Archive for May, 2010

The Official, Unofficical Countdown

May 27, 2010

So, American Idol is all packed up for another season and the outcome was a bit of a disappointment. I was really hoping Crystal would win, I think she deserved to win, but, as you probably don’t need me to tell you by now, Lee took home the title. They were both good, but she was the more consistent, whereas he was the most improved, which you can’t prove by me taking into consideration this past Tuesday’s performance. I thought he dropped the ball on all three of his songs. But based on the entire run of the season, those two were the ones that had to be in the final. And so we also said good-bye, or good riddance in some circles, to Simon Cowell. And didn’t Janet Jackson look FAN-TAS-TIC last night? Holy moly. And now the newts have gone on hiatus and have disappeared to parts unknown, some shangri-la, until their services are needed again, but they left their last post all set and ready for you to look at.

The doctor’s office called yesterday with the results from my latest blood work and the numbers for my cholesterol and triglycerides were elevated (unalarmingly as I was made to understand) but he wants to see me again to discuss the best course of treatment to get them back to normal.

It’s just about 7:30am and I’m already impatiently waiting for the air conditioner to kick on. I remember the days before we had the central air installed, it was hot in this house, but I never really minded until one summer it was about two relentless weeks of mid-90 degree temperatures and high humidity and I got to the point I simply could not function. It was a hot day yesterday and even last night the temperature outside was hovering at 80 degrees, so the air in the house is hot. I suppose I could override the set time I have the thermostat, which was set for when I still worked outside of the house and no one would be in (so why run it so low?) but then I wouldn’t appreciate it when it does kick on later this afternoon. And I have to keep in mind this is only the beginning. It’s not even summer yet, officially.

I also sent away for my Art Linkletter points (97) but I haven’t gotten any response yet.

I still have some work to finish up (oh, by the way, I found and corrected that mistake I made reference to yesterday) so I’m not exactly sure what time later this afternoon will officially mark the beginning of the weekend and so far, according to this morning’s 10-day forecast of Northern Pennsylvania, conditions are still looking favorable.

Have a great Memorial Day and see you in June!  And don’t forget to check out the newts’ final “Idol” recap! 


Glad It’s Not Friday

May 26, 2010

My heart was racing when I woke up this morning, fearing I had overslept and it was Friday, that I had forgotten to put cinnamon in the coffee and we had to race like crazy to get the truck packed for our camping trip. How relieved I was to realize it was only Wednesday and, with that, the major thing plaguing my mind began to settle in and that is whether or not I’d be able to locate and correct the error I ended up with in the work I was doing yesterday. This whirlwind end of the month blitz is winding down and it’s perfectly timed to a long recuperative weekend.

The exterminator was here yesterday and again saw no activity in the termite zone so we’re keeping a vigilant eye on that. He also doused the outside with that magical insecticide to hopefully deter the carpenter ants, who made it their business to find a way into my kitchen, however sporadically. One is too many. Ah yes, the joys of summer and that reminds me of “when you live on the river…” Some of you might know that was the beginning of the end of our patronage to the diner down the road from us. That was how the manager excused the big bug on our plate of food, “When you live on the river, you can expect things like that”, or at least words to that effect. And on March 20 of last year, I made an uneventful return for breakfast but still we haven’t been back since. It was a mini-series called The Diner Project and that can be located under the categories tab in the right hand margin. Click here to get to that old blog page. Remember, there are very few pictures left after the disastrous crash to the server and all my pics got wiped out.

Where was I? Oh yes. Camping. We’re camping this weekend, our first trip of the season, and, look!

I probably just jinxed us, as I should know better than to speak of anything other than any form of ill-fortune, but I’m taking a chance and proudly announcing that it looks like we’re in for clear weather.

It’s going to be hot today and I’m thinking I should have bought one of those little doggie pools I saw at the pet store the other day when I went to get Fiddler some new food. I also got him some ‘cookies’ and the cashier was all funny, even though she seemed insulted I didn’t have a PetSmart points card (she also didn’t offer me one) when she said, “Ew, I wouldn’t want to dunk these in a glass of milk”.  Yeah, like I was inviting her to my litle party. 

