Follow by Email

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wacky Weather


Is it only Tuesday, or is work starting to be like that movie “ Groundhog Day”.  Seems the expression, same old thing applies here, cause I feel like today was very much like yesterday, which will be pretty much like tomorrow.  In the movie, Phil (Bill Murray) wakes up to find that he is reliving February 2. The day plays out exactly as it did before, with no one else aware of the time loop, and only Phil aware of past events. At first he is confused, but, when the phenomenon continues on subsequent days, he decides to take advantage of the situation with no fear of long-term consequences: he learns secrets from the town's residents, seduces women, steals money, drives recklessly, and gets thrown in jail. However, his attempts to get closer to Rita repeatedly fail.

My groundhog day is not as exciting as this, as it really consists of the daily grind or routine that plays out.  Go to work, cook dinner, go to the gym or exercise, take the kids to soccer, watch some TV, write a blog post, have a beer or shot of tequila, wash up for bed, set clock, and repeat for a few days.  Don’t get me wrong, every now and then the routine is broken up in one way or another, and if I ever win the lottery, things will change a little.  The winter is like this, so let’s bring on spring.

Speaking of spring, the weather is really mild lately, and perhaps one of the warmest January I can remember.  Today was really warm and I see people posting on Facebook that it hit 60 in their car…of course the wise crack was that the speed limit is 55.  I went to Trader Joes during lunch, hey that is a break in the groundhog day routine, and it was very warm.  Made me want to go out for a run or a bike ride.

Today in history “A record high daily temperature of 55 degrees was set Tuesday afternoon at Long Island MacArthur Airport as January went out like a lamb.
The high at 1:55 p.m. exceeded the old Jan. 31 record of 51 degrees set in 1988 at the Ronkonkoma monitoring station, the National Weather Service said. The records at Islip date to 1984.

So, I guess my friend Barbara really hit 55 and was just too far into the Island and her car recorded the wrong temperature.  Hey, at least she wasn’t speeding, like someone else I know (Mary Anne).  It’s incredible what you can find out on facebook.  Get ready, cause in a few days, the face of facebook is going to change to timeline.  Most of you won’t get it, but the two peeps I am talking about will.

Ground hog day.   I think it is in Feb.  If he/she sees a shadow we get 6 more weeks of what ?  Winter or what we have been having since November ?

 Global Warming ??

Photo of the day “Wacky Weather”


Monday, January 30, 2012

Mouse

I got out of the office today at lunch time and decided to go hunting for a TV.  We checked the advertisements over the weekend, and with Superbowl Sunday fast approaching, the sales are on.  It is a tough decision, but I head to Target to see if any of the items they had on sale are actually available to view.  Price isn’t everything, so I want to see the picture quality side by side with other TVs.

I am out of luck at the first Target, as they have the TV in stock but not on display.  Having checked on the Internet first, I figured the stores that had the item in stock would have it on display.  Only a few miles away is another Target, the one that supposedly did not have the TV in stock, so I decide to go there.  Well, they have all the TV’s they advertised and a huge all dedicated to displaying them.  Thinking the largest and cheapest priced set will surely have the worst picture.  Well, I cant believe my eyes, when the set I wanted actually looked better than some of the higher priced TVs. 

So much to choose from,  LED, 3D, and all that.  I decide to buy last years LCD set, energy star rated, with a 120Hz refresh rate.  It has to be better than what we are watching now.  No haggle, and an additional 5% off if I open a target credit card…After signing for the TV, the guy in electronics tells me that he will bring the set out and get it into my car.  I head out and move all my crap to the front seat, fold down the rear seats and pull to the front of the store.  A few minutes later, out comes a huge box which from first glance is going to be tough to get into the back.   I help the guy lift the set and slide it into the back of the Hyundai Santa Fe…. A perfect fit.  Can’t wait to get a TV stand that can hold this so we can watch it Superbowl Sunday.

This day in history “Born 30 Jan 1925 Douglas Carl Engelbart”

Douglas Carl Engelbart was an American electrical engineer and inventor who invented the computer mouse, which he developed in the 1960s and patented 17 Nov 1970. For input, he also collaborated in the invention of joystick, track ball and light pen devices. It was part of his larger work developing a computer graphical user interface (as opposed to merely keyboard input and text display). This involved a multiple window display, and the ability to display not only text, but also images, audio, video in a single document. After earning his Ph.D. (1955), he joined the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). There, he also worked on ARPANET. By 9 Dec 1968, at a computer conference, he conducted the world's first video conference, multiple window display, as well as collaboration online, and his mouse device for input. Further research was done at Xerox.«

After coming home, Kyle helps me take the TV out of the car, and get it into the house.  I decide to cool Chicken Tikka Masala, Basmati Rice, Peas, PapaDams, and chutney.  A perennial favorite at the Jenkins house, and soon after is finished the kids start to arrive for religion class.  A good time for me to go the gym and work off some of that rice, and the chili and cheeseburger I grabbed from Wendy’s the day before.

Kyle is excited, and we go to the basement so he can explain his ideas for re-finishing the basement.  I tell him that we have a lot of work to do to just get all the crap out of the room, let alone make it the man cave he has in mind.  While down in the dungeon, I spot a mouse, and another, and another.  Man, we have a real cleanup to do.  I caught a few of them already.

