So Long, and Thanks for All the Tomato Pies

I mentioned in a post last week that I have decided to move to Corning in the Southern Tier of New York.

When I moved back to New Jersey in the late summer of 1991 to the open arms of my father’s family that I had left back in 1983 when we moved to Bath, NY, I considered the move a rebirth. Now after 26 years and the last few which were a tumultuous time for me, I feel this move back to the Bath area is me rising from the ashes of my old life and with that rising I need to believe in myself and love myself to become the new person I want to become.

I will miss a ton of the people I have made my friends and done things with throughout my time in New Jersey. The parties we had in the back yard on all the major summer holidays are something that I will never forget. The get together at Panera, Uno’s and other great places. The one friend that I spent the most time with and who came to my aid when the basement flooded almost every time it did, I will miss you the most John. John Martinetti was always there when I asked for help and you were always willing to go out and have a good time at a moments notice. I will miss you dude.

As I am getting settled in my new life I look back at the things I have achieved while I was in New Jersey, I helped LUG/IP become a non-profit group, I started the System Administrator Group – LOPSA-NJ and put together the East Coast System Administrator Conference, set up the Nextdoor for Colonial Heights Civic Association and a few things I am sure I forgot about.

The biggest things I will miss from New Jersey are all the great places to eat Chinese & Italian foods, burgers (not fast food burgers) and the other types of food I love to eat. Since I have been in Corning I have been struggling to find a good Chinese restaurant that has good food, low prices and delivers. In New Jersey I couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a good non-chain Chinese restaurant that fit the above criteria’s. So far I have found so so Chinese, but I am still looking and I will find it.

But the one thing I am missing the most is a Trenton style tomato pie.

In Trenton, the “tomato pie” is king, a thin-crust, chewy round pizza whose most defining characteristic is the unusual placement of the tomato sauce: it’s on top.

Malcolm Bedell – FromAway.com

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Trenton Tomato Pie – From Away

This was the food I missed the most when I first came to New York in ’83 now it is again. I will find a pizza joint that will make a good tomato pie or teach one to make a great tomato pie or I will have to get that pizza oven attachment for my Weber Charcoal grill.

This isn’t really the final goodbye my friends and family in New Jersey, it’s just a break from me, and I hope to see you soon in New Jersey and I want you to know my door is always open if you want to come to Corning (I don’t have a room you can stay in, but there is a bunch of nice places to stay in the area) and help me find that great Chinese restaurant or a great tasting tomato pie, or we can also go on a few vineyards tours or brewery tours or just go out to the lake and have a good time.

So in closing to the state of New Jersey and my friends I say:

So Long, and Thanks for All the Tomato Pies

Keep it local and help locally

IMG_20160617_085256For the better parts of the months of May and June I have walked down Market Street from the Wegmans’ parking lot (yes I am to cheap to pay for parking) to the Soulful Cup coffee shop to drink coffee, look for a job, talk with the locals and regulars and watch them interact with each other.

On my way down the street I pass the Corning Art & Frame shop that has some great custom guitars in the front window, but what caught my attention so many times are the stickers that the owner (I am guessing the owner) has put on the door. Of course the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and Gov’t Mule were the first stickers that caught my eye. But the one that made me stop and take a pictureytnd of the door was the “Your Turntable’s Not Dead” sticker from Thirdman Records. I am very big on vinyl records and the use of turntables so anything stating that says turntables is alive and well I will support it.

It’s the look and the feel of that door that makes you know that we are in a small town/city and a local resident owns the business. When was the last time you saw stickers like this on the door of a chain or box store. I have never been in the store because I am not in the need of art or frames, but if I need them I would go to this store before going to a chain store because of the music and technology he supports and how the store is decorated. People need to remember that the money spent in a locally owned store comes back to the community faster than any money spent in the chain stores.

When I go to new areas I like to go to the down town area and frequent the local stores and see what I can buy, of course I aim for the local comic book, antique’s or record stores as well as used book stores and of course the local restaurants and bars where I usually find great food and beer selections. If I am going to be in the area for a while like I will be in Corning I start to make friends with local owners because they are dedicated to the area and making the town and area they are in a better place. I try to help out if they are in need of technical help or if I can give them advice from my travels in the tri-state area, but the biggest help I give them is buying and supporting their place of business.

“I don’t believe there’s any problem in this country, no matter how tough it is, that Americans, when they roll up their sleeves, can’t completely ignore.”