And tonight is the American Idol finale and Herbert and The New Shazzam are chomping at the bit, (and were dialing like mad on their little hotline phones) for their choice for the crown.

Check here to see what they’re saying:

Instant Dissatisfaction

May 25, 2010

Video killed the radio star. Remember that? How prophetic. And now, even though it’s been happening for quite some time, it never meant anything to me personally until last week, when twice, in as many days, I received notification that two magazines I subscribe to have ceased publication. Well, not altogether, just in the traditional manner, as a tangible and malleable item.

Everything nowadays is instant gratification. You might blame it on sliced bread. That began eliminating the necessity of having to spend a few extra moments in sandwich preparation, although you do come away with the staff of life in even-sized slabs so your lunch doesn’t look all dilapidated and unappealing. I mean, everything from food, to music, to news is yours in the blink of an eye, or, rather, the click of a mouse. You no longer have to wait for anything…except the cable guy. Even books are now downloadable into an electronic reader through which you navigate with buttons and controls and can adjust the screen brightness for all types of lighting situations. Gosh, you can even look up words you don’t understand while you’re reading. How fascinating!

I don’t know, call me a curmudgeon or a product of my generation who oftentimes refuses to budge from his stalwart level of stubbornness, but I like holding a book in my hands (not that I do it very often, though my shelves are filled with tomes of a great variety of genres). I like the sound of the spine cracking when the book first sees the light of day. I like the inky smell of the pages and when it’s an older used book I like to imagine who else’s eyes once scanned those pages and whether he or she got the same thrill from those words. I like to use my ribbon bookmark with the two brass filigrees on either end.

But getting back to my two magazines, both will now be available online. One of them offers the online version for free, the other, for a fee. Maybe it’s because I spend my entire day planted in front of a computer doing my job. And as much as I have come to depend on technology (brainwashing or necessity aside), I still don’t want to be tethered to my computer every waking minute. I’d like to be able to sit in my easy chair, with my Saturday (or Sunday) cup of coffee and leaf through my glossy and read the one or two articles I ever would read. Plus, I’ve already paid a subscription 2 years in advance for the one; I don’t think it fair to have pay again to see it online. It suddenly became unimportant to me.

I guess it all has to do with the economy. It’s more cost effective to simply send everything out into cyberspace and beam it into homes all over the globe than to have to send out individual paper copies. I get that, honestly, but I, personally, would also pay a higher price if I had to, (if it were an option) to get things how I want them. And I would imagine it would trickle even further down the economic ladder to having to buy a new computer every so often. Computers just don’t squash bugs as effectively as a rolled up magazine.

Mums The Word

May 24, 2010

We saw the King Tut exhibit at Discovery Times Square Exposition in Manhattan this weekend. It was how we celebrated Ariel’s birthday on Saturday. And, no, I wasn’t able to get any pictures–there were, well, not so much security, but vulture-eyed blue-shirted attendants all over the place.

Before we went to the city, we stopped in Newark to have a birthday lunch with Ariel’s family and spent a few hours there and were stuffed from the food and the obligatory birthday cake. Then it was off to New York and we had just less than two hours before our 5pm schedule at the exhibit that included a 3D movie presentation and then a walking audio tour among all the artifacts so we stopped in for a quick beer at our favorite haunt, Playwrights II. While we crossed the street we saw something that struck us both as odd. A guy was crossing 9th avenue was totally engrossed in a book and barely looked away long enough to safely navigate across the busy street. It’s New York, so that’s not so odd, but what was so odd was that we could see he was at the beginning of the book, unlike another we saw seconds later who seemed to be navigating just fine but who was at the end of his book. That made more sense than being so engrossed on page 1..well, unless he was reading a pirated copy of my book, that is. <insert smiley face>

We arrived just in time to stand in line to wait for the movie featurette and witnessed the whining family who attempted to disrupt the proceedings with ‘it’s cold in here we need our jackets’ and the mom pleading with the unmoved usher, unmoved large usher to please let her go back to the coat check to get their wraps.

