Saturday, October 21, 2006
I recently got a Verizon XV-6700. This device answers most of my request for "convergence" from an earlier post. So far my feelings are that my Blackberry was a better email device, but the XV, with the new Direct Push technology is close. The Gee-Whiz factor though is amazing. Because it runs Windows Mobile 5, The collection of apps for this thing is endless, and most of them are free. I keep changing the assortment of programs on mine as I find which ones I ACTUALLY USE (A lot of the cool stuff is just cool, and not useful).
I recently put SKYPE on it. Since it has both WiFi and EVDO, it makes SKYPE work almost anywhere. The other night I was trying it out, and sitting there thinking, who should I call? In the true essence of the "just because" rule of geekdom, I did it! Yes, I called myself. The SKYPE client was ringing out, and the phone started ringing in. I answered the phone call with speakerphone on, and got the modern equivelent of yelling into a cave or cliff. And, yes, I know you are wondering, I honered all of those kids playing with sound waves by saying the word E C H O !
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I would like to honor all of my fellow I.T. managers and other members of the workforce that have to deal with end-users who JUST DON"T GET IT!
A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. - Douglas Adams 1952-2001
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
The Fox broke down. Nothing major, but it made for a lousy night because we had to abandon it in Newburgh, and then wait for someone to give us a lift to Jersey. (Thanks AGAIN Will, and Ashley!!). Just a stuck thermostat, but Lee warned me not to try to change it without having some good tools and a spare water pump housing as the bolts are known for snapping.
In the parking lot of the Autozone we had limped to was also a Dunkin Donuts / Baskin Robbins. I was frustrated and upset, but not enough to break my diet, so I was thinking "Maybe they have no-sugar-added ice cream". I went inside to look, and to get Amy a donut.
There was an 'L' shaped counter with the ice cream on the left, and the donuts straight ahead. I started to look at the ice cream tubs. There were two women working the counter. One of them said "Baskin is closed sir." This didn't strike me as strange right away. I walked to look at the donuts first, and then it hit me. Were the workers here so specialized that they were incapable of scooping ice cream? Were these...... DONUT SPECIALISTS?!?
I'll have to return sometime when the frozen dairy emulsion technicians are working.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I mentioned in an earlier posting that I am dieting. Not really a diet I guess, but a major change of lifestyle with respect to food and exercise. I get asked a lot which diet I'm on. I answer "It's the I-want-to-live-to-meet-my-grandchildren diet!!" The basic structure is like Atkins, but I allow small indulgences here and there. I have cut most raw dairy products out also (milk, unripened cheeses, butter), and try to walk at least 1-2 miles per day. I do not follow a book or guide, I do not keep a log, I do not even know what my starting weight was. I estimate that it was about 263 based on previous weights and growth. Last night I weighed in at 221 pounds.
It's not just about the weight though. With it all comes more energy and a better attitude. Just look at the before and after pictures here.... I think my date is more attractive in the after picture too!
Special congrats to Carlos and Kysha who got married this past weekend and invited Amy and I to join his friends and family.
(P.S. The before shot is actually a costume, and yes, I do actually OWN that tie!)
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
On the second floor I saw a young lady with the cutest little dog. It was white and brown with short hair. I don't know what breed it was, because I didn't get that far. I approached her with a smile and I believe I made an "awww" sound as the dog licked her face. I think that if you bring a dog into a public place, you should be the type of person that can accept total strangers asking you about your best friend. A young man, who had been standing nearby suddenly stepped in front of me and blocked my view. It took a few seconds for my brain to shift from "friendly mode" to "what the hell are you doing mode". He flashed a look at me over his shoulder that basically said "get lost!" I was shocked. My friendly upstate self suddenly realized that sometimes, people seem to expect everyone to be a whacko down here.
So, Mr rude puppy blocker. If you ever read this by some chance, please understand that some of us are simply dog lovers, and just want to show your canine some admiring love. I promise not to intrude on your private affairs, steal your cellphone, or sell you a counterfeit handbag. Maybe next time you won't block me, and maybe I won't go upstairs and "accidentally" drop a Boston cream doughnut on you.
