Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It Rained on My Laptop

Today has been an interesting one to say the least.

I started my out-of-home experience today on the bus, bumping into my neighbor who is quite fond of Rosie, so we have a common interest. Somehow, the conversation turned into her former downstairs neighbors, and if I ever "heard" them, to which I replied no, but I did tell her two highly inappropriate stories about them based on what I saw. Lovely Red Line morning conversation. I tried to be quiet about it, but in the rush-hour sardine can that is the morning Red Line, I'm sure a few nosy passengers heard earfuls.

During the entire chat with her, all I could think about was the MBTA's personal ecosystem of 100% humidity. I sweat in humidity. No exceptions. I even recall glancing around at others - guys in jackets and ties, women primped with hair in place, wondering why I was lucky enough to have received this sweat gene. Good thing it was indeed raining, I think that provided a sufficient excuse for me.

I showed up at work, greeted my co-workers, and walked into my office to find paper towels strewn across by desk. Upon a more careful inspection, I found water under my computer and mouse, and papers crinkled as if they had been wet and then air-dried.

Mother f&*ker, the ceiling leaked onto my laptop.

It's rare that I leave my laptop at work, but did so last night because I didn't feel like carting it back and forth on the T and bus in the rain. And above all, I'm usually commuting to work via car, which was in the shop overnight. Perfect timing.

When I leave my laptop at work, usually I just save my files, leave them in the toolbar, and shut the top, leaving it turned on. That was one of my fatal flaws.

Immediately, I tried backing up files, but my computer quickly displayed a blue screen of doom, and no longer recognized an operating system.

Lovely. 85% of what I do is with Excel, our database, Outlook, or a few web apps.

I scrambled to call our computer consultant, who said that she would come in later and try to salvage the hard drive. My data was backed up through April 4th, so it's not a total loss. But my Outlook email, calendar, and contacts were only backed up through last November. Our technical infrastructure isn't the best, and I'm lucky I backed up what I did, though probably should have been backing up much more regularly. Grrr.

Of course, you also don't expect your laptop to be rained upon when it's at your desk. But it was.

My Dell had grown increasingly more sluggish over the past few months, and when combined with our excruciatingly slow network, made for lots of angry and frustrated working hours. The silver lining here is that I was scheduled for a laptop upgrade in the coming months, and we were 99% sure I was switching to Apple.

Well, the coming months became today. We drove to the Apple store in Chestnut Hill, and my MacBook Pro is now at work (sitting on someone else's desk that's not underneath a leaky roof). The files I had backed up are being transferred this evening.

So, I'm thrilled to have joined the Apple cult with my MacBook Pro. I feel immediately cooler, and no reserve the right to look down upon PC users, wondering when they'll get with the program and make the move away from Windows.

I'm cautiously optimistic that my data is not gone for good.

And I'm happy to have my car back, albeit with $2,100 less in my bank account.

I celebrated my funky day with some ice cream at JP Licks while waiting for the car dealership's shuttle from Davis Square. That hit the spot.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Open Apology to My Fantasy Baseball League

Dear Friends,

I apologize for sucking once again this season. More accurately, I apologize for sucking more than I have ever sucked before, and for adding my sucky bad luck to my sucky poor fantasy baseball skills to make one large pile of suck.

Of course, I wouldn't suck as much if:

1. Big Papi did not bat half of his weight.
2. Robinson Cano did not bat half of Big Papi's weight.
3. Justin Verlander did not give up 5 or more runs in half of his starts (1-4, 6.50 ERA, 20 K's)
4. I did not trade Chien-Ming Wang (5-0, 3.23 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) for Roy Oswalt (2-3, 5.75 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) during the pre-season

I'm left playing a bunch of bench warmers and now relying on free agents to clean up the mess of the season I have begun.

Once upon a time, my fantasy baseball skills did not smell of utter suck. I won a league once, and finished second or third the following year, both times in non-keeper leagues (i.e. I didn't keep the best players for season after season).

It's easy to blame all of this on Big Papi, which I intend to do. But lord, that boneheaded trade has bugged me all day the more that I think of it.

Omnibot 2000 - Blast From My Past

Oh, Omnibot 2000. Robot of my past. A 1980's view of the future. And a toy sitting in my parents' basement.

Why am I suddenly thinking about the Omnibot 2000?

I'm catching up on a few weeks of shows in the DVR, and knocked out a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother last night.

