Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's


Happy 2009 from all of us (er, all two of us) from Bostodelphia!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Squirrel Burning Power


Recently I was discussing bike lighting with His Steamy Eminence, Jake von Slatt. He believed that the best bike light would be capable of scorching a squirrel at 20 yards, give or take. Now, granted, he bikes with significantly less wattage than that, but we here at Bostodelphia do not believe in half measures.

A fairly recent entry to the halogen lighting market is the IR reflecting MR16 bulb. Instead of radiating heat in all directions, it reflects the infrared light forward to further heat the filament, increasing efficiency. A 20w MR16 is about equivalent to a 35w MR16.

Therefore, we propose to use such a high efficiency bulb, while overvoltaging it to 14.4V instead of the usual 12V. According to the lumens/watt table from this page, if these are really equivalent to a 35w bulb a pair of IR reflecting 20w MR16 bulbs will deliver a total of 4575 lumens, at a power draw of 49.6 watts and a system cost in the $75 range with NiMH batteries. This may actually achieve the squirrel scorching capability that so excites Jake. The highest output LED bike light on the market, incidentally, is the Lupine Betty 12, at 1500 lumens for $1175.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Little known election results

My son's preschool held a snack election on Nov 4. It was cheese crackers vs. graham crackers, complete with picture ballots. He was very pleased that his candidate, graham crackers, prevailed 5-4. The graham crackers were eaten that day, the loser today. Yes we can.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hey Phillies fans...

Woooooo!

If you were unconscious last night:



Unabashedly:



And, gotta give props to this:



Philly rulez!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

John McCain on the last 8 years


New ad on our good friend John McCain by the Young Turks. What more needs to be said?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

All Sorts of Shit Going Down Today in Philly

Obama's pulled a whirlwind tour through North Philly. Followed by some fundraisers.

Palin's in town for a puck drop at the Flyer's game, and protests are planned. ACT UP will reportedly be protesting a Palin fundraiser beforehand.

Keystone State Skinheads will be celebrating "Leif Ericson Day" on the Schuylkill.

FBI helicopters with gunmen dangling from them have been and will be seen throughout the city all day, but that's just for a movie.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Re: Yoga for Real Americans

Blogging in response to YogaForCynics recent "Yoga for Real Americans" post, whose author is soliciting real American yoga poses:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had it with these stuck-up elitist “yoga teachers” goin’ on about how they spent all these years “practicing yoga” and “reading books” about it. I’ll learn yoga from a regular American like myself, not some fancy pants “intellectual,” thank you, and you betcha it won’t be somebody who says all all these weird words from other countries. This is America, so I say talk English or go do your cobra pose in Cuba or Iran or somewhere. Lemme ask you this: when they start sayin’ all that foreign crap like surya namaskar and supta baddha konasana how the hell do you know they’re not talkin’ about terrorism?

That’s why now I’m workin’ with my buddy Joe, who’s taught me some real American yoga poses like sittinonthecouchdrinkinbeernwatchingnascarasana and gettindrunknshootinanimalsasana as well as the restorative passedoutdrunkonthefloorasana. Anybody else know any good ones, you be sure to let everybody know about 'em down there in the comments section.
While not quite a pose, we offer YogaForCynics an honest to God American mantra ripped from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Plus it's another debate night, and the last Sunny clip we chose did such a job succinctly making McCain's maverick case than the man himself:



Update: Boo! Fox told YouTube to take the clip down and it ain't on Hulu as a clip. Anyway, the words were: "“gonna rise up, gonna kick a little ass, Gonna kick some ass in the USA, Gonna climb a mountain, Gonna sew a flag, Gonna fly on an Eagle, gonna kick some butt, gonna drive a big truck, gonna rule this world, Gonna kick some ass, Gonna rise up, Kick a little ass, ROCK, FLAG AND EAGLE!”

Friday, October 3, 2008

The writings of KungfooJesus

From the Digg discussion on the Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart. Sometimes you come across a post that just sums up a topic neatly.

KungFooJesus

Remember, we twice voted into office a president we'd like to have a beer with. The republicans are gaming on her to connect with people on a very familiar level. I hate to say it, but she did exactly what she needed to do in the Karl Rove presidential politics playbook. She repeated things over and over, made accusations that sounded bad without having to back them up, and did not go into specifics really on anything except McCain's healthcare tax credit.

The thinking is that the less hardcore information you give voters about your plans, the less chance there is to find something wrong with it. These are the same people that took a one-term Texas governor and turned him into a president, there are striking similarities between him and Palin. Folksy, approachable, want to have a beer with them (or in Palin's case, a bottle of wine and angry sex that brings up insecurities from your childhood), short political career ending with governor, and they debate the exact same way. Why? because this shit works. Granted McCain is a better candidate than Bush but the republicans game politics better than dems. period. it sucks.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

South Philly for McCain Doorknob Flier Gets Cockblocked by Rolling Stone

I haven't seen them on my block, but Philebrity reports McCain supporters hanging doorknob literature trying to seduce South Philly machismo into voting for McCain. The text reads:

SOUTH PHILLY and JOHN MCCAIN

The people of South Philly have long been special to John McCain. He knows the struggles and he knows the strengths of the neighborhood. As he recalled in his first interview after being released from a Vietnamese prison camp:
We had a particularly bad spring and summer in 1969 because there had been an escape at one of the other camps. Our guys carried out a well-prepared plan but were caught. They were Ed Atterberry and John Dramesi. Atterberry was beaten to death after he escaped.
There is no question about it: Dramesi saw Atterberry taken into a room and heard the beating start. Atterberry never came out. Dramesi, if he wasn't such a tough cookie, would probably have been killed too. He's probably one of the toughest guys I have ever met -- from South Philly. "Star and Stripes"

McCain knows South Philly!

VOTE COUNTRY FIRST
VOTE MCCAIN/PALIN
Paid for by Al Schmidt
Philebrity credits "South Philly for McCain" as the source of the doorknocker. There may well be a "South Philly for McCain" chapter of the McCain campaign in Philadelphia, but all we could find was this Phillyblog thread about the opening of a McCain office in South Philadelphia. A quick Google of Al Schmidt indicates he's the executive director of the Philadelphia Republican City Committee though isn't listed on the Committee's relatively minimal website. There's this Citypaper profile of Schmidt when he assumed the role of Deputy Director for the city GOP, though most Google search results for him and the Committee turn up the executive director title.

Anyway, the tactic here is obvious. Dramesi's a tough as nails guy from South Philly! A lot of guys of all ages in South Philly like to think of themselves as tough as nails too. So, hey, they ought to identify with Dramesi and back McCain! Right?

Not so fast.

Before we get into it, it should be noted that this account may not have actually come from "Stars and Stripes," but rather an exclusive oral history McCain gave about his POW experience to U.S. News and World Report. Admittedly, that corrections a bit nitpicky, but the original and actual source of the quotation also includes the mention by the article's editor that at the time of the writing, May 1973, McCain had been assigned to attend the Navy War College that August.

It's unclear in the article what contact McCain had, if any with Dramesi as a POW. That said, about a year after this article, Dramesi and McCain do share a moment together. Rolling Stone writer Tim Dickenson uses Dramesi's perspective on that meeting as the framing anecdote for his unflattering profile on McCain, "Make Believe Maverick" (bold emphasis Bostodelphia's):

At Fort McNair, an army base located along the Potomac River in the nation's capital, a chance reunion takes place one day between two former POWs. It's the spring of 1974, and Navy commander John Sidney McCain III has returned home from the experience in Hanoi that, according to legend, transformed him from a callow and reckless youth into a serious man of patriotism and purpose. Walking along the grounds at Fort McNair, McCain runs into John Dramesi, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was also imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam.

