Bigger cities & greater adventures


In March of this year, we moved to Philadelphia.  Eight months in, we absolutely adore it. There’s always something to do and almost* always an easy way to get to it. NY and DC are a couple of express trains away. Going to concerts within a mile of home, having food delivered well after midnight, doing grocery shopping online, having Amazon couriers deliver things the same day we order them…

Yeah. Philadelphia was a move in the right direction. I love love love cities.

There’s pages more to say and dozens of posts worth of life updates to make, but suffice it to say that Katt and I are probably happier and more fulfilled than ever. (And speaking of Katt and I–nine years in November! Wooooo!) This summer and fall consisted of a list of adventures in our new city, in our kitchen, and on the road.

More soon…but with NaNoWriMo coming up, time will be limited! I did it last year and hit the 50,000 mark somehow, so now I’m going for the repeat win starting at the end of this week. I’m still divided on two or three ideas, but I’ll be forced into a decision in about 120 hours…

Halloween’s coming up, and we were looking for something different to do…so we’re going to hit this party at the end of the week. Should be fun!

An 8.4km Walk, and a Burger to Balance.

It was a beautiful day today, and Katt has tonight off–so we decided to go for a longish walk up to Nay Aug park this morning.

We probably left shortly after 9 a.m., and I have to say: still not used to the pleasant (but kinda eerie) calm on Sundays around here. We had debated driving up to Nay Aug instead while we were still walking around downtown, but about the time we hit Mulberry (depicted in the map to the left as the longest straight highlighted blue line), I mentioned that following this particular road would take us all the way to the park.

I warned that it was 1.5 miles uphill, but Katt had been wanting to try it–so we did. When we got to the park, we ended up exploring it thoroughly, heading to the ends of the blazed trails close to I-81. There was a really interesting trestle with a stationary train just sitting on it. We wanted to cross into the far side of the park by walking along it, but after exploring the hill, we realized we were on a ridge, and the train tracks actually ran through a tunnel beneath where we were standing.

Having already gone two miles, we didn’t persist long in trying to find a way down to the tunnel entrance. Everything was pretty steep, and we really weren’t prepared to do the kind of careful scaling it would take to get to the tracks. (In the full-size version of the map, the arrow depicts the top of the ridge; below, the elevation cross-section shows the sharp change in the slope.)

We ended up winding about the back of the park and exiting on Gibson, finding our way back to Mulberry via Colfax. By the time we went back down the hill, we’d walked four miles. Now we were STARVING, so we headed across downtown to Kildare’s for an impromptu Sunday Brunch.

Service was a little sleepy the moment we walked in, but to be fair–we arrived just at the stroke of 11AM when the restaurant opened. We were certainly their first customers today. Once we were finally seated by our hostess, we were promptly attended to. (I’m notoriously over-patient in a restaurant setting, but thankfully Katt drinks a lot of water, so her refills are generally a decent litmus test of how well the waitstaff is doing.)

We had drinks at Kildare’s a couple of weeks ago when we first moved in, but this was our first meal there. I ordered a mushroom swiss burger, and Katt had a skillet of eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon, peppers and onions. Both dishes were pretty incredible, as was our calamari starter (easy as calamari is to get right, I’ve eaten impossibly chewy, tasteless squid enough to offer credit for perfecting simplicity).

Mushrooms were plentiful, small, juicy and tender–burger was a good medium rare, as requested. An ample slice of swiss and a slightly toasted wheat bun topped off what might tie for the best burger I’ve had since we moved. Katt was happy with her skillet, but it was hearty enough that we had to bring the rest home in a clamshell.

After stopping by the apartment quick to drop off the leftovers, we headed back out for a coffee. Criss-crossing downtown one more time, we added another kilometer and a half to our path, topping us out at 8400m (5.2 mi). And all before noon on a perfect spring Sunday…

Credit Where Credit is Due: L’Express

I forgot/was too tired to post this yesterday, but it has to be done. Even in NYC, a restaurant experience as flawless as the one we had Sunday is worth writing about.

