Friday, March 02, 2007

How is Urban Life in Philadelphia

Recently, I have gotten a hits from the google search "How is urban life in Philadelphia." That is fantastic. I show up #5 on the search results for that one (probably higher now).

Urban life in Philly has its pro's and con's, but I really like it. It is not too big, like New York. But it is big enough that you an get the advantages of urban life. You can walk almost anywhere. Plenty of variety of stores (both big and small). Close knit neighborhoods. Almost any kind of restaurant of entertainment you could want.

I mention New York because I recently returned from a vacation there. My feeling was that while it was a lot of fun, it everything was just too big and impersonal. Philadelphia allows you to keep the personal touch, while still remaining urbanized. The Center City row houses are a big part of that, and they are interspersed all over the downtown area. I relish the fact that I only have to get into a car about 1 or two times a month, and even then I only drive a few miles. And, if I didn't already own a car, I'd jump at the chance to do Philly Car Share (no insurance, maintenance, and little gas).

The downtown parks are fantastic. Fairmount Park is the largest city park in the US (New York's Central Park is 843 acres compared to Fairmount Park's 9,200 acres). Plus, there are various small parks throughout the city (Rittenhouse Square, Washington Square, to name just a couple). And even well kept neighborhood parks (like this one, with two free, maintained tennis courts, a basketball court, playgrounds for various ages of children, a dog walking area, and even a water fountain play area during the summer) -- amazing.

Not that the city is perfect, far from it. But urban life here is good. Hope that answered your question.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Today

Yet another great thing about Center City. Voting is very convenient. No matter where you live, the polling place is no more than a couple of blocks away. For me, it is about one block. No line. No waiting. The whole process took about 5 minutes for both myself and my wife. That is the way it is supposed to work.

I would still prefer a system like Georgia's, where you can vote any time during the final week. But you can't have everything.

Get out today and vote.

If you live in Philadelphia and don't know where you go, use this locator to tell you the polling place.

Here are the Ballot Questions for Center City Philadelphia:

Ballot Question:
Do you favor indebtedness by the Commonwealth of up to $20,000,000 for the payment of compensation for service in the Persian Gulf Conflict of 1990-1991?

The ballot question asks the voters of Pennsylvania whether they approve of the Commonwealth borrowing $20 million to create a fund for the payment of compensation to veterans of the United States Armed Forces who served in the Persian Gulf Conflict and were Pennsylvania residents at the time of such service. The Persian Gulf Conflict was fought in 1990 and 1991 following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. If the ballot question is approved, payments will be made from the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Compensation Fund in the following amounts: (1) up to $525 to a veteran of the Conflict; (2)$5,000 to a veteran who was a prisoner of war in the Conflict; and(3) $5,000 to the survivors of a veteran who died in the Conflictor from a wound, disease, or injury sustained during the Conflict. Act No. 29 of 2006, which presents the ballot question to the voters, authorizes the Pennsylvania Adjutant General to create rules and procedures for administering payments from the Compensation Fund. If necessary to meet the obligations of the Fund, Act 29 authorizes the Governor to transfer money from the General Fund to the Compensation Fund and to reimburse the General Fund from other available funds.


Ballot Question:
Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to allow for a preference in the civil service regulations for the children of Philadelphia firefighters or police officers who were killed or who died in the line of duty?

This Charter change, if approved, would authorize City Council to provide for a preference in the City’s civil service hiring to be granted to the children of Philadelphia firefighters or police officers who were killed or who died in the line of duty


Ballot Question:
Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to require the Finance Director to issue an annual report that analyzes the participation of disadvantaged business enterprises (“DBEs”) in City contracts for the purchase of goods and services, compared to the percentage of qualified DBEs available to participate in such contracts, and that sets annual participation goals for DBEs, using such categories as Council may define?

This Charter change, if approved, would require the Director of Finance to file and publish on the City’s website an annual report setting out an Annual Disparity Study and Annual Participation Goals. The Annual Disparity Study will analyze the rate of participation of disadvantaged business enterprises in certain City contracts compared to the overall availability of qualified disadvantaged business enterprises in the marketplace. The Annual Participation Goals will set out the City’s goals for participation by disadvantaged business enterprises in City contracts for the upcoming year. City Council would be authorized to require additional related matters to be included in the report, and to define the required categories of contracts and disadvantaged business enterprises that must be addressed in the report.

*** UPDATE ***

All Three bollot questions were approved.

From the Philadelphia Daily News:

All 3 Philly Ballot Questions Garner Strong Voter Approval


Philadelphia voters overwhelmingly supported three ballot questions yesterday, favoring special payments to Gulf War vets and city charter changes aimed at promoting disadvantaged businesses and providing a civil-service preference for the children of firefighters and police who died on the job.

The disadvantaged-business issue was sponsored by City Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. It would require the city finance director to collect detailed information on the participation of disadvantaged businesses - whether owned by minorities, women or the disabled - produce an annual report and set annual participation goals for millions of dollars in city contracts.

The other charter change, authored by former Councilman Michael Nutter, would give added points on civil-service exams to the children of firefighters and police who died on the job. The statewide ballot question would benefit more than 30,000 Pennsylvanians who served in the Gulf War in 1990-91.

