To the most awesome people at Merrill Lynch:

I have had a wonderful time getting to know each and every one of you over the past year. Working with each of you has been a pleasure and your willingness to help and teach me the ins and outs of the job has been irreplaceable. I wanted to let you all know that I have just informed Brad of my intention to resign on the last Friday in May. You will all be dearly missed.

I will be spending the summer traveling around the country with two good friends, and when I arrive on the West Coast I will take up residency in Portland, Oregon. You can track my adventure and leave me comments at

Each of you has been open, friendly and helpful to me over the past year that I have been here and it has been a sincere pleasure to bring you pie, see you smile, and chit chat about everything under the sun. I hope to stay in close contact with everyone.

Thank you all for a wonderful year.

Yours truly,



I click “send” and the final weight flutters off my shoulders like rice paper on a breath of air. Joey and I have finished funding, we recently found out there is a cousin in Portland willing to share their home with us when we arrive, and just now I informed my boss and co-workers of my plans to leave on a grand adventure.

Nothing left to do now but wait.

…well, packing would be a good idea too, I guess. 



After Joey posted his challenge contest post, I kept a close eye on the responses people were leaving. Given the fact that Joey accepted a ready-made, decades-old challenge of his own, and that he accepted with no objection, I couldn't really sound any objections of my own when he announced his decision.
And I knew as soon as the Rocky Mountain Oyster comment went up - that was going to be it. The others sounded either too outrageous or, in some cases, not unpleasant in any way (I'm actually dressed up like Where's Waldo as I type this). But I know Joey, and I had no doubt as to what his decision would be.

So, challenge accepted. I will eat your bull's balls, Joey, all three orders of them, and from the reviews I've read, I don't think it'll be as unpleasant as we're hyping it up to be.
Supposedly, these morsels have a flavor similar to that of fried chicken, which we all know is among the world's most delicious foods. And we're getting them from the Buckhorn Exchange in Denver, Colo., where they're the house specialty. The problem won't be with the taste, but with the knowledge of the food's origins. As I believe we've made clear, Rocky Mountain Oysters is a disingenuous name for bull testicles, which most laypeople would assume to be among the less desirable parts of the animal at mealtime.

But before I get too upset, let's think about some other questionable items I've enjoyed over the years - namely, bologna, scrapple, and hot dogs. These three savory meat products are all mindless hodgepodges of pig and cow and chicken and whatever else happens to be lying around the factory. The difference here is that when I bite into a delicious, juicy hot dog, there's no way for me to know what part of the animal (or which animal, for that matter) I'm biting into. But when I bite into those Rocky Mountain Oysters, I'll know that I'm sinking my teeth into 100% pure testicle, with no mystery whatsoever.
Well, I'm in. I did have some unkind words for Chris, the gentleman who posted the suggestion in the first place, but I wouldn't let something like this come between us. Besides, this is a chance for me to expand my horizons, stand up for my pride, and of course, make a fool of myself in front of a worldwide online audience. 

And to think, I was so excited for Denver.


(From top) Photo by [bastian.] courtesy; photo by Mike Johnson -


Joseph V. Salvucci, Jr.
652 Magnolia Ct.
Bensalem, PA 19020
April 28, 2009

Lawrence [Last Name Redacted]
[Position Redacted]
Bank of America Corporation (Formerly Merrill Lynch)
[Address Redacted]

Dear Larry:

I have recently been issued a secure ID key pass to be able to access my workstation from off site locations.  However, I do not anticipate being granted the flexibility to use this to stay employed part time, off site for a prolonged period of time.  Pending a resolution to this effect, I hereby submit my resignation from Merrill Lynch, Inc., effective May 26, 2009, to pursue a more interesting, less lucrative path.  For details see

At your convenience, I will be glad to discuss the reassignment of my work to others.  They, on the other hand, will not be so pleased.

I sincerely apologize for submitting my resignation immediately before your long family weekend and that my last day is immediately after the work break for the ten year anniversary of your marriage.  The timing, though hilarious, was not intentional.

On a serious note, I would like to use this public opportunity to note that everyone on the team—yourself notwithstanding—has proven themselves as experts in their respective roles and are therefore deserving of promotions.  I acknowledge that it may sound insincere to make a blanket statement of this nature but in this case it holds true.

I wish you good luck and continued success, especially in the unenviable task of finding my replacement.  It won’t be easy; I have a pretty unbelievable skill set.

[signed Joseph V. Salvucci Jr.]

