Friday, December 22, 2006

The Last Day of Work for 2006

Glass M&Ms 1, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

"Hazah!" and "Booyah!"

Today is the last day of work for 2006, and I'm outta here right after lunch! This camper is most happy.

Between today and tomorrow the rest of the shopping will be wrapped up, and then comes Christmas Eve day and Christmas itself, and then a relatively sane week at home.

I'm hopping to post at least one blog entry of substance between now and New Year's but we'll see how things go.

"Merry Christmas" to you all!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Great Photo Fiasco of '06

Family Pics, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

Look what we finally have!

That's right, me shutterbugs and bugettes, we finally have the photos from Wal-Mart! After many, *many* phonecalls to Wal-Mart (some polite, some not-so polite), the folks at Wally World agreed to refund us the cost of all the prints, plus reprinted the missing photo cards at no charge. Now we can get on with the harrowing task of addressing a whole lotta envelopes to send out our cards.

Understandably, this isn't Wal-Mart's fault per se (the blame is shared between Fuji labs and the online ordering system), but still they could have managed the situation better.

All in all, the photos came out pretty damn good if you ask me! Not bad for the first time out doing portraits.

Just the same, walmart DOT com will not be seeing any more of my business. And don't even get me started on Fuji...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Another Whacked Monday

100_1817_edited-1, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

I don't like Mondays to begin with; I also don't particularly like mornings, and Mondays are the morning of the week. But this Monday just seems to be particularly whacked.

First, I'm still waiting for the proper hardware at work so that I can do my job properly - testing new software on what will soon be unsupported hardware really isn't going to help much. I've been told that the equipment I need will be available sometime in the first half of January. Lessee, that would put it about 4 weeks after I need it!

Next, I'm still waiting for some photos that I ordered online from Wally World (aka Wal-Mart). Nothing that should have been too strenuous - some 8x10s, 5x7s, throw in a few wallet-sized prints for good measure, and a whole bunch of photo Christmas cards. They were ordered on November 25th, and should have only taken about 5 days to arrive.

Part of the order arrived in the expect time, but the wallet-sized prints and the Christmas cards were missing. Fuji Labs, who does the offsite photo processing for Wal-Mart messed up the order. The very courteous person at the photo counter would request that they re-process the order correctly and would have it ready by week's end -- at no charge! Ok - I'm a happy camper thus far.

That, however, was about a week and a half ago, and not a darn thing to show for it. I'm getting more than a little annoyed with this - mainly because I'm anxious to see how the prints turned out. You see, these are no professional photos being done this year. Yes, me little shutterbugs, these are photos I took - my first foray into anything even remotely resembling portrait photography! And I just can't wait to see the result!

While I am "more than a little annoyed" at the fiasco that is walmart DOT com, Patti is downright livid - and with good reason. It is now December 11, and we still don't have our Christmas cards to send out. While in the grand scheme of things, this may not be a big deal, it is still a major irritant, especially given all the other chaos that ensues around the holidays.

Suffice to say, will NOT be getting any more of our business.

A whacked Monday in a whacked December in a (thus-far) whacked holiday season. Appropriately enough, I have included a whacked - courtesy of Photoshop Elements - self-pic for today's blog.

I'll keep ya posted on the "Great Photo Fiasco of '06".

Saturday, December 02, 2006

In With the New

Blazer1, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

Now that I've shown you our old vehicle, lemme now introduce you to our new vehicle. A 4-wheel drive 2000 Chevy Blazer. This is one sweet piece of automobile. And it is a fantastic shade of blue!!

I'm almost looking forward to the first snowfall of the year...


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Out With the Old

minivan2, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

R.I.P.: Our 1997 Pontiac Trans Sport Minivan

The minivan died last night while I was on my way to pick up MJ and Bethanie from youth group. I'm not sure which I find more annoying - that the van stopped running only about 1/2 mile from my destination, or that the foolish thing couldn't wait two more days before conking out so that we could at least drive it to the dealership for the trade-in (we already had a replacement vehicle picked out, and the paperwork was in progress!)

But on the upside, it did its job relatively well for the 5 years we had it (and it did rack up over 175,000 miles!) And we will be getting the van towed to the dealership tomorrow and picking up our new vehicle - a 2000 Chevy Blazer with 4-wheel drive. Boo-yah!!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907

For today blog, I give you a quote from Theodore Roosevelt.

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Still very appropriate for this day and age.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Creative Flow

Ya just gotta love the holidays. I mean, besides all the food, getting together with family and friends, the food, creating fond memories, and the food, there's all the beautiful and often handmade crafts and decorations (did I mention the food?)

Something about making crafts, whether for display or gifting, really resonates with me. I can even find myself admiring Martha Stewart. I mean this lady is really talented - a domestic MacGyver of sorts. Who else can create a festive holiday centerpiece will little more than toenail clippings and used tampons?

Speaking of which, here's one for the "you have got to be kidding and I wish you were" files. I stumbled across (rather, someone wishing to remain anonymous showed me) this one website, celebrating the many varied and creative uses for - of all things - tampons.

Yes, you read that correctly: tampons. Apparently they're no longer just teabags for vampires (that is what that string is for, right? And I thought Lipton was famous for the "flow-through" bag!) Celestial Seasonings? Ahhh, no - I don't think so...