A bill signed into law by Gov. Rendell last spring would provide payments of up to $525 depending on a veteran's length of service. A payment of $5,000 would be made to a prisoner of war or to the survivors of a veteran who died in combat.

The payments would be funded by a $20 million bond issue, which Pennsylvania voters, like Philadelphians, supported.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trick-or-Treating in Center City Philadelphia

This was our first Halloween here in the city. We expected that Halloween is celebrated just about the same everywhere. But things in Philadelphia are a bit different.

First of all, no one rings doorbells or knocks on doors. People go out on their steps with a basket of candy and sit there while the children come around, say trick-or-treat, and get candy. Everyone chats with each other, asking you where you live, what you think of the neighborhood, and so forth. The neighbors also talk with each other. On some blocks the adults all get together and put the candy in piles on a central table together with pizza and snacks. In Rittenhouse, residents sipped wine and beer.

Halloween was a social event, not the individualistic hunt for candy. This is totally different that what we were used to. But I like it quite a bit.

Here are some tips I learned:
- Trick-or-treating starts around 5:15.
- Go to the half-blocks (the small streets between the main streets).
- Rittenhouse is the best area. Especially Delancey. Addison was also good.
- Don't go down one side of the street a few blocks and then come back for the other side. It is much more efficient to do whole blocks at a time.
- By 8:00 most people have gone back inside. Some stay out till 9:00, but not many.
- If you are handing out candy, you have to stay outside. A co-worker who just moved into the city thought she would just turn all her lights on, open the main door, keeping the glass outer door closed. The basket of candy was even right in front of the glass door. No one came to her house at all.

It was a lot of fun. By the end of the night, my son (9 months old) had gotten the hang of reaching into the baskets and pulling out shiny candy. He thought it was a great game. Too bad he will not be able to enjoy his own spoils. But we sure are happy!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

From Summer to Fall to Winter

"A bald man notices the changes of seasons well before people who own combs and brushes."


Friday, September 29, 2006

2006 PA Bar Exam Results?

Quite a few people have come across my site looking for clues about when the results to the 2006 PA Bar Exam will be released. All I can tell you is that last year, they released them over a week before they said they would on October 14, 2005.

I remember how stressful this whole time was. You have a job, but need to pass the bar to keep it. Or maybe you don't know what your job will do if you don't pass. I didn't. And I did not want to ask. Everything seems to be riding on this exam.

My heart goes out to you. I've been there. Just a few more weeks and it will hopefully all be over. The feeling that comes from finding out that you passed is amazing. Finally, your journey into a career as a lawyer will be finished, and you'll be ready to face the actual challenges of practicing law.

And to those of you who don't pass -- it is not the end of the world. Many firms will stick with you and provide you extra help to be sure you get it in February. You can do this. Everyone I know that did not pass the PA (or NJ) bar exam the first time has now passed. Every one. This is not California, where only half make it.

If you are like me, you'll still have to wait until mid November to find out about NJ. They did not release their results until November 15, 2006 -- the date they promised. Still, I knew that since the bulk of my practice would be in PA, having to re-take the NJ bar would not be as big of a deal. But nobody wants to go through the bar taking experience again. No sane person, at least.

So, if you came here looking for answers, I'll just politely direct you to the official state bar exam website: Pennsylvania & New Jersey. Now, take a deep breath and try to distract yourself for a couple of more weeks.

OK. Wow. Just checked the PA bar exam website and it now says:

Results for the July 2006 bar examination are tentatively scheduled to be
released on Friday, October 13th at approximately 11:30 a.m. The official
results will be mailed by United States Postal Service to the address registered
with the board office. If you have moved and have not advised the board
office of your new address information, please fax (717-795-8194) or mail this
information immediately. Address changes will NOT be taken over the phone.
Not much longer to wait then!! Just remember, last year, they posted the results first thing in the morning (so I would start checking the website early and continue throughout the day). Good Luck!!

[UPDATE: according to the website, the results are now being released Wednesday (10-11-2006) at 5pm. See -- I told you they'd move it up.]

[2nd UPDATE: results were posted before noon. Good luck!!!]

Free Starbucks in Philadelphia?? Not Today.

Someone in Voorhees, NJ yesterday came to my site from a google search of: philadelphia free starbucks

I wish! That would be fantastic. But alas -- the give-away was a one day event and is now long over. Sorry.

But did you hear about the Starbucks coupon the company decided not to honor? They emailed a coupon to employees for a free small iced coffee, and told them to give it to their close family and friends. So they did. And the coupons multiplied and exploded until Starbucks issued this press release:

Starbucks Response to Free Iced Coffee Email
SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 29, 2006--An email offering a free Starbucks iced coffee was distributed to a limited group of Starbucks partners (employees) in the Southeast United States on Wednesday, August 23, 2006, with instructions to forward to their group of friends and family. Unfortunately, it has been redistributed beyond the original intent and modified beyond Starbucks control. Effective immediately, this offer will no longer be valid at any Starbucks locations.

We apologize for any confusion and inconvenience as a result of this offer. As always, if customers have questions about any promotion, we encourage them to contact our Customer Relations representatives at 800-23-LATTE.