There is a recurring story arc about Robin, one of the main characters. Apparently, as a teenager, she was a Canadian pop star from the late 80's named "Robin Sparkles." When this was revealed on a past episode, her friends dug up the previously unknown-to-them video of her hit "Let's Go To The Mall."

So funny. Screams of Tiffany and Debbie Gibson.

Well, the episode that I just watched suggested that a second video existed. They showed part of it, and then flashed a MySpace page for Robin Sparkles.

When I landed at that URL, I saw this photo of Robin, denim jacket and all, dancing up behind an Omnibot 2000.

I received Omnibot 2000 as a Christmas gift one year. It appears that the story behind the gift is a mad dash by my father to every electronics store in Rockland and Bergen counties, until he finally found one in The Bronx. Oddly enough, he was not under duress from my mother to find it for me, but rather made it a person mission after he could not locate one in the first few stores he checked.

We were still 10-15 years away from major e-commerce websites, which would have been a much easier solution had it been available.

I remember one of Omnibot 2000's major cool functions was its ability to pour drinks from a can and serve them on its tray. Of course, that involved setting up Omnibot 2000 with a soda can and cups, and then directing it from its remote control.

A bit of a process, but cool nonetheless.

I should dig up Omnibot 2000 and bring him up to Boston. He could keep Rosie company while I'm at work.

On second thought, given the fact that the vacuum cleaner freaks her out, I would guess that if a robot's yellow eyes started lighting up, and it started rolling her way, she would majorly freak out.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Weevils

Yesterday morning, I decided that I wanted to make pancakes.

I'm not a regular pancake maker, but had been sticking to Bisquick during recent batch preparations. I remembered that I had this oat bran pancake mix in my cupboard, and wanted to try that instead.

So I grabbed the paper bag of mix, ignored the expiration date from 2006 (it's grains...how can they expire?), and started preparing.

One egg, lightly beaten.

Canola oil.

Pancake mix

After scooping 1/3 cup of the mix into the bowl, I saw what looked like a small moth-bug. Yuck! Must have landed in the bowl somehow. How could I have missed that? I should have inspected the bowl more closely.

So, I rinsed out the bowl and started over.

Only this time, I looked into the pancake mix.

The top layer of mix was covered with those black-ish small moth bug. It took me a good 30 seconds, and my digging deeper into the mix to see the actual refined oat bran, to realize that these things were not whole grains. They were bugs.


I looked in the cupboard and saw a couple of them on the shelf. So I cleaned everything out of the cupboard (it's a very small one), threw out all other items that expired before 2008 (um...no comment), and gave it a thorough cleaning.

I went about my day and was pleased with my extermination skills.

Later, I decided to whip up ziti and a quick tomato sauce for dinner. I bought a large bag of pine nuts at BJ's earlier this year, and thought some toasted pine nuts would go well in the sauce. I went back to the aforementioned cupboard, and retrieved those.

I figured a sealed bag was safe.

I opened the bag to find not moth bugs, but rather a cobweb-ish lattice covering the top layer, and what appeared to be some larvae.


I don't know if these incidents are connected or not, but it's clear to me that not all of my grain comestibles are dead.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Keeping the Nalgene

I forgot how in came up in conversation. but this morning, I had a passing recollection of hearing how my Nalgene bottles are toxic.

I didn't understand how that could be true, but then did a bit of searching this morning to confirm that the company itself is "phasing out" the production of consumer bottle containing BPA.

Thanks to our neighbors up north for discovering this.

It appears, though, that I don't have to go tossing out my Nalgene bottles with such fury and speed. It seems to be fine as long as I don't mix and boiling or hot water inside the bottle and give the resulting formula to an infant.

Given that I didn't plan to do that any time soon, onward with the Nalgene.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Finding Her Voice

Rosie has been barking a lot more recently. Her barks, however, have not been indiscriminate. On occasion, we're out for a walk, and she will see another dog that causes her to say something. Not all dogs, but simply a select few. Perhaps they are planning book club.

More often, Rosie has woken me at some inappropriate hour (1:30am, 3am, 4am, etc) to let out a few barks / freak outs. I have been sleeping with the bedroom window open a crack, and have kept the shades raised by about the same height. Rosie has taken to staring out the window from her bed (check that, MY bed...but who am I fooling now), simply surveying the land.

