Friday, January 31, 2014

Book Review: Maximum Ride-Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

This series is marketed at young adults but I happen to enjoy them very much. This, the third in the series follows the adventures of an interesting group of kids. How interesting you ask? if I told you they can fly, would that peak your interest a bit more?

The classic Patterson easy to read short chapters, interesting characters that you will care about and a modern day take on science fiction thriller make the three books in this series worth the short investment in time it will take to read them (I started reading this book yesterday morning and finished this evening).

This title had a number of "oh, shit!" moments. The story and the book really move along, it's very well written...I'm impressed how Patterson so easily adapts to a younger audience without alienating adults.

The Space I Take Up

As we head into Super Bowl weekend, without my Patriots in the game, my normal thought would be that as far as I was concerned, the football season is over until next year. However, I have developed a level of respect for Peyton Manning that even if I decide not to watch the game, I am rooting for the Broncos and especially for Peyton; he really does seem like one of the good guys (aside from being a great QB).

The date is set - the kitchen remodel I've talked about in some form for like 9 months is finally going to begin; on February 20th. I am scared!

In preparation for the kitchen remodel, I will (this is me convincing myself) begin clearing out some stuff from the kitchen.

Toyota has really taken a few steps down in recent years. It seems that forever they were the rock solid car. You would see those commercials about how there are so many on the road for so long. A couple of years ago they had a massive, and I mean massive, recall that really put them a few steps back. While that sting is still fresh, some time had passed and begun working toward rebuilding their brand and all of a sudden, news comes out that some of their cars with heated seats are bursting into flames; uh, oh!

I'm really getting kind of sick at those who are smash talking Bruno Mars as the half-time entertainment. Sure, you may not like the music he makes but this guy has proven to be a fantastic performer. Give the guy a chance!

I've really been meaning to get closer to my slow cooker but haven't yet actually gone for it. I suspect I will procrastinate long enough to not do anything until after the kitchen is done. If any of you have any really great slow cooker recipes that you use, please share them with me.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Teacher Man

Unlike the millions of folks who read Frank McCourt's first two books, Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, I found a copy of his third offering in a closet in my basement. I recalled this copy being part of a swag bag from an "Employee Recognition Event" at the college where I work.

Teacher man in a memoir that tells of McCourt's 30 year teaching career in the public high schools (mostly) of New York City. My favorite thing about this book is how honest it is. I think anyone can read this book, especially a teacher, and know it was honest - I really loved that a lot; I don't recall a single moment where I felt a story was even a tiny bit embellished.

I was reading today while having soup at Panera. I don't recommend reading anything that would make you laugh while eating soup. I wish there was a warning label somewhere on this book; "NS: Do not read while eating soup". I make have done a spit take as a result of not having this warning in advance!

I am pretty sure anyone that has taught and even aspiring teachers will enjoy this book. I night even go so far as to recommend it as required reading for those demographics and in that lies my one critique. I don't see this book as having broad appeal.

Regardless, I really enjoyed the book - and I hope if you are considering it, that you will too.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

$750

That was how much I had to pay my plumber for all of the repairs necessary to get the heat working. My mantra for the last few days was "three digits is better than four', relating to the number of digits in the end cost. However, I was still a bit shocked at the final tab and after carefully reviewing the services performed and the parts replaced, i think it was a bit higher than it should be.

I promised myself I wouldn't gripe with the plumber over this mostly because he has been pretty good to me over the years; there were at least three times where he provided services and did not charge me (of course the inner desire to to gripe over having to spend the $750 wants to say something like, "and he made up for it today).

I was pretty sure the total would be somewhere between $500 and $600, that's the number I was mentally prepared to handle, so when he said $750, I couldn't help but gulp, but I wrote the check. here's the thing that's a real pain though, He put in the first part the first day, you know, the circulator pump, that's the thing I posted a picture of a few days ago. In the process of installing that, somehow the "controller" for the bolier blew and he didn't have one. He left on Saturday hoping to get one Sunday, no dice. He came yesterday afternoon, replaced the controller then he blew out the circulator pump he installed the day before. Of course he didn't have one on his truck so now he's coming back sometime today. I don't have to pay for the new pump to replace the new pump, but it's an added nuisance and I kind of wish I didn't give him the check until it was in, so he'd have more incentive to show up and not blow it off (not that I think he will, but anything could happen).

Here's something that a bit more of a kicker, something I'm a little upset over. later last night, I reviews his bill and added up the numbers. he did the math wrong! According to the numbers he wrote, the total should have been $850, not $750, which he wrote, I didn't question and already paid him. $750 was overcharging in my opinion but $850 is definitely overcharging. I have decided not to mention it and if he catches it and asks for the extra $100, I will call him out on his pricing. I have been loyal to him and he's been good to me, but that does not justify being more expensive than necessary.

Slightly awkward end of post.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Meme: The Fast Dozen Meme

Not sure how this meme got it's name, it took me a while to answer these questions.

1.       What is the last book that you passed on to someone else to read?
I can’t recall the last time I physically handed a book to someone and said “read this!” I often talk about books that I read and make suggestions. Not too long ago, I handed off “The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy” series to my daughter and even more recently sent a copy to another teen who I thought might enjoy it. Also, a few weeks ago after talking about a book I was finishing up, one of my colleagues got a hold of it and read it.

