Archive for February, 2010

Snow? What Snow?

February 11, 2010

We went out to clean the driveway around 4:30, after the blizzard-like conditions had been ravaging since about 1 or so in the afternoon that quickly changed the paltry 3″ into over a foot. Surprisingly it took us just over 2 hours. The storm over the weekend, which was much less snow, took about a half hour less. What helped with yesterday was that up at the top of the driveway, the slush from the plows wasn’t as high as one might have thought it would be and with slow, very slow perseverance, the blower cut right through it. Usually all the slush and stuff is too heavy and nearly impossible to move.

I also can’t believe they interrupted my daytime television to tell us it was snowing. But it saved a lot of time last night.

Then, to get Ariel out of here early enough to make the trip to work for an important breakfast meeting, we were out before 5:30 cleaning up the rest of what fell since yesterday afternoon. Luckily it was a small amount and powdery, except up by the street, where the plows must have realized at some point they needed to rectify yesterday’s meager slush pile, which, this morning, was hard and turning to ice. Most of what’s in the driveway was ice underneath the powder, but at least the 2″ won’t add to it.

From my office window yesterday, before we went out (Ariel had brought work home on Tuesday to plan to not have to travel yesterday) we could see a low hanging branch on the tree by the corner of the garage assumingly from the weight of the snow, but upon closer inspection, as it lay half in front of the garage door, it had snapped off the tree. A large branch from the ornamental cherry tree in the front of the house is also gone. And in the light of the morning, I can see two of my trees from the apple orchard are half on the ground. Not as devastating as for those with no electricity and stuff, to be sure, but this is my little paper cut I’m dealing with.

I read through the boys’ blog this morning and they didn’t seem to be so talkative last night. I see they took a jab at us, all for a moment of relaxing after our shoveling duties.

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Neither Snow, nor…

February 10, 2010

a vacant mind, etc, etc, shall keep me from writing a blog. Brian, please…!

If you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance I’m outside cleaning snow and my delay publish button worked.  And if you’re not reading this, then chances are good that I’m outside cleaning snow. And here I am, checking and sure enough, my delay publish button does work, but I’m also not outside cleaning snow. There really isn’t all that much to have to worry about just yet.  There really isn’t much to talk about either, other than the weather and since a lot of you who read this are experiencing the same thing, there’s no sense in jawing on and on about it.

I really needed something here to attach the nutty newts’ shenanigans from last night and you can get to them, as always at the end of this blog.

Do you remember my mention not that long ago about the Wizard Of Oz and how we were looking into something that there might be pictures of sometime down the road? Well, that’s all coming together nicely. Just thought I’d tell you that.

Yesterday, Haisong Jiang, the security breach guy, plead not guilty to the defiant trespass suit, brought against him when he single-handedly snarled air traffic for over 6 hours because he wanted to give his girlfriend one last kiss good-bye before she boarded her plane. Along with his not guilty plea, his attorney, Washington, DC-based Eric Bruce assured the court Jiang is “eager, ready and willing and able to make amends” through community service. The judge, Richard E.A. Nunes adjourned the case until March 9 at Bruce’s urging so he has time to review the video and documents related to the case. Really? And still, defiant trespass, a petty disorderly offense, carries a fine of up to $500. I still say let the people who were inconvenienced decide his fate.

It’s February and I’ve been looking on a daily basis on the follow up to the naked Eric Williamson coffee caper. But I’m on the case, rest assured.

And here you go, yet another doggie video. I have to give credit where credit is due. I saw this yesterday on the Radio Chick show on Shovio.com. It’s a dog, dreaming, with a comical end.

 

A Snowy Future

February 9, 2010

Not much really going on. Work and the anticipation of “Snowmageddon” part 2. That’s the term President Obama coined for this past snow event that crippled the east coast, Washington, DC, specifically. DC was closed yesterday; 230,000 federal employees had a snow day at a cost of $100 million dollars to taxpayers. Right here, though, in this general area that was also supposed to be bombarded, we were spared. But we might not be so lucky this time, according to what I’ve been reading and hearing. It’s supposed to start sometime between 4 and 6 this afternoon and continue to around midnight Wednesday. Looks like the groundhog was right, after all, PETA!

In 1899, the record for a single day snowfall in New Jersey was 33inches on February 14. That must have made for a cozy Valentine’s Day. And while I’m at it, the coldest New Jersey day on record is January 5, 1904 when the mercury dropped to minus 34 degrees. The measurement was taken at River Vale, which is up near the Paramus/Ridgewood area. River Vale is at an elevation of 70 feet above sea level.

