jesse leo dot com - 2014 edition
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E-moi: jesse at (duh)
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4/18/14: -- They're back! Mom and the boys spent this past Spring Break week in Atlantic City at GMa and GPa's timeshare - such a better way to pass the time than putzing around the house staring at electronic mobile devices. So yeah, I've been a swingin' bachelor all week! It was nice and quiet, though not as relaxing as one might think. Every night after work I'd have to sprint home to let the doggies out (eight hours of 'holding it' is asking a lot of them), and then on to assorted chores. I really wanted to finish painting Jakey's room and clean up a bit before everyone got home. And yeah - I missed them. No, really! They were all smiles in the Facebook posts and photos, and it looks like they had a blast. Though Mom no doubt needs a vacation from their vacation. I resolve to give her a break this weekend whenever possible.

-- Start your Good Friday off properly with a collection of odd or unnecessary quotation marks. The captions are LOL-worthy for sure.
4/17/14: -- Kudos to Donald Rumsfeld (wow, did I really just type that???) for including this brilliant note with his 2013 tax return. The fact that the process and the documents are as convoluted as they are -- so much so that reasonably intelligent folks need to pay someone a lot of money to do their taxes for them -- it just makes no damn sense (via Kottke).
4/16/14: -- Please tell me you watched the series premier of Fargo on FX last night, I think they did a terrific job. Episode 1 gave us top-shelf acting (Martin Freeman! Billy Bob Thornton!)... That bleak sense of snowy, freezing-cold hopelessness and dread... Gruesome acts of violence delivered so matter-of-factly, almost comically... all of the things that propelled the movie to instant classic status, it's all here. In case "re-tellings" aren't your thing, it's worth mentioning that this is a very different tale (so far) than the movie. Count me in for the rest of the season. Yah, you betcha.
4/15/14: -- I take back every bad thing I've ever said about Facebook. On Sunday I let the doggies out as usual -- they are fortunate enough to have run of the yard and surrounding wooded areas (and no doubt a few neighbors houses). We've grown to trust that they will always come back, because well, they always do. Until now, about 30 minutes was the longest outing they'd ever had. And Honey and Teddy always stick together, so when Teddy showed up sans H, I knew something was up. Hours passed. Panic was setting in. She had never done anything like this. I comb the woods, calling and clapping in vain. I even introduced myself to a neighbor and asked her to keep her eyes peeled. Fearing the worst, I decide to drive the surrounding roads. But on my way out the door a young woman pulls up and asks if our dog is missing. WHEW...

Long story short: that neighbor I visited had mentioned it to her girlfriend, who later noticed a Facebook post to some local dog group or whatever. Something to the effect of "Anyone missing a dog? Golden Retriever showed up this morning and looks lost..." etc. Luckily I had given my address to the neighbor, so they were able to find me. The kind folks who had taken her in were close by, so I trek down to their place and that was that.

So what's up with H? I'm guessing she's all out of sorts since Maria has been out of town. Needless to say the free wandering days are over...

-- Visited a local nursery over the weekend with Grandma Nanclyn (a happy belated birthday to her!!!), they had a magnificent lion statue that I simply cannot do without. Assuming I could come up with the trillion dollars to pay for him, I wonder how I'd get him to the house. Throw a saddle on his broad back and ride him home?
4/11/14: -- The first videos are surfacing from last night's Nirvana performances at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction show. We'll have to wait a month or so until HBO airs the real deal. Is there anything better than Dave Grohl pounding away back there like Animal from The Muppet Show?
4/10/14: -- Strange thing - in the past two days during my commute I witnessed two separate people crying in their cars. Both were women around my age, both driving alone. One gently dabbed her eyes and battled valiantly against the tears, the other was sobbing uncontrollably. She probably should've pulled over. I dunno. It struck me as odd because I don't remember the last time I've ever seen someone crying while driving, and then to see two people in two days... It reminded me that everyone has a situation, everyone has a story.
4/9/14: -- Reason #317 to never use the Stop & Shop self checkout: when purchasing Tonic Water (or any carbonated beverage in a bottle for that matter), you have no choice but to place it on the conveyor belt, which then hustles it down the line towards the bagging area... SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE, watch it tumble. There is no way around this. Try as you might to stand the bottle upright, it inevitably falls over when the belt kicks on. Bypassing the belt is no good, the sensors need to feel the weight of your purchase or it assumes you're stealing something. There is no way to avoid a rude, fizzy surprise when you open the bottle a week later. Confound it!

-- Ok so this Heartbleed Bug is kind of a big deal. Be on the lookout for suspicious goings on, folks.

-- Apparently our beloved Life is Good festival is taking a pause in 2014. This has been an event that we absolutely cherished every September. Life is Bad.
4/8/14: -- Reminder: Windows XP's Day of Reckoning is close at hand. Like, as in today.

-- Wow, am I really paying almost $18K/year in health insurance premiums? I thought the prez was fixing this sh*t...

-- A nice writeup on Kevin Durant, who is quietly killing it this season. Those numbers are absolutely staggering.

-- Lime shortage? This isn't jiving well with my Summer 2014 margarita plans.
4/7/14: -- Getting Aidan to do homework is torturous for all involved, and most nights we consider ourselves lucky if we can get him to so much as read to us. But last night something extraordinary happened when I sat down with him to labor through a worksheet. It was nothing new, we get these fairly often - a few paragraphs describing a family event (in this case, dinner: Jane's mom cooked the chicken while Jane peeled the potatoes, etc). Then a handful of questions on the next page to test recall (Who peeled the potatoes? Who didn't want to eat his salad?, etc).