Photo of the day “Mouse”



Sunday, January 29, 2012

Samsung TV for sale


Nothing is easy it seems.  This morning while reading the Sunday Newsday, Luke came to look at the advertisements and picked out some TV’s that would be great for the basement.  I really like the thin ones, with not so much plastic around the top and sides he says.  I agree, they are beautiful, and while we are at it, why not get the LED, 3D, 240Hz 55inch model that just came out ?  I am leaning towards a 46inch lesser name Westinghouse (target) , ELEMENT (costco) , or INSIGNIA (best buy) for about $1000 less than the fancy one listed above.   We have a Westinghouse 46 inch TV in the family room…while not the best, it will probably be the set that makes its way to the basement, with the new one staying upstairs.

Seems the same saga played out when we went to look at laminate floors this afternoon after soccer, at Lumber Liquidators.  I was drawn to take a look at them when I saw a really cheap, or should I say inexpensive laminate that cost only $0.49 per square foot.  Well, once we are in the showroom, we can see why this piece of laminate is in the far right hand bottom corner of the store.  Most of the pricier ones look nicer and have longer warranties.  We took a photo of two products on Kyle’s fancy cell phone, and we will continue looking. 

You can’t just float the laminate flooring on the basement concrete floor, so we need to add a moisture barrier and pad, or some combo that is made for laying laminate flooring.  Well, that cost about the same price as the cheap floor I saw advertised.   So, with internet in hand, it is time to do some more research, and I think we will have to have a budget vote in the Jenkins house so that we can afford the other items on the list.  Air Hockey, Foosball table, ping pong, TV stand, table and folding chairs, and unless the boys approve of the old hand me down couch and love seat, furniture too.

At one point in time, or at least as long as the boys can remember, we had a finished basement, with all these basic necessities, and more.  It even had a 27 inch TV with built  in VCR player on one side of the room, and a 32inch LCD on the other side. An old surround sound stereo, and games such as Xbox, Sony PS 2, Nintendo 64, Nintendo, Dreamcast, etc.  That is until the great flood destroyed most of it.

This day in history “Allen B(alcom) Du Mont  Born 29 Jan 1901

Allen B(alcom) Du Mont was an American
engineer who perfected the first commercially practical cathode-ray tube, which was not only vitally important for much scientific and technical equipment but was the essential component of the modern television receiver. The early cathode ray tubes were imported from Germany at high cost, but they burned out after 25 or 30 hours. In the 1930's, he simplified and improved the production of cathode ray tubes lasting a thousand hours. A financially successful by-product of his television work was the cathode ray oscillograph. After WW II, Du Mont had become the industry's first millionaire, investing also in broadcasting stations. The Du Mont Broadcasting Co. he began in 1955 grew to become Metromedia, Inc.

It is really ironic that you can’t even find a tube television or computer monitor in any store that I know of.  Since LCD has come down in price, it looks like plasmas and plain LCD’s (those without LED backlights or 240hz refresh rates)  are getting deeply discounted.  Time to buy some of last year’s technology I think.

Photo of the day “Samsung TV for sale”


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Space Shuttle


I went down to the basement to measure for flooring.  Kyle really want wants the basement cleaned up, fixed up, and made back in to the hang out, recreation room that we once had before the great flood of 2010.  While I was down there, I realized that we have a huge mess to get thru, or at least to relocate to the small room that will serve as storage.   Over the past few years, it seems things that I would normally have brought up to the attic, have now made their way to the basement.  It is after all easier to carry things downstairs as opposed to navigating a rickety old pull down stair I the garage to get things into the attic.  Do we need to look for a sale on storage bins…seems there are never enough of those, and I can only imagine how many we have purchased over the years.

Oh yeah, went to the gym this morning and added another 5 mile run to top out the week at 20 miles.  I have been trying to increase my number of miles, and the duration of my runs.  So far so good, as long as I don’t push the pace, I seem to be able to not trigger any knee pain.  This may be because I have avoided the road, trails, track, and sidewalks, which I noticed hurts me.

This day in history “At 11:38 a.m. EST, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Christa McAuliffe is on her way to becoming the first ordinary U.S. civilian to travel into space. McAuliffe, a 37-year-old high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire, won a competition that earned her a place among the seven-member crew of the Challenger. She underwent months of shuttle training but then, beginning January 23, was forced to wait six long days as the Challenger's launch countdown was repeatedly delayed because of weather and technical problems. Finally, on January 28, the shuttle lifted off.
Seventy-three seconds later, hundreds on the ground, including Christa's family, stared in disbelief as the shuttle exploded in a forking plume of smoke and fire. Millions more watched the wrenching tragedy unfold on live television. There were no survivors.


It was terrible watching this happen, and the space program was put on hold until the cause of this was disaster was found.  The same American ingenuity that brought us this reusable space vehicle, would figure out what happened, and engineer a solution.  There has never been another space shuttle designed and like I have said in previous posts, it would be a shame for us to not continue to race for space.  What I mean by that is a race to permanently occupy another planet or the moon.