2.       The one song you secretly or not so secretly want to sing at karaoke?
Billy Joel – Until the Night

3.       If you had to pick a new name for yourself, what would it be?
That’s a tougher question than it seems, at least for me, I kind of like my name. Oh gosh, I really have no idea other than I would like it to be something very uncommon and flows well with my last name.

4.       What do you wish your administrator or boss would notice?
The importance of the work I do off campus at conferences. I don’t think there is enough fight for the required money in the budget to make it sure that I get to the important conferences.

5.       What is your biggest pet peeve?
I don’t know for certain if it’s the “biggest” but it’s certainly right up there when drivers do not use their turn signals.

6.       What holds you back in pursuing your biggest dream?
Oh boy, how do I respond to this properly in this space? I guess the best I can do is that my biggest dream doesn’t only involve me and I can only make definitive decisions for myself, not others. I know that’s a little vague but it’s all I want to write here.

7.       Why do you think you are a lovable person?
I believe I have a good heart. I was never up for playing head games or leading people on, or pretending to be someone other than who I am.

8.       If every day had an extra hour in it, what would you do with it?
I could answer by saying what I would like to do with it or what I would most likely end up doing with it (which is the likely scenario for just about everyone). I’d like to say that hour would be dedicated exclusively for the most special people in my life; not outside distractions; something like that. But I think in the end, that extra hour would end up just becoming a part of our day.

9.       The last song you turned up in your car or house was?
Happened just a few hours ago, Judas Priest – You’ve Got Another Thing Coming

10.   What is a secret talent you may have?
If I have any secret talents, they are a secret to me! There are a handful of silly things I’ve learned I can do and there was a time the summer between 8th and 9th grade where I shattered a few bones in my right wrist so I learned how to throw a football with my left hand, I still can, though not as good as I could back then or obviously, not as good as my right hand.

11.   Your favorite thing to do outside when it's not too cold out in the winter?
I love to take walks.

12.   How do you respond if someone asks you an inappropriate or nosy question?
Very directly, no sense in skating around it.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

BrrrrrReading and other Chilly Tales

This was the thermostat reading in my living room this morning  (54 degrees in case you can't see it). As I type this hours later, it's actually one degree colder! Luckily, the heat seems to bee working (for now) upstairs, and it's a very comfortable 65 up here. I am still waiting for my plumber to call, I hope that he does and when he does, it's to say he has the required part and is on his way.

So far, nothing about the Grammy's has piqued my interest enough to get me to watch, or even DVR to have something to skip through.

A few days ago I finished the 13th installment of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. These books are not works of fancy literature, in fact, 13 in, I don't know that they warrant a full post and so I stick my brief review here in the middle of this one. If like me, you've grown to enjoy the characters in these books, you'll enjoy this one for the same reasons. I laughed out loud a number of times reading this and found myself entertained enough to not regret reading the book and to continue with the series. I think the book does what it is supposed to do and every now and again, you want an fairly easy, mindless read (I don't mean this to be insulting in any way) - these books will give that to you and if you are a regular read of the series, all the more fun because you get to hang with Stephanie, Lula, Ranger, Morelli, and others. If I had one criticism, I'd ask Evanovich to stop re-introducing each of the characters with every book. I suppose the reason is to make each independent of the others so that one may pick any one up as their first time with this series and not be lost. For those of us that had read all of them along the way, I think it's a drag. Perhaps start each with an appendix, or a reference guide to the characters within so that us "regulars" can skip past and get to the story.

Last night, they played hockey at Dodger stadium in California. I couldn't give a crap about that but Kiss performed - which was cool! Also, Five for Fighting performed, which for me was cooler because my friend Jenn played bass for Five for Fighting. Here's their performance: Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Culprit II - The Sequel

Just when I thought replacing the circulator pump would resolve everything, the freaking controller decided to shit the bed as well. Worse, I must endure an evening without the services of a working boiler hoping that the plumber will have a replacement tomorrow.

Fortunately, I have a portable electric heater to take care of the bedroom.

Here's to working heat soon.

The Culprit

This little hunk of steel is apparently responsible for the problems I have been experiencing with my heat lately.

I was very fortunate that my plumber was kind enough to help me troubleshoot and resolve my problem over the phone the other day, for free. It seemed as if it was going to work until the following morning when the temperatures dropped again.

Instead of calling him the following day and thanking him for the advice and telling him he didn't need to come by on Saturday morning, I kept the appointment and of course this morning, he discovered what he believes the problem to be.

The good news, I don't need to spend thousands of dollars on a new boiler right now. the bad news is of course I do need to replace the circulator pump. I guess three digits is better than four and in the end, the heat will work more reliably.

Oddly enough, in the same month of January, way back on 2003 (I had been in the house all of five months at that point), the very same problem had the temperatures in my house plummet into the 50's before the unit you see picture above was installed to replace the faulty one before it. Hopefully the one he installs today lasts at least another 11 years!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Worried About These Kids

So much can be said, so much has already been said, and I am certain, it will continue to be spoken. Bieber and Miley, those are the kids I refer to here.