Anyhow, the URL for this veritable treasure trove of "Ewww"-ness is There, you will find the instructions for creating a myriad of crafts for any occasion. There is even instructions for making your very own tampon shooter. The description for which reads as follows:

The Menstrual Militia is now recruiting! Arm yourself with a Tampon Shooter and report for target practice and tactical tampon maneuvers. Safe for indoor or outdoor use, this air-powered gun fires tampons "bullets" up to 20 feet. Our Tampon Bandolier insures that you've always got a supply of ammo at the ready, plus you'll never have to hunt around for a spare tampon in case you really need one.

Now there's something I wouldn't even touch with a 10-foot applicator!

I'm sure there will be new projects added, so you will need to check back there periodically.

Well, I'm at a loss...

Until next month (if not sooner)...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

cranberries, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

The turkey is stuffed, as will be the rest of us this afternoon. I even brought the cranberries.

Hope you have an enjoyable Turkey Day!

Gobble Gobble.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Road Ahead

Evening Commute, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,

A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away,

A time to rend and a time to sew, a time to keep silence and a time to speak,

A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiates 3:1-8 (AMP)

The time for grieving has passed for me, and it's now time to start living life again. Life is indeed short, but what matters is how we can make the most of the time we have. Life is too short for worrying about everything (though is often much we feel we have to worry about - as if that could even change anything!), and certainly far too short to spend it looking for the negatives: the bad side of things, the "angles" we think people have.

I don't know what the road ahead holds for me - only God know that (and I'm quite happy to leave those details in His more-than-capable hands!), but there is only one way to find out - live it out, moment by moment, day by day.

And that's just what I intend to do.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tribute to a good friend and fellow barbershopper

Tony Tribute 1, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

Anthony J (Tony) Iacobone Sr. (second from the right, standing to my right, in the quartet photo) passed away on November 10, 2006. I had the pleasure, privelege, and honor of singing with him in the quartet "Z Street" and the "Sounds of Concord" chorus. A good bass, an even better friend, not soon to be forgotten.

This was the last photo taken of the quartet (and our best one).

Quartet photo (c) 2004 by Mark Lawrence.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Day After

The elections have come and gone. As I expected, things did not work out ideally. Massachusetts has it's first Democrat Governor since Dukakis (or is that Do-Tax-Us) back in the early 90s, so of course taxes will be on their way back up. Plus Deval Patrick is in favor of giving driver's licenses to illegal residents (I won't use the term "immigrants" here because it would be insulting to legitimate immigrants who played by the rules and worked hard to come here). These same illegal residents would be given reduced tuition to state colleges - yes, this would be the very same reduced tuition that should only be going to legitimate (and legal) residents of this state. This guy will make the Clintons look like Republicans!

On the upside, Massachusetts has elected it's first African-American Governor - most historic indeed, and all well and good in-and-of itself; I just wish it had been someone else (couldn't we have found someone a bit more conservative - sheesh!)

And good 'ol Teddy (cough) is still our Senator - why should I be surprised? He is a Kennedy after all...

At least I can take solace in the fact that we didn't have a hand in re-electing Hillary to the Senate.

But somehow life will go on.

I suspect I'll be in a proper frame of mind tomorrow to start doing normal blogging again. Until then, I will continue banging my head on the nearest wall.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Election Day

Well, at least as happy as it gets. I did my civic duty this morning and voted, however unthrilled I was over the selection of candidates. Ok - I was very much in favor of one of our gubenatorial candidates - I won't name names here of course, but our choice is between:
  1. Someone who is in favor of giving driver licenses and reduced college tuitions - which are best reserved for legal residents of this state - to illegal immigrants. (Sorry Jack - I shouldn't have to pay for someone else's gravy train, thank you.)
  2. An independent candidate who's only running out of spite against one of the other candidates.
  3. A Green party candidate who isn't even a faint blip on the political radar (The "what" party? Let me know when we have a candidate from the Plaid party).
  4. Our current Lieutenant Governor.

None are the perfect choice of course, but IMHO one clearly rises to the top.

I am not terribly optimistic that the person I voted for will be elected - our lovely commonwealth is far too liberal to see straight, but so be it.

Beyond the race for Governor, the pickings were mightly slim for all other offices with elections. For example, our useless, no-op, loudmouth senator will still be in office, all because of his being a member of a certain family (and our state's penchant for voting out of 'tradition' without any real consideration of the person being voted for).

Ah well, at least I voiced myself in the form of my vote. If you didn't vote in whatever elections are being held in your particular locale, then SHAME ON YOU. We (at least for the time being) still live in a free society, and voting is a right (for citizens only, thank you) and a privilege. If you are going to reap any of the benefits of our society, then you should at least do your duty and vote.

That's it for now. Happy voting!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Rest Area Ahead

Need for Speed 1, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

20 days is way too long to go in between blogs. I hate being this busy - I'm really not the type of person who does well going non-stop for long periods of time. I don't think anyone is, actually - it's not healthy at all to maintain that kind of pace.

Oh sure - maybe some people can go longer without stopping or even slowing down. But just like cars, you have to watch your speed - you can only go so long before you either run out of gas or crash.

It has been a busy and - fortunately - productive 20 days, but I do hope that I can slow down a bit now.

I'm gonna cut this short for the time being - it's 7:45am on a Sunday, and it's time to get the kids up so we can all get ready for church. Now there's a great rest stop to pull over at for a while!

Monday, October 02, 2006

It's a Girl!

Brianna Afghan, Originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

I have a new grand-niece! Her name is Brianna, and she was born on September 12, 2006.

Over the weekend, this very proud grand-uncle finished crocheting a baby afghan for her, along with a matching scarf (for when she's a little older).