Back down on earth, it is time to watch a movie, and settle in for the night.

Photo of the day "Space Shuttle"


Friday, January 27, 2012

Brownies


The work week comes to an end and when I get home we start thinking about what’s for dinner.  I mention taco bell, Kyle and Luke suggest Outback.  Sue doesn’t like taco bell, so let’s do Outback tonight.  Santa left gift cards in everyone’s stocking so with cards in hand we felt like dinner was free tonight.  Not busy as we get there before 5pm, and out as the place starts to get really busy.

Kyle and Luke decided they wanted brownies, ice cream, and whipped cream for dessert, so they are working together on a batch of Duncan Hines.  I hear some giggling and arguing, and I am sure there will be some mess to cleanup, but as long as I get my dessert later, I am good.   

This day in history “On January 27, 1888, the National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C., for "the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge."


The 33 men who originally met and formed the National Geographic Society were a diverse group of geographers, explorers, teachers, lawyers, cartographers, military officers and financiers. All shared an interest in scientific and geographical knowledge, as well as an opinion that in a time of discovery, invention, change and mass communication, Americans were becoming more curious about the world around them. With this in mind, the men drafted a constitution and elected as the Society's president a lawyer and philanthropist named Gardiner Greene Hubbard. Neither a scientist nor a geographer, Hubbard represented the Society's desire to reach out to the layman.


Nine months after its inception, the Society published its first issue of National Geographic magazine. Readership did not grow, however, until Gilbert H. Grosvenor took over as editor in 1899. In only a few years, Grosvenor boosted circulation from 1,000 to 2 million by discarding the magazine's format of short, overly technical articles for articles of general interest accompanied by photographs. National Geographic quickly became known for its stunning and pioneering photography, being the first to print natural-color photos of sky, sea and the North and South Poles.


Some of my favorite shows have been courtesy of NatGeo.  Their shows, magazines, documentaries, etc, are top notch and with HD and huge budgets, we now have the word at our fingertips.  When I was a kid, it was black and white TV, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, and Jaques Cousteau.  Seems I have always been drawn to the nature programs and the wonders of the wild.  Maybe one day I can go and see some parts of Wild America, and since we have expansive national parks and open spaces, there should be plenty of wild left.

Once again I am transported back in time to the projects in Pomonok where I grew up.  Just the other day I stumbled onto a movie documentary that is being put together by an old friend from the hood.  It starts as a rough cut of interviews about “Jack”, the ice cream man who knew the whole neighborhood and was old reliable on those hot summer nights, or on the way home from school.  In those days, without air conditioning, or video games, and only a handful of channels to watch, young and old alike mingled and hung out.  A very tight knit community in the 60’s and 70’s, unlike anything I have ever experienced….a piece of history very much worth documenting.


I really have to go thru those slide packs to pick out some old photos of Pomonok !

I smell brownies so it won’t be long now….

Photo of the Day “Brownies”


P.S. There are two types of people in the world.  Those that eat to live, and those that live to eat.  Which one are you ?

I'd run an extra mile for a once in a while dessert like this.....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Calamari Two Ways

I started out this morning being the good dad, and cooking the last two real eggs for my son Kyle.  Eggs are one of my favorite foods, and if wasn’t for cholesterol I would eat whole eggs every day.  I have learned that by cooking one real egg with some egg beaters, the texture and flavor are much closer to the real thing.  So, this morning I sacrificed and had a plate of egg beaters and my favorite keurig starbucks dark roast.

My intention was to have some leftover chicken and salad for lunch, but the gang at work mentioned the word bodega, and I caved in.  Rice, Beans and Pernil had my name all over it.  I got the small plate, and for 4 bucks, you just can’t beat it.  Dodged some rain on my way out of the office to head home, and beat the major traffic.

Kyle and Sue were on their way out to volunteer at the church.  So I decided to go to the gym for a light workout.  20/20/20 – 20 minute run, 20 minute elliptical, 20 minute various machines for legs.  That worked up a good appetite, so I started preparing dinner so that it would be ready when Kyle and Sue get home.  What a good dad.

This day in history “Ancel Keys Born 26 Jan 1904; died 20 Nov 2004 at age 100.”
American nutritionist and epidemiologist who was the first to identify the role of saturated fats in causing heart disease. In 1935, he studied the physiological effects of altitude, which he conducted in the Andes. At the onset of WW II, he designed the lightweight yet nutritious K ration used by American paratroops. The hard biscuits, dry sausage, hard candy and chocolate it contained were items he originally selected at a Minneapolis grocery store, and the ration was named with his initial. In 1947, he began a decade of study of 283 local businessmen. From its results, he determined that saturated fat chiefly determined blood cholesterol levels, and linked smoking, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol with heart attacks.

Damn, why did I have to eat that Pernil (roasted pork shoulder) today of all days.  Anything in moderation it seems, as every time you turn around something is either bad for you, or surprise, last years bad for you is this years good for you.  I had already planned some calamari for dinner, not something that is high in fat or cholesterol on its own.