It was fascinating and unbelievable to be walking among the ancient treasures. It’s just so hard to fathom these artifacts can be as old as they are. Everything was encased in climate controlled cases and were identified with descriptive placards and some with numbers corresponded to the audio ‘tour’ using our handheld personal speakers and the dramatic narration was done by Omar Sharif. For a while, I found myself having to read through the placards twice; not by choice, but by necessity. It would always happen when I’d be 2 or 3 sentences from the end when invariably someone would happen by and start reading out loud and it was like Mitch Miller’s bouncing ball and I’d end up following along. I finally got away from two separate groups that were doing that; either reading to the kids, or the precocious 7 year old testing her reading skills for her mother, who quite frankly did quite well.

The capper of the tour was the display of a replica of the boy king’s mummy, as the real King Tut has never, and will never, leave Egypt.

Then, in an unprecedented move, we went to our hotel room to change for dinner at Tre Dici Steak. In all these years, we’ve never stayed overnight in New York. Never had a reason to. But it was a special occasion and we planned to party the night away and thought it would be a wise decision. Tre Dici is fashioned after a 1920’s New Orleans style speakeasy. The service was adequately attentive and friendly without being overbearing and to say the food was, to use my word of praise to the waiter, “magic”, when he told me even he did not know how the sauce was made as the chef does not reveal his recipe would be and understatement.

Then back to the room to change into party clothes and out barhopping. We subsisted on Budweiser and shots of Jagermeister until 4am when we shooed out of the place and ended up in a limousine to take us back to the hotel. He was behind the one cab that refused us service and he took us where we needed to be.

Thankfully we chose to clear away the area the exterminator requested before we left the house on Saturday because when we got home yesterday we did nothing but have lunch from Wendy’s, which was another mini-adventure, and fall asleep for much of the rest of the afternoon.

And now it’s Monday and it all starts all over again. So, let’s get to it!

Friday Fodder

May 21, 2010

I don’t think I mentioned it, but I had a gnawing feeling that this would be the week the glass shower enclosure would be in. And, well, it wasn’t. Maybe next week. Speaking of gnawing, the man of the termites found the current situation to be what he believes is an isolated ingress point and will be back next week to treat it. But of course, when you see one…

Back on April 20, I wrote about a library book taken out by George Washington was way overdue–221 years overdue. After the article appeared in The New York Daily News, the staff at Mount Vernon offered to replace the book, “The Law of Nations” by Emer de Vattel with another copy of the same edition. I’m not going to ask why there was a second copy; after all, I own three copies of Daphne DuMaurier’s “Rebecca”.

The Heene’s,  Balloon Boy’s family, who has completed serving their jail sentence in that gripping hoax that had the entire nation transfixed on the thought that helpless 6 year old Falcon was being carried away in a giant Jiffy Pop-like helium filled balloon, destined, for certain, for a cataclysmic ending, went to the Sheriff’s office in Larimer County, Colorado, to retrieve the aircraft. To be sure Balloon Dad was getting back his own property, the Sheriff’s Office personnel was assigned to help lay it out and measure it, just in case they were trying to pull a fast one and pass off someone else’s as his.

Note to self: Today is National Memo Day. It’s also National Waitress/Waiter Day.

More importantly, it’s also Friday. I’ve got a huge dent made in all that end of the month work I’ve been working on and have the circles under my eyes to prove it. We have a big weekend planned which I’ll tell you about on Monday, and unless we can sneak one or two, there might not be pictures. Alas! But what I do have for you right now is a curiously intriguing and yet disturbing video and a cute and quick follow-up to it.


The Best Laid Plans

May 20, 2010

Well, here we go again. I don’t have much to say. Still plowing through stacks of work and not feeling very creative, blog-wise. And today the ‘man of the termites’ is coming to inspect. Man of the termites (actually, the man of the ants) is how a friend of mine said his Italian grandmother referred to the exterminator. That reminds me, I should get in touch with him. It’s been a while.

So, last night’s American Idol was really a no-brainer, wasn’t it? And the newts had a fun time, as usual, commentating on the shenanigans.

