Thursday, November 29, 2007

Odds and Sods, Bits and Bobs

I finally took the plunge. I cracked the case on my dormant and dusty pc to try and work on the faulty hard drive. Now I know why I waited so long...

Needless to say, it's not going well. Not only does the drive not register as a peripheral (connected by USB to my, so far, trusty laptop) but I tried to install the brand new hard drive that I purchased over three months ago and that has become a struggle.

I'm starting to believe that there are 'time bombs' installed on all computers that are sold today. After a randomly determined time - say, anywhere between one to four years - there is a command that is triggered and the machine melts to shit in some fashion or another. With my last few machines, it's been like clockwork.

I'm about ready to take the hard drive to a data-recovery expert, pay the ridiculous fee, and get whatever data I can from it... and then, as mentioned in a previous post, smash the thing to bits with a hurley. This is bullshit.

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It's official : Knobcast has a nice, new permanent home. There have been two new episodes posted since last mention, with the final episode of Season 1 upcoming this weekend. It's been fun. Check it out and let us know what you think.

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It's "that time of year" again... the Holidays. Yipee. I could go on and on about everything I dislike about it all. Maybe in a future post. One thing I do enjoy is seeing all the houses festooned with holiday lights. Not the garish, over-the-top nonsense but the simple, classic, understated stuff.

Tastefully appointed houses with just the right touch are the ones that really get my attention. I have no patience for inflatable Santas and snowmen; colored lights haphazardly tossed onto bushes and trees; entire yards covered in plastic reindeer replicants... Enough.

All you need is simple, white lights in the windows, a classic wreath, and a spotlight highlighting it all. That's it. Maybe a symmetrical string of lights strategically placed on a fence or outlining the house.

Maybe I'll do a photo exposé of my favourite houses in the neighborhood. That sounds like a good weekend project. Beats going to the mall, that's for sure.

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The real estate market is supposedly still leveling off, meaning the prices should be returning to normal. However, that's all relative to what you can afford and the area of the country in which you live. To save you doing the math, it's not easy up here in the northeast on a single income.

What doesn't help is watching the real estate programs and seeing the 'difficult' choices the first-time buyers have to make. Ohhh, a four bedroom, two bath colonial for $280K is just too much... errr, whot!? Yah, if you're in friggin' Tennessee...

I know the cost of living differs wildly throughout the U.S. but it ain't easy watching these shows and seeing some of the available houses - and knowing there's nothing of the sort available for miles (hundreds) in my area. It's brutal.

But... it appears the landlord has taken 'my' house off the market for the winter (so I'm safe for a few months, I hope). Probably a wise idea. A better idea would be to realize the thing is priced about $100K too high. But I'm not complaining right now. Suits me for the time being.

There's no guarantee but it looks like the next year or so might open up some opportunities for me to purchase something. I've recently seen a house that has some promise, about 20 minutes from where I currently live. It probably won't be 'the one' but the fact that it is plausible is somewhat encouraging.

All I want is a house with good structural integrity, no impending, high-cost repairs, in a decent location... that's it. Is that too much to ask? Probably. Hey, you never know.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Apparently Not

Sheesh. What a pessimist's attitude I had just nine short days ago. Re-reading that last post, as I sit here watching the Sox destroying the Rockies in Game 1 of the World Series (13-1 lead in the 7th), it's clear that the 2004 World Series win hadn't eliminated all of my Red Sox angst. Talk about an over-reaction.

This time round, though, I think it'll be different.

The comeback in the ALCS was fun to watch and I don't see that momentum slowing down anytime soon. When Julio Lugo is on base four times, needless to say, things are going well. And now Alex Cora is on the field. The Sox should roll and take their second World Series trophy in four years. Then, the angst will be gone for good. And let's just leave it at that.

In other recent developments, there's a new Knobcast episode (3) available. It can be found at the original Knobcast site - and also at the possible new home of Knobcast here.

We've experienced frequent technical difficulties at our original home, so Knob the Elder has done some work in migrating Knobcast to a blog-based location here at blogspot.com. Kudos to K the E for his work. Official relocation will be announced when a final decision has been made.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Panic Time ?

I'm not sure I have the energy or mental capacity to truly break down the current American League Championship Series with the detail it (may or may not) deserve. However, I must say that after watching three games between the Sox and Indians, if I were a betting man - and had the option to put a bet down at this stage - I'd put my money on the Cleveland Indians.

I just think they have a much stronger pitching staff and a great line-up of recognizable offensive stars and their unknowns are out-performing the bottom of the Red Sox order.

Is the series over? Oh, by no means. There are four games left. The Sox can take 3 of 5 from the Indians, for sure. However, it appears the Sox bats have been quieted by this Cleveland pitching staff - and that, more than anything, can be disastrous for a baseball team in the playoffs. They only need to do it for a short period of time... and Cleveland has been getting it done the last two games.

Tim Wakefield goes tomorrow night. This is make-or-break.

If he's back to his old self and he can pull out seven innings, couple of earnies, the Sox might be okay. If it's Cleveland 5, Sox (anything less than five) after two or three? Forget it.

It's becoming obvious that the Red Sox don't have the full package at this stage of the season. If they move along and win the World Series from this point, it'll be an amazing feat of over-achievement, in my eyes.

They don't seem to have the pitching depth or the 'clutch' hitting that is needed to win it all. Hate to use the 'clutch' hitting refrain - but what I'm saying is, they're just not hitting... at all.

Should be an interesting next few games. Much more than could be said about their ho-hum ALDS victory over the Angels.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fall (back) Into the Groove

... aaaaaand, that's that.

September. It came. It went. Good riddance.

Outside April, it might be my least favourite month. I don't really know why April ranks twelfth out of twelve. Maybe it doesn't. But I do know #9 on the calendar is way down there on my list of 'top months'.

I can say with certainty, however, that this is my favourite of all the months. October. I absolutely love it. Especially here in New England.

One of the many benefits of October is the beginning of the NHL season. Tonight is the first night I've been able to sit and watch a Bruins game. They've played two to this point but I missed most of those due to previous engagements. They're in Anaheim, taking on the defending Stanley Cup champion Ducks right now - so, not a bad game to catch. It helps that it started at 10:30 EST.

