Dec 31, 2009

Best Buy-2k

Y2K Warning Sticker
Best Buy (1999)
Ten years ago, much of the world had fallen into a mild mass hysteria over the fear of the Y2K Bug.  The panic was born out of the idea that many computers only used the last two digits of the year in their coding.  This meant that when the clock rolling over from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000, the computer would misunderstand the two digit "00" year as 1900 and crash the system.

This story made the media rounds throughout 1999 with "experts" predicting all manner of things, from airplanes dropping out of the sky to a power grid shutdown that would cause citywide blackouts at the stroke of midnight in the dawn of the new millennium.  Stores like Best Buy advised their customers to turn off, and in some cases even unplug their electronic devices on New Year's Eve before midnight.

I thought it was all a lot of nonsense at the time.  The vast majority of computers had switched to a four digit year long ago, and I couldn't imagine it would take a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs to write a code to patch whatever machines or programs that were still in use that operated with a two digit year.  Still, my grandparents fell for the panic and insisted that I remember to turn off the computer, just in case.

I worked third shift at Turkey Hill on Rt. 93 and Airport Road in Hazleton at the time, so my shift that night started at 11 pm on December 31st and ended at 7 am in the new millennium.  After my shift, I came home and turned on the computer.  Sure enough, everything worked normally.  From my understanding, the biggest impact the Y2K Bug had in the United States was a brief shutdown of about 150 slot machines at a race track in Delaware.

Dec 21, 2009

Black Diamond

Black Diamond Antiques & Collectibles
Schuylkill Mall - Frackville, PA
Angie and I took a trip to Black Diamond to buy some vintage toys and collectibles as an early Christmas present to ourselves.  This is an almost 20 minute walk-through of the store.

Black Diamond is an incredible place to walk around and spend a few hours.  If you get tired, the other side of the mall has a movie theater to spend a few hours relaxing.

Dec 19, 2009

A Festive Hockey Tradition

Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins vs Toronto Marlies
Wachovia Arena - Wilkes Barre, PA
Over the past several years, it has become a tradition to go to the last Baby Pens game of the year before Christmas.  It didn't go the Penguins way this year, with the Marlies winning 4-3 on the strength of the first career hat trick by Troy Bodie.

The Penguins briefly held the lead during the second period, but the Marlies quickly tied up the game and then took the lead shortly afterward when former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman  Nate Guenin fell to an injury.

Even though the Penguins lost, the game was a lot of fun.  Tux spent the game wandering around the crowd with his female counterpart.  I'm not sure if she was supposed to be his mom or his wife, but either way, they spiced up the game.

One of the traditions the Baby Pens have every year in the game before Christmas is the Teddy Bear Toss.  Fans bring new stuffed toys to the arena, and when Santa comes out on the ice in his sleigh between periods, everyone tosses their bears onto the ice where they are collected to be given to children.  It's a pretty cool sight to see hundreds of teddy bears flying through the air toward the ice.

We bought one souvenir at the game - an autographed Christmas hockey puck.  They were wrapped in red tissue paper, and you didn't know what player you would get until you bought one and opened it up.  My puck was signed by goalie Adam Berkhoel.  The 28 year old is an NHL veteran who played for the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2005-06 season.

Dec 15, 2009

A Day In The Life

My final for Digital Photography was a "day in the life" project in which I was to capture a typical day in a series of images that show some of the techniques taught by Professor Sedor.  I used my grandfather as the subject.  These are my favorite photos from the set.

Nov 19, 2009

Vincent Van Moose

Fifty years ago today, Rocky & His Friends aired for the first time.  It was broadcast on ABC after American Bandstand, and it was the highest rated daytime show.  It helped to establish Jay Ward as one of the most creative and hysterically funny creators in the history of animation, and it led to Bullwinkle's rise from a sock puppet to a household name everywhere that cartoons are shown.

This picture came from a t-shirt that was used to promote the VHS release of The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.  Each tape in the series was a parody of a famous work of art.  To those of us who love animation, the works of Jay Ward are valuable works of art in their own right.

Nov 18, 2009

Greinkamole Wins The Cy Young

Zack Greinke is my favorite non-Phillies player in baseball.  He's one of the most dominant pitchers in the game today who just won his first Cy Young Award.  In addition to his performance on the mound, he has a very interesting personality that make his interviews among the most enjoyable I've ever heard.  Take, for example, his reaction to learning that Chipotle was raising the price on their guacamole by 30 cents:
"I like the guacamole.  Now, I don't really love the guacamole, so I get it when I feel like it.  They changed their guacamole from $1.50 to $1.80. I mean, $1.50 is already pretty darn high.  So they changed it to $1.80 and I'll never again get guacamole.  It's not about the guacamole itself.  I just don't want to let them win."
I'm not sure how this topic came up in a baseball interview, but he's right, paying almost two bucks for a small side of guacamole is ridiculous.

