Life: October 2006 Archives

Halloween '06



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 I think I looked like a pseudo-Baldwin brother. Pic courtesy of

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


Saturday morning at 11am.


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.


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

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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 tech to my apartment to look it over. I must say that I was very impressed with the technician's attention to detail while I was there, and another tech showed up to assist. They went over the signal from the pole to my apartment and found out that the higher-end channels signal were off. So they were very methodical as to where the problem could be coming from. First they tested from the pole to the apartment, then inside the apartment, and then up to the Tivo.

It wasn't my Tivo causing the problem. The signal at the pole to the apartment was split once for the first floor TV & first floor bedroom to the second floor bedrooms. Then it was split again, between the two bedrooms. Then split a third time between my TV and my router (for internet). They proceeded to recrimp all the connections, and replacing the connections outside with everything new. Again, I was seriously impressed with how thorough these guys were at Cablevision.

They re-tested the signals and everything was then clean up to my Tivo. Awesome.

We then re-ran the set up for Tivo, following the step-by-step instructions. We inserted the first cablecard, and the tech worked with his service agent to authorize the first card. That took a few minutes. Then we inserted the second card and did the same. I followed the set-up, and downloaded the guide and everything worked great.

I won't say this was easy. Certainly any new technology, especially a first release, is going to have a lot of growing pains. I think the two most important lessons learned in the install are twofold:

1. When the tech comes to your site make sure he tests the levels from inside your house to the pole. If they are off, the Cable Cards won't be able to download the authorization properly.

2. Make sure you follow the Tivo instructions exactly. Do not install both cable cards at the same time. Put the first one in, authorize, and then put the second card in and authorize.

Here's an interesting side benefit to this whole fiasco. Before the install my internet router kept losing connection to the internet. It would happen about 3-4 times a week, and I would have to reset the router in order to get the internet working again. Ever since they re-did the wiring my internet connection has been perfect.

I'll always be a dreamer


I always dream of new ideas that I could invent. When I was about 10, around 1982, I told my mother about an idea I had. I liked to drink cold Pepsi, but didn't like ice. I didn't like it when ice melted in my drink and made it watery. I did like to have a cold drink, however, and figured out a way to make that.

I wanted to get a large plastic mug and surround it (fused) with another large plastic mug. Between the two vessels would be water. You take the mug, and put it in a freezer. The water would freeze, and then you can pour soda into the glass and it would stay cold.

I remember drawing the whole thing out to her, and she thought it was a novel idea but it didn't go any further than that.

10 years later i'm in college and i'm watching Home Shopping Network and they are advertising the same thing, basically. Instead of water they created the mug with some kind of silicon gel that you might use in ice packs for medical injuries. I thought it was a great idea, and wondered if it ever made any money.

So that happens often in my life. In 1994 I wanted to start a company with a college buddy of mine. We were going approach every restaurant in Philadelphia and say, "Let us have your menu". We would scan the menu, their address and some pictures and put it on the web. We could do this with not only restaurants but all stores, and we could write reviews on the places and such. I told my father my idea and tried to see if he would fund us. He wasn't interested and told me to get a real job.

I went to the city and got my present day job. Imagine my surprise in 1995 when I stumble across It was bought out in later years by, which was in turn bought out by Ask Jeeves. Ask Jeeves was acquired by Interactive Corp. Interactive Corp owns other companies and websites such as Home Shopping Network, Ticketmaster, Evite, and Lending Tree.

I always wondered what would have happened if my father said, "Sounds good!"

I'm sure there were lots of guys out there with good ideas, but remember this was 1994. The internet was barely a blip on anyone's radar.

Ok, so this is my next idea, but not sure about the legality of it.

Lets say you own an authentic Terrell Owens Jersey. Owens is gone and you are stuck with a $265 Jersey you got to wear like 10 times.

You send it to (this is a made up name) "" and fill out an application. You tell that you want the numbers reversed to 18 and "Owens" removed and add "Stallworth". has the numbers and the lettering that the Eagles use for their jerseys (or simply make their own, it can't be THAT hard to replicate it). For a small charge, like $40, will unstitch the old numbers and letters, reorganize them into a new number & lettering system.

Now before everyone says "THAT'S ILLEGAL!!!!"

Think about if you did it yourself. You OWN the jersey. You certainly could do this yourself. Again - you OWN the jersey. Once you own it, you can have a local tailor un-do the stitching if you want and flip the numbers. Who would know?

