Sunday, March 3, 2013

We're Moving!

This is the last post on this version of Pick's Place. I am moving to a new blog, Pick's Place 2.0

The new web address is:

This page, the original Pick's Place, will remain active but there will be noting new posted here from this point forward.

 - Jeff

Monday, February 25, 2013

Remembering George Harrison - Musician, Humanitarian

George Harrison, 1943-2001

Today, February 25, marks what would have been the 70th birthday of George Harrison, who died, way too young, from cancer in 2001 at the age of 58.

George Harrison is remembered as not just a musician and a Beatle, but also as a humanitarian.

Before there was Live Earth -
Before there was Farm Aid -
Before there was LiveAid -
There was the Concert for Bangladesh, a gathering of the greatest names in rock and roll in 1972 to raise awareness and funds to help the people of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), who at the time had suffered famines, poverty, natural disasters, and political turmoil.

The "Quiet Beatle" was also the coolest Beatle, and most definitely the coolest ex-Beatle.

My friend came to me, with sadness in his eyes
He told me that he wanted help
Before his country dies

Although I couldn't feel the pain, I knew I had to try
Now I'm asking all of you
To help us save some lives

Bangla Desh, Bangla Desh
Where so many people are dying fast
And it sure looks like a mess
I've never seen such distress
Now won't you lend your hand and try to understand
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh

Bangla Desh, Bangla Desh
Such a great disaster - I don't understand
But it sure looks like a mess
I've never known such distress
Now please don't turn away, I want to hear you say
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh

Bangla Desh, Bangla Desh
Now it may seem so far from where we all are
It's something we can't reject
It's something I can't neglect
Now won't you give some bread to get the starving fed
We've got to relieve Bangla Desh
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh
We've got to relieve Bangla Desh
Mmmm Mmmm
Now won't you lend your hand and understand
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Sip Heard Round The World

Big F-ing Deal.

Last night, when giving his rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union address, Senator Marco Rubio at some point paused to take a sip of water.

And the Interwebs spontaneously combusted with Rubio/Water memes.

Now, far be it from me to defend any Republican, especially of the teabagging persuasion, but is this really the first time in the history of the world that a speaker, on television or anywhere else, paused to hydrate his palate?

I repeat:

Perhaps the water was spiked with a sedative to calm Rubio's jitters at having to give the speech without a teleprompter.

Because we all know that only Democrats use teleprompters, right?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Some Reasons to Like January

As much as I hate winter and cold weather, I still like January. 

  • The end of the "Holiday Season". Hey, I like Christmas as much as anybody, but after having it shoved down my throat from mid-October on, I'm over it by December 26, and ready to stick a fork in it by January 1.
  • The NFL playoffs! 
  • New Years Day is a great day to just sit around doing nothing, or do something you like, if you're lucky enough to have the day off. Today, I watched the "Dance Moms" marathon on Lifetime and ordered a pizza.
  • The NFL playoffs! 
  • The new year gives us a sense of a clean slate, time to think of new things to do (or old things to stop doing). Don't torture yourself with New Years resolutions. Just take a mental inventory and re-group.

Did I mention the NFL playoffs? No Eagles or Jets this years, but I always enjoy the games no matter who is playing.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Remarkable Young Man Was He

If you remember where you were on November 22, 1963, you may also remember this song, from the Peter Pan collection, "Sing A Song Of Presidents". It went from George Washington all the way to John F. Kennedy.

Lyrics are below (including additional post 1962 bonus lyrics), so sing along -

John F. Kennedy

A remarkable young man is he

At age forty-three

Elected to the Presidency

He was born in 1917
The second child of nine
In the state of Massachusetts
In the city of Brookline

His granddad was a Mayor
His dad Ambassador
He graduated Harvard
Then gave service in the War

(repeat chorus)

As commander of the PT Boat
He got the Purple Heart
He was a combat hero
And he bravely did his part

He served his country proudly

And when the war was won

The hero of the Solomons

Went on to Washington.

