My Year 2014

I was trying to remember my past year in food, music, movies, books and adventure so I started trying to compile it from my calendar, Facebook, photos, amazon orders and the like and while I was doing it I figured I would just make a blog post about it. It’s a long one, but I think this covers my year pretty well. Enjoy.

January

My new year started off with a crazy terrible flu like illness. I remember sleeping with a sweatsuit, hat, gloves and super thick socks and still waking up shivering while I was trying to sleep. The best part was that Sam had to dig my car out of the snow to take me to the hospital (I insisted since my fever had gone up to 103 all of a sudden and I had about had it for being sick). Apparently I only had the flu and they sent me home. Also capping off a lackluster month I had officially broken up with Sam and she had moved out. It was very rough getting adjusted to that.

We also had a bunch of snow. I remember one day coming home from work and waiting out in a blizzard for an hour for a bus. Another day Lila and I were snowed in due to a major storm. There were many days my car wouldn’t move an inch due to its summer tires. (flash forward to today and have I gotten new tires yet? Um. No)

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Lastly, Lila got lice. I cut off all of her hair. She then proceeded to look amazing with her super cute buzz cut. But overall that experience was insanely trying!

Achievements : Got a vasectomy, Finished my Underdogs menu (my 10850151_10152508627001658_2615187121954706849_nfist is on the wall there!)

Movies : Blackfish (an awesome documentary about captive whales and animals.. it pretty much killed Seaworld)

TV : The first amazing show of the year? True Detective. Wow. Best line from January however was in Girls : “If you died the world would blur. I wouldn’t know what a tree was.”

Soundtrack : I had discovered and fallen in love with “Songs: Ohia”. Particularly “Blue Factory Flame” and “The Black Crow

February

Now this is the way to start off a month. It turned out that some of my best and oldest friends were having a “girls weekend” in Miami. I really needed to get away so I begged to crash and they said yes so on Feb 1 I landed in Miami and proceeded to have a fantastic weekend. Thank you to Starr, Dara, Sylvana and Brandi!

Then later in the month I headed to Annapolis to help Starr and Jeff rebuild their bathroom2014-02-08 18.30.58. Driving home I almost died 2 times on I95 due to the fact that there is a blizzard happening and my car refuses to drive in snow of any kind.

My friend David came over and took some photos of my beautiful child.

In The News : It’s alleged that Woody Allen molested his daughter.

TV : Legit season 2 (though sadly it was cancelled). Nick Elmi wins Top Chef. The Sochi Olympics happen and they have the most amazing opening ceremony I’ve ever seen (even with the broken ring thing) 2014-02-07 21.56.05. But for the second month in a row Girls kills it : “”Which real housewives locale is most appealing to you? … Um, the one in Prague?”

Achievements : My Lobster Mobsta Card is filled out and put on the wall at Lukes Lobster. Yummy! Lila releases an amazing video on Facebook.

Food : I discovered the Good King. Wow!

Movies : I start to watch all of the Academy Award Best Picture nominees : 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips are first up.

Music : Listening to Midlake a lot. My friend Ben introduced me to them. I love the track “Roscoe

TV : I give Season 2 of House of Cards a shot. This is the post I write on FB just before I start “Little girl is asleep. Time to see how Frank Underwood is doing. If he kills anyone though, I’m done.”. So you know how that went.

Food : I have a terrible meal at Stateside. It’s no longer my favorite rest.

March

March was filled with a bunch of life. Nothing super special happened but I know I watched a lot of movies and played a lot of boardgames.

Movies : I finish up watching my nominees and post about them (8 out of 9 seen) and then watch and see who won and I retweet the now famous Ellen Selfie.

Games : I got my copy of Caverna. This becomes one of the most played games I own.

Adventures : Sam and I start going to hang out with the Penn Board Game club.1977053_10151997702911658_1086002616_n

Food : Studio Kitchen was my winner in March. I also tried Noord and was not impressed. But I did fall in love with Bufad pizza!

Best quote of the month : “His cologne smelled like Novocain”

Music : I discover War on Drugs, and also listen to a bunch of Beck “Morning Phase“. Also I go and see Arcade Fire with a friend. It’s been a while since I saw a super big concert.

TV : Girls still killing it. This was an amazingly awesome season.

Books : First I finish Fooling Houdini which is a cool book about magic. I love magic. But most interesting is this book called The Martian which if you are in any way a nerd you will totally dig. This guy gets stuck on Mars and has to survive there using all the MacGyver he can muster.2023110878

April

This was a cool month. It started out with a 2 week jury duty where I really felt like we the jury did our duty as we spent 3 days deliberating all the fine points of the evidence. It was super rewarding.

Also, my friend Heather got married in April and she thankfully does the wedding up here in Philly instead of her new/original home in Alabama.

My other friend Amanda gets almost kicked off facebook for posting photos of herself.

