Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Familiar VUE

Well, my VUE had to get towed away today, marking the second time in two months that has happened. Here is the sequence of events:

- On the way home from an excellent Mike Doughty show at Maxwell's in Hoboken with Katie (even though from her blog entry, you wouldn't know I was there...yes, I know I was mentioned in the previous posting, but who got your camera working so you could take that craptacular pic of Mike?), I fall asleep on the NJ Transit train.
- About 20 minutes from the Hamilton, NJ, station, my head is jolted off the edge of the seat, creating a mini whiplash scenario (my neck was already giving me problems, by the way).
- I get to my Bucks County apartment at about 2:45 a.m. and realize my neck is going to give me problems. I take some advil and apply a hot towel to my neck (since I keep forgetting to buy a heating pad).
- I wake up and can't move my head too well...actually, I can barely move it at all. forward a few hours. I go to start my starts...and quickly dies. I try again...and again...and again. Same thing.

Out with the AAA card and my cell phone...I tell them I need assistance and that -- and this is key -- my vehicle is all-wheel drive. This should tell AAA to make sure a flatbed tow truck is sent to my location. However, I learned from the last time my car was towed, that is not always the case. Back in May, it took three tow trucks for my car to finally get hauled away for repair. This time, only two...but why did I waste my time giving AAA every detail of my car and its location when the right tow truck wasn't sent anyway? However, I waited nearly three hours between the first and second tow trucks, which was just absurd.

But the car finally got taken away (as you can see in the photo above) to the repair shop...which closed at 5 p.m. The car didn't get there until 4:45 p.m. Hence, it hasn't even been looked at yet. Ugh.

This is the third major problem I have had with this vehicle in the past four months -- after going nearly three years without a significant problem that didn't include tires (I have this incredible tendency to drive over objects capable of puncturing a car and on a bike).

I'm thinking it's time for a change of vehicle. :-(

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Oh Canada...and its better junk food! boss just returned from a trip to her native Canada and brought me back my favorite candy bar, Coffee Crisp. Made by Nestle, Coffee Crisp is rather hard to find in the United States, but can be found everywhere in Canada. However, that is just the start...there are the tasty Smarties (not to be confused with our sugary Smartees), which are better-tasting M&Ms, and Aero bars that are Canadian favorites that don't get marketed here in the States.

But today my boss shows me a bag of Lay's potato chips she brought across the border...the flavor? Fries n' Gravy (of course, it was also written in French on the bag). Now, why don't we have an interesting flavor like that here? I'm tired of companies keeping the good junk food out of American hands.

OK...that silly rant is over.

My iPod is, found

UPDATE: Please disregard the rest of this post...I found the iPod. Read the comments to see what happened.

Well, somehow in all the mess that was my office yesterday (the person with whom I share an office was getting a new desk put together), my iPod has gone MIA.

I took it out of my bag around 1 p.m. and remember putting it on my desk. But then I went for coffee (when I got attacked by the bee) and kind of forgot about the iPod...until it was time to drive to Wilmington, DE, for a minor league baseball game featuring Rider alumnus Carl Loadenthal, an outfielder for the Class A Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Atlanta Braves affiliate). Anyway, I went out to my car and the iPod was not in my bag. I came back up to the office and couldn't find it. It wasn't in my car and it wasn't at home plugged into the charger as I had hoped (which I should have realized was the case since the charger was in my bag).

So, I don't want be accusatory, but the person putting the desk together was in the office while I went for coffee. I don't want to say it was stolen, but I do wonder if it somehow got mixed up with the materials needed for the desk and it either got carried away or thrown out by accident.

Either way, I'm really kind of pissed.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Nothing like minor league baseball

Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, DE
Carl Loadenthal
I went down to Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, DE, to watch the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Atlanta Braves Class A affiliate) take on the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Boston Red Sox Class A affiliate) in minor league baseball action Monday night. Why? Because Rider alumnus Carl Loadenthal is an outfielder on the Pelicans. He went 1-for-4 with a leadoff double in the top of the first inning and a walk in the ninth.

Since being promoted to Myrtle Beach a couple of weeks ago, Loadenthal is batting .289 with a home run, three doubles, a triple and two RBI.

