Thursday, May 26, 2011

Morning Records: Briefcase Full of Blues by The Blues Brothers

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: my Dad brought me up right. At 12 months, I was listening to Bruce Springsteen. By the time I was three he was telling people to buy me John Cafferty and Johnny Cougar albums. Hey, it was the early 80's - what were you listening to at age three?

Jeff-09.jpg
Me, sometime in 1980, likely listening to something from the Jersey Shore that wasn't a total embarrassment to the human race.
I learned a lot about music from my Dad. Even years later he was still schooling me; he introduced me to Portishead. Musically he put me on the right track and let me go it on my own from there. He also amassed quite the collection of records, something I enjoyed rummaging through in my early teens.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Is Three years on Twitter worth Celebrating?

I suppose you could call it a milestone; I'm celebrating my three year Twitterversary. Yep, I joined Twitter on May 22, 2008 and as I near my 4500 tweet, I've been averaging about four tweets a day since. As a web designer and content manager, it is sort of my job to know, understand and use, but as a Twitter user, I'm completely apathetic. I find myself questioning it's purpose once again.

My brush with celebrity; Crystal Method direct message me after I mention them in a tweet while running.
I'm sure many people would argue with me, including the folks at Twitter, but I consider it nothing more that a communication service; a utility. Just like the telegraph, telephone and email, it delivers messages from one person to another person or group. There's no smoke. No mirrors. It's great for blasting out my thoughts, photos, videos and geo-location, but I just can't see it as anything more than a soapbox.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I've been married to my True Love and Best Friend for 365 Days!

I really can't believe that it's been a year since I married Morgan Lynn Smyczek!

When we started talking about anniversary gifts, Morgan mentioned that she thought we should stick to the traditional wedding anniversary gifts. The first year is PAPER!?!? What do you get someone for their anniversary that is made of paper?

I read a bunch of anniversary gift ideas and there was a recurring theme about printing photos or commissioning a piece of art. Well, I'm not necessarily an artist, but I do work in design, so I commissioned myself to work this up.

Our vows, key wedding theme elements and out favorite wedding photos, printed as two 8x10 prints and mounted in matching frames. View Larger
After literally a year, I finally posted our lo-fi wedding video. No time like the present! Honestly, the video has been done for quite some time, but I just never got around to rendering out an HD version for the web. There is something hilarious about pushing out a HD version of a video that's layered in lo-fi effects.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Today the Space Shuttle, Tomorrow... Oblivion?

Born at the tail end of the 1970's, I've always lived in a world where man has set foot on the moon; where space wasn't a dream, it was a reality. The space race was something that we'd already won. There was no doubt that the United States would be the leader in space exploration.

The Space Shuttle program held the promise of reusable, reliable and frequent access to exploring the final frontier. And it looked cool. If you had to choose between a space capsule on top of a rocket and a space shuttle, which would you choose? Crash land in the ocean or land your spaceship on a runway? Exactly.

My earliest memories of our space program are framed prints from the first launch on the first mission hanging on my uncle's wall. Something just like this:

STS-1 Launch
NASA launches STS-1 on April 12, 1981 from Pad 39A. Commander John Young and Pilot Robert Crippen are the first astronauts to man a maiden test flight. They complete 37 orbits and spend 54 hours in space aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. Photo courtesy NASA.
In spite of the collective badassery of the Space Shuttle I've just laid out, the only real memories I have are the disasters. I watched Challenger break apart 73 seconds after lift-off from my grandparents living room. Too young to comprehend the magnitude and loss of life, I responded with a childish 'how cool'. The ignorance of innocence.

I watched Columbia break up on re-entry on February 1, 2003. The national news broke in to whatever Saturday Morning cartoon I was wasting time watching and I didn't leave the TV for hours.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spring Cleaning and Making Stock and Chicken Soup

Despite the 50° temperature, cloud cover and rain, it's actually spring. And for whatever reason, I felt the need to clean up the apartment. I mean serious clean. I bleached out the onion cabinet, washed the kitchen floor, emptied, sorted and reorganized the front closet. Serious. Cleaning.

One of my coworkers once commented that she expected my house to be spotless all the time, as my desk is typically uncluttered and clean. Sadly, this isn't the case. We pack quite a bit into this small space and if you don't put something back in it's place right away, thinks get out of hand pretty fast. Add in the never ending dust and it's easy for our place to look like a disaster.

People watching at the West Side Market
If you don't shop at the West Side Market, you really should.
I don't know why, but I always start cleaning in the kitchen and Morgan always takes the bathroom. And for that, she is a saint, because I hate cleaning the bathroom. It's not because it's the bathroom, it's because there are so many different surfaces to clean and they all have tight corners and small spaces. I just don't have the patience. I'm more of a spray it down with cleaner, let sit and then wipe it up. I do kitchens well, bathrooms, not so much. To my Lovely Wife: THANK YOU!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Brewing up my third Home Brew, a Belgian Blonde

While I'm still not ready to call myself a "Home Brewer", I'm happy with my home brew results so far. In early February I brewed a Winter Ale and I followed that up with an American Strong Ale in late February. I was pretty happy with the American Strong and the Winter Ale was very drinkable.

Prepping my gear and supplies
The family always ends up with some sort of Memorial Day function and I thought it would be cool to debut a nice summer brew there. Well, somehow it's the first week in May and I'm only just brewing, but whatever. Beer is just as tasty on June 11th as it is on Memorial Day.

This morning I started working on a Belgian Blonde Ale. Morgan is a big fan of the Indigo Imp Blonde Bombshell and I've yet to brew something she really enjoyed, so this is my latest attempt. A variation on pale ales, the most common Belgian Blonde is Duvel, which is now available all over CLE. Just like my first two brews, my Blonde is a kit from Midwest Supplies.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mexican themed Easter Dinner by a bunch of Polaks

My wife, Morgan, and I are both part Polish; she's fifty percent and I'm something like a quarter. Many of both of our family traditions are based, at least in part, on our Polish heritage. But we're also adventurous, so when Morgan's sister suggest we do a Mexican themed Easter Dinner, I said 'barbacoa, baby, barbacoa!'

Mise en place, everything looks better in it's place
I have no formal training in the kitchen, but I've loved cooking since I was a kid. I was making grilled cheese and ramen noodles by the time I was 8 or 9 and have been tossing stuff in pots and pans ever since. I love to try new things in the kitchen, so in spite of never making barbacoa before, I knew I could pull it off.

I'm not the best at following a recipe, I'm more of a concept guy. On Good Friday I read several different recipes about how to make barbacoa. Saturday morning while we were eating crepes at the West Side Market, I thought about what I read and whatever I remembered got added into my plan.