Nov 16, 2009

Theyyy're Adequate

Frosty Corn Flakes
Forrelli Foods
I want to meet the person who drew the Dollar Store knockoff of Tony the Tiger.  The lightning bolts on the jacket are a nice touch.

Nov 12, 2009

November To Remember

ECW: The Aftermath of November To Remember
Kingston Armory - November 12, 1999
Wilkes-Barre, PA
Ten years ago today, a friend and I went to an ECW house show at the Kingston Armory in Wilkes-Barre.  This show took place five days after the November To Remember pay-per-view, and about a year and a half before the original ECW closed its doors.

Earlier in 1999, I had been hit by a pick-up truck that ran a red light.  The truck t-boned my vehicle and sent my car in a direction that knocked down a stop sign.  A few months later, I noticed that the stop sign was still laying abandoned on the side of the road, so I tossed it in my trunk.  I was 18 years old at the time and thought it was cool, and I justified this to myself because the sign was in such horrible condition that it would never be used again.  As luck would have it, the stop sign was still in my trunk, and a bunch of folks from the ECW roster were kind enough to autograph it for me.

The show itself was a lot of fun.  The golden age of Shane Douglas, Al Snow and Taz had passed, but Raven had recently returned from his time in WCW.  The roster at the time was a mix of iconic ECW wrestlers and young talent who would go on to find greater stardom in WWE.


Nov 1, 2009

Rule 32: Enjoy The Little Things

Zombieland (2009)
Cinemark - Moosic, PA
Horror comedies have a habit of being overly cheesy.  Sometimes it works, but far too often, it's not genuinely funny enough to be a good comedy or scary enough to be a good horror flick.  I'm happy to say that Zombieland doesn't fall into these traps.  This may be the most creative and well-written horror comedies I've ever seen, and Woody Harrelson delivers an absolutely flawless performance.

Oct 28, 2009

Oct 4, 2009

You've Got A Friend In 3-D

Toy Story / Toy Story 2 Double Feature
Cinemark - Moosic, PA
These are two of the best animated feature films of all time, and Disney did an excellent job with the transformation to 3-D.

Every time I hear You Got A Friend In Me in the first Toy Story, it reminds me of when I worked at Wal-Mart during the 1996 Christmas season.  They had a wheel cart with a television and a VCR set up at both of the store entrances, and they would play Toy Story, which had just recently come out on VHS at the time.  If I was working in the "10 items or less" lanes, or on register 29 or 30 near the GM entrance, I would hear the song play a few times a day during my shift when they rewound and restarted the movie.

Oct 1, 2009

Be A Colonel. Steal The Wallpaper.

Why yes, I did save a copy of my school's computer desktop wallpaper.  No, I don't have a good reason why.

Thank you for asking.

Sep 25, 2009

A Beautiful Day On The Greenway

The Greenway
Wilkes University - Wilkes-Barre, PA

Sep 23, 2009

Brad Lidge In The Ninth

Brad Lidge In The Ninth
Conklin Classic
WIP Philadelphia
After having a perfect 2008 and helping the Phillies to win their second championship in franchise history, closer Brad Lidge has just blown his 11th save of the season. WIP Philadelphia has commemorated this with their parody of Frank Sinatra's Strangers In The Night.

Sep 20, 2009

The Apocalypse Never Looked So Beautiful

9 (2009)
Cinemark - Moosic, PA
This is one of the most stunning animated films I've ever seen.  I truly cannot recommend it highly enough.

Sep 5, 2009

Taking The Fun Out Of Woodstock

Taking Woodstock (2009)
Cinemark - Moosic, PA
This film is evidently based on the the true story of Elliot Tiber.  This is the man who was responsible for getting the permit to bring the 1969 Woodstock festival to Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, New York.  If the film is to be believed, he's also the man who wasted his opportunity to take part in the most iconic moment in the history of rock & roll.

As for the movie, it somehow manages to make Woodstock feel dull and boring, and it tops off a disappointing story with a cringe-worthy scene that borders on antisemitism.  I can't think of anyone that this movie would appeal to on any level.

Aug 21, 2009

Can Your Heart Stand The Shocking Facts...

RiffTrax Live: Plan 9 From Outer Space
Cinemark - Moosic, PA
This was a hell of a lot of fun.   How can you go wrong with Mike, Crow and Tom Servo from the MST3K crew riffing on an iconic Ed Wood cheesefest?  As an bonus surprise, Jonathan Coulton performed his ode to undead office politics, Re: Your Brains.

