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April 2008
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June 2008

May 2008

Higher Education Web Symposium

It is one of the worst kept secrets on this blog that I work at the University of Pennsylvania. It is a great place to work, which might explain why I have been here for over five years, and they seem to like me around here so that's good (and they are ok with me blogging like a mad man, and doing Fork You, and running TUAW, and doing other freelance things which is nice). Anyway, I was at work the other day and one of my co-workers told me that my name came up during a planning meeting for the Higher Education Web Symposium which Penn Medicine is hosting (being driven, one assumes, by the SOMIS Web Team).

I thought it odd that my name would come up during the meeting, since I have nothing to do with Web Design in general nor do I have anything to do with this Symposium. It would seem it was requested that I blog about the Symposium, so blog it I am. Now, I don't know if this was an actual request or just a joke (I mean, who really wants a mention on Blankbaby? Not too many people I would wager) but I figured why not post about it?

If you're in Philly on July 15/16 and are interested in Webby stuff, you should check out the agenda. Looks pretty good to me, though there isn't a session on blogging. What's up with that?

I love my iPhone, though I never call anyone

attusage.jpgI have lots to blog about (including some cool pictures I took over my brief vacation this Memorial Day weekend), but I thought I would share this little nugget of info.

I finally got around to filling out the paperwork for reimbursement of my cell phone charges. To do this I had to log into my AT&T account. While there I figured I would check out my usage numbers, as seen to the right.

Yep, I have used a total of 7 minutes of talk time out of an available 5,450 this month. I'm thinking I don't talk on the phone much.

Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper


Sweet, sweet Pepsi is my first carbonated love (the Mexican type especially, since they still use pure cane sugar), but a little over 3 years ago I decided that I should really cut back on my Pepsi consumption. They only problem was that I hated diet soda.

I then found Diet Dr. Pepper, which tastes more like Dr. Pepper than you would think, and all was well in soda land. I wasn't in love with Diet Dr. Pepper, but it filled my caffeine needs adequately.

Then the wonderful folks at Dr. Pepper introduced the best diet soda known to man: Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper (unlike the atrocity that is Diet Chocolate Cherry Dr. Pepper). There was a time when the Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper (henceforth to be called 'DCVDP') flowed like water. You could walk into any store in Philly and get yourself a little can of wonderful. Then, out of no where, the DCVDP river dried up. Sure, once in a cherry moon (see what I did there?) I would discover a cache of the stuff, but it looked like my love affair with the good Doctor was coming to a close.

That is, until I went to Lancaster County. I was there for a certain wedding but whilst there Marisa wanted to do some antiquing (which is lady talk for "let's look at old crap we don't need being sold by people who are at least as old as the dusty artifacts they are hawking"). I was parched, so we stopped at a Turkey Hill Convenience store and there was great rejoicing.

The picture above shows me in my moment of triumph: the store had some DCVDP and so I did what anyone in my position would do: immediately grabbed every bottle they had. Then I thought about it a second, and put most of them back leaving me with 3 bottles of ambrosia.

Luckily for me, it would seem that DCVDP is making a comeback in the Philly area. My local CVS had some in stock last night (and I bought another 3 bottles), so I am hoping that means the DCVDP flows again.

Wedding in a barn?

Becky on Brides MagazineMarisa and I headed to Lancaster County in the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside to celebrate the marriage of our two friends Becky and Eric (they met via a combination of a blog post and a Google search. Blogging makes things better!).

The wedding itself was lots of fun, as one might expect from a wedding in a barn. I was worried about what the appropriate attire is for a barn wedding, so I just wore my fancy dress shirt and some nice khakis. It seemed to work.

The highlight of the evening, since the happy couple had actually married themselves with a self uniting marriage license earlier in the day, was the pig race. Seeing 4 cute little pigs run around a track is lots of fun, and I recommend it to everyone.

Check out all my pictures from the happy event here. You might notice that Becky and Eric are in very few of the photos. My only explanation is that whenever I hang out with Becky she tells me not to take her picture, so she has conditioned me not to snap her pic (though this one of Marisa and Becky is very nice indeed. Becky looked great in her blue dress, and Marisa is always pretty).

I ran a 5K and met the Mayor


Awhile ago Roz asked me if I would run a 5K with her and some other folks. Roz knew that I wouldn't want to do anything of the sort, but managed to somehow convince me to do it (mostly by paying the entry fee for me, and promising me that no one cared how long it took me to finish). I agreed, using the typical short term thinking that most humans have. The race wasn't until April 19th, and surely the Earth would be destroyed by then and the race would be canceled. I wouldn't actually have to run the darn thing.

Imagine my shock when I woke up on April 19th (very early on a Saturday morning, I might add) and the world was decidedly undestroyed. I hadn't planned for this course of events.

With a heavy heart I donned my Viddler tshirt (Viddler represent!), my New Balance 992's (best sneakers ever), and my running shorts to run 3.1 miles outside.