You can say and come up with all you want, in this moment, I see you kids that for whatever reason are on some kind of collision course.

This is devoid of any judgement and commentary on who they are specifically, the business they are in, their upbringing, or anything else you can come up with. This is purely two young kids, making really bad choices and being in the public eye.

Thse are kids that our kids are looking up to and counting on, that makes it tough for our kids but even tougher on them.

Here's to hoping these kids come out of this unscathed - and ours.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

One Week, One Day and Maybe Another

I saw this while rummaging through the selections on Amazon Instant Video and decided to give it a shot. Joshua Jackson plays guy in his twenties that gets diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and very little chance of surviving treatment. His character, Ben, opts to ignore treatment and take a motorcycle trek across the country (the film takes place in Canada) in search of the life he hasn't, and won't get the chance to live. Along the way, we are treated to beautiful scenery, and Ben's desire to find every "world's largest" roadside attraction along with some poignant interactions that certainly made me stop and think about not only their significance in the story line, but a greater meaning beyond the film.

There is clearly a message and I think it is ultimately delivered in an interesting way. Joshua Jackson's performance is quite good though the rest of the cast fell a little short for me, fortunately, their role in the film was minimal and Jackson was good enough to carry them along in their interactions.

While I felt at times the pacing was on the slow side, at film's end I found that forgivable as I could see how it may have been deliberate. The very end offered an interesting surprise and an a-ha moment that added some value for me as well.

Overall, I think it's worth watching, there were some very touching moments and I like the idea of the story.
**************************************
Last night, as you know if you read my post, I was impatiently waiting to see if I had to go to work today and was upset that while more than 350 schools in the areas closed and gave the word in advance, as of 1 am, I had no idea. My alarm sounded at 5am and still, no indication of closure. I rubbed the sandman out of my eyes and had a bowl of cereal and check email, and then, around 5:22 or so, word came through that the school would be closed until 5pm.

My reaction, and I was alone at the time (my daughter was still sleeping), "Fucking assholes! It's about time!" Then, I went back to bed and while I remained in bed for a couple of hours, I never really fell back into a nice deep sleep.

About 9:30 or so, I went out to tackle the snow throwing process. In all fairness, it wasn't to bad, other than the bitter cold, the actual moving of the snow was quite simple.

In heating news, after a couple of weeks of no problems maintaining the 65 degree temperature set on my thermostat (of course we were amidst an Indian summer), today I woke up to 60 degrees upstairs and 62 downstairs. Something clearly is wrong!

Friday I am heading to a regional user group meeting for Blackboard (the software we use for elearning). Nice to go on these occasional off campus jaunts and hang with colleagues from other colleges and share best practices and other nerdy education/technology stuff.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Baseball Stupidity and Bad Weather

Masahiro Tanaka, a star pitcher in Japan is all the rage right now here in the U.S. I suspect teams will pay millions, maybe tens of millions just for the privilege of speaking to his representation and then he will get another boatload, tens of millions per year for who knows how long and guess what - there is a very high chance that he will stink! I've talked about this on this blog once before, the game of baseball played in Japan is different enough that the stats are an unreliable measure of performance. Most of the players brought over do not succeed and are not worth the money they are paid - why do they continue to waste this money?

Winter has returned in these parts, the school that I work at closed early to provide enough time for commuters to travel ahead of the arriving snow storm. As we are in the think of the storm now, 364 schools across the state of MA have closed for tomorrow, mine has not - no other word comes to mind but stupid.

I don't actually like snow days, I quite frankly have to work far harder moving snow, which is something I hate doing as opposed to my job, which I actually like. The thing is, with so many schools surrounding closing, childcare becomes an issue as does commuting, and several other things. With that in mind, doesn't it make sense to announce closing earlier rather than later so that people can sleep in if they want and not have to get up at 5 am just to find out they don't need to be awake that early? Again, stupid!

I'm done :)

Book Review: Darkly Dreaming Dexter


Having seen the entire TV series without ever reading the books, I decided to take a stab (pun intended) at this series to see the genesis of the Dexter character, learn how they adapted the story line, and of course, hopefully read a good book.

Up until about half way through this first book, the TV series not only adapted the story as written, but lifted it almost exactly as it happened. The latter half, especially the ending, was a far less literal adaptation but it was clear to me (and will be to you if you watched the series as to how they adapted the story).

I think one of the greatest challenges for me after having seen what was a terrific series (except for the finale which almost blew the entire series (for me, from a story telling perspective) was whether or not the writing could hold my attention feeling like I might be able to predict what might happen. In the end, especially the very end of the book, I have to say that I enjoyed reading this and will at least check out the next one.

I think where Lindsay succeeds most is his ability to weave the dark side of the Dexter Morgan character through what Melissa Niksic of the Vine voice states, "a blend of dark humor, intense drama, mystery and suspense, and good old-fashioned blood and gore." I think this particular balance helps the book flow quite easily, keeps the reader at a high level of engagement and keeps the story fresh.

I look forward to the next book, "Dearly Devoted Dexter" sometime up the road.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Guilt Trip and Other Long Weekend Notes

I watched the movie "The Guilt Trip" today and found myself to be entertained throughout, plenty of laughs, and a sweet story. I give this movie a thumbs up.

