And it is gone

If you click on http://www.rayriepl.com you will see that my website is gone.  Oh well.


Understanding isn't accepting

"Potholes form with the expansion and contraction of water after it has entered into the subsurface of the pavement. When water freezes, it expands, taking up more space under the paving, which then causes cracking. As temperatures increase, the water then thaws, leaving gaps or voids in the subsurface of the pavement. The voids allow for more water to enter under the pavement, creating a vicious freeze/thaw effect, which eventually weakens the pavement. As the weight of cars and trucks pass over the weak spot in the road, pieces of the roadway material weakened by the freezing and thawing effect get displaced or broken down from the weight, creating the pothole."

All I can say is: FIX 'EM!! ( right Rick?)


In the meantime

In my last post I said I will let my website die at the end of the year but possibly move it to a new one on Apple's hosting site. But during my decision making period I have found a way to keep somethings available for those who are interested. If you look in the top of the right hand column you can see a few links to some of the content on my old web pages. Let me know what you think, and if there is anything else I should add, if I can.


The ever changing internet landscape

Around the time of Y2K I decided to put up a website on the world wide web. The internet was still something that a lot of people had not yet discovered or embraced, but always wanting to be on the cutting edge I didn't hesitate in obtaining my domain name and server to host my site. Over the years I have posted pics, movies, lists of books I have read, B&Bs at which we stayed, miles ridden on my bike and a memorial to my truck. How many people have visited my site over the years? My guess? Well, I would have to say it is a very small number, and as the years went by that small number shrank to what I would describe as zero. Phanfare has become the place where I now post pictures and I have this blog to share thoughts. I hope phanfare is getting more visits than this blog which I hope is getting more visits than my old site. So, things have changed over the years and I see no reason to keep my old site up and running. BUT, I may replace it with a new site hosted by Apple. I am in a trial period to see if it is to my liking and sometime in January I will make a decision. It will be a slimmed down version of my old site. Very bare bones. No one cares about B&Bs, but I will still keep my miles ridden and perhaps my books read. As I said it is just in the idea phase. But as of the end of this month my present site will cease to exist.


The ever changing Rte 35 landscape

For those of you unfamiliar with Rte 35 in central New Jersey you should probably stop reading now. For those of you who wish to continue reading, I will continue writing. Apparently it has been some time since I had driven down 35 as far as Sears, or it might be that when I drive I develop tunnel vision and just aren't an observant driver. Is your interest piqued? Things change so suddenly that if you aren't on the road every day it is hard to believe that they can. Some things, though, aren't so sudden, but have just changed. So, here are my observation over the past week or so. The Home Surplus store just north of Cliffwood Avenue is gone. At least the original building which was replaced by a new one built next to it. The thing I remember about that old building was the lot next to it that had hundreds of vanity tops and sinks. Moving down the highway we are now at the light by K-Mart. Sitting at the light the corner gas station that was on the north east corner is gone. I knew it was going because it was closed and there was a sign that a bank was going to be built in its place. Just what we need around here, another bank. But the last time I drove by it was still an abandoned station. This time the bank is complete. Again, I guess I am just not observant. Moving only a few feet further down the highway we come to the diner. Originally it was the Red Oak Diner, but opened under new ownership as the Adelphi Diner. On my last trip, when I noticed the bank, I also noticed that it was once again the Red Oak. Interesting. Finally, as we continue our drive south, we come to the two shopping centers opposite each other in Middletown. The one on the opposite side of the highway is where there is a Chili's and a Macaroni Grill. Not anymore. The Macaroni Grill is closed. That was a shock. I never thought they were lacking for business. It was the one chain restaurant that I enjoyed going to, especially for the wine and bread. So, there you have it. In a blink of an eye things change.


Traffic solutions

Isn't it frustrating when you are sitting at a traffic light with more than a few cars in front of you and when the light changes it takes half a minute until you can move? If the first car doesn't move immediately that of course takes some time so it would behoove the first person to be paying attention. The following cars must also pay attention and not leave to big a gap. But the ultimate solution is for everyone to pay attention and when the light changes, everyone, and I mean everyone, begins moving at once, leaving no gap, other than the one that is there while waiting for the light to change. After passing through the intersection each car could then return to a safe following distance. Such a simple solution; don't you think?


Tree lighting

Two years ago we bought a new Christmas tree for our den. The tree in the living room (yes, we have two trees) is decorated with small lights of green, white and yellow. In the den we were looking for something different and found a tree with the lights already attached, but the unique thing was that the lights were C7s. These are the regular bulbs, not the miniature lights. I thought, cool. I wouldn't have too string lights on at least one tree. First year was a breeze putting it up. Second year a few bulbs were out, which wasn't surprising. But this year I set up the bottom half and before adding the top half I checked to see how many lights were out. There were more than a few so I proceeded to see if tightening up the bulbs would get them to light. I did a few with good results, but in tightening one white one I heard a small pop seemingly on the opposite side of the tree and half the lights went out. After some investigation I saw that there were actually three strings on the bottom half of the tree and one whole string had gone out. I checked the fuse in the plug end of the string. It was okay. I went along and wiggled each and every light but the string stayed out. Then I plugged another string into the end of the faulty string and that one lit. Electricity was going through the dead string, but just not lighting up the bulbs. Totally frustrated I sat there and tried to think what I was missing. Then I took the time to undo all the twisted wires that were holding all the bulbs and wire to the branches. Not an easy task. Once I had the whole string off I examined each and every socket, twisted each bulb, checked the wire for cuts or fraying, and still no lights. At this point I gave up and went to the store and bought a string of C7 lights. We now have a tree that is prestrung with lights except for the bottom string. I fully expect that next year another string will be dead. At that time I just might take all the strings off and have it become a regular tree.


Aroma from the past

"Early childhood memories can be evoked by many triggers, of which one of the most powerful is a particular smell."

