Friday, January 30, 2009

Like Blogging Constipation

Yes, I'm still here!

You ever had one of those weeks were nothing, absolutely nothing, gives you that "I've got to blog about that" feeling? Yeah, it's one of those weeks. There's plenty of interesting things happening around here. The news has been filled with stuff for me to pontificate on. I have some health-stuff to post about.


Who am I kidding. I'm just not feeling it. Heck, it's taken me 20 minutes just to write this much. We'll just give it a few more days. If I don't start getting the urge to write soon, I'll find the equivalent of a blogger laxative.*

* I assume this would entail watching "Fix News" until I get so angry that I have to blog about it or explode. Five minutes should be enough.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Trust Issues

Sorry for the lack of posts. It's been a long strange trip. Last week it became readily apparent that I needed to drive back up to New England to help my sister with a few things & spend more time with my family in general. It's been a good trip, more or less, that enabled me to spend some time with my college friends watching the Eagles game (sigh) & playing Wii. But I digress...

I got a TomTom (GPS) for Christmas. It's been a great traveling companion. Not so much because I need GPS -- Lord no, I have an uncanny, almost supernatural sense of direction -- but because it's been great helping me track the details like ETA, miles, how far to the exit. Getting to a major divide and having this nice British lady say, "In 2 miles, stay right" is just really helpful when you're traveling in heavy traffic on the Jersey Turnpike. So, in many and various ways the TomTom has been complete and utter Awesome Sauce...

Until, that is, she failed me...

For those who have not experienced GPS devices, the thing I learned very quickly is that they often plan routes differently than you would. To get the full value from the device, you must decide to follow (or not follow) it's directions. Once you start listening, you may find yourself on a stretch of road you've never been on. You may find yourself at the mercy of some strange British woman. I call her JaneJane...

As I approached the George Washington Bridge into NY, Jane showed me an alternative to the bridge. Route 9 to Palisades Ave. I went with her. It really worked. Jane had saved me minutes & it was a nice little shortcut. It was a reminder to me to trust her. Jane would never steer me wrong...

As I crossed the bridge, I did everything she said even when my instincts began to question her.

"Stay Left"

"But Jane, that's the lane that exits to the Hudson Parkway. 95 is the right lane." I've done this hundreds of times.

"Stay Left"

"Jane, if I don't get over now, I'm going to be on the streets of Manhattan."

"Stay Left"

"Jane you ignorant slut!"

Jane fell silent. Jane's screen began to do that recalculating thing. I, as I suspected, was getting off onto the Henry Hudson Parkway.

"At the end of the ramp, turn left."

"Jane, you're back! What do I do?"

"Turn around as soon as possible!"

"You have failed me for the last time!" In my best Darth Vader voice.

Lost - Ahem - is not something I experience outside of video games. If I've seen something once, I know it. It's like the good Lord took all my abilities to remember names, phone numbers, dates in history away & used it all on this weird visual memory. It's great, except that my crappy memory for all those other things sucks so much. I can't even remember street names. It's just this odd feeling of knowing a place and where it leads me. In 36 years, the only thing that has ever kept me from remembering how to get back to something has been modern construction. My family tells stories about people asking me for directions at the age of 6.

So, here I was on the Hudson Parkway and I remembered the time, 11 years ago, that Slick & I got a ride out of Manhattan with some of MrsMetsFan's friends after seeing Rent with the college gang. We had been on that road & I knew were it would get me.

"Jane, try to keep up."

The Hudson Parkway goes to the Sawmill to the Cross County. Jane starts to come around to my plan. Once I hit the Cross County, I was on a road I had been many times & knew that it would become the Hutchinson & eventually the Merritt. By the time she started 'helping' me, I was already in my element.

So, listen to your GPS, trust your GPS, but trust yourself too.

A wise man once told me that life is made better through the art of story-telling. A bad situation can make for good stories.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Ricardo Montalban has died. The greatest Star Trek villain from arguably the best Star Trek movie is gone. In his honor, I leave you with my favorite line from the movie.

Khan: [quoting Moby Dick] To the last, I will grapple with thee...from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!

Thanks to for helping me remember the quote

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

American Automakers...Lying Mu#^%$@ers

The 2009 Detroit Auto Show is upon us and all I have to say is BULL SHIT!

I've had a beef with the "Big Three" for about a decade. Their trucks, SUV's, CUV's all kept getting bigger and more elaborate while small & mid-sized cars kept getting less & less enticing. I got on my soapbox about GM caring more about their short-term shareholder profit than they cared about quality vehicles that consumers really wanted to buy. If they had a long-term vision for fuel economy, practicality & fun cars to drive, we might not be in this mess.

The argument against these points is two fold. One, American consumers demanded bigger. Two, nobody could have foreseen the meltdown. I find both points inexcusable. American consumers took what they gave us. Had the Big Three actively pursued quality, budget-friendly vehicles for American consumers, we would have bought them. Sure, we'd also be driving our F-150's, but there would be a better mix of options from Detroit on the road.

The writing has been on the wall that the Big Three business models were behind the times for years. But has there been any real efforts to produce revolutionary products? Has anyone been to a car show & been wowed by something that's fresh & practical? No. Well, from Toyota & Honda, sure. But what has Chevy given us? The "holy grail" named Volt? They've been advertising that shit for years and it's projected price tag will be $30-40k. How's that practical?