McCain is studying at the National War College, a prestigious graduate program he had to pull strings with the Secretary of the Navy to get into. Dramesi is enrolled, on his own merit, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in the building next door.

There's a distance between the two men that belies their shared experience in North Vietnam — call it an honor gap. Like many American POWs, McCain broke down under torture and offered a "confession" to his North Vietnamese captors. Dramesi, in contrast, attempted two daring escapes. For the second he was brutalized for a month with daily torture sessions that nearly killed him. His partner in the escape, Lt. Col. Ed Atterberry, didn't survive the mistreatment. But Dramesi never said a disloyal word, and for his heroism was awarded two Air Force Crosses, one of the service's highest distinctions. McCain would later hail him as "one of the toughest guys I've ever met."

On the grounds between the two brick colleges, the chitchat between the scion of four-star admirals and the son of a prizefighter turns to their academic travels; both colleges sponsor a trip abroad for young officers to network with military and political leaders in a distant corner of the globe.

"I'm going to the Middle East," Dramesi says. "Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran."

"Why are you going to the Middle East?" McCain asks, dismissively.

"It's a place we're probably going to have some problems," Dramesi says.

"Why? Where are you going to, John?"

"Oh, I'm going to Rio."

"What the hell are you going to Rio for?"

McCain, a married father of three, shrugs.

"I got a better chance of getting laid."

Dramesi, who went on to serve as chief war planner for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of a wing of the Strategic Air Command, was not surprised. "McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man," Dramesi says today. "But he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in."

Later in the profile, Dramesi makes it clear he wasn't interested in removing any honor from McCain's service, though does find the celebration of McCain's POW experience a bit much, given that Dramesi doesn't find McCain an exceptional example of POW conduct. That aside, it's clear Al Schmidt and his South Philadelphia operators pulled a boner in choosing Dramesi as an icon to draw macho South Philly into McCain's camp. Dramesi clearly isn't interested in being a McCain campaign surrogate, so the only really lesson South Philly can take from Dramesi's character is this: Man up, and call out the McCain campaign on its bullshit. McCain might say he knows South Philly, but South Philly should know McCain is full of it.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Maverick Wild Card!



Who knew that John McCain watched It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? I think we at Bostodelphia can be confident behind a guy who's adopted Charlie Day's "Abort and freak out!" Wild Card philosophy as the cornerstone of his maverick policy.

Maybe if the guy knew how to check his e-mail he'd be able to keep up to speed on the economic crisis without going to D.C. to weigh in with his professed lack of expertise on our "fundamentally sound" economy.

Seriously, how can you back a guy who apparently needs to be remedially schooled on everything except how to militarily target other countries with Beach Boys' lyrics?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

(I'm Thinkin' 'Bout Nailin') Sarah Palin

What's an election without catchy satirical songs?

Physicists' Online Typography Changes Fundmental Laws of Nature

Taken from a boston.com article related to the new supercollider:

Protons are actually pretty complicated objects, made of little bits and pieces, and in a collision of two protons it can happen that two of the little pieces find themselves very close together. Those pieces carry a lot of energy, and due to Einstein's E=mc{+2} one might imagine that a lot of mass in a little space could lead to a black hole. (bold emphasis Bostodelphia's)
Perhaps a copy editor will fix the universe for us, until then any speculations or calculations on just how radically the world apparently changed this morning?

Update: the article in question actually ran back in April, looks like we've been living in an altered plane of reality for some time now....

Update II: With the loss of energy in fusion reactions by a factor of 30,000,000, it appears that the sun has snuffed out. Damn you, Swain and Reucroft!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Boston vs. Philadelphia 2008 Round 10: Our Mayors Kick Sarah Palin's Ass

Sarah Palin's put in 20 months as governor of Alaska. What's that worth? There are 670,000 residents of our nation's largest state. How does that stack up with Our Fair Cities?

Let's compare the executive efforts of Mayors Menino and Nutter. Boston has 590,000 residents, with a hair under 6 million in the metro region. Philadelphia has 1.4 million with a metro population the same size as Boston. That's right: being a mayor here on the east coast is a bigger job than being governor of the whole state of Alaska. Menino and Nutter deal with a wider range of demographics, ethnicities, institutions, crime, education, infrastructure, and government issues before their second cups of coffee each morning than Gov Palin handles in a month.

As far as the city of Wasilla, pop ~5469, well, 'round these parts that would be referred to as a 'small town' and no one would mistake running such a place with running a real city.

Score for this round: Boston tag teaming with Phillie 1, Alaska 0.

Bonus round: Menino and Nutter have never suggested that their states ought to secede from the Union. Make that 2 points for B & P.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Jake Von Slatt on Wired Science

Go check it out, JvS made it onto Wired Science with a well-done video interview!

Link

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gaaaah! Get it out of my head!



A Ride on the Bedford Narrow Gauge Rail Trail

Here's a pair of pics from the Bedford-to-Billerica rail trail that's built on the right-of-way for an old narrow gauge line. To my knowledge this is the only narrow-gauge rail trail in the country, please correct me if I'm wrong.

At the start of the trail in Bedford there's a preserved bit of track:
Here's a shot of what much of the trail looks like. It's got a stone-dust bed that's pretty easy to ride on. The 28mm-wide slicks I use were the narrowest I'd want to use here due to the sandy patches.
The trail is 3 miles long. On the way to the end I took it easy with a 10 mph pace. On the way back I picked up the pace to 16 mph. Any faster than that and the handling on the somewhat loose surface got a little squirrelly - a consequence of the tire width.

Friday, August 22, 2008

College supplies: new PC, new clothes, new crossbow compound bow

Ah, autumn. Those bucolic days when hordes of undergraduates return to college, with their crossbows compound bows with built-in quivers on their backs. Check out what this Brandeis student has prominently displayed on the back shelf of his car...
Maybe it's just my lonesome opinion here, but displaying your hunting crossbow compound bow in a city (where there is no hunting of any kind) when your sedan has a perfectly serviceable trunk strikes me as evidence of severe insecurity. Or at least massive jackass-ery. In any case, this is not the kind of personality that makes me feel real comfortable toting around lethal weapons.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A homemade recumbent bike


I spied a homemade recumbent bike being ridden in Newton,MA (just west of Boston) this afternoon. Here's the bike from my cellphone... It's a long wheelbase design with underseat steering, and in my brief glimpse it looked like it was put together with some sort of unpainted rectangular tubing or bars. It was definitely not a round frame, in any case.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Boston vs. Philadelphia 2008 Round 9: Steaks!


The Travel Channel has recently produced a show titled "Steak Paradise." The show features 3 restaurants - 1 located just outside of Boston, and 2 in Philadelphia proper.

In Saugus, MA is the Hilltop Steakhouse. This is a value-oriented steakhouse with a sort of faux Western decor and capacity for 1250 diners. It's been open since 1961. I swear, sometimes I wish I actually liked steak, aside from the occasional burger. Other people seem to get so much enjoyment out of it.




Philadelphia sports two cheesesteak specialty restaurants, the minimalist Pat's King of Steaks, and the colorful (or garish, depending on your view) Geno's Steakhouse. CtI, you should comment on the relative merits of these two, since I've never been to either.

Ok, a nationwide show does steaks and they pick these ones in (or near) our fair cities. Due to Hilltop not actually being IN Boston, and the 2 in Phillie (across the street from each other), I'm afraid I must admit that Philadelphia has won this round.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Microbes once again take us down

Cheesesteak goes on vacation...and my family is attacked by Streptococcus pyogenes and Coxsackie A, causing strep throat and hand-foot-mouth, respectively. Oh, and a febrile seizure was in there too for good measure. As you can tell, the results aren't pretty, blog-wise.

