Wednesday, May 16, 2007

No Sleep 'Til . . .

I just read an article (here) about a guy named Tony Wright. He is, at this very moment (Wednesday night), attempting to break the sleep deprivation record. He is coming up on three whole days awake.

The current record was set back in 1964. A 17 year old named Randy Gardner went 264 hours without sleep. Tony Wright thinks he can beat this.

If you want to follow along and see if the record falls, you can watch it live via a web cam. Click here. From the looks of it, I guess he's just going to play pool for the next few days.

Of course, not sleeping does all kinds of weird stuff to your body and your mind so maybe we can witness a mental breakdown or something!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Vacation Ends

Well, that's it!

I decided to drive home today (Saturday) so I will have one day to recover from vacation before the shock of going back to work.

Alex and I ended the trip on a high note (weather excluded) by taking Jacob and Lauren to a Toledo Mudhens game Friday night.

Unfortunately, the only interest the kids had in the game was the M & M's Alex brought for them. Oh yeah, and the popcorn and pretzel. But they did well, considering the game started after their normal bed time, the temperature was below 50 degrees, and it was between misting and drizzling most of the time.

The highlight was when Jacob and Alex went "potty." Lauren and I were standing over the right field corner when a foul ball came rolling towards us. The Mudhen's right fielder picked it up and tossed it to us! Both of us were shocked.

I had to break the news to Jacob when he got back that he missed Uncle Joe catching a ball.

It gets even better after that! We left the game around the sixth inning and, on the way to the car, we found another game ball on the sidewalk! Both Jacob and Lauren ended up with baseballs.

The kids were so excited that they didn't even sleep on the ride home until we were almost in the driveway. Lauren was taking everything we said and repeating it over and over. It was pretty funny. She may have been delirious from being so far past bedtime.

So that's it. Vacation's over. I have a million other stories (really, a million!) to share so will have to add them to the blog before they drift from my memory. This Ohio trip has been the most fun and I even got some relaxation in during "quiet time" in the afternoon.

Now let's see if I can deal with going back to work on Monday!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Vacation Begins

Can we talk about something other than the Yankees?

For those of you who are not baseball fans, this was not the best weekend for the Yanks. My brother and I were excited to watch three games against the Red Sox all with national TV coverage so we get to see them here in Ohio. And in every game, the Yankees were embarrassed by the Red Sox.

Friday night Mariano Rivera blew a save, after a great pitching performance by Andy Pettitte and two home runs from A-Rod. Sunday night, the Yankees gave up four straight home runs to Red Sox batters enabling the first sweep of the Yankees at Fenway since 1990. Great.

OK, enough about that. The Yankees are playing the Devil Rays tonight so I'm fairly certain their fortunes will change for the better.

Who wants to hear about Ohio?

I left my house Friday morning at exactly 4:20 AM (on 4/20) and didn't stop until I was at the Waffle House in Scranton, PA, 200 miles later. I really was tired on that leg of the trip, but there was very little traffic (I wonder why at that hour?!?!) and the time flew by.

As a lot of you know, I couldn't wait to get to the Waffle House. I walked in and was immediately greeted with a "Good Morning!" and I answered, "I'm so glad to see you!"
I sat at the counter overlooking the grill and it was definitely worth the drive. The food, coffee, and service were exceptional. I made sure to tell them I would be back next Sunday.

The rest of the drive to Ohio was surprisingly uneventful and easy. I made it to Bowling Green at about 3:30 PM with no back pain and I only used about 1-1/3 tanks of gas.

I unpacked, ate dinner, and then Alex and I went out to Grumpy Dave's to see a band composed of a some of his students. I think Alex was as tired as I was.

It was a fun night and we made it until about 1:00 AM. I got to meet a lot of his students (they all called him "Dr. Goberman"!) and they were extremely nice. Alex quit after two beers but I kept going until we left. I did feel a little old hanging out with all these college students, but Alex and I enjoyed reminiscing about our college days.
Morning came early on Saturday but we had plans for the Toledo Zoo. Alex, Jacob, Lauren, and I went (we even remembered the stroller this time!). Both kids have been to this zoo many times so they know exactly where they want to go. Jacob read the map and was our tour guide.

The highlight for me was watching Jacob and Lauren on the carousel. Lauren was very hesitant about getting on and she was hanging on for dear life when it started spinning, but she loved it! I was really proud of her for keeping up with her big brother.

After a stop at "Old" McDonald's and a little quiet time, the rest of the afternoon was spent playing outside on the playset and in the sandbox.

What a first 24 hours in Ohio! As always, the kids a great and Alex and Claire couldn't be better hosts. They always made me feel comfortable. And, of course, Eli is the cutest 2-month old in the world!