― George CarlinBrain Droppings

I feel that no one should ignore problems in their area and they shouldn’t ignore the local businesses and should work with their local government and be part of the solution to make their community better. Reminder if you don’t vote in local or national elections you have no right to complain about what is going on in your community or nationally.

I am here and I am doing ok

I have been busy looking for a job and also made the decision to move back to the Corning, NY area to be closer to my parents and Marty and to get out of NJ for a while. Since I have been back I have spent a lot of time sitting in the Soulful Cup on Market Street looking for the elusive new job as well as meeting and talking to new people and making new friends of these people.

I have gotten that elusive job with Corning Inc. in the Incident Management Department for the IT Department. I start the day after the 4th of July…so that would be the 5th I am excited but nervous like I am about starting any new job. This job is going to be a lot like doing the Big Red Button calls we did at Peak Hosting, but with bigger issues on a higher level. I am sure I will rock it and have fun with a new team and a new company. The one downside of this job is the 24/7 on call stuff, since it gets hard to get a good life/work balance with the threat of the phone going off, but like Peak I will work it out.

I have also been doing a lot more cooking in the past few weeks since Marty doesn’t cook much and we don’t have a ton of money to go out and get take out, but we do go out once a week just to have a night out together. I have been cooking a lot of veggies and making salads that is a little different for me, since the last audience I cooked for was anti vegetable. I have also been working the grill like crazy cooking up steaks and burgers and of course pork chops. I am going to be firing up the smoker soon (yes I brought the smoker and all the charcoal grills with me to Corning) to make a purple turkey and of course some ribs and I am sure some other great food on it and the other grills.

My dad’s sisters Clora and Bea and his brother Fran came to visit for a few days this with my mom and dad to help out in the flower beds and a few other specialty things since mom is getting her butt kicked by the chemo, so I hung out with them and of coursed cooked up some great food with and for them. I made a blistered green bean dish with an olive oil, garlic and lime sauce (I didn’t follow the recipe, but used it as a map sketched on a cocktail napkin) that was out of this world and I kicked out a great southern unsweetened cornbread (sugar has no place in corn bread) that was one of the best I have made in a long time and of course Marty was very excited and filled by all this great food that I made and of course the food my dad and mom made and meeting my uncle Fran for the first time. They of course hit it off and I was glad she was able to meet him outside of the La Vigna picnic setting so they had some time to talk without Fran getting distracted by all the rest of the family.

I am hoping to be writing a little more than I have been. It’s tough sometimes for me to come up with ideas and when I do to get them on the paper. My mom made an observation that it’s getting harder for people to write, since most people have their heads down looking at their phones or electronic devices. They aren’t taking in what’s going on around them and building experiences to write about. I actually agree with her and I have been observing how people are in the world around me and have realized that I am guilty of having my head stuck “in” my phone and not paying attention to those things going on around me. So my goal the rest of the summer is to pay attention and take in what is going on around me and try to get more down on the “paper” and stop worrying about what’s going on online when I am out and about.

 

It’s been an interesting two weeks!

I have been out of work now for two weeks, major layoff at Peak Hosting and I was one of the casualties. It’s been interesting since I haven’t been on the unemployment line in over 26 years, when I was let go from WVIN-FM. Not much has changed, except I am older, have way more hair and my knowledge of all things has increased.

I am still undecided of what I really want to do with the rest of my life. Do I want to stay in IT or do I want to go to back to the radio on-air world. There are a lot of pros and cons in both. The biggest con to the radio thing is that I haven’t been on the air in 26 years so no sound checks except those from the late 80’s and early 90’s when I sounded good but I didn’t have the music knowledge I have now and better ideas for a show that would work at a small Classic Rock Album Oriented station.

A few weeks ago I was in front of a crowd doing my radio voice thing and it felt good and made me really miss being on the air entertaining people and educating them in some good music…not just Rock ‘N Roll, but all kinds of music and how it all fits together and can shape the sound track of the day or your life.

But then there are the cons of staying in IT as well. Such as I have worked the last two and half years working remotely and that was great, because I could go work from anywhere with an Internet connection and I really don’t want to give that up, but I am also missing that face to face interaction with coworkers that you get with working in an office.

There are many pros to both careers that are too numerous to mention here today. Want to know give me a call or take me out for a beer and some food.

I am also not sure I want to stay in the greater New Jersey area now. The cost of living is through the roof and of course the pace is much faster. The cons of getting out of this area is the ease of access to New York City and Philadelphia and of course moving away from my family, but I think it’s time for a change of location. Will it be going back up to Bath/Corning to be closer to my parents and Marty or will it be heading south or will I just move to a smaller place in the New Jersey/Pennsylvania area? It all depends on what the employment gods send me.