Another Rider alumnus is pitching for the Braves' Triple-A affiliate in Richmond. However, righthander Kevin Barry is struggling with the R-Braves in 2005. Barry is 2-3 with a 4.69 ERA in 25 games, including two starts (he had been a closer or late-inning reliever his entire pro career until making those two starts this season, so I'm not sure what the Braves' plan for him is).

Me vs. the Bee with the caffeine fix

OK...I just went over to the Rider snack bar for one last cup of coffee for today (the place is only opened until 2 p.m. during most of the summer). Well, I get there around 1:40 p.m. only to find a couple of carafes of decaf. So they start brewing some regular coffee and -- about 10 minutes later -- I get my last cup of the day.

I walk outside and swat a bee away from my face. About 20 yards and 30 seconds later, a bee -- don't know if it's the same one or not -- hovers over my coffee in my right hand and then lands on my right wrist. It was almost as if the bugger was going after the coffee.

So I take my left hand and try to swat him off my wrist. The bee flies away...but so does the coffee, which I accidentally hit. The coffee lands on the walkway and starts pouring out of the hole in the lid. Thankfully, the lid did not come off and I only lost a fraction of the precious java.

More importantly, I don't think anybody witnessed it...although, of course, I think a couple of women walking towards me several hundred feet in front saw me pick up the coffee after hearing the sound of it hitting the ground. They continued talking and acting normally, but I think they gave me a "what is your problem?" look as I walked by them.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I might be on TV tonight, er, early tomorrow morning

Well, the "Last Call with Carson Daly" show I attended last week (see previous post) airs Friday night/Saturday morning at 1:35 a.m. ET, which of course is tonight/tomorrow morning.

I don't remember seeing myself or my friend Katie on any of the monitors, but we were pretty close to Mike Doughty as he was performing and I wasn't really watching the monitors too closely while Doughty was playing. But I guess there's a chance at least one of us got a few seconds of screen time.

It was actually a pretty good lineup of guests...Anthony Anderson, Vivica A. Fox, comedian Jim Gaffigan and Doughty.

I just hope I can stay up to watch it and tape it...the timer on my VCR doesn't really work and I have yet to join the TiVo revolution, which I guess you could call the "TiVo-lution."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Back in NYC

A view from my friend's new apartment

The view from my friend's 17th floor apartment on William Street in Lower Manhattan.

My friend Katie flew into New York City to start a new job as hall director for New School University's housing facility in Lower Manhattan. She called me late Thursday afternoon while she was en route from Seattle, where she was a residence director at University of Washington this past year, and said she had two tickets to see a "Last Call with Carson Daly" taping featuring a musical peformance by her favorite artist -- and one of mine, Mike Doughty (former Soul Coughing frontman).

So I took a train to New York's Penn Station. Well, between the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy hitting the area, the extra security measures in effect in the wake of the London bombings the previous day and wiring problems on the track, my train was running about 30 minutes late. However, I eventually showed up in NYC, met up with Katie at Penn Station, and we took the No. 1 train to 50th and Broadway. From there, we walked a couple blocks east to 30 Rock for the Carson Daly taping.

That was cool. Daly was unusually entertaining and the guest lineup was pretty good: Anthony Anderson, who was awesome as crime lord Antwon Mitchell this past season on "The Shield"; Vivica A. Fox; comedian Jim Gaffigan, who was hysterical; and Doughty. The show will air Friday, July 15, at 1:35 a.m. ET.

But after a quick trip to the K-Mart at Penn Station for a few things for Katie's apartment, we took the No. 2 train down to Fulton Street for the quick walk to her building. We spent about an hour there and then took a walk to find a local grocery store that she had seen earlier. However, I soon convinced her to take a walk to Ground Zero -- the former site of the World Trade Center's twin towers. Well, after losing track of where we were and taking us about five blocks more than we needed to go, we found a map of the area and I realized her building is just three blocks east of Ground Zero. All we needed to do was walk out the front door, go west on Maiden Lane and then Cortlandt Street...and then we would have been there. We kept walking up that block and came to a plaza on our left. I looked across the plaza and there it was...Ground Zero.

That was my second time there and it just amazes and saddens me. We spent about 10 minutes there and walked back towards Katie's building.