And while the snow is falling and Herbert and The New Shazzam are busily keeping tabs on American Idol and Ellen Degeneres’ debut as a judge tonight, Ariel and I will be busily plotting a plan of attack for the morning to get the driveway cleaned up so he can get on his way to work.

And just because….I know I’ve posted this once before, but since it’s a snowy themed blog, it fits, and it’s just so gosh darned adorable.

 

 

Monday…More Or LESS!

February 8, 2010

31-17 SAINTS! Wow, what tense game last night, huh? And then we get Tracy Porter’s awesome, AWESOME interception that clinched the game for the Saints at the remaining 3 minute 20 second mark of the last quarter. This living room came alive like you could not believe! That was an awesome play.

You may not know this, but I’m the furthest thing from a die-hard football fan, but there’s something about the Super Bowl that gets me all into it, aside from the commercials. Admittedly, the first Super Bowl game I actually paid attention to was that fateful one with that now infamous world changing (some say on par with 9/11) wardrobe malfunction, which I missed–live– though I had my eyes trained on the halftime show. But since then it’s become an anticipated and tense tradition here at Leaning Pines much like it is the nation over, but with much less of the fanfare but lots of jumping up and down and throwing around the “F” word. Was looking forward to Queen Latifah’s “America The Beautiful” but wasn’t so impressed with her performance; her phrasing was off  and something happened with her earphones. And Carrie Underwood’s “Star Spangled Banner” was bigger than she was, but she gave an okay performance.  It was a bit pitchy, dawg! And the commericals this year were uninspiring. The only one I kind of enjoyed was early on, with the little kid warning his mother’s boyfriend to treat his mama right, and to keep his hands out of his Doritos. And the punchbuggy Volkswagen was okay, only because of it ending with Stevie Wonder.

Our party fare began with a homemade low salt kale soup, followed later by an also low salt stroganoff dish loaded with two types of sauteed mushrooms and thinly sliced roast beef over penne pasta . Then for munchies during the game, we had no salt pretzels and as low sodium I could find potato chips and washed it all down with a beer with a diet ginger ale and birch beer chaser.

All this low sodium/diet stuff is in keeping with our new regiment. We had to behave because we had two “cheat” nights this weekend. Friday night we each ate half a pizza and Saturday night, after the fizzled snow storm of the decade (in our area at least) we went carousing in the city with some friends. There wasn’t a drop of snow to be seen and I forgot to take notice on the drive home along the Turnpike just where the snow cutoff was. But, the good news is that our weigh-ins were positive even after the half a pizza on Friday fiasco. I dropped another 4 pounds (223-219–bringing my total loss in our three weeks to 11 pounds) and Ariel dropped another 2 (205-203–making his three-week total 10 lbs.) We’ll probably have to be a little extra diligent this week, though, to make up for being naughty over the weekend, but when you’re hanging out with friends you haven’t seen in a long time, playing pool (for some reason I was playing like a pool shark–too bad it all wasn’t for money) and drinking and eating up a storm, you’re gonna end up having a lapse in judgment. And man does not live by salad alone.

Looks like a little piece of my Kanye West prediction came true. He threw a holy conniption fit when he and his assistant got bumped to business class from first class on his way back from his “We Are The World” recording stint. How dare they do that to the one person who single-handedly saved the world? How? I guess he remembered to pick up his ego after he left it at the door on the way in, as the sign, still from the original recording, insists.

Just because….


 

But it’s Monday and that means another installment of McGinty Chronicles is ready.

Sometimes A Nail Is Just A Nail

February 5, 2010

I was planning on blogging about a man on my roof yesterday morning. Then, I thought about the near sentimental loss of a nail. And while I was thinking of just how to bring them into the conversation, I found two things online that I could also mention. So, what does one do in a case like this? One puts to use his long windedness and talks about it all. It’s Friday, it’s supposed to snow like the dickens today, so sit back, relax and read.

Before I go on, I have to mention the passing of legendary actress Frances Reid, who portrayed Grandma Alice Horton on the soap opera Days Of Our Lives, the role she created when the show premiered in 1965 and played until her final screen appearance in 2007, even though her presence was “felt” since, thanks to clever script writing. The official cause of death of the 95 year old actress, which occurred on Wednesday, has not yet been disclosed.

