jesse leo dot com - 2015 edition
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8/27/15: -- An NPR interview with David Lagercrantz, author of the next book in the late Steig Larsson's Millenium series - The Girl in the Spider's Web. And here is a largely positive NYT review of said novel. Haven't been this excited about an upcoming book release since the Potter days. Goodness, did I really line up at Borders all those years ago for a midnight Order of the Phoenix launch party? Please don't tell anyone.

-- I don't care what this guy says, I'm still getting my eight glasses a day. Maybe more if I've been working out hard. The best gauge of your hydration level is your pee color - clearer is good! Bright, yucky yellow could mean you should up your H2O intake. Or take fewer vitamins. Or see your doctor.
8/25/15: -- Sploot is a game that puts you in the role of an incontinent seagull, pooping uncontrollably on everyone and everything. Bonus points for splattering rich people and/or expensive cars... Oooooh, this one's got potential.

-- Wow, has it really been ten years since Katrina? I remember we were out on Block Island when it hit, the winds were strong up there and the surf was insane. I posted a photo of the turbulent BI shoreline on this blog, along with the headline: Katrina and the Waves. I remember thinking I was so damn clever (Get it? Hurricane Katrina made big waves. Katrina and the Waves. The cheesy 80s band? Get it? Never mind). But then as the news started flowing out of Nawlins, well, I felt pretty awful for making light of the situation. What a horrendous Federal response, or rather complete lack thereof. To this day it's just shameful.
8/24/15: -- So Apple sold 11 million iPads last quarter, good for $4.5 billion in revs. And yet there is talk that the device is doomed. I simply don't get it.

-- Well on the plus side, we are NOT going to be killed my a massive asteroid next month. So there's that...
8/21/15: -- Aaaaaaand just like that, summer is over. I mean not literally, according to my wall calendar that will happen on Wednesday 9/23. But school starts on Monday, how the hell did that happen?? Still feels like summer is just getting underway. So many projects I wanted to complete, so many things I wanted to do with the fam... sigh. All of those back to school commercials featuring jubilant parents dancing around sulking kids, those don't apply to us. With Maria out the door at 6AM (needless to say she hasn't missed that routine), the Herculean task of getting the boys out of bed and on the bus - bright eyed and bushy tailed - is on ME. Fortunately September has a way of making everything alright...

September, coupled with its brother October, is the reason we live where we live.


-- Mad Max: Fury Road, Oscar contender? You betcha.

-- NBA Mean Tweets! These never get old.
8/20/15: -- That there is one expensive rock.

-- Looks like this email server thing could be Hillary's undoing. But then again, Dubya did the same thing and got away with it...
8/19/15: -- First Bill Cosby, now Jared from Subway. All of my heroes are being outed with dark, terrible secrets.

-- 32 million adulterers are extremely anxious right about now, as the recently stolen Ashley Madison data has been made available to the public. Karma.

-- Victor Frankenstein will either be amazing or comically awful. We'll file that one under wait and see...
8/18/15: -- Every few years, something bounces around the Interwebs about school starting too early and the need to get kids more sleep. Let's see if this bit in The Atlantic will actually make a difference. I can tell you from first hand experience that this concept is long overdue - I remember battling mightily to stay awake in school, every single day. Which explains why I didn't learn sh*t.

-- I almost forgot to talk about the IDEAS Conference that we attended while in FL. As always, we came away from it with a renewed sense of hope and purpose. Maria attended the bulk of the lectures, I usually had kid duty. A lot of parents seemed to take that same "divide and conquer" approach, and it worked well. Overall we found the entire weekend incredibly informative, though I personally prefer the less scholarly talks that deal with the day to day challenges such as school, stress management, etc. I'll be honest, the chromosomal geek-talk stuff goes wooshing over my head.

More than anything else we loved catching up with the other dup15q families. Social Media is ok, but nothing beats actual face to face interaction as human beings. The 2017 conference will likely be somewhere on the west coast, we're told. Count us in!

8/17/15: -- Feels like my meniscus is fried again, and I don't think I'm up for having another scope. I can work around it and still do my exercise DVDs and some light running, but I may have shot my last jumper... It's basketball that seems to aggravate it more than anything else. I played about a week ago and have been gimpy ever since, I guess the zigging and zagging are just too much. And this is tragic because I'll miss it terribly. But hey, I'll save a fortune on sneakers!
8/16/15: -- Well I guess it was just a matter of time until someone picked up the fallen pen and continued the excellent Millennium series. As you may recall, author Stieg Larsson died unexpectedly in 2004 while working on a fourth book. The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz releases just in time for our upcoming Block Island jaunt. I can't think of a better beach read. Let's just hope this new guy can do the series justice.
8/14/15: -- 'Groove is in the Heart' is 25! Man do I feel old. But even after a quarter century, it's still one of my top five all-time fav dance tunes. Bootsy!

-- By the end of the century, the ocean(s) will be completely different than they are today. And surprise! We are to blame.

-- And the sharks just keep a comin'...
8/12/15: -- 13 second movie review: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation - Popcorn at its purest. Try as you might to dismiss this one as just another brainless action spy flick, you'll find yourself inexorably sucked in, that iconic MI theme song stuck in your head. Cruise looks amazing for 43, only he's actually 53 - and still doing his own absurdly dangerous stunts. Hang out of airplanes much, TC? And you will fall, as I did, ass over tea kettle for the devastatingly gorgeous Rebecca Ferguson (Those eyes! That yellow dress!). Now if only you could figure out where her character's loyalties truly lie, hmmm... Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to see this movie at once.

-- New trailer for Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight! Between this, Bond, and the new Star Wars movie, the upcoming Christmas season will be a very merry time for hitting the theater.

-- Going through our Florida trip photos I came upon this shot of a freaky tree from the Animal Kingdom safari ride. It's so wonderfully Halloween-ish, it reminds me of the Tree of the Dead from Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow film. Or better yet the Tree of Woe from Conan the Barbarian.
8/11/15: -- Just played basketball for the first time in what, two months? My body feels like I went ten rounds with Ronda Rousey... To quote Indiana Jones: It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.
8/10/15: -- Phelps is back? And kicking butt, by the looks of it.

-- Because, sloths!
8/8/15: -- Well I felt much better after conversing with an old friend yesterday, she assured me that a lot of kids seem to hate Disney when they're young. Because yeah, Maria and I probably had more fun than the boys did at the theme parks. Sad but true. Don't get me wrong - there were many bright spots. Jake enjoyed Epcot, particularly "Japan" for its abundance of Pokemon gear. Aidan loved the live wildlife at Animal Kingdom. He's also a ride freak. But most of the time they couldn't wait to get back to that big ol' pool at the hotel. But all is not lost! I'm told that into their teen years, kids eventually gain an appreciation for the Disney experience.

Me? I love the rides, and I was sad that there was neither time nor money for a visit to Universal Studios - Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster is not to be missed. And people tell me the Harry Potter attractions are fantastic. Maybe next time.

A quick list of our Florida highlights and observations, in no particular order:

- That water slide at Grandpa's timeshare! Man you came blasting outta that thing like a rocket.
- The cloud cover that stuck with us most of our time at the parks. Otherwise the Central Florida summer heat would've been unbearable.
- The AC in our piece o' crap rented Mitsubishi Mirage, see above.
- Haunted Mansion! It was the first ride we went on, and we loved it enough to jump right back on for a second look.
- Our "Aidan Pass", as we affectionately named it. Using a combination of Aidan's disability access and Fast Pass, the longest we waited for any ride was maybe 12 minutes. We've all heard tales of three hour wait times for 90 second rides.
- The Birds of Paradise at Animal Kingdom. The plumage on those gorgeous macaws, simply breathtaking. They're an obsession I share with Sir David.
- Dinner at Bongo's Cuban Cafe... Mojitos! Plantains! Cuban Coffee! Kill me now, I'll never taste anything sweeter.

There were many other highlights and lowlights, and of course there was the Dup15q conference! Heck, that's the main reason we flew down there in the first place. More on that later, we haven't even unpacked yet.

8/5/15: -- Homeward bound tomorrow. Still alive. How's that famous Dickens opening line go? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... That pretty much sums it up. Overall I'm really glad we embarked on this little adventure. And I take back all most of those terrible things I've been saying about Disney. Two days ago I was within spitting distance of a 3000lb rhino. Not something you see ever day. And rarer still, I'm actually seeing Jakey smiling and laughing every now and again...
7/29/15: -- And just like that, we're off to the Dup15q Conference down in sweltering sunny Florida. We're packed, the dog/house sitter is on the scene, and the airport directions are printed out. What could possibly go wrong?