Friday night was relatively uneventful, so much so, I don't recall anything about it - other than I stood home.

Saturday evening I went to see my friend Jessie perform. Jessie released her first album on January 1st. Click her name to go to her website and check out her music and if you like it, consider supporting local music by purchasing it on iTunes.

Sunday, after church, my daughter and I had some Thai food at a place we hadn't tried before. It was okay, nothing special but also, nothing bad.

Today, I got up early and got a workout in. After I showered, I woke up my kid, who slept in and I made her a nice breakfast. We both were lazy-ish the rest of the day - she stayed in her PJ's until her mom came to pick her up at around 3 pm or so.

In the news today, I learned that a bunch of kids are now crushing up the candy smarties and snorting them! Seriously, where the fuck are they getting this from?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Review: "Stoughton House of Brews"

Since this blog is international, it seems a bit silly to be posting a review of a place in a very small town in Massachusetts. The reason I am doing so is because I want to have enough space to write a review that I think fairly expresses my opinion in a space where the owner of the place can't delete it because it may have some things that he don't like. I posted to their Facebook page earlier and it seems that post has disappeared and the owner got a bit defensive - which I understand - I didn't come off well and he's just trying to defend his business.

Let me start off by saying that this is a rather lovely place. While small, I think that the owners have made nice use of their space and have done a great job creating a warm, inviting and welcoming atmosphere. The staff that I have interacted with are wonderful and even the owner, I should say owners, were both on premises both times I've been there are do a great job of making rounds to everyone and seeing that everyone is happy. I have no doubt that both care deeply about this business and both clearly work very hard.

I love the idea that by day they operate as a café and by evening, I hate to just say a bar - perhaps lounge is a better word. I'm not certain, but it really is a lovely place and I do recommend you all check it out.

Here's where I do have a problem, and I can only speak for the evening fare since I have not gone during café hours, they are terribly over priced, I mean, severely overpriced.

While in my Facebook post earlier, I gave specific examples of menu items and price, I will not do that here. I actually don't mean to discourage you from trying out this place and despite a comment that the owner replied with, this has nothing to do with what I felt was an over reaction on your part to my friend wanting to video tape the performer. If you look at some of the comments on Yelp, others feel the same way.

I know what I ordered last night and I know what the check came to. I love to support small, local business but when your charging prices that are so outrageous, especially for what you are giving (and folks, I am only referring to portions size, I must say everything I have eaten here has been delicious), it's just not affordable (for me); certainly not as a place I can frequent. Perhaps there is a rationale behind it? If so, there is a comments section here - maybe someone will care to comment, perhaps the ownership?

Perhaps you have enough of a clientele that can afford to pay those prices, if so, hey, all the best. I just like the idea of this place and while the distance from my house makes it a place I can't come to often, I will travel to see performers like Jessie Albright and stop in when I visit friends in the area, most important, I like to recommend and refer people to establishments just like this.

I wish this place great success but I also ask that the owners review their menu and their prices for everything. Regardless of the net effect, I would encourage everyone who might be in the Stoughton area to try out this place and offer your own take to the owners, they will most likely be there. I know they care about this business and I wish them great success - maybe I am off base, but I think they can make a good thing really great.

Mingles

This story takes place over 25 years ago, so the smaller details about positioning and size are as best as I recall them and all approximations that work toward the end result, which I recall pretty vividly.

Oh jeez, I believe it was some time in the 80's, a group of us ventured into a bar on the upper east side of Manhattan called Mingles. It was quite crowded and there were two bars, one closer to the front and one at the rear.

I recall that as we were positioned, the front bar was to our left, I'd guess about 10-15 feet away and the rear bar was straight ahead, I'd guess a good 20-25 feet away (maybe a bit more). At each of the bars was a large red flashing siren and when one of them went off, it was 25 cent shots until it went off.

Of course, the thick crowds waited with anticipation of this event and the first light to go off was the one furthest from us, way in the rear. Almost without missing a beat, our friend Roberto seemingly body surfed his way to the rear bar and dropped what I recall being a $20 bill on the bar and asked for as many "Woo-Woo" shots as can be poured. Woo-woo's were our shot of choice back then and there were now plenty to go around.

I don't recall anything else from that night except that! It's a great story. Years later, a few years ago that is...at one of our friends reunions, I thought it would be fun to mix up some woo-woo's and have a few. Of course, we were all older and mature adults with families, so we did so responsibly, but it was still pretty fun and they were still quite delicious!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Review: The Night Circus

Back in January of 2013, Sicilian Mama reviewed this book on the book blog as part of her favorite books of 2012. Her review was part of what made me want to read this book and I thought I would include what she wrote here:

"The Night Circus - Have you ever read a book that you were afraid to put down because you were afraid you were going to miss something? That's how Erin Morgenstern's debut novel was for me. It has mixed review on Goodreads, but I absolutely loved it. I recommended it to pretty much everyone I know who loves to read and I even bought it as gifts for my besties for their birthdays. In fact, I just went out and bought a copy for myself so I could reread it again. That's how amazing it was - I'll reread it less than a year after reading it for the first time! Seriously, though, it was magical. Truly magical."