Normally after about three minutes of this, the nuclear missiles start flying. But last night was surprisingly different. Together we were able to dig up each correct answer from the story, and he wrote out his answers - pretty darn legibly, I might add - and seemed genuinely pleased with himself at the end of the sheet. And twenty minutes later I almost keeled over when he asked to do it again!

-- Words of wisdom, Thrones style...

-- For Jakey's recent birthday party he asked that his guests bring donations for the local animal shelter in lieu of presents. So proud of muh boy.
4/4/14: -- Yes, that is a toilet and yes, those are ticks. What else am I supposed to do with them? Let 'em go? The onset of the warmer weather has them out in full force. H-Dawg comes in every time covered with these loathsome little bloodsuckers after just a few minutes outdoors. The other day I pulled 13 off in one sitting, and those were just the ones I could see. She and Teddy are Frontlined, of course, but that only kills the ones that latch on. Only a flea & tick collar actually repels them, however the chemicals used in those things are far more dangerous than any insect. What to do?

-- Kinda makes you wanna run out and buy some graham crackers, don't it?

-- Letterman to retire. I say bring on Ellen!
4/3/14: -- A collection of indescribably beautiful GOT posters, each depicting the demise of a major character.

-- Everyone is gushing about Amazon's Fire TV. While I agree that it looks extremely cool, one can't help but wonder: how exactly is it better than Apple TV? Cuz you can talk to it? Play Minecraft on it? Meh.
4/2/14: -- Good news for procrastinators - using Form 4868 you can get a six-month extension on your tax deadline, just like that. You don't even need to concoct a good reason. Who knew?

-- Light It Up Blue for World Autism Awareness Day 2014. Seeing the famous landmarks and monuments around the globe all lit up makes me sad for some reason. Happy, but sad. Tomorrow the lights will be back to their normal color, business as usual.
4/1/14: -- The ultimate three minute Thrones recap! Protect the realm! Get yourself up to date!

-- It's for the kids... it's for the kids... it's for the kids... We had to keep reminding ourselves Saturday night and into Sunday morning whenever insanity started to take hold. There were five (six?) shouting tots, along with a handful of assorted family members at Jake's Minecraft-themed party last weekend. My ears are still ringing. The house is still trashed. But... it's for the kids. And I truly think they enjoyed themselves, geeking out on laptops and tablets and eating sugary foods well into the night. The ordeal nearly killed us, BUT - I'm still glad we did what we did as opposed to yet another bland Stew Leonards/Chuck E Cheese/Monster Minigolf/Wherever birthday party, plus we saved a bundle. Next year? Well, let's not think about that for another 11 months. K?
3/27/14: -- Never thought we'd see the day - MS Office coming to iPad?

-- 1 in 68.

-- Hey, it's the AOL "You've Got Mail" guy! I always assumed it was a computer generated voice or something.
3/26/14: -- So my boy Nakey Jakey turns eight today, and this is kind of a big deal because now I feel really old. But I do love him so and will do everything in my power to ensure he has a stellar day!
3/25/14: -- Hercules! The Rock looks weird with hair, dontchathink?

-- The Daily Show trashes the laughably bad media coverage of the missing Malaysian jetliner. And deservedly so.

-- Lotsa folks talking about this article from The Atlantic, and the harm we're doing our kids by smothering them with parental protection. This is something that troubles me every day, yet I feel powerless to stop it for reasons I can't quite explain. Thinking about how I spent so many countless summer days in my youth... Hopping onto my Hutch BMX bike in the morning and basically disappearing for the entire day - sans helmet! Sans cellphone! I remember neighborhood-wide Kick the Can games played well into the evening, then football under the glow of a street lamp 'til waaaaaay after dark. Prowling the block with my cohorts, lookin' for hearts to break... Building and testing comically unsafe bike jumps... Wrastlin'... Games of Kill the Carrier... Wading into streams and ponds... Not a parent in sight. And you know what? I'M STILL ALIVE!

I wonder if it's even legal for a child today to spend a day the way we did back then. And what's the consequence? A generation of kids who are afraid to take risks, test their limits, resolve their own arguments, strengthen their bodies, explore the unknown. These sound like valuable experiences to carry into adulthood, no?

3/24/14: -- If you seek the best animated gif of all time, look no further. But be warned, you may never be able to watch The Sound of Music again...
3/21/14: -- Just booked a massage (don't look at me like that -- gift card!), is it odd that they automatically assume I'd prefer a woman therapist? We were going back and forth on the phone about the scheduling when the receptionist person said: "We do have Thursday the 27th at 7:30PM, but that would be a male therapist. I'm not sure if..." (awkward pause). So... is it supposed to be like a sex thing? Is there supposed to be some kind of intimate connection? I've had three professional massages in my life - one by a man, two with women. I recall enjoying each and every session, but none of the therapists themselves really stand out in my mind. I tend to zone out to the point of near drooling, so after ten minutes the masseur/masseuse morphs into a nameless & faceless entity doling out relaxation. Nothing more. One hears tales of optional Happy Endings, and of guys pitchin' a tent under the sheet during a good rub down, but no. Just no. Give me the employee - guy or gal - who is best capable of removing this knot of stress that has taken up residence between my shoulder blades.