I bet the puppy loved the cream though.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Live, From NJ....... The Fox survived it's maiden voyage. Definitely needs a couple of things though. An exhaust system (found one already at Harry's), Tire bbbbbbbbalancing (yes, it's that bbbbad), and I think it is in dire need of rear shocks. Otherwise, we got here without a mishap. I have now put almost 300 miles on it since I put plates on it last Monday. The exhaust isn't that bad, but I know it is getting worse. It would have been done already, but brother Lee decided to dismantle his 928's engine yesterday so the lift is out of commission until he finishes. Otherwise, it is now parked down here, and STILL NAMELESS!! C'mon people! I need a name for the thing.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Ashley, (Marti's 19 year-old daughter) is one of those girls who hasn't yet learned her effect on the world around her. She is one of the most beautiful young women I know, but like many attractive young people her age, is unaware of this fact at times. The negative issues that come from this manifest themselves in the form of what I call "Testosterone Zombies", or boys that won't leave her alone! One such stalker recently started to give her trouble after one date. Ashley, as far as I know, has no intention of ever going out with him again, but this one has been the most persistent one yet.
The other night, while Marti and Amy were off watching Baryshnikov prance around in tights at the Bard PAC, Alec and I went off to WalMart for necessities. My cell phone rang and a nervous Ashley told me; "He's trying to find me", she said. "He knows what block of Smith Avenue we live on and keeps driving by. Please come home!" I rushed through the checkout, and made sure that someone was on the phone with her until I got there. Upon getting back to the house, she had calmed down a bit, but was still a little shaky about going outside. "He drives a black Pathfinder", she informed us. That was all Alec had to hear.....
Alec, my youngest, has inherited his Uncle Lee's obsession with cars. I'm not talking about a normal curiosity here. Lee, years ago, was known to say things like; "That's odd. I don't think that was a standard color for a 67 Triumph. That one has 67 tail-lights but that's a 68 color" (Facts are fictional for demonstration purposes only, do not check my sources). Alec can identify cars, vans and trucks, not only in the daylight it seems, but in the dark. He sat there with us watching up and down the block, naming the cars. A black SUV pulled in 3 houses over. Ashley jumped, "Oh my god! Is that him?" "Naaahh, just an old-style Grand Cherokee", said Alec. This went on for about an hour. I was kind of hoping he tried to stop so I could have a word or two with him. We saw him at a distance a couple of times, but no drive-bys. Ashley eventually calmed down and left to go visit the one she's not currently ignoring.
I was not only impressed with Alec's knowledge and abilities, but his attitude of "call-to-duty". He seemed just as eager to protect Ashley as I was. I knew there was no real danger here, but Alec enjoyed the intrigue and excitement just the same. The night passed without incident.
I was cleaning the litter box out the next night. This is a most unpleasant task since we have three cats in the house with the largest one being at least 23 pounds. I custom-made the litter box from a storage bin. As I was scooping I overheard Ashley complaining that he was calling again. I finished the task, tied the bag closed and headed down the stairs to go out to the trash. As I walked past the living room, I stopped and looked at Ashley. "Call him". I said. "Ask him to come by". "Why?!" She asked rather alarmed at my request. "I have a present for him", and I headed out the door with my bag of cat treasures...........
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I saw something yesterday that prompted me to write this. More on that later.
Those who have known me a long time know that I was never a dog person. In the last two years however, that has changed. I am not sure of what caused me to not care for dogs. I didn't dislike them, but would steer clear of an unfamiliar one. It may have been an accident that occurred when I was very young, caused by the namesake of this blog. He came after me when I disturbed him during a meal, and pushed me into the sharp corner of a kitchen countertop. I still have a scar that is quite visible the way I have been wearing my hair these days.
Most people who "convert" will tell you that is was a particular animal that caused them to change. For me, it was Marti's dog, Obi. He's a brown and white Cocker Spaniel. Very goofy, and acts stupid when it works to his advantage, but is actually a lot brighter than that. Now that I only see him on some weekends, he goes nuts when he sees me.
