Sunday, March 30, 2008

Props to Bostonist, Bad Luck Ensues


It appears that I'm one of Bostonist's "favorite local bloggers."

Awww...geez...thanks guys.

Mad love back atcha.

However, in a terrible stroke of bad mouse-positioning, as I was posting this, I was also playing in a poker tournament online (and had been doing so for about 2 hours....it was a low buy-in, but had a large prize pool, and I was somewhere just below the average stack size).

Well as I hit the mouse button to upload the Bostonist logo, the tournament window popped back onto my screen and became the active one. Exactly where the "upload image" button was positioned was also exactly where the "raise all-in" button was.

So, yep, I'm now sitting all in with K-7 hearts, having inadvertently re-raised someone all-in, and I am now all-in myself. The Gods of bad fortune continued to pummel me, as someone else went all-in, and the original raiser called.

Lovely.

Needless to say, I didn't win the hand.

And I think I learned a lesson in multi-tasking.

But, I will keep reading Bostonist. You owe me a couple beers.

Game Night in Southie

Game Night finally landed in Southie last night, after months and months of me saying I should host it, but never quite following through. It started to become a joke that, if left unrectified, could have forced me off the CC list on the Game Night emails. Alas, I'm in the clear now for a bit.

Instead of a traditional board game, we opted for the Wii, namely Wii Tennis, Boxing, Bowling, and, of course Guitar Hero. The sports games in the Wii Sports package are easy to explain and play, and successfully portray the interactivity and simplicity of playing the Wii.

Guitar Hero, however, is a different story.

If you have never played Guitar Hero before, it's tough to pick up immediately. The basics are easy (hit a button along with the strum bar), but it takes a few plays before eye-hand coordination sinks in.

Not to mention the song choices available - I'm assuming that as time passes, song libraries available will become much more vast. For now, people seem to pick what they know of the list in the game, which usually amounts to hearing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" often (or... technically ...whatever percentage is played successfully before the booing off the stage occurs).

Nonetheless, it's always fun to watch the Wii Boxing. We determined that the black male Mii avatar and the white female Mii avatar represented Kerry Healey and Deval Patrick during the last gubernatorial race. It was fun to watch them assault one another, almost as they did during their campaigns.

I picked a few recipes from Food Network's website, and both were winners (I improvised the salad and mashed potatoes). Spicy Sausage, Chicken, and Bean Pot was a great comfort food dish, and Corrie's Kentucky Pie (as presented by Paula Deen) tasted just like a brownie in a pie shell. The recipe yielded two whole pies, and I decided not to reduce it, in case one of them burned (I tend to do that when baking). Nothing burned, and now I have a whole pie left, which contradicts by attempt at a less decadent lifestyle.

Friday, March 28, 2008

My Windshield is Busted

"1-800-54-GIANT, who do you call when your windshield's busted...call Giant Glass!"


I have heard that on the radio for years.


Now, my windshield is busted.


We took a short roadtrip to our new Quincy offices that we will be moving into within the next few months. There was some loose debris on the road, and the car in front of me must have kicked a rock up. I heard something hit my windshield, and knew that it didn't simply bounce off. But at the time, there was no damage.

After we toured the new offices and had lunch, we returned to the car to drive back to Kenmore. Suddenly, we saw a large crack on the passenger's side - about 6" by 6".

Bummer. I hate unexpected expenses.

But....for some reason, it occurred to me that I might have glass coverage through my insurance company. I called them first, followed their menu of commands to report a glass claim, and sure enough, I have on-site glass coverage with zero deductible.

Excellent!

Good thing I didn't simply call 1-800-54-GIANT

They were going to come to my office today, but the rain would have forced them to cancel, so I just scheduled them for Saturday morning (note of caution - when asked to schedule contractors during one of two time frames...always take the earlier block of time, especially on weekends. As the day progresses, they tend to get backed up. If my 8a-12noon windows becomes a 1pm appointment, that's not the end of the world. If a 12noon-4pm appointment becomes 6:30pm, or is canceled altogether, that's just wrong).