-- It's official... I'm in love with Khaleesi. Clearly she needs me in her life.

-- Another day, another goofball Disney movies are all connected theory.
3/20/14: -- Yesterday at the Big Y checkout I happened upon the most geektastic conversation ever - the cashier and the bagger (both barely 18, if that) were in a heated debate over whether TV/video game zombies are more effective as the mindlessly slow, ambling types (think Walking Dead), or would their undead condition grant them enhanced speed, agility, and cunning (a la I Am Legend). Lucky for them I was in a hurry, otherwise I would've joined in and kept those two boys there way past their bed times.

-- Chicken from Hell! I get way too excited about this stuff. Remind me why I didn't become a paleontologist... ?

-- A crucial age-old debate reaches its... ummm... climax.
3/19/14: -- More fuel for the raging anti-SAT fire, this time from a college president. Can we agree that this absurd tradition should finally be removed from the higher education application process? It is almost completely useless. Or maybe I'm just bitter because I scored so terribly low on mine all those years ago... Here's my idea for an alternative: instead of meaningless questions to be answered via endless rows of multiple choice bubbles, each student would be given a pencil, pad, and one question: What's your story?

-- Undertook to help a friend of a friend set up a new PC the other day, and of course it was pre-loaded with Windows 8.1. I was excited about the prospect of finally seeing Redmond's latest & greatest in action, and promised myself I'd give it a fair and unbiased look. No, really!

But my God it truly is a mess. First - that home screen! What were they thinking? I felt a nervous breakdown coming on, so immediately looked up how to load a normal desktop at startup. But here's the thing - from there if you click the start button at any point, which Windows users have been doing since the mid 1990's to access programs, browse folders, etc, that horrid home screen rears its ugly head again. Grrrrr... I went to reboot, and apparently to do this you need to right click the start button (again, undoing a 19 year-old habit of left clicking). Ok don't be such an old fogey, I kept telling myself. Some UI changes are inevitable. Deep breaths.

Moving on, I pop in an AOL CD so I can get my friend set up on her account. But it no worky. The CD drive recognized the disc I'd inserted, and even asked me if I wanted to proceed with the installation. But nothing happens. Run setup. PC, run setup please. No? Ok I pull out the CD, reinsert. Nothing happens. Ok I'll download the installer from, that worked. But... jeez!

Installed a USB printer, this actually went ok. Windows dutifully picked up on the printer model and started the driver installation (though I did wonder for a while why the process was stalling, then noticed the blinking warning on the task bar - I had to give Windows permission to proceed).

I dunno. Much as been written about 8's shortcomings, and my brief encounter gave me very little reason to recommend Windows 7 users upgrade any time soon.

-- Just labored through X3 Accelerator... medic!

-- My boy Jakey is featured prominently on his school Twitter feed!

-- When he ain't Walken, he's dancin'! There will be no need to visit Youtube again after today, because nothing will top that. Ever.
3/18/14: -- Foul play can't be ruled out yet, but this theory about the fate of that Malaysian jet seems quite logical and believable.

-- So apparently a 3D Peanuts movie is in the works. Not sure how I feel about this. There was a wave of somewhat modernized animated specials that came as follow-ups to the iconic Halloween and Christmas specials, and they're kind of terrible. In my mind, Charlie Brown et al should not be touched.

-- My stomach is strong, but reading this made it turn. Absolutely disgusting, despicable, unthinkable. If something like this ever... mmmmm, so help me.

-- No blogging yesterday, too damn busy. What needs to be done to make sure St Patty's Day will always fall on a weekend from now on? A Monday just ain't cuttin' it. Speaking of St Patty's, here are some depressing misconceptions about our favorite day of revelry...
3/14/14: -- Green Mountain Coffee, who owns Keurig (who knew?) and the unbelievably popular line of single serve K-Cup brewers, is implementing technology that will block unlicensed competitor's K-Cup pods from working properly... as if they aren't already making enough money off these damn things. I'll admit they're terribly handy if you need a quick cup on the run. But if you use K-Cups exclusively, the actual cost per pound of joe might surprise you. And it just might prompt you to blow the dust off that old-school Mister Coffee with the basket filter...

-- Speaking of the WWW (does anyone call it that anymore?), it just turned 25 this week. Wow, a quarter century... can you remember when you first took the plunge? For me I guess it would've been sometime in the late 90's? Decided to get online to see what all the fuss was about. Signed up using one of those AOL CD mailers, remember those with the oddball activation passwords? I still remember mine - WAKENFLIPS. And thus was born my old-school gaming handle, Dr. Wakenflips. Gamers of a certain age may have seen me wreckin' shop in the occasional online deathmatch. But I digress... So with a 33.6bps modem connected to my PowerMac 7500 (amazing machine), I set up an AOL screen name that I'm sure involved my birth date numbers in some way. Why oh why did we all do that???? Eventually I'd ditch AOL for various other providers, and Netscape Navigator became the browser of choice. Oh how I miss those shooting stars hurtling across the sky behind that big stately "N". And then there was the day when ADSL service was actually available in my area, oh man. Pretty sure I took a sick day so there'd be no chance of missing that AT&T installation guy.

Looking back and chuckling at how primitive it all seems, it's staggering to wonder what we'll be using 25 years from now... looking back at 2014 and chuckling some more.