And just for your amusement...a guy biking up Fargo St. in LA - the grade is 32%. Ow.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bostodelphia's Gone Romanian!


Our interview with Jake Von Slatt has been translated to Romanian for the online cultural journal Egophobia. Their tastefully designed website also has an interview with Steampunk-er Johnny Payphone.

Go check 'em out.

Cheesesteak's Road Trippin'

Deadly sandwich is a bit rested up, and returning to a productive blogging mood ... but I'll be on vacation for another week. May warm up for my return with sporadic blogging, don't expect anything regular till I get back. Till then, you're in Cod's fins, hopefully he can ride this blog better than his bike.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Darren Aronofsky has 30 seconds to comply

First, he brought us Pi. Then, the disturbing Requiem for a Dream. Third up was the spacy Fountain.

Now Darren Aronofsky is going to do the resurrection of...Robocop. huh? I will leave it up to Cheesesteak to discuss this further.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I own a bike!


In my, oh, 6-week hunt for a bike for mostly commuting purposes (12.5 miles each way, suburban/urban roads), I've ridden several bikes and browsed countless of bikeforums.net posts. Here's my extremely brief impressions of each test tide. I was looking for either a cyclocross or touring bike for maximum flexibility.

Giant OCR3: The first bike I've ridden in 17 years (can you guess my age?). Jittery ride, I was counting my fillings afterwards. 30 seconds into this test ride and I wanted off, although I stuck it out for 10 minutes.
Fuji Cross Pro: Out of my price range, but a very nice ride indeed. Very smooth and comfortable. Ultegra components shift so nicely.
Trek XO-1: This seemed very, well, vanilla. No real impression, good or bad. The particular bike I rode had very sloppy welds with gobs of aluminum sticking out everywhere.
Lemond Poprad: Now we're talking. Also too much $, but this was the 1st bike I test-rode that made me want to just keep on riding. My favorite of all the bikes I rode. Since the immediate future looks grim for Lemond bikes, I may look into a similar quality frame like the Soma Double Cross in the somewhat distant future.
Bianchi Volpe: The frame size I rode was a size too big since that was all that was on hand at the LBS. It seemed a bit twitchy, but I can't say much since it didn't fit too well.
Surly Cross Check: Except for the bar-end shifters, I loved this bike.
Masi Speciale CX: Unfortunately, the LBS didn't get this in stock before I found the bike I bought. Looks really nice in the pictures though.

Finally, the winner: A 1995 Trek 520 from a local LBS (completely tuned up), complete with fenders, the Trek rack, a pump, 2 water bottle cages, 700x35 Bontrager slicks, a cycle computer, underseat bag, steel tire levers, Tiagra STI-style shifters, and a very comfy Avocet saddle. $500, how could I go wrong? I added bar-top brakes for $75. All I need to do is touch up a quarter-sized spot of surface rust on the top tube and maybe get a computer that'll display cadence. Oh, and exchange the Giro Atlas II helmet for a Bell Triton to better fit my pumpkin head. The 520 definitely doesn't have the same sports-car feel of the Fuji or Lemond, but it will be a sturdy and reliable steed. And this price was tough to beat!

In addition I picked up a bright yellow wicking fabric shirt from the New Balance factory outlet ($13 - 20% off sale!), a pair of lightweight gloves, and a basic cable lock. I plan on lunchtime bike rides to build up my endurance and re-learn some cycling skills (like dealing with cars) for a few weeks before buying a pannier or two and moving up to a bike commute or three per week. Ideally I'll be up to 5 days sometime in September, which will see me DIY-ing a light system.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bostodelphia Hero of the Week: Scott LeHigh

Previously discussed Obama/New Yorker cover outrage hit Philadelphia media in force yesterday. First up on the Cheesesteak's radar was WHYY's Marty Moss-Coane dedicating a whole hour to the flap. To be honest, the talk was a lot more civil and thought out than the tirade NPR's Talk of the Nation aired the day before. Still Philebrity is largely right in pointing out that the relatively abstract discussion on the nature of satire was largely a waste of time when compared to a discussion the show should have had: addressing the people who actually believe the claims the New Yorker was satirizing. Well, that's not exactly what Philebs was saying, largely because it got sucked up in a "blame the media" campaign while not acknowledging that yes, while a correspondent in the mainstream media did bait the Obama campaign with the cover, the pile-on that splatted out probably wouldn't have happened had the Obama campaign not denounced the cover, elevating it into a position of media legitimacy the ugly anti-Obama aspersions on the margins have lacked outside of bigot choirs.

Looking at philly.com, the Dinqy News consolidation of Philly's two papers of record, reaction was similarly missing the mark. Jenice Armstrong provides offended boilerplate, blaming the New Yorker for injury dealt the Obamas. Earl Offari Hutchinson provides a possibly syndicated Op-Ed (the Philly papers have to do more with less, you see) claiming the New Yorker didn't so much draw attention to the idiotic fear-mongering lurking on social margins against Obama as exacerbate it. Dick Polman tries to mediate the controversy by exercising retro-active art direction ("the cartoon should have been framed by a Fox News set, you see..."). Even Will Bunch expresses disapproval at the cover via this weird comparison that lays Gore's 2000 electoral defeat at the "Al Gore said invented the internet" joke, thereby ruling jokes have no place in American electoral politics.

Well thankfully, I was born and bred in a city that still puts out a relatively decent paper I can turn to for a reasonable perspective. Thus Bostodelphia will award its first Hero(Hoagie?) of the Week, given to a Bostonian or Philadelphian who writes something that "clears the air" over what our first awardee would term a "kerfuffle," to Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh. Lehigh's column, "What's so shocking about satire?" nails the problem of media scandel and false-controversy mongering coverage and the campaigns' playing up to same: they do a complete disservice to the American electorate. From George Stephanopoulos's straight faced request for Obama to confirm his patriotism to this latest sound and fury (and Lehigh does a good job at providing some equal time for some silliness the McCain camp has had to confront), there is an audience looking for substantial coverage being neglected. I'm sure editors and producers may make claims about media markets or what have you. Maybe as an end-run appeal then, I'll ask the advertisers such editors and producers are beholden to: do you think the demographic who buys this bullshit is in the position to buy anything else?

Mr Lehigh may be aware that not too far from Philadelphia is the Lehigh Valley, the his namesake in Kensington, Lehigh Avenue, is also the namesake the Philadelphia Brewing Company's summer season brew, Fleur de Lehigh. If Scot makes it to Philadelphia while the beer's on tap, we owe him one. Or another Philadelphia-based brew of his choice as reviews of the Fleur de Lehigh have been mixed.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mobilizing the Home Barware for Bastille Day

So, as Cod's mentioned, while the fish is coping with some sort of fancy polysyllabic version of gout, my running regimen's earned me a stress fracture on my right fibula a couple of inches above the ankle. This has literally crippled my plans to run the Philadelphia Back on My Feet Midnight Madness run this Saturday, the Philadelphia Distance Run in September, and the Philadelphia Marathon in November. If I'm lucky, and my fibula heals in time to pretty much start at training ground zero at the end of the month, I may be able to train to "do" the half marathon on the day of the Philly marathon, and then train slightly more aggressively for the Broad Street Run next spring (and then try my more ambitious schedule of distance running events next summer/fall). Damn frustrating though, but it's either rest up or let my leg grind itself into dust at this point.

