area bounded by the rivers and Market and South Streets.  And one of them is in the congested mess that tis Columbus Boulevard.

While I can still pick up a coffee and a Sizzli in South Jersey on my way in, I do like the cozy corner Wawas in Center City.  When I worked down here in the early 90s, there were 3-4 within walking distance for a coffee break or lunch run.  Now it damn near takes a taxi to get to one and back in an hour.

It's the largest of the recent stores to close at almost 3900 square feet, but you can't put highly profitable gas pumps in The Dorchester, and thus the closure.  One would assume that the rest of the mini-stores in the city are all doomed at this point.

I understand Wawa's position that the company is dynamic and has to change with market forces.  Transportation costs make it less and less cost effective to send truck to the lower-volume stores on a daily basis.  Philadelphia (and Chester and Camden) stores are also more likely to be a target of crime than the new mega Wawas going up with gas pumps in Cherry Hill, NJ and Williamsburg, VA and the rest of the suburban crossroads locations Wawa has favored in recent years. 

The company's website shows prototype designs that require a minimum of to road frontages with a square lot no smaller than 365 feet on a side.  They're also looking for traffic counts of over 25,000 cars per day.  the minimum size for the store itself is 4,800 square feet, ranging up to a mammoth 7,400 square feet.  You've got to be able to park 50-75 cars and accommodate 6-12 gas pumps.

That just won't happen in Center City.  Maybe there is room for this kind of development in Northeast Philly, but for the most part the rest of the city doesn't have the site space and/or traffic count to make it happen.  Sure there are places in West and North Philly that are available, but I don't see Wawa jumping into that market any time soon.

I'm a big fan of the company.  I simply prefer that in its growth quest, the company remembers its roots a bit better.  They grew up in the retail business competing with 7-11 and Cumberland Farms, beating them at their own game.  I know the world has changed and easily-walked-to neighborhood stores cant bring in the profits that the drive up behemoths promise, but I miss the old Wawa a bit.  And don't get me started on the "have to drive everywhere" model of suburban consumerism that drives today's retail outlets.

The signature Wawa scent of sandwich oil, coffee and newsprint.  The green and beige terrazzo, stepping around piles of Sunday Inquirers or bags of rock salt.  These are the things that addicted me to the brand as a teen and cause me to drive out of my way every day to go to the small Moorestown store.

But I know the Moorestown store is doomed like the old Brookhaven and Medford Lakes stores and that soon all the Wawas will be devoid of the reminders that they grew out of the Delaware County deli and sandwich shop tradition that I hold so dear.  So while I acknowledge the inevitability of the future, let me mourn the past just for today.

I'd like to thank Flickr member Morton Fox for today's photo.  Flickr is being Flaky so I couldn't link directly.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

House Update

Well we got some bad news about the house we looked at. Despite the neighborhood and schools, we're not going to go any further. It wasn't the stripped floors or the missing ductwork in the basement. The faux walnut parquet plastic tiles in the family room didn't faze me.

In the end it was the massive $81,000 estimate for remediation of the soil and ground water contamination due to a leaky oil tank that was removed but not cleaned up. The sellers are a family that are liquidating the estate of their parents and the sibling apparently don't want to clean up the mess thier folks left. They want the buyer to do it.

Some one may, but there are too many variables in an environmental cleanup that goes under a house for me to feel comfortable. My guess is this place will sit a while longer and then the family will realize they need to bite the bullet. Maybe we'll still be looking then!

Starting to Look at Houses

  7 Boothby Drive - Garage and Door 
  Originally uploaded by Cavalier92

My girlfriend and I took our lunch today to look at a house we found on the internet.  it's in Mount Laurel, in southern New Jersey, a very nice town with easy access to Philadelphia and very good schools.  The house was built in 1979, has four bedrooms and 2.5 baths.  Similar houses in the neighborhood have sold over the last few years between $350,000 and $395,000.

This one is selling for $249,000. 