Theatre : Theatre Exile puts on “Anapurna” and I end up seeing it 3 times. It was quite good. Are you a subscriber?

Music : I meet, hang out with, and end up supporting the Weathervane Project. You should too. These guys produce the Shaking Through series (which is amazing!)

Books : This was the magical month where I started to read the Silo Series which I think was my favorite of 2014. If you want to start, get book one : Wool.

Food : Cook with Sam and we are fed by Jason Cichonski.

Best Quote : “What you do, who you’re with, and how you feel about the world around you, is completely up to you.” – Mike Rowe

May

May is Magic Mickey Month as we take Lila to Disney for the first time. She had an amazing time.

Had a great trip to NYC where I got to check out Sushi Nakazawa and also see NPH do Hedwig which was easily my favorite Broadway experience ever.

Art : I start seeing pink everywhere.

Movies : a new Wes Anderson movie???

TV : SNL shows us what it’s like to be a real DJ.

Food : I reviewed Sushi Nakazawa on Yelp. But my favorite meal of the year happens at the end of May when Sam and I accompany a couple of friends to eat at Laurel!

Books : I read a cool non-fiction deal in May called Flash Boys about high frequency trading. It was quite good.

June

June is highlighted by an amazing meal cooked by Jason Cichonski at my house! image_9If you were there, you know how awesome it was! We also started an adventure club and kick it off with paintball.10407190_10152151525631658_6354806728784798772_n

TV : The Leftovers premiere.. but yea, no. Billy Bob Thorton kills it in “Fargo”, And Game Of Thrones ends its season. I need more GoT!!

Music : I discovered Damien Marley. The Master has come back. This guy is my summer soundtrack!

Book : The Todd Glass Situation. Not a bad book. Pretty good if you like Todd Glass.

July

Best thing that happened in July was our Adventure Club trip to upstate New York on our camping/canoeing trip : The Seven Carries in Saranac Lake.

July was also a month of huge debate over the Israel/Palestine conflict in Gaza. I actually lost a few friends over this one. On a lighter note, my friend Mickey has her 50th birthday catered by Talula’s Table. Yummy! I move into a new office and decide to hang my Lego Imperial Star Destroyer from the ceiling. I fail miserably. I should have used the Kragle.

Lastly was another Adventure Club trip, this time to Centralia PaP7200024.

Quote : from Reddit : “If all the original members of a band were replaced, most people would argue that it’s not the same band. But a sports team replaces all of its members after a certain number of years, and it’s still the same team.”

Movie : “Side by Side” : a documentary about film production and the usage of digital over film made by Keanu Reeves!, “Sound City” : a doc about a soundboard and an amazing recording studio. Tim's_Vermeer_2013Tim’s Vermeer” yet another documentary. This one about a mad genius non painter who paints a masterpiece using his incredible ingenuity.

August

One great adventure happened. Me, Eammon, Tim and Vincent climb a mountain (a small one called Mt. Tamminy).P8300018

I also get to do some sailing at the Corinthian Yacht Club. This proves to be my only time in a sailboat all year 🙁

Also, construction (digging) finally begins on the new Comcast Center and I immediately become enthralled. I have always wanted to see a skyscraper built and now I have a front row seat!

Podcast : I discover and love 2 amazing podcasts. First is 99% invisible. Here is a perfect example of the kinds of things they do. The other is “Love and Radio”. Check out this episode about a back man and the KKK.

Food : I find and fall in love with The Rim Cafe!

News : Ferguson. 10402005_10152657145523812_6765801101544552358_n

Quote : “Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.” – Fahrenheit 451

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Obsession : I can’t stop buying Swatch watches!

Movie : “Maindentrip” : how in the hell does a 14 year old girl circumnavigate the earth on a tiny sailboat? Watch this and be amazed. And I re-watched “Buffalo 66“.. still love it.buffalo66
Book : “A Mile Down” Here is my review : “This guy is the biggest moron I’ve ever seen. The number of mistakes he made from minute one are just incalculable. He was too naive a businessman and too trusting of people and just not suited to be running a charter business. However, I do have one positive thing to say : This guy is a dreamer and unlike me and many other people with grand plans and ideas, he actually had the balls (stupidity?) to actually try and follow his dreams no matter what and I have to respect him for that! Read this book and tell me if you agree.”

September

September started quite well with Lilas first day in Kindergarden. Then it took a shaky turn. I had been riding my bike to and from work every day and one morning I had a major crash. Luckily I wasn’t hit by a car but I did get some serious road rash.10498658_10152331109596658_8503952837272077689_o

Then, mid-way through the month, my car gets rammed while minding it’s own business.

I went up to NYC to the People’s Climate March. I didn’t know what to expect but I ended up moved to tears as I marched with 400,000 other people through the streets of New York. It was amazing.10625041_10152353508111658_663319703902372788_n

Adventure : I saw this wonderful exchange at Love Park in September.

