Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ice Storm Aftermath Update #2

Just to keep you all (or y'all, or all y'all) in the loop - some really good progress was made today.

The fire department was finally able to come and drain the water out of the cellar (plus turn off the main breaker, as a precaution). The electrician is scheduled to come tomorrow - Patti will be meeting with him at the house (since I'll end up needing to be at work), plus she'll be there to start taking photos for the insurance company. And also, my friend Paul has agreed to cat-sit Angel for a couple of days, so she has someplace considerably warmer to stay.

My stress level has gone substantially in the 24+ hours that we've been at our friend's in North Leominster. Things are finally starting to move in regards to the steps necessary to make our house livable again.

Things are starting to look up...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Quick Update

We're all safe and sound and staying with some friends for a few days until the necessary repairs, inspections, and the other "whatevers" can take place at home. While I am very grateful for the shelters and all of that, I very glad that we're not in them anymore (I will save the stories for another day).

Just wanted to let everyone know that things are looking up here at last.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Where We're At

Putting in a quick blog entry just to let everyone where where we're at.

A major ice storm hit New England on Thursday night, and we have been without power since 10pm Thursday. No power, no heat, and the basement (which houses the washer/dryer, furnace and water heater) has been covered by about 8 inches of water. Plus the electrical meter box got pulled away from the house, so Unitil can't do much (other than branch removal from the wires - which is a big step in the right direction) until an electrician is able to make the needed repairs.

We're currently staying at a shelter until all the necessary repairs are done, power restored, and all water heater and furnace have been inspected and/or repaired. As such I don't have any network access except at work, so I can only check in from time to time.

At least the family and I are all safe, warm and dry.

See you in a couple (or more!) days...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sick at Work (or is it Sick From Work?)

I really should be at home resting. I have this really nasty headcold that I thought was on it's way out, but relapsed over the weekend.

I know that all I need is a couple of days of rest, but I don't see how that is possible with all that has to be done. It doesn't help any that the those things I need to get done at work can't be done by logging in from home - oh no, these things require my presence there. So off I go trudging out into the cold, wetness for the train ride to work, doing non-rest there, and then than back home.

My sinuses are clogged, I'm getting a bad cough, my head hurts, and I'm pissed-off to boot.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey Day Trip, Longer Version

Tonight's the night. I have somehow managed to survive another year of NaBloPoMo. Admittedly, it seemed a lot easier last year.

Anyhow, I said I would go into a little more detail about the recent trip to New York for the Thanksgiving holiday, so here goes.

We all got up around 4:00 AM Wednesday morning (how we pulled that off with 2 teenagers and a pre-teen, I'll never know!) and got on the road by around 5:30. We usually have to stop every couple of hours for the requisite "potty break", but even with that we arrived at our destination of Fowler, New York at around 12:30 that afternoon. For those of you who haven't the foggiest idea where Fowler is (which would be the vast majority of you), it is a tiny "don't blink or you'll miss it" town about 7 miles south of Gouverneur. As to where Gouverneur is - it is about halfway between Watertown and Potsdam, in the St. Lawrence River area (go up to the Canadian border, and hang a left).

We stayed at the home of Patti's brother, Jeff, and his wife Debbie, and their two kids, Tom and Katie. All five kids (I don't care how old the teens are, they are still 'kids') had fun there, and the adults enjoyed sitting around talking, having our drinks (Smirnoff Ice, thank you), and watching a little television (nice change of pace for us, since we haven't had cable since February!).

In the two-and-a-half years since we were up there last, Jeff and Debbie had gotten a dog named Dixie. She's a brown mix-breed that kinda looks like a cross between a golden retriever and a collie. Cute as could be and very smart. Patti's other brother, Jamie, and his wife Laurie, live next door and also acquired a dog - this one a Siberian husky named Maya. Also very adorable (but I might be a bit biased since I had a couple of of huskies growing up and just love 'em to pieces). Was fun watching the two of them playing outside.