I found that quote on a psychological website but when I went back to locate it to give credit I can't find it, despite looking at my browser's history. In any case, this posting is about such olfactory memory, but in this case it is in reverse. It wasn't a particular smell that evoked a memory, but rather memories that caused me to remember the smell, and thus to reproduce it. Confused? Then, dear reader, read on.

I was raking leaves, or rather blowing them and then mulching them in my mulcher, which reduces them to small particles which I can then put in my compost or spread out under bushes. So, I was doing this and began thinking about raking leaves as a young boy in our back yard which had somewhere near an estimated thirty trees. Forty five years ago there was no need to bag leaves to put out for recycling. Instead everyone burned their leaves. A fifty five gallon drum, or a galvanized garbage can was the customary container, with holes punched in the sides to allow air flow. Once the leaves were ignited, you would just keep adding more leaves as the fire reduced them to ashes. When the leaves were damp you could create great billows of smoke as the wet leaves temporarlily smothered the fire. On brisk fall days or evenings there was always the wonderful smell of burning leaves in the air. Those were the memories that came back to me as I did my leaves, and I longed for that smell.

So, what did I do? I got a terra cotta flowerpot out of the shed, filled it with leaves, and lit it. A leaf caught and went out with glowing embers remaining. I tried again. Still no luck. I got a small piece of paper, shoved it down along the inside of the pot and lit that. That caught and then the leaves. And the smoke; the wonderful smoke, and then fire. I added more leaves. This was the smell I remembered. After two or three pots full of leaves I doused it with water, ending my foray into my past via the olfactory path.

I know I will do it again next year.


Do Over

I wasn't sleeping good last night so my mind was producing some random thoughts which I thought I would share with the multitudes. (multitudes would be defined as a number smaller than five) In the spring I made some observations about "springing ahead" with the clock, so it is only appropriate I make a similar observation when "falling back".

When you are awake in the middle of last night and at two o'clock you turn your clock back, it becomes one o'clock. Then an hour later when it is two o'clock again, do you turn your clock back again? And then when it is two o'clock...... You can see where this is going, right?

And what happens when someone is born at 1:30? Which 1:30 is it? How is it differentiated? And on their birthday, how can they celebrate the exact time of birth if DST isn't changed on that day that year? This question would hold true for any official event.

So, next year I am going to stay awake so I can have that one hour to do things over again. Or I will write in this blog, saying it is 1:10, and then an hour later say it is 1:10 again.

Maybe with all this off my chest now I will be able to sleep better tonite.


A Blessed Event

In case anyone who knows us hasn't found out or seen a picture, here she is.

Keira Ann, born 10-28-08, 8 lbs., 20-1/4 inches.

Mother and daughter are doing fine as well as Grandma and Grandpa.



No matter what Steve Jobs and Apple's sales deptartment think, funnest is NOT a word.


A very sad day

For the second year in a row the Mets season came down to the last day and again they are not going to the post season. In the early season I hated when people would say a loss it just one loss and it is a long season. Without that thinking one could make the argument that the Mets lost the season in April in a tough loss rather than today. But no matter how you spin it, having the same thing happen two years in a row is tough to take. One more win and you get another day for a playoff, but to only score five runs in the final three games doesn't get it done. Don't blame the bullpen. The offense went to sleep. Another loss season. And once again we say, "Wait 'til next year".

But to add to the sadness of the day is that it was the final game at Shea Stadium. Forty five years of games. It was more than a two tissue day watching the ceremony and all the highlights and all the past players. Maybe it was the two glasses of wine I had, or the 162 games I suffered through this year, or all those years of highs and lows at the stadium, but it was very moving. So many memories of games I attended. Games with my father and brother Bob including Jim Bunning's perfect game, games with Pat, games with Pat and the kids, one opening day with Kevin, games with guys from work, and games with my brother Rick which included the greatest game of all, the sixth game of the '86 series. Such good times, such good memories. Somehow the closing ceremony cushioned the end of the year collapse a bit by deflecting some of the sadness to more of a happy memory sadness, if that makes sense.

So, as numbers 41 and 31 walked to centerfield and through the gates, then turned and closed the gates, it was very moving, and very final. The end of a year, the end of an era. Shea is gone, but the memories will remain.


A Screen Legend Passes On

Usually I wouldn't make note of a celebrity's death, but this one is special. Paul Newman died today. To see that on MSNBC's page this morning was a bit shocking. It was inevitable because he suffered from lung cancer, but because of his connection to Pat and myself I was taken aback. Connection? Yes. Pat has adored him and his blue eyes for the past fifty years, always saying that he could "put his shoes under her bed anytime". Over the years we have joked about him being the one man she would be allowed to be with. And she always wanted to invite him over for spaghetti and meatballs. So his passing makes it a sad day for us.


Almonds anyone?

You go through life thinking that you are good at spelling and fairly adept at recognizing how to spell things based on hearing the word, and then you find out that for years you have been mistaken. But it is comforting when you realize that most people have made or are making the same mistake you are. What am I talking about you may ask? What do you call the vegetable dish with green beans and almonds? Now you are thinking that this is probably a trick question and are trying to think outside the box to get the answer. Green beans almondine? Or maybe the alternate spelling of green beans almandine? Did you think it was either of those? Well if you did you would be wrong just as I was wrong, and just about every recipe you can find was wrong. So now I have you wondering, right? If you go to dictionary.com you will see that almondine will refer you to almandine which is "a mineral, red iron aluminum garnet". The correct spelling for the recipe would be green beans amandine. Who knew?


Baseball quiz

When is the following true? Tie game - bottom of the ninth - leadoff man triples - team doesn't score - ends up losing in the tenth.

Answer: When the team is the Mets.

I can't take much more of this and am glad the season will be over soon, one way or another.