Usually when she spots something worthy of her ferocious chatter, she jumps up in bed and lets out a few well-timed barks. I don't believe she's targeting burglars, drug deals, or other mean dogs. She doesn't seem to do this during the daylight hours, so her night vision could play into this equation as well.

But I wonder if the entire time I'm in bed sleeping, she's now awake staring. Perhaps my raising the window shade has created such a paranoid infatuation of Rosie that she sleeps all day and monitors all night.

I'm assuming that a simple solution will be sleeping with the shades down.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Legal Prostitution in Massachusetts?

I received this menu in my mailbox yesterday.
I suppose it's good that they're not the "old ho toy"
Upon reinterpreting this in a much less noble fashion, all of the words take on completely new and inappropriate meanings!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Lion-Dog

Rosie has been a bit jump-ity on here evening walks of late.

A couple weeks ago, we were walking along a nearby block upon which we must never have walked before.

We were walking along on the sidewalk, me minding nothing in particular, Rosie sniffing just about everything, as usual.

We came about 50 feet from what Rosie thought was another dog. The dog was seated alongside a few steps, and well-behaved. In fact, the dog's sibling was also seated beside those steps on the other side.

Only problem? They were decorative dog statues.

Rosie surveyed the dogs carefully, but for some reason wanted NO part of them. Usually she sees other dogs and wants to go say hello.

These dogs must have been too well behaved. She ran out into the street and began barking at them, but never approached them.

Fast forward to today. We're walking back from the usual bathroom area. As we walked by a dark home undergoing external improvements, a large black dog suddenly popped its entire from half of its body out an open first-floor window, and let out a ferocious growl directed at both of us, described as nothing short of a lion's roar.

I'm not sure who jumped and scurried away faster, Rosie or me.

Needless to say, the short walk back to my home was swift.

Working From Home

I thought better of attempting to work from an office a block away from Kenmore Square, given the thousands of runners passing through today.

So, I'm working from home, and have already begun my day. My gut tells me that a focused day of work away from the throngs of athletes and onlookers, and with an Internet connection that's faster than a dial-up connection from 1997 (such as the one, at times, in our current office) will make for a pleasant work day.

Being that we should see temps near 70 today, it's going to be difficult to avoid the obligatory Patriot's Day mid-afternoon downtown drinking outdoors in the Back Bay.

I'll stick with my home-brewed coffee. Maybe I'll add a nip of amaretto a bit later...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Back from Vegas

We made it back alive from Las Vegas. The redeye isn't a terrible idea, actually. It's a bit luck of the draw with passengers on the plane, though. I had the pleasure of sitting next to some teenage or 20-something girl who would not stop wriggling around, banging the arm rest, and pushing her knees into my small leg space. Her dad was next to her, and at one point, she was propped up against him, angled toward me. I almost pounded on her foot but refrained.

The drawback to the redeye is the cramped neck I'm now left with, which is a bit of a bummer because I splurged for an hour massage yesterday. The Spa at MGM was just OK, I've been to much nicer at some of the other casinos.

I had a fight upon checkout. Not worth the trouble of a full story here, but the front desk attendant (or manager, so he claimed) did not budge on the two egregious errors on my folio. As I didn't book the room, I'm encouraging our front office to stop payment on the charge, or, in a more sensical approach, call our sales contact at the hotel to get the matters straightened out. It's tough when you have no status with a property, didn't book the room yourself, and are simply one of 3,000 people checking out that day. Grrr.

The war of words put me in the wrong mindset for a round of poker, but I was able to forge through my final $40 all-in, double up with a set of 5's, and eventually and turn it into $390, I believe. It certainly helps when you're holding pocket Aces and you're re-raised all in before the flop by someone holding pocket Kings. That was a nice situation to be in.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Last Day in Vegas

Well, the actual NAB convention was quite a sight. I expected more of a focus on the actual idea side of content creation, for some reason. Instead, the convention floor was all equipment, technical, software, and hardware. Still, a great experience to better understand what the convention was all about. I'm amazed at some of the booths that were constructed. It's almost like the ice hotels that pop up in the winter time. One minute, nothing there...then a hotel....then it's gone.

Last night, we ate at Nobu, an excellent Japanese fusion restaurant at the Hard Rock. Ten of us were there, and I don't want to guess at the tab. We basically had them keep bringing us food for the table, and it eventually ended with a bill.

