Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tales of the Philly PD

Wyatt Earp wrote about an incompetent Philly cop that reminded me of my favorite Philly cop story that happened around 1997. I was driving two college kids back to church after picking up some groceries with them in Upper Darby. We were heading east on Market at about 50th street, and were stopped in the right lane when a bus stopped to pick up some passengers. Well, the car in front of us got impatient and tried to get past the bus. The driver must have been really impatient because he overshot the middle lane and slammed into the car driving in the far left lane. I was tempted to just leave, but with two impressionable kids in the car, I decided to do my civic duty and present myself as a witness to the crash.

So I got out of the car and went to the crash scene, and the guy who got hit was a Chinese guy who had almost no command of english. The perpetrators of the crash were two young guys who looked very nervous. They start arguing with the Chinese guy about whose fault it was (it was definitely not the Chinese guy's fault, as he was simply driving in his lane when the other guys rammed the rear corner of his car from two lanes away). Very soon, a police van rolls along, and so the Chinese guy and I approach it to explain what's going on. In it are two women officers who look like this is the last thing they want to deal with, and they stay in the van while speaking to us from the driver side window. Since they're getting angry because they can't understand what Chinese guy is saying, I take over and explain what happened. While I'm speaking, one of the guys who started the crash starts to walk quickly away, while the other starts to drive away in another direction. Seeing this, both the Chinese guy and I excitedly exclaim to the cops that they're making a run for it and that they (the cops) should catch them! Now, what happened next I'll never forget. Both the cops get really upset and with some major attitude say, "Uh uh, you don't speak to US that way! YOU don't tell US what to do!" I can see where this is leading, and since there's no time to lose, I quickly calm the Chinese guy down and say in a polite and calm manner, "Officers, the guys who rammed into this guy are leaving the scene..." I try to describe the car and what direction they went in, but as I was trying to do so they just drive off in mid-sentence!! Unbelievable!!

So now the Chinese guy is really distraught because of his wrecked car, and I'm upset at myself for not noting the license plate number of either the car that got away or the police van (I was too shocked). A few minutes later, another cop comes walking along and we explain the situation to him, and he is very sympathetic and courteous, but there is little he can do if we didn't get the license plate numbers. So I end up leaving dumbfounded. I had seen this kind of police apathy in New Orleans, but this was my first negative experience with Philly cops. Now, I have a lot of respect for hard working cops and think for the most part that they are grossly underpaid and under-appreciated, but can't FOP or the city do anything about these bad apples?! Anytime one has a pretty much guaranteed job, what incentive does one have not to act this way?

Monday, November 21, 2005

How to Write Unmaintainable Code to Ensure Job Security

I once had to take over development and testing a very poorly written VB/Oracle client-server app that was developed in Honduras. Needless to say, all the comments were written in Spanish. After much wrangling, the original developers were hired on as consultants to help decipher the whole mess. Here's a tongue in cheek guide on how to write unmaintainable code in order to make yourself indispensable as the only person who can decipher it, therefore guaranteeing your job security for years to come, at least in theory (via Slashdot).

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Calvinist Humor

Here's a funny picture that's been circulating around some blogs (via TulipGirl). For those who don't get it, see here or here.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cheesesteak Heaven

Although it's practically heretical to even think about eating a cheesesteak outside of the Delaware Valley, The Best Philly Cheesesteaks provides reviews for cheesesteak joints all across the country for those who have the craving and just can't get to Philly.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Dirty Restaurant Secrets

Here's the website for the Virginia Department of Health. You can see how your favorite restaurant did on their last inspection. The violations range from pretty trivial to really lawsuit-worthy. It's also a pretty handy guide to see a list of all the restaurants in each county.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Cheesesteak Construction

Oh, how I miss eating a real Philly cheesesteak! Here's a page that delves into the perennial question of Pat's or Geno's. He goes into a pretty detailed analysis of each ingredient.

For me, Pat's wins hands down. It's less a matter of the individual ingredients than the overall construction. Here's how they order their ingredients when they build their steaks.


  1. Bread
  2. Meat (greasier; to some, a negative, but for me a plus)
  3. Onions
  4. Cheese Whiz (slapped on top)

(all ingredients taste fresher and seem to be of a higher quality)

  1. Bread
  2. Cheese Whiz (thinly spread)
  3. Meat
  4. Onions (coarser chopped, spicier, and less cooked)

Now Pat's is superior because since the meat is in contact with the bread, the juices get to seep into the bread and meld with it (the greasier beef helps). Also, the heat from the meat tends to rise, thus further melting the cheese on top and creating a deliciously messy slurry of cheese, onions, grease, and juicy bread.

Geno's, on the other hand, spreads their cheese on the bread first, and then slaps the meat on top. The thin layer of cheese acts as an insulating layer, so the juice from the meat can't penetrate into the bread. Also, the cheese doesn't melt any further all that much, as the heat is radiating mostly upwards and away from the insulating cheese. Then you've got your too spicy onions on top all alone (you've really got to cut the spiciness by mixing with cheese for optimum flavor). Sometimes the onions get put under the meat, but this depends on the preparer, and doesn't help much since there's not enough melted cheese to produce a slurry. This adds up to a steak where instead of all the flavor elements fusing together into a hot and greasy mess, the steak is more sterile with each flavor element being neatly separated from the others, and tends to be drier.

The bottom line is Pat's is the flavor champ due to its scientifically proven construction of melding all the flavors together. Geno's is just OK, but it's really popular for those who demand fresh quality ingredients, a clean decor, and a neater and easier to eat steak.

Oh, and ya gotta get a bunch of the free cherry peppers to go with your steak!! Mmmm...