Since I like to cook and experiment with new foods, or foods I eat at restaurants that I can usually make better myself, I ventured to cook the calamari two ways.  For the newbs, calamari is squid.  I cheated as I had a jar of Fra Diavlo sauce to work with so I didn’t make any sauce from scratch.  Calamari Fra Diavlo over twisted pasta, and fried calamari with some of the spicy sauce as an appetizer.

This is the first time trying to make my own fried calamari, and it came out ok, but not as good as Randazzo’s in Brooklyn.  The simple recipe of calamari, flour, salt, pepper, and hot oil (375 degrees) may take some time to perfect.  Maybe next time in Brooklyn, I sit at the counter and watch the calamari chef work his magic..  The trick I think is getting the flour, or enough of it to cling to the calamari so that the oil can puff up the calamari to a crispy, yet tender, yet slightly chewy treat.

So as you can see, there was some fried food on the menu, and since I used a deep fryer at the right temperature, not much oil remains in the cooked product.  At least that’s what I tell myself….I  had a bunch of rings and tentacles…..

Photo of the day “Calamari Two Ways”




Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Diamonds

Another report of CME, Coronal mass ejections, or solar flares is lightening up the atmosphere.  I really wish I could see an Aurora here on Long Island.  According to the reports I have read, it is a Massive Coronal Mass Ejection and S3 Grade Proton Storm Hitting Earth Right Now

What I got instead was a nice view of the stars last night, and a typical day at work today.  Lately there seems to be more and more incidents to take care of.  We have IRT, and I don’t mean the old subway line in NYC.  IRT = Incident Recovery Team, and is a call that we use to gather engineers to work thru incidents.  Incident is a nice word for something that has gone wrong, or is broken.

It’s a good thing I have a team of dedicated engineers to help work thru these IRT.  Today I was in the office for 10 hours and had to help put out fires.  On the way home I stopped at Lombardi’s market for a chicken, potato croquettes, and a Gorgonzola salad.  Shortly after dinner I needed to de-stress and head to the gym.   As I was getting into my groove at mile 3 on the treadmill, the blackberry interrupts my music.  Damn blackberry is ringing.  I answer the call which is to get me to join an IRT call.  Well that’s how it goes in my business.  I dry off and join the call, go Blue tooth in the car, pick up the call again on the house phone, pause American Idol, and start my night again at 830pm when the issue is resolved.

This day in history “On January 25, 1905, at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine's superintendent. Weighing 1.33 pounds, and christened the "Cullinan," it was the largest diamond ever found.”

The Cullinan was later cut into nine large stones and about 100 smaller ones, valued at millions of dollars all told. The largest stone is called the "Star of Africa I," or "Cullinan I," and at 530 carats, it is the largest-cut fine-quality colorless diamond in the world. The second largest stone, the "Star of Africa II" or "Cullinan II," is 317 carats. Both of these stones, as well as the "Cullinan III," are on display in the Tower of London with Britain's other crown jewels; the Cullinan I is mounted in the British Sovereign's Royal Scepter, while the Cullinan II sits in the Imperial State Crown.

A long time ago I was working for NYC health and Hospital Corp and  was lucky enough to be able to take a walk to the diamond district during lunch. After visiting a dozen shops over the course of a few weeks, I decided to trust one or two jewelers who then understood what I was looking for , and what I could afford to spend. According to the diamond sellers, one should allocate about two months’ salary (gross, not net) to the purchase of the precious stone.  Sue is one lucky girl, that's all I have to say.

You figure out the math. With as much haggle as I could muster, and the appraisers no doubt in the jewelers pocket, the decision was made to get a heart shaped 1.05 carat stone. Not flawless, but with a very nice cut, color and clarity. The 4 C's of diamond buying, Carat, Cut, Color, Clarity.

The Diamond District is an area of New York City located on West 47th Street between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) in midtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many New York attractions. It is located one block south of Rockefeller Center, three blocks south of Radio City Music Hall (along the Avenue of the Americas), three blocks south of St Patrick's Cathedral (along Fifth Avenue), and one block east of the Broadway Theater District. The Plaza Arcade, lined with shops, connects the street to Rockefeller Center.
The district was created when dealers moved north from an earlier district near Canal Street and the Bowery that was created in the 1920s, and from a second district located in the Financial District, near the intersection of Fulton and Nassau Streets, which started in 1931. The move uptown started in 1941. The district grew in importance when the German Nazis invaded the Netherlands and Belgium, forcing thousands of Orthodox Jews in the diamond business to flee Antwerp and Amsterdam and settle in New York City. Most of them remained after World War II, and remain a dominant influence in the Diamond District.[1]

Even if Rihana's very popular song has 'yellow diamonds' in it, I did and still do shy away from less than white diamonds, having been taught that bright white was better, at least for engagement rings, and most jewelry.

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we're standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive

It's the way I’m feeling I just can't deny
But I've gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

Steely Dan uses the lyric, 'You wouldn't know a diamond if you held it in your hand' and I can say that white sapphire, cubic zirconium, and moissanite can fool you.

You wouldn't know a diamond
If you held it in your hand
The things you think are precious
I can't understand

Not all diamonds are beautiful enough to be cut for diamond jewelry, nor would they look good in their raw form. These abandoned diamonds end up in the industrial market, where their hardness is of great value for various uses from cutting tools to containment vessels.