Just a few more hours to tool around Vegas tonight until our flight. Somehow I was dragged to the craps tables a few night ago, and my quick disposal of $100 reminded me of why I only play poker these days.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Back in Las Vegas

It’s hard not to love jetBlue’s free DirecTV. Even on long, full flights like the one to Las Vegas today, it makes the time pass much more quickly. At home, I fall into TV-watching ruts, relying primarily on my DVR’s To-Do list. I have always believed that one of the by products of a DVR, which I wouldn’t trade for the world, is the loss of channel surfing. I just don’t do it any more.

But on a 5 ½ hour flight, there’s plenty of time to find something new.

As a huge music fan, I think VH1 Classic is a great network. I just never seem to watch it except when I’m on jetBlue. I watched a video by Winger, from 1988 or so. It made me think how dated the song sounded, but the music from Pearl Jam and Nirvana released just 3 years later still sounds relevant.

I caught a few episodes of Cash Cab, which I have seen before, but just in passing. It’s such a simple concept, and so well done – they probably don’t air the contestants who aren’t entertaining, but you can’t help but play along and root for the players. I forget the host’s name (Ben something?), but he’s perfect in that role.

Discovery showed a promo for Alaska Week, which I’m going to have to check out. For some reason, I’m quite interested in travel to cold places – Alaska, Nunavut and Yellowknife (Canada), Iceland, and Greenland – I have planned mock flight itineraries to all of those places…I don’t know why, probably just to see how to get there.

There’s also some show called Verminators. It’s about pest control and exterminators. I feel compelled to watch it, but know I will be incredibly creeped out by what I will see.

VH1 is running a reality series called Viva Hollywood! With Maria Conchita Alonzo and a cast of unknown Latin actors competing for a slot on a Telemundo telenovela. I’m thinking of resuming my Spanish classes, and in some warped way, think that telenovelas might help with my comprehension of spoken Spanish, which is always more difficult for me than reading the language (I think that’s normal). The show is a bit over the top – the first episode had the contestants completing Telemundo fight scenes (water thrown in the face, lots of hair pulling, face slaps). Very entertaining.

Finally, channel surfing reintroduces TV commercials back into my life. For how long have animated lizards doing the Thriller dance for Sobe Life Water??

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Me at Paris (Las Vegas)

Me at Paris (Las Vegas), originally uploaded by southiejason.

I'm flying back to Vegas tomorrow for a quick trip, and am very much looking forward to going. Although I have quite a list to do at work here in Boston, this is also a business trip surrounding the NAB convention. There's a full plate of events and such, so my time lounging at the pool and at the poker tables will be held to minimums. Looks like the temps will be in the 70's and low 80's.

I was searching my photos of Las Vegas, and really don't have many good ones. I'm quite shocked, given the amount of times I have traveled there. I was debating whether or not to bring the larger SLR camera or the smaller 5 megapixel Sony, and I'm going to vote for both. I can use some good night shots of The Strip, and I think my 70mm-300mm lens with Auto Stabilization will be a perfect fit.

This photo was from just over six years ago, outside the fountain at Paris. I'm wearing my bright yellow, long-sleeved DJ shirt, which I believe is still hanging out in my closet. While it still fits, I haven't worn much bright yellow these days.

Both of my flight jetBlue segments to Las Vegas are pretty full to capacity. Thanks FAA and American Airlines for grounding all of those planes and forcing customers onto the other airlines!

Monday, April 14, 2008

The View - Same Jeans

I have had this song in my head since yesterday afternoon. I took a drive to the Chestnut Hill mall with Jamen is his new car, and we hit up Bloomingdale's and a few other stores.

For some reason, I still think jeans cost $40, probably from back in my days in the early 90's working in retail.

I just have a hard time justifying a pair of $180 jeans, but those are more the norm when dealing with the labels carried by Bloomingdale's.

So, I ended up in the Ralph Lauren section, pretty much the cheapest stuff they stock, besides their own label. I found a pair of jeans that fit well, and were on sale for $105, I believe. I was debating between two remaining pairs in my size, because of the individual distressing patterns on each (I know, seems trivial).

When the salesperson rang me up, she asked if the jeans were 25% or 50% off. I didn't know, so she walked over to the section and came back with the surprisingly good news that they were marked down to $35.

Wow, score!