Also is it time for the long hair to go? I have thought about this for a while as well as working on getting a cleaner look and style. I have looked at some old photos of people from my past and liking how we all dressed back in the day and I don’t mean the weird 80’s and 90’s fashions but the tried and true classic styles that have made it through the ages. I think it’s time for me to grow up a little and look the part of the almost 50-year-old.

Other then the loss of job and not really sure what I want to do with my life or where I want to go. I am working on getting all the negatives out of my life so I can focus on the positives and enjoy life and the fun things that are coming my way. So keep your hands and feet in the car because it’s going be a roller costar of a ride if you want to join me on this thing called life get in the car!

Dreaming and being a dreamer

A few weeks ago I was told I was a dreamer and that that was a bad thing.  Why is it a bad thing.  The comment came out because I always say that I want to win the lottery so I can fix my problems and then do fun stuff in the future.  I first thought was who doesn’t say they want to win the lottery, and then why is dreaming a bad thing?  A lot of people dream, because without dreamers this country; hell the world stage wouldn’t have succeeded and we wouldn’t be the people we are today.

Dreams help people make a better life for themselves and people who don’t dream of better things will never make their lot in life a better one.  Dreamers are inventors, innovators, people who make things happen in this world! So why can’t I be one or you or the person sitting next to you be the dreamer of the next big thing, but it doesn’t have to be a thing for the masses it could be dreaming of buying their first car or house, or that special toy they want or meeting the love of their lives or their first kiss.

I think people who think dreaming is stupid need to sit back and take stock in their lives and they will see that they are dreamers too.  Yea dreaming about winning the lottery could be a BIG pie in the sky dream, but it could also happen.  I dream about a lot of things, sure some of them are never going to happen before I die, but without dreams you never grow you never have something to look forward to in your life.  Dreams bring around change for the good and the bad, but either way they make you change.  Dreams will always be a good thing in my life and I hope they are a good thing in yours.

Sit back and think about this and then of the things that you have done in your life and you will realize that before they happened you dreamed just a little that they would happen and you made them happen because you had a dream.

Dream big, dream small, but just keep dreaming, because someday those dreams may just come true.

In closing I leave you with the words of Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. :

“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Louis G Bilancio and his oldest grandson’s life after 1983

When I was in my freshman year of high school at Notre Dame, a person who was the anchor and a guiding force in my young life. This person was always around when I needed to be put back in my place. He was my grandfather and I miss him. He died in June 1983 and I still miss him. I have written a lot about him in the past few years either on my site or for my family’s newspaper.

Lou G. BilancioI was around him a lot when I was going to certain schools, because the school bus would drop me off at my grandparent’s house. When I first started going there after school I would get my homework done and my grand mom would cook dinner and I would kneel on the couch and look out the window watching Eggert Crossing Road for his yellow Datsun B-210. Because I knew that when I saw it, that in a few minutes I would get to hear how his day was and hear about what ever he was going to be doing that night. He would ask me what I learned in school and of course as the years went on my answers didn’t make him happy with me. He always pushed his grandkids to be the best at school. I never did that and I know that irritated him and we talked less and less as I got closer to and in high school. He knew I was smart and that I wasn’t doing the best that I could do.

In the past few months I have been thinking a lot about how in certain parts of my life he would be so proud of me for what I have accomplished, and in others he would be shaking his head thinking what am I doing with my life. I know that I have disappointed him and the rest of my family. My life hasn’t gone the way I thought it would when I was a kid and playing and talking with him. I know that I can’t live in the past and I have to take responsibility for my actions and the decisions I have made and move on.

When you are a teenager and you are around parents, aunts, uncles and grand parents you always think they will be around to be there to help you navigate this thing called life. Since the fall of 1983 I have been on my own when it came to my life decisions that my parents didn’t have control of.   I screwed up in school big time. You are reading the blog of the Summer School KING. College for me was a joke and I failed out faster then the first lap of a stock car race. My radio career crashed and burned because I got full of myself and took things for granted. I have made a career in Information Technology, but things are getting long in the tooth in that field. One of the greatest things that have happened in my life is my daughter Avery. My grandfather would be so proud of her, she is smart and doing great in school and has a good head on her shoulders.

