Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas was different this year. Jennifer and I spent the weekend just hanging out together, kickin' it Christmas-in-Philly. The weather here was balmy, a whopping 55 on Saturday, so Jennifer and I went for a bike ride. Yay, bikes on Christmas Eve! After the bike ride was the inaugural Egg Nog Taste Off.

As some of you may know, the best commercially produced Egg Nog is made by Anderson Erickson creameries and is available primarily in Iowan supermarkets. I don't know what sort of chemical additives, natural flavors or un-nameable substances are mixed together with the standard egg, cream and nutmeg, but I know this: AE Egg Nog is the real thing. Not to be tendentious, but nothing comes close to the truth, the apotheosis of Egg Nog that is available for each and every one of us, should we choose to shop at Hy-Vee, Fairway or Kum and Go markets. For those of you who remember, "Ya Come, Ya Go, Ya Come Ya Come Ya GO!"
At the risk of becoming mawkish, I'll quit this expiation on AE Egg Nog and get down to the meat and potatoes of the matter: I needed an egg nog fix, and I needed one bad! I enlisted the help of my temerous and plucky life-partner Jennifer to procure the needed surrogate-noggs and to assist in the taste-test. Up for examination were four of the finest that the East Coast could bring to bear; Land of Lakes "Traditional Ultra Pasteurized Egg Nog", Lucerne "Holiday Egg Nog", Shop Rite "Gourmet Egg Nog", and Southern Comfort "Traditional Egg Nog".
In the picture you'll notice a number of nutmegs sitting in front of each quart, the rankings are from one to five, five being solely reserved for the AE. A summary:

Land of Lakes can be summed up by an alternate meaning of it's own acronym, LOL. Please, we would hope to find at least a creamy mouthfeel or a spicy taste, but LOL is a gloppy yellow. Two of five.

Southern Comfort was indeed a comfort. Sadly non-alcoholic, but with a creamy texture and cinnamon overtones. A personal favorite though not the grail. Four and a half out of 5.

Gourmet Egg Nog was Jennifer's personal favorite. With good creamy-ness, it clings to the tongue and slithers on down the alimentary like it should. Without the certain something (possibly the addictive compounds) of AE, a good second. Four and a half out of five.

Lucerne Holiday nog, well let me see. A fatuous beverage, no mouthfeel, slimy and resinous tasting. Had I not known better, I would have assumed that I'd drunk slightly sweetened latex. Not recommended, in fact, consider yourself warned. It garnered 1 nutmeg because it wasn't poison and actually tasted alright when put into pancake batter.

A contender not now in the picture below was the Garelick Farms Egg Nog. It was gross. Refer to the Lucerne description for a general idea.

Testing went well, but the final hurdle was, of course, the extremely disturbing hallucinations caused by over-ingestion of fats, proteins and nutmeg. I'll not write more but will include an actual photo of what was visible to me in my stupor; the effulgent aura of our Christmas tree bursting in incandescent sparks before my very eyes. An event truly horrifying until the euphoria set in.

Incidentally, studying for the GRE is going as well as my inchohate mind is capable.
The contenders. May they rest in peace.
The horror of egg nog poisoning.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

So, as has been previously suspected, I am an Idiot. Yesterday morning I drove the 30 miles to the GRE testing site in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia. The Testing site was in the King of Prussia area (I'm not kidding, there are some weird-ass names in PA)and it took me about 45 minutes to get there. After an uneventful drive, I showed up with all my required materials, some scratch paper, three writing utensils, my driver's license and even Jelly Belly beans with electrolytes, in case I was having a melt down.

I pulled out my ID, walked to the sign-in desk and smiled confidently. Then the woman behind the desk told me that I wasn't actually registered. Though I had gone through the automated process of signing up, I didn't actually receive a confirmation number indicating that the process was successful. Therefore, there would be no way for me to take the test.

Dammit, I had been studying for the past 48 hours, almost nonstop. I took a short break to go to the bathroom once, but that was all. Now my new GRE date is the 29th of December. The up-shot is that I have more time to study, the downside is that I have to study more. Like I said, I'm an idiot.

Friday, December 16, 2005

So, earlier this fall, when I had nothing to do, I set myself with the goal of taking the GREs. I checked out the library books, I took the performance enhancing drugs, everything but actually study for the test. So, when time rolled around to register for the damn things, I demurred. Idiot. Now that I'm thinking of going to Penn next fall to get a masters in City Planning, I've got to scramble to get everything in order. I guess that's not a change from my normal reality. I'm a goddam procrastinator, and there's little to be done about it. I gotta get some recommendation letters, I gotta take the GREs and I gotta get my act together by Feb 1st. While that's still a while from now, it takes a number of weeks for the GREs to come back and therefore, I've signed up for them next wednesday. I guess i'll be studying this weekend.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Urban youth are a surprisingly sheltered bunch. Why, just yesterday I had an experience that made me quite aware of the perilous degree to which many of today's inner city children have been kept from the wider world.