I bought both pairs. And probably shouldn't have the same jeans on for 4 days now (listen to the video above).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Gym Billing and Accessorizing Issues

I extended my Sunday workout into a trip the gym that mistakenly canceled my membership recently. It appears that all of the billing issues still haven't been cleared for some odd reason, given the letter I received from Gold's Gym's billing service this past week, and the front desk attendant stopping me not just on this visit, but on the last one as well, mentioning that my billing info was not up-to-date.

It appears that my phone call to the billing service, and my providing a new expiration date during my last visit were not sufficient. Perhaps I should pin my credit card number and expiration date to my shirt when I go back tomorrow?

Nonetheless, it occurred to me during this workout that I am not coordinating my outfit with my nalgene water bottle correctly. I know this sounds odd and trivial, but I have this Under Armour t-shirt with the name of my high school emblazoned across it. And I usually carry a water bottle with my college's name on it.

Granted, I haven't attended either institution in over a decade, but that's just about all the schooling on my resume, and I am incredibly proud of both.

I just shouldn't be proud of both at the same time...and at the gym.

I do have a second plain-blue nalgene water bottle. I'll have to bring that one when I wear the high school shirt, and can carry the other when I'm wearing other garb.

Working out is way too complicated.

Working Out with Rosie

I think Miss Rosie the Dog needs a bit more exercise. Apparently, doggie play groups don't allow her as much exercise that I thought, and I clearly haven't been working out with her outdoors much lately with the extended cold Boston winters.

So we went for a walk / run today outside along the beach. At first, she was running very fast, but soon realized that she was out of breath. During the punctuated runs on the way back, her gentle trot and confused glance up at me told me that she was d-o-n-e.

As my dog walker says, a tired dog is a happy dog. And, she's now quite tired!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Owl has Arrived

My owl arrived at the office yesterday. I can't wait to put it on my deck and see if it works. Its head spins around in the wind. It's kind of creepy.

Also, the spikes are in place. Pigeons, I dare you...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why I Like Driving With My Windows Down


70 degrees today.

Perfect time for a lunchtime drive up the mess of orange barrels, netting, lanes closed for traffic, heavy machinery, and bumpy surface that we here in Boston call Comm. Ave between Kenmore and Packard's Corner.

On the ride back to the office after lunch, I had the fortune of a confrontation with a mindless possibly BU student, walking with her Gucci sunglasses in her own little world, not realizing that when she has a DON'T WALK sign, and the light is not in her favor, that it's not smart to cross the road into traffic that has already driven into the intersection.

I didn't hit her, but beeped at her for an extended period of time. It's never fun to have a car horn blaring right beside you, is it?

Her subsequent mouthiness toward me turned into a battle of middle fingers and my screaming out aforementioned open window how she should "watch where she's going, you stupid..." (censored for PG reading)...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Major League Eating: The Game - Debut Trailer

Um...is this real?

A video game on professional eating?

The trailer is quite hysterical.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Pigeon Egg

There were only a few of us in the office today, and since it was a 2PM start for Red Sox Opening Day at Fenway, we decided to leave after 4PM to beat the double-whammy of an exiting Sox game and rush hour traffic.

I arrived home to be greeted by two things.

#1 - No dog. It's a bit odd for Rosie not to be here when I get home. It's not like she's out at work or running errands or anything. I'm assuming she is out with the walker right now, as her leash is missing too.

#2 - This pigeon egg. Yes, I destroyed the nest, but sure enough, they laid an egg right where the nest was just a few days ago. I knew they were up to something.

I had a momentary moral dilemma. Now that the egg is there, do I let it hatch and run its course? I searched online for some info about the hatching and weaning period, and found this:

"It takes 18 days for Pigeons to hatch, however, they are not anything like chickens and some other fowl. They hatch completely blind and helpless and require 24/7 care for the first 2-3 weeks."

Case closed. No way, absolutely not. There's already too much bird crap all over my deck, and too many pigeons here in the city anyway. We don't need more crap, nor more pigeons.

In a fit of rage, I swept the egg off my deck, and it smashed to the ground. The parents were looking on as I killed the product of their love.

It sounds so callous, but let this be a message, pigeons. Don't crap on my deck.

What the F-16's were doing before the Fenway flyover

It's rare that F-16's fly over my head.

Usually when they do I'm at a sporting event, and always wonder "wow, how did they time that perfectly," and "where did they come from?"

