Dave

<a href="http://silvercreek78250.blogspot.com/">Dave</a>
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Sunday, May 31, 2009

A-Team and Timberwilde Students Paint and Have Fun...

On Saturday, members of the Great Northwest A-Team, a volunteer group responsible for many of the projects that help keep the area looking nice, along with students from Mr. Shawn Vidal's Gifted and Talented program at Timberwilde Elementary School, donned reflective safety vests and took to the bridges, fences and other tagged surfaces in The Great Northwest, to give a fresh new coat of paint.Several dozen students, parents and A-Team volunteers met at the school, mixed buckets of paint, donated by the City of San Antonio Graffiti Task Force and the office of outgoing District 6 Council Member Delicia Herrera and her staff. Incoming District 6 member Ray Lopez stopped by to make sure the efforts Councilwoman Herrera started will continue.Mike Yager, head of the A-Team, said that "When you get a group of good kids like this, the work goes by fast and everyone has fun." And thanks to the great weather on Saturday, it wasn't oppressively hot, but just in case, Andrew Solano from District 6 delivered cases of water to the busy painters to make sure everyone stayed hydrated.Splitting into several groups, the volunteers, young and old covered areas in Ridge Creek, Silver Creek, Timberwilde and areas near the GNW Library.There is no doubt that the tagging of fences and bridges and utility boxes is a problem in our area. A handful of vandals with nothing better to do than destroy the community is really pitiful. But to see the energetic kids from Timberwilde get out in force and demonstrate what real community service is all about is certainly heartwarming.When the painting was done, the group headed back to Timberwilde where volunteers enjoyed hot dogs and refreshments.

Would you like to get involved with projects like this? You don't need to have any special skills, just a willingness to come out and meet your neighbors, do some easy labor for as little as half an hour if that is all the time you have, and appreciate your community beyond the confines of your front door. Learn more about the A-Team here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Central Park Carousel...

This entry is a continuation of previous blogs about our recent visit to NYC. You can see the previous post here.

Following Times Square, the next place on my agenda for things to see in NYC was Central Park. If you look at a map, you can see just how much space this place takes up.


Needless to say, we were not going to be walking from one end to the other or checking out every nook & cranny along the way. But what we did see was amazing.
The sheer number of people out jogging and riding bikes and walking and playing ball - all in the middle of the day during the work week was incredible. I mean, they can't all be tourists, right?This one couple, in my mind anyway, were probably flashers. Do you suppose this man forgot his pretend pants legs?



We walked around a little, then heard the sounds of the carousel and decided to take a look. When we got there, nobody was on it and we thought maybe it was closed. As we started to walk away, a lady with two little kids walked up and bought tickets, so we decided to go for it ourselves.
At one point, we had to be doing 45mph. The kids in front of us liked it but I nearly pee'd myself.

After the ride, we realized that if we wanted to try to get anywhere close to the Statue of Liberty, we really needed to get a move on. So we left Central park, only seeing maybe one tenth of its beauty, and headed for the subway. Another cool adventure that I'll tell about later.

Snack Report: Philly Cheese Nachos...

Thursday afternoon, my wife and I had an hour to kill before our flight departed Philadelphia so we thought it prudent to grab some vittles before the making the trip back to San Antonio.We found a sports bar in Terminal E called Chickie's & Pete's which is apparently a well established crab house franchise in the area. Aside from the obnoxious color scheme on the menu (black background with red letters), it was a nice little place to grab a beer and a snack. I addition to a pretty spiffy display of old beer cans, they have lots of photos of the owner (I assume) posing with the various sports stars and local celebrities that spend time getting ready for a flight. Thankfully, they have big labels on each picture identifying members of the Philadelphia Flyers for those of us who don't follow hockey. Either way, if you intend to spend $11 on two beers, it might as well be in a nice place.We considered splitting a cheese steak but thought that might be pushing it, what with several hours of flight ahead. Instead, we opted for the lighter version - an order of cheese steak nachos. Simply brilliant. And no, in case you are wondering, we didn't get two orders, I just took pictures from both sides to help you, the reader better appreciate the awesomeness.

They used the red tortilla chips, lots of those over sized jalapenos that aren't very hot, and those red sweet peppers. Plus, black olives and lots of the drizzled cheese over the whole thing. The side of guacamole was actually pretty tasty.

