Friday, August 30, 2013

Football (Not Soccer, Football)

I had been to Gillette Stadium at least half a dozen times in the past but had never seen a football game there. In case you hadn't guessed, it is a football stadium, the home of the New England Patriots. In reference to my title, I was distinguishing the particular sport, American Football because as you know, America is the only place where "football" is not soccer. Also, there is actually a soccer team, the New England Revolution, that also calls Gillette Stadium their home.

last night's football game pitted the New England Patriots against the New York Giants in the final preseason game. Not a lot of familiar faces played and those that did had limited time on the field as NFL teams are at the point where they need to make cuts before the regular season commences.

It was a fun experience and also, good to hang out with a couple of friends, have some dinner, and take in a game. of course, I got stuck sitting next to a guy who smelled like the floor of a bar at closing time and was obnoxiously drunk and just plain obnoxious. I didn't let that spoil things though, in fact, I had some great zingers at his expense.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More on My Sophomore

Yesterday my kid came back from her first day of school and was all excited to tell me that she had no homework, but that I did. She later handed me may pages of things I had to sign and fill out. Side note - do you also find it annoying to have to fill out the personal info/medical info thing fresh every year? How about providing a change form to alter the things that may have changed and not have to repeat the rest?

Today, her second day, her tune was different, "I have homework in every class!" I was secretly pleased :) Only a little. She banged it out pretty fast, mostly review stuff.

Much later in the evening, she was telling me about a few of her friends that are "bitching" about guy problems. UGGGH!!!! She seems to think her friends are a bit dramatic and silly to even talk like this. It's a bit overwhelming for me to hear her in this stage but I also know it's all very normal.

I'm breathing much better now :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On the Cover of The Rolling Stone - Follow Up

Back on July 17th, I wrote this post. It addressed all of the backlash for putting an alleged terrorist on the cover of a popular magazine.

Interesting to me how so many people had so much to say that the magazine sold more than twice the number of copies of that issue than average. What does that say about the big mouths who love to hear their own voice yapping about something but they don't have the intelligence to back up what they are saying?

Let me be clear here, I am not saying that it's wrong to have had a negative opinion about the cover. I'm not even saying it's wrong to have voiced your opinion - but only if your conviction is as strong and as loud as the voice you used to express it.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people just jump on a bandwagon and have no fucking clue what the heck they are talking about!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Eight Days a Week

The Beatles were looking for extra time for loving! But the idea is there's just never enough time, eh? I know how hard it is to do, but I say this to all of you and as a reminder to myself...try to embrace the moments you are in while you are in them.

So often we find ourselves looking so forward to something in the future that we ignore the moments leading up to it. Those ignored moments are gone forever, don't waste them - you have no idea how few of them you have left, live every one of them.

Before you navigate to your next web site, remember everyone you ever knew or even knew of that died way too soon, then, go on and live every moment.

Thanks for spending some of your moments with me, I could never adequately express my appreciation.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Running with the Bulls

I was watching Good Morning America this morning and there was this story about how they are adapting Spain's Running of the Bulls in the U.S. There is this company called The Great Bull Run that organizes events, there was one recently held in Virginia.

It really never ceases to amaze me how stupid human kind can be - even the dumb ass people that do it in Spain. what the fuck is going through the head of someone to do such a ridiculously stupid thing - I say this is a perfect chance to consider population control and maybe even clean up our prisons, we can really adapt this.

I know, we can have pay per view events where lifers with no chance of parole are left alone in the prison yard and then several hungry and angry bulls are sent in and we all just watch until the bulls are finished. We can clean up the prisons and raise some revenue.

Yes, I know, super sick thought, isn't it? It seems the declining intelligence of the American public and human kind in general may make this type of stupidity possible.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Prep Time

This fall, my online version of the CS100 course I teach will for the first time feature lessons using Microsoft Office 2013/365. As such, I need to re-prep all of the assignments and rubrics and just mounds of time consuming, tedious, boring, and painful work; this is the part of the job I can say that I hate.