An Uneasy Evening Remembered

I recall this night very well. Sitting on the couch with Pat the day before her birthday waiting to see which way my life would go. But I recall the show being live, perhaps on a different channel. By live I mean from start to finish without a reporter commenting as with this video. In the very beginning of this clip, as he is talking, if you listen very carefully you can hear April 17th being called out as number 260. As they drew the numbers and April 17th didn't come up I would get a little more relaxed, especially when it got to above 150 or so. But listening to all the numbers drawn before that was a nerve wracking experience. Not an easy evening to endure. Knowing that your fate was in the hands of someone picking a blue capsule out of that bin. And when I say I never won any lottery I will have to keep this in mind, because I did win that night. I think they only got as high as 195 in the actual call ups in that year. So I had a cushion of 65.

A little further explanation of the lottery can be found here: "lottery info"


Two Months In

Two months down, and many, many, many more to go. Pat's retirement is now two months old, but it is really only beginning this month. The first two months, being July and August, were similar to previous years when she had been home for the summer. Only with the start of the new school year is retirement real. We have thus far survived being home together, but who knows what the future holds. I have considered writing a separate blog about this new chapter in our lives, but think it would have one entry after the other with the words "Please see previous day's entry". But if anything extraordinary or unusual does happen you will be able to find it here.


Too painful to endure

Please refer to the previous post as I say "See, I told you so."


Groundhogless posting

When the Mets were 2-1/2 games out of first I thought they were doomed and the deficit was insurmountable. Now that they are ahead by that number of games I think it is such a meager lead and there is no way they are staying in first place. Go figure.


Victory! Hopefully.

I made the last entry at 2:18. Just an hour later and things have surely changed. After making the posting I was sitting in the den reading and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw something run across the backyard. At first I thought it was a cat that has been running loose around here. I got up, went into the backyard, around the side of the house, and as I turned the corner I heard something in the trap trying to get out. I thought it was the cat. Nope, it was Mr. Groundhog. He was chewing on the side trying to get out. Whoopeee!! I got him!! I almost did a victory dance. I took a couple pics, then loaded him into the truck and drove a little more than a mile, over a bridge and a river, so it is more difficult for him to make an attempt to get back here. I stopped on the side of the road, put the trap on the ground and popped open one end. Out he went. He stopped, looked back, and then kept going. It is finally over. Or is it?

I get back home, go around the house where I was going to take down the stuff I used for the "channel" to guide him into the trap, and I noticed that the hole was open again. In my joy in seeing him in the trap I didn't take notice as to whether it was there before. What I don't understand is how he could have made it through the trap to dig it out, then back through the trap into the yard, and then back into the trap where I finally caught him. Is it possible that there is another groundhog that dug it out while I was relocating the first one? Oh boy. I filled in the hole again and will again do the monitoring routine. Maybe I should have tagged the relocated one in case he does make it back here.

Just when I thought it was over

Well after yeterday's post you wouldn't have thought there would be another one so soon. But here it is. Yesterday I wrote the entry just past four thirty, which was about ten minutes after I had checked to see if Mr. Groundhog had redug his entryway. After writing it I was secure in the knowledge that he was probably gone for good, having not made an appearance in four days. Two hours later I took some parings to the compost, glanced over to the corner of the shed and was flabbergasted to see his hole open again. Did I assume he was in there? Do I wait til dusk to make sure he is home? Without a clue I simply set up the trap. If he was there he would encounter it when he came out, if he wasn't there and wanted to get back in he would have to go through the trap. This morning the trap wasn't tripped. I did notice that there was some dirt over the trap's base, which wasn't there when I set it up, so he did encounter it, but didn't set it off. The trip mechanism did appear to be slightly stuck, but it isn't a mouse or even a squirrel. A groundhog is a larger animal and I can't see how he could walk over the trip mechanism without setting it off. So, I reset the trap, left it in place, filled in his hole again, and will wait to see what happens this evening. Based on previous tries I expect this to be fruitless because it is obviously not his home and he is only there on occasion. I have no idea why he keeps coming back. Is it just to use as a safe haven when he is far from his home? Someplace he can run to if a predator is after him? Don't know, don't care. I just want him relocated.


Which way did he go George?

It seems that more than a few people want to know what happened after my last posting. Well, maybe only a few. Actually only two. But still that is more interest than I expected. If you are reading this and have no idea what I am talking about I am not going to take the time to recap everything. Simply go back and begin reading at my posting on July 30th.

Apparently he lives somewhere else and only uses our shed as a stopover on his daily excursions. I say this because in my last posting I observed that he had dug out his tunnel again, leading me to the assumption that he would be there overnight and I would catch him in the morning. I was wrong. In the morning, after setting the trap so there was no where for him to go except into it when he came out, I waited and waited and waited, but he never came out. Reasonable deductive powers lead to the conclusion that he wasn't there overnight. So, I filled in the hole again, and waited for his return. That was on Saturday. Today is Tuesday and the hole is still filled in. Where is he? I have no clue. Is he gone for good? I certainly hope so, but am not too optimistic.

If anything changes you will be the first to know.


Tonight, tonight, won't be just any night

I looked for him yesterday but he was nowhere to be seen. Still no evidence that he had returned to his burrow under the shed. But today around noon I saw him in the neighbor's yard enjoying his lunch under the sun. But still there was nothing near the shed. I assumed he had found other lodging in the area. Then, after dinner, I took some stuff left from dinner preparation to the compost pile and checked. His hole had been uncovered to prove he had indeed come home. In the next five minutes I had the trap set. Now I wait.


He's going to be grounded

He didn't come home last night. He didn't call either. Maybe he went to visit relatives, or stayed over his girlfriend's house. Maybe he has a second home somewhere. I waited until it got dark before I gave up on him. He did this once before so I really do expect him to be back in a day or two. I still put his breakfast (see yesterday's post) out for him, but with no sign of his return I knew it would still be there this morning, which it was. So, now I have to wait for his return before I proceed.


Ray's Next Move

I borrowed a trap from a neighbor. Research says to put it at the entrance of his burrow after he has retired for the night, and to provide a makeshift channel for him to have nowhere to go but into the trap where there is also food to entice him. So, when Mr. Groundhog awakens, exits his hole, he will be guided to his breakfast and WHAMMO, I finally have victory. (I hope) Setting it up tonight.