Yup.  It's got issues.  It's an as-is estate sale and the place needs A TON of work.  It needs a roof, a full interior paint job, carpets have been removed throughout and the kitchen and baths are original.  The shed is falling down, there is evidence of mice and the list goes on.

Oh yeah.  The oil tank leaked too.  It needs 'soil remediation.'  God only knows what that would cost. 

Photos are up here.

They're Here!

My brother MattyP and I are headed to Opening Day on March 31! The tickets are in my hot little hands and my bank account is $100 lighter per seat, but we'll be in the house when the Phils hoist the first National League East pennant around here in quite some time.

In other Phils news, they get the Grapefruit League season under way today at 1:05 this afternoon in Clearwater against the Reds.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Projects Complete!


While I think it looks a bit like an alien mothership descending on Roswell,NM, the kitchen light is up and coolly illuminating my cruddy spackling job.  It took a day longer than planned due to multiple coats of paint being needed, but it's good to have it crossed off my list.

This is Cool

Svalbard_seed_vault A US scientist is leading an effort by The Global Crop Diversity Trust to preserve the world's food crops in case of some horrible catastrophe.  Under a remote mountain in Arctic Norway, a seed bank will open today that will preserve 4.5 billion seeds for up to hundreds of thousands of years.  The vaults are between -15 and -20 Fahrenheit and will withstand even global warming.

This is one of those amazing projects that takes a ton of money and effort.  But what it really takes is folks thinking ahead, preserving the future from the bumblers of the present.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nutter Nails It

180pxmichael_nutter Michael Nutter has been on the job as Philadelphia mayor for six weeks and it looks like his patience is already wearing thin.

Asked for a comment in the incident where some brainless scumbag shot a 16 year old after the kid accidentally hit him with a snowball, Nutter went off.  "The snowball incident has to be the dumbest-ass event of the year," Nutter growled.

He's right.  In a city where we are constantly bombarded with dumb-ass events, killing a 16 year old over a snowball is about as bad as it gets.  But it's the kind of even that should show Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey that waiting won't save lives.  It's been a month since Ramsey brought Philly cops together and unveiled his crime-fighting plan.  I have not noted any change in the violence.

Let's get things moving.  Let's use this senseless murder to take the fight to the dirtbags and the bottom-feeders.  It's time to lock up gun dealers who make straw sales and their customers who pass the illegal guns on to the streets.  Stop and frisk should be a reality in the city, not a much talked about civil right issue.   Tavin Rutledge deserves as much.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Vince Flynn - Made for TV

Protect_and_defend_cdProtect and Defend: A Thriller [AUDIOBOOK] [UNABRIDGED]  (Audio CD)
by Vince Flynn (Author), George Guidall (Reader)

Just before Christmas I picked up this Audiobook with a gift card I had been given by a co-worker.  I knew I would be driving back and forth a good bit to drop off and pick up the kids and decided that I would splurge on a diversion.  I just didn't realize the diversion would be quite so mindless.

I've enjoyed some of Flynn's previous work.  It's good for a plane trip or a beach read.  His hero, Mitch Rapp, is a CIA superagent and assassin, 'the point of the spear' in the war on terrorism.  Rapp is everything you could want in an action hero, a crack shot, a cunning tactician, a hardened soldier and a lover of many women.  This is Flynn's 8th book starring Rapp, and he is deepening in complexity as the series continues, but there are some parts missing in the rest of Protect and Defend.

Flynn's interpretation of post 9-11 geo-politics is that Islamic fundamentalism is the crux of the problem.  In this installment of the series he sets his cross-hairs on Iran and a barely-fictionalized version of the current political administration there.  Isreal blows up the Iranian nuclear weapons facility, the US is blamed and ultimately Irene Kennedy, Rapp's boss and CIA director, is kidnapped by the Iranians while they attempt to start a naval war in the Persian Gulf.

The problem isn't the it's ludicrous to beleive that the Iranians would kidnap the DCI.  Rather, it's that the book does little to flesh out WHY they would take such a risk except to say that the Iranian president is a nut.  Characters outside the series core are glossed over and act seemingly without defined motivations.