Oh, and how’s this? Because of a mixup with our Unilazies that I was talking about yesterday, the vendor contacted Ariel by email, who in turn replied and mentioned I had blogged about it. The vendor guy, David, then emailed me, because I was copied on the entire transaction and gave me a complimentary compliment on my blog and hoped that after we tried them out I would post a favorable review.

History? Or a despicable attempt to exalt a filthy past? If you haven’t heard, a new popular iPhone app is being removed after legal threats against iMussolini. The app allows users to download speeches and video clips of the former Italian dictator. The legal matter comes from the from the film institute where the images came from, whose representative says the application is an aberration, far removed from the educational purposes for which the clips should be used. Jewish groups and holocaust survivors say it’s offensive that it legitimizes fascism and is the rehabilitation of Mussolini. Well, yes, all the atrocities of WWII are offensive, but to say the educational value is offensive is ridiculous. Education, in no matter what topic, should never be thought of as offensive. Learning is living even if sometimes the lesson is a harsh one. Should history books be rewritten? Should TV’s History Channel never speak of ‘history’ again? Should everyone who has learned about it have a lobotomy to wipe if from their memories? Keeping the past hidden doesn’t mean it never happened. Personally, I think some people just have to much to say. Apps are optional to buy. Don’t buy it if you don’t want it on your own phone. It’s as easy as that, like changing the channel on TV or the radio dial when you’re not enjoying what’s on, like say, for instance The Jersey Shore. That kind of legitimizes people’s eagerness to watch stupid television shows. I don’t like it, so I don’t watch it. Grow up, people…try freedom of choice.  Apple says it will reinstitute the app once the matter is cleared up.

I was working yesterday morning and through the office window I saw a truck backing up at the bottom of my driveway, up against my garage. What the…. I put on my “I’m ready for fight going outside clothes” and by the time I went out to see what the hubbub was, the guy was up on the roof. I couldn’t see him at first but I could hear him. I didn’t want to shout and startle him because then I’d have to deal with “mangled man” after he stumbled and fell. Then I heard a familiar sound, the sound of a Mylar band snapping into its casing. Then I caught sight of the contractor guy who was working next door and it turns out it was his guy taking measurements so he can work up an estimate for a new roof along with the addition we’re hoping to put on the house.

You know I finally filled out my wall calendar–I think I mentioned it a few blogs back–and it hangs on a nail in the kitchen, that doesn’t exactly fit so tightly into the plaster wall like it once did, but we know that and we’re careful. Last night, by accident, the calendar got knocked into, jarring the nail f rom the wall. Couldn’t find it, couldn’t find it. Maybe because I had shoes on, because you know, one barefoot trip through the kitchen and I would have found it. It’s the same principle that makes food container covers fall food encrusted bottom down on the floor. Armed with a flashlight, I lowered myself to the floor to look underneath the hutch and I found the nail, with my knee. That nail was in the wall when we bought the house and it’s been holding my calendars in that spot ever since, now over 11 years. I know, it’s just a nail, but this is the kind of person you’re dealing with.

On that note, let me just say “LET’S GO NEW ORLEANS SAINTS!” 

Round And Round To The Poor House…or To Hell!

February 4, 2010

In Warsaw, Poland, a priest installed an electronic fingerprint reader to monitor the schoolchildren’s attendance at mass. Over three years, the students will mark their fingerprints and if they attend 200 masses, they will be freed of the obligation to pass an exam prior to their confirmation. The kids like it, they say, because it saves time of having to wait in line to get the priest’s signature that they attended mass. I’m gonna go to Hell for this, but it was he, Grzegorz Sowa, the priest who invented the fingerprint reader, who was probably tired of signing off on all the students’ attendance. And if I’m not going to Hell for that, then it’ll probably be for the time I refused to make an offering in a Catholic church during a confirmation ceremony I was attending. When it came to the part when the priest was offering communion to the congregation, he actually announced that anyone who was not Catholic to not bother going up. Well, that put my back right up, especially since the collection plate was making its way toward me as I sat in an insulted funk. And if I’m not going to Hell for that, then it’ll be for something, I’m sure.

Really, wouldn’t you like to just do this to somebody…anybody, sometimes?

