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CitiBike. Bike Sharing. Whoop de fucking doo.

Who cares about bike sharing? Limp wristed liberals...amirite?

OK, stop right there. It IS awesome, and I will tell you why, sir or madam. Lets start with the basics of CitiBike.

All over Manhattan are docking stations. These stations hold the bikes in a "bay", which is controlled by magnetic locks. You can use a docking station key (which is bought online) or your credit card to rent a bike. A coworker of mine had a key which I could use, and gives me 45 minutes of free bike time per use. I would suggest watching a video on how to dock and unlock a CitiBike:

Docking stations are pretty convenient, and there's an app which you can download which shows you the closest docking station. Most of them seem to be within a 4 block walk of each other, so the city is canvassed with these docking stations, making them fairly easy to find (more on this later).

The city also has tons of bike lanes. If you were to be a frequent reader of another local blog in town that hates bike lanes & bike sharing & anything that Dawn Zimmer does (she could cure cancer, and they would still fault her for not curing Parkinsons) - but I know that bike lanes are important and should be enforced and respected (especially after testing them).

So, what do we know? It's easy to rent them. There's a bunch of docking stations. Bike lanes make it easy to navigate the city streets. I have a cute French Bulldog named Rocco (how did this get in there? -editor)

And the one key thing that makes it great: It "opens" up the city.

What does that mean? Opens up the city. Well, let me tell you.

I work in a great part of the city called the West Village. It's picturesque. The city that you mostly see on Hollywood TV (they film here every week for TV shows like "Person of Interest" and "Elementary"). Lots of cute boutiques, stores and restaurants but a significant lack of "lunch spots". It was a trillion times worse about 6 years ago, and it has gotten better, with new places opening up, but there was a time in which you had three choices for lunch within a 10 minute walk: a deli, Chinese food, Indian food, or McDonalds. That's it. Often we were told by delivery people we were too far away and they won't deliver to us.

Today it's not so bad, but we are still a bit off the beaten path. One day last week I said, "We should get Shake Shack."

"Too far to walk. And they don't deliver.", the Chorus from work said back.

"We should use the CitiBike. I'm sure I could ride there in less then 10 minutes from here.", I replied.

"If YOU are going to ride there, we are in!", they cheerfully replied.

And so began my experiment as a delivery guy. My co-worker gave me his CitiBike "Key", and my nearest docking station was three blocks away. I had a few problems with the key at first - I didn't understand which way to insert it (begin jokes here) & once unlocked, I found using the bike lane a bit troublesome with very crowded cross-streets (like at Houston & West Side Highway) - people basically ignored the bike lane, and its a bit like playing "Frogger" on a bike. Not for the meek.

Since when am I meek? I was able do work my way across (Out of my way people! I have a package to deliver!) - zipped down the West Street Highway bike path (its a dream!), and then docked my bike at the Battery Park Ferry. Two block walk to Shake Shack. Ordered food, went back to the docking station. I strapped down my bag full of burgers on the front of the bike which had a very handy basket with a bungee cord attachment to hold small bags in place:
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Back to work & we were happily munching on Shake Shack burgers for lunch. Total time was 10 minutes to bike there each way, and 10 minutes to order. Plus it was a nice day outside, and it was fun to get off the desk.

While we were basking in a post-burger glow, a co-worker said, "This was great. Next week - you gotta get us Katz's Deli with a CitiBike."

Challenge accepted!

I mapped out my route that I needed to ride & where I could dock my bike near Katz's. Rode down Bleeker Street which was really simple...until I got to Bowery Street. For those who don't know Bowery Street is a major New York thorofare like Broadway or Canal Street, but not like a "highway" like West Street or FDR drive (you wouldn't have a bike on here, anyhow). Things got a bit more tricky on these roads just due to the amount of traffic and the general disdain by these driver for people on bikes. You could feel their seething wrath for pedestrains, bike, small children and adorable French Bulldogs that have 6500 fans on Facebook (What's with the bulldog reference?? -editor).

More of a minor issue than a major one, but when planning to ride around the city its not a bad idea to stay off the major roads, in my humble opinion. I have watched enough reddit videos from China, India and Russia on what happened to motorcycles & bikes versus tractor trailers & trucks.

I did run into my first issue at Katz's Deli - empty docking stations. The problem with the popularity of the CitiBike is its success. After I dropped off my bike at a completely empty docking station, went to the deli & returned in 10 minutes, the bike was rented by someone else. Using my iPhone app, the cloeset station with free bikes was at least 8 blocks away (a station was 4 blocks away, but empty & a second station was 4 blocks away in the opposite direction I was going with one bike. I didn't want to risk walking there to find it empty - so I walked 8 blocks to the next free station).

I rode back to work, and my docking station had 2 free spots. Not a big deal, but the other problem are areas that have no free spots at a docking station - and you have to find a free spot to park. Like I wrote, most stations are 4 blocks from each other so finding a free spot shouldn't be TOO difficult. I think in the future the people who manage CitiBikes will figure out where to add more docking stations or bikes to offset this problem, depending on usage.

But - we had our Pastrami on Rye's and I had my Turkey Rachel. Co-workers were excited and the security guards eyes bugged out when they saw me walk in with a Katz's Deli bag - and pleaded with me to let them order, too, next time.

On a side note, if you check seamless.com or delivery.com for delivery - they can charge you $20 per delivery & you have to order $75 worth of food to get Katz's delivered to you. Hell, you could take a taxi for $10 each way. The bike is a much cheaper alternative to taking a taxi. I didn't find that it made me too sweaty (however, I would not recommend wearing anything other than casual clothes), but my heart rate did jump a bit versus walking.

I'm signing up today for the annual pass. Even if I don't live in the city, I have often found myself looking to walk to places that were within the 10-20 block radius, which is too short for a taxi and too far for an easy walk - just grab a CitiBike to get around for now on.

Now if only Hoboken's bike share was THIS easy...

I was reading this article today.

"At some point, we will become a gun-safe, and then a gun-sane, and finally a gun-free society."

Jefferson wrote: "What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?"


The problem we run into is if you take all the guns away from the citizens what would stop a government from, in the future, slowly stripping away other rights until the day comes in which it is no longer a Democratic institution but a benevolent Oligarchy? It no longer fears the people could rise up and revolt, because they no longer have guns. "We can protest" people will say, and they will roll tanks into the squares to crush the opposition.

Absurd, right?

Tell that to the Chinese and the Tienanmen Square revolt for Democracy that didn't go so well. Tell that to the Syrians who are being slaughtered by a government that out guns them. We were a country born of revolt from a King that sought to oppress us.

The 2nd amendment is read like this:
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

It means nothing about militia owning guns. It uses the militia as context here. Its recognizing that a militia is important FOR a free state, and the key is the COMMA - the pause to say "Hey we know militias are important BUT..."

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall NOT be infringed.

That's it. We can squabble about what exactly the arms the forefathers envisioned, but at the time people could own the same guns that were given to military troops. Re-read what I wrote about Jefferson and keeping the government in check.

You give the government all the power - be careful what you wish for.

I remember reading a Facebook update from a friend last Friday who said, "I may not be a weatherman, but I guarantee you by Monday this "Sandy" will be a non-event."

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I kept thinking about that update for the last few days while I was trapped in my 8 floor condo, surrounded by 4 feet of water on all sides. Our condo is the Jefferson Trust located on Newark between Willow & Clinton. It's about 100 units, and we had about 30-40 people in the building during the storm. Families were there - about 6 kids and two newborn twins. Probably about 7 dogs, too.

We didn't lose power until 2:30am on Tuesday. We woke that day to no power, flood waters surrounding the building, and only a small patch of dry land at the service entrance behind our building. We were, for lack of a better word, "trapped". Our only saving grace was a natural-gas generator that was built at the same time as our building was in 1985. We tested it monthly, and it runs perfectly. It wasn't enough to power our individual units, but we had power to our hallway lights and stairwells.

On Tuesday morning we spent the day staring at the looming water levels from the entrance of our building. We watched the water levels rise together. Then, someone showed up with a six pack of beer - and offered me one. Then another resident showed up with a carton of wine and a few empty cups. Pretty soon, we were having ourselves a little party when someone hooked up their iPod to some speakers.

We were really just making the best of a bad situation. We couldn't get out - no one had waist high waders. Plus only an idiot would wade into water that deep not knowing if a downed power line or you could step on something sharp.

Eventually, one ground floor resident said, "Hey, I have a gas grill." and what started as a few drinks among friends turned into an impromptu BBQ. Everyone cleaned out their power-less refrigerators (we reasoned it was going to spoil anyhow) and started to grill up all sorts of food - steak, chicken and ribs. Everyone was sharing. I had made fresh home made brownies the night before the storm, and ran up to my apartment sliced them up, added toothpicks and started to serve them along side of a few bottles of wine I had purchased at Sparrow Wine a few days before the party. It was really something to behold - a community coming together, sharing what provisions they have with each other. It was fun, most of us really don't know each other - it's the funny thing about life up around the New York City area we are all packed together and mostly mind our own business. I know other dog owners in the building because we have a common interest - our dogs. But most of the building are strangers to me.

Wednesday rolled around and we were still trapped by the floodwaters. Someone discovered that our generator that was powering the hallway lights had electric rooms on the 4th and 7th floors which had power outlets! We procured a power strip and were able to charge our cell phones, make a pot of coffee and someone even hooked up a slow cooker and started to make a vegetable dish made with peas, corn, and other ingredients.

Signs went up at the lobby "6pm! Community Dinner! Cell phone charging & free coffee on the 4th floor!", it was, for lack of a better word...kind of fun. I mean, we didn't have power in our individual units and I was bored out of my mind. I was reading "The Walking Dead Compendium" a bit on Tuesday. Watched some old Dr. Who videos on Wednesday on my iPad. But I didn't have cell phone access or internet or TV. There wasn't much to do.

By Wednesday afternoon the water level receded to the point where I could wear my new Hunter boots (I bought them for The Hunt 2012 with The Turtle Club) - and figured that the waters were safe now to wade into - I saw others going up First Street, and if a power line was down, it would have zapped them first. I slapped my boots on, with Rocco looking at me with a "Is it time for a walk?" and left him behind to brave a journey to Washington Street.

Now you have to understand by this time it was 11am, and since we lost power my AT&T connection was down unless I went to the 8th floor of our building to get a signal. I had no idea that all of Hoboken was without power. I just thought it was our section of town. Walking around it was like a dream/nightmare/surreal experience. I couldn't believe that everything was off. I figured that Washington Street would at least have power - and I was so hoping to just find a place where I could get a hot cup of coffee.

Walked a bit, ran into some people I knew, talked a little. Wandered a bit more, hoping to find that elusive cup of coffee, and saw a small line of people outside Benny Tudino's. Someone then walked out of Benny's with a pizza box and I saw Brendan Mooney from my Eagles Club (The Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken, which I founded in 2004), I said hello to him, see how he was doing and quickly took my place in line.

I waited about 30 minutes and got to the front of the line. It seems that Benny's ovens were powered by natural gas, so while they didn't have power, they could heat the ovens. They weren't taking credit cards, it was cash only. Each slice was $3. Oh, and you can't buy them 1 slice at a time, you buy a "box" of three slices...which costs $9. Oh...and we don't have change so it's $10 if you don't have $9.

Yes, Benny Tudino's ladies and gentlemen. No, they didn't have to be open, and I was grateful to get a slice of warm pizza from people who didn't have to be making me a slice. Some people will take the side of Benny here and others will call this price gouging. You decide for yourself - i'm just the guy telling the story.

I grabbed 6 slices for $20 and left, carrying the pizza back to Jefferson Trust. People asked me along the way where I got pizza. I told them. Then started to wade back into the water at 1st street with my pizza boxes. A reporter from WCBS 880 caught up to me. He started to interview me about the pizza and where I was going. We talked for about 5 minutes, and I made jokes about surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Not sure if that ever got on the radio, but he said that I would be a hero when I got back to my building.

And you know what...I went up to my apartment, and gobbled down a slice for myself - and then sliced up the rest of the pizza into strips. Went to the lobby and handed it out to residents who were walking around and didn't have boots to get out. Everyone was grateful and it made me feel good to watch them say, "Pizza?!"

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Later Wednesday around 6 PM we had our community dinner. The water levels receded to a point where most everyone could "get out" but there was a curfew in effect and most everyone stuck around. Once again it was neighbors, who really didn't know each other, emptying out what they had and making the best of the situation. The slow cooker on the 4th floor made a BIG pot of cooked veggies, in a curry broth - and we had hot white rice along with it. Burgers, dogs, chicken wings, sausages - at least 10 bottles of wine, and two bottles of port were out there. Kids (and even a dog) were dressed in Halloween Costumes and I brought a Jack-O-Lantern that I carved earlier in the day.

Little did I know that Anderson Cooper was reporting 100 feet away from our party on Newark and Clinton that same night! If I only knew, he would have had one of the best stories ever to report on Halloween during the Sandy aftermath. It was the real tale of good people during a bad storm - about residents coming together as neighbors, friends and a community in Hoboken, to pool their resources, feed each other, share wine and break bread. It made me proud to watch it - and also I SO wanted others to see this. See this organic thing just come together, out of a tragic situation - and proud to be from New Jersey.

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Thursday I woke up at 7am and took a taxi to 14th street ferry. From 14th street I took the ferry to 39th street and then a taxi to my office at Houston and West Side Highway. They were on generator power, and it was amazing to see how bad lower Manhattan was - everything was powered off like Hoboken. I worked that day and it wasn't too bad - I was happy to be back at work doing something - and they even provided us free food (they normally have chips, soda, pretzels, etc) - and I wolfed down big plates of pasta and bread - very grateful to have a hot meal. I didn't know if going home Thursday night what I was going to do about dinner, and sleeping that night was going to be rough without heat or hot water.

Going home, I walked from 14th street ferry home wearing a head-lamp that I normally use on camping trips with the guys who do Team Hike. I saw all the power was still out, and saw a few places here-and-there that had power. I rounded the way off Washington to Newark and saw Jefferson Trust in the distance. I first thought, "Hey I can see the candles from here..." and then realized as I got closer that my neighbors lights were on! They had power!! I started to cry. I know that sounds stupid, but yeah I was walking towards my house and tears were welling up in my eyes because I knew I wasn't going to go to sleep cold tonight and that I could take a warm shower before work on Friday. I got into my apartment, flipped on all the fuses and hugged Rocco, who really had no idea why I was hugging him - but he was cool about it.

Maybe it's luck that we got our power back. I'd like to think it was a little bit of good karma Fate tapping Jefferson Trust on the shoulder and saying, "Good job, here's one back for you."

Whatever it was, i'll take it. I originally planned to head out this weekend to my mom's, and I see a lot of people have evacuated Hoboken - which makes sense if they don't have power. But what I would say if you DO have power - stick around. Lend a hand. Maybe make a warm pot of coffee for a neighbor who has none. My friend Chris Halleron has been making charging stations out of front of his house when he's not busy chasing down reporters from The Wall Street Journal or The Irish Times to give out his "everyman quotes". Nice job there, Chris.

Anyhow. November Thanksgiving just came a few weeks early. I'm sure most of you will feel the same way as I do when the power comes back on for you and if there's anything you need - don't hesitate to email me.

You'll Be Fine!

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As you can tell I haven't been updating the blog much anymore.

Honestly, there are multiple reasons. I would say the #1 reason is Facebook. Often I just find myself writing on there. Other reasons are various. For example, living alone means I have less and less source material (read: roommates!) to write about. Plus, i'm getting older and felt like I wrote about most of what I wanted to write about because the site was a "Meme" - it started when my dad died eight years ago.

I think I got my voice out there. I think I wrote some pretty interesting entries, and a whole lot of boring ones. But that was the point - to write. I don't think this is the end for me and my writing, but things have been slow lately. I figure I should maybe sign off with one last entry.

Most of my readers really respond when I talk about myself and my life. I never wrote this blog to pump myself up, often many entries were about how I failed. One entry I wrote six years ago titled, "Is it better loved and lost than to not be loved at all?"

Well, "Jill" is back.

I can't go into many details. She had her path for the last six years. I had my path. Just turns out that our paths might be coming back together. She's up this weekend for a visit. Staying over for a few nights, and I plan to take her out in the city and have some fun. The kind of fun I haven't had in a long time, as the perennial single guy. Plan on checking out "The Book Of Mormon" on Saturday. Comedy club that night. Then some sushi in NYC. Maybe hit Bradley Beach on Sunday and relax.

It's been a while since we dated. I'm cautiously optimistic. I'll take it one step at a time. In the back of my mind I can hear my Dad. He used to say, "You'll be fine!" to me. Like if I were nervous about passing a test or learning how to drive. That was his calm, assuring mantra.

I'm just looking forward to a nice weekend. What happens from there...who knows?

Top 5 Tips From An Office Drone

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Well, i'm 40. The big 4-oh. It's been fun in Hoboken all these years, but now that I look back on my time here, and my time at "Corporation X" (the company we don't speak about), I will over some vague advice to the Class of 2012 and how to get far in this world...as a drone.

Yes. I know 2012. You are going to go out a conquer the world! Trailblazers! Write the "Great American Novel". See the WORLD. Own your own company. Be either a lawyer, a doctor, a CEO - you knew that when you were 12, living under your parents roof.

Well, congrats and good luck on that. In the meantime you may need to work in an office like the rest of the unwashed masses and do the old "9 to 6" (it's not 9 to 5 anymore, there you go that's LESSON ONE!), and while you are in the office toiling with the pathetic nobodies like me, here's my TOP 5 things you should know about working in an office.

1. Shut The Fuck Up. Now I mean this in the nicest way possible, but you need to learn from Uncle Sean here. I'm an outspoken douche at times with my friends. Sometimes they find me amusing. Sometimes it means you get unfriended on Facebook because of a municipal worker who thinks that reducing taxes is a BAD IDEA because it means less tickets to Bruce Springsteen for him and his family. I get it. You can be bold, brash and funny with your friends but let me be clear:

THIS. DOESN'T. WORK. IN. THE. OFFICE.

Oh, your co-workers will think you are a hoot. Your boss? Not so much. I'm speaking from experience, people. Keep your head down, do your work, pipe up only when asked or if you actually have a good idea tell your boss, so he can claim credit for it. He will like you for that.

2. It's Not About You. It's About Your Boss. It took me years to figure this out, and scientists in Cambridge have discovered a revolutionary new secret: "Figure out what your boss wants - and do it."

Lets imagine your job was putting together TPS reports (Testing Procedure Specification, which describes the testing procedures and the testing process). Your boss hammers you about putting the cover sheet on his TPS report:

See now this works out well with Shut The Fuck Up (STFU). What did the drone do wrong here? He should have said, "Yes, sir. I will fix that right now!"

That's it. Less headache from a boss giving you a hard time, and most importantly: Everytime you get that TPS report don't forget the cover sheet. Become the cover sheet go-to guy. Make the best damn cover sheets anyone has seen. Let Bill from the other cubicle keep making the mistake without his cover sheets and you will look like the smartest damn cover sheet maker in all the city! Will this make you the CEO someday? NO CHANCE IN HELL. But what it does mean is that you don't have anyone bothering you, which is what most office drones want. STOP BOTHERING US! LEAVE US ALONE!

3. Often, You Will Be Smarter Than Your Boss, Get Over It. There are some bosses who will be smarter than you. But more often than not if you walk into a hospital, the nurses who have been working there for 20 years are going to know more than the wet-behind-the-ears doctor who just graduated medical school. Some bosses know they have talented, smart subordinates and let us do our jobs with minimal guidance. They are great bosses, and very rare. Other ones...not so much. Your best option is just do a good job and never, ever, show up your boss. Always have his back. Never talk smack about your boss to coworkers. Why? Here's another secret:

Your coworkers talk smack about you to the boss: It's called "Character Assassination".

Because you failed to STFU, and didn't put together the TPS reports right, your coworker who does everything the boss says and keeps their head down then gets their yearly review where they proceed to tell the boss everything you said while they weren't around.

Oh, yeah. Which brings us to point number four.

4. Your Co-Workers Are Not Your Friends. Be cordial. Be friendly. You can talk sports. You can talk shopping. You can talk about how your girlfriend snores like a chainsaw. But, don't sit down and tell them about the strip club you visited or all the pot you smoked at Burning Man. If you work with people long enough you think they are your friends. Sort of like how the Stockholm hostages felt with their kidnappers. If you understand point #3 above, that your coworkers are going to back stab the fuck out of you every chance they get with your boss, then you should be able to figure out what to NOT TALK ABOUT because they will tell your boss. And this does bring me to point #5...

5. Your Co-Worker Probably Will Be Your Boss Someday. Oh, I know Trailblazer - YOU WILL BE THE BOSS! But, until that time that the CEO of the company glides down from his office and taps you on the shoulder to take over, more than likely you will have to work your way up to the top or hope that Daddy gives you a nice job as an executive. Until that time, you will be a drone like the rest of us, and more often than not you will see Susan from the cubicle around the corner, is now your boss. And she hates you because she couldn't stand you because of the jokes about why every stripper you met is "going to medical school", how all Democrats are Socialists, and that your boss is such a moron, and "you could run things better".

Bottom line is that you always want to treat your coworkers well. You never know when they will be your boss and the last thing you want is the guy who has a grudge deciding on giving you a raise next year. Or, your coworker could go to a new department and when that new team leader position opens up - who does he or she pick to take charge? Goofy Gus and his crazy stories about getting hammered with his "boyz" at Lana Lounge or Good Gus who works hard, watches his coworkers backs and is friendly to everyone?

Good luck class of 2012! I know you aren't to be like the rest of us. You are destined for greatness! But if you do end up as a corporate hack, just watching the days go by and humming "Loverboy" songs at 4pm on Fridays, then just remember my advice. Good luck!

Penny Pincher?

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Life is funny.

As I get older, I start to notice things differently. When you are a kid, or even a teenager, or even a so-called "adult" in college, you don't notice the little tricks that business owners do to fleece you from your money.

One example was a local Italian deli that I was at the other day (not Fiore's, who I love!). They were selling Boylan's soda, and I wanted to buy a orange seltzer that they had. They were making my sandwich, and I asked the cashier how much was the 12 ounce seltzer.

$2.50.

Two dollars. Fifty cents. For orange flavored seltzer water. Normally I don't care. But I started to think about it. I mean, really? It costs THAT much? I was expecting maybe $1.25, at the most. Frustrated, I put the water back into the fridge. It really wasn't the PRICE but to me it was just absurd they would charge that much for such a tiny drink. Instead I walked a few blocks on my way home with my hero, and stopped in a local bodega, bought a can plain seltzer (not Boylan's) for $.85 cents. I'll spend my $1.65 somewhere else.

Another example.

I work out at the CrossFit. Often, I will grab a bottle of the 23 ounce Poland Spring sport bottle at a deli. They charge me $1.75 for a bottle. I don't really think about it until I looked at FreshDirect, and they charge $12.69 for 24 bottles: $.52 per bottle! I ordered two cases of those and keep them in my fridge. Insane in the membrane! Insane in the brain!

A third example:

Coffee. I drink coffee in the morning at work, and now that I embraced more Paleo-style eating, I drink it black. I used to HATE black coffee, until I realized that Dunkin Donuts coffee is woefully average. You don't realize this until you stop pouring cream and sugar all over it. Bottom line is that a cup of coffee now is $3.25 for a large cup at my local NYC Dunkin Donuts. Instead I started making my own coffee, with my french press, and even buying "cheap" Costa Rica or Puerto Rico coffee at $7 for a 1/2 pound. It's fantastic. I bring it to work in a 16 ounce Thermos. I can make about 15 thermoses of coffee, or 3 business weeks. If I bought Dunkin everyday - that's $45 bucks. My way? $7, plus whatever electric costs i'm paying to boil water.

This isn't some new concept. The idea that you can save money buying in bulk isn't something novel. But here's my "million dollar idea" that does with what I wrote.

Now there are other apps out there that allow you to scan barcodes & find the lowest price on the web. But think of it more like how FourSquare works. Lets say you go to a local deli, and know that cans of Coke are $.75 cents. You enter that into the FourSquare app. It uploads it. Everyone using FourSquare if they look for Coke, know that XYZ deli sells Coke at $.75 each. Now taking it further, imagine all the bodegas in town were linked that way, by manual entries by the users. Aside from the obvious ways it could be manipulated, you could have a map of where you can buy food or drinks.

Now I know some of you aren't going to walk 7 blocks to save $1. But, lets say next door to that Italian Deli uptown I knew there was a bodega which sold the same exact Boylan soda for $1.25. I think most people would do exactly the same thing as me. You could do the same for beer. Lets say you wanted to know the cheapest place in town to buy a 6-pack. Or maybe a bottle of Grey Goose. Most places I know (aside from specials) pretty much keep the same price of their liquor or beer.

A good example was Hoboken Vine versus [left blank on purpose]. I would go to LBOP to pick up a 6 pack of Corona. Cost? $12. Then one day i'm in Hoboken Vine, which is 2 blocks away from my house and Corona six pack was $9. Why would I ever go to LBOP again? Even other things at Hoboken Vine were cheaper, like Grey Goose or Ketel One.

At the end of the day, you just start to notice this. There has to be a way that social media needs to combine with SAP-style inventory. An easy way for consumers or business owners to scan inventory and let the world know. Stopping popular businesses to gouge the consumers because they either don't know (or don't care) about it. There has to be a better way.

Scotch, Scotch, Scotch...

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A long time ago I wrote a little ditty called "What Your Drink Says About You In Hoboken".

My entry about scotch was: "The Alpha Alcoholics. All other drunks tremble in their presence. I pee in my pants a little when a customer orders it."

Yes, I am now a scotch drinker. Fear me.

Interestingly enough, I have tried quite a few scotches over the years, and still have a lot more to try, but I just wanted to write a little bit about what I have tried, and my suggestions to the budding Don Drapers of the world on what I would suggest trying if you wanted to finally stop drinking your fruity drinks and man up. Plus, since I have been doing the Paleo Diet, I have been trying to figure out lower carb ways to get drunk. Scotch works well.

What scotch I like and what others like will vary. For example, I don't like very peaty scotches. A 'peaty scotch' is one that has a strong smoky flavor. Also I prefer scotches that are a bit more sweet. Lastly, a note about ice. The purist scotch drinker will tell you that ice has no place in a scotch drink. That's their perogative. I'm sure they drink their coffee black and their steak rare. They like to wear kilts on St. Patrick's Day and think that scaling Mt. Everest is a lifelong dream. The purists will never wear white after Labor Day and...well you get the idea. My attitude is that you drink your scotch how you like it and anyone that tells you different should go fuck themselves.

If someone were to say to me, "Sean, I want to try scotch", the following would be the first three I would suggest based on two factors. One, drinkability. Two, price. I'm not going to suggest someone new to scotch to run out and buy a $185 bottle, unless they want to invite me over and try it together, then you know where to reach me.

Macallan 12: It's bronze color and smooth finish make it a fantastic drink to look at and taste. Once you start drinking this you understand what Frank Sinatra meant when he said, "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day."

Oban 14: It's a pale golden color and has a slightly smoky flavor, along with a sweet edge to it. Easily one of my favorite scotches, and is perfect to drink on it's own, while meeting with the Mohawk Airlines sales reps and trying to close the deal (that's for you Mad Men fans).

The Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year Old: Created first with a traditional oak cask and then matured in a sherry cask. The doublewood can be a bit rough at first, but I have found for the price, and with a few cubes of ice it's a nice entry level scotch.

OK, so lets say you tried my three entry levels and are ready to advance to Level Two Scotchaholic. Of course with Level Two, it means you will be spending a bit more money, but hopefully not going crazy, but also getting into scotches that you probably want to have after a nice big steak from Raoul's or The Strip House. You probably will see a pattern to my choices, with Macallan on the next list. Why? Well, because it's simply the scotch you can't go wrong with. Sort of like pizza. Yes, there is terrible pizza in the world, but most pizza places can make a fairly eatable pie. If they can't - they won't be in business for very long. Same is true in a way for Macallan, it's just the one scotch you really can't fuck up.

Anyhow, here's the next three I would suggest:

The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Years Old: The 15 year old Fine Oak matures in bourbon and sherry oak casks, which creates "lingering finish with hints of awesome, sexual prowess and manliness." I would suggest having one of these and then going to hit on the waitress or stewardess. You know that is what Don would do.

The Macallan Fine Oak 17 Years Old: What? Its only 2 years older than the 15, so it must be exactly the same! No, not really. There's a definite difference here, and if you can find it for around $100 a bottle, it's worth it.

The Macallan 18 Years Old: Fantastic scotch. Really great if you can find a bottle for less than $150. Really something you should reserve for special occasions. I would rather save $50 and drink a Macallan Fine Oak 17. But i'd rather drink this over Johnny Walker Blue any day of the week.

Also if you find yourself in an airport, look for the Macallan 1824 scotches. They are only available in Duty Free stores, and are outstanding. Plus they are a full liter instead of 750ml. I got to try the 15 year old Macallan 1824 "Select Oak" which cost £42. There's also the "Whisky Maker's Edition" for £64 and "Estate Reserve" at £117, which i'd like to try one day.

Does this cover all the scotches? No way. I have tried many others and didn't list them. Like Johnny Walker Blue. Is it worth $200? Not even close. Would I drink it again? Absolutely, it's quite a good blended single malt. I'd just rather spend money on other scotches.

Week 6 on Paleo - Is Crossfit A Cult?

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So far so good. Things in the last week were a bit more 'routine' with my diet. I did a lot of the same meals, and wasn't as creative. Kept it to the basics. Steak, chicken, fish. With a vegggie or sweet potato side. But to my credit, been chugging along on the diet. My first and only "cheat" was last Saturday night. It was my birthday. I figured I was good for 33 days, and could afford the luxury of...ICE CREAM.

I went to Marea with my family. It was out of this world good. I have been to a lot of great restaurants over the year, but this one takes the cake.

I actually was pretty paleo friendly ordering the fixed price meal there and getting a fish appetizer (and nearly choking on a fish bone) and having the steak for dinner (normally I wouldn't order a steak at a seafood restaurant, but this sirloin was highly recommended - and best I have had in years!).

But didn't stay so paleo with my fusili with octopus and bone marrow.

And then brown sugar gelato covered in rum & espresso. Heavenly. It was

Once a year, it's a birthday. Gotta celebrate. It was quite enjoyable and felt like a nice reward for myself after sticking to the diet. My weight is down to 212 today. Jeans fit very loose and I need a new belt.

Not sure how my weight I need to lose now, really. Being around 210 would be my ideal weight. The Paleo Challenge ends on Feb 22, so I have about 8 more days of staying on the plan.

Crossfit is good. A friend of mine posted this article on my wall, "Inside the Cult of CrossFit". It was a reprint of another article from Men's Fitness back in October 2011.

It's 'somewhat' fair article but sensationalizes the Crossfit a bit. To me, Crossfit is kind of like joining a sport. You have a group of people who work out together to get stronger at what they are doing. If anyone played an organized sport they would recognize this. I was in crew in high school and I remember running up and down stairs until I was ready to throw up. I remember running track and my legs would be wobbly, you run until your lungs were burning.

Somehow...the author equates Crossfit to a cult. That's a bit absurd. It's no more a cult than your local high school football or basketball team is a cult.

I think people get so amped up about CrossFit because (like he wrote) it fun to be back in great shape. You want to spread the word, and say, "This works! Try it!" - so you try to tell your friends about it, and are enthusiastic about getting your friends to join.

Like anything else, you get what you put into it. And if you go overboard in any sport you can hurt yourself. So I listen to my body, record my workouts and the next time I try a workout see if I can do better. The whole "NO PAIN NO GAIN" thing that the writer tries to make the reader believe is bullshit (at least in my opinion). Certainly people push themselves, and people do get hurt, but I think that would be true in any sport - Crossfit is the sport of fitness. Every class is led by an instructor, who is often watching what you are doing and offering advice on how to do it better.

I think the big issue I have with anyone working out or if they are trying to lose weight is "overtraining". People go overboard with exercise in the desire to gain muscle or lose weight. That's the quickest way to hurt yourself. Crossfit is no exception, and the author's examples in his article about Crossfit are examples of people who have no idea what they are doing, and this could have happened to anyone playing any organize sport - or working out on their own.

Crossfit to some is a "fad". Most people who say that never tried it and simply don't know what they are talking about. I definitely encourage anyone to try the free class in Hoboken which is on Wednesday night or Saturday night.

Comments or Questions? Email me! Philly2hoboken {at} gmail.

I told friends I started the diet for two reasons. One, I felt like my old diet plan was good, but most of my weight stabilized, and I wasn't really losing or gaining weight. Two, I wanted to see if there was a major difference in my Crossfit gains while working out.

Now, I did ramp up my Crossfit a lot. I went from 3-4 days a week to 5 days a week. Now each class is 'only' 45 minutes, and we focus on various muscle groups that each class is basically unique. So i'm hitting all body parts, rarely repeating exercises and some days we are doing strength and some days we are doing conditioning. It's good and I like it - plus I am seeing decent, if not grand improvements in my strength and conditioning.

The Paleo for the last week, I am starting to hit a slight rut with my cooking. When I first started I was excited to try new recipes. Now, I get home from the gym and want to eat without having to cook for very long. Most of my dishes take at least 30 minutes prep time and cook time, if not longer - especially if I forgot an ingredient, like i'm missing a certain spice, herb or vegetable.

Oh, here's my million dollar idea, after cooking Paleo for a month. Someone needs to come up with a compact spice line (similar to this - but maybe smaller and more choices for the random spices, so you have 30 spices available, not 15. Also the ability to change names on the bottles). Most spices, like that from FreshDirect or in your local store, are in 8 ounce bottles, or a 1/2 cup. I don't know about the rest of the world, but I have spices in my spice rack which could be over 3+ years old. I'm not talking Oregano or Basil, but the random spices for the "one time I made this dish..." kind of spices like saffron or cumin.

Spices aren't that expensive, really, at $3 for basil or oregano. Maybe more 'exotic' ones can be $4-5. I know saffron can be ridiculously expensive.

You know what the problem is? Not the price - but the size. Wouldn't it be nice to have a whole spice rack, compact, that costs $1 per spice, each in a glass vial about 3-4 ounces? Certainly you can get larger, more commonly used spices if you wish. My spice cabinet is overflowing with spices and often finding the coriander or chili powder involves me taking out about 10 different spices before I can find it.

My idea would be a compact spice rack, with small vials (like test tubes, and lids) of each ingredient, and keep the price low, but the quality high (from packaging to content). I would surmise these are your 15 "basic spices" that every chef should have on hand.

15 spices - $15 dollars instead of paying $50-60. Plus every year you could replace your whole spice cabinet for $15 to have fresh spices on hand every year. Most people agree that ground (not while) spices should be replaced every 6 to 24 months, and will lose flavor after six months.

So think about your marketing. You are selling the idea that you will always have on hand fresh spices, at a low cost, and market it online. Plus, once someone buys your bottle packaging, you can just sell them the spices in a plastic bag, which they can just refill into your special, well crafted bottles.

The only problem would be getting the word out and marketing it. There's lots of places to buy spices online. The key would be figuring out a way to distinguish yourself from the pack. I would think that Fresh Direct could do something like that....now only if I had a contact over there...

Back to Paleo...

I think it's a good diet, and easily do-able by anyone. The key is being prepared. The second key is getting rid of any 'cheat' foods you have in your home. Paleo makes a big deal about rice, wheat, beans and sugar as the 'bad foods' to avoid. It's nearly impossible to avoid them when you want something fast and on the go. We talk about sugar being the reason why our society is so overweight, but we have to think that empty carbs from wheat and other sources have to come into play here. Plus the explosion of gluten & celiac diseases certainly lends credibility to this.

The problem is just convenience to preparing and eating. But i think that's true for any diet, and not just Paleo.

For those keeping score at home, i'm down to 213 pounds. 4 weeks and 8 pounds, about 2 pounds a week, so I think that's healthy. My jeans are fitting great, and starting to see serious ab definition. I'm thinking I should be 210 by the end of this. Anyone getting married in 6 weeks and you need to lose 12 pounds (the healthy way?)?

PC completed! Paleo Begins!

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My adventure in building a PC went fairly well. I ran into a few minor issues:

1. I bought everything to build the PC and forgot to buy a power supply. Oops! That set me back some $$ and a few days of waiting for it to be delivered.
2. I didn't buy a bracket for my SSD hard drive, and had to order that for delivery this week. A SSD hard drive is a Solid State Hard Drive, which is commonly used in notebook computers. Desktop users are buying them now, because they are faster than traditional hard drives. I put my Windows 7 operating system on the SSD drive, and my computer boots in about 15-20 seconds like a laptop. My old PC would be about double that speed. The SSD drive is basically wedged in my case at the moment, but it's no big deal.

Otherwise, building the PC was a lot easier than I expected. The only two difficult parts was attaching a heat sink to my processor, which wasn't hard, but nerve wracking applying thermal paste to my processor. The other difficult part was connecting up the wires in the case (LED lights, Boot button, Reset Button, Sound) to the connectors on the motherboard. I had barely any guidance aside from basic pictures included with the motherboard and i'm frankly shocked that my logical guesses were correct.

Otherwise, loading Windows 7 was extremely easy. Updating all my driver software was quick. I'm a guy who has been tinkering with PCs since 1986 and my memories are about how nightmarish it used to be. We definitely have come a long way since then. I don't know if i'd recommend this to anyone to try, you certainly need to have patience and a bit of computer/electronics know how. During lots of my build I have my iPad out and searching the web for answers or videos on "How to..." do something.

Aside from that, my Paleo journey begins today. I had all the food delivered on Sunday by FreshDirect. I woke up today, had a breakfast of 4 eggs, raw almonds and blue berries. Last night I cooked up chicken fajitas (chicken, onions, peppers, cumin, oregano, chili powder), and have a side salad of that ready today of lettuce & plum tomato. In my old diets it had me eating every 3 hours, which was a bit of work. I'm being told to just eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and if i'm struggling I can have a paleo snack at 3pm (I might have an apple or orange today at 3pm).

I'm cutting out all sugar, including any fake sugars like Splenda. I have done this before, and found that after a week without sugar, your tastebuds explode. Everything tastes better. I'm looking forward to that, because i'm already without my morning coffee and I can feel it. Ha ha.

I'll update here on my progress. Interesting enough is that my birthday is coming up on Feb 12, and my family and I plan to go out on Feb 11th or Feb 18th to celebrate. That will be Day 33 / Day 40 out of 45 of the 'diet'. Long way to go, but I wanted to stick to this at 100%, but I guess I can have a cheat meal by then...

I'm Building A PC

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For years i'd usually upgrade my PC to the 'latest and greatest' PC every three years or so. I was one of the first people to have an Alienware (before Dell bought them), then I bought an Dell XPS, and in my latest search, I decided to go a different route.

I was comparing various PCs at Ibuypower.com and similar "gaming PC" sites. The drive to get a new PC was the result of various different reasons:

1. I wanted to play the latest games like Skyrim, Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic on a PC that wasn't behind on the times.
2. I now have the option to "work from home", where I can tunnel into my office network and access everything from my home PC. It works great, but at home I only have one 23" monitor, whereas at work I have four 19" monitors on my desk (yes, we need it). I wanted to get a new video card for my PC that could support multiple monitors.
3. I wanted to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, but in order to do so - I have to basically delete my entire hard drive and start over. That means I have to move all my critical documents and pictures around and hope I don't forget about anything.
4. I also wanted to be able to watch MLB.com baseball on my PC while I surfed the web or played PC games. During summer, I get the MLB.com package so I can watch baseball, which is excellent, but that's the only thing I can do on my PC, unless I ran it in a small window. Getting a new PC with more than one video port on the video card would allow me to do this.

Money has been really tight lately, thanks to our economy and the fact that I have hungry, hungry hippo Rocco which takes a bite out of my paycheck from his Vet visits, food and "doggie daycare". I was once paying $300 a month on dog walks & doggie daycare alone for him!

When I talked (online) to some friends about getting a new PC, many of them suggested that instead of buying a new PC, I should build one. I work in an industry in which i'm around computer hardware all day - part of me didn't want to have to 'deal' with trying to build a PC. Building a PC is more than just slapping cables together and creating a finished product. It was a bit time consuming, and there was a lot of room for failure there.

But, part of me wanted to try it. It was a bit of a challenge, and this is something I should learn to do. Also when you buy a PC from Dell or other manufacturers you don't really get the 'high end' components. For example, you may get a PC with a Intel i5 or i7 chip, but sometimes there can be large differences in the processor speed, cores and chipset if you aren't careful. Plus the motherboard or RAM could be low grade or the video card is from a so-so manufacturer.

Building your own PC you get to save the overhead costs of someone building a PC for you, choose your own components, and search the web for the best prices. I was pretty fortunate, most of what I found was on Amazon.com. I did search Newegg.com, which I love, but because I live in NJ they slap on a NJ sales tax because their shipping site is from Edison, NJ!! Plus I have to pay for shipping with Newegg.com, but with Amazon everything was free because I have Amazon Prime.

Here's what I bought, using Tom's Hardware as a guide:


  • Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K: 3.4-3.8 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache

  • Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX560 Ti 448 (2x for SLI)

  • Hard Drive 1: Crucial M4 128GB SSD

  • Hard Drive 2: Western Digital 1 TB SATA III 7200 RPM Hard Drive

  • Motherboard: MSI Z68A-GD55 (B3)

  • RAM: Corsair Memory DDR3 1600 MHz (4x4GB)

  • Tower: Cooler Master HAF ATX

  • DVD: Lite-On iHAS124-04 (Blu Ray is often used here, but I have a Blu Ray DVD player)

  • Heat Sink: Xigmatek Gaia SD1283.

Dangers of building your own PC are fairly fundamental - it it fails, you are screwed. If you have problems building it, you are on your own. This certainly will be an interesting challenge. But if you have any advice or suggestions, i'm all ears: Send me an email.

Here's What's Wrong With America: Selfish!

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After being on this planet for many a moon, I have finally figured out what's wrong with our society. It has taken me a long time, and it really isn't one single factor, but basically it does boil down to one key point:

We, as a society, are selfish.

That's it. That's the answer. Each and every one of us, are basically selfish. Being selfish morphs into many forms and examples. One of the forms that being selfish takes is lack of consideration. Here's some examples of lack of consideration:

1. How many times have you held open a door for someone? Or said "Thank You". Or said "God Bless You" when they sneeze. Then get stone cold silence from the person you were considerate towards?

2. Stand by the PATH train exit and watch how many people blatantly disregard the walk signal and walk directly into traffic. I'm not talking about your basic jaywalking (which I do, too), when the signal is red and there are no cars. I'm talking about pedestrians who walk directly into traffic and expect cars to stop for them. Then glare at the cars for nearly hitting THEM!

3. Umbrellas. Walk down the street on a rainy day. How many assholes have the golf umbrellas which can fit about 4 people under it. They walk on the sidewalk, without a care in the world, and hit people with the edges of their umbrella - and glare at the people they hit like it is THEIR fault.

4. Double parked cars, cars parked on sidewalks, cars parked in yellow zones or on corners. Even Google Maps shows cars double parked outside of Piccolo's.

You ask anyone why they do it - and it's always "someone else's fault".

If someone runs a red light, it wasn't their fault, it was because everyone else is driving too slow.

If someone double parks, it wasn't their fault -- there's no parking in town!

If someone gets a parking ticket it wasn't their fault -- it's City Hall's fault for the signs not being easily understood, even though they have been in place for 10 years.

Selfish. That's the problem. Lots of my friends have gotten married or are getting married, a great example of selfishness are seen how people adhere or disregard the traditions of marriage, depending on how it helps them.

For example, who pays for marriage?

Traditionally it was the bride's family who paid for that. How often do you see the brides splitting that cost?

Who pays for the wedding ring?

Traditionally that would be the groom. How often do you see the brides splitting that cost?

Who takes on the last name of the groom?

Traditionally brides take the grooms last name. It's symbolic. Selfless. Showing that the bride is joining the groom's family.

Now what do you see today when people get married? Brides want the groom's family to split the wedding costs & they want to keep their last names - but the groom still pays $10,000+ for a wedding ring, a tradition they like to keep in place.

Lets look at American politics.

Taxes are a big issue right now. No one wants to pay taxes. But everyone wants healthcare. Everyone wants jobs. Everyone wants social security. Everyone wants the other guy to pay for it.

Perfect example is healthcare. You have people out there who are actors or artists, and they complain that they aren't getting healthcare. But they aren't paying their fair share into taxes. They say that they "deserve healthcare - Canada or Europe does it!!"

Have you looked at Greece or Italy lately? They are beyond broke. The rest of the EU is getting dragged down because of the selfishness of their people.

Is it being selfish to ask for healthcare? No.

But it is selfish to ask for healthcare and not pay into it. I personally think every TAXPAYER should get healthcare. Isn't that fair? You pay taxes, you get something in return.

You defend our country in the Armed Forces - you get healthcare for life.

You are a senior citizen who paid taxes their whole life - you get healthcare until you die.

You are an illegal immigrant who is getting paid in cash illegally? YOU DON'T GET HEALTHCARE.

You are a "staving artist" living in SoHo who thinks they are too good to get a menial job? YOU DON'T GET HEALTHCARE.

They are the selfish ones. Taking something without giving back. To me, healthcare should be universal for everyone who is paying (or had paid) into the system. Citizens of America, with the only exemption for those in religious services.

How is this different than, say a generation ago?

Families were brought up more concerned about their neighbors than themselves. Ask not what your country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your country. Parents taught their kids right and wrong. There was 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Not "achievement ribbons" for every child. Every kid isn't going to be an astronaut or a lawyer or Michael Jordan. You can't coddle kids, tell them that they are all special, and that they can never do wrong. What you get is exactly what's wrong today: a generation of kids who are entitled brats.

A generation ago words like "Please, Thank You, Excuse Me, Sir/Ma'am" were taught to children by their parents, not something kids said while rolling their eyes. How many times are you on a crowded subway and someone blasts through the door snarling: "EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME!" because YOU are in THEIR way.

Remember a key term: It's always the other person's fault.

You can't find a job? It's someone else's fault.

You can't pay your loans? It's the credit card companies fault for making it too easy to apply.

You can't pay your mortgage? It's the governments fault you put 0% down and paid for a home you couldn't afford on your $60,000 salary.

You can't pay your student loans? It's Bush's fault for destroying the economy so I couldn't graduate with a BA in Rhetoric and make $250,000 a year starting salary at a dot com.

It's always someone else's fault. No one is allowed to take ownership of their actions. Ever. This goes back to the entitlement. Me first. I'm special. It's not about you, its only about me. Me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

Bad Sean, BAD.

Not updating the blog enough. Truth be told, I once said how Facebook would kill blogging, and in a way it's true. So much easier to quickly update my Facebook page with thoughts, blurbs and quick links.

But, I still like this old fashioned thing, so why not give you some of the updates I have written on Facebook.

So.

Well.

Um.

OK, how about how about Hertz Connect, now known as Hertz on Demand. I tried it the other day, and it was fantastically easy. I had registered earlier in the year, so already had my membership card. There's two cars right on the corner outside my condo on Newark and Clinton. Oh, quick segue...

There's a lot of people on city council who ramble incessantly about corner cars and how they take up parking spots. That's ridiculous. I was someone who parked in a garage. I paid $185 a month for that garage spot. I sold my car. So there was one free garage spot now and one less car that could be parked on the street. 400+ others like me have been doing this because of the availability of Zip car and Hertz on Demand. More people would be willing to do this if they knew better.

Deeper SEGUE...

I was on the beach last weekend (more on that later), and talking to a friend, Kara. I told her about Hertz on Demand...and she never knew the details. Didn't know the details? After all the blogging and news about Hertz on Demand and Zip Car. Yep. Didn't know that Hoboken residents who register for Corner Cars with the "HOBOKEN" keyword will receive two years of free annual membership and a $75 credit to their account. A one-time $25 registration fee is required. Just go to this site to register: http://hobokennj.org/cornercars/.

OK, back to the story, it was EASY. Register, swipe the card and if you didn't know here's a secret for you which I dread letting people know about...

Fridays Hertz on Demand has $5 per hour cars. Yep. Just go to their Facebook page and check it out. They call it "Cars of the Week", and they change it each week. Last week I rented a VW Jetta for 3 hours and it cost me $21 ($5 per hour for 3 hours and NJ has a goofy $5 tax on car rentals which affect Corner Cars. Incidentally, our own Ruben Ramos has entered legislation to make these programs exempt from it.)

I dread telling people that only because now more people will know and I will have to fight for my great car deal on Fridays!!!

I took the car out, it was a pleasure to drive. Went to the driving range in Edgewater. I'm not kidding when I said that there were 30 Asian people there and me.

Then, afterwards, I went to Trader Joe's which is about 100 yards away from the driving range, and picked up two of my favorite things from there: Trader Joe's Chicken BBQ pizza and Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches. Bad for diet, but sooo good.

OK, so that's my update today. I promise to write more. More tomorrow about what I have been up to...

Texas Arizona Version 2.0

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Living here for as long as I have, I basically have formed opinions on all the restaurants and know what I like and what I don't like. Often, I like trying new places that open up and more often than not - they get one chance with me to prove they are better than the rest.

Texas Arizona is a good example of this. It's been open for years and years, and I have probably drank there about fifteen times in my 17 years here. I ate there about two. I always found the food to be very average, and nothing to write home about. It was basic bar food, greasy and "meh".

Last Saturday I found myself walking around the area, because I just got a fantastic 90 minute massage at Body Balance 1 block away. I read something about their recent changes. Texas Arizona redesigned the bar a bit, adding a new "Craft Beer Bar" with taps to a section where there used to just be table seating. It was very impressive. 051611.jpgThey must have 250 new beers on tap or in bottle.

Remind you of anyone? Oh, that's right: Village Pourhouse. Not only did I predict that Village Pourhouse was going to raise the bar, but it appears that I have been vindicated. Texas Arizona gets it. The standard Hoboken bar with the Guinness, Coors Light, Yuengling, Sam Adams, Blue Moon and Stella isn't going to cut it anymore. As a bartender I pleaded with my bar owners to find a niche, to get more off the beaten path beers or put up a "Beer Of The Month" where a new beer is rotated into and out of circulation. There's only so much space a bar has to store beer in kegs or coolers - I get this. But clearly the discerning palate will opt to go to places like Texas Arizona or Village Pourhouse.

And it's not just about beer.

See, having a nice beer list will only get you so far. I decided, reluctantly, to order lunch at Texas Arizona. Now I say "reluctantly" because I have ate here in the past and remembered the food basically sucking. But I figured that they couldn't screw up a grilled chicken BLT too much while I sampled a few IPA's from their list (tried Flying Dog Raging Bitch IPA & Nectar IPA, both were very tasty).

I was served my food in about five minutes. It was Saturday, and there were about 25 people in the bar, but I was a bit shocked at how fast I was served.

To my surprise, the sandwich was quite good. Chicken is chicken. It's hard to screw up grilled chicken. What makes a sandwich, to me, is the roll and what's inside. The roll was soft and flavorful. The lettuce and tomato clearly were fresh, they weren't sitting in a fridge and limply added to the roll. The bacon, crisp, as I love it. The kicker was the chipotle mayo. Really made the sandwich complete. Even as I write this now I want to eat another one.

The bartender, Greg, was there patiently explaining to me the beers that were on tap. He was a bit reserved at first, but I kept pestering him with questions and being the only person at his bar, he started to warm up a bit by the end. He told me that they replaced their chef a few months back, and nodded in agreement that the food, at one time, wasn't very good at the bar (he worked there for six years). Greg also noted that the bar made other internal staffing changes and is very much actively trying to improve themselves.

One lunch won't make me a convert, but it's certainly a good start for a bar that I once written off my list of places to eat. My only concern about Texas is that the menu is a bit...basic. They have the standard burgers, wings, quesadillas, sandwiches, etc...

I told the bartender, Greg, that they found a niche with the beer, they need to find a niche with their menu. If they are "Texas Arizona" shouldn't they do Tex-Mex or BBQ? Name one good BBQ place in all of Hoboken (Joey's BBQ is closing)? You can't. Something to think about if they want to distinguish their bar food over the rest of the bars here in town.

Bottom line is that if you have tried Texas Arizona in the past, you may want to try "Texas Arizona Version 2.0" - it's not the old tired bar it used to be. Looks like not only do they have one of the best locations in town to watch "The Parade", but now they have some of the best beer and food, too.

Baby Steps

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I couldn't find the Baby Steps video from What About Bob, but here's another great scene from an underrated movie:

Baby Steps.

Seems life is all about baby steps. If you didn't watch "What About Bob", it's about making small changes in your life towards an eventual goal.

One of those steps for me is my diet and working out.

I wrote previously about starting Crossfit, and now I have finished seven weeks, starting around the beginning of March. I first was going twice a week, it was all my body could handle. I recently upped to three times a week.

I'm still learning. Every class. It's hard. One of the things that I didn't like about lifting & working out was that we all get into a routine. I passed by an Equinox this morning and watched the people on the elliptical machines sweating it up, but they were like little robots. Same motion. Just swing the legs. Sweat the calories. Not getting stronger, and maybe losing weight if they do it for a long enough time.

I honestly believe that we, as a society, are lazy. We are lazy because we want it easy. Take a pill to lose weight. Do the "baby food diet" to lose weight. People cry about not being able to give up things or sacrifice. People get fixated on the word "DIET" when really eating should be about Baby Steps.

I love sweets. You name it, I love it. Cookies, cupcakes, chocolate covered pretzels and donuts are my weaknesses. Oh, not to mention pasta, pizza, bread and alcohol (beer and wine!).

Funny thing is -- I still eat them. I have no plans for a six pack. But, I do want to be healthier. So my attitude is pretty simple: Be healthy when you can. Cheat when you want.

My work diet is the same diet that I posted before. I start my day with a smoothie. 3 hours later I eat a fresh mixed fruit cup now (cantaloupe, melon, pineapple, blackberry, strawberry, grapes) instead of eggs & oatmeal. 3 hours after that I order from Qdoba rice, beans and chicken in a bowl. On workout days I eat another bowl of that 3 hours later and on non-workout days, I might 'cheat' and have guacamole & chips with it. For dinner, its sometimes healthy and sometimes not - and often I have one beer with my dinner.

Funny thing is, that if you broke down my diet, I really only eat one 'bad' meal a day, and certainly if I cut out that beer with dinner it would be that extra 150 calories I didn't need.

You know what? It's fine. To me, if 75% of my diet is good and I 'cheat' on 25%, I think i'm doing plenty better than the rest of the world - and i'm sane and not counting calories and panicked if I decide one day after work to go to Sweet Revenge after work and have a beer & a cupcake.

Since I started Crossfit, I have been feeling great. Probably the best of my life. I was brushing my teeth the other night, with my shirt off. I looked at my abs - and noticed my muscles. The last time I could actually see my abs was in NROTC at Villanova. Sure, I still have plenty of fat, and i'm a far, far, cry from a flat stomach. But it certainly make me laugh a bit to see progress after six weeks of Crossfit.

Baby steps. Baby steps.

Team Hike, Open Letter, Crossfit Update

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1. Team Hike! A few years ago I wrote about "Team Hike", a group of friends from college who started a hiking/camping group that I met through my buddy Matt about four years ago. The Team Hike crew also did what they called "Team Extreme", which was hiking and camping during the winter, and I decided to do this with them over the Presidents Day weekend.

This had been planned for weeks, and we had no idea what weather to expect aside from it being winter. Snow? Wind? Cold Snap? Whatever was going to happen over the weekend, unless it was a blizzard, the team was going.

The hike itself took place near Tuxedo Park, NY, a bit over an hour's drive from Hoboken. We drove to the parking site, and hiked along the Appalachian trail, which was covered in snow, up to 8 inches deep in some places. The hike itself wasn't too bad, but the snow definitely made it harder. We hiked about two miles, found the site, which had a lean-to, and immediately started a campfire.

We had about thirteen guys on the hike, or "The Baker's Dozen" as "Gramps" (there are a lot of nicknames amongst Team Hike members) coined it. Our plan was to hike Saturday, camp Saturday night, and hike out Sunday morning. The only issue with the whole day wasn't the cold weather, but the wind. The wind itself wasn't the issue, but the campfire was swirling and blowing in all directions, which made it hard to stay warm when the smoke would blow directly in our faces, also sending ash & embers at us. As the night progressed the wind died down, but the temperature plummeted. We had lots of beer and liquor, and like any team hike we had a ton of people showing off their culinary skills and eating well wasn't an issue. I was stuffed before I turned it at 1am.

Some may ask - "How can you be in a tent when it's so cold?!"

Sure, it was cold, but actually I was in my sleeping bag, wearing a wool sweater with a few hand warmers lining the interior of the bag. By the time Matt woke me up at 7:30am, I was still happy to sleep for a few more hours. But, as we learned in the past, it's best to make an early exit and get back to Hoboken to beat any Sunday traffic.

2. Open Letter! In July 2010, I wrote an open letter to City Hall about creating an online ticket system. Imagine my surprise when I read Dawn Zimmer's State of the City speech on NJ.com and she wrote:
"Within the next several months we are implementing an online service request and complaint system. Through our web site residents will be able to submit and track all kinds of service requests, whether it's to report a pothole, graffiti, or a street that needs plowing.
This system will provide a performance measurement for my Administration, so that we can continue to increase accountability and better understand where our resources need to be directed. Residents should not need to figure out whether to email me, their council people or our directors to get a response. You should have one place to go, and you should be able to depend on a timely response.
This new system will be only the latest in our efforts to use technology to be more efficient and make services available online. As you may know, last fall our Recreation Division began accepting online registrations for recreation programs. People love this system, and it's helping us work more efficiently."

I'm not going to hold my breath to get a "Thank You" from City Hall for my suggestion. Still waiting for someone to take my next open letter ideas. From what I was told online registration for dog tags is in the works.

3. Crossfit! I'm entering week three. I can understand why they force everyone to do the fundamentals class first - no matter what your fitness level. I'm learning now that what I thought I was doing right was about 70% correct. My form was way off, and my endurance levels are low. Plus, my flexibility is in pretty bad shape, especially with my shoulders. Each class we are learning something new, and i'm also learning how weak I am. The one good thing about the classes is that they go really fast, and just at the moment you are hating the workout - it is time to leave. On an interesting side note, i'm kind of surprised about how many girls are into Crossfit. I was expecting this to be mostly guys - but in my training class alone we have 5 guys and 4 girls.

Here's the exercises we have learned in the last week:

Front Squats
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOLc4MAx23Q

Thrusters
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OhqIGYqELk

Wall Ball Shots
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TC2FmcPH64o&feature=fvsr

Overhead Squats:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjuULPqI-WY

Medicine Ball Cleans:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De0RpSAyu4g

4. Rocco! What? I haven't written about Rocco enough? Look, he's great. One funny thing about him is that when i'm watching TV, he will sit in front of me and just....stare. Here's a picture of him in action. 022311.jpg That's it. That's what he does. Sits there and doesn't move and tries his best to catch my eye. If I try to block him from seeing my eyes with my foot, he shifts slightly to the left or right to keep looking at me. As if to be using telepathy to say "YOU....MUST....PET....ME..."

Otherwise, Rocco is a great dog. Completely housebroken. Doesn't bark. Doesn't eat the furniture or my shoes. When he's unhappy, he snorts. His only downside is that he gets sick easily. If I expose him to the dog park too many days in a row, he will somehow find a way to get sick (respiratory infection & throwing up or bad diarrhea that goes on for days). Usually that means a trip to the vet and a $150 doctor's bill to fix him. This is the curse of the pure breeds.

Also everywhere I go, I still get stopped by complete strangers who fawn over him. Did I mention before buying a carabiner? I take Rocco with me anytime I need to run an errand, like going to CVS or Taco Truck or whatever. The only time I latch Rocco outside a store is when I can see him through the glass window or the door. I know there are some dog owners who completely refuse to do this - and that's their choice. At CVS, there are no windows to see Rocco, so what I do is talk to the homeless guys standing outside. I ask them if they can watch my dog, and I will pay them $1. I know most of the guys, and they are all really nice and know me by now. I go in, shop, and come outside and hand the guy $1 for watching Rocco. Everyone wins. Also, if there's no one outside CVS to watch Rocco, I wouldn't go into the store.

Plus, with Rocco I try to go to places that let dogs into their store. Hoboken Vine, for example, has always been dog-friendly, and even have treats behind the counter for dogs. Dames Coffee is also another dog-friendly business. I think I want to make a list of dog-friendly businesses in Hoboken.

Anyhow, that's all for now!

Valentines Day, Or As I Call It: "Monday".

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Last weekend was my birthday weekend. Unlike others, I kept it low-key and drama free. I invited a few guy friends out for cigars and to watch Nova vs Pitt on Saturday night at Wicked Wolf. In years past I had invited lots of friends out for bowling or a drink fest at the local pub. Wasn't really interested in that. The cigar store in Hoboken is cool because it's BYOB. So after four of us had some cigars and a few beers, we headed to the bar where a table was reserved to watch the game. Unfortunately the game was ridunkulously bad to watch - sloppy basketball all around. After the game, we said our goodbyes and I went back home.

Crossfit last week went well enough. In my last session, I learned the meaning of glamor muscles. If you aren't familiar with the term, then you must not watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In Episode 5.06: "The World Series Defense", Dennis explains to Mac that Mac's muscles aren't real muscles, but just for show:

Mac, Dee, and Frank arrive at the Park. Dennis notices their bleeding eyes. They desperately want to get into the Park, and Mac suggests he scale the wall.

Dennis: "Okay, I hate to tell you this bro, but you do not have the core strength to scale the façade of Citizen's Bank. You just don't."
Mac: "What!? I work out all the time!"
Dennis: "Yeah, but you only work out your glamour muscles, and you know it."
Mac: "I work out my core!"
Dennis: "No. You do not work out your core. You're totally arm heavy. You're all bis and tris and everything else is just... fat and ribs."
Mac: "Bro, I could do way more push ups than you and that's like 16 different muscle groups right there."
Dennis: "That is beyond retarded what you're saying right now. I could do way more push-ups than you even though I was just hit by a car."

They look at each other and get down on the ground to do push-ups.

What does this have to do with me? Well, I haven't lifted a weight since October. Crossfit was a cold splash of water last Thursday for me. Our first 30 minutes was all about technique of a deadlift and proper form.

I thought I knew how to do a deadlift. I have done them when I worked out, but they weren't part of my regular routine. But clearly after this workout, I had a lot to learn. We didn't lift heavy weights, we were just interested in getting the form right.

Once that was done we ended our sesson with the following:
Deadlifts w/kettlebell
Pushups
Situps

Not too hard, right? We started at 10 deadlifts, 10 pushups, 10 situps, then 9, then 8...all the way to 1 at our own pace.

Back to the glamor muscles - this is definitely me. I'm not ripped, but also not too flabby. Doing pushups my bi's and tri's were definitely standing out. Standing out and saying "YOU'RE WEAK!"

I knocked out the first 10 with no problem. Then I did the set of 9 without an issue. Once I hit 8...I also hit a wall. Crossfit is much different than lifting. When I lift, I can knock out 10 reps and 3 sets, get a good pump and do something else. Over the years that makes for decent arms and chest, but not much else. I rarely did situps in the gym. And it shows.

I was able to finish the workout, but I was dead last. I could have stopped when everyone else did (I was around 4 and gulping air), but I wanted to finish. I literally got to the point in the pushups where my muscles were giving out and I couldn't even hold myself up. To switch from pushups to situps, I couldn't even flip myself over right, it was like a half roll.

Yeah, I bet the girls there were impressed. LOL.

Anyhow, the good news is that I feel stronger and i'm also not very sore anymore. After winning my Super Bowl box pool last week, I figure I can take $800 of the money I won and put it towards 6 months at Crossfit. Happy Birthday, to me.

Hey! It's A Top 5 Random Stuff!

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I didn't have any great, major "events" to write one post about, so this will be a few quick stories to chew the fat on...but each one is mildly interesting...

1. Beer: Pacifico is dead, all hail Leinenkugel! Yes, it's true. I was out with friends the other night, and we are at the Cigar Store in Hoboken. Great thing about the Cigar Store is that you can smoke in the store, bring your own beer or liquor, and watch TV on their flat screen TVs. So, the other Saturday night i'm there with Jason, Chris and Keith - and Keith whips out a 6 pack of Leinenkugel. Leinenkugel? I never heard of that beer before. I scoffed it off, and drank my Pacifico.

The next night, my buddy Matt is watching his son, and his wife had a night out on the town with her friends, so he invites me over. I figure, hey, why not grab a 6 pack of Leinenkugel, and we can watch some NBA games. Bottom line? Buy Leinenkugel. Buy it now. This beer was so popular that on Super Bowl Sunday I went to Hoboken Vine, my favorite beer store in Hoboken, to buy Leinenkugel - and they were sold out. FUCK.

2. Whud Up Wid Dat? My "Whud Up Wid Dat" moment was the next day after #1 I woke up pretty tired on Saturday, cigars and alcohol gave me a wicked hangover, so I took a tylenol (which I normally don't do) because I had a massage scheduled at Body Balance for 10am - I didn't want a massage while my head was pounding. I took Rocco for a walk and nearly got into a fight.
There was a guy who parked his delivery truck in our condo driveway, effectively cutting off the sidewalk because of the large snowdrifts and the angle of his truck. His truck was wedged in such a way that there was no getting around him, I would have had to pick up Rocco, walk into the street around the back of his truck, through a puddle of slush & water. This delivery guy was working for the new construction at the Jefferson Trust Bank, and from Day 1, this new construction has been a pain in our ass at the condo. The developer has been rude and inconsiderate of the tenants living on the block. His car, and the cars of others are double parked along the street every weekend. It was just another aggravating instance, and with my hangover, my fuse was short to begin with.

I look around, and see a few construction guys milling around the outside of the building and say "Who's truck is this?", they all shrug their shoulders. I can see through the tinted window of the truck that there's a driver sitting there. I yelled at the window: "MOOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEE". The driver rolled down the window, with an angry look on his face and snapped back: "Bro, who do YOU think you're talking to? F*ck you, bro."

Well, i'm not one to back down - so we had a good 1 minute "Fuck you, no FUCK YOU" fest. I 'm telling him he's on our easement and it's our private property and he's telling me he's on the sidewalk, not the driveway. He's refusing to moving and snarls, "Go fuck yourself, I would have moved if you asked me NICELY." Fuck that. He's a fucking delivery guy driving a van, and thinks that *I* need to ask him all nice to move his fucking van from blocking the entire sidewalk??

It was getting to a point where either a fistfight starts or I call the cops. The delivery guy simply refusing to move and me being stubborn about walking AROUND his truck, I just called the Hoboken cops to report the guy blocking our driveway. A minute after I hung up the phone, a police cruiser was driving by with his window down. "Officer!" I yell. The police cruiser stops. "I called the front desk about this truck blocking our sidewalk...", I began. The police officer says, "OK, you called the front desk? Someone will be down to help you..." and drives off without saying why he couldn't take two minutes to help me.

His sirens weren't on. He was just rolling down the street. Maybe he had another call to go on - but I didn't get that impression. I got the impression he didn't want to deal with it.
The next cruiser shows up about 5 minutes later, but the guy driving the truck left by then.

3. Gambling: Every year I do a Super Bowl box. A friend of Chris's does a Super Bowl box, and it's $300 a box. $30,000 in the kitty. Well, wouldn't you know that we pull GB 1 and Pitt 7. Not bad numbers. NOT BAD AT ALL. Turns out we hit in the 3rd quarter on Sunday night, and won a cool $2,000 each. Huge win for a $150 investment. Although, i'm sure after all the years gambling on Super Bowl boxes i'm only up $500.

4. Online Dating: I really have to write a new and improved Dissecting A Personal Ad, after reading all the online dating personal ads - seems like not much has changed. I haven't used the site for a date, i'm kind of curious about it, and figure what the hell, may as well look around. I was out at Mulligan's last Saturday night, and the age range of women was 22-26 years old. Sorry, a bit too old for that age range & I detest the Manhattan bar scene.

5. Crossfit & Diet: Crossfit starts Tuesday & Thursday nights. Got a lot of email about that, and will write up my experience on it in a few weeks. I have been good about my diet. I have been strict during my work-week, cooking up my protein the night before, baking sweet potatoes on Sunday and refrigerating them, and steaming my vegetables (broccolini or asparagus) while I get ready in the morning. I pack it all in a tupperware container, and bring it into work. So far, I have had a few "cheat" meals, but if I eat maybe 20 times a week, I'd say I had 3 times where I ate something off the diet. 15% isn't bad. I lost about 10 pounds, and i'm back in my old jeans again. I still have a bit more to go, and hoping with Crossfit that it accelerates the process.

Crossfit First Impression

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Back in the day, I would spend every summer in Ocean City, NJ.

I was very lucky to have great parents who could afford a summer rental at the shore. Each summer, I would play at the basketball courts at 34th street, in pick up games. I wasn't some super star talent, but the games were fun, and I remember at the start of each summer how my lungs would burn after just one game, and i'd be gasping from running up and down the court. I'd get home and have blisters on my big toe, and my legs would be sore from the game.

Weeks would pass and my legs would get stronger, my endurance would grow, I could run multiple games in a row without a major problem. By the end of the summer, I was definitely in real good shape for basketball, and fall would come, i'd be back at school...and it would repeat the next summer.

When I went to Villanova I enrolled in NROTC. Both my brother in laws were Naval Academy graduates, and this motivated me to join the military. My first six weeks of college weren't about partying every night, but getting to bed early to be at PT by 5:45am - Monday through Friday. It was brutal stuff. Pushups, situps, jumping jacks, and pullups. Running until you are about to drop and finding that last burst of energy.

Why do I mention this now, when i'm supposed to be writing about Crossfit Hoboken?

Well, I was thinking of both of these things when I was gasping for air last Saturday. When the instructor towered over me saying "Lift up the medicine ball...higher. Higher. HIGHER!" When an extremely cute brunette girl was watching me do situps and motivating me with "Come on! Push! Do 1 more...1 more..." When I was done, and feeling like a weakling and would have a complete stranger pat me on the back and say "Good job, man".

At one point of time I wondered what the hell I was thinking by doing this. It was almost too difficult for me, I hadn't worked out in months - and even back at my days at Club H, most of my "lifting" was at a pretty easy pace. I would lift, rest two minutes, lift, rest two minutes...and just work out building up muscle but not a ton of endurance.

Crossfit is definitely different. It's hard, but good. What the trainers did with our group of about 30 people was divide us into six teams of five people. Then we had teams pair off until we had three groups (two teams to a group). We then had a competition where we had to do the following:

Row for 250 meters - Teammate #1
Box jump - Teammate #2
Shoulder Press - Teammate #3
Sit up Press - Teammate #4
Rest - Teammate #5

We had 8 minutes. The goal was to get the most number of reps in 8 minutes on whatever station you were on, and would ROTATE to the next station when the rower reached 250 meters. So the rower would go to the box jump, the box jump would go to the shoulder press, the sit up would rest and the guy resting would row for 250 meters. Rotate. Repeat. Rotate. Repeat. After 8 minutes, the second team would start and we would rest, counting their score up and tallying what they did.

Then when they were done - we did it again.

Lets just say for someone like me, it was a quick slap in the face for how out of shape I really was. Plus, you had people watching me barely able to do 10 situps (especially in the case of the cute brunette, only added to the humiliation) - but there was a key difference.

In many ways it reminds me of those days playing basketball at Ocean City and NROTC at Villanova. I can't sit here and tell you I was enjoying myself necessarily at the workout - I was really looking forward to it being over. But what did make it a bit more enjoyable was the camaraderie by the trainers and the other participants.

Working out at Club H over the years one of my biggest complaints were about the staff and the people who went there. Everyone had an attitude at Club H. My friends and I would laugh about it, but it's true - the trainers walk around like they own the place and wouldn't say a word to you unless you were in their way. Never a friendly smile. Always the "I'm the quarterback" smug look on their faces. Same was true with nearly everyone who worked out there. Nasty people, with a nasty attitude. I always, always, always asked permission and said "Please" and "Thank you" and never heard that in return except from the people working the front desk or the juice bar.

I think Crossfit brings to the table something different, fundamentally different, not only in the way they train people, but also about motivating people. This isn't the Marine Staff Sergeant yelling "YOU ARE A WORM! YOU ARE WEAK! YOU ARE WORTHLESS!" - but more of a team oriented group that definitely made a good impression on my first visit.

Much like everything else I write about on here, I think it would be disingenuous for me to write up a glowing review on one visit. But as first impressions go - score one for Crossfit Hoboken.

I plan to sign up for the fundamentals class. You can't just join Crossfit and go right into the classes, you first have to learn their calisthenics, and build up the energy and muscle over 8 classes, which are spread over a month long course. I'll take that course and write more on that later. But if you are interested in this, I would suggest trying out the free beginners class every Saturday at 10am. Crossfit Hoboken is located at 38 Jackson Street, you can't miss the entrance it has a nice blue banner over the doorway and it's located on the 2nd floor.

I wrote a few years ago a list of things people should get for a rainy day. With all the recent snowstorms and cold weather, I thought of the things I enjoyed wearing on a cold, snowy day which have made a big difference in my walk to work. Enjoy!

1. Boots, real boots. Far to often I see people walking in the slush and snow in sneakers. You got to be kidding me. Man up and buy actual boots. What I did was buy hiking boots, from Asolo. I'd get the Moran GTX. They are made in Romania. You think they know snow? You bet they do. These are like winter tires for your feet. I plow past the other slowpokes on the sidewalks who are walking in the tamped down snow. Plus, if you get hiking boots you can use them - to go hiking or camping, so you can get year round use out of them. I'm going hiking/camping in a few weeks.

2. One wool sweater. I have one wool sweater I bought from J. Crew about 6 years ago. It's thick, but not too heavy. Fits me really well and doesn't itch one bit. I put this sweater on, and I can be outside all day long in cold weather. Wool is where it's at. It was good enough for our copper-age brothers, and still perfect even today. This sweater I have is so warm that I have literally had to unbutton my coat sometimes because I would get so hot, but wool breathes so well - that I don't sweat, unlike cotton.

3. Fingerless gloves. My one friend laughed called them "Hobo gloves", but they are simply awesome. One would think "Why buy it - my fingertips will be cold!" That's not true. I don't know why, 20110121.jpgbut I guess the fact that 90% of your hands are covered just doesn't make my fingertips cold at all. Plus, having my fingertips exposed, I can easily use my iPhone, whereas with gloves, i'd have to take my gloves off and then put them back on. Also with gloves you lose your sense of touch, so when I reach into my pocket and pull out my keys, wallet or metrocard - its a trillion times easier. Definitely my #1 purchase I made this winter, and I bought it on gap.com. I got the green colored ones and not the red ones - to match my next topic...

4. Flip Your Lid - get a winter hat! I remember for years and years I would go to work in winter all bundled up, with my sweater, coat, scarf, gloves - and i'd never wear a hat because "I didn't want to mess up my hair". As I got older, and more annoyed by the cold - I have completely changed my view here. Hair be damned! Plus, my "style" is messed up hair anyhow, so the hat actually helps. Personally, I recommend you buy your favorite football, hockey or baseball team hat and wear it with pride. I sport a Philadelphia Eagles winter hat or a Philadelphia Flyers winter hat (I haven't found one besides the basic black that I like yet).

5. Winter is the best time for port wine... I have long written about how much I love port wine, and it really is a cold weather kind of love I have for it. If you haven't had port wine, I can honestly say you are missing out and I feel sorry for people like you. But then again, just means more port wine for me. The other day I was at Hoboken Vine. Really an underrated store that more people in Hoboken should know about. I was going to pick up my Taylor Fladgate port, when I saw they had another 10 year old tawny rated at 92 by Wine Spectator, I think it was Cockburn's, but I have to double check. Suffice to say, I loved it. Hoboken Vine has all sorts of helpful people working there, and worth checking out their other wines, too.

Time For A Change?

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For the last few years I was a member at Club H gym. I originally started going to a gym because of a friend who talked me into it, and once I started to go, I liked the changes I saw in my body. I started to eat right, take vitamins and worry about calories. Yes, I did see steroid meat heads at Club H, but I wouldn't say I became like this guy...

But after a while, I got into a bit of a rut. I had a routine at the gym. I was good at it, I would see early gains, and then plateau. I would hit a limit to what I could lift and get frustrated. I didn't want to hire a trainer, and I tried various ways to get around my plateau, like taking two weeks off from lifting or switching from heavy weights / low reps to light weights / high reps. They kind of worked, but often I just fell back into my routine, which was, well, easier.

While working out i'd always be "10 pounds away from my target weight". I was in relative good shape, at least I thought I was, but not quite where I thought I should be. My goal wasn't (and still isn't) six pack abs, but just not losing my breath when I run up a flight of stairs & having my jeans fit well.

The last few years I blame the Phillies for messing up my routine. With their playoff run to the World Series, it would mess up my routine and often i'd start skipping gym visits in November & December. Then, like most people, I would "get serious" in January.

This year is no different than other years. My weight would creep up, and my strength would wane. A few months back I quit Club H, hoping to use my condo gym instead to save some extra money. The condo gym was good. But something was missing. Maybe it was motivation after a few years of lifting, but I found myself going home from work and just losing motivation to go down to the condo gym. The couch looked so much more appealing or Rocco would look at me with his "sad eyes" and I had to take the little guy for a walk. Or a million other excuses.

A few years back some guys from my Eagles Club would tell me about this little gym they had in town. It was called "Crossfit Hoboken" and they told me it wasn't like other gyms. Instead of focusing on power lifting or aerobics they have a Workout of the Day (WoD) which is a mix of plyometrics and strength training. The focus on good form, but also on timing themselves to increase their intensity. Everyone I spoke to who was in the gym didn't just 'like it' - they spoke about it with a lot of enthusiasm.

You see the other people at the gym. They are on the elliptical, reading "US Weekly" and going through the motions. Each week, they don't get any fitter, and barely seem to be breaking a sweat. In a way, I was the same guy. I lifted, but I didn't really push myself. Some people are naturals at this, and they can do it themselves. Other people cheat and take steroids. I'm not a natural motivator - I need someone to push me, and I won't ever take steroids - that's for losers.

So I take the first class on Saturday with Crossfit. It's a free beginners class. If I like it, I may sign up. I will write about how I like it next week and try to keep updating here about my experience with it.


The Boken Online wrote about a great deal for $20 steak at Elysian the other day. I kind of raised my eyebrows after reading it because i'd rather just make my own steak for half that at home and usually takes me 20 minutes.

Of course, this is for most of us living in the city who don't have a grill in the backyard.

It's easily one of my most common dishes that I make for dinner. It's easy to make, if you have the right tools and ingredients. First, get a cast iron pan.