Do'oh. Caribou Coffee -- which, btw sells the BEST COFFEE EVER -- in a wonderful publicity stunt, offered to honor the Starbucks coupon, and even had a one day freebie to everyone. Good for them! Their coffee tastes so much better than the 'bucks anyway. ... I just wish one would come to Center City, Philadelphia :-(

See also :

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bar Exam 1, PMBR 0

Oh PMBR. You always said your test questions were just like the real multi-state questions. Now ... we know why. PMBR lost a lawsuit to the National Conference of Bar Examiners for using copyrighted questions taken from the official bar exam.

A better article can be found here. My favorite quote:

Fullam found that Feinberg generates almost all of the questions and explanatory answer keys used in the course, and that he admits that he uses the notes of MLSI employees who have taken the MBE. Feinberg himself has taken the MBE more than 20 times, Fullam found, and Zimmerman has taken it more than a dozen times. But to ensure that they will be allowed to take the test again, they often fail, Fullam found. "Given that these individuals are highly paid to prepare students to take (and presumably to pass) the bar exam, their failure rate is strikingly high. Mr. Feinberg, for example, failed five consecutive bar examinations in Alaska before barely passing in February 2004," Fullam wrote. "Perhaps even more startling, Ms. Zimmerman twice failed the Kentucky bar examination despite passing the essay portion, because her scores on the MBE were so low," Fullam wrote. Zimmerman testified that she failed because the MBE "is quite a difficult examination," but Fullam said her explanation "speaks poorly of either her professional qualifications or her credibility as a witness." In 2003, Feinberg was taking the Alaska bar exam -- the only state that allows test takers to use scratch paper -- and was cited at the close of the test for violating the rule against leaving the test site with notes. Fullam said a proctor confiscated Feinberg's notes and filed an "irregularity report" with NCBE.

Many people who took the bar exam in July 2006 said the questions were unlike anything they studied. Apparently, the bar examiners purposely altered the types of questions used so that groups like PMBR would be less helpful. The results should be interesting.

All that to say that I am very happy I took the bar (and PMBR) in July 2005. :-D

The opinion can be found here. PBMR has already said they will be appealing the decision.

Monday, May 08, 2006


I was talking to some friends yesterday, and the word "fungible" came up. I said that I love my two cats, but that they are fungible, so if they were to lose them somehow, I would replace them with other pets with whom I could give my love to.

Nobody seemed to understand exactly what fungible meant. Is it really that nerdy of a word? I thought it was pretty normal.

In case you are wondering, Miriam-Webster defines fungible as:
1 : being of such a nature that one part or quantity may be
replaced by another equal part or quantity in the satisfaction of an
obligation. e.g. oil, wheat, and lumber are fungible

2 : interchangeable.

So my challenge to you is to use the word today in conversation. Go ahead. Don't be scared. Let's all sound educated together! :-D

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Micah -- Welcome to the World!

One quick shout out to JV. Micah has entered the world, coming in at 10lbs 2oz and 21/5 inches. That is just a little smaller than my little one, and he is almost 3 months old. If you want to see their new addition, take a look here and here. Mother and son are doing well. Yeah!! My son can't wait to meet you face to face -- webcam conversations just aren't the same.

High School Reunion Time

I leave for my high school reunion tomorrow. They put a list of people who had RSVP'ed they are coming, and that got me thinking.

What kind of person goes back to a high school reunion? Who doesn't? Some people who are going back are pretty successful. One is a regular on a network TV sitcom. One is a state senator. But some other quite successful people aren't going. I noticed that a lot of my more "nerdy" friends won't be there, and I realized I really wanted to see them. I have come to realize over the years that a lot of nerdy people are quite interesting to talk to. They are often the ones who have thought things through, and have interesting opinions about life.

I think most of the people going back did run with the popular crowd. I didn't, but I think I will still have a good enough time to make it worth going to. We'll see. I'm not the most outgoing at such social events. I generally say I don't really like people. It is probably more accurate to say I don't like crowds of people I don't know very well. I prefer more intimate settings with people who I already know. The reunion should be somewhere in between -- people I once knew, but haven't seen or talked to in years.

Anyway, time to pack. Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Free Starbucks Coffee ... but

I heard it on the CBS Today show this morning. "Free Starbucks coffee." I google it and got this result. The first link explained that you get a free tall coffee from 10am to 12pm today (03/15/2006). I went accross the street at 9:50. Perfect timing, at 10:00 I was the first in line. Got my free tall Verona, and all is good with the world.

I should mention that as I left, at 10:03am, the line wound around the inside of the store, then outside, and was starting around the corner. It looked like a 30+ minute wait for a little coffee. That's probably not worth it.

If you can avoid the wait, though -- enjoy!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ok, I'm Back Now!

Being a father is amazing. An infant is so small, so vulnerable, so helpless. Everything is new to him, and he looks out into the world trying to take it all in and make sense of it. Every little expression he makes, each new look he gives, every new wiggle he explores as he learns how to control his arms and legs -- every one is awe inspiring. He astounds me.

We celebrated his three week birthday yesterday. That's right, already three weeks. Time is flying by and I am trying to hold on to each moment I can. I don't want to miss any of his "firsts."

So, while I will try to blog more, right now, he needs me. And I need him. I don't know which of us requires the other more.