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pic of the Day: The Duke

Pic of the Day: The Duke

I haven't had much time lately to put together an actual blog entry. But I did receive this pic in email today from a co-worker, and thought I would share it with you. I know John Wayne really didn't say this, but if he were still alive he probably would, and I'd agree with him whole-heartedly!

Until next blog, Pilgrim...

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Park Bench

Today would be a good day to just sit on a park bench someplace and just ponder. The past 16 hours have been somewhat surreal for me. At around 9:00 last night, I had gotten word that a friend of mine has cancer. Not just has cancer, as in "it's a small tumor that we caught early", but cancer as in "it started in one place and has already spread to a number of other organs".

I've known Tony for a little over five years now. He sang bass in Z Street (the quartet that I sang baritone in for three years) during its tenure, and we were both in the Sounds of Concord (he started a couple of years before I did, and he is still with them). He, along with Paul (who sang lead with Z Street) and myself would hang out a lot - we three of us still get together for breakfast on the occasional Saturday morning.

I keep thinking back to when my mother-in-law died of cancer back 2003 (shortly coming on the third anniversary of that) - though "anniversary" is a strange word to use for that.

Speaking of which, today also happens to mine and Patti's fifteenth wedding anniversary. Money's been really tight lately, and I've not even been able to get a card...

Things are just too disjointed and weird for me right now. A lot of mixed emotions that I'm having a hard time making sense of. I'm somewhere between numb and nauseous. Based on past experience with this kind of thing, the inevitable full emotional breakdown will happen at some undetermined point in the future.

Right now all I can do is ponder... and pray (and especially, pray).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Photo Friday: Bright

Purple GlowHere is this week's entry for Photo Friday. The theme for the week is "Bright".

I took this during a walk a couple of weeks ago, and decided I would attempt a macro (really close-up) shot of this one bright pinkish, purplish flower I saw alongside the road. I'm not sure how I managed it, but as you can tell, the center of the photo picked shows a very bright reflection from the flash. So I guess this count twice for bright, yes?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Just for Fun: How Liberal or Conservative Are You?

Just for fun, I thought I'd do a mini-post containing the results of one of those blog 'quiz' things from, with my results. It pretty well lines up with where I stand on things.

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 85% Conservative, 15% Liberal
Social Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Ethics: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Monday, September 04, 2006

Reflections on Rest

Reflections on Rest
Originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.
Where, oh where, has the summer gone? Didn't the weather finally get warm, and now it's cooling off again? Didn't I have a big to-do list and didn't get around to half of it?

I know I've been busy - I have the tiredness to prove it! But yet, somehow, it doesn't feel like anything been done. And I'm now back to five-day work weeks. So much for getting stuff done around the house.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a nap.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Are You A Happy Hooker?

No - it's not what you think (shame on you!)

Bethanie's Afghan

This is crochet we're talking about, an age-old craft that uses little more than some yarn, a hook, and a few free evenings.

I first learned to crochet from my mom when I was... oh, boy... that long ago? 9 or 10 I think. Anyhow, mom used to crochet all the time. I would watch in utter fascination as she would do her handiwork (afghans mostly), and asked if she could teach me. She handed me a book on it, which I proceded to read through it (this was when I discoved that I liked being self-taught and that I really enjoyed how-to books), and with some guidance from mom, it wasn't long before I had the chain stich and single crochet down pretty good. Next came double, half-double, and treble crochet.

I stopped doing crochet after a while (don't remember why - maybe part of that whole teen angst business, who knows?), but picked it up again after getting married and while Patti was pregnant with MJ, our oldest. Managed to keep at it long enough to make a baby blanket for MJ, another one for Bethanie when the time came, and completed most of a lapghan (a smaller version of an afghan) for Patti before I got distracted by a bazillion other things. Never did get around to finishing that lapghan, nor did I make a baby blanket for Thomas (I somehow doubt he'd want that baby blanket now that he's almost 10).

Patti's Afghan #2
Patti's Pillows #2

I have only this past spring started up crocheting again, and am still at it. I've made afghans (plus coordinating pillows) for all three kids (a picture of Bethanie's is up at the top of this blog entry), plus 2 afghan/pillow sets for Patti (the most recent set, the one I finished over the summer) is shown, right.

Additionally, I just completed an afghan for mom for her and Bernie's (my stepdad) place down in Florida where they spend their winters. We'll be heading out to New York this afternoon for Labor Day weekend, and I'll be giving her the afghan then - kinda a "thank you" of sorts.

And since we're heading out shortly, I'll just wrap this up for now.

Happy hooking!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Chocolate is Your Friend

Hazelnut Truffle Cheesecake
Originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.
Now that we've had some coffee - how about a little dessert?

I've had more a few requests for the recipe for this very naughty Hazelnut Truffle Cheesecake, so I figured "what the heck?" and will post it for today's blog. This cheesecake has had any number of variations and has evolved a lot since the first time I've made the basic chocolate cheesecake from which this was derived, however many years ago that was.

Now, without any further ado, for you caloric pleasure is the current version.

Hazelnut Truffle Cheesecake


1 1/2 cup Vanilla cookie (aka Nilla) crumbs (from about 45 cookies)
1/2 cup Confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup Cocoa powder
1/3 cup Butter, melted
1 jar Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
3 8oz. packages Cream Cheese, softened
4 eggs
1 can Condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla
12 oz. chocolate (I use 8 oz bittersweet chips and 4 oz semisweet)
1/4 cup Hazelnuts, chopped
32 Chocolate-covered hazelnuts


  • Preheat oven to 300 deg (F)

  • Combine the vanilla cookie crumbs, confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder and melted butter until it has the consistency of corn meal

  • Press crumb mixture into bottom and 1/3 to 1/2 way up the sides of a 10 inch springform pan

  • Melt 1/2 the jar of Nutella and pour onto crust, spreading very carefully (as this is sticky and may tear up your crumb crust!)

