End of an Era

Howdy RKDeemers!  I have been writing under The Mix Up category for a couple months now and we’re going to wrap it up tonight.  Thank you all for reading and I hope you keep reading as we roll out a couple new features and start out a new chapter.  I like Laurie’s idea of a History of RKDeem, so you can expect to see key historical moments being featured in my blog’s next chapter. 

The past couple of days have been busy.  Monday, dinner out with the client, got home around midnight, Tuesday, went to Phillie’s game with client, got home around 1AM, Wednesday, birthing class, home around 10PM.  I am whooped.  I know a lot of you reading this blog have yet to give birth, here’s a couple tips for men who are thinking about getting their wife pregnant:

  1. Get ready to spend a lot more on health insurance.  I think I spent about around $100 a month when I was single, $300 a month when I was married, and now it’s close to $600 a month as a family.  Then you throw in deductibles and co-insurance and it adds up. 
  2. Even though this is our second time around, taking a class is highly recommended.  It reminded me about packing a bag well in advance, the logistics of checking in and where we’d stay, what gets done with the baby after it’s born, and they confirmed that they had wi-fi so I could monitor my fantasy football team.
  3. Figure out the car seat before the baby is born. 
  4. Prepare yourself to be involved.  I couldn’t believe it when Jack first gave birth, I never imagined being so involved with the process, but the doc had me right in the thick of things and it was quite a rush, I’m glad I saw a video beforehand, it made the real life event much less shocking.  Oh, they asked if I wanted to cut the ambilical cord, I said no.  I stand by the decision, I’d be happy to do it in a jam, but if there’s a hospital filled with capable staff, I’m letting them cut the cord. 
  5. Sneak out of the hospital for a bit.  You’ll be sleeping on a tiny recliner, there will be a constant rotation of women oogling over your child and you’ll need to get out and stretch your legs.  You can tell your wife that you’re picking her up a special treat that’s not available in the hospital convenience store. 
  6. For the love of God, when your wife is giving birth, do not do anything but pay attention to her every need.  If you change the radio station, blow bubbles with your gum, crack your knuckles, pace, or anything remotely annoying, you will face serious consequences.  Just suck it up and give her everything she needs during the delivery. 

RKDeem’s #1 Rivalry – Best Place To Get Something You Don’t Need

The best place in the world for crap you don’t need but you’ll inevitably buy is Rice’s Market.  I remember when I was little, it was awesome to check out the vendors selling knives, fireworks, baseball cards, and huge boxes of discount candy, good lord, it was heaven!  It was fun figuring out how you’d spend your month’s allowance, would I buy a Rambo knife?  Maybe I’ll use it all on a Jose Canseco rookie card.  Or maybe I’ll put together a diverse portfolio of weapons, ballistics, and candy.  Now days, I stroll the aisles looking at fake replicas of Kate Spade purses or Ray Ban sunglasses, but I mostly go for the weird antique stuff that I really don’t need, possibly a spent bullet from Gettysburg, a collection of old arrow heads, or maybe a Randall Cunningham rookie card. 

RKDeem’s #1 Band – Ray Charles

Ray Charles’ music is brilliant.  I love soul, I love funk.  Ray Charles combines both of them beautifully and he sprinkles in some pop, gospel, and rock n’ roll for good measure.  It’s the perfect music for whisky on the back porch, it’s the perfect music for dancing, it’s the perfect music for driving, it’s classic & it’s fresh.  If I had to choose one person’s music for an extended stay on a lonely island, I’d pick Ray Charles.  I’m too tired to write more, but trust me, he’s the best.