And Now, A Little Politics

Here is a great article by Jane Galt. While I am not especially political, this is an excellent piece analyzing the state of politics, espcially the democratic party, today. Here is a teaser:

That gets batted around every so often, and it (understandably) enrages liberals. And yet, it seems to me that there's a kernel of truth there. Not in the literal sense: liberals do not vote Green or Democrat just because they like the logos. But the left, as a movement, does not have any very coherent Big Idea that it can sell. The Movement doesn't agree on much, except that it hates George Bush. Orwell to the contrary, hate does not sell particularly well in American politics.1 Fear . . . now, fear sells. But only if it's at least quasi-believable, which, to the vast swath of the American public, "George Bush is planning to lynch minorities and put everyone else in illegal detention camps" doesn't. Fear only works if the majority of American voters believe that whatever they are supposed to fear will happen to them, not some comfortably anonymous nobody in a far-off state.

Here He Is

Saturday, February 04, 2006

My Son is Born!!

This week, my son was born. He was over four weeks early, but weighed in at a comfortable 6 lbs 10 oz. Both he and my wife are home from the hospital and recovering well. Although I am biased, I must say he is the cutest little baby I've ever seen!

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Stolen from TSC:

Four jobs you’ve had in your life:
1. Veterinary Assistant (I love animals)
2. File clerk (filing 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for an insurance company)
3. Police Officer
4. Intern for the District Attorney’s office

Four movies you could watch over and over:
1. Star Wars (the original)
2. Say Anything
3. Monty Python, Search for the Holy Grail
4. Die Hard (I, II, & III)

Four places you’ve lived:
1. Atlanta, GA
2. Nashville, TN
3. McLean, VA
4. Center City Philadelphia, PA

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. The Simpsons
2. Survivor
3. Amazing Race
4. The McLaughlin Group

Four websites you visit daily:
1. SCOTUS Blog
2. Dilbert (& Dilbert Blog)
3. TSC Girl
4. Opinionistas
(I’d add Legal Insanity, but it is down right now…)

Four of your favorite foods:
1. Spaghetti
2. Mongolian Beef (Chinese)
3. Chicken Tikki Masala + naan (Indian)
4. Chicken Parmigiana

Four places you’d rather be:
I am happy where I am.  I think I’ll stay, thank you.

Four albums you can’t live without:
Can’t think of any right now.  I’ve been painting the nursery all day.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Pictures From the Second Ultrasound

Here are the new ultrasound pictures. These were taken at 7 months on a newer machine (4-D) so the resolution is better than the last set of ultrasound pics. They may be more difficult to make out though because the baby is so much bigger now. Whereas before, the entire baby fit in one frame, now just a part of the child does. These are of the baby's face (on the right). The second one shows only the mouth, but the others capture the full face pretty well. Except the last one -- that is of the spine.

Everything looks perfectly normal. The baby is now 4 lbs 1 oz. Only a couple more months to go! I can't wait, but my wife really can't wait!

Also, here is a newer recording of the baby's heartbeat. The louder sharper thumps (for the first 8 seconds or so and most of the recording) are the baby kicking. The more pounding sound is the heartbeat. These were taken with a digital recorder, then edited with audacity and converted into mp3 using LAME. (Thanks again, JV, for hosting the sound file)

Silly Putty at Google

I love Silly Putty. But I think some people might love it a little too much.

Clay Bavor, an associate product manager at google might. He discovered that Silly Putty can be ordered in bulk. So he got together with some friends and ordered 250 lbs of Silly Putty. That is a lot of Silly Putty. Only he found out that separating the Silly Putty was not as easy as it might seem. The pictures are definitely worth a look!

Google & braille

Did you see the Google logo today?

If you click on it, you get this.
Apparently, this is Google in braille. Cool.

Living in Center City Philadelphia

“Is there a chance the track could bend?
Not on your life, my Hindu friend.”
The Simpsons, Marge vs. the Monorail (season 4)

That is to say, I think I have gotten a little off track.

Center City Philadelphia . . . .

I moved into Center City Philadelphia.  I now live in Center City Philadelphia.  I love Center City Philadelphia.

I am purposely repeating Center City Philadelphia because I want search engines to pick it up.  I did a search today for other Center City Philadelphia bloggers, and was quite frustrated.  I did find a few, but not many.  I’ll post some of what I found another time.  But my own blog did not even show up.

Then I realized why.  How often do I mention Center City Philadelphia?  Barely at all.  And it is a shame too.  I really like Center City Philadelphia.  I moved here (Center City Philadelphia) because I wanted to live in a healthy, lively urban setting where I could walk to work, church, shopping, and almost everywhere else I want to go.  

That being said, I want others searching for Center City Philadelphia bloggers to be able to find this blog.  I also hope to write more about the Center City Philadelphia and living in Center City Philadelphia.

So, by repeating Center City Philadelphia a few times, that is what I hope to do.  If you found this post through a search engine and you were looking for a blog by someone in Center City Philadelphia -- then let me know.  Drop me a comment.  Then look back (or forward) at some of the other posts.

I’ll try to post more about Center City Philadelphia too.  It is an awesome city (Center City Philadelphia, that is).  I’ll try to write more about Center City Philadelphia too.  My previous posts about the underground pedestrian concourse are some of the most viewed posts(1, 2, 3).  That is probably because there is not much else out there about them (I tried searching for info last summer and was pretty disappointed -- that’s why I posted the info and pictures I did).