We're bringing a laptop, so hopefully I'll find some free time to put fingers to keyboard. A Bientot!

7/28/15: -- Neville Longbottom - all grown up, by the looks of him. Remember what a little dweeb he was when he first donned the Sorting Hat?

-- Newly redesigned Chucks... yay or nay?
7/25/15: -- I guess after a few lackluster performances last month, it's safe to say Usain Bolt is back? Here he casually tallies a 9.87 in the 100m, going into a headwind and lazily jogging the last few strides. Up against the fastest men in history, he makes it look like Varsity vs JV.

-- Aaaaaaaaand just like that, McDonald's is back in my good graces. Almost.
7/23/15: -- Twitter dissing Facebook. I LOL'ed. Some of these are so tragically spot on.

-- So my wife is assembling a Connecticut themed gift basket to be raffled off at the IDEAS conference next weekend. A UCONN hat... a little can of nutmeg... ummm... it's suddenly dawning on us that aside from the high taxes and energy costs, there's really nothing noteworthy or remarkable about this fine state of ours.
7/22/15: -- What a sparkling little gem of a film, that Mr. Holmes. Here we have the legendary detective retired at ninety-something, living simply and keeping his bees in the remote English countryside. We switch back and forth between old and young(er) Sherlock, as he battles the onset of dementia to recall the details of his final case -- the one that drove him into his self-imposed exile. Sir Ian handles the two Holmeses perfectly, transitioning from withered and forgetful in one scene to spry and brilliant in the next. In fact when the movie first opened I prayed that our beloved Sir Ian wasn't really as far gone as his character appeared... But no, in the flashbacks as a sixty-something Holmes he was nimble on his feet and resplendent in his top hat and cane. Can the famously analytic but soulless sleuth come to peace with that final case, and perhaps discover his own humanity in the process?

This one might move a bit slowly for some, indeed it's a far cry from the swashbuckling Robert Downey Jr films of recent years. But with Sir Ian still at the top of his game and a top notch supporting cast (newcomer Milo Parker shines, as does Laura Linney - a poor man's Meryl Streep?), you're in for a quietly delightful afternoon at the movies.

7/21/15: -- New Yorker: Seattle and surrounding regions will be completely destroyed. It's not a question of if, but when. "Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast."

Not to sound alarmist, but this seems like kind of a big deal...

7/20/15: -- On Saturday night we watched G Love and Special Sauce put on a clinic - how to properly rock a small venue, in this case the beautiful Jonathan Edwards Winery in northern CT. Minutes after the band took the stage the entire stuffy gathering of brie spreading, Ralph Lauren wearing, Sauvignon Blanc sipping wine snob wannabes was sucked towards the dance floor as if by tractor beam - a sweaty bacchanal ensued, the likes of which I haven't seen since college...

Warming up for G Love was Alabama based solo singer Kristy Lee, who stood strong on her own but really hit her stride later on when she joined the band for a few flirty numbers - most notably a mashup of Holla and Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On.

Trust me folks, catch this show if it comes to your town.

7/16/15: -- Mr. Holmes, starring GandalfSir Ian McKellen, currently has an 85% RT approval rating. Methinks it's time I redeem my Fandango gift card!

-- CDC: Don't kiss your chickens. At least not on the first date...
7/15/15: -- You've no doubt heard that Bloom County is back, and that's a beautiful thing. But where can we see the new stuff on a daily basis?
7/14/15: -- Been seeing some less than stellar reviews of Haper Lee's Go Set a Watchman - here's NPR ("A troubling confusion of a novel"), and the NYT ("disturbing reading"). Before taking this one on and joining the literary fray, I need to put down the smutty thrillers I've been reading and revisit To Kill a Mockingbird. Heck, I haven't looked at it since the 7th grade... You've probably heard the chatter surrounding Lee's decision to release Watchman after all these years, was she bullied into it? These lackluster reviews are only adding fuel to the fire.
7/11/15: -- I've watched the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Comic-Con 2015 Reel four times already, and it still makes me emotional. We the fans have every reason to believe that someone is finally doing right by the franchise. The respect and reverence for the original trilogy - so painfully absent in the prequels - seems so wonderfully evident here.

You heard it here first: largest ever opening weekend, and yes - move over, James Cameron - highest grossing film of all time.

7/9/15: -- As with past Block Island trips, Maria and I arrived home feeling like we need a vacation from the vacation. It's hard work traveling with those boys of ours, at times we even questioned whether the whole endeavor was worth it. But the moments of pure glee - to see them romping around in the foamy surf, no handheld electronic device in sight... for me that erases any doubt.
7/5/15: -- BI Bound... This one's a quickie (back around mid-week), so we'll try to make every second on Block Island count. It won't be easy getting back on that boat just as we're hitting our stride, but I keep reminding myself - three days on the Block is better than no days on the Block. Photos to follow of course, we'll probably stick everything up on FB. Toodles!
7/4/15: -- Took in the hokey yet capable little town carnival at New Milford's Youngs Field last night. Beautiful evening for that sort of thing, I guess summer is now officially underway? A rousing fireworks display concluded matters. Come on, that stuff never gets old.

The highlight of the evening for me was watching Aidan toss a ball through a hoop to win a fabulous prize. That was on his second attempt - on the first try he raised the ball overhead and it rolled backwards off his hand, bouncing on the ground behind him... Try, try again. Kudos to the evolution of carnival games, back in the day I remember they seemed rigged to be unwinnable. Last night kids were encouraged to keep shooting 'til they hit.

7/1/15: -- Ok the Confederate Flag controversy has officially gotten out of hand.

-- Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs. Thoughts?

-- So Fifty Shades author EL James agreed to participate in a Twitter chat the other day. Bad idea! Things quickly turned ugly. But be reminded, snarky Twitter folks - at the end of the day, EL (or whatever the hell her real name is) probably has a house in Beverly Hills with three Rolls Royces in the garage, while we common folk scrap & scrounge for an occasional day off... She'll get past this.

-- A collection of unfortunate sign burn-outs to properly start your Wednesday.
6/30/15: -- There will be interesting interstellar happenings tonight, tune in to your local sky after dark. Which is to say: put down the smartphone and LOOK UP!

-- I dreamt about the ocean last night. This is important.
6/29/15: -- Ugh, the crazy expensive rentals on our beloved Block Island are about to get crazier expensiver, read on...

-- 8 second review - HBO's Ballers: Dwayne Johnson (fka 'The Rock'), with his hulking physique and dazzling smile is juuuust charismatic enough to make this one watchable. No doubt the Entourage crowd is lapping it up. If you're still awake after True Detective, give it a watch.

And speaking of True Detective, I'm actually enjoying S2 so far. Just don't ask me what the hell is going on...

6/26/15: -- It's the law of the land, folks. For once the Powers that Be got it right.

-- My life would be complete if only I could find a site featuring daily photos of a hedgehog... Ah wait, here we go!

-- Block Island is so close I can taste it... And man do we need it.
6/23/15: -- Batman: Arkham Knight drops today - no doubt they had my birthday in mind when planning the release date - and it's getting extremely positive reviews. No sleep for me tonight, I've got a city to save.

-- Just in time for Jaws' 40th anniversary, a big-ass Great White is lurking off the coast of Cape Cod.

-- It's my birthday. Don't mess.
6/22/15: -- Got to hang out with my pops yesterday for F-Day 2015, we hooked him up with a stylish pair of mandals (pictured here). Let's face it, it was time to retire those old black Crocs of his.

As for myself, I was pampered throughout the day with an assortment of goodies and kind gestures. But none felt more special than Jake's gift to me, which was his sudden ability to ride his bike! I had dragged him down to the (sadly) now abandoned New Milford VW parking lot. As I cursed and fiddled with the straps to his helmet, he just hopped on and started peddling around, cool as the other side of the pillow. I guess it just sort of clicked. Maybe there's hope for that kid after all.


-- Saw a Mazda Miata this morning with a license plate that read: "Not Glty". Oooh, there's a doozy of a story there, to be sure...
6/20/15: -- Just in time for the release of Inside Out (which so far is getting very favorable reviews), Vulture has ranked all 15 Pixar films from worst to best. You may not agree with these - I myself would put Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story 3 way up near the top - but the writer's reasoning is sound and the critiques are well written. Thoughts?
6/18/15: -- So the Warriors beat the Cavs for the NBA title in ho hum fashion earlier this week. Looked like the Cleveland players were just plain knackered. ESPN ran an interesting article on the subject of fatigue and the hectic NBA schedule, particularly as it applies to LeBron James. The pounding his body takes and the number of minutes he plays, compounded by an 82 game schedule (not counting Playoffs and All Star Weekend) and frequent air travel.... I guess he's mortal after all - ice baths, massages, IV fluids at night... sheesh. But hey - $ won six (count 'em: 1-2-3-4-5-6) NBA Championships without all that fancy stuff. Just sayin'.