Two For One

Rivalry #3 Best Sandwich – Good lord Philadelphia makes a damn good food.  Philadelphia makes Cheesesteaks, Italian Hoagies, Chicken Cheesesteaks, Pizza Steaks, Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteaks, and the their calzones and strombollis are unparalleled.  But that’s not what I’m talking about, I’m talking about sandwiches.  If I want the best sandwich in town, there’s really no one who comes close to Lilly’s in Doylestown.  People complain about Lilly’s because it can gets crowded with the lawyers at lunchtime, but there’s a good reason it’s crowded, it’s the best.  They use fancy breads, fancy ingredients, and they don’t skimp, these are huge mammouth sandwiches that have you taking half of them home.  I have to throw some love to Panara Bread, they make ordinary sandwiches awesome with Panini technology and you can get half a sandwich with a cup of soup for basically the same price which is a nice option, especially in the winter.  Best sandwich though, belongs to Lilly’s.

Rivalry #2 Best Place to Disappear in Doylestown – If you happen to be in Doylestown and you don’t want to see cars, bars, or any other nonsense, I’ve got the place for you.  Walk down East Street along a cemetary, across the street you’ll see a huge cement gate that’s been there for over a century, walk through the gate along the trail and disappear into the dark trail cloaked by a canopy of trees.  It could be twelve o’clock noon on the brightest of days, but it will be dark and creepy back there on that trail, it’s like Sleepy Hollow, you expect the Headless Horseman to come flying by at any time.  The trail’s not that long, maybe a quarter mile, then it opens up into the most spectacular oasis.  It’s just amazing, what a vision Henry Mercer brought to life.

This is what you emerge to from the Sleepy Hollow trail:
 

RKDeem’s #3 Band – Johnny Cash – Great music and great stories.  I hated country music until I heard him, I’m not sure if he’s even classified as country, he’s just bad ass.  The stuff towards the end of his life was amazing, he hand selected songs that had lots of meaning to him and I appreciate the perspective, it reminds me of Nirvana’s unplugged, every lyric is sung with emotion.  Standout Tracks – Drive On, Tennessee Stud, I Hung My Head, & Long Black Veil.

RKDeem’s #2 Band – Beck – This guy could very well be the top spot, every time he comes out with an album, I buy it on the day it comes out.  He has not let me down yet.  What’s amazing about him is that he keeps it fresh too.  He’ll make albums utilizing beats from old computer sound cards, he’ll make acoustic albums, he’ll make “alternative” albums, he’ll make party albums, and each album that comes out sounds like the best thing I’ve heard in that genre, I mean this as a compliment, he’s like the a music nerd’s Madonna, he’s always ahead of the curve, moving music along.  I saw him in concert with Edman and it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.  Everything he does, he does incredibly well.  I have no Standout Tracks for Beck, every album is a standout album.  If you’re down, tired, or just feeling mellow, buy the Sea Change album and listen to it start to finish.  If you’re ready for a party, you’ve just drank a Red Bull, pop in Guero and listen to it loud.  Don’t forget about his older stuff, it’s all good my friends, just listen to it until you love it.  He’s brilliant, trust me. 

Observations:
Hey, there’s this insanse physics project going on in Switzerland & France where they’re building a 27 kilometer tunnel underground to accelerate protons along these tracks and then they smash them at unimaginable speeds.  They are predicting that this collision will create a type of matter never seen before, possibly creating a black hole and sucked the Earth into itself (okay, the black hole thing probably won’t happen, but I like to think it is).  Well, I’m not doing a good job of explaining it, but it’s a really important experiment that 60 countries have invested billions of dollars into, hopefully this rap song will help you understand what this is all about.  If the rap doesn’t help, we can ask Brother-In-Law Matt who knows about this kind of stuff.

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia about Large Hadrom Collider:
As of August 2008 the majority of the LHC ring is now cooled to the
1.9 K (−271.25 °C) operating temperature. The initial particle beams
are due for injection in August 2008,[8] the first attempt to circulate a beam through the entire LHC is scheduled for September 10, 2008,[9] and the first high-energy collisions are planned to take place after the LHC is officially unveiled, on October 21, 2008.[10]
It has been claimed the collision fo the particles has a 1 in 50000
chance to create a small atomic black hole and would create the
apocalypse.
Which has brought much cause for concern, including a large
petition to stop the event.