It's Monday night now and Alex and I are heading out to Kroger's for some Vernor's and ice cream (which I just learned is called a Boston Cooler). I'll try to post tomorrow about our Sunday and Monday adventures (including a train ride and fire trucks!).

Ohio!

Wow- it's already Monday and I haven't posted anything about my trip yet!

We have been so busy that I am only about half way done uploading my pictures from my first day here. I don't know how Alex and Claire do it- these kids never stop moving!

Anyway, Alex and I now have my web stream working from his house so check it out below. I'll try to keep it on when we're home (which isn't often!).

I have uploaded some videos to youtube from Saturday. My favorite is below. I was having the kids call me "Uncle Tater" in public to see if anyone would look at us funny.

Click here for more videos. In some of them you can see Eli smiling, which he just learned to do in the past few days.

Now I'm off to school with Jacob and Lauren. We're taking a field trip to the fire house!








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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Travelling Man

When I travel by car, I look forward to the drive as much as anything.

From the first day I got my license, I would drive anywhere just to say I did it. I had a sweet deal, too- I could use my dad's company car any time I wanted and they paid for all the gas. Can you imagine that?

Of course, it was too good to be true. After I crashed the car head-on in to a tree, I was banned from the company car.

So I bought my own car. I picked up a 1984 Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser which previously used by the Clinton Police Department as car 13. As long as I could afford to put gas in it (14 miles per gallon), the highways were mine.

In college, my friends and I took many road trips. We drove to Washington D.C. in the middle of the night, walked up the steps of the Capital building, then turned around and drove back to school. I drove to Florida a few times. One time I just woke up on the Saturday of spring break, told my mom I was going to Daytona, and left that morning. She thought I was crazy.

And for all the trips I made, I used a pocket map of the United States. I would look at it and think, "It's only 1/2 inch on the map, how long can that take?" Of course, the scale of the map would mean that it would take many hours to travel the "1/2 inch."

Today, I don't travel anywhere without planning the drive ahead of time. I gather maps, printed directions, my cell phone, and at least two water bottles. And with gas nearly $3.00 per gallon, it's cheaper to fly most places than drive anyway.

I viewed a web site recently about a guy who left work at 5:00 PM on a Friday, visited all 50 states on his week-long vacation, and was back to his job at 8:00 AM Monday morning. He drove a rental car to all 48 of the contiguous states and flew to Alaska and Hawaii.




He drove over 8500 miles, stopped for gas 22 times, and the whole trip cost about $2750. In order to hit all the states in just over a week, he had to drive about 1100 miles per day.

Pretty amazing. You can read all about it
here, how he planned for it here, and he answers many of the questions he's been asked about the trip here.

I think the part I like best about the trip is that he didn't tell any of his co-workers about it beforehand. He just left work on Friday and started driving. It wasn't until after the drive and he was back at work that he told people about it.

A little lower on the coolness scale, is the story of a man named Winter, who has "dedicated his life" to visiting every Starbucks in the world. A DVD about his quest named Starbucking is being released this month. Read more
here and watch the trailer below.



Happy Trails!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Uncle Jay Explains the News

I missed a week of Uncle Jay Explains so here are two of them:


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunday, Rainy Sunday

Another washout today.

Rain, rain go away,
Joe and his kayak wanna play.

I don't think the weather around here can get any worse. We have had about a month of cold and rainy weather. It's spring for crying out loud. The temperatures are supposed to be close to 60 degrees.

About a month ago, one of the weathermen (or as they like to be called, meteorologists) said that we have a cold and stormy pattern developing in the Northeast and it looks like it is going to stay around for awhile. I laughed it off, thinking that, this time of year, when the sun is out, the temperatures shoot up to the 60's at least.

Well, for once the weathermen were right. Since then, the weather has been horrible.
Yesterday, I tried to go kayaking but the wind was blowing too hard.

Today, we are having a major Nor'easter in Connecticut. Right now it is snowing in northern Connecticut. Later this afternoon, the winds are supposed to be up to 50 miles per hour with flooding rains. Of course, the weathermen try to
hype up every storm to be bigger than it really is, but at least some people put it in perspective.

This coming week, the forecast is for showers on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday!

How about a little humor to shake this gloomy weather?

Here's Will Ferrell in a short film called The Landlord:


Do you like puppets?

Here is Jeff Dunham with Walter:


More puppets?

This is Kevin Johnson with two of his friends:


Keep dry!


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sports Videos

Whenever I see an interesting video on the internet (and I watch a lot of them), I save it for future use on my blog.

I have so many saved, I'll probably never post all of them. I think that some subject will come up that I can write about and incorporate the videos. Most of the time this doesn't happen.

In any case, here are a few of the videos I have enjoyed (or cringed at) recently.