-- This Leon Bridges track is all over radio and tv, and I just love it. Old-school, not old.
6/17/15: -- Last day of school, lawd help us. What're we gonna do to keep our monsters occupied through September?

I'm looking at Aidan's report card, once again he almost managed straight A's. Ridiculous... Don't get me wrong, he's had some absolutely terrific people around him throughout the years. But sometimes it feels like they're just hurrying him along through the system.

6/16/15: -- Wired spent a week using El Capitan, the next version of OS X. In a nutshell - little fixes and enhancements across the board, and some cosmetic stuff. Sounds like a worthwhile upgrade that won't make you re-learn everything from scratch. And - it'll be free!
6/15/15: -- Comforting: a few weeks before our trip to Block Island, two swimmers were mauled by sharks in East Coast waters over the weekend.

-- I had a fond but not overwhelming appreciation for the Avett Brothers before their concert last night at Simsbury Meadows, now you might call me a bona fide fan. It was their fourth show in as many nights, and yet they brought heaps of energy and emotion. You could sense their genuine appreciation for the support of the audience. And what a fantastic early summer (well, technically late spring) evening for an outdoor concert - perfect temps and the rain held off just long enough.

Got home at midnight and of course went right to the DVR for the Game of Thrones finale. Goodness, will there be anyone left alive for season 6???

6/12/15: -- Who knew? Chimps like to get smashed on cheap wine.
6/11/15: -- Sad to hear that Sir Christopher Lee has passed, but wow - if anyone grabbed life by the cajones and lived to the fullest... He acted for 50+ years. He hunted Nazis. He played in a rock band. He spoke five languages fluently... Such a voice, such a presence. I loved him in his big roles - Dracula, Saruman, Scaramanga, and Count Dooku as well - plus he was in many things I haven't seen. But my favorite role of his was the tiny bit he had in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, playing a curmudgeonly judge. Lee leans in menacingly and points in Ichabod (Johnny Depp)'s face, and the wings of an eagle statue in the background frame Lee's shoulders in a demonic sort of way. I read somewhere that this was not intentional in the scene's filming, but of course they left it in.
6/10/15: -- Interesting: people from primitive cultures have spectacular posture and no back issues. It's like mother always said: pretend there's a string attached to the top of your head from the ceiling, pulling you upwards. Curse these desk jobs that are ruining our health.
6/9/15: -- I love this - a split screen video of American Pharoah's recent Belmont (and Triple Crown winning) run, compared to Secretariat's from 1973. SPOILER ALERT: Big Red could've run it backwards and still won.
6/8/15: -- 14 second movie review - Mad Max: Fury Road: I gazed at the screen in slack-jawed awe for the full 90 minutes, Mad Max: Fury Road was just that damn good. Consider my faith in the action movie genere officially restored. And don't look at me like that - Rotten Tomatoes has it at 98%. Clearly I'm not the only one. But there's something else - in Fury Road we finally have an action flick making proper use of 3D. I'm generally a huge skeptic of that particular technology, in the past 4-5 years we've seen it shoddily slathered on top of damn near every blockbuster wannabe for the sole purpose of jacking up ticket prices. But by golly it compliments this one flawlessly. Also worth mentioning: old-school stunt work being done by actual human beings. No green screen, no CGI. It's a rare and beautiful thing these days.

The Verdict: Grab a vat of popcorn, don your goofy 3D specs, and have an ass spankin' night at the movies. Tell Charlize I sent you.


-- We're still paying off Maria's student loans, and will be for quite some time. Or maybe we shouldn't...?

-- She's a wanderer, this doggie of ours. And she loooooves being outdoors. So we painstakingly strung a cable between two trees in the back yard and set her up with a runner. Not ideal, but she seems to appreciate the extra mobility and can find both sunny and shady spots. Maybe when we win the lottery we'll do the invisible fence thing, anyone have any success with it?
6/5/15: -- Long but mesmerizing - set aside some time for Wired's excellent chronicling of Silk Road's rise and fall. Crime fiction at its best... only it's not fiction.
6/4/15: -- I love this recent bit on NPR - don't call it a comeback? Please join me in supporting the ongoing revival of the old-school bookstore. I've read exactly three novels on an eReader, three too many if you ask me.

-- Most days it's the workout that provides the life-saving stress outlet. But some days when there is just so damn much to do that juggling everything around to squeeze in 30 minutes of sweat actually compounds the stress. So what to do? I say walk around. Stretch. Pour a cuppa coffee. Make yourself a mental IOU, because tomorrow you'll need to pay it back and go extra hard. Soldier on.

Just make sure that days like that are the exception, not the rule.


-- Remember that horrific earthquake in Haiti a few years back? Did you donate to the Red Cross? If so, your money was likely squandered on... who knows what? The RC raised half a billion for Haiti and there's little to show for it. Read on...
6/3/15: -- Speaking of the GOT Hardhome episode (see below), here's a behind the scenes peek at how it all came together. Oh, to be one of those sword-wielding undead extras...
6/1/15: -- The Game of Thrones producers usually take one episode per season and blow the entire budget on an epic battle scene. Special effects, crowds of extras, CGI, massive sets, these things cost big bucks. And man did they nail it last night with Hardhome or what? Well worth every dime. I'll be re-watching this evening, it was just that damn good.
5/28/15: -- So my wife recently hosted a wine tasting party for a friend. Here's how it works: a wine savvy rep brings a handful of select varietals to someone's house, where he or she gives tutorials on proper tasting technique, food pairings, storage, etc. Prior to that day I couldn't tell the difference between a $4 cardboard box Merlot and a $175 Pinot Noir from Valle d'Aosta. And I probably still couldn't (but really, why does it matter? Pricey wine is a bunch of BS). But it was fun, and I even got a chance to re-enact this lol-worthy scene from Sideways. We also got a nice discount on a few bottles, since we provided the venue.

Info about Traveling Vineyard can be found here.
5/27/15: -- Well it's settled then... I've eaten my last grape.

-- So dope: Artist uses spilled drinks, condiments, and snacks to create portraits of celebs & historical figures.
5/26/15: -- Aidan's teacher shared a nice update with us the other day. He (Aidan) was at the computer, tasked with writing about his favorite movie. His teacher helped with the first sentence, then turned to help some other kids. When she came back to A he was deep in concentration and still typing away about Wall-e. She let him continue on his own as he'd stop occasionally to recall bits about the movie, then start another sentence:

My favorite movie is wall E. It is mlllt by Disney Pixar. John and Mary walle. Gets the plant for. Later the captain shuts. Auto. For goo d. Then they return to earth the sun ri ses at their new home. Eve for gives her friend wallE. Inside the axiom has Land Eve needs help the captain battles auto inabattle the captain swings auto in abattle wallEcaution rouge robots. mo lands in alive pod it lands. He sees the robots. The light is fix ed they wear helmets in their chairs buyN large wallE fixes the holode tectorit sad luput the. Plant inside rouge robots it said theEnd

A little rough around the edges, but just the fact that he remained focused and on task like that is groundbreaking.


-- This past holiday weekend brought about the first burgers on the deck session, as well as the first lawn mowing. Practically needed a machete! Flirting with 90 degrees today. I guess we're officially hurtling towards summer? Too fast! Slow down! I much prefer a comfortable 75...
5/22/15: -- Date Night last night brought us to the Ridgefield Playhouse to see a Jimmy Buffett tribute band. No, we didn't join the conga line... but we did do the Fins thing with our hands! The band performed acceptable renditions of the usual favorites -- A Pirate Looks at Forty, Fins, Come Monday, Boat Drinks (reminds me of St John!), Cheeseburger in Paradise, Volcano, Changes in Latitudes Changes in Attitudes, and of course Margaritaville (including the so-called lost verse!). Alas they weren't taking requests, I surely would've demanded Havana Daydreamin.

The band is called Changes in Lattitudes, and I'm so booking them for my next birthday.
5/21/15: -- Tiny legs bookmarks to enhance your reading experience.