I must agree with the "truly magical" statement, on several different levels but for me, the most important one being the writing/storytelling. This was a rare book where not only did the imagery provide a visual backdrop, but it somehow provided a feel, at times haunting, at times exciting and always, magical.

As I recently mentioned to all of you, I personally don't like the writing device that takes the reader back and forth to and from different periods in time, Morgenstern does that in this book but at least the time periods are relatively close together - which for me, made it easier to follow and more tolerable. I don't know that the general public has nearly as hard a time as I do with this technique but for me, it takes a little bit away from the overall reading experience. That said, the things that were really great about this book were really great. I don't think it's a stretch to call it a period piece but it didn't feel dated, I felt pulled right in and a part of it all.

I can't say the story itself was flawless, but I guess if you pick carefully enough, you can find flaws in anything. The good news here, they don't affect how I feel about this book. If you love to read and have your imagination challenged while still providing s story that makes sense, and has you feeling something, I highly recommend this; I still have chills from some of this!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

R.I.P. Danny

I learned today of the recent passing of my cousin Danny. When I was younger, we'd visit that side of the family, those cousins, maybe 2 or 3 times a year - he was my brother's age!

I'm sad and almost speechless. Rest in peace cuzz!

OBITUARY

Daniel Colella AGE: 55 • Spotswood
Daniel Colella died Thursday, January 2, 2014 at home surrounded by his family. He was 55. Born in Brooklyn, NY., he resided in East Brunswick before moving to Spotswood 16 years ago. He was an insurance account executive for The Travelers in New York City for the past five years, and held a CPCU Certificate, one of the insurance industry's highest award.

He was a communicant of St. Bartholomew RC Church, East Brunswick. Surviving are his wife of 32 years, Joanne Maio Colella; two sons, Nicholas and Joseph, both of Spotswood; a daughter, Roseanne of Spotswood; his parents, Nicholas and Vita Paredes Colella of Monroe Township; a sister Debbie and her husband John Nicholson of Middletown; a nephew, Sean and a niece, Francesca.

Funeral services will be held on Monday at 10:00 AM in the Rezem Funeral Home, 457 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick, followed by an 11:00 AM Mass of Christian Burial at St. Bartholomew Church, East Brunswick. Cremation will be private. Relatives and friends may call at the funeral home on Sunday 2-4 & 7-9 PM. Memorial contributions may be made to the Colon Cancer Alliance, 1440 Coral Ridge Drive, Suite 386, Coral Springs, FL., 33071. For information, directions or to send condolences to family, visit www.rezemfh.com

Briefly Mentioning Headlines


  • Chris Christie finally proved that ultimately, he's a politician, and worse, a republican one. Disappointing on some level, but not surprising.
  • A-Rod should be banned from MLB for life and Pete Rose should be reinstated and immediately elected to the hall of fame, retroactively.
  • Despite loving technology and all the fun "toys", it's beginning to scare me a bit and I also have a hard time digesting the amount of R&D $$$ that goes into the entertainment industry when there is still so much to be done with medical research. This of course doesn't surprise me because toys are more profitable over the long haul, but it disappoints me (and I'm part of the problem because I buy into so much of the new technology).
  • I hear that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are planning to perform together on the grammy awards show. This is not a big enough event for me to tune in - not going to waste 3.5 hours for what may be 3-8 minutes of something that might be worth seeing, especially when the clip will likely be isolated and somewhere on the Internet within hours after. I am most certain most if not all of the rest of the show will not be worth watching.
  • WWE legend Mae Young, one of the original female professional wrestlers, died at the age of 90. Young never stopped being entertaining! Rest in peace.
  • New Springsteen album released yesterday..love it! Different type of release but great stuff.
  • How many of you are nothing but confused anytime something hits the news related to health? It's all so confusing and conflicting.
  • Kanye is a thug, and talentless - please, make him go away forever!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Christmas Comedy and Water Filtration (and Softening)

This is a post from FB by someone I grew up with back on East 28th St. in Brooklyn, along with my (in my opinion) killer comical reply.

Several folks got a kick out of it, that made me happy. I especially love when slightly risqué humor works effectively.
*****************************************
My current water filtration system is a reverse osmosis system that only feeds into the kitchen sink, and I think the refrigerator. As go through the kitchen remodel, I've evaluated some flaws and problems with this older system and am seeking to replace it.

I also have a water softener, one of the "traditional" salt based systems. This is also an old system and has ceased working all together.

I called Culligan, the manufacturer of both but am also seriously considering a system by Pelican, that treats water in the "whole house", I like this.
*****************************************
Bonus material:

I am most looking forward to the AFC championship gamin this coming Sunday afternoon pitting the Denver Broncos against the New England Patriots. If both teams come out playing as they did in their previous games, football fans are in for a treat.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cut!

If a director can't make a film in 100 minutes or less, they have no business making films. Anything over 100 minutes is at best pretentious and at worst, poor film making. While I concede there are exception, for the most part, I believe this to be true. In fact, I have almost no inclination in the modern era of film making to go see a movie in a theater. If  a movie exceeds 100 minutes, I automatically assume there's a far greater chance I will not enjoy it and there's at least a 50% greater chance I will never see it.