Since I've been a bit laxer than usual this month, I have a few pix to share:

Here is my friend Linda with her friend at a concert we went to. I guess she's trying to change the whole idea of a senior citizen (LOL) - they had fun for sure and that's all that really matters. The dude in the hat on the right in my friend Bill, he's married to Linda (trivia - I officiated their wedding).

here we have by best friends from college, Suzanne and Bruce. They started dating in college and have been married now for a very long time, more than 20 years. I don't get to see them much, in fact, I saw Bruce last year once when his kid had a soccer game in MA but other than that, I hadn't seen them since 2002:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sophomore

Last year on this date I wrote about going to an orientation at my daughter's new school where she was about to start her freshman year of high school. We had come off a very difficult last year (more like last couple of years) in middle school and so much was new.

Vickie got through Freshman year just fine and next Tuesday will start her sophomore year. We've casually had some conversations about college and preparing for that journey but she's also recently turned 15 and as it happens in teenagerhood, things start changing.

Boy, parenting is really an interesting ride! Never a dull moment for sure, it really keeps you on your toes.

I do have to say, I still love hanging out with my kid - we always have a good time and can be silly together, enjoy (some) music together. I do still need to get use to her doing things on her own with her friends, it of course happens more often and I am still not really used to it.

:)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Future of American Literature?

#The #Road #Not #Taken

#Two #roads #diverged #in #a #yellow #wood,
#And #sorry #I #could #not #travel #both
#And #be #one #traveler, #long #I #stood
#And #looked #down #one #as #far #as #I #could
#To #where #it #bent #in #the #undergrowth;

#Then #took #the #other, #as #just #as #fair,
#And #having #perhaps #the #better #claim
#Because #it #was #grassy #and #wanted #wear,
#Though #as #for #that #the #passing #there
#Had #worn #them #really #about #the #same,

#And #both #that #morning #equally #lay
#In #leaves #no #step #had #trodden #black.
#Oh, #I  #kept  #the  #first  #for  #another  #day!
 #Yet  #knowing  #how  #way  #leads  #on  #to  #way
 #I  #doubted  #if  #I  #should  #ever  #come  #back.

 #I  #shall  #be  #telling  #this  #with  #a  #sigh
 #Somewhere  #ages  #and  #ages  #hence:
 #Two  #roads  #diverged  #in  #a  #wood, #and #I,
#I #took #the #one #less #traveled #by,
#And #that #has #made #all #the #difference.

#Robert #Frost

Hmmmmmm!

Quickie

Hey readers, I know I've been scant this month, been a bit hectic and battling a gastrointestinal issue that I hope is not all that serious but it's set me back a bit.

I need to give kudos to the guy I pay to cut my grass, he definitely showed that he respects my business by taking care of another job I had - he came down very considerably on is price and did the work in a timely and professional manner. I know, this seems to be the way it should always be with people you do business with but it isn't always.

I just got a look a my windows. I normally give them a good windexing twice a year, fall and spring. Clearly I missed it this spring....good thing fall is around the bend,

Later.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Clouds in My Coffee 3

I haven't tried generating a word cloud from this blog since 2007, so I tried it just moments a go and this is what came out:

In other news, I've been extremely successful at procrastinating rebuilding my CS100 course for Office 2013. No pressure, first day of class is on September 3rd!

Had one of those odd six degrees of separation realizations yesterday.

Have you ever heard of these:
Grapple Crunches like an Apple. Tastes like a Grape.
 
My daughter asked me about them yesterday and that was the first time I ever heard of them. I went to Stop & Shop to try to buy some today, according to their website, they are the only retailer near me that carries them but the produce guy told me they only carry them on occasion - bummer, I need to try this.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pinwheel

I was at a red light on a two lane road and I noticed the car in front of me and in the lane to the left, the rear window was lowered and out came a pinwheel in the hand of what I presumed to be a young child. The small hand seemed to position the pinwheel very precisely in their hand and just as the traffic light turned green.

I had just enough time to watch as the pinwheel began to move and notice the young person holding it had made a slight adjustment then held it in place, I assume proud of their effort in getting just the right spin and I wondered if they conveyed their beaming pride to the rest of the passengers or simply enjoyed it for themselves.

I couldn't help but recall doing the very same thing as a young  boy. I recall my sister and I both having pinwheels on opposites sides of the back seat of my dad's car on the way back from somewhere, positioning them just so, getting the perfect spin, then proudly alerting the rest of the car of the blissful joy that something I didn't know then was so simple could provide.

Perhaps my opportunity to witness the pinwheel the other day was to remind me that sometimes the greatest joys are found in the simple things in life and that we should be mindful of not over complicating things.