Gas Stations 9 tenths of a cent?

Why the hell do gas stations place a 9/10 of a cent after the price per gallon?  I did some research and there’s several reasons – marketing gimmick, it gives customers a sense of security that the price they’re being charged is super accurate, or it just looks cheaper.  I’ll tell you one thing, if I was a crafty lawyer, I’d file a class action lawsuit against all gas stations in the USA and demand that we receive our tenths of pennies back, just to return the favor of being an asshole. 

It’s Sunday night and it feels like Sunday night, even though I have tomorrow off.  Jaclyn’s visiting her friend Erin up in New York, so Winston and I have the house to ourselves.  He’s battling a cold and I think it’s going to be a long night. 

I wonder if my camera takes panoramic pictures, I would like to start taking more panoramic pictures. 

As we wrap up the rivalries and my favorite bands feature, I am about to unveil a new feature to my blog.  I hope to unveil in mid-September. 

Rivalry #4
Mix Tapes vs. Mix CDs – I’ve been known to make a good mix CD here and there.  Recently, I got really hung up on certain genres and I made mix CDs specifically around the old Elvis sound, or soul music, or CDs where Johnny Horton fits in perfectly.  In general, I think I’m getting worse at putting mix CDs together, I think it just comes down to my inability to focus with a crazy child running around.  Mix tapes were pretty awesome, there was a real labor involved, waiting for the song to start, the synchronization of the record and play button, staying focused to stop it, and hand writing the artist and song name on those tiny little lines.  Mix tapes were a little more durable and they lasted a lot longer than CDs.  Jaclyn recently unearthed a bunch of old Phish concert tapes, I was unfortunate enough to listen to one in her car’s tape player and it was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard.  I’m not the biggest fan of Phish to begin with, but it was recorded in horrible quality, and it just sounds terrible, but Jaclyn still loves them and she was extremely pleased to discover those old tapes.  I give mix tapes an edge for that very reason, it’s cool that they last long.  My favorite mix CDs get carried all over, transported to multiple CD players, and they get scratched up within 6 weeks, plus I can just print out a song list, so the mix CD just doesn’t seem as sincere. 

RKDeem’s #4 Band
Bob Dylan – At this point, all of these bands are favorites, so this isn’t a shot a Bob, it’s just that I was so into him about 10 years ago, I’ve focused on other bands more in the past 5 years.  I still love his music, I enjoy his new stuff, and he’s way up there on my list.  Bob Dylan is known for being a poet with brilliant lyrics, but I really enjoy the folk sound, the story telling, and his perspective on his relationships.  Dylan influenced so many great musicians, he’s been covered by Hendrix, Guns & Roses, Joan Baez, Rolling Stones, The Byrds, and countless others.  His latest album is perfect if you’re head over heals in love with someone, but my most favorite recent album by him is Time Out of Mind.  The standout track for Time Out of Mind is “Not Dark Yet”.  It’s an incredible song that could only come from Dylan, a man who’s seen it all, been everywhere, done everything, and still not finding meaning, it’s hopeless, but there’s some comfort in coming to terms with it as well, great song. 

LA Fitness – Warrington, PA

Howdy RKDeemers! 

Jack and I joined LA Fitness this week.  I’ve wanted to join the gym for awhile, but my wacky work schedule and Winston made attending a gym nearly impossible.  LA Fitness provides an awesome childcare facility and I’ve been going before work.  This gym has everything, pool, basketball, volleyball, raquetball, cardio, free weights, and anything else you could want.  Actually, one thing I would like that this gym doesn’t have is a personal locker.  There’s locker rooms which are very nice with tons of lockers, bathrooms, showers, and sauna, but you can’t keep your stuff in a locker over night.  I would like an overnight locker.  That’s my only complaint though, otherwise the place is perfect.  