This first one is a high school cheerleading highlight video by a guy named Simon. I used to know a male cheerleader when I was at UConn and, regardless of my preconceived ideas about male cheerleaders, he was a jerk. He was always bragging about how he worked out harder than any of the basketball players, how he could bench press more weight, run farther, and on and on. He was actually a little chubby, so I don't know if he was telling the truth or not. I kind of doubt it.

Here's the video:



Next is a video of a couple of Washington Wizards NBA players having a three-point shooting contest during practice. The players are Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson. Arenas shoots one-handed, then acts like fool while Stevenson is shooting, but they are both pretty good shooters.



This video is from a slam dunk contest in Europe (?) where a white player tries to slam over a woman from the crowd. She should have known better:



The last video has to do with the most upstanding citizen, "Pac-Man" Jones. He is one of the worst of the worst when it comes to NFL players and crime. This video is definitely R-rated, so watch it at your own risk.



Oh, yeah, and Happy Easter!


Friday, April 06, 2007

R.I.P. Grandma

My grandmother died.

96 years old! She broke her hip a few months ago and was home mending from that. According to my dad, she began having trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital where she passed away.

I know it sounds really mean, but I haven't talked to her in 15 years or so. The last time I saw her was at one of my brother's wedding- I don't even remember which one.
I know many kids are close to their grandparents and with both parents working, sometimes the grandparents practically raise the kids.

My relationship with my grandmother was not like that. She lived in Jacksonville, Florida from the time I was born, so the only time I saw her was when she would visit for a few weeks in the summer.

She was a great person. She lived on her own until a few years ago, was very active in her community and loved peace.

Unfortunately, she drove my whole family crazy when she visited. My poor mom dreaded the times she would stay at our house. Of course, my dad would leave for work early every day and my mom would be stuck with his mother all day long. These were very stressful times in my house.

Some memories of my grandmother:

My family visited her at her home in Jacksonville one August and my cousins were running wild inside (where there was air conditioning). One of them knocked over her TV set, causing my grandmother to freak out and throw all the kids outside (where there was no air conditioning). It was a miserable day.

My grandmother used to travel by train back and forth from Florida. She used to say she enjoyed the 30 hours or so it took to get to Connecticut from Florida: "They served me some very nice crackers," was one of her quotes.

One time my mom and us kids were waiting for her at the Old Saybrook train station. I'm sure the train was late and my mom was probably ticked off already. As we were standing on the station platform, a dead bird fell out of the sky and landed at our feet. Me and my brothers were simply amazed. Talk about a bad omen!

Another time, my dad and I were at the New Haven train station, once again waiting for a late train. Her train pulls in, everyone gets off, and still no Grandma. Finally, a conductor gets off the train helping my grandmother. If I remember correctly, she had fallen down during the trip but refused any medical help until she reached her destination.

In high school, we forced Grandma to watch MTV with us. The Whitesnake video for Here I Go Again comes on and that model is squirming the driver of a white Jaguar while he's driving. Grandma yells, "That's a good way to get killed." I yelled back, "It does look like a good way to be killed!" She didn't think it was funny.

That same visit, we were watching professional wrestling. Totally fake but Grandma is falling for it. A wrestler is writhing on the mat in pain, and Grandma's yelling, "He's hurt! He's hurt!" The more she yelled, the more we laughed. She kept screaming, "His back! He broke is back!" Very enjoyable.

She was always writing peace songs ("Peace. Peace. Peace is good. Peace. Peace. I like peace."). She would write letters to TV stations, trying to get my brothers and me our own TV segment to sing her peace songs. She would bring the lyrics of all of her songs when she would visit and force us to sing them. I think one of my brothers even played the recorder while we sang.

I could go on and on but this last memory is my favorite. It made a big impression on me when I was a little kid. My grandmother was up for her visit and she and my dad had a huge fight over something. He got so fed up, her called the airlines for a ticket, drove her to the airport, and forced her home on a plane. I remember how shocked I was. I couldn't believe that you were allowed to do things like that to your parents!

She was really a good woman. I think we drove her almost as crazy as she drove all of us. She will be missed and I'm sure she touched the lives of many people in her community.

I guess the only proper way to honor her is for all of us to join together and think of her. . .

. . . as we watch Here I Go Again:

Cold Outside, Warm Inside

Can someone please tell me why it is 35 degrees and windy today?

I have the day off, packed up my kayak and gear, drove to the lake, and it was too damn cold to go in the water!

Now, I'm stuck inside. I mean, it got so bad that I just cleaned my bathroom. Don't worry, I washed my hands before typing this post!

Anyway, enough complaining for one day. I should be happy. I have a three day weekend, this is my last day without beef, and I'm on my way to the Cuckoo's Nest for lunch. I guess it's not so bad.