Not stainless. Not non-stick. Cast iron. If you don't own one, here's your excuse to buy one.

Next, get a good steak. Filet or Strip Steak are the only real choices. If you live in Hoboken, I suggest going to Garden of Eden on 2nd and Washington. I, myself, get a nice 10 ounce filet mignon with a 1" cut, which is $19.99 a pound, so it costs me maybe $1.25 an ounce, or $12.

I'll throw in some Golden Yukon potatoes for mashed potatoes, and some asparagus or broccoli, for sides.

Once home, here's the process as taught to me by Alton Brown:

It comes out great every time. I know - you are a skilled chef and can't believe I wrote such a no brainer post. But you would be surprised how many people don't know how to make this. Enjoy!

I've Been In Hibernation Mode

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Well, what a year 2010 has been.

I had my first full year with Rocco, and it has been good and bad. The good is that he's a great dog, who is very smart and playful. He doesn't bark. Just sighs a lot when discontent. Belly rub fixes that. The bad is that dogs are expensive. The vet bills & dog walker bills cost more than I expected. Worth it? Sure. He's a great companion, and I never feel alone with him around.

Life has been pretty steady. I haven't been blogging as much because, well, things have been kind of normal lately. But I will throw out a few things here, because if you are still reading my blog you must be wondering what i'm up to.

Dozzino's: This is a new "artisanal" pizza shop in Hoboken. I would like to go back a few more times before writing a real review, but my first impression is simple: it's wonderful to look at and eat, but spending $20 on pizza and soup is a bit silly. We had their lentil soup appetizer and it was o u t s t a n d i n g. We shared two of their pizzas and they were good. Not great. Good. It is a BYOB, and we just had tap water - total bill with tip was $40 for two people. Will I go back? Sure. Will I go back more than two times a year? I doubt it. I'm not sure if there is a 'simple' fix here. I mean, I live a block from Grimaldi's on Clinton. If I was in the mood for pizza like this, i'd head to Grimaldi's. Unless the pizza was far superior, i'd go there, but its not. I love what they did with the place, I really do. I wish more restaurants looked as cool as Dozzino's. It's not that it is overpriced - its equally priced with other equally as good places like Grimaldi's or Napoli's who also make brick oven pizza in Hoboken. If Dozzino set itself apart from the pack...then there's something to write about. I'm sure if I lived with a three block radius of the place, i'd eat there just as much as I do for Grimaldi's, which is probably every other month or so.

Village Pourhouse: I think it is a understatement that this bar has been a great success story in its first month. They are bar owners who "get it" - they understand what customer service means. They have had their share of lumps in the first month too -- there was a few slips they made when billing me, that I had to fix. But that was the bartenders slip up and the management did a good job fixing some minor issues. My only complaint about the place is that it is always packed & the food is good, but I often spend more money than i'd like eating and having a few Pacifico beers. I'd rather get a sandwich from Park & Sixth and a six pack of Pacifico and eat at home. Maybe I sound cheap, but spending $30 for a sandwich and two beers at Pourhouse just isn't worth it for me more than once every other month.

Pacifico: Technically known as "Cerveza Pacífico Clara". This is my new favorite beer. My brother turned me on to this over the summer and it has replaced Yuengling or Corona as my favorite beer. It is available at Sparrow and other larger beer shops. Buy it. Make sure it's ice cold and have a burger with it. It's fucking fantastic. Yes, FUCKING fantastic - not just "regular" fantastic. I have to beg Paul at Mulligan's to get this beer behind the bar.

Gym: Seems like every year from October to January i'm in hibernation mode. Thinking about joining Crossfit: Hoboken. After working out at Club H for the last four years I know "how" to lift. But I always plateau. Also tried to do the condo gym, but i'm just someone who does better when forced to go to the gym. My only issue is that I wish Crossfit was located where Club H was located, which was perfect for me - I'd come of the PATH, hit the gym, and go home. Now, i'd go home -- lose motivation and can see myself skipping it. I have to do something because its amazing how quickly I lose muscle and gain flab when I stop working out. My diet hasn't helped either. Damn you, Pacifico!

2010 has been a good year. Here's to even a better 2011. I hope all of you are safe and happy in the coming year, and just remember to enjoy life. There's always the belief that things can be put off for another day - but if you wait too long it may disappear. I try to keep reminding myself that every morning. Carpe Diem!


French Press: One of the cooler things I have bought is a Bodum French Press.

Way back when, I used to brew my coffee in the morning with coffee maker, put it in a thermos and carry it to work. The coffee was OK. Some days I would treat myself and get Dunkin Donuts coffee, but hated paying almost $3 for a large cup of coffee.


At work one day I watched a co-worker offering coffee from his French Press, and I was blown away. It was delicious and simple. And cheap!120210.jpg

I walk over to Empire Coffee in Hoboken or McNulty's on Christopher Street every other week and buy whole bean roasts and it costs me from $4 to $18 per 1/2 pound depending on the region. That will last me two, maybe three weeks. 15 days can cost me about $45 dollars from buying Dunkin Donuts everyday.

Then, I bought on Amazon.com a Krups coffee grinder, and it works great.

My morning routine is simple, before I leave my house for work I grind my coffee and take it into the office in a Ziploc bag. My French Press is in the office, at my desk. I add my coffee to the pot and fill the French Press with the hot water in our company kitchen. I stir it and let it sit for 4 minutes. That's it. Coffee is ready, and it's a trillion times better than what my company has sitting in the kitchen and better than Dunkin Donuts coffee (buy the Jamaican High Mountain Blue coffee if you don't believe me!)

At the end of the day, I clean the French Press simply by pouring out the old grinds and a quick clean under running water, letting it air dry on my desk for the next day. Once a week I take it home and put it in the dishwasher. If you are like me and work in an office, and have access to these things, you will save a TREMENDOUS amount of money a day by not buying coffee. Plus, if you love Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, just buy their coffee and brew it yourself. You will taste the difference.

PATH Train Teddy

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Many years ago, a local blog wrote about PATH Train Teddy. Here's Teddy in action.

I'm all for giving to charity.

This year I gave to Charity: water and to the Red Cross.

But in case you encounter Teddy, here's what you need to know.

1. There's no such organization as the Bergen Lafayette Coalition To Feed The Homeless. I called various shelters and they never heard of it, but some have heard of Teddy.
2. I called the PATH Police (201-216-6078) about Teddy. The officer I spoke to knows Teddy, he's always on the PATH - and said to call them or use the public phones if he's panhandling.
3. Giving money to homeless exacerbates the problem. If you want to give money, there are PLENTY of local shelters I need this holiday season. I recommend:

http://www.bowery.org/
http://www.nycares.org/
http://www.thehopeprogram.org/
http://www.doe.org/
http://www.hobokenshelter.org/

A few people have commented things like:

Q: Why is it important to throw a homeless guy in jail???
A: It's not what i'm asking for here. You may think that Teddy just wants a cup of coffee or some food - there are legitimate homeless shelters all over the tri state area ready to feed and house the homeless. More often than not homeless ask for money because of alcohol or drug related issues. You aren't helping them by feeding that addiction.

Q: Come on I feel guilty! What does it hurt to give .25 cents to a guy?
A: Wouldn't you feel 10x better and give to the Hoboken Shelter instead?

Q: Put yourself in his shoes! Imagine BEGGING for money.
A: I can imagine it, but I have seen him begging for money for 16 years, since 1994. He used to be a middle aged guy and wore a Medicaid card around his neck to look legitimate. I used to give him money, too. Once I did a bit of research I found out that the organization didn't exist and he was lying to people. Look, if he was homeless and just said so, I wouldn't have as big of a problem as someone who claims to be collecting for a shelter. Once I called the shelters they told me that no one collects money on a train like that, and even THEY said not to give him money. It was an eye opener.

So this holiday season, give to actual organizations and not PATH train Teddy.

Giving Thanks & Giving Grief

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Sure, it's that time of the year where we all get sentimental, and sappy, each writing about how we love our family, health and friends for everything and blah blah blah.

OK, but my one nephew did ask "What are you thankful for, Uncle Sean....?" in a sarcastic/joking way on our car ride home and it prompted this sincere response from me:

"Actually kidding aside, Fredo*, what i'm thankful for is my family. As you get older you realize how you have been blessed in life to have wonderful siblings, family in laws and parents. I definitely have been very fortunate to have a great family. The only thing I wish I had was my father back to enjoy these holidays with him."

*name changed to prevent angry emails from his mother, my sister :)

So that's my giving thanks moment. Moving on. Here's what I'd like to Give Grief about, because that's more fun:

1. I was walking down the street the other day and a guy was trying to jump start a car. He put both leads on both batteries. I stopped and yelled to him, "Hey man, that's wrong. You need to put the black cable on a ground..."

He rebuffed me - "I have done this a hundred times, I know what i'm doing..."

I start to explain why he's wrong. Then stop when I realize he doesn't care. I just said "Forget it." and walked away. I have found that as I get older I start to care less about fixing the world.

2. Why is is that every person on the planet have no idea how to drive? I'm not perfect but I do understand this simple rule:

GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE LEFT LANE UNLESS YOU ARE PASSING.

How hard is that? I don't care if you are going 75 mph or 80. DO NOT SIT IN THE FUCKING LANE. I swear to God that's the #1 thing that drives me insane for my not very often drives to DC or Philly on I-95, I couldn't imagine the road rage I would have if I was in sales and drove around Jersey for a living.

Oh, same rule applies if you are at the PATH station and going up and down stairs, people. If you are a slow motherfucker - get right. I seriously want to invent a scrolling banner, that I can put on the front of my car which will type in reverse. So someone looking in their rear view mirror will see the letters flipped to proper text that says:

GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE LEFT LANE UNLESS YOU ARE PASSING!!!!!!!!!!!

Wouldn't that be awesome invention? Shit, you could write a whole bunch of things to vent your road rage. But I would guess it would lead to many, many more accidents and fist fights. Still would be a great invention. Searchplates.com needs to figure out a way to team up with Facebook so people can link their license plate to their account (but keep their name anonymous to people searching for their license plate) - then people can get plenty of texts about their shitty driving. But most people will be like the jumper cable guy - everyone always thinks they are "right" even when they are wrong.

3. What the fuck is up in Hoboken politics these days? A friend of mine who I haven't seen in ages told me that Hoboken City Hall was the best public theater in town. He was completely and utterly correct. At first when he told me this I didn't own a home and really didn't care about local politics. Let me tell you something - our town can easily rival ANYTHING ON TV. You could easily sit a Hollywood writer down and watch what goes on here and it would be must-see-TV with the backstabbing, conspiracies and bullshit mud flinging that is going on.

If any of this interests you I implore you to read what REALLY is going on in town by reading Mile Square View, Hoboken Journal or Hoboken Patch.

We currently have a 5 person majority city council that plans to do everything possible to obstruct Mayor Zimmer until the May 2011 city council elections. We have to start right now getting the word out, registering voters and getting NEW people on the city council who actually want to move the city forward. There is a small group of people known as "The Old Guard" who want to control the city (anyone watch Boardwalk Empire on HBO? Eerily similar tactics are used in Hoboken!).

Get informed and get involved. I usually don't make my blog about politics, but I simply can't stand watching people who are simply evil and beyond reproach try to character assassinate & intimidate anyone who dares get in their way. My only goal is to get more NEW people involved and registered to vote. My #1 goal in the upcoming weeks is to get everyone in my 100 unit building registered to vote for the upcoming election. There's at least 200+ people in my building and another 200+ people I have in the Eagles and Phillies Club and probably about 200+ unique monthly readers on my website who live in Hoboken.

I don't expect to get all of them to vote - but in these elections its incredible how often the phrase "Every vote counts" is used. It's so true in Hoboken.

I have Pierre Thomas in fantasy football. I also have some other RB options, like Ladell Betts (his backup) and Brandon Jacobs (up until week 12 was the #2 RB on the Giants).

Yahoo, ESPN or CBS Sportsline needs to implement this feature: Injury Swaps.

How it works is simple. Lets say you have someone who is on the NFL injury list, but "questionable". They are a gametime decision, and someone you expect to play. I figured after the bye week that Pierre Thomas would be good to go. I worked until 7am Sunday morning, fell asleep when I got home at 8am, and woke up after the games started.

I have Ladell Betts and Brandon Jacobs on my bench, but had Pierre Thomas in my lineup.

Spare me the armchair coaches who will say "Well that's COACHING. You should have put in a backup manually and should be watching the report 1 hour before gametime."

No. Bullshit. I was working until 7am that night, and i'm sure there are thousands of other owners who get screwed due to real-life issues like I do. We have the technology, we should make fantasy football management smarter.

I had the healthy RB to use on the Saints - Betts. They should make a simple option that works as the following:

If healthy player is scratched from the game at 1pm, then there is an autoswitch option to replace the injured player with one player from your bench. Sort of the same way that auto-draft works in the draft room.

For example, Pierre Thomas sat out Week 11, then the RBs on my bench are tagged in some kind of ranking:
1. Brandon Jacobs
2. Ladell Betts.

Brandon Jacobs would get substituted in if their game hasn't started before Pierre Thomas. If Brandon's game was over, then Ladell Betts should play in place of Pierre Thomas.

I know that some of the traditional fantasy football owners would bristle at my idea, but it is something that needed to be fixed a long time ago. I got 0 points for Pierre Thomas, and Betts & Jacobs weren't fantasy studs, but if I had their 3.5 or 4.5 points I would have won my fantasy matchup for Week 12.

Sour grapes? Sure. But still a good idea.

Another Night, Another Near Brawl...

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I'm at Farside the other night, having a beer with friends.

It was kind of quiet at the bar, with patrons drinking at the bar and a few playing darts. I went to the dart board to sign up for a game and saw a guy at the bar wearing a "Hatboro-Horsham Wrestling" T-shirt.

Hatboro-Horsham is a town in PA which is squarely between where I grew up, in Richboro, and where I spent my teen-age years, in Gwynedd Valley, only 20 minutes away from either town. Since I run the Eagles and Phillies club in town, I often befriend strangers from PA - talk up the Eagles or Phillies club and invite them down to the bar. I walk over, slap a hand on his back and he turns around.

Wearing a YANKEES cap.

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Look, I get it. Maybe you grew up in Philly and we had suck ass Phillies teams for most of our years from 1984-1992, a brief blip on the radar in 1993, and then a whole lot of suckiness (?) from 1994 to 2005. I get it. My own brother called the Yankees "his American League team". Fuck you. You grow up in Philly, you gotta stand behind your teams!

Now my reaction, was of course dignified and profound when I said to the very large & beefy 22 year old, "YOU FUCKING TRAITOR!"* (*but, I did say it with a smile, and not threatening)

He looks at me like you would expect, with a who-the-heck-are-you-and-why-am-I-a-traitor? look at me, but he's smiling wondering what i'm going to say next.

Now, dear reader, you must realize that Uncle Sean has had a few drinks at this point and add my usual Red Bull to the mix and I was Mr. Motormouth.

"You are wearing a Yankees cap," I began with my mock-seriousness and Sherlock Holmes like intensity, "Yet you are wearing a Hatboro-Horsham T-shirt - which says you are clearly from PA. That doesn't make sense, you should be a PHILLIES fan!" I exclaimed.

"No, I grew up around Hudson County."

"But...the shirt. Where did you get it?", I asked.

"She gave it to me.", he gestured to the 22 year old blonde haired girl standing next to him.

"OK, so you grew up in Hudson County...but are wearing a Hatboro-Horsham shirt that your girlfriend gave you...and she wasn't a wrestler..."

You know what's coming next, don't you? Foot meet mouth.

"Was it her ex-boyfriends?"

BOOM.

He chuckles at first, and the girls eyes widen a bit. Then he goes "Wait a second. IS THIS YOUR EX-BOYFRIENDS SHIRT?!", he mock-growls at the blonde haired girl. She stammers a bit, and i'm edging away with a comic "CHECK PLEASE" to try and break slight bit of tension which erupted with my comment.

Now, truth be told, this guy isn't angry. He's laughing it off and "mock-angry" with her, while i'm laughing along. I'm telling him, "Ah, my bad dude I thought you were from my neck of the woods..."

When in comes friend #2.

Now we are bantering back and forth about the t-shirt and stuff when "Friend #2" jumps into our business. She's a short annoying looking rat of a girl who puts her finger in my face and says "WHO ARE YOU? WHY YOU CARE WHO'S SHIRT IT IS..."

Her tone and manner wasn't suggesting anything but anger and trying to stir shit up between me and the Hatboro-Horsham guy and Friend #2's boyfriend who was sitting at the bar, but only half paying attention. The difference between me and Friend #2 in our actions was that I was jovial and kidding - she wasn't. She got into my business quick and I could see this turning ugly if I didn't diffuse the situation fast.

"I run the Phillies and Eagles club in town, I thought he was from PA, so that's why I was talking to him....", I started.

The blonde haired girl turns to me and said, "Hey, you are the Mulligan's 'guy'. You do that? I have been there before!"

The tension level drops. The guy at the bar pulls away Friend #2, with a half-bored "Leave him alone..."

And the rest of our conversation between me and the T-shirt guy ends up talking about baseball and how the Phillies would smoke the Yankees in the World Series. Ha ha.

Top 5 Tricks and Tips When Dieting

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http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/health1/exercise-has-minor-effect-on-weight-loss-claim-new-studies_100432261.html.

I read this study the other day, and I don't claim to be an expert, but after starting my exercise routine for the last couple of years, I have learned a lot about dieting, exercise and weight loss.

I think the study is accurate to a point, but I want to add in my own observations about how exercise works, and what the gyms don't want you to know:

1. If you want to lose weight, diet is about 80% of the trick to losing weight.
2. No matter what the study says, you need to do some kind of exercise that involves upping your heart rate, and creating a sweat that lasts at least 30 minutes.
3. People want results fast - so they don't see a change, get discouraged in about a month and stop dieting.

Then many people are out a year membership with their local health club because they don't get how to lose weight. I have heard a thousand "reasons" from my friends about their weight loss and some utterly stupid diets. The problem with weight loss can be summed up easily:

We love food.

It's not shocking to say that. But when people are deprived of what they love, they feel bad. Maybe not crying that they cannot eat a cheeseburger, but after a month of eating salad for lunch every day, they miss their favorite foods. The brain is amazing at tricking us into eating. You are basically fighting emotion, and some people are simply better at this than other people.

What I would suggest are these tricks which have worked for me. I'm not here to lecture people, I'm not the peak of physical perfection. I'm still someone who struggles with staying on my diet and exercise. But these things have worked for me, and if you are someone looking to get into shape, this is what I would suggest:


1. Small changes add up. Drink water, not juice or diet soda. Instead of eating potato chips, try soy crisps or at the very least - pretzels. Substitute sweet potato into your diet. Avoid sauces, gravy or dressing - they have so many hidden calories and sugar. Avoid white bread, use wheat when you can. Order turkey burgers over regular burgers. Buy the book "Eat This! Not That!", which is a good guide to other small changes that really add up. I had a bagel the other day - a WHOLE WHEAT bagel. I had light cream cheese, which had less fat, and I didn't use very much. A bit here and there.

2. Cheating is OK, but that doesn't mean cheating everyday. My diet is 5 days "good" and 2 days "bad". There's going to be the unexpected days where you are supposed to be on a "good" day and you eat unhealthy - THAT IS OK. Just get back to being good. I drink 1 cup of coffee everyday. I use cream. I use sugar. I don't care. Have your coffee in the morning. Have a bagel with cream cheese. Order a cheeseburger on a Saturday afternoon WITH fries. The key word is: MODERATION. Friends of mine look at me and will quip about "OFF THE DIET, HUH?" when they see me eating junk food. No, i'm not eating bad when you add up how I eat during the whole week.

3. Eat like a caveman. When choosing foods to eat, don't reach into the frozen foods section and get a "Lean Cuisine". The majority of your meals should be food basics. Most of my dinners each night are chicken and asparagus, with a small bit of BBQ sauce on the side (about a tablespoon). I dip an edge of the chicken into the BBQ sauce, and that goes back to my "moderation" comment. People get dismayed about dieting with flavorless food. Don't kill yourself when dieting. Have a bit of sauce on the side, but don't SLATHER your food in sauces or gravy.

4. Do not starve yourself, it doesn't work. I have seen this a thousand times. People starve themselves, get miserable, and they are off the diet in a few weeks and back to their old weight. Everyone has these little diet solutions that they read in a magazine, and they never work. The key is just moderating diet & eating whole foods, not processed foods. Eating complex carbs will make you feel fuller, longer. Foods like brown rice or sweet potato are excellent choices as side dishes.

5. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.. If you need to pig out, eat more in the mornings. After 5pm, avoid carbs like the plague. My morning routine is coffee (milk and sugar!) with honey nut cheerios (more sugar! heaven forbid!). I tried switching out sugar for a substitute, but it goes back to Adelle Davis's saying - I figure that I can get away with it in the morning. I can cut it out completely, and go hardcore, but like I said before - if you need to cheat, and are dying to have a tasty treat, do it in moderation and do it in the mornings, not 8pm at night when you wolf down three slices of pizza with a couple of beers.

In closing, I would say don't get discouraged when you diet. Especially when you get derailed. I get derailed all the time, and what you do is just get back on track again and don't beat yourself up over it. Rome wasn't built in a day, and I love the changes I have seen from working out. There's always more I wish I could do, and a few pounds I wish I could lose. I'm very happy with my body, and have gotten to this point from many different lessons learned about how to trick your brain into getting the body that you want.

This summer Rocco has been spending four days a week at my dog walkers house. They run a small doggie day care, with about 6 other dogs, who they watch from 10am to 5pm. It costs me $20, and its a pretty good deal, when you compare prices to other day care places (a 20 minute dog walk by a normal dog walker can cost about $12-15 in Hoboken). They drive to my house, pick him up from the crate, let him run around their large house in Jersey City or take him to the dog park with the other dogs, and he is nicely tired out by the time I get home from work. I have off from work Friday this summer, and so Rocco and I hang out for three day weekends. It's a pretty good life for Rocco, who is left home alone for maybe three hours in the morning & two hours in the evening.

My schedule is fairly routine, I work from 8 to 5, get back to Hoboken by 5:30, at the gym until about 6:45, and home by 7. I let Rocco out of his crate, feed him and then enjoy the rest of my night until about 11pm, then off to bed.

Rinse, wash, repeat.

I get home the other night and let Rocco out of his crate. Normally, he gets out, stretches and walks over to the food bowl and waits for me to feed him. That night, he got out of his crate and slowly exited, moving like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz - without his oil. Rocco's movements were all herky-jerky, and when I reached towards him, he recoiled from me, like I was going to hit him. He flinched back, his eyes fluttering to a half-close and he was scared of me.

He sat there and was shivering, like he was having little seizures. I put his food bowl down, and he ignored it. This was very odd for Rocco, he loves food. Loves it. Doesn't have a food "off switch" when it comes to eating. Rocco finally sank to the ground in slow motion, his little 25 pound body quivering in pain.

My mind raced with various thoughts as to what happened to him today at the doggie day care. Did another dog attack him? Did he eat something, like a rawhide or a toy, and has blockage?

I called my dog walker and told her what Rocco was like, and she said he was very playful all day with the other dogs. So playful, in fact, that he had to be separated from the other dogs twice because he was getting too rambunctious.

Maybe Rocco was just exhausted. I know that the French Bulldogs have issues with heat & can get overheated quickly if not watched properly on a hot summer day - but the day in question was a rainy 68 degree day.

I called my vet, The Animal Infirmary of Hoboken, and asked if they were open. The said they closed at 6:45 (it was 7pm by this point) and I explained his symptoms. The Vet tech gave me two phone numbers for emergency services - a hospital in Oradell and NYC. She told me that there were three things I should look for if Rocco was in severe distress: vomiting, severe diarrhea and panting. I should observe him and take him to one of those places if he seemed to be in major pain.

So far, he didn't exhibit these symptoms.

I picked him up, and carried him over to his doggie bed. He didn't like the bed, and tried in his jerky movements to get off the bed and to the floor. He then sunk to the floor and wasn't sleeping, but was half-awake.

I called my sister, who during her teenage years worked at the Richboro Animal Hospital. In college, at the University of Delaware, she studied science, with the idea of one day possibly becoming a Veterinarian after college. She went into pharmaceutical research instead, but that's another story. Anyhow, she's our family expert when it comes to animals. I told her about Rocco, and she was under the same impression as the Vet tech - watch Rocco overnight and if he's still in the same shape in the morning, take him to the local animal hospital.

My phone rang and it was the dog walkers boyfriend, who watches the dogs also. They work as a team, with him at the house, and she does individual dog walks in Hoboken. He was very upset about hearing about Rocco, offered to drive me and Rocco to Oradell and would pay for any medical costs. I assured him that it was appreciated, but didn't think it was necessary...yet. I told him I would observe Rocco, see if he gets better or worse.

After watching Rocco a bit, it dawned on me that with all of his playing it could be possible that his muscles were so sore that he had lactic acid built up and he was really tight. I have had the same issues in the past when I overexerted myself on the treadmill. So I tried to give him a little puppy massage as best as I could, hoping that he would get some relief from it. He enjoyed it, and would lean his head against my chest while I worked out his muscles.

It didn't provide immediate relief, but after a bit of coaxing with a cracker and some peanut butter, he did get up and was able to gingerly walk to me. After a few more tries, he was able to eat his food, and we went to bed.

The night was uneventful, and upon waking up and turning off my radio alarm - Rocco hops out of his dog bed with a "HEY DUDE, WHAT'S UP?" look. Of course dogs don't care about yesterday, they live in the moment.

I was ready to strangle and hug him at the same time. Looks like it was just sore muscles, after all.

This weekend was my first one where I didn't own a car.

And I needed one.

I had to return my license plates to the DMV in Jersey City and had two options:

1. Take the PATH. This would take me 30 minutes each way.
2. Rent a car. This would take me 12 minutes each way.

The PATH train would only cost $3.50, whereas Zip Car costs $9 - $12 per hour.

Knowing this, I decided to use the Zip Car, and rent for two hours (read how Zip Car works here). I figured I could make a day of it, using the car to drop off the license plates, hit the driving range and shop at Trader Joe's in Edgewater.

I had registered for Zip Car a few weeks ago, with my corporate account. It only costs me $25 a year, with no registration fee. Is your company eligible? Might want to check here.

Zip Car has lots of different cars available, and each have varying price levels. It was a Friday when I rented and I could have been frugal and chose a Mazda 3 series for $9 an hour - but I figured I could splurge and rent a BMW 328i for $12 an hour. What I discovered when renting was something that Zip Car failed to mention: $5 charge every time you rent their car.

That sucks. If you rent for three days or three hours, you are hit with a $5 "New Jersey Domestic Security Fee (per day)". That's a fee that Trenton NJ imposed on us after 9/11, but there are some people trying to battle this bullshit tax.

I wanted to rent the car in the morning, but to my surprise, many of the cars i'd like to drive were rented from 9am to 12 noon. That was a bit disturbing. There were some economy cars available, but I really wanted at least a Mazda, and all eight of them were rented in Hoboken! There were others available in Jersey City or New York, but I wasn't about to take the PATH to the car. Instead I adjusted my hours and rented the car from 12pm to 2pm.

I used Zip Car's online reservation system about 48 hours in advance, and its very easy to rent a car. It gave me directions to where it was parked, and on Friday went to my car in the parking garage on 77 Park Avenue.

The first problem I encountered upon entering the parking garage was - where's my car?
I was in a multi-story parking garage, and had no idea where the car was located. My iPhone application from Zip Car was a big help here. It has the ability (when reserved) to honk your car horn that you are renting. I hit the "honk" button and sure enough my car chirped to attention only seconds later. I used my Zip Car key card to unlock the car (but you can actually use the iPhone app to do that, also).

Upon entering my BMW, I ran into my second problem - where's the key? I looked in the glove box. Under the visor. In the arm rest box. Under the seat. There was a good five minutes of searching for the key. Finally I located it under the steering wheel, attached to a thin metal retractable cable. It wasn't a standard key, either (this coming from a guy who's last car was a 1993 Volvo) - figuring out how to start the car took me another five minutes. The car had a push "Start/Stop" button, and I kept pushing it but it wouldn't start. I didn't realize that I had to put my foot on the brake to start it (even though this is common practice for cars with keys, but I wasn't even thinking about that because the push button threw me off).

OK, so ten minutes later - I was ready to leave. But then I ran into my third issue. The car was in a parking garage and the parking spots were very, very tight. The BMW is next to a concrete wall on the driver side and another Zip Car on the right. Backing out of the spot took a lot of work, since I never drove the car before and wasn't used to how much room I had. Plus, I was driving a $35,000 rental - and didn't want to ding it. After a bit of maneuvering, I got the car out of the parking spot and was on my way.

The valet let me out of the garage, but thought that if there wasn't a valet available (lets say I needed a car at midnight) - it would make things difficult to get the car out of the garage, since it had automated gates and I didn't see in the visor any kind of garage card to let me in or out.

After leaving the garage, I drove to Jersey City DMV. The ride was real quick and I was happy that I rented a car versus taking the PATH. I parked in a parking lot, and the next problem showed up. The valet at the parking lot wanted to park my car.

Like I described before - the key is attached to the car. When the valet parks the car, how can he lock it? I had to give the valet my Zip Car key card and show him how to lock the car. At first he wasn't even sure if he could let me park my car in the garage, he was very confused. After some initial issues, he relented and parked the car.

Also before he parked the car he pointed to the back of the car saying, "Hey man, do you know your car has scratches?"

I got out of the car, and saw the scratches along the wheel well. Now, I didn't inspect my car before I got into it. It was my first time renting a car with Zip Car and didn't even think to check that. I thought back to my tight parking spot, and thought "Did I do that?"

I'm 99% sure that it wasn't me. You know when you hit something with a car. It was a tight exit, but i'm sure it wasn't me. I used the Zip Car iPhone application to report the damage, and left a voice mail detailing the damage to the car. It has been three days later and no one has called me back about it. Insurance & gas with Zip Car is part of the package deal when you rent.

I dropped off my license plates and was out of the DMV in five minutes. I know everyone has nightmare stories at the DMV, but I have to say the Jersey City one isn't so bad. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.

I got back to the parking lot, paid $3.50 for parking, and drove to the driving range. It was 12:30, and still had 90 minutes on my reservation.

At the driving range, I rented a bucket of balls, and took my time. But there lies the next problem with car rental: The clock is ticking.

The great thing about owing a car is freedom. You can do what you want, where you want, when you want. If I decided on that Friday that I wanted to go see a movie in Edgewater or eat at P.F. Changs - that's no problem! Or if there was traffic or a big line at Trader Joes, it's not a big deal, you own that car.

Not so with renting a car. The beauty of Zip Car is that you can rent hourly. The downside is that other people make reservations hourly, and you must, must, must have the car back to the parking spot ON TIME. Zip Car stresses this over and over.

Now, the upside is that you can call or text Zip Car to extend the reservation (or use the iPhone application, which I heart) - if no one else has reserved the car.

I was done at the driving range by 1:30, and figured I could quickly drive next door, shop at Trader Joe's in 15 minutes, and scoot back from Edgewater to Hoboken in 15 minutes.

Boy, was I wrong.

Getting to Trader Joe's, parking, shopping, checking out: 20 minutes - and I was at a breakneck pace, too. Bought about 12 items. Got in the car, looked at the clock in the car and it said 1:49pm.

I had 11 minutes to drive to Hoboken, which was about 7 miles away. Damn, damn, damn, damn.

I used the iPhone application to extend the reservation. I only needed 15 minutes more. Only issue is that you can't extend 15 minutes, you can extend in 30 minute blocks. I was fortunate, I extended it and no one else had a reservation for this particular car. In retrospect, my advice here is twofold:

1. You can't cut it close with these kind of rentals. Doing it over again, I wouldn't have gone to Trader Joe's.
2. If I did decide to go to Trader Joe's, I should have checked for the extension earlier.

I was lucky this time.

I drove back to Hoboken, parked the car in the crazy tight parking spot, locked the car and walked back to my apartment.

Total cost?

  • Hours: noon to 2:30pm / 2.5 hours / $12.00 an hour = $30.00
  • Miles Included With Reservation: 20 miles used out of 180 miles, no extra fee
  • New Jersey Domestic Security Fee (per day): $5.00
  • Sales tax for NJ: 7%: $2.10
  • Parking Garage at Jersey City DMV: $3.50
  • Total Charges $40.60 or 16.24 per hour
Remember, I could have saved some cash if I rented a $9 per hour Mazda, which would have cost me $22.50 for 2.5 hours. I figured for $7.50 extra - which is about the same price for a mixed drink around Hoboken, I could get a fun car to drive.

My overall impression is positive, even with my minor quirks I mentioned. If I were to rent this car again, I wouldn't go through the same delays I first experienced (like finding the car, finding the key, and starting the car). I also would be sure to inspect the car before I pull out of the teeny, tiny parking spot, which I didn't do.

Probably next time i'd rent the cheaper $9 per hours Mazda 3. The Beemer was fun, but wasn't THAT fun to drive. I had the A/C cranked up and the pleather seats still were uncomfortable against my skin on the hot summer day. The car was fun, but still found the acceleration to be "touchy" on the 3 series - seemed like there were two speeds, fast or overdrive.

But those still, to me, are minor quirks. When I do my math, like owning a parking spot ($185 monthly), insurance ($85 monthly), gas ($30 monthly) - owning a car costs me $300 monthly.

If, in the future I were to rent a Mazda 3 (which is a trillion times nicer than my 1993 Volvo) every Friday for three hours to run errands. It would cost me about $33.89 ($27 for three hours, plus $5 security fee, plus $1.89 tax) each Friday, or $135 a month.

I mean, just to equal the cost of owning my car, I could rent the Mazda eight times a month - twice a week - and still save $29 on what it cost me to own a car. ($33.89 x 8 = $271). Owning my car I never, ever used it eight times in a month. Ever. I was lucky if I used my car 4 times a month while living in Hoboken over the last 10 years.

I have already reserved my Mazda 3 for my Thanksgiving visit to Washington DC (Estimated Cost: $334.93, Thursday, Nov 25th, 6am to Saturday, Nov 27th, 3pm, two days, nine hours). Sure that seems like a lot, but when you do the math, it is 57 hours and costs me $5.88 an hour, excluding tolls).

I did look into Hertz to rent a car that day instead of Zip Car, and found a few issues:

  1. It is cheaper daily, but you pay for gas & insurance with Enterprise or Hertz.
  2. They are open Saturday from 9am to noon. Closed Sunday. So I HAVE to be back from DC by noon or I will pay for Sunday and Monday at $73 a day. I kinda hate that. Plus I have to rent the car and park it on the street on Wednesday night until I leave Thursday morning.
  3. If I rent from Hertz it will cost 3 days at $73.49 = 220.47 USD, plus taxes and fees jacks it to $253.74. Not including gas, which I estimate will be $30-40 for a trip to DC. So lets say $290.

I weighed my options and figured for $44 more I get insurance and don't have to go nuts rushing back to Hoboken by noon, I have until 3pm.

I figure by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, the money I will have saved for August, September and October ($300 per month x 3 months = $900) will offset that cost ($334.93) and most any other minor rentals between now and then. I expect that I will be renting a car once or twice a month in the foreseeable future, and when it gets cold seems like I use a car less and less.

I also plan to join Hertz Connect. Through June 2012, Connect by Hertz is offering 2 years of membership for free ($25 application fee applies) and is providing a $75 driving credit when using the code: HOBOKEN at time of enrollment.

Well I was off to DC to visit my brother two weeks ago. Had a great time, but came back and was sick as a dog for three days, which effectively killed my blogging interest. But I am back now, and have a few things to write about.

My car is sold. If you remember I wrote a few weeks back about selling it. I had a few reasons to sell, the primary reason was financial. I'm not a spendthrift, but I hate wasting money. I felt like the amount of money I spent on my car versus the number of times I actually used it wasn't worth the waste. Sure, if I made $300k a year, I wouldn't care - but I don't, and need to watch how I spend my money.

The second reason was the availability of corner cars via Connect by Hertz or Zip Car. Back when I first moved into town, I had multiple issues with the "old school" rental car system. But technology has made it so that if I need a car for a quick ride to the store or for golf range in Edgewater or a visit to the beach for the day - you can order a car on your computer and do everything yourself.

The last reason was the fact that my car was 17 years old. It was constantly having maintenance issues over the last few years and the bills just added up to a point where it was more worth it for me to rent a relatively new car than worry about my car imploding on I95.

My next goal is to go through my house and sell everything that i'm no longer using. I want to simplify things. I have shelves of books, racks of old electronic equipment, and about 100 DVD movies that I don't think I watched once in three years. Even if I could sell those movies, for example, for $5 each - that's $500 sitting around my house. I have the P90X Workout on DVD which I never even watched, cost me $120 - and I bet someone would buy it for $75.

Part of the goal is financial, but the other part is I hate clutter and hate having things just gather dust around my house which have financial value but i'm not using. For example I have a Toshiba Tivo Series 2 R/RW DVD player. It has been sitting in my closet for three years since I got the new Series 3 player. It has value, maybe $100-150 because if its recording capabilities. Heck, i'd sell it for $75 - i'm not planning to use it ever again, why keep it?

Why keep all the unused books on my bookshelves? Most are nearly worthless, and not sure if it is worth putting them on Amazon for $1 each, but I have a few nicer books which are definitely worth $15 each (like some unused cookbooks)

I have an idea for an app which I want to bounce off my engineering friends, which would speed up my selling idea. It involves using Red Laser. Not sure if I want to write about it on here, but I know it is a fantastic idea, if someone hasn't already invented it.

This, That, The Other Thing...

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Couple of things going on in my life. Thought i'd share.

Feet! Ever since I started the "diet" in January, I also have been doing a bit of running on a treadmill. One issue I ran into recently was that my left heel would get sore, and tingle a bit. This is the same leg where I broke my leg in 2005, and I was concerned that my running may be causing issues. My friend mentioned that he went to Foot & Ankle Care Associates on 108 Washington Street. I made an appointment, and they determined that I have a slightly higher arch than normal, which causes me to run on the outside of my foot, and caused Plantar Fasciitis, but no heel spur according to x-rays. Long story short is that they took a mold of my feet, and are making me orthotics which I will put in my running shoes. I'll update later on how that goes.

Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP)! If you haven't been paying attention this is the hot new sport according to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. My friend Matt has been telling me about it since June, he bought one and uses it in Ocean City, NJ. Apparently, it's been the newest thing to start using on the Hudson River, and there's no rentals, but you can learn to ride one by taking a class with the NY Kayak Company or on Wednesday nights 6-8pm they offer a class for beginners who want to try SUP. I signed up for the 2 hour class and tried it last Saturday. I had a lot of fun, fell off the board about 20 times, I would do it again, but since I am 6'3.5 - I had a board that was 11'6" and had some major issues balancing on it because my center of gravity is so much higher than smaller people. Towards the end of the session, I got better and was using muscles in my legs that I never used before while running. Also note that when doing SUP I was wearing a life jacket the whole time.

Million dollar idea: Open up a SUP rental company in Hoboken and operate out of Weehawken or Hudson Cove. The laws of a SUP is that it is considered a vessel according to the US Coast Guard. Translation? You can take it anywhere on the Hudson River. Of course the last thing you want are people renting the SUP, going out into the Hudson and getting run over by boats. I would have to imagine that renters would be restricted to just the coves, and not allowed to enter the Hudson unless they have an instructor with them. The NY Kayak company doesn't rent SUPs. You can store your own SUP at their store (located at Pier 40) for the season for $800 and go anywhere you want. Again, I think in 4 years from now you will see an explosion of people doing this on the Hudson. It's a fun way to exercise, and get to explore the coastline of the Hudson River.

Also for those who think "Ewwwwww! The Hudson River is so nasty!" - you should do a bit more research. The Hudson River is actually much cleaner than you think. I'm not advocating going into the River and drinking the water, but I don't think it's any less safe than going into the ocean at any of the shore points.

Here's some mini-reviews:

Chicken Factory! I tried the Chicken Factory the other day. Don't let the name fool you, it should be called Korean Chicken Factory. I tried the Bulgoki (Korean BBQ Beef with Rice), and I liked it - but think the portions could be bigger. Definitely was hungry after eating it. I will try some of their other items on the menu.

Farside! If you haven't been to the Farside in a while, like me, you should really get over there and try their new revamped menu. I'm a bit of a foodie, and have to say it's easily one of the most underrated kitchens in Hoboken. This will sound dumb, but everything is good on the menu. One of the biggest criticisms I have in Hoboken is how "average" the bars are with their lame kitchens. If you live anywhere near Farside, I would highly recommend you go there and try their food. I'd be frankly shocked if anyone was disappointed, I loved the crabcake sandwich the other night and the 1/2 rack of ribs were delicious. Also try the garlic Parmesan French fries.

Taco Truck! I have been a long and true advocate of the Taco Truck, and now the store is open. It is fantastic, and if you haven't tried the Taco Truck store yet, I do actually pity you. I heard grumblings about how the portions are too small, and I can agree to that - they aren't giant Tacos. To me, it is a simple equasion of taste to price. For example, I said how at Chicken Factory I felt like the portions were too small - but it was good. Whereas, Taco Truck is also a bit small, but I think the food is just fantastic. I'll pay more money for great food. They told me the other day that two people came into the store and ordered the Seanito off the Secret Menu. I found that funny.

Clam Broth House: I wrote about my first impression a few weeks back and I have been back to the CBH since then. I have to say that i'm glad I went back. I tried a few other things on the menu - like the Margherita Pizza and Guinness Fish and Chips. Both were very good. Only issue I still have is that I have been back three times, and each time I sat at the bar - and yet it still took the bartender longer than five minutes to acknowledge that I was at the bar. I don't expect a bartender to come running over immediately, but I worked in the industry - and it almost becomes a joke when I look at my friend like "Do we have to raise our hand to get noticed?" It's too bad because I know one of the bartenders there and she's fantastic, and even she was busy chatting with some customers while I sat there with a girl friend and wondered if she would come over to us. I finally had to shout her name in order to get her attention, and this is at a bar with maybe 12 people sitting down. Oh well.

Lucky's! I am so looking forward to this opening. Why? Two reasons. One - Five Guys Burger and Fries doesn't deliver (for free). Two - I have a co worker who lives in NYC and raves about this place. Says that it is different than FGBF, but very good. The sign says they are opening Summer 2010 - I don't think that is happening. But mark my words, I guarantee you that when this place opens, that FGBF will "suddenly" deliver for free, instead of the bullshit $3 delivery charge.

Joey's BBQ! While i'm ranting a bit - I have to write about Joey's. I love the food, but can't stand it when I call there, with a good 45 minutes until they close and get told that "they are no longer accepting deliveries". This has happened about three times, and i'm tired of it. I'm someone who eats later at night, I just don't usually get hungry until about 8:30pm or later.

La Isla! When i'm not eating from the places I mentioned above, I try to "eat healthy" during the weekdays. When I do - I go to La Isla and order their chicken breast. It's the best deal in town. A rotisserie chicken breast for $3.50. I get it every night for dinner, pair it with broccoli, spinach or asparagus. Also I use a dash of Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce #7 on the side (probably about 1 tablespoon). I dip the chicken edge (sort of like how you would dip sushi into soy sauce) into the BBQ sauce, and it's soooo good. If you are watching your weight like I do - this is a great way to have a good meal and not kill yourself with too many calories.

I am usually very careful on weeknights to limit my carb intake - so that I can enjoy Joeys, Lucky's, CBH, Taco Truck, Farside or Chicken Factory on weekends! Remember people the key word is MODERATION! I don't order those during the week, only on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Whud Up Wid Dat: The Blame Game

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I was on my way to work the other day and walking at Newark and Hudson Street.

It is a very busy street corner at 8:30 am, with cars moving along a one-way street and pedestrians on corners, some that patiently wait and others that clearly jaywalk. I was on the crosswalk, waiting, looking in the direction of cars coming from the north.

From the south, a jogger was running in the road, between the cars and the sidewalk. She was very fit, in her late 20's or early 30's, and wore a Lycra tank top and runners shorts. With the weather so hot and humid, she was drenched in sweat from a long morning of running.

She ran past me, and some other pedestrians on the crosswalk, and tried to cut across traffic in the middle of the street, between a break of a car and a taxi. Another pedestrian had the same idea - to jaywalk in front of a car that was about 15 feet away.

Well the result was expected. The pedestrian was looking north. The runner was coming from the south and tried to jaywalk across the traffic. She tripped over his feet and completely, and utterly ate pavement only 8 feet away from being hit from a taxi who jammed on their breaks.

She was in the middle of the intersection of Newark and Hudson, lying on the ground after landing hard on her hip and wrist which broke her fall. She looked up at the guy who accidentally tripped her with unmasked anger. She looked back at her, with concern and offered to help her up. She got up on her own after about 10 seconds, holding her hip grimacing in pain.

I waited there, in case someone needed a witness to what happened. But the two didn't even talk or cross words. She huffed away, still angry to what happened.

I'm sure when she tells the tale, it will be a story about a stupid guy who tripped her. Because something I have noticed in our society, especially with everyone my generation and younger - is the constant theme of "YOU WERE WRONG NOT ME".

Ever notice that? I do. It seems that no one in our society will ever take blame. It is all about deflecting blame to others. For example, if someone cuts you off on the highway and they are the idiot - you aren't the idiot for driving 55 mph in the left hand lane. Or if someone in Hoboken nearly runs you down with a car - to them you are the idiot jaywalking and to them you are the idiot driving your car too fast in town.

Maybe the girl who got hit was just angry about hurting herself and not angry at the guy. But I get the feeling that isn't the case. It seems to me that there isn't enough empathy in the world anymore, and strangely enough I read an article about this just the other day:
Today's students scored 40 percent lower on a measure of empathy than their elders did.

Learn To Lie

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Random weekend.

Let's just dive right in there and tell the tale of drama, intrigue and everything else.

Thursday night, the start of my three day weekend, i'm walking Rocco. I pass by Mulligan's bar, and two girls are outside the bar. I recognize them, Kira & Sarah they are bar regulars, who I often chat with, but don't "hang out with".

They stopped me...or better said, they stopped Rocco. Lots of petting for him and kisses and excitement from Rocco. The one girl, Kira, says "It's my birthday weekend! I'm turning 33. We are headed to the Zeppelin Beer Garden. There's going to be a bunch of people from here. Why don't you come along? It's Saturday at 4."

Why not?

Saturday rolls around and I head over to the Zeppelin. I don't know a soul going to the party, except Kira and her friend Sarah. I get there, order a drink and see them in a group sitting at the picnic long tables out in the back of the bar. I sit down, and start chatting with Kira & her friends. It was a good scene, everyone were "my kind of people" (which are the non-pretentious down-to-earth types).

Perfect example were two guys name Steve and Issac. Both are graphic artists, and they like street art. We talk about Banksy, Warhol and Basquiat. Issac has a skateboard and we talk about skateboarding, and my long-ago days where I was a teenage skate rat. It was beer fueled, but inspired chatting about those subjects that was a fun time to just...talk.

I meet other friends of Kira and the day turns into night. One of them is named Emma. Emma was a very gregarious, outgoing personality with a fun sense of humor. She was about 5'8, brown hair, hazel eyes and weighed about 235 pounds.

The reason why I mention her weight will be clear later.

Emma sits down next to me at about 8pm. We get to talking and she's funny. Clearly has a sense of humor, and who doesn't like that. While we are talking she says "So I heard you are single."

I didn't tell Emma this, but I know that Kira knows I am single. So Emma must have found out from Kira. No big deal.

I tell her that i'm single, and she's shocked by it. I thank her, and try to defray the issue. She continues on, saying how she's single and we should date each other.

I'm trying my best to just downplay that. Saying that's very nice of her, and i'm flattered, etc.

She continues on, saying how cute I am and then is more persistent. Finally she says, "Straight up - tell me the TRUTH, why wouldn't you date me?"

OK everyone. I have been writing this blog for a while and if by now you don't realize this about me, here's a little tidbit. I tell the truth. Far, far, far too often I tell the truth especially when it wasn't asked for. No, I don't go running up to random strangers to insult them or go out of my way to really make my friends feel bad by the wrongly placed comment. But my mouth always gets me into trouble because i'm terrible at lying. Lying takes too much work. You have to think of a good lie and then you have to remember it days or weeks later. Nah, not for me, I will just tell the truth rather than lie.

So lets recap. We have Emma who is giving me the full court press. Up until this point we had been chatting for a good 25 minutes, one on one, and most of the conversation had been about why I should be dating her. She also told me about how she was on weight watchers and lost 35 pounds, too. So at one point of time, she was 265 pounds. I encouraged her and told her about how I often go to the gym and how I, too, have issues with diet and food.

OK. So back to the "Straight up - be honest, why wouldn't you date me?"

I reply back, "Straight up?"

She says, "Yep. Tell me why. I want you to be honest."

What do you do? Sure, in a perfect world I could have a perfect answer here that doesn't hurt anyone's feelings. But it was 8pm on Saturday after 4 hours of drinking. I have a girl who is clearly interested in me...but I'm not.

My goal wasn't to hurt her feelings, but she told me to be honest.

This is what I told her: "I think you have a a great personality, nice eyes, but for me, the weight would be an issue."

That was about as gentle as I could say it.

And, I will save my friends the emails about how you NEVER say ANYTHING to a girl about her weight. I fully recognize and understand how this is a big issue. It's not like she was 20 pounds overweight and i'm saying to her, "You are ENORMOUS!" This girl is clearly about 100 pounds overweight and knows i'm single - so what do you say? I could gently be like "Well, you just aren't my type..." and stay vague with that one. Yes, in many ways I feel somewhat bad about saying what I said, but she ASKED me.

I know that I should have handled the whole situation better. One of my greatest faults is that I very honest & I always speak my mind...and having a few extra beers in me didn't help this situation. My thought process really wasn't about being cruel, it was just she asked me for an honest opinion...and I was, well, honest. In retrospect, I should have just lied or deflected.

Her reaction to my comments were, well, unexpected.

She wasn't angry or ran away crying. She told me she knows she is overweight, and working on it. Even going so far as to tell me she should date her NOW while she's overweight to get the "best thing ever" when she is skinny again. I encouraged her to keep working at the weight & exercise goals - telling her that I, too, struggle with eating right and exercising four days a week.

We talked for another 20 minutes, and even after I told her I wasn't interested she STILL was hitting on me. I showed Emma streaming video from my iPhone which was connected to cameras in my apartment using VueZone. I saw that Rocco was up, and sitting in the middle of my family room. I looked at my watch and I have left him from 4pm to 8:45pm, so I knew that it might be a good thing to get back and walk him in the next hour. She suggested that WE go back to my apartment and walk Rocco.

Ahem.

Anyhow, I told Emma thanks but no thanks and said my goodbyes to her and others in the birthday party. I told Kira that if they leave the party at the beer Garden that I would see her at Mulligan's later. I left the bar and took a cab to Hoboken.

I get home, and take Rocco for a walk. Up to this point, I would say that I wasn't stone cold sober but wasn't raging drunk. I was in a good place and since it was only 9:30pm, I figure that I will have a few drinks.

I would normally walk Rocco home at this point, but I looked in Mulligan's and it was fairly dead. There were a few bar stools open, and I brought Rocco into the bar, even if he is underage. :)

Of course in 99% of other bars I wouldn't bring a dog into a bar. But I know all the bartenders and the owner, and they have told me multiple times that Rocco was always welcome in the bar. Up until this point I never really had Rocco in the bar for longer than 10 minutes. But screw it - he can hang with me at the bar.

Well, suffice to say, Rocco was a big hit. I sat at the entrance of the bar, and every girl or guy who likes dogs would walk in and immediately bend over to pet or play with Rocco. I sat there drinking, and made sure he didn't trip anyone up. While I am sitting there for about an hour, meeting various people I get a text message from Kira at 11:15pm:

"Did u say 2 my friend that u didn't wanna talk 2 her cause she's a bigger girl?"

Now I told you the story as I remember it. Emma and I easily talked for about 40 minutes at the Beer Garden. Now living in Hoboken one of the things that comes with living here and having multiple random friends is the key word: DRAMA.

DRAMA: Everything is exaggerated and misunderstood by outside observers.

Now Kira wasn't next to Emma or myself listening to our conversation. It appears that Emma said something to Kira about our conversation and that's the text message I get and boy...isn't that just drama 101.

One thing I have learned about Drama is that responding on text messages or email or chats are a bad idea. You lose so much when you try to defend your actions over those mediums and anytime this happens you have one goal: talk to the person who is offended in person.

So I reply back that I would rather talk to her about this rather than text about it.

The night goes on, and at about midnight at the bar, there's one really cute girl who is digging my dog. She's tall, blonde and pretty. Yes, yes, and yes. We chat a bit, and she's giving me good natured grief about bringing a dog into the bar - and i'm telling her how I never did it before. But then get on to the subject that "everything happens for a reason" and one thing leads to another...and we have a date this week. More on THAT for another day.

I still have to talk about Kira in person about what happened.

Learn from me, people. Learn to lie. It will save you much grief.

Thinking Of Getting Rid Of My Car

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One of the biggest things of being American is car ownership. People love their cars. It is an extension of themselves, in many ways. From the neo-hippies in their Prius, to the muscle-car guido in their Ford Mustang to the yuppie driving the Range Rover. Everyone loves the freedom and fun that their car brings them.

When I first moved up to Hoboken, I didn't have a car. Now, this was back in the mid-90's, and it was a bit of a pain in the ass to get back to Philly. I basically had two choices. One, I could take the train. Two, I could rent a car.

Taking a train then was the days before the Acela. It was usually around $125 round trip from 34th Street / Penn Station to Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, taking the Keystone or NE Regional train. I remember lots of nights waiting for the PATH at Newark Station and really hating not owning a car.

Then, I tried renting cars. At the time we had Hertz in town, up by 14th Street in Hoboken, and I would usually rent a car Saturday morning and want to return it on Sunday. The problem with renting a car, was that every car rental place is CLOSED on Sunday. I hated that. I know why they were closed Sunday and it wasn't because they want to keep the Lord's day sacred - they want to jab the consumers with having to rent their cars an extra day. It would steam me when I would get back to Hoboken by 6pm and then have to wake up before work, the next day, and drop the car back off at the rental place. Was a royal pain in the ass.

Then Zip Car came along. They have parking spots all over Hoboken. There's one parking garage two blocks from my apartment. With my Corporation X discount fee I only pay $25 a year membership to Zip Car, and then weekday hourly rates for a Mazda 3 from $11 or weekend hourly rates of $13 (BMW 328i as $15 weekdays or $17 weekends). With a Zip Car you just park it where you found it, without the hassle of going to the rental counter to check your car back in or paying for extra days. If I have a car for 26 hours, I pay the daily fee plus two extra hours of use, which would be $115 + 26, or $141 for the Mazda.

Sure, it isn't *my* car. But lets break down what I pay for my car a month.

First, I own my car. I bought it in 1999 for $7,000. I pay some maintenance costs over the years, like oil or new tires. The car A/C doesn't work anymore, which was a real pain last weekend when I drove my cousin and her fiancée to our family reunion.

Second, I pay $185 a month for my parking spot across the street from my building.

Third, I pay about $90 a month on insurance for my car & condo.

Fourth, each long drive costs me about $25 in gas.

So, what are we looking at? $300 a month, or $3600 a year just on that alone.

I could drive the Zip Car BMW for 20 days a year or the Mazda 3 31 days before I spent $3600.

I use my car maybe 4-5 times a year to travel outside of Hoboken. Then another 4-5 times a year I may use it if I want to go to the mall or watch a movie or something. My car gets to the point where the security and clock drain the battery down to empty and I have to carry out a battery jump charger to restart my car. Every year I spend about $100 and buy a new car battery from the auto center.

But there is that sense of "freedom" that I enjoy. Also, I would hate to be dependent upon the "Rental Gods" and hope that around the holidays that I get the car I want to drive vs everyone who uses Zip Car to rent the car on Thanksgiving or Christmas weekend. I know me - I know if I thought about a quick trip to the food store or Home Depot or seeing a movie I would "think" about that $11 weekday charge versus paying (in my mind) $0 for my car (when, technically I am paying $300 a month for the car).

Maybe it is time for me to seriously consider getting rid of my car.

Do you have Zip Car? How do YOU like it? Leave a comment below or email me!

Trenton owes 13 BILLION dollars. Billion. We are slashing everything.

But everyone needs to look at this:

http://www.newjerseygasprices.com/Tax_Info.aspx.

Look at the gas tax in surrounding states:
PA: 50.7 cents per gallon.
NY: 59.6 cents per gallon.
DE: 41.4 cents per gallon.

What does NJ pay?

32.9 cents per gallon.

Another interesting fact about NJ is that full service pumping costs consumers about six cents per gallon. Why? Why pay for this? Convenient? Sure. But NECESSARY? Hell no. You have too many soft people in NJ who whine about pumping gas, and that is ridiculous. PA, NJ and DE residents have no problem doing it and i'm sure NJ residents can do it just fine, too.

I can only hope the governor takes two key steps. Abolish full-serve, and raise gas taxes by 16 cents. The total cost to NJ residents would only be a 10 cent increase once we did away with full serve and maybe we can then think about ways to keep some more teachers, police and firefighters.

Rumors, Observations, Hearsay...

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A little birdy told me that an Applebees is looking to develop at the old Barnes and Nobles site. They are looking to get a liquor license, and running into some resistance. I personally think that even without a liquor license that the place would still rake in money. I'm standing firm to my belief that an IHOP would destroy everyone if they built one there.

Another rumor I heard is that Stacks is looking for a second location...might be uptown or downtown. Do you think a second location to Stacks would hurt the midtown location's traffic?

A third confirmation (from the owners) I heard was that Park & Sixth is opening a new deli on Grove St. So you people working in Jersey City get a great new deli to order from for lunch.

Another interesting tidbit I heard was that at the

I was at a community meeting on Saturday. There was a crowd of about 20 people, listening to the presenters. The presenters were parents, who, on their own, reached out to other parents, playground manufacturers and children to come up with some ideas about updating some of our playgrounds in Church Square Park.

They seemed like good ideas to me. The plan was about trying to raise money, use grants or corporate/private donations. Larger donations could involve specific park benches having a plaque affixed, while smaller donations would get bricks with the person who donated name on it. Seems like some good ideas here, and hopefully the park can get some desperate upgrades. Every time I walk Rocco into CSP, the parks are full of kids playing & parents watching over them. Clearly there is a need for better use of our existing park space.

Today marks 310 days since Rocco was born.

He's a great little guy. Very smart. A slight stubborn streak. Quiet, rarely barks. Playful with dogs and children. I would recommend the breed to anyone who has the time for a dog in their lives.

Before getting Rocco I did a lot of research on the breed, and tried my best to find answers about French Bulldogs. I wanted to know what to expect, and the best way to train my little guy. I figure I would outline some of what we went through and if you found this page as a French Bulldog owner, I hope it helps.

House Breaking: When I got Rocco, I took off a week from work. My entire week consisted of taking him out, every hour on the hour. Yes, I did this for an entire week. I would set my alarm and scoop him up, walk outside and when he went to the bathroom, I would say "Parktime. Parktime.", I didn't yell it, just quietly said it. My sister taught me this, because she trains seeing eye dogs for the same thing - teaching them that the word "Parktime" means - time to eliminate. The key was being consistent. Hourly walks. Saying "Parktime" and it did take me longer than a week, but he figured it out in about a month. Also I rewarded him with treats & petting when he would pee right after I said "Parktime".

Crate Training: My personal opinion on crate training is that no dog should be left in a crate all day. Also I think French Bulldogs have a good personality for crating. They are easy going dogs, with a low energy level. That was part of the reason why I bought my Frenchie. I knew I would be working during the week, and wanted a friend when I got home or on the weekends. Also, I could afford a dog walker. When he was a puppy I would have the walker come twice a day, so he wasn't alone for longer than 3 hours between walks. Once he reached three months I had the dog walker come once a day.

My dog walker has a "doggy day care" option, where she picks up Rocco, and drives him to her home. He hangs out at her home, with her dogs and other ones she watches, from 10am to 4pm - he was exhausted by the end of the day from all the playing. I did that after he reached three months until he was five months during the week. After he reached six months, I scaled that back a bit, so that he did the day care on Tuesday and Thursday, and got a walk once a day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

At first, Rocco did pee in his crate. This was when he was six weeks old until about twelve weeks old. It didn't happen every day, but I spent a lot of days coming home from work and cleaning his crate. He eventually was able to hold it longer as he got older.

Food: Frenchies do best with all-natural foods. I fed him Wellness at first, but found that it caused a lot of gas & loose stool. I switched to Candidae, and found the Chicken & Rice did a good job with his flatulence. Be very careful when doing your dog food research. I used to think Iams (Procter & Gamble) and Science Diet (Colgate-Palmolive) were good brands until I found out they are owned by big companies, which uses filler and additives, not whole food. I measure every 3/4 cup of food that I feed Rocco. I am very judicious with the amount of "treats" he gets - and only give treats when he works for them. There's nothing worse than seeing an overfed dog.

Exercise: Rocco gets a decent clip of exercise. Daily walks during the week, and the doggy day care keep him content. On the weekends, I usually take him out for a long walk or the dog park each day. I think a Frenchie can get a solid 30 minutes to hour of exercise (which can be a long walk) or playtime (with other dogs or the owner) and be happy. A tired dog is a happy dog.

Training: I took Rocco to a dog trainer at three months. I detailed that experience in another entry which you can read in detail here. Even after that training, I still train him at least twice a week doing puppy pushups (sit, down, stand) and stay & come. Part of the training is being consistent and firm. Here's a perfect example of what I mean:

I was at the local dog park yesterday. The wind blew down branches and leaves into the park and Rocco LOVES chewing & eating branches and leaves. So when he would try to eat a branch, I would use the "Leave It" command, and if he already had it I would use the "Drop It" command. He listened. I must have used it about 30 times, but it was like a crack addict surrounded by coke rocks - he was loving all the branches. But that didn't matter, I didn't just give up or get excited. Kept on him. I watched another owner try to command her Labrador. It was useless. She had a pleading command voice, "Baxter, no! Come on Baxter! Don't eat that Baxter!". She talked to him like he was a six year old human, not a dog. I don't do that with Rocco. Firm commands, and if he doesn't listen, I will approach him and correct.

French Bulldogs have a stubborn streak. Training them takes patience and sometimes it wears on you when for the 1,000th time you say "Leave it" or "Drop It" and he doesn't listen. Happened this morning, where I said "Drop It" while he was walking & chewing on a stick. I had to stop him, reach in his mouth, and remove the small stick. He looked at me with a "It wasn't me!" look and I kept walking.

If you can't do this or won't do this the French Bulldog will walk all over you.

Sleeping Arrangements: When I am watching TV, I will invite him up to lie on my lap. Some experts may say this will send mixed signals, but I think the difference with Rocco is that he doesn't jump up on me and lie down. He will calmly sit and stare at me. This could go on for 20 minutes. Then I will pick him up and put him on my lap. He is usually asleep within 10 minutes after that.

At night Rocco sleeps on the dog bed, in my room, at the foot of my bed.

Walking issues: One of my biggest problems that Rocco and I had were issues with walking. From the first day I got him, my French Bulldog wouldn't walk more than 10 steps before just coming to a complete halt. It was almost comical, because it was almost like him being dragged down the street...then he would walk for a little while...and get dragged some more. It was very, very frustrating.

The fix was somewhat simple - you can't give in. It sounds cruel, but if you stop for your dog, that means he wins. Because then he starts to think that if he stops, you will stop. The more you stop, the more he will stop. Eventually, HE controls the walks.

I would keep walking, and praise him when he walked well. I also gave him treats when he would walk by my side. If he stopped, I would keep walking, with him resisting, down the street. It wouldn't be him getting literally dragged, but he was resisting and walking behind me. Just being consistent, he broke out of it. Today, he still occasionally just comes to a dead halt while I am walking him. I don't stop. Just keep walking and just realize this is part of being a Frenchie dog owner.

Another thing I did was early on, around the house, I would tie the leash to my belt. Everywhere I went - the kitchen, the bathroom, the laundry, etc - Rocco would be leashed to me. This was also important to get him used to always walking with me.

Overheating: I haven't had a summer with Rocco yet. So I will have to write more on this later. The last warm day we had, I had him out for an extended period of time. He was breathing hard and it was different than other days. He was stopping on me much more than normal, and I actually got a bit worried and carried him to the last 1/2 block.

Snoring: My Frenchie snores a bit, but it's not as bad as I expected. I was expecting him to keep me up at night and was worried about him sleeping in my room. He's fine. When I watch TV and he sits on my lap, he snorts and snores slightly. Otherwise it isn't a big deal.

Health Problems: I was aware of health problems of purebred dogs. Early on, Rocco had lots of issues aside from the normal vaccinations. He had canine flu, kennel cough, an eye infection (twice!) and ear issues (wax). You MUST be prepared to deal with this. I bought VPI insurance, and didn't get it for minor things but for major issues. To date, I have spent a good deal of money on the vet bills (I would hazard its well over $1,000). But since he was neutered, I haven't had any issues (that's 4 months so far...)

I don't think it was anything more than a puppy & living in a city environment with many other dogs which contributed to those issues.

Walks: One thing I do, since I am living in the city, is take Rocco just about everywhere I go (unless it is a Supermarket or a Mall). Otherwise, walking about Hoboken, he goes to the stores with me. Often, I ask permission if I can bring a dog inside the store. If they don't allow it, I sometimes keep him leashed outside only when I can see him when I am inside the store. This, again, is a personal issue. I want him to get out of the house as often as possible for exercise - and not keep him trapped inside.

On nights where I am going out to a bar or restaurant, like on a Friday or Saturday, I have been letting him stay outside the crate. So far he has been good. I tried to see if I could leave him out during the workday when he was 7 months old and he did well for about 4 weeks until I found one day that he chewed on my wood furniture. Bad, Rocco, bad. So, he's back in the crate again - we will try it again in a few months.

Once he reaches adulthood and is out of his chewing phase, I will allow him full access of the apartment and see how he adjusts.

That's about it. If you own a Frenchie and have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email. I will help as best as I can.

I'm Back! From Outer Space!

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Sorry, I have been bad with my updates. Truth be told I have found that Facebook is just so much easier for updates. But here's a bunch of quick hits to let you know what is going on in my life...

Diet: Remember I was writing about my crazy diet? Well, it basically worked. I have been hitting the gym strong since January 1 and lost a few pounds of fat and gained a few pounds of muscle. My goal isn't a 6-pack or anything silly. Just to look good and feel good. Right now, and my current diet is basically like this:

  • Morning: Power Shake ((Muscle Milk Light), Coffee (half and half w/sugar)
  • Mid-day: 5 Egg Whites with a touch of ketchup
  • Lunch: Energy Kitchen Wrap or Hamburger, no sides or Chicken & sweet potato.
  • Pre-Gym: Energy Kitchen Chicken Stir Fry on Plate or Chicken & Broccolini.
  • Post-Gym: Power Shake (Muscle Milk Light)
  • Dinner: Varies. Try to keep mostly healthy. Usually have 1 Corona with dinner, but that's it.

Sure, I could cut out the coffee and the beer, but they are my little cheats and make me feel like i'm not starving myself. Plus, I allow myself to cheat on the weekends. For me, it works. The reason why i'm sharing this with you is that you CAN diet without killing yourself. You CAN lose weight if you stick to exercising 4-5 days a week (more on this later).

Taco Truck: If you live in Hoboken, read my blog and haven't been to Taco Truck, you fail. This is easily the "Best Of Hoboken" by a long shot. I haven't been this excited for a business since Hoboken Eddie was in town. The food is super fresh. The truck isn't some grease pit, it is clean and environmentally friendly. The staff is awesome. Perfect example is allowing me to create the "Seanito". With my diet, i'm trying to reduce the amount carbs during the week. They make an awesome pork "torta" (sandwich), which I love which has pork, onions, avocado, pickled jalapenos. I told them to make me the sandwich and hold the bread and put it over rice. I called it the "Seanie Special". After a while, they said they wanted to call it the "Seanito". So now it is on the "secret menu". I told some people on Facebook about it, and the Taco Truck guys have told me people have actually ordered it (people who I don't know). I found that funny. So, there you go - try the Taco Truck. Easily the best thing in Hoboken in a long time.

Stefani Pierogi Truck: Another truck? Wasn't I just talking about a diet?! Well truth be told this just opened recently and I had to try it. It's another truck in town, and this is not a diet-friendly truck, but it is very good. I had the pierogis which were onion and potato, first boiled and then lightly pan fried. They were excellent, if a bit small. I also tried the kielbasa sandwich, with sauerkraut and Dijon mustard. I think the sandwich was "good", but not great. Wasn't a fan of the bread, even if it was from Balthazar bakery. I suggested to them they should replace it with a good Amoroso's Italian bread. Would be a much better choice, and if you are from Philly I know you agree with me.

Rocco: The "Rock Man" is awesome. I have a dog walker who walks him daily ($12) & also does a "doggie day care" for him ($20) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She has a nice big backyard, watches a few other dogs too. I tried to let Rocco out of the cage for about a month (around February, when he was 7 months) and he was mostly good, until he decided to chew on my furniture about four weeks in. He's back in the crate, and I will try again when he is 1 year old. On Friday nights when I run the Philadelphia Phillies Club of Hoboken at Mulligan's bar, I let him out of the crate to be alone for 3-4 hours. So far he has been good. Also, if you are looking for a dog walker...email me and I will be happy to get you in touch with my walker.

Summer: From Memorial Day to Labor Day I took off every Friday from work. No reason. No plans. Just three day weekends the whole summer. I never did this before at my job of 16 years (how many people do you know who had 1 job out of college for 16 years anymore?)

Eagles: People keep asking me, "What do you think of Kolb?" My basic answer is that I hope i'm wrong about him. Honestly, I think he isn't as good as the Eagles have been hyping him to be. He gets intercepted too often. Reminds me of Bobby Hoying. I think next season we will start out strong, but end up 7-9. Also a name you want to start watching is Mike Kafka. 4th round draft pick by the Eagles out of Northwestern. My spidey senses tell me that if Kolb is a bust, this is our starter in late 2011.

Also another problem with the Eagles is that I don't have a jersey. All those years of wearing Westbrook, or Owens, or Corey Simon...and now I have to pick another player to follow. I like Jackson, but EVERYONE has a Jackson jersey. I'm waiting for another player to emerge and decide on a player to root for. I'm definitely NOT getting Kolb.

Phillies: I was telling my friend the other day about how awesome it is to have a good baseball team. In the years when the Phillies were God-awful, I would still go to Shea to watch them play the Mets, but certainly not following them like I do now. I ordered the MLB.com package and watch them 4-5 days a week now. I know about every player on the team. I'm keeping track of the farm system and some of the names down there. I haven't been this obsessed about the Phillies...ever. It's FUN to have something like this to watch over summer, whereas in years past i'd just be counting down the summer months to Eagles training camp and then counting down the days to the pre-season, and then counting down the days to the regular season. With my Fridays off this summer, I definitely want to try to see about driving down to Philly and catch some games now (with the only issue is what to do about Rocco).

Gym: I'm hitting Club H for 4 days a week. I go Monday (Biceps/Triceps), Tuesday (Back), skip Wednesday, and go Thursday (Chest), Friday (Shoulders). I mix up my 25 minutes of cardio each week, trying to keep my body off balance. Right now i'm jogging at 6mph. Next week plan to jog at 6mph and throw in a few 8.5mph sprints for 30 seconds. I benched 215 twice yesterday, and tried 225 with a spotter. This is good for me, and considering where I started a big improvement. I feel better and I sleep better in the last few months, and hope to eventually try some jogging outside soon.

That's mostly it right now. Life is chugging along and i'm having fun. Looking forward to the summer and some new experiences.

...Doomed To Repeat It?

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Here's a graph of the S&P for the last two years:
033110a.JPG

This is the S&P between 1929-1930:
033110c.JPG

This is what happened after 1930:
033110b.JPG

I'm not predicting anything, but those graphs are a bit chilling to see how the economy just deflated after the "Roaring 20's". I certainly hope we aren't headed that way, but my friend Matt sent me those graphs a few months ago and I thought they were very interesting. Only time will tell how the next three years go.

Plus the S&P has risen in recent months. Who knows what will happen.

Hoboken Eddie

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Living in Hoboken everyone has a different perception of our town. My story began here in 1995, when I moved in with a two college friends into a railroad apartment on 6th and Bloomfield for $900 a month - total. They were crazy days when the majority of the town was filled with post-college kids looking for cheap places to drink, eat, and relax.

During that time, our local haunt was Stinky Sullivan's on 6th and Washington. It was a stone's throw from our apartment, and it had a good jukebox.

After a few months living at our new apartment, I saw a guy standing outside the bar, in between Washington and Bloomfield on 6th, carrying a stainless steel tray filled with pulled meat from a station wagon into the kitchen. He had salt and pepper hair, a ruddy face, and notice that the kitchen below the bar, which was never used before this day, had a few other people doing some kind of renovation work.

I stop him and asked what was going on - if a new restaurant was opening. He said that he was opening one, and it was his kitchen - his name was 032610.jpgChef Edmund Patrick McCarthy, or "Hoboken Eddie". Eddie was a funny guy, always had a smile on his face and generous to a fault. After his kitchen opened, I would dare say that I was one of his "regulars", if not his primary customer. I couldn't get enough of those pulled pork sandwiches with his special homemade BBQ sauce.

Being a regular, I would often hang out with Eddie after closing time, and we would get to talking. I found out that Eddie's dad actually was a graduate of Steven's Tech and he had NINE siblings. He left home around fifteen years old, to get a job as a dishwasher.

One thing led to another and Eddie moved from washing dishes to making dishes. He credits his mother as his greatest influence for his craft, and after many years working in a kitchen he started to develop his own sauces. Back in the early 80's, in between his days hanging out at Maxwell's and living on 4th and Monroe, he would make some extra money by selling it at local street fairs or with "Joey and Stevey" at Truglio's Meat Market on 10th and Park for cheese and hamburger meat.

He left our state of New Jersey for greener pastures in the mid 80's to work in Vermont and later in Key West, towards the end of the decade. He made many friends over that time, earning the nicknames of "Green Mountain Eddie" or "Salty Eddie". He has lots of stories to tell, and lived a full and rich life just cooking and having as much fun as possible.

Eddie returned to NJ, and it was during that time I learned those stories, and watched as he started making his sauces in the little kitchen below Sullivan's bar. They multiplied in numbers and he eventually had about twelve different sauces. I used to help him bottle those sauces before the Arts and Music Festivals, adding labels to the still warm bottles and having a few beers with him and his co-workers.

Those were great times, when the kitchen was open. You know how you can look back on a certain part of your life and realize how good it was - Hoboken Eddie's was one of those times. There aren't many times that a really great kitchen comes along in Hoboken, and Eddie's was simply outstanding. Pure comfort food - from braised beef sandwiches, hamburgers, mac and cheese and fries galore. There was nothing fancy about his greasy spoon. It could sit about 10 people, and that was pushing it. Often I would walk into the kitchen and there would be a line of people waiting to order. I would hate it. I wanted this little kitchen to myself and these "intruders" were ruining my special kitchen.

Years past and Eddie decided to focus on his sauces and close up the kitchen. It was a very sad day for regulars like myself, and I even tried my best to have Eddie & his partners do something with renting The Farside kitchen where they make his dishes and used his sauce - but it fell through.

Hoboken Eddie left and started selling his sauces to local stores, boutiques and restaurants. Eventually his created an online store, http://www.hobokeneddies.com, where he now sells seventeen different sauces, and has won Chili Pepper magazine's famous Fiery Food Challenge. Some of Eddie's other sauces have won awards, too: the HomeMade BBQ Sauce, Hot Sauce, Jamaican BBQ, Merlie's Magic, Home Grown, Sweet and Sour and Spicy Mustard are all award winning sauces.

You can still spot Eddie at every Arts and Music Festival in Hoboken. He's usually selling his sauces on the corner of 6th and Washington Street, every year, and is worth going out to meet. His sauces are available locally, in almost every boutique food store. In the future Eddie hopes to make his return to Hoboken by opening up a new restaurant, with the possibility of making a franchise of Hoboken Eddies and there are some plans for a possible reality cooking show, too. You can keep up with him on his Facebook page, and I would encourage you to try those sauces...and as Eddie would say, "Ya Hear Me??"

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/03/10/colorado.lesbians.church/index.html

When I read stories like this, I happen to think of a letter that was written in May 2000, by a journalist for the Halifax Daily News.

This letter points out the logical flaw in "homosexuality is wrong because the bible says so" argument, if homosexuality is wrong because it says so in the bible - why aren't any other activities now viewed as innocuous but once regarded as unacceptable are also offenses against God's law? How can one part of Leviticus be deemed as etched in stone, written by God himself, indisputable - when other parts are deemed as archaic?

I was raised a Catholic. I went to LaSalle and Villanova. I had eight years of regular school, along with the requirement of one class per semester for biblical teachings. I'm not an expert, but what I did glean over those years is that religion should be about LOVE. It should be about FORGIVENESS. It should be about UNDERSTANDING.

I'm not gay. I do have relatives that are. I love them, and respect their CHOICE. I have a hard time believing that with everything that's wrong with the world that in the name of religion we need to vilify two consenting adults that have genuine love for each other, and want to give love to their own children. Think about how many unloved, unadopted children there are in the world.

I don't renounce the teachings of Jesus. I don't renounce the word of the bible. I have my own relationship with Jesus, and it is one about living my life in a way to help the world around me. I make mistakes and trample over people's feelings and I try to make amends when I do. I try to do charitable things in actions, or at the very least with financial compensation (Charity: Water and Red Cross for Haiti were my last two recent donations and I work with my employer to find time to volunteer for charity projects). Oh, and remember how the good Christian Pat Robertson was nice enough to say that Haiti brought the earthquake destruction upon themselves due to their pact with the devil 200 years ago. Did Pat Robertson have a reason for the Chilean earthquake, too?

This letter isn't necessarily "real", but I think you will find it amusing and, in a way, informative. Read on Christians...

Not So Neighborly...

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Saturday was like any other day. I woke up around 7am, to the noise of claws on hardwood floors. They make a small clicking noise, but speak volumes: "I am up and I need a walk."

Rocco was awake.

He doesn't bark or whine. He just waits and when impatient, will walk around my small bedroom.

I get up and take him out. Often, I just open my door and let him into the hallway of our condo building. I have done this many, many times and he gets to work off some extra energy when I do it. Sometimes he runs ahead of me, sniffing and exploring. Other days I will walk 100 feet to the elevator and he's still at the door, looking at me with "aren't you forgetting something" expression. I love his personality.