In addition to the gym, I have added a new day of softball into my schedule.  This fall you can find me on the softball diamond on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.  The new team is a coed team which should be a little more laid back.  

RKDeem’s Rivalry #5
The County Theater in Doylestown vs. Regal Cinemas – I am a huge fan of the County Theater, it’s an vibrant blue and yellow expression of art deco and it instantly makes you happy to be in Doylestown, even if you don’t step inside.  I’ve seen some great movies in there and some really lame movies in there too, but I think you could say that about any movie theater.  So what we’re talking about it the experience.  What gives you the better experience, Regal or County?  For my money, I’d rather go to Regal, better sound, stadium seating that’s plush and reclines, and lots more options for snacks.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the County, but there’s a reason those theaters are going extinct.  I think the County would be my favorite theater in the world if they cleaned out the current seating, put in fancy leather couches and served alcholic beverages and better food.  Like a martini lounge movie theater, that would be cool.  

RKDeem’s #5 Band
The Velvet Underground – I am going to throw Lou Reed’s solo stuff in here too.  The Velvet Underground is just awesome.  I can’t do them justice, they defy labels and description, bands can only be compared to them, you can’t compare them to anyone else.  Start out with their greatest hits, Sweet Jane, Rock N’ Roll, Heroin, and I’m Waiting for the Man, but my standout track goes to “Oh Sweet Nothing”.    

Raggamuffins!

It was my sister’s birthday on Friday and we were at my parent’s house for some birthday tacos and ice cream cake (that sounds pretty gross when I type it, but it was excellent).  We started talking about what bars we were going to hit up and Jaclyn jokingly suggested the Amber Inn.  My grandparents said they used to love the Amber Inn, they used to go there when it was called the Rascal’s Roost.  I just think that is the greatest name for a bar, I recommend that the Amber Inn revert back to their former name. 

After the birthday celebration at my parents, we made our way to Stephanie’s to check out Tube Top Mama.  It was super loud in Stephanie’s, Tube Top was a pretty ridiculous cover band, I was just so bummed out about the last minute cancellation of the Raggamuffins, I wasn’t in the mindset to enjoy their replacement. Stephanie’s has a big bar and multiple bartenders so we were able to get drinks quickly and often.  After firing up a healthy buzz thanks to some shots of Southern Comfort & Lime, we were ready to move on to Bobby Simone’s. 

As I walked into Bobby Simone’s the greatest miracle of miracles happened.  The Raggamuffins were playing!  I parked myself on a barstool right in front of the stage and had a wonderful time listening to the greatest band on earth.  Someone told me they play there every Thursday night, it’s too good to be true. 

Poetry Grafiti Behind Stephanie’s, Ladies, & RKRaptor

Damn I look good! I should be in commercials

The Motha Effin Raggamuffins!

The babes – Jaclyn is smokin’ hot as usual

New Activity:  I am not sure if people will think this is lame, but I think that I’ll watch a bunch of high school football games this Fall.  Cheap tickets, local, and a fun environment.  I feel like I’m old enough that people won’t think I am trying to salvage glory days, I’m just looking for local competition in a great atmosphere.  If anyone wants to go, let me know.

Rivalry #6
Best Cereal When You Were A Kid – There were 2 cereals that I absolutely loved when I was a kid.  They were too good though, and a lot of times, my parents just refused to get them for me.  These cereals were Cookie Crisp and CoCo Puffs.  Coco Puffs were good because they would turn your milk into chocolate milk.  Cookie Crisp was good on its own, but combined with milk, it was the tastiest treat ever, and it was breakfast.  It’s funny to think about, waking up and pouring yourself a bowl full of cookies, filling it up with milk and starting off day with about 100 cookies and milk, it’s like an adult having a case of mini-beers for breakfast.