Joseph V. Salvucci, Jr.
Settlement Specialist

cc: weblog post


I like all of the ideas presented in the Challenge Contest, thanks to those who participated.  Unfortunately, Tom would cry foul if I picked them all, so I must eliminate all but one.  After looking up the cost of oysters in New Orleans, marshmallow birds, and skydiving, those suggestions are out.  I would not want to challenge Tom to do anything that would be more fun than challenge, so the trapeze school is also getting nixed.  We’re not designing a challenge around lifting lawn ornament(s).This leaves two hilarious finalists (in order of submittal): a “Where’s Waldo style photo at each stop” and “digging in to some rocky mountain oysters at any number of fine Denver eateries”Since both of these ideas have their merits and potential for hilarity, I am going to let the random number generator at take care of the deciding.And the winner is…





Rocky Mountain Oysters at The Buckhorn Exchange!

Congratulations to Chris.  If this is not the Chris I am thinking of, make sure to identify yourself and get me your address.  I’m not in a subtle mood today, so let’s not mince words here: for anyone who doesn’t know, “rocky mountain oysters” means bull’s balls!  Since the challenge doesn’t specify the number of “oysters” that must be eaten for successful completion, let’s put the number at three orders.  This should amount to a large meal of oysters.  Though this is not a challenge of extreme eating excess, I really want to give Tom time to reflect on what he is eating.  Tom, once you see this post please let us all know your reply.  Do you have the… ahem… oysters?
Photo courtesy


Out of absolutely nowhere, the warm weather blew into and through my hometown of Conshohocken, rudely shoved onward by a thrust of genuinely hot weather directly behind it. Today was a blistering 96 degrees outside, easily the hottest day of the year thus far. And since I'm a waiter at a restaurant that features an very popular outdoor seating section, it's the hot days like this that are particularly evident to me.

This summer, we'll find ourselves in some of the hottest areas of the country, during the hottest time of the year. While I have difficulty getting out of the house during the winter, I can't imagine it'll be much easier when it's 108 degrees out with not a cloud in the sky. I expect this to be the case during our visit to Texas, where we'll spend five days and nights in the beginning of August, and where I'm fairly certain that camping is near impossible. It actually sounds a little dangerous.

But we can be thankful that between the three of us, we've assembled an impressive, yet realistic list of good people from our lives who have either agreed to put us up for a night, or who we're planning to ask to put us up. Kimmy here (with the three of us creeping in the background) lived on the same floor as Joey and me in Smith Hall during our freshman year of college. For old times' sake, we'll be crashing into Kimmy's personal space and making her go out on a Thursday night. Just like the good ol' days, only this time we're bringing Sarah, and she has work the next day instead of a 9:00 a.m. economics class.

It's all in the spirit of friendship, love, and most importantly, keeping us out of the elements when they're too extreme. Think of it as your good deed for the week.
And now that this post is written, I expect I'll be referring several of these good people to this post in the future, if only to give warning... we're on our way. Free up your outlets, because we need all of them.


(From top) Photo by Joe Jansen; photo by Megan Yuppa


Only two days left to do your civic duty and present an idea for the "Tom's Challenge Contest"


It was more than a month ago that I promised some big upcoming news within the few days following the post (see it here). Unfortunately, that news didn't come, and I even got a few complaints about where my big news was. WTF, they all said.

It was early March, during a planning meeting at Joey & Sarah's house. Perusing the festival guide at JamBase, the three of us were trying to find a shindig we could attend during the second half of our trip. I figured we might not be able to find one for a little while, since these things usually aren't announced until within a few months of their planned date.
But I was wrong. We discovered a festival in San Francisco, the Outside Lands Festival in historic Golden Gate Park, on August 28-30. Our schedule had us there August 30-31, so it just a slight jostle to make it work out perfectly for us.
We made this decision in good faith, after taking a look at last year's lineup at Outside Lands. With names like Radiohead, Jack Johnson and Tom Petty on the bill, we had few doubts that we'd be looking forward to a similarly hot selection of bands this summer.

When this year's lineup was announced less than a week ago, I didn't really know what to think. I tend to shy away from pop music on most fronts, and this year's lineup got considerably more poppy than last year's. By that, I mean poppy with regard to the crowds that these bands tend to draw in, and in some cases, the singles that I've heard far too many times on the airwaves. My radio's been playing Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder (shown here) for as long as I've known the difference between AM and FM.