My world right now is in a big flux, I am “newly” divorced, living by myself and working. I have a house that I need to fix or sell, trying to make up with a friend and my family has been quiet. The biggest thing I miss about my grand father is having him to talk to, as a kid before I was screwing up in school he and I talked a lot about the future. Of course being 13 my future was kind of more fun and games then serious life as it is now.

I know this post was a ramble but when I get thinking of my grandfather a lot comes out. So even though June is Aquarium Month, Candy Month, Dairy Month, Fight the Filthy Fly Month, Gay Pride Month, National Accordion Awareness Month, National Adopt a Cat Month, National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, Rose Month, Turkey Lovers Month to me it’s Louis G. Bilancio month.

 

Trenton Farmers’ Market – a great place to go fresh & local

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Farmer’s Market (credit: William Bilancio)

Trenton Farmers Market

Address:

960 Spruce Street
Lawrence Twp., NJ 08648 (map)

Telephone:

(609) 695-2998

Website: www.thetrentonfarmersmarket.com
Hours:

Tuesday to Saturday 9AM – 6PM
Sunday 10AM – 4PM
Check website hours change with the seasons.

Rating: 

The Trenton Farmers Market is located on the Trenton – Lawrence Township border at 960 Spruce Street. There has been a Trenton Farmers Market in existence since the early 1900’s when farmers came to Trenton to sell their goods in the area of what is now Route 29. In 1939 those industrious farmers started The Trenton Market Growers Co-op Associations, Inc. and purchased the land on Spruce Street in Lawrence Township. The existing location opened in June 1948 with outside stalls and when the roof was added it became a year round market and started selling bread, meat, and of course, Jersey farm fresh produce.

 

The Market today has over 38 vendors selling everything from vegetables, bread, meat and specialty goods. Depending on the time of year (and the growing season) there will be a different variety of fresh vegetables and fruit. It also sports a food court with delicious deli and bakery food which is also open year round.

I have been going to the Trenton Farmers Market for most of my life. It’s been my go-to market for seafood, bread, and produce. On a Saturday morning I always try to get up and head over to the market.  I wander the crowded busy aisles and look at all the fresh in-season produce and the best price for the things I need, depending on the recipes I have worked out for the coming week. What was intended as a quick run to the Market always turns into an hour long trip. I tend to get into conversations with the vendors and Market regulars.

Continue reading “Trenton Farmers’ Market – a great place to go fresh & local”

Burgers on the Grill…mmmmmmm

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The smell of grilling meat permeates the air during the summer (which will be here soon) throughout many of the neighborhoods of Central Jersey and one of those things being grilled are hamburgers. This smell of meat being kissed by hot flames makes an aroma that will make your mouth water and make you think back to the best hamburger you ever had right off the grill.

So what meat to use?

Picking the type of meat is the most important thing in making a good burger. When I am reading articles about making burgers they always recommend grinding your own beef so you know you are getting good quality and fresh ground meat. I never seem to have the time to do that, so I go to the local supermarket where I know they grind the beef daily.

From A Hamburgers Today’s Burger Lab’s Top Ten Tips for Making Better Burgers

Grind your own beef, and not only do you control everything from the meat blend, to the grind size, to the fat content, but even better, you get to tell people that you grind your own beef.

Instant street cred

There are three cuts of meat that ground beef comes from: chuck, round and sirloin. Chuck is my favorite because it’s a little fattier than the others, but will produce a burger with a great flavor. Ground beef from the round or sirloin tends to be leaner, which is a good thing if you’re counting calories but a bad thing if you want the juiciest, most delectable burger possible. My favorite is 85 percent lean ground chuck.

Making the burger patties

Now that you have the beef, you need to make the burger patties. Get your hands into the meat and pull out a small mound, about 6oz. If you have a food scale weigh the meat. Now gently work the meat into thin patties. If you really pack the meat into patties you will get burgers that have a texture with the consistency of meat loaf. The thinner you make the patties the more evenly the burgers will cook and less they will shrink. After you have the patties made, dust them with some salt, pepper and a little garlic powder.

rawburger_thumb Continue reading “Burgers on the Grill…mmmmmmm”

Looking for a relaxing RPG game

dice1I use to play D&D a few years ago with a bunch of friends, but the group got to intense and I stopped playing do to time constraints and just got a bit tired of the group.  Lately I have been talking to a co-worker who has been playing with some friends and was telling me about Pathfinder Role-playing Game.