Aug 20, 2009

Best Pancakes On The Planet

The Abbey Gourmet Coffee House
Winters Avenue - West Hazleton, PA
The banana walnut pancakes at The Abbey are EPIC.  This easily makes my top ten list of favorite things to eat.

Aug 19, 2009

Exciting Socks

Hometown Farmers Market
Tamaqua, PA
Surely they can't be 1st quality and best price?  Wow!

Aug 8, 2009

Now In Donkey Kong Yellow

Tommy Hilfiger ad
Nintendo Game Boy Color (1999)
Ten years ago, Nintendo had a deal with Tommy Hilfiger where you could get a special yellow Game Boy Color with the Tommy Hilfiger logo in the center.  Like the ad says, it cost $57.50 with any $50 purchase of clothes.

I never had one of these, but I had some of the clothes when I was a teenager in the 90's.  My grandparents always thought it was called Tommy Heffelfinger for some reason.

Aug 6, 2009

Reading's Greatest Pitcher

Pedro Martinez
Reading Phillies (2009)
Ruben Amaro Jr. was in attendance at FirstEnergy Stadium last night to watch Pedro Martinez pitch for the Reading Phillies against the Trenton Thunder.  Pedro struck out 11 in his rehab appearance, and the Phillies Double A affiliate won 8-4.  The three time Cy Young Award winner should be in Philadelphia very soon.

Jul 31, 2009

Freakier Friday

Cinemark - Moosic, PA
I don't know if this technically qualifies as a horror flick, but it's definitely a freaky movie.  I figured out the twist about ten or fifteen minutes before the reveal, but it was still satisfying all the same.

Jul 30, 2009

Love Will Always Find You

The Wedding Singer: The Musical Comedy
Dutch Apple Dinner Theater - Lancaster, PA
When I was second grade, my elementary school brought my class on a bus trip to the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre to see the Man of La Mancha musical performed by the Daedalus Productions touring group.  To the best of my recollection, it's my only exposure to theater until today.

It's Angie's birthday, so we got tickets to go to the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater in Lancaster to see the musical theater adaptation of the Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore romantic comedy, The Wedding Singer.

They don't allow photography inside of the theater, so I was only able to take pictures of the outside of the building.  Just to give you an idea of this place, I "borrowed" the above photo from the Dutch Apple website.  You can see the buffer area near the upper right corner.  The food was delicious, with turkey, fish, roast beef and plenty of veggies and other side dishes.  It was the kind of foods you'd typically find at a place like the Old Country Buffet, but it tasted much better.  Honestly, I would come here to eat even if it was just a restaurant.  There were also dozens of cakes and pies to choose from for dessert.  Everything was fresh and delicious.

The Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore roles were played by Michael and Jillian Zygo, who are a married couple that has been touring with this show all year.  I know absolutely nothing about musical theater, but I think that they, and the rest of the cast, did a great job.  As much as I love the movie, I think I might actually enjoy the musical even more.  The songs were catchy and funny, and it had just enough differences from the film to keep things fresh and interesting without changing the story that made the movie so special.

Jul 20, 2009

The Hunt For The Horcruxes

Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Regal Cinema - Laurel Mall - Hazleton, PA
No spoilers here for anyone who didn't read the book, but if you've been a fan up to this point, you're really going to want to see this.  This is, in many ways, the equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back in the Harry Potter universe.

Jul 13, 2009

Co-Starring Ron Paul

BrĂ¼no (2009)
Cinemark - Moosic, PA
Well, that was a movie.  I guess this one will fall under the category of "I laughed, I had a good time, I don't think I'm going to watch it again after today".

Jul 10, 2009

Crystal Pepsi Soda Machine

Crystal Pepsi soda machine
Greenville, OH
I'm remember seeing a few of these back in the day, but I haven't seen one in a long time.  This machine is still in operation dispensing modern beverages.  Shared by The Upstairs Room on Flickr.

Jul 9, 2009

Flyin' Hawaiian All-Star

Today is the last day to vote for Shane Victorino to make the National League All-Star Team.

Jul 8, 2009

Numerology Memories

A mathematical rarity will be taking place today.  For just a second in the afternoon, it will be 12:34:56 on 7/8/9.

I'll never forget how excited my grandfather was when something like this happened just after my tenth birthday.  He very happily told me "At 12:34 and 56 seconds today, the date will be 7/8/90".

Jul 6, 2009

The Blue Comet Diner

Blue Comet Diner
Route 309 - Hazleton, PA
We stopped at Blue Comet for something to eat when we got back to Hazleton after the ballgame and fireworks on the 4th.  This is a place I used to go all the time in the 80's and 90's.  Grandma, Grandpa, Nana and I used to stop here after Grandma and Nana got out of church on Saturday when I was little.