Later that morning I decide that I would take Rocco to the dog park, then hit Vito's deli afterwards, killing two birds with one stone: Getting Rocco some exercise and me my lunch.

I get my coat and his leash, and head to the door. I let him out the door and he dashes off, scampering down the hall, while I follow. I see him reach the elevator and I hear the "ding" of the elevator bell. I guess the elevator arrived, and I see his ears perk up with his "recognition" expression. OK, I know he saw someone and he leaves my field of vision, headed to the elevator.

I'm still walking there, expecting someone was getting off the elevator and Rocco was greeting them.

I get to the elevator and the door to the elevator is 90% closed and there's no dog and no people.

I bang on the elevator door, shouting "Open the door!" and can hear a little girls frightened voice saying, "Doggie!" and a woman's voice calmly saying, "No, that's a nice doggie."

It is my neighbor, who has a four year old girl who is basically petrified of my seven month old, 22 pound French Bulldog. A dog that doesn't have a mean bone in his body, and loves everyone. But, to a four year old girl, my dog may look menacing and now she, her mother and my leash-free dog were on an elevator together, going from the third floor to the first floor.

Not good.

I briefly thought about taking the stairs, but then wondered what will happen when they reached the ground floor. Does Rocco stay in the lobby or on the elevator?

I waited for the elevator to come back, and the elevator was empty. I go to the first floor lobby to see a man standing there, and Rocco, just sniffing around like nothing major happened. The guy says, "I don't know who's dog that is."

My neighbor wasn't there, either.

I get off, grab Rocco and leash him. Yes, I know what you are thinking - I should have leashed him and this would never have happened. Part of me knows that i'm to blame here, but another part of me wonders two things:

1. Why couldn't my neighbor have hit the "Door Open" button? She could have been distracted, but...really?

2. I recognize that her daughter doesn't like my dog, but she leave the dog in the lobby...alone? Come on. If the roles were reversed, if her daughter hopped on the elevator with me would I leave her daughter in the lobby?

Suffice to say I was fairly angry. I leave the building and see my neighbor a block away, walking with her daughter, towards Washington Street.

Again, if I leashed my dog before opening the door none of this would happened, but I still think my neighbor was in the wrong here, too - she should have at least made sure I got my dog back safely.

What do you think? Leave a comment or email me. Also if you have issues commenting, send me an email, with that error.

Snowy Friday

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Been busy lately. Lots of things been happening, and just a few bullet points, and random thoughts for today.

I'm not a fan of shopping. My normal shopping experience is opening a J. Crew magazine and ordering maybe once or twice a year for clothes. Perhaps going to Bloomingdale's and buying Polo shirts. It isn't a question of not wanting to look good, just a question of boredom when it comes to shopping.

A few years back my old roommate Kristen would often shop for me. I would give her money, and she would go out and buy me things to wear. I only did it once or twice and went fairly well. Recently, a girl friend of mine, who loves to shop (lets call her "Diamond"), offered to do the same for me. We set a date and went into the city.

Diamond came to my house, looked at what I had in my closet (and remarked how I have about 20 polo shirts: "OK, no more polo shirts...") - and then had an idea of what I needed to wear. Our goal was fuzzy, it was about getting things that I can wear at the office, or when hanging with friends - since I work in an ultra casual workplace I can wear whatever I want. So that makes life easier.

Suffice to say, we shopped until we nearly dropped. I spend a good chuck of my bonus on some new clothes, and no I won't be gushing on here about what I got. I probably need about 5 more shopping sprees like that, truth be told, but still it was a good start. As her reward, I took Diamond afterwards to have lunch at Wolfgang's, and then drinks at Warren77. She met up with her friends, and I headed back to Hoboken to walk a very grateful puppy who was alone for the afternoon.

Aside from my shopping spree, my friends took me out to Bin 14 the other night. I'm working on writing up something a bit more formal about it, but the bottom line is that if you haven't been there you are missing out. Expensive? Sure. Expecting the Olive Garden with their endless breadsticks and $10.99 specials? Then go to the Olive Garden! Bin 14 is for people who understand that quality comes at a price. Sure, you can buy a bottle of wine for $10 or $50 - they are all the same fermented grapes, but sometimes that $50 bottle of wine is worth it. Same is true for Bin 14. I have no problem paying for something that's expensive if I think it is worth it. Bin 14 is worth it. More on that later when I get time to write something up.

Diet - I didn't reach my goal as fast as I expected. I ran into a hitch with running, I think I may have hurt my heel running and it slowed down my progression. I have kept lifting and eating mostly right. When I say "mostly right", a perfect example was Thursday. A coworker stopped by my desk with cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. All day I was eating right, with a power shake for breakfast, eggs & oatmeal at 10am, protein power lunch at 1pm, then another protein meal at 4pm, along with the cupcake. Ugh. Went to the gym, lifted, ran, had another power shake & then a protein dinner. Do I wish I could have just skipped the cupcake? Sure. So that's the kind of situation i'm in now.

But, i'm lifting Monday & Tuesday, skipping Wednesday and lifting Thursday & Friday. Weekends I have been off, also. So far, so good.

Northern Soul - been going to this bar lately. I really like it. Friendly bartenders. Good (older) crowd. There's a DJ on Friday night, and the music is good. As much as I love Mulligan's, just tired of the 22-26 year old crowd on the weekends.

I'm in the market to buy a new computer. Been looking around and someone told me that Intel should be releasing some new 6 core processors in a few weeks which will drive down the prices on the "old" 4 core processors. Considering that I have a dual core running Windows XP, I can wait a few more weeks to get a deal.

Rocco update: The Rock Man is great. I have zero complaints about him. He's smart, quiet and a great companion. I have a dog walker who walks him when i'm at work, and the same dog walker takes him to her house on Tuesdays and Thursdays so he can play with her dogs and be social. I take him to the dog park about twice a week, and he seems like a happy, healthy dog. I don't let him sleep on my bed, but I do let him sleep on my lap if i'm watching TV in the family room. He's funny when I try to get up he does the the sleepy-i'm-not-looking-at-you-but-are-you-really-moving-right-now-because-i'm-comfy stare at the wall. His first six months I have been crate training him, and now I have been leaving him alone for a few hours here and there, outside the crate, for the last six weeks. So far, no accidents. If he continues to be good, I will just do away with the crate I think by July, when he's one year old.

My *only* two complaints about dog ownership are this:

1. When I was back w/my mom at her place, I envied just opening her front door, letting him out and opening it back up for him to come back in. Getting all dressed up for winter walks kind of sucks. I don't mind it during summer at all.

2. As my friends warned me, it does limit your freedom. When I did my shopping spree like I wrote before, I couldn't just stay out in Manhattan and have some drinks. I had to go home to walk him. He's 7 months, so "they" say the rule is # of months plus 1 hour that a puppy can "hold it".

Both are small prices to pay. His vet bills...well those are BIG prices to pay, but fortunately he hasn't needed to see the vet since he was neutered in January.

Otherwise, life chugging along and going well.

The Day Before 38

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Tomorrow I turn 38.

I don't feel 38. Then again, i'm not sure what 38 should really feel like. Generally, I enjoy my life. I have a stable job, my same job out of college - it's a good job, but if I did it all over again, I may have chose a different career path. At 38, with mortgages and bills, it's a bit too late for me to reverse gears and do something different. I'm good at my job, and it will provide me with a stable lifestyle and probably a good retirement, which is important to me.

Since I started my blog in October 2004, I have written about lots of subjects. I'm fairly sure i'm the oldest (continuously updated) blog in Hoboken. I don't really have time for daily updates about water mains breaking or snow removal. I just write when I feel like it.

Being 38, I feel good about my life. I have a few regrets, and I think most of us do, but for the most part I like what's going on and where i'm going.

I think my biggest change over the last year has been that my interest level in going to bars is about zero. I like being social, but the whole bar scene to me is basically dead. I have done it. 16 years of the bar scene and the idea of going to a bar on a Friday night just isn't there anymore.

I think there are many key reasons. One is that I don't really have a "local" pub anymore, like Dipper's. Dipper's was just a special time, where you could walk in and it was like the TV show "Cheer's". There was someone always there that you knew, and all of my friends would be there on a Friday or Saturday night. You didn't need to call or text or email anyone, just show up - and more than likely you would see someone you liked to hang out with and have a drink.

That's long gone. Mulligan's is a fine bar, and I love all the people that work there, but at 37 years old I only would constantly meet people who were about 24-28 years old. I'm not against dating younger girls, but I sure they view me as ancient.

Also, two years ago when I stopped bartending, was another reason why the fire dimmed. I had my weekends free again for the first time in eight years. I liked it. I liked having my freedom again, and I enjoyed my time at Bradley Beach, just hanging out with friends on a Saturday night, getting drunk at home, and having a blast. I didn't need a bar full of random people, I had what I wanted - my friends, a drink or two (or more) and that was all I needed.

Third, I got my little Rocco now. He's an amazing dog and a good friend. I just hate the idea of going out to a bar for 6 hours and leaving him in the crate. That might change, in the future. Right now i'm "testing him" by leaving him out of the crate for an hour or two, when I go to the gym after work. I have been doing it for 6 weeks and he hasn't had one accident or chewed on anything.

Fourth, the weather isn't helping. Enough said about that. I hate the cold. And oddly enough, it seems as I get older I just hate it more. I never enjoyed it, even going on ski trips as a kid I enjoyed snowboarding, but after a short time on the mountain freezing my balls off, I often would just go back to the lodge. I was never one of those people who could snowboard for 10 hours. I was happy just going out there for about 3 to 4 hours.

I'm keeping myself in shape. Been doing things with the blog, photography, learning to cook new dishes (i'm actually making brownies on Friday from Cooking Light magazine), and been thinking about taking a cooking class (any suggestions? email me!)

Spring can't come fast enough.

As a dog owner, I start to see certain aspects of our city in a new light. One of them is our parks. We have such few open space, and are lucky to have quite a few dog parks in our town. Sadly, they are often in various states of disrepair.

Our city is cash strapped. It is very hard to justify expenditures to renovate and restore our dog parks. Heck, it's very hard to even get new gravel.

Over the last two months I, and others, have been emailing Mayor Zimmer, Councilperson Cunningham, and Director Pope to ask for new gravel to be put down at our dog parks. It cost $13,000 just to re-gravel all our dog parks.

Also the design of many of these parks are in poor shape. They don't have proper drainage, which leads to runoff of dirt, gravel and dog waste into our streets and sidewalks. Hoboken411 had a nice article about the dog run at Elysian Park and their issues.

Here's my ideas for fixing the situation:

1. A dog license in Hoboken is $10.00 if spayed/neutered (proof required) or $14.00 if NOT spayed/neutered per year. That's peanuts. One drink at The W Hotel bar costs more than that. I'd just increase the license to $15 / $20, with the idea that the extra money is going towards capital improvements of our dog runs, rather than taking from the taxpayers to fund it.

2. We have to get it easier to license our dogs. As of now, dog owners have to mail the application, rabies certificate and spay/neuter proof to 124 Grand Street. In Pennsylvania, you can do this all online at http://www.padoglicense.com/, which was designed and maintained by http://www.epaymentnow.com/. How hard can this be? Have the newly installed Environmental Services Director, Jennifer Wenson Maier, contact this site and find out how much it would cost to set up a similar website in Hoboken or possibly Hudson county.

3. We need better enforcement of dog licenses in town. We need police to patrol our city parks and check dogs for licenses. Where's the incentive to GET a dog license if there are no repercussions for not having one?

4. Councilperson Cunningham, who founded the HDA, mentioned about doing advertising at the dog parks. I agree with that, and think it's a great idea. We need to approach local businesses (perhaps start a non-profit fund that is tax deductible?) for donations towards the restoration of dog parks. Also we can encourage dog owners to donate to this fund while they register their dogs online for the dog licenses.

5. We need to actively seek loans and grants that can be used towards the restoration of our dog runs.

6. We need to possibly seek out new locations for dog runs. I agree with Hoboken411 who mentioned that there was a great spot by City Hall that would be a good spot for a new dog run (again, funded by dog licenses and donations, not taxpayers).

Right now, from what I understand Director Pope was told to re-gravel the dog runs. But I hope to work with City Hall with finding a way to renovate and restore these runs for better drainage and general repairs that wouldn't affect our taxpayers and can be funded by dog licenses. In a town of 40,000 residents how many dogs do you think are here? I would hazard at least 1,000 dogs. Even if we get 50% of those people to lawfully license their dog, that's about $10,000 a year we could raise just with licenses alone, not including business donations & advertisement.

It's easy to get dismayed when you first start dieting & going to the gym. It feels like nothing is changing, or your gains are not fast enough.

One problem was that my body was getting very sore, especially my back & legs. It got so bad that last week I couldn't do any cardio on Thursday or Friday. I made an appointment with Body Balance last Saturday. Normally most massages are just pleasurable. This was painful. I had so many tight muscles, along my obliques, hamstrings and legs that I had to tell the masseuse to use less pressure. But 24 hours later my pain was gone.

Going back to the gym this week, I took it a bit easier on the treadmill. I just did 20 minutes of interval running. My first week, I was doing 3.5 mph walks for 1 minute, and 5.5 jogs for 2 minutes. Week 2 I upped my speed to 6.0 for the runs. Week 3, I went to 6.5 mph for my runs.

It wasn't easy. Felt like my legs were bricks on the treadmill. My breathing and heart rate weren't too bad. Just felt like I had no energy in my legs.

This week, week 4, I just decided instead of doing both treadmill & elliptical & jumping rope, to skip the elliptical. My body was telling me it needed a break. So I also decided to run Monday, Tuesday, skip Wednesday and do Thursday and Friday.

For me, Thursday was the first big improvement.

I was on the treadmill, and started my run. I had my usual aches & pains (my back/hamstring and my shins have been very sore). But, I have been stretching, and trying new stretches. I get on the machine and I feel like I can run 20 miles. My legs are literally bouncing and I got that feeling like, "I AM STRONG AGAIN".

It was a great, great run. I did 6 intervals, 20 minutes, and even ran the last interval for 3 minutes. I know, the hardcore runners can scoff now, but for me this was huge improvement.

I have been dieting fairly consistent. The structure and rigidity of my job has made it easy to stick to my diet. Every morning I walk Rocco, get my food ready and i'm out the door. Since Jan 1, I have had a total of three alcoholic beverages. Two glasses of red wine and 1 bottle of beer.

As of today I was down nine pounds. My goal isn't just about "weight", but it's a good indicator about how things are going. I wanted to average three pounds a week, but also was tripped up by last week by my reduction of cardio.

I have two more weeks until my birthday. It would be nice if I can stay healthy and lose those last 5 pounds by then. We shall see.

Steal This Idea: The Radio App

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I'm an idea guy. Not so good on implementation.

Anyhow, here's my idea.

You make an iPhone app that is able to play the set list from your favorite radio station.

OK, so look at this website for 93.3 WMMR:

http://www.wmmr.com/BroadcastHistory.aspx

It has all the songs that WMMR has played since midnight. I love WMMR. Hate commercials.

So lets say i'm headed into work and launch my app. It will go out, connect to the website, download the setlist and play, in succession, all the songs from my iPhone that WMMR has played since midnight & offers you to buy the songs from iTunes those which aren't in your library.

Why?

One, I hate thinking up playlists. This gives me a diverse playlist to listen to from a radio station that plays about 90% of the songs I like.

Two, you get to hear new music you might like. Sure, WMMR plays classic rock, but there's some new music in there, or "off the beaten path" songs that you haven't heard in a long time.

Three, you can do other radio stations, like WYSP's playlist: http://www.yes.com/#WYSP?log

Four, you avoid listening to commercials and annoying DJs. I don't want to hear the chatter of the radio. I don't want to pay $10 a month for satellite radio. I just want to listen to music.

Ok, the main "downside" to my idea is that you need the songs downloaded. Looking over the playlist I have many of the songs that the radio stations are playing (i'd hazard about 60% to 70%). If I don't have a song, the app should just skip over it and play the next song.

Preferably, the application can look over multiple dates. So it can go back and play a set list from two weeks ago, if you wanted. Or, on the days when they have the marathon (like Memorial Day weekend), with the "Top 500 Rock Songs Of All Time" - the app can download that, too.

OK, engineers. Get on that. Or, if it has already been invented, tell me where I can get that app. Also, spare me any "but you can listen to streaming audio from 93.3 WMMR!" - I don't want to listen to the DJs and commercials. I want the app to reach out to a website or database, download the list, then look at my iTunes or iPhone library and arrange my songs in the same order.

Derailment

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My routine was working. Shake, Eggs/Oatmeal, Chicken/Veggie, Chicken/Sweet Potato, Gym, Shake, Meat/Veggie dinner.

I felt my jeans sitting lighter on my hips and strength coming back when lifting. My jogging on the treadmill was getting easier.

Hello, Monkey, meet Wrench.

Last Friday I get a text message from a pal who wants to come over, hang out, have a few drinks. It's nothing special. Lately I haven't been going out to bars with my friends. Now, I just hang out at my place, watch a movie, TV or play Xbox. Lame, I know, but after 16 years of hitting bars...i'm just tired of "going out". A Friday night with a few friends, a few drinks and hanging at my house is much more pleasurable to me. Yes, it certainly crimps on trying to meet girls, but most of the girls I met in my life haven't been at bars...I met them through other friends.

Anyhoo...Friday rolls around and there's the issue of "do I drink or not". Since Jan 1 I didn't have one drop of alcohol. I kind of was "trying" to go as long as I could without drinking, preferably until my birthday.

I finally relented and had two glasses of wine that night while watching The Hangover. I kind of felt guilty, but my attitude was simple: I was giving myself a break.

And to me, that's the key. Diets are great, and no one ever stays on them forever. If I can go two weeks without a drop of alcohol, and have two glasses of wine when I do - that's fine. Lets go another two weeks before having more alcohol. Or three weeks. Or four.

That Friday I still had my routine of eating the right foods, hitting the gym and eating the right dinner. Just afterwards I had two glasses of red wine.

Part of my decision on having the wine involved the next day, Saturday.

I was going to Princeton to meet up with an old friend, Brad, and another neighborhood chum, Eric. We were going to watch "Avatar", and then hang out at Brad's house afterwards.

What should I do?

Bring my chicken & vegetable to Brad's house, so I can stick on my diet.

Or, just give myself a break? Again, I have been on the diet for two weeks, hitting the gym daily, and I know that the "right" thing to do would bring my food while meekly telling both of them that i'm on a diet and can't eat or drink "regular" food.

Or do I reward myself for a good two weeks and have a cheat day?

I had a cheat day. I enjoyed it. I went back on my diet the next day and been on it since.

One friend emailed me on Monday, "What happened to the Nazi diet?".

I explained the same thing to her. Justification? Rationalization? I guess so. Just gotta keep chugging along, and if I get derailed, just dust myself off and get back on track.

I mean if 1 day out of 15 days I "cheat", I have a strong feeling that in a few months I will be still doing pretty good. I think the problem with diets is that people get derailed, then get dismayed and just give up.

Right now i'm finishing off week three. I still would like a cookie from time to time. I figure that maybe I can see about rewarding myself at the end of the month with another cheat day. Or try to go three weeks until I cheat. Or four.

My Mom's Famous Iced Tea

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IMG_3714.JPG

Ok, perhaps famous is a strong word, but amongst the children of Tanyard Farms, where I grew up, this was the "best iced tea....ever".

Remember dear readers, my mother's iced tea was invented in the days before we had about 10,000 choices of soda or iced tea at the local WaWa.

And even today...it's still outstanding yet SIMPLE to make.

Trust me. You want to make something that will impress you wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, neighbors or a cute French bulldog that people stop you on the street to get their picture taken with him...make this recipe.

Also I tried to alter it this weekend by substituting Splenda for sugar. It worked really well.

It's so easy. You need:

  • A one gallon plastic container
  • 15 TETLEY tea bags. Has to be TETLEY. Not Lipton or some designer brand tea.
  • 2 Lemons
  • 30 Splenda packets or 1.5 cups of sugar. This can be increased if you want it sweeter.

Her original recipe had 1.5 cups of sugar, but for today's day and age, I use Splenda because i'm trying to watch my calories. But if that doesn't matter...use sugar!

There is a slight trick to it, too. Here's how you make it:

Boil water so that it fills up the gallon plastic container to at least 85% full. Add the tea bags and let it steep overnight (about 12 hours) on a counter.

The next day, add the sugar (or Splenda) and stir. Then slice the lemons, and squeeze (or juice) into the container and stir again. Put it into the fridge and let it get nice and cold. Then serve.

As you can see, it is a bit of a process and not for the impatient. Often we get two containers and start another batch when the first one got low.

Try it! Let me know if you like it.

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Diet, Schmiet!

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So far been chugging along on my diet. It's not really that exciting, but I figure that if you, too are playing at home, here's some things *I* do to make life easier for me.

First off, I shop at Fresh Direct. It's convenient, and easy. I already have a delivery set up for Sunday, which looks like this:

Grocery
1 Canada Dry Original Seltzer (12oz cans 6pk): $2.19/ea $2.19 T
2 Volvic Natural Spring Water (.5 liter bottles 6pk) $5.69/ea $11.38 T

Meat
(Monday Lunch) Cajun Turkey Shish Kabobs (4 skewers per pack) $6.99/lb $8.39 *
(Dinner) Filet Mignon (1.5", USDA Choice, Hand-cut, Vacuum Pack) $19.99/lb $20.99 *
(Tuesday Lunch) Jerk Marinated Chicken Breast $6.99/lb $8.74 *
(Wednesday Lunch) Lamb Shish Kabob (4 skewers per pack) $10.99/lb $13.74 *
(Thursday Lunch) Mesquite Marinated Chicken Breast $6.99/lb $8.74 *
(Friday Lunch) Rosa Mexicano Guajillo Chili-Marinated Pork Chops $5.99/lb $8.09 *
(Dinner) T-Bone Steak (1.0", USDA Choice, Hand-cut, Standard) $6.99/lb $6.99 *

Organic & All-Natural
1 Organic Broccolette $1.99/ea $1.99

Vegetables & Herbs
2 Washed Spinach (Farm Fresh, 10oz bag) $2.50/ea $5.00 S

Estimated Subtotal: $96.24 *
Tax: $0.95
ESTIMATED ORDER TOTAL: $97.19 *

This is basically my grocery list of lunch & some dinners for the week. I have girl friends of mine who will look at this list, and the prices and scoff at the cost. I can almost hear them saying how they can find chicken breasts at Costco for $15 for 10 breasts and they can make the marinade themselves!

Yes, I know the prices aren't a bargain, but they are all ready-to-cook meals, and it makes my life much easier to just wake up, open the fridge, grab a bag and cook it up.

This would be a typical routine day:

Waking up I take a shaker, 1 and a half scoops of Isopure Chocolate, 10 ounces of water, 1 scoop of creatine and 1 scoop of glutamine with flax oil and shake it up for my breakfast.

After that, I will grab one of the meats and throw it on the grill (not the filet mignon or t-bone), and steam my asparagus (I buy it locally because Fresh Direct's asparagus is not as good). I throw the meat, sweet potato (I buy that locally too) and asparagus into Tupperware containers and head to work.

Quick tip: Cook all your sweet potato at home on Sunday. Bake them at 350 degrees in the oven for 1 hour. Let them cool down and throw into the fridge. They keep a week.

I head off to work, which has a basic kitchen with some things I can use, like reheating my lunch in a microwave. I set up alarms on my iPhone telling me when to order food, and get my eggs from a place about 4 blocks from my office. We have instant oatmeal in our kitchen, and I eat that those at 10am.

At 12:30 or so, I head to the kitchen put the meat & asparagus on a plate, reheat for 60 seconds and have that for my lunch.

At 4pm, I have the rest of the meat & sweet potato.

I get home from work, let Rocco out and take him for a walk. Go back upstairs, change, and let him roam free in the house while I go to the gym in my condo. Right now i'm testing Rocco to see how he does, on his own, in the house. So far it's been two weeks and he hasn't had any accidents or destroyed anything since I was at the gym.

After I get back, I make another protein shake and take a shower.

About 30 minutes later, I usually fix the filet mignon with spinach or T-bone with broccolini. Also for dinner I sometimes order sushi from Maru with brown rice.

It's been very easy to do this. Extremely easy. I have managed to avoid alcohol & sweets. My only sugar intake is from the marinades, and personally I think that's so minimal that I just don't care. I'm sure if I were die hard I would eat plain chicken or plain lamb, but i'd never stick to the diet.

This way I get a variety of taste with my meal, I know i'm getting a ton of protein and complex carbs.

I'm lifting Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesdays I do leg exercises. Each day I hit the treadmill for 20 minutes, and the elliptical for 20 minutes, then jumping rope afterwards.

I weighed myself today and I was 5 pounds less than when I started.

I'll write an update next Friday.

The Beginning Of Bollywood?

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I don't know if you notice things, but it seems like Indian-portrayed characters are the hot thing in the last year or so.

Not Native American, but India Indian.011410.jpg

Certainly there have been TV shows with Indian actors, but often portrayed as a one sided stereotype like Apu Nahasapeemapetilon of "The Simpsons". Today we have an explosion of new TV shows in the last few years with characters of Indian descent:

The Office (US Version): Vera Mindy Chokalingam plays Kelly Rajnigandha Kapoor a customer service representative at the Scranton branch of fictitious paper distributor Dunder Mifflin.

Heroes: Sendhil Ramamurthy plays geneticist Mohinder Suresh.

Community: Danny Pudi plays Abed, a film student.

Parks and Recreation: Aziz Ansari plays Thomas "Tom" Haverford, a sarcastic, underachieving government official for the city of Pawnee.

Chuck: Vikram "Vik" Sahay plays Lester Patel, a member of the Nerd Herd.

House: Kal Penn played Lawrence Kutner, a member of the diagnostic team in the 4th season and dies in the 5th season.

The Big Bang Theory: Kunal Nayyar plays Rajesh Koothrappali, Ph.D. Rajesh, who originally comes from New Delhi, India, works as a Particle Astrophysicist at Caltech.

These are just the shows I can think of off the top of my head, but certainly is very compelling. If television is a reflection upon our society, it seems that there is a greater and greater influence of Indian-portrayed actors in our television shows.

I'm all for it. I love watching all these actors in these TV shows, especially Danny Pudi in Community (who, technically is 1/2 Indian and 1/2 Polish).

Any other TV shows I may have missed? How soon until you see a leading-role for an Indian actor on a television series?

Ugh. Another year, another diet.

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Once I got my French Bulldog, Rocco, my whole world went into a tailspin.

See, i'm someone who enjoys a routine. I love it. I love the stability of my life. I enjoy eating at my same places. I do try something that's new, and if I like it, will go there a lot.

Example is Taco Truck. If you haven't tried Taco Truck in Hoboken. Oh. My. God. Beyond good to a point where I really wish more entrepreneurs would open places like this. I would go there weekly for their delicious tacos, and wonderful salsas.

Suffice to say, getting Rocco was like adopting a child. He's totally dependent upon me. My routine of coming home from work and going to Club H was out the window. My routine of eating set meals and power shakes was gone. Everything went haywire. The first month wasn't so bad. The second month, October, I figured i'd head back to the gym after the World Series. Then after that, I thought I should wait until after the holidays were over.

...and here we are 12 pounds heavier.

Not terribly bad when you think about it, and being 6'3 or so, i'm not exactly "heavyset". I did a diet last summer which slimmed me down in about 6 weeks and i'm back on it again. It's fairly simple, but also very strict.

The funny thing about diets is that we all try to come up with these Jenny Craig or Weight Watcher kind of diets which have a magic bullet theory of "do this diet and lose weight". I'm sure they work. But if you really want to lose weight, i'm no doctor, but I believe this works:

No sugar. No pasta. No dairy. No alcohol. No bread. Eat non-processed foods. Drink water. Protein with every meal. Keep your metabolism steady by eating six small meals everyday, rather than three big meals. If you don't exercise, you won't lose weight.

I also don't believe in those knuckleheads who make you think that eating 2,000 calories of crap is OK. Sure, if you go on the "Twinkie Diet", eating 13 Twinkies a day, that's 2,000 calories. You may even lose weight, but you will also lose muscle. Trust me there's no magic bullet when it comes to losing weight. Just eat right and hit the treadmill.

Oh. And here's an easy method to tell if you are exercising correctly. If you can read a magazine on an elliptical or treadmill, you aren't working out. I see these people at the gym all the time. They come in for weeks and weeks and pedal away on the elliptical, reading a magazine. La-dee-da. Nothing changes. This doesn't mean you have to hit a spin class and run for 1 hour. Not at all. But you have to move. You have to sweat a bit. And be smart about it, too. Your body adapts very quickly. If you sit on a treadmill for 1 hour running at 6.0 mph, your body will start to coast. It won't burn off the same calories if you keep adjusting your speed to keep tricking your body - or using multiple machines to hit different muscle groups.

Anyhow, with that rant over, here's my diet. Also note that you need to adjust the measurements for weight. My target weight is 210....but i'm 6'3.

Meal 1: (when you wake up): Protein Shake: 50 grams of Whey Protein Isolate (I use IsoPure Chocolate), 5 grams Glutamine, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil - mix up with a shaker bottle with water and drink.

Meal 2: (3 hours later): 4 egg whites + 1 egg scrambled. If you want an omlete, you can add veggies here - no cheese. Also eat 1/3 cup of plain oatmeal, you can add spices like cinnamon or 1/2 packet of Splenda.

Meal 3: (3 hours later): 7 Oz Steak (Sirloin or top round) or 7 oz Chicken or Turkey or Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper) with 6 oz red potato or 6 oz sweet potato (basically 1/2 a potato, baked).

Meal 4: (3 hours later): 7 oz Chicken or Grilled Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper), 6 oz of green veggie (asparagus, broccoli, spinach) or 1/3 cup of brown rice.

***This is when I go to the gym***

Meal 5: (post gym-shake): Protein Shake: 50 grams of Whey Protein Isolate, 5 grams Glutamine, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil - mix up with a shaker bottle with water and drink.

Meal 6: (1 hour later): 7 oz Chicken or Grilled Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper), 6 oz of green veggie (asparagus, broccoli, spinach).

Workout:
Cardio - Do 30-40 minutes a day and 5 times a week. Keep your heart rate above 140 for 90% of the time (140 is 140, not 180! You want to burn fat!). Cardio can be treadmill, stationary bike, stairmaster or elliptical. To alleviate boredom, you can do 10 minutes of treadmill, stairmaster and elliptical and take a 1 min break between machines. Just keep the heart rate up!! You gotta sweat! As you get stronger, you can increase time, but don't kill yourself in week 1. 30 minutes is FINE.

Right now I have been hitting my condo gym and getting back into things with light lifting and cardio. Fortunately, Rocco is at a point where I can get home from work, walk him, and leave him alone out of his crate for an hour and he won't destroy anything. Also, to me, it is just me training him to get ready for the day (in 6 months or so) when I won't have to crate him anymore and just give him the run of the condo when i'm out.

Hopefully in a few weeks i'll get back into a semblance of a shape (round is a shape), and then back to Club H. Also part of me wants to try CrossFit Hoboken. I know a few people from the Eagles club, and it's something that I think I will like. Only problem is that I hate doing something where i'm "the new guy". Like I said, I like my routines and favorite bars because I feel comfortable in places where I feel like i'm the regular. I guess I gotta get over that someday.

Anyhow, with my diet, I started it on January 4th. My game plan is to stick to it until my birthday (Feb 12) which would be 5 weeks. Feb 12th weekend i'm allowing myself a "cheat day(s)" for alcohol and food. We will see how my strength/weight are by then and adjust the diet accordingly.

I'm not planning to stick to this diet for the rest of my life. Just a diet to get things under control, then back to my routine of gym & eating things like sugar, dairy, bread, pasta - in MODERATION. It always worked for me, because when I was going to the gym 5 days a week, I was easily burning off my empty calories.

Plus, this weekend I was taking Rocco out for L-O-N-G walks. We went for a big walk along the waterfront, up to Maxwell Place, then hit the dog park there for about 30 minutes, walked back down Hudson street and hit up Energy Kitchen for my morning egg whites and Oatmeal.

Oh, if you didn't know - all of January - everything on the breakfast menu at Energy Kitchen was $3. If you haven't tried it, I recommend the 5 egg whites on a plate and their oatmeal with cinnamon. It's fantastic and only $6!

So we live in an urban area. I take Rocco out with me for any errand I do. If i'm picking up food or going to CVS or a store. One of my main "issues" is when I want to go inside, what do I do with him?

Often, i'm lucky because I can tie him to a parking meter or street sign while I go inside a deli and order my sandwich. Yes, trust me, i'm watching him from the store. But there have been times where there isn't a convenient place to tie him up in Hoboken.

For example, Vito's Deli or Energy Kitchen.

There's no parking meters or signs, so I found some pipe that I could tie the leash to. That worked and I ordered my food and he sat there, patiently, waiting for me.

I think it would be a great thing if businesses in town could put up dog hooks for owners with pets. Simply install it outside a business, preferably in front (or under) of a window. Dog owners can walk up, hook the leash and go inside.

What can it cost, a dollar or two? Only issue is that I don't know of a real "dog hook" that can be purchased for such an idea. Plus I also don't know how local businesses really care or not about installing something like that outside their business (I did Google this a bit and found that they are popular in England). It would have to be far enough away from the door as not to impede traffic.

What are your thoughts on this? You could say "leave Rocco home", but I want my dog to get exercise as much as possible, because a tired dog is a happy dog.

Merry Christmas!

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I know I haven't been updating the blog as often as I used to. I think part of the reason is because Facebook seems to be such a quick and easy medium to write quick (and often mundane) comments or adding pictures of Rocco, etc.

Suffice to say, I hope to add more content in 2010.

I'm applying to the Shade Tree Commission in Hoboken: "Our mission is to be the preeminent City authority that develops, promotes and sustains a productive and safe shade tree resource that benefits the environmental, economic and social well being of the City of Hoboken and its residents."

I definitely consider myself someone who wants to see environmental well being in Hoboken, and this is my chance to actively get involved and volunteer my time for the city of Hoboken and its residents.

In other news, Rocco has been doing fantastic. We completed our second round of classes with Joana Watsky of Sit and Stay. I'm considering taking him to the next round where Rocco can get AKC certified Good Canine Citizen or as a therapy dog. Rocco is smart as a whip and loves everyone. We are currently working on "stay" together, and he's getting better with each day. I have been putting him into a down/stay, and that's been our hardest time. Rocco isn't a huge fan of "down", unless he is tired from a long day of playing at Church Square Park.

Also i'm going to try and get involved in other things in Hoboken, now that i'm a dog owner I see some issues that certainly could be fixed, like trying to get City Hall to allow dog owners to register & license their dogs online. In a city of 45,000 people how many licensed dogs do you think there are? I would hazard most people don't spend the $10 per year to properly license their dog because they don't see a reason WHY they should. Personally, i'd like to see about starting a campaign to license our dogs AND show a benefit to why we should - most notably would be making sure that our dog runs are maintained, improved or upgraded by the funds of those that license our dogs. If 1500 people in down license their dogs, that is $15,000 a year that the city can put forward to upgrading our dog parks.

Anyhow, more on that later. I'm headed to Philly this weekend to see my family. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays this season.

*the picture above isn't Rocco, but I thought it was cute anyhow!

Patrolling Police?

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I have been walking to the PATH station for many years. Sure, you always get the local and port authority police who are standing AT the PATH station, which is good.

But for the first time in a LONG time, I actually saw a police officer PATROLLING on foot yesterday afternoon after I got out of work on the corner of Newark and Hudson.

I was shocked and impressed. Walked up to him and said, "Not to be condescending, but it's great to see a police officer on the street."

He smiled and said "Thank you!" and shook my hand. Then he told me his name, and I told him good night.

Lo and behold, but this morning on my walk into work the same police officer was patrolling again, around the same area. I was going to say hello, but he was busily chatting with another neighbor on his way towards the PATH station.

Every once in a blue moon (not counting festivals or parades) I see a police officer actually PATROLLING the streets. I love it. Taxes to pay for that, no problem.

Less officers sitting behind desks and more officers on the streets. I'll gladly pay my fair share of taxes for that and a reasonable pay & rank scale (based on national metro averages, and not some insane numbers that past Mayors and City Council members cooked up behind closed doors).

I personally would love to see police officers assigned to specific wards. They should patrol those wards, on foot, get to know the neighbors. Rotate these patrols yearly to get new cops in new wards. Wouldn't that create a better bond between the police and the neighborhood? I think it would. How often do you really meet a police officer who is patrolling in their cruiser?

Maybe the patrolling police officer is just an analomy or maybe it's something new to do with Police Chief Falco. I am hoping for the latter.

Tipping & The Holiday $pirit

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One of the things I have learned from my parents is tipping.

I don't think i'm a lavish tipper, but I do take care of good service and make sure I take care of those who take care of me.

I wrote up before my guide on tipping in a bar, and that mostly holds true today. This was an article I read called "Be a Generous Holiday Tipper, Without Overspending" and figured it was worth reprinting:

By CANDICE CHOI
New York (AP) -- This holiday season, a leaner budget might
clarify which people truly make a difference in your life. The
challenge will be figuring out how much to tip them.
Determining what to give during the holidays, if anything,
will likely be more complicated than in years past. Even if
money is tight, it's hard not to feel guilty about skimping on
the usual year-end bonus. You might also worry that not tipping
will create an awkward tension, or result in shoddier service.
Still, you won't be alone if you scale back. About a
quarter of respondents to a recent Consumer Reports survey plan
to tip less this holiday season than they did last year. Only 6
percent plan to give more. If you're among those on a tighter
budget, here's how you can save without appearing cheap.

KNOW THE CUSTOMS
Before you start doling out money, you might be curious
about what others are giving.
There are no hard-and-fast rules, but year-end tips are
generally the cost of a single session. So if a haircut costs
$40, that's how much you could give as a tip.
And holiday bonuses are generally reserved for people
you've relied on for at least six months, said Mary Mitchell,
author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Etiquette."
So don't feel obligated to tip a hairdresser you've only been
to a few times.
For someone like a paperboy who doesn't charge per
delivery, ask others what they're giving if you're at a total
loss. Practices usually vary by region, however, so don't use
your sister in Wyoming to gauge what you should pay in New York
City. You also shouldn't feel pressured to keep up with
others.
Remember that some workers have guidelines on what they can
accept. Mail carriers, for example, can only take non-cash
gifts valued at $20 or less. That could include a gift card,
but not personal checks in any amount. Alcohol isn't allowed
either, even if it's worth less than $20.
Teachers generally can't accept cash either. The rules
vary, however, so be sure to check with the school. There could
also be guidelines on tipping other employees, such as bus
drivers and teacher's aides.

FOCUS ON KEY PEOPLE
One way to save is to focus on those you feel must be
tipped.
Last holiday season, for instance, the downturn didn't
affect how much housekeepers and teachers got. But fewer people
tipped their barbers, garbage collectors, mail carriers and
manicurists, according to Consumer Reports.
"The dollar amounts aren't changing so much as who is
getting tipped," said Donato Vaccaro, who helps conduct the
magazine's annual holiday tipping survey.
Since the economy hasn't improved, Vaccaro said more people
will likely trim their lists this year.
If the strategy sits well with you, start by identifying
those you feel absolutely should get tips. They'll likely be
people you have frequent or intimate contact with, such as
child or pet care providers.
You might also want to consider financial situations when
drawing up your list. A yoga instructor might not need, or
expect, a tip as much as a manicurist. Another reason you might
leave someone off the list: you already tip them generously
throughout the year.

CONSIDER NON-CASH GIFTS
If cash tips aren't in the budgetary stars, you can still
give small gifts that don't cost a lot.
Baked goods, jams and candles are the perennial crowd
pleasers. But use your knowledge about the person to be
creative. For instance, someone who recently took up knitting
might appreciate a subscription to a knitting magazine. Or if
you know someone who wants to start a side business, you could
offer to teach them how to set up a Web page.
Another option is pooling resources to buy a nice gift. For
example, tenants in an apartment building could team up to buy
an iPod for the super. It shouldn't be hard to find people
willing to participate, with so many looking to save right
now.
If you feel you can't afford a tip or gift, thank you notes
can still make a difference. You could even spruce it up with a
Godiva chocolate; one box should be enough for all your
envelopes.
Of course, you might feel sheepish about giving a card that
doesn't have any cash inside. But at the very least, a warm
message can help ease any awkwardness that might come from
avoiding the issue altogether.
If you still can't shake your guilt, consider lightly
touching on your economic situation in the note. Business
etiquette author Mitchell suggests thanking the person for
bearing with you during these tough times.

My Baby Boy Rocco!

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Ok, i'm kidding with that headline.

I won't be one of those gushing types who thinks their dog is a baby with fur. You know who they are. They dress up their dogs in pink colors and talk to them in a "coo-coo" squeaky voice and blow them kisses like their dog is a two year old.

But, that doesn't take away that Rocco was the best decision I have made in a long time.

I'm bad with change. I like to think things through, weigh the decisions, worry a bit about how things MAY change drastically, and then usually shelve my idea and go back thinking about it later.

Like one thing I was worried about was waking up every morning to walk him. I love to sleep. A lot. I'm the kind of person who falls asleep in cars, trains, airplanes, at the doctors office, while watching TV, I sleep in until 11am on weekends - then take another nap around 3pm that same day.

I didn't like the idea of waking up EVERY DAY at 6am to have to walk my dog.

Good news is that I got used to it. Even better news is that it actually forces me to get up, rather than hit the snooze button, and i'm getting into work on time. That's rare for me.

Plus, Rocco has been good about our morning walks. I go out, we do our business in less than 5 minutes, and he gets fed while I take a shower. He plays with his toys, I get out of the shower and he runs over to lick the water off my ankles while I towel myself dry. He's funny like that.

He only takes 10 minutes out of my mornings, and it was well worth it. What was also made things easier was our time we did with dog training.

I got him into dog training early. We have been practicing a lot, and last night we had our second class with Joana Watsky of Sit And Stay. This time it was a group lesson, held in the Elks Club on 10th and Washington. There were about 12 owners and dogs, being taught various commands by Joana. Rocco did great, he was excited to see the other dogs, but listened to me when we did our commands.

The other owners noticed he was well trained. Some were having issues with their dogs, and I told them what I did with Rocco while we trained to get past some of his walking issues or his fear of stairs.

While talking to the other owners outside, I was telling them how you have to be patient. You have to be consistent. I told them how puppies make mistakes (Sorry Randy!) and you just have to work through it. I told them that Rocco knows when it is time to pee.

I was telling this to a young couple who owned a yellow lab puppy. They looked at me incrediously, like I was lying.

I turned to Rocco and said "Park Time!", which is his command word for "It's time to pee, dude!"

Rocco sniffed for a moment and squatted on the sidewalk.

The lab owner's eyes went wide while watching Rocco and said, "NO WAY!"

After he was finished, I moved Rocco aside, and the tell tale pee spot on the sidewalk was there. I winked and said, "Like I said, he's a good boy."

Thanks to my sister Stacey for that training tip!

Rocco The Super Pup & Other Things

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rocco5.jpg

Rocco is doing great, and getting bigger, as you can see.

Lots of people have been asking me if I have any issues with him. I have zero. None. He's a perfect dog, so far. He has had his share of accidents, literally and figuratively. I handed him to a friend to hold the other night, and Rocco was nice enough to poop on him.

Welcome to puppies!

Otherwise, Rocco has been getting out, meeting new dogs and meeting strangers on the street. He's a happy go lucky guy, with a mild streak of stubbornness.

The stubbornness manifests itself in our walks. Rocco has a nice habit of coming to a halt, putting out his front paws and resisting me while on the leash. It was much, much worse when he was younger - to a point where it was impossible to go more than a block with him.

I did a lot of research online and found a few tips here and there, and eventually with a lot of patience, treats and affection, he walks much better now. He still has his moments, but our walks are night and day versus a month ago.

Aside from that, here's what else has been going on....

-Zeppelin Hall Beer Garden in Jersey City is outstanding. If you haven't been there, get a group of people and go. It is easy to get there via light rail or PATH or even a $12 taxi ride (if you have 4 people, split the cost).

-Phillies are unbelievable. I thought last year was magical, and figured that the Phillies would have a good year again, but wasn't expecting this. They haven't won anything, but it was a great season to watch, no matter what the outcome. Personally, i'd like to watch the Yankees vs Phillies in the World Series. Yankees are an outstanding team, and scare the hell out of me - but to be the best you have to beat the best.

-Eagles are mediocre, with flashes of greatness. The biggest issue is what we knew last year - the offensive line. Why did we lose to the Raiders? No Peters + No Andrews = No protection. Plus it doesn't help when Westbrook only touches the ball 12 times. As much as we have the offensive WRs like Maclin and Jackson - not much is going to happen if the QB doesn't have time to pass and you don't establish a run game.

-Now we skipped fall and went right to winter, I like to drink my ports and scotches. I went to a popular liquor store on Washington and checked out their prices. It's sad, really. We get raped here. Oban 14 year old was $90. I can buy it at a NYC store for $65. Ridiculous.

-Taco Truck! If you take the PATH daily, join up on their Facebook site to find out where they are. I have bought four to go dinners in two weeks. They remind me of Hoboken Eddie, when he used to have his kitchen under Sullivan's Bar on 6th Street. Eddie wasn't fancy, but he made stick to your ribs good food. Taco Truck is that kind of place. Especially that I consider most of the restaurants in Hoboken "average at best", the Taco Truck finally "GETS IT". I sincerely hope more innovative and creative restaurant owners come to our city - I think there's a huge market.

-The Madison Delivers! I hate The Madison "bar scene". Hate. Hate. Hate. The bar attracts too many pretentious regulars. I think I had dinner at The Madison once, when they first open. Don't really remember it. So, the other day i'm on the elevator with Rocco and hold the door for a delivery guy. He was from The Madison, delivering in our building. I ask if he has an extra menu, and check it out. I didn't order anything special. I tried the onion soup dumplings and a burger with fries. Impression? Holy shit. I may hate the bar scene, but I will be ordering more delivery from them in the future. Easily one of the best burgers in town - better than Five Guys (who DON'T deliver).

-Rocco tried the Hoboken Dog Wash (163 4th Street) about 3 weeks ago. 10 minutes for $15, it works like a self car wash. You have a hose with Tropiclean organic soap, and various options with rinse, conditioner, tick/flea rinse, and other options. It works great, Rocco was a good boy during the whole thing until the dryer part, and he didn't like that very much - it was too cold for him at first, until the motor heated up and warm air blew out. $15 per wash is a bit pricey.

Otherwise, not much else going on. I haven't been to the gym in 4 weeks. I feel like a sloth. I blame Rocco, but the truth is that my motivation level is very low, and spending an hour at the gym (right now) with Rocco waiting for me to get home has been disrupting everything. No excuses, but i'm hoping to get on board soon and back to Club H.

puppy4.JPG

Well with all the serious talk going around Hoboken these days, how about something fun, and refreshing.

Ever since I bought my condo there seemed to be something just, missing, from my life. I lived with roommates in Hoboken since I moved up here and in some ways they were like a surrogate family or friends that were always at home with me. Now that I lived in my condo alone for two years, it's a bit empty. Even when I lived with roommates and would be watching TV or playing on my computer, it was nice to know there was someone else in the house. Now certainly there's not an exact parallel between a human roommate and a dog, but there's also something there, too. I could have had a cat or a bird or maybe some fish...but I wanted a dog for a very long time.

As some of you know from my Facebook updates, and posts over the last year or so, I have been doing a ton of research into getting a dog. There were lots and lots of factors to consider.

Like...is it right for the dog? I asked Opportunity Barks' Leigh Siegfried about that a few weeks ago, I wrote:

"Hello, I live by myself in a condo. I had dogs all my life, growing up, and my family members and many friends have dogs. I'm an active person, with a fairly busy life, but my weekends & nights are mostly free. I'm interested in getting a new furry friend, but i'm torn with a dilemma. I work about 9-10 hours a day. I certainly can get a dog walker for an afternoon walk, but the dog would be alone most of the day. Is this fair to the dog? I kind of feel guilty for locking up a dog in my condo all day. I'd be around for nights and weekends to be with the dog."

and she replied:

"Look, if everybody that had a dog didn't work 8 hours a day, there would be a lot MORE homeless dogs out there! I think you may want to consider a low energy dog that may already be in foster care, so that the foster folks know that
1. the dog IS crate trained
2. the dog IS comfortable being left alone for hours at a time
3. the dog IS house broken

That sounds like a win-win to me. And remember as you get to know your dog better, they may be able to afford freedom in the house and can get out of the doggie "condo" themselves. Even in a crate, a dog should have multiple things to chew on- kongs, bones, yada, that helps make crate time, less boring and gives a dog access to things to stimulate them.

You can also consider dog daycare if the dog enjoys being around other dogs too, and some walking services even offer mid-day hikes!"

At the time, I was looking to adopt. I did some looking around, getting in contact with various shelters, and viewing what they had available. But, I didn't have a dog jump out at me that was perfect for both me, and the dog.

Some of the factors was that I wanted a low energy dog, a companion breed, that could handle being alone in my home while I was at work. I had my heart set on French Bulldog, Bulldog, Boxer or Boston Terrier. I looked at lots of other breeds, for example, a Labrador Retriever...but didn't think it was fair to have that kind of dog in a condo all day alone.

I know some people are adamantly against dogs being alone at all, but I think Leigh presented a logical argument. The breeder was found by my sister, while we were looking on Petfinder for mixed breed dogs. The French Bulldogs were already 8 weeks old...and available from a registered AKC breeder in Southeast Ohio.

There are friends of mine that very much wanted me to find a homeless dog for my home, and in a way I do feel guilty for not looking longer. But I had to make a decision that was right for me...and right for a dog entering my home. At the end of the day, everyone needs to be happy and this was my decision. I hope that one day I can have more dogs in my life, once I have a home with a backyard, and can help rescue or foster dogs.

I'm very excited at this new chapter of my life. I'm certainly up for any advice from other dog owners and already reading up on what I have to do to "puppy proof" my home.

I don't have a name yet. I have been thinking of a bunch of names and given advice on names like Erving, Scrapple, Rocky, Ben, Will, Krimpet.

Thoughts? Ideas? Comments. Shoot me an email at philly2hoboken@gmail.com. Also if anyone can suggest a dog walker in Hoboken, i'm all ears.

In case you didn't understand my title...

Quick Hits

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Ok, so thanks for all the kind emails about mom. Current status is fairly simple. We know she has a tumor on her brain stem. Some people who have this can live years without an issue, and may not need surgery. Others may need to operate if they see the tumor growing. So we are in a wait and see approach due to multiple factors (her age, the danger of surgery, the danger of chemo) and figure that if the tumor is growing...then we take action. Next up will be a doctor's visit in a few months for an MRI and see what the tumor is doing.

Been talking a bit on Facebook about getting a dog. I'm 95% there. I have been looking into rescue and looking into breeders. If you know, I did rescue my old cat, Honey, and she was a good cat, but never quite bonded with me the way I would have liked. So, i'm leaning towards getting a French Bulldog, i'd like to get a puppy (yes, I recognize this will be a lot of work), and the current breeder i'm talking to has a litter that will be due in mid-December.

I rejoined Club H. A friend of mine was able to get me a good deal and i'm locked in for another year. I have been hitting the gym a lot. Things have gone well, i'm down a pant size, and as much as I haven't been losing weight, i'm happy with my appearance, stamina and muscle gains. I'm not quite back to 100%, but more like 90%. Looking good, and feeling good.

I got over the last few days and tried a new place on 539 Park Ave called aptly enough "Park & 6th Comfort Food". There's two places in town that I go to get any of my hoagies - Vito's (Saturday they have London Broil with Mutz that is a must-eat for anyone new to town) and Fiore's (Thursday or Saturday they have Roast Beef with Mutz that is delish!).

I tried three of their specialty sandwiches so far, and hope to try them all with a formal review of all of them in the next few weeks. I tried their Buffalo Chicken Salad, Roast Beef Sandwich and their Italian Hero Sandwich (each sandwich has their own special name...like Eli Manning or The Hoboken, etc). Anyhow i'll write more on the place in a month or so, but suffice to say...seriously try it. If you like the weekend grinder/hoagie/hero like I do and feel betrayed when Vito's closes for a vacation...and are mildly disappointed that Luca Brasi's isn't that good...go to Park & 6th. Great bread. Excellent cold cuts. Good mutz. Often I deride a bunch of local businesses for being "average at best"...this is worth the walk. Try it.

Also want to do a write up soon of La Isla. I have to say that this is probably my #1 place to eat it town, now that i'm living downtown. Why? Because every day I walk in there after the gym and get their roasted chicken breast. For those of you crying over Boston Market closing...this is the next best place for good rotisserie chicken. And it's only $3.50 for a single chicken breast (I go home, slice it up, add some homemade rice and asparagus and call it a cheap meal). You can also get sides with it from La Isla, and I love eating their Papa Rellena (Potato Ball). Crispy on the outside, soft mashed potato inside and a core of ground beef and onion...it's heaven. But i'm sure not very healthy, so I don't eat them very often. Also you have to try their cuban sandwich which has roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese, and thinly-sliced dill pickles that are added in layers on flat bread and pressed into a thin hot sandwich with a buttery garlic spread. Mmmmmm. Another thing you have to try.

My sister came up to visit me the other day, with her husband and kids. One reason, aside from seeing her favorite brother, was to see City Hall bakery. Has anyone else been noticing this? It's now a tourist destination. I saw people the other day looking around for it, and they finally asked me where it was located. I pointed them in the right direction, and the one pre-teen girl chirped happily while leading her mother to the store.

But it was a nice visit from my sister, they got to see City Hall bakery and I took them over to Oddfellows for dinner. Then afterwards, I walked them around the waterfront and we got some ice cream. I went to Rita's, I just love their custard. They had Cold Stone creamery. I recognize that Cold Stone is always packed, but it seems like they never have enough people working there. I watched some people wait in line and walk away in disgust for being forced to wait so long. That's one reason why I like Rita's. Their custard is awesome and you are in-and-out in less than 3 minutes.

Anyhow, i'm looking forward this week to having Friday off. I love summer.

Protest 7/25 @6pm City Hall

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Life is a series of events, if you think about it.

We certainly are defined by our day-to-day mundane events, but life is about putting together those "moments of definition".

It could be a life living abroad. It could be enjoying life in the wine country of Italy with your family. It could be a day you lost someone special.

These are the moments that define you. There are hundreds of these in a lifetime.

Tonight is one of those moments. It's easy to sit on the sidelines when events like this happen, but to take action says more than anything. It doesn't matter who you voted for in the last election, I think we can all agree that we do not want to stand for corruption in our city.

Peter may be innocent. He may be guilty. It is not like he was caught by a local blogger on tape admitting to taking bribes -- he was recorded by the FBI. They don't accuse seated mayors unless the evidence is fairly conclusive, and i'm sure you have read the complaint, which details what was said.

Mayor Cammarano's ability to govern has been compromised, even before a trial has started. What he needs to do is step down, face the charges he is accused of, and let the courts decide if he is guilty or not. To have this circus going on, for the next couple of years, and for him to try to push forth an agenda is ludicrous. Who is going to trust anything he says? Who is going to trust anyone he nominates in his cabinet?

Until we find out the truth here, Hoboken will never progress. I highly encourage everyone to show up at City Hall tonight at 6pm to peacefully protest. It will only take 20 minutes of your life to define who you are...someone who stands up against corruption.

Michael Jackson's Famous Pepsi Video

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I know we are all tired of the Michael Jackson news, but I only posted this because I never saw the video before. It is the actual video of the fire explosion where his hair caught on fire. I never saw this before, and figured that you may want to see it, also.

The Good Samaritan Deed Of The Day

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Growing up in suburban Philadelphia, I can say that the better part of my life I was isolated from city living. I did the occasional trip into Philly to watch a sports game, maybe visit my father's office, see Franklin Institute or a holiday at the Union League.

Upon moving to Hoboken in 1995, I learned about living in the city from trial, error and exploration. During that time, I had lots of various experiences that I would never forget. Like the time when I first moved up, I offered a seat on the subway to a woman. She exploded in seething rage, snarling at me saying, "Do I look like I need your seat!?"

Plus, there were the homeless. After years of taking the PATH I would see Teddy. Teddy was a small African American man, who would claim to be collecting for a homeless shelter to give "bread, juice, milk" and other things to the homeless.

Later, I learned from Hoboken411 that Teddy was not working for a homeless shelter.

As the years passed, I can say that I have seen it all. With the harried people at the Port Authority Bus Terminal coming up to me saying, "Hey man, I lost my wallet. I need bus fare to get home. I'll pay you back, you give me your address and I swear I will send you the money!" to the woman dressed as a nun collecting money to the homeless guy outside of Bloomingdales at 59th who somehow trained two cats and a poodle to sit/lie perfectly still while he begged for money (trust me, the animal act was heart wrenching, that poodle had perfected the begging look).

So, like anyone who has lived here for a while, and at first was free with giving money to the homeless (or the so-called homeless, who were really scammers) - my heart slowly hardened and mostly my attitude towards giving money to homeless was "I pay my taxes, that's how I help."

I was out at Mulligan's last Friday. We had a nice Phillies crowd of about 15 people at the bar, watching the Fightin's vs Pirates. I didn't have a lot to drink, left around midnight and walked home. I got to the corner of Willow and 1st, turned and walked towards my condo. I walked past an African American man and woman who each had a bicycle. The man says something quietly to me to get my attention, and I turn to him.

"Yes?", I ask.

"My wife and I are homeless. We are both very hungry. Can you spare any money for us to get something to eat?"

Now, like I wrote before...99% of the time, i'd say no, and just walk away. But looking at the guy, and the woman they didn't "look" homeless. Nor did they strike me as your typical people looking for drug money.

Oh, I know. My jaded readers are all rolling their eyes, like I probably would be doing right now also.

But my spidey senses didn't say they were homeless, and I can't say that i'm always right, but I have a fairly good track record of being more right than wrong.

Yep, there's another eye roll out there from the readers.

So, to continue the story...

I could have given money, but I don't do that anymore. I simply don't. But, he said he was hungry. OK, fair enough. So I turn to him and say:

"No problem. Lets walk up to Washington Street and i'll buy you and your wife anything you want to eat."

They immediately agreed and we turned around and walked up the four blocks to the main street. While walking I find out that the man worked for a contractor as a painter, but all the jobs have dried up...and he couldn't find any more jobs. The homeless shelter in Hoboken was full, he told me, and they were going to try the one in Union City next, but they weren't sure if that was full. He said they might just sleep outside tonight. He said they didn't eat since that morning. I asked if they had any family in the area, and he said they didn't.

The story was, with this economy, believable. Plus, I called them out. My attitude was if they are hungry - fine, i'll feed you, but I won't give you any money.

Since it was late at night, I had a choice of pizza or Cluck-U. I asked them what they wanted, and they asked for Cluck-U. We walk into the store and they ask nicely, "What is our limit?"

I tell them to order whatever they want, there's no limit.

They ordered some chicken, not asking for sides or a drink. They got it to go, and I paid the cashier the money and we walked outside. I kindly explained to them my reasoning about not giving them money, saying that it wasn't personal to them - it's just a conscious decision by me. If you are homeless and hungry - I have no problem helping that way. They both thanked me, and I went home.

Now the moral of this story isn't about "Boy, is Sean generous! Lets all pat him on the back!" - it's more about how sad it is that our society has come to this. I can't discern between those that actually need and those that do. Yes, I fully recognize and understand there are legitimate agencies that collect money to fully help the homeless, and I could have donated my money to them instead.

Also, after reading books like The Soloist, you also glean a bit of a better understanding that you can't paint a broad stroke to explain all homeless people. Some have mental issues. Some have, in fact, fallen between the cracks. There are people working day jobs in cash-only businesses and only a bad recession away from losing their homes.

Personally, I think (and in a way hope) that it was the case on Friday. Both of them seemed like nice people who fell on hard times and weren't drug addicts looking to score. They just wanted something to eat and a place to sleep.

Would I do it again? Maybe. Maybe not. But it is like my mom used to tell me as a child, about The Parable of the Good Samaritan. I would come home from school, and tell her about doing something nice and she would always reply, "See, you did a Good Samaritan deed of the day!"

I always try to do good things like this. Always. But, like I wrote there are people who take advantage of kindness. If I can give out kindness in other ways, then I try to do that. Even if it is offering a seat for a woman, or opening a door for someone holding packages or helping people down on their luck.

There's no real moral here. I saw. I helped. I blogged. Take it for what you will. Maybe next time you see someone begging and asking about something to eat, you can do a Good Samaritan Deed, too. No one is keeping score, except God.

Sod Off Bankers!

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Awesome commercial for Strongbow Cider in the UK...

Food Inc.

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Want to make a difference? Shop at the Hoboken Farmers Market today or at the uptown one on Thursday.

Staycation

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I was on staycation last week, and couldn't be happier. I'm one of those people who can have a great time just hanging in Hoboken, and enjoy relaxing and catching up on a whole lot of doin'....nothing.

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My main event was going to Atlantic City, NJ. I hadn't been to AC for a while, and was itching to go gambling. This itch was driven into high gear after watching The Hangover, and I coerced a friend of mine to go down with me (Chris) for a night of gambling.

Suffice to say, it was a fun time. I played 3 card poker, which I did well on when I went to Vegas - but not so well in AC, and lost $300. 3 card poker is all luck there's no real skill to it, with the exception of to stay in on a bad hand or not to protect your $25 Ante bet. I usually will stay in with a Queen-6-4 or higher. I was at the table, betting $25 on Ante and $25 on pairs plus. I'm not going to explain the rules, just look it up. I was at the end of the table right before the dealer, with about 3 other players.

Another player sits to my right, and there are seats open, so there's not much I can do about it. The guy sits down, and i'm not thrilled about this, even saying to him, "Oh man now you get my cards and I get the dealers hands..." - what do you think happens? Four hands later he gets 3 of a kind (and of course it is 6-6-6). The payout is 30 to 1 on the Ante and 4 to 1 on pairs plus. I would have won $875. I glared at the 21 year old kid, saying "Nice hand" and walked away. All I needed was this kid to sit at another table or just stay off our table for 10 minutes and that would have been my hand. Sigh.

I played craps, thanks to a helpful guy next to me showing me how to play, and learned that I will never bet when someone is throwing the dice and doesn't know how to throw. I know there is lady luck and all that but when one of the seasoned dice guys hands a cute girl the dice, and she throws it off the table...that's a bad sign. The next two girls after her did the same and we all quickly lost our bets. The only good shooters were the guys who had been at the table for hours, and had some method to their madness when it came to holding & throwing dice. They all had little rituals, like touching the table, rotating the dice and a specific throw style that wasn't fool proof, but they won more than they lost. The three girls in a row were all like "Wheeeeeee!" and throwing the dice like they were trying to throw a frisbee. It was sad, and the seasoned pro next to me rolled his eyes more than once, and added "Well, at least the girls were cute to look at...."

But still wasn't worth losing $300 at the craps table.

I withdrew another $300 from the ATM, and tried 3 card poker again. I was up, down, up, even, down...walked away when I had about $225 in chips. Sat down with Chris at his table and it was funny to watch him play. Chris is a funny guy...my Costello to his Abbot. My Spade to his Farley. He was up & down all night, just playing blackjack and tormenting those around him with his wisecracks. The dealer said nothing, but it was clear he couldn't stand Chris. The player to Chris's right was fairly trashed, and Chris kept laying into him about each of his bad plays. The dealer would show a 5 and the guy is hitting with a 5 and Chris would be saying to the drunk guy, "What are you doing? Oh great. You got the 10. Wonderful. Now i'll stand with my 18, and watch what the dealer does..."

The dealer pulls a 4 and then takes everyone's money off the table with his 19.

Chris would look at me with a "Do you BELIEVE this" look. This went on for about an hour. The guy was good natured (or just too drunk) to really care. I started to talk to people at the table, convincing them that Chris was my lawyer. Then I changed my mind and called him my "Consigliere". I bantered with Chris, while he taught me his strategy on playing blackjack. Thanks to him, I was able to get up at one point where I had about $800-900 in chips.

But the good news is that I fared a bit better At one point, when mentally calculated my losses for the night, and guessed I was probably down about $650, I decided a one time bet. It was 3am and I was getting tired. I figured that if I win, I quit. If I lose, then i'm done for the night.

I won. Then scooped up my chips and left knowing that I was down $200 for the night.

I was tempted to play more, with the whole "YOUR LUCK HAS CHANGED! WIN BACK THE $200!" - but I didn't. Oh, I really, really wanted to, but figured I will take my good luck and leave.

I will take my winnings and use them towards a membership at Club H. My condo gym is going to be closed for 2 months (Aug/Sept or Sept/Oct) while they renovate/paint it. I suspended my diet for last week, but didn't go crazy and eat cheeseburgers, fries and milkshakes each night - just kept my calorie count at a good average, while eating whatever I wanted. Yet, I didn't even gain any weight. I'm back on my diet today, and back to the gym - one week break was a nice vacation from work and from my diet.

Week Off From Work...

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I have the week off from work. I get to relax, with nothing really planed except bumming around Hoboken. Going to meet up with some friends during the week. Exercise a bit.

This weekend was interesting. Corporation X had their summer party on Randall's Island. It was an extremely large affair, with tents for food, entertainment, and displays. It was the largest party I have attended in my 15 years working there, and simply wonderful. I put my diet on hold, so I could sample some of the great food there.

Also got to listen to a great entertainers called The Moth. They are live storytelllers (think of them like the original bloggers, heh) and basically each performer just had an interesting tale to tell about their life. I was really fascinated by them, because not only were they telling a story, but at the end, the instructor went on to explain about what makes a good story. I spoke to one after the performance, Peter - and he asked if I knew Adam Wade. I don't know Adam personally, but I certainly know of him and his website. The guy gave Adam a lot of praise...so Adam if you read this...The Moth storytellers think you are very talented.

Oh, also picked up the iPhone 3G S. Originally I planned to buy a Blackberry, but after seeing it in action (thanks to Chet), last week, I really liked what I saw. Up until this point I had a basic phone, with no bells or whistles. I can only say...WOW. If you don't own a smartphone yet, I would take a serious look at what you (and I) have been missing out for all these years. I remember one passive aggressive "friend" of mine chided me last year for not owning a phone that could download pictures. In my mind, I didn't see the reason to pay for that...now I really like what they can do.

I'll give you an example. I was in the city for the party on Randall's Island. I got in the cab, told the cabbie I needed to get to 35th street ferry...but he didn't know where it was (sure, we had the idea it was at 35th street and the water, but not sure exactly). I got out my iPhone, hit Google Maps, and showed the cabbie a map of the area in about 30 seconds.

Funny segue...in the cab. The guy is driving me over by 1st avenue and there's just horrific traffic there because of the traffic headed to Long Island. He decides to drive in REVERSE down a one way street (basically backing up along the edge of the street, maybe going 15 miles an hour), and then turns down another road to avoid traffic.

Part of me was thinking "Only in New York do you experience this insanity" - but he saved me some time and I left him $6 tip on a $12 bill.

Anyhow. Other random thoughts...

Soooo....what happened to RealHoboken.com? Just askin'? Kind of just disappears one day.

Anyone notice that Philly is getting a soccer team? I'm a casual fan of soccer, now that I have been hanging out at Mulligan's a lot...and really like the logo & design for the Philadelphia Union. Going to have to start paying more attention to them now.

Been doing my diet fairly good at the office - cheating a bit on the weekend, because my schedule is a bit more haphazard and far too many meetings with friends at the bars. Turns out that a friend of mine might be able to help me out with re-upping my membership at Club H. But, as it turns out, my condo gym has been fairly solid after a week of working out. I can do most of my lifts with the dumbbells, treadmills and weight machines. So far I can feel myself getting stronger and my jeans are falling off my hips.

I'm going to Atlantic City on Thursday, and staying overnight - just for fun. I figure there's no Bradley Beach shore house this year, and need to do something fun for my week off. Going with a buddy of mine and we hope for some luck on the tables!

July 4th should be back in town for a party on Saturday. Plan to take out my digital SLR and I bought a new tripod especially for this day...so I can take good pictures of fireworks along the Hudson. If the weather plays along, I will post them later.

I was talking to a friend of mine about my interest in getting a dog. He mentioned that dogs are great, but to remember that they are like an anchor - you have to change your life to revolve around them. He's a single guy like me, and says it does take away from a lot of freedom that we take for granted. He has no regret over his dog...just was cautioning me about thinking it through. So I will.

Well, back to a long day of doing nothing. Just the way I like my vacations.

Been kicking around the idea of car...hardwood floors...a dog...for now i'm not planning to move ahead for any of those at the moment.

With the economy the way it is and the fact that my bonus from Corporation X is going to be the lowest in my 15 years of working there kind of means I need to be careful about how I spend NOW. Without going into details, since I avoid writing anything work-related on here - i'm just happy to have a job.

Been dieting for the last few weeks. Lost about nine pounds so far and then plateaued. Need to decide what i'm going to do about joining Club H again.

I'm a fan of the gym. I think it's a great place to workout...just not such a fan of the cost now that I have a condo gym.

My condo gym I can do about 80% of what I can do from Club H, if I am creative. I have lost a lot of muscle mass in my 8 month layoff from working out. To a point where I saw a friend Saturday who said, "Wow, you lost a lot of weight!" (At first I was happy to hear this) and then he said, "Yea, you were jacked when I saw you last." (Big frown)

It's not fun starting out again at a gym. But I did go to my condo gym on Friday & Saturday. Did my normal gym routine w/lifting and cardio. Skipped Sunday. Would like to go 5 days this week and skip Saturday & Sunday (this was what I used to do).

Problem is my motivation dies when I walk in the door at my home. It was 10x easier to hit the gym once I got off the PATH and then go home after I worked out.

Other problem is that saving nearly $100 a month (yes, Club H is expensive), that money adds up. I haven't been to Club H since December...so that's ~$700 more in my pocket. Also at least Club H was semi-social. I knew people there, and made a few casual friends. I kind of miss that aspect, too.

But then again, that's also part of the reason why i'm at where i'm at now with working out. Need to figure out a better way to motivate. Not sure how i'm going to decide with this, but I am leaning towards restarting my Club H membership. I keep writing about how i'm going to use my condo gym ... and then something comes up to throw the routine off for a week...which turns into a month...and then i'm back to square one.

I think i'm going to make July 1 my first day back. I have off for the week of July 4th from work. Good week where I can stop in, restart everything and get back into my routine.

Post Election Thoughts

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I think Hoboken is a bit worn out on the election, but here are my closing thoughts on the election now that Dawn Zimmer has conceded the race:

1. Congratulations to Peter Cammarano, Carol Marsh, Ravi Bhalla and Dave Mello. As someone who supported Dawn, I would rather see her as mayor, but remain content that her slate won. I hope that Dawn will be elected as the president of the city council by her peers.

2. Glad to see that there was a strong interest by new voters. I hope that momentum surges for the next election. Remember it's only 2 years until we vote for our city council wards represenatives.

3. I hope the first order of business is getting our house in order. Need to take a strong look at our revenue (taxes) and finances (payroll) and make fair, appropriate changes that are fiscally responsible.

4. I also hope we take a strong look at our election procedures. It seems that it is greatly flawed, with many holes for voter fraud. For example, people who move outside of Hoboken receiving election ballots. Shouldn't someone look into a better way to make sure registered citizens of Hoboken vote?

5. I think this was a bigger victory for reformists than many realize. When the HDCO does everything in its power to get Cammarano and his slate their victory and squeaks out a 161 vote margin...says a lot to the grass roots campaign and the efforts of the people. I think it bodes well for future candidates who want to stand up to the Hudson County Machine.

Elections...and other stuff...

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We won't find out until Friday who the mayor is...and I have lots of things to say, but until everything settles, I will just hold off on my final judgement here. Suffice to say it has been a crazy election, and you have to say that 700+ absentee ballots with 70% going to Cammarano is simple proof of the Hudson County "Machine" that everyone warns about every election. There simply is a lot of money in local politics, and much of that is used to buy votes.

Hey, talking about crazy. Remember my story about the crazy guy at the polls? The one spouting off about Zimmer during the NJ Primary?


I'm walking with my friend Steve, and his baby son to the school to vote. I see the crazy guy, again, at the polls and he is now outside, on his little scooter. I pass him going in to vote. When leaving the building, walking over to Steve, he calls to me, "HI SEAN!"

I look at he has a shit-eating grin on his face, so happy with himself that he remembered my name from the last election (he was one of the workers who were working the sign-in books).

So I wave and say hi back, rolling my eyes at Steve and explaining the story to him. There are some real characters in this town, and many with too much time on their hands.

Anyhow, in other events...

I started a Atkins-esque diet, while doing cardio and lifting about 5 days a week. Was slightly derailed by slicing my pinkie finger by accident. Long story, but it wasn't while cooking. It was one of those cuts where in the first second after, I looked at it and my brain immediately processed: "OH SHIT. THIS IS A BAD CUT."

So my first instinct was to clasp my thumb and forefinger on my pinky, applying pressure to it (I didn't have a tissue or clean cloth handy). I run back to my condo, thinking "shit!shit!shit!shit!" the whole time, and i'm borderline thinking I should go to the hospital for stitches.

But I'm not a huge fan of our local hospital after my near mugging and my leg injury. It is amateur hour at St. Mary's Hospital.

After about 20 minutes, I check the wound, and i'll spare you the bloody details. It's not good, but I think I can avoid getting stitches. If you didn't know, you can actually wait 24 hours before getting them, and really it's only to help the wound close and reduce scarring. The wound was clotting, and I added some Neosporin, applied a lightly-tight bandaid (enough for good pressure, but not so much to cut off circulation)...and waited until the next day.

I cut it on metal, so I made an appointment to have my doctor look at it. I couldn't go the next day, and had to wait 36 hours later. Bottom line is that I got 3 days of antibiotics and a tetanus shot as a preventative measure.

In other stuff, I met with the hardwood floor guy last night. Nice guy. I don't have a firm estimation, but its going to be around $6,000 to do my place (excluding the bathroom and the kitchen tile floor it would be maybe 500 sq ft of floor?) with new maple hardwood floors. Now you all have seen pictures of my apartment, question for you.

What color floor should I go with? My cabinets are a cherry color, and my parquet floors are already a wheat color. The hallway is white tile, with no real natural lighting.

Do I go dark to match the cherry cabinets? Do I stay light, to brighten the place and make it look bigger?

Someone suggested I go with 1/2" thick hardwood floors, but I can't due to the concrete flooring and would have to go with 3/8" thick. Bad? Good?

So that's my first estimate. If anyone is knowledgeable about this and has any advice, drop me an email.

Also, if you were in my situation would you go with $6,000 towards a new car or towards hardwood floors?

It's a tough call. My car, I don't use as much, but would be fun to have a nicer ride. My apartment could use the flooring. I can't do both right now.

Decisions, decisions. As you know...I take a long time to make up my mind on purchases...

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I don't want to turn my site into a political blog, but I have to say this...

Tuesday is the election. If you are registered to vote, it only takes 15 minutes to vote for local elections, and I urge you to vote for Zimmer and her slate. It's going to be a tight election (don't get swayed by all the endorsements for Cammarano, it's a political strategy, and they are panicked by the Zimmer threat).

Just remember that of all the Hoboken voters, only 33% of them voted in the last election, and Zimmer came in 2nd place by 84 votes. Mason, who came in 3rd place, endorsed Zimmer for Mayor...and the HDCO machine has come out in full force with their "endorsements" because they are freaked out by the idea that Zimmer could actually rock the boat and bring change to City Hall.

I read the "endorsements" that Peter Cammarano is getting, and it doesn't say to me that we have people who are really concerned about Hoboken, but people threatened by the idea that Zimmer could win. We have police, firemen, unions and developers backing Cammarano. What does that say to you?

Says to be that we have people who are interested in things remaining the same. People who are afraid that Zimmer will actually do the right thing and bring Hoboken in-line with the rest of the country. Examples?

Well in Manhattan, they have 1 supervisor for every 5 cops. In Hoboken? We have 1 supervisor for every 2 cops. The police would fret "We need more cops" rather than saying "Hey, maybe we have too many supervisors! Maybe instead of paying one supervisor $165,000 a year we could hire three patrolmen at $55,000 a year. "

Wow, what radical thinking!

I have (or had, depending on how you look at it) friends who were firemen and cops and are furious that I dare to blog such ideas. I wrote many times before that it is a question of compromise, and i'm not the only person who says that Hoboken police and firemen's salaries and benefits are above the average when compared to the rest of the state.

City Hall spends 80% of its budget on salaries and benefits. When we ask where our taxes are going -- they are going straight to our first responders and city hall employees.

Of course it is in the best interest of the police and fire department to endorse Peter Cammarano. He, and his slate, represent the "Entitled Hoboken". The entitled Hoboken are the people who have benefited by city councils and mayors sympathetic to their issues. They are the ones who made back office deals to give away our waterfront like at Maxwell Place or the W Hotel. They are the ones who think it's ok to extend PILOT agreements for Church Towers.

Example #2: Did you know that Church Towers has 402 units and pays $463K in taxes? That would mean an annual property tax payment of $1152 per unit. How does that compare to YOUR tax bill? The city council voted 6-2 (with Cammarano and Zimmer who were the dissenting votes). The funny fact is that those against Zimmer blast her for voting against this, but keep forgetting the fact that Cammarano also voted against it. Don't let facts get in the way of things, folks!

One last blog post for you, to give you and idea of what we are up against.

I went yesterday to vote for Longean, and while voting I hear one of the people
who work at the desk talking to someone about why he was voting for Cammarano.

I step out of the polling booth and it's a man doing the talking, with long
grey hair, and tattoos. Sort of looks like an old biker, with missing teeth and
glasses. He rides around in a old person scooter, sort of like those that you
see on late night TV "the freedom to do anything you want!"

Anyhow, he is talking to four people. A mom & dad and their two kids (who look
about 18-20), were at the polling station voting for the governor. I stop to listen to what he says, and he starts with the "Well if Zimmer and Mason didn't call in the state supervisor our taxes would only have increased 7%, not 43%!! Zimmer wants to fix this town overnight! I like that Peter represents 'Old School Hoboken'."

I stopped him and said, "You know what. You are correct. That's true, and a problem with the Cammarano campaign. He is telling you half-truths. It is true that if Judy Tripodi didn't come in, we could have raised the budget only 7%, but we still did owe the money that is reflected in the 43% increase. Where would it go? Into debt. So one way or the other we had to pay that money, and someone had to get our books in order, for years we haven't been doing it right. That is 'Old School Hoboken's' fault for the last eight years."

He starts to sputter and gets more irate with me. He then quickly changes subjects, "Well did you know Zimmer wants to build a wall around the projects?!"