Relatively immobilized (can't really walk more than a tenth of a mile without an aircast boot, and the boot's clumsiness doesn't make the act of walking very appealing), I have spent most of the past month settling into the Bostodelphia-Philly HQ literally only a few blocks from Philadelphia's Cheesesteak Ground Zero. This weekend I literally sat out Phoenixville's Blobfest
and Eastern State Penitentiary's Bastille Day festivities. However, today, on Bastille Day proper, I was able to both celebrate a Franco-origin cocktail and imbibe in a bit of eerie, otherwordly light.

While cooking up a casserole of leftover veggies from our Greensgrow CSA share, my spouse and company demanded celebratory Bastille Day drinks. I had planned on making Sidecars, as they have a Parisian origin, fit my liquor cabinet and ingredients on hand, and a recipe flexible enough to accommodate the varied tastes assembled. The sidecar is a cocktail consisting of brandy/cognac (on hand Hennessey VSOP, an orange liqueur (triple sec, would prefer to have Cointreau on hand), and lemon juice (fresh squeezed). Combine, shake, and strain into a chilled and sometimes sugarfrosted cocktail glass. Judgement comes in how you balance the ingredients. The recipes claiming to be the most "historically" accurate say it should be two parts spirit to one part each liqueur and juice. That's what I went with for my sidecar. Spouse of the cheesesteak tends to like bitter citrus, so a whole lemon went into hers, making it almost 1:1 spirit and juice with a half measure of triple sec. My bartending produces mixes "too stiff" for my spouse's friend, so I opted for a simple 1:1:1 mix, which seemed to suit her just fine. Thus Bastille Day was honored at Chez Cheesesteak with a cocktail originally devised at Harry & Harry's New York Bar in Paris during WWI (according to Salvatore Calabrese) and named for an army captain chauffeured to said bar via motorcycle.

During cleanup, I felt like one more. Having looked into French cocktails earlier in the day, I found that a customary end of Day French libation was the absinthe substitute Pernod mixed with water. While Le Bar at Chez Cheesesteak doesn't have Pernod in stock, we do have a bottle of Herbsaint, the spirit used as an absinthe substitute in New Orlean's Sazaracs. Herbsaint and water was my initial plan, but my eye was drawn to a large pile of limes yet to be given purpose in our kitchen. One lime measured out to almost precisely 2 oz. of juice, so I prepared myself a mix of half lime juice, half Herbsaint on the rocks. I like this. It needs a bit more work and fiddling -- maybe another spirit or liquor or maybe just something a bit sweet -- but I think I may have found myself a good summer evening sipping beverage until I pick up another pull of Jim Beam Black. Expect more progress reports on this lime and herbsaint concoction to come.

What the Obama Camp Should Have Said...

"About what cover? Oh, this cartoon? It's just a dumb cartoon."

There are jokes attempting to tap into the political zeitgeist that fizzle, and then there's "tasteless and offensive." The New Yorker cover is the former. Decrying it by placing it in the latter category does nothing to the cartoon or its publisher (except maybe boost clicks and sales). However, it does put the protester in the camp of those who believe grievous harm can be done to icons and their followers via arguably comic illustrations. I thought Obama's campaign was trying to avoid association with that lot.

Anyone remember this remark at the AIPAC:

"I want to say that I know some provocative e-mails have been circulating throughout Jewish communities across the country. They're filled with tall tales and dire warnings about a certain candidate for president. And all I want to say is — let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama, because he sounds pretty scary."

The set up and punchline were a little stilted in delivery, perhaps excused since various right wing anti-Obama smears may have set up AIPAC as the proverbial "tough crowd." Still I think this approach, a slightly more flippant version of the "I have no response to that" Obama initially gave the cover was a workable belittling of the "fear and ignorance" movement online against Obama's campaign.

As for the press corps who opened up this debate, specifically CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic who initially requested comment from Obama, some advice. Learn from Gibson and Stephanopoulos. The "market" you're trying to reach is tired of this bullshit and has been migrating elsewhere for other news. Rather than wasting your access to the candidates on sophomore questions based off the print and mass circulated equivalent of crude bathroom drawings, maybe actually read a magazine like the New Yorker if you're unable to come up with questions on your own. I think seeking Obama's (and McCain's) reaction to, say, Seymour Hersh's article "Prepping the Battlefield" regarding alleged covert operations underway in Iran would provide the substantive information the voting public wants. If you can't do that, move over and give some competent journalists a shot at this beat.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Recumbent bikes are growing on me

I'm working on buying a bike for commuting to work, following the example of Jake von Slatt. I should be making the purchase by the end of the month, with the final two choices being a Masi Speciale CX or a Surly Cross Check (with a slight chance I'll fit on one of the used touring bikes at the local bike shop, which would leave me with one of those).

After perusing through Bicycle Science and the Recumbent section of Bikeforums.net, I must admit the aerodynamic and comfort advantages of recumbents are pretty clear. The highracer types are particularly interesting. Three disadvantages for me: cost (the recumbents that intrique me are $500+ more than the reg bike), they don't appear to be as good in ice and snow, and I don't know of any local dealers. I'm not buying a 'bent at this time, but future longer commutes may make the higher average speed worth checking into. Then the Masi/Surly bike could be relegated to Trail-a-bike duty.

Note to JvS - yeah, yeah, you've been saying all this for years. You know the saying: you can lead a horse to water blah blah

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bostodelphians laid low by illness and injury

Well, we haven't updated in a while. Cheesesteak has been down and out with a stress fracture from running. He has ambitions to do the Phillie marathon and the hard streets of his fair city took him down. Hmm, a Bos v Phillie Marathon smackdown post may be warranted soon.


As for me, well, I've got a classic case of epiploic appendagitis. What, never heard of it? Me neither.


More interesting posts are coming, including a possible Romanian translation of our Jake von Slatt interview.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stupid Jerks on Bikes

I was nearly taken out by a bicyclist crossing the street today, he was following a bike path that cut across the road. If it wasn't for the people walking towards me on the crosswalk who stopped and looked toward him, I would have been completely blindsided by that moron. Bike paths are the work of the devil.

In a similar vein, this time from that fair city, Philadelphia, comes this post on Craig's List. Here's the original link.

And here's the text for when that ad expires...

luckily missed connection with your stupid ass on a bike - w4w (going the wrong way on passyunk ave)


Reply to: pers-724042017@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-06-18, 10:41AM EDT



you: chick on a bike with no helmet, no riding smarts, and no clue.
me: chick on a bike with helmet and enough skills & sense to avoid getting us both really, really hurt.



so--there i was. tuesday night at about 8:20pm. riding my bike going east on christian, and then turning left (north--you know. the way traffic goes.) onto passyunk ave. i ride my bike--actually ride, and do some racing. i'm not just a hipster poseur who thinks a fixed gear is the be-all end-all of urban coolness--and i laid down a pretty nice hard, flat turn going at about 18mph. i passed your boyfriend as he turned onto christian but thanks to the big van at the NW corner i couldn't see anything on passyunk itself.

but then, i didn't expect to make that hard, fast turn and be confronted with you, wobbling around on your bike in the dead middle of the street, thus forcing me to ride outside you, even as you continued to bear down on me. as soon as you saw me you started screeching and riding straight toward me, forcing me even more outside, putting us both on multiple potential collision courses--me with you, you with me, and both of us with the parked cars on either side of the street. i managed to avoid the crash, but you f-ed up my night, asshole.

so here, my squawking friend, are a few tips:

1. don't be an f-ing MORON. don't ride your bike down streets the wrong way. we all do it occasionally, but frankly save us all the trouble and take your lazy ass the whole, entire, extra block out of your way, okay? your carelessness could not only have gotten up both hurt pretty f-ing bad, but could have gotten either one of us killed if there had been a moving car, pedestrian, etc. in the vicinity. it's one thing if you decide to remove yourself from the gene pool, but frankly i'm pretty smart and nice and good-looking. you have no right to endanger me and my life (not to mention my enjoyment of a lovely evening tooling around town on my bike) with your stupidity.

