Sep 30, 2014

USS Fessenden

USS Fessenden
Edsall-Class Destroyer Escort
This was my grandfather's ship when he served in the Navy.  Seventy years ago during World War II, this ship made a depth charge attack in the waters south of the Cape Verde Islands and destroyed the German submarine U-1062.

Grandpa was seven years old at the time of the U-Boat sinking.  He served on board the Fessenden in the mid 1950's.  That's him on the right.

Sep 29, 2014

Mr. Pickle

Mr. Pickle
Dillsburg, PA
I was told that the town made alterations to an old Mr. Peanut statue to turn it into a pickle coming out of a jar, but apparently that's not true.  According to, a local car dealer named Bill Wessels commissioned chainsaw artist Brad Heilman to carve what was left of a large maple tree on his property that was hit by lightning.  It was always supposed to be a pickle, but the wood wasn't painted so people from out of the area thought it was a statue of Mr. Peanut.  They had it painted a few years ago to make it more obvious that it's supposed to be a pickle.

Sep 28, 2014

Happy Birthday B.B.

Brigitte Bardot
Cannes Film Festival (1956)
Happy 80th birthday to the one and only Brigitte Bardot.

Sep 27, 2014

Let's Carve A Cantaloupe

You can't fool me, Wegman's!

The Ultimate Seasonal Cookie

Pumpkin Spice
Oreo (2014)
These are incredible!

Sep 26, 2014

A Sticker And Decal Time Capsule

Cosmos Crystal
Bloomsburg Fair (2014)
This was my favorite stand at the Bloomsburg Fair when I was in high school.  It's still one of my favorites today, but for different reasons.  This place has a lot of things for sale that I didn't take pictures of, but here's a small sampling of their merchandise.

The wall behind this stand is covered with stickers and decals, many of which are music related.  The thing that I love about this place is that while they do have a few new things in stock every year, they don't seem to remove any of the old stock unless it sells out.  It's not super uncommon to see merchandise for some classic rock bands like Ozzy, Pink Floyd, and The Beatles, but I can't imagine that too many stores have Mad Season and Mother Love Bone decals in their display case.

I had the Smashing Pumpkins sticker from the top photo and the Sublime license plate sticker, the ICP sticker next to it, and the Rage Against The Machine sticker in the bottom right corner of the bottom photo on my car when I was 17 years old, and I'm pretty sure that I bought all four of them from this stand when I was a teenager.

These helmet stickers are so stupid that they're funny.  Most of these are exactly the same as the ones they had back in the late 90's.  I don't remember ever buying any of them, but I know that I looked through them every year.  My favorite part is how the people who run this shop try to censor the profanity with a black magic marker.

The glass case on the side of the stand has stacks of patches.  Like the helmet stickers, they're not the kind of thing I was into as a teenager, but I sort of regret not buying the Rocky & Bullwinkle ones this year.

These kind of speak for themselves, but the size of these may not come across too well in the picture.  Each one of them is about the size of one of my shoes.  I just like to imagine the scene of some dufus meticulously measuring their back windshield for optimal placement of their new "lick me" and "honk if you're horney" decals.

Sep 25, 2014

Brother Can You Spare A Dime

Andrea's Glass Pitch / Debbie's Dime Pitch
Bloomsburg Fair (2014)
This stand has been at the Bloomsburg Fair since I was a child, and probably for many years prior to that.  The game is simple: you grab a handful of dimes and toss them into the field.  If your dime lands on the target (which is usually inside of a shot glass), you win the drinking glass that's below the target.  It may seem silly to try to win an ordinary drinking glass, but it's a lot of fun to play and the place is always filled with dime-throwing customers.

Sep 24, 2014

Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin Waffles by Kolar
Bloomsburg Fair (2014)
This is another long standing tradition at the Bloomsburg Fair.  The only thing that they sell are pumpkin waffles.  You can smell the pumpkin and powdered sugar wafting through the air when you get anywhere near the place.

These are very good, but you've really got to eat them right away to experience them at their best.  I've taken a box home on some occasions and they're never as good the next morning as they are when you eat them as soon as you order them.  Fair warning, they tend to crumble as soon as you bite into them, so it's best to eat them sitting down, preferably with a paper plate, or there's a decent chance that a few pieces are going to fall to the ground.

