Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One Hell of A Year

This is a year people will talk about for a very long time, both locally, as well as nationally and globally.

On a local level, the major story is the Phils breaking the curse of Billy Penn and winning it all for the first time in 28 years.  What a season and what a parade!  Chase Utley said it best.  We also had the usual vultures circling Andy Reid, only to see him pull a rabbit out of the hat again and get the Eagles to an improbable playoff bid.

We lost Johnny Marzano and Ann d'Harnoncourt (the only time those names will ever be in the same sentence) and effectively lost Vince Fumo.  Killadelphia was still violent, though 15% fewer people lost their lives.  Michael Nutter slashed city spending and Willie Goode's squeeze got nailed by Jeff Cole.  In South Jersey, Wayne Bryant went from most powerful man in South Jersey to just another convicted felon.  The Fort Dix terror plotters will go to jail, but not for as long as Bryant.

Alicia Lane and Booker got fired, Larry Mendte was creepy, the Comcast Center opened and Striped Bass and Samson Street Oyster House closed.

Nationally the big story was the people doing the right thing and electing the best man regardless of skin color.  Tina Fey was better as a VP candidate than Sarah Palin and John McCain's campaign looked the same when he was running as it did when it was suspended.  One governor had a hooker take him down and another sold a US Senate seat

The economy collapsed, despite every effort to give billions of taxpayer dollars to wealthy people.  Gas prices rocketed to over $4 and then dropped back to $1.35 here in Moorestown.  More than 300 Americans died int Iraq War, a fact that is sadly well down the list of 2008 events.

Michael Phelps outswam everyone in Bejing, including tiny 14 year old Chinese gymnasts.  The big story in China for the year was the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in May.  Terrorists struck Mumbai in an bloody week of fighting that killed more than 300.  Israel began an assault on Gaza this week, preparing for an invasion.

While the economy has had an effect on me personally as well as the rest of the world, I have been lucky this year.  The kids are great, I got to travel to Albuquerque and Santa Fe on a great trip, as well as call the Division III Final Four, visit Sedona, Annapolis, Maine, Disney, DC, Maine again, Gettysburg, Toronto, NYC, Boston, State College and Southern California

I got to watch the Phils clinch with John and my princess walk in a parade the same day the Phils celebrated their second championship in my lifetime.  I've got a challenging job and work with great people.  My family made it through the year with no health crises and we see lots of the greatest friends in the world. 

And I made an important decision about my future that I will talk about another time.

In many ways 2008 was a rough year.  I feel very lucky to be able to be looking forward to 2009 while still being able to say that 2008 was a pretty good year here. 

From Another Delco Guy to you - Happy New Year.  Be safe and enjoy!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Some Really Great Writing

I'm pretty quick to jump on journalists when they mail one in, so I thought I'd take a moment today to compliment a stunning piece in today's Inquirer.

Melissa Dribben brings light to the sad story of Zal Chapgar, a young man who most of us knew only as the person who threw himself from the Lowes Hotel in Philadelphia earlier this month.  Her prose is warm and empathetic, but also weighty with resolve to tell the tough parts of the story as well.

I'm not going to do a capsule here, I can't possibly do it justice.  Just go here and read it.  It's Dribben's best work in years.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Exhausted

I'm finally back online here and have to thank Hajii - no lie - who works for "The Comcast" for diagnosing and explaining my internet issue this morning.  It was nothing a new Linksys WRT160N router couldn't fix!

I'm pretty close to bed here, but I thought I'd let you know that all is well here at Another Delco Guy and I have been a bit busy with housework, parties and the Wii for the last few days.

I got a chance to meet my cousin Pat's son Larkin today and that was a lot of fun.  He's a bright friendly kid who was more than willing to let his big cousin hold him for a bit.  Now I'm watching a pretty good thriller named Quicksand on Encore and then I may go to bed.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Brief Rest

Another Delco Guy is catching his breath between dropping the kids at their mom's and Christmas Family Event 3.  I wish I had time for a nap.  But I don't.  And I really want to play some Wii boxing, but no time for that either.

Hope Santa was good to you all and that you are enjoying your family and friends today!


Christmas Morn


Getting Started
Originally uploaded by Cavalier92

The kids have come down to their presents, a nice fire is going and we're starting to get hungry.

John's playing on his new DS, Emma is making a potholder and the Wii is updating itself.