Back in the 80's, you could get pretty much any dinner off of the menu for $5 or less including scallops, which was one of my favorites.  My grandfather usually ordered liver and onions.  One of the random memories always think of when I come here is my Nana rooting through her purse to find her bottle of saccharin tablets to use in her coffee.  She didn't like Sweet N' Low or Equal, which is what every restaurant had back then, so she carried her own supply with her.  They also had a great selection of cakes and pies for dessert.  To this day, I haven't found a coconut cream pie that's as good as the one I used to have here when I was a kid.

Before they remodeled, when you went in the front door, you were in a small lobby area that had a pay phone, a coat rack (I think), a Ms. Pac Man machine, and three video poker machines.  My grandfather always gave me a quarter or two to play Ms. Pac Man after dinner while he and my grandmother played the poker machines.  They were labeled "for entertainment only", but like pretty much every other video poker machine in town, they "paid off", so if my grandparents got to a certain score, they'd go get the cashier who would come out to verify, then give them money right out of the register.  That was Hazleton in the last days of Mob City.  I never thought it was unusual until I got older and left the area and realized that most places don't have mini casinos in their local restaurants.

These days, the Blue Comet is barely recognizable from the 80's.  It's gone through many different owners; one of whom had an addition built onto the building.  The outside and inside have been remodeled several times, so at this point, the only part of the restaurant that even looks vaguely similar is the neon sign out front.

The most recent change is that every booth now has a MegaTouch machine.  It's fun, and I understand that time marches on, but I really miss the way this place used to feel back in the days when they still had ash trays on every table.

Jul 5, 2009

Moyer Ties Hubbell

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Pitching: Fernando Nieve vs. Jamie Moyer
Results: Phillies defeated Mets, 4-1

I've been to a few minor league games before on the 4th of July, but this was my first time I've been able to get to a MLB game for Independence Day.  Unfortunately, yesterday's game had a 4:05 start time, so they didn't have fireworks at the ballpark, but we lucked out and got to see some on the drive home.

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary Lou Gehrig's speech at Yankee Stadium that he gave just a few weeks after his final game and the ALS diagnosis that he received on his 36th birthday.  In honor of Gehrig and everything that he meant to the game, Phillies backup catcher Chris Coste read his speech before the game.

They also had a very touching salute to veterans before the National Anthem.

Photos by Ronald Cortes

The Phillies loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first after Shane Victorino singled, Chase Utley walked and Ryan Howard singled off of Fernando Nieve.  However, they were only able to score a single run on a Jayson Werth sacrifice fly.  Greg Dobbs struck out to end the inning.

They struck again in the bottom of the fourth.  Pedro Feliz singled and Paul Bako drew a walk.  Jamie Moyer laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, and Jimmy Rollins doubled to right field to score two runs and put the Phillies up 3-0.  The Phillies tacked on their fourth and final run in the bottom of the 6th.  Nieve was pulled from the game with two outs after giving up a walk to Bako and Rollins.  He was replaced by Pat Misch, who gave up an RBI single to Victorino before striking out Utley to end the inning.

On the other side, Jamie Moyer was masterful.  At 46 years old, the lefty lasted 6 ⅓ innings, giving up only one run on five hits and a walk.  The only damage the Mets did off of him was in the top of the fifth.  After retiring Fernando Tatis and Ryan ChurchMoyer gave up back to back singles to Nick Evans and Omir Santos.  His opposition on the mound, Fernando Nieve, hit a third single in a row to score Evans from second.  It was the only run the Mets would score in the game.

The Phillies bullpen had even more success against the Mets.  Chad Durbin came on in relief of Moyer in the the 7th, followed by JC RomeroRyan Madson and Brad Lidge.  The Mets only got one hit off of Phillies relief pitching when Romero gave up a single in the top of the 8th to shortstop Alex Cora.  Cora had a good night going 3-4, but the rest of the Mets lineup was largely kept silent for the rest of the night.  David WrightGary SheffieldLuis CastilloRyan Church and Fernando Tatis each went 0-4.

Brad Lidge is having a rough year, especially in light of his perfect 2008, but he looked like his old self in the 9th last night with a 1-2-3 inning and two strikeouts for his 15th save of the season.  Jamie Moyer was the winning pitcher to improve his record to 7-6.  It was his 253rd career win, which ties him with Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell for 42nd on MLB's all-time wins list.

The drive from Philly back to Hazleton took us through Jim Thorpe, and with all the traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway, we didn't get off of the turnpike until after dark.  As luck would have it, they were having a fireworks show in Memorial Park in Jim Thorpe, and we got there about 15 minutes before the first firework went off.  I didn't even know this was happening when we left the house, but we couldn't have timed it better if we planned it.