Since I have become friends with Obi, I seem to notice dogs more. Here in Manhattan there are tons of them. I have even taken up going down to the Union Square dog run, just to watch the dogs. I miss my little goofball. Unfortunately, the life of an IT manager, at least currently, would be an unfair match for a canine. Maybe someday that will change. Until then, I will admire everyone else down here that has one, which leads me to what inspired this.
On my walk from 40th street to 33rd street yesterday morning, I saw a homeless man in a doorway. He was leaning up against the door, eyes closed, his little cart next to him with his belongings. A medium sized yellow lab-mix dog was sitting along side him. His head resting on his master's leg. He was watching the people pass by, as if he was keeping watch over the man. Whatever reason this man is homeless, whatever his issues and idiosyncrasies, he had taken the time to tie a bandanna around the dogs neck. The dog had a certain "look" that is hard for me to explain. I guess it was a look of devotion and love to his unfortunate master. Touching.......
Monday, June 19, 2006
Three such buffet restaurants are located in the area, with a few other places offering limited ones on certain nights. The best, and by far, most popular, opened a few years ago. The owners of this buffet, did not seem to have such a good handle on the English language at the time they first opened. This gave us such appetizing dishes as: CARB LEGS, CHICKEN CHOPS, LABSTER ROLLS, and, my personal favorite: CLAMS CHEWD (clam chowder).
So, ever since then, in our family, Carb = Crab, and Crab = Carb.
This means that my new diet is a Low-Crab diet. Damn I miss those legs!!
Oh.... 22 pounds and counting. More news to follow......
Monday, June 12, 2006
My Blackberry is a very capable email device, and a much better phone than the old ones were. With a Bluetooth headset, I have very few complaints in that department. A better browser would be nice, and WiFi access for when I am in the office. Add some sort of removable flash storage, and an MP3 player, and one device would do most of what I need.
So, where is it? Where is the Blackberry with WiFi, EVDO, Bluetooth, a CF slot, and the ability to run software like the MiniMo browser, and an MP3 player? Or even a non-Blackberry device that did email as well as the Blackberry.
C'mon RIM.... Case is closed, lawyers paid. MAKE MY DEVICE!
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Cooking for Paul and myself has gotten interesting. We are both on very-low-carb diets. Coming up with interesting things when you crave rice, potatoes, and pasta has been a challenge. The other night I invented something that he claimed was the best thing I've come up with yet, so I have to share.
Neil's Stuffed Portabella Caps
2 large portabella caps, de-stemmed, and skirt trimmed for stuffing
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed in a press, or minced
2 chicken breast-halves, diced, or one can chunk style chicken
2/3 cup 4C brand low-carb bread crumbs
3/4 cup shredded Italian-Blend cheese
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
1/2 cup cooking wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a small oven dish with cooking spray. Heat olive oil in large skillet, cook onion, pepper, and garlic just a few minutes and add chicken, and Italian seasoning. Continue cooking until chicken is done. Add bread crumbs and stir well, then add wine. Continue cooking while stirring about 30 seconds more and remove pan from heat. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then add 1/2 cup of the cheese, salt and pepper, and save remaining cheese for topping. Spoon mixture into caps, and make a nice dome shape. Top with remaining cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is browned and stuffing heated through. Serves 2.
I suppose you could use ordinary bread crumbs if you are not carb-concerned, but we have found these low-carb crumbs to be excellent for our diet. We also use them in other dishes. When you add liquid to the crumbs in whatever dish they are used in, the swell a bit, and seem to imitate rice, or some other starch. The low carb 4C breadcrumbs are hard to find. I emailed the company and they sent me a list of who has them in the NYC area: A&P, Key Food, Super Fresh, Food Emporium and Waldbaums.
