August 2013

Dancing Queen!

Matt Pop is a remix GOD.

Here’s “Dancing Queen” by Abba, as remixed by Matt Pop with the Matt Pop’s Getting In The Swing Mix.

Oh. My. God.

Bird Calls.

My hopes for lunch time tranquility have been somewhat interrupted by a new distraction in my lunch time routine, that being the presence of a minivan populated with one adult and two children.


The ever present seagulls are delighted by the fact that the parent has opted to feed the children Whoppers and French Fries today. For some unknown reason, the parent has opted to dine in the minivan instead of going inside the restaurant. I believe a the state’s non-smoking law is involved.

One of the children in the backseat has noticed the prissy seagull that is she him- or herself today. The child is making “wooooo”, “yoo-hoo” and other assorted shrieking sounds in an attempt to attract the attention of Mr. or Miss Priss. The seagull is making like a cat and sharing an air of disinterest. However, when the girl waved a french fry around, the seagull took notice and snatched it right from the loud child’s hand.

I laughed at the site of this. There was no harm done. No one was harmed in the process and it brought and end to the shrieking noises. In fact, Mr. or Miss Priss made such an impression that many seagulls started to descend upon the van.

The minivan has now departed. Tranquility restored.



New York State, like a handful of other states in the United States, has a container law which requires the inclusion of a bottle deposit on drink bottles. Originally limited to beer and soda pop bottles when the legislation was introduced in 1984, the law now applies to many different kinds of beverage bottles (water bottles, etc). The mechanics are simple: you pay an extra $.05 for each bottle you purchase (for example, an extra $.30 when you purchase six pack of something) and when you return the bottle you get your nickel back.

Pretty simple, right?

The idea behind the effort is that it is suppose to curb littering and encourage recycling. I can speak to the former: I believe it has helped with littering efforts but I don’t know if littering is down because of the bottle law or because of general societal trends. I can’t speaking to the recycling effort: I don’t know what happens when a bottle is returned these days, we plunk it in a machine and the machine makes belching noises and adds $.05 to an accumulative credit slip. Don’t forget to press “Finished” when you’re done!

Earl and I lived in our previous house for six years. When it was time to move we had six years worth of returnable bottles bagged up and shoved in a dark corner of one of the barns. Too lazy to return the bottles, we donated the effort to a local civic organization (I think it was a high school band or something) and we were happy that they got to keep the proceeds of bottle return money. While I’m assuming returning bottles is making the environment a better place, we are lazy when it comes to returning the bottles. The vast majority of markets/packies/beverage places that take bottles for return have automated the process with machines must like the one pictured above, but it’s just a pain in the butt to actually return the bottles. Since New York State is famous for taxing its citizens to death, we just figure the $.30 on a six pack of whatever is just another New York tax and I’m sure the government enjoys that line of thinking. We don’t return bottles now until they start overflowing all over the garage floor. In the past we’ve convinced others (mainly Jamie) that they can keep the money if they return the bottles, but the lure of a little pocket cash isn’t as strong as it used to be.

Maybe we should start saving them up again for another civic effort and we’ll donate them if we decide to move someday.

I guess we’ll start building a barn.

State Fair.

So on Saturday Earl and I went to the great New York State Fair. The New York State Fair takes place on the ten-days leading up to Labor Day and we try to go and enjoy the festivities every year. The arrival of the fair is bittersweet, as while a fun day at the Fair is always enjoyable, the arrival of the fair signifies the winding down of summer.

I try to focus on the fun part.

We tend to follow the same routine when we go to the fair this year, so we started out at the Center of Progress building, which is actually a building where lots of vendors fall out of their television sets and start selling their stuff in person (markers that erase, wondrous mops, teflon pots and pans, unbreakable glass, you know the type). This year, however, we were surprised to see that the Sand Sculpture had been relocated to the Center of Progress building. A couple of years ago the fair folks messed with the existence of the sand sculpture and there was an outcry from the community (it had been replaced by a mockup of President Bush’s oval office). I was prepared for outcries on the relocation of the sand sculpture this year, but people seemed to go with the flow.



We tend to focus on the agricultural stuff more than the midway and the like, including going through all the barns and watching the various animal competitions. Earl likes to name the hens and roosters after rock stars (usually Tina Turner), this year I snapped a photo of this stately guy.


There were several improvements in the horticulture and the International Food Pavilion buildings, but this year we decided to stick with the tried and true and we ate dinner at Baker’s Chicken Coop.


I am always fascinated with the way the staff at the various eateries handle the fair traffic. Many food places are in permanent buildings on the fairgrounds; Baker’s Chicken Coop is in the taller of the A-Frames alongside the barn. The buildings get used only a few weeks out of the year and I’m sure they’re just hiring teenagers from wherever to handle the counter duties, but it’s always been a friendly and good experience for us.