Anyway, if you look at the picture above. I realized today that her window faced the WTC twin towers, which would have dominated the background of the photo. That must have been an amazing site to wake up to every morning...and such a horrifying site on Sept. 11, 2001. Again, it amazes and saddens me at the same time.

[NOTE: Christian's comment that resulted in this entry's headline getting changed refers to the classic Peter Gabriel-era Genesis song, "Back in NYC," off their epic 1974 double album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.]

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

NASA does something right...

NASA's Deep Impact probe strikes comet Tempel 1 (NASA/JPL photo)

...and gets sued for it.

During the early hours of July 4, the "impactor" component of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Deep Impact space probe successfully crashed into comet Tempel 1 approximately 1.83 million miles away from Earth. It was a tremendous accomplishment for the recently oft-plagued space program as the impact created a crater on the surface of Tempel 1 as well as a dust cloud that will be researched for galactic "building block" material.

So what does NASA get for this achievement? A frivolous lawsuit from a Russian astrologer claiming that the cosmic collision "ruins the natural balance of forces in the universe." Hence, Marina Bai is suing NASA for $300 million (8.7 million rubles) -- the approximate cost of the mission -- for "moral suffering."

Read all about the insanity: Russian Astrologer Sues NASA Over Comet.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Back in Philly for another big concert

Philly's 4th of July celebration.

More pics of Philly's Fourth of July celebration

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I made it to Live 8!

The Philly Live 8 stage in front of the Museum of Art.

BK's Live 8 Flickr Photo Set

A short movie of Will Smith's intro in Philly

I must admit I didn't last too long at Live 8. I was already heading away from the stage as opener Black Eyed Peas were wrapping up. However, I did enjoy the unofficial opening act, the Kaiser Chiefs. I had heard a lot about them, but hadn't actually heard them. Good stuff from the Chiefs.

Anyway, I really went there to experience it...something I missed out on with the Live Aid show in Philly at ol' JFK Stadium in 1985. I wasn't all that impressed with the Philly lineup for Live 8 so it wasn't like I missed out on something. If I really wanted to experience a great concert, I would have hopped on a plane and headed to London for the Hyde Park portion of Live 8.

But I wanted to see my adopted hometown of Philadelphia -- the ultimate underdog of U.S. cities -- shine with the entire world watching. And -- unlike its sports teams (Phantoms excluded) -- Philly came through like a champ. Philly has such a bad reputation, but it really is a great city and much of the criticism is unfair and unwarranted.

I saw this quote in a Philadelphia Inquirer story and thought it was telling...

"We could have done this in many places around America, but Philadelphia hit the cover off the ball," said Live 8 executive producer Tim Sexton.

I am just so proud of Philadelphia for making its part of the Live 8 extravaganza a huge success.

And Philly will get a chance to shine again Monday night when Elton John headlines the Fourth of July concert in the very same location as Live 8. Hearing Elton John perform "Philadelphia Freedom" in Philadelphia on Independence Day was already going to be one of those special musical moments. But Live 8 has instilled in me a heightened sense of pride in Philly that is going to make it even more special.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Goin' to Philly for 8...and the 4th

Well, I have made up my mind. I'm going down to the Parkway in Philly for at least the first two or three hours of Live 8...just to say I was there. As soon as I leave work today, I'm going to go to the nearest SEPTA station and buy my special $8 Live 8 day pass so I can get around the city by rail (actually, since there are no tickets for the event, I guess that will be a nice keepsake).

I will try to put up some mobile photo and audio posts here so I can record some of the event online.

I also plan on going to the big Elton John concert on Monday night, also on the Parkway. I figure hearing Elton perform "Philadelphia Freedom" in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July is a musical moment I should experience firsthand.

But first...I'm going to watch fireworks after tonight's Braves-Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park (ugh...the Phils are probably going to get their asses kicked again). There are supposed to be some nasty thunderstorms moving through the area this afternoon and evening, though. Maybe a bolt of lightning will just wipe out the Phillies, the Braves can win by forfeit and the fireworks can go off early.

Hey...I know that's cruel, but I'm really pissed off at the Phils for the way they're playing right now. It's embarrassing...and then they are going to embarrass themselves again in front of a national audience when they play Sunday night on ESPN.

But the Phillies always put together a nice fireworks show...even as the team strives for perennial mediocrity. : (