I was told I'm entitled to three "glass events" in a calendar year before they start adjusting my premium for the following year. Let's hope I don't have any more...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

In memoriam, Walter Schneller - MSNBC's "Countdown"

My high school emailed me today to inform all alumni of the passing of Mr. Schneller - one of the most esteemed instructors at Hackley School for over 40 years.

He is truly a legend, touching the lives of countless Hackley alumni.

Keith Olbermann, another Hackley alum, paid tribute to Mr. Schneller on his MSNBC show "Countdown" yesterday evening.

I am saddened by this news, but comforted to think of the many lives, mine included, that he had the opportunity to influence.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Latest Project - Installing New Cabinets

Every few months, I come up with some random home improvement idea. Technically, I'm not a handyman. But, somehow, I usually stumble my way through projects, and the results are usually quite nice.

In the past (almost) five years, I have tackled tiling, tons of interior painting, and a deck renovation. I hired out for the closet organizers, but those count as well.

Just when I think there's nothing else I can do to this place, I find something else.


My latest idea is adding cabinets to my kitchen.

This is a picture of my place as it was still in construction.

Doesn't seem like too much of a task, does it?

At first, I was going to purchase a customized cabinet from Room and Board, a great home products store that hasn't made its was to New England just yet. I bought my leather chairs from them after seeing them in their Soho store in Manhattan. They have great stuff and would make a killing in Boston if they launched here.

Then, when I explained my intention to my father, he mentioned that installing additional cabinets might be a better idea. After some thought, I totally agree. I don't need to take this piece with me when I decide to sell, and I'm assuming that (unless I sell within the year), I should be able to recoup the cost of this project in resale).

So now, the plan has evolved from simply figuring out who manufactured my cabinets (I think that's covered), and ordering a few more to complement what is already in place, to full out design plan that now involved cabinets, a granite countertop, and a slate tile backsplash that somehow, I have convinced myself to do with sweat equity - mine and any friends I invite into the process.

Honestly, I'm very excited by this project. And just like the deck, I don't think it's going to be super difficult - but it probably won't be simple.

I was going to wait for my tax return and three-pay month (May) to move forward with this, but that's simply not going to happen. I wouldn't be shocked if I have cabinets ordered within the next few weeks.

Here's the magnitude of the project and the problems I need to solve:

Design cabinet layout (accounting for flooring that will be under rather than around the cabinets)
Order cabinets
Order cabinet molding for entire kitchen
Order granite countertop
Order slate tile and grout
Have electrical outlet moved from near-floor to waist-high
Learn how to hang cabinets
Install cabinets
Install granite countertop
Install slate tile

Now that I see this written down, I am realizing how involved this project could become.

But the good news, as the little voice in the back of my mind always tells me when I'm in project mode, this will be the final project I can think of.

That has never been true.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Video from My Interview on Fox 25

Fox 25's website does not appear to have a video-sharing feature, but clicking here should pull up the video about the reckless distribution of Yellow Pages that aired earlier this evening.

I tried to throw them some decent sound bites, and they did a good job with the final package.

Nothing like some camera time to underline my weekend epiphany.

Interviewed by Fox 25 About Unwanted Phone Books


I was just interviewed on camera by Alison Bologna, a reporter for Fox 25, about the unwanted Yellow Pages plaguing our neighborhoods here in Boston. The piece will air on tonight's 10 o'clock news.


Somehow she tracked down my cell phone # (reporters are a cunning bunch) and left me a voice mail at some point this afternoon. By the time I called her back, she and her cameraman were already in Southie.
We arranged to meet on my street, and I answered a few standard questions that she had prepared ("how many did you receive," "do you think it should be an opt-in process to receive phone books," "do you actually use a phone book," etc). We took a walk around the block to get shots of some phone books that were still sitting outside some residences.
I'm excited that this story has picked up momentum, having been first covered by the local blogs and crossing over to the The Boston Globe and now Fox 25. The more I think about it, this is an important environmental issue that seems to have few detractors besides the directories themselves.