I reply, "Say what?"

He starts tapping on his cell phone, saying "Yes! It's true! I have her phone number, call her and ask her, she said she wanted to build a wall around the projects!"

I replied, "OK, I don't think that is true, but i'm not going to call her to ask. Is that what's important to you in this election? A wall around the projects? I thought we were talking about the taxes and budget..."

He got more animated, waving his arms, while I was calm. The family was standing there, watching this, and I was countering all of his stuff easily, because they were absurd statements. I finally told him "Look, we are both concerned about the same thing, but Cammarano isn't the answer, he is supported by ex-council members and developers who basically gave Hoboken away for free with their pilot agreements on the waterfront. It's sad because you are telling people what you think and you are clearly misinformed. At the very least, do some research before you begin to tell people these half-truths, rather than passing on to them things that were just "told" to you."

Then another worker walked over and nicely said, "You can't continue this discussion here, both of you (to me and him). You can't talk politics in a voting area."

I wasn't about to argue the fact that the other guy, the one working at the polling station, started the discussion - so I said "No problem." and walked out.

The four people followed me out, and they got my attention, by saying "Hey, wait up...". I spun around, and saw them waving to me, and the first my first words out of my mouth were, "Now, do you believe a guy like ME or a guy like HIM?"

The guy smiled said, "No, no. We are Zimmer supporters. We just got to talking about the state election and that's when he started up about the local election."

They were very nice, all four of them (including the kids) were voting Zimmer in the run off. We talked for about a good 20 minutes about the election, and I told them a few things they weren't aware of. It was fun and also really disheartening because a guy in the election booth was so adamant about Zimmer being the devil that he basically didn't want to listen to anything I said.

That's my story. Here's a video from Dawn's campaign. We don't have the big developers or the PAC groups to support us. Everything has been a grass roots campaign. I donated to their cause, and if you can, I encourage you to, too:

Things I Think About...

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This is one of those cheap posts where I kind of ramble a bit. Some people like it and some get annoyed. I hope you are the former.

I kind of want to get a dog. I wrote about this before. The main thing stopping me is the whole "walk" part of owning a dog, and specifically - MORNING WALKS. I'm just terrible at waking up, I just love sleeping and it's mentally painful for me to get up early to do anything. So tell me, if you own a dog and aren't a morning person, did you get used to this? Remember I don't have a back yard - I have to walk the doggie.

I kind of want to buy a car. Been kicking it around forever. I think since 1996 been saying how I was going to buy a BMW, but kept putting it off - saving my money to buy a home. OK, so I have the home...time for the new ride? Lots of factors are in this decision which in no particular order:
a. I drive, perhaps, 3,000 miles a year. I don't *need* a car. But having family in Philadelphia and Washington DC - makes renting a car very annoying for holidays & special events.
b. I have lived without a car in Hoboken for my first 4 years. I was miserable. Yes, you purists who don't have a car - GOOD FOR YOU! But when the zombie / robot uprising finally happens at 3am in 2010 I will be driving my car into the hills of PA to begin my resistance movement (a la "Red Dawn") while YOU will be next on their menu!
c. My current car, the 1993 Volvo, has been a (mostly) reliable friend since 1999. 10 years, 28,000 miles and only a few minor mechanical hiccups. It's reliable but isn't FUN like my Jeep. Car owners who SMILE when they drive their car know what i'm talking about. My Jeep was a joy to drive, part of me thinks about getting another one, but then I start to think: is this a midlife crisis kind of car? I looked at buying a Jeep again, but they are ridiculously expensive (and I like the old square headlights better!). For the money to buy a new Jeep I can get a used 2007 BMW instead. That's the problem with American automakers, they should be making Jeeps in the $18,000 range, not $28,000 range.
d. As someone who overthinks everything, part of me wants to lease a car. A BMW 328i or Mercedes C300 is only $350-400 a month, and that's in my affordable range. Only problem is that i'll spend $18,000 over 3-4 years and then...nothing. At least buying a car, I will have some return on my investment.
e. My main "issue" is justifying the expense of about $400-500 a month on a car that I use so infrequently. $6,000 a year on the car...another $2,220 on parking, $1500 on insurance...who knows how much gas...$10,000 a year for the luxury of owning a newer car...my current car, albeit older and not as exciting as a newer car still gives me about $6,000 extra a year that I can spend on...other things.

I had the last week off from work. Nothing of merit happened. I'm fine with that. After many years of looking over my vacations and travelling, I am most happy when i'm not doing very much. Beaches are always a favorite of mine. I can lie on a beach all day. Swim a bit. People watch. See, instead of spending $6,000 a year on a new car, that is only part of money I could use to go to Club Med Turkoise, instead.

I got to meet Dawn Zimmer the other day. Her team actually wanted to meet the Philly2Hoboken Philadelphia sports fans (part of the Phillies and Eagles clubs I run). She came with her council to Mulligan's and we had a nice, if small, crowd of fans there to meet her. It was great to meet them, and can only hope that she is successful in a few weeks. If not, then we keep fighting the "good" fight against the "connected" folks in City Hall. It's the Newcomers & the Born and Raised together vs the people in City Hall who make back office deals to protect only a few people.

I have no problem with a budget of $90 million for Hoboken. I will pay more taxes. I am 100% fine with it. Lets compare the structure of our Fire and Police departments with other regions and see how they are able to streamline their workforce to keep salaries, pensions and benefits down. We can't just throw up our hands and say "Oh well. That is how we have been doing it since 1978! Taxpayers pay up!" It seems like the word out of most of what I read from Cammarano says that taxpayers aren't going to get any breaks if he is elected and things are just going to stay "as is". I don't want to see firemen or cops lose their jobs. Not one. I simply want to do an analysis of other cities, compare their structure and salaries and compare it to Hoboken. If the results of that analysis says that Hoboken is in-line with what the rest of the major cities do, then i'm all for paying for good first responders. If the analysis comes back and says "We need more cops or firemen" or "We need to pay them more". I am 100% for that. But if the analysis comes back and says "You are overpaying your cops and firemen" or "The structure of your police force can be changed, if compared to the way that 'City X' does it..." Then why wouldn't we look at logical, rational views to be fiscally responsible, while protecting our citizens? I think our police and firemen do a thankless job. As the grandson of a Philly cop, I have respect for our first responders! Suffice to say I can only hope that change is coming to City Hall. I remember what happened to Philly in the late 1970's, and how they strangled their populace with taxes - and drove them out of the city. The same can happen in Hoboken, if we aren't careful.

Enough serious stuff. Been enjoying my Phillies this season. Crossing my fingers that we get some pitching help. I'm hoping some of the new prospects we have in the farm system show up this year and maybe we can find a diamond in the rough. Antonio Bastardo, Carlos Carrasco and Kyle Drabek are the three pitchers that you need to start brushing up with, if you are a Phillies fan. Gotta love that our team has the offensive firepower to roll over teams even if pitching hasn't been great. Remember - EVERY FRIDAY IS PHILLIES FRIDAY AT MULLIGAN'S. Tell your friends who are Phillies fans. :)

As you may or may not know, I often review restaurants on the blog or back in the day on Hobokeni.com. I read others in town who write restaurant reviews and it always makes me think about my five rules I always try to stick to:
1. Never "review" a restaurant when it first opens. It doesn't make any sense. Kitchens are learning their routines. The owners are on their best behavior and the new staff who are on bad behavior have yet to be disciplined or fired. Wait about three months.
2. Never tell a restaurant you are reviewing them until after you eat.
3. You should never get a free meal, and if you do it should be written in the review.
4. Bring friends. Have everyone order a different dish. Have everyone sample and give you feedback.
5. I personally prefer to eat at a restaurant three times before I write a review.

If you want to write a "first impression" about a new place, that's fine. But it shouldn't be damning or praising. Save that for a formal review of the establishment after multiple times eating there after it has been open for many months.

People often ask about my condo, since this marks my 2nd year owning my own place. My minor regret is that if I only held out 2 more years, I would be in an even better market to buy! I knew this was coming, but I expected mortgage rates to skyrocket when the market crashed, much like they did in the late 80's. So much for history repeating itself. But otherwise i'm super thrilled with my own home, and have two "projects" on the backburner. One is a minor renovation of my bathrooom. The other is a hardwood floor project. I already have a friend lined up to help with the bathroom, but if anyone knows anything on hardwood floors...i'm all ears. Email me if you have any good info.

Otherwise, I have no "summer plans". No Bradley Beach this year. My buddy Chris wasn't going to do it, and he was the main reason why I did it last year. I did make some new friends last year, and toyed with the idea of doing the beach house again, without Chris, but ultimately decided against it. Maybe I will try to get in a few day trips to the beach here and there this summer.

I finally paid off my PSE&G bill after many years of paying $100 a month extra to pay it off. The condensed story is basically PSE&G was estimating our bills for about 10 years at my old apartment. I fought and lost (well, I did get a slight reduction), and owed many THOUSANDS of dollars to the electric/gas company. Jon & Kristen did pay me, but when I asked my old roommates, who moved out, to pay what they owe, they basically said "Screw you, it was your fault - you pay.". I wonder if my old roommates have an ounce of remorse for sticking me with that bill. I doubt it. I hope that Karma just deals with them.

I'm looking forward to the 4th of July fireworks. I want to get a tripod for my camera and get some night time shots. Anyone recommend a good tripod for a digital SLR? I'm looking for lightweight and compact, I hate to lug something around that is unwieldy.

I guess that is mostly it. I hope this summer to get out in Hoboken and review some new places and upload some new pictures. I have the summer with a lot of time on my hands, so why not?

Did You Know?

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Surprisingly, I got this link from my MOM. Only goes to show how the internet has changed the dynamic of family relationships when i'm getting links to cool stuff from her. Enjoy!

(Also I must be an anomaly according to that video...since I have had only 1 job since graduation in 1994 with Corporation X)

There's no real rhyme or reason to my list. Just was trying to put together my favorite songs from the 80's, ones that defined "New Wave" or "Classic Alternative Rock" for me. These were the songs that I loved to listen to on 120 Minutes, and to this day are part of my standard rotation on my iPod.

10. (1981) Depeche Mode - Just Can't Get Enough http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xcqyf_depeche-mode-just-cant-get-enough_music

9. (1987) The Sugarcubes - Birthday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbw4cxQvkTQ

8. (1983) U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQVyXiXrI7E

7. (1987) Midnight Oil - Beds Are Burning http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10BbpGKLXqk

6. (1987) R.E.M. - The One I Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AKycxKtHLo

5. (1982) Modern English - Melt With You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuN6gs0AJls

4. (1980, 1988*) Joy Division - Atmosphere http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMA33Bs3zAk

3. (1979, 1986*) The Cure - Boys Don't Cry http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8CDERzun4k

2. (1985) Hüsker Dü - Makes No Sense At All http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1sYN0PuRs4

1. (1985) The Smiths - How Soon Is Now? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U5HpeA_WSo

When I first moved into Hoboken in 1995, I moved into town with my friends Ryan* and Lucky*. I knew both of them from Villanova, they were friends and fraternity brothers. We moved into a place on 6th and Bloomfield, a converted single family brownstone that was now divided into three single units on three floors.

On the first floor & basement another two of our post-college fraternity brothers lived with three other people. As the way things work in Hoboken, people move out & around and eventually all five on the ground floor left and my brothers and I decided to take over their larger unit, with 5 "bedrooms" (technically they were two basement windowless rooms, and the pantry, dining room and family room converted into "bedrooms").

Looking back, the place was absurd. But, after college, you really don't care too much about where you sleep, and the rent was cheap. I paid the most, taking the "living room-bedroom", and paying $475 a month. Ryan and Lucky paid $350 each. We used hobokeni.com to find roommates, which was long before craigslist was popular.

Ryan, Lucky and I had at least 10 different roommates over the years. Guys and Girls. From all walks of life. Some would stay as little as a few months, others would be for much longer. It was easy to find people, since our rent was so cheap, and we had a lot of fun living there.

But, with roommates, sometimes bad things happen, too.

I think the one that stands out in my mind the most was when I was living there with two roommates Ben* and Karen*, along with two other people (In the haze of memory, I can't recall if Ryan and Lucky were living there at the time).

But what I do remember was that Ben was some random guy we met from an online ad. He was very handsome dark haired guy, and had a quiet charm about him. Karen was a blonde haired girl, with an on-and-off again boyfriend, and she liked her drink. She was a very fun roommate, who would be out at the local bars many times a week. To this day I don't know how she did it and could function at work the next day.

Ben and Karen were instant friends. He just moved into the house and the first few weeks there was a definite "spark" between the two of them, much like you watch on TV shows like the Real World, where two roommates get that instant attraction, but they are at just the "flirty fun" stage of things. They both lived on the basement floor, in seperate "bedrooms" (the bedrooms were tiny, I think people who lived there paid $275-300 for rent), but the bedrooms were connected to each other with a common door between rooms.

Things were going well, and I came home from work to find Karen there, not in her usual bubbly mood, but with a somber look on her face talking to another roommate. I asked what was up, and was told, by Karen, that Ben tried to force himself on her.

Say what?

Apparently, they had been drinking at Sullivan's, which was less than 150 feet from our apartment. I would hazard that Ben had been living with us for about 6 weeks, and everything was just going fine. This was a bit of a shock to everyone.

Karen explained further. They were drinking at the bar, having fun. They got home around 11pm. She went to bed. He went to bed. Next thing she remembers was him crawling into bed with her, and kissing her. She says she fought him off, telling him to get out and he did.

She was really freaked out by it, left the house and stayed with her on-again-off again boyfriend who lived in Hoboken, not telling him what happened.

Lots of questions cropped up, but the bottom line was that Karen felt it was rape. She did not want to call the police. She just wanted him out of the apartment.

One of the main problems with everything going on here is that Karen and Ben were, at least from my perspective, in that dance of courtship. Karen had a boyfriend, but they were so up & down, you never knew what was going on there. Ben was definitely getting signals from Karen that she was interested over the last few weeks and i'm sure the booze didn't help. Also we didn't ask Ben his side of the story.

The roommates got together the next few nights and basically agreed Ben had to leave, I don't recall if we ever asked Ben what happened. Ben was away for the next couple of days on work, and by the time he got back, we found out he had a job offer in Washington DC. He left and a week after the "incident" he was gone, in such haste that he left his guitar behind, and a few other things.

Things calmed down once he left and our next roommate was Trudy*, and Karen stayed for another year and moved to Sleepy Hollow, NY.

We never heard from Ben again.

Everyone has their nightmare roommate stories, but that was the one that I will never forget. In a way I felt bad for both Karen and Ben because I have seen alcohol make a lot of good people make bad decisions over the years. I have had some great roommates and others that betrayed my trust. My only suggestion to new roommates is something I learned after many years - if you do live with roommates, get a lock for your bedroom door. A good lock that needs a key. That may seem like overboard, but it will solve about 50% of your problems, from nosy roommates to those who had too much to drink and feel frisky.

Weekend was "chillax". Yes, I promise never to use that word again.

Phillies on Friday was good, sans the outcome. Chan Ho Park needs about 1 more start and then we can drop him to the minors. I was "good" Friday night. Only drinking a bit because I had golf the next day.

I love to golf. But I seriously need lessons. My game has issues and I don't even know what the fix is anymore. If anyone has suggestions, i'm all ears.

Also, it's not easy to find a course close to Hoboken. My friends and I tried out Highpoint Golf Club in Montague, New Jersey. It's a solid hour drive from Hoboken, depending on traffic.

But has two key things going for it:

1. It's cheap. I played Saturday and green fees, with golf cart, $35 (I think "normally" it is $65 on weekends). Compare that to Architects, which is $110 for a round and easily an hour from Hoboken.

2. The course isn't bad. I have played quite a few public courses, and all things considered, I enjoyed it, even if my iron game was terrible (my putting was on fire, however).

After we golfed, the drive back was a bit longer, maybe an hour and fifteen minutes, because of traffic.

We went to 10th and Willow to watch the Kentucky Derby. I sincerely wish I lived close to 10th and Willow, for two reasons. One of my major complaints to moving downtown is that there's no really good "go to" bar for me. By "go to" I mean a bar like Court Street, where I can sit down, feel in "my element" and know that most of the food on the menu is good and the bartenders are friendly. Mulligan's serves me well for the drinking...and I have tried McSwiggan's, Dubliner, Buskers, Zack's, Four L's, Black Bear, Oddfellows, Texas Arizona, Hobson's...but most of them are average at best. Need something like Court Street or The Madison (as much as I hate the bar, I hear the food is very good).

At 10th and Willow, I had the hummus which was fair enough (I liked the pita, but the hummus was so-so), and the full rack of baby back ribs which were fall off the bone delicious...but extremely expensive at $32. Plus, to add to my eating enjoyment there was a dark haired waitress there who was easily one of the hottest girls in Hoboken. I definitely liked what I saw on the menu, and would be there every week for the food and the eye candy.

While at the bar, I did my best to avoid looking at the Mets/Phillies score on the TV tuned to ESPN. I recorded the Phillies/Mets game, with the expectation that i'd watch it when I got home on Saturday. I don't usually record live sports games, but I figured the game was on at 3:30, and by the time I got home around 6 or so, I would be able to watch the game, skip thru the commercials, and enjoy myself. Next time I need to plan better and tell my friends my idea. At the bar, one turns to me and says, "Hey Phillies won in the 10th...6 to 5!"

Sigh. I should have told them that I was recording it.


At Home Again...With The Dead

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I'm not really a "concert guy".

Over the years I have probably been to about 18 concerts and 1/2 of those were Grateful Dead shows. I have friends of mine who go to 18 concerts a year. That's not for me, there's few kind of concerts that I like. I enjoy any concert where I can relax and enjoy the show.

Shows like Lollapalooza or The Grateful Dead...big shows where I can just pull out a blanket, sit on a hill and watch the show.

I feel right at home for a Dead show. For one, everyone is very friendly. Of course, there are some obvious reasons why they *could* be friendly, but suffice to say 99% of the people I have met at a Dead show are relaxed and in a good mood.

After 9 or 10 shows watching this band, I feel in my element.

This also transcends the way I go out in Hoboken. In years past I kind of had the same routine for bars, I usually had one "main" bar that I felt "in my element". Hennessy's was my first bar (1994-1996), then Farside (1996-2000), then Dippers or (2001-2004), then Mulligan's. It's not like I didn't go to any other bars in Hoboken (like Moran's). But for the most part, I would go to bars where I felt like I was comfortable.

Some people like new exciting places. I do...to an extent. For example, when I wrote about Raoul's the other day, I was anxious that it was going to be a snobby bistro, and I would be uncomfortable. It was far and away not that at all, and I plan to go back a few more times this summer, and even just by myself to sit at the bar.

The Dead show was on Wednesday, and it was a lot of fun. The music isn't for everyone, and I will admit that Wednesday's show was a bit to "jammy" for my tastes. I knew about 3 or 4 songs out of 12, and i'm someone that knows a good clip of the Grateful Dead songs.

But I got my one Dead show, and that's about good enough for me. Had a great time and look forward to a summer of Phillies baseball...then coming soon, Eagles football...

Eating Raoul

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Bonus points if you remember that D movie from the 80's.

No, didn't watch the movie this weekend, I went out Friday night to Raoul's Restaurant at 180 Prince Street.

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As you know, I am not a huge fan of anything pretentious. Most of the bars or restaurants I will avoid if they come across as "the place to be" - i'm looking at you, The Madison. I don't mind fine restaurants or "cool" bars, I just hate the kind of places that don't make you feel welcome unless you are "important". The Madison will always have a dark place in my heart because they make people wait in line when there's no one in the bar. Who does that? But I have to say i'm impressed with what Andrew W.K. is trying to to. He's what I would be doing if I had a few million...make others happy, some money and not being a douche about it.

But I digress.

My brother was coming up to town, with his wife, and wanted to go out to dinner. They lived in NYC, on Duane Street, for 3 years, before moving out in 2002. It was really great to have a family member living in the city from 1999-2002, and I tagged along with them to try out many great restaurants and bars. Some were borderline when it comes to my snooty scale, but even I can't turn down trying places like Nobu.

K was coming up and already picked a place for us to eat - Raoul's Restaurant. I don't recall eating there, and he said it had the "best Steak au poivre ("pepper steak") in the city". I looked at the place online, checked out the menu and the prices and part of me inwardly groaned. But...he's family and sort of stubborn like I can be stubborn about certain things. So, I decided to just go with the flow.

I meet them at the Soho Grand around 8:30pm on Friday, with K giving me a "Yo" call from across the lobby. I inwardly chuckle, because to an outside observer, someone not from from Philly or New York, probably don't even understand what that translates to. "YO". Think about the colloquial nature of that greeting/attention phrase. Our family and friends grew up saying that. It was the classic phrase amongst my brother and myself, and it was just...pleasant to hear it again. Again, this is hard to describe, but I enjoyed hearing a friendly face say it.

I scampered up the steps, shook K's hand and then went to the bar to have a few drinks while we waited for his wife to join us.

The Soho Grand was "THE" hotel once, and still is nice...but it's showing its age. Sort of like that beautiful 20-something club girl that is now the...sort...of...over 30-something girl still trying to be the club girl. Still beautiful...but you see the wrinkles and spots showing up.

At a copper topped table, stained with old glass watermarks, near the bar we ordered a drink, and I started the night with a glass of Oban. I gotta say this for my scotch people...isn't this the most beautiful scotch you can buy? It is like silk. I love drinking it, just too bad it is $90 a bottle (although I did see a place in New York selling it for $70...but still.)

K and I chatted a bit. My old memories of our previous golf game from last year were a distant memory...you can get angry over stuff, but it's family...you let that go and move on.

That sort of reminds me of friendship. I think you can really tell who your friends are about how they react to disagreements. If you are really friends, you forgive and let things go. If you weren't meant to be friends, then you harbor that hatred or jealousy. K and I may get upset over each other, but a few months away and seeing each other again is a wonderful reunion...at least for the short term.

After A* joined us, we walked over to Prince Street.

Raoul's is a small, 40-50 seat bistro in the heart of the Soho at 180 Prince Street.

My fears of an overbearing, snobbish restaurant quickly washed away as soon as I entered. It was a great looking tavern, with a small 12 person bar, a few boots and tables packed into the approximately 1000 square foot space (no larger than many restaurants we have in Hoboken). It had pictures lining the walls of various eclectic designs and portraits. A beautiful tin ceiling, and a buzzing crowd and I just breathed in the scene.

The maitre d' was an older, tall guy who reminded me of Michael from Sobsey's Produce. He spoke to my brother for a few moments, offering us two different seats, a booth for 4 or a 6 top by the window.

Now those in the restaurant biz know...you usually don't give up a 6 top to three people, especially in prime real estate at the corner window seat.

No problem, they sat us down and the feast began.

I looked over their wine list, hoping they would have the same wine that Matt and I had at Wolfgang's...Stag's Leap Artemis. They didn't. My brother had a look and asked if I tried Ridge Zinfandel.

Zinfandel? The horror!

No. I didn't, and he said "Trust me" and ordered a bottle.

Glad I did. The peppery zinfandel was a big hit, and we shared the artichoke appetizer with Raoul's vinaigrette. Really great, served cold (I may have preferred warm), but still a tasty treat to enjoy over wine.

My brother ordered the Steak au Poivre (with French Fries), I ordered the Rack of Lamb (with Roasted Asparagus, Spinach and Olive) and A* had the Seared Big Eye Tuna (with Cucumber Pousse Pied and Melon)

Oh. My. God.

Those are the only words that do justice to this meal. We all shared each other's dishes, and there weren't any leftovers. It was so good, I was already contemplating when I would return after our meal, when I saw someone walking towards the exit.

Hey.

He looks familiar.

Where do I know...that's Ryan Gosling.

He was coming from the back of the restaurant, sitting in the booth behind the one we were first offered. That would have been an even more interesting blog posting, because I know I would have have some more interesting things to say. Suffice to say, looked like a regular guy. Taller than I expected. He had his trimmed beard and knitted skullcap rocking. I watched as he approached, but didn't linger long at looking at him...as anyone who lives in New York is quickly trained to do. We aren't the tourists who gush "OHMYGODITSRYANGOSLING!" and fawn.

But, I did just write a paragraph on him, so I guess i'm guilty in some regards for even writing about it. Bottom line is that I wasn't expecting to see anyone semi-famous and it was mildly amusing to see a "star" after finishing our meal and enjoying our port wine.

Oh..forgot that part. We concluded the meal with dessert (I had the Crème Brûlée and K & A shared Profiteroles), and port wine. They had a very tasty 20 year old tawny, but at $20 a glass, I wasn't going to have seconds when I can buy a bottle for $50.

The night ended on a 3rd bottle of Ridge Zinfandel, and many funny stories and chats with my family. It was early by the time we left the restaurant, only 11:30, and my walk back to the PATH and then into Hoboken by a few minutes after midnight.

A great night. Definitely a date place. Definitely not cheap, but if you are a bit more careful with what you buy (the 3 bottles of wine alone killed our bill), it's something that I can fit into my "treat yourself well" night. Last year I had the shore house at Bradley Beach, maybe this year i'll skip the shore house (I was approached recently to see if I wanted to re-join...i'm thinking about it...) and treat myself to some great NYC restaurants like Raoul's.

If there is ONE restaurant you need to try before you ever leave New York City...eat at Raoul's.

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I read this article in the NY Times about Yankee Stadium and the problem they are having with large sections of premium seating left open.


Here's what I would do if i'm the Yankees or Mets:

1. Speak to Premium Seat holders and offer the "Open Seat Plan". First, you have to enroll. Those who don't want to enroll don't need to bother with the next part of my plan.

2. Those that do enroll, get these benefits: If you haven't shown up by the 4th inning, the Yankees or Mets will offer $25 per seat credit back to that premium seat holder. It won't cover the cost of the seat, but at least you get something if you can't use your seats. Also the "payback" is at the discretion of the Yankees or Mets. So they may not buy back seats for every game. There's no guarantee that if you miss a game that you will get $25 back. The seat is bought back by the Yankees or Mets.

3. If the seat holder plans to make the game after the 4th inning, they can email or call the box office to "hold" their seat. If you are "in" the plan and haven't made it into the stadium before the 4th inning, then your seat will be bought back by the Yankees or Mets organization, for that game.

4. That means any seats in the premium sections are now owned by the Yankees or Mets. The Yankees or Mets (using the ticket scanners they have at the gates) will know which seats are "open" and if they are enrolled in the plan.

5. Then the Yankees or Mets will do a lottery. Season ticket holders in non-premium seats will win the chance to sit in premium seats. Think of it like when you get to the airport and there are business class or first class seats - and you get an upgrade by the airline for your patronage. Maybe 20-30 people win, total, and you will have the Yankees or Mets who hand out vouchers (special ticket stubs) for those seats. The fans can then walk to their new seats and enjoy the game.

6. Wouldn't that say THANK YOU to all the season ticket holders who can't afford $2,000 seats? Per game, what are we talking about? $750 that the Yankees or Mets are spending to reward their loyal fans? They don't have to do it every single game, maybe they do it once a week (but truth be told, don't you think when paying ballplayers hundreds in millions in salaries, they can afford $750 a game?).

The only problem with the plan is when some jerkoff premium ticket holder does show up after the 4th inning and didn't email or call the box office. The solution can be a bit more tricky. If the premium seat holder is enrolled in the plan, they have to agree to the rules. If they show up late and claim they did call or did email to hold their seats, then the lottery people would have to give up their seats.

Maybe some kind of consideration would be given to those lottery people, like the "next game" they do the lottery they can sit in the premium seats (so instead of 30 tickets raffled, they raffle 28 tickets and hold 2 for those who were bumped).

It won't be easy, but it is absolutely doable with our technology today.

We all have been affected in various ways by the recession. One of the benefits of working at Corporation X is that I have been at my job since right out of college. Coming up on 15 years. Corporation X has fairly solid fundamentals, and there won't be mass layoffs anytime in the near future.

I think.

But that still hasn't stopped me from trying to make small changes in my life to make my dollar stretch further. I have been doing a few things to be more "fiscally responsible", if you will. But it also doesn't mean that i'm going to completely stop spending my money!

1. Body Balance Discounted Massages: I reviewed the massage therapists at Body Balance, and think they are outstanding. Sitting in a chair & typing all day and running on a treadmill take their toll on my body, and this is my gift to myself on a bi-weekly basis. They have some excellent discounts on their website, and I bought a package deal to help save some money.

2. Refinanced my mortgage: Good time to look for loans, if you can get it. I was able to offset my property tax increase with a lower mortgage payment. I still say now is a good time to buy if you are in a stable job and can get financing. Many of my friends have refinanced at 4.5% on 30 year fixed loans in the last few months.

3. Coffee! Mmmm. I bought a coffee maker from Amazon, and recently bought a coffee grinder, too. I tried Illy coffee from Italy and it's excellent. Considering that a large coffee at Dunkin Donuts costs $2.50-3 up here, the money I save is great. I bought a large metal thermos and bring my coffee into work.

4. Slow-Cooker: Also known as a crockpot, it's about taking food, cooking it while you are at work, and then walking in the door to a meal waiting for you. I have yet to use this, but just got it a few weeks ago. Need to figure out what to make first, i'm guessing some kind of beef stew would be nice. It's always a good idea to save some cash by making more homemade inexepensive meals.

5. Pre-Party: This is as old as my college days, but easily the smartest move. Grab a few red bulls & A bottle of Belvedere Vodka. A six pack of Yuengling. Captain Morgan and a bottle of Coke. Having a few drinks at your house before you go out is classic college move, but damn smart in this economy. Heck, invite a few friends over first and have a pre-party and then go out. Bars are barely affected by the recession, but your wallet is. Always a good idea to limber up before you excercise and just as smart to liquor up before a night of drinking that can save you a ton of money. With the extra money you are saving, use it to grab brunch the next day.

Quick Hits

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Still wracking my brain for a "good thing to write about". Nothing incredibly new since St. Pats, so a day of quick hits...random thoughts, etc...

My brother turned 40 on Saturday.

His wife arranged a surprise birthday party in DC, and my whole family arrived at a restaurant called "Marrakesh", along with some of his friends and his wife's family.

It was an interesting Moroccan restaurant, with belly dancers and traditional fare. I liked the food, and discovered a very good beer that they had called "Almaza". It was ice cold and I drank three of them in quick succession. Gotta see about grabbing a 6 pack for my fridge around here.

Back to the gym

I somehow had a strange injury to my chest that was driving me nuts. I was on anti inflammatories from December to January and stopped with all workouts since late October.

I haven't gained "more" weight, but definitely feel the effects of not working out and eating badly. Feel...flabby. Not like I was rock hard before, but you start to notice the change with clothes not fitting the same.

Well, been back on the treadmill in my condo gym for about 2 weeks. Just slowly getting myself back into cardio shape and then will see about going to Club H in April. I hate lifting again after a long break. Back to struggling with low weight barbells. Sigh.


Villanova to the sweet 16!

I hated the fact that when I went to Villanova, it's social scene was terrible. From what I heard it's much better today, and often get quizzical looks from recent graduates when I tell them how much I hated it.

But I did love the basketball program, and have followed it since I graduated. Looking forward to Duke vs Villanova on Thursday. Very cool to see so many Big East teams representing this year.

Xbox players: Buy Fallout3

Was told about this game by Brad. Bought it. It sucked me in and I was playing non-stop for every free moment I had for about 2 weeks until I finished the game. You need to like RPG games with first person shooters to get into it. Lots of exploring, fighting and the ability to either be good or evil as a player. I liked this a lot.

Trying to figure out a vacation spot

I want to go on vacation, since I won't be going to Bradley Beach this year. I'd like a vacation that's warm, prefer a beach. Prefer not incredibly expensive. Prefer not to be isolated or on some island where it's all couples (read: Aruba). I always liked Las Vegas, but I am leaning towards just doing something...different. If there was a fun Caribbean island like Vegas or a Miami hot spot or a place in Mexico that's fun for someone in my situation (read: single, a guy, looking for a fun time, but not a frat party).

Any ideas? I wonder if there's some Greek party islands like Kos, Ios, Mykonos, Crete...but closer to America. Seems that most islands are for couples celebrating. Thought about doing Club Med Turkoise, but not 100% sure if that's for me.

Open to suggestions, you can email me at philly2hoboken (at) gmail.com.

Scotch Tasting?

Everyone has wine tasting in Hoboken, and I was toying with the idea of doing a scotch tasting in Hoboken. Been kicking that idea for the last two years, since I got turned on to scotch. Seems to me that a more sophisticated crowd is replacing many of the younger kids in Hoboken, and with that tastes have become more discerning.

I'm not a scotch expert, but would love to try to put something together, where you get 8 "tastes" of scotch from varying regions of Scotland. Was trying to figure out costs and logistics. Paul from Mulligan's offered me his bar, so that's good. But also have to figure out if it would go over well. I'm sure people ARE interested, but how far does that interest go? With the economy and many people in Hoboken being frugal, not sure if I can get 20 people to pay $35-45 each to try 7 good scotches and 1 superb scotch.

Would you do a scotch tasting? What would you pay ($0 isn't an option)?

Hoboken Mayor Race

Lots of strong emotions in this race for mayor. Right now i'm leaning towards voting for Zimmer. People point to her lack of experience, but everyone voted in Obama for President just a few months ago, who was also just a community organizer only a few years ago.

The key to Hoboken is the facts. We have many people all clamoring to get paid. The police, firemen, city workers and other city costs. We have taxpayers crying about paying too much money. We have a system that needs to be corrected.

We need to look at state averages for salary. What does a police officer in NJ get paid? What does a firemen in NJ get paid? Hey, my grandfather was a cop. I'm pro-police and pro-firemen. I'm all for paying my taxes to have the proper force in place for our safety.

We need insiders and outsiders to look at our structure, the employees, and say "Does this make sense" for a city of 1 square mile to pay $35 million a year (nearly 1/3 of our budget) in payroll and retirement to our first responders.

But i'm also someone who thinks with logic, that we need to be fiscally responsible with the city workers and with our tax payers. We need to understand why people who have been living in their house since the 70's pay taxes from 1970 and people who have new construction pay the "new taxes". There needs to be a reassessment of all property taxes, for everyone with transparency for all to see.

We need to end PILOTS now, and any new renewals need to be stopped. We have plenty of people who want to live here and lots of available housing in Union City, Weehawkin or Jersey City for those who don't want to pay the premium of living in Hoboken. We can't put the burden on just homeowners, the renters in PILOT buildings need to start paying their fair share, too.

What can you do?

Simple. Vote. In a town of 40,000 people only 4,000 actually vote. When I was renting I voted, too. Sadly, I voted for Dave Roberts, thinking he was so much better than Russo. Dave was just a criminal in a different form...paying all his cronies and friends with hidden funds that he pushed forward for us to pay today.

They say that the darkest part of the night is just before the dawn.

Ironic saying, now that we have Dawn Zimmer running for mayor. If you can, take the time to get to know all the candidates and make an informed vote.

St. Patrick's Day was this weekend in Hoboken. It's my 14th year in town, and every year it seems that more and more young people come into town to celebrate.

Personally, I don't care about the kids having fun. I guess that's because i'm not married and don't have kids and still care about having F-U-N. Most of the people that are against banning the parade are the same people that 10 years ago were throwing up or pissing in the alley, but now that they have kids they are typically selfish yuppies who want the world to revolve around them.

Hey, I don't care if the kids want to have a good time. If people in your building trashed your courtyard, maybe YOU should take responsibility and have your condo board or building management make swift decisions banning parties on holidays. My condo board was smart enough to deliver fliers to each resident saying basically "Have fun but if you bother any neighbors, the cops are coming and you will be fined by the condo board."

Surprise, surprise - our 100 unit building was on lockdown and everything went just swimmingly.

This year for the parade, I wasn't bartending. I stopped working at Mikie Squared last April, since I had a shore house at Bradley Beach & just didn't pick up a new shift when the summer was over.

I skipped taking pictures of the parade this year. I figure I wasn't missing anything new that I didn't have from 2007 or 2008. I went to a few parties, met a few friends, and around 4pm, wandered over to my 'local' - Mulligan's.

Over the years, if you know me, I have had a few locals. Hennessy's, Farside, Moran's, Dipper's were all my homes away from home at one point of time in my Hoboken life. Now it's Mulligan's. The bartenders are great, the owner is always kind and the people I meet there are the down-to-earth kind of people that I enjoy hanging out with.

Plus, it doesn't hurt that my Eagles and Phillies clubs operate out of the same bar.

I went over to the bar, and talked to Paul, the owner, for a bit. We chatted, and he says "Hey, did you have your bar card?"

Now to those who don't know, in Hoboken to work in a bar you need a "bar card". I wrote about it a bit before, but it's basically a license to work in a bar in Hoboken. Or as I call it the "Bartender Tax" because you need to renew it every 2 years and pay over $100 for the renewal.

I had my card at home, which is a few blocks away, and he asked me to get it. I figured that he needed me to help for a bit, and I grabbed the card and came back.

Paul said, "Ok, here's the deal. I had another bouncer working here but he was an idiot and started to accept money from patrons outside trying to get inside and circumvent the line at the front door. The shift is until closing and i'll pay you XXX dollars."

I was fine with that. I figure i'd help out Paul who has been great to the Eagles & Phillies club and some extra money never hurts. I was hoping it was only going to be a few hours and not the whole night, but whatever.

It was pretty easy work, but ran into a few issues, which I will just list in no particular order, with how to deal if you are in this situation (in reverse):

1. On a parade day you get a lot of grief as a bouncer. I don't know everyone, especially VIPs (friends of the owners or regulars) - so I got a bunch of people giving me grief when I wouldn't let them in. I'd just send them over to the head bouncer and if he said OK, i'd let them in. That was the first annoyance.
How to deal: Ok, you are Joe VIP, personal friends of someone. Just ask me when i'm free to go inside and ask Paul or whoever if they know them. I did that on a few occasions if they asked nicely enough and in some circumstances got "yes" or "no" if they should bypass the line. It's not the bouncers fault they don't know you.

2. Secondly, you get plenty of people from out of town who get separated from their friends, who are inside, and then they give me a sob story (usually chicks) about how "All my friend are inside and I CAN'T GET IN!!!". I tell them they have to wait in line and pay the cover. I usually get more grief from them over this.
How To Deal: Really this is a bit more tricky. One person was a complete bitch to me, and I gave her my full wrath, which really shouldn't be reprinted here. Another little Indian girl was all alone, pouting and she waited a good 30 minutes outside until I finally broke down and let her in. She wasn't necessarily nice about it, but she was persistent and didn't try to berate me.

3. People who came up to me with "Hey man I was JUST IN THERE can I get back in." Um, no. They all got shot down unless I, or someone else, remembered them leaving. It was hard to remember everyone, but I did my best.
How To Deal: I had people admit to me, when I shot them down, that "Yea, dude, i was lying, sorry....but can you let me in anyhow?" - They still didn't get in. Wait in line, pay the cover.

4. Someone was dumb enough to get into a fight. How? Well, they brought INTO the bar a can of beer. Opened it right next to the bouncer (not me), which sprayed all over the place and into the bouncer's face. Not only was bringing the beer in a no-no, but the fact that the bouncer got doused in beer didn't help matters. The offender was escorted out, but started to lean back and give the bouncer trouble, and then the offender's friend jumped the bouncer. Melee starts at the back door, and who is standing right there? Me. Once again...I just grab one of the dudes, and put him into a Three-quarter nelson, like I did a month ago, except this time I have my arm around his neck in a choke hold. He struggled with me at first, but I released some tension when I heard him start to have trouble breating and since my head was next to his just whispered in his ear, "Calm down dude, i'm the bouncer."
How To Deal: Ya got 5 bouncers outside a bar, the way to deal is back down. He did & we let him leave without stomping his head into the pavement.

5. You don't know anyone working at the bar. You want to bypass the line. How?
How To Deal: If you are a girl, cute, and have cute girl friends, you really shouldn't have to wait in line - most smart owners or bouncers will just let you in. If you are a guy - bring cute girls to the bar. One lone dude was outside the bar and asked if his girlfriend and her friend could get in. I asked "Are they hot?". He said yes and pointed them out. Easily they two hottest girls in Hoboken and they were all inside in a heart beat without paying a cover (Yes, I was given the approval to do this ahead of time). Why? It's good for the bar. You want cute girls in the bar. I couldn't help to think about the club scene from the movie "Knocked Up" while I was doing this.

Quick segue: My buddy told me a story a few weeks ago. His wife had a bachelorette party. She was going to get 15 of her girlfriends, in their late 20's up to the city and wanted to go out to a bar. She knows a few promoters, made a phone call - and they were set up. All 15 were going to a popular club, provided with free table service & booze, and they don't wait in line or pay a cover.

I was a bit shocked at this. What? No cover? They don't pay for drinks?

My friend looked at me and shrugged. "That's the way the world works, dude. The bars want 15 young, cute girls dancing in their clubs. Doesn't matter if they are married or have boyfriends or whatever, but they don't make their money from the girls...they make it from the guys who go there, pay a cover, pay for bottle service, buy drinks for the girls..."

I shook my head. Must be a wonderful city if you are a girl and know how to play the game.

The rest of the night was fairly uneventful. A girl did come up to me and say "You are that guy...right...the blogger...philly to hoboken, right?" - not sure how she recognized me, but that made me chuckle.

Also, I did get to hook up a few of my friends, which is another side benefit to bouncing. Like I wrote about the VIPs, there are the VIPs in my life, who take care of me and I take care of them. I saw them in line, picked them out of the line, walked them up to the front and into the bar to the chagrin of the rest of the people waiting.

Five Places To Mention...

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It's a snowy Monday, and here are five places that deserve a brief write up...

Sweet (343 Garden St): I have a fairly big sweet tooth. Love me some chocolate Juniors by Tastykake. My second favorite treat are the cupcakes at Sweet. Even if you are on a diet, you are allowed that one "cheat day", right? Make sure you cheat here. Try the Red Velvet cupcakes, you will thank me even if you curse your waistline.

Vito's (806 Washington St): Every Saturday I walk over there and grab a London broil with mozzarella (mutz!) sandwich - it's a 10 minute walk for me from Newark and Clinton, but so worth it. The trick to this sandwich is going no later than 2pm. The London broil dries out a bit when it's sitting all day. If you get there by or before noon, it's perfection. I have been to Fiore's on Saturdays multiple times for their roastbeef. I keep finding myself wanting the London Broil for Vito's more. Luca Brasi's, which is 2 blocks from my condo, is woefully average when compared to Vito's or Fiore's.

Napoli's Brick Oven Pizza (1118 Washington St): Before I begin, pizza is like talking about cars. Some people like sportscars. Some like SUV's. Some like luxury cars. The same is true about pizza, everyone has an opinion on slice thickness, sauce flavor, cheese, etc. So it will be hard for me to convince people that this is the "best" pizza in Hoboken. But I can only thank Hoboken411 for writing about it. I would have never discovered this gem. Excellent, thin, brick oven pizza, and far better than Grimaldi's.

Energy Kitchen (96 Hudson St): When I start feeling guilty for eating cupcakes and pizza, I will head over here to make myself feel better. Love the turkey meatloaf, with low sodium marinara. Usually add some spinach and lentil soup to complete the meal. Super protein power punch meal, perfect for a post-workout meal. It doesn't come cheap, but i'm someone that is willing to pay a few extra $$ for a nutritious meal versus saving some money and buying a Subway sandwich.

First Street Cafe & Deli (263 1st St): Mustafa! That's my man behind the counter and he's always in a good mood. Love grabbing a breakfast sandwich from him on Sundays, and he's a super nice guy. I stopped going to Bagel Smashery, and been his regular customer for a year now. The Bagel Smashery people could learn a lesson or two from Mustafa and his casual, kind attitude.

There you go. Try those places if you haven't been there yet.

Recession in the 90's

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RIght now times are very uncertain. People are afraid, and I have only the greatest sympathy for what they are going through. In 1994 when I graduated from Villanova, I moved up to the Brooklyn Heights in July only knowing one person, my best friend Brad.

For those that weren't out of school back then the job market in the early 90's was fairly daunting (and wrote about here before). I went to a recruiter who was located midtown, handed over my resume, and she looked it over a bit. She was in her 40's, blonde, but haggard like years of working in that office just wore on her. She was working in a very bleak, dingy office. I remember the flourscent lights just putting a low, dim glaze over the shared workspace of her and her co-workers. I sat there in my ill fitted suit, tugging at my starched collar.

She looks at me, then looks at my resume, which was less than impressive. Sure I went to Villanova, but my major was English. Not exactly the most impressive major unless I was looking to teach kids under 10 years old. My college work experience was interning on Capitol Hill for Arlen Spector in 1992 and working every other summer as a bus boy or waiter in Ocean City, NJ.

The recruiter says to me, in a less than enthusiastic tone, "After reading your resume it looks like you were just another frat guy in college who had a good time and didn't accomplish very much."

My heart sunk. I kind of always thought it was you go to college, study, graduate, get a job. No big deal. Work your way up. Put in long hours, but there's a payoff and one day you have an office, are doing well, have fun, meet a girl, maybe two, get married, have kids, keep working, eventually maybe becoming an executive in the company, buy a house, kids grow up, you grow old, retire and by 65 living in Florida.

Naive? Sure. But in many ways my life just fell into place. High school graduate? Check. College graduate? Check. Job?

Job?

Ok, after the recruiter had a few other choice words for me, I left the office a defeated man. I remember I had another interview and the company sat me in front of a computer and wanted to test my words per minute (WPM) typing speed. What the heck kind of job were they going to find for me?

Here I am, again, a college graduate. You think that your life is just rolling along and getting a job would be a breeze...hey! I have a college degree!

Uh. No.

I glumly do the computer test, I have been typing since my Commodore Vic 20 days, and even had a semester of typing class from LaSalle High School, taught by Brother Linus Finn, the girl comes back to the screen and says, "Wow, you hit 100 words per minute!"

So, i'd make someone a great secretary. Kill me now.

I left that recruiter and kept trying to find a job. Weeks pass. Brad is working for JP Morgan. I'm not necessarily envious of him, but I envy that he's working a "real" job.

I had some money from my graduation party. It was $1500, and quickly I was running out. It was September and after 8 weeks of recruiters, sending out resumes, and trying for any job, I was getting no after no.

Finally, an ad caught my eye in the classified section of the New York Times.

There was a new company called "Starbucks Coffee", and they were hiring "baristas".

Oh, you heard of Starbucks?

Remember folks, this is 1994. Starbucks had 3...count em...THREE stores in NYC: World Trade Center, Upper West Side and Midtown. That's it. But they paid fairly well, actually had a limited health care & 401K for their baristas.

Here I was, in a recession and was learning to make coffee as my first job out of college. Starbucks trained me at their Bleeker Street training center for two weeks, with 15 other students on how to make the drinks at the store and understanding coffee beans, etc.

Then I got my first (real) job offer. First job was being an admin assistant for a foreign medical university in the Caribbean, which paid a very meager salary. I took that job on the advice of my father.

He told me times were tough, but just get my foot in the door, anywhere. Get something on the resume, and it's much easier to find a job when you already have a job.

I didn't start that admin job, because a week later, around October, I get a call from a headhunter named Scott Lyons. Won't ever forget him. He called and said he got my resume (I have no idea how, I don't recall sending it to him, but I sent out a lot of resumes back then) and had an interview at "Corporation X".

I was working at Starbucks and interviewing at Corporation X.

I remember stepping off the elevator at Corporation X and it was like something out of a movie. Bright, gleaming offices, with black onyx marble, glass walls and a very cool vibe. Up until that point I have been visiting these old school 1960's era office buildings with their tired looking workers, archaic 80's MAC computers and their less than desireable locations. Corporation X was on Park Avenue in midtown. There was one elevator that went express, and opened right into their office. I was floored and immediately wanted to work at THAT office.

Long story short...I got the job after three interviews and three very long weeks. I visited Scott Lyons, at his office near Wall Street. Up until that point, I never met him. I had a $80 bottle of Bourdeaux, shook his hand, thanked him and left.

Been at Corporation X for almost 15 years now.

Moral of the story is that for me, it was only 3 months of job searching and certainly CANNOT compare, exactly to what people are experiencing today.

But what I can say is that I was ready to do ANY job during that time. Nothing was beneath me. I was ready to serve coffee if I had to. If I lost my job at Corporation X, i'd get a job bartending or as a waiter. Beat the street again and look for my next job.

I definitely feel like a lot of people out there feel like the way I felt in 1994. Things are getting derailed. No one cares. Just gotta keep your head up and realize that the darkest part of the night comes right before the dawn.

Wolfgang's Downtown

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WOLFGANG'S DOWNTOWN
409 GREENWICH ST (BEACH)
NEW YORK, NY US
PHONE: 212-925-0350

HOURS: MON-THU: 12:00PM-10:30PM, FRI: 12PM-11PM, SAT 5PM-11PM, SUN: 5:00-10:30PM

Over the years living here I have been fortunate to try many steakhouses in the city. I have dined at Sparks, Bobby Van's, Strip House, The Palm, Smith & Wollensky, Peter Luger's, The Post House, The Capital Grille, MarkJoseph...the list goes on.

Suffice to say, I think I have a good feel for steak and steakhouses.

Now that i'm working in the West Village for 'Corporation X', I have had a chance to explore the neighborhood. Only a few blocks away from my office is Dylan Prime and Wolfgang's Downtown. My buddy Matt mentioned the idea about grabbing a steak, and away we went.

Wolfgang's was started by the head waiter at Peter Lugers, Wolfgang Zwiener. He took the best aspects of Luger's, the steak, and added something even better: a comfortable place for everyone to enjoy the experience.

We made reservations for a Thursday at 7pm, and were seated promptly upon arrival. The establishment is upscale, but not fussy. Many other steakhouses have a pretentious air about them which make dining there, for me, a bit annoying. I can't stand walking into a restaurant where you, the customer, need to feel like you walked into God's gift to steakhouses...like Peter Luger's. I'm sure someone will come rushing to Luger's defense, but I have been there three times and each time it seems I have the rudest waiter who needs to make me feel like I don't belong in their inner sanctum.

Nothing like that at Wolfgang's. Everyone was friendly, and the people there were upscale casual, some in suits, and our seats were in front of the restaurant, with the large expansive glass windows, providing the view of the cityscape along Greenwich street.

We barely glanced at the menu, already knowing that we would share a Porterhouse for two, and grabbed the canadian bacon appetizer along with a seafood platter we would share. Combine that with a bottle of 2005 Stag's Leap Artemis Cabernet and we were ready.

There comes a time in your life when there is a simple harmony to the world. I can remember a few times in my life when this happens, when it seems that the world slows down and becomes less complicated. This was one of those nights. Maybe it was the wine, the company and the food which became an orchestra of pleasure for the senses, but I was relaxed and enjoying my night.

The fare was a pleasure to behold, along with quick, efficient service. The canadian bacon was a bit of a disappointment, I heard so many good things about it, but I was expecting more. The seafood platter was delicious, next time I am definitely ordering that again. The porterhouse steak was cooked to perfection, accompanied by hashed potatoes and asparagus.

Our "dessert" were two glasses each of Oban scotch, and by 8:30pm I was full and heady from a really great meal. We headed back into Hoboken, taking the PATH from Christopher, and ended the night at Mulligan's with a couple of drinks and a few games of pool.

In retrospect, I think that's one of the highlights of living in Hoboken. You get all the great aspects of what the city has to offer, but can hop on a train and be back at your local pub in a short time.

I really want to try to get out more, far too often I find myself in a rut - working, sleeping, eating, repeat. Certainly I cannot eat at places like Wolfgang's every week, it was extremely expensive (the wine and the scotches didn't help), but completely worth it. Now I have to try Dylan Prime next...

Don't Upset The Herd

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Last week, I was watching one of my more favorite movies, Dazed and Confused. I love it because the clothes and the music reminds me of growing up in Richboro, PA.

There was a funny scene in the movie in which one of the characters, Mike, is angry about how he was treated by a bully, Clint, and exacts his revenge. Mike's philosophy is simple: "Look, man, I got it all planned out. Most fights in places like this never get past a punch or two before they're broken up, know what I'm saying? There's almost a natural instinct not to upset the herd. So all I have to do is get in one good punch, play defense and wait."

Mike was wrong, and got his ass kicked by Clint.

So imagine my surprise when at Mulligan's last Friday, someone decides to be Mike.

I'm not sure how it started. It was about 11pm, I was in the back room, shooting pool. My friend Jason is standing next to me, while I am looking at the table and he casually says, "Oh look, a fight."

Jason said it about as casually as someone would say, "Oh look, pretzels."

I turn to look and see two guys, locked together, knocking over tables while some 20-something girl is trying to break it up screaming "That's my husband!" over and over.

Quick segue: Not only do guys get beer muscles, but chicks do too. A 115 pound girl isn't going to stop two guys from fighting, but that still doesn't stop them from getting into the middle of things. My guess? The girl was the reason, somehow, for the fight. I don't have any proof, but 99% of bar fights are over chicks.

The rest of the "herd" is watching this, and I see the one bouncer is rushing towards the two guys, but the crowd just stood there, watching. The two guys were about 8 feet from me, and about 1 second after I process what was going on, I was already in the melee, trying to break it up.

Yes, I have a history of fights, bar scrums and not backing down from confrontation. I have been hit enough times and thrown enough punches that stuff like this doesn't really phase me.

I got in there, bent the one guys fingers back to release his grip, spun him around and put him into a upright half nelson, pulling him away from the other guy. The guy I was holding kept trying to get at the other guy, but he wasn't going anywhere while I had a hold on him.

The other guy fighting was dragged out of the bar by the other bouncer.

I had no idea who started it or why. The crowd was stunned and amused watching the entertainment. After about a minute I released the guy I was holding, who looked like he was young, maybe 22-24, mid length longish black hair, dark rimmed glasses (for friends of mine he looked like a young Charlie B.) and he was upset saying that the other guy spat in his face, for no reason, and he wouldn't put up with it.

We kept trying to calm the kid down, and eventually he did.

I left, leaving the bouncers and bartenders to handle the rest and went back to playing pool.

Just another Friday in Hoboken, folks.

Today is Groundhog Day & depending on which rodent to believe, it will be an early spring (according to Staten Island Chuck) or 6 more weeks of winter (according to Punxsutawney Phil).

Me? I don't care either way, I happen to not be terribly bothered by winter's cold, unless it gets under 20 degrees. Otherwise, i'm fairly easy going to the cold weather or snow.

I was thinking about the movie "Groundhog Day", where the main character gets to relive a day in his life, but not of his choosing. But if we all had a choice, what day would you relive?

Here's my top 5 days, with a brief summary, that i'd like to relive.

1. Block Party, Tanyard Farms, around 1980. When our little development in Richboro was created by Toll Brothers, in 1977, it was filled with mostly young couples, with their new brood of kids. So the development was simply alive and bursting at the seams with youthful vigor. The parents would get together each summer and develop games, a potluck feast, and a carnival like atmosphere that even today I remember like it was last week. Easily a day that I could live over and over again.

2. Richboro, Summer, 1983. Normal summer day, with all the neighborhood kids, back then was a baseball game in Doug's backyard, riding our BMX bikes around construction yards, playing in our pool, listening to Van Halen, Rush and Kiss, then playing "Freedom" followed by a "sleep out". I could relive that day over and over.

3. Shore House, Ocean City, around 1990. I was a freshman in college, my parents had a beautiful home in Ocean City, NJ and we were across the street from the beach. Would love to have another day with the whole family, at the beach, our normal big dinner at home. Those shore house years were absolutely fantastic.

4. White Trash Bash, Hoboken, 1998. Started by the bartenders at Farside, which was many other great years of drinking, before my bartending days, this was a block party we had on 6th and Adams Street. It was long before any of the condos existed there, and we would play whiffleball, egg toss, have a fun BBQ, listen to Will play guitar, then end the night with our infamous card games. It would start with $1 bets. Usually playing 3 card guts, poker, or other variation games. By the end of the night, we would play Acey-Ducey, and have pots of $600...$700...$800...betting...GUESSING...on 1 card to win the pot or you MATCH the pot. Ever bet $200 on 1 card to be higher than a 7...then see a 5 pop up? Yes, I saw that, then saw the next guy, on the next card, bet $400 and lose that too. It was absolutely jaw dropping. Fun days. We would stay up until 4am, until eventually the sun would rise and a few stragglers would be left, still drinking. Then, head home, sleep it off and wait until next year to out do ourselves again.

5. Dipper's Bar, Hoboken, 2002. There's few times in our lives when there's simply magic. Dipper's was, for those who were part of the "regulars" just the best bar in Hoboken. Yep, i'm sure there's lots of people who barely remember the place, or won't agree with me - and that's fine. But for a very small, tight group of bartenders and regulars, we had the perfect bar. There was no overbearing management of the bar, we did as we pleased, made money, had fun and it went on for three great years. I'm not sure what particular day I would choose...but I know that I loved bartending with Teresa in the early years when we could crank Rage Against The Machine, mix drinks and dance with each other behind the bar, while doing shots with our customers, who were also our friends.

Bonus Day: Florence, Italy, the first day when Steph & Dave came to visit me in 1992. I don't have to go into details here, but was easily one of the best experiences to have your family visit you when I was in Italy for 2 months. I don't necessarily think I was "homesick", but being a stranger in a strange land feels pretty good when you are surrounded by people who love you. I think the first night I took them to a local restaurant, we drank great wine, and just had a great night under the Tuscan sky.

Philly2Hoboken's Best Of 2008

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A new year approaches and I figure it's time to update the site with a new design. What do you think?

I know some of of my readers check this site daily and some just check in from time to time. But here's the entries I wrote over the last year, and think you should check out if you missed it!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! Also I updated my site. Try to comment if you can...I think they have been fixed. If not just email me and I will keep trying to fix it.

Body Balance Review: I wrote this last year, but they have new owners and a special until 1/3/09, $59 for 1 hour massage and $80 for a 1.5 hour massage. You should really treat yourself and get a massage here. It's great!

Omaha Bedding Company: Bed lumpy? Not getting a good night's sleep? My bed is redunkulously awesome. Check these guys out.

Put Up Your Dukes! - I'm many things, but I don't back down easily. Another amusing story about the trouble with alcohol.

St. Patrick's Day Advice - Good even during Christmas. I'm still hoping one day to meet that girl in the pink shirt and fedora.

Ego & Self Worth On The Internet - Do you read Hoboken411 or any other site with heavy commenters? Tell me that this entry doesn't sum up all those commenters.

Good Manners In The Big City - a friend and I were trying to understand what's the problem with the world and I think it's just that Generation X doesn't have any consideration for anyone else. It doesn't matter if you are single, married or a parent with a behemoth baby stroller...too many assholes that don't care enough about each other.

Snacks For the Active Hobokenite - I know this is the time of the year for diets...read this. Seriously. Small changes in your diet with great food = keeping the pounds off. I know far too many people who change to a radical diet, it lasts three months and they are miserable again. My key word is "moderation".

Vera Gets Serenaded - our neighbor at Bradley Beach was never the same again, after my singing performance to her.

Top 5 Rules For Shore Roommates - one year at the shore, and i'm already making rules. I had a good time at Bradley Beach this year, I should be back next year. Now is the time to plan for those things!

Top Five Casual Restaurants That Would Own in Hoboken - I stand by all of this. Problem with most restaurants in Hoboken is that they are woefully average and often inconsistent with the quality of their food.

World Series Game 5 Video At Mulligan's - if you haven't seen this video, it was taken at Mulligan's right at the moment the Phillies won the World Series. Easily one of the favorite moments of my life, it was a sea of joy and happiness. The song that comes on is Queen, "We Are The Champions". Great job by the crew at Mulligan's to play the song and hand out bottles of champagne for us to spray the crowd.

Blogging Is Dead. Long Live The New Facebooking! - Do my descriptions sound like anyone you know? :)

Netflix + Tivo = Heaven

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I'm a huge TV fan.

I watch lots of show and also am guilty of "Tivo Guilt", where I feel bad because I can't watch all the shows my Tivo records.

My Tivo is connected to my internal network with a WiFi connection, and recently Netflix announced that you can get selected content through your internet and Tivo connection. The selected content doesn't mean all the movies they have, but it's kinda like Prism's selection of movies from back in the day. There's a few key good movies and TV shows in there, and a whole lotta bad ones.

But, it's free with your Netflix membership, so who cares?

I recently gave it a try and can only say: Impressive.

There are a few quirks. For one, in order to watch content, you first have to go on to the Netflix website and choose what you want to queue. Can't be done from your TV. Annoying.

Second, you can add multiple TV shows or movies to your queue, but there's a limit. There's only so much you can put into a queue, so if you are on your couch and thinking about a TV show or movie you want to watch, you have to get up, walk to to your computer, delete some shows, add some new ones. It's a bit clunky.

Third, WiFi is...good but not great. I haven't tried this with a fixed ethernet connection. Currently i'm watching the first season of 30 Rock. The episidoes are in HD, and 85% of the time, there's no issues. The other 15% of the time I notice some sound issues (the sequence of sound to video is off by .25 seconds and that gets irritating) or there are delays in loading the content.

For a new service, I expect some early hitches. I'm sure this will eventually get fixed. What I do know is that i'm witnessing history.

Yep, history.

I have watched downloaded movies and TV shows on my PC. It's great. But this was the first time I got to stream a TV show on my 42" HDTV in 720p. The picture quality is perfect. I couldn't tell the difference between live TV and the streaming video. The audio is just fine. I would love to put to the test a movie or show that is more sound/graphic intensive (The Fifth Element or Star Wars, for example), but for a prime TV example, 30 Rock surpassed my expectations.

This is the future of TV. Cable TV will be a thing of the past, as more homes get connection with high speed internet connections, like FiOS or Cablevision Optimum Online (which is what i'm using). I can only imagine how advertisers must be pulling their hair out, because TV is more and more becoming commericial free. I get to watch the entire 30 Rock TV show in 22 minutes, saving 8 minutes of commercials.

It's great, and another reason to get a Tivo this holiday season. Oh, and it is available for Xbox 360 Gold customers, also!

Out And About

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In my ripe older age of 36, I can finally say that i'm a bit tired of the bar scene in Hoboken. It has its moments, but in my years I haven't done mucn more than go there, get drunk, and rarely meet anyone new.

Case in point, was last night. I was at Mulligan's, which is my new favorite haunt downtown. There is no "scene", just a bunch of people looking to get drunk, and I was part of it with my buddy Chris. We were just talking, having a few drinks, when a regular blog reader, Melinda, walks over to say hello.

She's very sweet and nice, and has always been supportive of my blog in the past. Funny thing is that everytime I meet her, I always get to meet some crazy friend of hers who immediately doesn't like me or is just plain rude.

Last Saturday was no exception.

She introduces me to her friend Susan, and all four of us get to talking. Chris excuses himself after a bit, and then it's just Melinda, Susan and myself at the bar. Susan chides me with the "Why are you 36 and still single" bit that I get often. I try to start to explain, saying that I just really don't date a lot and have a habit of hanging out at the same bars, with the same people...just don't get to meet new girls that often. Plus, I have a hard time talking to girls that I do like.

Susan tells me i'm wrong. I'm way too cute to be 36 and single and there's got to be another reason, and she starts to tell me why guys like me never meet the right guy. I listen a bit, and to me it sounds like psychotherapy 101, that she's been burned by a guy in the past and is now channeling it into trying to tell ME why i'm single. Sort of like stereotyping - you can't explain everyone's reasons in one easy tale. Everyone has a different reason.

I listen to Susan, and decide to break the ice by palm reading.

At one point of time in my life, I was fascinated with palm reading. I think it's fun and actually it has gotten the ice broken on many occasions. I'm not an expert, by any means, but most palm reading is basically reading the person (cold reading) in front of you.

I started to read her palm and told her that early on in life she has been unlucky in love (she's single, she's at the bar now, which was easy), and that later in life she may meet that right guy who sets her heart on fire. Again, easy stuff, but I could watch her squirm a bit, and I know I was hitting close to home.

She piped up with, "What about babies? I should have a lot, right?"

Now, again, palm reading is READING PEOPLE. I could have easily jumped in and said "Oh you are going to have lots of children, you are as fertile as the Nile!" Most women want to hear this, just as much as men want to hear that they are going to be successful and rich. That's a no brainer.

I looked on the side of her palm, below the pinkie, and I didn't see anything. It could have been the light, but her hand was smooth. I could have lied, but I figured that Susan, who only a bit ago was telling me how wrong I was about being 36 and single needed a dose of her own medicine.

I just shook my head, and gave her a look of "i'm sorry, no".

She flipped out.

"This is bullshit! You can't read palms, they said I would have 7 or 8!!", she cried out.

I have no idea who THEY are, but it made for a brief bit of entertainment to watch Susan get so upset over...Palm Reading.

She stormed off, leaving Melinda very apologetic. I assured Melinda it was just fine, and no harm was done...inside I was chuckling a bit, her friend Susan deserved a lesson in "reading people 101".

As for the question of being 36 and single, I can boil it down to a lot of reasons, but I think the number 1 reason is that i'm too shy for my own good. I can talk to any girl that i'm not interested in, but if there's a girl who I like, I clam up and become a wall flower.

Also, I don't "put myself out there" enough, meeting new people. For example, last summer at Bradley Beach was the first year I ever did a shore house. I met someone right away, we had fun, it didn't last, but I have no regrets. I kind of now wonder if I should have done the summer share with other people and what may have happened.

Plus, and finally, New York/Hoboken is it's own beast. There's just a trillion people here, but actually MEETING them is very hard. In 2005 I had a huge crush on a girl at my gym, who worked at the smoothie counter. For weeks i'd look forward to my workouts and having my small talk with her, while ordering a Mango Tango smoothie. This went on for a year!

She was always nice, and maybe a bit flirty, but I just figured she was being nice to me. My radar was completely off. Finally, after a year I asked her out. She said "Yes" and we dated for a bit.

On later dates, I remarked how after all those years of talking to her at the counter, I had no idea she was interested in me. She laughed and said, "What did I have to do, jump over the bar and tackle you, to show you I was interested?"

The relationship didn't last, but it was easily my favorite one, and learned a lesson in asking people out sooner.

The moral of this story is learn from me. Get out there. Meet new people. Make new friends. You may meet a friend of a friend and that's how you meet the next best thing in your life. And learn to palm read, and when the cute girl who wants babies is expecting a good answer, tell them what they want to hear.

Way back in 1999, when T1 lines were the high speed connection in the office and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was coming to theaters, everyone was just getting into the whole blogging thing.

One person started the whole online diary, and then another, and another, until everyone had a blog, from grandma blogging about her dentures or your office mate Phil blogging about his cockroach rodeo. The world became a bit smaller, and the excitement of having a blog eventually wore thin, and nearly 10 years later, i'm here to announce that blogging is dead.

All hail the new blogging - Facebook.

If you aren't on Facebook, well then you are so 1999. Even i'm caught up in this and my creativity has gone downhill. Gone are such entries, like my Sex, Lies and Hoboken or Quirks About Hoboken and replaced by various "status updates" on Facebook.

These "status updates" on Facebook are similar to blogging, but instead of writing entries, everyone just updates their "status" with a sentence or two of what they are thinking, doing or feeling, or "Facebooking".

What I also find interesting is that facebooking has really taken on a whole new world. You rarely will get someone to sit down and write out their thoughts, but now just a blurb about their lives. Often, as is the case, I have found that the majority of comments that I do read are very much intertwined with the relationship status of the Facebook profile. For example:

  1. Single people.
    • The single people actually do things. They get drunk. They go out. They always are up on pop-culture with funny quotes or good stories. I enjoy reading other single people's entries. But, honestly, a lot of single people simply update their status updates because our generation is all about being attention whores. Like any attention whore (hey, i'm one to talk, I still have a blog!), they will drown you in every single update about them. They have a sore throat. They are happy it is sunny. They love 300 count thread pillowcases. They are looking forward to a weekend of A.T.M. with their girlfriend. They can't figure out what to cook this weekend - clam chowder, will it be New England or Manhattan!
  2. Recently engaged or married.
    • Please kill me now. Ok, seriously - congrats. Let me write that again. Congratulations, we are seriously happy for you. Now stop. Stop telling us every update that has what you AND YOUR FIANCE/HUSBAND/WIFE are doing together. It's like somehow your single friends have morphed into a new person, like Brundlefly and every update is about what Brundlefly is eating or Brundlefly is doing or what Brundlefly is watching. We get it. You are engaged or recently married, you want the world to know...often. I'm not the bitter single guy saying this. We are all saying it. Just no one has the balls to say it to your face, they just quietly laugh at the thousands of updates spewing out like "facebookarrhea". Oh my God, please stop. I was about to drop some friends, until I discovered that I could edit facebook comments to get "less updates" from them. Now if I want to read about my friends "being SO IN LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" or "Freddy/Linda and I are having yogurt!" updates every hour on the hour, I can just check in with my madly in love friends which every update is how perfect their lives are.
  3. Married, no kids.
    • These people are much more normal, they were once they "everything is perfect in our lives" engaged couple and have reverted back to the mind set of a single person. They go out, have fun & do things, but more often than not you get an update about once every 3 months about what they are doing in their lives because a) they really don't care about letting the world know about them and b) they really don't care about letting the world know about them. They are married, why do they give a shit about updating Facebook, and are only on here because some single friends talked them into it.
  4. Married, with new kids.
    • Holy. Fucking. Shit. You thought the engaged people were annoying? Get the fuck out. Having people like this on facebook about as bad of an idea of letting Pookie from New Jack City work in the crack house. Your friends? They no longer exist. Whatever you thought was once your friend has been replaced by the homogenized verzion of them. Your college roommate who used to snort coke off of the stripper's tight stomach while getting shit faced drunk on Patron with you has now been replaced by a guy who loves his merino wool sweaters, his $14 barber haircut and snoozing after a good meal on Saturday nights. Your bisexual girl friend, telling you stories about what she & her girlfriends were doing at some bar in Christopher Street is now Molly Homemaker, with her adorable white picket fence house in the suburbs. And for a bonus - you get to read all about his kids! Every update. Kids. Kids. Kids. Think about it. what do you think the percentage of profile pictures of your friends who are married, with kids who have a picture of themselves in Facebook without their kids in the shot. I would say about 10%. Look, I think your kids are adorable, but there has to be something you do that doesn't involve your kids, right? Please? No, Frank, going to Home Depot and buying some wallpaper then going home to pop in that Sisqo CD doesn't count. I know that your whole lives are about your kids now, and you want the WHOLE WORLD to know it! Really?!? No. Really?!? What happened to you?
  5. Married, older kids.
    • Rare, but you have these older facebook fans who are on the website because they have younger family members or nieces and nephews they are active with. Sadly, they rarely write anything interesting for their status updates and are the equivalent of message board lurkers. They just love watching others update their entries and every once in a while may add a supportive comment.
  6. Divorced.
    • Ha. Ha. Caught you. See, divorced people aren't on facebook much. Why? Well remember those newly engaged or married people with their website links to their marriage cam & photos - they are the same people who quietly leave facebook, and never will be announcing that their "happily ever after" has become "happily divorced". I'd pay good money to see a profile update of "I'm getting divorced!", but I don't hold my breath.

O brave new facebook, that hath such people in it?

I have to say that some of my friends do NOT fall into the category that I just listed. You have the still fun married people with kids that break the rules. But if what I just write sounds a bit like you...maybe i'm not that far off the mark with my witty social commentary, am I?

Support.com Saves The Day

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One of the things that most people know about me is that I really like computers.

It all started in 1980 when I got my first computer, a Commodore Vic 20. That was eventually relplaced by the Commodore 64 when I got one in 1983, and even used it up until my first year at Villanova in 1990. Eventually I moved on to IBM clone PCs, and in more recent years I would buy custom designed gaming rigs by Alienware or Dell XPS. For the better part of 28 years from 1980-2008, I have always had a computer in my house.

Of course, in today's day and age, a computer is even more important. It's a connection to the outside world, a gaming center, media hub and business device. Without my computer, i'm not even sure what I would do with my free time. It's simply that central to everything in my life.

What that being said, I got home from the gym, after work, and connected up my iTouch to my PC while I took a shower. After getting out of the shower, I checked my computer and it was alerting me that I had spyware/malware on my PC. But, being Windows, it detected it, and told me that I should connect to a Windows website to download the spyware remover, which was called XP Protector, for only $49.99.

It directed me to a website, which had reviews, testimonials and a snazzy looking design. For a brief moment, I thought I would download it, but then stopped when my "spidey senses" started to kick in.

Why was this website's URL not Microsoft?

Why is my PC bugging me to keep buying it? A taskbar balloon would pop up, i'd close it, and it would pop up again...badgering me to buy the software. Microsoft is annoying, but even this was odd for them.

Why when I tried to go to other websites, to read up on XP Protector, would my Windows Internet Explorer get redirected to a warning saying something about not going to other websites? If this was a Microsoft tool, it wouldn't force me to type in URL's manually.

Something just wasn't...right. I smelled a rat.

Luckily, I have another PC in my closet, which I haven't used for about a year, but it was in basic working order. I popped it in, loaded it up, updated a few things (like I downloaded all ths security patches from Microsoft before I did any surfing), and did some looking around.

Apparently, this "XP Protector" is a very, very well designed Malware (Malware is the latest term for viruses that get installed on your PC by infected programs or websites).

At first, I figured I would try to defeat this myself. I downloaded a few security programs (Spy Hunter3, Ad Aware, Malwarebytes), and started to try and root it out. Spy Hunter 3, did detect it, and tried to remove it, but each time I would reboot, it was back! Malwarebytes was similar, and AdAware was hopeless in finding anything about it.

The software was extremely well designed. It had TWO processes running. If you killed one of the processes, the other one would just start it up. If you killed both, then another file called "av.dat" would just reboot your pc, it would reload everything and you had to start over.

Thursday night I spent 4 hours trying to fix it. Friday was another 4 hours. I was at my wit's end. I work on network stuff for a living, and my computer knowledge is good, but i'm not a wizard to fixing PCs, at all. I was about to go to a local computer store in Hoboken called Flash Tech when my buddy Chris told me about support.com. For $129.99 they will fix your computer or your money back.

Ok, fair enough. I figured it was better than lugging my computer to Flash Tech, waiting 24 hours and having some dude poke around on my PC while I wasn't there.

Support.com got on the phone and after a few quick bits of information, and registering on their website, they basically were able to remotely connect into my PC (you have to allow this by registering on the website), much like I have seen people do this at work with "PC Anywhere". Even I have used remote PC software to get into a remote computer and fix it. So this was nothing new to me.

The guy was good. Really good. We talked as he fixed my PC, downloading various anti-malware software, and he pointed out what was wrong, and even ran into a few of the problems I was having, also, but was able to get around them by deleting some registry entries (this is very dangerous stuff if you don't know what you are doing). After about an hour and a half, and being very thorough, the virus was gone. He did a clean clean up of my PC, getting rid of some things that may slow it down, and I was back on track again. I have a five day "guarantee" that if anything goes wrong, I can call back and they will continue to diagnose and fix my problem.

Suffice to say, if you ever run into any kind of trouble with your PC - i'd call these guys. Sure, it isn't cheap, but for about $129.99 it would have basically cost me the same to take it to Flash Tech anyhow and it was repaired much faster.

I know, I know

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Yes, it has been a while. All three of my daily readers are crushed i'm sure with my lack of updates.

So, what's new with me?

The parade in Philly was a blast, obviously. It was "PhillyStock", with love in the air and a sea of red & white. Fans were all out in force, and lots of kids with their parents. I said to Melissa, who joined me for the festivities: "This is why the championship is so great, you now have a new generation of Philly fans, the kids, who are growing up and now associate their baseball team with being champions. There's a whole generation of kids who grew up around here who didn't even know what this feeling was like."

I broke down last week and finally bought a Xbox 360. For years I resisted, figuring that PC games were (and still technically are) my favorite way to game, but what got me was one game I didn't get for my PC - Guitar Hero.

Yep, I broke down and bought Guitar Hero III and an Xbox 360, and been rocking out in my apartment. I hate to say it, but the commercials of models & stars doing their best "Risky Business" impressions is funny and poignant, because when you play the game with a band's song you really like (for example Rage Against The Machine, KIss, Pearl Jam & Rolling Stones were just enormously fun to play) - you DO get into the song.

Anyhow, aside from enabling my inner nerd, it makes me laugh because I mentioned at work that I got an Xbox 360, and I got no less than 10 co-workers who all said they had one too and started talking about the games they are playing.

Now, i'm 36. My coworkers are all around the same 30's range, some older and some younger. We are all excited my videogames, or in some cases, they even play the videogames with their kids.

I think back to the days of growing up, when my dad and mom were in their mid 30's. They were both 36 in 1978. They had 4 kids by then. My two sisters were 12. My brother was 9 and I was 6. I'm fairly sure my dad was working for Laventhol and Horwath accounting in Philly by this time and we were living in Richboro, in our new house in Tanyard Farms.

I can't imagine my father being anything like me at 36. Or his co-workers from 1978 for that matter.

Is it me or is our society, along with staying alive longer, also stretching out the boundaries of our youth?

I'm on facebook. I play videogames for fun. I really want to see "Role Models" and my favorite TV shows are "Chuck", "Entourage", "Heroes", "Battlestar Galactia", "Dr. Who" & "Lost". My weekends are basically about drinking at a local pub or getting together for dinner with friends or some form of entertainment.

When I think about my parents, and their lives, and then look at mine I just laugh. I think it's hilarious, because i'm sort of living a quasi-extended version of my life at 21. Hey, I love my life. I'm not complaining about anything. I have no huge responsibilities except paying my mortgage, which translates into "keeping my job". So far, so good.

Well enough about that. Other stuff going on is that I want to spruce up my bathroom a bit. First step is getting a shower door for my tub. I'm trying to find a frameless shower door, like this one.

Next, i'm trying to find a cool sink vanity / mirror combo. That's been giving me the most problems, i'm open to suggestions, if you have them.

Thanksgiving coming up soon. Plans are, again, to head down to DC to my brother's house and see the rest of the family. Should be a good day, and even with my Eagles floundering, i'll be happy to watch them play at 8pm on Turkey Day. Hopefully I won't be in a food induced coma.

Now back to my games...


All My Sons

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When I saw that "All My Sons" was on Broadway, I was intrigued. I knew of Arthur Miller's work, thinking back to my years studying at LaSalle College High School, I remembered my English teacher at the time, Mr. McCabe, showing us Miller's "A Death Of A Salesman", starring Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich. It really was one of those events that sparked my imagination and enjoyment of literature and theatre. Later, I went on to study English Literature at Villanova University, and eventually when I moved to New York City, I often tried to take advantage of what Broadway had to offer.