Every year 80% of the total volume of mined diamonds is deemed unworthy for commercial use. This astronomical amount estimated at about 130 million diamond carats goes to the industrial market. This only accounts for 1,2% of all diamonds used for industrial purposes, the remaining 98,8% comes from synthetic diamonds … so several billion carats are manufactured specifically for industrial purposes.

Uses of industrial-grade diamonds
Some common uses of industrial-grade diamonds are diamond-tipped drill bits and saws. They are strong enough to cut or drill through virtually any material, including diamonds. In laboratories they’re often used as containment vessels for dangerous experiments and sometimes to strengthen windows to observe large-scale experiments in a secure manner.
Another use of diamonds is for polishing and grinding applications, using the hardness they still retain when ground into dust. There is research and testing going on for other uses of diamonds in computers and electronics as a form of heat sink or as computer-chips.

Maybe I could get a job in the computer field working with diamonds.  I can tell you straight up that I would know a diamond if I held it in my hand….

Photo of the day “Diamonds”



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beer

I remember watching a show called Bewitched and aside from the humor, I recall Mr. Tate and Darrin having a couple of drinks at lunch or at dinner parties.  Back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and even early 90’s alcohol in or around the workplace was quite common.  I recall company parties, luncheons, dinners, etc. that served alcohol in excess for those who wished to partake.     

While working on Wall St., it was quite popular for the VP’s, Mgrs, etc. to grab a burger and a couple of beers at lunch.  After work was another story, when a VP would invite you, or his team out, it typically became a night of drinking.  You were actually frowned upon if you did not make a showing and have a few. In those days, we all took the train or some other mass transportation home, so there was little risk of DUI or DWI.

I was never really interested in beer, as I thought the taste was kind of bad, and it filled you up fast, so I couldn't really drink more than a couple anyway.  I remember spending a summer at my sister’s house in Naperville Illinois the year she moved from NY.  The neighborhood teenagers, yes 18, would chip in to buy some beers and hang out in the subdivision out of site.  Good clean fun, no one got drunk, or rowdy, and what the heck were we supposed to do every night.  That was my first summer, where a few Mickey’s Wide-mouth would get consumed, and it seemed the other guys would outpace me a good 2 to 1.  These were actually malt liquor, which I know now because I looked it up on the internet.  Judging from the alcohol content, 5.8% and the ease at which one could chug them down (wide mouth), no wonder it was a Midwest favorite.


http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2244943411


Mickey's is a malt liquor made by the Miller Brewing Company.[1] It has an alcohol content of 5.8% by volume.
Mickey's is widely known for its unique beehive-shaped, wide-mouthed 12 ounce bottle, often called a "grenade" due to its circular waffle design. The original packaging included Irish iconography with shamrocks, castle towers and an arm holding a mace.


I wouldn’t do anything like that now, in fact, it is rare that I would have a glass of wine, or saki, or even one beer at lunch or an after work get together.  Never been a big drinker, but I have to say that I prefer darker beers, or ales, but even then a couple will do.

This day in history “Canned beer makes its debut on this day in 1935. In partnership with the American Can Company, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2,000 cans of Krueger's Finest Beer and Krueger's Cream Ale to faithful Krueger drinkers in Richmond, Virginia. Ninety-one percent of the drinkers approved of the canned beer, driving Krueger to give the green light to further production.”

As much as I like beer, which like I said is typically to have 1 or 2, there was nothing I really hated more than beer in a can.  In the old days, there was Rheingold (The Dry Beer), Bohack (cheap by the case), Budweiser (the king of beers), Michelob (for the taste),Strohs (fire brewed)  Miller (the high life), and Shafer (the one beer to have when your having more than one).  I can go on with names and sayings, but the worst beers I have ever had are Blatz, and Billy Beer. 

In the housing projects, there was Colt 45, OE800, and Ballantine in quarts purchased at the bodega, or corner fruit and veg market.   All of these in bottles of course.

Let’s face it, up until a few years ago, a beer in a can tasted like a can.  Aluminum made it less obvious that the beer was stored in a can, and with treated or lined interiors, it is harder to tell the difference.

Since there is no tequila in the house, I decided to crack open a nice refreshing Stella Artois while writing my blog.  I prefer Sam Adams, Blue Moon, Black and Tan, Guiness, or a craft or small no name ale over the lighter varieties.

Photo of the day “Beer”  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Frisbee


Did anyone ever wonder why society has us working thru the best years of our life, and retiring when we are getting old and worn out.  Unless you are born wealthy, hit the lottery, live off the land, or join a commune you will probably require hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars to cover your expenses.  What if you had the chance to borrow the money you need to get a house, car, raise a family if you so choose, go on vacations, and all that stuff from say the time you graduate college to around 45 years old.
 
Now that you have raised your children, and did all the things you thought of doing, it is time to go to work.  With healthy lifestyles, and less stress, the average person can be productive till they are about 75 years old.  So for the next 30 years you pay back what you owe.  Since you have so much life experience, you should easily be able to get a job paying $100K.  In 30 short years, you pay back what you owe and still have some to get thru the golden years.