(repeat chorus)

Then for three terms he served the House
Of Representatives
And after that a Senator
He gave all he could give

As Senator this Democrat
Worked harder than before
'Til he became the President
Number thirty four (oops)

(repeat chorus)

He liked to have his booty calls
With Marilyn Monroe
He shared her with his brother Bob,
And Ted had Mary Jo

And when Jackie was out of town
He used the White House pool
For skinny-dipping with the staff
While Caroline's at school

(repeat chorus)

He took a trip to Germany
The city of Berlin
He made a declaration
That started with "Ich Bin"

But when he finished his speech
The audience was droll
'Cause "Ich Bin Eine Berliner" means
"I am a jelly roll"

(repeat chorus)

He was shot in 1963
His brain was blown to bits
Lee Harvey got three shots off
But he only made two hits

Was there a second gunman
Behind the Grassy Knoll?
We don't know that but do know
In Jack's head there was a hole

(repeat chorus)
John F. Kennedy
A remarkable young man was he
At age forty three
Elected to the Presidency

Friday, November 16, 2012

Papa John's Appreciation Day in NJ

I found out about "National Papa John's Appreciation Day" through Facebook. A movement of over 21,000 people were planning to go to Papa John's to show their support for owner John Schnatter's threat to hike the price of his shitty pizza to pay for Obamacare.

According to the Facebook Event Page:

Papa Johns has been targeted by the left for a boycott, for simply articulating that ObamaCare would hurt profits and force cutbacks in employee hours. Stand up to this nonsensical and illogical action and support Papa Johns this Friday! 
The CEO of Papa John's, John H. Schnatter, has said that he will have to cut employee hours because of Obamacare. Schattner has received intense media scrutiny in addition to being demonized as an evil rich guy by the Left. Obamacare is a fiscal nightmare and because of it, many small businesses aren't hiring now. Some are even closing their doors. Obamacare is now, as John Boehner said, "the law of the land."
 In solidarity with John H. Schnatter, we propose that November, 16th, 2012 be National Papa John's Appreciation Day. The Left thinks we are discouraged; they think they have won. Let's send a clear message this Friday, like we did on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, that we are here to stay and that we won't stop fighting. There are over 2,600 Papa John's stores in the United States. Let's flood all of them like we flooded Chick-Fil-A.
There are a couple of Papa John's near where I work, in Cherry Hill, NJ. I decided to take a ride at lunchtime and check them out, in the hopes of finding, photographing, and interviewing on video people who would do something like this.

Imagine my disappointment when I got to the Papa John's in Pennsauken, and saw this:

And when I got to the Papa John's in Maple Shade, and saw this:

I guess the teabaggers in New Jersey didn't get the memo, or, maybe we don't have teabaggers in New Jersey.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fun with "Find and Replace"

Today, on the fifth anniversary of the death of Luciano Pavarotti, I recall a friend of a friend referring to him  endearingly as "Fat Opera Fuck".

What if the news picked up this sobriquet and used it in their account of his funeral? It would read something like this:

- (Modena, Italy, September 8, 2007)
About 50,000 mourners paid tribute to Fat Opera Fuck at his funeral in his hometown on Saturday, an event Prime Minister Romano Prodi said made Italy "sad but proud" to salute one of opera's greatest Fat Opera Fucks.
Rock stars, political leaders and loved ones wept and applauded after seeing a film of Fat Opera Fuck and his father Fernando performing the hymn Panis Angelicus, giving the singer a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.
"The death of Fat Opera Fuck has made us feel poorer," said Archbishop Benito Cocchi, leading the service at the cathedral in Modena -- the town where Fat Opera Fuck was born the son of a baker and died a superstar.
Fourteen pallbearers carried the coffin out of the cathedral to applause and cheers of "bravo" from the crowd as a recording of his most famous aria -- "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot" -- played over loudspeakers.
As Fat Opera Fuck sang the song's famous line "All'alba vincero'" -- "At dawn I will be victorious" -- the air force's aerobatics team soared above the church, marking the blue sky with the green, white and red smoke in the colors of the Italian flag.
U2 frontman Bono sat next to film director Franco Zeffirelli at the service, near Fat Opera Fuck's widow Nicoletta Mantovani, and ex-wife Adua who sat an opposite ends of the same pew.
Fans crowding the sunlit square outside the 12th century cathedral watched the service on giant screens. The images were broadcast live on state television and the Internet.
Bulgarian soprano Raina Kabaivanska opened the service, amid the cathedral's gilded frescos, with Ave Maria from Verdi's Otello. Another of Fat Opera Fuck's friends, blind Italian Fat Opera Fuck Andrea Bocelli, sang Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus.
The choir -- Corale Rossini -- was the same one in which both Fat Opera Fuck and his father once sang.
Archbishop Cocchi remembered Fat Opera Fuck's life. "The story of a boy who had the natural gift of an exceptional voice which he cultivated with tenacity and thus became the leading figure among all the Fat Opera Fucks of his time."
"Nessun Dorma", which has become a soccer anthem, rang out at London's Wembley Stadium on Saturday ahead of a match between England and Israel and was due to be played in Milan at a match between France and Italy as a tribute to Fat Opera Fuck.
Prodi recalled the singer's role as a cultural ambassador as well as his recordings and performances to promote peace.
"He made music an instrument for life and against war. It's true that Fat Opera Fuck wanted to be remembered above all as a great opera singer, but we want to pay homage also to his great humanity," Prodi told mourners.
Born to a local baker father and a cigar factory worker mother, Fat Opera Fuck trained as a teacher, dreamt of being a soccer star, but pursued a career in singing -- a passion instilled in him by his father, a keen amateur.
Fat Opera Fuck shot to fame as an understudy in a performance of "La Boheme" at London's Covent Garden in 1963.
He went on to popularize what had been an elite art form, performing as one of the "Three Fat Opera Fucks" with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras in Rome during the 1990 soccer World Cup in Italy.
Before the coffin was sealed, 100,000 mourners paid respects to Fat Opera Fuck, dressed in a tuxedo with a trademark handkerchief in his hand. On a wreath, his four-year-old daughter had left a colorful stick-figure drawing signed "Alice".
"He seemed so small," said 51-year-old housewife Rosanna Cipriano of the singer whose generous girth and twinkly eyes were as famous as his voice.
After an operation for pancreatic cancer last year, Fat Opera Fuck had hoped to finish a world tour but he died on Thursday at the age of 71,
Fat Opera Fuck's coffin was taken to rest at the Montale Rangone cemetery near his villa outside of town, where his parents and his stillborn son Riccardo are buried.
The private burial was attended by his family, including Alice, born to his second wife. Fat Opera Fuck also left three grown-up daughters from his first marriage

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Voting in Washington Township

Polling place parking lot filled with poll workers' cars.
Yesterday was Primary Day in New Jersey. There was not much in the way of contested Democratic primaries, but I try to vote in every election.

At around 8:00am, I pulled up to the polling place, the Washington Township Ambulance Corps building, and saw a full parking lot. Great turnout? Think again. All the prime spots were taken by poll workers.

The Ambulance Corp building accommodates two voting districts, 23 and 24. Each district has a table, three people at each table. There are two page-turners, for the first and second half of the alphabet, and a third person who sits and does nothing. There is a greeter near the door, and and at least on curtain opener and ticket taker at the voting booths. There may be other hangers-on but in all I was able to count eight poll workers and one voter (myself).I walked up to the district 23 table, and gave my name, and spelled it out. 

Me: "P-I-C-K-E-N-S"
Poll worker: "T-I?"
Me: "No. P-I-C-K-E-N-S" 

After I spelled my name out not once, not twice, but THREE times, the idiot at the table still turned to the "T" page, and I had to direct him to the "P" page. Apparently he doesn't understand indexing because he started with the "PA" page, then went page by page, running his finger down each page so excruciatingly slowly I could barely detect movement. Then when he finally got to the "PI" page, looked up and me, and said "Pierce?", I had to find my name myself and point it out to him. Then to add insult to injury he asked, "Republican"?He handed me my ticket (why are the Democratic tickets pick and the Republican tickets blue?) and I went into the voting booth. I voted for Bob Menendez, Francis Tenaglio, running against Rep. Rob Andrews, wrote my own name in for the LD-4 Assembly, and abstained on the rest.