So, they whined for a bail-out. Under the circumstances, I even support giving them the money. (Mostly because it's a pitance compared to that miserable TRAP effort.) $15-Billion could save the industry & jobs. If it doesn't, it was "only" $15-Billion.

But, I digress...

The Auto Show is now upon us. What do we see? Hybrids & practicality. Where were they hiding these cars? Some are existing European products. Some they pulled out of their asses. Thus lending credence to my belief that they could have easily given us better a long time ago.

I saw a picture of a UAW worker protesting outside of the Auto Show. He had a sign that warned us to buy American or the next job lost could be ours. Yes, the scare tactic. That works well on me.

Somewhere along the lines we got fat & happy. Complacency set in. Innovation stopped happening in Detroit.

When it's time to get our next car replacement, I hope to have honest, value-added options. I'm looking for small, but comfortable. I'll be searching for a vehicle that finds that right balance between fuel economy & performance. A hybrid would be nice. Right now, there are zero American cars in production that interest me. I really hope that changes.

Stop trying to "advertising campaign" your way out of this. Build & innovate. Better yet...

Evolve or die.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Granny Did What?

As mentioned several times, one of the big highlights of our Christmas holiday was getting Slick's Granny to play Wii Bowling.

The whole thing started on a whim, like most of my crazy ideas. I generally assumed that she would talk her way out of doing it. But my mother-in-law gave me an encouraging look and I pressed on mostly for her.

Well OK, I admit that it might have been a dubious look. It's the same sort of look Slick gives me when I'm about to be excessively silly. But 70-80% of the time Slick laughs "with" me when the dust settles. Further, I haven't broken anything or ended up in an emergency room in years. What could possibly go wrong? Right?


My cell rings tonight at 8:30. It was the Queen.. We had just queued up a DvD for "movie night." I was attempting to get the DvD to skip the seemingly mandatory previews, so I just passed the phone to Slick.

"...bought a Wii!? ... Really?"

My brain, still attempting to get to the title screen, lurched at this 1/2-conversation. Did Slick just? Who? Crap...went too I didn't... Wait? A What? Who? Why won't the stupid home button just... A Wii? Huh?



My brain, having successfully convinced my fingers to click the pause button, suggests that I listen just in case I'm in trouble or something. For once, I heed it's advice.

"...has been going over in the evenings to play with her?"

I asked my brain for confirmation. Unfortunately, it can't process this strange information & locks up. I'm on my own.

Thankfully, Slick is now off the phone laughing uncontrollably. Whew! Dodged another one!

It appears that Granny had a family member pick one up when they went to the "big-town" mall. Granny can't actually turn it on by herself. Instead, Slick's Aunt has been going over in the evenings and playing with her.

Never ever underestimate so-called "old" people. They will surprise you.

Think I should get her a copy of Mario Kart (assuming I ever find myself a copy?)

On a side note: the whole thing made us extra silly, thus making Kung Fu Panda even more enjoyable.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Frosty's Estranged 1/2-Brother

Crapper the Snowman

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Strategic Placement of Light Pole

The light turned red. I sat looking at this one just long enough to make a snarky comment. Pictures were taken just as the light changed.

Can I get a drill in mauve?

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Vending Machine Decisions

Road Stops in Northern PA require careful reading when you use the vending machines...

Pepsi or Live Bait? I just can't decide!

Everywhere I Look, it's the Mighty Susquehanna

We spent nearly all of our time in PA riding along the Susquehanna. First up from Harrisburg through Williamsport to the farm. Then along Route 6 into Scranton.
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The Taste Testers

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Christmas Morning On the Farm

Fat Lootz!

White Christmas

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1913 Miles Later...

We're home from our tour of Northern Pennsylvania & Southern New England. Crazy-long hours spent in the car, but worth it to see both our families for the Christmas & New Years holiday. Not sure we can repeat it next year, but glad we did it.

Pictures to follow...

Friday, January 02, 2009

This isn't a game...It's BOWLING

It turns out I learned something about my parents this Christmas vacation. (I may have known this and forgotten.) Growing up in a small mining town in NE Pennsylvania, they were once very serious bowlers. In another lifetime, iDad apparently won league championships and trophies.

So, it comes as no surprise that my father became obsessed with getting a very high score on my Wii. When Slick and I went out for New Years, he practiced his technique. He broke 200. He became a "Strike Machine." Of course, he learned the cold hard truth about Wii Sports - Bowling. Bowling on the Wii is not bowling. It's a fair simulation, but it's not the real deal. At some point, more "serious" play can throw off your game.

Enter iDad's nemesis...

In corner one we have...
iDad - 6' - 180lbs - Bowling Trophies - High Score on the Wii (Over 200)

In corner two we have the Grand Daughter...
"Princess Kitty" - 4' - 70lbs (maybe...dripping wet) - Has tried a Wii at a friend's house.

Kitty bowled first...

Strike... iDad was beside himself as he barely picked up his spare.

Strike... "She can't do that!" As he misses his spare.

Spare... "But she doesn't know what she's doing!"

Princess Kitty proceeded to clear all but 3 frames and bowled an incredible 179! iDad's game got progressively worse as we all howled and cheered Kitty on. We won't mention his *cough* score.