2. if you've got time to scream, you've got time to steer. screaming sucks. all you did was freak yourself and me out even more. plus you kept looking at me in a panic, which meant that even as i was attempting to avoid a head-on collision you kept riding toward me. instead of panicking, look and point your bike AWAY from the obstacle. if you look at me you are going to ride into me.

3. wear an f-ing helmet, moron. like i said, i've done some racing. i've seen people dislocate shoulders, break arms, sustain concussions, detach retinas, and receive facial maulings. and those were people **wearing** helmets. clearly you are not a good enough rider to chance it. spend the $$$ and get yourself some protection before you kill yourself.

4. this sort of stupid bullshit bad riding, which i see on a daily basis, makes drivers and pedestrians hate bikes. hell, it makes ME hate bikes. thanks. i spend a lot of time on my bike. thanks for making my errands, my commute, and my training rides more unpleasant, more unsafe, and more dangerous. this kind of shit reflects badly on those of us who ride a lot and do our best to co-exist with everyone else who needs to get around this city.

just remember: next time you--or the person who can't avoid you--might not both be so lucky.







  • Location: going the wrong way on passyunk ave
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 724042017

Sunday, June 15, 2008

So Long OS X, hellloooo Hardy Heron!

I've been running a Hackintosh for a few weeks now on my half-decent system (Intel Q6600 quad-core Core 2, OC'd to 3 GHz, 4 gig RAM, blah blah).  I have just annihilated my OSX install in favor of the Hardy Heron.


Why?  Well, it's because I wanted long term reliability, and I can't get that running OS X on non-Apple hardware.  There are numerous people hacking away at OS X, but for me (and the routine use of my PC) it was best to get away from the hacks and back onto an appropriate operating system.  I use Ubuntu daily at work, now I will do the same at home.

As for my next PC...well, my wife's Windows XP computer won't last forever.  I have every intention of replacing it with a nice quiet, compact iMac or next-gen Mac Mini and raising the young'uns on Apples.  OS X is indeed wicked awesome - infinitely better than the train wreck that is Vista.  I still remember the day my father brought home the 1st gen Macintosh from work and the impression it made on me.  Running a Hackintosh has made me into a future paying Apple customer...

Excuse our need to be relevant, please...

Not sure about Cod*, but your favorite deadly sandwich does think Weezer's "Pork and Beans" is pretty dang catchy, sorta a Foo Fighters' song for the no longer young of the well-adjusted, and arguably well off, middle class (which may or not be what a Foo Fighters' song is anyway, Weezer's just more honest about it). Moreover, your greasy one was blown away by the logistical feat some producer pulled off in assembly the cast of YouTubelebrities for the video, enough at least to reproduce it here in Bostodelphia:

...

Wait. Oh. Apparently Weezer and Universal music haven't yet bought into the whole participatory culture thing (which is kinda the point of YouTube) to allow embedding of their vid. So, if you're not familiar with it yet, you can wonder over to its confines here.

That aside, I think what Peter Coffin puts together below really needed to be said and shot:



May sound like sour grapes, but this ditty is smarter than the pandering pop Cuomo threw out there, belated Harvard degree be damned.

I've been a bad steak, let's see if I can take some of the Bostodelphia burden off Cod's back by getting back to blogging. Regular posts should start up again this week.

This particular post has been brought to you by a couple of bottles of Founders Brewing's Devil Dancer. Founders isn't actually a sponsor of Bostodelphia, but I probably wouldn't have got to this post had I not drunk two bottles of 13% ABV Triple IPA following a 6.4 mile run through a blinding lightning storm. I guess this post was also brought to you by athletic stupidity and Mother Nature. But seriously, if you can find it (thanks Foodery!), and you like a strong yet thirst quenching brew, try out some Devil Dancer.

*Cod should also chime in at some point about his participation in the Coke and Mentos meme.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

This post is Cheesesteak's fault


Damn, I wasn't going to post this because the banality of it makes me throw up in my mouth...but here goes. The Zeal Maestro sunglasses may be out. Zeal's lab doesn't do prism corrections to account for the wrapped lens, so I may end up with distortion on the sides of the lens. Too bad, they're great sunglasses.

Sports Optical in Denver, on the other hand, does do such a correction and in fact pioneered the technique. Interestingly, their lens prices are pretty much the same as everyone else. They also are a Zeal dealer, amongst other brands, so the Maestro may be back in the running. I will be consulting them via phone later this week...

And just as a side note, the Terminator is sporting a pair of Gargoyle ANSI Classics. I am disgusted with myself to even know that, for it is proof that my glasses hunt has hit an unpleasant level of obsession.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Zeal Maestro Sunglasses


Ah, with a new eyeglass prescription it's time for new prescription sunglasses and a descent into sunglasses shopping HELL. Since I'm contemplating biking to work, I wanted a wrap frame. It also had to be lightweight, and not make me look like a triathlete wannabe jackass when wearing them around town. Due to my modestly bad nearsightedness, most Rx sunglasses that meet this description can't get lenses made for me.

I came across the Zeal Maestro in an online review and bought a pair to try out since they are not available in local stores (yeah, this is slightly unethical since I returned them, but I was desperate. Really desperate.) These are perfect. The brown tint is comfortable, more so than I expected. Now, I also need to adjust the earpieces to raise the left one about 5 mm for a comfortable fit. The Maestro is not adjustable. Fortunately, nylon is easily bendable with the application of a heat gun. I am ordering my Rx pair today and can retire my old Rx Ray Bans which were crappily made by Lenscrafters.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

If a vote is counted in Puerto Rico, does anybody notice?


Now, Puerto Rico's a great place to be and I have fond memories of dashing through its airport trying to catch a connecting flight on my honeymoon, but let's consider the result of Saturday's primary vote. Clinton beat Obama 68-32.

Here's the thing - no one really cares. PR does not vote in the general election, it has no electoral votes, and this victory is purely symbolic for Clinton. Obama didn't even bother to campaign there, to my knowledge. Additionally, there are many factors at play in any campaign. Since Clinton's been asserting that sexism has been a major factor in her inability to clinch the nomination (as opposed to crap like this), let's look at this post from Democraticunderground.com by poster lapfog_1 regarding the general culture of PR:

Dirty little secret of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
They are extremely racist. Yes, racist. And it's not about skin color. It's about skin color and place of origin.

Continentals... that is what they call stateside black people.

I lived in the US VI for about a year, but it was an incident in Puerto Rico that sticks in my mind... I and my girlfriend were drinking in a bar, having a quiet time... a African American comes up and sits down next to us... he tries very hard to get the attention of the bar tender (also someone who I would say is "black" though obviously Hispanic/black)...

While he is trying to place an order, we strike up a conversation, turns out he is a film producer from LA, here in Puerto Rico to do a commercial photo shoot... times goes on and he still can't get the attention of the bartender. So I now ask him what he wants, he tells me his drink order, I signal the bartender and order it. When the bartender brings me the drink and I hand it to our new friend... the bartender turns to me and says "you cannot do that... you must leave".

I have never been so shocked in my life.

But the film producer from LA gets up and tells me "no, this has been my whole experience here... everywhere I go... I will never return to Puerto Rico". My girlfriend and I also leave but not before letting all of the other tourists know what just happened and making a formal complaint to the management.

But everywhere we went in the US possessions in the Caribbean, we found the same thing. we were treated as walking wallets (ok it's a tourist trap), and US Continentals were treated as less than dirt.