I have been to a few Broadway shows ("Rent", "Monty Python's The Holy Grail", "The Producers" "Macbeth" with Patrick Stewart), spending more time trying to get out to see Shakespeare in the Park, during the summer months. I like to go when I can enjoy it with someone special, rather than going alone or trying to get simply "friends" to come with me. But I wanted to see this for other reasons, too.

First, it had John Lithgow, who I loved in so many of his movies, growing up. I remember watching him in "The World According to Garp", "Twilight Zone: The Movie", "Footloose" (which he also filmed with fellow castmate Dianne Wiest) and even enjoying his goofy roles in "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" or "Harry and the Hendersons". Later in life I loved watching him in "3rd Rock from the Sun" and was one of the few people who Tivo'd him in "Twenty Good Years". I always thought he was a great actor, and reminds me of a natural, someone like Dustin Hoffman or Gene Hackman.

Second, it was easy to get tickets. I just went on ticketmaster, they had tickets for almost any show I wanted and I bought a Tuesday night performance, with good seats, in about five minutes.

Third, the show has Katie Holmes, who lately has been fodder for all the gossip websites, and I think she brings a certain intrigue to the entire show - is she good? Would Xenu make a cameo?

I had to recruit someone to tag along with me, and I asked my friend Tiffany to come along for a Tuesday night show at 7pm. We tried to score seats at Becco, but they were packed and had a 45 minute wait for seats. Instead, we walked into Sushi of Gari 46, a few doors down at 347 W. 46th St.

I would highly recommend that if you want outstanding sushi with quick, excellent service before a show on Broadway, I would steer everyone towards this small sushi restaurant. The downside is that it can be a bit pricey and the portions may be smaller than you expect in Hoboken, but the high quality of the fish, the presentation and service made it worth it for Tiffany and myself.

After our meal, we went to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (formerly the Plymouth), only a few blocks away, quickly got to our seats, and watched the show.

I think back to all the shows I have been to, which would probably pale in comparion to many of you reading this now, and think that most of them I left thinking that they were "good". Even Rent, was a good show (I didn't see it with the original cast), and for the most part I was never floored by a show.

Maybe it was my lack of experience of "Great Broadway", but I really enjoyed the show. On a simple scale of 1 to 10, i'd give it a 9, with my humble scale. Other critics have given the show mixed reviews.

Perhaps I need to get more plays under my belt, but I felt the performances were excellent, I was drawn into the play and very much enjoyed all the characters and didn't feel anyone had a "one note performance". The show simply captivated me, and I would say that if you are someone who is looking for something different to do, and want to take advantage of what New York has to offer, this would be a great time to go out and try and take in a great show - especially that the discount ticket TKTS booth in Times Square has been refurbished.

Notes, News and More!

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To those that noticed, the site was down this morning. Our server got mixed up in a move by our hosting provider.

The hosting provider also owns Hobokeni.com. If you haven't heard, Hobokeni.com is relaunching very soon (I think today), and i'm very excited to see the new changes. Everyone at Datapipe and Hobokeni.com have been a true help to my site.

Did you know that this month is my 4th year blogging in town? I'm shocked it has been that long, and it's still great to get so many emails from people. I got a great email yesterday from someone I didn't even know who wanted to add some information about my Pantry Entry:

I hope you are enjoying experimenting with your own cooking.

Your pantry list is a good one, but I do have two opinions on some of the ingredients on your list. First, boullion cubes are pure, dehydrated evil. I would suggest buying stock in a re-sealable cardboard box. If you don't think will go through it quickly enough, fill an icecube tray with the stock and freeze it. Once frozen, empty the trays into a zip lock bag. Be sure to label and date the bag to eliminate scary freezer archeology in the future. The stock cubes should last for six months.

Secondly, those "cooking wines" one purchases in a super market are just horrible mixtures of salt and something that may legally qualify as wine, maybe. With wines in a box improving, and their shelf lives of up to six weeks, keeping some of them around for cooking is a good idea. Vermouth, because of it's long shelf life, is also a good substitute for a cooking wine.

Have fun in the kitchen.

Comments - If you didn't know, something is massively wrong with my comments on this site. I got a few emails from people asking if I blocked them from commenting, and I did not. I'm not sure what's going on there. Certainly you can always email me and I always reply to people: Philly2hoboken@gmail.com.

Eagles - yep, not happy they lost. I'm shocked because I know they are a better team than this, just can't figure out the exacts to why they are sputtering the last two games. Bad coaching? WRs dropping key passes? Still a lot of season to play to work this out, and I still think the Birds are a playoff team, just shocked we lost to the Redskins and Chicago, two winnable games. But what can you do - much like the Phillies, just gotta make it to the playoffs.

And how about those Phillies? What can you say when your team takes care of business and wins? I'm extremely happy to see the Phillies in the NLCS for the first time since 1993. Dodgers hammered us during the regular season, and it will be a tough series, no doubt. To me, it's a win/win situation. I'm just glad to see the Phillies in the post season twice in two years, and seeing our team getting better each year. Dodgers aren't going to be easy, but it's anyone's series, I think the Phillies can win if they play their "A" game.

Happy Friday!

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A nice little video (work safe, I think...there is "implied" humor here) to get us all in a happy mood for the weekend, with the Phillies up 2-0...


We are a city that loves to eat. That's easily apparent walking down Washington Street, with bars and restaurants bustling with diners every night. In the last few years, I have gotten into cooking for myself. It's a lot of fun, but one of my greatest frustrations is opening up my cookbook, reading what i'd like to make, and then realizing that i'm missing a key ingredient, so I put together a list of items that I keep in my try to keep pantry.

When I came up with this list, it's about freshness. I didn't include easily perishable items. Sure, you can have a big bag of potatoes sitting in your closet, but I have found, in my experience, that in Hoboken it was much easier just to stop in the local farmers market and grab things like that when you are ready to cook. Same is true with meat. You can, for example, get a vacuum sealer, and store cuts of meat in your freezer when ready to use them. For me, this list was about key ingredients that are great to have on hand when you are ready to cook or bake.

My first list are my Top 10. These are the standards, that you have to have for almost anytime you think about cooking:

  1. Sugar
  2. Flour
  3. Butter
  4. Milk
  5. Olive Oil
  6. Garlic
  7. Dry Pasta
  8. Marinara Sauce
  9. Cooking Spray
  10. Multi-Grain Bread

That covers a lot of what you will cook with. For things like milk, eggs and butter, I buy small quantities, so that I always have something fresh and don't feel guilty throwing away 1/2 pint of bad milk versus a 1/2 gallon.

The items would be my "basics" list:

  1. Basic condiments (Mayo, Ketchup, Mustard, BBQ Sauce, Soy, Teriaki, Worcestershire sauce, Maple Syrup, Tabasco, Peanut Butter, Grape Jelly, Balsamic Vinegar)
  2. Basic seasonings (Table Salt, Pepper, Kosher Salt, Oregano, Basil, Cayenne Pepper, Boullion cubes (beef, chicken, veg))
  3. Basic baking ingredients (Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Vanilla Extract, Yeast, Solid shortening, Cornstarch, Brown Sugar, Bisquick)
  4. Basic others (Red & White Cooking Wine, White/Red Wine Vinegar,
  5. Basic Canned Foods (Tuna, Tomatoes (Paste and Diced), Chicken/Beef Broth, Marinara Sauce)
  6. Basic canned/bottled drinks (Coke, 7up, Seltzer, Water)

Advanced Seasonings: Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Ginger, Dry Mustard, Bay Leaves, Nutmeg, Paprika, Poppy Seed, Lemon Pepper, Garlic Powder and Cinnamon.

Advanced Items: Honey, Dried Beans, Brown Rice, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, Pickles (Dill Gherkins), Dijon mustard, Canola Oil, Peanut Oil, Vegetable Oil, wedge of Parmesan cheese.

Some things to remember:


  • Put the flour and sugar in an air tight resealable containers

  • Put the brown sugar in a resealable bag, add a fresh apple slice to the bag to keep it from hardening.

  • I put my Multi-Grain Bread in the freezer. I can whip up fresh tuna fish, pop the bread in the toaster and have a delicious sandwich in 10 minutes.

  • Remember with spices to get the SMALLEST container possible. Most dry ground spices last about 2-3 years, if kept airtight and in cool spaces.

Liquor Cabinent. Now, being the bartender that I am, I have to give you a list of liquors that every adult Hobokenite should have on hand. Imagine inviting someone over to your house and you can't fix them a nice cocktail? This is what I have in my cabinet:

  1. Grey Goose, Belvedere Vodka or Ketel One Vodka
  2. Jim Beam or Jack Daniels Bourbon
  3. Tanqueray Gin
  4. Captain Morgan Rum
  5. Johnny Walker Black
  6. Bacardi Rum
  7. Jagermeister
  8. Red Wine (preferably Zinfandel or Pinot Noir for more casual drinkability when guests are over)
  9. White White (always in the fridge, Pinot Grigio is the better choice for young Hobokenites)
  10. Beer (Yuengling, of course!)

Now, cordials are what make a drink a drink. I don't have all of these, but if you are having a party, never a bad idea to have the key 3 juices (OJ, Cranberry, Pineapple), i'd grab Cointreau (or Triple Sec) and some Red Bulls. These other ones are optional...but great to have on hand for mixed drinks or shots:

  • Amaretto

  • Chambord

  • Frangelico

  • Midori

  • Sour Mix

  • Grenadine



  • That should do it. Print out my list, and go over to Shop Rite at 900 Madison - you can buy everything you need right there, including the liquor.

    See something missing from my list? Email me at philly2hoboken@gmail.com and I'll see if it should be added!

    Outback Steakhouse: Edgewater

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    A friend of mine invited me out for dinner a few weeks back, for helping her out with something which was important to her.

    We kept trying to figure out where we wanted to eat, with food that she could eat (she's on a diet). I was thinking of trying to eat at McSwiggan's, but most of the menu items were deep fried bar food, with few "healthy" choices. The standard visit "Court Street" was in play, since we both liked eating there, but our enthusiasm waned a bit.

    She read my blog and said, "What about Outback?"

    Mmmmmmmmmmm. Nom nom nom.

    Outback it is! We got in my car, drove over and 20 minutes later (on a Tuesday night at 7:30pm) entered the restaurant.

    We take one look around, the place is packed, with people sitting and standing waiting for tables.The entire bar, and surrounding booths were full. I ask the manager how long the wait is, and was told "25-30 minutes or you can wait near the bar and try to get a seat when someone leaves."

    My friend takes one look at me and says, "You were right, this place would do great in Hoboken. I'd eat here once a week. Look how packed it is...on a TUESDAY!"

    Eventually we grabbed a seat at the bar, and I had a 9 ounce Victoria's "Center Cut" Filet, with wild rice and asparagus. It wasn't Luger's or The Strip House, but compared to ANY steak I have had in Hoboken, it was completely worth the 15 minute drive to Edgewater.

    Ninja Cat

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    Easily my favorite animal video of the fall.

    I'm Wrong When I'm Right

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    On Sunday, we had a good crowd of Eagles fans at Mulligan's.

    It wasn't the enormous crowd that we had week one, or the 100+ people we had last Monday night. It was a decent crowd of about 60-70 people at the bar, watching the Steelers play the Eagles in Philadelphia.

    I got there around 3pm, and by then all the seats at the back bar were taken, and I had to walk to the front bar, grab a seat, and carry it into the back bar so I could sit down. The bar started to fill up, and in walks a crew of people not wearing any jerseys, with one Eagles fan who is.

    Now, dear reader, you have to understand the context of this situation. You have a bar filled with Eagles fans. Everyone is wearing an Eagles jersey, and some even have Phillies hats on. This bar is the home away from home for all Eagles fans (and most any other Philadelphia sports teams), which is the equivalent of a virtual embassy of Philadelphia, if you will. You walk on Mulligan's hallowed grounds and you, sir, are IN PHILADELPHIA, for all intents and purposes.

    There are about 5 girls and 3 guys in this crew of people. The guys are all wearing Ed Hardy / Christian Audigier, with jeans (on a 79 degree day), extremely tanned, beefy gym muscles (juiceheads? it wouldn't shock me.) and lots of hair product. The girls were surprisingly 'more normal', and most were cute. It was like the regulars of njguido.com just walked in from a taping of "Growing Up Gotti".

    Now, if you know me, you know that i'm half Irish and half Italian. Growing up I felt "more Italian", if you will (sorry Mom) only because our house was so Italian-centric with my father's influence over the household. So as much as i'm half-Irish, my life and my knowledge of Italy (after studying in Italy for 4 months) gives me a better understanding and appreciation of the Italian culture than your average Italian-American. Just because someone is born-and-raised Bayonne Italian and hasn't travelled more than 75 miles away from their parents house in the last 25 years doesn't make them I-T-A-L-I-A-N. It makes them an American-Italian. I'm not a fan of the mafia. I'm not a fan of guidos. I am sure in their tiny hearts that most guidos are good people, but for the most part they just enjoy acting like knuckleheads and irritate the hell out of me. To me, my philosophy is that all guidos are Italian, but not all Italians are guidos. So if you are Italian, don't be a guido!

    But, I digress.

    The "crew" come into the bar and immediately stand in front of me. Now, I have no problem seeing over their tiny heads, because most of the girls aren't taller than 5'4 and the guys aren't taller than 5'9. It would be difficult, into words, to express how they were being annoying. For one thing, they were loud. For another, they were being annoying - one finding amusement by taking handfuls of napkins, and throwing them into the air, to create a cascade of napkins showering all over the bar. Paul, the owner, saw the end result and asked me who were the idiots throwing napkins all over the place, and I pointed out the group in front of me and saying, "We are a victim of our own success. Now we are getting so popular, that we are attracting all sorts of fools to the bar, rather than only Eagles fans."

    If it was just them being loud and throwing napkins, I don't think I really would have cared. They were a distraction. The girls, in their defense, were fine. The guys were just being peacocks, showing off, trying to be the "NOTICE ME" kind of guido, and 99% of the people at the bar could care less, they were just there to watch the game. The guys weren't even watching the game. Not at all. When the Eagles had a big score, they would spin around, look at the TV and frown. When the Steelers had a big play, two guys chanted, "Lets - Go - Steel - Ers!"

    I had enough, and pulled two of the girls aside.

    "Hey, how are you? I'm Sean, I run the Eagles club. I just wanted to know what was the thought process - what exactly were you guys thinking - when you said you wanted to come to Mulligan's and watch this game? I mean, out of the 8 of you I see one girl with an Eagles jersey on..."

    "Oh, that's Jackie. She's an Eagles fan.", replied the tall girl with brunette hair.

    "Ok, so Jackie is an Eagles fan. She brought the rest of you, here, because you are also Eagles fans....?"

    "Oh no. She's a Giants fan. So are those two guys. I'm a Dolphins fan. Only Jackie likes the Eagles.", said the tall girl with brunette hair.

    "Out of all the bars to watch the games you wanted to come here, into the back bar of Mulligan's and watch it with the Eagles? That makes no sense."

    "Why? Are we a problem?", she asked, her eyes narrowing.

    "Well look at your friends," I said, "they aren't even watching the game. Just being loud and obnoxious, while people are here just watching football."

    "Hey we are just having fun, what - are you against people having a good time, or somethin'?", she asked with a glare.

    "Well, no, but if I had my choice, you guys wouldn't be in this side of the bar...this side is basically for all the Eagles fans", I said.

    "Oh, so you would throw us out? Just because we are having a good time...?", she growled.

    "Not about having a good time, but you guys are being distracting to the other Eagles fans. You and your friends, except for Jackie, aren't EVEN EAGLES FANS. Why come here? You could have gone to thirty other bars in town to watch this game??", I said, with a criticizing tone.

    She spun around on her heel and then our discussion turned into your typical "wash-woman mentality". You know what I mean. The one girl gets offended because I had the audacity to criticize her & her friends. Now she has that burning desire to talk to other girl friends and tell them I can't believe what how he just talked to me.

    I turn to an Eagles fan next to me, a girl, and I say to her, "Are you witnessing this? Am I completely out of line, here?"

    "No way, not at all. They shouldn't even be here", she said.

    It could have gone downhill from there. But Jackie, to her credit, walked over, we talked a bit smoothing things out, and Paul had a conversation with one of the clowns to calm him down.

    After the girls were a bit more mollified, I went on to explain that running the Eagles club at the bar is much like if I were the host of a party. I want everyone to have a good time, but also asked them to be put in my shoes and they were hosting a party with a bunch of clowns like their guy friends acting like idiots. Eventually the girls "got it" and started to agree with me. I turned on my charm (yes, I can be charming) and by the end of the game, the girls were laughing along with my impressions of them "Getting all 'The View'-like" on me (I was doing a head-bobing and finger shaking Bon Qui Qui impression).

    In the end, its the old "It's not what you say, its how you say it" that doomed me here. Yea, I know I can be rough by not beating around the bush and patience is something that I don't have a lot of. At the end of the day I wasn't really thinking of myself, I was just thinking of the Eagles fans who come to the bar. Maybe someone who was there for the first time, and they are thinking "THIS is the Eagles club? It's a zoo here!"

    Just trying to make a little oasis away from the heckling, annoying, loud anti-Eagles fans that I have been dealing with since 1994. I have no problem going into work, or another bar and getting grilled about my team choice - just want one place where I can go every week and relax with other fans.

    Weekend Blotto

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    Fall is here, and most everyone I know is very excited for the new season.

    Me? Well I like fall, but I don't love it. I hate watching the sun set a bit sooner each day. I very much prefer walking to out of my house without having to think about wearing a coat. I'm going to miss my sunny weekends at Bradley Beach.

    Last weekend was a bit quiet. Friday I stayed in, because of the rain and I wasn't "in the mood" to drink at a bar. Wasn't feeling it. Watched some TV and surfed the internet a bit.

    Saturday had a party at my buddy Matt's house. It was his housewarming party with friends and family, a good crowd of about 30 people around the same age. We had catered food from Vito's deli, beer pong, college football and a very nice balcony to enjoy once the weather cleared up.

    That's something I miss from my old apartment - having someplace outside for parties. At my current condo, I don't have a balcony. If I want to step outside and just enjoy myself, I don't even have an option except leave my condo. I think that will be important when I try to buy a new place.

    Sunday rolled around and my mom came up to visit. Mom, being Mom, brought up homemade cookies and sausage & pepper, along with some other items she knew I would like (read: Tastykakes). She also brought up my college diploma, nicely framed, which I hung on the wall in my room.

    Segue: I was at my mom's house for Easter and looking for some bottles of wine in her basement. While looking, I saw a leather bound folder on a shelf with the Villanova tag on it, and looked inside to see my diploma. I completely forgot about it, and when I mentioned about taking it home with me, my mother offered to get it framed as a present for my house. Awwww.

    Now that summer is over, not sure if I am going back to Mikie Squared. I haven't even asked the owners about it, and I figure that i'm fairly happy having Saturday nights free. Maybe if something were to come along, I would consider it, but I think in the short term my days of making martinis and mojitos are numbered.

    At Matt's party, we got to a point at midnight where the beer was running out, and a few people, including Matt, asked where in town we could get beer. I knew of a few places, but none were close nor would they deliver. Being the bartender that I am, figured that it was time to restock the bar. I made a phantom exit, without telling anyone.

    I walked from Matt's penthouse at Observer Lofts, over to Hoboken Discount Liquors, which is right outside my condo.

    I buy two cases of Miller Lite, and standing there with the two cases, i'm thinking that my walk for the next 6-7 blocks may be do-able, but i'll be sweating like a pig by the time I return to Matt's condo.

    I see a kid in the store, who looks to be about 21 years old. I turn to him and say, "You want to make $10 and help me carry these to a party?"

    "Hell yeah!", he says, "Just give me a second, my ride is outside."

    He comes back in the store and is trying to find cheap liquor for him and his friends. Keeps asking the store keeper what they have for $10. He picks up a bottle for $16.99 and I stop him and say, "Dude, i'll buy that bottle, you just get me in your car and drive me to the party."

    His eyes light up and he says, "Hey, we will drive you to Jersey City for that!"

    I get outside and into the tricked out Nissan with chrome rims, with two girls in the backseat, a guy driver and my friend from inside the store, hopping into the backseat with the girls. Part of my brain is briefly thinking, "Maybe this isn't such a good idea, you could get mugged..."

    But I did it anyhow.

    They were cool, and we briefly chatted while they drove me from Willow to Jackson, along Observer. I got out of the car, thanked them for the ride and went back to the party.

    Beer pong continued until 3am.

    That Bitch!

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    082508.jpg

    We were having so much fun this summer. Laughing. Playing. Rubbing bellies. And look what I find - evidence that she's not only a Jets fan but also likes the Giants!

    Oh God, what a horrible thing. No more treats for little Zoe!

    This weekend was fun enough, even if my allergies were killing me. Friday was an early night, I was zonked from a long day of work and my stuffy nose. Went to sleep by 11pm at the shore house.

    Saturday was a beach day, I worked on my tan. Someone asked me how I get so dark. For one, i'm Italian. The other, i'm Black Irish.

    Chris, being Chris, has been trying to "beat me" with a better tan and can't keep up. He's been doing a good job getting fried to a crisp, however. His face was a nice shade of lobster on Saturday night.

    Our luau was Saturday at 2pm and I just wasn't feeling it. It was fun and a nice party, but I was out of it from my allergies and lack of quality sleep on Friday night. I share my bedroom, and my neighbor snored until 5am. I didn't want to sleep on the couch again, so I just sat there and stared at the ceiling.

    Saturday night the party lasted until 1am (11 hours of drinking and eating), when we had bodies all over the shore house, sleeping wherever they could.

    Sunday was another nice beach day. I had my fill for brunch at a local irish pub, and then snoozed on the beach for a while. It was a lazy sunday, relaxing at the beach house until 6pm, and driving home to watch the Phillies vs Dodgers on ESPN.

    I'm getting geared up for football. I'm playing fantasy football and I have the #1 pick in the draft. Itching to pick Brian Westbrook at #1, but really have to think that LaDanian is the smarter pick.

    This week is a 4 day work week. I have off Friday...but weather calling for showers. Boo!

    Top 5 Rules For Shore Roommates

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    I definitely have a lot of experience living with roommates, after counting 18 different roomates over my 13 years living up here.

    Most of my roomates were great people, some were weasels, some were generous and some were selfish assholes that deserve a karmic boomerang.

    I have written before about how to choose a roommate, and included my "rules" to a good roomate:

    Be considerate. Clean your dishes. Pick up your clothes. Be tidy. Don't like to clean the litter box - pay your roommate $30 a month to do it for you (yes, I did this). Do you have a special other - don't bring that person into the apartment all the time to "sleep over". A good rule of thumb is a overnight visit twice a week. If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend who is over 4 nights or more a week - that is unfair to the other roommates. Maybe have them kick in some rent while you are at it.

    Be quiet. This isn't a dorm room. No blasting your music or TV - the subwoofer travels easily thru hardwood floors and to the upper floors of condos and brownstones. One of my roommates reminded me that squeaky beds can be heard thru hardwood floors, too.

    Be responsible. Pay your rent and bills on time. The last 10 years I have held all the cable & electric bills in my name. I usually pay them right away and then collect what is owed to me by my roommates - time and time and time again they always forget to pay me. I think if I calculated over the years the money I have lost to roommates who didn't pay me would easily be in the hundreds of dollars. Its partially my own fault, I don't hound my roommates to pay me back - I just leave the bill out, and expect them to do the math. John, if you are reading this - you still owe me 2 months of bills, buddy.

    Be kind. A lightbulb is out - how about buying a new pack and fixing it? Notice that the bathtub is dirty - maybe clean it? Cooking dinner - maybe see if your roommate wants some. Its the little kind actions which will endear you to others.

    And now after living in a shore house, with multiple roommates (some full shares and some half shares) in a no frills shore house, this would be my Rules For Shore Roommates (which some points may mirror points in my previous comments):

    5. The bars have closed, you are drunk, your friends are drunk - don't assume it's cool to bring back your drunken mess to the house for an "after hours party". We have already a few instances of people coming back to our shore house, and drunk people making far too much noise for our sleeping roommates and our sleeping neighbors.
    Bottom line: Unless you are bringing back all the roommates to the house, or if you roommates are still up - ya gotta call it a night or find some other place to go.

    4. Sex happens. Overcrowding at a shore house is the norm, and often people are sharing beds in the same room. There has to be consideration on both sides (those getting some and those getting none), come up with a good system to say "DO NOT DISTURB" if you are "busy" and consideration for those couples who want to be alone in private.

    3. Generousity is the better part of valor. If your buddies and you are drinking someone's else's Grey Goose, don't replace what you drank with a cheap knock off. If you are drinking good beer don't bring in a case of American Light Beer and expect that's a fair replacement. If people are buying groceries & making dinner for you each week, it isn't a bad idea to throw down some cash on basic communal foods (bottled water, burgers, dogs, chips, soda, toilet paper, etc.)

    2. Clean up! I think this is very important especially when people disappear on Sundays without taking the trash & recycleables out, cleaning the sinks, wiping down common use areas or even sweeping the floors (we don't have a cleaning person). The only times I have gotten others motivated is by stopping people on Sunday for an hour of "clean time" (yes, do you believe it? ME telling people to clean up of all people...) to get the job done.

    1. Ignorance is bliss. Everyone will be on their best behavior for the first few weekends (in some cases for the first 24 hours), and you only see most of these people on the weekends. I have had disagreements with some of my roommates and rather than confronting and defending myself - I simply walked away. Normally i'm someone who WILL get in your face if i'm angry, but I have found that it's a million times easier to keep the peace and walk away from a problem or a conflict. I think it would be a different story depending on the severity of the situation (like if you had a real problematic roommate), but you should try to let most minor infractions just roll off your back and not let that other person know they are a troll. You are just there for summer, and there's no reason to ruin it by starting drama.

    Maybe you have some rules of your own? Leave a comment or drop me an email if you do!

    Asbury Lanes: Punk Rock Bowling

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    The night was warm, with the mist of salty sea water hanging lazily in the sky, like a whisper of a passing lover, speaking sweet, soft poetry to the twinkling stars in the black velvet canopy above us....

    Ok, i'll stop.

    So, um, yea. Another weekend at Bradley Beach and Chris mentions about how we have to get out of the house and DO SOMETHING. Most of our weekends at the beach have been about grilling, drinking and hanging out at our house with other housemates and just enjoying each other's company...and I have been fine with that.

    You, see, dear reader, I am sort of an extroverted introvert. Like you drop me into a foreign bar, with muscleheads, bikini babes, overly loud music that makes you scream to talk to the person next to you (WHAT? YOU STUDIED ARCHITECTURE? WHAT?) and other assortments of trolls and fools, and I will stand there, like a house plant, and drink my drink and talk to those i'm with and really be about as exciting as a fern can be. But, when it comes to hanging out with friends, people i'm comfortable with, i'm much more animated and fun, more social and talkative.

    Simply put, staying inside, with friends, suits me just fine.

    Sure, it does put a crimp on meeting women, but my attitude has always been just about enjoying myself, rather than trying to go bars and score women. I have never found that people really "meet" anyone at bars - everyone just sticks to their friends and rarely intermingle, and quite honestly I believe that you would be better off trying to make new friends, and meeting THEIR friends, than trying to get some random girl's number at a meet market bar.

    But, to each their own.

    Saturday, Chris says three magic words: Punk Rock Bowling.

    My ears perk up. I like punk rock. I like bowling. Where is this magical land of candy trees and milkshake waterfalls?081108.JPG

    Asbury Park, only a short cab ride away.

    Chris, Lauren and I hop in a cab, and drive over to the bowling alley, which appears to my untrained eye to be older than me, in a neighborhood that can be generously described as "post nuclear abandoned civilization".

    Remember that movie "Escape From New York" with Kurt Russell as Snake Plisskin? Yea, that bowling alley would be a perfect backdrop, along with the crowd of people that were milling about outside.

    They were the various driftwood of common society, bound together by alcohol, music and a fondness for tattoos. We had old greasy bikers, young post-Franz Ferdinand nerd types, fat goth chicks, hot tattoo princesses, and emo-riffic college kids scattered amongt the aging bowling alley lanes that were built before anyone knew who John F. Kennedy was.

    I felt right at home.

    This was my kind of scene. I enjoy being around this kind of crowd, and far away from the guidos who proudly look for themselves with their puckered smiles and pseudo-gang flashes on njguido.com.

    In another day, age and not having parents who would have disowned me if I got a tattoo, I would have been much like the crowd at hand, having fun listening to good live music and chilling out in the cast off corner of the north jersey beaches. It was great.

    It was a $10 cover to get in and an additional $10 to bowl. I laughed and asked if it was $10 per game, because I was so used to our outrageous prices to bowl up here.

    No, it was basically $20 to bowl until your arms fell off, your fingers blistered or your rented shoes disintegrated off your feet..

    To be sure, this was not bowling for those typical Hobokenites who are "pretty little snowflakes" and worry about what brand of sunglasses they wear or when it's martini night or when Green Rock is a bar they regularly frequent. No, to be sure, this was a bar for the punkers, by the punkers.

    I have found that in my life I have always had the ability to be a social chameleon. As so much as I can make fern-related jabs at myself, I also am fairly good at hanging with all types of people - from punkers to Republicans to country gents to city slickers, I never really "stick out", with exception to my height.

    The gang and I bowled all night, drinking various cocktails out of the house plastic cups, and listened to the band that was set up in the MIDDLE of the bowling alley, taking up about 4 lanes with a makeshift stage. The band would play about 8-10 songs, break down their equipment and a new band would set up and play some more songs. It was great until one moment.

    We were at our lane, bowling and a group of three guys start to bowl next to us. I really don't pay them any attention until our bowling balls disappear. We had about 6 balls in the ball returner thing - and we were down to 2 when I say to them "Hey guys what happened to the bowling balls?"

    Chris walks off to find a manager and see if they can discover why the lanes are gobbling up our bowling balls and not returning them.

    The guys next to us give me the what?us?who?bowling balls? look and sit there. I take one of the remaining bowling balls, walk into their lane, and throw it down the gutter (remember this is an old school bowling alley, there wasn't any mega-computer that kept score - every game was scored by hand and since you could bowl all night, nothing kept track of how much we bowled).

    Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.

    Five bowling balls return just as the goth manager approaches us and rolls her eyes and walks away.

    About 10 minutes later one of the jackasses next to us throws a ball down the lane as the pin sweeper was down, and BANG! the pin sweeper gets jammed, with the bowling ball rejected, and sitting in the middle of the lane. The guys next to us sit there a look on their face, like when you get home from work, see the garbage from the trash can sitting all over the kitchen floor and your dog giving you the "I don't know how it happened? The trash can must have exploded on its own" look.

    They used the bowling ball I was using and it was sitting in the middle of the lane, and I snarled at the offending bowler that he better not just sit there, but go out and get my ball back. He sat there with what I can only describe as an idiot savant look, and then Lauren, bless her heart, goes out and gets it herself.

    Sadly, her nice action nearly gets us in trouble - the goth manager returns, yells at Chris saying that we are shut down and can't bowl anymore. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

    I was playing my best game of the night, we had 4 frames to go, and Chris and I were betting $20 against each other. I wanted to finish up, and then go home.

    The other lane was dimmed, but interestingly enough, our lane wasn't. We wait for our lane to dim, and nothing happened. I guess the goth manager assumed we were bowling with the jerk offs next to us, and shut them down instead.

    Ha ha ha.

    We finish our game (I bowled a 174 and won $20 off Chris), wave to the children of Rain Man next to us and leave.

    Even with all of that, it was just a fun time that if you are in the Bradley Beach area, and looking for something different to do that doesn't have the word "Parker" or "Edgars" in the title, it may be something you enjoy like me.

    Vera Gets Serenaded

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    At Bradley Beach, my housemates have been there for the better part of 10 years, and have gotten to know the neighbors on our block. One of them is Vera, and 80 year old woman, who lives there in the summers, with her children and grandchildren two doors down from us. She's not your typical grandma - my first meeting with her was her vivid description of going to see the Thunder From Down Under in Vegas last year with her daughter - and getting a lap dance from the male dancers!

    She's social with us, stopping by during the day, but Vera can be a bit of a problem for our house, because like any older person, she can be a bit "crotchety" if we get too loud at night.

    Friday night at the house someone discovered a megaphone that was brought down last year by a group of Staten Island guys who were living next door, and they left it at our place.

    Well the megaphone was Friday nights entertainment, with a group of us sitting on the front porch, trying our best to make each other laugh using the device. I, myself, saw two 20-something girls walking by us on the sidewalk, carrying a half-case of Miller Light. I grab the megaphone, and say with an authoratative voice (like a cop would say)...

    "YOU...WITH THE BEER!"

    Both of them, perplexed, turn around to see me and a group of housemates getting their attention.

    "I WANT YOUR BEER!"

    I hear the blonde haired one say, "You want a beer?"

    "YES. I AM THIRSTY."

    They both look at each other and walk over, laughing and give me a beer. They sit, and crack open a few beers, and meet the rest of the house guests. Two girls from Kansas City in Bradley Beach for the weekend, and they get introduced to us by me with the megaphone.

    About 15 minutes later, Joe stops at our front porch and he's Vera's son in law. He's very nice about it, but kindly asks we stop with the megaphone at 9pm at night.

    We stop, and take our antics into the backyard, where we drink all night.

    Saturday was a bit of a washout last weekend, and I was inside watching TV and relaxing with Lauren and Chris and i'm using the megaphone (again) inside the house. One of my housemates walks inside, asking for the megaphone, and I hand it to her. She walks outside and I hear a screeching old woman's voice:

    "HEY YOU INSIDE COOL IT WITH THE MEGAPHONE!"

    It was Vera. She was outside talking to some other housemates and giving me crap back.

    Well then. I thought about how to respond, and then I suddenly had a flash of a movie scene in my head.

    Easily one of my mother's favorite movies, and a classic in it's own cheesy right.

    It was time to serenade Vera.

    I hop outside, at 3pm in the afternoon and get the megaphone back and proceed to sing to our 80 year old neighbor, like I am Tom Cruise and she is my wrinkly 80 year old Kelly McGillis.

    Now Chris, my buddy, who is my friend for many good reasons and one of them is his ability to pick up very fast what i'm doing and run with it - he jumps into the song singing too, backing me up as my very own "Goose". Then Jerry, another housemate, starts singing, and soon we have three guys all singing "You Lost That Lovin' Feeling" to our 80 year old neighbor, who was sitting on our front porch, both perplexed and embarassed at us making fools of ourselves.

    The megaphone was loud enough that when finished, we had the other neighbors all laughing at (or with?) us with our song to Vera.

    Suffice to say, it was a good laugh all around. It was a classic "Sean" moment, I simply was in my typical goofy mood and went with my first implusive thought and hit it out of the park. I didn't care, and it felt great.

    Of course you will all want to know if Vera and I are dating now and the answer is no, I have my sights set on another special lady in my life. Click to see who she is...

    Little League

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    When I write, I often think about my childhood and how little events then have a profound impact upon my life today. This is one of those stories.

    Sometimes, like when I watch a baseball game, I have a recurring memory of growing up in Richboro playing little league.

    The year was 1982.

    It was July and we were out in a non descript, large school field in Bucks County. The game was just starting on a makeshift baseball field that didn't even have a backstop. Just some worn lines in the dry green grass, with each corner of the baseball diamond marked by an old square dirt stained canvas base, lined up for kids in the 8 to 10 year old age group.

    I was playing second base that day. By this time in my life, I played little league for maybe two or three years, and it was my first time, ever, that I was playing in the infield. Most of my years playing little league I was in the outfield, and thought, at the time, I was good at it. I remember a parent once asked me after a game, with my brother and father standing there, what position I played.

    I told him proudly that I was a "right fielder".

    My brother later pulled me aside, telling me that I shouldn't be proud to play right field - that is where they put the losers, the kids who can't play baseball are shuttled into right field.

    I was nervous. My dad was standing off to the side wearing his trademark shaded sunglasses, next to the green military canvas bags that held our baseball bats, watching the infield. It was the first inning, and I remember standing at second base, in the classic crouch position, ready for the first hit.

    Imagine my surprise that the first hit of the game comes to me, a grounder!

    I try to field the ball, but bobble it and by the time I get it to first base, the runner is safe.

    First hit and I goofed.

    My dad, the coach, waves in the right fielder, and replaces him with me, right after that play, in front of everyone watching on my team and the other team. I could just feel the eyes of everyone on me as I took the long walk from second base into right field. The embarassment was palpable.

    I remember standing in right field and I was embarassed and angry at the same time. Any interest I had in playing organized sports died that day. It was humiliating. I never forgot that day, and often I could be doing anything - washing my car, walking in a park, watching a baseball game, sitting at my desk at work and i'll remember that day.

    I don't blame my dad. I think, in his mind, he knew I was over my head and he was a competitive guy, and wanted to win. He just made a move to fix the situation, like any coach would do, but handled it poorly. If anything he should have made the switch between innings.

    Kind of tough to deal with at ten years old.

    Interval Training

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    When I moved to Hoboken, my waist was a 34. A few years passed, and I moved up to a 36, and that's when I joined the gym (right after my trip to Vegas). After about two years of working out, my size 36's were getting too tight and I switched to a size 38. Only about 6 months later, by last December, I was out jean shopping because my size 38 jeans were getting too tight. I got to the store, and asked what the next size was, and they showed me the size 40's. I tried them on, but they were a bit too baggy for me and I looked dumpy.

    Size 40? How did I get to this? I was lifting three days a week (mostly upper body), but not much cardio, and my hips and waist were just slowly, slowly getting bigger. I couldn't figure it out because I felt I was eating well (not perfect, but well) and still gaining fat around my hips and glutes.

    I didn't buy the jeans, and decided, right then, that I had to come up with a better plan to lose weight BUT keep muscle.

    My first plan was about watching my diet, and that went well, but I started to fall into my old neurosis about becoming a food nazi. I would count calories and/or not eat food even when I was hungry. I wasn't happy about this, and I wanted to be able to eat what I want, in moderation, but also figure out a way to keep the weight off.

    A friend of mine at work was talking about this and mentioned his time in crew. He would row in college five days a week, and he would tell me how he could eat anything he wanted. His body was constantly burning calories because of all the cardio he was getting in and even when he wasn't rowing he was burning calories.

    He suggested that if I could get in about four to five days at the gym, with three to four days of cardio, along with a good diet (again, not a perfect diet), that I would see definite results. I was already, at that point, going consistently to the gym about three days a week. I used an article from bodybuilding.com to adjust my lifting routine from three days to five days.

    I have been doing 'interval training' based on an article I read in Men's Health.

    It's been fairly good to train this way, since I keep trying various forms of cardio but found that running has been the best way for me to drop weight quickly. I also don't want to be on a treadmill for an hour jogging, because its so BORING. Plus, I have to be careful about my leg, ever since I hurt it three years ago.

    Basically it's 20 minutes of running. Broken down into the following:

    Minutes 1-3: Walking at a normal pace, around 3.5-4.0 mph. (interval 1)
    min 4-5, run at whatever speed gets your heart goin like 5.5 mph.
    min 6, walk
    min 7-8, run (interval 2)
    min 9, walk
    min 10-11, run (interval 3)
    min 12 walk
    min 13-14, run (interval 4)
    min 15, walk
    min 16-17, run (interval 5)
    min 18-20, walk

    The first few weeks, I kept it at 3.5 walk speed and 5.5 run speed. Once I felt like my leg could take it and my lower back wasn't too sore, I have been raising my run speed each week by .5 mph. I'm up to 7mph now after about four weeks. I did run into a few problems when I first started to jog again and here's what I did to fix them:

    1. I stretch before running. I do a hamstring stretch, the runner's squat, Calf stretch, Quad Stretch, and Knee to Chest stretch. If I forget to stretch, i'm usually more sore the next day.

    2. My lower back was giving me all sorts of problems, but I have been doing a lower back raise, and just did it once a week, about 10 reps with 3 sets. That tightened things up and my back has been a lot better.

    3. Been careful with my heart rate. One thing that has really helped is a Polar wireless heart rate monitor that I wear when I workout. At 36, my target "max" heart rate is 181. I have been careful about not pushing myself above that, and I have found that on my first day of running at a new speed, my heart rate jumps by the last interval (interval 5) to be around 170-175 bpm. Day 2 of the same week, my bpm on interval 5 is usually at 165-170. On Day 3, around 160-165. My body definitely gets used to running at the higher speeds, and I have to keep challenging myself to that next level. The goal isn't about faster speed, it is about getting my heart rate to 90% of my max rate (which is about 163) .

    4. Diet, diet, diet. At Bradley Beach, my diet is non-existent. Burgers, dogs, donuts, Red Bull and Vodka, Taco Bell and ice cold Yuenglings are my diet. Weekdays, i'm much more careful about what I eat, and have cut out all alcohol from Sunday - Thursday. So far, it's been working fine, but I certainly know that I would get MUCH faster results if I didn't drink and eat bad on the weekends.

    All in all I don't count calories or really judge how i'm doing by my weight. I figure that my jeans fit really well, and that is what makes me happy and i'm able to keep a moderate diet.

    I figure it has been working for me, and maybe interval training is something will help others out there who are also trying to lose some extra weight & still live in the "real world" of Hoboken where dieting is extremely hard to maintain if you expect to have a social life at the bars.

    Bradley In July

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    It is mid-summer and been getting down to the beach a lot more.

    I have been getting to know my house mates more, and they are all a very interesting cast of characters. To their credit, everyone is really cool when it comes to sharing food & alcohol. I often drive down with food, ready to grill, and bring enough to feed about 10 people. Most of the other house mates are much in the same mindset.

    Yesterday, for example, one house mate had an idea for our breakfast, we will call him "Boston". Boston said, "Ok lets get some crab cakes, lobster bisque and eggs. We will poach the eggs, put them on top of the crab cakes and drizzle it with the bisque."

    At first we were a bit incredulous, but Boston jumped up, got into his car and drove to a local fish market to get the ingredients. He gets back with a ton of food, and 20 minutes later eight of us are eating his version of a seafood Eggs Benedict, which was outstanding.

    One of the house mates teaches me a cool trick that I never knew about.

    On Saturday night we are all sitting around trying to come up with something to make for dinner, but it was 8:30 and we realized that by the time we cook something up, we would be eating by 10. Pizza enters the equasion, and we tried to order from a local pizza shop (Pizza on Main), and they tell us at 8:30 that they are closing soon.

    Someone mentions that they saw a Papa John's nearby, but wasn't sure of the phone #.

    If you text message GOOGLE on your cell phone (466453) and enter things like a name & state - it will text back to you, automatically, the name, address and phone number of a business.

    I entered "Papa John Asbury NJ", and got back the phone # and address of the pizzeria.

    Five seconds later, I have the phone number and order. Much easier and faster than calling 411.

    Here's also a Top Five list of things I have noticed this summer....


    1. I remember in years past the drive along the Garden State Parkway being a parking lot. Everytime I drove down, on Fridays, the drive has been quick, with some traffic. Maybe less people are renting or driving this year, but it still takes me only an hour to get to the beach.

    2. What's up with people on the beach not respecting each other's space? Growing up in Ocean City, I remember everyone would keep about 5 feet from each other when setting up their chairs, umbrellas and beach towels. At Bradley, it is more like a 2 foot rule. People will come to the beach, with 4 kids, a radio and their loud squawking set up right next to you and think nothing of it.

    3. On Saturday I was sleeping away when a 4 year old nails me with a shovel full of sand. He had no idea he hit me, because he was flipping it over his shoulder, making a hole in the sand. I wake up, and I give a typical Philly reaction of "YO!". The kid stands there, dumbfounded. The father notices this, says to his kid to make sure he says he is sorry, which he complies, and I pat the kid on the shoulder and reply, "It's ok." I get off my chair to brush off my chest full of sand. I'll give a thumbs up to the parent to at least teach their kids to say they are sorry.

    4. What's up with the quasi military police who patrol the beach in military boots, guns and billy clubs? Two of them patrol up and down the beach, and they aren't checking beach tags - but I suppose looking for people drinking alcohol or smoking pot. I just find it a bit surprising, you would never see that in Ocean City - you may see the cops, but they are more laid back in collared polo shirts and shorts. Very strange, to me and part of that major difference between northern and southern jersey beaches.

    5. I always remember Jersey Beach water being so disgusting, but I was pleasantly shocked the other day. Maybe it is the environment or our efforts to clean up the beaches, but on more than one occasion I have waded into the water only to see that the water was pristine and clear, I could see to the bottom of the sea floor. With the Category 2 storm Bertha this weekend, the sea was churned and foamy, so it wasn't so clear this weekend, but has anyone else noticed how clean the ocean water has been?

    My Over Competitive Brother

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    Last week, I was on vacation.

    Well. Not a true vacation, but certainly had off from work with nothing to do.

    I spent the first weekend at my family reunion on Saturday, at Ridley Creek State Park. The reunion was small, with about 25 family members attending from my father's side of the family. Our patralineal family members are mostly scattered across the country, with various cousins or siblings in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York Metro area and Albany. The last time I was able to see the majority of my father's family was at his funeral, which we will mark the 4th anniversary of his passing this August.

    K* (brother asks I never use his name, his wife's or his children's on the blog), his wife and I planned go stay overnight at my mother's house in Phoenixville after the reunion, which is on a golf course. We planned ahead of time to go golfing. I wanted to go to our old Country Club, where our family was a member for about 10 years before my father passed away. We weren't members anymore, but we still had many friends there, and getting a round on a Sunday wouldn't be simple, but I figured calling in a favor to the two sons of Frank to play one round wouldn't be a major issue.

    K said it would be "cheesy" for us to try and get a round on a very private golf course that we weren't members. To me, we haven't ever tried it before, and I was told by friends of my family that they would be happy to get me out for a round anytime I wanted. I didn't think it was a big deal, but I wasn't about to argue with him over this.

    I haven't really spent time on here writing about K. He is a good guy, but like anyone has his faults. He told me a story that the German based company he works for, did a character profile on all management, using various tests and intereviews and determined two characteristics about him: 1. He's ambitious. 2. He needs to work on his empathy & compassion.

    Gotta love those Germans. Right on the money as a businessman and as a brother.

    What my brother doesn't know is that one of my brother-in-laws was supposed to golf with us on Sunday. But since I get so few moments to hang out with my brother alone, I approached my mother seeing if it would be rude to ask to golf alone with K (my brother-in-law at the time was in Italy on vacation). I get so few chances to have 1 on 1 time with him, and adding another to the round just changes the dynamic. My mother and sister both thought that P* would certainly understand.

    Golfing with K was about as I expected. He played bad at first, and wasn't talkative, but unlike years past he wasn't as grumpy. I played well, especially early on, and he didn't have anything to say. On my first four holes, I chipped on and 1 putted on three holes and had one chip going in for par. When I golf with my other friends, I may get a sincere "nice shot" or other compliment. From K, I got either silence or "What luck!"

    After our first 9 holes, I shot 51 and he shot 58. I didn't say anything to him. Didn't make a joke at his poor play, I helped him find lost balls, and didn't call him out on his scoring.

    On the back nine, my game got worse and his game started to get better. What do you think happened?

    He becomes Mr. Talkative, making fun of my poor play and commenting on my scoring. I will be first to admit that i'm a poor loser and the LAST thing you want to do with me is mock me when i'm playing badly (or any of my sports teams for that matter). After one comment too many, I turned to him and growled, "Hey, I didn't say shit to you while you sucked on those first nine holes - fuck you, you douchebag!"

    He didn't say anything after that, while I quietly simmered & fumed over my poor play and his big mouth. Final score to the round - he beats me by 1 stroke.

    That basically sums up our years growing up. He's three years older than me. He was competitive and ambitious about everything. We could be eating cereal and it would be a sport. It served him well as a businessman, he has been very successful. I'm ambitious, but not nearly as ambitious as him - my attitude is that I work to live, I don't live to work. As brothers, I don't think we are that close. We see each other at Thanksgiving, and at our family reunion. Twice a year.

    He is who he is. He really hasn't changed since we were kids, except now that he is successful, he wears it like a badge.

    One Thanksgiving, we were at the table, having port and his in-laws were there. I said how a key difference between K and I was that I was more cerebral. In my mind I was thinking of me, as the nerdy kid in my bedroom putting together the Commodore 64, chemistry set and rocket launcher while he was practicing jump shots for the LaSalle High School basketball team.

    I'm sure in his mind I was saying he was dumber than me, and being the competitive person he is, K took offense, chortling in contempt, "You aren't more cerebral than me! Take a look around at this house?"

    Two examples over a lifetime of the basic idea, "I'm better than you".

    The weekend wasn't a disaster, it was just another less than satisfying experience with my over competitive brother. We didn't leave angry, and I got over his bullshit after the game.


    I Know, I Have Been Lame...

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    Sorry for my lack of updates. I don't have any real excuse, just been busy.

    Today is going to be a random thought day, with everything that's going on in my life and how I see things.

    I wrote a lot about my diet and working out, and i'm slipping back to my food-fixation mode again. It's not fun. I start to get anxious about what i'm eating and making sure to avoid sugar, alcohol and fat. Sure, it's healthy, but I also just hate trying to figure out what I want for dinner and nixing 90% of the take out in Hoboken because there isn't a healthy option. I can't wait for Energy Kitchen to open up. They really need more healthy choices in Hoboken, and after a day of work and an hour at the gym, my interest in cooking just hasn't been the same.

    I also am a big fan of Lidia's Kitchen on PBS. I love watching her cook. Reminds me when I was in college I would watch Bob Ross making happy trees with happy squirrels. I actually ordered her cookbook, i'm a huge cookbook whore...

    Some people can cook by taste or just throwing things together...that's not me. I need a methodical plan with exact ingredients and temperatures. I hate those cookbooks that are vague about the temperature. I also have issues with leftovers. I was talking to a friend of mine about this, and we concluded it is about how you grew up. When I was growing up rarely we had leftovers. Oh, sure, the occasional sausage & pepper would be stored in the freezer for a next day snack, but I just rarely, if ever, had leftovers. Now I find today that I don't enjoy eating leftovers and I find it hard to just cook for one person. I have tried looking at various cookbooks for "cooking for one" or "bachelor's cookbooks" (which are really stupid, they dumb down the menu like 'Trog The Barbarian' is eating dinner). On my "things to do when I am a millionaire" is making a good, healthy, fast cookbook for single people.

    Beach house is chugging along, but here's a story for ya. I was at the house on Saturday, it was a great beach day. The weather channel said that Sunday would be a washout, and I was torn. Do I get drunk and sleep at the beach house on Saturday night - driving back Sunday morning or just stay mostly sober & drive home and sleep in my own bed in Hoboken on Saturday night (maybe even hitting the bars before the 2am one-way-door)?

    Twice I have chosen the latter option. I love my bed & the shore has been fun, but the people there I really don't know so well, and i'm not really jonesing to go out to the meat market bars at the shore. Waiting in lines? Paying covers? Blowing a ton of money at bars that don't give a shit? Not my style....

    On that front, I went to The Shannon for the first time since they renovated. I bought a Grey Goose with Red Bull & a Bud Light. Cost? $16. Dude - FUCK THAT. Now people ask why I always go to Mulligan's (Jimmy, Tommy, Craig behind the sticks always take care of me) or Moran's (Kevin, Chuck and Lenny are class acts) - cause I don't have to spend a fortune to go there and drink.

    Case in point of being a good bartender. I went to Cafe Elysian for brunch last Sunday - very impressed. I had the Eggs Benedict AND Amaretto French Toast at the bar with Patrick the bartender serving me. Nice guy, I had three Grey Goose screwdrivers and he comped a drink for me when I got my bill and I made sure to leave him a good tip. I have to say that Elysian would be a place i'd go to more if it was just closer to my condo. I find that the farthest I liked to walk is about a 4 block radius from my condo if i'm hungry.

    To me, if you put a quality product out there - consistently - it will make people return again and again. I been to Elysian for dinner, and was pleasantly satisfied with my dinner also. There are very few restaurants in town that I really enjoy (Court Street is one), and Elysian could be my new #1 restaurant in town.

    Also went to Zack's for lunch a few weeks back. It was a Sunday around the same time that I was at Elysian and there were only two tables seated. They are the same owners as the now defunct
    Ted & Jo's. It was average at best.

    I tried Legal Beans for brunch again. When I first moved to my condo, I loved it. LOVED IT. But something has gone massively downhill with the place. My last experience there, around fall last summer was the straw that broke the camel's back (a post for another day).

    I waited months and months before deciding to sit down and eat. I find their coffee is fantastic and the corn bread is just fabulous. I tried going back two more times and the food is just terrible. I have tried the egg, bacon, potato with toast platter and it's almost unedible. So very disapponted, because last year it was so much better.

    First Street Deli makes the best breakfast sandwiches in Hoboken. Period. Exclamation point. Question Mark. Yes, it's true. Go there and take the "Philly2Hoboken.com Challenge", I dare you to get a double bacon egg and cheese on a bagel (I get an egg bagel myself). If you eat one, and then know of a better place within a 4 block walk - you let me know and I will happily take your advice and check it out.

    I have off from work all next week and a family reunion this weekend in PA. Might be quiet on the blog for a bit. I hope this will hold you over.

    FatMuscle and Hat Guy

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    January 2006, the Saints were playing the Eagles in the NFC playoffs on a Saturday night, and I watched it with my Eagles club at Mulligan's bar. The bar was packed with Eagles fans, proudly wearing their green and white jerseys. There were other patrons at the bar, some even wearing Saints gear, but the mood was festive and fun.

    Well, until we lost.

    Everyone was fairly down, and understandably so. It was a very close game, and a tough loss for Eagles fans who saw another season of promise lost, and the window closing on us again.

    One of the guys from the bar, part of the Eagles club, urged me to say something. At first I didn't want to say anything, I was fairly pissed. Finally after a few more pleas from him that I should say something to the crowd, I stood up, and hoarsely said a few things about having a good year...glad everyone made it out...better luck next year...etc.

    While i'm saying this, two guys (not in Eagles gear) walk out of the bar, and one wearing a Yankees hat passes me, looks at me and says, "Dude, you can shut up - the Eagles lost."

    The guy was about 5'10, medium build and I am 6'3, 225 pounds angry Eagles fan who just got insulted at Mulligan's, in front of my friends, after a major playoff loss, and I have been drinking a bit. What do you think is going to happen?

    I grab the guys hat and pull it off his head, then stuff it into his chest. I said to him, "Yea? Well, why don't you go fuck yourself?"

    Eloquent as always.

    The guy wanted no part of this and made that look that guys make when they have nothing quippy to say, and can't sneer very well. It is the way they purse their lips together, look away and make a "spffff" sound as to say, "Whatever".

    His buddy is behind him, and he definitely could be a problem. While his Hat Guy walked out of the bar, this guy approached up to me. He's balding, has a tribal tattoo on his arm, and is about 5'8 and easily 215 pounds of fatmuscle. You know "fatmuscle" - he's the typical short armed burly guy that probably was on the football team...10 years ago, but only about 4 years ago in his mind. He's the guy who can bench 300 at the gym, but is built like George "The Animal" Steele - and of course is wearing an Ed Hardy T-shirt.

    He watched what happened to his friend, but calmly says to me, "Ya know, my buddy don't like to swap paws, but I like to swap paws."

    Seriously. Swap paws he said.

    I lean down to him, so I can look him eye to eye.

    "Fine. Hit me.", and I point at my chin, giving him a clear shot at throwing a punch.

    "Hit me. Just start the fight. Hit me!", I growl at him.

    My guess is that this guy was just smart enough to realize that throwing a punch at an Eagles fan in his Westbrook jersey, in the middle of a bar with about 80 other Eagles fans there, would be a very bad idea. Oh, i'm sure if this was a dark alley and it was me and him, that he would have gladly thrown a haymaker.

    But he backs down, walks out of the bar and my Eagle friends are all clapping and patting me on the back. We do some shots, laugh about it, and now we....fast forward.

    Now it is a few weeks later and i'm at Club H. I'm lifting and just waiting between sets when I see The Hat Guy and FatMuscle from the bar benching together a few seats over.

    I couldn't believe it. Yes, Hoboken is a small town. No, I didn't ever remember seeing them from the gym.

    I wait for one of them to recognize me, but they never said a word to me. This goes on for two weeks, until finally I have to say something.

    FatMuscle was the one I saw the most at the gym, and I say to him while lifting next to the guy - "Do you remember me, from Mulligans?"

    He shakes his head, says, "No, why?"

    I could have just said nothing, but I was curious. "Well you and I nearly got into a fight."

    He laughs and says, "Yea, well that's not surprising to me. When did that almost happen?"

    I told him the story, and he shrugs it off, didn't really remember it, said he was drinking a bit that night.

    I left it at that - and would stiill see the "hat guy" at the gym. Weeks become months, and I never approached Hat Guy. He's always at the gym, wearing his hat, and chatting up FatMuscle.

    Last Thursday i'm at Mulligan's and watching the Phillies. It is the end of the game and Hat Guy walks into the bar with about 6 friends. I'm fairly well buzzed at this point, and finally say something to him with the "Do you remember 2 years ago..."

    Nope.

    I keep on telling the story. I try to describe Fatmuscle.

    He smiles, and says it wasn't him & said that he didn't know what I was talking about, and laughing at the story. He's saying that if I did pull his hat off, that there would be no chance he would have walked away from me - even going so far to ask his friends, "Guys, what would happen if someone took my hat off my head and stuffed it into my chest??"

    They all laughed, like an inside joke - I guess Hat Guy takes his hats seriously.

    I felt bad, apologized that I was wrong and also telling him how I would see him at Club H - and for years thought he was the guy from that night. He found this hilarious, and he bought me a beer. We talked a bit more, and turns out that he's a really nice guy, albeit a Giants fan, but he went to Penn State, and we talked a bit about that.

    Him and his gang were planning to hit up Green Rock, and I made an Irish Exit, and slipped out of the bar a bit later.

    Just another day in my life.

    Problem With Comments

    | 2 Comments

    For some reason people have been reporting they are getting a message:

    "You don't have permission to post."

    I'm not sure why that's happening. I certainly don't ban anyone from writing here, unless they are being a complete jackass with rude entries.

    I'm not sure what's causing this, because everyone should be enabled for comments.

    My Old Volvo

    | No Comments

    Last weekend, I made a late start to hit the beach, which was mostly due to the fact that the guy who got me into the house was the only person I knew there, and he wasn't showing up until Sunday.

    When I decided to make my journey on Sunday, I hopped in my aging, but normally dependable 1993 Volvo and started on my way. Noticing that my car needed a wash - I went to the car wash on Observer Highway.

    Scrub a dub, dub - my car was looking pretty again (or at least as pretty as a car from 1993 can look) - and I was pulling out of the car wash, putting it in park for the guys to towel dry my car - and my car wouldn't go into Park.

    I never saw this problem before. It would go into Reverse, Neutral, Park, 2, 1. Trying to move the shift into Park and it would not move like it was locked.

    I was stunned, and not sure what to do. Thoughts flashed into my mind - like the idea of getting a new car, or not having a car for the summer now that I have a shore house. FUCK.

    I drove over to the Sears Auto Center, which was thankfully open, by the Newpart Mall. I normally get my oil changed there, and it was the same place that I got new tires. I was hoping someone there could help.

    I talked to the guys there, while sitting in my car, and explained my situation. They never heard of that and gave me the name of a mechanic that works in Jersey City which specializes in Volvo's. But, it being Sunday, they doubted he was open.

    I figured that I didn't have any choice, so I drove over there, using a new Garmin Nuvi I picked up a few months ago to guide me there.

    Sidenote: I got the Garmin because while driving back to my mother's house outside Philly, I wanted to visit my father's grave, on the way there. I didn't use mapquest, figuring i'd go by the directions from mom - I got hopelessly lost and couldn't find it!! I was quite upset, as you can imagine.

    This mechanic was located on Communipaw Ave in Jersey City. For those of you who haven't seen Communipaw Ave, lets just say that I don't consider myself to be a gentle little snowflake, but looking around I hadn't been this apprehensive since my ill fated drive through Chester, PA. I quickly got out of there, when I drove by a very closed, locked and chain fenced shop.

    I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but I knew that driving to the shore was out of the question.

    I drove home, and went into my parking lot. I put the car in Neutral, and put on the parking brake, then turned the car off. I fiddled with the shifter, which wouldn't move. I turned the key back to the position just before you switch to ignition, and then fiddled with the shifter some more, and it popped back into Park.

    I'm not sure what happened. But, I turned the car on, tested it out a few times, and it seemed fine after that. I drove down to Bradley Beach, after 90 minutes of being terrified by my car.

    The Hoboken Timeline

    | 3 Comments

    As you know, I have a shore house at Bradley Beach this summer.

    I bought into a full share at a shore house that I knew nothing about through a friend of mine, Chris. If you asked me 10 years ago if I would be doing a summer share at a shore house at 36 years old, I would have laughed it off and fully expected that my life would be not about summer shares, but about living the quiet life in the suburbs.

    When I told my friends I was getting a summer share, they all had the same basic reaction - laughter. Not "hey that's funny, Sean" laughter, but "dude, you aren't 26 anymore" laughter. There seems to be in our world a "Hoboken Timeline" that the world must follow if you live here. For example:

    1. Graduate from college.
    2. Get a job.
    3. Find a apartment.
    4. Explore the city & get down the shore.
    5. Sow your wild oats & have a few flings.
    6. Meet that special someone.
    7. Get engaged.
    8. Move out of Hoboken (some wait until 1 kid & some don't).
    9. Have kids.
    10. Die.

    Now, the timing isn't so important, per se, but there's an overall "attitude" that people have about it. It's like when you are dating someone for a long time and your annoying uncle who smells like Dewars gives ya the nudge at every family event saying "Hey! When you gonna get married?!" Then when you finally get married your aunt is bugging you, "So, when you having kids?!"

    It's kind of the same story with the Hoboken Timeline. There's a timeline that we are all supposed to be on. If you stray from it, there's always someone nudging you, but instead of the 'alcoholic uncle' you have the 'weekend alcoholic bar-friends'.

    It doesn't bother me much, but I simply find it fascinating. People get locked into a structure of life. There's supposed to be a freedom in our lives, but really it's about conformity, that we, as a society, adhere to. "Job...husband/wife....kids" is the mantra we repeat and need to do it before our "expiration date", which for women the pressure is even greater.

    Then I also find it funny when I go to weddings and meet people there, and always get the guy who finds out i'm single and in my 30's and they are like "Oh man! You are SO LUCKY! Don't settle down, man! I got married at 26, and dude, that was a huge mistake..." Then I get to hear about the wife, child out of wedlock & the mistress story.

    I guess it all depends on who is doing the listening. To me - hey, i'm just rolling with the punches and working with the hand that Life dealt to me.

    I'm 36 and single, and i'm not quite ready to die just yet - so, a beach house it is. More on that later this week.

    John Allan's: Tribeca

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    When I first moved to New York City, back in 1994, there are a lot of things about me as a man then that were different than the man I am today. I enjoy good sushi. I get my haircut at a salon, not a barber. I like drinking fine wines, scotch and ports with some imported cheeses. I love a good monthly massage. I get sports pedicures.

    SPORTS PEDICURES?!

    So there are "pedicures" that women get and there are sports pedicures that men get. The basics are the same, washing, scrubbing, exfoliating. The main core difference is that a woman's pedicure would involve getting their toes painted, while with a man, it's basically about cleaning up dry, cracked skin and unsightly toenails. What was once a bastion of a gay man, is now becoming the normal practice of today's modern man.

    Yes, I get plenty of friends who are guys and girls that don't understand it. Feet are feet to them. Everyone has a different opinion on feet, and my opinion is that there's nothing more nasty than seeing a guy or girl walking down Washington Street in flip flops, and having dry, cracked flaky skin with yellow toe nails. I see it all the time.

    It's normal now for men to buy body scrubs, facial creams and other grooming products that differ than our forefather's set of grooming products that consisted of shaving cream, a bar of soap and Old Spice aftershave.

    I usually get a sports pedicure a few times a year, mostly during the warmer months, depending on the condition of my feet and if i'm dating a girl - and every girl I dated loved it.

    In past years, I have been to a few salons to get this done, but now that i'm working in a different part of Manhattan, I decided to do some research, and try some place new. I knew that I didn't want to go to a "girly salon", I was hoping to find a place that was for men, and not a salon that had people working there with fucked up names: "Blaze" or "Rumor" or "Staci with an I, not a E-Y".

    Lo and behold, I dig up a 2006 story about John Allan's on the New York Times website, do a bit of reading and find out that they have a location near my office in Tribeca.

    I made the appointment on Friday, and got down there after work.

    I walk into their building at 418 Washington Street (Tribeca New York, not Hoboken), and the look is "Sports Pub Meets Spa". There's a small bar, a pool table, comfy seats, exposed industrial pipes, and a soft House pulse beat playing on the speakers. I check in, and the receptionists ask if they can take my coat, bag and mention that the store next door, which incidently is a wine store, is having a free wine tasting.

    Normally this is where i'd politely say "no thank you", because i'd be self conscious and wait. John Allan's was fairly empty, it was 5pm on a Friday and I didn't have anything to do that night, aside from meeting people at Mulligan's for the Phillies vs Giants.

    I checked out the 4 person seat bar, which had 2 beers on tap, a few bottles behind the bar, and a red velvet pool table next to it. There was a bartender there, and a woman from the wine store next door letting customer taste a bottle of Rose and a Syrah/Grenache blend. I talked to her for a bit, trying the wines, and I did prefer the Rose over the blend.

    After that, the told me that all the beers were on the house for paying customers or members - I think my eyes lit up too much because they added "Well, within reason...". The bartender poured me a glass of Sam Adams draft, I was brought into a back room, which had two comfortable leather chairs, and two large steel buckets, sitting in front of each. On the wall was an enormous projection TV, at least 7 feet long, playing ESPN. They had me put my feet into the steel buckets, which had soapy water, and on the bottom of the buckets I could feel smooth stones or marbles. They handed me the remote, and I sat there watching ESPN, sipping a beer and the woman working on my feet began her work.

    I could go into details here, but I really wasn't paying at much attention. There was lots of cutting, scrubbing, smoothing, massaging and moisturizing that were related to putting my feet back into looking great. It lasted for 45 glorious minutes and in that time I drank three icy cold beers (but they did run out of Sam Adams after my first beer!), alternated my TV watching between ESPN and The Dog Whisperer.

    The bartender came in afterwards and fretted about moving a full keg from the back room to the bar. All of his co-workers were women, so I offered to help. We moved the keg, and then he handed me another beer, and I shot a game of pool. Once that beer was finished, I had a nice buzz, tipped the bartender $10, tipped my pedicurist $20 and paid my $49 tab.

    The result? Nice, clean, softer feet that will look great at Bradley Beach this summer when I have the shore house.

    TV Is My 2nd Best Friend At Home

    | 1 Comment

    Now that i'm living solo and don't have roommates or puppies to come home to, I have my TV as my friend at home.

    Oh, my PC is my #1 friend, and my #3 friends are my plants. One of which is dying and I may need your help to figure out why this one plant is dying, but more on that next week.

    So here's what i'm watching, and if you are watching it, feel free to comment!

    {SPOILER WARNING AHEAD!}

    The Good Samaritian Traffic Cop

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    I went to Maru after the gym, and got some take out sushi for dinner.

    On my way out, I see a busted up old minvan sitting in the middle on 2nd street and Washington, like if it was stalled. It sat through the light and the traffic on Washington were going around the minivan - some people honking their horn and people on the sidewalks were starting to gather watching this spectacle in progress.

    I was walking south, watching this with detached amusement.

    I waited until the east-west light turned green, and was going to cross Washington at 2nd, and noticed that the minivan still didn't move, with westbound traffic going around him. Now this was getting silly and everyone on the streets were just standing there gawking.

    There was an elderly man in the front seat of the dirty, damaged minivan and he looked confused and disoriented. Everyone was just watching from the street and cars didn't want to be bothered were going around him. It was a spectacle and no one was doing anything.

    Fuck it.

    I walked into the middle of the street, waving cars to stop, and walked right up to the minivan. He has his window rolled down, and I said, "Hey, what's wrong?"

    The elderly man was wearing a ratty baseball cap, unshaven, and spoke in a light-Spanish accent, "I can't see - the light - the glare...."

    I looked down 2nd street and he was right, the sun was setting in the west, and it was hard to see down the street.

    "Ok, well I can guide you forward from out here, you can follow me...", I started to say when a cab passed behind me and honked his horn, yelling "USE THE GAS, BUDDY!"

    Another Good Samaritian showed up and was on the other side of the car trying to help, but I think it just confused the old man more.

    The elderly man was just out of it. He looked around a bit and wouldn't move the car.

    "Why don't you turn down Washington, make a left here, and the sun won't be in your eyes...", I suggested.

    "No, I got it. I got it.", he stammered. The car still didn't move.

    Finally I had enough, and knew that being gentle wasn't going to work here.

    With a bit more force in my voice, I said, "LET'S GO! MOVE IT!", and I spun my arm like a traffic cop might when directing cars to move.

    Worked like a charm. His car slowly moved forward, and he rolled down the street. I walked to the westside of Washington, and the crowds that were watching this dispersed, and I heard them all mumbling about the old man being foolish.

    I felt bad for him, it was clear he was just "out of it". Needed someone to snap him out and get him moving. I seriously question if a guy like him should be behind the wheel of an automobile, but that's not my job. I just wanted to get him out of danger, off the street.

    Then I remembered, while walking home, a story my sisters told me once when they attended the University of Delaware in the late 80's.

    I was walking down the street yesterday, freshly showered after a hard shoulder workout at Club H, and drinking a tasty "Mango Tango" protein shake, and carrying a "Classic Club" (very tasty, try it) on whole wheat from Quiznos.

    Quick segue: Someone would make a killing in this town if an Energy Kitchen or The Pump opened up shop in Hoboken. I mean, think how many residents work out and then want a good, clean kitchen to order low-fat, low-sodium dinners? Hoboken411 reported an Energy Kitchen was opening up, but I think that fell through. Please don't mention "Pita Grill" to me. Should call it "Cardboard Taste Grill". I ate there at least 8 times, over the years, and i'm never satisfied with anything I have ordered.

    Moving on.

    I was walking down the street across Washington and 1st street, towards my house when I see two people head of me, next to City Hall, walking two well fed, dogs a pug and a puggle (For the record, I like Pugs and not fond of Puggles). Both dogs were wearing dog-sport-shirts, I read one that was blue/red and said "New York". Part of me was rolling my eyes because a) I was frankly amazed how overweight the small dogs were and b) I think any animal that is forced to wear clothing is stupid. Unless it is winter, and the dog's natural coat can't handle the cold, but it was a nice spring day about 55 degrees out.

    I'm looking at the owners, and both are two well-fed Hobokenites, a guy and a girl, who appear to be in their early 30's. The guy is in a suit, with a ill fitting long black raincoat over a sloppy suit with a loosened tie. He's balding - one of those stubborn balding guys who think they aren't bald, and keep fighting to keep some kind of sembalance of a hair cut going. He's talking to her, and both of them are your typical LOUD YUPPIE HOBOKENITES that give the rest of us a bad name. The kind of Americans who go on holiday to Europe and annoy the the rest of the world with their loud, obnoxious behavior. I'm watching both of them and inwardly groaning at the both of them.

    The girl is wearing a light blue pullover around her rotound frame, jeans that aren't flattering AT ALL, they hang limply from her waist, straight down to her legs - where normally 90% of the world has something for Sir-Mix-A-Lot to sing about - she has nothing. Baby got no back.

    Now, bear with me people.

    Look, I try not to be terribly judgemental.

    Ok, scratch that, i'm kind of judgemental.

    Very judgemental?

    Ok, i'm basically the Judge Smails of Hoboken (bonus points if you know who that is without Google).

    But seriously. Overweight and no ass? It's like a double whammy. I mean the one caveat of overweight women is that they have curves in the right places over the stick thin women with flat chests and no ass.

    Yea, so, i'm a guy. I walk down the street. I look at girls. The straight men are checking out the girl's body and the gay men are checking out her shoes. I think 99.95% of the men do this. The other .05% are liars.

    Then...slowly...slowly...I recognize the assless girl by the time I reached the corner of 1st and Bloomfield.

    I haven't talked to this girl in over a year. I she was once a pretty good friend. You haven't been in Hoboken very long if you haven't lost friends over bullshit drama. She was now married and that was her husband she was walking with.

    I was having a dilemma, while I walked behind them. Part of me was thinking I should stop and say hello. It's been so long, and honestly, I just have no real interest in being phony with someone that I really don't like. I certainly have no problem being cordial with people I don't like. But i'm not going to go out of my way to say hello to someone like this.

    The couple were walking side by side on the sidewalk, taking up about 85% of the sidewalk. I walk very fast, and they are walking too slow, letting their dogs sniff everything they pass. I want to pass them, I literally will have to brush past one of them, with a hurried "Excuse Me", which would draw attention to me.

    I looked for an opening between Bloomfield and Garden, right outside of Mulligan's...and I walked across the street to where the Guitar Shop is, and kept walking down 1st to avoid the risk that i'd have to talk to them.

    I continued my brisk walk, and decided cut back over to the other side of the street at O'Donohughes. I'm sure they could have saw me cross the street. I'm sure they could have recognized me. I didn't really care if they saw me from behind.

    While passing OD's, I heard them behind me, on the corner of Garden and 1st, still talking very loud to each other. Like the kind of people who walk down the street yapping on a cell phone.

    Yes, a day in the life, and these are the things I think about. Am I the only one? I mean writing this I kind of feel bad, but it's what I was thinking. Maybe I write what other people don't say or maybe i'm just an analomy.

    I was thinking later as to what stopped me from talking to her. We never left each other on bad terms. I just didn't want to go through the whole pleasantries. Part of me wasn't in the mood. If I ever ran into her at a bar or whatever, i'd be nice. I certainly don't hate her. She broke my trust once, and that's it for me. You lose my trust and you lose my friendship. She's just not a part of my life anymore.

    That's about it.

    Good Manners In The Big City

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    I read this in the UPI the other day:

    BOSTON, April 7 (UPI) -- Growing numbers of U.S. parents are enrolling their
    youngsters in etiquette classes to reinforce behaviors they struggle to teach
    in the home, families report.
    Parents say changing times have made manners harder to teach, blaming rushed
    meals, television, movies, and technology for the erosion of social skills, The
    Boston Globe said Monday.
    "Parents are doing the best that they can at home. This is just to give the
    kids a little additional reinforcement," said Jen Schaeffner, a mother in
    Marblehead, Mass.
    Etiquette classes reportedly have become a popular way for kids as young as 4
    to learn table manners and conversational skills.
    Critics argue the classes are unacceptable for young children, the newspaper
    said.
    "It's something that should be integrated into their entire day and not
    transformed into a structured activity," said Susan Linn, a psychologist at the
    Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston.

    I don't claim to be Mr. Manners. Especially if you are a Giants fan. But I do often take public transportation, use the gym or i'm out in the bars and try to adhere to what my parents taught me. Here's a list that my friends and I came up with when it comes to lack of manners from our fellow residents. Add your own in the comment section!

    1. Saying "Please", "Thank You" and "Excuse Me". Three of the most basic words ever taught to anyone and rarely heard on the streets of Hoboken.

    2. Learning how to wait in line, behind the person in front of you. No, not to the side. Behind someone.

    3. Holding a door open for a someone! If I already have passed through a doorway, and notice someone is behind me, i'll hold the door for them, so it doesn't swing back and hit them in the face. I dare any of my girl friends to say that I don't hold open the door for them when we enter any establishment.

    4. Learning how to go up & down the stairs. Up the stairs on RIGHT, Down the stairs on RIGHT. If you are faster, and not impeding traffic - feel free to quickly ascend or descend on LEFT.

    5. "Wide Legged" men on public transportation & people who put their bags on the seat next to them on the bus. Grrr.

    6. Asking if someone is using a bench or equipment at the gym or offering to share the bench/equipment. Is it really that hard, "Excuse me are you using that?" or "I'm using it now, but you can join in." I think we all learned "sharing" in 1st grade.

    7. If you don't have something nice to say...keep it to yourself! No one wants to hear, "Wow, you gained some weight, huh?" or "Your roots are showing!", or "Hmmm, you have one ugly baby."

    8. Learn how to get on a subway or PATH. Step 1: Doors open. Step 2: Let passengers off. Step 3. Quickly get on the train, take a seat, or stand in a place that isn't right in front of the fucking door. Versus what I see every morning....Step 1: Doors open, the outside linebackers in high heels slamming shoulders into the defensive linemen in sneakers trying to get off the train. It's like Full Contact Musical Chairs.

    9. Loud cell phone talkers. Shut up! I don't want to hear that your boyfriend isn't paying enough attention to you. I don't want to hear you beg mommy and daddy to lease you an Audi A4! I really don't care if you think you are the next Guido Gordon Gekko and talking about the "LAMBO" you drove last weekend with your "BOYZ". Shut the FUCK up! I get a call on a cell phone in the gym or on the bus - i'll say "Hey, can I call you back?", not, "LETS MEET AT LOUNGE 11! THAT'S RIGHT BRO! DJ'AIS THIS SUMMER AT BEL-MAWR!!"

    10. Passing gas. Dude, seriously? Seriously? You have to fart in the middle of a bar or on a PATH train? What's wrong with you, exactly? At what point in your mental midget life did your parents completely forget the part about teaching you not to be a complete and total scumbag in public?

    11. Not giving up a seat for the elderly, injured or pregnant. On the PATH I had a few people - men and women - who were very nice to me when they saw me with my crutches. I always make sure I get out of my seat if I see someone who needs it more than me.

    12. Learning how to walk on a sidewalk. Much like the stairs, stay to your right. Don't sloooooooowly walk down the sidewalk with a friend, shoulder to shoulder and stop people from passing you. Also the stroller moms know what i'm talking about - you push your stroller, wandering the street, like you are on too much cold medicine.

    13. Learn to hail a cab - don't stand 5 feet in front of someone else who was hailing cabs before you.

    14. LEFT LANE = FAST LANE (i.e. Faster than Speed Limit!). RIGHT LANE = SPEED LIMIT LANE. Stop being idiots NJ drivers! Do not pass someone in the right lane, then get in front of them and SLOW DOWN. This is also true for you STROLLER MOMS out there! Stay to the right, ladies!

    15. When it's raining use an enormous GOLF umbrella when GOLFING. Not for walking down the sidewalk and making other people duck or move out of the way from getting hit in the head by your umbrella. Gustbuster makes a great umbrella.

    16. People who don't slow down at an intersection for pedestrians & pedestrians who blindly cross the street without looking. Both drivers and pedestrians feel like they have the "RIGHT" of way. You don't. Make eye contact with a driver before you cross the street, and LOOK at the lights to see if you have the right of way before you cross the street. Far too often I see mommys with strollers crossing when the light changes and then give the drivers the "oh yea just try to hit ME buddy" look while they cross the street.