Got an hour to kill in PHL Terminal E? Give Chickie's & Pete's a try!

Lunch Report: Mr. Cod...

This is one of those cases where both my wife and I walked into a restaurant planning to throw down our cash, take a few bites, take a few pictures and if it wasn't good, we'd simply walk out and head next door to What-A-Burger. The fact is, with all the bad reports from readers (which we do appreciate, by the way), we could have easily just skipped it and moved on to the opening of the next restaurant in the area.

Thankfully, we didn't.
Not even ten minutes before going to try Mr. Cod, our neighbors gave us a mixed review of their own experience. There was an issue of consistency in the cooking, some complaints about fries (chips), no iced tea, and only having ketchup as a condiment.When we walked in, business was brisk. The place was clean, and getting cleaner by the minute as the owner walked around with a spray bottle and towel cleaning windows and doors and tables and such.

The restaurant was transformed from the old Pizza Hut (soon to open across the street), and it is suddenly a lot brighter inside. The booths were clean and comfortable, and the entire seating area seems pretty roomy.

My wife and I walked up to the counter, both ordered the lunch special which includes a hunk of fish (cod), a trip to the salad bar, chips and a drink. $5.99 each. As a test, I ordered tea (since one reader mentioned the tea machine was not working), and it was available and good.
While we waited for our order, we went to the salad bar to load up on green food. The salad bar is one of those types where things are chilled, so the lettuce and fixin's were nice and chilled (as they should be). The only casualty was a chunk of sliced egg I grabbed that seemed to be frozen. Aside from that, no complaints at all.Before we had even finished making our salads, the fish and chips were delivered to our table. Both of us took time eating our salads, because I think we were pretty much worried about what we would find once we started on the main course.I scooped up the last black olive from my salad bowl and reached for the bottle of malt vinegar located on the table next to the ketchup and the Cholula. Important Note: Though tarter sauce packets are available, do not ruin your British style fish and chips with any other condiment besides malt vinegar. You do not need ketchup for your chips and you do not require tarter sauce for your fish. Simply douse both with the vinegar.I broke apart the hunk of fish and let the steam rise from it, then took a cautious bite into it. I had heard numerous reports of the fish being undercooked, and I am here to tell you that I do not do sushi, at all.

Thankfully, the fish was cooked completely, the fried batter had a nice taste to it and I immediately took a second enjoyable bite. My wife asked me if it was okay to proceed and I told her that mine was fine.
She started with the chips (fries) and immediately gave approval. The biggest complaint we had heard was that they were soggy, undercooked, and in one case, clumped together. We experienced none of that. You may not like it, but these are exactly as I recall the chips in England. But please, try them with the malt vinegar for the full affect.

Somebody noted that the fish had the taste of Long John Silvers. I can certainly buy that comparison, but I'd say (at least today) Mr. Cod was much closer to the real British fish & chips I remember. And frankly, I can't even walk into an LJS without needing a shower for the grease in the air.
In the end, we both ate all the fish and all the chips and my wife said before I had even thought of it that she could easily see coming back for more. She wondered how the shrimp might taste. So, I went up to the counter and ordered two shrimp (99 cents each). I think they make a batch of them and set them in sort of a holding case or something. I found the shrimp to be slightly chewy.

We have found that a first visit usually makes or breaks whether or not we ever return for a second. The only place I can think of where we gave them multiple tries, simply because they were local was Lone Star Grill on Tezel. I never was impressed per se, but I know several of the regulars here loved the place. In this case, I think several of you gave Mr. Cod an honest shot and will never return for a second try. I can't blame you if that was your experience, but you might consider trying them out again in a few weeks.

As we were finishing up, the owner came over and introduced himself. He asked us how things were and we told him (honestly) we were pleased with the fish. He specifically asked about it being cooked properly and also asked us how we felt about the fries (chips). Again, we were happy with it. My wife mentioned that she would have preferred there be napkins on the table as opposed to the single napkin that comes in the packet of plastic ware. As it turns out, the guy from Ace-Mart was there delivering the napkin holders.

Turns out, just like the opening being delayed, there were quite a few issues of things that didn't get fixed or simply weren't ready on time because the owner was stuck in Mexico City. Yes, remember that whole Swine Flu (H1N1) thing that we were all freaking out about a few weeks ago? Well, this guy apparently got caught up in all that mess. As such, a lot of things that needed to get done, didn't.