One post on a forum does not a case make (although Google turns up more), but combined with the lack of electoral votes I think the only conclusion regarding Saturday's big win for Clinton in Puerto Rico is: who cares?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Burn that Bridge, Scotty, Burn it!
















Seriously, Scott, the NY Times' excerpts probably don't do full justice to your sentiment. Tell us how you really feel.

Choice quotes coming from the Times coverage of former Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan's new memoir, inner quotes McClellan's own words:

"President Bush 'convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment,' and has engaged in 'self-deception' to justify his political ends."

"The decision to invade Iraq was a 'serious strategic blunder,' and yet, in his view, it was not the biggest mistake the Bush White House made. That, he says, was 'a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed.'"

On the administration's response to Hurricaine Katrina, the Times quotes McClellan as "saying it 'spent most of the first week in a state of denial' and 'allowed our institutional response to go on autopilot.'"

On Condoleeza Rice as both National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, "'No matter what went wrong, she was somehow able to keep her hands clean,' Mr. McClellan writes, adding that 'she knew how to adapt to potential trouble, dismiss brooding problems, and come out looking like a star.'”

But his guns blaze on everybody including himself, "Mr. McClellan does not exempt himself from failings — 'I fell far short of living up to the kind of public servant I wanted to be' — and calls the news media 'complicit enablers' in the White House’s 'carefully orchestrated campaign to shape and manipulate sources of public approval' in the march to the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003."

So, does Scotty get a pat on the back for this tell all two years after the fact, or should he be pitied that it took him two years to stop spinning and get his bearings on the damage that's been done?

Completed sandbox


After moving 3000 lbs of sand to the sandbox, I am pleased to say it is complete. The cover is a vinyl mesh from Backyardcity.com that is attached with stainless steel snaps. My two-year old boy said "sandbox, yay!" every time I uncovered it over the weekend. One nice thing about the 10" of sand is that it is easily deep enough to hold up a beach umbrella, providing instant shade. The left two plywood seats showed some separation of layers on the outer edge, irritatingly enough. I must have picked a poor panel to cut those out of. A handful of nails fixed that, but I will have a heck of a time replacing those seats if I ever need to.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sen. Kennedy diagnosed with brain tumor

Boston.com has the story.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Boston vs. Philadelphia 2008 Round 7: Cameriere, there' s un italiano in mia minestra!


What city do you think of when you think of Italians...let's see, there's this great section of Boston called the North End which is the historical home of Italian immigrants. It's well worth a visit, despite yuppification and gentrification that's robbing it of the Italian aura. East Boston was also heavily settled by incoming Italians. More recently, people of Italian descent have dominated Boston politics, some recent big names: Paul Cellucci,Mike Capuano ,John Cogliano ,Foster Furcolo ,Joe Malone , Thomas Menino,Joe Moakley ,John A. Volpe , Sal DiMasi.

Stephen Puelo has written a new book on the history of Italians in Boston that is garnering excellent reviews. He has a blog post over at Beacon Broadside discussing the reactions to the book. It's worth a visit and a read.

Now, I'm sure that Cheesesteak will chime with some blather about Italians settling in Phillie and even a movie or two being made featuring Italian-American characters. We'll call this one a tie.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Damn...

Boston.com links to Ted Kennedy's hometown paper:

HYANNIS -- U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy was rushed by ambulance to Cape Cod Hospital this morning after falling ill at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport.

Hyannis fire responded to the compound after a call was made around 8:30 a.m. It's unclear what Kennedy's medical condition is, but after he spent almost two hours in the emergency room a decision was made to transfer him to Mass General Hospital in Boston.

Kennedy, 76, was placed on a stretcher and wheeled out to the MedFlight helicopter around 10:15 a.m. where it took off from Barnstable Municipal Airport.

The Kennedy family is preparing to host the annual Best Buddies Challenge event in Hyannisport this afternoon, which is a fund-raiser for the organization. Best Buddies was founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver and helps people with intellectual disabilities.

Hundreds are expected to participate in the event, which kicked off this morning with a 100-mile bicycle ride from the Kennedy Library in Boston to Hyannisport.

A concert at the Kennedy compound is scheduled for tonight.

Kennedy has represented Massachusetts in the United States Senate for forty-three years.

He was elected in 1962 to finish the final two years of the Senate term of his brother, Senator John F. Kennedy, who was elected president in 1960.

Since then, Kennedy has been re-elected to seven full terms, and is now the second most senior member of the Senate.


Bostodelphia will check in after whatever is happening clarifies. There has not been any official announcement, though various news outlets are batting the word "stroke" about in their headlines without sourcing the diagnosis. Given Kennedy's age and medical history, a stroke is surely possible, but Bostodelphia hasn't seen any definitive, or offical pronouncement.

Update:boston.com provides extended account, including reactions from MA and national politicians.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

FREE TIX DRAWING: Back Supersnack, Fight AIDS, Friday May 16th

Your friendly deadly sandwich is a supporter of Supersnack, a non-profit organization primarily involved with raising funds for AIDS Walk New York. This Friday is Supersnack's Big Third Ball:



Here's their own write up about what's going on:

With pesky infectious diseases, the philosophy of Supersnack, a Brooklyn-based charitable organization, is to add insult to injury – and then even more insult – in order to make a difference. Supersnack is pleased to announce a lineup including band The Mountain Goats and comedian/Daily Show correspondent John Oliver for their third annual benefit concert and gala, "Supersnack's Big Third Ball: An Evening of Music, Hilarity, and Hitting AIDS Where It Hurts" on Friday, May 16th at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple in Fort Greene. The $25 tickets can be purchased at their website, http://www.supersnack.org/.

100% of the proceeds from Supersnack's Big Third Ball will go to AIDS Walk New York, benefiting Gay Men's Health Crisis and 60 other tri-state area AIDS service organizations. Supersnack volunteers, Redhook Ale Brewery, Goose Island Brewery, and boomBOOM Presents make the benefit possible. Featured performers will include: The Mountain Goats, Rock Plaza Central, and John Oliver ("The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"). Also appearing will be author Sarah Bunting ("Television Without Pity") and comedians Dave Hill (MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, MOJO, UCB) and Rob Lathan (Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre, MTV’s "Human Giant") and a gaggle of performances by additional musicians, comedians, writers, performance artists, and poets. The benefit will be hosted by national sex educators, authors and funny persons Gwenn Barringer and Shawn Decker ("My Pet Virus").

Attendance is mandatory. Music will be heard, good times will be had, and AIDS will be criticized and abused roundly. Please join Supersnack, Redhook Ale Brewery and Goose Island Brewery for an event of massive proportions. Seriously massive. Bigger than the sun, this ball.

About Supersnack: Supersnack is a tax-exempt 501c3-pending charitable organization dedicated to preserving the "fun" in volunteer and the "smart" in community. They have raised nearly 60,000 dollars for AIDSWalk --raising $33,000 in 2007 alone, with no single gift of more than $500. Their mission is to fight everything bad in the world by working to fund research for cures, stopping cruelty (animal, human, earth), and by letting everyone know that making a difference is just as easy as deciding you're going to. For more info visit: http://www.supersnack.org/.

About AIDS Walk New York: Since 1986, AIDS Walk New York has raised $97 million for HIV programs and services in the tri-state area, and has grown into the largest AIDS fundraising event in the world. In 2007 alone, 45,000 participants, many of whom were members of 2,400 corporate and community teams, raised a record sum of more than $6.8 million for Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and 60 other tri-state area AIDS service organizations. www.aidwalk.net.