Error and another defeat

First let me say that I think I have been incorrect in referring to the rodent as gopher. In a previous post I had said that the terms gopher, groundhog and woodchuck were interchangeable. Well further research says that is not the case. A gopher burrows under lawns, gardens and golf courses through tunnels, is very difficult to get rid of, and will dance to a Kenny Loggins tune. A groundhog is less destructive being satisfied to simply burrow into the ground for his home, not needing to create a system of tunnels. You can see the obvious confusion since they both look alike and Bill Murray was in movies with both of them. I am convinced we have a groundhog.

With all that said, the groundhog won another round. My seemingly impenetrable barricade has failed. He simply burrowed under it to get between the shed and house and then through his hole under the shed. It seems to be a losing battle. I guess I will now get a trap and try to trap him and remove him to a distant land. But I have one more thing to try. I am going to drill a one inch hole in the floor of the shed and pour ammonia down into his habitat, hopefully making it an uninhabitable place. If that fails then the trap. A nice big trap, something with springs, and spikes to inflict the most pain and agony as possible. Just kidding.

Obviously more to come.


The Battle Wages

And so it continues. Apparently Mr. Gopher wasn't satisfied with the neighboring housing accommodations because he is back under our shed. Or at least the hole was reexcavated this morning. How did he get through my barricades you might ask? Well, underneath the cinderblocks at one end there was a small space between the corner of the shed, the ground, and the cinderblocks. I had plugged this space with some pieces of concrete but it wasn't enough to stop him. As determined as he was he dug out the concrete pieces and burrowed his way under and then back under the shed. So, this morning I did my stamping routine to make sure he wasn't under the shed, and went about plugging up the new entryway. I replaced the pieces of concrete and then laid a large paving stone over it, wedging it in tightly. The final step was to distribute more of my questionable repellant. Now I wait.

Your move Mr. Gopher.


Repellent failure

Well I guess my rodent repellent is not working. Or perhaps I am not eating or drinking the correct things to make it effective. I hadn't been putting it down for a couple days but was still checking for evidence of Mr. Gopher's return. For days there was no sign of him. I thought he had moved on to greener pastures such as the neighbor's house, which has been vacant for months, and would be perfect for him. But no, he decides to return and annoy me. Yesterday my brother Rick stopped by, asked about the gopher, and I said he apparently was gone. An hour after he left I go out and look between the house and the shed, and sure enough, there is a whole in the same spot. The concrete pieces I had placed in the hole were moved revealing a nice hole going under the shed. I opened the shed, stamped on the floor, to scare him out if he was there, and when there was no sign that he was, I once again took a cup, filled it with repellent and splashed it in the hole and replaced some of the concrete pieces and covered it all with leaves. A little while later I splashed more repellent over the area. Not easy to produce the repellent on demand. This morning I went out to check, and to my dismay, I find that the repellent didn't work, as the hole was there again. Again, I did my stamping routine, filled in the hole, assuming he was out, and then cut two pieces of a metal fence to place on top of the existing wall/fence at both ends of the space between the shed and house. Before this I had only a couple of cinderblocks stacked at one end and the other was blocked by the aforementioned fence which is only eighteen inches high. Now both ends are blocked by a three foot high barricade.

My question as to whether I barricaded him or out was just answered. As I sit on the patio writing this entry I heard a rustling sound in the other neighbor's yard, at the back corner behind their shed. Sure enough, there he was, moving along between the fence and the shed. Then he apparently went under the shed. So, unless there are two gophers in the neighborhood, he is possibly now living under a shed, but it isn't mine. We shall see.

Updates to follow.


Gopher update

Two days later and with daily doses of "gopher repellent" there have been no new tunnels or any sightings of the varmint.  I am thinking of bottling the repellent and selling it on the internet, but it will require drinking a lot of water.  


"In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, 'Au revoir, gopher'."

Yesterday I am in the computer room putting something up for sale on eBay when Pat calls to me to "quick come look at this". I think she is watching TV and as I make my way through the house think "why doesn't she just pause it?" But when I get to the den she is looking out the patio door and I take her lead and look too. There in the back corner of the yard is a gopher or groundhog or woodchuck. (all terms are acceptable) We watch him disappear into the forsythia hedge then pop back out again. Then he runs up along the fence looking for a way through it. Finally he turns toward the patio and comes up to the screen claws at it as if to try to get in. At this point I holler and he runs off along the back of the house. I quickly come back into the house, get my glasses and sandals and go out looking for him. He is not in sight but I look between the house and the shed and it appears that there is a slight hole under the shed. It doesn't appear large enough for him to get in, but I think I should take precautions. I put some leaves over it to see if they are moved when I check later in the day. Later I am sitting on the patio reading and out of the corner of my eye I spot him again. He comes right up to the screen again, about three feet from me, and again tries to get in. I stamp my feet and again he runs. This time I follow immediately. I again check between the house and shed and this time the hole is bigger and he is sticking his head out. Oh boy. Time to take action. I go in the house get a large plastic cup, fill it "in the bathroom", and then go out to the shed. As I approach the shed I see him run off in the neighbor yard. Knowing he isn't under the shed I splash some of the contents of the cup into the hole, then put some small pieces of concrete over it and splash the remaining contents of the cup. I check later in the evening and no sign of him. This morning I go out checking for signs of his return but find none. Today I will again pour some "gopher repellent" between the shed and house. If this fails and he returns I will next get a gun and shoot him. Actually a trap will be the next step.