-- Maria picked up this awesome animal clock at a tag sale someplace. At the top of the hour it roars, hoots, bellows, honks, or calls out whatever applicable sound is up based on the hour hand's location. With Aidan's love of wild animals we thought his bedroom would be a great place for it. Bad idea... the whinnying of the zebra frightened him. So I brought it into the office, and that isn't working out either. See, I host many conference calls, and it's getting awkward explaining the 3PM grunting gorilla sounds to customers.
5/20/15: -- Bob Dylan did a lovely new tune for David Letterman last night... Letterman is on way past my bedtime, but over the years I'd make a point of catching little tidbits here and there. Think I'll DVR tonight's final show, or maybe chug a coffee and stay up to watch it live.

-- Kate, I hope your special day is filled with laughter and wonder.
5/19/15: -- So the president finally got a Twitter account. How was the @POTUS Twitter handle not already taken?
5/18/15: -- Every May the beautiful shrubs (above) flanking the stairway to our back yard blossom brilliantly. Makes me happy! But then after just two weeks the petals drop off and the shrubs are dull once again. Makes me sad.
5/15/15: -- RIP B.B. King. I had the great pleasure of seeing him perform live at the Ives Center about 100 years ago. He was getting up there in years even then, remaining seated with Lucille for much of the show. He kept touring right up 'til October 2014, making his living doing what he loved best and passing away in his sleep. We should all be so blessed.

-- Happy birthday to my father, 53 never looked so good !
5/14/15: -- Speaking of D & D (see yesterday's post), Howard Wolowitz as Dungeon Master doing celebrity impressions is required viewing...
5/13/15: -- You could tell me that there's a better Tumblr than Meanwhile Back in the Dungeon, but I probably wouldn't believe you. Sometimes I really miss D & D...
5/12/15: -- I really like this new Dawes track (man what a dopey video though, eh?). Saw them perform once at LIGFest, before it was *sniff* cancelled.

-- Verizon is buying AOL for $4.4B, and of course the Twitterverse has pounced mercilessly...

-- Wondering how an email with the subject Extra centimeters for her pleasure made it past my spam filter...

-- This bit on Marketplace today made me think of my dear sis, who never lets anyone play with her scissors, errr, shears. Now I see why. She's an artist, and Walmart brand tools just won't (heh) cut it.
5/11/15: -- Guess I've been wasting my time in the gym - dad bods are the new thing.

-- Gave the missus breakfast on the deck yesterday, and the rest of the day off. Hopefully that's what she truly wanted, sometimes a few hours of alone time can be downright therapeutic.

I dragged the boys down to Danbury to see my amazing mom, and her amazing mom as well. I often take for granted how lucky we are to live within spittin' distance of the moms in our lives. Anyway, Happy belated Mother's Day to all you mamas out there. You make an impossible job look easy.

5/8/15: -- Androgynous. Know what? Miley or not, I don't hate this. Joan is still such a badass after all these years.

-- The nest out by the back deck has been vacant for quite some time, last summer it had been home to the meanest mother blue jay you've ever seen. But recently a mama robin has taken up residence (see above). So damn cute. And fortunately she seems more tolerant of visitors, whereas the blue jay would dive bomb your head if you ventured too close.
5/6/15: -- Whoa, check it out: An artificial meniscus might soon be a thing, or alternately there may be a way to trigger the body to grow a new one. So close! I need this today.

-- Been bringing the boys to the Brookfield Dive Shop for some pool time. Problem is they only want to soak in the facility's 90 degree therapeutic pool... Can't really argue with them, it's so heavenly after that frigid lane pool.
5/5/15: -- Another Indiana Jones movie is in the works. I... I... just don't know how I feel about this. Crystal Skull was such a letdown. I just don't know.

-- Cinqo de Mayo is one of those marginal holidays, like St. Patricks Day or New Years Eve, where you feel like you should do something fun but never do. And then you feel depressed about it.

That said, I wouldn't turn down a margarita right now if someone offered one. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

5/4/15: -- Started replacing a meal with Shakeology. I figure post-workout/lunch is the way to go. It wouldn't work for breakfast, since I wake up hungies and you know how I like my cawfee... Why not dinner (the meal that folks most often replace)? I dunno. Guess I have this vision in my head where I sit down with my family over a great meal and we converse with one another about the day, our hopes and dreams, etc... Absurd, I know.

So far so good - I'm not starving, and there's plenty going on at work to keep me from boredom munching. Hey speaking of Shakeology - if you'd like to give it a try, call me. I'm your guy.


-- Well it's not May the 5th, and it's not May the 3rd...
5/1/15: -- Why be dull? Spruce up your desktop with some nifty free wallpapers.

-- Maybe I should've been a boxer? Turns out there's some money to be made.

-- Family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, thieves, vagabonds: all of the contacts in my phone got whacked. I attempted to restore from iCloud, but unfortunately that service is only useful if you're a celebrity with dirty pictures to hide. Kindly text or email me your info if you're so inclined - and yes, I wil require a new mugshot as well.

-- Yes, yes, I've seen it too. The Cosmo article about the woman who ditched her $95K/year job to live on St John is all over the interwebs, and they even interviewed her on the Today Show. Please don't rub it in any more. Stop kicking, I'm already down.
4/29/15: -- Is this true? A Master Lock padlock can be opened sans combo in just a few tries?

-- Oh I love this. An open letter to the mom who went apesh*t on her rioting son in Baltimore (if you're the one person who hasn't seen the clip, go here). Old-school parenting FTW !
4/28/15: -- Maria was in a fender bender yesterday. Nobody's hurt, thankfully, but the Element's hood is pushed in to resemble a beautiful blue undulating wave, frozen in time. The body shop needed a crowbar to open it up and examine the guts, never a good sign...

-- Sick. Sick and miserable. Where's Friday when I need it?
4/25/15: -- Wow. After all these years Dooce is calling it quits. More or less. It sounds like she has a ton of other stuff going on. But still... it's the end of an era, really, I mean how many of the old-school power bloggers are left? Folks have been declaring that blogging is dying for years now, is Heather's retirement the final nail in the coffin?

It's a sad state of affairs. Remember the days? There were five or six sites on your favorites bar that you absolutely could not wait to hit every day. But nowadays it feels like no one wants to read anything. It's far easier to scroll FB, "Like" something nifty, scroll on. Rattle off a snarky comment, add applicable hashtag, click Tweet, scroll on. Share articles knowing full well that only the first paragraph will be read. Not judging, mind you, it's just the times we live in. Video killed the radio star. Social Media and clickbait killed the blog.

4/24/15: -- Have some Kyle Korver with 11 points in about a minute, all the while rockin' the Hannibal Lecter broken nose facemask.
4/23/15: -- 11 Second Book Review: Deadly Nightshade: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery by Cynthia Riggs. A charming if somewhat forgettable whodunnit set on our beloved Martha's Vineyard Island. The references to various landmarks brought back countless fond memories of vacations past. The 92-year old protagonist is just likable enough to possibly warrant a look at the next novel in the series... apparently there's a gaggle of 'em, all set on the Vineyard and all named after local fauna. Light, breezy reading for a lazy afternoon on Wasque.
4/22/15: -- If you ever have the opportunity to dine at the Mark Joseph Steakhouse in NYC, I highly recommend the Canadian Bacon appetizer. LAWD HAVE MERCY I can't stop thinking about it.

-- My loyal jl dot com'ers (all three of you) may have noticed that this site went dark for a few hours yesterday, and I found myself locked out of email as well. Forgot to pay the bill, whoopsie! But still, hosting company which shall remain nameless... I've been a loyal customer for how many years? There are a ton of hosting options out there...

-- Spent yesterday in NYC inside a very tall building. To the folks that see it every day it's old hat, but for me that view never fails to dazzle.
4/17/15: -- Jake's cheeks have taken on a pomegranate-like hue of late, and his legs have an odd rash as well. We have determined that the most likely cause is our recent switch to Gain detergent, which we promptly stopped using. Turns out we're not the only ones. We'll see how he looks tomorrow. Anyone else had a similar experience?

-- On the heels of yesterday's Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer comes today's Star Wars Battlefront reveal trailer. This game will be amazing, suffice to say I'll be calling out sick on November 17th.

-- Curry for three.

-- I love me some Shaun T workouts, but I might pass on Cize... Or perhaps I'll try it at home with the lights off, shades drawn and no one else around. Two left feet! Though it does kinda look fun...
4/16/15: -- New Star Wars trailer! New Star Wars trailer! New Star Wars trailer! Oh here's the link, by the way. Chewie, we're home.
4/15/15: -- As I posted last tax day (I think), here is Donald Rumsfeld's annual letter to the IRS. I just love it because it sums up my (and no doubt countless other folks') frustration with the entire process - the fact that the forms and requirements are confusing enough to warrant us needing to pay someone big bucks to file for us every year, well, it's just absurd.
4/14/15: -- Fear not, fellow Block Islanders - contrary to rumor, the legendary Spring House webcams are still very much alive and operational at this new URL. I keep the North View open in a browser window every day!