What's been going on? What's been happening?

Well, first off - no change in the real estate realm. That's all I'm gonna say on that. It's good news, as far as my situation is concerned.

Outside of that, this past weekend was RibFest. It's an annual party my friend hosts at his house that developed almost ten years ago. Actually, about six years ago - the first three years were small gatherings until we realized that the ribs were way too good to keep to ourselves. Before that, it was just a few dudes getting together to cook the best Ribs ever. RibFest IV was the first 'official' RibFest when we decided to invite the masses to share in the deliciousness. It's been a grand ol' party ever since.

RibFest IV was the first year we introduced t-shirts. They've been a staple - and a hit - ever since and in recent years have become as much anticpated as the ribs themselves.

It's a great time and a great event and I'm already looking forward to RibFest X next fall. I might have to do a RibFest pictorial in a future post to share the progression of our t-shirt design over the years. Throw in some photos of the ribs, themselves ... it'll almost be like you're there.

Another artful diversion during the past month which has kept me from posting my inimitable prose in this space is the recently launched podcast that I've begun with a few mates. It's Knobcast.

It's in its beginning stages but it has been really fun to this point. We're still learning but you can give us a listen at : Knobcast. Check it out. Let us know what you think.

After that, there's not much more to relay. My messed up computer is still messed up. Although, I haven't done a lick of work in trying to regain what is missing. Maybe that says something about what I'm "missing" - but, come Tax time, I'm sure I'll feel the sting. So, that project is still on the books.

Going back to the best month of the year - I can't get enough of the beautiful days and cool nights. Perfect for sleeping with the windows cracked. The Halloween decorations that rival the Christmas decorations fill me with delight. The mere act of driving down a tree-lined street, outlined in the gold, yellow, brown, and red leaves that punctuate the season... jack-o-lanterns... witches, ghosts, monsters, and ghouls... nothing beats it. Nothing.

It is, hands down, the best time of the year.

Happy October, everyone.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And Now For My Next Trick

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.

On second thought, I think I'll leave that one to the expert... Bullwinkle.

Instead, I've ordered a new 80 GB hard drive for my computer which I'll attempt to install sometime this weekend. Perhaps on Monday, it being Labor Day and all. Seems fitting enough.

It arrived on my doorstep this past Monday (don't you just love the Internets?). I was planning to get going on it tonight - but I got home around 8:00 and I didn't want a dismantled PC strewn across my kitchen for the remainder of the week, had things gone horrifically wrong. I hear it's a piece of cake to do but I'd rather not leave things to chance with the way things are currently trudging along.

The thought here, in my ongoing quest to retrieve my missing gigabytes now residing in binary purgatory, is to get the machine up and running again. Once that's been done, add the original drive as a parallel drive, pull everything off it, and dump it onto the new one (then unceremoniously smash the old one to bits with a hurley).

Simple, eh. We'll see. It'll all depend on whether it's completely shot or just incapable of being used as the boot drive. I should be so lucky.

Either way, it should make for an interesting experiment. And for the forty bucks I spent on the new drive - it's worth the effort before having to take it to a data recovery shop. That'll be expensive, for sure.

So, that's that. I've got nothing else. Exhilirating, innit?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

File Under : You've Got to be Kidding Me

After a blissful weekend-plus of uninterrupted network connections, including an entire day (Monday) of working from home, I've been mercilessly blasted back into the world of PC hell. And this time, it's worse. Like a bad movie sequel.

I should've known things were too good to be true.

After turning on my desktop PC, I went and put some clothes away as it booted up. Only to return to find one of those frightening DOS-like screens with the giant letters showing on the monitor. All sorts of warnings and scary messages which mean nothing to those of us without a clue about the detailed inner-workings of our machines.

I'm a programmer by trade and had a Commodore 64 computer when I was 13, which must put me into some level of 'computer nerd' (which I happily embrace, thank you). But when shit like this happens, I'm lost.

Vrr, k'plink. Vrr, k'plink. Vrr, k'plink... A repetitive... taunting... horrifying... sound. Over and over again - accompanied by an ominous message to the effect of "Windows can not find a hard drive" or some nonsense.

What the ?! Thus, You've got to be kidding me.

After a few weekends of battling routers, IP addresses, TCP/IP Protocols, Subnet Masks, etc., I felt as if I had slayed the Wireless Dragon. Desktop and Laptop, both humming along, internet connections ablaze. This, after months of my desktop being all but inoperable due to network chaos. I'm a genius, no?

No, apparently. I find my desktop laying on its deathbed; burnt to a crisp, sputtering its barely audible last gasps.

The fear rushed through me as I made an assumptive connection - the introduction of the new router had been the invitation the Dragon was really waiting for. I rushed to my laptop and started it up, fearing the worst.

Alas, you're reading this so, thankfully, my laptop had been spared the wrath.

Actually, thankfully might be too passive. Luckily might have been a better choice. Luckily for the manufacturer of my new router.

If my laptop had been affected in a similar manner, I'd have absolutely lost it. I can't think of what I'd do - as customer service, these days, is more customer avoidance than actual service - but I'd have started some witch hunt or another. And that would make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

In any event, I'm trying to remain relatively calm amidst the situation. I don't use my desktop all that much but I was looking to use it tonight to transfer a bunch of music from it to my laptop. That project will certainly have to wait. I just hope there isn't a similar timebomb awaiting me here in this machine.

For now, it's back to the research board. Searching for answers, solutions, any toe-hold I can find to resuscitate the damned, hairy ape.

Of course, I welcome any words of wisdom from anyone who's experienced a similar fate and give my gratitude in advance.

Either way, I still have to ask, "You're joking, right?"

Friday, August 10, 2007

Thoughts On : Weather, Routers, Haircuts and the Eighties, & the Joys of Autumn

What a glorious day. Well, glorious might be a tad strong a word - but it's pretty good, nonetheless. And leaps and bounds above this past Wednesday. Yikes.

Here in the northeast, the early part of this week was brutal, weather-wise. Low-to-mid 90s with about 70% humidity. Days you really long for cool October weather. The A/C was on in the apartment but not cranked up to 11, as it was the previous week. No particular reason, so I guess it's my own fault.