I found it a curious choice, when the news came on right after, that the TOP story, over any developments in the oil spill down in the Gulf, was that Miley Cyrus’s jewelry line was yanked from Walmart shelves. Well, it is filled with high levels of toxic cadmium, which is known to lead to bone softening and kidney failure. It is a carcinogen and can also hinder brain development in the very young after prolonged exposure and/or if put in the mouth, as young children so often do. But here’s the curious twist and why it was so important: tests had been done as early as this past February and Walmart knew of the findings. Then in April, they wanted proof that the the items geared toward children had little or no cadmium and claimed that testing would be too difficult and that there was no definition of a specific age group as the jewelry was labled as ‘juniors’.

So, here’s something interesting. John Shepherd-Barron died in his native Scotland. He was 84. He is credited with inventing the ATM. He came up with the idea after he got locked out of his bank. Special checks were used, since the plastic bank card had not yet been invented, and the checks were matched with a personal identification number. The first ATM was installed in a London bank in 1967.

And that’s all I got today. I hope today goes smoother than yesterday. I had figured the one project I had to work on would take me no more than about 3 hours. 6-1/2 hours later I got that finished up. And that was just the beginning of my day.

The Lost Wednesday

May 19, 2010

What I want to know is how is got to be May 19th already. It feels more like March 19 with this dreary damp rainy weather. Except is was just around that time my basement was flooded and so far even with all the rain we’ve been having, the seepage is at a minimum. And now that I’ve just jinxed myself….

My creative mind is mush, having worked til nearly eleven last night after putting in a regular full day. It’s the end of the month push and we are swamped with tons of work. So, I’ve got little other than numbers–test codes and dollar amounts – flashing before my eyes. Not very entertaining to be sure.

But never fear, the newts were also hard at work last night to hopefully keep you entertained and informed about the final 3 contestants on American Idol. So, give them a look-see and don’t let their efforts go unnoticed. 


May 18, 2010

Many food companies have pledged to remove 1.5 trillion calories from their products by 2015 to help reduce the epidemic of childhood obesity. How about creating a campaign to reduce the amount of time they spend in front of the TV or the computer or their video games and give them a ball and make them  go outside?

I had that doctor appointment yesterday and I didn’t realize it was going to be a full on physical, complete with a turned head and a cough. My EKG was normal, my blood pressure lower than when I was there back in February (110/70 as opposed to 124/80 something, or was it 122–whichever…) I don’t remember what my weight was, but I don’t know about those sliding doctors’ scales, how they can be accurate. All I know is what my own bathroom scale reads.

It was also “that” visit. I thought it was an anomaly when I recently started to get AARP brochures int the mail, but my good doctor added to that by reminding me I’m getting to the age where a colonoscopy is in my near future. Ah, well.

Damn it! I better watch what I say while I’m setting up my tent in the mountains of Pennsylvania this summer, at least until the ACLU can convince the courts of their argument that the right to use profanity is protected by the U.S. Constitution. Tickets, some of which carry jail sentences have been issued to people in cases of swearing like the woman who was issued a $300 ticket and 90 days in jail for yelling an offensive word at a motorcyclist who veered close to her. You….motorcyclist! is what I’m thinking she wished she had yelled instead.

Well, it’s getting on towards the end of the month and my work load is plenty so I guess I better get to it!


La Cage Aux Fun

May 17, 2010

Did you ever get the feeling, say if you were out somewhere, settled at a table in a restaurant, about to order your appetizer and a relaxing cocktail or you’re nestled comfortably in your theater seat after having made that unspoken compromise with the stranger seated next to you that the arm rest if off limits to both of you, (just to keep things fair) that something wasn’t quite right, but you couldn’t quite put your finger on it and the only thing that pops into your head is that you’re hoping you’re not wearing two different shoes?

We went to see “La Cage Aux Folles” on Saturday. Of course, our pre-show repast was at  a surprisingly and yet refreshingly packed Playwrights II and by about 1:30, the place emptied out except for us because everyone had gone off to their respective 2pm matinees. Ours wasn’t until 2:30 and we actually had time for coffee.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show and not really knowing Kelsey Grammer’s body of work, except for a few glimpes of a “Frasier” rerun after one of “The Golden Girls” I didn’t know what to expect from him. Well, the long and short of what I got from “La Cage” was an emotional ending to the first act, and by emotional I mean I was brought to tears and was again so twice during the second act. The song “I Am What I Am” performed by a dejected Albin, played both captivatingly and over the top at the same time by Douglas Hodge closed the first act and that song, as a rule, is so far on the bottom of my “like” list that I forgot it even existed. But seeing and hearing it performed in context, I could not help but convulse with emotion and try as I might to conceal it, by the time the lights came up, Ariel was handing over a hanky. And then in the second act with the performance of “Look Over There” first by Georges, Kelsey Grammer’s character, which he played with an quiet wit and engaging pathos to his son Jean-Michel when he arrogantly disregarded Albin, and again when Jean-Michel (A.J. Shively) reprised it when he realized the error of his ways. Just for the record, I still don’t like the song “I Am What I Am”.