  • Beat cream cheese until fluffy

  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating in until well blended

  • Add condensed milk and vanilla, blending to combine

  • Slowly melt bittersweet and semisweet chocolate chips together in the microwave

  • Blend melted chocolate into creamcheese mixture

  • Pour over crust and Nutella in springform pan

  • Bake for 1 hour, 5 minutes.

  • Leaving the cake in the oven, turn off the heat and open the door part-way. Allow to cool for 1 hour.

  • Remove the cake from the oven, and run a table knife around the pan to loosen cake from the sides.

  • Let the cake cool completely (in the refrigerator is preferable so that the cake is nice and cold for the next step.

  • Once the cake is cool, melt remaining 1/2 jar of Nutella, and pour over top of the cake, spreading like a frosting over the top.

  • Arrange the chocolate-covered hazelnuts around the top of the cake

  • Store the cake in the refrigerator

You can get 16 slices out of this bad-boy.

Enjoy! :-)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Java Jive

Java For Two
Originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.
"I love coffee, I love tea. I love the Java Jive and it loves me..."

Mud. Joe. Wake-up juice. Brain lubricant. Java. Coffee.

The warm rich smell of fresh brew. The hissss of milk steaming for a soothing latte. The pleasingly creamy brown color. The satisfying beep of a drip coffee maker telling you that its labor of love is complete and that you may now begin the transition from bleary-eyed, incoherent sonambulism to willing participant of the new day.

I definitely cannot get by without my daily quality time with Mrs. Olson. Nor should I have to. I have so few vices (other than my myriad of hobbies), so I think I'm somewhat entitled to at least this one. Anyone who knows me knows better than deprive me of this.

Is it an addiction? Maybe, but even so - bring it on! I'm a very happy coffee-junkie and very willing to allow the likes of $tarbuck$, Honey Dew donuts, and just about any diner or roadside truckstop to continue being my pushers.

A second cup? Yes, please - and just pass the coffee pot, if you will.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Little Something to Hold Ya Over

Originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.
Just thought I'd post a pic of the family cat, Angel (aka Her Royal Majesty). She really is a sweetheart though.

Here she is, stalking a chipmunk that's sitting on our back steps. Ah, the mighty huntress!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Fair Immigration

I know I said that I wouldn't make a habit of blogging stuff forwarded to me in email (which was previous forwarded to that person, etc.), but once again I received something far too good to pass up. Here it is, word for word (and I will leave out the editorializing, as this stands up very well without it).

---- begin re-forwarded message ----

My wife, Rosemary, wrote a wonderful letter to the editor of the OC Register which, of course, was not printed. So, I decided to "print" it myself by sending it out on the Internet. Pass it along if you feel so inclined.

Dave LaBonte

Written in response to a series of letters to the editor in the Orange County Register:

Dear Editor:

So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statute of Liberty because the people now in question aren't being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry. Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today's American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer.

Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.

They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them.

All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity. Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France and Japan. None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan.

And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.

And here we are in 2006 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I'm sorry, that's not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900's deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.

And for that suggestion about taking down the Statute of Liberty, it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn't start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.

Rosemary LaBonte

P. S. Pass this on to everyone you know!!! KEEP THIS LETTER MOVING!! I hope this letter gets read by millions of people all across the nation!!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Trip to Logan International Airport

Are They Here Yet?
Originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.
Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged last (yes, I’ve been spending too much time Flickr’ing and not enough time blogging). Besides from being glued to my computer monitor looking at everyone’s awesome photos and wading through the many groups there, it has been a busy week or so.

The good news is that MJ is back from his 3-week trip to England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales as a People-to-People Student Ambassador. He had a fantastic time (as you well could imagine!) I will try to post a pic of three from his trip when I get a chance.

Picking him up from Logan was a bit of a (minor) adventure. First of all, I do not like driving anywhere near Boston – we take the T as much as possible – so I know next to nothing of how to get around easily there. Second, the route of choice would have been to take the Mass Pike (I-90) to the Ted Williams Tunnel, and a straight shot right to the airport – not so bad, except that Patti does not like tunnels. With the news that some of the Big Dig tunnels would be closing due to that tragic accident where some ceiling tiles fell and killed a woman (near the entrance of the TW), we would try to find our way to the airport via route 2, then 16, and I-93, picking up route 1 at the Tobin bridge to Charlestown and Chelsea, then finally taking the Chelsea St. bridge into East Boston to the airport (not my idea of a good time, taking the long routes, especially near Boston. Needless to say, we couldn’t find the exit for the Tobin bridge (was supposed to be exit 27 – but where is it?) Signage just before exit 28 said the next exit after this would be 26! So we wing it – get off at exit 28 and drive through the streets of Charlestown (very nice - wish I wasn’t driving so I could take pics), and somehow manage to find Chelsea St. (Hooray!), but where's the Chelsea St. bridge? We kept following Chelsea St. and ended up back on I-93. Looks like we’ll be taking the Callahan tunnel after all (this is the “original” tunnel to Logan, before the Big Dig). Amazingly, it was a remarkably short trip in the tunnel, much to Patti’s relief, and we did get to go over the airport by 3pm (only took about an hour and a half to get there). But of course, MJ’s flight was delayed until 5:50, and he didn’t come out to where everyone was waiting until around 6:30pm. A very long afternoon indeed. And the trip home via the Sumner tunnel to I-93 to route 16, then back to route 2 was blissfully uneventful - except for the $20 for parking(!) and $3 for the bloomin’ tunnel(!!). But at least Patti is starting to overcome her fear of tunnels, and MJ is home (plus I got to go nuts with the camera!!)