Adding insult to heat exhaustion, my wireless router finally crapped the sheets. I was ready to rail against the inadequacies of our modern products 'these days' but I realized that it had done its duty. It must've been four years old, at least. Wireless-B technology (and those of you with wireless know how out-of-date that is). I figure I paid about $150 for the router and adapter. That works out to about 10 cents a day over that time. I'll take that.

But, in any event, I wasn't very pleased with how the evening was going. Well, aside from the delicious meal I had at my favourite Mexican joint earlier... that's always good stuff. Ain't it, lads? You know who I'm talkin' to.

So, Thursday night I stopped and picked up a new MIMO technology router. Took about a half hour to install it. Presto! Back in bidness. And with security encryption, to boot - which I could never quite figure out with my old router.

Now, I'm hooked up again... and it's a refreshing 51 degrees. Hold on! That's ridiculous. It can't be. Sorry, 54 degrees - at least that's what the Weather Channel site says. Wow, that's phenomenal.

On top of that, I stopped to get my mop chopped on my way home from work. I love getting my hair cut. I swear, one of these days I'm going to fall asleep right in the chair. It's so relaxing. I'd pay 15 bucks to go in some place and just have my head massaged for 20 minutes. Love it.

Tonight was a nice treat, too. A lovely, young, cappuccino-skinned lass was at the helm. A nice added bonus.

Not sure if it was a radio station or piped-in music but about half-way through my cut, the song "One More Night" by Phil Collins came on. I immediately pictured myself in a scene from one of those fantastically cheezy Eighties movies with the awful music and entirely improbable scenes where things get exciting, if you know what I mean. It made me laugh to myself, anyway.

As if these simple pleasures weren't enough to enjoy, tonight was the first pre-season game for the Patriots. Not that I put any stock in the games, themselves - they're basically glorified practices - but it does mean that the NFL regular season (and Autumn in New England!) is just around the corner.

There's no better place to be at any time of the year than Autumn in New England. The weather is perfect. The scenery is beautiful. The Pats and Bruins seasons begin... fantastic. And on a related front, the new television series kick in. Although, that's true for anyone, everywhere in the States but it's still something I look forward to at this time of year.

This is also, typically, the season when I pay some attention to my floundering wardrobe and pick up some new duds. Some strange connection to my youth when Mom would take me 'back-to-school' shopping. I know this because I tend to buy new pens around this time - even if I don't need them.

There it is. A small collection of non-sequitors, conveniently packaged for your consumption. Until next time, Cheers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This and That

Back in action...

It's been over a month since throwing something down here. Figured I'd try and get back in the swing with a few quick updates.

On the real estate front - not much happening, lately. There has been a relatively steady flow of people coming to check out the house. I'd say an average of one showing per week over the last month or so. Not sure if that can be classified as high volume but it's been consistent, nonetheless.

I also learned that my landlord has dropped the listing price by about 25 G's. That's a 50/50 indication, I think. On one hand, it shows that there haven't been any serious offers on the property. On the other, it means that he's really looking to unload the place. The good thing is, high summer isn't the best time for real estate transactions. So, it doesn't appear that any changes are imminent.

My friend (the one who's been lodging with me for the past few months) took me to take a look at a two-family house that's been in his sights for about 10 months, now. The idea being we go in on it together in one fashion or another. It still seems a bit over-priced in the current market, though. I wasn't too impressed with the property, to be perfectly honest, so I'm not too concerned with it either way.

Another option is for us to grab hold of my current house and do something with it. But the numbers don't look too enticing there, either.

So, it's still a wait-and-see situation for the time being. Fine with me, at this stage.

The other notable bit is my recent vacation I took in Ireland the last week of June. It was a family reunion, of sorts, on my mom's side of my family.

I'd visited Ireland for the first time in May of 2005 and was psyched to be back again. This time, I was with 20 members of my extended family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins' kids... and my parents. It was the first time my parents had been out of the U.S. and I was so happy they were both able to make the trip.

In the past eight years or so, I've been lucky enough to do a decent amount of international travel. To share that experience with my Mom and Dad, on their first trip, was just awesome. My Mom already wants to go back for a golf tour. I hope she's able to do that.

I've signed up for a Flickr account and am currently in the process of posting the 400-plus photos I took while there (closer to 500 but I'm editing out the duplicates and most of the lousy ones)... As soon as I've got everything up, I'll post the link, here. Until then, here are a few sample photos :













Check ya later...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Good Bye, Good Boy

This is the toughest post I've had to create in my short, non-illustrious, pro-bono career as author of this site.

Last Friday, 8 June 2007, I said, "Good bye" to a good mate of mine for the last time. One of my two pet cats, Buzzard, died after more than 13 years as my furry companion.

I'm not gonna get all sappy about it but I will say that he will be sadly missed. And not only by me. Those who 'knew' him, I believe, truly enjoyed his personality - which could be accurately described as 80% cat, 20% dog. At least that's the way I always looked at him.




There was a point last summer where he was looking uncharacteristically lethargic. After a visit to the vet, it was determined he had diabetes. I was told I would need to administer insulin injections twice a day... and immediately thought, "No way I can do this."

Thankfully, I have a friend who is great with cats and loves them more than anyone else I know. She ensured me it was "no big deal" and encouraged me through the initial period. After a few weeks, I was an old pro and - sure enough - it was "no big deal."

A month, or so, later, he was gaining weight, taking care of his black and white coat, and springing back to life before my eyes. I was thrilled. I think he was, as well.

Fast forward to this spring and his glucose levels were leveling out. About two months ago, I got the word from the vet that the insulin treatment was no longer necessary (of course, this was about two weeks after spending $150 on a tiny bottle of insulin!)

"I'm golden," I thought, as my impending trip to Ireland inched closer by the week. I didn't want to burden my friend with having to deal with the syringes and everything... nor did I want to, if avoidable, spring the cash to board him at the vets so they could take care of it.