For you low carb folks, I have calculated that this dish has about 13 net-carbs per serving. Using one of the new low-carb wines that have appeared recently would cut another few off the total. I suppose you could also skip the wine, but use some chicken broth for the liquid instead.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Marti got me into the habit of naming my cars. Now, I know that to some it seems strange, but there appears to be more people out there who personify their vehicles than I thought. The car I owned when I met her was a very plain blue Dodge Spirit with a bench seat. We named him Cecil. Then there was Vincent or Vinny. His full name was actually Vincent "Van" Gogh, a Plymouth Voyager. He was missing one of his ears (bumper ends) on one side, so the name seemed fitting. The blue voyager that came later was Emily, named by Alec. I think there was a girl by that name in his kindergarten class that he had a kindergarten-crush on. So, here is the dilemma:
I am acquiring an old VW Fox to run up and down the highway every weekend to go pick up the kids. Its in great shape, white, and a 4-door. Foxes are made in Brazil, but German in engineering. What on earth do I name him/her? Help?
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I was observing the differences in the way my children chose sunglasses this past weekend. We were walking around Chinatown Saturday, and the sun was unbearably bright for some reason. It was even worse for Amy (15) being a recent contact lens recipient. We went to a particular vendor and Amy looked over the glasses. She picked up a large yellow pair and tried them on. They looked good with her outfit. I told her I liked them. Over the next 5 minutes, she tried on a white pair, then back to the yellow, another white pair, and finally a pink pair, each time looking in the mirror and asking for our input. After the 5 minutes of pondering she chose the original yellow pair and paid the woman at the table. Now, I am not complaining. 5 minutes is actually good for Amy. We have had some pretty long periods of indecision before this that could be nominated for some sort of Guinness listing. No, it's the contrast with Alec (11) that I find funny. Alec, a few minutes later, decided he also needed sunglasses and a walking vendor happened to put a large bag of them down in front of him. He grabbed a pair from the top, pulled them out of the plastic and put them on. He looked to me for approval, I nodded once and before I cold get the words out, he paid the man and said thank you. All in all about 30 seconds. Now, would it be reversed if I sent them out to buy computer monitors?
It's that old catch-22 that we get when asked by a woman, "Does this look good on me?" If you don't believe my answer, or are going to do what you want anyway, then save me the confusion, but know that I will always answer truthfully, uh, well, as truthfully as you want me to? I will still need a fashion advisor to shop with for my own clothes and accessories though. Poor old colorblind, fashion-retarded dad! Is this green? I thought it was. What do you mean it's PINK!!??
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Meebo A multi-protocol messenger client that runs in your browser. Great for those of us that move from machine to machine, or need to use a foreign computer temporarily.
Gmail I can't say enough about Gmail. It seems to do so much well. I have begun the process of abandoning my Hotmail account. Gmail is still by invitation only, but I have plenty. Email me if you need one.
Customized Google Try to make your own custom Google page. It's fun! You can drag the elements around and re-arrange endlessly.
There's much much more. Use Google to search for AJAX applications. Microsoft seems to be playing a game of catch-up with its "Live" products, but they are still clunky, and don't have the Firefox cross-compatibility.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Kind of like a cosmic Garrison Keillor: Angel Cloud Biscuits? Heavens They're Tasty!!!
Or you might hear: It Was A Quiet Week In The Heavens Above, My Home Town......"
Saturday, May 20, 2006
I mean, there's always humor from us, as we find the bizarre and unexplainable, and amaze ourselves at the ludicrous things people think they can charge money for, or the ludicrous things people will PAY money for. No, this was humor supplied by the proprietor. Organized, intentional humor.
A sweet old couple, at the end of a cul-de-sac, had years of dishes, tools, and other standard yard-sale matter scattered about their lawn. On many of the items I found little notes. One, on a stack of tray tables read; "If you love clutter, you have to buy these". Another, on a very odd piece of artwork said; "Local artist, be careful with the comments". I had lots of fun reading all of them. On the way out, the note on the "free" pile caught my eye. It read; "This is the stuff we don't have the nerve to charge money for".
Thank you folks, for making me laugh today.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Let's trade shoes.......
Mine are worn.
Can you fill my shoes? It's not as easy as you think.