RKDeem’s 6th Favorite Band
Jimi Hendrix – What do I have to say, he could play the guitar behind his back or with his teeth better than Eric Clapton.  I love when I find live concert footage of him, he’s so provocative and extreme, he’s constantly humping his guitar, speakers, and whatever gets in his way.  Can you imagine being so talented?  He played the guitar with his freaking teeth?  He was left handed and played a right handed guitar upside down.  He played behind his back.  He played on LSD…christ, I have a couple of beers and I start stinking up the joint on Guitar Hero for the Xbox 360.  Standout Track – You’ve heard his greatest hits, so I will steer clear of Voodoo Child, check out the 7 minute Hear My Train A Comin’, it’s filled with blues and insane guitar solos. 

20.  Postal Service
19.  White Stripes
18.  Regina Spektor
17.  Louis Prima
16.  Otis Redding
15.  Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs
14.  Jack Johnson
13.  Led Zeppelin
12.  Kanye West
11.  Wilco
10.  Weezer
9.  The Strokes
8.  The Who
7.  Radiohead
6.  Jimi Hendrix

It’s My Blog’s Birthday – Celebration Time

My blog is officially 1 year old, actually, it turned 1 on August 7th, 2008, but this is close enough. 

Looking back at my first entry, I started this blog with hopes to create a place where people could express their ideas and opinions on life, politics, morals, and leisure.  It’s not like high school or college, now all my friends are no longer right down the hallway, they are now spread out all over Bucks County, Pennsylvania, New York, DC, San Diego, and New Jersey.  I missed the constant dialogue, it sucks being in a cubicle or office in a vacuum, this was my spot to bring people together.  I think it’s working too.  I remember when just 3 or 4 people would check this blog, now we have approximately 300 people checking it every week.  It’s not huge, it’s a community and I like it that way, somehow, we know everyone that visits this site, a 2 degrees of separation from the RKDeemReport. 

Sometimes I’ll be walking down the street or get a phone call from an old friend and they’ll ask, “How was Atlanta?” and I say, “How did you know I was in Atlanta?” and they respond, “I read your blog.”  It is hard to describe, but I think I like it because it is really nice knowing that my friends check in on me from time to time. 

So Happy Birthday Blog!  Let’s celebrate this Friday!  I do have some bad news about Stephanie’s on Friday, the Raggamuffins are no longer scheduled to perform there.  I called Stephanie’s to verify the bad news and they confirmed that Tube Top Mama (Tube Top Mama’s website)will be performing instead.  It’s my sister’s birthday and Stephanie’s has the amazing Blueberry Beer, so I hope that all of you come out anyways, plus Tube Top Mama looks like they’ll be plenty awesome when we’re all crunk.  If anyone needs to, feel free to walk back to my apartment with me so you don’t have to drive home at the end of the evening.

One last note – San Diego Dave has launched a new blog and the first entry is very promising, check it out at www.destroyedbymadness.com , he’s neither destroyed or mad, but he’s a fan of Ginsberg and that’s good enough for me!

Ithaca, New York – Hippies, Gorges, & Dead Groundhog

It’s a little after 11PM on a Sunday night, we just got back from Ithaca, New York.  If you don’t plan on attending Ithaca College or Cornell University, you’ll probably never end up in this neck of the woods.  It would be a shame if you never got to see Ithaca, it’s in a beautiful setting with ubiquitous waterfalls and gorges, but what I really love about the town is it’s absolute devotion to being a far left, tree-hugging, grass-smoking, oasis for hippies, liberals, and intellectuals.  Residents preach composting, bongs are in plain sight in the front window of many retailers, recycling bins outnumber trash cans, and a strong micro economy built around local farms, co-ops, and even it’s own currency (see Ithaca Hours).  It’s a town trying really hard to achieve utopia, but ends up settling for a beer instead.  It does a better job of being Woodstock, than Woodstock, seeing both, I’d take Ithaca any day.