Thanksgiving consisted of watching the Macy's parade, and munching down cheese, crackers, pepperoni, and Croghan bologna (that will need to be explained another time), plus more Smirnoff Ice (I'm seeing a pattern emerging here!). Debbie's folks came over, plus another one of Patti's brothers, Larry (a non-practicing priest who teaches at one of the area schools). We all chowed down on turkey, ham, and all the assorted goodies that go with them. And pie. Later we paid a visit to some more relatives in the area - Patti's aunt and uncle, and the cousins from that side of the family. Plus more animals: a half-witted beagle, a cat, and two rabbits. And more pie.
We get back to Jeff and Debbie's after that and caught the tail end of a Jeff Dunham show on Comedy Central, which was freakin' hilarious (this guy's a riot!)

Friday brought more hanging out, plus a visit from Patti's former babysitter (I'm not going into how long ago that might have been).

We left on Saturday morning (almost not, because the Blazer decided not to start at one point; turned out there was a short somewhere. After a jump start, things started working again - mental note to get the short checked out). We made it back to Fitchburg at 4:30 in the afternoon.

All in all, a good trip.

All in all, a good month of blogging. Then again, any month that I actually get some blogging done is a good month.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey Day Trip, Short Version

Well, we're back home from our holiday trip to upstate New York! Of course, there is plenty to blog about - the food, the dogs (both of Patti's brothers have acquired dogs since we were up there last), so on and so forth. Short version - we had a good, relaxing time.

Long version? Well, that will have to wait until tomorrow because I've been starting at the blank text box in Blogger for the past 20-25 minutes, eyes and mind glazing over as I succumb to exhaustion.

I will try to wrap up NaBloPoMo tomorrow with a recap of the holiday goings-on.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Florida Court Set Atheist Holy Day

This was too good not to share!

In Florida, an atheist created a case against the upcoming Easter and Passover holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians, Jews & observances of their holy days. The argument was: it is unfair that atheists had no such recognized day(s).

The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, "Case dismissed."

The lawyer immediately stood objecting to the ruling saying, "Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter & others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur & Hanukkah. Yet my client & all other atheists have no such holidays."

The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, "But you do. Your client, counsel, is woefully ignorant."

The lawyer said, "Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists."

The judge said, "The calendar says April 1st is 'April Fools Day.' Psalm 14:1 states 'The fool says in his heart, there is no God.' Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned."

Thursday, November 27, 2008


A good day was had by all. Full of turkey, ham, and all manner of good stuff. Now we're all chillin' out in front of the tube watching Jeff Dunham.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kicking Back

Made it to New York, and just in time too! Just as soon as we got up here, the snow started coming down - hard! Time to kick back and have a drink.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Out of Town

The whole crew will be leaving (early!) tomorrow morning to head up to New York (waaay upstate) to visit Patti's family for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Despite the lack of access to the "interwebs" while up in the boondocks, I will try to keep up on my blogging while out of state - either by emailing pics to Blogger from my cellphone (as signal level permits), or by scheduling stuff to be posted (already have something set to go for Friday).

I should be back home on Saturday, and will return to the regularly-scheduled writer's block at that time.

Monday, November 24, 2008


08.11.24 - Year 2, Day 28, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

This is me, 28 days into the 365days project, and 24 days into NaBloPoMo. Staring blankly at the computer screen as usual.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On the Fence

Fencetop, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

Okay, maybe I'm not on the fence, which implies not wanting or somehow unable to decide something, or attempting to remain neutral about something.

I have lots of things to blog about, but I am finding that when I am able to sit down to think about blogging about something, it's later in the evening when it's quiet and free of distractions - unfortunately, that's also the time when I have little energy to devote to actually putting words to page (or screen). By this time of day, I'm more inclined to fall asleep at the keyboard, rather than typing at it.

Yeah I know it's the same complaint I've expressed fairly recently, but as you see, I'm still complaining about it.

I guess if there was anything I would be on the fence about regarding this, it would be on the question of whether I should be so frustrated over this. I know I shouldn't let this bother me, but it does.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dance Photo

Dance 2, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

This is one of my current favorite art photos, and I think it is one of the photos I will be putting up in my office.

Friday, November 21, 2008


08.11.21 - Year 2 Day 25, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

Here I am, 3 weeks into this year's NaBloPoMo, and 25 days into my second attempt at a second year of 365 daily self-pics. Haven't missed a day yet this time around.