The other ridiculous thing in the film world is the adaptation/sequel thing. Ugh! I can't think of one I have any desire to see.

I'll leave it at that and throw the ball in your court. I know you are reading, please, throw a comment below and share your thoughts.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Book Review: Step On A Crack

Patterson cranks out so many books using what I assume is something of an outsourcing model, that I am constantly amazed at how the quality control piece of the puzzle works so efficiently.

I had been lax for the last couple of years and fell behind in my quest to make it through all of his works and found myself in an offering from 2007, and the 46th of his books that I've now read.

Step on a Crack introduces a new series of books featuring the character Michael Bennett, a detective and father of 10 adopted children of various cultural backgrounds.

While at it's core, the Patterson formula is at work here, there are some wonderful components involving Bennett's family, an Au Pair that I suspect will continue to appear in future Bennett books, and a short but elegant introduction to the story featuring a beloved first lady and President.

the typical emotions one might feel in a detective/thriller were significantly amplified my triggers that come from relatable, real-life situations that had me so deeply ensconced in the story that I completed this novel the day after I began reading it.

Shaken, Not Stirred (But Spun)

I debated staying in on Friday night and just finishing my book, watch some TV, and laying low. As many of my colleagues joked this week, the first back after the holiday season, "these five day work weeks are exhausting".

Against my better judgment, I went to see my pals "The Road Dawgs", who were playing at a venue I swore to myself I'd never return to because it's nothing short of a shit shack. Let me first make sure you understand that the lack of good judgment has nothing to do with the band, I consider them friends and they are fun. That particular venue is just disgusting though.

I departed after the second set of the three scheduled as I was tired and it was closing in on midnight. Unbeknownst to me until this morning, a buddy of my friend Ameesh, who was also there, had his jacket stolen and rear windshield busted - I wasn't even aware just how much of a shit shack this place was.

There was a dense fog and precipitation that was cold enough to make the ground beneath slippery, I assumed that would be the case on the road, so my driving speed was adjusted for safety. I intentionally took a back road to be off of the busier main road; that turned out to be a potentially life saving move.

Less than a mile from my house, cruising at a speed of about 33 miles per hour, my car just began to slide. I attempted to maintain control, and stay calm but I just began to spin...540 degrees later, pointed against traffic, the car came to a stop. I had backed onto the curb behind me at one point but there was no obvious damage at the time (I haven't looked yet today, in the light). My tires remained inflated, I took a deep breath, thanked God for being safe, and for not peeing myself, them very slowly proceeded home.

I will not go back to the KasBar, despite that venue having nothing to do with the turn of events for me. I just don't want to patronize a shit shack, there is no reason to. I always try toe exercise caution while driving, especially when I am on the road in weather conditions that make driving more difficult.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Posted from a Phone

I had to do something today that was very uncomfortable, but it was the right thing to do. I don't think it's a great idea to elaborate here but will gladly discuss privately with anyone interested... You know how to reach me.

I've undressed my Christmas tree but it still stands bare in its base, the trash won't pick it up until Monday so I may as well keep it where it is... And enjoy it for a few more days.

What's with those dudes walking around in shorts when it's 8 below zero? What are you trying to prove? And to whom?

I'm curious to see how the NFL playoffs pan out this weekend... Go Pats!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Book Review: Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking

Disclaimer:  The author of this book, Erin Dionne, is a personal friend of mine, that affects this review in exactly two ways: 1. It's extremely unlikely I would have read a "Young Adult" novel had it not been written by a friend. 2. Had I not liked this book, I'd not have published a review.

I'll start this with the one line I wrote on Facebook to the "Books I've Read" section: "While this book is marketed as "Young Adult", if you like to read, appreciate good writing and a good story, this is really a wonderful book."

Moxie was just an ordinary middle school kid preparing to have that one last fun summer with her best friend Ollie before they left for different high schools and as the author put it, "social gravity" did what it always does. An unexpected visit from an impractically dressed red headed woman changed the landscape of the next two weeks (and probably the rest of) her life by landing her, and by default, her pal Ollie, in the middle of one of the great mysteries of the 20th century, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Art Heist.

Through one of the best Boston based band soundtracks, a simple set of creative and well crafted characters and a backdrop that features one of the most historic cities and it's great landmarks, the author brings us along with Moxie and Ollie on an adventure that made me curious, taught me something, got me to really care about the characters and try to guess what would happen next, it made me tap my feet to the sound of the music and sing along as I imagined them in the scenes as they played through my mind, it made me laugh, several times and it even brought some tears.