-- So apparently no one actually reads anything on the Internet. If someone shares an article with you, chances are they haven't actually read it themselves. Why am I still typing? You've probably already moved on to something else... (via theawl)

-- Your iDevice might be telling you there's an iOS update available. Here are the details.

-- Now that's what I call a guitar lick. Ha! Get it? Because you, ummm... lick. The stamp. And a lick is also a bunch of guitar notes that kind of roll together. And... Jimi was really good at them. No? I guess no one actually licks stamps anymore. Ok so forget it.
3/13/14: -- Another oopsie celebrity smartphone gaffe - first Ellen at the Oscars, now LeBron.

-- For those of you who use your smartphone to pay, Starbucks is updating its app so that it will prompt you how much you'd like to tip your barista. How thoughtful of them! But if they're charging me $4.25 for a hot chocolate, I'll make it nice and simple: ZIPPO... Yesterday Marketplace had an interesting bit about tipping in this day and age. And it seems that restaurants aside, the gratuity rules aren't very cut and dried. What are your thoughts? Bars... Hair salons... spas... where else is tipping more or less expected? What about a Bed and Breakfast? Yes? Then why not a regular hotel? Is the restaurant standard 15-20% acceptable in those types of establishments? Uh oh, I'm feeling a Reservoir Dogs tipping scene coming on...
3/12/14: -- Goodness, Clint Eastwood's son is a handsome devil. Good genes, I guess.

-- I'm ashamed for having posted that cute/hot/life-affirming 'First Kiss' video (scroll down) yesterday. Come to find out it's just another clothing ad starring beautiful models and actors. I feel cheated.
3/11/14: -- Do yourself a favor and set aside the time to read this beautiful piece from Sunday's NYT - Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney. What a story. Have kleenex at the ready.

-- On a more serious note, still no trace of that Malaysian airliner. Unbelievable. I thought this stuff only happens in Clive Cussler novels.

-- By now you've no doubt seen the 'Strangers Kissing' video that's bouncing all around the Interwebs this morning, but here it is anyway. I may or may not have watched this more than once. That dude with the beanie is one lucky... ok maybe I've said too much.
3/10/14: -- What have we here? The Coen Brothers are turning Fargo into a TV series? Why am I just finding this out now?

-- Cousin Michael Sears did a book reading/signing yesterday at The Hickory Stick in Washington Depot. We are of course extremely proud to have a published author in the family, and let me tell you - we're not just gushing over Black Fridays and Mortal Bonds because of our relation to Michael. These are damn good reads. Prior to its release a few years ago I had the great privilege of previewing an advance copy of the 'Black Fridays' manuscript. I spent most of a rainy afternoon at the Bank Street Coffee House flying through the chapters, and in those few hours my old passion for novels (stolen from me by adulthood, 9 to 5, fatherhood, etc) was reignited.
3/6/14: -- Wow - check out Andre 3000 as Jimi Hendrix.
3/5/14: -- He reacts this way whenever Pharrell Williams' Happy is on the radio. Sometimes he even sings along. Makes me happy.

-- I LOL'ed, watch Betty White get all kinds of hot and bothered over Khal Drogo.

-- The single most important chart you are likely to see today...
3/4/14: -- Well well well, NYC's finest restaurant failed its most recent health inspection.

-- The vaccines and autism link debate rages on... this morning NPR ran a story about the challenges involved with changing the minds of conspiracy theorists. Even in the face of incontrovertible data, ego may compel a person to defend his or her stance to the last.

The story itself isn't all that interesting or surprising, but click on the comments icon and scroll through. FINALLY some intelligent debate on the vaccination topic, not the usual internet trolls trading insults.

People sometimes ask my opinion on vaccines, and I am quick to assure them that I am no Jenny McCarthy - your kids should get the MMR and the other biggies, of course they should. The benefits simply outweigh the risks.

But not everything she says is bunk. She has questioned why the sheer number of shots has tripled in the past few decades (aside from more money going to Big Pharma), and as far as I know no one has given a straight answer. Please correct me if I'm wrong on that. Babies pop out with very little in the way of an immune system and are quickly given the pin cushion treatment. I'm well aware that there's no science in place supporting the Too Many Too Soon rallying cry, but I'm not so quick to dismiss it. In Aidan's case, of course, we have a genetic condition that differs from what I assume is considered "traditional" autism. So we have more or less distanced ourselves from this entire argument. But I can tell you that shortly after receiving a bombardment of shots, our guy became quite ill. Shortly thereafter, the symptoms of autism were on plain display. And to an uninformed parent who is desperate for answers, that is very real.

The reality is that our bodies are under siege today in ways that we could never have imagined 30 years ago - the proliferation of wifi & cell phones, the toxic garbage in our foods, air pollution... I think these are far more likely contributing factors. Maybe we'll never know for sure. But I'll throw this little nugget out there - if a vaccines/autism link was ever proven, would we even hear about it? Would Big Pharma ever come clean and admit to having wrecked an entire generation of kids?

I smell a John Grisham novel in there somewhere...

-- Tick tock tick tock... Microsoft will officially drop support for Windows XP very soon. Problem is, lots of folks are still using it.
3/3/14: -- 959 area code coming to CT later this year. I'll be auctioning off my 203 and 860 to the highest bidders, anyone interested?

-- The alternate Harry Potter ending that everyone is talking about. Personally I think it's clever but I must be missing the point... I'm fine with the way things wrapped up (minus the cutesy-wootsy epilogue at the train station of course).