But this has been yet another one of 'those' weeks - although the big difference is that this week I've felt like I've actually gotten things done!

And with that, I'm calling it a night.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's All Greek to Me!

I posted this pic mainly as an experiment, to see how well posting to Blogger via email works. I sent this from my cameraphone; it seems to have worked well enough, though the photos don't show up as large here as they would if I had just sent it to Flickr first, and then blogged it from there, like I usually do. Ah well - at least this gives me another way to post.

The photo is of a sign that I saw walking in downtown Maynard, on my way to work some time ago. This is at the site of what had been the Boston Bean House, a nice little coffee shop. That place had moved down the street, and another - La Matina Cafe - is coming here in its place. On the sign is included greetings in various languages. Including what I thought was Greek. Upon closer examination however, I discovered that it was not Greek for "Good Morning" or anything like that. Oh sure, the letters are definitely those from the Greek alphabet (which I can still remember from my years in Alpha Phi Omega) - but the letters are just being used phonetically; they simply spell out "Opening Soon". Clever, but I was admittedly a little disappointed. But still, if their coffee is at least as good as that at the Boston Bean House, all will be forgiven.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Busy Busy

The New Digs, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

As usual, work's been keeping me really busy lately.

So busy, in fact, that I've had to relinquish some vacation days I had planned between now and the end of the year, in order to be sure that I can get my testing done prior to whenever we end up shipping our next release (even though the release day keeps getting further and further out). I've already logged those upcoming vacation days with Payroll, but that just means that I can take some 'comp time' later.

The release will be over soon enough though, and then onto the next project.

By the way - the photo is of my new office space. What you can't see in the photo is how bare the walls are (other than a calendar, a framed beach scene, and some photos of the kids, that is). I used to have a bunch of assorted posters on the walls in my old office, but I've had those things for a long time (going on 20 years), so it's time for a change. I'm thinking of getting some of my better photography (what of it there is) matted and framed, and hanging some of them up at work.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Quote

I know - this is two in a row. No more quotes after tonight (for a little while), I promise.

No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.
  • Samuel Adams (letter to James Warren, 4 November 1775)

Monday, November 17, 2008


For good or ill, this quote is very apt for our current point in history...
"It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn."
  • George Washington, letter to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, September 5, 1789

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Tomorrow's Monday, the weekend's nearly over, and I currently don't have any neurons to spare to get a proper blog entry done tonight.

Just thought I'd share that.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

7 Things for NaBloPoMo Hump Day

Here it is, day 15 of NaBloPoMo - halfway done with the month already! It's Hump Day, baby!

I've seen on any number of blog sites at one time or another a list of 7 things the reader may not know about the writer. Somehow, I've managed to get by without having done this as well.

Tonight however, I thought I'd break from trend and share with you my "7 things" list.

7 Things You May Not Have Known About CraftyGuy (Or Maybe You Did Know, Or Maybe You Didn't Really Want to Know, But Tough Crap - Here They Are Anyway)
  1. I don't do mornings. Morning is just that nasty thing you have to endure in order to get to the afternoon.
  2. Coffee and I are good friends; we go waaay back (to when I was 6 or 7 years-old or thereabouts). Coffee is what keeps me from making Damien (of the "Omen" movies) look like Papa Smurf [See item #1]. Coffee is the difference between teddy bear and grizzly bear.
  3. I am a former band geek. Concert band, jazz ensemble, marching band, field band - you name it. From 4th grade through high school. During that time, I've played clarinet, tenor sax, glockenspiel, and dabbled a little with trumpet and french horn. Plus on the side, I've tooled around with guitar and piano a wee bit.
  4. I have 5 brothers, the youngest of which is 15 years older than me. As such, the oldest of my nieces and nephews (12 of 'em!) is only 3 years younger than me. And now I have more grandnieces and grandnephews than I have been able to keep track of, and a couple of great-grandnieces as well! [For the record, I'm 41].
  5. According to Myers-Briggs, I am an INTP.
  6. I have a hatred of writing (just ask my high school English teacher) - I get writer's block at the drop of a hat. But somehow despite that, I rather much enjoy blogging.
  7. I speak my mind, and do not give a flaming rat's behind about political correctness. I won't go out of my way just to offend someone, but I sure as heck won't walk on eggshells just to avoid upsetting a person's delicate sensitivities, either. If you are of the easily-offended persuasion, I would suggest that you go to Wal-Mart and purchase a thicker skin. I'll gladly tell you what I think, but don't expect me to blow sunshine up your ass in the process. ;-)

There ya go. I have more I could probably list, but I will save those to inflict upon you for another time.