I am sure there are plenty of flaws in this, as in why not be a deadbeat, play Frisbee all day, and not payback what you owe.

At least I can still have carefree thoughts, play the lottery and dream. 


This day in history “On this day in 1957, machines at the Wham-O toy company roll out the first batch of their aerodynamic plastic discs--now known to millions of fans all over the world as Frisbees.
The story of the Frisbee began in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where William Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in 1871. Students from nearby universities would throw the empty pie tins to each other, yelling "Frisbie!" as they let go. In 1948, Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner Warren Franscioni invented a plastic version of the disc called the "Flying Saucer" that could fly further and more accurately than the tin pie plates. After splitting with Franscioni, Morrison made an improved model in 1955 and sold it to the new toy company Wham-O as the "Pluto Platter"--an attempt to cash in on the public craze over space and Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs).


As a carefree teenager, I played ultimate Frisbee with my friends. It was an easy game to play, kept us busy, out of trouble, and we got lots of exercise.  In those days, you didn’t have to chase the kids off the video games to go play outside…quite the opposite, parents had to gather the kids from the streets, playground, or park where they were playing.  

We had a common rule in the Pomonok, that was it was time to go home when its turned dusk or when the street lights came on.  That time varied, and if a mom had already cooked dinner, you can hear her or a sibling yelling out the window, “Its time for dinner”.

Wham-o is also responsible for hula hoops, super balls, slip and slide, hacky sack, and boogie board.  I have played with all of these items and more.  Thanks to their creativity, generations have enjoyed the fun, and unless you are too old, why not join in.

We have a new game to play at the beach.  It is based on that flying disc, the Frisbee.  It is called Kan Jam.  You set up two cans about 30 or 40 feet apart, and then with teams of 2 per side, take turns trying to get the Frisbee into a ‘mail slot’ in the can, or into the open top of the can, or hit the can.  Each scores you a predetermined number of points.  Oh yeah, you can try to knock the Frisbee out of its flight path and into the can for points too.  No carries if you know what I mean.  When you have had enough Frisbee, grab a boogie board and hit the waves, it is a great way to cool off.
    
Photos of the day “Frisbee”




Shout out to our adopted for a week, son "Tim"....he is such a beast going for the one that the wind caught !!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mid Day Sun


I was waiting for the sun and the forecast 50 degrees, in hopes of the sun melting some of the snow on my solar panels.   When I left the house to head to the gym, it was like 20 degrees and I could just tell from how thick the clouds were that it was going to be hard to find some sun.  Exiting the gym after running 6 miles on the treadmill, it was nice feeling the cool air.

Looking forward to the Giants vs. 49ers and knowing there is no soda, beer, or cheese doodles, Luke and I decided go to Stop and Shop.  It’s always fun shopping with Luke, who picks the apples, bananas, and a snack.  Today was a little different as he asked to pick up deli items, buffalo chicken, and roast beef.   He reminded me that mom wanted canned pears, and within 45 minutes the shopping was done and were back home getting ready for his soccer game.

Luke played today at an indoor field, KK Athletics where his team took a 3-0 win over an older Ronkonkoma team.  Since Kyle is still healing his knee, we got to have meatballs and spaghetti dinner and then settle in to watch some football.

This day in history “2000, Santana started a three week run at No.1 on the US album chart with 'Supernatural', the album spent a total of nine weeks at No.1 during this year.”
Santana has always been one of my favorite guitarists, and I can play him pretty well on guitar hero.  I never got a chance to see Carlos Santana perform live, but with performers extending their careers, I hope to get to see him.  


Supernatural is what I can call the start of the Solar Flares that are forecast for this year.


HIGH-LATITUDE AURORAS: The Arctic Circle is alight with auroras following this morning's CME impact. Incoming reports fromRussia, Denmark, Scotland, England, and Norway confirm a bright apparition underway now. 


CME IMPACT: Arriving a little later than expected, a coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field at 0617 UT on Jan. 22nd. According to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the impact strongly compressed Earth's magnetic field and briefly exposed satellites in geosynchronous orbit to solar wind plasma. Shifting lines of magnetic force induced strong ground currents in Norway and sparked bright auroras over the upper reaches of North America. This colorful corona appeared over Chatanika, Alaska:


At their most intense, solar discharges, known as "coronal mass ejections," can disrupt satellites, radio communications and the power grid, and force airlines to reroute transcontinental flights that pass near the North Pole.

Solar activity can also generate dancing auroras, the northern and southern lights.

Spit out by the sun Thursday morning, the huge blob of charged gas spotted by NASA satellites is speeding toward Earth at more than 2 million mph. The most damaging solar discharges, which are very rare, can zoom at speeds more than twice that as fast.

I wonder if these CME also affect solar power production from solar panels ?  Some research is needed by me, as I don’t know if these plasma events increase the amount of protons, which are needed in photovoltaic systems.

I wish I could see the aurora, or northern lights.  Maybe one clear night this year, I will be able to see them in our sky.  


Giants win in overtime - Supernatural !!

Photo of the day “Mid Day Sun”




Saturday, January 21, 2012

First Snow


This day marks the 1 month anniversary for the blog which started on Dec 21, 2011.  The number of views and followers is more than I expected, and again I want to thank everyone, and especially those who leave comments.