I do know that it was a sweet memory.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate Eclair Cake

 CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

From
June/July 2011
This no-bake dessert is typically made by layering a mixture of instant vanilla pudding and Cool Whip between graham crackers and topping it with chocolate frosting. We loved the convenience of these store-bought items, but our enthusiasm waned when confronted by their flavor. With a couple of easy techniques (a quick stovetop pudding, whipped cream, and a microwave-and-stir glaze) and very little active time, we produced a from-scratch version that easily trumped its inspiration.
Serves 15
                         
You can use 6 ounces of finely chopped semisweet chocolate in place of the chips.
Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 3/4 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 14 ounces graham crackers
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Instructions
1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in large saucepan. Whisk milk into sugar mixture until smooth and bring to boil, scraping bottom with rubber spatula, over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and cook, continuing to scrape bottom, until thickened and large bubbles appear on surface, 4 to 6 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer pudding to large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding. Refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.
2. Stir water and gelatin together in bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Microwave until mixture is bubbling around edges and gelatin dissolves, 15 to 30 seconds. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip 2 cups cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add gelatin mixture and whip until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute.
3. Whisk one-third whipped cream into chilled pudding, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream, 1 scoop at a time, until combined. Cover bottom of 13 by 9-inch baking dish with layer of graham crackers, breaking crackers as necessary to line bottom of pan. Top with half of pudding-whipped cream mixture (about 5 1/2 cups) and another layer of graham crackers. Repeat with remaining pudding-whipped cream mixture and remaining graham crackers.
4. Microwave chocolate chips, remaining 3/4 cup cream, and corn syrup in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Cool glaze to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Cover graham crackers with glaze and refrigerate cake for 6 to 24 hours. Serve. (Éclair cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Two Keys to Creamy Filling

Our filling combines custard and stabilized whipped cream.
1. Thicken Custard Just Enough Take the custard off the heat when large bubbles appear on its surface and leave a brief imprint.
2. Stabilize whipped cream Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks, stir in the softened gelatin, and continue whipping to stiff peaks.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Reflux

Not to be confused with the Duran Duran song, oh wait, that was "The Reflex". On Monday night of this week, I went to bed feeling okay, but middle of the night I woke up and there was a bit of a fire in my throat; I took a couple of tums, went back to bed, woke up a few hours later.

Since the first wake up, I've had heartburn straight through, nearly 48 hours with almost no relief. This morning, many folks I know, several of them are medical professionals, recommended that I visit the doctor - so I did.

They did an examination and an EKG, which came up clear, and decided to treat this as acid reflux and put me on a 14 day course of Prilosec. Prilosec takes 1-2 days to kick in so I am still hurting, but finally optimistic that relief is in sight and happy that it was not cardiac related.

Here's the real kicker, I've never had heartburn for any length of time where it was a burden. I don't think more than an hour and it's always been a few tums and I'm fine. This time, neither Tums or Pepcid Complete made a dent. I feel horrible knowing that this is a chronic condition for many folks, I am so hoping this disappears for good, and soon!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Did I Ever Tell You?

I know that either while in Vegas last month or shortly after I returned I mentioned that I had a very good thing happen but I don't know if I ever elaborated.

During the conference, I attended a regional user group meeting for the software product that sponsored the conference and learned that they were interested in hosting a regional conference style event sponsored by the local user group and were looking for a host campus. I immediately contacted my boss who agreed and volunteered right there. That was a score.

Later, I introduced myself to the new CEO of the company and when he saw my name tag, which listed the college I work at, he said, "that's in my town!" We talked a bit more and when I mentioned to him about us possibly hosting the regional conference, he said, "please invite me, I'd love to come if my schedule permits." he then asked me for my email and sent me a note from his phone right there. For real? I just booked the new CEO?

As time progressed in the planning, it turned out that our campus was not viable as a host site for the target date, but, we were able to secure a campus about a mile away - that's  win. I am working on the planning committee so I went ahead and emailed Mr. CEO and eagerly await a response.

Helping with planning the event alone will be a good thing, it's high profile and something different. Of course the timing is hard because back to school is so crazy but what the heck, I can handle a challenge - right?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Recipe: The Ace of Hearts (A Sandwich Experience)

There's a buzz (that I created myself) about this sandwich I've been raving over the last few days and I wanted to present it to you here. I hope that you;ll be adventurous and try it, I think it's really delicious and my daughter refers to it as her new favorite sandwich - a pretty bold statement for a 15 year old!