Friday, November 14, 2008


The office move is done, and I'm all unpacked. Things are looking really nice, if I do say so myself!

But this has been a long, exhausting week - and I'm dog tired.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Packing, Packing

I spent the better part of today packing up the stuff in my office to get moved. Do you know how much junk accumulates in 10+ years?

Too much.

Way too much.

The dumpster was very well fed today.

At least I'll have a clean slate tomorrow in my new office. That is, of course, after I unpack everything that I just packed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Coming Soon - A New Office

Not much to report on the work front today, other than I will be moving into a new office on Friday. Not far away from where I am right now, just around the corner in the same building.

I've been wanting to have my office moved for quite a while now. From the time Stratus had moved from Marlborough to Maynard, I have had the same office, right on the main aisle. Talk about a continual parade of distractions - everyone seems to think that the aisle is the perfect place to hold meetings - especially right outside my door! Grrrr.

But oh, happy day - I'm being moved from there to what should hopefully be a much quiet area.

In other news - I *finally* posted another pic to my art photography blog page; the last time I posted there was in June (naughty, naughty). I really need to keep up on that better, before people forget it's there...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I miss TV. There - I said it.

We haven't had television since February. In short, we need to trim expenses, and the cable bill was fair game. Now here it is, nine months later. Things are finally starting to show signs of improvement, but there's still a ways to go before Comcast gets a call.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Today I thought I'd share with you how this particular Monday went.

The alarm clock went off at 5:30 this morning and I woke up with one of those Migraines-from-Hell that I get from time to time. What make this one odd is that I usually only get them in the afternoon or in the evening, and usually when the air pressure is low - neither was the case this time. So today turned into a sick day, and I went back to sleep.

At around 9:45 I finally got out of bed and realized I'd better email in to my manager to let him know I wouldn't be in. Not a problem.

By 11:00 I had a couple of cups of coffee in me and the headache was finally subsided enough that I could at least sort of function. Spent a couple of hours working on a project for Bethanie that I promised I would have finished for her. She is in the chorus at her school this year, and to help her be able to practice her part, I put her sheet music into Allegro (a program that lets you enter music - an entire score if you want - and can create a MIDI file of the piece. I was glad the headache was on its way out by then. Funny how you end up doing stuff even on sick days.

At some point in the afternoon, I made the big mistake of checking my work email. One of the software development managers (not mine) sent me an email with only the subject line "Are you in today?" No message body, just the subject line. (Hello - you walk by my office on the way to yours, and if you see that the lights are out and no one is in there, it's a pretty safe bet that I'm not in). She drives me freaking nuts anyway; she's the type of manager who would schedule a series of daily meetings to discuss the particulars of why things aren't getting done (maybe it's because we're all wasting time attending your stupid meetings!) I'm glad she's not my manager - I would have quit a lonnng time ago. As it is, the only reason I'm still there is because I have bills to pay. I hate my job, and I'm not even there today.

Things picked up after that. MJ had a "date" of sorts. He would be taking his friend (not girlfriend, just a good friend who just happens to be of the female persuasion) to his JR-ROTC dinner dance (he is in the Marine Junior ROTC program at his school). It was kinda neat seeing him all dressed up with his "date" for the evening. A very cute couple indeed (even if they aren't actually dating). I felt both proud and old. They had an enjoyable evening.

11:00pm rolls around and I'm in bed realizing that I had not taken my 365days self-pic nor did my blog entry for today - oh, crap! So I quickly snap a photo with my cameraphone and upload it to Flickr, and sit down and quickly brain dump a blog entry about the first thing that came to mind - how this day went. And now here we are.