News : The Fappening happens. Followed shortly after by David Chase telling the world that Tony Soprano died in the final episode of the Sopranos. I told you so! (one of the most intense explanations ever is right here. Read it. I have 2 times)

Tech : I join ello. Crickets.

TV : Utopia on Fox. What a piece of crap.

Food : As part of my trip up to NYC for the march, I spend the evening on a ‘date’ with my friend Dara. She takes me to not one but two amazing places : Oysters at the incredible Maison Premiere, followed by a really splendid meal at Vinegar Hill House. Go to these places!

In Philly I discovered a pretty damn fine burger at Good Stuff.

Music : Tom Yorke drops “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes”. I listen to it a bunch but it’s nothing special.

TV : I start to watch and get addicted to “The Chair“.

Quote : “This is not a partisan debate; It is a human one. Clean air and water and a livable climate are inalienable human rights, and solving this crisis is not a question of politics. It is our moral obligation” – Leo DiCaprio

October

October was filled with a little bit of insanity. Like really. Part of it was in my dating life and the other part was in a huge work project that I took on. The work project ended up successful, the dating part resolved itself though it took me a while.

One fun thing I did was the Hunt For Red October Lobster pub crawl which was benefiting Nichole Canuso Dance. Me and a couple of other friends competed hard and won many of the trophies. I also met some new dancer type friends. This was a great night!

One of the most awesome things I did all year happened in October. It was Escape the Room. Me and 9 other friends had an hour to escape a room filled with puzzles. It was so intense and really a ton of fun. You should do this. I wish I could do it again (and I’m not the only one).

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Once again to end the month I was happy to be part of what is seemingly becoming a tradition with me, Sam and her friends : The Henri David Ball. This year we were the cast of Twin Peaks.

Theatre : I went up to NYC to see Then She Fell. I’m so glad I did. Immersive theatre at it’s best. It was super.

News : The pope drops a bombshell on Creationism.

Movies : Coherence. This movie kicked it!

Media : I discovered the really cool short series “& Teller

Books : “Command and Control” : an epic journey from the invention of the atomic bomb all the way through today. I learned so much about the American Nuclear program! This book is highly recommended!

TV : Penn and Teller Fool Us. Just gorgeous tv (if you like magic).

November

I am sitting in Rittenhouse square, freezing holding a rose. It’s the coldest day in recent memory and I have just a simple jacket on. And I’m waiting and waiting and waiting when finally a woman walks up and I give her the rose. This is one of many she gets this day as she meets her fiancee at the end of her journey and they kiss and they will be married.

Theatre : Red Speedo opens. We have the best swimming pool anywhere!

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Art : I went to the Barnes. Here is what I had to say about it : “Holy Fucking Hell. I have just had one of the most amazing aesthetic experiences of my life. Renoir and Van Gough now have new meanings to me. But even more is the building and the presentation. Just incredible.”

Quote : “If this were 1600s Salem, that catch would be grounds for stoning” .. from here.

Movies : Hunger Games on Thanksgiving was pretty awesome!, also “Jodorowsky’s Dune” .. this is an amazing Documentary about a genius at work.

Media : I fall in love with, and watch about 1000 times a 6 second vine clip. It’s here (scroll down).

Music : I listen to this Weathervane produced epic track by Lushlife over and over again. I’m listening to it now in fact. Are you? Also A lot more Songs: Ohia. But my favorite thing in Novemeber is the release of the newest Royksopp Album called “The Inevitable End“. It’s catchy as fuck.

TV : No doubt the best thing I saw all year on TV was an episode of Frontline called “United States of Secrets“. It was about the warrantless wiretapping that started after 9/11 during the Bush days and continues pretty much to today. What makes this show incredible is that they interview the people involved. None of this would be possible without Ed Snowden. Watch This! You need to do it. Do it now!

December

December was a good month, but the best thing that happened was the fact that I won my Fantasy Football league. Yes, I know that sounds dumb but for 5 years I’ve been obsessively reading stats and reading blogs about football and trying to get the right combination of luck and skill together to win this and I finally did. Interesting fact of the season? I didn’t watch one full game of football all year!

Space : The Orion launch happens and I am blown away by the tracking video footage of it’s reentry. It’s simply incredible.

Food : 2 times I was able to get to Studio Kitchen!

News : The Senate Torture report came out and it was a bombshell.

Music : Phillip Selway drops a solo album and it’s not too bad. Here’s a cool track.

Movies : Best movie I’ve seen in 2014 and maybe more : Birdman. I loved this film. It was funny, it was thought provoking, it was technically amazing, it was acted so well.. Wow. It was great! I also saw The Interview. It was funny, but nothing amazing.1926691_10152541831421658_7207903560707214603_n

TV : Black Mirror. This show really made me think a hell of a lot. Also Mike Tyson Mysteries.