The action unfolds easily and with great action sequences, including a James Bond-like pre-sequence that wraps up a loose end from a prior novel.  There's a good bit of re-telling in the book as well.  No author can assume that a reader (or listener) has read all that preceeeded the current work, so som re-telling is necessary and tolerable in a series.  But so much of the Rapp series is dependent on what has gone before that a new reader is playing a lot of catch up and I was left wishing i could flip ahead now and then.

The book was clearly written with an eye not only on the current political situation in the Middle East, but also with the agenda that covert operations would do much to improve the lot of the US.  It's not implausible, but also one that is fraught with perils that Flynn does not touch on.

As books go, this is in the made-for-TV category.  Not quite up to top-drawer standards, but enjoyable for a few hours in the car or on the plane.  While there's never been a Mitch Rapp movie yet, probably due to the anti-Saudi and anti-Islamist sentiments, it now appears that there are a few in the works.

Waiting for the Spackle to Dry

  Waiting for the Spackle to Dry 
  Originally uploaded by Cavalier92

While we wait, I am tooling around the internet and Char is making breakfast.  The holes in the ceiling were pretty big, so it took two coats of the hole-filling goop to get us a smooth ceiling for priming and painting.

We're using a cool new product from DAP called DryDex, which goes on pink and dries white.  This has prevented me from just slopping some paint on the wet spackle, creating texture paint.  It's actually pretty important to get the ceiling very smooth in this case since it will be right next to a flush-mounted light fixture that will show EVERY imperfection on the sateen finish Behr paint.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Honey Do List


Wth the CR-V in the shop today for its 36,000 service ($450), I am essentially a captive. Apparently my release is contingent on forced physical labor.

So far I have removed a decrepit 18 year old ceiling fan and replaced it with the nifty white model pictured above.  This project was complicated by the fact that the fixture is directly over a very soft bed.  I managed it anyway, in large part because the new model weighs about half what the old one did.

Then I removed the poorly-functioning fluorescent light in the kitchen.  It was screwed to the ceiling without benefit of an electrical box, so after another trip to The Home Depot, I am now relaxing while the spackle dries.  Then we'll (I'll) prime the ceiling and maybe even get a coat of finish on it before bed.  The cool new oval brushed metal fixture will have to wait until morning.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Snow Paralyzes Region

  Pine Street Snow 
  Originally uploaded by Cavalier92

What was originally forecast as a dusting to 3 inches in Philly blanketed Center City with 4 to 6 inches today, closing over 800 schools and snarling traffic.  It also caused breathlessness in weather and traffic casters as they struggled to impart the proper degree of seriousness to the impending doom posed by the weather event of the year.

At area workplaces not idled by the weather, employees took advantage of the opportunity to stretch "casual Friday" to the max, appearing in jeans, snow boots and other otherwise banned attire.  Bosses across the region also endured various excuses from folks who claimed to be "working from home."

Fights were reported at dozens of area convenience stores as grandmothers fought over milk, bread and eggs.  Thousands of families had French toast for breakfast and will munch on grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch.

Area emergency rooms have been inundated with middle-aged men complaining of chest pain after being exposed to their wives and children cooped up in the house for hours watching Barney.  Area air pollution figures spiked this morning as thousands of lazy fat guys rolled out their snow blowers for the first time in three years, saying it was "about time they got their money's worth out of the damn thing."

For those of you stuck at work like me, enjoy the commute home when the streets will be glazed with "black ice" and your car will be coated with freezing rain, causing "numerous fender-benders" and "snarling traffic" yet again.  I'm sure it will be covered live from about 2:30 on as the area "gets an early start on rush hour."

Friday Fantastic Four

Ok ladies - it's your turn.  This week we're looking for the four sexiest male celebrities RIGHT NOW.

I know you've been thinking about it all week, waiting patiently, so here you go.

