Sunday, December 20, 2009
Philadelphia is not really built to handle snow. Philadelphians as well are not really able to deal well with snow. Especially not 23 inches of it. While anywhere else I would be ecstatic with the amount, here it has presented a bit of a problem, and that problem is paralysis. When one's street is only wide enough to accommodate 2 cars on a good day, it doesn't really have enough room for all of that extra frozen stuff. Therefore, our car is utterly blocked in, and it's even a bit too deep for my studded snow bike tires to do much good. I did go for an awesome snow-bike ride yesterday though, before we had gotten ourselves quite so boxed in.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Next door to us are an elderly Cambodian couple, Old Guy and his wife Smiley. Old guy is named as he is primarily because he's old. Smiley, well she almost always has a scowl on her face as she shuffles down the block. Next to them is another Cambodian family that we have known for years as "Young Mama's Family". From youngest to oldest are Brandon (3) Nana (6) Jordan (10) and Jackie (13). There were also Young Mama, Young Mama's Husband, Young Mama's Mama and Young Mama's Dad. They all live in the house two doors down from us that is about as big as ours, maybe even slightly smaller. We've been calling them by these nicknames since we moved in, and it's waaaaaaaaaaay too late to go asking their names now. But there's a problem, and it all started when the guy we know as Young Mama's Husband bought a purple Chevy Impala. Jennifer asked Jackie who's car it was and responded that it was his brother's. Whaaaa? We had assumed that this guy who looked to be about 27 or so was his dad. Yeah, that would make him an extremely young parent, but that's not impossible right? Through some more sleuthing we have since determined that Young Mama is not the mama at all, but is the sister of all these younger kids. Now we're stuck without any names at all for the 4 adults in the house, since they were always based on Young Mama. We're going to have to go back to the drawing board with this one.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
The chef was the head meat guy from Vetri Ristorante, and had done work with Mario Batali in NYC before. The class was pretty good, and they gave a lot of tips to make the process easier. I'm glad that I had made sausage before as I was able to ask some more detailed questions about the process and make friends a bit with the chef. As it turns out, you don't necessarily need to add the lactic acid starter culture to your meats before you cure them, it just makes the process a bit more fail safe, though I found that when I made my smoked Chorizo that it turned the sausage pretty tart. Not a bad thing, but a bit overpowering sometimes.
The coolest part was that while the woman from Foster's was talking with the chef, they mentioned that Vetri and Osteria (same owner) in town both allow "try out" and help in the kitchen on Sundays. Anyone can come and set up a time to help for a day in the kitchen at some of the best italian places in town. I was talking to the chef after class and he told me to give them a call and come in some day when they are breaking down an animal-- they get whole pigs and lambs from a farmer in Lancaster and cut the meat all up themselves. I think that I'll have to do that some time soon!
The class really inspired me to make up another batch of sausage, bacon and all kinds of porky/meaty goodness. Our friends Matt and Stacey are having an Oktoberfest house warming party next week, and I might have to make some bratwurst for that.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Then I came back. Thursday was mostly a blur, though I did manage to finally put stamps on the newsletter that I've been working on at the Clean Air Council. It's hard working on a project 2 days a week and trying to get stuff produced in a timely matter. Finally though I've been able to print out some of the Cobbs Creek Trail Project newsletter and sent it out. I've forgotten what a trying process editing and critiquing can be. My main problem in this next week is going to be trying to focus on CAC work versus my bike stuff. I have this inherent love of bikes, that when excited, can take over everything else. I need to be a good worker in all aspects of my 2 jobs to count on continuing on with both of them. Ugh. Life gets more complex by the momemt. Also, TJ from the bike shop wants to start his own bike company. I don't know how it would work itself out, but it does sound appealing to make the decisions that these guys a the big brands are making. I want to be able to travel to the Taiwanese factories where 98 percent of all of the bike business is conducted!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I got tickets to Interbike next week! I went last year for the first time, and it was an extravoganza of all things bike. Jennifer calls it Bike Porn, but really, it's more like love. Also, I got the carbon layup all done on the latest bamboo creation, and it's looking GOOD!! There are some new pictures up on the Daruma Cycles Blog. Check them out.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
First we ended up riding the 18 miles or so to the Morris Arboretum where we saw some great big plants, some ferns, and my favorite, filbert trees. Not delicious until ripe and roasted, I will tell you that much. Interactive displays are pretty cool too, check out Leah with her "forest ears"
We then booked it back to our place, then booked it up to our friend Sara's studio where she does screen printing. This is the origin of Leah's awesome bicycle tee.