Yup. Santa Char brought Another Delco Guy a Wii.

I'm like a kid on Christmas morn!!!!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Has Been Here!!!


The Gifts
Originally uploaded by Cavalier92
It's just after midnight here in the East and Santa has made his appearance. The two mounds of presents appear to be for my two wonderful children. I think they will both be very happy.

We had a great night of family and friends here in Moorestown and are looking forward to the visit of Grandma and Pop in the morning. As for now, I think I am off to bed.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Christmas Eve Craziness

Well the house is a wreck, the presents aren't wrapped and guests arrive in less than three hours.  Sound familiar?

After a quick trip to work, Another Delco Guy hit BJs, Target and the grocery store with several million other South Jerseyans.  Now that we've got everything home, It's time to make the place presentable!

Please accept my best wishes for a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We'll be busy with the kids and family and friends here, but check back in between your crazy moments for posts on holidays past and present.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Working Over Break

I know that I have reported that I am off until the end of the year, but I'm back in the office today. The photo shows what's going on that needs my attention.

Last week, my current job was expanded to include leading The University of the Arts student billing operations as well as my old responsibilities in financial aid and enrollment management. One of the key issues facing the student billing folks in improving their relationship with students its that they had really poor physical space. All of their interactions with families were though plastic windows and the space was a warren of tiny, cluttered spaces that were badly planned and didn't function well.

That's all going to change!

We've gotten approval from the powers that be (thanks Sean and Tom!) to gut the old student billing space, reconfigure some furniture and create a space where students will be able to interact directly with the folks that can help them pay their bills here at UArts. It's a tough economy to be spending money in, but we really think that this project will go a long way to helping retain students.

Like a lot of places, we've always spent too much time and effort bouncing students from one office to the other to make them solve their own problems. This project will give us the physical space we need to create place where we can work with students to really solve their problems.

The physical space is old, dating to the 1860s, with many renovations over the years. The most recent renovation in the late 1980s was designed as a temporary solution. Twenty years later, we're still going to use some of that temporary project in this phase. We're working with Cathie at Stephen Varenhorst Architects planning a few more phases to complete the Student Services Center, but they're for another day (or year).

More photos are up here. I'll keep you posted on the progress!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa Is Blown Away

With wins of about 25 mph and similar temperatures today, Santa seems to be having a bit of trouble. It's a rough day for the typical pre-holidays in and out of the car routine, but I will cope. I've got the rest of the year off after all!!Santa Is Blown Away


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Making Fire

It's nice that Acme sells the little bundles of firewood from Custis Farms of Nassawadox, VA.  For those of us who won't be getting a firewood drop until Tuesday it makes the thought of a cold Sunday night a bit warmer.

Just the thought though.  Even with the assistance of a Duraflame log and all the cardboard and paper I have, the wood remains unflappably fireproof.  It just sits there sizzling and taunting me.

I teased Kevin pretty badly a few weeks ago when his store-bought wood wouldn't ignite, but tonight I too am humbled.


Guy Shopping

John and I are out at the Moorestown Mall with about 3 billion other procrastinators. You'll recgonize us from the othe father-son pairs out trying to get things finished up before the Eagles-Skins game at 4.Guy Shopping


Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Fantastic Four

It's almost time!  Christmas is darn near upon us!  So here's a holiday-themed Fantastic Four:

What are the four best Christmas songs or pieces of holiday music?

  1. Santa Claus is Coming To Town - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
  2. Linus and Lucy - Vince Guraldi
  3. The 12 Days of Christmas - John Denver and the Muppets
  4. Christmas Island - Jimmy Buffett


You all have a great weekend!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Exceprt From the Christmas Letter


Quiet For The Moment
Originally uploaded by Cavalier92
Every year my parents send out a letter to their Christmas list. I don't like it. That's putting it mildly. For the most part my feelings can be summed up as, if you haven't bothered to be in touch all year, do you really care what's been going on all year?