I came across a few videos having to do with
bike messengers in New York City. The few times I've been to New York I've seen them bicycling in and out of traffic. I'm sure some get t-boned crossing intersections but it doesn't seem to slow them down at all.
I searched for some statistics about the dangers faced by bike messengers but couldn't find anything good. After watching this video, I'm sure that the life span of a bike messenger is very short. It's called "Bike Messengers On Crack."

This next video, however, is even more horrifying. It is a clip from a 1980's movie called
Quicksilver. Somehow, I don't think Kevin Bacon lists this movie on his resume. Or maybe he does! Watch it if you can:

I'm not really into the pedal-powered bikes. I'd rather be on a motorcycle. Here a motorcyclist that would give these bike messengers a run for their money in craziness (and stupidity).


Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I'm Not Writing Today

I have a lot of things I should be writing about.

I'm on my last week with no beef and it hasn't been bad at all (except for missing Ted's steamed cheeseburgers!).

I was kind of rude to a patron at the library Monday morning (which never happens).

"
Gloom" hit a deer with her new car over the weekend (the third deer she's t-boned since I've known her).

Baseball season started yesterday (and the Yankees already have a one game lead over the Red Sox).

But I'm just not in the mood.

I'm not feeling down or anything.

And I really want to write about all of the events listed above.

But I'm not feeling like it today.

My mind is on everything I want to get done at work before I head out to Ohio for vacation. And I'm already planning what I have to bring with me (I'm up to 4 chargers (phone, cameras, computer). And I'm obsessed with stopping at the brand new Waffle House in Scranton, PA.

Anyway, not to be a real downer, but I've come across three versions of the song
Hurt, originally done by Nine Inch Nails. This version is a little gruesome, so skip it if you can't stomach that kind of stuff:


Johnny Cash did a version of Hurt, also. It was the last video he made before his death. This is by far my favorite version and it's right up there with my favorite Cash songs:

Finally, Kermit did another version of the song. Yeah,
Kermit the Frog!

Caution: Contains Drug Use By Puppets:


Last for today, here's the latest Uncle Jay video. It's about "deja vu" in the news:

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Smokeshow Sunday (about Friday)

I worked at the library on Saturday which means I had Friday off.

Friday started off on a bad note. I was puttering around my apartment getting ready to shower when the power went out. I waited a minute, thinking it would come back on. Nothing. Then I waited five minutes. Nothing.

After an hour with no power, I figured it must be something big and I wasn't going to be taking a shower for a while. I packed up my kayak and headed to
Pattaconk Reservoir in Chester.

I stopped for a breakfast sandwich at Dunkin' Donuts and was at the lake before 9 AM. I almost didn't put the kayak in- the wind was blowing and the temperature was around 40 degrees. It felt cold!

I decided to blow up the Marge Barge anyway and I'm glad I did. Aside from a group of gnats that attacked me and my kayak, it was a great trip. Once I started moving, the wind wasn't very bad and the north end of the lake was mirror smooth. It was very relaxing (and much easier than my Connecticut River trip!).

I took a couple of videos (of course!). The one below actually has paddling footage!
Click here for others.



After a couple of hours on the Pattaconk Reservoir, I came home to find power had been restored. I took a shower, then met Kevin and Kathy for lunch at the
Cuckoo's Nest. I always like the food there, but the Shrimp and Scallop Cajun Pasta was outstanding. A good way to celebrate my last Friday of Lent and no meat.

From there, I bought $37.02 worth of car cleaning products. I took my car through a car wash (another 9 bucks) and once I got home I started waxing. I used the 3-step Meguiar's system so, in effect, I waxed my whole car three different times. Between kayaking and the waxing, my back was a mess!



I finished around 7:30 PM and my car looked really good. Unfortunately, it was almost completely dark so I could only take some night pictures of my handiwork. I made a
Photoshow of the pictures, click here for more.

Not a bad Friday off. If it wasn't for the working on Saturday part, I would really enjoy not working on Fridays!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Miniature Wonderlands

Thanks to the internet, I have found the largest model railroad in the world.

It is called Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany. Much of their information is in German, but this is an HO scaled layout with over 1000 trains, 200,000 lights, and 150,000 figures. Click here for an overview of the layout. There are many different scenes, ranging from downtown Hamburg, to the Alps, to an America section.

There are thousands of different scenes, many with a bit of humor included. Click the photo below for many others.

In this country, we have the Panorama of the City of New York located in the Queen's Museum of Art. It opened for the 1964 World's Fair and covers 9,335 square meters and includes 895,000 buildings.

When it was built, it took a team of 100 people three years to complete. When it was finished, it was the largest scale model ever constructed. It was kept up to date until 1970. The next change was initiated in 1992, when 60,000 buildings were updated.

You can read more here and here. Click the photo below for a few more pictures.