But after some calming and deliberation, I have grown to be genuinely excited for this three-day long party in the hippie capital of the world. Many of the acts that I've grown weary of through incessant radio play, are supposedly as different as night and day when they're in concert. Popular bands like Incubus and the Beastie Boys (shown here) have a tendency to err on the side of funk when they play on stage, bereft of the confines of formatting their music for three or four minute radio slots.
Aside from those acts and a few others that I'm ranging from intrigued (Tom Jones) to thrilled (The Mars Volta) to experience, we will no doubt be blessed with time when no one of even any remote interest to us is playing, most likely during the day. We'll be using this time to wander our way across the city for my first (and Sarah and Joey's second) visit to San Francisco. Though the city will no doubt be clogged with extra people spilling over from the festival, it will be three days of my life that I'll enjoy from top to bottom.

And here's a link to the full lineup. We'd love to have some company.


(From top) Image courtesy; photo by riotonsunset courtesy; photo by blythe_d courtesy


In response to Tom’s eating challenge to me, I have been trying to think up a counter challenge that, if accepted, would bestow an equal or greater amount of discomfort upon him.  So far I have fallen a little short, so it’s time to see if you guys have any ideas.  And if the opportunity to compel Tom do something ridiculous isn't enough, there's a prize on top of that.   So warm up those typing hands folks, and let all get ready to watch Tom do something stupid.

1. Nothing dangerous.
2. Nothing that costs too much.  This can be a little flexible if the challenge is really good or funny, but I would have a hard time spending over 100 bucks.  Free gets bonus points.
3. Nothing too far out of the way.  We are going to plenty of places; pick something near any of those.
4. Nothing that takes too long.  If it takes more than a few hours it will be hard to justify the time used on our tight schedule.
5. Submit suggestions as a comment on this post.  If it disappears, Tom probably deleted it.  In that case e-mail me using the info on the “Contact” page.
6. The deadline for submissions is the end of the day next Friday, on 4/24.
7. I will pick the winner and present the challenge after the deadline.  Tom will have no say in deciding.

1. This challenge can be very similar or very different than the one he thought up for me.  It can involve eating, physical activity, humor, something disgusting, or anything else that doesn’t conflict with a rule, so be creative.
2. If you don’t know if it fits the rules, post it and we can decide.
3. Don’t be shy.  Post as many times with as many ideas as you like.
4. Keep it in the “spirit” of the webpage.  Try to make it something that has to do with a specific (or more than one) place.  Remember, this site is all about highlighting different locations and cultures in America.  

The prize:
The person who authors the winning post gets an artifact from the challenge mailed to them.  Depending on the challenge, this might have to be a picture, something that is used for the challenge, a t-shirt from the gift shop where the challenge occurs, or something else to commemorate the victory.  That is… if Tom accepts the challenge presented, which he will if he’s not a huge weenie.



On Wednesday night, I sat down with my computer late at night to peruse through my emails, which I've been doing on a compulsive basis since our site's been up and running. Lately, I've noticed an unusually large amount of emails pushing the quintessential email scam - someone from outside the US has declared you the winner of a large amount of cash and needs your personal information to award you with your winnings, or a Nigerian prince has a family account that he needs your help accessing. Really funny emails, to be honest, which is why I took the time to open one up to read it aloud. No downloading of any files or anything, just a look for a larf.
Big mistake. As soon as I closed the email, a strange and alarming window popped up from my web browser, telling me something had gone wrong. It was an unfamiliar message, and I ignored it, hoping nothing debilitating had happened to my computer. But after only a moment's use thereafter, this poor laptop of mine froze up like a trip to Alaska, and wouldn't give an inch after numerous attempts to revive it from its pitiful present state.
$127 later, it's back in my arms, my blue ambassador of mine, virus-free and with all of its many extremely important files safely backed up (thanks, Micro Center). I only wish this could have happened to someone ELSE besides for me, so that I could have learned from THEIR mistake instead of shelling out more than a hundred bucks to pay for mine.

No matter. Luckily for me, I had some time in college to learn about a fellow named Epictetus, whose advice in The Enchiridion (The Handbook) offers alternatives that are clearly superior to the obvious route of, in this case, throwing a tantrum of sorts over spilt milk. Irritating mishaps like these bring me back to the first line of the text, which always puts my head back on straight.
My calamities tossed aside, we can surge ahead with a rapidly shrinking period of planning - only a month and a half. We still have yet to thoroughly research what to do and where on the West Coast, where, I remind you all, I would love to hear your suggestions as to what is a must-do.

The moral: Don't read anything in your spam folder. Just delete it.



It's not what you're thinking... Happy 100th day of the year!

I know, you’re like “who keeps track of the day of the year?”  Well things having to do with 100 days are kind of a big deal around here.  Frankly, I don’t think I should have to defend myself about the whole thing.

As a point of interest for the numbers folks still reading this post, our trip starts on the 151st day of the year and ends on the 250th.  Both excellently round numbers, and we didn’t even try.