-- Finally an awards show worth missing some sleep for -- I thought Ellen did a nice job last night hosting the Oscars. Funny thing - that legendary epic selfie that crushed all retweet records and temporarily crashed Twitter was taken with a Samsung Galaxy phone (which Ellen was waving in front of the cameras all night). Backstage and off camera, however, Ellen is most definitely an iPhone user...
2/28/14: -- We've all seen this deep sea freefall video a thousand times, but it never fails to dazzle.

-- Get back at those pesky squirrels by humiliating them with their own horse-head feeder... They're nothing more than rats with bushy tails, I tell you!

-- Today is Rare Disease Day! If you're able, please extend a helping hand to support an amazing cause.
2/27/14: -- #Londonpoo is trending on Twitter. Here's why. Gross!

-- What's this? A new Bill Watterson cartoon? Yeah, I guess that counts.

-- 23-year old world chess champion Magnus Carlsen has created an app that lets you challenge him in simulated games based on his skill level at various ages. His 5-year old self will no doubt kick my ass in eight moves, but nevertheless I do intend to try this.

-- Is it possible to declare an upcoming new show your all-time favorite, based solely on the trailer? I just did.
2/25/14: -- Head lice cases amongst teens are on the rise, and selfies are to blame!

-- The story behind the Too Cool pencils. I love this.
2/24/14: -- So this Apple security flaw is apparently a big deal. Update your phones/pads at once. And stay off those damn coffee shop wifi networks for a few days.

-- That boy of ours, he turned 10 yesterday! Man, ten! Double digits!
2/20/14: -- Got the munchies? Clever Girl Scout sets up shop in front of a pot clinic.

-- Well this is handy: instead of combing through the App Store looking for that perfect weather app, do this. It's free, awesome, and ad free!

-- Deductions, deductions... scraping together the 2013 stuff for our tax guy, I stumbled across a veritable treasure trove of knowledge for our particular situation. Hey, every nickel helps.

-- The agony of defeat... here are 30 spectacular Olympic wipeouts. I've topped all of them, that day about 15 years ago when I navigated Outer Limits pretty much on my forehead. Good times.

-- Home cookin' last night in Sochi! I demand a recount! Or something.
2/19/14: -- In defense of the mile. This is a great read and supports my ever evolving outlook on running - and this is not to detract in any way from the accomplishments of my handful of friends who have completed marathons and half-marathons, because those are staggering accomplishments... but for me with my frenetic schedule, the mile is the ideal fitness gauge and something I hope to work on as the weather warms. Distance running simply doesn't suit my lifestyle any more. Mile training on the other hand entails short but intense workouts - get to the track, get it done, and still be home in time to enjoy some daylight.

-- For whatever reason there has been a serious run on wood pellets in the past week or so, nobody is selling them. We have a decent stash in the basement, but the way this cruel winter is going we'll be burning the p stove straight into May. If you stumble across any, buy 'em! We'll pay you back with interest!
2/18/14: -- The End is Nigh: A massive asteroid will pass alarmingly close to our planet today.

-- North Korean defector sketches the atrocities he endured during his three years in a prison camp. It's amazing that the UN may actually be doing something about this, too bad it's taken a few decades...

-- The entire gaming industry all just went "whoa" in unison: major shakedown at Irrational Games, makers of Bioshock Infinite.

-- Interesting bit on NPR today about the SATs, which most of the civilized world agrees are a completely unrealistic/unreliable method of determining student aptitude. Frankly I was surprised to hear kids are still taking them.

-- The other day during that snowstorm - I don't recall exactly which one, at this point they're all kind of blending together in my mind - I was driving home and needed to quickly park in my neighbor's driveway for a few minutes. See, the town plow trucks had built up a massive snow wall at the tip of my driveway that needed shoveling out before I could even think about getting in. Our neighbor is a 70-ish guy we've only spoken with once or twice, but he's nice enough and - bonus! - has a lovely old collie dog. So I asked his permission to park for ten minutes and he agreed, on the condition that he "gets to keep the next deer I shoot". He may or may not have been kidding. Only in New Milford...
2/17/14: -- J'ever wonder why your mouse pointer aims slightly to the left? Well now you know why.

-- J.K. Rowling is working on a second mystery novel under her super secret nom de plume, Robert Galbraith. Doggone it I haven't even read "The Cuckoo's Calling" yet...
2/14/14: -- When a plunger just isn't enough...

-- Unless you live in a cave you've no doubt heard that De La Soul is offering its complete catalog online - free! Now close your web browser, you'll find nothing more newsworthy than this today. Or maybe ever.
2/13/14: -- Study: as the planet warms up we are slowly running out of cities suitable to host the winter games. Troubling, to say the least. In Sochi today it's about 60 degrees, there are photos of shirtless spectators at various events. Personally I love skiing in corn snow (thick, pea soup conditions usually found after March), however it makes for lousy competition.

-- Really hoping the feds shoot down Comcast's TWC acquisition. That company scares me enough as it is. Check out this alarming graphical depiction of a post merger US.

-- Sweet - Netfilx has struck a deal to air the sixth and final season of the excellent Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

-- Aidan emerged ravenous from his bout with stomach flu, now unfortunately it's mama's turn. Wicked the way these things bounce around the house.
2/12/14: -- Star Wars inspired runway fashion. I just... no.