Anyway, I think I have mentioned Center City Philadelphia enough now.  If not, I’ll say it one more time: Center City Philadelphia.  There.  I said it again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More on Tunnels

[original posts: The Underground Pedestrian Concourse & Update: Pictures of Tunnels]

Chris emailed a comment that I thought was worth mentioning.  He apparently took pictures of the different maps in Philadelphia’s underground pedestrian concourse and pasted them together to create a pretty nifty map.  Take a look!  He did a really good job.  This was not as easy as it might seem.

One thing to note, though – I don’t think you can take the tunnels as far as Race Street, even though the maps indicate you should be able to.  I think this portion is permanently closed.  I never figured it out at least.  I’ve made it as far north as Arch and come out inside the building across the street from City Hall, but that is it.  Next time I have some time on my hands, I’ll check it out.

Chris, have you actually made it that far?

I am not Craig.

The security woman who works evenings at my building is friendly, but in an uncomfortable sort of way.  Ever since I started working there she has been especially friendly.  She asks me how work is going.  Why am I there late.  What I think about her hair.  

All that was odd enough, but then she started asking me about other people.  Other people I don’t know.  Then, she started calling me by name.  Craig.  Only my name isn’t Craig.  She did it in such a way that I really couldn’t correct her without it being embarrassing for her, so for the last month or so I have been Craig.

Then, today I left work at an unusual time for me.  I rode the elevator down with a guy who had a similar coat and hat on.  We walked over toward security together and the security woman looked at him and said, “hi Craig.”  Then she looked at me.  Total confusion.  She started to say something (probably “you aren’t Craig”) but stopped.  I just smiled and said goodnight.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Glannon's Examples & Explanations

Another blog recently posted about seeing Joseph Glannon in person. For those non legal types, he is the man that wrote the best Civil Procedure study guide on the market. No other book even comes close. I still refer to it at times. Good stuff.

Anyway, today I was thinking about an assignment and remembered a particularly interesting section of the book. Right in line with the Christmas story. . . .

Chapter 10 -- Easy Erie: The Law of Rome and Athens

A Personal Fantasy

It is December, and the pace of the first year of law school is picking up. Glannon Sits numbly in Civil Procedure class. The professor is droning on, quite learnedly. Subject: the Erie doctrine. Glannon cowers as unobtrusively as possible in the middle of the class. All around him, students listen intently, with apparent
comprehension. Glannon understands nothing.
Suddenly, the Archangel Gabriel appears, hovering resplendent above the class. No one else takes notice; the discussion moves on obliviously. Pointing a star-studded scepter at the object of his visit, Gabriel speaks. “Glannon,” he declaims, “listen well, for you, you shall be called upon to explain the Erie doctrine to a future generation of students.”
Astonished by the apparition and appalled at his message, Glannon streaks from the room. After a long convalescence and many setbacks, he takes a job watering flowers in a nursery.

From Civil Procedure: Examples & Explanations (4th Ed.).

Monday, December 05, 2005


I took my first case to court on Monday. My first case all by myself. Not much. Just small claims court. We are defending the case as a favor to a large client.

But I won. I won. Ok, so the other guy didn’t show up. But I was ready. And I did show up. I moved for a dismissal and it was granted! Go me!

But now, there is nowhere to go but down. I am 100% victorious. Even if I win my next case, I will still only be 100%. Perhaps I’ve peaked. Is it all downhill from here?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Philadelphia City Hall Lit Up at Christmas

City Hall looked cool for the holidays. Every night in December, it was lit up in color using lights.
Here are a couple of pictures I took:

These were taken on the same night. The first is from the west side, the second from the east side. The pattern changed every few days. The Philadelphia Inquirer covered it too.

Posted on Tue, Nov. 29, 2005

This Holiday, See City Hall in a New Light:

Starting tomorrow, the east and west portals will be lit up with brilliant hues in a bid to attract tourists to Center City.

By Marcia Gelbart
Inquirer Staff Writer

It's finally here: some positive light for City Hall.

In a move intended to spur a new type of tourism, the century-old building will be lit up this holiday season in an array of colorful schemes projected onto its east and west portals.

Designed by a French production company, the light display will be unveiled at 5 p.m. tomorrow and continue from 5 p.m. to midnight through Jan. 1. The color schemes will change nightly.

The idea is to build Center City into "a tourist draw where people come in to see
the lit buildings," said Paul R. Levy, president of the Center City District, which is sponsoring the light display.

City Hall is the only participant this year. But, Levy said, "we hope other major building owners and cultural institutions are inspired to expand this effort all over Center City next year."

Tomorrow's event will coincide with Mayor Street's lighting of the traditional City Hall tree, with one nontraditional element.

To prevent any interference with the new light display, the City Hall tree won't be at City Hall. It will be a block away, at JFK Plaza.

In recent years, small portions of City Hall have been illuminated by colorful fluorescent lights. But this year should be "completely different than anything we've done," Levy said.

The cost for the project's design and installation is about $300,000, he said, some
of which is being borne by the Center City District and the Market East Improvement Association.

Levy came up with the idea after returning from a lighting conference in Lyon, France, where he also met the president of the French production company, Artlumiere.

"I realized," he said, "that what we had done in Philadelphia was kindergarten compared to what they did in Europe."

To see more of the patterns, look here. Even more pictures of the Philadelphia City Hall decorative lights here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

He Killed My Mother....