Origins
At church on Palm Sunday, we've had this tradition of hearts of palm finger sandwiches. These sandwiches. My daughter and I often commit the sin of gluttony on this day right there in church by eating more than our fair share and being unable to control ourselves, they are so good!

After a few Palm Sunday's of eating them, Victoria said to me, "Daddy, you gotta make these at home, I can't wait a whole year to have them again." I took a while, but I did. I made them pretty much the way we have them at church and we enjoyed them. I let it be, for a while. Then a week or so ago, while rummaging through the cupboard and refrigerator - I decided to take the lab coat out and experiment with a somewhat elevated version of the hearts of palm sandwich and came up with what I eventually named, "The Ace of Hearts".

Let me walk you through it:

Let's look at the ingredients:

Multi Grain Bread - I love multi grain bread, it has body, texture and toasts well. this particular brand, Milton's is my favorite (I get mine at Trader Joe's).

Lemon Pepper - as you can see, McCormack makes a version - in the spice aisle. I got this jumbo bottle from BJ's (one of those bulk warehouse stores).

Hearts of Palm - the star of the show! Most supermarkets carry them in either a jar or can. If you get from a can, rinse a little more vigorously, I prefer the jar myself).

Butter - I like Smart Balance, use whatever butter product you like.

Mayonnaise - Again, I went with the Smart Balance brand but feel free to use the brand that makes you happy. Remember to use mayo though, Miracle Whip is not mayo!

Provolone Cheese (not in the above photo) - sandwich slices.

Let's take a closer look at the hearts of palm:

This is how they look whole. I cut them lengthwise first in half, then slice lengthwise. For each sandwich, you'll use between one and two hearts depending on the size (they vary). Here's a photo of the cut up hearts (two of them):

Terrible photo, bad lighting and bad exposure but you get the idea. Now, it's time to toast the bread:


The top slice has been buttered, the bottom one has a nice slather of mayo and them both get an ample sprinkling of the lemon pepper. Both are now read to get a slice of provolone on top; here's what that looks like:


I won't keep referencing the crappy quality of the photos. Simply place a slice of provolone on each of the toast slices. Now we add the sliced hearts of palm and them we'll close it up, slice it and plate it with some potato chips (in this particular instance). Here's some pictures:


Once you add the sliced hearts of palm, give them another nice sprinkle of the lemon pepper.


This is what it looks like all closed up and sliced (diagonally of course, makes it bigger!)


And here's the plate I ge to my kid for dinner this evening!

I know, it's pretty simple but it really is quite delicious. Let me know if you try it and what you think!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

All But the Most Important (ish) of Tasks

I can't say that I woke up ready to take on some elaborate list of tasks. I do think one could make a good argument why I probably should have but alas, only a short list of things that came to mind were what I decided to tackle.

I took a little me time at first but since the weather was delicious, I decided my workout would take me outdoors and I would walk the route I did last week that led me the long way to the local farmer's market. Once at the market I would chill for a bit then continue the walk home The route to the market would take me somewhere between 3.5 and 4 miles and the fromt he market home is a little over a mile, perhaps a mile and a quarter.

When I got to the farmer's market, I was pleasanly surprised to see that the band to perform included my friend Chris on drums. all the years I've known him, I've never had the chance to see him play and I was quite impressed.

Here's a snapshot of the band:
 
While last week, the market was dedicated to dogs, and thus there were lots and lots of them, every week you'll find at least a few. Today, there was Norman. Take a look at Norman:

 
 
I know, right? Super friendly, I went down to pet him and he brought that wrinkled snout right up to my face and then...SNEEZED! I couldn't help but laugh at it.
 
 
After leaving the market I made a pit stop my my local library to pick up a CD waiting for me, then I headed home to shower and chill for a bit.
 
 
I needed a few grocery items from a few different stores. I was a bit hesitant to get onto the main shopping drag (Rt. 9) because here in MA, it's a sales tax free weekend; this often means lots of traffic near the big box stores. I braved it anyway to get what I needed and then again, returned home.
 
Once home and settled, I had realized that the one thing I really wanted to do was to go the pick up the passes I had reserved for Monday to go to a particular zoo with my daughter. Worse, I procrastinated long enough that the particular library where those passes were waiting had closed. I guess I'll have to get them on Monday at 10 am when they open - fortunately, it's in the direction of the zoo.
 