Many people champion human rights.
Others support health care reform, or fight against government corruption.
Somehow, I picked phone books.
Assuming they use my sound bites on the 10 o'clock news tonight, this will be, technically, my second time on Fox TV this year, the first being a wide shot of the crowd at Super Bowl XLII (sure...blink and you miss me.....but I'm there).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Blocking Out More of the Sun

Another family holiday in the books (and a 60th birthday dinner for my mother), and yet another weekend of eating in excess. It has become a ritual, to be honest, and I need for it to stop. Things just aren't as comfortable on me any more. I certainly don't have genetics on my side (my father seems to have taken to wearing Hawaiian shirts because they are more spacious and easier to button around his belly). I'm not getting any younger. And lately, I have been eating too many bundt cakes.


You know it's time for a change when you tell your friends "chest up" when describing how you would like to be photographed. I seem to recall saying those words in this photo taken in Positano, Italy.

So, perhaps writing it down will force me to take diet and exercise more seriously. I saw a few photos of me on my parents' fridge, and my face does looks slimmer. It was probably during a time of the Atkins diet (which I tried twice before, and lost twenty pounds each time).

I announced my Summer Lent here last year, and actually stuck with it. Being that the real Lent just ended today, perhaps it's time for a Spring Lent. I don't know the official rules yet, but imagine that eating fewer carbs and hitting the gym more frequently will be on the list.

As comfortable as it might be, I certainly cannot live my life in stretchy-waist shorts.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I am French (Je suis Fran├žais)

Well, we made it down to New York in one piece. I learned that Dramamine is quite effective in keeping Rosie calm and not drooly during the car ride when given an hour before the trip.

My mother is turning 60 this week, and we're having a surprise dinner for her tonight with some friends and family. She still doesn't seem to have figured it out, which is a bit odd.

I learned something new about myself today. When talking about last weekend's St. Patrick's Day festivities, I was informed that the part of me that I classified as "European Mutt" heretofore is actually better defined as "one-eighth French." I always knew about the Italian part of me, figured I was part German given my last name, and knew I did indeed have some Irish blood.

But French? Didn't know that.

Who knew? (well, my father did)

I figure including a photo of the new proposed temporary Eiffel Tower observation deck, as odd as it looks, would be an appropriate accompaniment to this revelation. (Thanks to Boston Real Estate Blog and archboston.org for the photo).

Perhaps at dinner tonight, I'll have some Pommes Frites or a crepe to celebrate.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

MBTA Bus


MBTA Bus, originally uploaded by southiejason.

More often that not, my riding mass transit here in Boston elicits an odd story, a miscalulation, or both.

Yesterday, we had meetings in the office towers at the Pru. Since we had dinner scheduled for later that night, and since I didn't want to deal with midweek daytime parking rates (or a walk from our offices in Kenmore), I decided to take the bus from Southie.

Now, I knew that the #9 went from Broadway to Copley Square, and I figured that was my best option (actually...it was my best option). It's a short walk to the bus stop on Broadway at G St.

Unfortunately, while waiting for the #9 bus, the #10 showed up first. I did not realize that the #10 stopped there, nor did I realize that it too wound up at Copley Square (according to its digital readout). But when I saw its destination, I thought I'd hop on the #10.

Little did I realize that it took the scenic route there. Well, not exactly the scenic route, since it drove through the innards of Newmarket's meat distributors. But rather the longer route.

I drive through the South End up up Mass Ave from the Back Bay to Southie all the time. But the #10 drove me through some streets that I had never seen. I suppose I had no reason to see them until yesterday (that reason being, I was stuck on a bus).

We ended up at Back Bay Station about 40 minutes after I boarded the bus. I swifty walked to my meeting, fully expecting to walk in a few minutes late because of my unplanned tour de #10.

It's a good thing my 9am meeting actually was scheduled to begin at 9:30. I was the third one there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Proposal to Ban the Distribution of Unsolicited Phone Books

Who knows if my little rant about unwanted phone books precipitated this, but according to boston.com, Boston City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina has proposed legislation "to ban the distribution of unsolicited commercial deliveries weighing more than a pound."