-- Much has been written about Bob Costas' eye issues. It goes without saying that social media would pounce.
2/11/14: -- A collection of hilarious and odd signs spotted at the Sochi games.

-- The House that Puke Built: So Jakey was barfing a bit over the weekend, but we didn't think much of it because he recovered very quickly. But as of last night Aidan was blowing chunks of his own, and today I woke up flu-ish and shivering (though I've been spared the stomach stuff for the most part, knock knock knock). Feel free to pity us, but I'd suggest you keep your distance.
2/10/14: -- Finish line carnage !

-- Update: Doc says it's actually a torn plantaris. Not the end of the world, just really annoying. No running or frolicking about for a month. And salsa dancing is definitely out.

-- Thrones! OMG Thrones!

-- Was playing well on Saturday morning - shots were falling and I had a pep in my step. The creaky ol' knees were cooperating for once, and I was getting nice elevation on my jump shots. And then someone snuck into the gym and hurled a golf ball at my right calf as hard as they could. Ok not really, but that's exactly what it felt like. I even looked around the gym in bewilderment for the perpetrator before coming to my senses... It's not like I was performing some spectacular feat of athleticism at that moment - the ball wasn't even in play. Just took a step. WHAM! Cue pain.

Seeing a doc in a few hours, fingers crossed this isn't a show stopper. I just don't have time for this.

2/7/14: -- Celebrities reading mean tweets. Ooooh, man.

-- As Sochi is eight hours or so ahead of us, the Opening Ceremony is already underway. And apparently this happened. Heads will roll!

-- Appreciate the Google logo these past few days, a nice stick in Putin's eyeball.

-- I hate hate hate hate the whole Lego Universe thing. The books. The video games. Hate all of it. But review after review for The Lego Movie can't sing its praises loudly enough... might have to suck it up and bring the boys.
2/6/14: -- Well I guess I didn't win that big Esurance Twitter sweepstakes, but a sweet young couple did. And by the looks of those promo numbers (200K entries within the first minute!), Esurance is also a winner...

-- iPhone: you're doing it wrong.

-- Bookstores for your bucket list.

-- Wow, Brad and Scarlett look great sans makeup...
2/5/14: -- Everyone and their mom is sharing their personalized Facebook movie nowadays. Mine consists mostly of photo after photo of my wife drifting around the screen... funny thing that her lovely mug seems to generate the most "likes"...

-- Journalists arriving in Sochi are finding (and tweeting about) laughably subpar lodgings (thx Aunt Marion). Even more alarming is the guarantee that any smartphone or computer used in that vicinity will be compromised within minutes. And then there are the terrorism threats... Ya think maybe the IOC is regretting their choice of host for these games?

-- Please join me in saluting CVS this morning.
2/4/14: -- Fresh off the jaw-dropping Season 3 finale - all of your burning Sherlock questions - answered! Well, a few of them anyway.

-- A follow up to yesterday's story about the man who survived over a year drifting at sea (scroll down) - here's a scientific look at what a human body needs and how someone could have conceivably survived that ordeal. Survival tip: Don't drink your own pee!

-- Ok fine, I'll link to the Sherlock vs the muppets bit that has everyone squealing (thx Kate).
2/3/14: -- So siked that our local bookshop is staying open after all.

-- Did this man really survive 13 months floating at sea?

-- I was thinking about this scene on the way into work, but Slate Magazine beat me to the punch. Philip Seymour Hoffman had so many amazing roles over the years, but for me nothing compares to these two minutes or so in Boogie Nights, Scotty showing off his new ride to Dirk. No actor on earth could've delivered that scene like Hoffman did. Such a terrible loss.

-- Super Boring XLVIII: The morning after the Super Bowl usually finds me busy at the keyboard recapping the game highlights and providing snarky commentary on the zillion dollar commercials. But today I got nuttin'. The event was completely unremarkable. The game was a blowout from the opening snap. The commercials (aside from the self-deprecating Radio Shack 80s thing, of course - Kid N' Play! Alf! Teen Wolf!) were meh. And the halftime show, well, I despise Bruno Mars. I'll give him credit for the high energy, old-school vibe, but... maybe the night could've been salvaged if the Red Hot Chili Peppers had more than forty seconds on stage.

Shortly after halftime I switched over to Downton Abbey/Sherlock and never looked back.

1/31/14: -- Another beautiful tribute to D&D on its 40th.

-- The missus and I were tentatively eying Labor Day for a sappy date night movie treat, or maybe V-Day viewing? Hey, sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do. And besides, KATE! But after reading David Edelstein's, ummm, less than favorable review, I'm not so sure...
1/30/14: -- Thrones!

-- Yet another adorable Budweiser Super Bowl commercial lined up for Sunday. There, I saved you the trouble of having to suffer through the game.

-- Check out my cousin the trainer lookin' all badass while doing things that look really painful.
1/29/14: -- Aidan's drawings are seldom discernible, so you can imagine my delight when I found this in my iPhone's photo library. At some point he must've snuck on there and used the Free Paint app. My smile was almost as big as the one in the drawing.
1/28/14: -- I love this bit in The Awl about T25, errr, more specifically Shaun T. The article is spot on - Shaun is able to connect with his audience in an almost mythical way. You're exhausted beyond measure, but you feel as if stopping would be letting him down somehow. So you find a way to keep moving.