On a sad note, one of my favorite sites, Forgotten New York, recently had a story on the poor conditions of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, where the New York Panorama is located. What was once considered to be the "crown jewel" of Queens, has been left to slowly rot away. Click the photo below for the whole story.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Uncle Jay with Peyton Manning

Maybe Uncle Jay isn't as funny as I first thought, but I still like him:

Speaking of funny, Peyton Manning was recently on Saturday Night Live. While I'm still not the biggest fan of the Mannings (Peyton or Eli), this skit is hysterical:

"I think he's really hurt."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Connecticut River Kayaking

After finally finding my missing keys on Saturday, I packed up my kayak and gear and headed for Pratt Cove in Deep River.

My plan was to follow this inlet out to the Connecticut River and then cross to the Old Lyme side. Being that this would be my second ever kayak trip, I figured that I would be paddling at least 100 times farther than I ever had before.

I put the kayak in the water and headed off. The temperature was just below 50 degrees and the water was still very cold. It took longer than I thought it would but I eventually made it to the Connecticut River.

That's when it got a little scarier. I normally have the feeling of being very low in the water and, while a 13 foot kayak looks big in my living room, on the water it feels pretty tiny. There was a breeze blowing from the south (not even a wind, just a breeze) but it made some waves that tossed my kayak around.

I'm sure most boaters would call the water conditions "calm," but being all by myself in the Connecticut River, it seemed a bumpy to me. I never felt like the kayak was even close to tipping, but I could definitely tell the difference when I left the cove. The waves were probably under a foot, but they seemed towering next to my kayak.

Anyway, I paddled up the river to
Deep River Landing, stopped and had a banana (still trying to resolve my hangover issues). I decided to nix the Connecticut River crossing idea. If anything happened to my kayak while I was crossing, I don't know what I would do. There were no other boats out on Saturday.

The trip back was a little tougher- the breeze was in my face, the tide was against me, and my back was really hurting (I have to find a way to adjust my seat for more support). I took a couple of
quick videos to show the "rough" conditions. The wind would push the kayak sideways pretty quickly, so the video is short:


I made it back to Pratt Cove and it was pretty easy paddling back to my car. It really was a nice day but, until the water temperature rises a little, I think I'll stick to places with smooth water.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hole In One


Why is there a photo of my golf bag at the top of this post?

Did I golf on Saturday? Did I actually hit a hole in one?

Well, I certainly didn't golf. And I didn't exactly hit a hole in one.

The story begins on Friday night after work. I met one of my coworkers in Mystic for a couple of drinks. We started at Azu, which was kind of boring and sterile inside. So we headed "across the bridge" to John's Cafe. It was a much more relaxed atmosphere and we started talking baseball with the bartender and a couple of other guys in there.

Needless to say, at an Irish bar, the beers kept flowing. For some reason, I wasn't drinking my normal light beers. I was mostly drinking Smithwicks Ale, from Ireland but mixed in a couple of pints of other types of beer.

I got home around 11:00 and headed straight for bed because I wanted to go kayaking early on Saturday.

I woke ready to go. Well, not exactly. My body hurt. My head hurt. I didn't eat anything Friday night, so my stomach hurt.

I wasn't going to let this stop me from kayaking, however. I had a book in my car about smooth water kayaking in Connecticut that I wanted to look at before I went. Now that I have a car payment, I always lock my car, so I went to grab my keys out of my pants.

I'm pretty particular about my keys. I always keep them in my left, front pocket. I'm always worried about losing them (I don't think I have spares for anything!) so I rarely let them get too far away.

So, I go to fetch my keys and they aren't there. No problem, I probably left them in the door (it happens sometimes!). Not there, either. OK. I probably left them on the table. Nope, no keys on the table.

A minor panic set it, but the keys had to be in the house, because I used them to get in, right? I did remember throwing a minor fit when I got home Friday night because I had a problem unlocking my door (thanks, Smithwicks!). I threw my water bottles and lunch bag on the ground when I got in so I started thinking I tossed my keys at the same time.

For the first hour of the search, I moved all my furniture, stripped the sheets off my bed, pulled the covers off of my heating vents, checked on all my tables, in the cushions of couches and chairs- all the somewhat obvious places.

Now I'm getting desperate. For the next half hour, I started checking in strange places, outside under my deck, in the toilet, in the 'fridge and freezer, in my trash pails (fun with a hangover), in the pots of my plants, in my dirty clothes, and on and on.

Finally, I did find them- in the last place I looked (if you can believe that!). I keep my golf clubs (pictured above) about 10 feet from my front door just in case I get a last minute golf date. I play a couple of times a year, but I'm always ready! I decided to empty my clubs out and turn over the bag. Sure enough, my keys came tumbling out!