Bravo!

Mr. LaMattina, if you're reading this blog (this posting, or this one, for example), or have seen the many generous links from Universal Hub or articles the The Boston Globe, thanks for listening. If this is a separate but analogous idea, it's nice to know that I'm not alone in my frustration with the matter.

I hope this makes it through city council and the mayor's office.

If it does, this could truly gain steam as other communities around Massachusetts or even around the country begin to take notice.

So, if you're reading, I'm behind you 100%. Certainly, I would be willing to speak out against directories in a formal, public forum.

I'm not much of an activist, but when something is just wrong, I feel the need to speak up.

_________
Update:

It seems that Cambridge has also jumped onto this bandwagon and has a similar proposal in the works. This is great.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mailing Lists

I'm always interested to figure out how I land on the mailing lists for the unsolicited mail I receive through the post office. What did I purchase, join, or subscribe to? What does my zip code or credit history profile as?

A few weeks ago, I was sent a nicely designed mailer from The Sports Club LA, offering me a free one-week workout. Somehow they thought I was not only an athlete, but also of high net worth. If I'm going to spend money on a gym that I don't use as much as I should, paying 40 bucks a month for my local Gold's Gym is sufficient.

Today, my college - Brown University - sent me a mailer about Pre-College Summer Programs at Brown.

Now, I get why I'm on Brown's list.

But, Pre-College Summer Programs?

Do they think I have a teenager already?

I suppose I could. But, it's a bit of a stab in the dark on their part. It does presume that my teen was born while I was still a student there.

My Quote in the Boston Globe Story About Phone Books

It looks like the Boston Globe story about the distribution of local Phone Books is running today. This morning, I read the article online, but I'm assuming it's also in the print version.

Not a bad article. Thanks to staff writer Tania deLuzuriaga for bringing this issue to a larger audience. (Although she name-dropped me, it would have been nice to have received a link to Platinum Elite as well...but that's OK)

The fact that this $17 billion industry is actually growing amazes me. But the real truth behind the well-spun numbers almost feels like what happened to Bear Stearns this week - a business that spiraled upward until the bottom fell out when people realized there was no true value behind the growth.

I challenge the majority of yellow page directory advertisers to track the source of their leads.

Tracking leads can be more accurate than ever these days. I do it myself at work. Divide their advertising expenses with directories by the amount of leads they receive, and they will be shocked by their acquisition costs.

And I challenge directories to change their distribution systems, and see how many citizens "opt in" to receiving their books if given the choice - watch their circulation numbers evaporate.

Any unwanted stuff - even free things - is wasteful. Especially today, when resources are scarcer, prices are higher, and time is more valuable.

The distribution of information is entirely different today than when newspapers and phone directories first began. People are searching for info online.

And apparently, they aren't searching for it on the websites of phone directories either.

Alexa.com measures Internet traffic, and ranks websites based on their popularity.

For example, the ten most popular sites in the U.S., according to Alexa this morning, are:

1. Google
2. Yahoo!
3. MySpace
4. YouTube
5. Facebook
6. Windows Live
7. eBay
8. Wikipedia
9. MSN
10. Craigslist.org

Boston.com, an excellent website, is # 1,592, with over 25,000 inbound links.

Yellowbook.com, whose parent company assaulted me and my neighbors with their directories, is #12,638, with just 566 inbound links

People aren't even turning to them for online searches. Looks like the search engines are killing them.

So, Yellow Book, thanks for bringing this issue to the forefront - if not for good, simply for a moment.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Photos from Southie St. Patrick's Day Parade

Southie survived through another St. Patrick's Day Parade. I figured out that with St. Patrick's Day technically being today, it appears to be a Friday (or Thursday) night through Monday night drunk-fest for many. Not all of us are lucky enough to be off today - my upstairs neighbor must be because his music was thumping well past 12:30. Good thing I sleep through almost anything.