So what about the program itself? Does T25 actually work? How does it compare to the oodles of other home workout programs out there? I've given this much thought, and having gone all in with the Beachbody programs - P90X, P90X2, P90X3 (in progress), Insanity, Insanity Asylum Volumes 1 and 2, and of course T25 - I believe T25 is the ideal starting point for a beginner or moderately fit person. That's not to say it's easy by any stretch, oh no. You will suffer plenty. You will beg for mercy. But the difference with T25 is the emphasis on "modification" moves. The fit and lovely Tanya marches alongside Shaun and performs a modified version of each exercise. Not yet ready to get airborne? Stick with Tanya. Traditional pushups too tough? Join Tanya for the on-the-knees variety. And so on. Eventually the regular versions of the movements become quite doable.

And come on, 25 minutes? There really are no excuses. Oh God, I sound just like those dreadful infomercials...

So what about the other programs I've mentioned? I'm short on time (the gym beckons!), so here's a quick blurb about each:

P90X - Old school. Weights. Push-ups and pull-ups. Great for building a basic foundation of strength. Damn long though. And aside from that one plyo workout, not much for the endurance junkie.

P90X2 - New school. Med balls and balance balls. Emphasis on core strength, stabilizing muscles, balance, and sports performance. I don't think this one sold very well, which is too bad - I loved it.

P90X3 - I'm only a few weeks in, but so far so good. They've obviously taken a cue from the success of T25, as these workouts are a brief but intense 30 minutes. Oddball movements. Fun. I'll review more in depth upon completion.

Insanity - Tough! The infomercials don't lie. Leg burn like you've never imagined. Emphasis on burning fat in a hurry, using your own bodyweight. I still re-visit these workouts once in a while, though they trashed these old knees of mine. If you've finished T25 and you're up for a challenge, well, you've been warned...

Insanity Asylum (Vols 1 and 2) - Supposedly these are designed for sports performance, but let's face it - these are endurance workouts, sick and twisted masochistic endurance workouts. Seriously, Olympic track athletes would struggle through these. You'll never be happier to see that clock hit 0:00.

-- Google Glass has a new look. Sorry, but it's still nerdy as hell in my opinion. And the technology itself is just plain creepy.
1/27/14: -- Anyone have an old IBM Model M Keyboard you're looking to unload? Oh how I miss it so... Clickety clackety clickety clackety!

-- Catch the Grammy Show last night? How about those Daft Punk robot guys? I felt like The Geek in Sixteen Candles: "Take those ridiculous things OFF!"

Ooooh, and then there was Trent Reznor with a few choice words for the network, who opted to cut to commercial halfway through Trent's jam with Queens of the Stone Age, Lindsey Buckingham and Dave Grohl. Laaaaaaame.

I was only watching the show in chunks (Hello!? Sunday night! Downton! Sherlock! Hello?!?), but it's on the DVR. All 19 hours of it. Maybe tonight I'll go back and FF through all the junk to check out these acts everyone's yappin' about. Who should I skip? No wait, that's probably a long list... Who should I not skip?

1/24/14: -- Whoa, was Gmail really down for almost an hour today? Say it ain't so!

-- My new favorite website: It would be hilarious were it not so tragically true to life...

-- Depressing stat: 1/4 of American adults did not read a single book in 2013. Hey don't look at me.

-- Chess is cool again thanks to this young man.

-- These new limited edition Oreo cookies are further proof that God exists and wants us to be happy.

-- Our pellet stove picked a baaaaad night to blow a gasket (or whatever the hell happened). Got dressed this morning in the basement practically hugging the antique Glenwood Oak wood stove... felt like old times at the Harrison Street house.
1/23/14: -- It's ok if you tear up a bit reading the highlights from Mark Hamill's recent Reddit AMA. I did. Hamill on Yoda: "The minute I looked at him, he was real to me. You notice that with small children, the puppeteer isn't hiding what he's doing but the kids are zeroed in on Oscar or Grover or whoever, again it's that childlike ability to believe and I never want to feel like I lose that."


-- Romantimatic is an app that periodically reminds you to tell your significant other how much you love him/her. Awwwwwww. *barf*
1/22/14: -- The WSJ has posted a series of photos of New Yorkers busting their asses on slippery sidewalks. Cruel! Now stop laughing.

-- The 25 most common passwords... please tell me you don't have one on that list. PLEASE.

-- The world's biggest coffee drinkers, visualized. The Netherlands? Really?

-- Socotra Island in the Indian Ocean has an abundance of plant life not seen anywhere else on earth. Those trees are straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, take me there at once!

-- Cats about to sneeze. Because why not?

-- Today is the real polar vortex. Dangerously cold out there right now.
1/21/14: -- Not into March Madness? Well you may consider getting involved this year - Warren Buffett is offering $1 Billion for a flawless bracket.

-- Striking images of betta fish. It's funny - I randomly spent a good 10 minutes last night staring in rapture at Gottfried, our betta. We've had him for a year or so but for whatever reason I've never really stopped to admire what a lovely little creature he is. I'll try to get a pic of him if he'll pose for me.

-- D&D is turning 40 this month, here's a great bit in Salon about life lessons learned from the game. Wish I could climb into the Hot Tub Time Machine and go back for one more geek session on mother's side porch... Brandishing swords. Casting spells. Sneaking past the guards. Sprinkling a sleeping potion into the Ogre's can of grog... No computers or tablets required (what the hell are those?) - just paper, pencils, and a handful of funny-looking dice. Oh yeah, and something called an imagination.