As it happened, I had gone for my first run in Philadelphia, a week after our arrival. Initially I ran westward toward the Cobbs Creek Parkway system that I had seen on the map. It proved to be a nice run, similar to the run along minnehaha creek in Minneapolis. As I headed back up Baltimore avenue I realized that it was 3:15, a time that schoolchildren everywhere long for. My route back home happened to be directly along the main thouroughfare for the Junior High students as they walked home or waited for the bus.

As I passed by, it occurred to me, "By golly, these youth have probably never seen a skinny white man running past their school in tights!" Indeed, I can only presume they never had, for their cries led me to believe that they were shocked to their very cores! So shocked in fact, were some of the youth that they in fact were taken with fits of what I assume was laughter, but seemed to me more like screaming or jeering! A number of the young boys, tried their best to pelt me with chunks of snow and ice, while others took it upon themselves to run along beside me. Being not as fleet of foot as I, they were soon outstripped however. At this point I came across a brace of young girls, one of which screamed again at me, while her companion took the courage to utter a greeting to me as I rushed past. While the greeting itself was unfamiliar to me, I can only assume it to be a local saying in this region, the meaning was nonetheless clear and pleasant to me. If I remember correctly, the utterance was, "I can see yer Gibbleys!"

At any rate, the brush with the native youth invigorated me to a degree that I was soon panting for breath as I sped home to the relative quiet of our abode. All in all, it was a good day and a good run, I shal have to duplicate it by and by.

Until next we meet, dear reader.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Here's the lovely house. It's actually half of a duplex, known here as "half houses", that was previously torn down.
the lovely living room as you enter the house.
The bathroom
the guest bedroom/tv room (thanks Chad for the tube)
Der sleepenzimmer.
The kitchen, more spatious than most porta-pottys.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

What better to do when you're trying to get a job than to SURF THE INTERNET. I read an interesting interview with Lance Armstrong on the velonews.com website, I found out about bouldering opportunities in Philly, checked out Jennifer's work website and eventually ended up slapping out a cover letter and sending off a resume to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Authority. Since I'm feeling utterly under-qualified for any really good jobs, I'm sticking my neck out for an internship as a transportation planner. Please god, let them pick me and re-affirm my self worth!!!

Melodrama galore, but it's me and I'm out of my comofort zone in this whole job hunt/living in Philadelphia thing. Philly is cool, but it's a big damn city and I don't know much about it or anyone in it. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to be an adventurer, crazy people, that's who.
As to our abode, a little briefin is in order. Our new address is 5036 Cedar Ave, Philadelphia PA 19143. Our new neighborhood is in the University City area of Philadelphia, about a mile west of the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. Our building is right on the edge of the real "university" part and likewise is in the transitional zone to the west of us which is overwhelmingly African American and somewhat more run-down. To get some more info, check out the Census bureau and and google earth.
Our apartment house is owned by a Jamaican guy and his American wife. They bought the building a year ago and have been rehabbing the thing to make it presentable enough to rent out to people who pay real money. The house is a typical Philadelphia style brick row house and as such is very narrow, very old and, in this case, very crapped out. Toney, Patrick and Luther, our rastafarian DIYers however are doing their best to refurb the place. They have been plugging away at it for some time and have made some big improvements(?) The main issue is that not a one of them really has much business doing home repair. These guys are just not into quality control. "If it works a little, it's perfect," is kind of the motto around here. Don't get me wrong, the guys are great, super nice, just super bad at carpentry, wiring, plastering, plumbing, cabinetry, grouting, painting and flooring. They do a nice job with drywall however. The best thing about moving into a place with sub-perfect workmanship is knowing, "Damn, I could do this better!" which gives a pretty good boost to the ego. Pictures of the abode soon to follow.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Philadelphia, what can I say; Getting here's a bitch, IKEA has everything my life requires, and I'm a housewife.

Jennifer and I took off for Philly last Thursday night about 8. We were gonna do the all nighter and get here the next afternoon after 20 hours of straight driving. The bitch of it was gonna be that both of us would be driving 100% of the way because we had both the moving truck and the car. It may have worked, but I wasn't really all caught up on sleep from the previous week and we ran into difficulties. The problems started about midnight. Jennifer and I had been in contact via walkie talkie and it was all good, yet as usual, I started getting sleepy. Since we all know that caffine does a great job of keeping a feller awake, I started hitting the Vivarins, hard. Between midnight and 8 A.M. Friday morning I had 7. And I had a crappucino from a convenience store along the way. It would have been 8 pills, but I have one to Jennifer. Well, let me tell you here folks, 7 Vivarins in 8 hours is too much. Each pill contains about 2.5 cups of coffee worth of caffine so do the math, unpleasantness ensued. At one point I thought I was going to freak out. Jittering hands, eyes that twitched and a nervous tick in my left cheek and neck meant that I was tripping dear readers, tripping like a speed freak. As tired as I became I couldn't relax,even for the two hours we spent trying to nap and freezing at rest stops.

The long and short of it is, we had to take a break in Bedford PA, coincidentally, the town where Cannondale bicycles are made. WE stayed in a sleaze-ball hotel and watched about 5 episodes of "That 70's Show" to keep us awake until 8 P.M. when we could fall asleep at a normal hour.

We finally got to our apartment about 1:30 on Saturday afternoon. Then the lovely process of unpacking began. More on the details of that process tomorrow.