I suppose this is the second time they have flown over my head in 2008, the first being at Super Bowl XLII. Unfortunately, the University of Phoenix Stadium's roof was closed, and we fans on the inside saw nothing.

Well today after lunch, we walked up to our building's roof for the flyover. My co-worker spotted the four F-16's in formation, circling over Cambridge. We saw them do a few loops in the distance before they took a beeline across the Charles River, directly toward us.

I almost took cover.

Somewhere over the Charles, one of the four seemed to break formation, begin doing loops and flying sideways. We figure he's the class clown of the bunch, the Top Gun Maverick, if you will.

Changing Light Bulbs on the CITGO Sign

Changing a Light Bulb, originally uploaded by southiejason.

The window in my current office stares directly at the CITGO sign. It appears that a few light bulbs needed changing earlier this afternoon.

Let the jokes begin... ("How many men on a scaffold does it take to change a light bulb in the CITGO sign?")

Amputating Rosie's Doll

Rosie has taken to a particular stuffed doll as her favorite chew toy. It seems to be a random choice. It doesn't bounce. It no longer squeaks. It's easy to be stolen from her mouth when I grab it.

Nonetheless, it's her current favorite.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that she had chewed a hole in one of the arms, and had stuffing in her mouth.

When Rosie puts things into her mouth that do not belong, I don't hesitate to stick my hand into her mouth and grab the slobbery hazard. Outside, it's usually some type of bone fragment that she finds on the street or, in the case of this weekend, under a chair on the deck. Inside, it's usually doll stuffing.

Her favorite toy, and now I'm going to have to throw it away. Such a shame, I thought.

But before I tossed it, I realized that I could simply take scissors to the doll, and cut off its arm. Each of its limbs are stuffed separately, and sewn seams compartmentalize each from the torso.

So, I cut off its arm, and now Rosie had an armless favorite toy. Such a shame, I thought.

This weekend, however, Rosie was under my desk as I paid bills online. At one point, I looked down and found stuffing again.

She had broken into one of the legs now.

I amputated the doll once again.

Part of me feels like a kidnapper, sending body parts to rich family members, demanding ransom money in small, unmarked bills.

Two more limbs remain. More stuffing, and the doll gets it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Herb Garden

I learned something this weekend.

When I walked into Home Depot, I saw a cart full of potted herb plants, all of which looked quite healthy and appetizing. Although I have some seeds left from last year, I don't want to grow everything from scratch. It's nice to have some plants already off and rolling.

I bought six herb plants - sage, plain parsley, rosemary, sweet basil, thyme, and coriander (the leaves of which I learned were the same as "cilantro" when I said to myself "I wish they had cilantro..." and then saw a seed packet named "Coriander /cilantro")
I am running out of flat surfaces on which potted plants can sit.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Unwanted Guests

Unfortunately, destroying a nest will not be the cure-all to my pigeon problem.

They seem to have taken overnight refuge in the cross beam supporting my upstairs neighbor's deck. I suppose birds have to sleep somewhere. I would prefer not to have them here.

This morning, I walked out onto the deck, and saw one of them hanging out in the corner where the nest is no longer.

I also saw my next-door neighbor on her second floor deck (new folks moved in, and seem to keep the shades drawn more often than not....probably a good sign, based on the history of past tenants).

She and I had a brief chat about the pigeons, and she recommended I get either a fake owl to put up on the beam, or some wire netting (as she has). I never noticed their wire netting, but think it's a good idea As is the owl - I do recall having seen many fake owls on rooftops when I was on my building's roof last year.
So, it's back to Home Depot later today. Now that I have ordered my cabinets, I am predicting a number of Home Depot runs over the next few months.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Recently, I began noticing these two bird hanging at various places on my deck.

I also began seeing lots more of this. It's almost time for a deck power wash.

Finally, this morning, it occurred to me that my now almost-daily sightings of this couple were not coincidental with the good fortune of these birds liking how I stained my deck.

I remember my upstairs neighbor telling me that last spring, birds built a nest under his grill, and before they were able to remove it, they noticed eggs in the nest. They begrudgingly allowed for the birds to come and go and poop all over the place until the eggs hatched.

Checking under the deck furniture and the grill, I saw nothing that resembled a nest. Just more poop and feathers, and...actual lovebirds themselves.