Anyhow, that's my idea for old jerseys. I just don't know how legal it would be.

I'd like to see where it is printed that someone couldn't restitch the lettering of a jersey they own.

To me its a big crock that I bought a Owens jersey, expecting him to be playing for 5-7 years and I get stuck holding a jersey that is essentially worthless now. I also own an authentic Corey Simon jersey, too!

The Eagles should do something for their fans. Like you can return an authentic jersey and get 10% off the next one. Look at Apple computer - if you return an iPod they give you 10% off the next one you buy.

Anyhow, that's my idea. I fully expect to see some joker launch it and make a couple of million (or billion) when they are acquired by

Train of Thought


This was written just with me as stream of consciousness. Sorry if it seems rambling or incoherient, but i'm just trying something different.

After living in Hoboken all these years, as a mostly single man, working every day in the corporate world I have a lot of time to my thoughts.

I get a lot of time to think. I'm sure we all "think", but for me, a lot of who I am is about being introspective and trying to understand people and myself. Sometimes I overthink situations, I try to analyze every possible angle to a situation. Sometimes I come to very relevant conclusions and sometimes I make erronous leaps of logic that result in troubling consequences.

Over the last few weeks, I keep having the same thoughts about my life in Hoboken. It feels like an "Endless Summer". I sort of do the same thing at my job. Get up every morning around the same time, rushing to make it into work as close to on-time as possible, but mostly getting there about 10 minutes late.

My day usually begins the same at the office. I get some food from our cafeteria. I sit and read some emails and check my voicemails. Try to wake up from the night before. I don't drink coffee very often, except when I am really tired. Mostly drink water and some cereal or a bagel.

Work, which I really don't want to go into detail here, is all right. I like the people I work with, for the most part. It sort of reminds me of high school. You have various cliques of people in the office, but everyone generally gets along. I mostly keep to myself at the office and don't really have any friends at my office.

It very much reminds me of my high school days at LaSalle. I was friendly with some people in my grade, but really didn't have any friends that I would "hang out" with. At lunch I would hackeysack with some people. After school I would take the bus home, or drive home when I was old enough.

I never really felt lonely. I always found myself to be my best entertainment. On bus rides, I would get lost in reading a good book. I mostly liked fantasy books, I can easily say that in my room I have about 200 books sitting on bookshelves or my floor that I read over the last few years. Some I finished. Some I didn't.

I'd love to be one of those guys that read really cool sounding literature for fun. Like Hemingway or Salinger or Faulkner. Sure, I read them in high school or college. Never really got into it.

Right now i'm reading "iWoz", by Steve Wozniack, one of the founders of Apple with Steve Jobs. In some ways, I can really identify with Steve, especially his shyness.

I consider myself to be shy. Oh, I know that to some of you who know me it may sound strange, but I think I am shy. I'm not good at the whole icebreaker thing. I'm especially bad at trying to strike up conversation with a woman that i'm interested in. When I see a pretty girl in a bar looking at me, I get embarassed, rather than flattered. I think that she can't really be looking at me, and rarely will do anything about it.

I don't consider myself to be picky. I just think that I don't have whatever the rest of the guys of the world learned when they were in high school. I think that's one of my biggest regrets, that I went to LaSalle. I think it provided a great education, but I ended up lacking in many social experiences that many other high school students may have been a part of. I was living in Gwynedd Valley, on a isolated street. My "old neighborhood" friends were in Richboro, about a 30 minute drive away. Many, many, many weekends once I was a Junior I would drive to see them, but I still think I missed out on a lot of "normal" stuff that everyone else was a part of.

I have found that now that i'm older, I really am the product of those experiences. At work I am that same loner from high school. I certainly can, and have, made friends, but I keep everyone at arms length. I only confide in a few people, some to lesser or greater degrees.

I think i'm fairly happy in life, but do wish I could have a few things to make it "better". I think one would be a nicer place to live. My apartment now is nice enough, but at 34 years old and living with two roommates, I have recently begun to wonder about this situation. I like both my roommates well enough, but I start to feel my age a bit.

I remember the last time I felt my age was when in college I tried to ride my skateboard one day. I was a sophomore, and drive to a local shopping center, which was mostly empty, and tried to skate a bit. Quickly it dawned on me that I was seriously too old to be skateboarding around a shopping center (Although i'm sure Tony Hawk would disagree). After about 15 minutes, I put the skateboard back into my Jeep and haven't tried to ride one since.