-- Chess grandmaster caught cheating with an iPhone app during a major tournament. Tsk tsk...
4/13/15: -- The beautiful weather is back, but so are the ticks. Yesterday I yanked one out of my left pectoral, and another out of Jake's right buttock. Long pants, folks! And check yourselves every day!

-- Happy 99th to the wisest woman I've ever met (or will ever meet for that matter). Nanclyn, you're the original Cookie Person and we love you so. Have a great day!
4/9/15: -- In defense of Aldi. Gotta admit, the place is growing on me...

-- This lone daffodil pictured here is the only thing I've ever planted that actually comes back every year. He just started peeking through the dead leaves, does this mean that spring has actually sprung?
4/8/15: -- Apparently CT ticks are now carrying a non-treatable (and sometimes fatal) virus. I'm not leaving the house this summer...

-- Just a few more days 'til Thrones Season 5 gets underway!!!! To bring you up to date, here's that Gawker who's doing what video that's been making the rounds.
4/8/15: -- Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (actor James Best) has died, one of the voices of my childhood that I'll always fondly remember. In grade school I absolutely lived for The Dukes of Hazzard. Ah, simpler times...

-- Please join me in supporting the upcoming De La Soul album. Dying to hear what they'll come up with.

-- Don't worry, we didn't get another dog. Magnus, the lovable big galoot pictured here, belongs to some friends of ours. He and Luna are becoming besties!
4/7/15: -- Caught the last 15 minutes of Jakey's Tae Kwon Do class last night. I witnessed him do the following:

- Sit at attention with good posture
- Reply to instruction with an enthusiastic Yes Sir! and hurry to the center of the dojo when instructed
- Kick, punch, crouch, lunge, and holler out loud - I! CAN! DO! IT! with each movement
- Hustle around and work up a sweat

These things really happened. This boy of mine, whose ideal day would be 12 straight hours of video games with occasional pauses for sugary snacks... I saw him do these things, I tell you I saw him with my own eyes.

4/6/15: -- I watch the Friends Furever commercial whenever I'm feeling down, there is no greater pick me up. That baby rhino! Weird that this is a smartphone commercial though. Maybe these animals are Android users?

-- Yikes, you see this story? An entire family was poisoned by pesticides while vacationing on our beloved St. John...

-- In preparation for this Sunday's GOT Season 5 kickoff, you really need to review this illustrated guide to all 456 deaths so far. Excellent work!
4/3/15: -- Awesome People Hanging Out Together is a Tumblr blog devoted to, well, you know...
4/2/15: -- Coloring books: not just for kids!

-- Marketplace is doing a series asking people to describe a "transaction that changed your life." This one about a kid and a guitar is just beautiful.

-- Many people with Autism experience sensory overload in certain everyday situations. Here's a collection of overload simulations to give you an idea of what that's like. I need to lie down.

-- Today is World Autism Awareness Day! Hope you're rockin' something blue.
4/1/15: -- Bomb threat called into New Milford High School has prompted an early dismissal. Great April Fools joke, you silly pranksters! *SIGH*

What is WRONG with you people...?

3/31/15: -- Ok can we talk about the new Mad Max: Fury Road trailer? Holy wow.

-- Did I read this correctly? Might we hit 65 degrees on Friday? A rainy 65, but we'll take it. Those days are coming, I can feel it - that first weekend of blue skies and 70's. We'll blow the dust off the grill and do burgers on the deck. If you're reading this, consider yourself invited.

-- Hobbiton exists. And I need to go there. Today.
3/30/15: -- Jake's slumber party was every bit as chaotic as you'd expect, in fact it's two days later my hearing still hasn't recovered. But we pulled it off, and I think the kid had a happy 9th. Would we do it again? I dunno. Maybe smaller scale next year - trim it down to just his two besties. We certainly prefer having kids over at the house as opposed to shelling out big bucks for a cookie-cutter party at Stew Leonards, a mini golf place, Chuck E Cheese, or the like. We've been to too many of those parties and they're absolutely dreadful.
3/27/15: -- Patting myself on the back with weary limbs for having completed two months of Insanity Max:30. No I don't look anything like the chiseled, spandex'ed gods in the infomercial. But my vitals are good, and at this stage of the game isn't that what counts?

Think I'll do another round, I wanna get my BPM so low that I can feign death. Like Storm Shadow.


-- It's official: Season 6 of Downton Abbey will indeed be its last.
3/26/15: -- Bringing Jakey to DinerLuxe tonight to celebrate his 9th b-day. And then this weekend he's having a gaggle of giggling geeky gamers over for a slumber party. Minecraft 'til dawn! Someone please bring me Advil.
3/25/15: -- Here are a few common plumbing projects that anyone - even a bonehead like myself - can do without calling the plumber and dropping $140/hour.

-- New Entourage trailer. Yep.

-- Artist collaborates with her two-year-old daughter with dazzling results. I just can't stop looking at these. That angry elephant!
3/24/15: -- Is it time to start freaking out about AI? Woz seems to think so.
3/23/15: -- NBA guard extraordinaire Steve Nash is hanging up his high tops, and his retirement letter is classy and quietly sensational - just like the man himself. How's this for a career: eight All-Star games, three times being named first-team All-NBA, and twice(!) winning the NBA's MVP award. Not bad for a short white guy from Canada.

-- So here's a 52-year-old Tom Cruise hanging outside of an airplane in the new Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation trailer. He gives hope to dudes of a certain age who may or may not find themselves slowing down a bit...

-- Photographs of kids and their parents at the same age. I absolutely love this. Genes are funny, eh?

-- I can't count how many white knuckles on the steering wheel 20mph skidding sideways commutes we've endured this winter, was Friday the last one?
3/20/15: -- Godfrey, our beloved betta fish, appears to be on his last legs. I estimate he's about three years old, and from what I've read that's a decent haul for his species. Still sad though.
3/19/15: -- I Pity the Tool will be required viewing. Does Mr. T even age?
3/18/15: -- The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - a tricky title, when you think about it. Does "Second" refer to the film itself, as of course it is a sequel? Or does it refer to some "Second" hotel that's every bit as marvelous as the first one? Or maybe there's a "Second" hotel which - while great - is still only "Second Best"?

Ok let's not overthink this. Just see it (I advise Netflicking the first one beforehand), and I'll refund your money if you don't leave the theater grinning. It's feel good at its feel goodest. You've got Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, two great ladies still at the top of their games. Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, and Penelope Wilton are predictably terrific as well. Dev Patel oozes energy & charisma, and Tina Desai as his fiancee is achingly gorgeous. I'm sure a critic could pick this thing apart and find the myriad plotlines devoid of any real substance. But instead I recommend bringing your mom and grandma for a charm-filled afternoon (that's what I did!). There's no better present than the time.


-- Will Apple throw its hat into the cord cutting ring and offer an online TV service of its own? Oh how good it will feel to stick it to the big cable companies.
3/17/15: -- So this Mars thing is real. A privately held company is accepting applications from folks willing to be among the first human inhabitants. Keep in mind that this is a ONE WAY trip. It would take you seven months to reach the Red Planet, and then you would spend the rest of your existence wearing a space suit. In extremely cramped living conditions. Looking out the window at rocks. Red rocks. And dust.

Tempted?


-- St. Patty's Day. I do not know why, but every year on this festive Irish holiday our family tries to get each other's "Patrick's Pot" on one another. Most years I ignore early morning phone calls on March 17th, though this year I was in fact "Potted" via voicemail. Is that even legal? Anyway, no matter where you come from just remember that you're IRISH today. Chug a pint and be happy.
3/16/15: -- Here's a shot of Jakey and his Pack 66 cohorts receiving their Pinewood Derby trophies recently.
3/13/15: -- Shortly after Honey passed I asked Jake to draw a scene with all of us together at the place where she was happiest (pictured here). I think that's Carlson's Grove, a stone's throw from our house and an ideal place for a doggy hike.
3/12/15: -- Photos from the set of Spectre, the next Bond film, have been floating around the internet. Here's an extremely thorough analysis of Daniel Craig's suit. Can we all agree that his jackets were way too tight in Skyfall?

-- Wow. If trailers are to be believed, the upcoming Kurt Cobain documentary will be amazing.

-- Folks be askin' me what I think of Apple Watch... you all know I'm an Apple guy, yes, but one thing I am not is a watch guy. It looks geeky brilliant, and I certainly wouldn't kick one out of bed for eatin' crackers. It's just not something I'd drop big bucks on.