    17. Saying "Bless you" when you sneeze. Have we really become so self contained that we don't say that anymore?

    18. Helping someone out that you don't even know. I was walking into my building when I saw an enormous newly delivered couch against someone's front door. While passing by I saw the neighbor who owned the couch eyeing it curiously and looking a bit helpless. I said, "Do you need my help moving that into your place?" He looked completely relieved, saying "Thank you so much! I didn't know what I was going to do, I would have to call some friends to help me." Another example, i'm walking around Tribeca and always see the "tourist lost" people. You know the type. They stand there with a map, looking around, completely lost and trying to find street signs. I just walk up and don't say "Hello" - I simply say, "Hey, where you trying to go?" They always look so happy and surprised that a NEW YORKER (heh) is helping them. Everytime they leave I always get them saying, "Wow, everyone said that New Yorkers are rude..." Of course that's because i'm a PHILLY BOY in New York, but lets not get to particulars.

    19. Learn how to shake someone's hand. Learn it. There's an actual art to how you should shake someone's hand. Make EYE CONTACT. Show that you are interested in them. I always get the people who shake my hand and look away like i'm not important enough to pay attention to - how very rude. Or they give me the dead fish handshake. Or the "I'M THE NEXT DONALD TRUMP" vice grip with a strong pull towards them. Learn how to shake someone's hand. Really. It's good manners.

    And finally for my peeps at ICAP in Jersey City...

    20. The terms "Print", "Done" and "I'm a seller" or "I'm a buyer" when talking about anything in normal conversation, outside of work, is over. Mmmm-kay? You sound like a tool, and it's not really bad manners, but it's just lame. Also if anyone says "I gotta hop" anymore, I think it should be legal to take them outside, behind the shed and shoot them like Old Yeller.

    End Of An Era

    | 2 Comments

    I started bartending back in 2002. I didn't need the money, really, but it was more of something that opened up with my friend Joe the fireman saying that he was managing a bar and needed trustworthy people to bartend.

    We assembled a crew of regulars to bartend who were all Farside regulars, and jokingly called Dipper's: "Farside 2" when we first opened.

    They were fun years. We weren't the "cool bar", we were a dive bar. We attracted people who liked to drink beer, throw darts, and get drunk - cheap. If you walked into our bar with $20, you would walk out feelin' great.

    I would tell my family that bartending, to me, wasn't a job. It was like I was going out Saturday night, see my friends, get drunk with them and get paid. How great was that?

    Certainly bartending was a great way to meet people, and meet girls, too. Behind the bar a guy can say anything he wants. Has a stocked bar to throw free drinks at cute girls. What guy WOULDN'T want that kind of job? I can only think of one other job that gets you more access to cute girls - a trainer at a gym.

    When Dipper's closed, it was certainly end of something great in my life, and many others. The outsiders won't understand the spirit that a bar can infuse on their staff and regulars - it isn't just a place to imbibe, it's like a second home. I'm sure the regulars of Ted and Joe's know how I feel.

    When Mikie's opened up, I had to go through the new interview process with new owners and once again, Fireman Joe was my Ace In The Hole. Turns out that he knew the owners, and I made sure that during the interview to drop his name in our talk.

    It worked. I was on for Saturday nights. My only shift for an entire week, and it was exactly what I wanted.

    But, the bar wasn't.

    As much as the new owners, Mike and Cindy were fantastic to me, the spirit of Dipper's slowly faded away. I met new, great people, but missed my old friends. Some moved away. Some made new bars as their regular pubs. It was once a fun diversion at Dipper's and now turned into a 9 hour long job at Mikie's.

    Every Saturday would roll around, and I would start dreading my weekends. It was hard to go out on a Friday night, because as you get older, your "bounce back" from drinking fades - it becomes harder to drink all night and get up fresh the next day. Sleeping in on Saturdays until 11am - 12pm would kill any chance of me getting much accomplished on a Saturday afternoon.

    Sundays were just as rough, since I wasn't getting to bed until 3-4am. I'd sleep in again, and try to do something those afternoons, but I had my corporate job the next day. My sleep cycle would be all fucked up and often I wouldn't be able to fall asleep until Monday mornings after midnight or later.

    Then Mondays would roll around and I'd be tired at Corporation X from the weekend, and i'd be catching up on sleep during the work week, often coming home Monday and falling asleep for 10+ hours.

    Rinse, wash, and repeat for 2 years.

    It was time for a break.

    I knew I had the summer house in Bradley Beach coming up in a few weeks, and was planning to ask Mike and Cindy about taking a break over the summer. I planned to work out April and May, then possibly coming back in the fall if they had an open shift again. If they didn't, then it wasn't a big deal to me.

    But things just reached a breaking point for me, and I needed to start my break sooner than expected.

    I called Cindy, to ask if we could sit down and talk, I didn't want to quit over the phone. But she pressed, asking what was up and I could just tell her over the phone. I said how bartending just wasn't as fun for me anymore and I didn't want to quit, I just wanted to take a break until the fall.

    She was cool, as usual, about it, asking when I wanted my break to start. I told her that I'd like it as soon as possible.

    I guess my Saturday nights are free for the first time since March 2006.

    I met with Perry from Hoboken411 last night over at Nag's Head. He was nice enough to design a bunch of cards (you can view it here) printed up for the Phillies club, which have on the front a picture of Mulligan's bar, Ryan Howard and the Phillies logo and says, "Are you a Phillies fan or know one who is...?"

    On the back is the schedule for our gatherings at the bar, and the bar specials. Trying to figure out the "best" way to get these out to Phillies fans in Hoboken. Was thinking of going out next week (and draging some friends along), during the Mets vs Phillies games and trolling some bars for Phillies fans - hand out the cards and hopefully don't piss off the bartenders/owners.

    My mom drove up last weekend, taking me to see Macbeth, starring Patrick Stewart, as my late birthday gift. I have been a Shakespeare in the Park junkie since I moved up here, catching a show almost every year. I got to see Patrick Stewart in The Tempest in 1996, in fact, and loved it.

    Macbeth was....good. I can't say GREAT, only because I really had a hard time following the dialogue. I normally haven't had this problem in other shows, and someone suggested that with Shakespare in the Park that the actors have microphones and it may be easier to hear/understand them. Maybe that was it. Or maybe i'm just getting deaf in my old age.

    Talking about going deaf & getting old...it's another night with Ratdog (Bob Weir's band after The Grateful Dead)...

    This will be my third show in three years with Ratdog and it's at the Beacon tonight.

    I've been reading that their recent shows have been a lot of fun. I sincerely hope it isn't another night of me at Grey's Papaya and getting home on autopilot.

    What also is a lot of fun? Hearing how popular I am over at ICAP in Jersey City. I was out to dinner with Tiffany at Maru last night in Hoboken (so much better than Robongi - the fish was so fresh last night at Maru) and she was telling me how my little blog is the subject of lots of coworkers at her office, to a point where the heads of the desk shout: "WILL YOU SHUT UP ABOUT PHILLY2HOBOKEN.COM!!!!"

    I blame our recession on Philly2Hoboken.com. I'm sorry everyone. Now get back to work, Danny.

    Manhattan Mystique

    | 1 Comment

    Been working out of a Corporate office in the West Village, and i'm starting to now understand the "Manhattan Mystique". For all my years I worked in midtown, at 59th and Park, and would go back to Hoboken each day. I would meet a lot of people in Hoboken who were just in Hoboken because they couldn't afford Manhattan rental prices and were just waiting to make more money or find a roommate so they could move into the city. I never really understood why. To me I didn't see the "big deal". I didn't get what the big difference between Hoboken and Manhattan was. I'm not a Jersey guy, i'm from Philly, to me Jersey has always been a joke of a state, but I have found that Hoboken was a pleasant melting pot of, well, suburban middle class white kids.

    Now that i'm working in the West Village, i'm starting to see the city in a whole new light. It's really not something that I can describe well in words, and I highly doubt anyone reading this will fully understand what i'm about to say, but bear with me.

    Manhattan is just very....cool.

    I hate to use a word like that. "Cool". Gee is the Fonz showing up? But it's the closest word I can really just decribe it. The midtown office wasn't cool. Sure, it was on Posh Park Avenue, but there's something very sterile and corporate about where I was - and the shops were all on Madison Avenue, the feeling to me was like you couldn't just meander around - you had to be "GOING SOMEWHERE" and the tourists were in full effect, standing on the sidewalks and blocking everyone.

    In the West Village, however, it's just a more mellow vibe. I have been taking my lunch breaks just walking around. Exploring. Looking at the shops, boutiques and townhouses along tree lined, quiet streets. I feel like, on some streets, that i'm walking down a movie set - and in some cases i'll recognize a corner or street from a movie. There's also the people that live and work there - there's something just different about them. Something that Hoboken doesn't have.

    You see, Hoboken has a great group of residents, but there's something very homogeneous about most of the town. The West Village has just a spectrum of people, and in some ways I get the feeling that many of them fall into three categories:

    1. They are local & rich. This is the most popular person I see around the West Village. I walk around and see people between 25-45 just hanging out in their $500 Japan-imported distressed jeans, D&G sunglasses and well coiffed hair, with their dogs at the dog park or just sitting at a cafe and there's something different about them. They aren't on their lunch break and they aren't a rich tourist. They are definitely showing by the cut of their clothes and their expensive accessories that they are a "somebody" (or trying to be a somebody).

    2. They are local & not rich. Sure, they may not have money, but the artists, dog walkers and ex-hippies that meander around are still just...interesting. I love to people watch, I could sit on a bench for hours and watch people pass by, look them over, and try to figure them out. They could be a working Joe like me, and just add to the flavor of the town. There's also a lot of kids around, which I didn't see so often in midtown Manhattan. There's a definite energy of the parents and kids vibe that I never really saw uptown.

    3. They are a tourist. Lots of tourists walk around, you just can't escape them.

    10 years ago I would have wrinkled my nose at the idea that Manhattan was so "special". I didn't get it. To me, what's the difference between the West Village and Hoboken which were seperated by a river? Heck, we could be the West West Village. On my lunch breaks, I walk along the river, by Pier 40, and I can see the Lackawanna Terminal and people on Pier A.

    But I can say as much as Manhattan bug has bitten me, I won't be abandoning Hoboken anytime soon, I do look forward to exploring some of the bars and restaurants around my office in the West Village.

    Anyone have some good places to check out?

    Villanova Basketball: Kansas vs 'Nova

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    I'm pretty excited about Villanova basketball each year, even if I don't really write about it that much.

    It could be the only thing that I really liked about attending Villa-No-Fun.

    Odd thing is that we all have our own version of how we see college, my experices were from 1990-1994.

    See, for me, Villanova was a good educational institution, but forever marred by my social experiences there. I found 90% of the people to be stuck up snobby rich kids, with an elitist attitude that is somewhat similar to what we find with some yuppie Hobokenites.

    I felt that the school treated their students like children, not adults. It was hard to party there, I remember sneaking beers into the male-only dorms and if we actually had girls at the party the RA (Resident Administrator) basically knew something was "up" and would start knocking on doors to break up the party.

    Yes, i'm aware that now the dorms at Villanova are now co-ed.

    Off campus, you were dependant upon your fraternity to party. I was in Delta Tau Delta, and I liked the brothers - we were an eclectic bunch of jocks, engineers, potheads and NROTC guys that loved to get hammered & goof off. Most of the sorority girls at 'Nova were a bit....cold. Except Delta Gamma, they were always the fun girls as I remember. Tri Delts and Kappa Kappa Gamma wouldn't give us the time of day.

    So wouldn't you know it, I was bartending a few weeks back, and I get a couple of guys at the bar, and we are talking. One said he was from Philly....I mention my 'Nova connection, and they all perk up, giving me high fives - they were Villanova alumni.

    We then get on the subject of fraternities, and wouldn't you know it....they are Delts, too.

    More high fives and laughter.

    They were younger than me. And I start to lay into Villanova, like I usually do, about the things I hated about it. The looks they give me are ones of "What? You didn't have FUN?"

    I ask them, "Wait, you partied at...VILLANOVA?"

    They are all like, "Hell yea. It was great!" They went on to tell me about some of the parties they had. I tell them a few stories of my own, like the time I decided to light my pants on fire.

    Well, at least we all agreed that we enjoyed watching Villanova basketball.

    This Friday i'll be over at Mulligan's watching Villanova getting trounced by Kansas at 9:40. Ok, ok. Maybe Villanova can pull the upset, but i'm a Philly fan, for crying out loud. We get miracles like once every 100 years, and the last one was in 1985 with Villanova vs Georgetown.

    The guys from Bud Light emailed me to say that Mulligan's are having $2 pints, $10 Buckets & $8 Pitchers of Bud & Bud Light both Thursday & Friday nights during the games (7p-1am). That's always fun.

    Ego and Self Worth On The Internet

    | 3 Comments

    I always find the definition of self-worth fascinating, especially in a town like Hoboken.

    The definition of self worth is basically the way that a person perceives themself, their social standing (importance) amongst their peers, based on various factors. Some factors are tangible, and some are intangible. Some people could care less, but in a fucked up town like Hoboken, I notice that a lot of people get caught up in making themselves feel important.

    Like, for example, money is a barometer for many people as their definition of self worth. The more money someone has, the more important they feel. They buy nice clothes, and feel better about themselves. They buy an expensive car or a beautiful home. Surrounding themselves with luxuries isn't merely for the pleasure of ownership, but the psychological impact of owning it. Why buy a Rolex when a Citizen tells the same time? Or when someone buys a wedding ring for their fiance, they want to spend as much as possible to say "THIS IS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU?" or is it really "THIS IS HOW MUCH MONEY I MAKE AND LET ME SHOW OFF YOU AS MY PRIZE". Shallow? Of course. How many women do you really know that will forgo an expensive wedding ring, and use that money with their soon to be husband towards their first house?

    Another example is a power. Working for the city may not pay as much as someone on Wall Street, but there are perks to being connected in Hoboken, and the bloated egos that go along with it. You don't have to be rich, look at a police officer as an example. How many perks do you think a cop has in their life? At the recent St. Patrick's Day Parade, I heard that an off-duty cop from another county flashed a badge at a bouncer, in order to get their friend, who was waiting in line, into a bar. Think about that. In that police officer's mind - they were a cop and had MORE AUTHORITY than "regular people" to bypass the rules. How often do you think a cop gets a free pass from other police officers on traffic tickets or if they are caught on other minor infractions? Or the police, while off duty, are given free rounds at his local pub by nervous owners who want to keep the police "on their side".

    There's people who don't have money, and they don't have power, but they define their self worth by other factors, like intelligence:


    • "The Insider": There are various kinds of insiders, like the music insider, a cynical artsy emo-kid who knows every up-and-coming band on the music scene working at places like The Frozen Monkey, and feels superior to those "in the rat race". Or the political insider, who is privy to the "behind the scenes" world of politics and feels like his knowledge makes them more powerful. The "hipster insiders" are the people who go to Last Night's Party, hang out with Cobrasnake and are pals with MisShapes, sipping on their soy chai teas while looking at gawker.com.
    • "The Professor": Super intelligent, bookish smart people who pat themselves on the back with their hefty IQ, and education. Some may have money or power, and some may not. Either way, they pride themselves in being smarter than everyone else. Maybe they went to an Ivy League school and will put down people with quips like, "I bet Joe on Wall Street didn't get a job like me because of years of {enter schooling here}, but because his daddy is a Director at Goldman." There's plenty of Professors that didn't go to great schools, or even have great jobs, but thrive on the IDEA that they are smarter than everyone else and therefore their self-worth is intact.
    • "Street Smart Local Unionist": There's plenty of people out there who didn't get a great job, don't have a great education, mommy and daddy didn't get them a condo in Hoboken, and they don't have any city connections, but pride themselves on their street (or local) credibility. They sneer at the local yuppies, laugh at the Barry Bond HGH gym rats and don't know Gawker.com from GAP.com. They look at life like it's a war, and they have survived because of their quick thinking and scrappiness, working a job as an electrician, plumber, machinist, or construction - connected to other union types and other "organizations", if ya know what i'm gettin' at, cump.

    Or maybe physical charms:


    • "Steroid Guy": Probably has one of those tribal tattoos around their big bicep, lifts 7 days a week, probably at one point claims to have played high-school or college sports. They look down on others because of their superior strength, showing off their six-pack to people and feeling better about themselves.
    • "The Beauty Queen": She's the ball of the dance who is working as a 1st grade kindergarten teacher or a secretary (oops, sorry, administrative assistant), who may or may not have a college education (even if she does, she really went to college to get a M.R.S. degree, but wouldn't admit that to anyone). She pride herself on her good looks, often reminding people about when she was a cheerleader or how many boyfriends she had in her youth. She feels superior even if she's not educated or has a good job, she knows she's better than YOU because she is (or was) pretty.
    • "The Stud": Similar to the Beauty Queen, except defines his self worth by his sexual prowess, and probably working a job in sales or is a struggling actor (while working as a waiter). He prides himself on his boyish charm, good looks and ability to always pick up a girl at the bar. He may not be making a tremendous amount of money, but he sure gets lots of attention from women, which he loves.

    So now if you take the above into account first, then, in Hoboken, there exists a certain hierarchy amongst the locals, the Born and Raised (BnR). Basically it goes like this:

    1. Do you live in Hoboken, own a home and pay residential taxes.
    2. Do you work or own a business in Hoboken (and pay commericial taxes).
    3. How many years you lived in Hoboken.
    4. Do you and/or other members of your family work for the City of Hoboken (i.e. City Hall, police, firemen, etc).
    5. Were you were born and raised in Hoboken.
    6. The number of generations your family has lived Hoboken.

    What's the point to everything I wrote? Why do an exercise in trying to understand ego and self-worth?

    I just find it fascinating, for starters. I will readily admit that I certainly fit into some of the criteria described above, I certainly pride myself on a decent job, my fitness and the fact I own a home. I don't write this entry to somehow act like i'm above all this, i'm not. I'm a human being with human insecurities, ego and failings.

    The point to writing it was nothing more than an exercise in understanding our self. Maybe you are reading this and thinking "Furey is writing about me!" - yes and no. I'm writing about me, what I see from online local message boards, hear people talk about in the bar or just observe.

    Think about when an arguement starts on a message board (like Hoboken411 or Hobokenchat) or even behind friend's back in email flaming. What are the common ways that people puff up their chests and boast their self worth. I always read things boasting or put downs:

    "I have more money."
    "I have a better job."
    "I lived in Hoboken longer."
    "I have had more boyfriends/girlfriends/lovers."
    "They are a fat slob."
    "They are an ugly short troll."

    Yadda yadda yadda.

    I'm sure that Hoboken isn't unique. I'm sure the definition of self worth doesn't end when you leave Hoboken for the Land Of Suburbia...the definition of self worth probably transfers from self-worth to "Family Pride". Where your kids go to school, what grades they get, are they on student council or play a sport...it doesn't end.

    Put Up Your Dukes!

    | 1 Comment

    This year I decided to have a more low-key birthday get together to celebrate my 36th birthday. In years past I have done big parties at Dipper's or bowling at Bowl-Mor and drunken nights in NYC. I really just wanted to have a few drinks with a couple of friends at a local pub this year because with Dipper's closing down it seemed like more of my friends have scattered to their own local pubs. There isn't that "Cheers" kind of bar where everyone knows your name.

    All of us always like Moran's, and it's a great Irish pub on 5th and Garden. I decided to go Friday night, Willie was playing guitar, and its always a pleasure to see Kevin behind the bar.

    We get there around 9:30, and have a few drinks, laughs and stories to tell. The night was mostly uneventful until a girl friend of mine who we will call "Katie" taps me on the arm and says, "See that tall guy?"

    I look over at the bar and there are three guys at the bar. One is short, a bit overweight and wearing a baseball cap with a caramel colored blazer. The second guy is the typical Hoboken guy - short, dark hair and looks like 10,000 other guys. The "tall guy" was very tall. He was at least 6'6, maybe 250 pounds, didn't look very athletic however, dark hair, dark eyes, probably Irish.

    "Yea, so?", I reply.

    "I was at another bar a few weeks ago and he and I were talkin'. We talked for about an hour, he was drunk, but so was I. Then, out of the blue, guess what he says? 'I bet you give great blowjobs.'"

    "Wow, what a dick.", I say.

    "Total creep.", she says, "I told him to fuck off, and he starts to apologize saying he was just kidding around. I ditched him after that. I can't believe I see him here again. Watch this."

    Katie walks up to the bar, next to the tall guy, and orders another round of drinks. He looks over and immediately starts talking to her. I can't hear what is said, but they talk for about 45 seconds and she walks back to the table with our drinks.

    "Well?", I ask.

    "He tried to hit on me, again! I told him, 'Don't you remember me?', and he didn't. Then I reminded him about the blowjob story and he remembered. Said he was really drunk and sorry. Whatever.", she replied.

    About an hour or two passes, and it is nearing 2 am. The guy with the baseball cap strikes up a conversation with Katie and sits down at our table. I went to the bathroom and come back to find that the tall guy sat at our table, talking. I sit down a bit irritated that this rude guy is at our table, but I guess he figured it was ok to sit down because the baseball cap guy was talking to Katie.

    As I sat down there was already a conversation in progress and the tall guy was talking about how he would throw a punch at someone if they called him a bitch. No questions asked, he would punch them. I jump in saying, "I guess you don't like to be disrespected."

    "That's right!", he blurts, "Someone calls me a bitch and they get a punch.", he slaps his fist into his open hand while saying it.

    "How does it feel to disrespect her, then?", I said gesturing to Katie.

    Tall guy, who definitely had a bit to drink, gets upset at me, glaring at me saying, "I told her I was sorry. You got a problem with that?"

    "Yea, I do. It was rude.", I replied.

    "Then lets step outside if you got a problem with that!", he says with a nasty grin.

    Now, dear reader, this is the moment where I will stop, briefly, and explain the situation. I'm at Moran's, and it is 2am. I did have a bit to drink. Most of my friends are gone, with exception of Katie. There's the tall guy, the baseball hat guy and the non-descript Hoboken guy. Tall guy has about 2 inches and probably 20-30 pounds on me, if not more. He just called me out, no different than if someone did it in junior high.

    There was a brief flash of fear in my mind, to be honest. I really didn't want to fight. I'm not a fighter, but I have been in scrapes over my years. Then again, I know this guy wasn't one, either. He may have been tall and outweighed me, but my gut instict said he was a pussy with a big mouth that got out of a lot of fights because he was 6'6 and 250 pounds. I mean, i'm 6'3 and 220 pounds and I know I got out of a lot of potentional fights because of my height.

    But I wasn't about to back down.

    "Fine, lets step outside.", I say back while Katie is trying to dissuade me from fighting him.

    Tall guy shouldn't play poker, because his nasty grin turns into an impish one, like he is amused about this but I can instantly tell he didn't expect me to do this.

    We walk over to the door, go outside and I tell him, "Ok, dude. Just hit me first. Start the fight, so that you are the one who is goin' to jail, not me."

    He hestiates and stands a good 10 feet from me and says, I kid you not, "Put up your dukes."

    Put up your dukes? Yea, okee....?

    I wait for him to hit me, or even get close and he just stands there. Like I said, this guy wasn't interested in fighting me - it was clear that he didn't even expect me to do this.

    "Ok dude, hit me.", I say to him and I point at my chin. In my mind, I just wanted him to start the fight so that I could start punching him without fear of a legal issue - I was just going to defend myself.

    Chuck, the other bartender at Moran's, sees us outside and breaks it up saying, "Are you out of your mind? Get inside!"

    Now Chuck has about zero tolerance for me, and I try, in my best non-drunk seriousness to explain what's going on but he doesn't even want to hear it. I get back inside and say to him, "Fine, just keep this loser out."

    I get back inside and sit at the table with Katie and the baseball cap guy, and they asked what happened. I tell them and the baseball cap guy says, "That's good, because I don't think my buddy has thrown a punch in his life."

    I really wasn't interested in fighting, I'm 36 for christ sakes, and way, way, way past the point where I should be getting into fights at a bar. I'm not proud of my actions, and writing this now, i'm a bit embarassed that I nearly got into a fight. But for all of my faults, it doesn't matter if i'm 36 or 76, I will always stand up for myself and my friends.

    On Friday I was at work (Corporation X) and just walked in the door. I have a few projects that I work on, and one of them was to set up a Sun workstation. I had two 75 pound boxes to move around and they didn't have any handhold cutouts or anything to help with lifting. What I should have done was get someone to help, but me being dumb, I decided to lift them anyway.

    Two quick points:

    1. I was careful about not lifting with my back, and lifting with my knees. I was always very careful about this over the years.
    2. The box shape was just too big, and to pick it up was the main issue, it had no good handholds.

    My middle back twinged a bit, and I knew something was wrong. After an hour it stiffened up, and even typing at my desk was really difficult. Breating hurt. If I lifted my arms it hurt. I couldn't even concentrate on work. I got up, told my boss that I was going to the doctor.

    I went to my sports medicine office uptown, after taking two Tylenol and they did a battery of therapies on me. They did electric stimulation, massage, chiropractic adjustment, and a ultra-sound on my back, which showed inflammation near the 7th & 8th vertebrae. The doctor gave me a muscle relaxer, and told me "It is going to get worse before it gets better."

    On my way home, I called the bar, spoke to the owners and told them about my back. They covered my shift.

    I went home and being stuck in my condo isn't really a terrible fate as long as my internet and cable are working. I played games, watched TV and slept - a lot. The muscle relaxer is crazy. I take the pill and about 45 minutes later it literally knocks me out.

    My eyelids get droppy and next thing I know it is two hours later, with me either lying on the couch in front of the TV or me in front of my PC. It's like someone walks into my home, and hits me with a frying pan. I'm out!

    Friday was not too bad, my back was sore. Saturday was worse, my back was very tight. Hot showers helped loosen the muscles. I also tried some stretching, using techniques from a book that my friend recommended, which was the Wharton Stretch Book. I feel a bit better, but not 100%.

    Sleeping is difficult, because of the pain. It is like an isolated sharp pain, and on a scale of 1 to 10 i'd give it a 4 for the pain scale. Standing, i'm fine. Lying down hurts a bit. Sitting down i'm in a lot of pain. I guess it is because the spine curves and the compression on the muscle causes the inflammation to aggravate more.

    I get a call Saturday night and it's Matt. He's at a bar. He tells me he's at my bar with his two cousins, his wife and a bunch of wife's cute girlfriends (one of his wife's past jobs was being a cheerleader for The Philadelphia Kixx). I tell him about my back and that i'm home and can't bartend and was in no condition to go out for a drink. Yes, i'm an idiot, but i'm not going to go out with my back in pain, and try to have a fun time. I won't have a fun time.

    Sunday rolls around and things feel a bit better. But still my back nags, but i'm not in as much pain as Saturday. I don't have the spasms that I would get if I moved a certain way.

    Monday morning rolls around and I call in sick. My back still hurts, and I know sitting at a desk for nine hours is just going to make things worse. I'm home today. I'm certainly open and willing to listen to your suggestions on treating back pain. I was thinking of buying a heating pad, because the hot showers make my back feel better, and I figured that would help with the pain. I'm going to try and do some stretches again today.

    A Taste Of Hoboken 2007

    | 1 Comment

    Last night I worked the Mikie Squared/Margarita's tables for 'A Taste Of Hoboken'. It is a charity event with tickets which cost $60 (or $80 if you want the Champagne event - a pre-party where champagne is served), which benefits the local YMCA.

    A few thoughts from working last night:

    1. In years past, the setting was in a smaller room, and the crowds more compact which made getting around difficult. With the size of the gym, it easily dwarfed those attending and make it very easy to get food.

    2. There's no chance you leave hungry from event. The portions is just a sampling, but there's like 30 tables to sample!

    3. Mikie's wasn't allowed to serve the sangria at the event, due to some restriction. I didn't think it was a Robert's conspiracy theory, and just shrugged and helped Margarita's and Mikie's serve samples.

    4. I think the logistics of a sit down dinner would be much more difficult than just letting people wander around trying the food.

    5. $60 can be expensive, but it is a charity event and, again, you don't go away hungry. I read negative comments about an event, and it makes me roll my eyes. A benefit is a bad thing? There's not enough food? There's not enough to drink? These are the same people who go drinking all night in NYC and spend $250, and people complain about spending $60? I sneeze and spend $60 around here.

    6. I wouldn't spend the extra $20 for Champagne, the crowd at 7pm was moderate, at best. We were cleaning up before 9:30.

    7. All the leftover food was donated to the homeless shelter.

    8. I got to see a lot of people I know, quite a few local city council people, constitutents and Mike Jerrick made an appearance.

    If i'm not working, i'll be attending the 2008 event. It's a great way to try various restaurants dishes and help the YMCA at the same time.

    A Very Troubling Night

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    I've been bartending for about five years.

    There have been good nights. Bad nights. Crazy parade days. Bad customers. Good customers. Wonderful tips. Slow shifts. Various tomfoolery.

    Last Saturday was only what I could deem as a "Very troubling night."

    It started off very normal. We had customers at the bar, but it was slow. Time crept by, and I was beginning to worry that our normally busy Halloween Spooktacular was going to be a bust.

    Boy, was I wrong.

    It was like someone turned on a light switch. It got busy all at the same time, around 10pm. Hordes of people started to come in. We had a DJ who was outstanding, but it was very, very loud. I had "regulars" who showed up at the bar, took one look at the enormous crowd, the loud music, and left. I don't blame them.

    I was extremely busy. The same kind of busy that we have on St. Patrick's Day. Non-stop making drinks, lots of people drinking and even the manager & owner are behind the bar serving people. We had 5 people behind the bar at one point and were making drinks as fast as we could.

    Here's a few choice moments of the night (read: annoying), with the best for last:

    1. The place is jammed. Girl comes up asking for a "Watermelon Martini". I tell her we don't have that. She then starts to "think" a bit, rolling her eyes to the ceiling and says "ummmmm". I wait. I wait. I wait. The owner is right next to me, so I have to be nice. When the bar is going crazy, I just want to keep moving as fast as I can, and I can't say to her, "Bye!" with the owner there. I'm waiting for her and thinking how I want to reach across the bar and throttle her. For the record 99% of customers out there are considerate and good people. It's the 1% that really fire me up.

    2. The customer who said, "There's not enough sugar on my lemon" when doing a lemon drop shot. Are you serious?

    3. The comely girl who came in with a group of guys. She orders five shots of soco/lime, which were $2 each. She says, "Hey, this tasted a bit weak. How about two free shots for our group?" Are you fucking kidding me? Now, granted, she was fairly pretty (and i'm sure she knew it). Beauty gets you far in the world and five years ago when I was wet-behind-the-ears bartender I would have enjoyed her attention and poured her a extra shot. But now, i'm older, wiser, and have a cranky stomach. I smiled sweetly at her, and said, "You're cute. But you're not that cute." and served the next customer.

    Mikie Squared "Spooktacular" This Saturday!

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    It's Halloween weekend!102507.jpg

    If you are in the neighborhood, and out to have a good time, come to Mikie Squared at 616 Washington St. Last year was a blast, but I will sadly miss working with Francia in her schoolgirl outfit, of course.

    I know Mikie's is doing the 1/2 priced drinks to those in costume, along with shot specials, prizes and they will have a DJ, with NO COVER AT THE DOOR. I expect it will be another busy night, so if you want to get in, i'd get to the bar early.

    I do remember my first Halloween, I was Casper The Friendly Ghost. I remember being very excited about that costume, too. I also remember that the day of Halloween was really warm. Not sure why I remember that.

    I also remember growing up all the warnings about getting apples with razor blades in them. It seemed like every year there was that stern warning about the infamous razor blades...in apples. Funny how times change, no one really even thinks to warn kids about that now because who gives out apples anymore?

    I don't remember even getting any apples as a kid. I do remember our local neighborhood dentist would not give candy but gave out toothbrushes to all the kids. Toothbrushes.

    Yes, on mischief night we would always target his house first. He had a white house, with aluminum siding and lots of egg stains.

    I have noticed that at my old apartment on 6th and Garden that i'd rarely get kids stopping by. I really love Halloween, too. I will miss carving out pumpkins with the roommates.

    What's your favorite candy?

    That would be hard to pin just one down for me. I am an Aquarius, after all.

    I think my #1 favorite would be M&Ms, chocolate or peanut. I just love that crunchy shell, and I like them cool, like they have been in a refrigerator all day.

    100,000 bars are always welcome. I used to eat Sprees everyday at highschool. I would buy them at lunch, and have them hidden in my pockets to eat the rest of the day. Ooh, and chocolate covered pretzels are fantastic. If you have a chance go to Lepore's.

    I'll see you this weekend!

    Hoboken Firefighters To The Rescue!

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    I was on my way to work, going to the elevator.

    I push the down button, and wait.

    The elevator arrives, the door opens about 1/4 of the way, and then starts to shut.

    I hear a woman's voice saying, "Whatt....?"

    I quickly hit the down button again.

    The elevator doesn't move. I don't hear it moving at all. I hear the woman pressing the buttons on her side and she says, "It's not opening...."

    I wait a bit, then push on the outer door. It won't budge.

    The girl starts to panic saying, "Oh my God. Oh my God. No."

    I try to calm her down, but it really didn't work. I can hear her sobbing.

    I get on my cell phone and call the police. They tell me they will call the fire department. The fire department arrives in about three minutes. The girl is on her cell phone sobbing to someone while the firefighters set up to open the door and get her out. Her husband/boyfriend arrives, just as they get the door open (with three people really working very hard to get it open). She gets out, thanks the firefighters and me. Also, to note, she was very pregnant. So now I understand why she was so frightened - I can only imagine the stress of being pregnant and then getting stuck in an elevator doesn't help. I'm sure images of her going into labor and stuck in an elevator flashed in her mind.

    What impressed me the most was our city firefighters. First off, we take them for granted. If it wasn't for them, I would have been clueless what to do? Certainly I could have called the super, but there's no chance he and I could have done what they did. I was going to take a picture of them in action, but didn't think it was appropiate.

    I was 45 minutes late for work, but what was I going to say to her, "Oh, sorry I have to go to work now, but the firemen are on the way..."

    Well that way my excitement for the day, aside from my walk to work and witnessing NYC police busting two Crips near Greenwich Village. 5 police cars, and lots of onlookers.

    Just another day in paradise...


    You Have To Spend Money To Save Money...?

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    With my new hours at Corporation X, everything is closed at midnight. I can't food shop, and most of the places to eat are fast-food junk. With my gym routine, I prefer to eat healthier, and I wrote the other day about being a picky eater (interestingly enough, I read an article later that day about eating habits in The New York Times).

    So my issue is that I want to eat healthier foods when I can. I want fresh food. I don't want to shop each afternoon for whatever i'm in the mood for, and I had to figure out the best method to solving my issue with the technology out there today.

    I started to do some research about spoilage. I read up about freezing and defrosting meat and how it affects taste. My original plan was to buy meat fresh, divide it into individual portions, freeze them seperately in ziploc, then getting home from work and defrosting it in the microwave and then using the George Foreman grill.

    As I was doing my research I read about freezer burn, which is caused when air comes into contact with meat and it isn't dangerous, but i'm kind of particular about things like that. Remember my Italy story??

    My next purchase was "FoodSaver Advanced Design V2860". The first reason is that I wanted to avoid freezer burn and keep my chicken or beef as fresh as I could.101607a.JPG Then I also remembered a conversation I had with the owner of Court Street, and how he told me one of his restaurant secrets: he vacuum sealed all of his food when it was delivered and froze individual portions for each dish. Had been doing it for at least ten years, which allowed him to keep an expansive menu, deliver fresh tasting food and keep his expenses down.

    Plus this allows me to make the larger meals (like ones from a cookbook, that in the past i'd just give the leftovers to my roommates) and save them with the FoodSaver. I usually dread leftovers, but everything I read about the FoodSaver has been positive, and perfect for my situation.

    I'll write it up and let you know how it goes. Do any of you own a FoodSaver? Any tips?

    I bought two new videogames. One is Half Life 2: The Orange Box. The Team Fortress looks incredible, and fun. The next game is a an expansion pack of my favorite game Sid Meyer's Civilization 4, Called "Civilization 4: Beyond The Sword".

    Eagles won on Sunday. Ugly win. It's going to be a long season unless something miraculous happens.

    I drank quite a bit on Sunday, and with my new work hours at "Corporation X", I thought it wouldn't be a problem to just have a fun day of drinking, football, and then sleep it off. Boy, was I wrong.

    One of the things that sucks about getting older is that i'm probably in the best physical condition of my life, but my body is still 35 years old. I simply can't drink like I did 10 years ago, my recovery and "bounce back" isn't the same. I was hurting Monday, and going into work was terrible. I was hungover - tired, cranky and nauseous the entire evening, but with each passing hour I felt a bit better. I missed the gym on Monday and Tuesday. Very annoying. I might have to switch to beers on Sundays and a "no shot" rule.

    "Might" being the key word, ya know...

    Hoboken Headlines

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    I was reading The Jersey Journal, and I love reading that site almost as much as I love reading personal ads. I read the stories and just have a running commentary in my head as I read them and I figure i'd share that with you today. Here's the headlines for the last week, a quick synopsis and my comments at the end:

    "Apology fails to head off pot arrest" : A Stevens Institute of Technology student apologized to a cop for "just smoking weed" after she threw a joint into the Hudson River Tuesday night, police said.

    Comment: Never smoke weed by the waterfront, too many people - the back streets are where it's at and less cops around! Also, how the hell did you start a pot cloud that everyone could smell, who the hell were you smoking with, Bob Marley's ghost? Remember the lessons from the movie "Friday": "Puff, puff, give."

    "Knocked out on Hoboken street": A man was knocked out cold yesterday morning after a shouting match on a city street, police said.

    Comment: There aren't enough details here, but the few things that stand out in my mind:


    1. The victim was yelling at a man, who was accompanied by a woman. Bad move. The attacker probably was more upset that someone was insulting him in front of his girlfriend and took action. If he was alone, he may have walked away.

    2. Clean-cut bald man of average height and 200 pounds. Any guy who shaves his head bald is usually losing his hair and they are very angry about that to begin with. Also bald guys think of themselves as tough guys, and will be more prone to fight than walk away.

    3. The victim, who admitted to cops having downed five drinks, did not know what had happened to him or what day it was, but did know his name, police reports said. Fucking amateurs! Five drinks and you get clobbered?! Not only were you stupid enough to pick the fight with the angry bald guy and his girlfriend, but you can't hold your drink and you got clowned in front of Texas Arizona. Nice job, idiot.

    "Company laptop reported stolen in park": A New York businessman reported his laptop stolen from Columbus Park at around noon on Friday, police reports said.

    Comment: People, people, please. You are in Hoboken, not Nebraska. "He told cops that he stepped away from his bag for a couple of minutes and when he returned the computer had vanished, police said." - you deserved to lose that laptop, dumbass.

    "Hoboken starts construction on its own for vets memorial": The construction of the Hoboken World War II Memorial is finally under way - and veterans are thrilled.

    Comment: All three of them are thrilled.

    I kid! I kid! I have been recording, on my Tivo, Ken Burns "The War" and highly recommend it. It definitely gets me emotional when watching some of the footage and frankly amazed at what our troops did during the war. Interestingly enough, you also really get to see propaganda in action for the U.S. - we take our freedoms (especially of speech & the press) for granted today. There was ZERO free press during World War II.

    "2 men charged in assault in Hoboken bar": A man was attacked Friday night at a city bar and may need plastic surgery, according to police reports.

    Comment: I'm sure the victim started with: "Hey! Did you make fun of my capri pants? They are very much in fashion, along with my "Christian Audigier" and "Ed Hardy" shirts!!"

    I don't know any locals who go to East LA. Walk by there on a Thursday or Friday and it looks like someone built an underground tunnel to Jersey City or East Orange and started the Underground Guido Railroad. I blame the victim in this case for going to East LA in the first place. Also learn a lesson here. If you ever are dumb enough to get into a fight, just use your fists. Breaking a bottle, using a chair, any object used will add about 2 years jail on top of an assault charge. Of course i'm sure both the victim and attackers were stone cold sober.

    "Arrest after nasty end to cab ride": A taxi passenger who racked up a $50 fare from Manhattan Saturday assaulted a cop after two officers tried to help the driver collect the fare, police reports said.

    Comment: You older readers know about my taxi rules in New York from my Quirks Of Hoboken entry, but maybe the newer readers need a refresher course. I can get from 72nd Street in Manhattan to Hoboken for $35 at 4am in NYC. How? Each cab comes up and you slur "I need to get to Hoboken and I only have $35!" they say "NO! $50!" you say, "Sorry, I don't have that much..." and slowly walk away looking for another cab and repeat. Either the cabbie drives away, or says "Ok, ok. Fine. $35."

    Of course this clown was drunk and full of pride. Hiding in a boiler room? Nice. Your roommate paying $30 and you $18? Yep, you must be doing real well for yourself. Lunging at the cabbie in front of the cops? Awesome! Hitting a cop with your elbow? Well, have fun in prison, you tool.

    "Crack charge after evidence swallowed": A man was arrested on cocaine charges after swallowing the evidence Sunday morning, police said.

    Comment: I read this and I always think about what will happen to this criminal. Thrown into prison, and how is that helping? I'm not a bleeding heart liberal, and I know plenty of people who have the "lock them up and throw away the key attitude". I just think that prisons should be created for each type of crime: Violent crime Prison (murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault), Property Crime Prison (burglary, larceny, theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, shoplifting, and vandalism), Public Order Crime Prison (a bit more vague, but basically targets addicts, prostitutes & other public order crimes). Why? Well if someone steals a car and you throw them into a cell with a 250 pound rapist or murderer - we are not creating someone who exits prison as a reformed person, but as something even worse when they get out.

    Sometimes the stories are true...

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    I was at the bar on Saturday, it was early and not many customers were there.

    In walks a cute blonde haired girl, sits down alone at the bar.

    She orders a Absolut Mandarin, with selzer and a splash of cranberry. She asks for it while talking on her cell phone.

    I get her drink, and talk to some other customers, while I hear her chatting on her cell. Remember: Bartenders can hear just about everything you say.

    "Nah, I don't want to see him, but what can you do?", she is muttering on her phone.

    She talks some more and hangs up, sipping her drink. My customers step outside to eat at an outdoor table, since there are only a few more good weeks left that they can do this.

    I roll over to the cute blonde and say, "So, where's the boyfriend?"

    She's cute. The type of cute that says she has a boyfriend or the kind of cute that doesn't stay single for very long.

    She looks up from texting on her cell phone, smiles and says, "How'd you know I had a boyfriend?"

    "Intuition, I guess. 100207.jpgBeen bartending long enough to know a few things.", I replied.

    "Well he just got in from Florida today and wants to have dinner...", she says sullenly.

    "Sooo...what's wrong with that?", I ask.

    "He wants to TALK, ya know? Sit at dinner and talk for a few hours. What do I want to talk about? I want to go out, see my friends and have some fun!", she says.

    My brain immediately jumps to the book, "He's just not that into you..."

    "Ok, let me get this straight. Your boyfriend has been out of town, just got back in, wants to see you for dinner, and you aren't excited about seeing him? Come on. You can't be that interested in him! What gives? Why you dating this chump?"

    She grins and rubs her thumb to her index and middle finger, and says with a shrug, "He's got money."

    As guys that is something that we all grouse about women. That women just want to date rich guys and certainly PLENTY of women I know do not, I repeat, DO NOT care about money.

    But you do know that just as many women who protest that they don't want to date rich guys there are a whole segment of other women out there who aren't going to complain if they have a boyfriend who makes bank.

    Much like men aren't going to complain if they find a woman with a great personality, wonderful job AND STUNNING GOOD LOOKS.

    When she told me this, she saw me roll my eyes and replied, "I know. I know. I'm goin' to hell."

    I said, "You better be careful with that, honey. Karma is a boomerang. Just dating some guy because he has cash and you don't really like him, it will bite you in the ass someday. You'll meet a great guy and get played right back."

    She says, "Oh, I hear ya, but i'm twenty-two, ya know? I want to have FUN. Not get serious!"

    I ask how old her boyfriend is, fully expecting he's going to be 38.

    "He's twenty-five.", she says.

    "How much money we talking here? He's only twenty five, can't be making that much...", I ask.

    "He gives me everything I ask for.", she says.

    "So how long will you keep dating him?", I ask.

    She shrugs again. "I want to go on a caribbean vacation in a few months, so I will have him pick that up. Also don't want to miss out on his presents for me during the holidays, either. So maybe in March, when the weather gets nice."

    Sad to think that there's some guy out there dating this piece of trash and doesn't even know he is getting played.

    Customer Service

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    I have worked in restaurants since I was twelve, working various jobs and have learned what is important to customers when they enter a restaurant – the feeling that they are being taken care of and are important to that establishment.

    This shouldn’t be a great revelation. I’m certainly not parting any wisdom upon anyone who also has worked in any aspect of the restaurant – from the cooks to the dishwashers to the barback to the waiters to the bartenders – the customer is what comes first, and –within reason- should be always attended properly. I’ve worked in greasy spoon diners, chain-restaurants, and family owned establishments. The mantra has always been the same.

    I also think that by working in such a profession, it also gives me a different attitude when I am the customer. I rarely get upset with wait staff, especially if they are very busy. I usually don’t send back food to the kitchen, I will speak to the manager afterwards about it. I will always tip 20%, unless I got unsatisfactory service and will tip 15% (I don’t agree with 0% tip, everyone can have a bad night), and then speak to the manager or owner about it after my meal.

    Some employees don’t care. They are just there, making the shift pay and expect their tip – instead of working for it. Some make honest to goodness mistakes, and they need to respond appropriately to correct the error.

    Case in point is a local restaurant a few blocks my condo. I’m not going to call it out on my blog, but lets just say it is a Hoboken-owned business, with about 3-4 wait staff and about 20 tables inside and outside. They get very busy, especially for brunch, and often have people waiting outside for tables very often on the weekends.

    I have been there for brunch about twelve times in the last four months. The wait staff are in their early 20’s and nice enough. The owner is a nice guy, I’ve chatted with him a few times. The food they have isn’t terribly expensive, it’s close to my home and I like what they serve.

    The only problem I have had lately is that the service has been spotty. Most days I get there, I don’t have a major problem. But here’s what happened last week.

    I got to the restaurant, and it was 80% full. No one was outside, and one of the waiters handed me a menu and told me I could sit anywhere. So I grabbed a paper, sat down, mulled over the menu for a moment, and waited.

    And waited.

    And waited.

    No one approached me. I watched other people get served. I watched the same waiter to told me to sit, talk to the table next to me for a good five minutes. I read my paper while this was going on, and thinking, “Surely someone will come up to me soon.”

    No one did....read what happens next...

    The Art Of Boredom

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    If you were someone close to me, you would know that I have been very bored at my corporate job. Extremely bored. I was getting to a point where I was starting to think about what I was going to do next. Leave my job? That just wasn't terribly practical, since I have a mortgage now, and do actually enjoy many of the benefits of "Corporation X".

    Some of the benefits were a good salary (taking into consideration workload + effort = salary), decent benefits (healthcare, 401K, and free perks) and reputation (working here for 13 years - I know a shitload of people, know the internal system better than most people, and just have a hard-working reputation with many department employees and heads of departments).

    It's hard for me to just walk away from that.

    But it's also hard for me to work just anywhere. As a child I was diagnosed in 1977 with hyperactivity. At the time, doctors didn't call it "Attention Deficit Disorder", or ADD. They just told my parents to keep me off sugar and also suggested a new drug called "Ritalin".

    My parents knew of another child on Ritalin, and they didn't like what it did to him. It made him like a zombie. They knew I could be a bit out of control, but used discipline, love and patience instead of turning to drugs to "fix" me.

    I was never fixed, I still had to live with this my whole life and I did figure out a few tricks to make my life easier.

    One trick I learned, was in high school, when I studied a subject that I didn't like.

    In classes that I enjoyed (literature, history, social sciences)- I always got "A's" and "B+'s". I wasn't just passionate about the subject, I would immerse myself in it. I would find that my intense curiousity, coupled with desire to learn would just make everything easy.

    In classes that I dreaded (math, physics) I would just fail. I would grow bored and sketch in my notebook for 45 minutes. Stare out the window. Do ANYTHING to occupy my mind with something interesting. It was like pulling teeth to sit in these classes. I would squirm in my chair, and daydream.

    I soon learned that if I broke up studying for a subject - 30 minutes studying, then 15 minutes of "breaks" (like bouncing a ball off a wall), I was able to beat my concentration issues and focus on the subject at hand. I found that I could trick my brain - keeping my interest fresh in the subject by just breaking up a 2 hour study period into a 3 hour period, with four 15 minute breaks.

    Life today isn't much different for me, when working in corporate life.

    If I am at Corporation X and working on something I enjoy - i'm on fire. I also do very well when I have a job that has many, many tasks, with me constantly engaged. I'm much better working on a variety of jobs, and I excelled when I worked in the technical support department, because everytime i'd pick up the phone I had a different task to troubleshoot. It kept me fresh and interested, but the downside was that I hated getting angry customers on the phone. I eventually hated that job, only because by the end of the day I would be drained of all energy. I was happy to leave that department and try something new.

    I worked in various departments, learning new things. But, like my personality...I would grow bored if it wasn't something that I felt was interesting and challenging.

    The department that i'm in now was a good fit for me, it presented itself in an odd way - the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of the company, at the time, asked me to transfer in to the department, because they needed a boost from someone that had my background. I was flattered and excited to contribute. Things were good...but I think my growth got derailed a bit. The COO left the company. Her plan for me was in her head, i'm sure, and a new COO was never replaced! They just had department heads reporting to a CEO, instead of a COO.

    I languished a bit, and even got into some management reponsibility. I quickly realized that management was really hard if you weren't a great "people person". I'm not great at that. I'm more like a military guy - do what I say, get the job done. It works with some people, but other people felt I was abrasive. I was removed from doing that after about a year, which I had mixed feelings on. Part of me wanted to be in a leadership role, but another part just was happy to be left alone and troubleshoot by myself.

    Ok, so why am I writing all this?

    Looks like another change in my life. Starting on Monday i'm switching roles, moving to the downtown Network Operations Center (NOC), and my life is taking another direction for the better. I worked in the uptown NOC before, and know a lot of the people i'm working with. The work I will be doing is more technical, but also very varied, which is something that my hyperactive head needs. They suggested that I would need to start up with getting my CCNA (which I did start to study for just before I switched to my current department).

    It's a big move. I think it is also a good opportunity, with exposure to a lot of technical development, which is good for my value to Corporation X - and not to mention my resume if I were ever to leave. Also at our Corporation, people don't move around so much, lots of people just sit in the same department for years and years - and become a dinosaur. They know what they know, but don't learn new things and don't enhance their self worth. I feel like this will be something that will make me even more well rounded and also jumpstart my interest in coming to work again.

    One cool thing is that my new office is its near Christopher Street. My commute each day will be walking to the PATH (which is like 5 minutes), taking it from Hoboken to Christopher Street (1 stop - 7 minutes), and walking 5 minutes to the office on West Street. I'm very, very excited about that alone - since my current commute takes from 45 minutes to an hour to get uptown (Hoboken to 34th and then the subway uptown).

    I'm excited for the change, looking forward to something different. This may also affect the blog a bit, since my updates might be not as frequent - it was always easier to pen my thoughts when I was sitting bored at work.

    Quid Pro Quo

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    I woke up this morning at 5am, with a booming sound, which I first thought was a bomb.

    That's the thing that sucks about living in a post 9-11 world. I'd hear thunder as a kid, and it was just thunder.

    I hear these sounds now, roused from a slumber and the first thing I think is, "Was that a bomb?"

    I guess score one for the terrorists.

    When my alarm went off, and I was getting ready for work I got a text message, "Get ur canoe this am" from Matt.

    I step outside, and get to see my new waterfront property:
    080807a.JPG

    Yesterday there was a report on NJ.com about NJ Transit investing $10 million in a new sewer system on Observer Highway, which should alleviate this flooding. Only issue I have is that no one - NO ONE - does anything in Hoboken for generousity. Its pure "Quid Pro Quo" - This for that.

    Those that have been watching City Hall know that NJ Transit has been jonesing to build new Newport-sized buildings near the rail yard for mixed use residential/commercial occupancy. The citizens are completely against this, and some of the newer members of City Hall have opposed such construction by NJ Transit.

    I just hope something happens soon.

    Steal My Idea: IPod & Cookbooks

    | 1 Comment

    Edited to add: Hey looks like it's already invented. :(

    Ok, here's my current million dollar idea.

    I get them all the time.

    One of my biggest issues is food. I'm a finicky eater. Just very picky when it comes to what I like and I would, at times, simply not eat, even when hungry, than eat something i'm not in the "mood" for.

    With my gym routine back in full effect, i'm cooking for myself more. Nothing super fancy, but there's only so many times I want steak. Last night I made chicken fajitas. It turned out very well, and was simple to make. I wanted to make a fajita marinade with the chicken and decided to wing it. I used to get the chicken stir fry kit from Fresh Direct. It's great, but the problem with Fresh Direct is that basically everything you buy is fresh and goes bad in 3 days.

    That doesn't work for me very well. Like I said, i'm picky with food. I don't know what I will want to eat tonight. I will know in about 6 hours what i'm in the mood for. I have friends who cook up entire batches of chicken on Sunday and eat it everyday for lunch with their brown rice. Every. Day.

    That would be like a death sentence for me. I'm a fan of variety. I certainly have my favorite foods: Chicken with Broccoli, Virginia Baked Ham, Filet Mignon steak (medium rare) and of course: LAMB!

    Inside joke on the "Lamb".

    Anyhow, what does this have to do with my topic idea? Ok, somehow take a cookbook and then make it an iPod file. Let's say i'm at the gym. I'm are coming home and want to make something fresh and delicious.

    Open the iPod, go to "Cookbook" choose type: "Chicken", and skim thru the recipies. Look over the ingredients and on my way home, I shop at the food store (or I may have some of the ingredients at home).

    Often I find that I get home from the gym and then going BACK out to shop for food sucks. Like I wrote yesterday once I get home, the motivation drains from me.

    But if, on my way back, I knew EXACTLY the portions I needed to buy, then i'm set.

    Oh, I forgot to mention - i'm not a cook that can just throw items into a pan and make something great. I'm excellent if you give me a recipe that has portions & temperature settings & times. My ex-roommates can attest to my recipe prowess.

    So why don't *I* make this idea millions for myself?

    Oh, i'm the typical Aquarius. I dream up these ideas. For all I know this one could be in existance (i'm fully expecting someone to post a comment: "ALREADY INVENTED!")

    And for the record, someone came up with my dog rental idea in San Fran.

    Editied to Add #2: Ok, the idea above is a cookware maker for your ipod - basically add your recipies to an IPod...now if I can come up with a bunch of great recipies and sell those....millions....well, ok maybe not millions...

    No pain, no pain.

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    Been going back to the gym again, after being on haitus since April. I'm a man of routines. Not like obsessive compulsive routines, but moving to the new condo did screw up with my routine. I kept putting off going back to the gym, thinking i'd use the gym in the condo. I didn't. I would get home and then find something to do rather than going to work out in the condo gym. I realized that the only way to motivate myself to working out was that i'd have to stop at the gym on my way home from work. Once I get home - I was done. I had zero motivation to leave and go back to a gym.

    Talked to some people who know about working out for some advice. One friend told me that they would do cardio 5 days a week (Monday - Friday), their metabolism shot up, and they were burning calories when they didn't exercise.

    I'm trying to find a happy medium. I did for a good year (like 2005) a strict diet & exercise program, but I was miserable. I would look at food packages, avoid sugars (hard to do when you drink alcohol) and really felt like I was developing a minor eating disorder. I would feel "guilty" when eating the wrong foods. Like some slices of pizza or Milano cookies.

    I couldn't do that anymore. My life was steamed chicken & brown rice. My personality is one that gets bored easily and if I don't mix up things, like food, I will get bored eating the same thing over and over. I need variety in my diet. I want to eat healthy & allow for that slice of pizza (or three!) from time to time. I figure with going to the gym 5 days a week and doing treadmill/ellipitcal each day it will help get my metabolism up and burning more calories than I consume. I'll let you know the results.

    So i'm back to cooking for myself again. Trying to make new, easy dishes that taste good and aren't calorie busting.

    Know any good cookbooks? I was thinking about getting The Abs Diet by Men's Health. I have about 8 other cookbooks at home, but some aren't healthy enough for my needs - especially the Italian ones!

    Busy Is Good, Busy Is Bad

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    In the last year bartending every Saturday has been different. I have had some really busy nights and some really slow nights. Every bartender wants to be busy. When we first started a year ago, the owners had a barback and a bartender who worked with me on Saturdays. Over the last year the management learned that summers usually are dead weekends, and due to my Saturday night co-worker quitting, they didn't get a replacement right away and I was the only bartender on Saturdays. I had no problem with this, and figured that Saturdays would be quiet over the summer, so it wasn't a big deal.

    Last Saturday we had a private party of about 35 people. They paid $35 each, for a 4 hour open bar with well drinks (the basic vodka, gin, rum & tequila) 072407.jpg
    & select beers (Smithwicks, Coors Light, Yuengling drafts and most domestic bottles). It started out well. The bar was still open while the party went on, so I had to serve the private party and my waiters alone. That same night was a local festival in town, and at 11pm it ended...and everyone came to the bar.

    It went from "really busy" to a crowd 3 deep waiting for drinks - with just me behind the bar.

    I'm fast enough, but not this fast. The private party was just knocking back drink after drink. The festival drinkers would come up with things like "Give me 20 soco & lime shots" or "I'll take 5 car bombs" or "Can I have a Long Island Iced Tea, One Mojoto, One "weak" Cosmo."

    Imagine the last order when you have a crowd of people waving dollars at you to buy drinks and I have to make three labor intensive drinks - which I don't care about MAKING the drinks, I care because such drinks take a long time to make and they will slow me down from making other people their drinks in a busy bar. I'm a people pleaser, I want to make the customers happy and get stressed if I feel like i'm not serving them fast enough. I would explain to everyone who were trying to get my attention while I am making the drinks "Yes, I see you. I know you want a drink. I will make these as fast as I can and get to you..."

    I was helped out by the floor manager for a bit at 11pm and even the owner showed up and started to help out at midnight. There was a good 45 minutes where all three of us were making drinks non-stop, and still couldn't keep up. The cool thing about working there is that even when the owner & manager jump behind the bar, they are doing it to help. I know a lot of other owners in town who "bartend" (I use this term loosely) and really throw around a few drinks when it's busy and talk to their customers, play darts or pool, then split the tips with the bartenders who did the majority of work. They don't do that at my bar, and I respect them for it.

    We weren't expecting this. We knew about the party, but we assumed it was going to be a casual Saturday night with about 40 people in the bar, and the service bar (the waiters order drinks for their tables, and I make those, too). I can do that alone. But it was like "The Perfect Storm" when the festival ended, and it turned into a mob scene around 10:30-11pm.

    Here's some highlights (or lowlights?), a Top 5 for last Saturday...

    Ocean City Fishermen At Dawn

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    IMG_1833
    Originally uploaded by Furey
    Here's a link to some of the pictures I took at dawn in Ocean City, NJ.

    Some came out better than others and i'm still learning a bit with my hobby. I definitely need to get a tripod, but hate the bulkiness of it. Thinking about trying out the Gorillapod, but worried about putting a very expensive SLR on to a $55 tripod.

    My mother asked me later about how I woke up so early, since I am so well known for sleeping in.

    I have a strange trick - if I say to myself before sleep, "OK I have 6 hours until I need to wake up" - my body wakes itself up before any alarm goes off (It isn't a 100% success rate, more like 75% rate). Sometimes within minutes of when the alarm was scheduled to sound. It also only seems to work when I have something important to do or something that i'm excited about.

    But I still had an alarm set, just in case.

    Last night, I was on my way home from work in midtown Manhattan.

    071807a.jpg

    I got out of the office, and was walking between 3rd and Lexington, when I noticed everyone just staring south. It seemed that everyone were on phones, or just watching in silence. I have seen this only once before, this same sort of "group fear".

    September 11th.

    I knew right away that "something happened". I walked to the corner, and my heart was cold with dread with what I was about to see.

    I turned, and saw a plume of black, thick smoke rising, only 20 blocks away. Everyone was moving around me with a more hurried pace and I could near snippets of conversation on cell phones:

    "Dude, another terrorism attack."

    "A building collapsed."

    "They bombed the subways."

    I looked around and I saw a group of four people, a father, a mother, their teenage daughter and son standing there, with a look of confusion. They were obviously here on a holiday, and didn't know what to do or where do go. I felt really sorry for them, because the city wasn't in a panic, but it was clear that something was happening that was similar to September 11. I couldn't help them, and with the mood of the city, I had to find out what was going on before I made my next move.

    Today we are all reading how it was just a steam pipe. Last night, in that moment, I felt that the terrorists hit us again. I didn't know what happened, but I felt that something was VERY wrong and I didn't want to take the subway, for two reasons: One, if it was terrorism, I didn't want to be underground, in a subway if something else happened. Two, the explosion was at 42nd street and my subway passes right there. I wasn't about to get on a subway and head towards the explosion.

    I thought about it for a bit, and figured I would head to the NY Waterway and take a ferry to Hoboken. I figured that it would be much faster and safer than taking the subway to the PATH. 071807b.jpg

    I first started to walk across town, and there were just cops flying down the street, and sirens were blaring. There were a mix of people, some were very much aware of this explosion and there were a ton of others who had no clue what was going on, especially as I got further from Lexington and people couldn't see the smoke.

    I hailed a taxi near Columbus Circle and asked the taxi driver if he heard anything about the explosion.

    "What explosion? What are you talking about", he replied with a tinge of irritation.

    I told him to turn on the news. He did.

    Bloomberg news wasn't even reporting it. They were talking to an Ohio senator about the economy in Ohio. I listened to this for 10 minutes until they finally took a break and the traffic guy jumped on and talked about the explosion and saying it was a transformer or steam pipe. Traffic was going to be a mess, they noted.

    So, I was a bit relieved to hear that it wasn't terrorism, but I still had to get home. I was already in the taxi and he took me to 48th and West Side Highway.

    I hadn't been to the NY Waterway since the Blackout of 2003. It has very much changed, with a large, glass building in place of the dinky dock that used to be there. I walked inside and first saw the dock itself, with only about 40-50 standing there waiting for a ferry to NJ. My first thought was "Man, that was so smart of me to take the ferry."

    Then I turned the corner and saw the line.

    There were easily 200 people in line waiting for tickets (the picture above was taken when I was in mid-line and doesn't show those standing behind me). There was ONE, count them, ONE person at the window selling tickets. One guy and 200 people standing in a large, glass and steel building that did a terrible job with air conditioning, it was hot and humid.

    I went to the back of the line and waited. There weren't any machines around, like I would see at the PATH or NY Subway that I could swipe a credit card, buy a ticket and be on my way.

    I saw an asian girl walk into the building, who was covered, on one side of her body, with mud. It was like she was sprayed with mud, but otherwise looked fine. She looked irritated that there was a long line, too. She went to the back of the line with her friend.

    After waiting about 15 minutes in line, another employee appeared at the window and started to sell tickets. This helped a little bit, but I easily had to wait in line for 35-40 minutes before I could buy a ticket.

    I purchased the ticket and they only had Hoboken North tickets for sale, which would drop me in Hoboken at 14th street. This was the other side of town, but I didn't care I just wanted to get home. I could take a taxi or the bus to my condo.

    I took the ferry and heard other people who normally take the ferry daily comment about how many more people were on the ferry because of the explosion. I found the ride to be enjoyable, because of the cool Hudson River air that blew in my face during the ride.

    We got off the dock, and then I walked to Washington Street and grabbed a 126 bus to the other end of town.

    I fully plan to contact NY Waterway in the morning and ask them to review what happened yesterday. I think the first step they could take would make it easier to purchase tickets from a machine, rather than wait for a window teller. I didn't see any machines around and if there were machines to buy tickets, they certainly weren't clearly marked.

    I left work at 6pm, I walked in the door at 8pm.

    Vacation, Summer Movies 2007

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    So, back on track again.

    The site was briefly down, and I didn't notice until I got back from vacation on Sunday. We are up now, the server was briefly down that hosted this site and no one from the admin side noticed until I sent them an email. Oops!

    Anyhow, lets start by answering the "How was your vacation emails"!

    Friday July 6: Went to Skybar on River and 1st street with a few friends. They have $2.50 coronas, lots of tables and if you are a smoker - you can smoke to your hearts content (to my chagrin). Drank a bit, then stumbled to Mulligan's for a drink. One drink turned to 5 tall Red Bulls and Vodka. I won't say that I "blacked out", but the rest of the night did get a bit hazy.

    Saturday July 7: Bartended that night, made a decent clip of money since i'm working by myself now but its much more frantic & I don't have the chance to really talk to the customer as much as I used to. I think I made about 800 Sangrias that night by hand. Went home and watched "Children of Men" at 4am. Was transfixed and the sun came up at 5:30 with me still watching. Rent. That. Movie.

    Sunday July 8: A lazy Sunday from staying up so late. Slept until 11am, up for a few hours, and back to sleep at 2pm after visiting Bagel Smashery. Woke up around 6pm, played on the computer a bit that night. Went to the beer store and decided against getting a case of beer and got 3 six packs: Newcastle, Yuengling and Sapporo (24 oz silver cans).

    Monday July 9: Went to Four L's for lunch. Happy that they had Peroni on tap, with chilled Peroni glasses. Tried the chicken fingers, which were ok, and they didn't have BBQ sauce. Oh well. Talked to the bartender and the owner a bit and it turned out that they and I have common friends.

    Tuesday July 10: Had to get a new barcard at 11am. Got my two money orders from the Post office for $50 and $54. Had my drivers license. This is my 4th barcard, so I thought I knew the routine. I get to the police station and now you need to have something with your social security number on it (a social security card, a W2 form, a paycheck) to basically prove you are a US citizen. I went home, grabbed my W2 form, went back and I was furious. Every time I get a barcard I have to jump through hoops with the police. I went to Brass Rail for lunch, and who do I see but Francia, who worked with me at Mikie Squared. We caught up on old times, and they have a fixed prix lunch, for $12. It wasn't bad, but the portions were a bit smaller than I liked. Also got to say that the Brass Rail's beer wasn't ICE COLD like they have it at Four L's. That's a big thing with me at a bar - your beer on tap or in bottle should be the proper temperature. After my lunch, I got my haircut at Mad One Jacks. Trying something different with my hair, figure I can always go back to the messed up bed-head - i'll get a pic up for you to judge. I'm sure I will have to endure another month of "Flock of Seagull" jokes from the usual suspects.

    Wednesday July 11: Went to Ocean City, NJ. Friends of my family have a shore house on Park Place, a stones throw from the beach. When I arrived, looking around the familiar surroundings, I felt a wave of nostalgia. The last time I was at OC, at this same shore house, and with a girl that I was dating for about 2 months. I liked her, and still felt like I missed her for that brief moment. I went to the beach, and got about 2 hours of sun. When I got home, went to Voltaco's and ordered a cheesesteak. I lived my summers in Ocean City from 1985-1994. I remember LOVING Voltaco's cheesesteaks. What the fuck happened? My cheesesteak was TERRIBLE. The bread - outstanding. The meat was no longer chopped up, but like Steak Ums were slapped on the grill and not chopped up. The cheese was just placed on top of the sandwich, instead of mixed in with the meat. I asked for grilled onions and marinara sauce and they were barely added. I wanted to call them and vent, but I just figured it would fall on deaf ears.
    That night, I went to the boardwalk and saw Transformers, or as I call it "Let's Blow Shit Up". I give it a C+ rating. I can put my logic on hold until I see a dope like Shia LeBouf get a girl like Megan Fox. Then they put in Rachael Taylor as the impossibly hot & cute white hat hacker? Come on. Yes, I know the target audience was 16-24 year olds, but I would have cast two next-door-neighbor hot girls in that role. Also WTF is up with transforming into a car, driving two blocks, turning into a robot, then back into a car, going two blocks, back into robot again? Yes, I get it - you want to show off the robots transform, but its like they were looking for reasons to make them transform. You could have been a robot and ran two blocks, Optimus.

    Thursday July 12: I was joined by Mom, Steph and Dave along with the kids. We had a picture perfect beach day, and it was glorious. I helped build an enormous sandcastle which got not only my nephews and Dave into the mix, but also a lot of young kids - and their moms. Their moms who are mid 30's and some were very cute. Again, couldn't imagine being married and with kids, but also do start to think about how Hoboken suspends reality. In Hoboken, being 35 and single guy? No problem! Outside of Hoboken? Well...reality does set in a bit. No, I don't want to get married and have kids now, but then again being 45 with young kids? Oh well, I don't plan my life, I will just let it happen.
    Thursday night got Mack & Manco's and went to see Knocked Up at the movies with Steph and Dave. This will be the next Anchorman with the quotes in the movie:
    "He said that, that means if there's 25 people here I get to let in one and a quarter black people. So I gotta hope there's a black midget in the crowd."Beard Jokes: "Hey Crocket, how's Tubbs doing?", "How did it feel changing your name from Cat Stevens to Yusef Islam? ", "See ya... Scorcese on coke". "Because your face looks like a vagina. " "Your face looks like Robin Williams' knuckles."
    "I won't say it but it rhymes with shmashmortion."
    "Was your vagina drunk?"
    "I'm the best thing that's ever happened to you? Now I'm starting to feel a little sorry for YOU..."
    "Hey, don't let the door hit you in the vagina on the way out! "
    "You look like Babe Ruth's gay brother... Gabe Ruth."

    Friday July 13: On Thursday I woke up at 5:40am to see if I could take some pictures of the sunrise with my camera. It was too cloudy, and I figured I would try again Friday. Somehow I was able to not even set the alarm and wake up at 5:30am. I got up, went outside and...wow. I think it has been about 25 years since I actually took the time to watch the sun rise. Sure, I have been up at dawn, like I was last Saturday, but was watching TV, not just enjoying one of the beautiful scenes of nature. I took about 50 pics and went back to bed. Friday we were joined by Stacey, Pat and their kids. It was like a Disney movie exploded in our house. We all got out to the beach and the day was fun, but the weather was so-so. I left Ocean City by 3pm and made it back to Hoboken by 5pm. Went out to Court Street for dinner with a friend. Later I went to Moran's, listened to Willie O'Connor play guitar and then left early because...

    Saturday July 14: I went golfing at Beaver Brook golf course with Chris, Jay and Jimmy. Good course and I broke 100 for the first time in ages, shooting a 99. Once we got home...we found out we had no water. That was at 2pm. By the time I had to go bartend, still no water and I had to sponge bath with Volvic water before going in. I figured the bar would just close, but the stayed open, getting bottled water & soda, plastic cups and closed the kitchen. I'm kind of glad we stayed open because Chris, Jay, Jimmy & Lauren came out along with Trainer Mike. It was nice to see the Dipper's regulars at the old bar, I miss our regulars. Also got a nice surprise with my ex-roommate Kristen showing up with three of her friends. Also a late night appearance from Rory & her friend, who worked with me at Mikie a few months ago & they stayed at the bar with me until closing. I gotta say its cool to have friends & regulars or old bartenders at the bar because they know how to order drinks, unlike so many others who need a few lessons.

    Sunday July 15: Another lazy Sunday, with a major food shop at Shop Rite. Spent about $140 on groceries, just getting dumb, random things that my apartment was missing: Soy Sauce, Tupperware containers, Neosporin to other "canned goods" like soups, chicken stock broths, chopped tomatoes & tomato paste (homemade sauce). I also did a bit of reorganizing around the apartment, laying out a new rug my sister bought for me as a housewarming gift and a few new lamps & ottoman that my mother bought for me. I have to figure out what i'm going to do with my family room. I bought a new couch and a leather chair with ottoman. Sadly, the chair fits, but not with the ottoman. I should have gotten a love seat, it would have fit better in the family room. I think I may have to sell the chair & ottoman on craigslist or just the ottoman alone. Oh well.

    Otherwise, i'm back at work and sadly realizing that I wish I had ANOTHER week off. But it was a good time and my next vacation is in September - which will probably be similar to the last week.

    Away For A Bit

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    No new updates expected in at least a week. I will be on vacation next week from my 9-5 job. Going to hit Ocean City sometime during the week for a few days of relaxation and sun. No major plans besides that - might try to go to Atlantic City and gamble a bit.

    On our last backpacking trip, Matt brought his guitar with him on the trail. At night, by the campfire, he jammed out a few songs he knew, but also admitted afterwards he wished he could learn more sing-a-long type rock songs. So I thought about it and tried to put together a list of the most popular acoustic guitar rock songs.

    062807.jpg
    My list was small, I came up with:
    Bon Jovi, "Dead or Alive".
    Barenaked Ladies "If I Had A Million Dollars".
    Simon & Garfunkel "Only Living Boy In New York".
    Dobie Gray "Drift Away".
    Men At Work "Land Down Under".
    Dave Matthews "Ants Marching".

    Then it got me thinking: "Who would know other good songs to play?"

    I thought back to my early years in Hoboken, listening to Patrick Fleming play guitar at Moran's. We had some great nights listening to Pat strumming his six string. Patrick has left our lands for Austin, where I hope he is doing well. After Patrick left, Will O'Connor has been playing at Moran's, every Friday night.

    I figured Will would be a pretty good expert to ask, and I emailed him the question (and included my list of songs): "What are the most popular acoustic guitar rock songs in Hoboken? What gets the crowd amped up & interested in singing along with you?"

    Will emailed me back: "Though I've grown to loathe these songs at this point and will only enjoy playing them for crisp $50 dollar bills. Drunk people will always sing along to: "Brown Eyed Girl" - known among solo musicians as "B.E.G.", as in, "You better BEG me to play it." -- and "Sweet Home Alabama" -- which I'm less likely to flat out refuse, but which has grown very tired for me in the live music bar scene."

    Will included these songs, with a few comments:
    John Denver "Country Roads," "Leavin' on a Jet Plane" & "Rocky Mountain High" (especially if you're camping)
    Steve Miller "The Joker"
    Creedence Clearwater Revival "Looking Out My Backdoor" & "Proud Mary"
    Irish Traditional Drinking Song "The Wild Rover"
    Don McLean "American Pie" (it's an endurance test, but people love to sing along)
    Joe Jackson "Is She Really Goin' Out With Him"

    There you have it.

    Home

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    I changed the last names in this entry with the first letter and last letter of their respective names, an a asterisk (*), to protect everyone's identity.

    They say, "You can't go home again."
    062507.jpg

    I was in the Philadelphia suburbs for my mother's 65th birthday brunch. My entire family, other relatives and my mother's friends were at the gathering - sadly I showed up about 90 minutes late because of my late start from Hoboken.

    I spent about 2 hours at the brunch, and when it concluded, it was 3pm and I was on the road again, headed back to Hoboken. While on the PA Turnpike I passed by some familiar landmarks, as I always do, and my mind drifted back to Richboro, where I grew up.

    I lived in Richboro from 1975, when I was three to 1985, when I was thirteen. It was a land of rolling farmland, dotted with small "developments", which were enclosed communities of homes designed by Toll Bros. My school was Richboro Elementary, and most of the kids in my neighborhood attended the school. It was a young community, with lots of families starting soon to be angst-ridden, cynical, Gen X kids.

    But during that time we were just kids. Having fun. I have written a few of the stories of my youth on the blog, and Richboro, to me, is home. It's where I, as a person, developed into the man I am today. I may live in Hoboken, but my heart is in those Philadelphia suburbs, and never left.

    I saw an exit on the PA Turnpike, and thought, "Let's go back to Richboro." It was Sunday, 3pm, and I had a free afternoon. It took me about 30 minutes and a moment or two studying my map - I never drove this way to Richboro.

    When I arrived at 87 Deborah Road on Sunday, in the cul-de-sac, I barely recognized it. My father planted four trees in the front lawn, which at the time were barely twigs. Two were removed and two were enormous after 32 years, both flanking the driveway. Strong, full, majestic trees were outside of my childhood home, providing a soft shade that I stood under while I just...gazed.

    I think I stood outside my house for a good 10 minutes, just staring at...everything. Images and memories rushed back to me in the cul-de-sac. I felt very emotional, it just was overwhelming. I felt like I was in a time machine and was just waiting for Doug, Paul, Steve, Mike, Victor and Kevin to show up and start a ballgame again.

    I could still remember when my brother, angry at me for not bringing the net inside, threw a hockey stick like a boomerang at me, nailing me in the back of my legs from a good 50 feet. I remembered our days playing baseball, with home plate at the Tr* house, the corner of our front yard first base, our driveway was second base, and the Ga*'s was third base. I remember our days when the cul-de-sac was our private rollerskating rink, we would roll out a boombox, and put on 93.3 WMMR or 94.1 WYSP and listen to Van Halen, Rush, AC/DC, KISS, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin.

    I was home again. For a brief moment, I felt like between two worlds. The world of the present and the world of the past. I could have sat outside all day, just watching the world go by yesterday, but the world of the present beckoned me, and my brief moment in the past was interrupted by a car passing me and driving into the Ga*'s driveway. I wasn't sure if it was Mrs. Ga*. It was a good 25 years that I last saw her. I was standing near my old home, with my camera out, and red truck quickly drives up Deborah road, and into the driveway - it was Mr. Ga*, I thought.

    I approached them and called out, "Hi, do the Ga*'s still live there?"

    The woman challenged me back with, "Who's askin?!"

    This wasn't the response I imagined. But, as much as I moved away 22 years ago, Richboro is my town. I don't care if I was gone for 55 years, I grew up here and feel like the land still remembers me, if not the people.

    "I'm Sean I. I grew up in the house over there.", I reponded as I walked closer.

    The man quickly rushed towards me with an extended hand, "Well i'm Mr. Ga*!", he said with a smile. It took me only a brief moment, and I recognized my neighbors from those years past. Mrs. Ga* started to get emotional, to the point of tears. When I left them I was a stringbean 13 year old. It was a very nice feeling to see them, and we chatted for about 15 minutes, going over each of our family history and what everyone did with their lives. We all had a good laugh the Ln* family were always a bit of the "odd duck" family in the neighborhood, and the kids were always torturing them with pranks for years.

    We said our goodbyes, and I got into the car, and drove around the rest of the neighborhood slowly, just taking in how everything was eerily familiar, but so very different with the changes to the landscaping and trees.