Ah well - enough blathering for now. I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled (ha!) blog shortly.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Carol - You've Created A Monster!

Busy Day At Work

You know that photographer friend of mine down in Austin, TX - Carol Schiraldi that I mentioned in my Bodacious Summer To-Do List (item 17)? Well, we've been back in contact lately and have been IM'ing over Trillian. Anyhow, she's turned me onto the virtues of Flickr as a photostreaming host and source for really neat user groups. Well, I checked it out and I'm hooked! Yes, me droogies, I am now a full-blown Flickrholic. It's great, but boy can it suck your time and attention away from things that are probably more pressing, such as - oh, I don't know - maybe, work? Fortunately, I had a fairly productive day yesterday, and didn't mind indulging a slightly-longer-than-usual lunch break. I have moved (most of) my online photos over there, plus threw in a few pics from my Nokia cameraphone, just for yucks. If you're so inclined, feel free to check them out at

And if that wasn't bad enough, I have applied to join Utata (actually, not much than just filling out an online form requesting a member page), and may attempt to participate in some of the projects on there. It will give me something to do over lunch other than Sudoku puzzles!

And so, another hobby is born. Thanks, Carol!

May all your priorities be kept in balance.


Monday, July 17, 2006

A Real Lawman

This was forwarded to me by a co-worker. We'd have much less crime in our country if more law enforcement people followed this example. I took the liberty of adding my own editorial comments throughout (hey, it's my blog!)


This is one of the reasons why:

Sheriff Joe Arpaio (in Arizona) who created the "tent city jail":

  • He has jail meals down to 40 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them. [Saving the taxpayers money - what a great (and novel) idea!]
  • He stopped smoking and porno magazines in the jails. Took away their weights. [It's not like they need all that stuff anyway]
  • Cut off all but "G" movies. [Maybe if they watched more G movies before they got into prison, they might not be there in the first place!]
  • He started chain gangs so the inmates could do free work on county and city projects. [Again, saving taxpayer money]
  • Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn't get sued for discrimination. [Sounds reasonable to me!]
  • He took away cable TV until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails. So he hooked up the cable TV again only let in the Disney channel and the weather channel. When asked why the weather channel he replied, so they will know how hot it's gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs.
  • He cut off coffee since it has zero nutritional value.
  • When the inmates complained, he told them, "This isn't the Ritz/Carlton. If you don't like it, don't come back." [BOOYAH!!!]

More on the Arizona Sheriff:

With temperatures being even hotter than usual in Phoenix (116 degrees just set a new record), the Associated Press reports: About 2,000 inmates living in a barbed-wire-surrounded tent encampment at the Maricopa County Jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts. [If pink panties are good enough for our nation's liberals, they should be good enough for our inmates!] On Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing boxers were either curled up on their bunk beds or chatted in the tents, which reached 138 degrees inside the week before. Many were also swathed in wet, pink towels as sweat collected on their chests and dripped down to their pink socks. "It feels like we are in a furnace," said James Zanzot, an inmate who has lived in the tents for 1 year. "It's inhumane." [Oh, poor baby! If you can't do the time, don't do the crime!]

Joe Arpaio, the tough-guy sheriff who created the tent city and long ago started making his prisoners wear pink, and eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic. He said Wednesday that he told all of the inmates: "It's 120 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents too, and they have to wear full battle gear, but they didn't commit any crimes, so shut your damned mouths!" [Amen! Preach it!]

Way to go, Sheriff! Maybe if all prisons were like this one there would be a lot less crime and/or repeat offenders. Criminals should be punished for their crimes - not live in luxury until it's time for their parole, only to go out and commit another crime so they can get back in to live on taxpayers money and enjoy things taxpayers can't afford to have for themselves.

Sheriff Joe was just reelected Sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What Color Ribbon is for "Awareness" Awareness?

I'm feeling a little feisty today (maybe it's the rain - always gives me wicked headaches, or maybe the lack of coffee), and so I bring you today's random thought.

I hate "awareness" ribbons.

There, I said it - and I'm glad I said it!

It was all well and good when someone, somewhere decided to start wearing a ribbon of some color to show support for some cause. But things have seriously gotten out of hand. These things are everywhere, in every conceivable color combination! On the street, everyone's wearing them. On all the weirdowood awards shows, everyone's wearing them - and I'm willing to bet that most are wearing them just to be fasionable, and not out of a sincere support of their supposed causes.

And the colors are too numerous to mention! I even poked around on the web and found that some colors are used for multiple causes (how confusing is that?). And if we run out of colors for ribbons, let's start wearing wristbands to show our support for a whole new plethora of causes.

It gets really hard to take anyone and their causes seriously when they get buried under all that technicolor bling-bling.

[And don't get me started on those who abuse their fame by using the performance stage as their soapbox. Your adoring fans pay good money to hear you sing, not sermonize! But that is a rant for when next I'm feeling feisty or otherwise caffiene-deprived.]