Invisible man on third

I recently finished reading a book about the origins of baseball which detailed the first games as "town ball" which didn't have the rules that the present day game has. It was more fluid and flexible restricted by the number of players, the equipment and the availability of space to play. It made me think about the game of ball we played as kids. But then something in another book I read really jarred my memory which prompted me to write this post. As kids we too were fluid and flexible, never having enough kids for a real game of baseball, and never having a field to play in. We were lucky to have empty lots, a definite thing of the past, gloves and some questionable bats and balls. It is a good thing black electrical tape was available. We would use that to cover the ball when the cover came off, and to hold a cracked back from splitting apart. Our diamond was really a diamond because we didn't have the area to have a true square infield. But what I mainly remember is the number of different games we played. Without going into detail, I will list what I remember... "Three flies, six grounders", "Rollies at the bat", "One up", "Stick Ball", "Wiffle Ball" and "Running bases". This is all I can recall right now. Granted they weren't the traditional game of baseball, but were played with a bat, a ball and a glove. Usually these games were played because of only two or three kids being available to play. Of course there was always a simple game of catch, or what I guess would be called stoop ball where you would bounce a tennis ball or spaldeen against a stair or curb.


Is it worth it?

This is another petrol posting. (I was going to say gas, but I prefer alliteration.) Yes, another posting about the high cost of fuel for your internal combustion vehicle. Yesterday I needed to get gas in my truck even though it was at half a tank. I usually fill it back up when it gets to half because of the fear that the price will rise and because of the shock that I would have to endure in looking at the total after a fill up. The gas station out on the highway, about a quarter mile from the house, is selling regular for $3.91. It is 3n gas. No, that is not the type of gas, it is the name of the station. I know there are some who say that these stations are more likely to water down the gas or cheat the customer in other ways, but I haven't seen any problems yet. But, that is not what I am writing about. Down the highway about a mile and a quarter there is a BP (a name brand) which is selling gas for $3.89, although it is the cash price, with credit being $3.93. Now we get to the crux of this posting and today's observation. The obvious dilemma is whether to drive the extra two miles (one each way) to save two cents on a gallon. A little simple math now. Half a tank in my truck is about eight gallons. Eight gallons at two cents per gallon is a grand total of sixteen cents. When you are spending nearly $4.00 for one gallon, and over thirty dollars for half a tank, a mere sixteen cents doesn't really seem worth it. Does it?


Another passing

I could write a lot more postings if I noted every famous person who passed on, the last one being George Carlin. But this blog would then be nothing more than a list of deaths. With that said I will use this posting to note another passing. Madame Marie is no longer among the living. I wonder if she knew when she was going to die. Who is Madame Marie you ask? "Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do?"

For more read the Full story.


Just a lot of hot air

I happened to find a website which offered seasoned toppings for popcorn. In itself, not a unique website. But I found it after reading an article on the health aspects of popcorn and the debate over air vs. oil vs. microwave. According to the many sites and articles, and also common sense, air is better than oil. I won't even consider microwave because I don't like the taste, no matter the brand or variety. I have always made popcorn in oil, made on the stove in a regular pot, but hated the clean up, and in getting older thought about the healthier air method. So, I looked further, found some reviews of air versus oil, and found many stated that air was as good as or better than oil. So, I looked further, which brought me to the seasoned topping site. They offered an air popper for purchase and also an oil mister to spray on the popcorn so their seasoned toppings would stick. It seemed that the oil mist would make up for any lack of taste from the lack of oil in cooking. I was intrigued. So, on a whim when I was in Kohl's I saw the recommended air popper and bought it. I figured I wouldn't need the mister because we use a no fat, no calorie butter spray. Which brings me to Saturday night. Movie time. I set up the popper, got the bowls ready, got out the butter spray and some salt and was ready to go. I will say the convenience of the air popper and the clean up put it way above my oil/pot method. But, even with the butter spray, the taste in no way measured up to the old way. Pat didn't finish her portion. I drowned mine in butter spray which made it palatable. My final conclusion after this experiment?

Anyone want an air popper?


A Sad Day

It isn't because I only watched NBC for my news. It isn't that he was such a well known newsperson. I think my shock at Tim Russert's death at 58 comes from a different viewpoint. Sure I have seen him during the elections with his grease board tracking the electoral votes, and an occasional viewing of Meet the Press, but it was reading his two books (Wisdom of Our Fathers and Big Russ and Me) and seeing him in interviews when the books came out that caused me to admire him and the relationship he had with his father and with his son as well as his love of baseball and life itself. So, it truly is a sad day.


New Flashdrive

Late in May, around the twentieth I was in the library parking lot on a rainy day, about to get in my truck when I saw what appeared to be a flashdrive laying on the ground against the curb. It was raining so I got in the truck but then thought better of it and got out to retrieve the drive. It was indeed a SanDisk 4 GB flashdrive. A couple days later I plugged it into my computer and saw that there were a lot of files on the drive, but I couldn't open them because they were all PC oriented. I did manage to open one file and translate it into a Mac program. It was a resume which gave the name and address of the what I assumed was the owner of the drive. I emailed him and he replied that he was very grateful because it was the only backup he had. I emailed him again saying that if his address was correct i would drop it off at his house. No reply. I emailed again. No reply. I emailed again and gave him my address saying I would leave it outside in a plastic bag. No reply. Finally at the beginning of this week I emailed once more saying that if I didn't hear from him by Friday I would assume he didn't want it and I would reformat and keep it for myself. No reply.

Is he dead? Is he in the hospital? Why doesn't he want it? Who knows? So much for being a good Samaratin. I could send it to him but I am not paying to ship something that he doesn't want. So, I have a new flashdrive.



I was riding my bike yesterday, a not unusual occurence, and as I came through a part of Keansburg I passed a swampy boggy area. With the heat, around eighty, and the surrounding environment I was transported back in time. They say that the sense of smell tied most closely to memory and thusly elicits memories with just a whiff of something familiar. The smell of the hot swampy area brought back memories of canoing as a young adult and as a parent with Kevin. All pleasant memories.