However, about a month after that good news, he began losing weight again - and I could tell he wasn't taking good care of his coat, either. I was a bit worried, so during a follow-up visit, I mentioned his weight loss and was told that it was normal after being off the insulin treatments. As explained, it made sense to me.

As the following weeks went on, he appeared to be continuously losing weight and his coat was looking matty. He was shedding like a bastard - and I knew it was abnormal because my other cat had a clean, smooth, shiny coat that was hardly shedding... even after the early hot spells we had this spring (so hot, I was friggin' shedding, for crying out loud).

I called and made an apppointment to bring him in again. Things just didn't seem right with the l'il guy.

He had a severe loss of appetite - my friends that know him can attest, that is about as abnormal as he could get - and he was spending his entire day just sitting/laying up against the wall, under the window in the dining room. Another uncharacteristic trait, as he was always in my face, mewing his silent meow (he always had what seemed like permanent laryngitis - one of his many unique qualities).




This was last Tuesday - a week ago. The bloodwork came back the next day and he was diagnosed with pancreatitis. The urinalysis hadn't come back yet (that would take 5-7 days) but there was also the possibility of a kidney infection and/or UTI (urinary tract infection).

I was worried. Not so much about his health, as I was assured everything was treatable. I was worried about how I was going to manage to get the necessary medication into him on a daily basis. The old cliché about giving a cat a pill... well, it's a cliché for a reason. It ain't easy. Never mind four per day.

But, having gone through the insulin thing last summer and all winter, I was up for the task. Then, after a couple days of flying fur (his) and scratched hands (mine), he just stopped eating altogether. I called the doc and she suggested I bring him in so she could install a 'feeding tube'.

I know what alot of you might be thinking - this is outrageous. If you knew this guy, you'd probably go along with it, like I did.

So, I brought him in on Friday for the operation. Our drive to the vet that afternoon would be the last time I was with him while he was alive.

I got a call at about 7:45 Friday evening and my vet, distraught and crying, told me "we lost him." Due to some complications after the surgery, he was gone.

In no way do I hold the doctor responsible. How could I? After all, she was doing everything she could to get him back in good health. Far more than I could ever have done on my own... by a country mile. It was just an unfortunate event.

I'm gonna miss him all to hell, there's no doubt about that. But he lived a good 13-plus years. And not a day went by that he didn't manage to put a smile on my face in some way - even on my darkest days. He was the best. I'll remember him always.

Good Bye, Good Boy.
































Thursday, May 24, 2007

Whoa - That Was Fast.

It's been about a month, now, since the last post in the 'real estate' series.

Not much has changed on my end. However, my landlord officially put the house on the market this past weekend. Friday evening or Saturday, I believe.

To my amazement, last night (Tuesday) was the first showing. There's already a second one scheduled for tomorrow night (Thursday, which is tonight really). That's two within five days. I have to say it's a great piece of property but I'm still a bit surprised at the quick response.

My friend who's been boarding here for the past few months is in the real estate biz, to some extent - and he caught it in the MLS listings this weekend. Apparently, it's one of the higher priced multi-family properties in town. Yet, still, two quick showings in less than a week. Interesting, to say the least.

There's not really much more to add at this stage. I guess I just wasn't expecting this level of activity this early on.

So all those initial fears I had have come flooding back after a month of relative calmness. It's not a bad thing. Definitely good motivation to keep me on my toes.

With all this, I'm now even more grateful for the upcoming holiday weekend. It should be a good opportunity to spend a few solid days going through the inventory and cleaning house. I'm actually looking forward to it.

Besides that, it should be a good weekend to continue my latest flurry of reading - and plowing through a couple of Netflix viewings, to boot.

On tap for entertainment this weekend are a couple DVDs and one of two books I just got in the mail : The Wedding Crashers and Blue Car (DVDs) and Alice Cooper - Golf Monster (book).

The other book is I'll Sleep When I'm Dead - The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon. That one will be pushed back in the queue a bit, though. I've a few others to get to before that. The Alice Cooper one is short (~250 pages), so that'll be a quickie.

I can't wait to read it because Alice Cooper is a riot. You may find that surprising if you've never paid much attention to him - but he really is.

So, that's it for the time being. Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend... and please take some time to remember those that have passed before us.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Adventures of Coma Girl and the Excitement Gang

Admittedly, I arrived at the greatness of The Clash a long while after they were 'new' to the scene. Years, a decade or more, later.

That's not totally true. I did own a cassette version of Combat Rock when it came out. But I'll fully admit ignorance to (most) anything they'd done prior to that "MTV" record in 1983. Give me a break; I was 13.

That doesn't diminish their influence on me and the esteem to which I hold them as a band. A pillar, an essential of Rock and Roll. One of, if not my favorite, artists of all time.

Unquestionable.

You may or may not like The Clash. And that's fine. But I'm willing to bet that more than one or two post-punk era bands you enjoy, did. No, not bet. Guarantee.

I can't get into a whole Clash history here - but I have to give a nod to my man. Joe Strummer.

Back a few years ago, I'd heard that he was touring with his own band - The Mescaleros. I decided I didn't have the time to go to the show, and missed it. A while later, he died.

My bad. I should have gone to see him live when I had the chance.

This isn't some sappy "now that you're gone" retrospect. I've been listening to Streetcore in my car, recently, and realized that his talent and influence have been wildly overlooked - or underappreciated.

Joe Strummer was a master lyricist. His songs filled with words making up part of the instrumentation. Check out Beck and Anthony Kedis as those who, I'm not shy in suggesting, were influenced by him. I have no proof - but I'm sure a 50/50 bet would score.

There's lots to say about this guy that I don't have the time for right now... but after the past week, listening (again) to his voice, his lyrics, and the way Streetcore was finished after Joe's passing that makes me confident in my assessment.

Joe Strummer is a man that can not be overlooked when reviewing the history of Rock.

There may be more detail here in the future.. Until then, just remember his name.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Wot's all this, then?

For a few months now, I've noticed something while walking from my car in the office parking lot to my building. Then again, on my way back to my car at the end of the day. It is something on the ground and it's remained there for all this time. It must've been scraped up by the plows over the winter but it hasn't disappeared with the fairer weather.

It's a patch of the paint, or whatever it is, they use to coat the lot.