    I past by the Sh* house and look at the driveway. In it is a white mercedes, and it could have been the same car from 22 years ago. I parked my car in the driveway and see a BMW with a "Lawrenceville" sticker in the rear windshield. Yep, the Sh*'s still lived here. I got out of the car and knocked on their door. I hear the door unlock and peeking out was Dr (Mrs). Sh*, my doctor and neighbor. She has a confused look on her face, and asks me, "Can I help you?"

    I smirked and give her a wink saying, "Recognize me?"

    The moment of confusion turns to clarity and she opens the door, coming out to greet me with a kiss. She's shocked, seeing a boy that used to be the poster child of ADD standing before her as a man. Her son, Ashish (aka "Sheesh", or "Ash"), and I were friends growing up, but as many friends do, lost touch over the years. Dr. Sh* and I shared stories for a bit, and she didn't look much different since I last saw her. Must be that Richboro water or something.

    I told Dr. Sh* about my life, and that of my family. Showed her pictures from the brunch that day, and she marvelled at the kids and how great my mother looked. We talked about Ashish, and laughed over some good memories. I met their cute Alaskan husky, who was so very different than the crazy "Max", who was the chocolate Labrador Retriever that they could barely contain in the 80's.

    I left the Sh*'s and stopped at the Lb*'s. I was feeling good and briefly did feel a bit strange showing up there. Eric - or as we called him "E" - was another childhood friend that I lost touch with. Like Ashish, it was just a matter of circumstance, everyone went their own way. Part of me almost felt like I shouldn't have lost touch, that somehow it was selfish of me to just leave like I did.

    I rang the doorbell and Mrs. Lb* opened the door. She was much quicker to recognize me, when I said "Guess who?" with a smile and she responded with a: "Ooooooh myyyyy Goddddddd." She was home alone, and invited me in for a glass of cold lemonaide. We chatted, much like the others, and it was great to hear how everyone was doing in the Lb* family - which had SIX kids - and now she has a very large contingent of grandkids. Each child had their own story, and it was amazing to hear how they were all doing.

    I left the Lb* house and got in my car.062507b.JPG It felt good to see how everyone was doing. I drove around Richboro looking at Mallard Creek, Richboro Middle School, saw that Richboro Elementary was no longer standing, and went to Tanner's Bros. Now Tanner Brother's is a family owned, small town shopping center. It has farm fresh food, dairy, breads, meats and sundries. It hasn't changed since I left, built from concrete blocks and supported by faded green painted metal beams. They have homemade icecream, and for $2.50, I got a double scoop of chocolate marshmallow and went over to the fence outside the store to look at the herd of cows that were grazing the field.

    I took a deep breath, and had one of those long, drawn out sighs, like my soul was free of burden. I was at peace with myself, and as hectic and crazy as my life can be, this was as close to a spiritual, calming experience that I have had in a long time. I was standing under the trees, eating ice cream, looking at the cows just like I did in 1980 with my family. The sun was setting, and a warm breeze would brush against my face. Everything was all right with the world, if just for this moment.

    I was home again.

    Thief

    | 1 Comment

    I read this in the news today:

    "More than $10,000 of jewelry and other belongings were stolen from a Hoboken residence, reports said.

    Police said the burglar entered the Bloomfield Avenue apartment by unlocking the door through a broken glass window pane sometime between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

    According to reports, the victim estimated that jewelry worth $10,000, a $1,300 laptop and $120 in cash were stolen."


    It sounds a lot like the same kind of job that was done at our apartment 2 years ago, in 2005:
    http://www.philly2hoboken.com/blog/archives/2005/06/burglary_1.html

    I'm not sure where on Bloomfield this happened, but considering we were on Garden & 6th - and robbed in a very similar manner (with my roommates laptop stolen). I would bet its the same guy. I hope the police are able to catch this punk.

    I called the police station, and spoke to the detective bureau at 201-420-2110. I explained what happened to us 2 years ago, and it sounded very similar to how we were robbed & what was stolen. At our crime, the robber moved objects which they got fingerprints from, and we never heard from the police again if they caught anyone.

    Their reponse to my call?

    "Do you know how many robberies happen each day in Hoboken?", the police officer said.

    "No. How many robberies happen each day in Hoboken?", I deadpanned.

    "Quite a few." he replied with a dismissive tone.

    So much for our tax dollars at work.

    Would it really be that hard for the police officer to say, "Thank you very much for that information, I will give it to the detectives working on the case, sir."

    Wouldn't that then encourage a person like me who called in - trying to help - instead he just made me more bitter about our city government and left a negative impression of the Hoboken Police Department.

    I didn't get the guy's name, but I should have.


    IMG_1008
    Originally uploaded by Furey
    In the last few weeks, I knew that June 16th weekend was going to be a weekend where I got my first taste of real outdoor camping & backpacking. Last year, I had an experience in "car camping", where we drove to a campground, unloaded our gear, and camped about 20 feet from our vehicles, along with about 60 other people. I wanted to really get outdoors, away from "civilization" and other people for my next trip. Matt told me about Team Hike. A group of guys who hiked various trails for the last 17 years, about 3-4 times a year - even in winter (That's "Team Extreme"). I told him that i'd like to go on his next trip, and it wasn't a problem, the more the merrier was their attitude.

    Before the trip began, I started doing my research. If you don't know, I have a tendancy to analyze things (perhaps over analyze, in some regards, like buying a condo...), and I started to read and read and read all sites. I searched on Google for "How to Backpack", "How to prepare for a Hike", "What to bring backpacking for a weekend". Stuff like that. The basic stuff like "Tent", "Backpack", "Boots", "Water", "Sleeping bag" were all coming up, but I didn't want to be caught unprepared out there. I made a list, shared it with Matt, and he told me what he thought. I kept reading over and over how weekend backpackers always overpack, and I tried to whittle down my list of gear to little as possible.

    Packing wasn't too bad, but I did run into a snag. My sleeping bag was a regular sized bag. It wasn't a compact one, and I kept telling Matt over email that my backpack must be too small, the sleeping bag wouldn't fit. Without a visual, Matt didn't understand. When he came over to look, he pointed out that the backpacks he was familiar with were designed to be more compact. I didn't know this, and we decided to lash the sleeping bag to the backpack. It wouldn't be a major problem, just a bit awkward.

    On Friday Matt and I were joined by Dan, who he met on Team Hike and also lived near Hoboken. We drove up together (leaving at 3:30pm) to Wind Gap, PA, taking 78 the majority of the way. It should have taken us less than 2 hours to get there, but 78 was a mess with construction. We got there about 6:30.

    I discovered that in hiking there is something known as "Trail Names". Matt is known as "Popper" and Dan is known as "Hummer". When we got to the parking lot we were joined by "Spugs" and "Gramps", who are the original members of Team Hike. Gramps maintains the Team Hike website. Spugs hasn't missed a single trip.

    We get our gear on, and hiked about 1.8 miles from the parking lot to our campsite for Friday night which is called "New Tripoli Campsite". It's great. Its far off the trail, with a big stone firepit, three large logs around it, and plenty of flat area for the tents. No one was there, and we had the campsite to ourselves.

    Everyone busted out their tents, got their beer/alcohol (which is technically illegal at this part of the trail) and we started the campfire. I have said it before, and I will say it again, but it is my firm belief that if campfires were illegal, no one would camp. Everyone gets out their inner pyromaniac, and loves to partake in getting a fire going. These guys made the most of it, breaking out meats, fish, shellfish, and appetizers that were pre-made & marinating the night before. Since the hike was less than 2 miles from the parking lot to the campsite, it wasn't too hard to carry a bit extra baggage Friday night - knowing that your pack would be much lighter on Saturday afternoon for the hike.

    We ate, drank and were joined by Fallon, Grant, Rocco and Hicks who came later with their own food in tow. Easily one of the best outdoor BBQs I have been to in a long time. Popper even hiked with his guitar, and was busting out songs that had us laughing, singing and clapping. At 2am - TWO AM! - two more of our hikers joined us after they were at a Stevie Nicks concert with their wives. They got harassed for it as soon as they showed up by an off-key warbling by everyone: "Just like the white winged dove / Sings a song / Sounds like shes singing / Whoo... whoo... whoo..."

    The guys were all in their late 20's to mid 30's, most married or engaged, and some with kids. They were the same kind of guys that were in Delta Tau Delta at Villanova - just fun, laid back and loved to get their drink on. Even though it was my first hike I felt like I was included right away, and joined in with the various bantering. I was able to hold my own with the movie quotes ("Milk was a bad idea...") and discussion of the upcoming footballs season to the various jokes and gags that crop up when you get guys together. Popper learned why you don't drink and then try to saw wood - due to a poor position of its axis, his decision to stomp on the branch to break it and getting clobbered by the branch that flipped up and nailed him in his right temple. Concern quickly turned to laughter after that one, with Matt taking a 10 minute break recovering.

    We were up Friday until about 5am Saturday morning. Slept a few hours and left the New Tripoli campsite around 11am.

    Saturday's hike was...tough. Now this was my first hike and I have nothing to base it on, except that the others in the group kept reminding me that other hikes weren't this hard (remember, 17 years of hiking with some of these guys). There were parts of the hike where we had to skip along rocks with a 40-50 pound backpack. You make a mistake and slip and it meant a very severe injury (look at the pictures for some examples).

    While on the trail I kept thinking two things:
    1. I am SO HAPPY I got my Asolo boots. I was thinking of just using gym sneakers, and read far too many times about backpackers getting sprained ankles. If I didn't have a backpack, i'm sure sneakers would have been ok enough. The boots were the best $160 spent on the trip.
    2. You seriously needed to be athletic to do this trip. I don't care what age or gender you are, but this wasn't an easy hike. More than half of the trail were filled with rocks that required very good dexterity to navigate especially with a backpack. Most of my trail walking was me looking down at where to place my next step, so that I didn't twist an ankle.

    Saturday's hike provided a few scenic views. We made it to Bake Oven Knob & stopped for lunch. We met other hikers there and Webelos scouts. We noticed thunderstorms in the distance and we decided to make haste towards our next camping site which had a shelter.

    Along the way, I developed a blister on the ball of my foot and Spugs was quick to help me, since he had some experience with this and also was known as "Doctor Feet" on the trips. He broke out some Dr. Scholl's moleskin plus padding (I discovered later that I had moleskin in my first aid kit), and I was ready to go again.

    Also, Spugs and Gramps were smart enough to stash three coolers of water & beer at another parking lot along the trail (mid way between New Tripoli & Bake Oven Knob). We were able to load up on cold water, cold beer and ice. We put the coolers back into the woods and would pick them up on Sunday. That really helped because I was thinking of bringing a lot of water, and left a 4 liter bladder in my car when Spugs told me about this.

    Once we got to the shelter we were joined by other thru hikers. One was "Chillout", I would hazard he was about 60+ years old, with white hair and a white beard. Thru hikers are the hardcore hikers who started in Georgia, and live on the "AT". I'm sure weekend warriors to him are like Benny's from the shore to the locals. He hung out with us, while the storm passed, and a few other thru hikers showed up also. Some were a bit...ripe. I'm fully aware of the lack of showers on the AT, but it was hard to sit next to them in a shelter during a rain storm.

    Saturday night was a bit more low key. Everyone was really tired from the night before, and around the new campsite we had trouble finding wood & the rain got everything wet, which made starting a fire tough. We were joined by Manning who quickly got the name "Johnny Cakes" because he hiked in wearing a pink long sleeve button down shirt. He never watched the Sopranos and didn't quite get the joke, but we had a good laugh over it. He came from the opposite direction, at the end of our trail and parked there. He was able to bring us a case of cold beer, which was pretty sweet.

    We drank some more, listened to Popper play guitar and made the best of it. This campsite wasn't as good as the New Tripoli one, but it did have a shelter that some of the guys opted to sleep in rather than pitch a tent.

    We woke up at 7am, packed our things and hiked out. Lots of us were very hungover, and the hike to the last parking lot took about a hour and a half. Matt and I drove home and were back in Hoboken by 11am Sunday.

    Now after all that here's the Top 5 things I learned backpacking:

    Hitting The Trail

    | 6 Comments

    Last year I tried car camping with some friends, and I had mixed feelings towards it.

    I liked getting outdoors, and enjoyed the campfire, friends and food, but didn't like being so close to other campers. I really wanted to get into the WILDERNESS and experience outdoors.

    My buddy Matt told me of a group of guys he met 6 years ago while living in Philly. They were all in the same fraternity at Stockton State who go a few times a year for a weekend camping trip. What started as college thing spawned into 17 years of camping trips they call, "Team Hike". Matt met these guys while living in Philly about 6 years ago, and has been going with them when he can.

    This weekend, we are headed near Hawk Mountain/Wind Gap, PA, and are going to do a weekend camping trip. I have my gear from last year, and had to buy a few other things, like a large internal frame backpack. I want to camp light, if possible, but also don't want to be caught in the middle of nowhere without the proper gear.

    Do you backpack/hike? Maybe you have some advice for me. If so, feel free to email me or add your comments.

    Here's a list of what i'm taking with me to last Friday (drive to main lot, park and then a 1.8 mile hike to camp, stay the night), Saturday (hike 6 miles to Bake Oven Knob Shelter) & Sunday (hike 1.3 miles to second parking lot, where we will have some cars parked to take us back to main lot). :

    1. 2 Gallons Water (everything I read kept saying "Bring lots of water!")
    2. 2 cans of Tuna (I have pita bread I can bring to put this on)
    3. Hard Cheddar cheese & crackers (not sure about crackers here)
    4. Peanut Butter & Jelly (I have these in "one serving" containers, can spread on pitas)
    5. Cookies (again, might be "crushed cookies")
    6. 2 Apples (nature's perfect snack)
    7. Beef Jerky (good dehydrated protein)
    8. Dried Apricots (good dehydrated fruit)
    9. Granola Gorp (trail mix)
    10. Bran bars (could be replaced by gorp)
    11. Instant Oatmeal (2 packets for breakfast)
    12. Freeze-dried dinner (could 86 this and just eat Tuna/PB&J instead)
    13. Plastic fork (need 1 or 2)
    14. Salt/Pepper/Mayo packets (for Tuna)
    15. Travel Toothpaste (need just a small tube)
    16. Travel Deodorant (meh)
    17. Gum (maybe this could replace my toothpaste/brush!)
    18. Tent Pillow? (Could leave this and just use clothes as a pillow)
    19. Lash straps (never know when you need to lash)
    20. Small towels (1 for wet, 1 for dry)
    21. Sunscreen (muy importante!)
    22. Bug spray (¡Dado, insectos, dado!)
    23. Sunglasses (¿Por qué soy que escribe en español?)
    24. Hat (我们改为尝试这)
    25. Small digital camera (不, 我不喜欢这)
    26. First Aid Kit (Ok fixed that sorry. Yes, we need a first aid kit, but I guess everyone has one and can ditch it)
    27. Short Sleeve synthetic Shirt (Everything I read says avoid cotton clothing on a hike)
    28. Long Sleeve cotton hoodie (Just in case it gets chilly at night?)
    29. Shorts synthetic (Same idea here as #27)
    30. Underwear (Yes, my lists include dumb things like this because I will forget to pack it and then i'm goin' commando!)
    31. Socks synthetic (Remember "Commando"? I loved that movie. It was so bad, it's good.)
    32. Sneakers/Hiking Boots ("Let off some steam, Bennett*.")
    33. Toothbrush ("Remember when I said, 'I'd kill you last'? I lied.")
    34. Sleeping Bag & Foam Pad (Sorry, got distracted. Yes, you need a foam pad because if you don't the cold ground will seep thru the compressed sleeping bag)
    35. Tent (duh)
    36. Flashlight (wanted to get a head-lamp instead)
    37. Ziploc bags (for trash).

    Suggestions? Complaints? Email me!

    *oops!

    Meeting Time Changed...

    | 1 Comment

    Last minute switch-a-roo by the powers that be due to the election...

    The meeting I mentioned in my post last week is now MONDAY JUNE 11.

    If you have a free hour from 7pm to 8pm I could absolutely use the support to show the developers that this new construction isn't wanted by our residents.

    The Gym

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    I attended my first condo meeting last night at the building.

    They talked budget and some various issues. I found out my building has a tremendous cash reserve, and according to our accountant this is very rare for buildings in Hoboken that are our size (we have about 100 units).

    I brought up, at the end of the meeting, the gym.

    The gym in our building is about 500 sq feet, with equipment from the days when Pauly Shore was on TV. It is simply in dire need of refurbishment, everything should be replaced in my opinion. What they have currently is:

    1. One elliptical machine (this is less than 5 years old).
    2. Two treadmills (one in good shape, the other in fair-to-poor shape).
    3. A Smith Press.
    4. A Rack Cage.
    5. Two adjustable benches.
    6. One flat bench (in bad shape).
    7. A set of hex metal dumbbells from 5-50 (very poor shape).
    8. Two olympic bars, with full plate sets (one is on smith press, other in rack cage).
    9. One multi-gym with leg press, bench press, lat bar pull down, leg raise/bar dip station.

    Now if these were brand-new, i'd be floored. But you need to, dear reader, use your imagination here. They are at least 20 years old and very much used. I would hazard if everything was sold, i'd get about $5,000 for everything. You look around and just think, "This stuff is junk".

    That's where I come in. The board wants to hear a proposal by me about how to upgrade the gym. They agree that the gym is great for the tenants, and a good investment. A key for selling or renting our units would be a good gym in our building. Even owners who may not directly use the gym can benefit from part of their maintenence costs going into repair/upgrade of common use items. Even at $10 per month per owner that would be $12,000 a year we could sink into upgrading the gym.

    I don't have a budget (yet), but i'm trying to figure out a cost-effective solution.

    What i'd like, in my dream of dreams, is to create a mini "Club H". I really like the gym, and the equipment they have. But I don't have $200,000 to replace everything. I will hazard that I have more like $50,000 to replace the equipment.

    If I were to identify five key things to upgrade this is what i'd do:

    1. Replace the flooring with rubber gym mats & repaint the entire room.
    2. Replace one or two treadmills.
    3. Buy a straight bar & an EZ bar that can be used with the plates used with the Olympic bars. I want to combine all the bars so that they just need one plate set to be used for each bar, rather than the monstrousity that they have now.
    4. Replace the flat bench, adjustable benches, and roman chair. Buy one upright bench (I have used adjustable benches before and they can't match a good upright bench).
    5. Replace the dumbbell set with a rubber hex set from 5-100, with a dumbbell rack.

    New (gym strength, not home) treadmills can cost like $3,000-8,000 each. Buying dumbbells, from what i'm told, its just best to to go a sporting goods store and buy them there. Anyone know maybe a gym outlet store that sells wholesale? Maybe I could buy used gym equipment?

    To me, those would be the most important replacements, because they are the most used items in a gym. Most people I see at Club H want a good treadmill or elliptical machine. With a good dumbbell, barbell and proper benches you can do an entire workout routine, you don't need machines (but i'd love to replace all of them, if I had the funds).

    I have to also take into consideration all the owners. What would they like in a gym? I'm a guy, so my needs may be different than someone else.

    If I had unlimited funds, i'd love to replace the smith press, cage, multi-gym and stations, too. But I have a feeling my five key upgrades alone will reach $50,000. Suggestions are welcome here!

    Memorial Day Weekend

    | 1 Comment

    Whew. What a weekend. More work than play, but i'm very happy.

    Saturday morning I get a wake up phone call at 7:45am from the granite people from All Granite And Marble. A man with a polish accent informs me they will be at my condo in 30 minutes.

    I get up, and wait.

    Four guys show up. 052907 002.jpgThey are all needed to lift the granite slabs, and take the elevator to my home. At one or two times, it was very close to being dropped, but they came through. The granite was put into place, and they were very efficient. They also installed a new undermount sink, and drilled holes for the faucet. They left and I was woozy from the glue smell that filled my apartment. But I had a real countertop, and finally could unpack my kitchen boxes, which were sealed for the last month.

    Thirty minutes after they leave I get the next phone call. It's the delivery guys with my leather couch and leather chair with ottoman. They come in, and quickly drop off my items and leave. I'm unpacking these when I get another phone call from Fresh Direct. Fresh Direct drops off my groceries, and I finally have my refrigerator stocked with something other than beer and seltzer.

    The rest of the day is uneventful, and I bartend that night to a dead bar. It was nice to get back a few regulars of the bar who also read my blog.

    Sunday morning my sister, mother, brother in law and two nephews (and two dogs!), show up. This was my mom's second visit, and she came bearing housewarming gifts, which was very nice of her. My brother-in-law is very handy, almost as handy as my contractor, Sammy. I had a few projects that I wanted him to help me with, but the foremost project was my air conditioning.

    When I bought my condo, my home inspector found that of the three wall mounted PTAC (basically an air conditioner and heat-pump unit) one was working, one had A/C but no heat and a third was dead). The owner credited me $1,800 towards fixing the air conditioners, based on an estimate from a HVAC repair man. I called the repair man after the close, and he told me the following:

    1. Yes, one could "possibily" be repaired for $1,800 by getting a special circuit board and having him swap it out.
    2. One was dead and to get that existing model and replace it would cost $2,200.
    3. My total cost would be $4,000.

    Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

    I called at least five other HVAC people, asking for a second opinion. Most wanted to come to my condo, look the units over and give me a quote. I simply didn't have the time to do this, and with summer looming didn't want to be without A/C.

    I then started to do my own research. I looked up the serial numbers of the unit, which were made by Carrier. The units were about 10 years old and the Carrier website gave me model numbers of compatible replacement units. Then, I searched for those replacement units and found that brand new PTAC cost about $700.

    Hmm. I could just replace one unit for $700 and pay someone a few hundred to swap out my existing wall unit out. How much could that cost.

    Again, I call multiple HVAC offices. Even with me purchasing the unit myself - they are all quoting me numbers that ranged from $800-2000 to replace my A/C. I was flabbergasted. Honestly it was like they were crooks and trying to steal from me. They were all claiming how hard it was to do and I am on the phone like, "Dude, you are taking an old unit out and slapping in a new unit. This will take you, at most, 20 minutes. No, no, no - you don't understand HVAC, sir. Blah, blah, blah.

    I'm angry. Back when Dad was alive, i'd call him, he would know someone, and it gets figured out. Now with his passing it turns out that Mom is my new go-to person. Dad knew everyone in every field in Philly - from lawyers & doctors to HVAC guys & plumbers. My mother's contact list is basically the same, but smaller. She knew who to call right away - my brother in law, Dan.

    Now Dan(*name changed) probably doesn't want me writing too much on here about him, but just to give you an idea about him - he's sort of like if McGuyver's and Bob Vila combined. Naval Academy graduate, Wharton MBA, and if you give him an instruction manual, tools, chewing gum, a felt tip pen, miscellaneous wires and time, he can basically construct most home projects.

    Which was cool because as described above, I needed some A/C help and Mom knew who to call.

    Just like that, he was on the phone assuring me it wouldn't be a problem to have him swap out the dead unit with a brand new unit. I went online, purchased a PTAC unit and it was shipped to me 7 days later.

    Dan shows up, reads the manual, and before he does, I get an idea.

    I may not know much about HVAC, but my 9-5 job does border on troubleshooting. I am good at directing techs on the phone, and eliminating failures, and isolating where "troubles" occur in technology. With Dan there, we start to work together, and we eventually figure out the following:

    1. The PTAC that was "dead" is, in fact, working fine. We took a working thermostat, swapped it out with the other one, and found that out. So, I just needed a $50 thermostat to fix that problem.

    2. The second PTAC, with the faulty heat, we swapped out with the third working unit. We took my new PTAC and put it where the old third working unit was located.

    Problems solved...sort of. Turns out that the thermostat control for the new PTAC was for A/C, electric heat units and not PTAC heat-pump units. I have to get a new one, but its a $90 investment. That sort of put a damper on my joy, but considering that I spent about $840 ($700 PTAC, $90 thermostat connector, $50 thermostat) out of $1,800 I was credited by the seller, i'm still about $1,160 ahead.

    Dan and I looked over the apartment, and he made me write a list of items we should get from Home Depot. We bought a garbage disposal, new hallway & kitchen lights, and some other odds and ends. He connects up everything, with me assisting as best I can. I finally have running water in my kitchen, and replaced my old fluorescent lights for incandescent ones in the hallway.

    I actually learned a bit, too, about electric and wiring that I didn't know before. It wasn't too hard when you actually have someone there to show you how it's done. For example, I swapped out one of the hall lights myself, while Dan worked on the sink.

    My family left Sunday and I thanked them for all their help. It was great to see them and especially great that Dan was so incredibly handy.

    I cooked my first meal on Sunday night. I had prosciutto and melon appetizer, with chianti, 5 cheese tortellini, ragù alla bolognese and topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese. I can't take credit for making the dish, it was from Fresh Direct, but delicious nonetheless. After that, I went to Moran's, met some friends and had a few drinks.

    Monday was a relaxed day of me catching the last four episodes of "24", eating food, making a few red bulls and vodka, and napping on my new couch. I didn't step outside except to do my laundry, which were two washers and dryers down the hall and cost $1 per machine.

    There are only a few remaining items for Sammy to fix at my apartment and the work will be complete. Chris the painter should be finishing up his work this week, too.

    Next up - House Party!

    Citizens Bank Park

    | 21 Comments

    I went down to Citizens Bank Field Sunday, with Brad and "Veet", his cousin.052107 001.jpg

    It was a beautiful spring day, with temperatures in the 70's, a good breeze and partly cloudy skies. My drive down there was simple, I made it to the ball park in 1 hour 25 minutes from Hoboken. I have been to Veteran's Stadium countless times with my father and brother as a kid. I remember just HATING that stadium for various reasons. It was cavernous, cold, the people were always belligerent, even to their own fans. It just wasn't the kind of place for a family, it was a stadium for angry drunks.

    Hey, I know some of you reading it LOVED that.

    Even as a single guy today that's something I still don't like in a stadium. I like a place with a good crowd, for families of all ages to enjoy. Sometimes you have to be a bit careful what you wish for, which I will explain later.

    So the new place is great. Big, but not too big. Great sightlines to the field. Lots of variety with the shops and food. Still sky high prices on everything, but that's about what I expect at a ballpark. I had my chance to try a Schmitter, but wolfed down two hot dogs and tried a Rick's cheesesteak instead.

    Mini review on the steak? Eh. Good, but not great. Certainly not on the same level as Pat's or Geno's but about the same i'd expect from a good pizza place that makes steaks in the suburbs. I wanted to try a Tony Luke's steak next time.

    The ballpark was filled with fans, about 39,000 of them and it was MUCH different when compared to the Vet. In the Vet, when you had 39,000 fans, the place seemed dead because it held 62,382 fans. The CB can fit 43,647 max, so the place was just filled with fans, who cheered with every good play and boo'd when appropiate.

    My seats weren't too bad. I just went online and ordered them from phillies.com. But I made a catastrophic mistake.

    Now, I assumed i'd easily get 3 other people who would be interested in a Phillies game. It was on a Sunday afternoon during spring (not summer). I had lots of friends and family who would go to this.

    I was just thinking i'd take Brad, Matt and another person to the game. Matt couldn't go, he had plans with his wife. Brad could go, so I told him to just get two of his cousins and we'd be set. He let me know Saturday night at the bar that he could only get 1 cousin. Yipes.

    Sunday morning I called about 8 people. Got lots of voicemails and plenty of others who had other plans, which is understandable. Basically couldn't find another person to join us 3 and ate the last ticket. That sucked.

    Another thing that sucked is that "family" thing I was talking about before. I only ran into two problems. You really can't say "Fuck" that often, because there are kids everywhere. I found myself saying things like "Wes Helms is sitting cause he can't get the fucking lumber off his shoulder..." then watching out of the corner of my eye a mom give me a dirty look. Ok, sorry. I guess i'm the angry drunk now. In this scenario, I shouldn't be cursing and I was able to re-train my brain by the 4th inning to replace my curse words with more acceptable replacement terms, like "Darn!" or "Freakin'". Yea, they don't have the same effect.

    Somehow it has become acceptable to bring a two year old to the stadium. Next to me, in two seats, were a grandpa and a dad, and their two year old. Now you parents out there, lets have some sympathy. Think about this - a TWO year old at a baseball game who is expected to sit for 4 hours isn't going to happen. So he was a complete monster (yelling, squirming on his seat, changing laps from dad's to grandpa's each inning) for about three hours until he fell asleep in the 8th inning. That's just another example of a parent being selfish that irritates me. There was no reason to bring such a young child to the ballpark, except that the dad wanted to catch the game with his pop, and his wife couldn't/wouldn't watch their son. I personally think in a ballpark there should be a rule that you have to be 5 to 6 or older to enter with your parents. Otherwise, stay home. Part of me wanted to say something, but what could I say? "Hey thanks for Bubba yelling in my ear for the last 3 innings, that was great..."

    Otherwise, the day was a lot of fun, and i'd like to go back again soon. My last complaint is the drive home. You know how I made it there in 1 hour 25 minutes? It took me 2 hours and 25 minutes to get home thanks to exit 5 through 8A on the NJ Turnpike. I was a complete idiot and should have taken 95 to Route 1, then Route 1 to exit 9. Learn from my mistakes!

    Bagel Smashery

    | 1 Comment

    In Hoboken, one of the most popular activities with the populace is getting smashed. Kids getting smashed, their parents with them, too. Sometimes old people get smashed, sometimes young. There is no rhyme or reason, its just the thing to do in Hoboken - Get Smashed! Some people get lighly smashed, some get moderately smashed and some go to a full smashing, and enjoy every minute of it. 051407 005.jpg
    I like to get smashed, and I just discovered how delightful it can be on a Saturday morning to get smashed.

    Now don't get me wrong, i'm not talking about the use of alcohol, I am talking about The Bagel Smashery, with their two locations in Hoboken at 152 1st Street (btwn Bloomfield and Garden) and 918 Willow Ave.

    I have seen the Bagel Smashery on many occasions, passing by it on 918 Willow when McMahon's Brownstone used to host the Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken. Now that i'm a resident of downtown Hoboken, I pass by the First Street Bagel Smashery and asked myself, "What's all the fuss?"

    Saturday I entered the store with an open mind and an empty stomach. It wasn't terribly busy, and I quickly placed my order for an egg bagel, with bacon, egg and cheese - "SMASHED".051407 002.jpg

    Then I started to ask the person working there, "What's the deal with the smash?"

    She gave me a look like I had horns coming out of my head and said, "What da'ya mean?"

    "The smashing thing. What's the deal? The 411? Why smash a bagel?", I asked.

    "Is this your first time here?", she replied.

    "How did you ever guess?", I chortled.

    "Have you ever had a Cuban sandwich?", she asked.

    "Sure, I get them weekly from La Isla up the street.", I said.

    "It's the same idea. We press the bagel to press the bacon, egg, cheese and bagel together, making the outside crispy and the inside nicely smashed together for a compact, tasty meal.", she told me.

    How interesting.

    She went on to explain about the owners and the history of the Bagel Smashery, and it was a bit hard to understand with various dates of them leaving, selling the place, this is what I gathered .051407 004.jpgfrom what she told me and what the website detailed:

    The very first Bagel Smashery was established in 1995, on 718 Washington Street, and changed owners & licensing in 1996. In 1997, it moved out of Hoboken, to the consternation of the original owners, but in 2002, Bagel Smashery returned to 153 First Street. With its popularity soaring, they opened another store on 918 Willow Street in 2003. They are entertaining licensing business opportunities, and from what I was told the owners are also trying to petition a major corporation to license their product for sales in their stores

    I waited only a brief amount of time, noticing that the Bagel Smashery had about 6 or so "smashers" lined up ready to press customer's bagels. They also had a good deal of coffee, and various waters or juices to choose from. I grabbed a small cup of coffee an orange juice and my bagel (which cost about $3.85). I went home and decided to try this crazy concoction.

    I have good news and bad news.

    The good news is that the core product, the bagel, smashed, with the bacon, egg and cheese was an enormous hit. Delicious. Crispy. Gooey, but not sloppy. Tender egg combined with a flavorful bacon, and a soft cheese on a lightly toasted warm bagel was an absolute delight for my morning tastebuds.051407 009.jpg

    Then I made the mistake of trying the coffee. It was fairly bitter, and very dissapointing when combined with their delightful breakfast sandwich.

    I know that Bagel Smashery regulars are going to be chomping at the bit to email me and tell me how wrong I am. Remember, I am merely a man with my tastes which may be different that your tastes. My presumptious attitude may be angering you, but maybe I just got a bad batch of the coffee. Who knows?

    But don't let my coffee experience deter you!

    It isn't the Coffee Smashery, it's the Bagel Smashery, and they know how to smash those bagels just right. I got smashed, and i'm ready to get smashed just about every weekend I think. I mean, you can't say you are living in Hoboken if you don't get smashed, now and again, can you?

    Incentive

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    One of the issues that owners of bars have with bartenders is "tipping the tills".

    Basically it goes like this.

    The bartender hands the customer a $100 bill. The customer pays $120, or $100 for the tab and $20 for the 20% tip. The bartender enters $80 on the register and puts $40 in their tip cup.

    In order to combat this, a bar owner can do two things. One, be extremely tight about how the bartender does their job, with cameras and managers. Hawkish management of what is sold, and using meticulous means to track profits, like using a pour regulator on a bottle, which measures for the bartender an EXACT pour for each drink. Or, you may have seen a bartender pour liquor into a shot glass, add it to the rocks glass and add the soda/juice on top. That's an exact pour, which maximizes profits for the bar.

    Or, just implement a bonus system that rewards employees who bring in profits to the bar & work hard. The barometer to measure them would be the bartenders individual register. If an employee rings "x" amount on the register they get a bonus. The amount of "x" would depend on the bar and hopefully set to realistic expectations. Right now at our bar, I think the numbers are realistic, I have hit the bonus on multiple occasions.

    So, then, there is more of an incentive NOT to "give the bar away", a term used for bartenders who give away too many buybacks, in order to pad their tip jar, and more of an incentive to put cash in the register. Giving out such a bonus increases the profits for the bar, and increases the profits for the employees.

    Nearly everyone working on Wall St. has some kind of way to bonus for their hard work. Some companies have profit sharing. Some companies give out bonuses in the form of stock. Some people make money as individuals, based on whatever they bring into the company and profit from that.

    Wouldn't it make more sense if everyone did this with their employees?

    I pass CVS everyday coming home from the PATH and they always have ridiculoulsly long lines. Why? Well, it is a popular store in a good location. I would also hazard that the employees don't have an incentive to work faster, which keep the queues moving at a sluggish pace. I'm sure the same is true for fast-food places like McDonalds. Imagine if they had some kind of incentive system in place everywhere, how much faster things would get done.

    Like in Hoboken if you go to a mom & pop owned store, and the owners are there, the product comes out lickety split. But if you have a bunch of teenagers in there who don't care about profit margins, they are going to be S-L-O-W. There' just isn't an incentive for a teenager to work harder and faster.

    I'm sure others, including myself, have avoided CVS in the past because of the long lines. That is profit which is walking out of their door, because their employees don't care about working faster when they are making $9 an hour. It is $9 an hour if they work slow or $9 an hour if they work fast. Imagine if you told them they could make $15 an hour?

    I was at CVS on Saturday. I needed to pick up a few things for the condo. I was 3rd in line and it took the cashier 10 minutes to get to me. By that time i'm just thinking how I don't want to come back to this store if I can help it. Unfortunately it is the only store at that end of Hoboken which most closely resembles a supermarket. They don't really have a reason to be fast, in a way. So very annoying.

    My Idea To Stop Email Spam

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    I don't understand why email providers can't "fix" spam.

    I have a simple solution.

    Ok, lets say your email is "xyz@yahoo.com". The first solution is if you meet someone like "beth@gmail.com" you exchange emails, and you can input it on your cell phone. You can text that email to yahoo.com address and it adds her to your address book. She is now an authorized user to email you.

    Or, when you get home, add "Beth@gmail.com" to your address book. Much like if you add someone's phone number to your cell phone. It is a manual way of doing it, and works just the same.

    Anytime "Beth@gmail.com" emails "xyz@yahoo.com" the filter at yahoo looks at the email, and if it matches, the mail goes thru. If not, it is COMPLETELY blocked. No spam folder. BLOCKED. The spammers get nothing.

    Say, someone is trying to track you down. An old classmate, roommate or co worker. The spam folder works like match.com - you get "Friend Requests". You can glance thru it every once in a while to see if someone is emailing you that you know. If not, just don't approve them. I have friends of mine who don't pick up their cell phones if they don't recognize the number who is calling them. Just do the same for email.

    I don't think this is a perfect solution, but I do think that it would make the spammer's job much harder. I would very much like to make a list of "approved" emailers on my yahoo account and everyone else gets sent to spam. If someone called me saying "Hey! I have been trying to email you!" I look at my spam folder, check out to see if someone was flagged as spam, and just check them to "approved" much like they do today in the spam folders.

    Funny Or Die: The Landlord

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    Questions From The Homeland...

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    I got an email from a woman near my hometown, Richboro. It reads:

    Hi Sean, I came across your blog while researching Hoboken. Firstly,
    thanks so much for all the very useful information. I am actually
    moving to the NYC area from Holland, PA - not far from Richboro. I am
    debating NYC or Hoboken.041107.jpg
    I was hoping you could answer a few questions
    for me, since I don't know anyone there. I'd greatly apprectiate it!
    Thanks so much!

    1. I know PATH runs all night, but is it safe to take it at 3 a.m.?
    2. Is Hoboken safe overall?
    3. What is the best website you think to find a 1 bedroom place in Hoboken?
    4. Would you recommend any other NJ suburbs to consider for an easy
    daily commute into midtown Manhattan?

    Thanks so much, Sean!

    First I will start by saying, thank you for the kind words. Far too often in the world of the internet people enjoy being negative towards each other.

    I'll break down your questions, and answer them based on my experiences.
    Q: I know PATH runs all night, but is it safe to take it at 3 a.m.?
    A: Like any major city, you have to be more careful on the PATH, or any subway, late at night or in the morning. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays it isn't uncommon to have loads of yuppies riding the trains back from NYC to Hoboken. I'd say it was safe enough, but if you are out with a few girlfriends, i'd just get a yellow cab at that time, have everyone pony up $10 each and get a taxi home. If taking a PATH at 3 a.m. is work-related, due to a graveyard shift or something, I would say that even I would feel uncomfortable if a sister or girlfriend was taking at 3 a.m. every night on a PATH. That's just me.

    Q: Is Hoboken safe overall?
    A: It is an urban area, and has much more crime than Holland, PA. I'd probably say it has a similar crime level to Roxborough or Manayunk. If your read my story about how I was almost mugged, i'm the only person I know who ever got jumped by thugs in town. Then again my house was also broken into about 2 years back, too. That happens more often than you think in this town, so get renter's insurance. Make sure whatever place you move into has proper security. Even with those two events, I still feel that Hoboken is a safe town, but it has crime, like New York.

    Q: What is the best website you think to find a 1 bedroom place in Hoboken?
    A: Easily Hobokeni.com has the best listings for apartment rentals or apartment shares. Yahoo! Real Estate has nice listings from our local real estate office, if you want to work with them. I recommend the agent I used, Steve Miller, of Century 21 and owner of Hobokenhomes.com.

    Q: Would you recommend any other NJ suburbs to consider for an easy
    daily commute into midtown Manhattan?
    A: I think it depends on your social situation. If you are young (22-36), single and/or in a new relationship (read: don't have kids), I recommend Hoboken. Certainly you can raise the rug rats here, but I wouldn't want to. I'd rather be in the suburbs, myself. If you can afford it, try to buy near Princeton Junction. They have express trains that take about an 50 minutes to get into 42nd street. You pay a bit more to live in Hoboken, but I think it is worth it. I couldn't imagine myself in the suburbs as a single guy.

    Good luck, let me know how everything goes! I'm sure some of my commenters have something to say about your questions, too...

    Tartan Day & I Nearly Was A Bar Owner

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    040507a.jpg

    In Hoboken we have a history of taking a perfectly good day of national pride and turning it into an excuse to drink. St. Patrick's Day is so 1986...welcome to Tartan Day 2007!

    And like many other days of national pride, we also celebrate it early around here. The real Tartan Day is April 6. Apparently it is April 5th in Hoboken.

    Tartan day was in full force at The Dubliner, with a bagpiper, lots of people in kilts, and comely Glenlivet sponsor girls outside the pub, looking like they wished they wore a sweater this frigid morning.

    Then I remembered - I nearly BOUGHT that bar a few months ago.

    Ok, i'm exaggerating a bit. I wasn't going to be THE only bar owner, but I happened to meet someone who was an avid reader of my website one day.

    It was quite strange, actually. I wrote a post one day a few months back, and a reader saw it and emailed me to introduce himself. I recognized his name, he wrote to me a few times over the lifetime of the blog. He told me that he was getting a group of people together to buy The Dubliner and after reading my entry thought i'd be the kind of guy interested in taking a chance with a group of other investors on the property. My each minority investor would provide 5-10% each of the total cost, and he was going to provide the bulk of the upfront cash and work as owner and manager.

    I had a lot of questions for him. We emailed for a week, going over different details about his experience, the funds, what the other owners responsibilities would entail - which seemed to be mostly about promoting the bar. Truth be told, he seemed like a decent guy, but at the same time it was just a bit too risky to invest with someone I barely knew. It certainly had an upside, but my spidey senses were just saying "Don't do it".

    Groups of bar owners isn't anything new in this town. The bar "Nine" has 9 owners (hence the name? or it is that they are at 333 Washington - 3+3+3=9?)040507b.jpg

    After about a month of discussions with the guy, I backed out. The situation was a small investment, but I just didn't feel it. The Dubliner had some capacity issues. The first floor had a capacity of 57 (I have to check the EXACT numbers, but I remember them being extremely low) and the 2nd floor had a capacity of approximiately 75, I just felt that was ridiculously low for a bar that sized. You put 130 people into that bar and it will look empty on a parade day. Also the bar was in dire need to be redesigned to make it more "Hoboken Friendly". The first floor, with the plexiglass outdoor seating I thought was terrible. The common room needed fixes and the 2nd floor was underutilized.

    Also the question of "Can I bartend there" came up, and I was promised a shift, it was a bit too murky for me about what, exact, shift I could get. Both the 1st and 2nd floor bars are tiny. I am in the school of thought as many bar owners - cute bartenders equals business. I'm a guy. Guys are a dime a dozen in Hoboken. So I didn't want to shoot myself in the foot, by asking to bartend as a minority owner, and screw us by not generating as much business as a cuter girl bartender might. It wasn't like the bars were all that conducive to having two bartenders behind them like Mikie Squared.

    Bottom line is that it just wasn't for me. Mistake? Well, as it turned out The Dubiner *was* for sale, and then once negotations began (after I backed out) between the potentional buyers and the present owners, a series of issues popped up and the sale fell apart. So, it wasn't to be anyhow.

    I guess it was good, in a way, that I didn't get into the bar business - I am closing on my condo today. "Jason Phillips" asked in my comments the following: "i worry that you may not have done your due diligence when finding this condo. 1st the place is 100 square feet less than advertised and now you find out there is a problem with mice. i think you let your enthusiasm for finding your own place get in the way of rational thought. is it too late to back out?"

    My answer would be that yes, I am enthused about the apartment. I went there the first day and walked through it, with a paper saying it was 750 sq ft. I looked around and thought "Wow, I like the size of this place."

    When my agent told me that the listing agent made a mistake, and it was really 650 sq ft, it didn't shrink in size, except on paper. I knew after walking through the apartment that it would work for me, since I was a single bachelor. Four or five years from now, when I am ready to leave, it should be a great place to either rent or sell to another working professional.040507c.jpg

    Like my fellow blogger The Blonde wrote, "I work in real estate, and you cannot put a guaranteed price on sq. footage, whether it is residential or commercial. Their are averages, but you shouldn't nit pick. If you are paying less then what the other units in the building are selling for, then you are already making money on it. Making a stink over it can kill the deal, and then someone else will come in and scoop it up. It will be your loss then....100 sq.ft. is not that big of a deal. You like the place, and it is the space that you want so just buy it."

    I happen to agree with that philosophy. The key points to the condo was its potentional, and had a lot of positives in my mind. It was in a very good location, about 6 blocks to the PATH in downtown Hoboken. It was concrete poured, so it was much quieter than new flimsy construction, where you can hear your neighbor in high heels walking above you. It has low maintenence and the taxes were about half of what I have seen with the new construction (yes, I am aware of the possible changes to that). My parking, which is transferable to the new owner, would be literally across the street for $25 more a month in rent than what I was paying at the Monroe Arts Center, which was a solid 7 minute walk to my car (it doesn't sound like a lot, but it was).

    The negatives: Mice? Certainly a concern, but I think it is true for many buildings in Hoboken. I'm not sure how I could have known about it, unless I started knocking on strangers doors saying "Hi! You don't know me, but I was looking to buy in your building...I had a few questions for you..."Now that i'm moving in, you can bet your bottom dollar that i'm going to be all over the management and the residents to eradicate & control the problem. Electric only? I will miss gas heat and gas appliances, but it wasn't a deal breaker. Closet space? A bit tighter, but I think installing EZ closets will help a lot. Square footage? I agree that this was a big oversight. I simply took what the listing agent wrote at face value, and by the time it was revealed that the sq footage was wrong, it was 2 weeks later and I was doing the home inspection! I was already picking out new appliances, lining up a contractor and getting a professional painter, and friend, scheduled to make the place nicer. Had I caught it earlier, I may have balked. In a way, i'm glad that I didn't because I have been sitting on the sideline for the last 4 years, always saying, "The market is going down THIS year."

    Of course now i'm watching the whole sub-prime mortgage fiasco and laughing a bit. I know the days of real estate gains are over, but I am just happy that I got a great mortgage rate and i'm finally a homeowner. I don't plan on selling my home anytime soon. Especially that i'm now 2 blocks away from Mulligan's bar, it should be a lot more fun next season with The Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken!! Go Birds!!

    Happy Easter and Passover, everyone. Have a safe weekend.

    Anyone know who David Lereah is?

    For the last 4 years I have watched the housing market overheat like crazy. I was the guy 4 years ago saying that markets are cyclical and it can't last. Up, up, up the market rose. I would go to parties and meet some of the most stupid motherfuckers who thought they were the next Donald Trump because they happened to get in on the real estate market before it exploded - like they fucking knew their gains would be 50% per year.

    Sure, it is sour grapes, but I remembered the Savings & Loan disaster in the late 80's. I remember the real estate company my father worked for, which was headed for a ridiculous fortune, implode on itself because of the fallout. At one point of time, my mother was fully expecting us to own a summer home in South Jersey, a vacation villa in Italy and a brand new home on the Main Line. Those never came to fruition due to the housing collapse in the 80's. Maybe this is part of the reason why I am so thorough when I make any purchases, real estate or otherwise. This profoundly affected my life, watching the dreams and apirations of my father and mother get quashed overnight.

    Lots of my generation don't remember the real estate recession from 1988-1992. They were mostly too young to remember it or just weren't affected by it like my family was affected. Fortunately my father was extremely intelligent and very resourceful. He emerged from the collapse stronger, wiser and economically healthy. We never got that villa in Italy, but the old man did well enough to make us all proud of his financial success.

    So what does this have to do with David Lereah?

    Well, because of my experiences and my trepidation to the whole housing market, I would read all the housing articles over the years. One name that always stood out was David Lereah, the National Association of Realtors chief economist. He was the spin doctor. When the market was a shooting star, he was leading the parade and waving his baton. When the market started to turn, he became a broken record.

    Read for yourself a smattering of quotes that I got from Bloomberg News:

    Sept 25, 2006: National Association of Realtors' Lereah Comments on Housing,
    “We think the housing market has now hit bottom…We're confident that the contraction in the housing market we've been seeing since August 2005 may be ending.”

    Dec 11, 2006: Housing Will Recover in First Quarter, Realtors Say
    “ Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The worst of the U.S. housing slump is
    over, according to the National Association of Realtors.”

    Dec 28, 2006: U.S. Existing Home Sales Unexpectedly Rose Last Month
    “It appears we've hit bottom,”

    Feb 1, 2007: Pending Sales of Existing Homes in U.S. Rose 4.9% in December
    “ ``It appears buyers are becoming more comfortable, sensing
    the timing is good and that their local market has bottomed
    out,'' David Lereah, chief economist for the Realtors' group,
    said in a statement. ``I expect modest gains throughout the
    year, with what I believe are sustainable levels of activity.''

    Feb 15, 2007: Home Prices Fell in Half U.S. Cities in 4th Quarter
    “Hopefully the fourth quarter was the bottom for the current housing cycle,'' Lereah said in the statement.

    March 23, 2007: Realtors' Lereah Says Housing Market Has `Some Momentum'
    “ ``I'd like to say yes, the worst is over. It seems like there
    is some momentum now in the housing sector. Most measures in
    housing have been on the up rather than the down.”

    April 3, 2007: Pending Sales of Existing Homes Rose 0.7% in February
    The gain in the February ``is encouraging,'' said David
    Lereah, the real-estate agents group's chief economist in a
    statement. ``The data suggests an underlying stabilization is
    taking place in the housing market, but it will take another
    month or two to clarify.''

    Look, i'm fully aware he is a spin doctor. I know that being a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors he has to put a nice face on all the data. But how many times can this guy say that the market is "bottoming out" or "stabilizing"? I may not be a reporter, but if I was, I would absolutely be writing about this guy and going to my Lexus Nexus to see how many times he was quoted as saying the market bottomed out. I'm sure there is more quotes of his before Sept 25, 2006 that I could find which puts a happy face on everything.

    Are you a reporter? Do you know a reporter? Just send them all my quotes and say, "Someone please call out David Lereah on his bullshit." I'd love to see how the spin doctor pooh-pooh's all the times he has said that the real estate market is botttoming out.

    Now, with that being said, I met a neighbor from my same building last night.

    I moved my car from Monroe Center for the Arts on 7th and Monroe to a new lot on Newark Street. It was $25 more per month, but having my car across the street from where I live was worth it. Unfortunately, the spot is tandem, but since I use my car maybe once or twice per month, it didn't bother me much. I am in line for a single spot, however.

    I met the neighbor and she was a pleasant, 30-something woman of Indian heritage who also lived in the building. After we exchanged pleasantries, I asked her, "So what's wrong with the building", figuring i'd get the dirt now.

    "Mice.", she replied.

    Dammit!

    One of the greatest things about my apartment is that we never had vermin issues. Nor did we have any major insect issues, except for the occasional ant invasion that was easily destroyed. Never had cockroaches. Saw an occasional spider.

    My neighbor explained that the building across the street from ours was under construction and she surmised that the mice from there ran across the street into our building. My only caveat is that she is on the Willow side of the building as and i'm on the Clinton side (the building spans the entire block, and has 7 floors).

    She also noted that the building did hire an exterminator, and was actively combating the problem. Also said that it wasn't an infestation, but it was a fairly good annoyance. She said that it seemed to be getting better.

    Armed with that, I certainly plan to have my contractor look over my apartment for any holes that the mice could wiggle through. The building is concrete poured, not like some of the newer construction that is flimsier and easier to infest/tunnel. Unless the mice have super concrete eating teeth, i'm sure this problem can be managed. I fully expect that once I move in, i'm going to be very active with monitoring this issue with the building management & rallying the tenants to combat it. I told my neighbor that i'm that kind of guy - i'd be the guy printing off 60 copies of "How To Combat a Rodent Problem" from the internet and going to everyone's door handing out the pamphlets.

    If I find that mice are a problem, I will go to the ASPCA and get 2 cats for my apartment. My old cat, Honey, was a great mouser - she used to catch mice all the time at my sister's old farmhouse and even caught one at my first apartment on Bloomfield street. She was nice enough to leave it in the middle of the kitchen floor for us, as if to say "Surprise! Look what I got for you!"

    I'm kidding about getting two cats. Man, I hope the mice issue isn't that bad. I guess I will have to add to my list of things to do is get an exterminator to look over my apartment.

    Oh, and i'm feeling much better today. 95% back to normal. Just a small twinge of stomach pain remains and I still have 2 Cipro tablets to take today, so I hope I will feel 100% by tomorrow or the next day.

    Finding A Doctor

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    I'm sick today.

    I have a "stomach flu", and have been nauseous since Tuesday. I first thought it was food poisoning, but that usually goes away after 24 hours. I woke up this morning, took a shower, and promptly threw up. That never happened before, except when I was drinking the night before.

    So I was a bit concerned.

    I called my regular doctor in Manhattan. The phone number was disconnected. I haven't seen him for at least a year, I rarely need to go to the doctor, except for the occasional upper respiratory infection. I look up his name on the internet and he is part of a medical group. So I decide to call another internal medicine doctor in the group. For the next 45 minutes I call one doctor after another each saying the doctor is either out of the office or not taking new patients until late April. No one cares to my plight. I ask the other receptionists about my old doctor and they tell me that apparently he retired. No one told me. Never got an email from my old doctor saying he was retiring. One receptionist had his cell number and I called it leaving him a voice mail asking "Where do I go now...?"

    Frustrated, I look up Hoboken doctors on Hobokenchat.

    I call Dr. Pollack and the receptionist says they can't see me until April 5th. But i'm sick TODAY. I ask her, nicely, why is it that no doctor can see me today if I am a new patient. She tries to pawn me off to call other doctors in Hoboken.

    Then I remember that once, LONG ago, I did see a doctor in Hoboken. It was Dr. Messihi on 14th and Bloomfield. This could have been about 5 years if not longer. So I call and tell the receptionist that I was a patient of his, but I haven't been there in 5 years. She's all nice to me. Its like night and day when the receptionist thinks you are an actual patient of his, rather than some rube off the street. She is like "Oh, no problem, I will find your file..."

    I saw him ONCE. It was a long time ago, maybe even 8 years for all I know. But I still did see him.

    I have an appointment to see him today. Hopefully he can figure out why i've been sick since Tuesday.

    Panic

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    Panic on the streets of London
    Panic on the streets of Birmingham
    I wonder to myself
    Could life ever be sane again ?
    The Leeds side-streets that you slip down
    I wonder to myself
    Hopes may rise on the Grasmere
    But Honey Pie, you're not safe here
    So you run down
    To the safety of the town
    But there's Panic on the streets of Carlisle
    Dublin, Dundee, Humberside
    I wonder to myself...

    I was in Myrtle last week, my first day, and basking in the sunshine of a 75 degree day, a cold Captain and Coke in my hand when I noticed my cell phone beeping.

    I had a voice mail.

    I pick it up and it's my boss (from the bar), Mike, who left me a message saying we needed to sit down and talk before Saturday.

    My mind started to race. Why did we need to sit down and talk?

    Things at the bar were going....ok. Mikie's is a different bar than Dipper's. Back in the "Days of Dipper's", the bartenders and manager ran the bar. It was great. A very relaxed atmosphere, where bartending was just about having fun and making money. Most of our regulars were also our friends outside the bar.

    Our only stress was when Dipper showed up, because he just didn't understand how a bar should be run. He wanted desperately the bar to be a restaurant, with really good food. I would look around our dilapidated bar and tell him he should focus on good "bar food" that fits the bar. Make a killer burger, great wings, tasty fries and that's what 90% of the people who came here wanted.

    He would come up with goofy ideas to drum up business. I remember one was that he wanted to hire a belly dancer or a Hawaiian dancer to teach people, in the bar, how to dance. Everyone shot that down, but he kept bringing it up all the time. Also he knew of an act, like a duet couple who would work the crowd, like Sonny and Cher or Captain and Tennille. Dude, i'm not kidding, this was the shit he was saying we should try. I was trying to convince him to just spend like a few thousand sprucing up the place, move away from being such a dive bar and something a bit more contemporary. He would listen to some of our suggestions, but he always had favorites in the bar and I wasn't one of them. Dipper basically tolerated me because the other bartenders were my friends.

    With Mikie's it was a fresh start, new owners who actually listened to me and others. The new owners were much more on top of running the bar, unlike Dipper who let the staff basically run the place except for his twice a month visits. It was a blessing and a curse to have this change.

    It was a blessing because finally the bar was getting the attention it needed. It was renovated, a new menu was created, new drinks and wines added. They made some changes that I would have done if I owned the bar, too. But they also did some things that I don't agree with. One of them is the dartboard. I know it is a simple thing, but I would have figured out a way to keep the dartboard. Believe it or not, many people in Hoboken love darts. There's a dart league with about 8 people per team, 18 teams (each representing a bar, some bars have 2 teams) and 3 divisions (A, B, C) who play every Tuesday night for 3 hours. Aside from the league, lots of people enjoy passing their night with a game of darts.

    Unfortunately the new owners were adamantly against a dart board. I pleaded with them to change their mind. Even if we could try something where the dart board is removed during the day and put up once dinner service was closed. The owners were just against it. The image they wanted with the bar wasn't that dive bar of Dipper's, but something more upscale. It is their bar, and their investment - they have to do what they think is right.

    Part of protecting that investment was also being much more strict with the rules than Dipper. When St. Patty's Day showed up, and the police and government were cracking down, the owners had an emergency meeting. At that meeting they were very serious about us not getting into any trouble and reiterated the rules to us about thinks like buybacks, drinking after our shift (can't have a beer in the bar after closing) and keeping the occupancy at a proper level.

    Suffice to say, St. Patty's Day sucked this year. In years past, it was a blast to work. We would have huge crowds, make a ton of money, and even throw down a shot or twelve with the customers. No one cared. You would make a decent clip of money working that day in our little pub. I'm sure if you talked to a bartender at Black Bear or The Madison or Nine - they would make that kind of money every normal weekend. But for our little dinky bar, it made us do cartwheels. This year we made only a fraction of what we made before, due to our strict occupancy rules.

    With the new rules, and my perception that the owners were stressed - I was stressed. Over the months working started to become less fun and more work. It used to be that working the weekend wasn't a job, it was me hanging out with friends that i'd serve alcohol to and make some extra lunch money. Now it was like something I started to dread. It started to show.

    I called Mike back and left him a voice mail saying I was in Myrtle and wouldn't be working St. Patty's Day. I told him i'd call back when I returned. I didn't know what I did wrong. I immediately assumed that I was going to get fired, but I wasn't sure why. Did I do something wrong? Then I thought about last Saturday night.

    Myrtle Recap & My Golf Story

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    I'm back.

    Myrtle was a good time, with golfing, drinking and lots of laughs. We played at Barefoot Love (Wednesday), Arrowhead (Thursday), Grande Dunes & Waterway Hills (Friday), Meadowlands (Saturday).

    Honestly, there isn't a ton to tell. My golf game was poor. Normally, years ago, i'd shoot about 100 a round. I was shooting around 120 a round (double bogie & triple bogie with the occasional par showing up). Fortunately, one of the guys on the trip gave me some great advice on the last day which seems to fix a major hook that has appeared in my game over the last 6 years. My chipping and putting are fairly solid. I just need to seriously think about a golf camp or some golf lessons to fix a few things. Anyone know of a golf camp, feel free to email me about it.

    Wednesday and Thursday it was warm, about 70-75 degrees each day. Friday was a major rain day, with our groups getting rained out after 9 holes at Grande Dunes, which really sucked because it was a beautiful course. Saturday was a 10am tee time at Meadowlands and it was about 50 degrees to start. By the 12th hole it was about 60 degrees but a stiff cold wind made it a miserable day. St. Patty's Day we spent it around Myrtle bars, and lots of college kids were out and about.

    Here's my Top 5 observations while down at Myrtle:

    1. This was priceless, spotted him at Finn McCool's in Myrtle Beach on St. Patty's Day:
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    I think he had his required 37 pieces of "flair".

    2. It seems that everyone, over the age of 23, is married. I know this isn't just true for Myrtle, but most of the rest of the country outside our metro area. If I moved to Myrtle i'd be an outcast. Single at 35?! The horror! Going out to Broadway on the Beach was a joke. There are 3 groups of people: College Kids, Married People and Golfer Tourists. I'm not one of those guys who goes on vacation and expects to meet someone out at the bars. Shit, I don't even do that in Hoboken, I just go out to have fun. But it certainly is a bit more fun when you have something, anything, to even give you a slight bit of interest to be out and drinking. I was there 4 years ago when one of our crew did pull down an extremely good looking girl on a bachelorette party. But more often than not, that is the exception, not the norm.

    3. Slow is normal. Everything is just a bit slower in the south, and that's ok to the locals. We were at a bar with 3 bartenders and about 200 people. The bar was packed, and they were mostly serving beer, shots and the occasional Captain and Coke to yours truly. Slow. Slow. Slow. Give me 3 bartenders from up here, and that bar would have made about $3,000 more on St. Patty's Day from just pumping out the booze faster.

    4. Saving $100-150 on a trip to Myrtle by going in March just isn't worth it. I'll pay a bit more to stop this whole Russian roulette with the weather. In my last 3 trips I have yet to get 4 days in a row of nice weather. I can handle rain, within reason, but when it is also 60 degrees out versus 70 degrees, it makes a big difference when i'm cold and wet versus warm and wet. Next year i'm going to spend a bit more and go during April, if I can get the others to agree.

    5. Is a vacation really a vacation when you golf 5 days, drink everyday and get about 6 hours of sleep a night? I was ridiculously lucky to wake up without a hangover each day, but coming into work today i'm beat. I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. I'd like another 2 week trip during the summer (similar to my Australian 2 week tour from 7 years ago), if I can swing it. I'd love to just find an isolated paradise where I can relax, recharge the internal batteries and come back refreshed. Thinking about a place like Turkoise, which was recommended by a friend, but not sure how I feel about going to something like Club Med. Just isn't....me. I'd like everything Turkoise has...too bad I just can't get like 3-4 friends to go along for the ride.

    Goin' Away & Condo Update

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    Going down to Myrtle Beach with some friends to golf. Will be back Sunday. Hope to have a good story or two by the time I return.

    In other news, had my home inspection of the condo last night. Everything went well, except for a small hitch. Apparently, the listing agent had my condo as 750 sq ft. I really can't tell the difference between sq footage, and my agent told me last night that the condo is actually 635 sq ft.

    That's kind of a big deal. I was absolutely pricing it at 750 sq ft, and my math for the cost of the condo was based on that. Other condos in the same building (don't know what sq footage) have been selling for much higher than what I paid, and even after doing the math for the price per sq ft, I still think the condo was a good buy...just maybe not as good as I was thinking when it was supposed to be 750 sq ft.

    A friend of mine mentioned that I could make a stink over this, but I won't. I do actually like the place and like the potentional of how it could look. I am squaring away my mortgage now with Countrywide Home Loans. During the pre-qualification process they showed me some good rates, and the 10 year Treasury was at 4.50 today, which is good for mortgage rates. I'm hoping to get at least 6%, if not better on a 30 year fixed. I'm not a huge fan of ARMs, I like the stability of a 30 year fixed. I *might* peek at a 10 year ARM. Dunno. Thoughts?

    Anyhow, off on a jet plane. Happy St. Patty's Day!

    Amazon Unbox

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    I like new technology. I'm a big fan of electronics and trying new things with any digital medium. In 1984 I was an avid user of Compuserve, which was an early pioneer in the digital age, like a pre-revolution AOL, just using ASCII text instead of HTML. I remember there was a "shopping" section which had all sorts of stores, but nothing like today. Its like a flea market compared to today's corporate dominance of the web. There was a cookie company that made homemade cookies, and I remember using them for special events. Like one time my older sister hurt her leg in an equestrian riding accident. I sent her cookies to make her feel better, and did it all through Compuserve. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and still regret to this day that I didn't see the significiance online shopping.

    Fast forward 23 years and i'm still a huge fan of online everything. I do EVERYTHING online. Shopping, research, entertainment, work and communication are centered around my 'net access.

    I have a Tivo Series 3 (lifetime subscription). I use Netflix ($15 a month for 3 movies). The marriage between the two has now created Amazon Unbox.

    Those that have Tivo (Series 2 or Series 3) or a PC can use this feature, if they have their Tivo or PC connected to the internet. Think of it much like "On Demand" that Cablevision has. Basically people can buy or rent movies that they can download from Amazon to their Tivo/PC. If purchased they are in the Amazon media library with Amazon, and always available to re-download. If rented, the user has 30 days to view the rental, and once they begin watching it, they have 24 hours to complete watching the movie, before it is automatically deleted. If you rent a movie, you have to purchase it again for rental if you wish to watch the movie again, but if you bought it, its free to redownload. Each Tivo/PC can hold, at most, 2 downloaded movies at a time. Also users can put these files onto portable digital players, too.

    I went to Amazon to check it out. It was pretty easy to sign up, and new users get a $15 credit towards new Amazon Unbox downloads until April 30. I saw "Borat" was for sale for $15, and figured what the hell.

    Results? Impressive in some ways and not-so-impressive in others.

    The video quality was good. Unfortunately it wasn't in widescreen, and on my plasma it looked the same as "regular" 480i TV, which comes out like a box on my rectangle plasma. The sound quality was fine, there were no problems or irregularity with that. The download took about an hour, for a movie that was 83 minutes long. I didn't think that was so bad. A cool feature is that you don't have to be home to download the movies. Just log on to Amazon (at work, for example) and by the time you get home you can have 2 movies waiting for you.

    Right now i'm not going to run out and cancel my Netflix account. I'd like to see if they eventually come out with a HD widescreen version of the movies (unless it was just "Borat" which wasn't in HD). Maybe they had to shrink the resolution to make them easier to download in an acceptable period of time? I'm not sure.

    You can read more about Amazon Unbox here.

    Concerts, Autopilot and Ratdog

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    I'm not really a big concert guy.

    I like music, but when it comes to most concerts I very much like to chill out, sit down and listen rather than be in a crush of people swaying to hard rock band. Just not my thing.

    The few concerts I did attend in my life have mostly been Grateful Dead shows. To me they are what I like about a concert, you drink, eat and chill out. Most people are very nice to each other, and there aren't too many deadheads that get into shoving matches.

    Last night I went to see Ratdog, Bob Weir's band, again. This time it was at The Beacon, rather than Radio City Music Hall. I went with Matt and his friend Rocco. First stop was Yogi's on 75th and Broadway. My kind of bar, a dive bar with 3 female bartenders behind the bar (one hot, one cute and one slutty), and a crowd of non-pretentious people just waiting for the show at The Beacon.

    When I walked into Yogi's I got a bit uptight in new surroundings of the bar. I never been there before, there were lots of rough & tumble looking types around and i'm standing there in my Navy blue peacoat, scarf and messenger bag. I felt a bit out of place for the first 5 minutes when I walked into Yogi's I just stood off to the side, trying to fit in while I waited for Matt and Rocco to arrive. One I overcame my initial shock, I ordered a captain and coke, which was served to me in a tiny 12 oz glass, and it had a big lime wedge and two red straws. I looked around and everyone was drinking beer (PBR, Budweiser, Rolling Rock) or doing shots of Jack Daniels or Cuervo. I got a sidelong glance from a guy sitting at the bar (drinking Budweiser) when my drink was served to me which I translated to, "Look at this yuppie and his dainty drink."

    I took the drink, removed the straws and lime and G-U-L-P-E-D it down in one shot, set it on the bar, near the Budweiser guy and told the bartender i'd like another, a double in a pint glass. That got most of the people in the crowd around me chuckling one saying "Thirsty?", and another said, "You don't want that lime to combat the scurvy?", I shrugged and said, "I figure fuck it, what doesn't kill me makes me stronger." That got a few laughs from people around and it made me feel more relaxed. I took my coat off, and gone was that feeling of "You don't belong" and 10 minutes later Matt & Rocco arrived, which also helped. By the time I left Yogi's I felt like it was a bar I can go back to and won't feel out of place.

    We got to talking to some of the people there, even a few Eagles fans, who were proudly wearing an Eagles jacket. It never ceases to amaze me how many birds fans there are in the Big Apple. The Eagle fans are easily the number 3 team here, just based on presence of fans, behind the Giants & Jets. You don't see a ton of Buffalo or Patriot fans walking around as you do with Eagle fans.

    After a few drinks at Yogi's we headed over to The Beacon. It was pretty easy getting to our seats, and under a haze of smoke we watched Bob Weir jam out a mix of his songs & some Dead songs.

    I was sitting there, and realized that for one of the few times in my life that I was relaxed at the concert. When I go to other concerts, especially with bands that I may not be as familiar with, I always feel a bit more uptight, sort of like I felt at Yogi's. I can't explain it other than I just feel a bit out of place, like I don't belong. Like a "real fan" is going to spin around and say "What are YOU doing here?" Maybe that's why I never really liked going to concerts. I went to concerts even where I really knew the band and the songs, like U2 and still was never 100% relaxed.

    In the middle of the second set, I went on Autopilot. I drank quite a bit that night and didn't eat anything for dinner. At Yogi's I had about 4 pint doubles of captain and coke (like 8 "normal" drinks), a shot of cuervo, and then 3 more beers at the concert. I was a bit hungry, and also didn't want to stay out too late, because of work the next day.

    Being on autopilot is a bit of a new thing for me, maybe it is due to my age now. In the past, i'd get drunk but really never to the point where my conscious would lose control. In recent years, I get drunk I get to the point where i'm smashed, but functional. I still had my share of silly mistakes, but most of them would be harmless. I was well smashed, and decided i'd leave the concert, get some food and go home. I grabbed my coat & bag, shook Matt's hand and told him I was jetting. I left the venue, and started to walk the wrong way. It took me 4 blocks for my error correction. I got to 77th and Broadway when I thought, "Why am I walking uptown?"

    That kind of sobered me up slightly.

    I spun around and headed to my first destination, which I already knew I wanted to go there before I left - Grey's Papaya. Why? Well, first I never been to a Grey's. All my years in New York, I simply never been to one. I saw it on my cab ride to the Beacon. I was hungry, drunk and in a good, relaxed mood.

    I walked over there and ordered 2 dogs. Gobbled them down. Ordered another dog and some of the papaya juice - why not? It was softly sweet, with a tropical twinge. Now I was feeling burpy, and grabbed a cab to the PATH. On the cab ride the cabbie was very talkative and I was babbling to the best of my ability and must have sounded like a complete retard. I basically remember the conversation, but it was like there were 3 people there - the cabbie, drunk Sean and my detached ego watching the whole thing. The detached ego basically was watching this and trying to guide drunk Sean home.

    We made it back with nary a hitch. Work the next day was a bit rough, but not terrible. I couldn't do this every week, but every once in a while isn't so bad.

    Optical Illusion?

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    3-2-1 Contract!

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    Remember that show, 3-2-1 Contact? Man I loved that show.

    Three, Two, One, contact!
    Contact is the secret,
    It's the moment when everything happens.
    Contact is the answer,
    It's the reason why everything happens.
    Let's Make Contact!
    Three, Two, One, contact!

    Congrats, now you will be singing that all day in your head.

    But I did write: "CONTRACT", not "CONTACT".

    Yes, my condo is under contract review. I'm excited and nervous. Of course this isn't a done deal, yet, but unless something drastic happens, I should be moving in to the new place by the end of April. As I wrote before, i'm not a huge fan of disruptions and change. I really do like my current condo and living situation, but here's a list of things that i'm not a huge fan of in my current condo:

    1. Finding new roommates. I live in a 3 bedroom place. Finding a new person to live with has been a touchy experience. I found good roommates and bad roommates. Even found a roommate who seemed good, but kept doing bad things to me.

    2. The heat! My current condo has gas heat and is 2 floors. The basement floor isn't insulated, so it is very cold. The 1st floor is insulated. My bedroom gets roasting hot (like 80 degrees) when my downstairs roommate cranks the heat. I actually have to open my window and operate a fan in the wintertime some nights.

    3. Loud neighbors. We are in a 4 floor brownstone. Floor 2 & 3 is one apartment, and the people have a staircase right above my room. Everytime they come in or go out I hear "THUMP THUMP THUMP" of them running up or down the staircase and slamming their doors.

    4. Quiet time. I try to be as considerate as I can, as a roommate. When i'm in my room, my roommate below me can hear my TV at times. I will get text messages of "Can you turn your TV down" on my cell phone. When I get back from bartending at 3am on Sunday mornings, I have to be quiet because everyone is sleeping (yes, i'm not perfect I can make noise) - it will be cool to get home and be able to crank the TV up and enjoy a beer.

    5. My stuff = my stuff. In my current apartment I have some nice stuff in there. I have All-Clad pots and pans. I have Wüsthof knives. I have Riedel crystal wine & port glasses and scotch glasses. I don't mind my roommates using them, but they need to respect that they are using some quality items. I ask that they hand wash any knives they use, and any All-Clad pots or pans aren't left in the sink overnight, specially if they have food stuck to it (the regular stuff I don't care as much). That got on my nerves a bit. Also food or drinks that was used & not replaced was also annoying. My current roommates aren't bad about that, but I had older ones that would use my stuff all the time.

    Things i'm looking forward to in the new condo:

    1. Location. It is on Newark, and a scant 5 minute walk to the PATH. Even at 6th and Garden, my walk was about 10 minutes each day, and i'd take the bus many mornings to speed things up. It will be nice to be that close to the PATH, and also even closer to getting in and out of town. My car will be parked across the street from my condo, which will make things extremely easy for me when i'm going back to Philly, or golfing or going to the movies. My car currently is parked near the 9th street Rail station, and was always a pain in the ass to walk there and get my car - and hope the battery wasn't dead.

    2. Upgrading & its potentional. Actually i'm really looking forward to doing some of the work I have planned for the place. I'm a big technology guy and now I find myself researching refrigerators, ranges, microwaves and dishwashers. I also am looking at new cabinents and tiles online and there is a Home Depot at the base of my building where I work in Manhattan. I want to go down there and price some things out. I think with a bit of work that the condo can be really quite nice. I will have to lean on my experts (my family) for their expert guidance.

    3. Solid construction. Brad was with me last weekend, and he rented at 300 Newark about 2 years ago. He goes "Watch this." - and jumps up and down. He then said, "All concrete construction, dude. No one is going to hear you and you aren't going to hear your neighbors - AT ALL." That was a big sell for me. One of the things I liked about my current condo was that it was mostly quiet at night (unless the upstairs neighbor was exiting their place), and my bedroom faced the backyard, not the street. Both times I visited the apartment I always noticed how quiet it was. I couldn't hear anything from the street, not even cars passing.

    4. Square footage. I looked at places on 7th and Jefferson in town. New construction, with parking. But SMALL. 600 sq ft places. I had to ask myself, what was more important: a) Having parking, far location from PATH, small sq footage, but new construction or b) No parking, close to PATH, decent sq footage and existing construction? I chose the latter, obviously. If I didn't have to use the PATH each day, i'd probably choose the 7th and Jefferson location. I also said, "If the market turns where would you rather have a condo, back in town or near to the PATH." I feel this place would be a strong rental property, too.

    5. Nice to shed the roommates. Hey, I loved living with roommates, until I would invite my girlfriends over for dinner. That got to be a bit...awkward. I'm really very much looking forward to being the master of the mini-castle and doing whatever I want, whenever I want. Walk around the apartment naked - fine! Dancing with the stars - done! Cranking up music while I take a shower - sounds good to me! Having a party - my schedule is wide open!

    I hope to close the first week of April if everything works out. Then doing some minor construction work (painting, tiles, cabinentry, shelving) and getting the appliacnes mid-April. Hope to move in the end of April.

    To my friends & family - Keep your calendars clear sometime in mid-May when I have my housewarming party.

    Dog Litterbox Update

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    I wrote a bit ago how my neighbors were using our common-use backyard for their dogs to poo & pee.

    After I wrote that, I saw the dog "in the act" from my bedroom window. I waited until the young looking black labrador ambled up the fire escape to the 2nd floor, and scratched at the back door to be let in. The door opened, and the owner appeared. I got her attention, with an "Excuse me...?"

    She came out. I explained that our backyard was designed for a common use purpose, and that having dog shit all over the backyard was pretty disgusting. I tried to be non-confrontational about it, even telling her that my own roommate had a dog and was very responsible in walking Layla daily on the street and cleaning up the mess.

    The owner was apologetic and very nice about it. She said she would clean it up right away.

    I was satisfied until this weekend.

    I hear the dog outside again, and see the black lab "in the act". I tried to get a picture, but it didn't come out very well, because my window screen caused the flash to overexpose the shot.

    I waited again.

    The dog was let in, and I called to the owner...again.

    She came out, and looked slightly more irate than last time. I told her that I thought we spoke about this. She thought we spoke only about cleaning up after the dog, not the idea that I didn't want any dogs in the backyard. She thought it was ok to let her dog shit in the backyard, as long as if they were on top about cleaning up the dog shit. I told her that wasn't what I was saying, that I didn't want ANY dogs in the backyard going to the bathroom, AT ALL.

    Her boyfriend came out and listened in also. They asked what the landlord thought about this. I told them that the landlord agreed with me, and that dogs shoudn't be using the backyard at all. I felt it was unsanitary. If people were to go back there in the spring or summer to have a BBQ, I wouldn't want dogs peeing or pooing where they were.

    The couple were cordial about it. They didn't argue or be unpolite about it. They felt that the landlord should decide this, and said they would contact the landlord to find out how they felt. I told them i'd do the same.

    I emailed the management company yesterday and i'm still waiting to hear from them.

    What do you think about this? Am I alone here? Or do you think that a common-use backyard should be used for dogs to pee & poop (as long as the poo is cleaned on a regular basis)? I personally think the owners should WALK their dogs on the street, and clean it up there. This isn't the SUBURBS. This isn't their own house or rental in the suburbs where people can do as they please. When I had a backyard in Richboro, our dog would pee & poop back there. That was our home, and our land. But in this common-use situation (and especially that our backyard is about 20 feet by 15 feet), I think they are out of line letting their dog back there.

    I try to be fairly tolerant as a neighbor, but this, to me, is where I draw the line.

    Movin' On Up...?

    | 1 Comment

    Things happen so quickly around here, sometimes.

    Last week, I was doing my weekly reading of a website of properties in Hoboken. I saw a property that looked interesting, it was a 2 bedroom on 12th and Adams for $600,000. I was doing the math, and thought I could swing it, if I got another roommate for the 2nd room. I emailed the realtor about it.

    Later that day the realtor emailed me back, saying he could show it that night. I thought about it and declined. I just didn't want anymore roommates. After 14 years (not counting college) of living with roommates, i'm just ready to be alone for a bit. I don't (or didn't) mind roommates, for me I was very lucky to meet some cool people over the years that were good roommates. I also met some latent psychopaths, and was lucky to get out unscathed.

    I emailed the realtor about it, and we had a discussion about the real estate market. I went on about my bearish forecast for the market, and he tried to dissuade me. I was very impressed how tolerant he was of my dissenting views. Most people who work in real estate or own a home aren't as bearish as me about the market, for obvious reasons! But he did explain, patiently, about the different factors that could affect Hoboken, and that a downturn is possible, but realistically if I plan on being here for 5+ years, it makes sense to just ride out any market cycle. The gains of 20% might be over, but even with a return of 5-8% a year still makes real estate a good investment.