Sep 23, 2014

A New Friend Hitched A Ride

Folk's Butterfly Farm
Bloomsburg Fair (2014)
We stopped to feed the butterflies at the Bloomsburg Fair and this little fellow decided to perch on my nose for a little while.

Sep 22, 2014

A Night At The Movies

Horticulture Hall
Bloomsburg Fair (2014)
The theme of Horticulture Hall this year was "A Night At The Movies".

Sep 21, 2014

Riding Above The Bloomsburg Fair

Sky Ride
Bloomsburg Fair (2014)
This year, I bit the bullet and rode the Sky Ride at the Bloomsburg Fair.  I'm not too crazy about heights, so this is a big deal for me.  Heights from places like an airplane, or being on a high floor of a tall building, or even riding a roller coaster never bothered me because they're the kinds of places where falling to the ground are extremely unlikely.  However, any heights from which I could conceivably fall just for being clumsy or from one small thing going wrong tend to really freak me out.

I'm not going to pretend that I wasn't a little scared, but it was still a hell of a lot of fun!

Sep 20, 2014

Fair Food

Bloomsburg Fair
Bloomsburg, PA (2014)
The Bloomsburg Fair is one of my favorite things in the world.  It has gotten a lot larger over the years since I started going in the early 80's when I was a child, but no matter how much is added, it somehow feels the same to me every year.  It's a pleasant place to walk around, play some games, ride some rides, look at all of the displays, and generally put the outside world on pause and relax and enjoy yourself for a while.  However, my favorite part of the Fair is the food.

The first thing that I had to eat this year at the Fair was a giant cheeseburger with tomato, mushrooms, onions, and nacho cheese from Gordy's Steakburger stand.

Next up was a hot apple dumpling with a side of cinnamon ice crema from the Bissinger's tent.  It's the best four dollars you could ever spend on the fairgrounds.

I didn't take a picture of it, and it really wouldn't do it justice if I had, but one of our annual traditions is to get an apple cider float from The Apple Cart to bring back to the tables near the fountain in the Agricultural Building.  It's just a simple styrofoam cup with a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream and fresh apple cider poured to the top of the cup.  It's delicious!

Last, but not least, we both had a delicious hot roast beef sandwich from Top Of The Beef.  It made the perfect end to a perfect day at the Bloomsburg Fair.

Sep 19, 2014

How To Use Discontinued Products To Earn A Promotion

Nestle Toll House (2013)
Today was my second interview for the role of project trainer for the Nestle CBI team.  The first interview went very well, but I think I really nailed it in the second, and I owe it all to this discontinued product.  The second interview for this job is to facilitate a training to the project managers.  The content and methods used in the training are entirely up to you.

One of the more common drivers for consumer contacts across all channels is from people who are either looking for Chocobake or who know that it has been discontinued and are asking for it to be brought back.  The bad news is that the company has no intentions of bringing it back to the market, but the good news is that you can replicate it very easy using Nestle Baking Cocoa and vegetable oil.  Our representatives give the recipe for this all the time, whether it's over the phone, in an email, or in a good old fashioned letter in the mail (if that is how the consumer contacted us).  However, we've never had the team get together in the test kitchen to produce this very simple recipe, so that was the subject of my training.  I had the baking cocoa, vegetable oil, and all of the kitchen utensils ready, as well as some old Chocobake product to serve as a comparison.  I then gave a presentation on the background of the product (including examples of consumer contacts) and instructions on how to replicate it before walking both managers through the steps to produce their own Chocobake.  While the managers were comparing what they made to the old Chocobake product, one of them asked me for examples of how this product is used in a recipe.  It was a follow-up question I was hoping that they would ask, because bam... here's a dozen recipes from Very Best Baking spanning the past three decades of things that call for Chocobake as an ingredient.

I have never walked out of an interview feeling this confident.  This went as perfectly as I could have hoped for!

Sep 16, 2014

Happy We'll Be Living Under The Sea

The Snorks
Hanna-Barbera (1984)
Thirty years ago, The Snorks debuted on NBC.

Sep 15, 2014

Fill In The Blank

Jonathan Papelbon
Closer - Philadelphia Phillies
I can't wait until we get rid of this douchebag.