There are bits and pieces of it everywhere but this one caught my eye due to its size - and it's conspicuous shape.

After the first couple times I saw it, it dawned on me. It looked like the United Kingdom.

This morning on my way in, I decided to snap a photo of it for perusal here.

Turns out it was a good incentive to find a new FTP program to upload files, too. I needed something on my laptop I could use to transfer files to my remote storage site. I found what appears to be a good program for doing that. Much improved over my utility I have on my pc.

Anyway, here's a map of the UK I've borrowed from a website ::




Here's the photo I snagged this morning. Granted, it's not a precise replica of the actual island - but I think it's close enough ::




I wonder if anyone else has noticed the similarities.

Cheers.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Yeah, so,

before I get into it, let me just say, I love the Moss move by the Pats. it's a no-lose deal. he kicks ass, he kicks ass. he drags ass, he's out on his ass. it's that simple. and after seeing some footage and hearing some commentary - i'm looking forward to the Belichick Moss Experiment. very excited.

but the point is i am so psyched with my new tires. finally got the Jeep in for an appointment. man, wish i had done it sooner.

my tires were so bad, the whole car would shake something fierce as soon as i hit 55-63 mph. yah, it was that specific. uncontrollable to the point that, it's time. like, within the week.

so, i was just gonna get a replacement of the exact tire that came on the car from the factory. the guy at the shop tells me there's another tire, cheaper, and 'better' i could also get. couple questions answered to my satisfaction later, i'm in.

four new yokohama geolandar a/t-s tires.

driving out of that place was unbelievable. it was the smoothest ride i'd ever had in that car. at least that i could remember. the old tires had 62K+ miles on 'em. five an' a half years... so, could be that the original drives were as smooth.

i dunno... it felt like ridin' on butter - but with complete control. like there was some kinda fin coming out the undercarriage of it, stickin' into an invisible track on the road. like i was in one of those electric, trigger-controlled toy racecar things i had as a kid. but better controlled.

and i know the shopkeeper is supposed to keep you happy. make sure you think you're happy with your purchase. but two different guys commented to the like of, "hey... that's a good tire." something like that.

but something about the way they said it. i believed them. and that first and second drive on those things... can't wait to drive to work tomorrow. can't wait for some rain. can't wait for some snow. i'm dyin' to check these things out.

the smoothness, though. it's unbelievable. oh, brian. those ears. how do you? they're so soft. they're like dog ears.

that's kinda what they feel like. family guy people will know what i'm saying. others may not.

all i'm sayin' is, these new tires were worth every dime. the Jeep feels higher, like it was when i first got it, and sturdier, ditto. never underestimate the contribution of a good tire. on any vehicle.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I Just Threw Out A Bunch Of Softballs This Morning, Would You Like A Few ESPN?

ESPN really sucks.

Jon Miller and Joe Morgan for the Red Sox/Yankees game.

Guys? It's 2007! Get with it.

The generic, patently insincere announcement of this game is disappointing. I understand the 'national' appeal of this match-up. I just don't understand how a network that claims to be the 'World Wide Leader' in sports coverage would allow such a dead-boring, unexcitable, incompetent, and down-right repulsive (in the sense that they turn you away from wanting to listen) pair of commentators to do this game!?

Honestly.

It's like listenting to my friggin' uncle talking about all the guys on his high school hockey team. Yeah, it's factual - but do I give a shit?

{well, yeah, in that case I do.. 'cuz that's my uncle. and it's a cool story. but you obviously see my point. it's like hearing one of these stories - as the commentary for an entire game. See what I mean?}

Fuck Tenure. These guys are so out of touch, I feel like tomorrow's my first day of Little League practice.

Especially now... with Papelbon looking to shut it down, 7-6 Sox. It sounds like they're describing a fishing show. Unacceptable.

Just the Facts, Ma'am

As hinted at a bit more than a week ago, here's an update on the real estate situation...

After a week of casual research, it's becoming more clear that if I'm going to buy something it's not likely to be a single-family, detached dwelling. It's not completely out of the equation but it's on the remote edge of what's possible at this point. Never say never - but let's be realistic, shall we? And isn't that the best way to view the world, with a heavy dose of realism? Particularly when it involves money. As they say, it doesn't grow on trees. Trust me, I've been looking at alot of trees, lately. There's nothing there.

So, with that, my mental net has been re-cast a bit. Now I have to decide if I'm willing to go short and get into some sort of condo/townhouse situation. Way back when, I lived in a townhouse with an ex-girlfriend. It was a two-bedroom, 1-1/2 bath, with access to an attic and an unfinished basement. It wasn't bad. The worst I recall of it was the electric bill - as the heating system was all electric. Well, that was the worst of it, technically. Personally, it was a terrible nightmare it turns out.

Though, every grey cloud... so, that's rule #1 for me if I'm going into something like that... I won't buy anything with electric-based heating. Not in New England.

There are a few other 'must-haves' (at least right now they're 'must-haves') I'd prefer to have before I venture back into something like that.

I don't want 100 neighbors. I can't set a maximum limit right now because I haven't even seen what's out there, yet. I just know that I'd rather a small group. Better yet, a simple, stand-alone duplex, before a giant 100-unit complex.

I want limited - or no - restrictions on what I can do for interior alterations. If the outside is going to be somewhat generic and nondescript, I'd like the option to alter the inside to suit my individual taste. More on this, later.

I'd prefer an end unit, if possible. Always better to have only one neighbor sharing a wall than being sandwiched in between two.

Definitely need an external entrance. I'm not sure I could handle one of those places that the first entrance to the unit is through a shared main entrance. Not too fond of the shared hallway with hotel-like doors to the unit. Again, never say never... but this would definitely be last-on-the-list material. Especially if I'm buying it.

In-unit washer/dryer hook-ups. No question.

{side note : ESPN sucks. I've got the Red Sox game on and Matsuzaka is pitching in the first. They're playing the Yankees. These announcers blow. The old dude just refered to the 'gyro ball'... Everyone, by this point, knows it's absolute rubbish. There is no such thing. Yet, there it was. Pathetic. Give me Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo... PLEASE!! This is going to be painful to watch. I may not make it through the entire game.}

I'd like a garage, if possible. More likely in a duplex but I've seen some condo/townhouse places that have single-car garages. That'd be sweet.