And so was my day to this point. As I type this, I've been listening to classics from the 1970's on YouTube. I'm contemplating heading out the see some live acoustic music.
 
Coming soon - "The Ace of Hearts" - A sandwich for the ages :)
 

Friday, August 09, 2013

Change in Plans

Went I went to bed last night, it was in my plan for my daughter and I to head over to the Bolton Fair, which oddly enough is not in Bolton, but Lancaster. This morning, I woke to the patter of rain on the skylight and thus, the realization that today's plans may need modification.

I let my daughter sleep in and I watched some TV before heading to the dungeon for a workout. I had my post-workout smoothie, grabbed a shower and got dressed then decided to see what the kid wanted to do for the day-her choice after offering some ideas, "nah, let's just hang here and chill!" I cracked up at this but obliged.

I got a call to handle a work emergency. I am not on call but this was a very rare and special case - while I had the option of not even considering it, I opted to do it simply because I knew I had the time and my input would be valued (I hope).

- Segue -

What do you think of Shakespeare? I gotta say, I am not a big fan. The idea of seeing a live performance of a Shakespeare piece is as unappealing to me as a hemorrhoid.

I watched Soylent Green with my kid the other day. I hadn't seen it in about 15-20 years and my daughter had been asking about it so I thought it would be fun to see it together.

Have you recently had the urge to make a call on an old rotary phone? I have.

I hate the pompous asses who smoke e-cigarettes indoors as if their pretentious stupidity makes it less offensive. Cigarettes are worse but e-cigs are also evil - don't be fooled.

Finally, on a sad note, my brother and sister-in-law's dog Rocky died the other day. R.I.P. Rocky! BTW, Rocky was a female.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Courage to Share

My friend Daniel wrote a blog post that I think needs to be shared. The courage it took to share this story must be commended but like he says, sharing such a story may help someone else who is going through a similar situation.

When Dan lived here in MA, he was a youth leader at the church I go to and also led a number of alternative worship services - he is a good man and everyone that got to know him at church loves him.

Please, take a few minutes to read Daniel's story:


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A Million Ways to Say Nothing at All

It's not like there isn't anything to talk about. In politics we could talk about Obama/Putin or the incredibly stupid people of the Republican party, in sports there's drugs and total lack of sportsmanship, in music there are always new sounds to speak of.

All that I could contrive into a series of sentences yet in this very moment, I just feel very empty and in that emptiness, I can't force the words to come, much less put them together with thoughtfulness and reason.

Tonight, I have nothing, or rather, almost nothing.

I am lost a bit in trying to figure out how to get enough sleep. As I type this, it's 11:26 and my alarm is set to go off at 5, that is not enough time to be well rested. Last night it was midnight before head hit pillow and this morning was painful. I've managed okay thus far, and will again but for now - I am bleary eyed, weary brained and a bit worn.

There was one thing that hit me today - made me smile and tear up all at once. I saw a video highlight reel from the wedding of a friend's daughter. It was surreal to see the child of a friend who I've known since we were his daughter's age get married. It's beautiful in all the ways it should be but it also serves as a demarcation of where my generation sits on the big time line of life; that's not a bad thing, it's just a real thing.

Goodnight my friends and loyal readers.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Death of An American Past Time?

Are we nearing an end to the sport of baseball? Is baseball still even worthy of being considered a sport? I've long been underwhelmed at the level of sportsmanship that's even left in the game and how the game itself has devolved.

We've taken the position of starting pitcher, a position designed originally to start and finish a game - a position where there was once an actual athlete who trained with the intent of pitching a full game, we now have a player whose every throw is counted and if by chance, that player should throw 100 pitches, regardless of where they are in the game, all hell breaks loose to make sure the army of relief pitchers - for which there once was only one type, the reliever - we now have the specialist, the set-up man and the closer.

The specialist's primary job is to come into the game and pitch to one single batter, sometimes a single pitch. For this, he is rewarded with millions of dollars. The set up man is the worst of all pitching jobs, their job is to get to the ninth inning, preserving the opportunity for the closer to get the save, and all the glory (none of which is shared with the set up man). Both the set-up man and the closer also receive millions, sometime tens of millions per year for this job. The closer, if good, saves a game and seeks to accumulate these saves as if they are rewards. Of course, if you look at the big picture, a save in a game means the winning team wasn't good enough to beat the opposition outright.