They pranced out from under the deck sofa, and walked to the edge of the deck. I tried to shoo them away, and they flapped over to the other side of the deck. I shooed them up to the railing, then finally up to the roof of my neighbor's house.

They really didn't want to leave, I'm thinking. What am I missing?

Then I saw it. Behind my AC blower unit, in the very corner against the house....the nest.

It didn't look much like a well-groomed robin's nest, perched high in the treetops. This was a ragtag flat nest of straw, twigs, and city debris. Perhaps these birds were better street cleaners than the City of Boston's sweeping machines?

I looked in the nest and did not see any eggs. I might have found it just in time.

As the birds looked on from above, I took my outdoor broom and swept the nest off my deck. Down it went, all the way to the concrete.

I don't know much about avian biology or behavior patterns, but I would imagine that some species are creatures of habit. Perhaps they were the same couple who called the deck on Unit #3 home last year.

I felt a twinge bad for the birds as they watched me, mean homeowner, destroy the nest that they, the squatters, were crafting on my property. Call me Hurricane Jason, but I would rather not have them as deckmates for a few months this year, especially with Rosie around now, who loves lunging at and chasing birds, and would have probably figured out a way into their no-longer nest.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Driftwood, Stones, and the Tide

I'm in the process of uploading my Seattle photos to Flickr, and realized that a number of them turned out quite well.

I took this shot on the beach at one of the Deception Pass campgrounds on Whidbey Island, Washington.

This picture might seem boring on the surface, but upon looking at it a second time, I realized how much I loved the convergence of the elements...water, wood, stone, earth, and, technically, air.

The tide gives everything a nice wet glow, enhancing the colors in the stones and driftwood.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

My friend Dan

Can I just give major props to my friend Dan Tobin?

Dan wed my friend Meaghan, who I met a mere 16 1/2 years ago at Brown. We shared a similar acerbic wit and love of pop culture, not to mention weekly 90210 viewings in my dorm room. I remember screaming in joy over the announcement of the "extended summer season" of 1992 with her by my side, as if it were just yesterday.

Any friend of Meaghan's is a friend of mine. Her husband counts too.

His personal blog is well-written and quite hysterical.

But, he also writes for Bugs & Cranks, a baseball blog featuring writers that delve beyond the basic stories. Dan had the fortune of being their Red Sox beat writer last season.

I happened across this posting from a few days ago, and it's just brilliant. Nothing you will ever see here on Platinum Elite will ever come close.

So, Dan Tobin, though you received many chairshots during our RAW vs. Smackdown battle on the Wii a couple weeks ago (and...admittedly....you still scored the pinfall), I raise a pint to your blogging superiority.

Web Conference and Clothes Shopping

After work today, I went to the Web Innovators Group at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. I had forgotten that I signed up for this until yesterday, when I noticed it on my Outlook calendar. To be perfectly honest, I couldn't remember what it was, or why I signed up, but the fact that it was on my calendar meant that at one point, I thought it might have been interesting.

So, I decided to go.

I parked at the Cambridgeside Galleria, and walked across the street to the hotel. I followed a few folks who clearly had web 2.0-esque logos on their T-shirts, and soon wound up in the right spot. Good thinking.

When I arrived at the function room, I realized that this was their 17th meeting, and that they attracted quite a crowd. Lots of Internet startup folks speaking a language that I could follow, but didn't speak fluently yet. Their industry in quite interesting to me, but at this point I'm still observing from the periphery.

I hung out for a bit to look at the various startups that had table space in the room, but decided to bail on the main presentations. It's the kind of thing that I would have regretted not attending after having signed up, but once I got the feel for what it was all about, I didn't need to stay.

I figured that since my car was parked at the mall, why not go shopping?

I was on the lookout for denim-cut pants - meaning non-jeans that were cut like jeans. Khakis, though I do wear them, unfortunately don't complement my, um, shape. With bulging pockets and such, they make me look more bottom-heavy than I currently am.

Denim-cut jeans and pants, however, give me more latitude to pretend like I'm the same size as I was a decade ago.

I found my way into J. Crew, where the friendly sales guy sized me up, predicted that I was a size smaller than I actually am (flattery, perhaps?), and tried to stuff me into a pair of jeans that just didn't work.

As I explained a bit more about what I was looking for (twill or black pants cut like jeans that left some room and didn't adhere to my body), he recommended I take a look in......