Let's see what Tuesday brings...

Sunday, November 09, 2008


This is frustrating. I have lots of things to blog about, but usually not much energy late in the evening (and often well past my bedtime) to actually type anything. The problem with blogging earlier in the day is that I'm very prone to distractions (oooh, shiny!) so it's difficult to blog with the kids up and about.

So tonight's blog is about not blogging. Grrrr.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

There's Always Room For Cello!

Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of the group Apocalyptica. However, if you can rock out on the cello, you get my respect! This instrumental version of "Path" is (as they say here in New England) "wicked pissah". And a really cool video to boot!

Friday, November 07, 2008

FUTAB Friday

It's been a lonnnng week, but I've managed to keep with with my daily blogging for NaBloPoMo for a full seven days so far this month.

When I'm less tired (make that exhausted!), like tomorrow hopefully, I will fill you in on the goings on this week. Some crappy, some awesome. But for now, I'm FUTAB (Feet Up, Taking A Break).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rain, Rain, You're a Pain

Rainy days - I dislike them. Not just because they're cold and wet and dreary. But mostly because the low air pressure that comes with rainy weather always gives me headaches.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life Goes On

As I suspected, the election had not gone as I had hoped. And of course the world did not suddenly go careening out of its orbit as a result of this election. The sun still rises and sets. Life goes on.

How do I feel about what might or might not happen over the next 4 or - Heaven forbid! - 8 years? It is far too soon to say. I don't agree with many of our President-Elect's ideas, but I will choose to (at least try to) be circumspect on all of this for now.

Life goes on.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

I did my civic duty and voted.

I'm not terribly optimistic as to the outcome of this (from the presidential election standpoint), but I'm hopeful that we'll be rid of the state income tax.

Regardless of the outcome, the upside of this is the record number of people coming out to vote this year!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Before You Vote

Please check out this MUST SEE video before you vote.

The Day After

The Day After, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

As I've mentioned previously, I don't do Halloween; I have just never really been into it all that much. However, the first workday after Halloween - now that's an entirely different matter!

Co-workers come in that day bearing sacks containing all manner of sugar laden goodness that they were unable to foist upon their evening visitors dressed as ghouls, goblins, Hannah Montanas, and other horrifying creatures.

Let the candy coma commence!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Crafting For a Cause

Every year (well at least for the past couple of years), I have participated in a project called "Warm Up America". What this entails is making a whole bunch of 7x9" crocheted or knitted "squares" which will be made into afghans that are donated to various places (such as women's shelters, nursing homes, preschools, etc.). Not only do you get to use up scrap yarn (which tends to accumulate very quickly), but it helps out those in need. Plus this year, I have the assistance of Patti and Bethanie, both of whom I've taught to crochet over the past few weeks, so now we're really cranking out the squares!

(In other news - at 9:41pm this evening, my photostream on Flickr reached 20,000 views! This of course has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but I though I'd throw that in there.)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

And We're Off (?)

Off and running. Well, sort of...

Today is November 1, the start of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) - the object of which is to blog every day for an entire month. So here I am at the computer attempting to come up with something to blog about.

Oh sure, there are actually lots of things about which to write: I can play catch-up from the month or so that I was away from blogging because I was too dang busy; I can fill you in on the state of affairs with Montachusett Harmonizers (we're up to a quartet now); I can put in my $0.02 regarding the Presidential race this year (I have a pretty good idea as to the outcome, and I'm none too happy about it!); or I can show you my latest crochet project. The list goes on and on.

Truth be told, however - I'm just too tired tonight. I'm glad for the extra hour of sleep that I'll get because the clocks got turned back - it will be an hour well-spent (Zzzzzz).

I joked in my very first blog entry that this would be a blog about nothing. Well, tonight's the night that I make good on that.

So much to blog about, so little energy.

Stay tuned...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween (or Happy NaBlaPoMo Eve)

I'm really not much for the whole Halloween thing, but thought I would have a little fun in Photoshop.