-- - far from secure.

-- My new knee routine. Maybe it's just mind over body, but it seems to work for now so I'll milk it for all it's worth.

-- Wow, has it really been 30 years? A look back at the Macintosh.
1/20/14: -- Amazon to employ Jedi mind powers to ship your stuff before you know you want it. First the drones, now this. Anyone else getting a little creeped out?

-- MLK's Letter from Birmingham Jail. That's how it's done.

-- "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
1/17/14: -- Mother, I hope you're having a stellar day. I can already taste the margaritas. Happy B-day!
1/16/14: -- Sugarless Haribo Gummy Bears? Think twice. "When the rumbling started I sprinted down the hallway and made it to the bathroom just in time for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to stampede from my backside..." Be sure follow the Amazon link at the bottom of the page, some of the reviews are absolute gold. The guy with the German girlfriend, my God...

-- A mathematician has calculated how to survive the first half hour of nuclear war. I'm sticking with my previous plan, which is Step 1: put head between legs. Step 2: well, you already know step 2.

-- DrumPants. Is this for real, or just some Jimmy Kimmel hoax?

-- Your daily dose of people doing insane things...
1/15/14: -- Apparently online gaming addiction is also a serious problem in China, as well as South Korea (scroll down to 1/9 post). 300 consecutive hours of Warcraft anyone? The kid mentioned occasional naps taken right there in his gaming chair, but I wonder if he took bathroom breaks... or perhaps adult diapers did the trick?

-- During the day when the poochies are home alone, Teddy licks and licks and licks and licks Honey's face for whatever reason. All day. She just sits there and takes it. Who knows, maybe it feels nice. So for the past several months she's had gaping, oozing, painful looking sores as a result. We've tried that bitter ick anti-lick spray stuff for dogs, no luck. Finally we ended up banishing Teddy to Grandma's last week, if for no reason other than give the sores some healing time. Well Teddy's back (see above), and today we applied a generous amount of apple cider vinegar (which - who knew? - supposedly has all kinds of health benefits for humans) around her head and face area. Stuff smells awful. But if it doesn't work I suppose we'll need to separate the mutts during the day, which they'll hate. Suggestions anyone?
1/14/14: -- The best use of Photoshop I've seen in quite a while. Just brilliant.
1/13/14: -- Wow, who knew RDJ could sing??? Check him out with Sting.

-- Last night was serious TV overload, what with the season premiere of Girls going up against The Golden Globes, Downton, and others. There was a interesting bit in the NYT about this Sunday night phenomenon, evidently the networks' decision to jam-pack that night of the week with our favorite guilty pleasures is based in science and psychology. From the article: "It has both the anticipation and dread of the following week, so you're in an emotional state... It's the perfect evening to play off the emotions of your viewer." DAMN YOU, networks, for knowing me better than I know myself. And DAMN YOU for playing off of my Sunday evening back-to-work-tomorrow blues! Now pass the popcorn.
1/9/14: -- South Koreans loooooove their Starcraft. So much so that the government has placed gaming addiction in the same bracket as drug addiction. Read on.

I never fell as far as the slack-jawed, glossy eyed zombies described in that article. But in my WoW heyday I could certainly feel the pull. Suffice to say I wasn't getting the proper amounts of sleep back then... Hey, it's science. Dopamine. Those kids need help.

1/7/14: -- Had a thought: is this the coldest weather I've ever experienced?
1/6/14: -- Watch this and get depressed. What have we become? I just threw my iPhone into a river.

-- Downton Abbey resumed last night after what seemed like an eternity. S4 Ep1 was a monstrous two-hour behemoth of an episode, but what diehard Downton fan would dare complain? Personally I'm not finding any of the new story lines terribly interesting, and yet last night was still intensely watchable. Such is Downton Abbey. Vulture's recap is terrific as usual.
1/2/14: -- So here's the thing about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This is not the children's story you read in 7th grade. To say that Mr. Jackson took a few liberties is a major understatement. There are volumes upon volumes of content not found in the book, and a come hell or highwater attempt to link these movies to the global events that would follow years later in The Fellowship. There's Freckles from ABC's Lost (not in the book). And Legs (also not in the book). And a thrilling if a bit ridiculous barrel ride (weren't the dwarves supposed to be sealed up inside those barrels?). And lots more Radagast. And crooked politicians in Lake-Town...

I could go on and on. But don't worry - it is quite possible to cherish the book, but put it aside for an evening and enjoy the heck out of this movie. I just did.

Noteworthy randomness: the CGI Smaug is dazzling. He looks and moves exactly like every old-school D&D'er imagined a classic red dragon would... We finally meet Beorn, one of my all-time favorite Tolkein characters. But sadly, there just wasn't enough of him or the fun dialogue from the Queer Lodgings chapter... Kinda growing weary of Legolas' apparent invincibility. He's appeared in four films and has yet to miss, and he's personally responsible for the deaths of 719 enemies. I don't remember him being this whirlwind of death in the novels...

-- Woman eats/drinks nothing but Starbucks for an entire year. As for me, I feel guilty stopping there once or twice a month...
Frequent stops:

Boing Boing
Me on Twitter!
MVY Radio
The Awl
ars technica
On St. John
National Geographic
Calvin & Hobbes
Daring Fireball
Jason Kottke