One of the two best Seinfeld episodes with the best endings was on tonight.  The Secret Code (summary).  After George has repeatedly refused to give out the code to his ATM card, he is sucked into an evening with J. Peterman.  Peterman’s mother takes a turn for the worse and George ends up staying with her as Peterman takes a break.  George confides his code to Peterman’s mother, who is unconscious, but suddenly regains consciousness and screams the code repeatedly: “BOSCO!”  Peterman runs into the room to hear he scream it but has no idea what it means until later George is forced to give out his code to save a man trapped in the ATM vestibule.  The episode ends with George reading the latest Peterman catalogue:
The Rogue's Wallet.
That's where he kept his card,
His dirty little secret.
Short, devious, balding.
His name was Costanza.
He killed my mother.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Blog Additions

Cool new blogs that I have been reading:

The Dilbert Blog
This is written by Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip.  I like the way his mind works.  His topics lately deal with evolution v. intelligent design.

You Can't Get Arrested for Being Awesome
Another law-related blog written by a current law school student.  Still, it stands out as a nice, well written mix of law content, humorous news, and entertaining observations.

I haven’t been reading Under Their Robes lately, but no one has.  After the MALE writer revealed his identity, the blog went behind a password and disappeared.  Turns out he is a US Attorney in NJ.  The blog was a catty look at federal judges, viewing them as celebrities and “hotties.”  … interesting, but gone – and probably will not return any time soon (if he keeps his job, that is).

Two for Two

I found out last night that I passed the New Jersey Bar Exam too!!  I thought the NJ exam this year was much easier than the PA exam, but maybe I was just too knocked out after 2 days with intense pressure and almost no sleep.  Whew. I’ll push those memories away now …

NJ published the results by candidate ID number yesterday evening, which was the day before they had announced the results would be available.  I came home from work and checked the website and was floored.  Then I couldn’t find my candidate ID number.  After searching through everything I realized that the only place I had it was in a file at work.  I ended up walking back and getting it.  But it was all worth it to have that peace of mind.

Congratulations to all those who were successful.  My heart goes out to those who must try again.  The pass rate was 70%.  Since over 3000 took the exam, that means that over 1000 people failed.  Ouch.  

A special shout out goes out to TSC, another successful NJ candidate whose blogs entertained me this summer.  Thanks for writing.  Keep it up.

For those in California, you are in my thoughts and prayers (results are scheduled for Friday at 6:00pm PST).  They are the last of the bunch, the most patient in the country.  On top of all that, the pass rate there is hovers only around 50% in the summer with over 7000 test-takers.  Now that is painful.  But if you are from CA and waiting on the results, stay positive – that won’t be you.

Friday, November 11, 2005

How can I post audio files!!??!!

I have a digital recording of the heartbeat, but I can't figure out how to post it.  ARGH!  I signed up for audio blogger, but they only let you phone in the audio (and the sound quality will be so bad then, it will just sound like static).  Any ideas?

[Update: Thanks JV!  He has graciously offered to host the audio file.  You can find it here:  Heartbeat...].  I’d still like to figure out some way to host it locally here, but this will do for now at least.  You rock!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Update on the EC701 Espresso Maker --

(old post was:

I got the espresso machine just like the VP of DeLonghi said. After 3 days it broke. Again. The lever / knob that turns the steam spray on broke off. When I called the customer service line, I got the same runaround. After searching through my papers I found the VP's number again. He sent another one last week. I've only used it two times, but it's held up so far.

The weird thing is that the machine really doesn't work as well as the other one. The crema layer is much thinner, and the froth doesn't get as thick. The thing that irritates me the most is that the space where espresso pours into is too short -- I can't fit my regular cup into it. I have to take out the drain piece. Not a terrible thing, but annoying.

We'll see how long this one lasts ...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Ultrasound pics...

The little one is coming along great. Growing bigger every day. Here are our pics from the ultrasound. #3 kind of freaks us out.

Friday, October 14, 2005

I passed the Pa Bar!!

For those of you holding your breath for the last 3+ months ... I passed the Pa Bar Exam.  NJ will not release results for another couple of weeks or so (mid Nov), but I don't have much to worry about there.  I thought the NJ exam was much easier, and I did well enough on the MBE (the multiple choice test that is applied to both states) that I would have to really bomb the NJ essays to have not passed. 
This was all quite a relief.  Everything was built on passing the bar: the job, which pays for the house, where we will bring home the baby -- everything was done assuming I'd pass.
It was a bit funny how I found out.  For some reason, the examiner's emails haven't come to me.  I have no idea why.  So when they emailed out when the results would be posted, I didn't get it.  I did check the site later and found out, though.  It was supposed to be on a Friday.  My family was coming into town that Friday and we were travelling to a family wedding.  I decided I wouldn't tell anyone -- that way, if I passed I could surprise everyone and we could celebrate; if I failed I wouldn't tell anyone and enjoy the weekend, then tell everyone next week.
Well enough, right.  My father ruined it.  He checked the Pa Bar website and saw the same announcement.  He asked me about it and I had to come clean.  D'oh.  But what he didn't know is that they moved up the date one day earlier (I didn't get that email either).  My wife called me at work thrilled.  I still managed to surprise him and we all celebrated.  Yeah!
After I found out, I asked a partner at the firm what happened if someone did not passed.  He said that it had never happened, but that it "would not be good for my career."  Ouch.  Sounds like no guaranteed second try, huh?  :-(   At least I don't have that to worry about now.
Thanks to all those bar exam bloggers that have entertained me this summer.  I enjoyed sharing this horrible experience.
Shout out to:
GG at -- one of the most entertaining of the lot.
... and many others.
Best of luck to everyone who has yet to find out (I think only CA, NJ, & NY are left)...
Another chapter in my life closed.  Time to move on!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Worth reading...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

How to get a better Espresso Maker...