Goodness. Not to sound completely vain, but the last time I bought clothes in Sears, I was in high school, and my parents were outfitting me.

When I think of Sears, I think of Lee acid-wash jeans, Craftsman power tools, and older ladies buying nighties.

Have I reached the point in my life and/or size that Sears has become the best option for clothes shopping? Really? Am I unaware that Sears is, in actuality, a vendor of couture? Is it?

I scurried over to Banana Republic and found a pair of jeans that I liked and that look fine.

Deep breath.

Immediately, I felt better and decided to come home, leaving on a high note.

A Week of Contradictions

During the past few days, a couple mixed messages have popped up in my life.

#1 - My poker life is usually spent in ebbs and flows. Just when I think I turn a corner, I regress to playing like a donkey. I'm currently in one of those regressions - to the point that I figured a break for a few weeks would be a good idea. Time to hit the gym, read some books, and begin my kitchen cabinet project.

Then, just yesterday at work, I'm asked to go to the NAB Show later this month.

In Las Vegas.

110,000 people attend this annual convention, including people from 163 countries. The convention floor will have over 1,600 exhibitors. The convention started as a relatively straightforward broadcasting convention, but has since morphed into this monster, all focused on content creation and delivery.

This will be, by far, the largest convention I have ever attended.

That's like bringing a fat kid who was just put on a diet into the All Candy Expo.

I'm very excited to be attending NAB. And very excited to be returning to Las Vegas - somewhere I haven't been in 15 months I believe (I have probably been there about 20 times this decade, 90% of them for work).

#2 - I made it to the gym for the second day in a row (sadly, an accomplishment these days), and after scanning my ID, one of the staff members found me in the locker room and mentioned that my membership had been canceled yesterday.

Hmmm. Odd. I was just at the gym yesterday.

I thought quickly as to what could have happened, and concluded that they did not have the new expiration date on the credit card they used for auto-billing (my old card expired on 3/31/08).

No big deal, he gave me a number to call after I finished up.

So, on the way to Home Depot last night, I called. The billing center informed me that my membership was canceled yesterday. Yes, I told them, it was probably a billing issue since they needed the new expiration date on my card.

No, they informed me. They received a certified letter from me, asking to cancel.

They did? Hmmm.

I told them I did no such thing. They investigated a bit, and learned that they transposed the final two numbers of my account number with the correct person who has elected to cancel his/her account.

So if i am to believe her, and I suppose I should, there was an odd coincidence that my credit card expired on the same day as them canceling my account for an unrelated reason.

No big deal, I should be all squared away.

But I'm taking this as a conflicting sign. Poker on pause, intent to go the the gym more, then I'm asked to go to Las Vegas and my gym membership is canceled.

What should I make of this? None of it was April Fools' either!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

RickRolled! Never Gonna Give You Up by Tay Zonday

I got RickRolled.

Kind of.

For a couple months, we have been kidding with our co-worker Martin that his driver's license photo looks like a Rick Astley album cover.

Then I hear about this Internet phenomenon called "Rickrolling," where basically a user clicks on a link, but is re-routed to a video of Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up" in true Internet-prank fashion.

Well, I let my April Fool's Day guard down when I logged into Blogger today. I saw a new product that Google was planning to launch - something about blogging directly into search results. Hmm, what's this I thought. Interesting concept.

Well, clicking on the "video demo" brought me here. Tay Zonday (of "Chocolate Rain" fame) covering Rick Astley.

So, a round-about RickRoll.

Google, you got me.

Welcome to April

I feel like we're in the home stretch now.

It's April 1st. It can't be cold, rainy, snowy, and windy forever here in Boston.

The days are longer. When I leave the office, it's usually light outside, and easier to avoid plowing into the jaywalkers scurrying across Clarendon St.

Warmer weather expands my condo by over 10%, as I reclaim my deck for use beyond storing a recycling bin and the occasional bag of Rosie's gifts back to the earth (until trash day).

Outdoor seating returns. Colorful outdoors plants thrive. Scents of outdoor cooking waft in the air.

But we're still not in the clear. When it's bright and sunny, it's still deceptively cold and breezy (this past Sunday, for example). When it's not bright and sunny, it's grey and rainy (yesterday, for example).

April is indeed the month that Bostonians begin to remove their parkas and hug the outdoors. Baseball is back, and the marathon is later this month.

Most importantly - full-on street cleaning resumes today! Finally!