As always I was asked to contribute a few paragraphs about my life. An excerpt follows:


His girlfriend has not yet come to her senses and left him. Key word - yet. They contribute to the economy as often as possible traveling to Maine, Southern California, Annapolis and DC this year without the kids and to Maine, and Orlando with the kids. Chris also had solo trips to Santa Fe (go there), Boston, NYC, Roanoke and Toronto. Neither John, 8, or Emma, 5, are currently incarcerated, though Chris fears that Emma’s shoe dependency problem may lead her to a life of crime. John had a great year playing on an undefeated baseball team, and was there with his Dad at the Ballpark when the Phils clinched the pennant. John said it was the greatest moment of his life. Then we won it all!!!! Emma spent much of the year teaching her cousin Ellie the finer points of girlhood, whispering words like “shoes” and “princesses” to her. Emma has drawn on nearly every surface in the house and enjoys doing ‘her art.’ Chris whimpers softly when he calculates the amount of debt she will go into in order to work as an artist.

I suspect my mother will do some editing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another Christmas, Another Santa Photo

Another Delco Guy and family braved the crowds tonight and headed over for our third annual visit to the Moorestown Mall Santa photo operation. It's a pretty good image and the kids were able to run down their lists for the kindly man in red.

John's hoping for the Wii but will settle for the DS and Emma wants more princess things and Pixos and Moon Sand. Can two kids be more archetypal in terms of gender typing?

I'm fading fast here, so that's it from Moorestown!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What A Night!

It's performances like tonight that make working at The University of The Arts an amazing experience!

Here we see the In Synch Singers opening the Caplan Center for the Performing Arts.What A Night!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Blogging Out Hunger

Foodbankbutton3 2008 has been a time of nearly unprecedented economic stress but here in New Jersey and across the country.  As always seems to be the case, the folks hit hardest by the recent recession are, of course, the ones least prepared to handle it.

Those of us who are only marginally affected (so far) are doing what we can to help.  I know I see lost of folks stopping at the Salvation Army kettles and I've brought canned goods to about 4 food drives so far, but there still seems to be a lack of attention on the issue.

I hope that today can change that a bit here in New Jersey.  Last week one of the premier New Jersey Food bloggers, John and Lisa Howard-Fusco asked me to be part of today's Blogging Out Hunger.  The program was put together by Debbie at Jersey Bites, and I am blogger number 51 of 103 who will post today about how the recession is affecting the food banks of New Jersey.

In my regular job I help families figure out how they are going to afford to send their kids to college.  In a good economy it's a tough job.  In a bad economy, well, let's not go there.  I'm lucky to be at a school that has the resources to help.  For years though, I worked at a community college, where literally thousands of our students depended on public assistance, food stamps, church soup kitchens and the generosity of others to squeak by.

From that experience I can tell you that even across the fairly prosperous areas of South Jersey, there are unseen poor, forced to wear winter coats inside to keep heating bills low enough that they can afford to feed their kids.  They guy scavenging newspapers from your curb on recycling day is probably burning them to keep warm.

The recession is especially insidious becasue it's hit the middle class hard.  We're the traditional target population for the appeals by the food banks for funding.  And we're giving less because we have less to give.

But the problem has not gotten smaller.  In fact, food banks across NJ face demand that is far oupacing their ability to help.  Only though direct action can we turn this around.

Please go here and donate.  Today.  You never know when you might be the one in need.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Christmas Card Picture


The Hardware and Me
Originally uploaded by Cavalier92
In what is truly a brilliant move to get Phillies Phans to come down to the park and buy more 2008 World Series Champions gear, the Phils made The Commissioner's Trophy available for photos today.

After waiting for about 30 minutes in line, I got my chance to actually touch the trophy and pose for a photo. Carlo and Ann were right behind me and we got a nice shot of them too.

I am guessing thousands of folks came out to the park today to see the hardware. My photos from the day are up here.

Waiting To See The Trophy

It's a bit cold, but I've waited 28 years. I can handle it! Waiting To See The Trophy


Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Fantastic Four

Ok - so given my brush with celebrity (albeit a bit umm older) this morning, today's Fantastic Four is simple:

What four celebrities have you met? If you haven't met four, list some you would like to meet!

1. President Jimmy Carter - my dad got me in the receiving line here in Philly the Sunday before the 1980, Carter was hoarse and tired, but very gracious.

2. Oprah - At Alisson's in 1995. Very odd. She ordered French Fries and just smelled them.

3. Patti LaBelle this morning - she was very nice and thanks me for saying hello to her.

4. Coach K - at the 1993 Final Four in New Orleans. What a classy guy!

You all have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Streets of Philadelphia

As most of you know, I work in Cente1205081501r City Philadelphia and commute in daily  from the South Jersey suburbs.  Most days it takes about 30 minutes.  Some days longer.  But almost every day I see something interesting.