With my little fit the night before, I guess I threw my keys and, somehow, they fell down one of the little holes in the top of my golf bag! It was a one in a million shot and I guess you can call it my first "hole in one."

Monday, March 19, 2007

New York City Pictures

For about a year now I've been saying I want to go to New York to take photos of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Of course, I still haven't gone. The other night I watched a PBS special on the construction of the bridge. I had seen it before but it reminded me that it was truly an engineering marvel when it was built.

I recently came across a bunch of pictures on Flickr by a photographer named
Arnold Pounteau. This album is named NYC at Night and I think they are the best photos I've ever seen of New York. An example is below. Click on it for many more great shots.

Next, is an interesting site called Shorpy: The 100-Year Photo Blog. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, who was a boy who worked in an Alabama coal mine around 1900. There are photographs of everything from home life to work (including some pictures of man employed as a "
rat catcher"). Click the photo below for more.

Finally, I guess I'm expanding my horizons a little. I actually discovered a piano video that I approve of that doesn't involve
Victor Borge. This is called "Rachmaninov Had Big Hands." Enjoy:

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Piano Music

I was forced to take piano lessons when I was a kid.

I mean really forced. I'm sure at some point, when I was six years old or so, I must have asked my parents if I could take piano lessons. At least that's what they always told me. But I hated it from day one.

My mom played piano. Both my brothers enjoy playing. My sister still plays all the time.

Me? My piano career came to a screeching halt when I was about 13 and my dad tore up all my piano books (they aren't cheap!) after I refused to practice one too many times. Then, I had to call my piano teacher to explain to her that I would not be coming in for any more lessons.

I still hate the sound of the piano. Listening to piano music makes me very tense and quickly gives me a headache. I know I'm not normal, but I'm serious. I can appreciate the talent that it takes to play some pieces, but I don't want to have to listen to it.

The only exception is
Victor Borge. I've always loved watching him.


Watch part 2 here. I guess he plays so badly that I like it!

Speaking of comedy and music, check out this video of
Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody performed by the Austrian brass ensemble, Mnozil Brass:


Next, check out this video of a group singing In the Air Tonight on the Paris Metro:


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Humor?

Robert DeNiro opened Saturday Night Live with this parody of a Homeland Security conference.

I thought it was hysterical. Knowing that
DeNiro is a top-shelf actor (in my amateur opinion), but still has fun with this skit makes it even funnier.

The comments on You-Tube, however, blast DeNiro for this appearance, claiming he is promoting negative stereotypes. One of them states:

it's SNL, I didn't know. Regardless that it's SNL, or if Tom Hanks appeared on
it, it doesn't validate making fun of names that some people might not
comprehend. It's just not right making fun of any name, taking the long arabic
names and giving them obscene characteristics. This video isn't making fun of
the government, but the actual arabic names. Actors are actors, and we like them
for their performances, not who they are in reality.

Am I wrong to find this humorous?

I think the more serious problem is the targeting our government is doing on Americans and the
abuses allowed by the Patriot Act. We'll save that discussion for another day, though.

As Benjamin Franklin
may have said, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

This little animated short sums up a few of the problems with allowing the government access to our private information.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Mr. President, you're leading us off a cliff. Stop!"

At least Jon Stewart can make me laugh at the insanity of this administration:


Sunday, March 11, 2007

This Week's Uncle Jay

Uncle Jay is taking a week off from the news but talks about our government this time:

I've also had this video saved of the opening to the
Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson but I haven't found any topic to add it to, so I'll just stick it here.

He begins most shows with an opening monologue where he picks a topic from the news and talks about it for 10 or 15 minutes.

In this video, he turns a little serious and tries to expose the sadness that many of the new outlets overlook when discussing the lives of many of our pop icons. Last week,
he announced he will no longer be doing any jokes about Britney Spears, saying, "I don't want to talk about sick people like that."

Iced Out


The good news this weekend was the switch to daylight-savings time.

It is really depressing when you get home from work in the dark and have to turn on all of your lights as you walk in the door. When I heard they were going to extend daylight-savings time by 4 weeks this year (3 weeks earlier in the spring, one week later in the fall), I was ecstatic.

Of course, as some of you know, I own many clocks and normally it takes me awhile before I get around to updating all of them. I was so happy this year, however, that I already changed them all!

And I don't want to hear anyone complaining, "But we are losing an hour of sleep." C'mon, it's a tiny price to pay for the extra daylight. Be happy you don't live in northwestern Indiana: they not only moved their clock one hour ahead for daylight-savings, but they also switched from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone. In effect, they "lost" two hours Sunday morning.

Indiana is one of the more confusing states when it comes to keeping the correct time. You can read more
here and here.

The bad news this weekend is that I wasn't able to launch my kayak for her maiden voyage as I had planned.