It must be a different perspective for those who found their ways to Southie for their first trips here (or, their once-a-year trips here). For me, it's simply parking my car on Friday night and not moving it all weekend, having friends over for after-the-parade food and drink, (and bundts), and stumbling up to Broadway for an hour to watch the Irish and Irish-for-a-Day celebrate.

The King was there....but was that water or vodka?













This was Rosie's first parade. I think she loved the attention, but was a bit freaked out by the crowd after some time. Though she watched the parade in this photo, at one point she seemed to find more interest staring at the curb behind her.




Her final blow was this firing squad's ten-gun salute right in front of us. She jumped.














This float stopped right in front of us, and was parked there for quite some time as the parade in front of them was also stopped. These kids on the float, casually tossing green lollipops into the crowd, took this moment to unleash their pent-up aggression. Their tosses became a full all-out assault of candy, with targeted full-speed throws at us.




Long day, officer?





Kind of looks like Warren Zevon with a white bears, shades, an Irish scarf, and green beret. Well, maybe it doesn't look like him....





Winner of the cute kid award - she was atop her parent's shoulders, taking it all in.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My First Bundt

This morning, I began prepping for tomorrow's festivities by baking a couple bundts. The second one - an Apple Cake - is still in the oven. The first one - a lemon poppy cake - is right here. I learned a few things along the way.






#1 - When attempting to make icing, only a little water is needed. When too much water is incorporated into the powdered sugar, it becomes too liquidy.
When attempting to reduce the liquid in a sauce pan, it eventually turns into a very thick mixture that, when cooled, becomes candy.






#2 - Said candy retains an incredible amount of heat, and is terribly hot to the touch.
I learned that the hard way.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Southie Drunks

Well, the drunks are already out in Southie. I went to the liquor store around 6PM today, and the guy behind me was obviously either drunk or Southern (actually, I believe he was both).

I'm looking forward to another fun parade this year - I took this pic of my friend Doug and his significant other during last year's parade. Doug is not a Southie drunk.

My corned beef is brining in the fridge and I bought my soda bread today. I'm ready to roll.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Music in Video Games

It's not a secret that the music industry is currently in a state of decline. The labels didn't react properly to the file sharing that began with Napster back in '99, and allowed a generation of music listeners to believe that music was a free commodity, readily accessible by a few mouse clicks.

Rather than adapt to technology early, and re-evaluate their business models, they let opportunity pass them by, and are still left playing catch-up.

One of the bright spots of music licensing these days, however, is in video games. Any way people can discover music - new or old - is worth exploring. A game like Guitar Hero is great, because unless someone is a complete music freak, there will be interesting songs he can discover through the game.

Case in point for me - "Holiday in Cambodia" by Dead Kennedys.

Now, I was indeed familiar with this song from my days on the radio back in the 90's (I don't remember it when it first came out in 1980).

But I didn't know much more about it beyond my familiarity with the chorus.

I played it on Guitar Hero a few times recently, and then went to itunes to purchase it.

Perhaps the artist and publisher have now been compensated twice by my purchases. That's a good thing - they should earn money for their work.

What's most amusing to me is that when the song came on my ipod at the gym today, all I could picture were red, yellow, green, and blue notes hurling toward me rapidly on my TV screen.

If you own Guitar Hero or have played it, you'll know exactly what I mean.

Yellow Pages Prank!

As a result of my recent postings about unnecessary phone directories being distributed throughout Boston, a nice reporter named Tania from the Boston Globe / boston.com reached out to me about an article she is writing about this same topic. It appears that this is a problem throughout Boston, for people both younger and older than me.

It would be nice for this issue to gather some more steam and become a topic of discussion for City Hall.

Tania alerted me to Yellow Book's cumbersome "opt out" procedure (um, shouldn't we be able to "opt in" instead?), and to this YouTube video showing how Tufts University students utilize their phone directories.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Attack Bird


Attack Bird, originally uploaded by southiejason.

No, unlike in Dubuque Iowa last May, this bird did not attack me. But it looks like it is about to.