This is a well imagined story that I had a very hard time putting down, a real page turner that I truly loved. There are a number of other reviews out there on Amazon and other book sites but I suggest reading the book before the reviews, many of them reveal more than they need to about the wonderful cast and while they don't ruin it in any way, I think it's more fun to just jump in...the water is warm and it will feel great, I promise!
*********************************************
I will take the liberty of lifting something from the author's blog regarding the music I refer to:
"I've made a playlist of some of Moxie's favorite songs. They were songs that I listened to a lot while I was writing the book, songs that Moxie listens to in the novel, and there's even one that Moxie doesn't like. You figure out which one that is. You can find the playlist on Spotify if you're into that (you can follow me there--bostonerin). If you're not, here's the track list:"

Aerosmith – Sweet Emotion
Aerosmith – Seasons of Wither (Live)
Dropkick Murphys – I'm Shipping Up To Boston
Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Where'd You Go
Dropkick Murphys – Memorial Day
The Del Fuegos – Don't Run Wild
The Cars – You Might Think
The Standells – Dirty Water
Letters To Cleo – Cruel To Be Kind
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – The Impression That I Get - Album Version (Edited)
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Someday I Suppose
J. Geils Band – Freeze-Frame - 2006 - Remaster
The J. Geils Band – Musta Got Lost - Live
The Cars – Good Times Roll
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – I Want My City Back
Dropkick Murphys – The Boys Are Back
Aerosmith – Come Together
Dropkick Murphys – Sunshine Highway
Dann Russo – Ruby Red Hair
Letters To Cleo – I Want You To Want Me

" If you're not familiar with these tunes, I hope you check them out. I'd love to know if you find a new favorite."

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

CES and Things

The annual consumer electronics show is in full force out in Vegas and reading the daily reports of all the new tech toys in the pipeline is pretty amazing. Do you get excited at technology?

You ever stop and think about the advances in technology over the span of your own life? Regardless of how old you are, it's a pretty amazing progression.

Transition....

I just sent an email to the people at the company doing the work in my kitchen to get a status update. The big wait was for the cabinets, which had a 6-8 week lead time, which falls around now. I'm both nervous and anxious about getting this job over and done with but it's likely once it starts, I'll be without kitchen for 3-6 weeks...that scares the crap out of me!

The heat in my house was just fine for a few days, right now, not awesome...bearable, but a few about 5 degrees off or so; it seems to have a hard time keeping up with the extreme cold. I changed the variances which seemed to held but even at a mere 3 degrees, it seems to have stalled in this cold and it's actuallyy colder upstairs than the bottom out temp I set the programmable thermostat for...hmmmm!

I'm hitting the sack...be warm (if you are cold!)

Monday, January 06, 2014

Back to Work, The Fog Rolled In, Indian Summer

Today was my first day back to work in a few weeks - it was nice to get back, a bit hectic as always after being away but nothing unbearable (except maybe for one specific colleague).

It was intensely foggy this morning! Visibility was almost non-existent. Thankfully my commute is very short.

After a few days where temps reached as cold as like -14 or something, today topped off as high as 54 degrees! Now, we are heading back down to negative temps....what was that about global warming?

New Springsteen album drops next Tuesday but in a cross promotion, CS.com is streaming it all week for free. If you are interested, listen here (link will only bee good until release). I'm listening now, for the second time....solid!

Here's a great drinking game, that is, if you want to get totally fucked up...every time you hear the words "Polar vortex" in the next 24 hours, take a drink.

When did the whole holding up a poster board with some bullshit thing that may or may not be real on it then posting it to FB start? Can we stop it now? I just find it creepy.

I guess that about wraps things up for this evening. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Book Review: Up All Night-My Life and Times in Rock Radio

It’s hard for me to be overly critical about this book because of the author. Carol Miller, a long time host rock radio personality in New York, was someone I listened to from the mid-seventies through most of the nineties when I left NYC to move to MA. Not only was I a big fan but I had a huge crush on her, what dude in their right mind didn’t? And, I had the great privilege of meeting her when I was at a party for the band Europe when they received their gold record for their album “The Final Countdown”. At that event, I actually had the chance to sit and speak with Carol Miller for a few minutes, she was super cool and I did my best to not be a complete buffoon.

I enjoyed reading this book very much because Carol Miller means something to me. So when she talks about things like her personal life, battles with illness and cancer, it was like reading about a dear friend who went through all of this deep stuff and you wished you could have been there to help them through, it was emotional.

When she talked about the challenges of being a woman in a male dominated field, about the disgusting abusive situations she was put in by management, I wanted to go beat the crap out these assholes for messing with one of my peeps. More important, it put a real perspective on a very real situation that still lingers in society today where woman are simply not treated as equals on so many levels.
From the title of the book, “Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radio”, I was expecting some great larger than life stories about the larger than life rock and roll stars that I listened to Carol Miller play on the radio for so many years. The stories that were included did not disappoint, there were a few doozies for certain. I just felt that the title led me to believe that is what would dominate the book and perhaps its part my fault for the assumption, but I also must blame the publishers and editors who moved forward the final manuscript under this title.

As someone who grew up in the area where carol Miller gained her popularity and radio persona, I think the book works overall. As I’ve implied above, if you were a listener, you have a relationship and care about the personal stuff enough that it all works just fine; like I said, I enjoyed reading this book and in fact, finished it in three days. I question the overall appeal to someone that might not know who Carol Miller is or only knows of her peripherally. I question if the balance of the material in the book is enough to appeal to that broader audience.
For certain, the personal stuff will touch all people, it’s all very real and it’s quite likely that most readers will be able to associate with the stories of Miller’s life and perhaps that will be enough; I hope so only because I would like to see this book sell well for two reasons: I am a lifelong fan of Carol Miller and she deserves for it to be successful and, 5% of the proceeds are being donated to breast cancer research.