Friday involved some procurement of goods in the Italian market as well as the most delicious pizza that we have ever concocted: fig, fire roasted tomato and gruyere cheese. Delicious in a cosmic way. Leah and Jennifer also ended up making some mozzarella cheese, not quite the same sort of success there, but it was a valiant effort.
Saturday was NYC day and we took the Bolt Bus up at 8 am. We ended up walking from the bus station all the way to Chinatown where we met up with Nick and Amy who helped us elbow our way into a soup dumpling house. Delicious. We then ate Pandan and Peanut/Sesame ice creams at the Chinatown Ice Cream Shop. Also Delicious. We then saw such sights as the Brooklyn Bridge, statue of Liberty, Central Park and the Metropolitan museum of art where we only paid them $2! It's a SUGGESTED DONATION! Hah! For dinner Nick and Amy graced us again with their guidance and we ate ramen, the taste of my erstwhile home, Japan.
Sunday was hot as shit, but we drove out to scenic Lancaster county and Leah cheered me on to VICTORY in my bike race. It was my first win in over a year, and I was quite happy to have such an awesome cheer squad. We also saw a giant caterpillar, Amish people in buggies and stopped in a WaWa convenience store. Big day!
Monday we went rock climbing. Also hot as shit. At one point Leah accidentally put her arm on the rock, and slimed it so heavily with her sweat that she was unable to stand on it for the next move upwards.
We also saw the biggest spider that I've ever seen in nature. It was about the size of my hand. Scary.
We stopped by the superb Korean grocery on the way back and prepared ourselves a veritable sushi feast. My favorite part about the whole affair was the fact that Leah would cut up the fish or octopus or whatever and say, "Oh gross, I'm not going to eat that!" but then 30 seconds later she'd be chomping on some. We polished off a large hunk of salmon, a whole octopus arm and about 20 shrimp, not to mention the avocado and cucumber rolls.
Leah and I have the same appeteit for monster amounts of wasabi.
Tuesday was our last day together, and I was a bit sad that I wouldn't have a sibling within 800 miles of me any more. We decided to cap the trip off with a ride around Philly through the hilly reaches of the wealthy inner suburbus. And then we were going to tackle THE WALL. Bike afficionados in the Philly area know the stretch of Levering street in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia as the Wall because it starts off at about 10% grade then gets steep. It's about 1000 meters of uphill road, maxing out at about 17%. Dad didn't make it up the hill when he came out, a fact that I used to goad Leah into trying the hill. We had a valiant non-success that nearly ruined her day, but when we stopped by for "wooter-ice" the Philadelphia dessert specialty, we were all set. I was worried that we wouldn't get a chance to eat a cheese steak, but there, on the road to the airport, we found a shop that made a pretty good "wiz-wit", that is a cheese steak topped with cheese wiz and onions. A little slice of heaven right there.
It was a great trip overall. We have decided what our parents already know, that we are the most similar of any two Ritz's. That is, we both are tall with big butts and no shoulders, complain a lot and are secretly ultra-competetive. Family, a good thing to have to provide you with an exterior example of your own foibles.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
In this edition, some friends (unspecified) and I were at a house party when some zombies, who looked very much like the other partygoers entered the scene. They started tearing the place up and I ended up fighting with a giant woman zombie who I slashed and stabbed a short broadsword just like the one I saw at the Met the other week. No results, the zombie woman didn't die easily. After a great deal of consternation the zombie became somewhat docile and even let me know her vulnerable points. Then the scene jumped outdoors and I ended up in hand to hand combat with other zombies who just wouldn't die. This time I lost my trusty sword and ended up chopping people with a hatchet. Inelegant to say the least. At some point, I realized that there was some sort of faulty computer program that was generating monsters and I shut down the house computer, saving the day. A modestly successful zombie dream, if I do say so.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Worked at the bike shop today with 1 other guy. On a Friday. In the summer.