-- Even if you're not an NBA fan you'll find plenty to chuckle about in the most recent edition of Shaqtin a Fool, a weekly compilation of hoops hijinks, basketball blunders, and general idiocy (#4 Heinrich Maneuver, nyuk nyuk).

-- In addition to the aforementioned swim classes we've enrolled Jakey at a local Tae Kwon Do academy. So far he loves it! After his first session I received a front kick to the balls as a demonstration of his fervor.
3/11/15: -- Meet Smiley. Prepare to cry.
3/9/15: -- Well well well, the rumors were true. HBO is officially offering a standalone streaming service. So I can "cut the cord" (cancel overpriced Frontier uVerse TV) and still get my GOT fix. It's a great day to be alive...

-- Weird Al leads a choir of children with autism to perform 'Yoda'... Move him up two notches on my list.
3/6/15: -- 13 Second Book Review: My Life in France by Julia Child might seem like an odd choice for me, given that I can hardly boil and egg. But what an absolute delight to read. There's the food, of course. Meals are described that you'd gladly give up years of your life to have been a part of. And the fascinating evolution of Mastering the Art of French Cooking is chronicled in great detail, as is the origin of The French Chef. Ah but those are just tidbits, les restes de table if you will. This woman had such a remarkable life, and her writing sparkles like that warbling voice we know so well. Recommended.

-- How have I never heard about this Tumblr page dedicated to Star Wars villains?

-- Indy Jones can't catch a break these days, first there was his recent injury on the new Star Wars movie set, and now this. He's a tough ol' bastard, that's for sure.
3/5/15: -- More snow last night. Will this misery ever end? Another day off for the kids, at this rate they'll be in school straight though August... But hey they're calling for consecutive days in the 40's for early next week. Are we finally turning a corner?
3/4/15: -- Picked up this pack of extremely badass Batman postage stamps, seems such a shame to wasted them on stupid ol' bills.

-- Aidan's new thing is to stuff objects up his nose, and last night we almost had to drag him to the ER. He had jammed what appeared to be a wad of bread waaaaaaay up there. He was hysterical and of course would not sit still for an extraction. Out of desperation we tossed small handfuls of pepper in his face, which eventually did the trick - his powerful sneeze blasted the object free. Oh my jangled nerves...

-- Sad to learn that New Milford Volkswagen will be closing its doors after six decades. What a shame. I've driven by that dealership every day for years (ditched the car there last night as a matter of fact - couldn't make it up our icy hill!), always thinking our next vehicle purchase would be a Golf or Jetta from them. Or better yet, a GTI. Never happened of course, but it was fun to think about.

-- Here's the story behind the weasel on woodpecker photo that blew up the Internet yesterday. What a shot! Admit it - when you first saw the photo you wanted SO MUCH to believe they were were BFFs, and that Mr. Weasel was just catching a ride.
3/3/15: -- Quite possibly the single best exercise advice I've ever read. And I've read it all. This one seems geared towards women (Put down the pink dumbbell), but heck, the principles - Lift. Move. Regularly. - are universal. It's simple:

1. Strengthen your muscles with weights - weights heavy enough to challenge you. Increase the load over time.
2. Get your heart thumping, and keep it thumping for 20 minutes at a clip. Do this 3x per week at least.
3. Do these things consistently.

That's it! Now off you go.


-- I mentioned my idea of scamming the scammers back on 2/25 (scroll down), it looks like someone has beat me to the punch. Absolutely beautiful.

-- "Free Range" parents officially charged with unsubstantiated child neglect. The crime? Allowing their kids to walk home from a nearby park. All by themselves.

Oh how times have changed. My mother would be serving multiple life sentences in prison! How has it come to this? I simply do not understand. The coddling, the helicopter parenting... we're doing irreparable damage to our kids.

3/2/15: -- My man MJ joins the list of the richest folks in the world. Which is as it should be.
2/27/15: -- Was feeling smug in the certainty that I'd make it all the way through this horrible winter without getting sick, but alas it wasn't meant to be. Nasty head cold has me honking my nose and glopping Vick's under my nostrils by night... drat ! It's those damn kids, they're like little petri dishes.

-- Apple is officially worth twice as much as Exxon. It still blows my mind that everyone was predicting its demise in the late nineties, which in the grand scheme of things wasn't so long ago.

-- Twitter is ablaze with tributes and kind words for/about Nimoy (hashtag #LLAP, for Live Long and Prosper... but you already knew that). From @WilliamShatner: "I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love."

-- RIP Leonard Nimoy. This scene from Wrath of Khan - which to this day still puts a lump in my throat - seems appropriate.
2/26/15: -- Net Neutrality lives on... for now.

-- Well, it's official: Jake is enrolled in Saturday afternoon swim classes starting 3/7. And by golly he's going to participate, even if I have to jump in the damn pool and shove him along like a tugboat.
2/25/15: -- Got a call from the tech support scammers that have been bothering my dear grandmother and, I've read, countless others. Basically the call comes in and a gentleman explains that he is Microsoft certified and works for so-and-so, and that they have detected malware on your computer. He then asks you to get on your computer so he could presumably talk you through the fix, which likely would consist of some bogus scans while he installs malware/spyware of his own. Eventually, of course, he would try to get a credit card number for his hard work. I didn't have time to speak with him that day, but I'm hoping for a call back so I can play dumb and really mess with his head. I've got an idea or two...
2/24/15: -- "Here's my jaw... drop it." The one episode of TBBT that I wish I could un-see... Amy has forever ruined Raiders of the Lost Ark for me.
2/23/15: -- Oscars last night. Having not seen a single one of the contenders, my interest was casual at best this time around. Certainly not worth missing Downton Abbey, that's for sure. From the tidbits I watched and from what I've read online today, the whole thing was a bit lackluster. The usually exceptional NPH was off his game. The night dragged on and on. No one ordered pizza. Laughs were scarce. Joan Rivers was snubbed. And so on.

There were however two standout moments that salvaged the night: First - Graham Moore's Best Adapted Screenplay (The Imitation Game) acceptance speech, which caught me off guard without any tissues handy. Then there was Lady Gaga's Sound of Music medley, holy wow. Who knew so much talent lurked beneath all those brainless pop tunes and wacky dresses? Extraordinary.


-- It was a Medieval knight-themed weekend for Aidan's eleventh(!) birthday. On Saturday afternoon we witnessed jousting, swordplay, falconry, chivalry, and stellar horsemanship on full display at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. Folks, this is a neat place for a birthday party or whatever, however we don't recommend making that drive up and down the NJ Turnpike in a snowstorm...

Last night we had some peeps over for pizza, cake and cawfee. Maria had painstakingly assembled a sinfully chocolatey cake in the shape of a castle, a castle whose defenses we were all too happy to breach. All told I think our little guy had fun. Good lord is he really eleven?

2/20/15: -- The proprietor of Relay Bookhouse kept apologizing for the mess, telling me he meant to tidy up earlier that day but hadn't found the time. I told him it would be heresy to clean up such a gem of a shop, and assured him that the unkempt stacks only add to the charm - not to mention the thrill of the hunt. There is but one gripe - it was damn cold in there when we visited last weekend, if they have heat it was most assuredly OFF. So my digits were numb after just 15 minutes of browsing and sifting. Yes we WILL be back if ever it warms up around here.

You see photographs of bookshops like this one, but I've always assumed they're only found in the great cities of the world. But in fact we need only trek down to little ol' Bethel, CT.

2/19/15: -- Luna update: Teddy is slowly warming up to her (shamelessly cute pic here). I even caught them playing together once or twice. Most of the time he snarls her away for being a pain in the arse (which she is), but I can see them eventually becoming pals.

Training is slow going. She'll sit, usually, but that's the easy one. Coming when called, well, let's call it a work in progress. Honestly I don't remember how to do any of this training stuff. With Honey it was so easy - I remember asking her once or twice to respond to our commands, to which she politely responded "Sure, no problem." And that was it. Seldom if ever did she need to be leashed (Leash? What the heck is a leash???), even out in public. I'd love to achieve that level of trust and with L-Dawg, but it won't come easy. And right now with mountains of snow in our yard and subzero temps, outdoor training sessions are on hold. Potty training - she knows to go outside, and is aware that we strongly prefer she go outside, but... another work in progress.

All that aside she's been a source of many smiles during these bleak days. That face, that sweet sweet face. And she cuddles like a pro. Makes me sad that puppydom is passing so fast, we won't be able to pick her up for much longer.

2/18/15: -- Wondering what to do with that tax refund? Read on.

