Category Archives: random

My Vocabulary in Venn Diagram Form

I recently wrote the word “bellicose” and realized that it is a word which exists in my written vocabulary but not in my spoken vocabulary. That is, I never say it. This got me thinking about the various overlapping sectors of my vocabulary. So I threw together a venn diagram to chart it.

Black text is the category, red text are examples. (CLICK FOR BIGGER VIEW)

Nick and Andy Set Out To Make Some Pies (Never Have So Many Owed So Many Pies To So Few)

This weekend my housemates Nick and Andy set out to make some pies. Eager to test the boundaries of the possible, Nick and Andy decided that it would be terrific and hilarious to give out pies the way one gives out holiday cards. Last weekend they made three pies, one each of three different recipes. Blind taste tests declared a no-bake pumpkin the winner.

So mid-week the intrepid duo visited their favorite restaurant supply store and returned with (approximately):

  • 82 pounds pumpkin puree
  • 22 dozen eggs
  • 50 pounds sugar
  • 6 gallons heavy cream
  • 25 pounds graham cracker crumble
  • 10 pounds butter
  • 1 gallon secret ingredient
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 200 pie tins
  • 200 pie boxes

Sunday morning, Andy ran the Philadelphia Marathon. Sunday afternoon, beginning around 1pm, Andy and Nick began making pies. With the help of nine housemates and family members, our house became Strategic Pie Command. Amidst the telegraph wires connecting us to the Front, I took some crappy photos with my phone.

Kitchen 1, or “Alpha kitchen”

Under Andy’s direction, we specialized by role. There were box folders, egg white separators, pie crust kneaders, pie crust mashers, pie filling cooks, pie fillers, and pie shipping and storage specialists. Also a DJ, a pho-orderer-and-picker-upper, sappers, radar technicians, two human shields (volunteer), and several supportive bystanders.

Kitchen two, “Bravo kitchen”. Featuring 2 of the 22 dozen eggs which Chris Kerr separated into yolks and whites.

Were we scared? You bet we were scared. But the larger question that propelled us, that haunted our dreams and threw us once more to our task with grim purpose, was what would happen if we didn’t make all these pies? That was too terrible to contemplate, and so we hoisted each other up with graham cracker-encrusted hands and soldiered on once more into the breach (kitchen).

Pete and Jesse on pie crust detail.

The pies begin to build up in our specially constructed, FDA-approved, Luftwaffe-proofed, raccoon-resistant pie cooling bunker.

Andy estimated that we enlisted over $2 million dollars-worth of higher education in the creation of these pies. We were the finest generation pulled into service at the time of greatest (pie) need.

Ari manning the pie filling station, where cooled crusts were arrayed ready for filling and deployment.

As Churchill once said:

“When I look round to see how we can win the war I see that there is only one sure path. We have no Continental army which can defeat the enemy military power–the blockade is broken and Hitler has Asia and probably Africa to draw from. Should he be repulsed here or not try invasion, he will recoil eastward, and we will have nothing to stop him. But there is one thing that will bring him back and bring him down, and that is an absolutely devastating, exterminating attack by two hundred pumpkin no-bake pies from this country upon the Nazi homeland.”

And also Churchill:

“We shall not flag or fail. We shall make pies in France, we shall make pies on the seas and oceans, we shall make pies with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our kitchens, whatever the cost may be, we shall make pies on the beaches, we shall make pies on the landing grounds, we shall make pies in the fields and in the streets, we shall make pies in the hills. We shall never surrender.”

The inner circle of Strategic Pie Command, exhausted but triumphant at 21:30 EST, with Pie No. #0000182

We feared the weight of our pie arsenal, the pies of democracy as they were known in the dailies, might buckle the specialized Pie Holding Tables in the pie bunker. But in the end, our fears were unwarranted, and 182 pies lay cooling in the crisp, we-definitely-hope-it’s-at-least-40-degrees-outside November air.

The pie arsenal of democracy

Tomorrow would see new trials, new unfathomable risks. But we won the day. We made 182 pumpkin pies in about nine hours. On Monday Nick and Andy would begin the arduous but joyful strategic deployment of all 182 pies to friends, tenants, business associates, allies and liberated peoples. And then we would rest.

Let me know if you want a pie.

probably my favorite joke

Ain’t no party like a North Korean party cuz a North Korean party is MANDATORY.

I’ve heard other versions of this joke (substituting Russia or Liz Lemon for ‘North Korea’), but this is the basics. I can’t remember when or where I first heard it, but it’s been years, and it still gets me.

Oh, it still gets me.

beauty and talent, thrown around

I’ve recently noticed two trends in quick judgment which I find interesting.

Beauty, as used for houses.  Multiple people have entered the modern row home in which I live and exclaimed, “Wow, this is beautiful!”  What I’m pretty sure they actually mean is, “Wow, this is new-looking!”  Our house is well-lit, spacious, and looks modern and new.  By what I feel are widely held standards for beauty in interior spaces, however, it ain’t particularly beautiful.  There’s little art on the walls, no molding or other wood finishes, the railings are metal, and there are no great views out the windows.  Perhaps my generation needs to read more Sunset Magazine.