Now in cooperation with our friends at Supersnack, Bostodelphia will be holding a drawing for free tickets to Supersnack's Big Third Ball.* If you're going to be in New York Friday night, or think you might want to make a trip of it to support a good cause, drop us your friendly deadly sandwich a line at cheesesteak[dot]the[dot]impaler[at]gmail[dot]com by 3:00 pm EST Thursday (tomorrow). Provide your name and e-contact info and Supersnack will contact the winners Thursday night. Good luck!

*For those thinking it's weird to boost free tix for a charity fundriser, keep in mind 85% of the bar take will also be going to the effort, and you can always donate directly to Supersnack via their website.

Defending the Electronic Frontier in Paint



Around Maker Faire, Bostodelphia was contacted by a representative of artist Suzanne Rachel Forbes to promote her painting, Defending the Electronic Frontier. Below is the artist's note on her work:

DEF is a total labor of love. It features one of my most revered and lovely models, rocking the look she absolutely pwns, and surrounded by the artifacts of both the past and future of internet freedom and creativity. Miss Eva G posed for me in her SOMA loft, dressed in her own fabulous steampunk finery, with an antique crossbow she brought back from China. The painting took several sittings with Miss E and then many hours of work painting in the detailed background. She is defending early implements of the computer revolution, Jacquard punch cards and IBM cards, a CDV of Ada Byron, and Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2. An apple core represents Turing, eaten up by the intolerance of his era. Also prominently displayed are some wonderful modern creations- The Steampunk Laptop by Datamancer and the Steampunk Flatpanel and Keyboard by Jake Von Slatt- who were kind enough to allow me use their work in the painting. The packet-sniffing rat under the desk is a nod to the EFF’s most recent victory; the EFF logo appears among the luggage stickers on the trunk. I added the bullet shells at the last minute when I learned that Miss E. is a crack shot.

Unfortunately, Maker Faire has come and gone; and due to a monstrous infection that plagued the Cheesesteak and Cod's adventures in sandbox building, Bostodelphia just wasn't able to give Ms. Forbes' painting the attention it deserved. That said, it looks like prints of Defending the Electronic Frontier are still available, with $10 from every sale going to benefit the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Good work in support of a good cause. Bostodelphia is happy to lend its endorsement.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sandbox Weekend

I spent the weekend building a sandbox for my two little boys to play in. Insane housing prices and an unwillingness over the years to commit to an unpayable exotic mortgage has left me a renter, so it was built at my mother-in-law's house.

There are many options: pressure treated ACQ lumber, plastic/wood composites like Trex, 100% plastic recycled lumber, plain old wood. Of these, I think the 100% plastic makes a lot of sense - it'll last as long as you wish, it can be recycled at the end, no splinters, no toxicity. Wow, that stuff is pricey though - like $10/foot! I have filed away mental notes to revisit that material in the future. Pressure treated lumber, even the arsenic-free ACQ, gives me the heebie-jeebies in the context of constant contact with little hands. Trex type stuff is also expensive, so I went with plain old fir. $22 total for 24 feet of 2x12, cut neatly into 6 foot pieces at Lowe's. If only black locust was commercially available...

For seats I used 3/4 inch red oak plywood. Yes, plywood outside. Very bad, I know. What the heck - it's screwed on, if it rots I'll take it off. Tool limitations prevented me from cutting up 2x6's to make more durable seats. Here's a closeup of a seat. Note the countersunk screws to avoid snagging clothing:
The main boards are attached with Liquid Nails and a trio of 3/8 x 4 inch lag screws. This should be strong enough, eh? Incidentally, ACQ is often used with stainless steel fasteners. The hot-dip galvanized screws I used were 78 cents each...SS was $6.14 each!!
Sorry 'bout the washing out, my cell phone camera sorta sucks. Now, the next issue was finishing the wood. Leaving it unfinished would limit its life. However, being a sandbox about 10 years is all that's needed. I opted to avoid toxic sealants altogether and went with AFM Safecoat Naturals Clear Penetrating Oil. This is basically boiled linseed oil without any lead or other heavy metals that are typically used as dryers in linseed oil. I gave the whole thing 2 coats of oil, top and bottom, dug out the backyard, put down landscape fabric, and will fill the box with 3000 lbs of play sand in 2 weeks when we return. The final pic:
I think it looks pretty nice! I am not looking forward to moving the sand in, 30 wheelbarrow trips will do me in.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ALERT: Bostodelphia Unleashes Von Slatt Cocktail without Proper Clinical Trials, Steampunk Mixological Mayhem Ensues

I, Cheesesteak the Impaler, having broken out of the Bostodelphia HQ dungeons into which Coddy and his Steampusher Von Slatt had tossed me, bring you the TRUTH. You may have read recently about our alleged libational contribution to steampunk celebration, the Von Slatt cocktail. Beware this concoction Bostodelphians, 'for it is UNTESTED! I have also unearthed the remarkably dull vessel where it was created...

You see, dear Bostodelphia readers, shortly after the posting of the Von Slatt, I, your friendly lethal sandwich, was in the mood for a drink, as I am wont. Being ever interested in free beverages, I figured I'd venture to the Bostodelphia commissary and concoct for myself a Von Slott from the leftovers of my blog-peer Cod Peace's test flights of the beverage. While I found many pressurized canisters of steam, and many a whistling tea kettle on unattended burners, I could find not a drop of peach brandy, not even American peach schnapps. Nor could I locate any J├Ągermeister or Bass Ale, as required of the alternative recipe.

We posted this recipe Thursday night, our recycling isn't picked up until Wednesday, but no evidence of any Von Slatt tests could be dug up within the Bostodelphia recycling bin. I smelled something fishy, thus knew someone was behind me.

"Cod!" I declared, "The creed of a good mixologist, like a good scientist, is reproducible results. Yet here, I can not see evidence of even the prototype Von Slatt we have delivered to our steampunk audience."

Cod Peace glowered under his top hat, sneared at me through his monocle, and flippered his handlebar mustache. "Oh, I feared you'd come across secrets neither man nor sandwich were meant to know in this commissary, good Impaler," he said as Jake Von Slott emerged from the steam around us, "Von Slatt! Take him out!"

With an elegant, and economically efficient flick of his wrists, Herr Von Slatt drew something from within his waistcoat and let multiple projectiles fly. "What? No!" I exclaimed as what I thought were poisoned shuriken tumbled toward me. Then I realized these tumbling or, more accurately, flopping objects were not well honed steel, but tiny bags of sodden leaf.

While Von Slatt's brewed teabags' heat didn't affect me much, their impact did throw me off balance enough to cause me to slip on the commissary's condensation-slick floor. As I blacked out from the impact, I could hear Cod Peace sneer to his steampunk co-conspirator, "Excellent, now the people will never know the fraud of our creation!" My tenderly sliced rib eye ears were assailed with their maniacal laughter until my consciousness gave up to the ordeal.

Awakening locked in a dungeon chamber, I was first surprised that Bostodelphia HQ indeed had a dungeon, apparently an addition recently excavated by Cod and Herr von Slatt. See the below graphic delineating the underground warren into which I was cast:


Fortunately, I was able to extricate myself in time for Maker Faire so that I can deliver this warning to DIY community comprising much of the Steampunk audience. DO NOT DRINK THE VON SLATT WITHOUT PROPER EXPERIMENTATION. The recipe outlined for you is untested!

To repair the reputation of what is to Bostodelphia's knowledge the first steampunk cocktail, we at Bostodelphia wish to make May a Month of Open Source Steampunk Mixological Mayhem! Experiment with the recipe the nefarious Cod has passed off as tried and true, confirm the hypothesis that it is the libational embodiment of steampunk. Perfect it or even challenge it with a beverage more strongly suited to steampunk tastes. Jake von Slatt makes things. Herein we're asking you to turn the tables on him and make him.