He showed us where more work still needed to be done on the restaurant, changes to the salad bar, the signage etc. It is also pretty obvious that he got the message from disgruntled customers and as was the case with our fish today, somebody has adjusted the cooking times.

He also told us about the potatoes. If you ever go to 95% of the restaurants around here, they are using pre-packaged, frozen french fries. That's fine - I think most would agree that McDonald's makes a pretty good french fry and they are frozen and consistent. The Mr. Cod franchise insists on the potatoes being peeled and cut, fresh in the store. I'm gonna be honest, I like it that way. If they seem a little soggy, that is fine, as long as they are cooked.

So bottom line is, we'll go back. I probably won't stray far from the fish and chips, and basically, that was all I was looking for when I saw we were getting this style restaurant.

If you do happen to make a return trip, I'd love to hear how things turned out second time around.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back in The Five Oh...

In spite of various weather related situations, we arrived back in San Antonio safely and even a few minutes early. Sadly, we went through Memphis, and as wonderful as it smelled, we literally jumped off of one plane and boarded the next without being able to grab a pulled pork sammich or any other Memphis BBQ.

But, we had a great trip to visit our daughter and her husband in New Jersey, got to see lots of really cool places and enjoy numerous gut-busting meals. We will no doubt require a resumption of diet and exercise, abandoned for a full week. Okay, who am I kidding; abandoned for a while.

At the end of the day, I took close to 1,200 pictures, enjoyed a Texas Style Karaoke Night for my daughter and her friends on her 21st Birthday, went to Philadelphia, went to New York City, watched a Naked Cowboy fondle my wife and daughter in the middle of Times Square, saw the Liberty Bell (or was it a replica?) rode trains, subways, carriages, drove amongst the alleged worst drivers around (though I suspect San Antonio drivers are a lot worse) and got to see my daughter's dog Panda and her new sister Penny.

I have lots of material for those that are interested, and in the next few days hope to show more pictures and relay a few of the details.

Most importantly, now that we are home, we will try out the much discussed Mr. Cod. My wife commented tonight at how nice it was that so many of you stepped up in our absence and reported your experiences with the newest restaurant in our area. Several comments were left here but even more e-mails; and they were brutal! And by tomorrow, You'll know how I feel about it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Times Square Report: Coolness...

For me, my entire trip to NYC was focused around seeing Times Square, live and in person. And even though we went in the middle of the day (as opposed to night when everything is really lit up), it was simply awesome.We exited Penn Station, crossed through Madison Square Garden and began walking up 7th Avenue. My daughter said it was close enough to walk, and off we went. I must have looked like a total goober. I could have been an easy target for pick-pockets or criminal types, because I was having absolute sensory overload. Even blocks away from Times Square, everything was so much larger than life. The fashion district has a sculpture of a button and sewing needle that is simply huge. The sidewalks were full of people but things simply moved. The "regulars" easily navigated in and around the gawking tourists and never once offered the look of disgust that you might expect someone who has to live life dealing with total newbies stopping to take picture after picture of street signs, firetrucks, police officers and other people.Within a few blocks of 42nd street and Broadway, the signs on buildings became much grander in size and style. The Target ads caught my eye for sure - they were everywhere.



And then, we were there. At one point, I stood in the middle and took a quick 360 degree video of the place. But the video just isn't the same as standing there.
It isn't so much getting lost in the tall buildings or the crowds of people, for me it was the fact that everything else was done up like it was a TV show waiting to happen. And at the same time, it seemed totally calm.Where else do you just walk up to the Naked Cowboy in the middle of the street?

We walked into a few shops (McDonald's to pee) and looked around a bit, but mostly just soaked it all in, knowing that you could spend all day long just watching people and looking at the sights. But we had more to see and moved along.
Plus, we needed to try out a hot dog from a stand.Here, my wife, daughter and our son-in-law enjoy the goodness. They were a little spicy for Eva, so I finished hers too.Not far from Times Square, as we walked toward Central Park and stopped in to buy some souvenirs near the Ed Sullivan Theater, home to Late Night with David Letterman. And of course, my wife stepped in to say howdy (or in this case Hello) with Rupert Jee.

And that was the Times Square part of the trip. Need to see more? Why not check out the Flickr Page?

About Your Host

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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