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for supporting whatever you feel strongly about, but wearing a strip of purple paisley fabric on your lapel does not bring about change! How about taking action instead - donate your time, money, and/or talents to whatever your cause? How about lifting a finger (no, not that one!) to do more than to just don the trendy ribbon color of the week?

It's nice to know that you are "aware" of a cause or three (aren't we all?), but the ribbons don't impress anymore. I'm all ribboned out, thank you.

Maybe we all need to start wearing chartreuse and fuscia plaid ribbons in a show of support for "ribbon burnout" awareness. Just a thought.

Now I'm off to show my support for coffee growers and overpriced caffeine pushers. Pass the $tarbucks$, and make it a venti.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Bodacious Summer To-Do List

I was going to post this on the first day of summer (remember that day, when there was actually some nice, hot weather – the kind you should have all year long?), but things being what they are, and work being what it is (grrr), it didn’t happen.

Remember the first day back at school, when you had to write those stupid “how I spent my summer vacation” essays? I have always hated writing essays; I would get writer’s block just from staring at that blank page. Plus it was always hard to write what you “had” to write, versus what you “wanted” to write. Blogging is better, because I can write anything I want – no grading, no judgment.

While I certainly don’t have summer vacations off anymore (those were the days!), I can still relish in what I’d like to accomplish over the summer (at least I have Fridays off until September!). And I am describing my list as “bodacious” because it seems to be my word of the week this week (for whatever reason, I ended up replying to a co-worker’s email with “Bodacious – thanks!” and it seems to have stuck).

Anyhow, without further ado, here is my “bodacious” list of things I want to do this summer.

1. Yard work – I love mowing the yard (all 0.18 acres of it!)

2. Work on obtaining some color other than pasty white or lobster red (isn’t there some middle ground that I could find; why does it have to be one or the other?) Fortunately, this is one type of multi-tasking even this uni-tasker can manage – do this along with #1 and increase my vitamin D intake all at once!

3. Finish Patti’s afghan for the bedroom. I have so far (since February when I started crocheting again after not having done it for over 10 years!) completed afghans and coordinating pillows for all three kids, plus a set for Patti in the living room. I am currently about two-thirds of the way through crocheting this light brown (latte colored) afghan, with all sorts of textured patterns in it. Not an original design, but working from a pattern (I’m not quite comfortable designing my own crochet projects yet), but certainly very nice and will go well in our bedroom once we redo the color scheme in there the way we want it (cappuccino and light sage green). I’ll post a pic of it when it’s done (the afghan that is, not the room – the room makeover is a couple of years down the road).

4. Make a pair of coordinating crocheted pillows to go with the afghan. I am planning on doing them in a medium sage green, in a pattern inspired by the afghan. That’s as original as I get with crochet projects for the time being. Again, I’ll post a pic when they’re finished.

5. Barbequing – MMMMmmmm. Nothing like hangin’ out by the grill, beer (or cooler, or margarita) in hand, hanging out with the wife and kids. We need to have some friends over a time or three, I think.

6. More yard work (I think there are some shrubs I need to dig up)

7. Further living up to the ‘CraftyGuy’ persona, I’d like to get some woodworking projects out of the way as well. Mainly some covers for our ugly old radiators throughout the house. A good beginner project from what I’ve heard, so I shouldn’t cause too much damage. Perhaps a bookcase or two as well – we shall see.

8. Take the second (out of three) Wilton cake-decorating course. Hone my frosting flower skills a bit more.

9. Nurse those inevitable sunburns.

10. As if my plate wasn’t already full, I would really like to get back into a quartet again at some point. During most of my time with the Sounds of Concord barbershop chorus, I also sang baritone with a quartet named Z Street. That lasted about 3 years, then we called it quits (perhaps a topic for another time). It was great fun while it lasted though. While I clearly don’t have the time or energy to devote to a highly competiton-oriented chorus such as SoC at this time, I miss the quartet experience and I’d love to get back into one at some time – either baritone or tenor (not lead, as I’m far more comfortable singing harmony, and my bass isn’t nearly powerful enough), but would be nice, even if just for the fun of it. But realistically, this may need to wait. The reasons why I left the Sounds of Concord would speak into why I should perhaps not bite off more than I can chew, schedule- and priority-wise.

11. Yard work. I think we have a meadow growing behind the fence – where’s the weed killer?

12. Actually get out to the driving range sometime. Would be nice to get to the point where I don’t embarrass myself before going to a real golf course!

13. Power-wash and re-stain the deck.

14. Clean out the garage. Oh look - I found some golf clubs!

15. Look for the SPF-7000 sun block.

16. Clean out the basement (wow – an inside activity, who woulda thunk it?)

17. Play with the digital camera a bit. I’m no professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m certainly no artist by anyone’s standards, but I have started to dabble with photography a bit as of late (perhaps I may have been inspired by a friend of mine from college, Carol Schiraldi, who now lives in Austin, TX, and is an absolutely amazing photographer – she has had work displayed in some number of exhibits already, some of them juried). I tend to favor nature pics (capturing odd angles and shapes) and I like sepia tones (that funky yellow-brown color you see in the older photos - I like the idea of taking new or modern subjects, and photographing them with an “old” appearance), but all that’s a topic for another day I suppose.

18. Oh, and did I mention yard work?

Whew! That’s a long list. No excuse for being bored this summer. Now if only I could figure out how to play hooky from work – that would truly be bodacious.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Episcopalians Refuse Affirmation of Christ

I normally wouldn't directly blog stuff that I have received in email or read online, but this was so mouth-dropping, I had to post it. A sad state of affairs, indeed...