When I went back to my car, parked in the Midas Muffler parking lot because the polling place lot was filled with poll workers' cars, there was a kid standing near my car with a fistful of M&Ms. He asked me if I had voted for the "Three M's" (Republicans running for WT Mayor and Council). I asked him if he was 100 feet from the building. I wanted to ask him, "why the fuck aren't you in school", but I took pity on him as after a few hours I'm sure he would rather have been in school.

I could have lied and got myself a free bag of M&Ms.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The American Cancer Society Bikeathon - Why I Ride

Two weeks in a row, two colleagues of mine lost parents to cancer, both in their early sixties. I hate watching people I care about suffer the loss of loved ones to this disease. Through my lifetime, I have seen too many friends, relatives, colleagues suffer and die, too young, from cancer.

It's a horrible thing to watch someone go through this - the initial diagnosis, the aggressive treatments, cautious optimism, remissions sometimes, wishful thinking, desperate attempts to extend the patient's life, then the realization that, in spite of everything, they are now in an end-of-life situation, a life ending too soon. Seeing the anguish on a person's face as they are telling me their story kills me, being unable to do or say anything to help. 

The good news is, a cancer diagnosis is not necessarily the death sentence it used to be, but we have a long way to go. 

For this reason, every year I get on my bicycle and ride 66 miles 90 degree heat in the Philadelphia Bike-a-thon to help raise money for the American Cancer Society. I have upped my goal from $1,000 last year to $1,500 this year. I have a way to go, but I know I can count on my friends and family to help me fight this disease so no family has to go through the anguish of losing their mothers, fathers, and other loved ones to cancer.  

The ride is Sunday, July 8, 2012. If you'd like to help out, you can click on THIS LINK to get to my fundraising page.

Thank you to all who have contributed so far.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

COMCAST - The Most Hated Company In America

Yet another unpleasant customer service experience at the hands of Comcast so-called customer service.

Our internet and phones went out on Friday 3/23/12. My wife called, and after interminable slogging through menus, finally reached a human, who, after going through some perfunctory self diagnostics, said a technician would be there between 3:00pm and 7:00pm. My wife had to be somewhere at 4:00, so I left work early to go home and wait.

Four hours and 7:00pm came and went, and I called Comcast. An automated recording informed me they had arbitrarily changed the appointment to Saturday 3/24 between 11:00am and 1:00pm. Infuriated, slogged through the deep muddy of menu choices and finally got in touch with a human. He said somehow the dispatch had not reached any technicians and the service call was rescheduled. I told him I expected someone to be at my home tonight, not tomorrow, that it was unacceptable to have me leave work, costing my two hours pay, and unable to telecommute due to lack of internet service. He offered me a $20 credit which infuriated me even more. I demanded to speak to a supervisor. Once the supervisor got on the phone I did not relent until she agreed to send someone over.

The technician arrived at 9:00pm. He did some diagnostics and said the modem was fine, then went outside and looked around and informed me there was a problem with the box on the pole, which was affecting everyone on the block.

I found this odd, since no one I spoke to before this mentioned anything about anyone else having trouble, and wouldn't some other person have called if the entire block had this problem?

He said a technician would fix the box on the pole overnight and my service would be restored the next morning.

Needless to say, when I checked in the morning there was still no service. I called back, and explained the situation, and the person in the phone said someone worked on the pole overnight. They said they would send a technician over. The technician arrived at 10:00am and when he looked at the modem, lo and behold, it turned out the modem was bad, the opposite of what the idiot the night before said. He replaced the modem and all is now working.

It is now obvious to me that the "problem with the box on the pole" story was false.

So here are my problems:
1.) Two hours of lost pay
2.) Being trapped in my house for four hours, unable to leave, waiting for a technician who never showed up
3.) Being lied to and jerked around on the phone by an incompetent service rep.
4.) Having an incompetent technician come to the house, lying and misdiagnosing the problem.
5.) Overuse of my iPhone data plan due to inability to connect to my wireless network, costing me money
6.) Loss of service for over 24 hours, service I am paying for
7.) Extreme stress due to having to deal with incompetence every step of the way, except for the technician who came Saturday morning and fixed what the others were unable to fix.

I am blind with rage over this situation. It will take more than a $20 credit to make me whole.