Anyhow, tomorrow is the start of NaBloPoMo and I will be trying to blog every day for a month. Now that would be spooky!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Starting Again

Starting Again, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

In case anyone’s been wondering whether I’ve just simply dropped off the face of the earth – nope, still here. I’ve just been letting life get in the way a whole bunch lately, which isn’t bad per se, but it does cause other things, like taking photos and blogging for example, to languish a bit.

I won’t try to dump the entire “what I’ve been up to over the past month or so” out all at once, so you’ll be spared that for now. November 1 is in a few days, and that day marks the beginning of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). So if I can keep up things, you’ll be hearing plenty from me as it is. That should be a good opportunity to get a fresh start on blogging regularly again.

Speaking of fresh starts, today I have re-started my second year of daily self-pics (aka “365days”). Back in November of 2007, I had managed to complete one full year of taking a photo of myself each day and posting it to Flickr (which could have done a lot more damage than any large hadron collider could have – how do you collide large hadrons anyway…never mind, I don’t want to know). My attempt at a second year fell way short, so here I am giving it another go. And so, I am sharing my Year 2, Day 1 photo in this blog entry – don’t worry, I won’t be making a habit of blogging my self-pics; maybe only occasionally, and then only those pics I deem particularly good (so you won’t see too many of them here). If your curiosity gets the better of you, you are certainly more than welcome to check them out in my Flickr photostream as they get posted.

That’s enough for now – can’t very well expend all my blogging energy in one sitting, now can I?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


McCain/Palin, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

Monday, August 25, 2008


As I fall further behind on my blogging, the video on my PC goes up... Grrrrrr

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Air-Conditioned Computer Chips?

News crap of the day:

Researchers look to air-condition computer chips

So, let me get this straight - we're all expected to reduce our hydroflourocarbon usage because it is one of the plethora of substances that damage the environment, yet some schmucks at Purdue University are working on a way to air-condition computer chips, using that very same stuff?


Does Al Gore know about this? Has Michael Moore been notified?

[Not that I actually give a flaming crap about what either one of those boneheads have to say. Neither one has been heard from much lately (thankfully), and are likely due to shoot off their mouths and further contribute to global warming by way of their (ob)noxious emissions.]

Monday, July 14, 2008

History Lesson

A little something to tide you over until I can blog for real...

Do you know what happened this week back in 1850, 158 years ago? California became a state. The State had no electricity. The State had no money. Almost everyone spoke Spanish. There were gunfights in the streets. So basically, it was just like it is today, except the women had real breasts and the men didn't hold hands.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The News Pitch

MasterKey PitchPipe, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

I had said in a previous blog post that I had a wee bit of news to share, and now I'm finally getting off my duff to do so.

I used to sing with the Sounds of Concord, a men's barbershop chorus. What's barbershop you ask? Simply put, it's a style of 4-part close harmony a cappella singing wherein the melody is usually sung in the second highest part (the "lead"), with the tenor harmonizing above the melody and the baritone and bass harmonizing below. Anyhow, I used to sing baritone in the Sounds of Concord for a number of years, as well as in a quartet (no, we did not wear those silly vests and straw hats - though the hats might be fun), but had to stop a couple of years ago due to scheduling constraints.

The news is this - I, along with my friend Paul (who still is with SoC, and was in that quartet I sang with), are forming a new chorus in the local (Fitchburg/Leominster/Westminster, MA) area. The working name for the chorus is the "Montachusett Harmonizers" (Montachusett is a regional name, comprised of the name of the three mountains in the area: Monadnock, Watatick, and Wachusett). Eventually, we'd like this chorus to become part of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

We have the date, time and location for our first get-together/meet-and-greet/mini-rehearsal all set, as well as the first few prospective members. Still trying to nail down a location for the weekly rehearsals, but I think we're close to having that nailed down as well. I need to confirm, but I think I will be able to obtain use of a room at my church for that purpose.

Anyhow, that's the news. I will be keeping you updated as things progress.

Monday, June 23, 2008

R.I.P. George Carlin, 1937-2008

One of the greats has passed on. George Carlin died last night. While I certainly didn't agree with everything he had to say, he certainly said it all in a way that most of us only wish we could. Funny and to the point, Mr. Carlin had more common sense in his little finger than all Liberal-dom (or is that Liberal-dumb), and wasn't afraid to say so.