Smart cars, fender benders, clueless dog walkers, movies shoots, girlfriends throwing the ex's stuff out a 3rd floor window.  You never know what the commute will bring.  Lately the Tylenol Taxis have been attracting attention.  Billed as "London Taxis," the Illinois-licensed cars are left hand drive, so I am not sure how accurate that phrase is, but they are a pretty cool ad concept.

Recently the commute has been complicated by the installation of giant brown metal boxes at every intersection.  The brown boxes are everywhere in Center 1203081509 City!  Part of the project that is replacing all of the traffic lights and adding street lights throughout Philly.  It's a great project for the guys tearing up all the streets and installing ribbons of sticky hot patch on every corner, but I'm about done with it.

I'm not sure the long term value of the project outweighs one or two ugly brown boxes on every corner.  These monsters are over five feet tall and two feet square.  I am told by some of the workers that they house the controls for the traffic signals.  And "some other stuff."  Hmm.  Sounds faintly like Dick Cheney might be involved.  I thought that technology had made some advances in terms of miniaturization in the last century or so.  These babies look like they could house a Cray supercomputer.

And finally you've got the recent appearance of these odd ads on the sidewalk in front of various Avenue of the Arts venues.  I'm not sure what they're all about, but they encourage you to call a1205081456 Northern Virginia area code.  Random stuff appears on the sidewalks and streets of Center City all the time, but the fluorescent paint caught my attention.  They didn't hold up well to the recent rain so it's unlikely that the project has any serious legs.

Everyone have a great day and drive safely in the rain!


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Another Governor Arrested

This story just blows me away.  I was pretty certain that there was no way anyone could be more corrupt than former Illinois governor George Ryan.  Ryan's current address is a federal medium security prison, so the bar's pretty darn high.

Then Rod Blagojevich decided to sell president-elect Barack Obama's former US senate seat to the highest bidder. 

What is basically boils down to is this.  The guy got elected governor for the sole reason to pimp out the office and make himself rich.  He's been under federal investigation and wiretap for months.  The US Attorney in the case actually hurried the indictment to quash the Guv's attempt to appoint to the senate whoever paid him the most.

That's just the highest profile of his crimes.  he also allegedly has been extorting huge contributions from companies with state contracts.  He's been bust doing this for the last few months because he's trying to get around campaign finance  reform slated to go into effect in Illinois in January.

In between those scams, he's been pressuring the Chicago Tribune to fire editors that write things about him like 'he's a dirty crooked scumbag.' 

This mess makes New Jersey's scandals look tame in comparison.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Lights are Up!

Another Delco Guy and his trusty sidekick John got the lights up after only one trip to the big orange hardware store. Looks pretty, huh?1207081803.jpg


A Fun Night

We had a great night last night at Carin and Kevin's. A roaring fire, warm stew and chili, red wine and flocks of children really make for a lively evening. Add in gingerbread house decoration, caroling and Santa coming to town and you've got a night to remember. And that doesn't even include the ride in the firetruck!

I really like times like this, where we spend time having fun with our family and friends. A bit later today, we'll put up the Christmas decorations outside and get the tree finished up.

After Emma's nap, that is.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Emma and Her Gingerbread House

We're in Swarthmore getting ready for Santa's arrival. Emma has meticulously decorated her house and has moved on to eating the decorations.Emma and Her Gingerbread House


Lipstick On A Pig

So the stories about Sarah Palin just won't let up.  Turns out $150,000 was only the first installment of what it took to get her ready for prime time.  Well.  At least PHYSICALLY ready for prime time. 

From Bloomberg:

John McCain's campaign spent more than $95,000 on hair and makeup services for vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin in the final weeks of the campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records.


Talk about throwing good money after bad.

And the first shopping spree wasn't enough:

Separately, the Republican National Committee - which caused a ruckus when it spent more than $150,000 to clothe Palin and her family in September - spent about $23,000 in the final weeks at Macy's, Neiman Marcus and other stores for "campaign accessories."


I haven't spent that much on clothes in my life.  Of course I am not trying to go from backwoods GILF hockey mom to a heartbeat away from the presidency.  Goshdarnit!

I also can't see Russia from my house. 

Thank God America.  All I can say is THANK GOD you did the right thing!


Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Fantastic Four

I love massive projects.  The Big Dig?  Incredible!  I can watch shows about it all day long.  Well.  Unless the show is about this.  I also think that big public works projects, when well-planned and not subject to political whim are generally good for society.  This country has a history of doing it BIG.  But recently, many of the world's massive projects are being done overseas.  Some of that is the NIMBY nature of folks here in the US.  Some of it has to do with ill-informed media naysayers.

I think what our economic crisis needs is some massive construction projects.  Thus, this week's Fantastic Four:

What four BIG projects would you like to see completed?

  1. The American Commerce Center in Center City Philadelphia.
  2. A Big Dig-style project that would bury I-95 though Philadelphia and re-connect the city with its river.
  3. A network of off-shore wind turbines for clean, safe power
  4. The soccer stadium in Chester

How about you?  What would you build?


Thursday, December 04, 2008

PHL to LAX

Reflections in free verse ...

Rude gate clerks

Dogs and Cats on the plane


A horrible odor in the cabin and an hour on the tarmac


Turbulence


$2 water and no change


A stale slimy sandwich


Only 40 minutes into a 5 hour flight


Smooth at 36000 feet over Pittsburgh.


Expected to arrive on time


My rowmate has a role on ER as a nurse


Four corners below and to the left


Monument valley - Cool


The grand canyon - how com it's never on my side?


Smoke on the left on approach

90 degree heat though the gap

Here!


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Tree's Up!


The Tree's Up!
Originally uploaded by Cavalier92
While it needs a bit of fluffing, the tree is assembled and lit in the corner. There are a million things to do around here to get ready for Christmas, but number one is checked off!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Karen Heller Needs A Clue

2322739100_1855512d99_b I saw this article tonight and just feel a need to respond. I have been hanging out in Chester since my mom ran day care centers there when I was a wee lad.  I went to high school there.  I made out in Chester Park.  I worked there for nine years.

If I never set foot in Chester again, I have spent more time there than Karen Heller will spend there in her life. 

My guess is that she wandered in for yesterday's press event breaking ground for the new MLS stadium in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge, looked around for a Starbucks, and damn near ran screaming from the area.  My favorite quote in the story demonstrating her complete and total lack of understanding of the City of Chester is this:

Chester, the state's poorest city, is without a supermarket. There's hardly a place to get a decent cup of coffee.

Karen, sweetheart, you're clueless.  There isn't a SINGLE fucking place to get a


decent cup of coffee.  The fast food places closed in the 90s.  Wawa pulled out in '01.  I'm willing to bet you can't find a decent cup of coffee in the corner markets and bodegas.  A few years back I paid $4 bucks for a cup of pretty average coffee at Crozer.  I got a better cup at the gas station today.

Smart guy Rick Eckstein, a Villanova professor who hates public funding for sports stadiums, is quoted.  Note how little he has to say about his first-hand visits to the city.  He compares the economic impact of the stadium to a bodega.  Listen Ricky, Chester has an earned income tax.  The stadium construction itself is going to raise hundreds of thousands of new tax dollars.  This says nothing of the continuing tax benefits of the visitors to the stadium who might then head up 2nd Street to Harrah's.  Or of the potential benefits of further real estate development.

I feel for people like Joan Broadfield, quoted in the story as saying, " ...I don't think it will do what's needed. There's a whole lot more people could do for Chester than a soccer stadium."  She and the rest of the residents of Chester have been mis-treated and ignored by government for so long they can't see this for the potential boon that it is.  Heller pines for Joan to have a grocery store instead of a stadium.

Karen, the grocery stores left because the people can't afford to buy food.  The stadium will bring them the jobs they need to lure the Save-A-Lot back. 

No, this one project won't fix all that is wrong with Chester.  But when you combine it with the recent development at Harrah's, the expansion at Widener, the money Crozer is spending and the rest of the money being poured into the left-for-dead former industrial giant, you begin to see the outlines of revitalization.

Karen, I see how this looks like just another bailout for soccer heads.  But what it really is is the chance for the soccer heads to bail out the folks industry and government has left behind for decades.

Get your head out of the sand.  Buy a ticket.  I'm not even a soccer fan and I sure will.

And the Decorating Begins!


Emily the Elf
Originally uploaded by Cavalier92

Well the madness is upon us. In the office today, the elves are decorating every available surface, holiday carols are playing and hot cocoa is being consumed.

Ho Ho Ho!!!

Photos are up on Flickr.

Only 14 more work days until break!!!