After Sunday’s concert, we had a passionate hunger for cheeseburgers…

It was already late on Sunday Night. I said that we should forego the taxi and just walk up through Gramercy before cutting west toward Penn Station. We had plenty of time before the last train to Suffern (where we left the car), and I figured we would happen across a place for cheeseburgers, even if it meant having to settle for a 24-hour fast food joint. Well, we didn’t have to, and it was all thanks to L’Express (Google street view).

The place seemed familiar to me, but I couldn’t tie it with a previous visit, mostly because I couldn’t think of the last time I was East of 5th Ave.

The service was awesome. Now, I know it doesn’t seem like that should be difficult at 11:30 PM on a Sunday, but the place was actually pretty busy. Everything was aces: our server was attentive and delightful, our food came fast, hot, and perfectly to order (when I ask for a medium-rare burger, I expect a medium-rare burger).

The burgers ($11.95) were DELICIOUS, perfectly prepared and served on a toasted bun. Our server had gotten us both on the bacon upsell ($2.), but the add-on price was more than justified by the burger-load of bacon that came with it.

As a result of our days in food-service, we tip REALLY WELL for exceptional professionalism. Now, when I’ve been drinking I can be very generous with tips even for average service; when I’m sober, however, I can be very calculating with gratuity. As the night’s DD (for our drive home from Suffern station later), I was stone sober.

It didn’t halt my generosity; I had ZERO complaints. The ambiance was great for a post-concert-going setting, the service was perfect, and as far as the food went, I was happy with the portion-for-price and delighted with the presentation and preparation of the burger. The fries weren’t anything special, but they were crispy and munchable, and come on–I was there for THE BURGER.

Right. You might be saying “it was just a burger”, but it wasn’t just a burger. For this kind of experience, even my sober mind knew that a tip pushing the 35-40% line was appropriate. For us, this wasn’t just a meal, it was a seamless part of a fantastic evening out, and the staff at L’Express did a wonderful job.

We will certainly be back.

Ten years later…

Ten years ago this week, I was doing nothing more than waiting for my graduation day. I was dual enrolled my senior year, so my college-term classes had ended and I no longer had any high-school requirements left.

Mostly I would just go into school and bother my old design and drawing teacher, Mr. Leogrande, and my chemistry teacher Mr. Dermody. I was one of those kids that hung around after school in favorite teacher’s classrooms for a few hours–and, you know, this was back in the day when your teenage-self could exist on school grounds for no reason without the faculty thinking you were some kind of criminal.

When I was in school, I regarded school as a neat place to be–spending free time looking up books and old periodicals in the library, going to one of the tech rooms and work at a drawing desk outside of regular class time, talking to one of my science or math teachers about something I thought was interesting (but was told to ask about it outside of class so that we could cover the material that needed to be covered). Continue reading “Ten years later…”

“You have the life I wanted,” he says.

As a kid I had this idea of success in measurements of fame and wealth, which are understandable measurements–even for an adult. I had no shortage of plans for my adult-self, which included being an author, making movies, being a microbiologist, being an architect, playing music, and being a theoretical physicist.

There was also no shortage of faith that I would become whatever I had in mind. Though I was raised poor–though I spent a few formative years on welfare–there was no despair, no expectation that the success I was planning for myself would not come.

Then came the end of my Junior year in high school. After applying to about a dozen colleges, I was either rejected or wait-listed from each and every one. Continue reading ““You have the life I wanted,” he says.”

Virtual Interaction & Creativity

As I usually am, I was being a smart-ass on Twitter yesterday. Sometimes I’m not sure what it is that gives me a spike of followers or @ replies, but often I’m convinced it’s because I used some marketing keyword term that someone’s Twitter-API app latched onto. Rarely, it might be because I said something funny, but that’s doubtful.

Anyhow, I got an @ tweet regarding my 140-character bio.