Trying something new

Trying new things (and when I say things I mean food or taste) is sometimes easy and sometimes not so easy. Of course as a child it is easy to say no when a parent would ask you to try some different food you had never tasted before. You were of course concerned with it being somehow unpleasant. But as an adult, if offered something new to taste, the response would be different because you would know that even if it were somehow unpleasant it would only be temporary. But there are occasions where the decision to try new things is a bit more difficult. What I have said so far is more of a sampling of new foods such as times when you are out to dinner and taste someone else's food, something you have never eaten before. But would you look at a menu and try something totally foreign to you? Then if it were an unpleasant experience your whole dinner would be ruined unless you had a dining partner who was willing to exchange dinner with you. And by this time you are probably wondering where I am going with this and why I am writing about this at all. Because I can? Because I have nothing else to do today while sitting her on the patio in this beautiful afternoon weather? Could be either, but it is actually neither. Yesterday morning I went to WAWA for two coffees and a Boston creme donut for my lovely wife. There are occasions where I will get a fat filled banana nut muffin instead of going home and having cereal with my coffee. This was one of those occasions where my will power was left at home. But in going for the banana nut muffin I saw they had a new flavor muffin. Pina Colada. Really? Yes, a Pina Colada Muffin. Dare I try it? I think, if I buy it and it is not to my liking, then I won't have anything for breakfast. Sure I could have cereal, but once committed to the banana nut muffin, anything less would ruin my morning and thus possibly my day. I could buy both muffins and this way have a fall back choice, but that is money wasted. What did I do? I bought the banana nut muffin, went home and enjoyed it with my coffee. So, you see why choices are sometimes easy and sometimes not when trying some new food? At least for me that is how it is.


Someone please explain

Okay, I know I have already had an blog entry concerning gasoline prices, but this morning I became extremely frustrated when I noticed that the price of gasoline had gone up six cents over night at the local station. What occurred overnight to warrant such an increase? I ask because I don't know. I went to my source for all things unknown, the internet, to see if I could find an answer. But alas I did not. I found many sites, many articles, and much information concerning crude oil and gas futures, supply and demand, macro and micro economics, refining capacity, and even politics and conspiracy. BUT, NOTHING about the cause of the daily change in gas prices. The tanker truck delivers gas to the station and it is put in tanks underground. Now, unless there is a delivery every day, the gas in the ground increases in value as the price goes up daily, as much as six cents a gallon as it did overnight. WTF? I really need an explanation. Of course with my limited readership I know I won't get an answer here and will just continue to be frustrated. But on the outside chance that someone does know, or knows where to look, I would really appreciate an answer.


I've Got Nuthin

It has been a while since I posted anything, so I felt obligated to sit down and write something. But as the title of this posting indicates, I've got nothing to say. My life has no events worth noting except for the looming event that is thirty working days away. Yes, Pat retires in thirty more school days. Oh boy. And you can read that "oh boy" any way you want. Every thing has been done for the retirement; all forms have been submitted, new insurance cards received; and nothing left to do except wait for the first retirement check. The only thing that hasn't been done is to make an appointment with a marriage counselor.


Change back from my dollar?

I stopped to get gas the other day and the gauge showed the needle to be half way between a quarter tank and the E for "start walking". The price for regular was $3.37 and the way the prices have been rising lately I thought maybe I should bite the bullet and fill the tank, which would last me a little more than two weeks, even with not having the greatest mpg. I figured the tank to be about fifteen gallons and a little quick math told me it would cost in the range of forty dollars. I had already filled up once in the past for thirty four dollars, which for me was unbelievable, so I knew what to expect. I did have a fifty in my wallet, so I pulled it out, told the guy to fill it with regular and that it was a cash purchase. I sat listening to some jazz on WBGO and then heard the click of the nozzle, indicating it was full. I glanced at the pump and it said $49.60. OMG. He squeezed another forty cents in, I handed him my fifty, told him to have a nice day, and drove away. But, OMG. Fifty dollar bill and no change. OMG. I have gotten fifty before, but that was fifty cents worth, back when I first started to drive. I am glad I don't commute to work and now can feel the pain of those that do.


Thoughts to ponder, continued

I was out riding my bike yesterday and for the first time in a long time had a canine experience. I used to carry pepper spray for fleeing from dogs, but haven't done so in many years. It seems as things become more urban, people have less of a tendency to let there dogs run loose. Thus it has been quite a while since my adrenalin has spiked from a pursuing dog. That brings me back to yesterday. Riding along, not on a rural road where I would be more wary of a dog, but in a developed area, I hear barking, look go my left and see a large German Shepherd mix bounding across the lawn angling toward me. Shifting into fear mode, I sped up and once past the property, looked back to see he had stopped. And that brings to me the thought to ponder.

If a person has their yard perimeter monitored by one of those invisible fences, does it really keep a dog inside? Does the dog simply sense it and stop? But will a large dog, traveling between fifteen and twenty miles an hour, bounding across the lawn, simply stop? Or because of his speed, will he hit the invisible barrier and be through it before he has a chance to stop? I know I could probably do a google search and spend time searching for answers, but I am content to ponder it on my own.



First let me say that the last entry was made on the first of April. No more needs to be said.

Now onto this post. Last week at this time we were on our way back from north central Pennsylvania where we were searching court records for clues to our ancestry. For anyone who wasn't there and wishes to consult a map, we were in Wellsboro and Blossburg looking for info on our forefathers who resided in Morris Run. On the map it will look like it is out in the middle of nowhere, and that is because it is. As for who "we" is, besides myself, it included my brother Rick, my brother Bob and his wife Judy. Of course that probably makes up more than half my readership, so I should probably include something in this entry that would interest them too. But first let me explain why I am making this entry. I should have made an entry or two while at the hotel, but we were always busy and I kept putting it off, being the procrastinator that I am. That is a topic for another entry which I will get to at another date. This entry is again about people. Again, you may ask. Yes, again. My last entry was about drivers, this time it is about people in general. At least people who reside in the area of Pennsylvania we were visiting. It is just an observation. Everyone, and that is everyone, without exception, that we came in contact with was genuinely nice. It was like a breath of fresh air to have such cordial unhurried contact with other members of the human race. Helpful and accommodating without reservation. It may sound like it is an unusual experience for me, and that is because it is unusual.