My biggest gripe of all is that somehow, the players have figure out a way to be paid their premiums on past performance; this makes zero business sense and is confusing since team owners are supposedly all these big shot business moguls. I won't go deep with this here, I have in the past in this space, may even again in the future...for now, let's talk about the drugs.

So a slew of players get a 50 game suspension, but Alex Rodriguez gets a 211 game suspension. I hate Rodriguez and think he's a germ to the sport and the most overpaid player in professional sports, but I need to be convinced that his penalty should be more severe than the others - why not all of them get severely penalized?

Worse, while I like that Rodriguez got a stiff suspension, why the heck did the Yankees put him on the field last night? Granted he is allowed to play during his appeal, and granted the Yankees still need to win games, it's not like they are in any position where the logic of putting him on the field might help them to achieve the goal of winning more. First, they are 9.5 games out, and it's their pitching way more than their hitting and besides, his bat has been useless the past few seasons. More than any of that, what the heck kind of example are you setting for the other players on the team, in the league, young guys in the minors waiting their turn, and young kids all around the world who mistakenly look up to the pros.

I am insulted and disappointed as a baseball and a Yankee fan. I'm not sure this is the beginning of the end of what once was a sport, but now is clearly only a business but for me, I am not certain I may ever be able to call myself a baseball fan again - we will see.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Long Time No Meme (So What the Heck)

Have you ever clicked on an ad on the side of your screen by accident?:
Yes, unfortunately, some of these web sites make it very easy for that to happen and it's such a waste of time.
When was the last time you were disappointed?:
Seconds ago, when I decided to do this meme so I wouldn't have to write a thoughtful post.
Do you like the smell of rain?:
Not in particular.
What was the last thing you took a picture of?:
I was taking band pictures during "The Road Dawgs" show last night.
When you go to McDonald's, what drink do you usually get?:
I almost never go to McDonalds so to say what drink I usually get really makes no sense. However, I've been on a bit of an iced coffee kick the past few weeks and since they sell a medium for 99 cents, I've been in on that.
What were you doing today at 2:15 in the afternoon?:
My daughter and I had likely finished brunch and we were walking about in a strip mall.
What's the nickname of your home state?:
The Bay State (I've lived here since September of 1997, before that, I spent my life in The Empire State).
What's the worst type of weather in your opinion?:
Oppressive humidity on top of very hot temperature.
Do you have a Kindle, Nook, iPad or none?:
I used to have a kindle but I gave it to my sister-in-law. I kind of have an iPad - I don't own it, it's a work thing but I do use it.
Would you rather read or write?:
I'd rather write but it way harder than reading, so I read far more than I write.
When was the last time someone took a picture of you?:
Last night.
Do you own a pair of slippers?:
Yes.
Name something negative that you hate about yourself:
This seems like entrapment!
Is your house currently hot, cold or just right?:
Central A/C...pretty good!
Is there a Dead End road near where you live?:
Of course.
Do you roll your eyes often?:
In fact, I found myself rolling them at the last question - other than that, not too often (I hope).
Growing up, did you see your cousins often?:
Yes - I was super close to many of them.
Where was your first job at?:
Hirsch Printing - corner of East 28th Street and Avenue U in Brooklyn.
When's your birthday?:
On the day I was born.
Is life a party to you?:
I thought life is a highway, what's this party thing you speak of?
Who are you tired of seeing in the news a lot? :
A-Rod
When was the last time you flew a kite?:
Way too long ago!
How long have you had a blog?:
Since June of 2004.
Have you ever had to call and complain about a product you bought?:
Yes, many times.
Name something positive you love about yourself:
More entrapment? What are you looking for?

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Tip Shmipp (Another Rant on the Tipping Culture) + F.U. Cellular

Hey folks - this is an angry rant. I'm not a generally angry person but there are are few things I am ticked off about and every so often, I get it off my chest. If the whole rant thing is not your thing, you might wish to skip this post. I am grateful to all who read my blog - thanks!

Back in February I ranted about tipping. If you wish to read that post as a primer to this one, a follow up, then click here.

Here's another scenario where there is no reason to tip but we all do anyway because we are programmed to tip in any situation where we are being "served". You are in a small mom and pop restaurant and the only people working are the owners of the place. The owners seat you, take your order, server you and bring you your check. These owners aren't being paid wit staff pittances, they own the place, they should not be tipped.