For I wore your shoes once. Long ago.
They were comfortable, even inspiring. I was convinced that they were the best shoes in the world. Better than any of the old, worn shoes I saw. New is better, isn't it?
But, they aged quickly, and became painful. Although they still looked good, I continued to wear them, and tell myself that they were better. As much as I tried, they would not soften. They grew more and more painful each day. Still, I convinced myself that they were better. After all, they still looked better than the old worn out ones that I saw.
There came a day when my shoes failed me. They were unbearable. I fumbled briefly with other new shoes, and even no shoes. I finally
found a pair that would wear with me as I aged. At first I wept at their ugliness. I stumbled frequently as they seemed too big at times.
There have been days when they would not fit, and days when they were so big that I could barely walk in them.
We as adults must wear these shoes. We cannot wear yours anymore.
Oh, yes. Sometimes we can put them on and pretend for a few moments, but we always find our way back to the old worn shoes we know best.
They are not new...
They are not attractive....
They are each our own, and no one else's.
Can you wear my shoes? Because some days they don't even fit me.
Too big to tie, and stained with tears.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I need to vent a bit on one of my pet peeves: Widescreen TV
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching movies in their original size,
without the black "waste of space" above and below. It's the non-wide
media that bothers me. Just as we adapt a widescreen picture to display on a normal-sized TV, we should do the same on a widescreen TV. BUT NOOOO! For some crazy reason, most of the sets I see (usually in public places) are set to stretch the screen to fill left and right. This gives everyone a "smushed" look. What makes it worse is that the owners of these publicly viewed sets, and their patrons, ACCEPT this! What will this do to our culture? Will it affect natural selection to create a race of "Danny DeVitos"? Will we consider 6 foot tall, 185 pound men to be "freaks"? I think the acceptance of this is what bothers me. Similar to the acceptance of badly converted MP3's. Most younger people today don't seem to notice the difference in audio quality between well recorded music, and low bitrate MP3's. I sometimes wish I wasn't so picky about what I hear, but I still stop dead in my tracks when I walk past a pair of speakers the are out-of-phase.
So, those of us who browse the Irish pubs in New York, will continue to watch smushball, and I will sit there trying to resist the temptation to grab the remote and change the settings...... Barkeep! Another Dewar's please... Why does the bottle look shorter and fatter than it did last time?
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
So. Am I condemned now to sleep in a twin bed? It's comfy, don't get me wrong. I actually salvaged the nicest of the futons from "The Pile" and used it on top (running up the wall a bit) to make a kind of daybed, but I digress.... I suppose a college-aged male enjoys sharing such a small bed with a female, but at 41 I'm not sure if it would be much fun anymore. The sleeping portion at least. I am larger than I was then. We also get less tolerant of our sleeping partners as we age. What was cute and funny at age 18 gets old quickly sometimes. What with snoring, and gingivitis vapors (ick?), and kicking your partner while you dream your clutch is not functioning (no, really!). Lack of funds will keep me in this one for awhile. Lack of space also makes it interesting. "The Pile" was close enough to the computer before that I used it as my desk chair. Now I have a real chair. It must have been funny before to watch me try to perch on the edge of that eternally sinking mess.
Note to anyone who wants to know: I am not here to spout feelings about my situation upstate. I will always consider Marti my friend, but its too late to try to repair what I should have years ago. Relationships rarely fail from one person's actions. I will not participate in finger pointing and other time wasting activities. I know where I am going. The road ahead is hard to see, and I know there are many obstacles but it leads to the right place. It breaks my heart to know that I will be traveling it alone for awhile, but I need to do this. I will always worry about where she is, and how she is doing, as much as that statement might upset my stubborn lady, it is a fact about me.