Excited this morning to see the snow falling, hoping it doesn’t get too deep.  Luke comes downstairs and is excited that there is snow.  He proceeds to collect some fresh snow in a cup and then a larger container so that he can eat it.  No syrup to make a snow cone, just plain snow.   When he wasn’t looking, I snuck a taste of fresh snow, which was a stark contrast to the hot cup of coffee I was sipping.

Kyle comes down a bit late today, as he decided to sleep in and not go to the church for peanut butter jelly gang.  The volunteer work typically takes the gang an hour or so to make hundreds of PB&J sandwiches for the church to donate.  Sue is not far behind, and is happy to not have anything to do, or place to go with the snow still falling.

I jinxed myself yesterday when I said that I had some work going on that might occupy my morning. I ended up being logged in, and on calls for most of the day, with a short break at 3:30 to shovel the snow, and another one spent at Pep Boys right before dinner.  I have a hard time starting Sue’s car which has to be moved to fully clear the driveway.  After shoveling, I go to start the car and the battery is dead.  Sue has been complaining of funny sounding starts the past couple of weeks.  I jump start the car, and spend an hour and a half at Pep Boys.  They tell me I need a new battery (exactly what i came in for)…In my head I am thinking “No Shit Sherlock”

This day in history “Concorde takes off”  From London's Heathrow Airport and Orly Airport outside Paris, the first Concordes with commercial passengers simultaneously take flight on January 21, 1976. The London flight was headed to Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, and the Paris to Rio de Janeiro via Senegal in West Africa. At their cruising speeds, the innovative Concordes flew well over the sound barrier at 1,350 miles an hour, cutting air travel time by more than half.

I have always appreciated and respected technological innovation, as it is what provides us with so many of the modern conveniences we have today.   There has never been another commercially viable plane like it, and there probably never will be again.  The next step will be more like a leap, as companies try to take air travel to the upper stratosphere.  It will be reserved for the rich and famous, much like the Concorde.

Sometimes I get ideas that I can invent or market something.  My meat square idea, or the mailbox thing may one day make it to prototype.   Thinking back to when I was in HS and was thinking about going to college in California to study Solar Engineering.  That didn’t happen, but I have not lost my curiosity and sometimes watch shows like, “How it’s made”, “Modern Marvels”, or other Science, Nat Geo, or History channel shows. I just like to know how things happened or how things are done.

Photo of the day “First Snow”



Friday, January 20, 2012

Kodachrome


The work week went by fast, oh wait, that’s because it started on Tuesday.  Looking forward to the weekend, even though some projects, implementation, and testing will keep my guys, and I busy on Sat. morning.  Last night we saw some snowflakes falling, and had a total accumulation of about ¼ inch.  Tonight we might get 2-4 inches of snow, marking the first significant snow of the winter of 2012.

So many worthy events occurred yesterday into today, and there is no way to tie them all together in the same twisted, ironic, or punny way that I usually do.  So, first let me tell you about the massive  solar flare that is heading towards earth that is capable of producing some dazzling ‘northern lights’ or Aurora Borealis.  

This M2 category solar event is just the start of an 11 year cycle that increases in frequency and intensity.  Some events in the past have disrupted satellite communications.  The forecast is that during 2012, there will be some disruptions to communications as a result of the Sun getting angry.

Near and dear to my heart is Pink Floyd, and the famous Dark Side of the Moon celebrates it’s 40th anniversaryPink Floyd first performed a track from the Dark Side of the Moon at Dome, Brighton, January 20th 1972. 

Dark Side of the Moon finally broke Pink Floyd as superstars in the United States, where it made number one. More astonishingly, it made them one of the biggest-selling acts of all time. Dark Side of the Moon spent an incomprehensible 741 weeks on the Billboard album chart. Additionally, the primarily instrumental textures of the songs helped make Dark Side of the Moon easily translatable on an international level, and the record became (and still is) one of the most popular rock albums worldwide.

I was only 10 years old when Floyd came out with this extraordinary piece of artistry.  A masterpiece that is still popular, and thanks to tribute bands, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour, I have gotten to enjoy the music of Pink Floyd many times.   Recently, I have seen Roger Waters perform the entire Dark Side of Moon, The Wall, and to tell you the truth, it never gets old.  At Westbury Music Fair, a small venue that plays in the round, I have been treated to tribute bands, The Pink Floyd Experience, The Machine, and Australian Pink Floyd.  Today, Brit Pink Floyd tickets went on sale, so Sue and I are going to see them in March.

Well, with all that happy news, and joy from celestial events and Pink Floyd, there is also some sadder news.  Eastman Kodak has declared reorganization, Chapter 11, or what many view as bankruptcy.  Most of us don’t consume or purchase products outright anymore from this once grand powerhouse of a company.

(Reuters) - Eastman Kodak Co, the photography icon that invented the hand-held camera, has filed for bankruptcy protection and plans to shrink significantly, capping a prolonged plunge for one of America's best-known companies.
The Chapter 11 filing makes Kodak one of the biggest corporate casualties of the digital age, after it failed to quickly embrace more modern technologies such as the digital camera -- ironically, a product it invented.
I remember my first camera, a Kodak X-15 F Instamatic that allowed me to follow in the footsteps (at that time shadow) of my dad. My dad was a prolific photographer, and the hobby meant that dad and I would develop some of our film in a makeshift darkroom in the bathroom tub.