Another thing occurred to me the other day at a restaurant after seeing the total check worded in a way I don't recall seeing: "Pre-Tip Total". This was the the total of all food/drink ordered PLUS the sales tax. It hit me, all these years since tipping began, we are tipping not only on the food/drink total, but we've been tipping on tax as well; what the hell is wrong with us?

I'm not quite sold on the idea that we even have to pay sales tax on food and beverage but that isn't the restaurant's issue. I do have a major problem on any expectation that I should offer a gratuity on the sales tax. As of yesterday, I will NOT EVER include the sales tax in the figure I am tipping (reluctantly) on; I hope you will join me.

Let's force restaurant owners to pay fair wages to the wait staff, reasonable adjust the prices of items on the menu to cover the additional costs and put an end to this ridiculous culture of tipping that makes no sense.

Now for the stupid cell phone business...

When was the last time you read your cell phone bill in detail? Have you ever? You ever notice those phantom taxes that add $10, $15, $20 or more to your final bill? Maybe, just maybe, some of these so-called "taxes" are charged by local and federal governments (if so, we should be questioning why) but there are all sorts of other hidden fees.

Then there's the ever changing rates, per-minute fees, overage fees, text fees - all very menacing and illogical to everyone, except the profiteers who are ripping us off. This particular rant isn't about that - though I am pissed about it all. Today, I rant at the cell phone manufacturers who have decided that $600-$700 is a fair price to charge for a fucking cell phone and I rant at every human who owns a cell phone (me included) for paying that ridiculous price for one.

I recognize the amount of R&D that goes into developing a cell phone, I recognize and understand the technology within and the cost to make one. $600-$700 is at the very least $200-$300 over priced and the whole bullshit where we tie it to a 2 year contract to knock the cost down to $200-$300 is bullshit, it's only a way for the carriers to lock us in to a contract that has stipulations that we agree to that allow them to rip us off.

This technology isn't new - I had a cell phone, then a "car phone" in 1989. The technology was around for almost a decade at that point - we are three decades into commercial cellular technology and it's time that we stop getting screwed.

Enough ranting!

Friday, August 02, 2013

Monkey See, Monkey Do

My daughter and I had a great time at the zoo today. Among the animals we saw was this spider monkey. We hung around for a bit and he came closer and closer.

Seconds after I took this picture, I made eye contact and then reached out my arm. We made a definite connection because he moved up a bit to where the spaces in the fence are larger and reached his arm trough attempting to reach out to my arm, never losing eye contact.

My daughter and I, along with onlookers were all blown away! It was a really awesome moment and especially to have shared it with my daughter. In fact, it was she who said, "Monkey See, Monkey Do" shortly after we walked away and that was the inspiration for the title of this post.

As an aside, for a number of Friday's in the summer, the city of Boston has these "Fun Free Fridays" where there are 6 different family attractions that wave their admission fees. Today, The Franklin Park zoo was on the list. However, the free part was a major draw and the crowds were just mind boggling. We drove around and around and when we still couldn't get a parking spot after a very long time, I just said, screw it - let's go the the Stone Zoo (about 30 minutes away). At that point I'd rather just pay and get in than drive around and around in bumper to bumper traffic and I am so glad we did - what a great time we had!
 
I did reserve library passes for the Franklin Park zoo for the 12th so we'll get to go when there is far less demand to be there. Vickie and I are both looking forward to it!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Something About Eight One I Guess

I just went back to read my post from last year on this date. Here's the last paragraph from that post:

Have you ever felt so much inside but had no idea how to express those feelings effectively? Ever unsure of the best way to make clear how you feel because of really bad past experiences? Ever feel like your going to explode, just ker-blong because you want nothing more than to put it out there and know that every day that you don't is another day lost and if anything, everyone knows the importance of time and living in the present?

How is it August 1st already?


Makes me wonder less how the phrase "the more things change, the more they stay the same" came about.

Any parents of teens reading this? Of people who've parented teens and remember? Am I nuts or are there times where during a conversation you can actually see your child maturing? I was chatting with my kid earlier and it almost seemed that at times I stepped out of my body and watched the conversation, amazed that my "little girl" was leading.

As confusing, strange and inexplicable as this human life can be sometimes, boy, there are just somethings that can really blow your mind.