Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Family Slides: Christmas 1958

IMG_2296:Mikes First Christmas

Left to right: Cousin Richard's pompadour haircut, Uncle Rico (with Cigarette), Pop (Angelo Terranova), Great-Grandmom, My Maternal Grandfather.

A couple of things to note:
  • I had an Uncle Rico. Actually its Enrico (Henry in Italian) and he's my Grand Uncle. I guess after ten kids you start to run out of meaningful names. Uncle Rico is always mentioned at the same time as his older brother Willy as in "Willy and Rico". Willy and his ex-stripper wife are just beyond Rico, out of the shot. Willy deserves a blog of his own. 
  • My Great Grandfather looks like he belongs on a wine label. In fact, in the 70's my father found a brand of wine that had a label looked identical to this picture. I forget the brand. 
  • What the hell happened to that Turkey? Why is it black at the head end?
  • It's 3:40 PM according to Rico's watch. I'm guessing they already had the soup and fruit.
  • Are Rico's fingers really that yellow for nicotine or is that an artifact from color refraction?
  • There is a Schmidt's Beer.
  • My Grandfather is 4 years older in this picture than I am right now.
  • Everyone in this picture is deceased. 

The rest of the pictures from this roll of film are here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Door Button Badge

I moved offices a few weeks ago. I'm still at the same company (sort of, but it's a long story) but we moved floors.

If you work in corporate America you understand thus constant: moving offices.

We were moved onto what I would call a "elevator crossover" floor. If it were the World Trade Center it would be called a "sky lobby". It's a floor where you can cross elevator banks from the set that service the mid tier floors to those that service the upper floors of the office building I work in.

I'm telling you this because the elevator cross over effectively cuts the floor in half. The elevators and all the security doors that go with them are in between the  two halves with offices  - East side and West side .

I am in the West half which is great except the Men's room and Kitchen are on the East side. My side has the Women's room which doesn't help me in the slightest.

In order to keep the noise down from the traffic crossing between elevator banks, my offices are enclosed behind a wall with an unlocked door.

So, to get to the Men's room it's:

Exit the Unlocked DOOR.
Press a BUTTON to release the magnetic security locks to the elevators.
Walk past the Elevators and use your BADGE to unlock the doors to the east side.


On the way back it's BUTTON (because you are leaving the secure zone) BADGE (and entering the West side) DOOR.


For the Bathroom it's DOOR-BUTTON-BADGE Bathroom BUTTON-BADGE-DOOR.


Either I'm getting old or I'm think about other things but I just can't seem to get this seemingly simple pattern down. Besides, the architects left little distractors in your way like light switches near the DOOR and the BUTTON entrances. So when we first moved in I found myself hitting the light switch instead of the BUTTON.

DOOR-LIGHTSWITCH-BADGE doesn't work. It just sort of leaves you baffled at the BUTTON part wondering why you can't get to the elevators. Worse than that there is also a light switch by the DOOR. Which DOES work. Sort of.

LIGHTSWITCH-DOOR-BUTTON-BADGE works but leaves people in your office wondering what happen to the lights.

It's just cruel to have the light switches there and don't even get me started on badge readers that are too high or too low so that of your hands are full your are doing a sort of badge dance to get in. I call it Badge Tai-chi 

I've used this cross over at the elevators for 10 years to switch elevator banks but until I lived on this floor I never ever turned the light switch off expecting to get out to the elevators. It's the sequence that mess you up.

My new office, well cube actually, faces a window. I had an window cube/office on last floor too but I had a fantastic view over center city Philly. Now I face the West Tower which has a seventies concrete and glass architectural feel to it.

It looks like the exterior of Kilgon Inter Galactic Headquarters out my window.

The other day there was some real excitement as the window washers came by. That is a creepy feeling. You'll be working away and suddenly you have the sense that there is someone behind you when in the back of your mind you know that there is nothing out there but sky. Then you look up to see a man in boatswains chair 22 stories above the ground slopping sudsy water on the window. On the OUTSIDE.

The things that guy must see. Or not see - if some idiot shut the lights out instead of opening the door.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Family Slides: 1959 Mummers Parade.

This is the first of a series: The Family Slides from 1959 until the 1970's

My father shot 35 mm slides from about 1959 until the 1970s and some will be featured here.