@pdncoach: Hmm…read your bio @EditorialJoe So how are you REALLY? 🙂

My little bio is a little cranky, a little snarky, and a little fun. It states, as succinctly as possible, the randomness of my tweetspew:

I pretend to be conceited, funny, smart, brutal, terrible, obnoxious, involved, important, stupid, and insightful…all at once.

To answer the question about how I REALLY am, I directed him to my recent post: Who Speaks for This Man? But then it got me thinking about whether that answers the question of “how” or “who” I am. Then I begin to wonder–in the sense of the moment–if there was actually a difference.  Then this came out:

Turn to the mirror. Ask it: “___ are you?”

The differences ‘twixt “how” and “who” should bear little distinction in the mental mist; “what” should make you curious and “where” should make you adventurous. If you’re doing it right, “why” will fill itself in.

And hey, I thought that was neat-o. A little summation–an adventurous analogy regarding the question of identity. But no mind is an island in this web age: in the case of this post, the fuel, air and piston were mine…but the spark plug that ignited the combustion was Mr. Sturgell’s simple tweet. Whether or not the effects were intended, the weaving of the indented bold words above were absolutely dependent on the tweet I received. If he didn’t send it, I wouldn’t have had the phenomenological experience that primed that particular organization of my statement.

And looky here, the effects have COMPOUNDED! There’s now a blog post about it. 😀

So here’s to Mr. Sturgell/@pdncoach, interactivity, and the unintended power of the meta-mind (even as it hums along in its prototype phase). The effects are tangible!

Wisdom (Teeth), Education (Loans), and the Greatness of Great-grandpa Dave.

Well, the insurance company paid for about $30 of my triple wisdom tooth extraction ($1080), leaving me with a $1050 bill. No, this isn’t an argument for the public option or for HC reform. Instead of commiserating with me about how evil and dastardly my insurer is, let’s look at exactly what I did wrong in my rush to get the procedure done. Continue reading “Wisdom (Teeth), Education (Loans), and the Greatness of Great-grandpa Dave.”

Twitter References and an IM to Dr. Jack

Edited for continuity. Also, more praise for humanity in general. It wasn’t long ago that I was bashing Twitter for being really lame. I think this post can quickly explain why I was wrong.

Also, a shout out to my friend Carissa, who nobly attempted to get me into Twitter months before I did so. You were right, Carissa–and my admission will be on the and Google servers for all time. 😛

(9:07:34 PM) JC: but whereas Facebook is for talking to people you once knew (whether you’re both interested in talking to each other or not), Twitter is for doing your thing and organically finding people who share your humor/interests/politics
(9:08:31 PM) JC: I joke about trying to attain a “Mendelian ratio” between following:followers
(9:08:33 PM) JC: 1:3
(9:08:49 PM) JC: it’s never exact, but it seems to regularly work out that way: for every three people following me, I generally follow one.
(9:09:03 PM) JC: not as a rule or anything…it just seems to be the rate at which I reciprocate interest in the people who follow me
(9:09:42 PM) JC: so like 1/3 is easily a bot or a marketer using API to sniff keywords…
(9:09:48 PM) JC: 1/3 might be a company, a dull person, or a perfectly nice person I don’t care to follow…
(9:10:04 PM) JC: but at my rate of active interaction, the last third are–if my numbers are any kind of evidence–the cool people I never would have talked to if I wasn’t on Twitter.
(9:10:25 PM) JC: Now from a social standpoint, that’s a phenomenal success rate. Kinda restores your faith in humanity when you realize how many cool people you don’t know yet.

Yeah. Yeah, it kinda does.

Program crash blues; Buffalo’s redemption

Tonight, Photoshop crashed on me and I lost the progress I’d made on my 4th page. It was a lot of under drawing and framing that I was really happy with.  🙁

That’s okay. The attitude I should take is that if I did the work once, I can do it again without a problem. Also, I was working on about 4 other documents at the time that–thanks to my usual vigilance–were already saved and lost no new changes. So it could have been a lot worse. Continue reading “Program crash blues; Buffalo’s redemption”