There's sure to be more but, at this point, the only other criterion I'm looking for is the commute-value ratio. Basically, that's the trade off between how close the place is to where I work against the quality of the unit. For example, I'd gladly give up 10-20 minutes of commuting time for a newer place that satisfies more of my wants than take a beat-down place in a lousy location that's closer to where I work.

Now to address the aforementioned ability to alter the interior to my taste. I don't claim to be a professional decorator by any stretch of the imagination... but some of the photos I've seen of the interior of houses for sale are, to be put plainly, astonishing. Not in a good way. What is wrong with these people!?

I understand styles change with the times - but I'm not even talking about 'dated' interiors. Some of the decor I've witnessed can't be described as anything better than hideous. Especially rooms 'designed' for children. Whoo! These poor kids. I fear they'll be scarred for life by the garish surroundings they're forced to live in.

Suffice to say, I'm well aware that no matter what, if anything, I end up with - my best tools will be a phalanx of good scrapers and paintbrushes. At the same time, I won't let a visciously disgusting pink second bedroom dissuade me from an otherwise promising place.

{Holy shit : Manny, JD Drew, Mike Lowell, and Varitek just smashed back-to-back-to-back-to-back solo ding-dongs to take a 4-3 lead after trailing 3-0. Un-frickin-believable!! If Wily Mo Pena knocks one out... I might jump out a window. Nope, he K'd. I'm safe.}

That's the up-to-date at this point. It might take me a while to settle into this type of market but it seems to be the best way to go from here. Hey, I've been where I am know for 8.5 years (which seems like 5), so 3-4 years in a townhouse should be a breeze...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Time Ain't On My Side

Whoa... I've been itchin' to create a post lately and when I checked in today, I was shocked to see that my last one was almost a month ago. I know, I know. If you read the nonsense I put in this blog - and I know you don't - there have been much more vast expanses of post-free wasteland before in this space.

Guilty as charged. I was more surprised by how quickly the time has passed, not by my typically sporadic pace. That's pretty much been the only consistency here. Sporadicalness.

In my mindframe, this is all happening a week and a half ago.

I'm not sure if Albert Einstein tinkered with this phenomenon while pondering traveling alongside a light beam and who would be moving faster in time - him or the guy watching him... (turns out, it's the guy watching him) but had he worked a bit longer on the problem, I'm convinced he'd have proven the ol' notion that as we get older, time seems to take less time to happen than it did in the past. At least relative to each of us, individually.

What we know as a 'week' seems to take more like four or five days. It's nuts. Not sure I want to think about this much further. Time does move faster as we get older. I'll take it as fact on faith... that way you can't refute it. After all, it's faith. Isn't that more accurate than fact? Silly question. Of course it is.

This is unfortunate for me, however. Recently, my landlord told me that he will be putting the house I live in up for sale at the end of the month. There's no guarantee it will sell - and he informed me that if he doesn't get what he considers a decent price, he may not sell it. The unfortunate part is that I have no idea if anyone will buy it or not. Nor do I have any guarantee that, if it does sell, the new owner will allow me to stay or not. So, in essence, I'm running out of time.

I don't want to get stuck with only a month's notice before I need to vacate and relocate. But if I do need to relocate, maybe I should start thinking about purchasing a place. Problem is, I wasn't expecting this and I don't know whether or not I have the appropriate means to buy something... something other than a dilapitated shack an hour and a half away from my job, that is.

Granted, I've been living here for 8.5 years at this point - so, yes, perhaps I should've been considering this a while ago. But as Einstein would've proved if he had taken up the challenge, and I've confirmed on faith, a while ago wasn't really that long ago. Unless you're six. In that case, it would have been a really, really long while ago. I'm not six.

What's the plan? That's the question I'm sure you're all asking yourselves about now. That, or, why am I reading this rubbish? Can't answer that last one for you. The plan, however, is fairly straightforward. It'll never pan out this way, for sure. But it's always better to have a plan than not.

Part one : throw everything out. All non-essential items must go. Typically, I try to recycle whatever I can. Right now, I'm not sure I have the time for that. I'll make an effort but can't promise anything. I just don't want to get blindsided and pack up a bunch of trash just to move it to wherever it is I might be headed... and then throw it out then. Nope. It's all going.

Part two : sock away some cash. Doubtful I'll be able to manage a 20% downpayment by the end of the summer - but there's no time like the present. That means no more pedicures; no more filet mignon; no more weekend trips to the Louvre.

Part three : keep an eye on the real estate situation. Easier said than done. Luckily for me, there's some lame-ass local election going on around here. I'm sure I'll rear-end some poor, unsuspecting motorist as I drive around trying to distinguish the campaign signs cluttering lawns from For Sale signs. Excellent. As if these nitwit politicians haven't been pissing me off enough, lately.

Part four : expect the unexpected. A ridiculous notion, for sure. The idea is to remember to take everything in stride. I think that's the point of that cliché.

So there it is. The perfect plan.

Who knows? If you're unlucky enough, I may feel compelled to unload more of this drivel into this undoubtably irresistable blog. If I can find the time.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Happy St. Kratos Day

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day - and I couldn't be more excited about it. I've been counting down the days, as have a few of my friends.

While I will be enjoying my fair share of Guinness, that's simply a coincidence. More of a nod to the holiday (and the fact that Guinness is the best of all beers), really.

We won't be spending the day at an over-crowded pub, fighting for elbow room, and dodging the vomit in the Gents with the 'amateurs' that hijack the day. We'll be enjoying it in the comfort of my friend's house playing a video game.

Lame, you suggest? On the contrary.

The game is God of War II. The sequel to the best video game ever created, God of War.

I don't play a ton of video games. When I do play them, it's mostly sport games, notably hockey and golf. I've tried other adventure and war style games but I'm never really good (or patient) enough to get more than half way through them. They eventually become too difficult or I get distracted and don't play them for months... then have no burning desire to continue them.