In my book it's all about the classics:

  1. George Clooney - I just wish I looked this good in a tuxedo!  And he dates all kinds of hot women!

  2. Brad Pitt - as my girlfriend cooed "He's just HOT."  So is his wife!

  3. Harrison Ford - the guy is Indiana friggin' Jones for christ's sake! Yup - hot girlfrfiend too!

  4. Jon Bon Jovi - owns a sports team, can still pull off 80s hair, and married to his hottie high school sweetheart

Four hot guys and four hot women too!  Not a bad way to start a snowy weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


  In Flight 
  Originally uploaded by Cavalier92

I settle into the blue leather of seat 5F and look at the stream of folks headed further back on the silver S80. A man and a woman ask for seat belt extenders. An Asian couple boards with two children, one placid, one bawling. We wait. Finally, a 45ish blond woman boards and slips into 5C. The door closes. The flight attendant says "short taxi." Another explains the oxygen mask and seat belts. The captain tells us where we are headed and we are pressed back into our seats, leaving Albuquerque Sunport behind.

We bank south away from town over nuclear weapons bunkers at the air force base and then south-southeast over a mountain range. As we turn east south east, there are huge ranches below us with sun setting behind us at roughly at 5:30.  At 3:00, there is another range of far-off mountains. Frozen lakes finger lake surrounded by smaller pot hole lakes add some interest below.  The sky is pale blue over gold over orange over grey, fading into the browns and reds of the earth. Another pair of lakes dots the ground as we zip along.

A road runs away diagonally at 1:30,empty of traffic. My ears pop and I notice the plane is very noisy but quite smooth.  A pair of roads crisscrosses below us and the captain announces that we are at 31,000 feet and that it is 50 degrees in Dallas.

The sky goes to pink and a tiny sliver of blue with violet ahead of us and I imagine there would be very few lights below us were it dark yet. The flight attendant brings me a bourbon on the rocks in a real glass as we head further into the grey-purple of night.

I look back into the orange and pink and blue, straining to see the sun set but I have missed it again.  A river snakes darkly below us and I turn to my pretzels and the drink.  Lights switch on around me and I reach for mine pondering the fact that the sesame snacks are the best thing in the small silver snack bag. At least I got 2 bags. The benefits of first class.

The lights of a town come into view ahead and to the south and I make out a smaller cluster of lights on the same line but closer. Another town is further off in the dark. Then it’s suddenly dark on the ground and I see a cluster of west Texas towns and wonder if I will ever get to this part of the world. A big square town with runners of lights spreading to the north and east passes below us and I ponder how they make pretzels so impossibly small. Way off to the south east, the lights of a city spread distantly, but I can only imagine which one. Lubbock? As the country below us fades to black I turn back to my book.

The popping in my ears marks our descent and Dallas looms brightly on the horizon, a sea of yellow lights after a half-hour of blackness below. We curl to the south and the engines quiet as we descend, the bedroom communities of the Dallas-Fort Worth area blooming below us.

Only 5C and I still have our lights on, each pecking away at our precious PDAs. My lips are dry and I wish for Chapstick, but it is stowed away above in my laptop bag. We slow more as I attempt to take pictures and the landing gear comes down, Dallas coming into clear view.  We prepare for landing and I shut the PDA down now as the flight attendant announces, “We should be landing soon.”

We can talk on the phone as soon as we hit the ground. And as the right wheels hit and then the left, I punch the phone up and hope the weather holds back East and that I will be home tonight.

With the engines quieter, I can hear a squalling baby behind me and wonder how it's been in the back. The taxi to C21 is interminable, various runways and taxiways passing before we finally we bump to a stop. I leap from my seat and tug my laptop and carry-on from the space above me.   We file out into the drab brightness that is Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Snow Starting!

It's just 4 pm and the snow has started in Moorestown!

It will probably be not much of a storm, but may get us ready for a big one on Friday. Let's hope for a snow day!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

La Campagne

I have to say that I was doubtful when my girlfriend told me that she had made Valentine's Day reservations at La Campagne in Cherry Hill.  I had been there years ago for brunch under the previous owner and chef and was non-plussed at best.  I didn't share this with my date though, as it WAS Valentine's Day and I am not a TOTAL moron.