Milestone : 1 Bit ALU prototype

2014-12-15 15.57.41It’s been a really long time since I did any work on my Relay Computer (older posts here). In fact, it’s been almost 2 years. For whatever reason I finally got inspired again and I got back to work. The next step was to start laying out the actual schematic for the ALU. So I chose a PCB manufacturer pretty much at random and downloaded their toolkit and started building out the schematic.

My vision is to have 4 identical boards each filled with an identical copy of the 1 Bit ALU. Once they are all wired together I will then have the 4bit ALU module which will be the heart of my Relay Computer. So I needed to come up with a design for the PCB. Step one in the PCB creation process is to have an actual schematic mapped out with all the connections between all the components that will be on the board. In my case the only component is the relay I chose so setting up the software was pretty easy. I just had to draw out one relay component and then start wiring them all up and placing them in an organized layout. 2014-12-13 14.16.43The schematic took up 5 pages. Here they are if you’re curious : ALU-a ALU-b ALU-c ALU-d ALU-e  .

Next up, I needed to make sure my schematic was good so I had to whip out the breadboard and start building the circuit. It was surprisingly easy work and there were only a couple of bugs in the schematic (very minor ones and they aren’t reflected in the PDFs above).2014-12-13 14.43.44 Here are a few pics of the building as it was progressing along. 2014-12-13 14.49.292014-12-13 17.32.092014-12-13 18.16.23-1
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Next I needed to wire up some simple switches and an LED array for the output and then I needed to test it all out. Once I was done I made a little video for you all to see. Until next time!

Some of my favorite SNL skits

In no order

Best in the Business : This was the original Homeland skit with Anne Hathaway

(let me take a second to say how annoying youtube is. When I search for these clips I get 100’s of things and not what I want.)

(let me now take a second to say how dumb SNL/NBC is : These skits are in the past and letting people see/embedd them can only improve viewership so why not make these easy to find/show people?)

Wes Anderson

Needs More Cowbell : Will Ferrell is ridiculously funny in this one

Phil Hartman as the Caveman Lawyer

The original Sean Connery Jeopardy skit

Lonely Island : Dick in a Box and also Jizz in my Pants

Some Media

I was giving out a lot of recommendations for media lately so I figured I’d compile it all here.

The first thing I want to highlight is a tv series called Black Mirror. Wow. This show is pretty awesome. It is 6 one hour episodes and it was made by Channel 4 in the UK. blackmirrorEach episode is stand alone but they all follow a theme in that they imagine some scenerio that explores our relationship with our internet connected smart devices. Right now it’s streaming on Netflix. So go see it while you can!

Next up is a cool movie I saw a little while back called Coherence. coherence-2014-review-rearrange-your-brainThis film reminded me a lot of Primer (which you should also see if you haven’t) even though it’s not really about time travel exactly. It’s more about parallel worlds. After I watched it I did some research and learned a lot of really cool things about how it was made and the process the creators used to get the really interesting performances from the actors. I urge you to do the same.

And then there is this cool little movie I saw recently called Locke. The reviews weren’t all together awesome but I liked this film a bunch. What makes it unique is that is staged in real time in a car. maxresdefaultThere are no other setups. It’s just a dude in his car talking on his cellphone. It has a unique tie in for me in that he is a cement foreman on a job site and I’ve been obsessively watching the building of our new Comcast building next door and coming up soon is a big cement pour for the foundation.

So in the 70s there was this director named Alejandro Jodorowsky. He was a very artistic genius filmmaker. In 1974 a couple of frenchmen optioned the book Dune and brought in Jodorowsky to make a movie of the book. This guy took it to 11.maxresdefault (1) He cast Salvatore Dali (for $100,000 an hour), Orson Wells, Mick Jagger to star and brought in Pink Floyd to do the soundtrack and HR. Geiger (of Alien fame) to do the art. The movie was going to be completely epic in scope and execution. But sadly, it was never made. Jodorowsky’s Dune is a movie about this experience. It was an incredible story and this film captures it spectacularly!

And now for something completely different. After 9/11, Chaney and Bush took it upon themselves to completely change the mission of the NSA to focus on surveillance inside the USA on US citizens. We all knew that. (who remembers the warrantless wiretapping scandals?).

frontline-the-united-states-of-secretsBut what we didn’t know was all the stuff going on in the government bureaucracy at the time. There were whistleblowers and leakers and there was a ton of very interesting intrigue going on while the White House was pushing through it’s agenda. In an absolutely incredible documentary that interviews many key players involved and that wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible bravery of Edward Snowden, Frontline produced “United States of Secrets“. I know this may sound boring to you but I assure you that it’s told in a very interesting and compelling way. It’s simply an incredible story and it’s told so thoroughly. Take 2 hours of your life to give this a watch!