Work is good, if not a bit crazy. I wish Carlos would not be so paranoid. I know that it's a security man's job to be paranoid, but I would like to see him relax a bit. Travel season is starting again soon, so I need to evaluate my health, wardrobe, and ability to leave my desk for a few days. Paul leaves for vacation today. I will drive him to JFK tonight to catch a plane. Hopefully "the beast" will do better than it did on its last airport run (sorry again Ash!). I am amazed at the trucks willingness to live, but I fear that its half life is coming near again. It runs so well, but little annoying things keep happening. It has been annoying me lately by not allowing me to unlock the driver's door periodically. Forcing me to slide in from the passenger side. The wipers are making a very strange noise lately. I fear the mechanism or motor is starting to go. A trip to Harry's is coming I think.
There is a little white Ford Festiva sitting up JFK Blvd. with a for-sale sign in the window. I might have to check it out. 40+ mpg is tempting. Otherwise, I am still planning on trying to put the VW Fox I found on the road soon.
OK, I guess that's about all of my ramblings this morning. You can wake up now.
Friday, May 12, 2006
My kids live with their mother during the week in upstate NY. I am currently spending my weeks in New Jersey to make the commute into Manhattan easier. I drive up or take the train every Friday afternoon to see them. Currently I bring them to the house I still own half of in Kingston. As that situation changes, I will begin to permanently reside in New Jersey in the not-too-distant future. At that point, the kids will come down to New Jersey and get to enjoy romping around Manhattan with their dad. Until then, they look forward to seeing me every Friday night, and some weeks get a bit impatient waiting for the weekend to arrive.
Most kids though, will call you when the need arises. I'm not saying they don't care enough to call out of the blue usually, its just that at age 11 or 15 your priorities are different. So most parents will get that phone call that begins "So, how is everything? What are you doing?". When this happens we politely wait for the request for music, clothes, speakers, or a friend to sleep over.
This past week, both of my kids called me twice each. Just to say HI! It was strange. Made me feel good though. Knowing that I had raised two amazing kids that care about their dad and want to show their support to me. In each of the four calls I got, I kept asking "Is everything OK?" They have been extra eager a couple of times to see me after a trying week with my Ex's ummm, man-friend (what's P.C. here?).
The last of four calls I got was from Alec, my youngest. At 11, he has an amazing imagination and zest for life that any adult who knows him is amazed by. He told me he wanted to write a book. I think many kids go through this stage. I know I did. I wasn't expecting what happened next. Alec started to give me a summary of the plot of his book. A book called "The Key to Amber". A fantasy novel, where a group of kids discover a gateway to a magical world in the basement of a mansion, all stemming from a magical key given to one of the kids. Wow! I might convince him to let me post it online. Lets all join in encouraging this kind of creativity. GO ALEC!!
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Lately I have been eating fresh artichokes almost every day. Sam's Club had very nice ones, in a bag of 4, for a good price the last couple of weeks. Prep is simple: Simmer in 1/4 to 1/3 pot of hot water with extra-virgin olive oil for 1 hour, cool, and chill, or eat warm right from the pot. I have been enjoying them cold at work with salad dressing for dipping. Pull the leaves, one at a time, and draw them between your teeth to scrape off the tender part. Dunking in melted butter, salad dressing, or spiced mayonnaise is optional. When you get to the very-tiny leaves, you can usually just bite the ends off of those, and the smallest ones are too small to bother with and should be discarded (the last two to three rows). The developing thistle part will remain. This looks like a small patch of hair-like fibers. Either scoop these small spines out with a spoon, or pull out with your fingers in clumps. They are not edible. Try to get only the spines as what remains is the best part. The remaining "heart" is then cut up into smaller pieces and eaten. All of this seems normal to me, however I noticed my co-workers looking at me like I was eating fish-eye salad or something as strange. I guess the artichoke must look rather odd to someone only familiar with the marinated hearts that are used in cooking. Kind of like a giant green hemlock cone. The artichoke is actually a thistle and if left to mature produces a large thistle-like bloom (see photo). It is a member of the same family as Burdock (Gobo), Dandelion, Sunflower, and the misnamed Jerusalem Artichoke. There are many great resources on the internet regarding preparation, and even growing them yourself. Even though they are a warm-weather perennial, I have seen instructions for growing them successfully in the northeast as an annual. Do try one!