God of War is the first game that hooked me so strongly that I was determined to finish the entire thing. Not only was it tremendously fun to play - the accompanying story line that goes along with it is so well developed, you're forced to finish the game to see how the story ends. It's that compelling.

I can't get into the whole thing in detail but it is based in Greek Mythology, with all its requisite creatures - Cyclops, Minotaurs, Hydras, and the like - and a heaping helping of Greek Gods - Zeus, Athena, and, of course Aries... the God of War, himself. He's the bastard you have to kill at the end to claim victory. And when you do that, you - Kratos - become the God of War, yourself.

This is where God of War II picks up. Kratos is the new God of War and I'm dying to find out what's in store for him. Can't wait to see what new creatures we'll have to destroy. Can't wait to find out what puzzles we'll need to solve. Can't wait to get sucked into the story. It's like playing a movie, is what it is. That's the best way to describe it. It's a movie that only continues when you progress through the game.

Yes, I know I'm thirty-six years old and that may seem a bit old to be playing video games. But I grew up playing them and it's still a great source of entertainment for me. Some may think thirty-six is a bit old to be playing video games... but, I suppose, it's probably too old to be out at a pub, surrounded by a bunch of drunk, annoying amateurs, too.

I'd rather be soaked in video game blood than some punk's vomit.

Our troubled hero, Kratos :




Our troubled hero, Kratos, kicking ass :













See you tomorrow, St. Kratos.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Man You Don't Meet Everyday

It is damn cold out!

Not kidding. The 'experts'* say it's a cool 24 (fahrenheit) but it 'feels like' 12 (f). Pissah. And tomorrow's supposed to be that much colder.

I love it. This is what winter is supposed to be.

Much too late, this year, for my liking but it's good to see the Old Man rear his head. It's good to be cold... for a few days at a time. Thank you, New England.

So, I don't know if it's the cold or that I have my new laptop plugged into my receiver, coming through my system. Maybe it's both. Could be, it's neither.

Something tells me it's that I've finally been able to connect my 'on-line' music to my 'old-school' listening medium - the stereo. Sounds stupid. I know. It's not.

I'm not in possession of the most state-of-the-art audio paraphenalia; a sturdy receiver and some good speakers work for me. And that's how I want to listen to these songs. Like bringing home those CDs, ten years ago, and popping them into the CD player. Earphones don't cut it. The sound has got to fill the room... this setup makes that happen. It's awesome.

(claiming this blog won't become entirely music-centric, here's a quick 'get-to-the-point' interjection)

I guess the entire point of this post was the song A Man You Don't Meet Everyday by The Pogues.

Obviously written with a male protagonist bent, Cáit O'Riordan takes this song and owns it. Her smoky, Irish voice is killer. Jack Stewart could ever be so lucky.

Oh my name is Jack Stewart
I'm a canny gun man
And a roving young fellow
I have been

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet
Everyday

I have acres of land
I have men I command
I have always a shilling
To spare

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet
Everyday

So come fill up your glasses
Of brandy and wine
Whatever it costs
I will pay

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet
Everyday

I took out my dog
And him I did shoot
Oh, down in the County
Kildare

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet
Everyday

So come fill up your glasses
On brandy and wine
Whatever it costs
I will pay

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet
Everyday

So be easy and free
When you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet
Everyday

Your challenge, now, is... YES! You guessed it! Go find this fucking song and listen to it fourteen times.

I wouldn't have bothered to include the lyrics if it's not worth it. Believe me - it's worth it. As proven by my including the lyrics. That was pretty pointless. But you get the point.

I'm telling you. Track down and give a listen to : The Pogues - A Man You Don't Meet Everyday.

Thank me later.

*The 'experts' indicated here are the folks at The Weather Channel - In my opinion, a better option for accurate forecasting.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

You Don't Know What You Been a Missin'

Oh Boy !

It's not exactly clear how I stumbled upon this guy. I've known his name as long as I've been aware of music. Some of his 'Greatest Hits' are inavoidably recognizable - more than a few have been adopted as marketing regulars, only the words changed... to better convince you that this is the product for you.

Now I know why.

Buddy Holly.

Now. I am just beginning to understand the fuss.

Any time there's some article or television special on the 'History of Rock 'n Roll' - Buddy Holly is somehow involved. As he damn well should be.

I admit, I haven't listened to every song he's ever sung. My sample is fairly small and I'm not well informed on his history. But I gotta say... from the shit I've sampled? Buddy Holly is the real deal. It actually gets my proverbial goat that I haven't been listening to him sooner than now.

His voice is quintessentially unique. And his guitar sound is arguably in that same description. Together, the combination of those two elements, undeniably unstoppable.

I don't have enough insight at this point in my Buddy Holly experience to drench you in facts, persuasions, or lost classics - I just know that this music has managed to live on for fifty-whatever years... and remain relevant. Hell! It blows away most of the crap that's being forced through the radio today.

If you've got access to music download software, a few quick sample suggestions would be :

Down The Line
Not Fade Away
Blue Days, Black Nights
Oh Boy!
Crying, Waiting, Hoping
Rave On
Peggy Sue

And a few of those I'm sure we've all heard some version of :

Everyday
That'll Be The Day
It's So Easy

(and if you don't have access to download, just check out some compilation CDs at your favourite record shop)

There are more but this is a good primer to get a nice audial glimpse of what this beast could do.

I can't claim that Buddy Holly is the best. I can, with absolute conviction, claim that he is one of the best. His unique style, undoubtedly, has influenced many a musician. Music lovers everywhere should be grateful.

All of my love
All of my kissin'
You don't know
What you been a missin'
Oh boy !

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Audio vs. Video :: Which Wins?

My guess is most people will automatically assume the 'winner' in this contest. Well, if you put your chips on the big "V" - sorry to say... House wins. "A" all the way.

Audio is still the ultimate medium to convey any important issue. Or any issue, for that matter. Actually, it's really just so much more portable and applicable than video... sound is awesome.

Recently, I had a few of me best mates at mine after a great dinner at the Mint Cafe downtown. Instead of flicking on the tube we conversed and listened to some tunes ... courtesy of my beautiful new laptop, thank you very much.