In Kirkland, Washington (just east of Seattle), I found my way to a small park near a marina. Lots of people were mulling about in what appeared to be a great community-gathering area.

I took a number of pictures of the many ducks, seagulls, and crows that were hanging out on the rocks by the water's edge.

I set my camera on monochrome and used a slower shutter speed. As luck would have it, I was aiming right as this bird as it decided to get up and fly toward me. The slower shutter speed helps convey the wings in mid-flap.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Starbucks HQ


Starbucks HQ, originally uploaded by southiejason.

Coffee has been on my mind for the past few days - it's hard not to think about it when you're in Seattle. At first, I thought I was hyper-sensitive to the amount of espresso bars and coffee stores around the area. But then, I realized that there were simply more of them. After all, Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and Tully's are all based here.

Here I am outside the Corporate Headquarters of Starbucks, on Utah Avenue just east of Safeco and Qwest Fields, the homes of the Mariners and Seahawks. There is a small Starbucks area in the lobby - nothing fancy, very anti-climactic. I was bummed they didn't even have "Starbucks HQ" City Mugs there (I know they existed at one point).

Well, the coffee focus did not end after Seattle. Flying home on the redeye, my focus went from "avoid coffee" before and during the flight to "must obtain coffee" after the flight and throughout much of yesterday.

I was even thinking ahead. During lunch, I bought some half-and-half for my coffee this morning, as I had none left at home. I put in in the fridge at work, and made a note to remember to bring it home as I walked out.

Well, the half-and-half, of course, is still in the fridge at work because I took that note, put in in my coat pocket, and overlooked the content of that note thirty seconds after last having read it. I am chalking it up to the 6pm day-after-redeye daze, and not to my general forgetfulness.

And as a result, I still haven't had my coffee this morning.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Redeye Home

Well, I'm back in Boston after a quick redeye home (only about 5 hours, and I slept for almost all of it). Lots of great photos from Sunday in Seattle, but I need to sift through them later today after work.

What delights me beyond anything else upon returning home to Boston after a coast-to-coast flight is the reaction of my cab driver when I tell him (or...in rare cases...her) that we're going just to Southie. Today's driver wasn't awful, but he made it clear that he most certainly did not win the fare lottery in the cab stand.

Since he was a nice guy, I still gave him a $5 tip on a $22 fare.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Saturday in Seattle

After a quick stop at Best Buy to pick up a new GPS charger, we drove here - Deception Pass. It is at the North end of Whidbey Island, the fifth largest island in the contiguous 48 states.

The bridge at Deception Pass was a two-lane road with pedestrian walkways on either side and stunning views. Walking across the first time wasn't much on an issue for me, but walking back to the car, all I could think of is "wow, this path is narrow, and this bridge is quite high, and these cars are very close to me." For some reason, I kept thinking about walking across unsturdy rope-bridges across ravines in movies like Romancing the Stone.

I did not fall, nor die.


We continued south on Whidbey Island, and found our way to a campgrounds / beach area that is clearly much more frequented by locals in warmer weather, given the size of the empty parking lot. By now, the temperature had warmed up to about 50, and the sun was out. The smells and scenery were excellent, not, however, affirmed by this photo of a rock. Climbing down from this rock, I stepped in some water and had a wet right shoe and sock for a couple hours afterward.


The birds looked innocuous, but I suspected that they were plotting. I always suspect groups of animals are cooking up some devious scheme when they find man in a weakened state (my wet shoe / foot).





Eventually, we made it to the ferry terminal in Clinton, for the car ferry ride back to the "mainland." The ferry brought us to Mukilteo. I am again assuming that our trip to Whidbey Island was during the off-season, as we passed signs in Clinton indicating the approximate wait time to make it to the ferry gates from specific checkpoints along the highway (the first of which was "90 minutes"). We had no wait.
From there, we searched for food. We ended up in Bellevue, just east of Seattle across the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. Bellevue has some serious cash - everything looks new, all of the upscale retailers are there, and there are tons of high-rises going in. We ate at the Tap House Grill, which has just two locations (Bellevue and Seattle). I would love for a place like this to come to Boston. Great menu, cool decor, and 160 beers on tap.
As dinner was more of a super late lunch, we still had some time before sunset. We ended up driving around Queen Anne, an expensive neighborhood with large homes, manicured properties, and excellent views of the Seattle skyline. I wanted to make it to the water for some sunset / evening photos, but we missed much of the sunset driving back to the hotel and parking. We did make it to the waterfront, though, and I took a few shots of Quest Field.