Episcopalians Refuse Affirmation of Christ

By Hans Zeiger, VirtueOnline Correspondent

COLUMBUS, OHIO (6/20/06)-The House of Deputies of the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church today overwhelmingly refused to even consider a resolution that affirmed Jesus Christ as the "only name by which any person may be saved."

"This type of language was used in 1920s and 1930s to alienate the type of people who were executed. It was called the Holocaust. I understand the intent, but I ask you to allow the discharge to stay," said the Rev. Eugene C. McDowell, a graduate of Yale Divinity School and Canon Theologian for the Diocese of North Carolina.

The convention's Committee on Evangelism first heard the resolution and discharged it to the chagrin of that committee's chairman, the Rev. Colenzo Hubbard, a noted evangelist and director of Emmanuel Episcopal Center in the Diocese of West Tennessee. The Rev. Hubbard motioned to lift the resolution from the discharge list, but after heated debate, more than seven tenths of the House of Deputies rejected the motion.

Drafted by the Rev. Guido Verbeck, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Western Louisiana, Resolution D058 declared the Episcopal Church's belief in an "unchanging commitment to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only name by which any person may be saved," and it acknowledged evangelism as "the solemn responsibility placed upon us to share Christ with all persons when we hear His words, 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through me' (John 14:6)."

The resolution further affirmed "the substitutionary essence of the Cross and the manifestation of God's unlimited and unending love for all persons," while calling on the Episcopal Church to renew its Scripture-based witness to "all persons."

The Rev. Hubbard said that he voted for the resolution in committee because of his simple responsibility as a Christian. Hubbard quoted several verses of Scripture to demonstrate his conviction. "I do agree that Jesus Christ is both the substitutionary essence of the Cross and the manifestation of God's unlimited and unending love for all persons," said Hubbard, once a star on the University of Alabama football team.

Echoing Hubbard, Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon, a leading conservative in the denomination, argued for a "reaffirmation of what some have called 'the scandal of particularity' of the Cross."

Judy Mayo from the Diocese of Fort Worth also opposed discharge. "My friends, this is a church convention, and this is the very essence of our faith. This may be the most important thing we deal with at this entire convention...Surely we can say together that Jesus Christ is Lord. And if we can't, we have no reason to be here."

But liberals outnumbered Hubbard, Harman, and Mayo by far.

The Rev. McDowell of the Diocese of North Carolina told VirtueOnline after the floor vote, "In the Episcopal Church we don't do up and down votes on Jesus Christ as Lord, and to do so is potentially a mean-spirited approach, to ask questions that aren't meant to be questions."

McDowell explained that how one lives his life is the more important issue than whether one affirms Jesus as Lord. To place a statement of belief over actions is the essence of "self-righteousness," he said. "Actions speak louder than proclamations...What Jesus calls us to do is to live our lives."

McDowell outlined his basic theology of grace: "Salvation by grace is remembering that we are the children of a living God. Grace is already there. And salvation is realizing we now live into that salvation. And sanctification is the transforming of my life from one that's me-centered to one that's God-centered."

But to acknowledge the exclusive Lordship of Christ in a resolution would be too much for McDowell and the majority of deputies at the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Robert Certain of the Diocese of San Diego told the House of Deputies that he refused to consider the resolution because the General Convention of 1982 had endorsed salvation through Christ alone, and a resolution was unnecessary.

But the message was clear to the Rev. Donald Perschall, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Centralia, Illinois, as he left the convention hall Tuesday, shocked by the events of the day. "On top of leaving the Anglican Communion, we've decided to leave Jesus Christ behind as well."

It was not a surprise vote though; the liberalization of the Episcopal Church predates 1982. Episcopalians have made it clear by their rejection of traditional marriage and other recent innovations that a new set of principles now dominate the Episcopal Church. Though the trend toward liberalism in the Episcopal Church has been ongoing for decades, it was in 2003 that the consecration of a homosexual as Bishop of New Hampshire crystallized the departure of the denomination from its bearings in classical Anglicanism.

Dr. Michael Howell of the Diocese of Southwestern Florida and a member of the Special Committee that deliberated the Convention's response to the global Anglican Communion's Windsor Report, told VirtueOnline that the discharge of Resolution D058 is "very much related" to the failure of Resolution A161 moments earlier.

A161 would place a moratorium on the consecration of homosexual bishops and the blessing of homosexual unions in a minimal effort to comply with the Windsor Report. It was soundly defeated on the floor of the House of Deputies Tuesday.

"If we cannot affirm the unique salvific power of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are no longer a Christian church." Switching to a sarcastic tone, Howell declared, "We have no need for a Creed. Why do again what we did in the past?"

"This clearly shows that we are of a mind that does not affirm Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. And we should not be surprised that our church is dying spiritually," said Howell.

The final tally on the electronic vote was 70.5 percent for discharge (675 votes) and just 29.5 (242 votes) to consider the resolution affirming Jesus Christ as Lord.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Coffee and hot-melt gun on ciabatta? Lunchtime ramblings...

No, I'm not planning on making a habit of blogging about what I had for lunch (whether I have grilled cheese or whatnot for lunch isn't really anyone's business), but bear with me on this. Let the rambling begin.