It's a BYOB, so I picked up a nice bottle of Prosecco and we headed off for our 8pm seating.  I prefer later seating on Valentine's Day since you are less likely to be rushed out the door.  At a lower quality restaurant the food takes a dip late in the evening though, so you have to be careful.  As it turned out, we had nothing to worry about on the quality side.

The menu was a 7 course, $75 per person presentation that showcased the kitchen's ability to present small dishes with big impacts. It was one of the best nights of food I have had in years and if they can do this well on a crazy Thursday night, imagine what they can do on a sedate Tuesday or Wednesday.

The preliminary course was an amuse bouche or "mouth fun" of a ricecake-like wafer with a vegetable topping and an herb butter glaze.  It set the evening up nicely.  A lobster broth-based king crab chowder followed, not too spicy with generous hunks of crab.  While the both was physically thin, it had a wonderfully powerful set of flavors.

A duck sausage wrapped in cabbage over an argula salad followed.  The sausage was excellent, the greens in wonderful shape, but the vinaigrette was virtually all oil and left a tiny bit to be desired.  However a shotglass full of blood orange sorbet garnished with pomegranate seeds dried the tongue and prepared the way for the main dish, a surf and turf interpretation.

The roast beef tenderloin was prepared between rare and medium rare, perfect for me, but my date noted that she was surprised it was that red given that some might object.  I didn't.  The meat was well-herbed on the outer edge and cooked to the point that the fats melted and the whole thing virtually disappeared the second it hit my tongue.  It was amazing.  The Baby lobster tail was fried almost tempura style, leaving the lobster flavor intact wile imparting a nice crunch.  The butted lobster claw was simply outstanding, bringing to mind the summer sights and flavors of coastal Maine without the smell and mess of the lobster pound.  I ate every delicious morsel of the potatoes that were lightly flowered and hinted of earthiness.

Six course into the evening we were filling up, but luckily had left enough room and a bit of bubbly for the wondrous dessert course, featuring seven small but hugely flavored sweet items to finish off the evening.  The dark chocolate pieces filled with fruit and nuts respectively were the best of the group, offering immense flavor in tiny bites.  The lemon bar was unexpectedly delicate and flky, both sweet and bitter at the same time.  I didn't care much for the interior of the rum ball, but the cocoa powder on the outside was mouth=puckeringly tasty.

We lingered over tea, not wanting our evening at La Campagna to end.  Liz and the rest of the wait staff did a great job all night and made sure we felt comfortable right up until we headed out to the car.  Chef/owner Richard Benussi has done wonders upgrading the quality of the food presentations as well as the flavors.  It was an interesting blend of flavors and styles, thoroughly American, but with broad French and Italian influences.  It's a four star place with the possibility of more to come!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

More New Mexico Photos Up

  Originally uploaded by Cavalier92

Hey there y'all.  I'm hanging out at home today watching the 50th Daytona 500 trying to get some work done.  I'm taking a bit of a break now, so I thought I would let you know that there are plenty more photos up from my recent trip to New Mexico.  The latest set is from Bandelier National Monument, one of the most amazing places I have ever visited.  I tried to capture both the immenseness of the landscape there and the grandeur of the scenery.

I tried, but I think ultimately failed.  You can judge for yourself from the photos here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Fantastic Four

  Scarlett Johansson beautiful 
  Originally uploaded by San *)

Well we made it six weeks into 2008 before this topic came up.

It's simple.  The 4 hottest celebrity women right now.  Not when you were 17.  Not 'back in the day,' not in your dreams.  RIGHT NOW!

  1. Scarlett - drop-dead gorgeous and can act ... and sing

  2. Eva Mendes - Rehab or not

  3. Heidi Klum - mmmmmm-yeah!

  4. Charlize Theron - dropping on the list, but still there!

Links all SFW guys.