    We looked at various places in town, about 5 in all. I got prequalified by a broker in town, and knew that my interest rate would be 6% over 30 years for the primary mortgage and 8.25% for the second loan to cover the difference between the cash I put down towards 20% of the total loan. So that made things easier on me.

    After looking at a few places and factoring in various "wants" and "needs", I found a place I liked downtown, about 5 blocks from the PATH. I went home, and did some math with Brad, who came up for the day to help me look at some places and crunch some numbers.

    We went over the costs involved. I had my mortgage numbers, my tax numbers and my maintenence. But how much did I really spend a month? To be honest, I really didn't know. I don't balance my checkbook. I really don't pay attention to bills. I just pay what I owe, putting most bills (cable, internet, cell phone, gym) on my credit cards. I pay a monthly parking fee at a local lot. I pay PSE&G directly. My car insurance is directly taken from my bank account. So are my monthly whole life insurance, and other investments. Once I did the math, I was a bit surprised how much i'm spending a month.

    But even then, adding the mortgage, I figured out that I could afford my own condo.

    I put in a bid below asking price on Saturday night. The representing realtor hasn't gotten back to my realtor, and so now I wait to see.

    The condo is nice enough. 685 square feet, wall mounted A/C, boxy layout. It has coin operated laundry on the floor, and rental parking is across the street. It needs some work. A new paint job is absolutely needed - the colors look like they were chosen with the same randomness that Bill Cosby chooses his sweaters. The appliances are about 20 years old - i'd like to replace them all with stainless steel GE refrigerator, dishwasher, electric range (radiant glass, not coil) and microhood. I'd like to replace the cabinents, put some granite tops, and new tile floor and backsplash. Basically the entire kitchen will be transformed. The bathroom is ok, and i'd like to retile that also, and replace the cheap tiles that are in there now. The sink & toilet are something that can be replaced down the line. The tub is an older jacuzzi style, but not a jacuzzi as we think of them today. It looks about 20 years old.

    The storage/closet situation is a bit tight. There's a closet in the bedroom, of a normal size and also a hallway closet, which is very long, but not terribly deep. My realtor showed me a cool site called ezclosets.com. You can build different closets on their website, and it maximizes the space you have. I'd have to make use of this or something like California Closets to make everything more useful.

    But it is just some things i'm thinking about right now. I'm waiting to see what the owners think of my bid. I don't think my bid was low-balling, because of the work I need to put into the place. The paint job is a must. The kitchen is useable, but its just so old-school. At the very least i'd like to replace the appliances. I'd like to see what the costs would be involved to spruce up the kitchen & bathroom, second. I'd like to get things like that done before I move in, I have heard too many nightmare stories when people try to live in a home while it's getting renovations.

    Now we wait. I have technically been waiting since Sunday. I put down a $1,000 "good faith" deposit and signed the paperwork at my asking price. If they counter, then if I decide to agree, it makes the process move much faster, because the realtor will just replace the top page of our contract with the new price.

    I'm nervous and excited. Nervous that someone is going to swoop in and buy it from under me. I'd like to get what I asked for the condo, only because of the work that I need to put into it. The difference from their ask and my bid would cover the renovation costs that I have in mind.

    Hopefully will know soon and will update here on the progress.

    Feedburner!

    | No Comments

    I just added this site to Feedburner:

    http://feeds.feedburner.com/Philly2hoboken

    Basically you can add it to "MyYahoo" or "Google" and other sites that will alert you when I update my site. Have fun!

    Randomness

    | 2 Comments

    3 day weekend, woo.

    I started the weekend right. Went out and shopped to make sure I had supplies of food, wine and drinks. Friday night I went to the gym like I normally do. Got out, and then went home and made myself dinner. Filet mignon, mashed potatoes, asparagus with a half-open bottle of Cabernet I had. Finished dinner with two glasses of port - with my new crystal port wine glasses from Riedel.

    Is it me or do wine glasses make a difference? I think they do. I'm sure I could drink a glass of Opus One in a paper cup and be just as happy, but there is something about the crystal glass that makes the experience less than ordinary.

    After dinner, I mellowed out at home, and did my usual bit of TV watching & Warcraft gaming. I normally don't go out Fridays much anymore, just because I got tired of getting blitzkreiged and waking up hungover for work at the bar for Saturday night. I get a phone call Saturday "morning" (my mornings technically extend until about noon, whereas the rest of the world seems to be "up and adam" before then) - from my buddy's wife, Samantha*. I was in their wedding party, I know them well.

    Apparently Samantha is selling her TV and her husband was out that day entertaining clients for work. She had someone stopping by her apartment to look at the TV and she didn't feel comfortable letting a stranger in while she was there, alone. She told me it would take 30 minutes, tops. Even offered to pick me up and drop me off, for she lives about a 15 minute walk from my apartment, on the extreme end of town.

    I agree, and she said she would call me later in the afternoon.

    I get online and do my thing, and get a call a few hours later. It is about 3pm. I have to work at 6:30pm.

    She comes over, picks me up and we wait at her place.

    And wait.

    Eventually Mr. Jersey City shows up to look at the TV. Anyone watch the TV show "Knights of Prosperity". Know the big black guy in the show? It was him.

    Ok, I kid. It wasn't exactly him, but the guy was built the same way.

    I am 6'4. I am 220 pounds. This guy would have drop kicked me into next Tuesday. I was about as much protection as a poodle to a pit bull.

    Fortunately, he liked what he saw, but he had to look at another TV around the corner and would come back. I thought he was lying. But shrugged my shoulders and Samantha and I waited some more.

    And waited.

    It was now 4:45 and i'm getting a bit antsy. I didn't have anything to do on Saturday, but I did have to work. Samantha is good company, and we munched on pretzels and ate french onion dip while watching Spike TV's selection of insane videos on their new Acquos 50" HDTV. I wish Spike TV had a HDTV channel, i'd watch it so much more. I barely watch any TV besides HDTV now on Cablevision. Channels 700+ make up 90% of my TV watching. Only SciFi is the other TV channel that I watch as often.

    Samantha apologized to me a few times that afternoon, and I totally understood. It wasn't her fault. Around 5pm, Mr. Jersey City comes back. He offers $200 for the TV, and Samantha reluctantly agrees. She wanted $300, but was just happy to get rid of the TV.

    I didn't eat all day, and she drops me off at Boston Chicken. I order the Sirloin Carver. I don't know what happened recently at Boston Chicken. The old team of mixed ethnic workers was now all Indian (or Pakistani?). I go there often enough that I knew some of the "regular" workers. The people were new. They made my sandwich with the wrong bread, and it took at least 10 minutes of me standing there waiting to get a sandwich. I wanted to claw my eyes out because it was 5:30, I was hungry and work was looming.

    I wolf down the sandwich, which was excellent by the way, and head home to change.

    I change and headed up to work. It is only a 3 block walk to work, but on the way someone says, "Sean? Furey?", and I spin around. There is a blonde-something looking at me with a "recognition" look. I'm drawing a blank, and i'm sure my look prompted her to say, "Hi! I'm Angela*. I read your blog, also post on the online boards."

    We shake hands and chat a bit. She was very nice, and I was taken a bit aback. She was very friendly, and its just another reason why I like living in Hoboken. That big city / small town-ness about it.

    Snopes

    | 2 Comments

    I'm tired of forwarded emails.

    Look, I know people have good intentions. My mom sent me one the other day about microwave water being harmful to plants. I got one today from my buddy's wife about 13 year old "Ashley Flores" missing.

    I know that there are a trillion other people with bad intentions. I guess I have been using the internet so long that everything that is mailed to me by ANYONE I immediately go to one simple website:

    www.snopes.com

    It is an urban legend website. If you get an email about ANYTHING, all you do is go to snopes and enter into their search category the subject in question. For example, I searched on Ashley Flores and it immediately popped up:

    http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/missing/ashleyflores.asp

    The microwave water? Yep, there too:

    http://www.snopes.com/science/microwave/plants.asp


    It is amazing because of the ridiculousness of some emails. Do you really think you won millions in an English lottery? Or that someone is contacting you from Africa to transfer money? If it is too good to be true...it usually is.

    Sometimes even the most benign emails are hoaxes. My friend sent me one about a computer virus that was sent via email. The email name was called "Invitation", and it opens an "Olympic Torch which "burns" the whole hard disc C of your computer."

    Went over to snopes on that one, too. http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/invitation.asp

    The new rule of emails. Before you forward anything, go to snopes. Just take that 1 second to look over the website and make sure you aren't sending around something stupid or are going to click on a redirected website that you inadverently enter your password for PayPal or Amazon or Ebay - or your bank.

    It takes two seconds to stop propogating useless information.

    I learned all of this because I was THAT GUY. I had to keep getting people to write me back with a "Dude, this is a hoax." until I finally said, "Hmmm...maybe I should RESEARCH a bit before I send out a forwarded email."

    Just go to www.snopes.com and do us all a favor, please?

    My backyard is a dog litterbox

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    It's Saturday afternoon and i'm playing with Layla.

    She has, for the last few months, been a bit lukewarm with me. Some days, she hides from me. Other days she is playful. Today she is playful.

    In between me slapping the ground and her charging, snapping her teeth, and retreating, my roommate Kristen tells me about the condition of our backyard.

    I live in a townhouse, with a common use backyard. The backyard is connected to the condo unit next to us. We have a backdoor that leads to the backyard, and half the condo unit has doors that connect to a pseudo-emergency exit that could be called a "balcony" if you wanted to be creative. During the spring and summer people grill on the balcony, and use the backyard for parties.

    She went outside and discovered that a very large dog has been using our backyard as a toilet. It is absolutely littered with dog droppings.

    When I found this out, I was furious.

    What kind of person does that? You have a dog. Instead of walking your dog, you are opening your door, letting your dog "out" to use the common use backyard as your dog's personal toilet. That's disgusting.

    Part of me wanted to confront this myself. Post up signs on all the doors saying "DO NOT LET YOUR DOGS DUMP IN OUR BACKYARD".

    But I relented. I'm not getting mixed up with this, and simply emailed my landlord today to have them take care of it. I want the droppings picked up and I want the dog to stop using the backyard.

    Jesus, some people move here are such idiots.

    Melissa's Story

    | 4 Comments

    This entry was writen by Melissa, a long time supporter of my blog, the Eagles club and my other half-baked ideas...

    Sometimes I feel so clueless, so left out of the loop. Whenever Sean tells me, “There was life in Hoboken before you arrived, Mel,” I feel like I’m 11 years old again and my Dad is chastising me for being incredulous about his once having had a full head of hair.

    I guess it’s true, all life in Hoboken didn’t start back in August of 2003 when I arrived at 25 years old. But, it really was the beginning of MY life when I got here. Before moving up here, I was a student. As a student I was still a kid most of the time. Not being able to work a full-time job, my life consisted of drinking way too much, occasionally attending class and then, 4 or 5 days a week, working for 6-7 hours per day. Life was always interesting, had no set rules, and when it got too rough, I always had the safety net of my parents to bail me out (not that I ever needed it). But it was nice to know that it was there.

    When I moved to Hoboken 3 and a half years ago, things changed. Mom and dad told me I was on my own the day of my graduation from law school. I had bills, rent, credit cards to pay. I joined the rat race. Every day I woke up at 8:00am and got on the 126 down to the Bus Terminal. Then I’d jump on the Ferry to Pier 11 (Wall Street) and rush into my office. Sometimes I’d be slow all day and not get any work until most people were ready to go home. So I’d stay and slave away until 11 or 12 at night, and then get a car home. It was during those slow days that I started reading a messageboard on Hobokeni.com, called “Hobokenchat”.

    Hobokenchat in 2003 isn’t that much different from Hobokenchat today. It had a core group of posters, and a few occasional drop ins. But the group itself has changed. Back then, everyone would post online about meeting up every 3 or 4 weeks for a “chat night” at Farside or Morans or Dippers. I finally was brave enough to reveal myself to the others and went to my first chat night in April of 2004. I’d already met Sean out with a few friends in February, and I’d met another poster or two along the way, so it wasn’t nearly as intimidating as it could have been.

    For a while there, we didn’t have to arrange specific chat nights anymore, because every Thursday we’d all be at Dippers. We would get there from 9pm and stay until the bartender Chris, kicked us out. Whenever I’d talk to Sean about this, he’d mention that he’d seen it all before, in years past with old chatboard members. He’d tell me this is the way life in Hoboken goes: And that the chatboard has had many iterations, and this one was not special or different. The faces were new, but he explained to me how friendships in Hoboken go: “You meet friends in Hoboken. You’re close to someone for a couple of months, years, maybe even a decade. You become friends. Good friends. Make friendships that feel real and tangible. Then one of you gets serious with someone and the friendship fades. By the time they’re married and ready to move to the suburbs, you’re hardly seeing them anymore anyway, and you know you won’t see them again.”

    I used to laugh when Sean would tell me these stories. I scoffed at the very notion of ‘transient friends’. I’ve had friends since high school that I still keep up with, and my college ties are still strong. It seemed unbelievable to me that these people that I knew, talked to and hung out with daily were going to ever fade from my life. How I laughed at Sean and his ideas. Despite hearing about friends he’d known in Hoboken back while I was still in high school, and wild nights he’d had partying here while I was earning my college degree, I’d just never really pay him much mind. How much more could he know than me? How much more experience could he REALLY have in Hoboken?
    But, the first indications that Sean was right came in not long after our first discussion about friendships in Hoboken. I made a friend while I was interviewing for a roommate share in Hoboken. Through her, I met a group of girls, and we spent a lot of time going out in Hoboken to the bars and restaurants. At one time, I could count on a call from “Dina” or “Rachel” everyday as they drove home from their respective school districts. In fact, I usually talked to both of them multiple times per day, and Dina and I even went in on a shore house share together. Then, they started to care more about meeting new men than just having fun together.

    Rachel was always boy crazy, but she met someone special shortly before the shore house ended. Her afternoons were filled with calls to him and her evenings were always booked by dates and dinners with her new beau. It soon became apparent that the only time she’d call me was when he was out of town, because every second they spent in Hoboken, was spent with each other.

    Dina, my other friend, met someone shortly after the shore house ended. His name was “Tony”, and he was such a womanizer. That same summer he previously dated a girl in our shore house named “Linda”. Dina always claimed to others in our group of friends that she had never met Tony down the shore, but I knew where she really met him. She also knew that I knew. After putting me in a bad position, being in the middle of her and Linda from our shore house, she slowly stopped calling. After I hadn’t heard from her in months, I received an irate phone call from her. Apparently Linda found out about Dina’s ‘secret relationship’ and Dina was appalled that I didn’t stand up for her. She wanted my loyalty when she’d not given me so much as the crumbs from her table of friendship for months. Because of that dramatic incident, she, too, fell by the wayside of friends I used to have.

    It wasn’t long before the rest of that clique of girls paired up, one of them was actually set up by me with a college buddy of mine (they’re now engaged). But as soon as they were in a relationship for five minutes, the invites and calls to me dried up.

    By the time my first anniversary in Hoboken arrived, I’d all but lost contact with them as they’d paired off with the opposite sex, one by one. Writing them off as an anomaly, I continued to laugh at Yoda’s (my nickname for Sean back then) predictions.

    But, soon even I started to see he might have a point. After a few years of fun, Dippers closed and we switched the venue to Farside, but things were just never the same. The group of friends from the chat board slowly disintegrated. New people sometimes replaced the old, but things were different as people paired off, or found new interests, or left Hoboken for the ‘burbs. Again, I got the “I told you about this” speech from Sean, and he mentioned several posters of years past that had once been integral parts of the hobokenchat board, and now hardly, if ever, dropped by to say a line, let alone hung out in person.

    Soon my group of intimates had changed quite a bit. In fact, I don’t think anyone that I speak to/email daily today was even on my radar back at Christmas of 2003. When I went to the Eagles/Giants playoff game last month with Sean and Chris, and I heard stories about stuff they’d done back when I was 18 or 19, I began to appreciate just how much I didn’t know about my friend Sean, his past life in Hoboken or his actual ability to bequeath sage-like advice from years of experience.

    And that’s why sometimes I feel so out of the loop. I’ll hear stories from Sean and Chris and a few other friends about times past, and I’ll read Sean’s blog and realize I don’t know half of the people to whom he’s referring, because they all came and went before I got here. Yet here I am, talking to him, making new memories for one of us to impart on our new circle of friends once the other is gone.

    Caught In The Middle

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    I watched her at the end of the bar.

    She was talking into her cell phone, quietly. I could tell by her body motions that she wasn't happy. She was upset. I knew probably what it was about.

    Her ex.

    "Tori" and I worked together at the bar. The place just opened, under new ownership and it was late winter 2002. It was called "Dipper's". What a terrible name for a bar in such a superficial town. Probably should have just called us "Dorkbar" and be done with it. The owner was clueless about things like that, and simply named the bar after his childhood nickname. Must have been a rough childhood if that's what your buddies are calling you.

    I was counting the money and watching her get more upset. She finally ended the call and sat there, looking out the window at the end of the bar, with her back to me.

    What do I do? What can I do?

    The ex, in question, was another bartender in town, named "Jim". Jim was a local, born and raised, and I knew him for about 8 years. Nice enough guy. Before he even knew her, Jim was my local bartender at a pub near the PATH. Our group of regulars were close. We would see each other a lot, some of us dated each other or met a girlfriend or boyfriend through our network of friends. We even did things outside the bar, with other "regulars" like camping trips, movies, sports games, BBQs. I'd call Jim a friend at the time.

    Unfortunately, I was caught in the middle. Tori and Jim met a year prior. They knew all the regulars, we all used to get drunk together on the weekends. Then...things turned.

    One thing led to another, with the details getting lost in the muddied waters of time. Jim found someone else. Tori didn't. She was slowly excluded from Jim's world, and this also caused some good tension.

    In a town like Hoboken, here are social circles. They exist everywhere, i'm sure. Our most prominent social circles would be the local pubs and bars. Many people frequent the same bars each weekend, and get to know the bartenders and the "regulars" of the bar. If you do it long enough, you make new friends that are regulars. People you mostly see when you head out for a Friday or Saturday night, at the bar, and friendships are formed. Sometimes disputes are created. Drama is par for the course in Hoboken.

    What was once a big group of regulars started to fracture. Some of them were more friendly with Jim than Tori. Some were more friendly with Tori than Jim. Jim didn't like this much. He didn't say anything. He would just slowly exclude me from his social circle. He would say things behind my back. He would just poison my reputation, where his friends and regulars weren't as warm and friendly as they used to be towards me. I didn't know this was going on until later.

    Me? Well, I liked both of them at the time. I worked with Tori at the bar. She and I would work as a team. We would play loud, thumping music and have more fun serving drinks to the customers than the customers would have themselves. Bartending was never a job in those days. It absolutely was something I could have done for the rest of my life, with my friends coming to the bar to play darts or Golden Tee, and we got to play the music we wanted to listen to, while drinking & doing shots with our customers and friends. At the end of the night, we would count up our tips, go home with a pocketful of cash and sleep in until the next day. Tori, myself and "our" regulars would hang out a lot even when we weren't working.

    It was hard for me because I didn't want to take sides. I wanted to be friends with both Tori and Jim. Jim wasn't a forgiving fellow, and the fact that I worked with her meant that I was on her side. The fact that I worked in a "rival" bar didn't help matters. Soon I started to notice that I was getting the cold shoulder from Jim and those who were his friends. Some tried to remain diplomatic, but the writing was on the wall.

    "So, what happened?", I asked Tori.

    She turned to me, her eyes red from the tears that stained her cheeks. She hastily wiped a hand across her face and gave me a half-smile, as if to say, Isn't this just pathetic?

    She softly said, "He told me: 'Don't bother coming over.'"

    Jim and his entourage (guy & girl regulars & other employees) would often close the bar, go into a back room and play cards or videogames while sipping on some beers, and smoke cigarettes. Sometimes we would invite some cute girls who were drinking at the bar to stay after closing too. I used to be part of that crew. Every Friday or Saturday at 3am, when everyone was walking home from the closed bars, we would be secretly hanging out. It was kind of cool, because we would have all the lights turned down, and there was that 'if we get caught we are in trouble' quality about it. We didn't care. The owners used to hang out with us also. Most of us had bar-cards and worked at the bar from bartenders to card id-checkers. Those were some fun days.

    "Ah, well,", I started, "They probably aren't going to do much anyhow.", I tried to downplay it. But it wasn't what they were doing that bothered her, it was the fact that he basically said "Get lost" to her. I had heard that Jim had someone new in his life and I can understand why he didn't want his ex-girlfriend coming over to the bar at 3am. I was still, at the time, welcome to hang out. But I wasn't about to ditch Tori and go to the other bar for some late-night drinks.

    We talked some more. Counted our money. We turned the lights down low at our bar, and sat there, talking. I was always a good listener, and been known to dispense some fairly good advice on the other sex. I told her things would get better. That she would find someone else. She was too smart, charismatic and beautiful not to. I told her a lot of things. I just hated to see my friends hurt.

    Time passed. Weeks turned to months and the winter turned to spring. Tori and I enjoyed good times at Dipper's. Jim would grow increasingly distant from me and from anyone who was friendly with her. I lost a friend and gained another, at least for short term.

    Eventually my prediction came true. Tori did meet someone very nice. They dated. They were engaged and married. She moved away, and I basically lost another friend. That's the way it is in Hoboken, lots of "temporary friends". Sure I still see her maybe once or twice a year, but this was someone I used to be out with at least every weekend (either working or not).

    I feel bad, in a way because I am still friendly with Jim's friends. I ask them to explain it, and they just shrug their shoulders and say, "You know how Jim is. He holds grudges."

    In a way it bothers me to be caught in the middle, even to this day. I didn't feel like I did anything wrong, aside from trying to be friendly to both of them. I think sometimes in life, no matter what you do, it still won't be the right thing.

    Such is the cycle of life, in our town.

    Global NFL

    | No Comments

    10 years from now, I fully expect to see the following...

    Four new teams, two in the American Conference and two in the National Conference.

    The cities? Toronto, London, Mexico City, Berlin.

    Imagine The London Redcoats, The Mexico City Lobos, The Berlin Thunder (that's the current NFL Europe team name), Toronto Moose.

    The names aren't really super important. London could also be The London Foxes (a nod to the indigenous animals) and Lobos is also the team name of the University of New Mexico, too. I'm sure Toronto would want something other than Moose, but i'm trying to keep the team names animal/history oriented. What would you call them? :)

    Yes, soccer rules in many international cities. I certainly don't expect us to to a major South American/European expansion. There is already NFL Europe, and it brings in moderate interest, much like our national soccer league brings in moderate interest, too.

    But here's the catch. Let's say you had a team in Mexico, London, Toronto and Berlin that was the real deal. The team would be built the same way that other recent expansion teams were created (Houston, Carolina, Jaguars, Ravens). Real talent is brought to each team, they get expansion draft picks. All teams are shown on the NFL network or DirectTV. Wouldn't it be awesome to watch Philadelphia vs London? Hell, i'd fly out there to watch that every year, it would be a great excuse to visit London.

    I'd put London's team into the NFC East. Think about it. London vs Dallas. London vs Giants (two of the biggest cities on the planet battling it out). London vs Philadelphia (the 1776 showdown!), London vs WASHINGTON (Oooh! Which capital is greater!). The psychological significance alone just sounds exciting.

    Before you immediately react with a "It won't work in other countries", just consider what kind of draw some smaller-market NFL teams get. I fully don't expect a London or Mexician team to draw the same crowd or revenue as a large-market NFL team. But I think they can compete with revenues that teams like the Bills, Jacksonville, Cardinals and other smaller-city teams generate.

    Also the "they are too far away", I think can be figured out (somehow). We have East coast vs West Coast teams all the time. A flight from the East coast to the West coast is about the same as a flight from the East Coast to Europe. The only problem I can see is when you have Berlin playing West Coast teams, but there has to be a way to figure this out. Bring back the Concordes! I'd just schedule it in such a way that doesn't hinder the travelling team.

    The interest in the NFL in Europe or Mexico is similar to the interest that Americans have in soccer. It really isn't a major sport, and everyone has a die-hard buddy who played in high school or college that tries to convince them how awesome soccer is. We all got semi-excited over it when the World Cup starts and our team shows some promise.

    If you put the talent there, if you make a real investment in the team, the fans will come. I mean i'm not saying we should put an NFL team in every European city (The Parisian Frogs, The Rome Gladiators, The Madrid Bulls (I know it is Pamplona, but still...)).

    If you haven't read the news, 500,000 people have already requested tickets for next seasons game of Miami vs New York. Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers played in Mexico City in 2005, drawing a lot of interest.

    The NFL has already said they aren't interested in expanding, but the writing is on the wall. I'm sure the NFL is doing these international games to poke & prod at the international fans until the day comes that they expand into Canada, Mexico or Europe.

    So far, so good...?

    | 1 Comment

    Sometimes I find it hard to talk when things are going well. Like the moment I start enjoying something it will be taken away from me.

    For example, I have been having unprecidented luck when it comes to gambling.

    I'm normally not a gambler by nature. I enjoy my twice a year(ish) trips to Atlantic City. I usually lose more than I win in Atlantic City, but as my father always said to my mother, when she lost a hundred or two on the slot machines in there: "Are you having fun? Then that's all that matters."

    I'm sure he wouldn't say that when I lost $1200 one night on 3 card poker, but lets not ruin the quote.

    It started with a simple bet last summer. My friend Chris was a big Giants fan. Huge. For years we have been bantering about Eagles vs Giants. Most years he had the last laugh. He called me out in front of a group of people, teasing me to bet him $100 that the Giants regular season record would trump the Eagles.

    I agreed.

    When the Giants rolled to 6-2, he was mercilessly texting me every Eagles game. On Nov 19th, when McNabb left the game with a torn ACL, about 15 minutes after that I get a text:

    Text Message: "So. You want to pay me now or later?"

    I didn't respond.

    Text Message: "Man, that sucks. Another year, another injury for the Beagles."

    Again, silence. Don't err into thinking that my silence was some quiet determination that our birds were going to pull this out. Oh, this was par for the course for my beloved birds, and I was just more pissed that another promising season was down the drain. Fuck the $100. I wanted my team to win.

    My newest roommate, Matt, was just as surly. He's a big Giants fan. When Big Blue was on a roll, he was crowing like you wouldn't believe (who could blame him)? It got so bad that I was getting upset. Like upset to the point where I wanted to break something (I don't do that, that isn't me to smash something), so I went to my room (in my own house!) and fumed.

    Well wouldn't you know it? Garcia started to look good.

    Again, I didn't want to jinx myself. I didn't want to start blogging too much about my excitement. So my second bet was with Matt. I bet him that the next meeting of Eagles/Giants on December 17th, that we would win. It was a simple $20 bet, but also it would be nice to have bragging rights. Oh, he mercilessly lauded the Giants lucky comeback win on September 17th. So, I was fearful, but hopeful that i'd exact some revenge and get $20 from him.

    I won. The luck begins.

    Next thing happens...I get free Eagles tickets. The guys at Anheiuser Busch were helpful in getting my Eagles club in touch with Mulligan's bar. As my appreciation to that, Paul and I agreed we would run Bud Light specials all season. I didn't think anything of it - I was simply looking for any specials for my Philly fans, and was happy to get what I could.

    Little did I expect that free tickets would fall my way. Trust me when I say that shit doesn't happen to me. I don't get perks. My buddy Matt works in a Wall Street office and I hear about his stories about getting Yankee playoff tickets, eating at steakhouses and clubbing at popular bars - oh, well, he is taking clients out. Of course there is a stitch of envy there. I work in a job where you cannot, under any circumstances, accept anything from a vendor or client. I have had plenty of chances to do things under the radar, but turned them down.

    So things were looking good at the new year. I won $20 from Matt. I won $100 from Chris. I have free Eagles tickets. Matt and Chris both agreed to bet "double or nothing" on the next Eagles vs Giants game.

    I win again. Now i'm up $240.

    Saints vs Eagles comes up. A friend of mine, Keith, who recently moved back to Louisiana, emails me. He heard about me beating up Chris, and we laughed over it. He offers me a $50 bet, and gives me a 5 point spread. I take it.

    Eagles lose, but I win $50.

    $290, now.

    A friend of mine runs a playoff pool. At the beginning of the playoff season, everyone puts in $50 and he puts all 12 playoff teams in a hat. Every owner draws one team name, until all are gone. I draw the Colts. In order to "win" your team needs to win the game & win with the spread. If your team gets to the Superbowl, the winner wins $500 and the loser gets $100.

    I won $500. Now up $790.

    I played in a few box pools, I didn't win those. Spent $60. So really i'm up $730.

    So I have been having a tremendous 2007. But I also don't want to get too excited.

    The cynic in me is whispering, "If you really put this into context now I only owe $4,770 towards PSE&G!"

    I guess better than $5,500.

    Superbowl Box Odds

    | 10 Comments

    This week I am gearing up for the Superbowl. Sadly, my beloved Eagles won't be making an appearance, but I am still very excited to watch the game because I am betting on the game. I'm not actually betting on who will win, just hoping that I get lucky in my Superbowl box bet.

    Never played a Superbowl box?

    It is basically a pool, in which you pay a certain fee to buy a "box" in a 10x10 grid. The horizontal columns & vertical rows will be assigned to one of the teams in the Superbowl. This year, in my current pool, the Colts are the veritcal column and the Bears are the horizontal row. It doesn't matter, really, to which team is assigned a row or the columns.

    Everyone pays anywhere from $5, $10, $20, $100...I have heard of Superbowl boxes that were $1,000 box entries on Wall Street. Each person picks a box, write in their name, and once all the boxes are filled up, with 100 entries, then the numbers are drawn, to fill in each of the 10 columns and 10 rows:
    012907b.JPG

    The numbers are from 0-9, and each number is randomly assigned (by way of drawing numbers from a hat, for example) to each column and row. So, if the first number drawn is "4", then that is assigned to the first column. This is repeated until all the numbers have been drawn for each column, and then repeated for each row. Then looks like this:
    012907c.JPG

    Once completed, each grid will have its own unique combination of numbers from 0-9. As a player in a Superbowl box the only thing you are interested in is the TOTAL score of the game for the first, second and third quarters & the final score (not the fourth quarter, the final score in case of overtime).

    If you had the box in the grid where it lines up to 7 (Bears), 3 (Colts), then you are rooting for each quarter of the game the LAST number of the TOTAL score. So, if in the first quarter, the score is Bears 7, 17, 27, 37, 47...the only thing you care about is that the "7" is represented. To win, you also need the Colts to have 3, 13, 23, 33...and so forth. The Bears could score 7 points and the Colts 103 or the Bears score 13 and the Colts 7, you are still a winner. The team winning doesn't matter, just the last number in the total points at the end of each quarter or final.

    There are 4 prizes in the most common pools. First quarter, second quarter, third quarter and final score. Remember that most pools say "Final score" and not "Fourth quarter" in case of an overtime game. I have known some pools to be $2 per box entry. The most common seem to be $10, with first quarter assigned $125, second quarter $250, third quarter $125 and final score $500. Again, this can vary from pool to pool. I'm playing in 2 pools this year, one for $10 and the other for $20 per box.

    Some pools have quirky side rules. I have played in pools that had a "reverse" for the final score, so that if the score was Bears 27, Colts 13, the person who had the reverse of the winning box - holding 7 (Colts), 3 (Bears), was also rewarded like $10 or so per quarter & a bit extra for the finals.

    Each year when I play the pool, I always think: What's the best numbers to have in this pool?

    I went to the website of the Superbowl, and took reviewed the total scores for each quarter and the final scores of all 40 Superbowls. I want to stress the following before I continue:

    1. Please note this only accounts for Superbowls, and not regular season football games. I think teams play differently in the Superbowl and regular season scores would show a different tale. For example, battles of field positon in the first quarter versus desperate-powered 4th quarters seemed to be more common in what I found in the stats.
    2. I'm was an english major, not a math major. I'm sure this isn't 100% accurate. I'm sure somewhere I may have made a mistake.
    3. I'm still think about Superbowl XXXIX. I was there, the game was incredible. I honestly think we could have won that game if we just ran the ball more. Too many mistakes that doomed us, I think one of the key momentum changes was the interception in the first quarter by Rodney Harrison with the Eagles in the red zone.

    I talked to someone about this while writing it and while this may differ than the results of regular season scoring, I think that the Superbowl is a different beast. There certainly have been runaway blowouts, but for the most part it seems that the contests are two evenly matched teams vying for a battle of field position and strategy. In a regular season game a team might be more apt to go for a 2 point conversion, or take more chances when their offense is backed into the end zone (and risk a safety). Also I simply didn't have the time to crunch the numbers of every regular season game of the last 40 years.

    So, I found the results interesting.

    For the first quarter the following numbers in the last 40 Superbowls have been: 0,3,4,6,7. That's it. If you have those numbers, for any team, you are looking good, at least for the first quarter prize.

    0 has shown up 37 times (20 times for the away team, and 17 times for the home).
    3 was 19 times.
    4 was 5 times.
    6 was 1 time.
    7 was 18 times.
    Best first quarter combo? 0,0, which showed up 9 times.

    For the second quarter the following numbers in the last 40 Superbowls have been: 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. Everyone can be a winner! Those holding 0, once again, are looking good.
    0 has shown up 25 times
    1 was 2 times.
    2 was 2 times.
    3 was 16 times.
    4 was 8 times.
    5 was 1 time.
    6 was 7 times.
    7 was 14 times.
    8 was 3 times.
    9 was 2 times.
    Best second quarter combo? 7,0 which was 5 times. Plenty of other combos showed up 4 times.

    Once again, for the third quarter the following numbers in the last 40 Superbowls have been: 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.
    0 was 16 times.
    1 was 4 times.
    2 was 2 times.
    3 was 10 times.
    4 was 12 times.
    5 was 4 times.
    6 was 8 times.
    7 was 17 times.
    8 was 2 times.
    9 was 5 times.
    Best third quarter combo? There isn't a clearcut favorite. 0&4 show up 4 times.

    The final score everyone shows up again. Here's what I found:
    0 was 12 times.
    1 was 9 times.
    2 was 4 times.
    3 was 6 times.
    4 was 10 times.
    5 was 4 time.
    6 was 10 times.
    7 was 15 times.
    8 was 3 times.
    9 was 7 times.
    Best final score combo? 7&4 showed up 4 times. 7&0 was 3 times.

    Best number, clearly was 0. It appeared 90 times in the every quarter or final last 40 Superbowls. 40 Superbowls multiplied by 4 quarters is 160. There are two teams, so that number is doubled to 320. If my math is correct, that makes it 28% of the time. 7 showed up 64 times or 20% of the time. The worst number was 8, with only 8 times it appeared, or 2.5% of the time. This was also the same story for 5, which tallied for 9 times or, 2.81%.

    I have the full stats after the jump, have fun crunching them to your full desire. Also note I included a "squared" percentage. It isn't 100% accurate, but it also gives you an idea of the chances that a combination of having that number would win. Just having a 0 is nice, but doesn't mean you win 28% of the time. It just means it has been appearing 28% of the time, you still need the second number to win.

    Have fun, good luck and I hope the Colts crush the Bears. To me, the Colts earned their way to this Superbowl, with a great, winning organization over the last 5 years, much like the first class Philadelphia Eagles. The Bears are a flash in the pan team, having one good season and really have no business in the Superbowl with a quarterback like Rex Grossman.

    But, as we all know, Defense Wins Championships. Think about the Ravens in 2001 (Johnson went 18/34, 215 yards, 2 TDs and 1 int. Or Tampa Bay in 2003 (Dilfer passed 25 times, completed 12, had 153 yards and 1 TD). To me, I think the Colts deserve the victory not only on this season, but the fact that they have been a great team for the last 5 years and contending for the crown with the Patriots always standing in their way. They finally beat the Pats (in a game that I think should have been the real Superbowl). Don't count out the Bears. They have the special teams alone to give their QB mid-field position every kick off or punt. That's amazing.

    Here are the stats after the jump. If you find a mistake with what I calculated, please email me, and I will fix that.

    CANCER SURVIVORS RALLY

    | No Comments

    Sent to me by my friend Christina...

    CANCER SURVIVORS RALLY TO SUPPORT
    AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY

    WHAT:
    • The Relay For Life kick-off rally is when families, caregivers, cancer survivors, schools, companies, etc. come together to celebrate the beginning of the Relay For Life season. Relay For Life will take place in Hoboken on May 19, 2007.

    • The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a community celebration where individuals and teams camp out, barbecue, dance, and take turns walking or running around a track “relay” style to raise funds to fight cancer. At nightfall, participants will light hundreds of luminary candles around the track in a moving ceremony honor cancer survivors as well as remembering those lost to the disease. The American Cancer Society Relay For Life represents hope in that those lost to cancer will not be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day, cancer will be eliminated.

    • Started in 1985, Relay For Life began with one man who walked and ran around a track for 24 hours raising $27,000. This year, Relay For Life will take place in more than 4,500 communities and is expected to raise well over $300 million.


    WHO:
    • The American Cancer Society encourages anyone wishing to honor cancer survivors and caregivers, or pay tribute to those who have lost their battle with cancer to attend the Relay For Life kick-off to find out more about the Relay for Life event in Hoboken.

    WHEN:
    • TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2007 at 7:30PM

    WHERE:
    • MILE SQUARE BAR & GRILL
    221 WASHINGTON STREET, HOBOKEN, NJ 07030

    HOW:
    • To join Relay For Life in Hoboken, call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org. Create a virtual team or donate online anytime at www.cancer.org/relay.

    The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy and service. For more information about the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit its web site at www.cancer.org.

    ABC 1-2-3

    | 2 Comments

    I just read this:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/GameOn/story?id=2819621&page=1

    Right after I read Janine's comment, "this will NOT help your quest to find a girlfriend!!!" on my Warcraft post.

    Part of why I write this blog is a sort of honest "This is who I am" writing style. I will write about things I am even ashamed about doing (Fights with Giant fans, unabashedly getting seats on the PATH).

    I could sit here and write about some sort of Phony Sean that doesn't really exist. I could get very creative and try to portray someone who isn't real. Or maybe creatively edit out things that I haven't done. I'd hazard that most of what I am is written into this site, warts and all, and i'm not looking for any sort of validation. I do like constructive comments. I don't really need people to tell me that my site sucks - if you don't like it, don't read it. Go someplace else.

    But then again, when I read an article from abc news, I know that I am hitting the pulse of what is going on. I know that more people are gaming. I know that it is becoming more mainstream. 15 years ago if you said, "I love fantasy movies, like The Hobbit." - everyone would shun & ridicule you. Today, how many people do you know that loved "Lords of the Ring". Yes, i'm well aware of the VAST differences of the two movies. My point is that with technology and creativity it is making things that were once "uncool" to "cool". Before the .com boom anyone who worked on computers were laughed at. Now they are the new CEO's.

    Sorry to people like Janine who think i'm on some sort of "quest" to find a girlfriend. I'm not. I'm a firm believer that a girlfriend doesn't make you happier. I'm very happy by myself. If, perchance, I meet someone - great. But I certainly expect that they would love me for who I am - gamer and all - rather than a false facade of who I am not.

    The end is near!

    | 3 Comments

    Nothing angers me more when I read stories like this...

    Asteroid to destroy Earth?

    The news industry, no doubt, is based on the same capitalistic factors as the entertainment industry - the more people watching your program translates into more revenue for your efforts.

    This so-called Journalism translates into a sensationalistic method of reporting.

    Is this news? Sure.

    Is this important news? Not really.

    Are we going to be wiped out by Avian Flu, asteroids, nukes, overpopulation, global warming or too much methane gas farted into the atmosphere by cows? Who knows?

    To me it is also like a paralleism to living here in New York. I told my mother recently, while she visited me over the holidays, that I really don't like living here because of the chance of another terrorist strike.

    It is like living in Pompeii, next to Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 78.

    I got the first "rumble" in 2001 (I wasn't here for the 1993 bombing, for example). To me it has always been a question of not "if" but "when" the next big thing happens. Certainly the media adds to this sense of unease.

    But much like the news report about Asteroids - my attitude is "What can you do?"

    Do I tuck tail and run away? Well, no. I certainly am well aware, much like our ancient Pompeiians, that living here has a certain level of risk. I know there are friends of mine who have confided in me that they, too, would like to be "someplace else" besides here in the future. I'll stay here until the day comes where I decide (or i'm forced) to leave. It's funny some friends and family have said, "Why don't you just leave?" - But after living here 13 years, and establishing some roots in the community it is very hard to just change cities and start over. To some people it is very exciting for change and new things, for me, and my personality, I have little desire to shake things up. I like my weekly bartending gig. I like knowing my friends at Maru. I enjoy working in the heart of New York. I told people before I feel like living in New York would be the equivalent of living in Rome during the height of the Roman Empire. The pulse of the world beats here, you can feel the energy in the air when you walk around New York. I never had that experience in Philadelphia (sorry Philly, you know I love you).

    I think about the risk of living here a lot. I remember when I walked into work every morning, the World Trade Center standing like a beacon, with the sun rising over the towers, and I would always marvel at them. They were eye catching, they were almost larger than life. Now when I go into work, there is always the same wistful rememberance of what was. Sort of like remembering the good times with an old girlfriend. You remember how great it once was.

    I'm just tired of the news constantly scaring us. Doom and gloom. I suppose, in a way, that is why blogs are a bit more popular, don't you think?

    One Big Happy Warcraft Family

    | 5 Comments

    Family-07-2004 089
    Originally uploaded by Furey.
    My next few weeks will be a bit....occupied. If you haven't heard of the game "World of Warcraft" then you have been under a rock. They now have 8 million people playing this massively addicting game. My nephews have joined in on the fun and I went from obscure relative to rock star status with them.

    For those who don't know the game I will try to explain the basics. It is a online 3d video game. Based on Dungeons & Dragons, you are in a medieval fantasy world in which you adventure in the form of quests, killing monsters & also battling other living players. There is an online economy, and you advance your character through experience in killing monsters, solving quests or other similar puzzles. The higher level you get, the more powerful you become, and a force to be reckoned with by monsters or players. There are other programs that allow you to use headsets and chat online with each other using Nextel-like style programs like "Ventrilo". You can play the game, press a key, "Hey, lets go to the stronghold" and everyone in your ventrilo channel will hear you talk and can respond.

    Ok, so you should have an idea of what's going on. So I have played the game for the better half of 2 years, since it began, and my character, a mage, is probably more powerful than 95% of the rest of the characters on the server.

    When my nephews started playing they were at the bottom level, or level 1. I was the highest level, level 60. My two nephews started to play, and by welcoming them, I gave them each 25 gold, which in the economy of the game was something that you would have accumulated by level...40.

    The response was fun watching them jump around.

    Little did I know that I was going to regret my generousity.

    You see, I also have 2 OTHER nephews who heard about this and became very, very excited to also play. My visit to Washington DC was a marathon sesson of explaining to them how the game works and their excitement to start playing. Once I got them online, and taught them the basics came the problem.

    Now, I am not a father or a parent (as far as I know), and I didn't realize how the "monkey-see-monkey-do" mentality works with kids. Maybe if you are a parent reading this, you might chuckle and if you are single, you may empathize with me.

    Now my generous gift of 50 gold to my other two nephews was not lost on these two. Their immediate action was to ask ME for gold also, and quite honestly, I certainly could give them 25 gold each, but I was getting a bit low myself. So I gave each of them 5 gold, which is PLENTY for anyone their level. It should certainly last them 10 levels if they are careful.

    Right after I gave 5 gold to one nephew and watched him start talking to another level 1, and I was busying chatting to someone else. Then I watch when the level 1 character exclaim "THANKS!" and jump around. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what he did.

    "Did you just give him some gold?", I asked.

    No answer.

    "Do not, under any circumstances, give away your gold.", I told him.

    That worked until the next day.

    I get online, and my nephew, excitedly runs up to me, "Uncle Sean! Hi 2 PAC!"

    (Their parents relay certain edited portions of my writings to them...)

    He opens up his trade window and says: "GOLD"

    I'm mortified and laughing at this at the same time. I created a monster.

    Fortunately their parents have been nice enough to explain that Uncle Sean isn't a gold vending machine. But I must admit that it is nice to have something in common with my relatives that for years has basically been my dark secret.

    Try to explain video games to the non-gamer and you can almost hear the eyes roll in their head. They don't understand it. They don't want to understand it.

    You know it's funny. I played fantasy football in high school. Now remember, that is 1986 when I was in school. No internet. No Yahoo or CBS Sportsline sites to calculate your scores. We read the newspaper each day, and would, by hand, calcuate our scores. The jocks laughed at us, they didn't understand fantasy football. They didn't want to understand fantasy football. They thought it was just a bunch of guys who took their dungeons and dragons to the sports world.

    Today, fantasy football is...normal. Everyone plays it, from jocks to nerds to girls to my uncles.

    So what's my point? World of Warcraft is just the tip of the iceberg. It is what fantasy football is in 1996. It might not be the watershed game that the world plays, I still think that game is about 10 years away, but with the world growing more and more distant from each other, the one level of community that thrives is the online community.

    Case in point. My brother-in-law was in California for business. He started to play Warcraft at the same time his children, my nephews, started to play. His home is in Great Falls, VA and when the kids got online after school last week - so did he. I don't know, it just is a nice way for parents to keep in touch and connect with their kids, if you ask me.

    The same is true for my friends. Last March I was on a golf trip. While there I convinced a friend of mine to give the game a try. He wouldn't have struck me as your "typical" online gamer. He tried it and loved it. LOVED IT. To the point where he would email me and say, "Took the day off from work so I could play."

    Hey, I know where he's coming from. A lot of my "vacation time" is basically "computer time". Some people go on a vacation to a beach to relax, or maybe golfing - relaxation to me is sitting in front of a computer and playing games with my friends.

    This week an expansion to Warcraft was released. An expansion sells new content: more monsters, lands, spells, items and things to explore. It raised the levels from 60 to 70.

    My one sister laughed with me yesterday saying how my nephew saw I got to level 61, and started to go bonkers, saying "UNCLESEANISLEVELSIXTYONEYOUHAVETOSEETHISOHMYGODHESSIXTYONEMOMMOMMOMUNCLESEANISSIXTYONE!!!!"

    To the untrained observer and people that wouldn't understand his excited language it would be like watching a child hop around with a honey bee in his pants yelling bloody murder.

    Now I am trying to figure out if there is a way I can get out of birthday presents and christmas presents in return for World of Warcraft favors for my nephews. That would be nice.

    (The above picture was taken of the Koy fish pond & waterfall at my parents house at Collegeville, PA in 2004)

    Footlocker/Champs/Footaction Sale

    | No Comments

    I picked this up from the Eagles messageboard, reposting here for any sports fans who didn't know:

    Don't miss this footlocker/champs/footaction 40% off sale! It starts on January 11th. The code is below.

    Coupon also works IN-STORE if you print out the coupon and bring it with you.

    40% OFF also works on items that are already on sale.

    Sale starts 1/11 and ends 1/15!

    Footlocker F&F Online Code: FF7JL307

    Champs Sports F&F Online Code: FF7J6307

    Footaction F&F Online Code: FF7JV307

    DISCOUNT WILL NOT WORK ON NIKE OR JORDAN BRAND PRODUCTS!

    You type in the Online Code during one of the last Checkout pages, I believe after you've already entered in your payment information.

    I bought my Westbrook Jersey this way, and got a nice deal on it from the Reebok site. This is an awesome sale.

    Edited to add: I updated the hyperlinks, they weren't working. -Sean

    Happy New Year!

    | No Comments

    The picture was from 6th and Bloomfield. A large crowd of onlookers were stunned by a 15 minute long firework show by local residents. I remember living on 6th and Bloomfield about 10 years ago, and they would have a firework show each year. It seems they get bolder and bolder each year. A bit blurry (I didn't have a tripod and had the shutter open for 4 seconds, f/11). But this was one of the better pictures. Happy New Year!

    10107.jpg

    Layla at the Park

    | 2 Comments


    Quiet Week

    | 3 Comments

    I expect next week to be a quiet week for the blog.

    I am staying in Hoboken for the holidays. Most of my family members are doing the holidays with their in-laws or at their own home. I was just in DC for Thanksgiving and saw everyone. My mother will be at my Aunt's home for the holiday. My other sister and brother are in DC. I was invited to my sister Philly home for Christmas, and I really appreciated it, but decided to instead stay in Hoboken. I love her and her kids (who have just started to play Warcraft!), but in some ways i'd rather just chill out around my house for this holiday. I have the week off from work (my first weeklong vacation since September), and plan on doing the following activities:
    122206.JPG

    1. Sleeping.
    2. Playing videogames (Warcraft, Civilization, Battlefield 2142).
    3. Bartending on Saturday nights at the bar.
    4. Doing loads of laundry.
    5. Playing with my camera around Hoboken.
    6. Sleeping
    7. Cooking a bit, I have a new delivery from Fresh Direct coming on Sunday.
    8. Playing with Layla.
    9. Ignoring my diet for the week.
    10. Sleeping.

    Yes, not very exciting. I know. If I had a girlfriend, i'd use such a vacation to plan a trip to someplace warm. But I really have zero interest in being that single 34 year old guy who vacations in the Bahamas. Unless people know a place I can go where it isn't weird.

    I wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

    For New Years I am undecided on what I will do. I think the night is a bit overrated, and I have been invited to a few house parties to attend. I think I will just chill with some friends a pop open a few nice bottles of wine.

    Happy New Year!

    Best of Philly2Hoboken 2006

    | No Comments

    Toot! Toot!

    Yes, i'm tooting my own horn on this entry. I know all of you can't read my blog daily, but here is what I think are the "best entries" for 2006. If you haven't read them, i'd read, comment and share with your friends with what I wrote this year.

    I'd like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement this year. My readership has doubled this year, and I can only guess that you are all hoping for more PSE&G disasters to entertain you.

    Why I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Hoboken

    ...And So Drama Begins!

    Dissecting A Personal Ad

    Growing Up Richboro

    Things I Don't Like At Club H

    Levels of Men in Hoboken

    Falling In Like

    Sex, Lies and Hoboken

    What Your Drink Says About You in Hoboken

    Is it better loved and lost than to not be loved at all?

    To The Girls...

    The Rules Of Laundry In Hoboken

    Farewell Furey!

    Tupac*

    What was your favorite entry? Either leave a comment or shoot me an email.

    Tupac*

    | 2 Comments

    I eat at Panera Bread about once a week for dinner. I like their multi-grain bread, and i'm trying to eat healthier when I can help it. It seems that 4 out of 5 times I go there they fuck up my order. I swear. I will always get home and open my sandwich and they forget something. Like they forgot lettuce. Or mayo (I know, not healthy, but i'm hoping the multi-graininess offsets the mayo). Also can anyone explain how mustard should be on a tuna sandwich?121406.JPG

    I got finished at Club H around 8:30 and walk up Washington. I see Panera and decide to stop in, getting a smoked Turkey Sandwich. Quick segue. If you walk into Panera at anytime at night, look to the right. There is always an older woman sitting there, with glasses. Like every time I walk in there, this woman is sitting there. Sometimes she is with a man. She looks easily 75 years old, if not older. I'm convinced she is like homeless or something, because she is always at Panera. Anyhow.

    I pass by the Creepy Old Lady and I'm waiting on line at Panera. An older guy, around 65 or 70, is in front of me and orders his food. He has a full head of white hair, oversized glasses and a button sweater. He also has those "old guy sensible shoes". Like the kind of shoes that are for people who shuffle to the bingo parlor right after "Matlock" is over. When asked for his name by the cashier, he replies, "Al".

    Yep, to me, the name fits him. He looks like an "Al". I think about it for a second and then my warped mind decides to have some fun.

    I go up and order, slowly, exactly what I want on my turkey sandwich: Swiss. Mayo. Lettuce. Onion. On multi-grain.

    For here or to go? To go.

    Your name? Tupac.

    Now the girl was about all of 16 years old and African American.

    She looks up at me with a curious look on her face, her eyes a bit wide as if to say "White boy with the name TUPAC?". While she is looking me over curiously, I don't smile or react - just keep a poker face. She says, "Fo real?". I just nod slowly as if to say: Yes, Tupac. She starts laughing and trying to type "Tupac" on her register, but the laughter overwhelms her and she gives up.

    I can't hold back a smile any longer and I start laughing along, and say: "What!? Don't I look like a Tupac!?"

    This gets her to laugh even more and i'm the type that once I start laughing with someone over my joke, that I can't stop either. We both get a good laugh out of it and I go to wait by the end of the counter, and i'm in a good mood. I watch the sandwich makers because they look up at the TV screens for the order and call out your name when done.

    I want to see the moment that the word "Tupac" registers on the guy making my sandwich.

    Oh, it was worth it. The guy is making the sandwich and looking up at the screen from time to time - i'm sure reading off the ingredients of the sandwich, and when done calling out the name of the person who ordered.

    Right before he is about to call out my name you can see him just...stop.

    He starts to laugh and then taps the other guy next to him pointing at the screen, the other guy starts laughing too and he calls out with a questioning laugh, "Tupac?".

    "Right here, dude.", I reply. Both of them laugh even more once they look at me.

    I shrug my shoulders and comically reply, "What!? My parents liked rap! It's a 'Thug Life', dog."

    I thank them for my sandwich and leave. On the way home i'm trying to think of more names I can use next time I order. I think I will say "Oprah" next. Or maybe "Jesus", but I think the guys there would be like "Hay-Zeus! Your sammich is ready, man!" I have to come up with a good one like Tupac again.

    I get home and the motherfuckers forgot my lettuce. Tupac gets no respect.

    *For the record it is spelled 2Pac or Tupac

    Talking At Someone

    | 2 Comments

    I'm at the bar on Saturday night, and it is busy. We have the DJ spinning music and a large crowd drinking. There is a birthday party in my corner and i'm throwing Bud Lights their way to keep them happy.

    I get an older guy, maybe around 40, and his wife near the taps. From the corner of my eye, I can see that he is eyeing me. But i'm busy making drinks and queue him up in my mind as the next guy i'll serve.

    I get over to him and ask for his drink and immediately I knew this guy was a class-one asshole.

    It will be hard to explain in writing, but i'll try. Most people, when ordering will look directly at me, and say clearly what they want. This guy treated me with something close to disdain. Like I was beneath him. It was palpable. I could feel it and I kept my composure but really wanted to say "What the fuck is your problem?"

    This guy reminded me of the SNL sketch "The Two A-Holes", except he wasn't chewing gum.

    So, he orders his drink and mumbles it to me while looking away, like he has more important things to do. I'm busy, the crowd is jumping, and I can already see my birthday party in the corner wants more "O-bombs" (Stoli O and Red Bull similar to Jagerbombs) and this guy is wasting my time. So I get his attention and ask him again what he wanted. He says his order and then holds up an index finger to me to "Hold a moment" and talks to his wife.

    When you are busy, and behind a bar, you don't have many times to "Hold a moment". The owner is there and he's watching us work. The owner can see that other people need drinks and frequently jumps behind the bar to help us if we fall behind. I personally hate that, because it says "I'm not working fast/efficiently enough" to me. I don't want anyone helping me, if I can help it, unless something goes terribly wrong behind the bar (like the register breaks or I run out of liquor/beer and have to fetch something).

    So i'm standing there while the 40-year old is making me wait for him to ask his wife what she wants.

    Now, like I said before, he was waiting for me at the taps before I walked over. Wouldn't you think he would have asked his wife what she wanted BEFORE that? Nah. Not this guy.

    Many times if people do this to me, and it is busy, normally I will just say, "I will come back when you are ready." and walk away to help someone else. But I was just annoyed this was happening and stood there in a detached sense of amusement (I knew it was going to be blogged) and anger (no one likes to be treated like this).

    I finally get what they both want, and it is that same contempt he has when ordering. He doesn't look at me when he talks - he just sort of talks AT me. Like i'm a vending machine, not a person. Like he is sitting at the drive-thru at McDonalds and talking to the metallic box and looking for a Happy Meal.

    I got his drinks, didn't say a word to him. Didn't say Thank You, just gave him the money and his drinks and went to help the rest of my customers.

    Hey, I get it. I'm a bartender. I serve drinks. I try to talk to people, make them laugh a bit, maybe listen to their problems.

    But i'm not a fucking servant.

    Link Between Cynicism and Age!

    | 1 Comment

    “Housing Slump Is Over!” claim the National Association of Realtors.

    “Eating Red Meat Is Healthy!” claim the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

    “Tobacco Doesn’t Cause Cancer!” claim Altria Group Inc.

    “Shampooing Seven Days A Week Doesn’t Affect Hair Loss!” claim PhRMA.

    “Ground Zero Dust Isn’t Toxic.” claims the U.S. Government.

    “We Don’t Use Steroids On Our Chickens!” claim The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.

    “Children’s Belly Fat Increases More Than 65% since 1990s, No Direct Link Found As Of Yet.” claim The Sugar Association.

    Before I get any cease and desist letters, these are all in jest. Well, except the NAR claim.

    Monumental?

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    120406.JPG

    Strange weekend.

    I want to write something about "What you should know if you are going to set Sean up with someone". No, I wasn't set up, but I have many girl friends over the years that have tried to set me up with people and I sort of want to write something about that. Yes, i'm annoying, aren't I? This isn't Dickens, people.

    Hope you enjoy the picture. It was taken during my trip to DC over Thanksgiving. I have been reading some books on photography and trying to experiment a bit. I really want to take some more trips into NYC and try to explore a bit.

    "The Beach" of Great Falls

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    On our exploration of Great Falls National Park, my nephews kept saying "Are we going to the beach?" to their parents. Perplexed by this thought, I just figured there was a waterfront area near the Potomac with some sand. The first picture, gives the impression that there is a beach...
    112706a.jpg

    But upon closer inspection, it reveals that The Beach doesn't have sand, but shells! Very small, fine shells that have washed upon this area to create a very unique and different beach...

    112706b.jpg

    More pictures to come this week.

    Thanksgiving in DC

    | 1 Comment

    112606.jpg

    Wonderful trip to DC, with a lot of great indoor and outdoor photos (369 in all! The picture above taken at Great Falls National Park).

    My brother and sister in law hosted Thanksgiving at their house, and it was really great. All my siblings were there, along with my mother. It is the rare treat to have us all under one roof for a holiday dinner, because of in-law family obligations during the holidays.

    Easily my favorite day was hiking in Great Falls National Park. My sister and brother in law moved into a new house about 10 minutes from the park, and we spent Sunday exploring various craggy outreaches along the Potomic River. A really facinating park, with old ruins of a Federal canal system. Here is one picture of me, along the river. I'm spending the night watching the Eagles struggle against the Colts and looking over the pictures.

    I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. On kind of a cool note, the guys over at Gothamist posted my mini-review of a Goodburger that opened up on the east side, on 54th and Lex. I took some pictures with my compact camera, so the quality just isn't the same with my digital SLR.

    Boyfriend Bomb

    | No Comments

    Semi-interesting story last weekend. I was out at Teak with my childhood friend, Matt, trying their food for the second time and i'm planning to write up a review about it soon (I like to eat at a place at least three times before reviewing it). Afterwards I went over to Mulligan's for a drink and met up with some people. So there are some cute girls there and I mention to the guys there how cute one is in particular, and immediately the guys are goading me into talking to them.

    No, not me. I'm not that guy and never have been. I try to explain, but they keep hounding with suggestions and what not.

    I know they meant well, but that simply isn't me. Call me a coward or call me shy (although i'm not sure if I am really that shy if you know me). But I completely clam up when it comes to trying to approach cute girls. Once that ice is broken, i'm fine. I'm just not the icebreaker and I hate that "being set up feeling" when it comes to meeting someone.

    Anyhow, we left Mulligan's, and went to Moran's. I'm in the bar for about 2 minutes, and a blonde, 30-something woman in jeans and a cool t-shirt approaches me. First thought was, "Damn she's cute.", she looks at me oddly and says, "Hey, aren't you the guy who has the blog on Hobokeni?".

    Poker-faced I say, "No, sorry. Never heard of it." and act like I walk away. I turn around and say, "Nah, i'm kidding, that's me."

    She laughs and I smile and we make our introductions, and chat a bit about the blog. In the back of my mind i'm thinking "Cool, I meet a cute girl and the blog did all the introduction work". I talk a bit about the recent articles I wrote and about bartending at Mikie's. She says that "we" were there last week.

    "We"?

    I'm thinking, "Ok, here comes the 'boyfriend bomb'.

    The "boyfriend bomb" is a term that I made up in college. It always happened to me, i'd be talking to a very cute coed and it would take about 5-10 minutes of conversation before I get her to mention something about her boyfriend. Usually it was completely out of the blue, like her saying, "My boyfriend has that same shirt!" or "You studied in Italy? My boyfriend is Italian!" I either took it as an innocent, casual mention of her boyfriend or simply her way of saying "I'm not interested, I have a boyfriend." I mean don't you know those kind of people who get wrapped up in a relationship that every 10 minutes they have to say something about them?

    A moment or two later, I was able to meet her very nice husband. No harm, no foul. I chatted him up a bit, and introduced both of them to my friends. I just chalked it up, and still liked the fact I met someone who liked reading my blog.

    After that, I go over to the bar, near the corner by the opening and i'm about to order a drink. Out of the corner of my eye I see some guy looking at me to my right. I look once, and I don't know who it is. I wait at the bar, but again, out of the corner of my eye he keeps looking at me. It isn't a friendly look, either. It is like someone who knows me and someone who isn't very happy with me.

    Finally, I turn and stare back at him. I shrug my shoulders and throw up my hands as if to say, in a non-threatening way, "What are you looking at?". I notice he is swaying a bit, like he had too much to drink, he turns away from looking at me. What-the-fuck?

    I get my drink and chat with Lenny, the owner, a bit. I turn and go back to my friends by the Golden Tee machine, and the guy is looking at me again. I glance back his way and everything falls into place.

    Sitting next to the drunken guy is my old roommate, Helga*.

    Helga lived with me for two years and left my apartment about 3 years ago. Each roommate is different in my apartment they fall into three categories: Tolerance, Cordial or Friends. Roommates I tolerate are just there, they pay the rent and don't socialize with me at all. Cordial ones are semi-social roommates, but really not that friendly with me. Friends are one that we really click and get along, go to movies, concerts and the bars together.

    Helga and I we were cordial to each other. She paid her rent on time, and mostly during her years, as my roommate, she had a boyfriend named William*. William was one of those boyfriends who was at our apartement at least every other weekend, for the whole weekend. I called him the "4th roommate". Fortunately, William was cool and we all liked him, so it wasn't a big bother. They mostly stayed inside her bedroom all weekend, anyhow.

    Right before Helga moved out, 2 years ago, that she and William broke up. She bought her own apartment in Hoboken and met a new guy, Ken*. Ken and her hit it off and now they are either engaged or married, and soon to move into the suburbs in New Jersey into a new home.

    So my brain is quickly adding everything up. This must be Ken, I did meet him once, long ago, but I just didn't recognize him. Why is he giving me dirty looks...?

    PSE&G.

    Oh, ok, I sort of get it now. The other day, about 2 weeks ago a common friend of Helga and myself walked into the bar. We talked a bit about my PSE&G situation. He spoke to Helga and told me that she doesn't feel as if it is her problem. I was responsibile for the bills. I was responsibile for collecting from the roommates what was owed on those bills. She feels that she does not have to pay me, especially that she hasn't been in my apartment for over 3 years.

    The settlement, for those keeping track at home, was $5,500 for 55 months ($100 per month), or 4.5 years from October 2005, which makes that date January 2001.The amount that Helga (and anyone who lived with me from January 2001 to October 2005) owes me, $33 a month. I believe that Helga moved out July 2002 (I have to double check that), she lived with me for 19 months, or $627 (her name was on the lease every year). I sent her an email about it 2 months ago. One to her "normal email" and another via a website she is registered. She never responded back to me.

    My ex-roommate Jon, and current roommate Kristen both agreed to pay me back. I emailed Fred* at his yahoo address, but he was always broke and clearly upset with me when he left Hoboken because of his failed relationship.

    So, i'm sure Ken was well aware of who I was and wasn't happy that I was in Moran's. I considered walking up and saying something to Helga, but Matt, turned to me and simply said, "It's not worth it." and Matt just shook his head and rolled his eyes as if to say, "Whatever".

    I figured that a Friday night at Moran's, with a few drinks in me, wasn't the time and place to have an discussion over $627 contested dollars. I just enjoyed the rest of my night listening to Willie O'Connor play his guitar.

    What would you do in my situation?

    Driven

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    I was at the bar the other night and met two very cute, very nice girls living in town. Right after they ordered their first drinks, I entered in the computer system a tab for them. Most tabs I try to keep somewhat business like with names like "Corner" or "Couple" or "Glasses" or if I know the customer, their first name. When they sat down, I wrote "Hotness".

    One girl had light brown hair with blonde highlights and stunning blue eyes. The kind of eyes that you can't help to stare at. The other was just as attractive, but in a darker more myterious way. Both happen to me roommates in our town, and, as I found out over the course of the night, they are both from the Philadelphia area. I did my best to entertain them, and they were easy to talk to and quick to laugh. By the end of the night, and about 6 drinks each later, I decide to ask some introspective questions their way. I ask the brunette, "What do you look for in a guy" question.

    She turns to me and says, "I want a guy with a great personality, the kind of guy that I don't have to worry about walking into a bar and introducing him to everyone. I want someone who is personable and fun."

    I said, "Ok, but that's kind of a standard, don't you think. No one really wants to meet a wall flower. What else?"

    She adds, "I want a guy who is driven. That's very important to me."

    Driven.

    Now the mechanics of my mind mull over that word. What is "Driven"?

    Now, if you ask me, if a girl in Hoboken says "Driven" it becomes interpreted as, "I want a hardworking, successful boyfriend/future husband with money."

    I responded, "So, you want a man who is successful. One who has a good job?"

    She denied that money, or success, was important to her. Just that he had goals in his life.

    The cynic in me kept quiet, so I then asked the girls in my life.

    I emailed them, asking what they they thought it meant when a woman says, "I want someone who is driven." Some answers were verbose, and some I had to draw the answer out a bit. I also added if they thought that a schoolteacher or a cop, making 40k a year, would also be considered "driven".

    1998 Dom Perignon

    | 3 Comments

    There comes a time in your life that you have to treat yourself with a little present.

    This can come in many forms. Some people do a spa package, some do a nice dinner, some tickets to a Broadway show or sports game.

    Friday I was out with friends at Three A's. I haven't been to Three A's for quite some time, and truth be told, 110606.jpg
    I really don't go out as much as I used to. It is due to many factors. For one, I bartend on Saturdays, so getting wrecked on a Friday and hungover for Saturday equalled a miserable Saturday night. Also, there comes a certain level of compacency when you stop doing the "going out routine". I'm sure the fellow Hobokenites are familiar with this. It's the routine for the weekend - either going to the local pub to meet up with friends or hitting New York with your special other, it becomes "normal" to always expect to be out on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Once you start to break that routine, by staying in on the "normal nights to go out", then soon the routine becomes "staying in".

    Well, I was offered the chance to meet some friends out for a drink and dinner at Three A's. Part of me was interested, and another part, the tired, sleepy, part, wanted to stay in. I relented and went out, heading down to unfamiliar territory.

    I normally like to frequent bars or restaurants that I am a regular at because I frequently go out alone, and like to see a familiar face from behind the bar. Also, when you are a regular at many bars, most bartenders, the good ones, will give you a buyback for your continued patronage, or at the very least, might give you a break on paying full price.

    Two double redbulls and Vodka, and $24 later my friends arrived. They had planned, earlier that morning, for a 7:30 meeting, but I didn't keep up with the email chain letter and it was shifted to 8:15. It gave me a chance to watch a lot of a channel called "GolTV" and listen in to the conversations at the bar around me.

    When my friends did arrive, we were at the bar and chatted for a drink or two. Ordered dinner, and I decided to get the Chicken Rollatine, a stuffed breast of chicken with fresh spinach, prosciutto, swiss and parmesan cheese. Looking down the menu at the wine list, I was a bit unimpressed with their bottle selection. The labels they carried were fairly standard for Hoboken, like Markham, Rutherford Hill, Kendall-Jackson, Franciscian and Sterling. Don't get me wrong, I like all of those, but I was looking for something with a bit more...kick.

    Then there was the champagne list. I'm not really a champagne guy. I don't know the real labels, but I do know a few. My eyes landed upon the 1998 Dom Perignon. I pondered it for about 4 seconds before I pulled the trigger.

    "Hey, do you guys like champagne?", I asked innocently.

    My friends shrugged and nodded, not sure what to make of my question.

    "Cool, so do I.", then I told the bartender that i'd take the Dom Perignon.

    I watched the bartender look at me and then nod with a sort of satisfaction. I doubt it was about my appreciation of the finer things in life and more about watching his tip cup get fatter. The bottle was $200.

    Pets + Costumes = Cute

    | 1 Comment

    Some may say "animal abuse", but you have to laugh after seeing these! Happy Halloween everyone!

    Halloween '06

    | 3 Comments

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    Friday night I had a dog get together. A long time reader of my site emailed about getting Layla and her two Bernese Mountain Dogs together (Desi and Callie). They came over and our apartment became a puppy playground, with a 8 pound cocker spaniel trying to hold her own with a very large puppy (Desi). Callie was a 3 year old, and of an even keel temperment. She just watched Layla and Desi play most of the time.

    While the puppy play time went on, Kristen and I carved some pumpkins. I should have pics up later this week of our latest creations. They are similar to what we carved 2 years ago.

    Saturday was another year of bartending a Halloween party.

    I'm a bit put out. I had a costume ordered (SWAT team outfit) and ready to-go, but it never got to my house on time. I wasn't about to rush around trying to find a costume for Saturday night, so I bartended in my regular clothes. Francia, as you can see next to me, got into the spirit of things with her school girl outfit. For the record I was trying to look like the tough guy "Zoolander" poses they do on NJguido.com. I think I looked like a pseudo-Baldwin brother. Pic courtesy of Hoboken411.com.

    It was a good night. But I have to talk, once again, about how customers can annoy bartenders. Yes, it has been written here before, but maybe it is time for a refresher course with an example.

    A customer order a Irish Car Bomb shot. For those who don't know, it is a half filled glass of Guinness that is combined with a shot glass with 1/2 Jameison and 1/2 Bailey's. Drop in glass and chug.

    To give you the setting, the bar is packed. I'm very very busy making drinks and a car bomb is a bit of a chore (when compared to "easier" stuff like grabbing a beer or making a mixed drink). I'm making the drink and filling up the shot glass and run out of Jameison. It is about 1/3 filled. I shout to my barback for another Jameison. I fill up the shot glass with Bailey's and serve the customer his drink.

    He curiously looks at the shot glass and slurs, "Ish ther enny Jameishun in thar?"

    He didn't slur that badly, but I knew it was coming before he said it.

    It is busy. Other customers are giving me the "LOOK". All bartenders can see you, on the corners of our eyes, staring at us with that pleading "I need a drink NOW" look. I usually try not to look around, because once you make eye contact with someone - you're fucked. They try to order/yell something to you and you have to be like "OK, in a second."

    I'm still waiting for the barback and I ring up this guy's shot. I grab the Jameison. Now the shot glass is already filled. I overfill it with some Jameison, some of it spilling on to the bar in my haste, and the drunk is content now that he got his extra 18% of Irish Wiskey.

    I dunno, it was just annoying to me. I mean did this guy REALLY need that extra bit of whiskey? I just can't stand people who are like that. I'm sure he is the same kind of guy who goes to the restaurant with friends and inspects the bill, "James, you had the cracked crab appetizer and owe an extra $10", instead of just splitting the bill down the middle.

    Annoyance #2, and I have written about things like this before, are customers who insist on getting my attention when it is clear that i'm busy.

    Killing Me Softly

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    Saturday morning at 11am.

    BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark
    BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark
    BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark
    BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark
    BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark

    That's all I hear from downstairs, in a muffled sort of way.

    Layla is alone. She doesn't like being alone. She is like Kristen's shadow.

    The barking intermittently changes to a strange yelp whine. Sounds like someone is strangling the dog. The back to more BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark!!

    Well, so much for sleeping. I get up and turn on the TV, trying to turn up the volume to stop hearing the dog. It sort of works, except between commericials I get more "BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark".

    I could let Layla out and hang with me. But I really don't want to be responsible for her. It's Saturday and I have to bartend at 6:30. I just want to vegetate.

    BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark!!!

    I like Layla, don't get me wrong. Just don't like loud noises in the apartment. I suggested to Kristen a muzzle, so she couldn't bark while in her crate. Is that wrong? I don't think it is. I started to read up on the internet about sprays that can be used when dogs bark. Not sure if I am that determined to start that. I'm hoping the puppy grows out of this or Cesar Milan will be getting an email from me.

    Here's some other random observations about Layla, dogs and dog walking*:

    1. Is there some strange unwritten rule of dog walking and meeting other people walking dogs? Let dogs approach, snif each other while both walkers have a introduction session to each other. Wait about 1 minute and continue.

    2. I used to think dogs were chick magnets. I'm starting to re-think that since the only people that Layla attracts when I walk her are children. I haven't taken Layla up to Washington Street, however. I'll be on Garden, Layla sees someone (guy or girl) and goes bonkers. She tugs at the leash and I have to hold her back lest she kiss someone's leg to death. Layla is like a cheerleader in dog form. Peppy, full of spirit and wants everyone to notice her.

    3. Layla's other annoying habit is "I'm done walking". I walk down the street when she just stops dead in her tracks. Like a mule, she refuses to move. Sometimes she sits. Sometimes she lies down. Two ways to fix are bending down to her eye level and she usually approaches me and we continue our walk. Or, I don't stop walking and she grudingly walks/tugs from behind me. I can feel her trying some kind of Ghandi passive resistance from behind me. I have zero tolerance for this.

    4. There is nothing more annoying to me than watching women treat their dogs like children. Talk in baby voices or cuddle them when they get scared. They are dogs, people. Not little children with fur. Dogs don't understand when you cuddle them - they start to think they are the pack leader and walk all over their owners.

    5. 75% of people in Hoboken walk their dogs incorrectly. Everyone lets their dog lead them. This is a big no-no. You lead the dog. The dog walks to your side, not in front of you (unless sniffing to go to the bathroom).

    6. A criteria that I would judge a girl would be the kind of dog they have. I know isn't that bad? But seriously, if any girl had a toy dog, it would be like a black mark on my book. Not a deal breaker. Also maybe true if the girl had like a Great Dane. I'd be wary of that, too. Oh, if any girl I met didn't like dogs or cats, that would be...bad. Sorry I just couldn't imagine being with someone who didn't like animals. I think it says a lot about people how they treat pets and animals.

    7. I toyed with the idea of getting a dog, but now having Layla as my 4th roommate, I see how much work they are. Every day Kristen has to get home from work and walk Layla. She spends money on that dog walker every day. Any thing she wants to do on the "spur of the moment" needs to take Layla into consideration for the next 12-15 years. I'd get a dog if I was in a committed relationship, but doubt that i'd do it while i'm single. But who knows, I have been known to change my mind.

    8. I'm very attentive about picking up Layla's "droppings" when I walk her. I did have a nightmarish moment once. We were walking and she did her business. I cleaned it up and threw away the plastic bag. We walked about another block and she WENT AGAIN. Fuck! I didn't have any more bags. So it was late, i'm on Garden Street and looking around for witnesses. None seen. I scurry away. I get home and get another plastic bag and clean it up. But for that one moment while I was running home to get a plastic bag I was half waiting for someone to sceam bloody murder at me for not cleaning up the mess.

    9. Tell me that this wouldn't make a tremendous amount of money in Hoboken. Set up about 14 dispensers on Washington St. (one every other block on both sides of the street) and one at each dog park (set up something with the City of Hoboken, where they get a % profit for allowing the machines to be in the park). There are SO MANY dog owners in town that shower their dogs with toys. I fully expect someone to jump all over this idea. I expect to see these in about 6 weeks from this post.

    *For the record I grew up with my own dog, Princess Leia. My sisters were veternarian assistants before college and they have raised multiple dogs between them and my brother owns a dog also. My family knows a lot about proper dog rearing.

    Yes, Kathleen, I fully expect your expert advice after I post this. LOL.

    How To Install A Tivo Series 3 In Hoboken

    | No Comments

    I wrote a while back that I was getting a Tivo Series 3.

    I was very excited to get it for various reasons, but let me tell you - it was a nightmare.

    I had a tech from Cablevision scheduled to come to my house on September 26th. I was told the tech would be there from 8am to 11am. Fine, I took a partial day off from work to meet them.

    At 10:55am I get a phone call. The tech didn't have enough cablecards and had to order some from the factory. Of course I was extremely angry - I took a partial day off from work and they decided to inform me the same day they couldn't make my appointment.

    I asked for a supervisor and they got one on the phone. I told him that I took a partial day from work, and this was unacceptable. They told me the next time they would visit they could do it at 5pm and I would be a first priority. He would call me by Thursday to inform me when they get the new cablecards.

    The next day, Wednesday, the supervisor calls me with good news. They have the cablecards and are ready to install. I had them come on Thursday afternoon, my roommate Matt was home, and I would be at work. I figured that it would be easy to install, since Tivo provided an easy step-by-step guide for technicians. I left it on top of the Tivo and went to work.

    I get home and the Tivo is working! Horray! Both cablecards are displaying my video. Except there is an odd problem. Channels #23-100 are showing video & audio, but don't display the information. Normally with Tivo when you tune in any channel, it provides the channel #, the show playing, and other relevant information (like recording options). Channels #2-22 and 101-700 were all fine (except channel #736, which was ESPNHD). I put in a ticket with Tivo because I thought it was an issue they were having.

    The weekend progresses and Sunday morning i'm watching ESPNHD. I start hitting the channel up botton and get to HBOHD when my screen goes black. I wait. I wait some more. Nothing. Oh well, I think, the channel must have konked out. I change the channel back to ESPNHD and its still black. I try Cablecard 2 and it is on channel 2, and that's showing fine. I switch back to Cablecard 1, still black.

    A message pops up: "You are not authorized to receive this channel. Please contact your retailer."

    I start looking at the Tivo settings, under the cable cards and see that "The Cablecard is not authorized".

    Hmmm. Strange.

    Then begins a series of phone calls with Cablevision. Unfortunately, many of the people answering the phone didn't understand my problem, due to unfamiliarity with the Series 3 and that they couldn't understand if I had video and sound what the problem was. I finally convinced them to dispatch on a weekend, so I could show a tech what the problem was all about. I wasn't happy with most of the customer service people. They weren't very helpful except for one person who I spoke to on Sunday named Shirley. She was outstanding. But I talked to about 5 different people and the other 4 were fairly terrible.

    They sent a senior tec