So, I'm having my lunch - a tomato, mozzarella and basil sandwich on ciabatta that I bought at the $tarbuck$ near work. I love Starbucks despite their exhorbitant prices [I suppose if I am going to let them be my coffee pusher and fuel my caffeine habit, they can pretty much charge what they want], and I really love their TMB on ciabatta sandwiches (kinda like a Caprese salad, which I also love). Anyway, while I'm eating lunch (yes, in my office - sadly I've allowed myself to become too much of a hermit at work) and this email pops up. Seems this one guy has misplaced his hot-melt gun and has sent a company-wide email inquiring as to its whereabouts. This must be one special hot-melt gun to warrant a company-wide email! Carol Duval needs to be told right away! Heaven forbid that a special hot-melt gun turn up missing! (Who's Carol Duval, you ask? She's on that one artsy-crafty show on HGTV in the morning which I will watch when I'm home sick from work - it's kinda fun, sometimes interesting, sometimes boring, but beats the heck out of most of the other swill on TV.)

Anyway, that email just struck me as funny. I'm sure that guy will find his hot-melt gun (I hope he doesn't accidentally sit on it or anything - though that might be one way to find it), and we can all return to our lunches, be they tomato, mozzarella and basil on ciabatta, or PB&J or chicken gra prao (Thai food! Mmmmm!), or whatever.

Ah well, my lunch is finished and I have to go back to work (after stopping by the kitchenette for a cup of coffee-flavored[?] battery acid - hey, at least it has caffeine in it). Hope your lunch was enjoyable (and entertaining) as well.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Blast From the Past

Earlier this week, I was IM'ed by someone I hadn't seen in years (I won't name names, out of courtesy, but you know who you are). We rode the same bus to school and I graduated a year ahead of her. She had found me via Yahoo 360 (hey, it works!) and dropped an IM just to say "Hi". Talk about a blast from the past! It was a brief conversation, but a good one.

Funny thing is, though, I had never given much of a second thought to anyone from back then; high school did little for me other than provide fodder to share with my therapist (just kidding - no therapist). I was, by and large, considered the school geek, and yeah - it bothered me like crazy at the time - but now I like to think I've gotten past all that.

I did go to my 10yr reunion (lesee - holy cow! - that was almost 11 years ago!), mostly on a lark, just to see what everyone was up to. It was fun showing up wearing sandals and a ponytail (if you knew me back from the mid 80's, you'd know that something like that would be a major non sequitur for me). All in all, it wasn't a horrible time there (though the LCS reunions are notoriously lame), and it did confirm that people do [finally] mature if you give them enough time - myself included. I have not heard from anyone in my class since then nor have I even been back for a reunion, but that's ok. Everyone has their own lives, and I have learned to not care so much about what other people think - I think everyone has their own insecurities or issues at some level or other, and it probably drives some to rag on others to hide their own.

BTW - I ditched that whole ponytail thing a few months later. It really wasn't my thing (nor was that nasty "bowl cut" I used to sport back in school, but that's another story).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Soapbox Moment #1: Miami Tops Auto Club List for Rude Drivers (Surprise - It's Not Boston!)

Check this out: Miami Tops Auto Club List for Rude Drivers

I'm surprised that Boston is merely number 5 on this list. Boston drivers (well, Massachusetts drivers in general) have got to be the most obnoxious and self-centered drivers around! I mean, would it kill a person to actually use their signal lights? If someone actually does signal to turn, it's usually just as they begin to turn (gee, thanks for letting people know!) And, Heaven forbid that you should have to pull out onto a street or anything. Good luck in getting someone to let you out! (Is that extra few seconds you might have to wait in order to let someone out gonna mess up your whole day?)

No, I did not get my initial driver's licence in MA - I got it in NY (state, not city), where they actually teach you about driving courteously and (get this!) what right-of-way means!

It's going to be loads of fun when my oldest learns to drive - I can't wait to find out what all the differences are between when I learned to drive and now (no cracks about 'horseless carriages', please!) :-)

I could rant mindless about any number of other kinds of driving 'weirdness' out here, but I think I'll save that for another time.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mr. Mom & Joke du jour

Patti's a little under the weather today, so I'm at home doing the Mr. Mom thing so that she can rest. BTW - we homeschool our three kids: MJ, age 13; Bethanie, age 11; and Thomas, age 9.

All in all, a relatively uneventful day thus far. But in the spirit of kids and dealing with them today, here is a joke I saw in email that seems appropriate.

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to "honor thy father and thy mother," she asked "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?"

Without missing a beat one little boy answered,

"Thou shall not kill."

Yeah, maybe it's old, but you gotta love the classics

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Not much today, just new pics

I uploaded pics of my recent crochet projects - haven't crocheted in years, but just started up again in the past couple of months. Already have afghans made for the kids, plus coordinating pillows. Currently working on an afghan for Patti that will go well in the living room.

I am also currently in the second week of the 4-week Wilton cake decorating class (course 1). I've been wanting to for a long time, and so for my birthday Patti gave me a Michael's gift card which had enough to get signed up for all 3 courses, plus some supplies. I'm a very happy camper indeed.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A blog about nothing?

Ok - so I'm no Jerry Seinfeld (just as well), but what the heck. I'd thought I'd get the ball rolling one way or another.

Mostly just put together my blogroll - the list of websites I'd like to share with others. What's missing thus far is a link to Jay Severin's website (because he doesn't have one yet, from what I can tell). I too, am best described as a "radical independent". I agree with most of what Jay says on his radio show, but not always 100% (some of his ideas are a little extreme). But I did add a link to Laura Ingraham's official website - another person whose ideas align fairly close to my own.

And all the the usual suspects are there as well - various websites I like and frequent. More on some of those another time.