Go directly to jail, do not collect two million dollars.  Wait, no, two hundred, right? Nope, not any more, not in the newest version of the board game Monopoly.  Monopoly is turning 75 years old and to celebrate, it’s getting a facelift and, apparently, a larger budget. Among some of the changes, besides what you can collect for passing “Go”. Purchases and rents will be paid for with credit cards and the banker is now electronic.  The iconic metal game pieces are now plastic pieces with images of the original pieces on them. And there will be sound effects like a jail cell door closing and there is also music such as Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day”.  Oh yeah, and the board is now round.

 

Yesterday, Ariel sent me a link to something that started out being a joke, the UniLazy, something he thought would fit perfectly along the lines of the ludicrous Snuggie or a Slanket, but I immediately took it as a more practical item and after a moment of consideration, he, too, saw its usefulness…for camping. It can get cold up there in the mountains, even in July and August. Why, we’ve had nights that were in the high 30’s. Once you’re away from the huge bonfire, that chill goes right through you. Not to mention half the time we’re dodging the rain, but this is a story about the cold. So, right away, when I mentioned how great they’d be for camping, we ordered up two of them. This pink is just one of the colors it comes in, but we opted for a little more subtlety and got a black one and a gray one. What you don’t see in the picture is the zippered rear trap door. And the front fly is a dual system so that you don’t have to undo the entire front to do your business (provided you’re a guy) and you can still stay warm. The only thing that wouldn’t be cool would be sewn-in feet only because what would you do with them when it’s wet and muddy (as it inevitably will be, to be sure). But these don’t have them

And click below to see what those two nutty newts were up to last night.

We Are The World…Without Viagra

February 3, 2010

Twenty-five years ago, “We Are The World” emerged on the music scene as a benefit record to raise money for African famine victims. Now, coming to the further rescue for Haiti, Lionel Ritchie and Quincy Jones are at the helm of the “We Are The World 2010” project. During the Grammy’s this past weekend, Quincy Jones began recruiting performers to appear on the record, which was to be recorded in the same studio as the original, the day after the awards show. The list of names involved seemed to be constantly changing, but as far as I can tell this is the most up to date lineup:

Pink, Lil Wayne, Eminem, AR Rahman, Kanye West, Jonas Brothers, LL Cool J, Robin Thicke, Celine Dion, Akon, Rob Thomas, Wyclef Jean, Jeff Bridges, Vince Vaughn, Barbra Streisand, Jordin Sparks, Good Charlotte’s Madden brothers, Tony Bennett, Josh Groban, Snoop Dogg, Steve Saville, Jennifer Hudson, Britney Spears, Keri Hilson, Jamie Foxx, Tyrese, Katharine McPhee, Sean Garrett, Will.i.am, Brandy, Carlos Santana, Melanie Fiona, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton, Cameron Bell, Jason Mraz, Miley Cyrus, Busta Rhymes, Nicole Scherzinger,Justin Bieber, Nicole Richie, Jay-Z, Usher, Julianne Hough, Raphael Saadiq, Zac Brown Band, India.Arie, Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Randy Jackson, Musiq Soulchild, Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson, Fonzworth Bentley, Kid Cudi, Iyaz, Lady Gaga, Bizzy Bone, Nipsey Hussle, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, Trey Songz, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Sharbel N. Karam,Mya and Gladys Knight.

Uh oh, Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Kanye West together in one room. Well, maybe this is where Kanye will be  making a bid to redeem himself, but he will probably claim his vocals alone saved the world. “I’ll let you sing in just a second, Taylor, but Beyonce has the best voice of all time!” Otherwise, what a diverse collection of artists.

Oh yeah, and let me not let having to shovel this morning pass by without mentioning it. “We can expect a dusting to at the most, an inch,” is what they said yesterday on TV. I had a bit over 2 inches that had to be moved out of  my driveway. So, take that PETA, the National Weather Service is no more reliable than the groundhog, after all, for all your arguing.

President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina is a real porker. Or at least a firm believer in eating pork. Ooh, I said “firm”. She made an announcement last Wednesday that she recommends pork over Viagra, to improve one’s sex life, thanks to spending a satisfying weekend with her husband after eating barbecued pork. I guess presidents do think about it, whether in the form of pork or cigars. “I’d say it’s a lot nicer to eat a bit of grilled pork than take Viagra,” she said. She added, in a televised speech, ” Trying it doesn’t cost anything, so let’s give it a go.” Hmm, I had pork on Friday, lots of it, and I just fell asleep.

And yours truly had to come to the nutty newts’ rescue last night.  Find out why.

