Life: May 2007 Archives

Memorial Day Weekend

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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, rag├╣ 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


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 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

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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?

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This page is a archive of entries in the Life category from May 2007.

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