Talent, as used for singing men.  Someone is fiddling around on a piano, and a man walks over and starts singing.  He has a good voice.  Then he sits down and plays one half of a duet with the original piano player.  Someone whispers, “That guy [meaning the singer] is really talented.”  This may be true, and a man’s ability to sing and play the piano is sign of at least some talent.  But “talented” without a modifier is sweeping, high praise, and to me this display doesn’t suggest that.  It’s just talent, skill really, in this one realm.  If someone picked up a hammer, drove a nail cleanly in two hits, then fixed a leaking garbage disposal, a bystander would not declare him “talented.”  What is it about singing and music playing that lowers the bar for witnesses to declare someone talented?

I find this second, talent-equals-singing phenomenon happens more with men than women.  If a woman drove a nail and fixed a garbage disposal, I might jump to calling her talented.  So maybe it’s gender roles we’re talking about. Incidentally, I have a garbage disposal that is making a weird noise.

ordering lunch at 15th and Walnut

I occasionally order lunch at a food cart stationed at 15th & Walnut.  It is run by a cheerful Middle Eastern man whose name I haven’t learned yet.  I was there last week when the following episode happened.

A young American-American man in his early 20’s walked up to the cart.  He wore designer jeans and an expensive-looking thin gray hoodie.  He took a can of Coke out of the lower beverage trough, then eyed the man cooking in the cart.  “What you got?” he asked.  He spoke with a slightly effeminate lilt and his lips were pursed in a face of constant impatience.  “What you got?” he asked again.  The man inside the cart didn’t hear him, as he was turned away cooking.

The young man decided to examine the big list of purchasable food and prices printed prominently on the side of the truck.  “How much for a sausage?  A big one.  A big fat one,” the young man asked.  “I want a big one.”

The cook turned away from his cooking back to the cart window.  “Two fifty,” the cook said, echoing exactly the text printed on the menu.

“Okay,” the young man said flatly.  “Give me one.”

The cook fished the sausage out of its metal compartment and sliced a roll.  “I only got two twenty-five and a token,” the young man said, looking off down the street as he spoke.  The cook dismissed the problem with a grunt and a shrug.

“Ketchup?” the cook asked.

“Yeah.”  The cook applied ketchup.

“Cheese.  I want cheese on there.  Put cheese on there.”

The cook, perhaps a little puzzled, looked around his cart.  “I’m sorry, I don’t have any cheese.”

The young man made a psshft sound.  “Mayo?  You put mayo on there?”

The question was ambiguous to me, but the cook applied mayo and the young man seemed happy with it.  The cook held the sausage out for approval.

“Put more ketchup on there!” the customer exclaimed.  “Shit.”

The cook applied more ketchup.  “Anything–”

The young man flipped open his phone and looked down the street.  “Yeah.  I’m here.  I’m here.  Right here.  By the cart.  You see me?”  The cook waited, sausage in outstretched hand.

The young man flipped the phone shut and took the sausage from the cook.  He handed over a bill and some coins.  “The Coke.  You buy the coke?” the vendor asked.

The young man reached a hand up, perhaps to make some gesture.  The Coke fell out of the front pocket of his hoodie and rolled along the concrete.  The young man reached down and picked up the can, holding it the way one holds an empty banana peel.  “I was gonna but then I changed my mind,” he said, and tossed the Coke back into the drink trough.  He took a bite of the sausage and walked off.

I exchanged a look with the vendor, who chuckled with a face that said, ‘what can you do?’  I looked at the other remaining customer who was also waiting for food.  That third customer was a mid-20’s man with a bit of a South Philly Italian look to him.  “That guy sucks more dick than my wife,” he said and shook his head.  I didn’t glance to see if he wore a wedding ring.  I’m not sure what I would have wanted to see.

my phone loves Ubaldo Jimenez

On April 17th, 2010, Ubaldo Jimenez pitched a no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves.  My friend Zack and I owned him on our shared fantasy baseball team.  I don’t remember what I was doing, but Zack and I weren’t in the same place, and we kept texting each other about the no-hitter as it progressed.

Somehow, my 5-year-old Motorola non-smart phone was paying particular attention that day.  Now, my phone seeks any possible opportunity to guess that the word I’m trying to text is ‘Jimenez’ or ‘Ubaldo.’  This is despite not texting that name even once in the past year.

I get 3/4ths of the way through ‘kind’ and it becomes ‘JIMENEZ.’  I get 3 letters into ‘table’ or ‘vacation’ and my phone leaps eagerly to suggest ‘UBALDO.’  Yet my phone still hasn’t learned ‘Fairmount’ or ‘Haverford’ or various curse words no matter how many times I write them.

Sexing Your Printer

[Note: not sure if this is funny or gross, but I’ve spent too long writing printer-related words to retain any perspective on the matter – NM]

My work week has been dominated by printing hundreds of event invitations.  At one point, the printer stopped pulling in the nice paper stock from the paper tray in the back.  I devised a low-tech solution involving cardboard to alter the angle at which the paper enters the printer.  It worked.

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15 things I learned while in New Orleans

  1. Gumbo.  Gumbo is delicious.  Gumbo.
  2. You can spend $80 on a pair of tweezers.
  3. Dog people (as we call them in Philly) are everywhere.  These are 20-something white men and women, dressed in a ragged uniform of brown, dark green, and/or black clothing, smelling to high heaven, playing washboards and banjos on the sidewalk.  They keep boxers or chows on ragged leashes, wear their hair in dreads under wool caps, and (so the theory goes) probably have an iPhone somewhere in their filthy backpack.
  4. Just because the store looks like it belongs in a trashy amusement park fairway doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a great bloody mary.
  5. Continue reading