We will be going here a bit later this morning.







And then here soon thereafter (Pike Place opens at 1pm on Sundays)








Saturday, March 08, 2008

Woke Up in Seattle

So, I'm in Seattle this morning.

I flew out last night after work on jetBlue, not without some moments of frenzy (an unnecessary 45 minute drive home from Kenmore, a scramble to find a taxi, and an unexpectedly long wait at security - so much so that they called out passengers on my flight and moved us through a quicker line).

Unfortunately, the live DirecTV wasn't working on the plane yesterday (total bummer), but they gave us the few movies for free as an uneven compromise. Good thing one of the movies was the excellent Juno, which I hadn't seen yet. Great story, great soundtrack. And after the movie, two red wines and the thin air of the airplane, I was in a happier, drowsy place. It would have been smart to have remembered to bring the neck pillow that I purchased for my flight to Italy last fall. It probably would have avoided the airplane seat head-bob.

After picking up the rental car, I powered up Jill (the GPS), and realized that she wasn't charging correctly. Well, my car adapter appears to be broken. Lovely. It does explain the small metal ring that I found in my car on Thursday night - it appears to be a necessary part of the charger that actually allows it to work. Unfortunately, that piece is in Boston, and I am not.

There are a couple Best Buys nearby, and according to their websites, they carry replacement car chargers.

So, my last trip here in 2004 was on Continental (no DirecTV) and without a GPS. How did I ever survive it??

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Jeff Buckley - Grace


I signed on to itunes this evening, and happened to glance down at the "Top Songs" on the right hand side. Currently, the #2 most downloaded song on itunes is "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley, a song that was recorded almost 13 years ago?

How did this happen?

American Idol

One of the guys performed a decent version of the song during Tuesday's 80's night (originally, the song was recorded by Leonard Cohen in the 80's, and has since been covered a ton).

This show has such amazing influence. The judges had a few comments about how much they loved the song, and Randy Jackson even name-checked Jeff.

The album that features "Hallelujah" - Grace - is one of the very few CD's I have purchased twice. Once, back in 1995, and again in 2004 when the remastered Deluxe version was released with a second CD of music. It is undoubtedly one of my favorite albums to this day.

At the time, he was more of a critical favorite than a commercial success. But during my final few months at WBRU, we played a couple songs from the CD in regular rotation, one of them - "Last Goodbye" - might be my favorite song from the 90's. I remember catching the very end of his set at the old Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel location on Westminster St. when he was opening for Juliana Hatfield.

In fact, I even seem to recall a story of a friend of mine sleeping with Jeff. Who knows if that is true, but I kind of believe her.

Jeff became a bit of a legend, however, because he went and drowned in the Mississippi River in 1997. Since then, his estate has been carefully managed by his mother, and they have done an admirable job keeping his legacy going, releasing a few decent posthumous albums and licensing his music. In 2002, Grace finally went gold in the US (500,000 copies), probably through lots of word of mouth and people "discovering" his music.

Now, the biggest show on TV pushes one of his songs to #2 on itunes with a simple 2 minute cover version and Randy's mention of his name.

Amazing.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Finally...No New Phone Books Today

I am THRILLED to report that no phone directories were delivered to my home today.

One commenter from an earlier related post (mermaidshoes) had a great observation....

"It's just hard to think of any other company that's 'allowed' to leave its product on your doorstep for you to deal with! Why is this an acceptable business model?"

Good question.

Catalogs and junk mail aside, I can't think of any.

Pizza joints don't leave pizzas...they leave menus.