When we got down by the 4H building and the Youth Pavilion, we noticed a chorus of youngsters assembling on the stage so we thought we’d sit around and listen to them sing a few tunes.


It took them quite a while to get things set up. Once they were ready, a man came out and started shrieking and praising and yelling about the gospel and the savior and all that; the concert was a full-out gospel revival. The fervor of the crowd made us a little nervous so we left before we heard the music but the yelling and such got louder and could be heard down the midway. No worries, we didn’t go up in flames or anything.

We made our way down the midway and for the first time in several years I passed on riding the Top Spin. My stomach wasn’t feeling it.


I couldn’t imagine seeing bears in captivity on the midway so instead we played the roller ball game, where you need to roll a bowling ball over a hump and get it to stay on the other side of the hump. Ten dollars later we added Jerry the Giraffe to the family.


All in all it was a good day at The Fair and if you’re in the area we’d recommend going and seeing what it’s all about. It’s a fun time, mostly family friendly and it’s not really that expensive.

Go see what the Empire State is all about!

Monday Earbug.

Yep, I was just totally singing this in full voice in the kitchen. And don’t tell anyone, but I was singing it in the Jeep on the way home from work tonight.

Gary Puckett has an awesome voice.

Cut The Cord.

We have officially cut the cord. During the week I canceled our DirecTV service (which he had since the late 90s when Primestar converted us over to DirecTV). The monthly cost of the service vs the amount of time we spent actually watching television made the a logical step for us. Plus, there’s a heck of a lot of crap on television these days and we’ve got better things to do.

We went with the Antennas Direct ClearStream 2V.

The antenna easily mounted to the existing DirecTV J-Mount once the dish was removed. We even used the existing DirecTV wiring to bring the signals into the house.

When all is said and done, we are receiving 23 channels from as far as 52 miles away. The only station we are not receiving is the CBS affiliate. I’m still looking into that, because we were able to receive CBS via an indoor antenna a couple of weeks ago, so I don’t know why there’s a change.

I’m amazed at the guide functionality built into our Samsung 46-inch television, because we used to just use it as a monitor to the DirecTV DVR. The setup is brilliant and it’s going to save us a bunch of money.




When we first met you were just a little over two years old. You had already lived with two other families. The guy you lived with before had you in a little trailer and was going to sentence you to a short life because he didn’t have room for you anymore. That’s where Big Daddy stepped in and said, “nope, he’s coming home to us.”

You looked at me from under the dining room table. You were pissed because you hated car rides and you had just ridden in a car and was brought into a strange house. You had been through this routine before. You’d have to train a new family from scratch.

Little Daddy got on his hands and knees and looked at you and started talking in this ridiculous cat voice at you. A 29 year old man should not be using his falsetto in that way, but that’s what Little Daddy did. You had been called Kojak up until now, but you didn’t respond to that name. Your air of disinterest was apparent. It was then that you became Tommy, or Tom for short. The Kojak would stick around in the middle name, just as a reminder of your journey thus far, but for the next 16 years would you be Tom. You’d live in two different houses with a couple of guys that loved you like their son. You were family. Little Daddy would race you around the house, run up and down the stairs with you and snuggle under the blankets with you. The ridiculous high pitched voice Little Daddy used became a less frequent thing. For 16 years you were the prince of the family. What you wanted you got, you had Big Daddy and Little Daddy trained to be good humans and you even had the Cub under control by staring him down at supper time. You heard all the stories, knew all the secrets and you even played by the rules right up to the end.

Big Daddy, Little Daddy and Cub, and all the others that you have met over the years, will miss you very much, Our Sweet Prince, and we all say Thank You for being a shining light in our lives. Have fun with your older brother, say hi to those that are waiting for you on the other side and we’ll see you when we meet again.

Do Not Call.

Since I have the luxury of working from home, I am able to keep track of how many phone calls our home phone number receives on a typical day. Today, the daily number has reached a double digit for the first time.

I am not amused.

I just checked the National Do Not Call Registry and confirmed that our number has been registered for quite some time. Since we are well beyond the 31 day “grace period”, theoretically I should not be receiving any telemarketing calls, never mind upwards near a dozen a day.

If the United States Government can’t manage a database that theoretically contains one table with three columns (serialid, phone number, effective date), it is beyond my comprehension to think that any sort of data can be effectively managed by them. This makes me very nervous, because if they’re aggregating all sorts of data on its citizens and tell us not to worry because we won’t be tagged in error, how on earth am I suppose to believe this when they can’t even reliably list my phone number in a list of forbidden-to-telemarketers phone numbers?

In all reality, the Do Not Call Registry appears to be a complete waste of time and quite frankly, I feel the need to double up the foil on my tin foil hat.

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 12.19.58 PM