This is a long and convoluted story. It all began over a year ago, while I was in law school. WestLaw, one of the research databases, offers "points" for using their system. They do this so that you will only use their system and become dependant on it. (Lexis does the same thing). Anyway, in September 2004, I used my points to get an espresso maker from Delongi. I got the DeLonghi EC140B Espresso and Cappuccino Maker.

It came in October 2004 and worked well. It made excellent espresso, it frothed wonderfully. I started drinking 2-3 lattes a day. I loved it. It was priced at $99, so I figured I had gotten a pretty good value.

Then, in January, the light that indicates when the machine has finished warming up stopped going on. Everything else worked fine. I figured the bulb was probably out, and decided to take it into a local repair facility to fix it while it was still under warranty. That was when my troubles started....

I brought it to the store in late March. They said it would take about a week, and they would call me if it could not be repaired and needed to be replaced. I thought that was an odd thing to say. She said that the light may be indicative of deeper problems. They would open it up and find out and let me know. I didn't think too much more about it -- after all, it was just a light. The machine worked fine otherwise.

Sure enough, a week later they called me to tell me that the machine could not be fixed, and that a new one had been ordered. It would take 4-6 weeks. They never could tell me exactly what was wrong with it. And they would not let me have the machine back while I waited bacause it had been taken apart.

So I waited. And waited. And waited. After 4 weeks, I called and they said it was still on order. After 6 weeks I called again, and they said that they should have told me 6-8 weeks. After 8 weeks I called again and they said they could not do anything about it because they were waiting for it to be shipped from Delonghi's warehouse.

So, I called Delonghi. They said that it was delayed because they warehouse that it was supposed to ship out of was all out. They couldn't tell me how much longer it would be, but they would get back to me. A few days later, they called me back and said I should get it within the week.

About a week later, it arrived. Well, not really. What arrived was a much lesser model (the DeLonghi BAR140 Espresso Maker with Exclusive Pod System) that had been used. It was dirty, chipped, and didn't work well. This model also sells for about 1/2 the price (52.99). It only draws one shot at a time, has much less power, and was much smaller (I couldn't even use the same cup underneath because it was too tall).

So, I called their customer service to complain (1-800-322-3848). I spoke to the same person. She was pretty helpful, and said she would "escalate" the complaint. A higher up would call me back. And one did. The vice president of US sales called me back and apologized profusely. He said that he was appalled at what had happened and said he would send a UPS label to me to return the product so he could investigate. In addition, he would send me an upgraded model, brand new -- the DeLonghi BAR42 Pump-Driven Espresso Maker (retails at around $275).

I got the machine in only a couple of days (now the end of May 2005). It was very nice. Much bigger than the first machine. It worked nicely, but really, I would have been just as happy with a new one of my first model.

Then, the unthinkable happened. It broke. And I mean really broke.The steam pressure stopped working, and the water just barely dripped out of the filter. I couldn't believe it. This was only the beginning of July. I had used it for only a little over a month. And it was broken.

I called customer service again, and she said I had to take it to the same repair store I had gone to before. But I had already played that game. I asked to speak to her supervisor, and she said one would call me back. In the mean time, I found the VP's number (the one who had called me before) and left a message telling him what had happened. The next day, customer service called back and said that a new one (of the upgraded model) had been ordered for me.

So great, right? I waited. And waited. And waited. It is now the end of September. Still no machine. I called back yesterday and they said they would check on it, and that because it had been "escalated" they did not have any other information available to them. They would have to check with the VP.

So today the VP called. Apparently, the other (newer) model has been discontinued. They now say they are sending me an even more upgraded model -- the DeLonghi EC701 Espresso Maker. It retails for about $300.We'll see what happens. But during my 9 month adventure into Delonghi's customer service, I have noticed that the web is littered with people complaining about not only the quality of their products, but also their customer service.

DeLonghi BAR140 Espresso Maker with Exclusive Pod System

DeLonghi EC140B Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

DeLonghi BAR42 Pump-Driven Espresso Maker

DeLonghi EC701 Espresso Maker

You would think that problems such as mine would be fairly easy to fix. But somehow they are not, or at least haven't been. I don't know if I would ever get one of their products again (I am glad I started this journey off with a free one at least). While each issue has been resolved, given enough time, it has been like pulling teeth to do it. Hopefully, the new espresso maker will work. So far I have gotten seven months of use out of the machines in the last year. If I can get at least another year out of it, I'll feel some sort of vindication.

Well, that's my rant. Hope you enjoyed reading it. Let me know if anyone else out there has had similar problems with DeLonghi. Also, can you recommend a good, high quality espresso maker ... just in case.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Update: Pictures of Tunnels

Emailed Update

I haven't posted in far too long. We are now completely moved in (though nothing is put away), I started my new job and have been working for 3 weeks, and -- oh yeah, my wife is pregnant, due in early March. We are finally telling people.