And for you?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Here's Indy!!!

The trailer for the new Indiana Jones film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is out!  I am really looking forward to this movie and I already know it will never match my expectations, but it's still a thrill to know it's on its way to theaters soon!

It will be out on May 22nd!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Brian McNamee is a Cockroach; Roger Clemens is a Liar

I got in about 2:45 this morning  and was blessedly given a day by my boss to recover.  So I am home unpacking and watching the baseball hearings.

Clemens and McNamee both gave opening statements. 

Clemens talked about his life working with kids and his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize, his many years working in the ghettos of Calcutta with Mother Teresa and also that he had never taken performance enhancing drugs.  The Congressional questioners kept incredulously using the phrase "You remember you are under oath, right?," clearly indicating they know that Clemens is either currently pitching in fantasy land or its actively lying to cover his oft-injected ass.

After everyone in the room got done saying what a great guy fellow drug user Andy Pettite is, Clemens said that "Andy (Pettite) is a friend of mine, and he always will be a friend of mine." BUT "I think Andy  mis-remembers."

McNamee noted that he had provided the bloody gauze and syringes only after Clemens' lawyer had secretly taped McNamee talking about his son's medical condition.  Clemens' lawyer Rusty Hardin then released that tape to the whole world.  Pissed off, McNamee then went to wherever one stores 9 year old bloody evidence and gave it to the congressional committee folks.

It's clear in all of this that Clemens has ruined his legacy to the game.  I have always been a huge fan of what he has done on the mound.  But now it is clear that he did it by cheating and that his desire to 'have an edge' was taken too far.  In taking it too far, Clemens associated with dirtbags like McNamara, was seemingly indifferent to drug use, and was not a proponent of fair play. 

The Rocket was simply amazing on the mound.  Even on his worst day, his competitive fire still gave him a better than average chance to pitch his team to a win.  Clemens had a Hall of Fame career, but should never be inducted.  He should be banned from the game and his records removed from the books.  If it was just one person's word against Clemens', I'd have to give him a pass. 

But with Pettite saying Clemens is dirty and McNamee saying it as well, and with physical evidence that will likely prove it,  it's time that Clemens was separated from the game.  It pains me to say it, but an example needs to be made from him.  Kids can't see what he did and say that it was ok.  It's time for Clemens to come clean or get out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Albuquerque Airport

While winter weather messes with the East Coast, I am enjoying an Alien Amber at the Route 66 Microbrewery in Terminal B of the Albuquerque Sunport. It's not actually a brewpub, but does have 5 different New Mexico beers on tap from 3 different breweries.

I am hoping to make it home tonight, but it's not looking good at the moment. I will keep you posted!

New Mexico Photos

Img_7089Well, it's my last day in New Mexico, and I have finally gotten enough of a break and enough of an internet connection to put some of the photos I have taken up on Flickr.

The photos are from my first 2 days here.  Sunday's drive up on The Turquoise Trail was a great way to get acquainted with the geography and breath-taking scenery of Northern New Mexico.  There is also a set of photos that is part of what I shot in the Town of Santa Fe.  There will be some more when I get home, but the wireless connection isn't letting me do much more today.

I also have lots of great shots coming from my afternoons in the Bandelier National Monument and on the High Road to Taos.  The photo adjoining this post is a preview of the High Road set I will post in a few days.

Right now, I just hope that the bad weather back East doesn't delay my arrival home!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Night In Santa Fe

Cool 80s rock playing in a slowly filling bar. A manager who played Pine Valley last year. An excellent smooth oatmeat stout. Very good fry bread taco. A crisp alt to finish the meal. And a bartender named Tiffany.

The Blue Corn Café and Brewery has all that. It's also about the only thing going on in a town that seems to go to bed early. The food here is pretty good authentic New Mexican fare with some pub favorites thrown in. The stout was sweet and smooth, just begging for a second pint. The alt is going down spicy and hoppy, cleansing the grease from the heavy fat bread taco.