Here are some of the highlights from our visit to Ithaca:

Ithaca Farmer’s Market – An open air market housed in a big wooden pavilion.  The sun shines through the rafters and hits the tomatoes, peppers, corn, and blueberries, making every vendor’s offering look like a perfect photo opportunity.  The smells really bring the place to life, not just the fresh fruit and vegetables, but bakers making fresh crepes, pies, and breakfast burritos, really have the place attacking all your senses.  A couple farmers were selling their own wines, I sampled several varieties and ended up bringing three different bottles of blueberry wine home with me. 

In the Farmer’s Market (Jack, me with my new Che wearing Che shirt, and Winston with the hat he picked out from Old Navy)

Sun coming up, shining on the fresh veggies!

This is what it’s all about.


Buttermilk Falls – There’s a bunch of breathtaking waterfalls and gorges in Ithaca, all of them bring a unique experience.  Most of them are accompanied by a well carved out trail complete with hundreds of steps carved from the stone next to the falls, allowing you to appreciate them from every angle.  At the base of most waterfalls, they have a deep swimming area to cool off in, even in the height of August, the water was at a chilly 63 degrees.  We had to drag Winston out once he started shivering. 

Two natural beauties!  Jack & Buttermilk Falls

The Che shirt is working with the babes!

The Town – It was Jaclyn’s brother’s birthday so it was celebration time.  We ended up at a tapas joint (Just a Taste).  One of the best reasons to go to Just a Taste is their flights of wine.  What is a flight of wine you ask?  Well, it’s a sampling of six different wines in a category, for example they offered an Italian flight of wines where you get to try 6 different Italian wines.  People were trying white wine flights, local flights, and red flights, I just grabbed a whole bottle of local Riesling and got a healthy buzz.  I think we ordered close to 20 items, they were all meant to be shared and they tasted wonderful, I think this is a must do if you make your way up to Ithaca. 

Laurie (Jack’s sister) is on the right and her wingwoman Meghan on the left, sampling one of the many platters at Just a Taste

Jack’s brother Matt, wife Shanna, and their gorgeous baby girl Iona at Just a Taste.

On Sunday, I was craving a burger and ended up at a place called Mustard.  The burger was juicy, made from fresh ground beef, and the fries came with a great mustard sauce.  I give this place a thumbs up too, but it seemed to lack the festive atmosphere of Just a Taste. 

Jaclyn trying to seduce me in front of Mustard

Ithaca Beer Company (Apricot Wheat) – One of the best beers I’ve ever had.  Smooth, flavorful, and a pleasant after taste, it’s like a Lay’s Potato Chip, you can’t have just one. 

Some Side Notes:
We found this groundhog in a doorway, some people think it’s Gus the second most famous groundhog of Pennsylvania.  We concluded that he was hit by a car moments earlier and spent his last moments alive tucked away on this doorstep.  Matt notified the police who were later seen with a noose like device headed in the direction of the groundhog.  Not sure if it was related, but we later heard firetrucks too. 

I have heard several students mention the high suicide rate at Cornell University.  I think this generally comes from the access to high ledges along the gorges and the tremendous pressure they put on themselves to succeed at a level of excellence.  Dr. Morton Silverman (Director of University of Chicago’s Student Counseling & Resource Services) conducted a study to determine suicide rates at different universities.  Cornell was at 4.3 suicides per 100,000 student years (below the national average) vs. MIT’s 14.6 suicides per 100,000 student years.  Cornell is an elite school in a magnificent setting, the suicide thing doesn’t happen as much as people think (thank god!).

Let’s end this on a positive note!

An example of the amazing gorges, I’m taking this picture from a bridge looking straight down (I’m guessing I am 150 feet up).

We attempted to take a family picture with the auto timer feature on the camera, Matt and Shanna’s dog Ernie wanted to be in the picture too (he totally photobombed us!)

Thank you Matt, Shanna, and Iona for a lovely weekend in Ithaca, it was a great vacation with family.  Love you all!  Go Ithaca!