An photo enlarger , and a Kodak Slide Carousel projector were part of the equipment in those days, as was a collection of film types, B&W, Color, Ektachrome, and Kodachrome.  As the technology progressed I moved onto 110 cartridge based Instamatic, a disc camera, and then my very first 35mm, a hand-me-down from Dad who sprung for a new Cannon Ae semi automatic 35mm film camera.

Let’s not forget about those Kodak disposable cameras that popped up at parties and weddings. My mom (Happy Birthday) still uses one that she buys from some pharmacy in Miami before coming for a visit. I had finally hit the big time and could play with exposures, f-stops, and get some depth, special effects, filtering, etc. not achievable with an instant camera.

I also remember a great Cannon camera that I purchased just prior to going on vacation to Mexico….An Aqua Snappy, a cool ABS plastic camera which was sealed well enough to go to 33 feet, or 1 atmosphere below water.  It was great being able to take underwater photos, and bring a camera to the pool.   All the while, we had to wait to bring the film to a shop for developing and printing.  

Common practice was to pay for double prints, and for an extra dollar, you could insist on Kodak paper and processing.  As frugal as I am, I never skimped on film, or what I deemed as essential processing.  Kodak it was.

Well, as time passed, and unfortunately so did Dad at too early an age.   The digital age has come, and the quality of digital imaging is now very close to that of film.  The end of an era has been reached, unless the billions of dollars in patents and licensing can help salvage the once great company, Kodak. 

I continue to take PIXtures, and it has been a long time since I developed or used film. I guess this is part of the reason for the chapter 11 reorganization of Kodak. I think it is important to capture and preserve events, and photos are an easy way to get that snapshot of a time and place.

Two thanksgivings ago, we went to my sister Jodi in New Paltz for dinner, and spent hours going thru some of the old photos, and scanning them so that we all could once again look back. Some of them made their way onto Facebook, while the vast majority of the family collection is still on negatives, slides, or good old fashioned prints.

Kodak once dominated its industry, and its film was the subject of a popular 1973 song, "Kodachrome," by Paul Simon.

When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It's a wonder
I can think at all
And though my lack of education
Hasn't hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall
Kodachrome
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's
a sunny day
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my 
Kodachrome away

If you took all the girls I knew
When I was single
And brought them all together
for one night
I know they'd never match
my sweet imagination
Everything looks worse
in black and white

Photo of the day – Digital from a Nikon Coolpix S4000
Kodachrome

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nevermore


I am happy to report that Kyle did not have to use crutches today.  Being the worried parent, I asked him to take it slow, avoid the stairs and to wear his knee support.  When I got home this afternoon Kyle said that his knee hurts on the left side still, but is getting better.  Hope he puts his leg up soon and puts some ice on it.

It was exciting to see that the Blog has passed the 1000th view, and I hope the followers and readers are having as much fun reading it, as I am writing it.  I checked on the history of the day as usual, and prepared myself to capture the photo of the day.   Armed with my trusty pocket Nikon camera, I looked and looked, but just never spotted what I was looking for.   Unfortunately I was not successful, and may have to resort to a file photo, or take a picture of a picture.

Today in history “On this day in 1809, poet, author and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe is born in Boston, Massachusetts
He became known for his direct and incisive criticism, as well as for dark horror stories like "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Tell-Tale Heart." Also around this time, Poe began writing mystery stories, including "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and "The Purloined Letter"--works that would earn him a reputation as the father of the modern detective story.
In 1844, the Poes moved to New York City. He scored a spectacular success the following year with his poem "The Raven." While Poe was working to launch The Broadway Journal--which soon failed

So goes my dilemma, do I try and incorporate Poes dark tales or poems into the blog.  My first thoughts were to take a photo of a black bird, crow, or raven.  Turns out Ravens are rare in New York to begin with, the black birds may have migrated for the winter, and there were no counting crows.

I remember when I first moved from Brooklyn to Long Island, all the nature and at least in the spring, summer, and fall, the giant black birds or crows hollering at each other.  They would also manage to make a mess of any garbage bag left open, or if the trash can lid flew off.  Recent years, I have seen and heard less and less of them.  West Nile virus may be blamed for some of the reported deaths of these birds, but does that really explain not seeing one today ?

The stories of Edgar Allan Poe were required reading at P.S. 201 in Flushing Queens, and I remember some of the stories being downright gory and scary.  The-Tell-Tale-Heart is the one I remember the most.  I thought about going to a butcher shop and asking the butcher if he had a beef or lamb heart that I could take a picture of.  Also the Raven, made famous in my mind by the late, great Vincent Price.


When I was introduced to the work of Vincent Price, it was also popular to watch such shows as Thriller, Twilight Zone, and a show that scared me so badly as a child….”Dark Shadows”  Days and years have gone by and now scary movie are really scary.   See Insidious if you don't believe me...

Photo of the Day “Nevermore”