 

News out of Gobbler’s Knob

February 2, 2010

Animal rights activists want the organizers of the Pennsylvania’s Groundhog Day festivities to replace Punxsutawney Phil with a robotic stand-in because the poor critter is being mistreated in that he is “forced” to rise from his hibernation period, which could last into March, simply to uphold the folksy tradition of predicting the status of the coming Spring. “If a groundhog is awakened from hibernation too early, it might not have the energy to find food and survive in the cold winter temperatures,” says Forest Preserve District animal ecologist Dan Thompson, while insisting he’s not a killjoy. While we’re at it, Dan, let’s have a robotic stand-in for the American Flag on Independence Day so the ones we use, made of easily battered fabric, won’t flap in the breeze. Jerk! And to substantiate their argument, they cite how this method of prediction is not always accurate anyway, so why disturb the little critter. Really? How many forecasts made with state of the art technology is 100% of the time accurate? Case in point: a radio and television predicted snow storm this coming weekend; on the weatherchannel .com, clear sunny skies. So, who’s right? Who’s wrong? So, dear activists, shut up and let people enjoy their traditions.

I keep hearing, all of a sudden, that if the groundhog sees his shadow, it’s an early spring. I’m hearing that on television and on the radio. Hasn’t it always been if he sees his shadow it means six more weeks of winter? And didn’t the Best Actress category come either at the end or just before the Best Picture award during The Oscars? I always thought Best Actress, besides best picture, was the most coveted prize.

And finally, the result of Punxsutawney Phil is… “As the sky shines bright above me, my shadow I see beside me… 6 more weeks of winter it will be.” So, I guess that snow storm this weekend is a 50-50 chance. My advice, look out the window and see if it’s snowing.

PS: Here’s a link to the article I wrote last year (from that old blog that lost its pictures…remember that mess?) on the history of Groundhog Day as we know it today. Click here.

Mixed Bag Monday

February 1, 2010

Baby Rita’s wedding on Friday was a simple affair at the city hall of where she and Juan live and altogether there were five couples tying the knot that day. They were couple number 5, thanks to having arrived a little late to the courthouse but that worked out to their advantage. They had the largest group of “guests” of all the couples and because we all wouldn’t have fit into the tiny room where the private ceremonies took place for each couple, the Mayor consented to conduct theirs in the main courtroom so that we could all see them be married.

The reception took place back at the bride’s parents’ place and there was food aplenty (maybe a little too aplenty, if you catch my drift) and the hours flew in between courses and rounds of picture taking and some of us taking turns napping. And here is the happy couple:

Surprisingly, the aforementioned “food aplenty” had little effect on our weigh-ins on Saturday morning. Ariel dropped another 3 pounds last week and I stayed the same. Okay, so maybe that extra helping of food the night before (I couldn’t help it, it all tasted so good) might have made the difference between one or two pounds, but at least I didn’t put any extra on. So, as of Saturday the standing are: Ariel (205–down 8 in two weeks) and me (still 223 – down 7 in two weeks).

We met with a contractor on Saturday morning to talk about possible plans for an addition to the house. We want to extend and put a sunroom/panty/eating area coming off the kitchen, that will also lead out to a patio at the back of the house. Being the adult in the room (and the professional) the contractor talked us down from our loftier goals to something much more feasible and cost effective. He didn’t give us numbers yet but assured us that one thing we wanted, in the long run, would have been impractical. And we’re also looking at a new roof thrown into the mix…so, stay tuned.

We also tried to repair the toilet and I must say, though we’re no plumbers, it was an easier task to accomplish (and no leaks, which I was grateful for) but now, for some reason, we can’t get the bowl to fill completely, to where the water has always been. We tried every combination of settings but nothing is doing the trick. We even tried out one more idea yesterday morning but to no avail. We’re on the case, though, and, until we do get it resolved, at least it flushes completely and that, I guess, is the bigger concern.

And man alive, was it ever cold this weekend and quite frankly, I’m over it. With any luck, Punxsutawney Phil will NOT see his shadow tomorrow so spring will just around the corner. And on that note, I’m off to see my dentist. He called me the other afternoon, not only to remind me of my appointment this morning, but to officially thank me for the pecan pies I made for him at Christmas. I was just glad they turned out as well as he said they did because, let’s face it, I will be sitting in his chair, at his mercy.

There’s a brand new installment for McGinty Monday, so, please, enjoy!