jesse leo dot com - 2015 edition
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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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