City life so far has been wonderful. I love walking to and from work, and the atmosphere is incredible. My wife and I started going for walks each Friday to a different part of Center City. The first week we walked up to Market Street, and then over to Front Street. We found a lot of exciting night life and a number of good restaraunts. We found 2 Indian restaraunts in particular that seem worth a try.

Last week we walked over to Rittenhouse and toured the Barnes & Noble. The place is absolutely huge for a city store. We slowly looked around and made an evening out of it.

This week we walked down South Street to Front Street. It was quite the party atmosphere. South definately has a unique flavor. We also stopped by the oldest part of the city (down 2nd between Spruce & South) and looked at some historic sights. COOL. I highly recommend it. It definately gives you a sense of the history of the city.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Underground Pedestrian Concourse

My topic today is: The Underground Pedestrian Concourse.

I am still researching this nifty little Philadelphia secret. The above picture is one of the few pictures of its maps I was able to locate on the internet. Once we move in, I will try to photograph the maps myself. There are 2 or 3 that I know of. They are in the tunnels themselves, and most of those are not in good shape. SEPTA apparently doesn't like to advertise them too much.

Here's a little bit of history. From what I have been able to discover, these tunnels were created as part of Edmund Bacon's rennovation plan in 1963. Here is an excerpt from the written materials I found on-line at


Written Material to Accompany a Mostly-Underground Tourfrom 30th Street Station to Market East Station

By Harry Kyriakodis (


I have compiled and edited the following material from a variety of sources and from personal investigations to serve as an introduction and guide to Center City Philadelphia's transit infrastructure. The text contains a wealth of interesting information and little-known facts about how these rail systems and stations came to be, what happened to them subsequently, and what will happen to them in the near future. I've included several photographs showing how they appeared in the past, plus a few recent newspaper stories about them. This material can be used in conjunction with a tour of the rail networks described. I think this stuff is fascinating.


Almost all Penn Center buildings and nearby subway and commuter rail stations are linked together by the vast underground pedestrian concourse network running under J.F.K. Boulevard, Market Street, and most area cross streets, walkways and courtyards. Edmund Bacon's concept of a hidden, weather-protected concourse connecting urban office, transportation and retail facilities was innovative at the time and influenced other cities, as well as Philadelphia's subsequent Market East Redevelopment. Furthermore, the Penn Center complex includes an underground roadway that trucks use to service and supply the buildings. This significantly reduces the number of trucks traveling over and loading/unloading on the streets above. The entrance to this no-outlet road (called Commerce Street) is on 19th Street between Market Street and J.F.K. Boulevard.

Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania Railroad significantly compromised Bacon's plan—with enlarged buildings and less open space—to be more economically rewarding to the company. Thus, Penn Center and the underground concourse network became less pedestrian friendly and less attractive overall. Legitimate concerns about crime and homelessness in the area became evident as the years passed. And this type of overwhelmingly bold city-sculpting has been somewhat discredited since the Center's construction. In fact, Penn Center has been cited as an example of poor city planning, lamentable in the spare geometry of its boxy buildings and its disregard for the traditional street's vitality. However, there are plans to improve and enhance Penn Center and its concourse system. This should help make getting around the complex more appealing to downtown workers.

I have found the underground tunnels fascinating. I first discovered them during the summer of 2004. I found that if I took the PATCO subway into 12th & Locust, I could actually make it past City Hall entirely underground. The way is not intuitive, the tunnels don’t always go where they seem to go, and the maps are very hard to figure out. But after a few weeks of trial and error I figured it out. This was especially nice in the rain, when all I had to do was cross the street, and the rest was underground.

For my new job, the tunnels actually connect to the building I will work in. Further, an entrance to the tunnels is right around the corner from my new home.

The tunnels are delightful. They are fairly clean and well lit. At certain points, they are incredibly wide (more than the width of a 4 lane road). I don’t know how they are at night (I am sure the homeless use them for shelter in the winter), but they appear safe. They pretty much mirror the RED, GREEN, and BLUE subway lines underneath Center City.

I’ll post some pictures once I get settled.

[update: More on tunnels]

Sunday, July 31, 2005


Today was a wonderful, relaxing day. Church, a nap, a walk around the park. We even put one of the cats on a leash so she could walk with us. I can't wait to move into the city, but I will miss the greenery of suburbia. I haven't had as relaxing a day all summer. It was very nice! But now, we've got to get things in gear for the move. We haven't started packing at all!

Our closing is Wed, but after looking through the closing documents, several changes have to be made. Our contact with the mortgage company won't be back from her vacation until Tues. I hope things won't get too sticky.

Friday, July 29, 2005


This is my initial blog post. I am starting this to records my thoughts and such as I begin a new phase in my life. I just completed law school and taking the PA & NJ bar exams. I am now moving into Center City, Philadelphia; buying a house; and starting a new job.

So much change. It gets a bit overwhelming. But this is all good change. And I am looking forward to all of it. This blog will hopefully record my thoughts as I shift my life, and allow friends to keep up with what is going on.

If you happen to read this, let me know. I love your comments!!