Before I continue this story it is worth noting that I had never, until only very recently, ran 3 miles in a row. This was some cause of concern, but not as much as the fact that I had never ran more than 1 mile outside in my life (I had to run a mile in Central Park 8 times in high school. Once a year we had to take the Presidential Fitness Test, part of which was running a mile under a certain time. I would run a mile the first time, and not do it under the needed time which meant I had to stay after school later in the week and run it again, just so I could repeat my embarrassing failure. Yes, I did go to Catholic High School. How did you guess?). Many people told me that running outside was completely different than running on a treadmill, which I found plausible but that wasn't going to stop me (for some odd reason).

Marisa and I walk to where the race was, meet up with the team (Go Team!) and Roz hands me my number (862). We do some stretching, and my anxiety increases. I look around and see that everyone with a number is in much better shape than I am (not too shocking, of course). I was doomed. DOOMED!

I thought about faking an injury, but I figured Marisa wouldn't believe me so I scraped that idea.

Off to the starting line we went. I don't recall a gun going off, but when lots of other people started running I took that as my cue that the race had begun.

Less than a minute in I nearly knocked over an elderly woman who was running the race (and passing me, I might add). This didn't seem like the most fortuitous start to my racing career.

Off I went, running on the road like some sort of... running guy. It wasn't bad at all! Running outside wasn't so different than running at the gym, though the ceiling was a little higher and there wasn't a TV to ignore.

The first mile was great. I did it in 9 minutes 40 seconds, which is pretty good for a fat guy, I think. Sadly, I don't think I paced myself well. Just before the 1.5 mile mark I had to start walking. That's when lots and lots of people passed me.

I soldiered on! I saw a table with cups of water on it, so I went in for a cup. That's when I found out someone who was running faster than I was had knocked all the cups off the table mere moments before. Bastard.

Knowing the race was half over made me feel a little better though, and so I began to run once more. I'd like to tell you that I ran the whole second half of the race, but I didn't. I walked about 35% of it, but I made sure to run the last 500 feet or so (mostly because I wanted to impress Marisa. It was all in vain though, since she didn't even see me cross the finish line.).

Soon I passed what I thought was the finish line and slowed a little. That's when I heard the race officials yelling, 'The finish line is a little further up! Keep running!'

Now, I'm no 5K organizer but I would imagine someone would of thought, 'you know, having this thing that looks like a finish line right before the finish line isn't that great of an idea.' What do I know?

The race was finished, and I did it in 33 minutes and 3 seconds which works out (somehow) to a pace of 10:40 minutes per mile. Not too shabby for my first 5k.

I started looking for Marisa who I assumed would be at the finish line waiting my triumphant finish (oh, foolish me!). I found her standing where we all had gathered before the race started, not even within view of the finishline. I was all like, 'WTF.' And she was all like, 'STFU!'

Ok, I was more like, 'Hey, I thought you were going to watch me cross the finish line!' And she said, 'Oh, I was over here talking to Shay. I didn't know you wanted me to actually see you finish.' I, of course, thought that was the whole point of the race. Luckily, there was free ice cream and I can never get too upset when free ice cream is in play.

Off I went to get my free ice cream from Ben and Jerry's. I was standing in line and I noticed quite a number of people in front of me didn't look like they had just ran a 5k. Many of them were wearing jeans for goodness sake! It seems to me that the people who just ran 3 frickin' miles should get first crack at the free ice cream, but once again the ways of the 5K are new and mysterious to me.

After having those bitter thoughts I got my small cup of sweet, sweet ice cream. It looks like vanilla fudge ripple which is one of my favorite kinds of ice cream ever so I shoveled it into my mouth with gusto.

That's when I thought I was having a stroke.

cakebatter.jpgI am very familiar with how vanilla fudge ripple ice cream should taste. I have had it on numerous occasions. This, my friends, did not taste like vanilla fudge ripple ice cream. It tasted, much to my shock, very much like yellow cake with chocolate frosting and vanilla ice cream. This taste is not unpleasant, on the contrary it was quite delicious. I walked back to where Marisa was standing and let her have a taste, not mentioning what flavor of ice cream it was (I'm clever!). She seemed to enjoy it, and said, 'Oh, this must be their new Cake Batter flavor.'

I wasn't having a stroke after-all, I was experiencing a taste sensation.

After I finished my ice cream, we had to stand around for a while and wait for Mayor Nutter to announce the winners of the race. Sadly, our team (Go, team!) did not win. That didn't stop me, however, from getting my picture taken with mayor.

After he announced the winners he stepped off the stage and was surrounded by well wishers. I decided that this was an opportunity too good to pass up, so I lurked by the mayor until I could get his attention. A few minutes went by and it looked as though the mayor was going to leave without acknowledging me, but then I caught his eye (I mean, look at me, how could I not catch his eye?). I asked if he would mind having his picture taken with a large, sweaty man and he was OK with it.

That Michael Nutter is alright in my book (and a snazzy dresser!).

The race was over, and everyone started to walk towards the Art Museum. Roz thought it would be fun to get a picture of us all standing around the Rocky statue. As we walked towards the statue I jokingly suggested we run up the Art Museum steps in celebration. Surely, no normal person would want to do that after having just ran a 5K, right?


Everyone thought that was a great idea, and so we did it. Then we cavorted around the statue.

Check out all the pictures over here.

This was my first 5K, but I am betting it won't be my last (crazy, huh?).