The food and the staff are fun. Stop by the next time you're in Northern New Mexico!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Snowing in the Twin Cities

I'm writing to you from Gate G-11 at the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport. My flight in from Philly was great, but who knows if I am going to get out to Albuquerque. It's 18 degrees and snowing here, so we're al here hoping for the best.

I hope it's warmer where you are!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Fantastic Four

So much has changed in the aftermath of the first round of primaries.  Rudy went from front-runner to also-ran.  Mitt said he was in it for the long haul and pulled out the next day.  Joe Biden never got things rolling ... oh no change there really.

So in the spirit of change, here's today's Fantastic Four:

What four changes are you most looking forward to this year?

  1. Electing a new president

  2. Getting crime under control in Philadelphia

  3. Getting more writing done

  4. A championship for Philadelphia fans

What changes are you all looking for?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Record Heat!

It was 66 degrees when I left home this morning and it hit 70 on my way home. Both temps shattered the record high for the day and sent droves of pale Philadelphians out for a walk at lunchtime.

While a cold front has come through, we won't see really cold weather until Sunday when the mercury will struggle to break 30. I'll be in the mountains of New Mexico by then, experiencing winter in the high desert.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


After a week or so of consideration, I finally made my decision on a presidential primary vote for today in New Jersey.  Since I am a registered Independent, I was required first to decide which party I wanted to choose.  This was pretty much a no-brainer, since all that is left on the Republican side are ultra right wing religious conservatives and John McCain.  Since I am afraid that Johnny Mac has aliens living in his cheeks from the Roswell landing, I went with the Democrats.

The Democrats have done their usual good job of eliminating all well-qualified candidates for president before I get a chance to vote for the,  I was supporting Bill Richardson, but since no one knew who he was let alone that he was running for president, he dropped out before 90% of the nation had a chance to vote for him.

So basically it came down to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Some guy named Kucinich is allegedly running, but apparently his only support is based on that fact that his wife is hot.

In the end I voted for experience over enthusiasm, thoughtful over slick, traditional Democrat over neo-populist.  I pushed the Hillary Button and watched her name glow green for a moment.  Then I headed to work.

I'm not happy with my choice.  But it's the best one I had left.  I'd rather we had a national primary that de-emphasized local beauty contests and eliminated jockeying for dates, but that isn't happening soon.  I'd also rather the Democrats nominate someone who can win, but it's not looking good on that front either.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Bobby Knight Retires

  Bobby Knight 
  Originally uploaded by dearth85

It came as a shock to me tonight when my brother Matt texted me simply, "Bobby Knight Resigned." 

The ESPN story says a lot, but it doesn't say it all.  He won more games (902) than anyone else, but he did it in a way that created controversy as well as excellence.  He was the best X and O coach ever, but often had to do it without the top level player.

His legendary temper may have driven some of the best players away, but he had the ability to raise the level of everyone around him by simply demanding more that anyone ever had or ever would again.  His mouth got him run out of Indiana.  He ended his career in Lubbock, Texas, having put Texas Tech on the basketball map.

Tonight he walks away from all of that, handing his legacy over to his son and long-time assistant Pat.  The younger generation Knight is a softer rendition of his legendary father.  He coaches in a quieter way, hardly causes a stir in the press room, won't ever throw a chair or take a swing at a cop.

Pat Knight now steps out of his legendary father's shadow.  I only hope his father can live without the glare of the lights and the roar of the crowd.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

John Watches While Emma Rests

John Watches While Emma Rests
John loved watching the women thrash Immaculata. Emma was wiped out!

A Good Time Had By All

2238517563_4d5469789c Over 100 Cabrini College Cavaliers, family,friends and faithful gathered yesterday at the Nerney Fieldhouse in The Dixon Center on the beautiful campus of Cabrini College for the annual Cavalier Alumni Basketball Game.  More then 35 former Cavs participated in the game, as Coach Keeley's Blue Squad stormed back for a 68-66 victory over my White Squad.