This (as near as I can tell) is the Quaker City String Band from the 1959 Philadelphia Mummers parade. I'm guessing the that parade took place on Saturday the 3rd of January since the first was rainy and this appears to be the same band as here.

It is taken in front of St Agnes hospital in South Philadelphia.

IMG_2254:1959 Mummers Parade

This is the same location today on Google Maps Street View.
View Larger Map

Results from 1959 can be found here

Saturday, March 20, 2010

25 points

Yesterday at lunch my old Weight Watchers instructor serendipitously sat near me at the Marathon Grill in center city Philly. It's been 3 months since I stopped the program but I am still sort of watching what I am eating. I'm not sure why but I was very self conscience about what I was having with her sitting across from me. I was glad I ordered the special, a grilled chicken thing with mashed potatoes and grilled veggies. What do I care what what she thinks?

Well, I was self conscience until her order arrived. Fries. She had Freakking fries. Are you kidding me? Fries and thick white bread Italian style roll for her sandwich. It had to be a 25 point meal.

Later, Chancellor texted me and declared that we were going to Ruby Tuesdays for dinner. I headed home with visions of fried things in my head but it was not to be. She had Mexican on her mind by time I got home. Youngest Son was around  too and he decided to honor us with his presence in public. So off we went to a locally owned and operated Mexican place near us named, of course, wait for it.... El Aztec. Because when I think of Tacos,  I think of conquering Mexican Indian tribes.

It wasn't bad and reminded me that I really need to stay out of the plastic, sterile chain places and explore good local meals in smaller places.

It also reminded me of place in Devon that was around when I was dating the Chancellor. It was right on Rt 30 across from DQ and served the best Enchiladas I have ever had. It's gone now of course and I can't recall the name. Again, non-chain and it was a real hole in the wall - kind of like Mexican take out but the best Enchiladas ever.

My NCAA bracket is dead already, too heavily invested in the Big East which got simply clobbered in the first and second round. Crazy year, lots of upsets and none of them the ones I picked.

The weather has been just beautiful this week with a large High enveloping the NJ area. It was so big that at night the weather station measured no wind on most nights this week and I thought there was something wrong with it. I spent a lot of time researching why it had the "-1.00000" for the wind direction almost every night this week only to find out that it is supposed to do that when there isn't any wind.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Weather and DST.

I'm still messed up from daylight savings time but I did find all the clocks and change this this year. There is typically that one clock that I find on Tuesday of the change week that I missed. I also usually miss the set back thermometers and wake up to a cold house on Monday morning but I remembered that this year.

Sunday was spent changing the Ni-Cad batteries and finding out that the rain gauge was blocked in the the weather station. No big deal, we only got 4 inches of rain over the last 4 days and I measured half that.If you own a weather station, this is pure hell. You wait for a giant storm like this to measure data and then the equipment is flaky. Horrible, just horrible.

I also finally updated the software for the web display on the weather station after that. it was only two full revisions behind.

Sunday night was spent ohming out RS-232 cables looking for the one that magical cable that would work with the power reboot switch that the firewall is now hooked up to.Up next, a perl script to reboot the firewall when it locks up.

Both the weather station and power reboot switch required C programs updated and I hadn't touched C in years.

It was amazing how much I forgot. It took an hour for me to recall how to pass a pointer into a string function. (String-String!)

While I was in my garage man-lair, the Chancellor stopped down to visit. No being a frequent visitor to the corner of the garage where I keep the computers and such, she was amazed at the crap I had down there. I was amazed actually. I didn't really see all the wires and stuff stacked like a mad-scientist's lab until see was pointing all out. Funny how you can be hat close to something and not really see for what it is.

Well, Lost is coming on a moment so I am off.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mike's Chili

1 Lb 95% Lean Ground Beef
1/2 Sweet Onion, preferable vidala
1/2 Red Pepper
1 tbspn oil
2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
1 can Bush's Chili Magic Chili Starter
a pinch of Cayenne Pepper

chop the onion and pepper and sauté in the oil over low-medium heat. We are not trying to blacken the onion and pepper here, just soften them.

Set aside.

Brown the ground beef and drain.

Mix in tomato sauce, Chili Starter and onion/pepper.

Simmer at least 15 minutes

Increase hotness by adding Cayenne pepper.