-- Our cat Madeline (aka Beetsy) caught a rodent last night. Even at her advanced age she remains a terrific mouser. She was tormenting the poor thing, batting it around the hallway as it squeaked in terror and scrambled to get away. Enough was enough, I shooed Beetsy aside and trapped the little gray critter under a tupperware dish.

For a full five minutes I sat unsure of what to do. Toss it outside, where it would slowly freeze to death? It was injured and presumably suffering, should I find a way to ease its passing? I wimped out and stuck it in a tall jar we sometimes use as a fish bowl. Whatever happened at least it would be warm and safe for the night. I sealed the jar top with foil and a rubber band, poking a few air holes for good measure.

Now this is one tall jar - I'm talking two feet or so. When used as a vase, long stemmed flowers barely peek out the top. But I'll be damned, the little varmint pulled a Harry Houdini during the night. It must've made one hell of a leap, then latched on to the foil and ripped its way to freedom.

Next time I'll let the damn cat have her way with him.


-- Required reading for married people. No seriously, read it right now, start to finish.
2/17/15: -- Ok so maybe basketball isn't Jake's thing (scroll down to 2/13 post). He did attend both days of camp, so there's that. But I'm told he mostly just dragged around feeling sorry for himself, barely cracking a sweat. In his defense, there apparently was a handful of super competitive kids in his group with lots of hoop experience, and we all know how cruel kids can be... But on the other hand, isn't that how life is? There will be people who are better than you. And they may not be so nice. Show up and do your best.

The only sport/recreational activity I've ever seen him enjoy and apply himself to is swimming, so we're reaching out to Brookfield Aquatic Club to see what they offer.

Our dream is that he finds something, anything, that will get him active and healthy. Something he actually enjoys, as opposed to us dragging him kicking and screaming. And by no means does it need to be hoops, just because I happen to love it so - you'll never see me being one of those jerk dads keeping a kid shooting foul shots past 10PM in the driveway, depriving him of dinner 'til he makes ten in a row. It can be anything (just not bowling!). There's so much value and joy to be had by participating in sports, and if he needs a kick in the pants to get involved, so be it.


-- How on earth did I miss that Stevie Wonder tribute last night? Here's Beyonce, Ed Sheeran (whom I normally can't stand, but here he redeems himself), and the great Gary Clark Jr. doing an insane medley of Wonder hits from "Songs in the Key of Life."

-- Medieval longsword fighting is becoming a thing. Sign me up!
2/16/15: -- I'm about 3/4 of the way through Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, and I'm finding it absolutely fascinating and worthwhile. Or if you can't be bothered, I'll paraphrase from page 173:

When there is no way of knowing exactly how long our skeins will run--and when we imagine ourselves to have much more time than we do--our every impulse is to fight, to die with chemo in our veins or a tube in our throats or fresh sutures in our flesh. The fact that we may be shortening or worsening the time we have left hardly seems to register.

Modern medicine has come so far in such a relatively short period of time. And yet when it comes to dealing with aging and mortality, the system fails us spectacularly. Gawande - himself a noted surgeon and man of letters - doesn't just rant, he cites actual examples and points to real solutions that have already been proven beyond a doubt in the field. The book is well researched and beautifully written, though sometimes agonizing to read. But you owe it to yourself, and to the people in your life, to pick it up and listen to this voice of reason.


-- Apparently Johnny Cash was one romantic mofo.

-- During that polar vortex nonsense last winter I recall wondering out loud if that was the coldest we had ever been in our lives. But these past few days make that seem like a week in the Maldives...

Dragging the trash can to the end of the driveway the other night - bundled up like a Hoth native yet still shivering uncontrollably - I kept thinking how magical it will be to lug that same can down that same driveway in a few months' time, clad in just shorts and a tee shirt, that cacophony of peepers and critters will sound sweeter than any music.

2/13/15: -- Speaking of calorie burn (see below), month #1 of Insanity: Max30 is in the books. These workouts are almost comically difficult, and month #2 looks even worse. But you know what? You can do anything for 30 minutes. Even an old fogey like me.

-- The boys have Monday and Tuesday off, so I went ahead and signed Jakey up for a two day basketball camp at CSA. He doesn't even know yet, this is gonna be great - the booming AW COME ON!! when he learns he'll have to log out of Minecraft and actually burn a few calories. Muwahahahahahahahahah!
2/12/15: -- Short on time, but I wanted to quickly rattle off a few brief Luna observations after two days with her:

- Cute as heck.
- A bit standoffish. Spends most of the time chillin' on the sofa, just kinda taking it all in.
- Wants badly to play with Teddy, who so far is having none of it.
- Is very much a puppy. Hide the shoes!
- Sleeps well. Pees a gallon at a time and poops like a 350lb man.
- Has massive paws, which I suppose means she'll one day be quite large.

More to come!


-- So here's what's wrong with modern action movies. Absolutely spot-on. And I love the appreciation shown for Raiders, the original Matrix, Jackie Chan, and yes - even Tom Cruise. Say what you will about Cruise and his apparent off-screen wackiness, he's a terrific action hero whom you can't help but respect for doing his own stunts. Come on, that Burj Khlifa scene in MI: Ghost Protocol? Are you kidding me?

-- The Fifty Shades film reviews are trickling in, and so far it sounds every bit as awful as you'd expect. But of course that won't stop it from raking in trillions. Mrs. Leo will be seeing it tomorrow night with some girlfriends, and I'm actually supporting her in this in hopes of reaping the benefits later on that evening... though from what I hear, even the juicy scenes that made the book so famous are underwhelming in the movie.
2/11/15: -- Honey is irreplaceable. In five lifetimes you wouldn't find another like her. So I confess when the missus started looking around local shelters for a pup, I had serious reservations - it's too soon, it's disrespectful to H, we're not ready, and so on. Yet I couldn't deny that something needed to be done for Teddy, who has been near suicidal sitting home alone since H passed. Enter Luna (named after the glorious full moon in the sky the evening Maria met her), above. A Swiss Mountain Dog mix who apparently was rescued from a "kill" shelter down south. Last night was her first sleepover, more to follow...
2/9/15: -- Sheldon agonizing between PS4 and XBox One is just what I needed to cheer me up on this dreary Monday. We've really grown to love The Big Bang Theory in recent weeks.

-- Rap star Iggy Azalea vs Papa John's Pizza. Yeah, slow news day...

-- This winter, this horrible winter. It's testing our resolve... and we're only at the halfway point. Spring will seem all the sweeter, right? RIGHT ??
2/6/15: -- Tipping for coffee... are you doing it wrong?
2/4/15: -- If you're looking for me I'll be in my freezing cold cryptotherapy machine, shocking my bodily systems into wellness. -264 degrees Fahrenheit, what could possibly go wrong?

-- RIP Radio Shack. Now where will we go to spend $24.95 on 10' of coax cable???

-- Pets as babies and grownups. I'm smiling, and I suspect you are as well. That turtle!
2/2/15: -- Darn good Bowl, eh? I mean any time the outcome is decided by the final play with the clock winding down, well... And can we talk about that play? Millimeters from the goal with a down to spare, Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch is having a stellar game. Logic dictates you give him the pill, yes? He's built like Adonis and quick as a cobra, even on a broken play he can lower his shoulder and get you 3-5 yards... so Seahawks coach Pete Carroll inexplicably calls for a short pass??? Pats intercept and that's that.

On to the halftime show. I suppose Katy Perry was a safe choice for this sort of thing. And I'll grudgingly admit that the lion automaton thing she rode out on was pretty neat (but an AT-AT would've been better!). Missy Elliot showing up definitely upped the overall coolness quotient, no doubt a new album is forthcoming. And to the delight of my wife, the oddly age-defying Lenny Kravitz performed for all of 29 seconds as well. Why so little time for a bona fide rock star?? Well I heard a theory on the radio this morning that totally makes sense: Lenny sang exactly one verse of the Katy Perry hit I Kissed a Girl, a song about a young woman dabbling in *gasp* lesbianism. So why not have Lenny (a man who has no doubt kissed his fair share of girls) handle the juiciest verse? God forbid the league allow something as unwholesome as homosexuality to sneak into the halftime entertainment. Shame on you, NFL.

Last but not least, the commercials - usually the reason I tune into the game in the first place. But for much of the time I was multitasking - chores, fiddling with (and cursing at) the pellet stove, etc. So I only caught tidbits here and there, and none were remarkable enough to warrant my usual post-Bowl snark. I remember the damn Budweiser puppy, Pierce Brosnan looking handsome and Bond-ish as ever for Kia, people dancing & jiggling around for Crazy Glue, and more than one depressing bit with lame dads. Or something like that. Anyway, here they are. Your thoughts?