Most importantly, keep us apprised of your activities through comments to this post or through my or Cod's e-mail. Send us recipes, photo or video documentation of your experiments, but give us your input! We'll keep the blog posted with your participation; and after Cod pulls enough penance duty cleaning the tea stains from the Bostodelphia commissary's countertops, we'll decide at the end of the month whose concoction is most worthy of the steampunk imprimatur Von Slatt. Most likely, your reward will consist solely of that honorific. However, if we get literally buzzed on juiced enough about this, and if anyone has particularly on message steampunk beverage paraphernalia they may be willing to dontate to the cause, other prizes may be announced.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Introducing the 1st Steampunk Cocktail: the Von Slatt!

Steampunker extraordinaire Jake Von Slatt and Bostodelphia interviewee will be in attendance at Maker Faire this year. To celebrate his trip and his new Victorian All-in-One PC, Cheesesteak the Impaler and myself have invented a cocktail in his honor.

Now, a proper Steampunk cocktail needed 3 things, in our opinion: steam, something English, and something German. Steam, well, duh. English, for the Victorian England connection. German, for the association of that country with all things industrious. Oh, and Von Slatt's 1929 Mercedes Gazelle replica. In light of the DIY spirit of Steampunk, consider this recipe merely a suggestion, with a Von Slatt consisting of a drink with one each of the three types of ingredients.

Without further ado, mix the following:

  1. one part unsweetened peach brandy
  2. three parts Darjeeling or Lady Grey tea (optional: iced)
  3. top with foamed milk via a steam wand
The reasoning behind each... Nothing screams "English" more than tea. A real German schnapps (or rather Schnaps in the Vaterland) is more akin to a fruit-flavored vodka. Anyway, peach brandy is readily available here in the US of A and appears to be more similar to a real German Schnaps than American-style liqueur schnapps. Or at least this is so according to Wikipedia, which is the source of about 9/10ths of my entire lifetime of accumulated knowledge. The result: peach aroma, an intact tea flavor, a soft alcohol kick, and the foam tickles your nose hairs.

What? Fruity tea? Not manly enough for you? Not reminiscent of steam whistles, grimy coal miners, and sweaty, be-goggled welders? Fine. Remember, the Von Slatt is a DIY concept. Alternative recipe:
  1. 1 part J├Ągermeister
  2. 1 part Bass Ale
  3. apply 1500 psi steam line to ear
There you have it. Enjoy!

County map of PA results

Here's a county-by-county map using AP data that I swiped from the NY Times political blog. Go there to see this map in interactive mode, which is worth a few minutes of time.

My shallow observation is that Obama voters are densely packed into the more urban parts, modulo Pittsburgh.

Clinton garnered 64 delegates to Obama's 63. Hardly a game-changing event, eh?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Quick glance at the returns

So Bostodelphia walked by our polling location at Pine Street Pizza just now and saw the returns from our machines. My arms were too full of pizza and beer to take notes. That said, the 7th division of Philadelphia's 5th ward, Obama beat Clinton by about 2:1. In the race I was more interested in (and will probably write on tomorrow) State Senate District 1, Farnese came out about 1.5 to every 1 of Dickers. That's rough math, might have been even better. Any case, Dougherty's count on these machines was seriously dwarfed by his rivals.

Cheesesteak the Impaler Votes at Pine Street Pizza #1: Finally Checking in from the PA Battleground, the Presidential Line

I admit your friendly deadly sandwich has been AWOL for the entire six week lead up to today's primary fight. I've been here, but keeping my head down. Yeah, the political fire's been flying thick, and not just on the Presidential level, but this cheesesteak has a few things in the pipeline, some related to the future of Bostodelphia, some which may be discussed in Bostodelphia, and still others that I'd love to tell you about but have been handed these nifty patches to ensure I don't.

As Cod pointed out in his p-shop send-up of Clinton's tendency to go crazy hawkish for votes, today is PA's primary day. Having just come back from my polling station/local pizza shop, I'll give you a run through of what it was like to vote in the 182nd PA General Assembly District. Or whatever it's called. Whatever it is, it's the 182nd of them.

Getting there wasn't a problem, it's almost literally around the corner from me. There were more campaign workers outside than voters and election workers inside, almost all sign holders and button wearers representing candidates for one race. If you're from outside of Philly, it's probably not the contest you're thinking, but more on that when I get to that line on the ballot.

Inside, there was a slight stall at the sign in table, as the poll worker had some difficulty finding my name on a card. She got it eventually, and I chalked it off to what's reportedly been and still will be a busy day at the polls. I was #183 to show at my station @ 12:15, which averages out to around 36 people an hour since polls have opened. I think the last time I voted, I was somewhere around 180 too, but while there was also a reportedly "high turnout" election for Philadelphia then, I had showed around 4:00 p.m.

In the booth, I made my run down. 1st up, my pick for the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Yes, the cheesesteak has not wavered from Bostodelphia's February commitment to Obama. I actually stood among the 35,000 and heard, since I could see nothing but some bright lights over taller folks, the Friday rally speech:



While I'm not sure what the campaign was thinking when they picked Ed Kowalczyk from Live to play an acoustic version of "Lightning Crashes" as a warm up act for Will.I.Am (ok, Mr. Kowalyczyk may be from PA, but still...), I am still behind this campaign. As I've wrote before, Obama is the Democratic Party's best hope for change in American politics, a rallying figure for those who've felt disenfranchised by the Democratic Party and electoral politics in general over the course of the preceding political generation. Senator Clinton has served the state of New York capably during her terms in office (and I voted for her first term). But to this sandwich the experience she touts strikes more of a political legacy which this country needs to shed. I am not speaking of her name per se. Rather, I find nothing in her record to really distinguish her from the rank and file of the Democratic Leadership Council who sapped the Democrats' progressive soul in exchange for industry-backed or bought electoral security. These are the people who gave us John Kerry instead of Howard Dean. This is the political calculation that stood by and did nothing while a President marched this country to war on false premises.

That said, if the Obama/Clinton signage ratio here in what Philadelphia affectionately calls the Gayborhood is any indication, and also informing this impression via conversations with some close gay friends, Obama's fallen pretty short on presenting a gay rights plank to his platform. I confess to not having studied this issue, but while Clinton seems to have articulated a substantial national strategy on gay rights, Obama seems to treat sexuality, like race and class, as something we as Americans should just be able to "get beyond." There is an appeal in that principle, but I'm sure many gays and honest straights would tell you such a principle is "pretty to think so" unless that principle is attached to a proactive agenda to make it so. I'm told more ambivalence and unease from the gay community toward Obama's candidacy stems from O's support from this guy, who claims to have been "cured" of homosexuality. If Obama gets the nomination, I hope to see something more substantial from the campaign regarding its stake in gay rights beyond lumping it with all the other "divisive problems" of political discourse that should just go away. Divisive issues require work to get past, and sometimes, "let's all just get along" doesn't work. In some cases, some people are, in fact, right and wrong. Seeing Obama actually bringing people together on a divisive issue (as opposed to saying an issue should be divisive) will be his true test on the campaign trail, however long he defers it.

Whew, that was a mouthful. I think I'll end this post here, and follow up with my take on the rest of the ballot in a subsequent post. To close though, yes, I've seen this:



Looks like the producers of this vid are from Los Angeles. Sort of telling. I'm the last person to treat Stallone's Philadelphia Icon with any sense of sacredness or religiosity; but at the same time there's something a lot of people, even those who claim to love Philly, miss about Rocky. In the original, Rocky only wins in the "heart" category, he actually loses the match. He only starts winning in the ring in the sell out sequels. Is that what we want?