Current Cavalier coach Greg Herenda welcomed everyone to the game and served as a gracious host all day long.  Coach Kelly read a letter from Coach Dzik, who was supervising the festivities as the Peidmont Lions took on Maryville in Demorest, GA.  Also missing was one of the original Cavaliers and great Cabrini benefactor, Tom Nerney, who was down with pneumonia.  Doctor Romano made a surprise appearance and was warmly received.  Doc Girard also made a pre-retirement appearance.

Our thoughts were especially with the Dailey family who lost their son Jeff tragically this year.  Jeff was remembered by his former teammates with a special on our alumni game shirts.   We're also thinking about former Cabrini great Tim Anderlonis as he ships out to Iraq with his Marine unit.  We missed you guys!

Despite the important absences, the game was spirited and played at a good pace, despite several players claiming "colds" and sporting red faces.  Cavs came from far and near, and both experience and youth were well-served.  Beef and Sticks were standouts in the "plus 40" crowd, while point guards Kris Pittman and Coach Saleem Brown distributed the ball well to the shooters all afternoon.

After the alumni dragged their tired butts to the buffet, Coach Bobbi Morgan's women's version of the Cavaliers pounded the Immaculata College Mighty Macs 69-41.  In a well-played game, junior Brittany McLeod led the team with 16 points and 5 rebounds.

The women's game was a harbinger of things to come as Coach Herenda's men's squad came back from an early deficit to stun PAC Conference leader Immaculata, 69-59.  Senior leadership was a key to the Cavs' intensity as Randy Reid and Bruce MacClelland both tallied double figures in points and rebounds.

The Cavs faithful made a quick stop at Christopher's on North Wayne before heading to the Official After-Party at J.D. McGillicuddy's in Ardmore.   Nearly 200 Blue and White faithful packed the second floor party room, feasting on excellent roast beef, mannicotti and not-so-hot wings.  The beer and wine were flowing and I didn't see a sad face all night.  Among the party-only people were Jim (I gave you a parking ticket??) Iacavino, Tim Feeney, Jimmy Welde, Tom Egan, Rob Uff and about 100 others.

It was great to see everyone out for both the game and the party.  Special thanks go out to Coach John Mack, who ran the show so well.  Also to everyone at Cabrini, especially Coaches Herenda and Morgan, who welcomed us back and really "get" what it means to be part of the winning tradition that IS Cabrini Cavalier Basketball.  Thanks also to everyone, especially superfan Paul "WolfPAC" Engle, who tolerated my very excited son John who really loved everyone's welcome to the Cavalier family.

Photos from the game are up HERE.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Welcome Larkin!!!

DownloadCongratulations to my cousin Patrick and his girlfriend Audrey on the birth of Larkin Vincent Patrick Neely. A true night owl like his daddy, Larkin came into this world in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, February 1.

He surprised everyone, coming into the world a bit early and weighs in at 6 pounds 14 ounces.  At 18 inches long, it's going to take him a little while to gro into his first Phillies jersey. 

Patrick was quite a kid, so I am sure that his off spring will be  an interesting series of enlightenments for his parents.  If Audrey can deal with Patrick for all this time, I am sure she's ready for Larkin.

Of particular note is that we can now call Billy "Grandpa" whenever we want.  He's gonna love this!!!

In all seriousness, my heartfelt congratulations go out to the Neely clan.  We'll be out as soon as we can to hoiyst a pint at 16th and Market in honor of the wee lad.

You can email congratulations and parenting tips to the parents at

Friday, February 01, 2008


Just a test of the Typepad moblogging email feature

Friday Fantastic Four

Ok - Restaurant Week is wrapping up here in Center City Philadelphia, so we have a restaurant-related Fantastic Four this week!

What four things are you most like to order if you see them on a menu?

  1. Creme Brulee - Big weakness

  2. Bone-in, dry aged steaks

  3. Just about any preparation of veal - It's hard to do well at home

  4. Crabmeat used in an unusual manner

You all have a great weekend!  Try to stay dry.