Technically, isn't the reckless distribution of unwanted phone books considered illegal dumping or littering or something?

Any attorneys read this blog? Let's get a class action lawsuit going....!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Attacked Again! - Verizon Yellow Pages


You're kidding.
Seriously?
Seriously!
At first, I thought this was a joke. I figured someone read my prior post and was playing a joke on me.
Or, I thought our Yellow Books might have reproduced.
Then I looked more closely.
Today's new unwelcome books were from Verizon.
Seriously?
Seriously!
Just days after Yellow Book polluted my neighborhood with their archaic directories, Verizon joined the anti-environmental party today.
This is awful. What a waste.
Are consumers seriously going to pick which directory they prefer?
Are those who actually brought their Yellow Books into their homes on Friday now going to retrieve those books and replace them with today's Verizon directories?
Are they going to add a second option to their personal reference libraries?
Please.
It's basically the same product - yet another anachronistic distribution of local phone numbers.
I will give Verizon credit for good timing. Curbside recycling goes out on Tuesday nights.

Cupcake Cake


Saturday was dinner at Brian & Kelly's. and for some reason, I had the idea to bring a cupcake-covered cake to complement their delicious French-inspired cuisine. Middle America meets Parisian gastronomy.

It was my idea, but Ryan did all of the work and decorating. I simply mixed the colors.





Naturally, when one was two boxes of cake mix prepared in the form of a double-layered cake and two dozen cupcakes frosted in pastel colors, one must break out the camera and throw down some close-ups.










Rosie knew what was going on....refined sugar on the counter within nose shot.










"Let me get a closer sniff at that. Yep, sugar." (This photo may or may not have been staged).
I still have cupcakes left. If I don't toss them, they are all going to end up in my belly, a place they don't need to be.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Yellow Book - Shame on You

When I came home on Friday, I discovered that my street had been attacked by Yellow Book. This must happen a few times each year (depending on how many competing phone directories distribute books to Southie).

Each time I'm greeted by piles of bound paper at my doorstep, I think the same exact thing - what a waste. The energy to distribute and manufacture these, the raw materials used to print these, and our time to dispose of them properly.

It's almost as if I feel like some random person has thrown a 12-pack of empty cans on my doorstep. I didn't want them, but the responsible thing to do is to put them in the recycling bin on Tuesday nights.

I brought the four Yellow Books into our downstairs vestibule, where they still sit days later. Never mind we only have three units in this building. They must have figured that one of us wanted a second copy, just in case we misplaced the first one.

During our walks, Rosie and I have noticed a number of still-wrapped books sitting outside of my neighbors' front doors.

Why can't we order these books and have them shipped IF we wanted them? Why does Yellow Book automatically assume we appreciate their annual tome, because clearly, many of us do not. (I mean, having worked in the media for so long, I get why they do this - circulation numbers are inflated by number of books distributed, and ad rates reflect these figures.)

It kills me to see this waste - primarily from an environmental perspective , but now as a media advertiser, it shows how they are selling unfair numbers to their clients.

It's 2008. Anything in your book, I can get online for free. I can opt out of emails. I can opt out of junk mail and pre-approved credit card offers. But I can't stop the Yellow Books from coming.

Tomorrow, if they are still in the entryway, I will take that as a sign to put them in this week's recycling.

Please stop killing trees. Or show me your carbon offsets, and maybe I'll consider forgiving you.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Rosie After the Beauty Parlor

This morning, Rosie had an appointment at Snippers Hair Club on Dot Ave. in Southie. Susan and her team did such a great job on Rosie - so much so that Rosie insisted she have a photo shoot when she came home!

I understand that she behaved quite well for everyone at Snippers, and didn't put up a fuss in the bathtub like I thought she might.

It's been about four months since Rosie moved in here, and she hadn't been groomed during that entire time (besides regular brushings), so it was time. Thankfully, her breed doesn't tend to get much of a "dog smell," even after a long time between baths. But today, she definitely looks fluffier and more radiant than usual (her coat is naturally quite soft and glowing).

All for $35 - certainly worth the trip!