I would love to have read a book that was all about the radio stuff and the music and radio business interactions. I think it would even have worked if the personal stuff stayed put but there were a hundred or so pages more of the music stuff, it wouldn't have made the book too long - though I guess from the publisher end, it would have cost more to produce, but then again, if it sold enough more units to offset the additional cost...who knows? Not me, I can only say that in the end, if I invest the time to read a book, I need to get a return and when all was said and done, I got my money's worth.
****************************************
Here's a brief interview she did while promoting the book:

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Does Home Ownership Ever Get Easier?

Amazing how the heat decides to stop working properly just when it is needed most...and other such tales that most of you I suspect are already aware of, and for many, have dealt with.

My heat thing is odd, the boiler appears to be working and for some reason, my gut, my very untrained in these affairs gut, thinks the thermostats are the problem but could both have with the bed at once? I guess it's possible, they are the same model and both installed at the same time. My plan is to replace them to see if that resolves the issue and if not, then call the big guns (plumber...cha-ching!).

For now, I got Billy Joel blasting, gonna hit the shower, head to Home Depot then try to deal with heat problem while prepping a dish for a pot luck at 3....better run, catchya later!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Moving the Snow and Other Tales from a Cold Winter's Day

The storm hit, and  fortunately, the buildup of snow was not all that bad; perhaps assisted by my foresight to move what fell yesterday yesterday, so that it wasn't part of the accumulation. I would venture to guess I had somewhere around 7-9 inches on average to move today, relatively easy snow to work with though it was pretty cold out there.

I got through it alright, snow thrower was a champ, and I was even able to carve out a nice walking path on the sidewalk which serves two purposes: (1) A clear, safer path for those who are attempting to navigate the town on foot and may pass in front of my property and (2) make the damage from the town sidewalk clearer negligible.

I remembered that I am going to a pot-luck tomorrow, so I had to figure out what to make and considering the weather, my gut thought comfort food was the best idea and with that, I decided on tater tot casserole. I seem to have misplaced the recipe I used last time I made it so while in search of it via Internet, I stumbled on a different one that looks delightful, and so it will be made.

The recipe I found is here. Finding it led me to a blog I may end up referencing a lot.

I am about half way through NY radio legend Carol Miller's autobiography. I learned of it from my pal Dan who mentioned it on FB, good read so far - I will post a review after I finish.

Stay warm if you are in the cold areas of the land (I am trying to, my heat is a bit fritzy but holding on enough, for now).

Later for now.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Noreaster Notes

Yesterday I wrote about the book "Everything is Illuminated", today, I went ahead and watched to movie. The screenplay was written by actor Liev Schrieber, who also directed the film and I have to say I was quite pleased with how he told the story in this adaptation. I could get nitpicky about little things but in the end, I enjoyed the film and thought it was a worth while investment of my time.

Today was all about the Noreaster, the storm, the winds, the roads. Most of the action today was annoying but only a precursor to the big stuff. Here's a pet peeve, the fucking pretentious news and weather cut-ins to all the TV shows. Look, we know there is a storm and we know its snowing, unless you have something new to tell me that is urgent, wait until the news is on and stop interrupting the TV shows I am watching to be entertained while I am stuck in the house because of the storm....assholes!

I'm not sure if there is a problem with the heat or just the thermostats, or that it's jut that freaking cold, but I can't get the temperature in my house to rise beyond a certain point and its a bit cooler than I wish.

I wonder if I have a tapeworm today, I am constantly hungry!!!!

:)

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Book Review: Everything is Illuminated

I recently heard of this book listening to Pop Culture Happy Hour on NPR; Linda Holmes was talking about it and I was intrigued and requested it from the library. Only once I received it did I realize it was over a decade old - but I hadn't read it so it was new to me!

Probably makes more sense to talk about what I didn't like about because there was only one thing about it that I didn't love - and that's the way the story is written. I've never liked the kind of novels that go back and forth from one point in time to a completely different point in time (ore more than one other period) and go back and forth. I know this is not an uncommon technique and in some cases it works better than others but as a general rule, I am not a fan - I have a hard time keeping track of it all!

That said, I found this book entertaining and while dubbed a work of fiction, if one were to reveal some time later that it was actually biographical (or autobiographical), it wouldn't surprise me.

I liked the story and the characters seemed very familiar, which I attribute to growing up in Brooklyn and before I left in 1997,  had been immersed in Eastern European culture simply because it was where I was. I suspect the fact that Foer was in his mid-twenties when he wrote this accounts for some of the tone (especially the comic relief) and while I would be curious what this book would have been had he been 10-20 years older when he wrote it, I don't have a problem with the end product.

For me, the most clever effect of the writing was being able to read about the Holocaust and still be able to laugh and not feel like a complete heal or disrespectful jerk. I attribute this mostly to the development of the characters who give voice to the story.

In the end, I found this book hard to put down and one of those reads that found myself slowing down as I was winding down only for the purpose of stretching it out so it didn't have to end. If you haven't yet read this one, I highly recommend it.