1/30/15: -- Another pick-me-up: owl portraits ! (via Kottke). Have I ever mentioned that owls make me happy?

Also, no plans for tomorrow morning (secretly glad that 6AM hoops is cancelled). So tonight I can stay up late eating bad food, drinking a bad drink, and deactivating my brain for Banshee. Guilty pleasure doesn't get much guiltier.


-- A much needed pick-me-up: GOT Season 5 trailer.
1/29/15: -- I'll be nagging my wife to create a tear jerker Honey video for FB. Consider yourselves warned.
1/28/15: -- Honey Roux (Dec 10, 2007 - Jan 28, 2015): Because I specialize in morbid thoughts, I used to look at Honey and imagine how difficult it would be to one day lose her. Then I'd smile with the knowledge that we could kick that can down the road, tabling that particular conversation for another 5-6 years. You always assume there's more time. Until there isn't.

Maybe it was selfish of us to hope her appetite would return over the past ten days, and somehow she'd find comfort. It just never happened. And yesterday she'd taken a turn for the worse, going into what I guess could be described as "respiratory distress". It became clear that her body was quitting on her.

So the adventure ended on a metal table in the middle of the night. Our vet, whom I respect very much, agreed to get out of bed and brave the miserable cold to open up shop. She prepped the injection - some pink stuff (Pepto Bismol! Oh the odd & comical thoughts that stream through our brains during a crisis...) - basically an overdose of a sedative. The labored breathing slowed, then stopped, and our girl was relaxed and at peace once again.

I was swirly-stroking her ears as she passed, she always loved that particular maneuver. I'd mastered it over the years. The vet mercifully left the room, so I kept on swirling. Swirling and whispering. Seeing H like that - serene and graceful, but yes - lifeless - was the strangest thing. There she was, but there she wasn't. One last kiss on that beautiful forehead, ok maybe one more.

Goodbye.

1/27/15: -- In anticipation of power loss we hunkered down at my office last night to wait out Snowmageddon 2105. The boys were in geek heaven, lightening-fast internet for their handheld electronic devices and not much else to do. But so far this just hasn't been the cataclysmic event that had weathermen panicking, though I'm told MA and RI took a pounding. Just windy and nasty cold here. Travel ban is being lifted for CT, maybe a few hours more and the fam can get the heck outta Dodge.
1/26/15: -- Finally dragged mother out for a belated Mexican birthday feast at Agave. Darn good food. Guac to die for. Only disappointment was the coffee, which tasted like warm water with a brown crayon dipped in it. That aside this restaurant comes highly recommended.
1/24/15: -- Hey Mandy... call me.
1/23/15: -- Billy Bob Thornton of all people made a cameo last night on The Big Bang Theory, and you know what? He was pretty damn funny.
1/22/15: -- So we have entered the complicated part of the program, the part where we repeatedly ask ourselves when the difficult decision becomes the right decision. No two situations are alike, of course, but sooner or later almost every dog/cat owner will agonize with this same indecision.

What is H's status? Lethargic, sleepy, but seemingly relaxed at times. Uncomfortable one minute, normal the next. She slept like a log last night. The major issue now is her complete lack of appetite, likely due to the antibiotics. Up 'til now it's been Doxycycline, which has a reputation for wreaking havoc on the stomach of dogs and humans alike. Tonight we switch to Amoxicillin, a milder option.

But what's the overall goal here? Google around and you'll find oodles of clinical mumbo jumbo and dog owner stories about Lyme Nephritis. It's bad news across the board. We have no unrealistic expectations here, and we adore her too much to drag her through hell if she's in constant pain. But to get her eating, cook up some of her favorite dishes... maybe bring her to a few special places where she can be herself again, even for a little while... Well I think she'd appreciate that.

A line from an absolutely terrific novel I just finished (review pending!): It ends, sooner or later. You love, you lose. That's the trade.

1/21/15: -- Watched bits and pieces of last night's State of the Union address. I always marvel at the childishness - every emphatic, blustery talking point has the Dems leaping to their feet with raucous applause, while the Repubs sit grumpy-faced (reverse that when there's a Republican prez). A room full of 11-year olds.

-- H update: appetite is down a bit, likely the meds don't play nice with her stomach. But we have ways of getting her to eat (cue in evil laughter). We're skipping dog food in favor of chicken, rice, hamburger, and even baby food. She is drinking more, and seems to enjoy getting outside. Taking it day by day, making sure she is comfortable and has everything she needs.
1/19/15: -- Also for MLK Day, head over to the Apple homepage to see a nice tribute. Although apparently Apple employees don't get the day off, hmmmm...

-- Found this bouncing around on MLK Day, I never knew that the FBI anonymously sent a threatening note to Dr. King, read here. Shameful.

-- H is home with us, and we're doing our best to keep her warm and comfy. If her time is running short, we don't want her spending it in a crate at the animal hospital. She's eating, drinking, and sleeping reasonably well, and we're getting her outside as much as possible.

Everyone has been amazing (and as much as I mock FB, it's great for situations like this) - sending well wishes, posting photos, and so on. And as any pet owner knows, vet bills for an ailing furry friend can be crippling. But people have stepped it up in a huge way... guys you have no idea how grateful we are.

I feel terrible that in all the hubbub, dear Mother's b-day came and went on Saturday. I guess we can kind of blame icemageddon as well. Mother, we are having auxiliary birthday next weekend, you won't get off that easily!

1/16/15: -- By now you've probably heard via FB that our Honey is at the vet with kidney issues arising from Lyme Disease. Any happy thoughts, prayers and positive vibes you can send our way are appreciated. We'll of course keep everyone posted.
1/15/15: -- Il Timpano... "It's so f*cking good I should kill you." Perhaps my favorite scene of any movie, ever.
1/14/15: -- The real story behind that naughty book Lady Mary was referring to in last Sunday's Downton. Spoilers, obvi.

-- If you get me this bottle opener I'll never ask anything of you ever again...

-- All that glitters... Everybody's talking about the new service that anonymously mails glitter to your enemies. Nifty idea, but this seems like trouble... some idiot will mistake it for anthrax or ricin, call 911, etc.

-- Eye-opening story in Slate this morning about youth football and the potential long term effects on the noggin. I played during my senior year of high school, and though I saw little in-game action I did get my "bell rung" a few times in practice. It's genuinely terrifying - everything goes quiet, and you enter an almost out of body dream-like sequence for a few seconds. I might've rambled something nonsensical. Does that mean my brain moved?

Fortunately my boys aren't exactly *ahem* Varsity material, so we won't need to worry about football concussions.

1/13/15: -- In honor of Davie Bowie's recent birthday, some brilliant person has compiled an animated gif of every Bowie hairdo. Now close your browser, you'll find nothing else even remotely close to that level of awesomeness today.
1/12/15: -- Unfathomably gorgeous dreamlike images by artist Murat Turan.

-- Somebody just called my cell with the you owe the IRS scam. Clowns.

-- TOLD you guys that Fargo was damn good!
1/8/15: -- Earthquake in eastern CT? That's it, I'm moving to LA...

-- Tried the first Insanity Max:30 workout yesterday, and yeah - it's even worse than the commercial makes it seem. Or maybe I'm just getting too old for this sh*t...

-- Coldest day of your life? Think about it, it just might be.
1/6/15: -- Winter in New England... I guess this is what we signed up for. The joy that is September/October makes us forget the frigid misery that makes up the bulk of the year.
1/5/15: -- The return of Downton Abbey can certainly help alleviate post-holiday blues, even if Season 5 Episode 1 was kinda "meh"... I mean honestly, are there any storylines that we actually care about other than Lady Mary potentially shagging Tony Gillingham? But somehow it never matters with this show - through thrilling episodes or boring, we the fans simply cannot stop.
1/3/15: -- Following up to yesterday's doom and gloom, at least there's some good news - the faulty car part (oil pressure modulator guacamole switch sensor) **might** be covered under warranty. So yay! The pellet stove, not so much. The guy can't come out until Thursday, and that ain't gonna be cheap. In the interim we're relying solely on baseboard electric, doesn't this coincide nicely with CL&P's arbitrary rate hike?

Ok I'll stop whining now. My inner optimist reminds me how lucky we are for getting all 2015's bad stuff over with right at the beginning... Yeah that's it.

1/2/15: -- Let's start off 2015 on the right track, first Maria's car dies and now he pellet stove. Wake me up in the spring, I'm finding a cave and hibernating.
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