All the fresh water lakes are still frozen around here. I thought by Sunday, I might be able sneak in for a quick paddle, but I couldn't do it.

Some of my co-workers were worried about my maiden voyage.

Really, what could go wrong? The water temperature is near freezing, I've never kayaked before, and my swimming skills would make a 5 year-old laugh!

I did read up on the effects of being immersed in cold water. It turns out that in 40 degree water, a healthy individual can remain conscious for about a hour. The real problem with that hour survival time is that it assumes no exertion, just being balled up to conserve heat. Any movement (such as trying to climb back into a kayak or swimming to shore) can reduce your survival time to a matter of minutes. Cold water removes body heat about 25 times faster than cold air. Also, your hands, being one of the extremities that your body reduces heat to first, become numb almost immediately, making it impossible to swim at all.

Well, maybe by next weekend the water will be a little warmer, right?

On the subject of water sports, check out this video. It's called "Slip and Die" for obvious reasons.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

World's Worst. . .

. . . weatherman:


. . . sportscaster ("boom goes the dynamite"):


. . . goalkeepers:


. . . singing in a stadium:


. . . bagpiper:

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ice and Snow

I really like this guy Uncle Jay and his videos "Uncle Jay Explains." Here is his newest:

Last week was one of the longest, biggest, and maybe dumbest hockey fights I've ever seen. I've said before, I'm not a hockey fan and I don't understand why they allow fighting. Are there any other sports where the referees stand around and watch the players punch each other for a minute or two before deciding to break it up?

Anyway, this fight goes on and on. Even the goalies square off and then the coaches almost come to blows. Take a look:

Next up it a reporter coming to you live during a big snowstorm in Cleveland. I guess some people don't take the cold weather as seriously as others.

Finally, here's is some interesting ice that formed on Lake Superior. It's completely clear so you can see the rocks below the surface.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Some days. . .

Some days. . .

I spend at least four hours of my day dealing face-to-face with the patrons at the library.

Most of the time it is great. I have met a lot of great people through this job. Nearly every day I have at least one interesting conversation with a patron. I'll learn something new or find out that the patron and I have something in common that neither of us knew about. It is always interesting.

Unfortunately, there are also patrons who are moody, annoying, and sometimes plain old rude. I could go on and on about the crazy sights I see every day.

Actually, there are library blogs out there that do a better job explaining the weirdness that I see in the library than I could ever hope to. My favorite is the
Happyville Library.

Today's annoyance revolves around our patrons'
fear of snow.

We live in New England, so whether we like it or not, it's going to snow in the winter. This year we have had it incredibly easy- I don't think we've had 6 inches all season. The towns in our area also do a pretty good job of clearing the roads (of course they also dump about an inch think layer of salt at the same time so cars look great after every snow storm!). Typically, within a few hours after a snow storm, most of our roads are clear.

Nevertheless, all it takes is the threat of bad weather and our phone starts ringing with patrons asking what will happen if it snows and they can't get in to return their movies.

Now, if it really does snow, forget about it. The library waives any overdue fees when the weather is bad. We don't expect people to take any risks to return a couple of videos. We have a lot of senior citizens and parents with young children who use the library, and I wouldn't want them driving through the snow.

However, last night we received our
biggest snowfall this winter- about 3 inches. The snow was done by early this morning, the temperature rose to almost 40 degrees, and the roads were totally clear. And people were actually calling us claiming that they were unable to make it out of their houses.

Tomorrow, patrons will file in all day with a guilty look on their faces carrying a stack of DVDs. You know what's coming: "I'm sorry, they snow was really bad yesterday and I couldn't get in to return these."

Like I said, some members of the community shouldn't be expected to come out in bad weather. But these are young, healthy (I presume), active people. Am I supposed to believe, because of 3 inches of snow, they were afraid to "venture" out of their house? Somehow, I don't think so.

Of course, we simply waive the fines. It really isn't worth worrying about, but it does get old after awhile. I would love to lecture some of them. Tell them about taking some responsibility.

Speaking of lecturing, I found this video on the internet over the weekend. It makes me feel a little better.
Judge Judy really lets loose on an obnoxious defendant. Oh, I would love to act like this- just once- at the library!


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Kayak

Alright, for those of you tired of listening to me hem and haw about buying my kayak, I have some good news. I finally hit the "buy" button and ordered the kayak tonight.

It's a hardshell inflatable (whatever that is!) made a company called
Advanced Elements. I bought the 13' long AdvanceFrame Expedition and can hold 450 pounds. It has received a lot of good reviews and I purchased it for a good price from an Ebay store.

I'll keep you updated.