We locked the doors when it was clear that the other 3 of the 5 of us who were supposed to be there were not coming in. We posted a nice little sign that said "If you know that you need something knock or call, otherwise, bug off." Some people heeded, some people didn't. I really have issue with people who are self important enough to disregard written signs. That's not cool with me, especially if I'm already having a bad day. In retrospect though, locking the doors was the only reasonable option, aside from calling all of the people who had services scheduled for the day and telling them that they were out of luck. Oh well, life goes on.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Babies are cute. They're even cuter when they're your friends babies and not some random ones wandering down the street. Jude and Michelle brought their baby, Shiloh to visit the east coast this past week and it was an absolute blast to see them again. They arrived last week and decamped first to Washington DC where Paul and Mary now live. It was a Mac Scot Clan reunion of sorts and a definite bastion of Midwestern sensibility here in South Philly for the weekend.
Jude has just finished up his dissertation and is now a bonafide psychologist. They'll be moving back up nort', eventually to Duluth where he's going to be working for the VA Hospital. A large climatic and cultural change to be sure.
We tried our best to fill the weekend with fabulous activities, some influenced by the presence of the baby, some not. Friday we did the cheese steak/Italian market/water ice tour, then proceeded to make some fabulous pizzas in the oven at home. Saturday included a brief jaunt on public transit followed by a tour of some of Center City since the brewery tour that was in the original itinerary was a bit out of the way. Saturday evening we ended up going to West Chester PA for a bike race, just so happened to be MY bike race. I did the 3/4 race and ended up a solid 5th place, my best result of the season at perhaps my hardest race so far. I felt like crap for the first half, but ended up doing well so as not to let down my exceptional cheer squad. Mexican take out for dinner. I introduced our friends to the joys of the Torta Cubana. An exceptional sandwich for those interested in calories.
Sunday was our final day, but we made the most of it with a grand frisbee golf outing followed by home-made pulled pork sandwiches. I got up at 6 to start the smoker out back and slow roasted the shit out of a pork butt. It was awesome. I'm most definitely doing that one again! Then Jude, Michelle, Shiloh, Paul and Mary all piled into their little car and headed back to DC. Sad to see them go for sure, but it was great to have the guests. It was really cool to have a little kid crawling around in the house, but even better to be able to give her back to Michelle when she got cranky. We'll have to schedule a visit to Duluth next summer!
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
It's also great to finally be able to use some of the networking I did over this past year. We're meeting next week with I guy I had an informational interview with last fall. I am continually amazed by exactly how small Philadelphia is. I guess that explains why I haven't been able to find a job in planning yet, everyone already knows everyone else. I am now trying to bust my way into the network at last.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Of course at this point, while we were mucking around in the basement, I noticed that not only were the sopresatta that I'd been making starting to sprout mold, they had been gnawed on by mice! Those carnivorous little bastards! They didn't get to all of it, thank god, because that would have been about $40 worth of meat and ingredients down the tubes. The mold I ended up washing off to no ill effect, but needless to say, I was pissed.
Then I checked my email as I had been eagerly awaiting to hear back from the most recent job that I applied for. I heard back. I didn't get it. As much as I had tried to keep myself from getting excited about a job that was not yet (and never to be) mine, I couldn't help it. After the second interview, I was sure that I was going to be picked. As far as I know the girl who was my competition was another former Macalester student, and also a recent Penn grad. She had been interning at the office, which was an advantage to her, but the flip side is that I know from personal experience in dealing with her, that she is annoying as hell. Advantage me. As far as I know, the only person who has ever called me "annoying as hell" is Jennifer, and those are extenuating circumstances.
Alas, it was not to be. I am pretty fucking sick of this economy, or whatever it is that is conspiring to rob me of my chosen employment. Ennui ensues. I honestly don't know what I should do next. I guess I'll try to volunteer someplace and get some "work experience". How on earth one is supposed to get work experience if no one will hire you is beyond me, but so it goes. At least people are still interested in bamboo bikes.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Here's the answer to the main question: Donnell is doing OK and has
plans to race Cargas.
He went down with about 5 to go in the slightly sketchy off camber
corner 2 at Bethlehem today. There must have been extra gravity there
because exactly one lap later, and despite the fact that everyone was
yelling "NEUTRAL LAP" other jerks decided to crash, in exactly the
Against Donnell's request, I opted not to do the 1-2-3 and followed
him to the emergency room of St Luke's hospital.
Donnell and I spent the following 4 hours in the emergency room
thinking about exactly what he had done to invoke the crash gods, and
we came to no good conclusions. He probably crossed the same Gypsy
who has hexed Tyler's wheels with perpetual flats.