But the whole trip couldn't have gone by without some person trying my patience. On the way home Rick and I pulled into a gas station somewhere in PA off of I-80. All the pumps were taken and we pulled behind a minivan with out of state plates. The hose wasn't in the car, so we figured the vehicle would be moving soon so we could get our gas. BUT NOOOOOOO! The woman and her kids were inside the minimart. So we have to wait til she comes out, gets the kids in the car and then takes two or three tries to maneuver around the car in front of her. Rick will attest to my lack of patience with her. I have encountered these people before. "Oh, I won't be more than a minute in the store so I can leave my car anywhere I want." Inconsiderate white trash.

Okay, I have said my piece.


WaWa incident

A couple weeks ago I was at WaWa getting gas and then went inside for a cup of coffee. I do like their coffee. I used to like 7-11, but now prefer WaWa. But I digress. After coming out of the store I got in my truck and found I was blocked in by someone else's car. They were parked illegally, which is a topic for another entry. I was going to sit there and wait for them and then give them a stare when they came out, but decided instead to try to get around them. I pulled up as far as I could go and then managed to inch my way around them as I backed out. As I cleared the car by inches I felt like it would have been better if I had just plowed into it. It is at these times I wish I had a rubber car. Anyway I made it out of the space, backing out around the car, and as I shifted into drive I saw the driver of the car walking toward it. I gave him a look and then drove off. Well, I thought it would end there. Yesterday I am sitting reading a book when there is a knock on the door. I open it to a cop who asks if that is my truck in the driveway. I said yes, and then he asked if he could come in. At this time my knees were weak. He explained that someone said I was a hit and run driver, and then that it was someone at the local WaWa who was making the complaint. I then went through the whole thing with him about being blocked and maneuvering around the car without hitting it. He seemed to believe me, saying that the guy who made the complaint couldn't show any damage on the car or anything, but they had to followup anyway. He told me not to worry about it, and if there was anything else he would contact me. So, now I sit and hope that it is all in the past.


Left Lane Louies

So, yesterday Pat and I went in to the city to see Curtains, a musical starring David Hyde Pierce. My review would be to say it was very good. Not excellent like Spamalot, but very good. Four stars out of five. But that isn't what this post is about. The final curtain came down at 4:30, and with a little tunnel traffic, we pulled into our driveway an hour and ten minutes later. We probably could have made it quicker if it weren't for all the Left Lane Louies on the road. These are the drivers who insist on staying in the left lane even though they have a line of cars behind them and no cars in front of them. They are simply oblivious to what is going on around them, even if they aren't talking on the phone. Traffic wasn't that heavy going or coming, but these drivers for some reason must find comfort knowing no cars are on their left. One car entered the Turnpike, stayed in the right lane for no more than five seconds then crossed the middle lane and settled into the left lane despite cars coming up behind him obviously going faster. Because of their refusal to move over they cause other drivers to pass on the right, weave in and out just to try to get ahead of them. This puts everyone on the road at risk for an accident. And when you pass them and look over at them it is really obvious that they are oblivious. They are driving like they are on a two lane country road. I just kept asking myself why all the way home. Someone please tell me why. So, if anybody who is reading this recognizes themselves as a Left Lane Louie, please comment and let me know WHY. I need to now to ease my frustration on the road. Now in the past I have been called Right Lane Ray by my children, but Pat will attest that yesterday was not the case and I had very little patience for these airheaded drivers. Rental trucks, pickups with a load in the back, and cars from out of state. No reason for them to be in the left lane. No reason at all. I was beside myself with frustration. Why, why, why???

Well, I guess I got that point across. One more thing. Coming down the Turnpike, as we passed Newark Airport, the incoming flight pattern was from the south so the planes were coming in right at us over the highway. At that point of the landing they have already throttled back and seem to be suspended in air on the final approach. And despite knowing about lift, aerodynamics, the drag coefficient and all the physics mumbo jumbo, I still maintain there is no way something as large and as heavy as that should be up in the air.

Thank god for Xanax.


A Late Thought

For a person who works the midnight shift (12 to 8), when we turn the clocks ahead, do they get paid for seven  hours or eight?


Mr. Klaven is a genius.

The Buffalo Theory

In one episode of Cheers, Cliff is seated at the bar describing the Buffalo Theory to his buddy Norm. The concept has never been explained any better than this.....

“Well, you see Norm, it’s like this. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest animals in the herd. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest animals that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way regular consumption of alcohol eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.

And that Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”



Yesterday Pat and I were driving along Route 520, going from Route 18 to Route 35. If you aren't familiar with that I am not sure it really matters. Well, maybe it does. Along 520 there is an entrance to Brookdale Community College. I hadn't been past it in a few years, having ridden my bike in the area many times in the past, so when we approached the entrance I was flabbergasted. Yes, flabbergasted. I don't get flabbergasted much, but this was an exceptional case. The entrance off of 520 had always had a traffic light. But as we approached the college entrance I thought I was in the wrong area, because there was no traffic light.

In New Jersey, noted at one time for its many circles, or roundabouts, or rotaries, this was a very unusual site. Over the years New Jersey has eliminated nearly all of the circles on the its roads. So it was very surprising to see that in this day and age they have actually elminated a traffic light and in its place created a circle. Bizarre is the word that comes to mind. I would have loved to have been at the planning board meeting for that one.

Click here to see a map of the modern roundabout and how to maneuver through it.

After further research it seems that this new smaller circle is popping up in many states where traffic control is needed.  Amazing.  See some here.


Which is correct?