To celebrate, here are some water related videos. The first one is about a huge disaster at a Lake Peigneur salt mine. Watch what happens:



And here's a cool waterfall video:


Finally, I spent hours this afternoon trying to get my web cam to stream video to the internet like I did at my brother's Super Bowl party. After a lot of reading and changing settings on my internet connection, here it is. Enjoy looking at my TV:





Thursday, February 22, 2007

New Edition (or New Kid on the Block)


Man, I really hated both of those bands.

In case anyone doesn't know yet, my brother Alex and his wife welcomed a new addition to their family the other night.

Eli Matthew was born on Tuesday at 11:06 PM and weighed in at 8 pounds 11 ounces.

Now I really can't wait to head out to see them!

Monday, February 19, 2007

News- Simply Sad

I'm all for simplifying the news and so is Uncle Jay, apparently:

He's pretty funny, actually. Or maybe it's just the news he is reporting that is so funny. I can't imagine watching the nightly network news with little kids. The questions they would ask!

Click here for more from Uncle Jay.

Uncle Jay brought up the death of Anna Nicole Smith. I was kind of bummed when I heard she died. There has been a ton of old videos posted of her (some I can post and some I can't), but this one is crazy:

Finally, speaking of
sad and crazy news, did you hear about the guy who died in his home on Long Island?

Well, he died more than a year ago, but people just found out about it recently.

Seventy year-old Vincenzo Ricardo's mummified body was found sitting in his chair with the TV still on, even though he has been dead for over a year. No one in his neighborhood noticed until a pipe recently burst in his house. His cable and heat were off but his electricity was still on. The post office stopped delivering his mail when they figured he just didn't live there anymore but left his mailbox overfilled with mail.


Sadly, the police contacted his son who told them that they were estranged. It looks like Ricardo requested that his family leave him alone. Oh, man.

Louis' Lunch

The good news this morning is that it is a bright and sunny and I have today off for Presidents' Day.

The bad news is the temperature is only 8 degrees and the wind is blowing at 25 to 35 miles per hour. Including the
wind chill, it feels like -15 or so.

On the bright side, the temperature was 6 degrees an hour ago, so it is rising- a little!

I had this past Friday off and Kevin and the two-Kathys met me at
Louis' Lunch in New Haven- the supposed inventor of the hamburger. Their website says that in 1900 a customer came in looking for a quick meal he could eat for lunch on the run. Louis Lassen, the luncheonette's owner, broiled a beef patty which he put between two slices of bread and sent him off with it.

The
first hamburger was served.

Today, Louis' grandson runs
the business where the burgers are broiled vertically in the original cast iron grill.

So we arrived at Louis' Lunch a few minutes before they opened and there were about 10 or 12 people already waiting outside. And let me tell you, the place is tiny! We had to stand outside for about 10 minutes after they opened before we could even get inside to wait in line.

We did find seats once we ordered (4 cheeseburgers with "the works" and 4 birch beers). I liked the guy behind the counter because he was wearing a Mariano Rivera shirt, but he acted like he was once tiny step away from tossing out anyone who wasn't abiding by
his rules- kind of soup-nazi-ish.

The cheeseburgers finally arrived but they were gone too fast. If I were to rate the burger, I would put it one notch below the
steamed cheeseburgers at Ted's Restaurant. The whole Louis' Lunch experience is great, however. It's noisy with lots of bantering back and forth between the customers and the people behind the counter and, did I mention it's small? You can hear it all.

From there I went to Ikea and then met everyone at
Archie Moore's for wings. I must have been off my game Friday because I could only eat about 10 wings. That was kind of a let down, but they are still the best wings in the world.

Speaking of being "off my game," I only counted about 10 "I"s in this post. I say this because a co-worker of mine tells me I'm only concerned with myself and that everything always has to be about me!

Well, Jayne, just so you know, I want this CD set for my birthday:




And, by the way, the temperature is still rocketing up- it's 10 degrees now!

Mystic Web Cam


Click below for three live Mystic, CT web cams.

You can control two of them.


Mystic CT Live Webcams



Thursday, February 15, 2007

Transportation Time Wasters


Supposedly the picture above is of the corporate jet traffic leaving Miami, Florida after the Super Bowl. I don't know if it's real or not but it looks cool.

Sticking with the transportation theme, click the picture below for an interesting site about the construction and abandonment of the Cincinnati subway system.

They began planning the system in 1912, no trains ever ran on the line, and the debt from the project was not paid off until 1966. Now, of course, the government is considering a
new light rail plan using the original subway's tunnels. Politicians at their finest!




Next, click below for a site that tracks all of the ships in the San Francisco Bay harbor. It shows where they are, the name and type of ship, speed, and destination in real-time. It will waste a minute or two of your time.


Finally, below is a video about a Kiwi who learns to "fly." Without ruining the movie for you, I'll say that it shows that, no matter how impossible it seems, any dream is attainable.