It was pretty cool. Something about listening to a song as opposed to watching a video. With a song, your mind is able to make up its own visuals for the sound and music it's hearing... with a video, it's spoonfed - the visual has already been decided by someone(s)...

Proof positive is my audience right now. If I was simply watching the tube (and nothing wrong with that), I'm not sure both of the felines that share my living space would be chillin' out with me. I think they enjoy the audio over both the audio and the video (a.k.a. the Television).

I've no scientific evidence to back that up but I'm still convinced.

There's always that conversation about whatever happened 3, 4, 8, X years ago and no one's sure exactly what happened - but everyone can verify that they can place the exact song that they'd heard when it happened.

And there's something about hearing a song for the first time... or hearing an old song after a long time... that just beats the pants off watching something.

So.

Go find an old CD, record, tape, whatever... Pop it in and give it a good listen.

You won't be disappointed

Saturday, February 10, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

Warning :: Do NOT listen to Ca Plane Pour Moi by Plastic Bertrand while reading this.

My last post, I realize, was a bit on the harsh side of things. Then I realized, alot of my latest posts have been me wingein' about this or that. While I stand by everything written here - and will continue to randomly vent on issues that sour my milk - I don't want this space to become nothing more than my soapbox to air ills...

So I figured I'd start off here with a few 'uplifting' topics of interest. Nothing so exciting in regards to the general public, I'll admit. But at least I'm not bitchin' and moanin' about something. Be thankful for that. F'Christ, I am.

First up - and I have no idea how many items I'll touch on - is the topic of what was supposed to be the focus of the previous post... My new laptop. It arrived on Monday afternoon and I haven't gotten it entirely broken in but so far - it's been awesome...

Re-entering passwords, accepting Liscence Agreements, and dealing with the imbedded product onslaught is, admittedly, a bit of a pain.

(yeah... bit of a winge there)

Being able to write this post, have a window open showing the live scoring of my Fantasy Hockey game, and watch the Atlanta @ Vancouver game (via the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, no less) all at the same time? Well, it's well worth the minor hassles. I can say that with certainty.

Aside from the added hassle of having to listen to and watch Kelly Hrudey during intermission... not... a big fan.

These laptops, though, are phenomenal... That's what I'm saying. Gotta figure out how to get the audio output into my stereo receiver next. But - top marks all around for the laptop and the wireless era in general. Sweet stuff...

!-------------------------------------------------------------------!

The wicker basket of globules and baubels of positivity sits here at my ankles. Time is no accomplice in getting each recognized, however. In haste, a few notes I will publish. All the while, ditch this odd sentence structure and ridiculous vocabulary.

My Napster is friggin' awesome! I wish sometimes, everyone could be hearing the songs that I'm hearing. It'd be ridiculous.

And then add the songs other people tell me about. And listen to those ones, too.

I'd be happy. 'Cuz it'd be a bunch of the songs I dig... and a few pretty good tunes that people suggest... but I think people would (should) like them. If they don't, that's okay... but Opera won't live forever.

All I know is I've got a pretty decent resource here.

I wish I had an evil twin.

Unwarning :: You may now listen to Ca Plane Pour Moi by Plastic Bertrand at your leisure.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I Knew It.

right. this is gonna be short 'n sour...

well, we'll see ? how short. those that know me know I tend to go a little long. but i'll try to keep it concise.

this new Google blogger hosting sucks cock. Yep. It definitely does.

I'm willing to overlook the fact that I was absolutely, undeniably railroaded into accepting the 'takeover' of Blogspot by Google. I'm fine with that. I fully regret it at this moment... but I'm fine with that. I'm a programmer by trade and I know certain things just need to happen. However, I don't understand why applications revert. Why would a function be removed after a so-called 'upgrade'?

Don't disable options that I've had up to this point!! Especially when it's not your company to begin with! You used your power to overtake a smaller company that did the job better. And screwed it up. How is that good business? The Google name will forever be tarnished in my mind. Wake up, friggin' morons...

No longer can I represent any other verbal characters outside of the 26 simple letters that make up the - what? American alphabet? Fuckin' 'ell...

All of my previously displayed characters from outside 'American alphabet' characters have been absolutely mauled in this conversion process. This, after one of the conversion screens assured me that 'all previous blogs will be unaffected' (i paraphrase)...

Excuse me!? If the stuff I had posted 19 minutes ago looks different from what it looks like now, after I've 'upgraded' ?? Screw that... Horrible programming. You can't even support standard ASCII code keys in your conversion.

Yeah.

That's it.

Fuck everyone else that actually has a different alphabet than 'us'... who needs 'em?

So, please forgive me if there are unintelligible or non-sensical characters on this page. They used to be perfectly readable. Until the geniuses at Google took over.

Yeah. I'll take all the snide remarks about how to use those characters - and, 'give them a chance', and, 'don't you have anything else to be bitchin' about'...

But think about it. Google fucked up. Plain and simple. It should have been seemless... and it was anything but.

p.s. the original title to this post was 'always go with your first instinct' - which was to not upgrade... but i had to change it after finishing this post.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Smaht'n Up !

Here's the deal... I enjoy a Large Turbo Ice of varied flavour from Dunkin Donuts on a somewhat recurrent schedule. Enough to pick up on certain... patterns, I guess I'll say.

There's this one guy in my town that has a handicap plate, or placard for the rear-view, or something. Basically, it's his ticket to douche-dom.

Before you're all over me for insensitvity, and that, hear me out.

This guy can walk, as far as I can tell, perfectly well. He's the guy that tells you his medical history while in line for a coffee... and then sits down and does Find-A-Word puzzles for hours on end.

And this is all while his car - adorned with the aforementioned 'golden key' - sits idle in the only handicap parking spot in the entire lot.

While plenty of parking spots remain free.

I just think - how's a guy with a handicap issue car assisting any other handicap patrons, if his car is parked in the lone handicap spot in the lot while he sits inside and does Find-A-Word puzzles for hours on end?

Your answer? He's not.

He is not assisting anyone. Aside from himself.

Awwww... this is killin' me. Okay. I'm ready.

Hey. Handicapusurper... Get a clue.