I was in the truck this morning and a promotion came on the radio having to do with the Yankees. Normally, and for obvious reasons, I would simply not listen, but something caught my attention. The question arose in my mind as to which is correct. Is it "I am a Yankee hater" or is it "I am a Yankees hater"? Of course I only use Yankees because it was a Yankees commercial. I could have used Brave/Braves, or Philly/Phillies, of Patriot/Patriots. It is just an example. But am I a Met fan, or a Mets fan? If I am a Met fan then one would ask, "which Met are you a fan of?". And despite ending that sentence in a preposition, it seems to bear out that Mets fan would be correct. But then a followup question would be the correctness of that without the possessive apostrophe. It would be Mets' fan. Or would it. In summary, putting together the conclusions I have come to in this short but enlightening post, I am a Mets' fan, and I am a Yankees' hater. BUT, I am also a Yankee hater. Which would lead one to ask the question, "which Yankee?". And that would be obvious, wouldn't it? Of course it would be really obvious if Mr. Steroid were still an active player, but without him it leaves only ARod. So, there you have it. I hope everyone has learned something from reading this post.



Gas prices. In the past two weeks the price of gasoline in our area has gone up just over twenty cents. It wasn't but a few years ago when a rise of a few cents would foster letters to the editor espousing conspiracy theories, collusion, and how the government should investigate. But now twenty cents and noone bats an eye. The only articles in the paper are about how the nationwide average should be near four dollars a gallon by the end of the year. FOUR DOLLARS A GALLON. And yet people still keep driving those gas guzzling tanks. Granted my truck doesn't get the best mileage, but I don't drive more than 7500 miles a year. People have very short memories, or are too young to remember the gas shortages of the early seventies. Lines at gas stations that stretched out onto roads and highways. After that there was a brief call for automakers to make more fuel efficient vehicles, but soon they were back to the large oversized SUVs. Does anyone really need a Hummer? I long for the day when I first had my license and drove to the gas station to get two dollars worth of regular. It cost 26.9 cents. You could always scrounge around in your car for change to get a couple of gallons. Now gas is more than ten times that.


Different points of view

I am painting. No, not in oils or water colors on canvas. Rather latex on walls. Why am I painting? Because we got a new couch and love seat for the living room. Did we pick colors that went not only with the carpeting but also with the walls? Nope. So, now I have to paint the walls to compliment the furniture and carpet. Remove wallpaper border first, then prime, then paint. Yuck. And why did we get new furniture? Why? Because Pat no longer liked the flowered pattern on the couch and love seat. Nothing wrong with the furniture; she was just flowered out. I on the other hand could have lived with the living room the way it was for a few more years. Oh, who are we kidding. I could have lived with the present look until they either carry me out in a body bag or pack me up and take me to a nursing home. So, I guess there are two different points of view on this. Which one prevailed? Answer? I am painting.


The Passing of The Sign Man

It seems that a lot of my posts are about the passing of people who I remember from years gone by.  This can only mean that I am getting older.  With this post we remember Karl Earhardt.  Who is he, some might ask?  Anyone who followed the Mets in the sixties and seventies knows who he was, but those outside the metropolitan area probably never heard of him.  Here is a link to a NY Times article in 2006.  article



Being in the sixth day of the common cold I felt compelled to make an observation. I find it astounding how much mucus the human body can produce while a cold runs it course.


Happy Birthday Jean Baptiste

If he were still alive Jean Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt would be 98. Gotta love his music.


The passing of Corporal Henshaw

I would like to take this time to recognize the passing of Allan Melvin last Thursday, 1/17/08. Most obits say he is best known for his role on the Brady Bunch, but having never watched that show, I remember him as Corporal Henshaw on The Phil Silvers Show, Sgt. Bilko's right hand man along with Cpl. Barbella, played by Harvey Lembeck. In my mind that is how he will be remembered, as well as for his role on All in the Family where he played Archie's friend Barney. But never for The Brady Bunch. In addition he also might be remembered for his voicing of Magilla Gorilla, as Drooper on The Banana Splits Hour, and the plumber in the Liquid Plumr commercials. But never for the Brady Bunch. At least not for me. He will be missed.


Common sense and courtesy

For the third time this year I went for a ride outdoors. Prior to these three rides my last outdoor ride was back in mid November. In the time between those rides I have been on my bike on the trainer in the den watching television while riding. The workout just isn't the same and now back outdoors I find I need to get in shape again, working back into longer rides and hillier rides gradually. But that isn't what this posting is about.

Riding today made me remember all the nuances of riding on roads where there are other vehicles sharing the way. Most people are aware of riders and are courteous but some are not. Those that are will give you a wide berth and wave you across when approaching them as they wait to pull out onto the road. But this post is about those that are not. I don't know if it is ignorance or just plain rudeness, but there are quite a few people who seem to either resent riders, not care, not see, or just don't know what the law is concerning bicycles.

Bicycles on the road are subject to the same laws as cars. In other words they should be on the right side of the road, stop at all stop signs and red traffic lights, signal for turns, and even when permissible to turn left from the left most available lane. These are a few of the rules that cyclists should be following. In addition they should be in single file when riding in a group. This is a gray area sometimes because on a country road two abreast is not uncommon when there is plenty of room for car to go around.

Courtesy and common sense should be observed when approaching a cyclist from the rear. Obvious you might say. But I find it not to be the case. If you approach a rider on urban streets he will be out in the lane slightly away from parked cars to avoid a car door suddenly swinging open into his path. If there are no cars for a section he will stay out there instead of going in near the curb and then swerving back out to avoid the next parked car. A defensive position to take when approaching a rider on any road is to look ahead of him to see what he sees in his path. This will alert you to the possibility that he might drift into your path to avoid a road hazard, sewer grate or puddle. If there are no cars approaching from the opposite direction do give the rider extra room. Don't try to see how close you can get to him. It seems as this is the goal of many people. They seem to think they are prohibited from going over the center line for any reason. As I said, courtesy and common sense.

I guess what prompted me to write this post was the car that passed me today. There was a driver and a passenger, both estimated to be in late teens, possibly high school students or not. As they passed quite closely, the passenger stuck his head out the window and yelled, "You f@#king moron, get off the f@#king road!". It is not the first time this has ever happened and I am sure it won't be the last. I just wonder what is going through his mind.