What else I got from “La Cage” amid all that emotion and spontaneous outbursts of laughter was a sense of incredible chemistry between everyone in the cast that made the performance a heartfelt and genuine one  and it made for one of the more fun times I’ve had at a Broadway show in a long time. It was an engaging performance and  was pleasantly surprised; I laughed out loud and, of course, cried and at one point, being so drawn in, I was stopped dead in my tracks, stunned, as though I were a member of the cast reacting as scripted. Whether or not that was what they were going for, they got me. And what La Cage got from me was a score of 10. And that hasn’t happened since “Wicked”. So, thanks, “La Cage” for sending us off on our Broadway diet on such a high note.

Our weigh ins weren’t all that stellar this week; Ariel put on one more pound (203) but I lost 2 (212). And speaking of that, I started my 7-day eyedrop regimen yesterday to correct that viral thing I have going on with my eyelids. And, I have my regular doctor appointment later this morning, the one I had to make when I ran out of my blood pressure medication a few months back and had to see the nurse practitioner first to update my records.

There was more this weekend, but I can get into that next time.

The (I, Eye, Aye)’s Have It

May 14, 2010

You’d better live in love than luxury, it’s alright. And don’t be dining out on foolish dreams…every night. It only takes a moment to feel alright. Get fresh at the weekend…showing out! Showing out! Yeah, Mel & Kim, sing us into the weekend, even if that first line doesn’t make sense!

Yesterday afternoon I had an eye doctor appointment and since I was there last year, as the last few before that, my vision hasn’t changed. And, with my insurance plan, I was entitled to either lenses or a pair of glasses. Since I’m well stocked on lenses and even though I didn’t need another pair of glasses, I found a frame that was me to a new degree and I chose to get them. Not sure how often I’ll wear them since I live, night and day, week after week in a pair of contacts. But I did get a prescription for something for blepharitis, which my doctor wanted to know why I didn’t tell her I had. Curses.

Afterwards, we went to IHOP for dinner and the place was still decorated for Easter. I had a Brian Regan moment, too. When we were paying the bill, the girl at the register whom I’ll call,  Ihop Register Girl said to me, “Thank you and come again soon.” I said, “You, too”.  Oh, and I just threw that last “aye” in for kicks. When is Talk Like A Pirate Day? September 19, 2010.  I hope nothing else is on my calendar for that day.  Aye!

The Prom debate is in full swing. Is it “the Prom” or “Prom”; I’m going to ‘prom’ – or – I’m going to ‘the prom’. See, my way of thinking is that prom is short for promenade, which is a formal dance, so in essence, in saying you’re going ‘to prom’ is that you’re going ‘to dance’. Well, I could be going to dance, but I’ll be in my living room and that’s not the prom. Secondly, a formal dance is a thing, a noun, so it only stands to reason that it would be preceded by the definite article, “the”. The same would hold true for the word ‘park’. If you say, I’m going to park, it’s assumed you are driving a car and will be performing an action, putting your vehicle in a stationary state and shutting off the engine. If you’re going to ‘the park’, you might very well be having a picnic or get caught up in a ball game.

This weekend we have our final Broadway show, “La Cage Aux Folles” with Kelsey Grammar. We’re putting ourselves on a Broadway diet, so to speak, to add to the money we can save to help pay for the work on the house. We’ve had the tickets for quite a while, before we thought we’d actually do this work. And! We’re going to see Metropolis, the re-release that I was talking about last week and rumor has it there might be some ginger snaps involved. And somehow we have to squeeze in our weekly weigh-ins.