The same feeling has been creeping over me for the last year. Certainly I wish I bought 5 years ago. Hindsight is a bitch sometimes. I remember in 1997 I was warning my father about the stock market crashing and how markets were cyclical. Doesn't he remember 1988? He didn't listen to me, and watched his stocks rise and rise. I knew that one day i'd be right. I was. The market corrected itself. It wasn't like I was some wise sage. I watched as the housing market started to overheat and, once again, predicted a correction.

Sadly, I was woefully incorrect when that correction would occur. I was very much expecting it to correct in 2003. I watched on the sidelines as my friends and ex-roommates watched their purchases quadruple in price, while I rented.

Now here I am. Still renting. Still working at the same job. Its that feeling of the "endless summer", the years keep passing and i'm doing the same thing.

This doesn't feel like a mid life crisis exactly. I just feel like I wish I could just afford a nicer place to live in Hoboken. People keep on suggesting places like Weehawken or Jersey City to move, but I simply am a man of routines. I'm a "nester". I like my little nest and don't like changing things if I can help it. I also am very picky about the type of condo i'd like to live in. I don't have very good handy skills to fix anything up, so i'd like some new place to live that doesn't make me broke.

I'm good at saving money, but terrible with my finances. Oh, I have the 401K and max that sucker out, and have plenty of money stashed away for a rainy day. Not to sound like a terrible snob, but money isn't a problem in my life - but don't let me fool you into thinking i'm wealthy, i'm not. I am not a man of extravagant tastes. I know when I have enough to splurge on a plasma TV or a new camera or a Tivo or a nice dinner at The Strip House or buying a nice bottle of wine. I sort of have an internal way of keeping my spending in check. As much as I bitterly complain about my housing situation, I certainly could buy a condo in Hoboken. But I don't want to be living in an expensive condo and eating Ramen noodles every night for dinner. I'll take my roommates and my cheap rent and happily wolf down an expensive steak with a fine wine each month.

Every fall I do the same thing. I look through the J. Crew catalog and pick out some nice sweaters, shirts or other clothes I like (except pants, because I always had a poor success rate with J. Crew and pants). I will spend a fairly hefty amount of money in one phone call and that's it. I get my new clothes in a week, and i'm set for the season, with maybe one or two minor shops at Bloomingdale's Men's Section.

I also wish I had a better system to deal with all the clutter in my apartment. I have a hard time letting things go, like the 200+ books that sit in my room. Here's my thought process: I don't want to throw the books out because I think they have some value and it would be a waste. I don't have the energy or interest to sell them on Ebay. I don't want to give them away (like that used bookstore on Washington Street) because, again, I feel like i'm losing money when I do that.

So there the books sit. And other items. Like my old computer games. I have all my old computer games for years and years sitting in a closet in my room. I mean old games like Commander Keen and the original Doom to new games like World of Warcraft or Civilization 4. I could just throw them out, but maybe I could sell those games to someone at a yard sale? I feel like if I threw them away i'd be just throwing money away. Again, I have zero interest in trying some auction site like Ebay.

So there the games sit.

I don't want to become one of those guys who has stacks of newspapers in his apartment and one of them topples over and then I become trapped and die from dehydration or something. No, i'm not seriously thinking this will be me, I was just joking.

But still, isn't it strange for me to hold on to these books and computer games? I was able to clean my closet last spring and it did feel pretty good. I basically looked at everything I had in my closet and said "Do I like to wear this?" or "Have I worn this in the last year?".

I took everything that didn't make the cut and put them into six garbage bags. I walked down the street and gave them to a Salvation Army-type store. There was some seriously nice clothes I gave away, brand name stuff. But I didn't wear it.

I think I gotta do the same with everything else I own. Just resolve myself past the idea that i'm really gonna get money for my L. Ron Hubbard 10 book "Mission Earth" series. I just checked ebay and each book is selling for .99 cents. I would love to just set up a little stand on Washington Street and try to sell all my books. $1 for every softcover and $3 for each hard cover.

See, there I go again. That's how my mind will go back around and around. Eventually I will just realize that I don't have a solution that I like and ignore that problem until another day.

That's it for now. Just playing around with a different way of writing. Btw, if you read this far - what do you think I should do about all these books? Just give 'em away? You can email me if you don't want to leave a comment.


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I know, I have been boring. No updates. I hope to have something this week. Sit tight.

Also, get ready for Dallas. Woot!

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