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (abbreviated as PFRPG) is a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) first published in 2009 by Paizo Publishing. It extends and modifies the Revised 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons‘ game rules published by Wizards of the Coast under the Open Game License, and was designed over the course of a year with the help of gamers who could download the playtest versions of the game, try the system and post their feedback on Paizo’s website. Announced in March 2008, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game was released in August 2009. The PFRPG is intended to be backward-compatible with D&D 3.5, while addressing some of its issues.

This seems like a good alternative to D&D these days.  I am looking to put a group together that would be interested in playing either Pathfinder or straight D&D.  I don’t want to be the game master but just a player.  So if you are local to Lawrenceville, NJ drop me a line and if we get enough people we can get a campaign going.

Does Hollywood take the idea of best friends and make it a bigger thing than it is?

Does Hollywood take the idea of bes1063773_67808420t friends and make it a bigger thing than it is? I watched the movie “Last Vegas” and it got me thinking. It’s a movie about four friends that have been friends since they were kids. One of them is getting married and calls his buddies; they make it seem they have kept in touch for 60 years on a regular basis. Is this a real thing, do people today have best friends from when they were kids? I know I don’t.

 

What is the definition of best friend? Websters says:

best friend
noun
noun: best friend; plural noun: best friends
a person’s closest friend.

Even before I had watched the movie I had been thinking about friendship and how I really have no one I can call my best friend: someone I can turn to and have be there for me or vice versa. Is it because I have trouble making friends? No, I make friends very easily and, don’t get me wrong, I have friends, but none that I can call best friends. A lot of people I have talked to about this say they found their best friends in high school or college. I don’t live near where I went to high school and never see the few friends I made there, so I don’t consider them best friends either.

In February ‘14 I lost a friend who when growing up we were inseparable, we did everything together with a crew of about 5 or 6 others from the neighborhood. When I left Fallsington for Bath that was the end of our friendship and we both went our separate ways; but if I had stayed in the Fallsington area through high school, he would have fit the mold of best friend. I left Fallsington after the funeral thinking about how my friends from childhood were lost because of a change in my life and how much I don’t have any real friends now as an adult.

It seems that adult friends fall into categories and these are just a few of the ones I can think of and in no particular order:

  1. Friends from work: Your friends from work seem to change at every job. You always say you will keep in touch when you leave a job, and you might the first few months to a year after you move on, but by then you have made new friends at the new job and they have taken the places of your old friends.
  2. Friends from Church: If you go to church you have friends there that you really only see at church or at church functions, but you can’t really call them when you need bail or are having problems, because they really don’t know you out of the church setting. These are the type of friends that I really call acquaintances.
  3. Friends from groups, clubs, and organizations: In this is the catatagory I have a lot of friends. I have made many friends from organizations I belong to. You never really talk with them except at the meetings or on email lists if you have a question pertaining to the topic of the group or if you need help with that topic. I have many friends like this and I like talking with them, but would you ask them to be your best man at your wedding or help you move? Probably not, because you really only know them in one kind of setting. I have one friend from this group that I call on and he calls on me, but only when we have issues that we need a second body for. We are a lot alike so I think that’s why we gravitate towards each other. No he isn’t my best friend or there to bail me out; but he is there when my basement floods or I need a pick up at the garage.
  4. Family friends: These are those friends that have been around your family while you were growing up and they are always there at family functions. Don’t get me wrong these are the type of friends that will always help you because your family has always been there for them and they are always there for you. But they aren’t the friends that you call for emergency help or to talk about your troubles with your wife or husband.
  5. Neighborhood friends: Are of course people who are your friends from your neighborhood. You invite them to the back yard parties and holiday open houses you have, talk to them when you see them on the street and at the local store; but do you talk about your problems with them? Some problems you do, like dry rot in the house or other neighborhood goings on, but that’s about it. And when you or they move you really never see them again; and, when you do, it’s a quick “Hey how are you” and get or give the latest gossip of the neighborhood.

In the research that I have done on this topic I have found that a lot of the people pointed out that their significant other is their best friend and they don’t need any other close friends. I am not sure that is true either, who do you talk to about your SO or how your life is going?

Family was also brought up and how the family members who were my own age and that I grew up with should be my best friends. When I returned to New Jersey my cousins were my go-to friends when I had problems and they turned to me when they had issues, but now it’s harder, because we have our own families and lives.

In conclusion I have come to the understanding that Hollywood sensationalizes the friends for life/best friend image. After talking with people about this I found that most people don’t have a best friend and that most friends fall into a certain category and don’t overlap in their lives. They don’t have one best friend, they have many depending on what’s going on in different parts of their lives.