As far as his injuries go, D is pretty banged up and in a good deal of
pain, but it should be mostly temporary. He did not end up breaking
his collarbone, but merely separated his "AC Ligament", the C of which
is Clavicle, and the A I have no idea. This extends his streak of
never actually having broken a bone, despite his best attempts. This
sort of ligament separation is the type that they just let heal
naturally-- it will probably never be back to 100%, but the ligament
doesn't do much anyway, so it shouldn't be a problem unless he takes
up professional rock climbing or something. The doctor said that
recovery should be between 4 to 6 weeks, but I predict that D will be
on his bike again by next week. As a spectator to the whole thing, I
was pretty surprised by Donnell's toughness, he was a rock through
what looked like a lot of pain. He certainly made some funny noises
when they scrubbed the road rash, but he is one tough dude. We made
it home by about 8 this evening. The car ride was eased by a drug
coctail consisting of 2 shots morphine, 1 Percoset, 1 Valium and 2
pints Guinness. When we arrived at his house, his kid Avery assured
me once again that his daddy was the best bike racer, but that he
really liked my pink bike. "Daddy's white bike is faster though."
The most interesting aspects of his injury were those left by the
helmet; he has a mark on his right cheek where the strap gave him
rugburn in the crash, and he totally abraded the top of his left ear.
I am confident that the helmet was a key factor in us being able to
drive home tonight, without it and I don't even want to speculate how
ugly it could have been.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The rest of the family was up too, and it's an unusual occasion to have all 7 of us in one spot anymore. Christmas is about the only time it happens these days. We had a good time, hanging out, cooking food, shooting the shit, telling stories about all the dumb stuff that we (mostly I) did as kids.
The ever popular stories included: Aaron shot himself with the BB gun, Aaron fell out of the tree while repelling off of the garden hose, Aaron cut his finger with the butcher knife, Aaron made gunpowder, Aaron nearly burned the house down etc.
It's nearly miraculous that I survived childhood.
Speaking of childhood, I spent two nights at the ever hospitable home of my friends Ben and Marye where I was able to meet an amazingly cute baby, thier son Levi. Check out the pictures for your self, the kid is a pure photogenic genius.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Last Friday I had people over for a birthday pizza bash. Great fun and great food was had by all. I bought enough dough for about 25 pizzas and we ate probably 22 all told. The pizza stone is one of my kitchen favorites: nothing tastes better than pizza popped straight out of the oven, except for maybe pizza that has been pulled straight from the oven 4 minutes ago, after the cheese loses its ability to peel the skin off your mouth.
I was also happy to debut my first ever home-made sausage. The picture should say it all, but 8 pounds of sausage is a lot! I need to tweak the recipe or my technique a bit, I have not quite mastered the interior texture, these were a bit too grainy and not quite as unified as I'd like.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
No new news on the job front, but that's to be expected, I think. I have however purchased all the necessaries for making my first batch of home-made sausages. A nice fat pork butt, some casings, some spices and away we go! This will hopefully complement the home-made bacon, homebrewed beer and some nice home-fired pizza that we're going to be making this Friday. Thirty shouldn't be so bad afterall.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
I was able to chat up the Philadelphia City Planning Director, but he's got a smaller budget than I do right now, so I guess I'll hit the pavement.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I'll be much happier once I get done with the presentation I'm giving this Friday at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson architectural firm. One of my teammates from the bike club is an architect there and recommended me for the session. The format is 20 slides, 20 seconds each. It'll be a fast and furious presentation and I hope I'm up to it. I'm a bit rusty after several months of non-academic work.
Monday, February 09, 2009
It is time to get back on the horse again. Winter be dammed, it is approaching cycling season. As much as my bike Pinky loves the snow, after crashing once or twice, I think that I'll stick to a different bike for slippery conditions. I eventually put the snow tires on my cyclocross bike. That was a good idea for sure. I always love the invincible feeling of studded tires as they click across the ice, saving my ass from certain flattening.
Monday, January 26, 2009
In other news, my first recipe from the Alaska Bootlegger's Bible turned out not to be the smashing success that I'd hoped. Milk wine, as it turns out, tastes pretty gross. When the ingredients are powdered milk,sugar, Lactaid and yeast,one can't really hope for much, but at the same time, I had some high expectations for something at least drinkable. Nope. Not for human consumption, though I might try to set the stuff outside to see if the cats get drunk off of it.