In response to his (in)famous "Seven Things You Can't Say on TV", I was thinking I might try putting together a blog entry on the "Seven Thing You'd Wish They'd Say More Often on TV", but that may well be a entry for another time.

George Carlin is -and was - my most favorite of the politically incorrect crowd, and will be sorely missed, that's for sure...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Constant Motion

Dance 3, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

So much for blogging again within a month's time! Ah well. Life's been in constant motion for a few months now, and it gets hard to keep on top of things.

Anyhow, here's yet another installment in the "catch-up" game. This photo was taken last week at the dress rehearsal for Bethanie's dance recital. She has been dancing with NECPAC (New England Christian Performing Arts Center) for a couple of years now, in the Jr. I Ballet and Jr. I Hip Hop classes. No, she is not in the photo above - out of the 30 or so photos I took, only four of them came out acceptable to me (and even decently artsy) - and they all had a ton of motion blur. Fortunately, it was the blur that really made them work! I may post another for my next blog entry (they're also on my Flickr page).

Here to trying to blog again soon, especially since I gots me some news - but it's really late and I'm tired, so I will save it for now. Hopefully it really will be less than a month from now the next time I post...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Catching Up With More Than Just Yard Work

The Back Forty, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

Another round of too-much-time has elapsed since when I last blogged. It has been an insane couple of months or so - especially the past 4 or 5 weeks. Without going into too much detail at the moment (leaving me will additional blog-fodder for later), here is a summary of the proceedings as of late.

Let's start with the flu bug that went through the house with a vengeance. Stupid flu shot didn't do squat this year. Grrrr. I've only in the past few days gotten over this stupid cough. Though neither Bethanie nor Patti could just have the flu; when all was said and done, they both ended up on the ever-popular Z-Pack to knock out the tail end of their health issues (I have a story about my own experience with the Z-Pack, which I will save for another time). But everyone is now better or nearly there.

Work has been a bear, as usual. On one hand, I am the only one there doing what I do. On the other hand, it's job security. Plus there is stuff in the works that, once it comes to fruition later this year, will mean I will have a few more responsibilities at work (with which - I am so hoping - will include a bit more of the 'ol green stuff).

The lawn mower was sent out for repairs three weeks ago, and only became available yesterday. Do you know how quickly a lawn can turn into a pasture? I'll give you a hint: it's less than three weeks. The photo gives you an idea of what I'll be contending with.

That's a good start on the catching up for now. I can elaborate on these, plus get you caught up on some other things, when next I blog - which will be considerably sooner than a month from now, I assure you.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Quick One

A quick entry from the "Truly Random Thoughts" department...

If your rocket launcher fails to fire, does that mean you suffer from Projectile Dysfunction?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Yup, Still Here

I'm still here, but been way too froggin' busy lately to even do a decent blog entry, but I couldn't let the entire month of March go by without posting something - even if only a couple of sentences.

Plus, I'm feeling totally crappy right now (probably the latest round of whatever the kids brought home), so this is going to be a short one.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Look What I Got!

New Camera - My First dSLR, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

I received a package today from my awesome photographer friend Carol in Austin, TX. In that package was this nifty new (for me) camera.

Carol had recently gotten a new camera, and knew that I could and would most happily provide a good home for her old camera - a Canon 300D (the original Rebel). A sweet piece of equipment indeed!

Prior to this, I have never owned - let alone used - a dSLR camera before; I had been using a Kodak EasyShare C340 (your basic point-and-shoot type) up until this time. I know I gots me some learning to do in order to use this new baby to its fullest potential, so if my photos take a temporary dip in quality (as if they could dip any lower), you'll know why - so don't you be blamin' the camera!!

Happy, happy, joy, joy!
Happy, happy, click, click!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bar Stool Economics

I've been way too busy to even blog lately (never a good thing), but as soon as I can get my head back on straight, I'll be back to it.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share some wisdom I received in email today.

Our Tax System Explained: Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20." Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everyone's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings). The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings). The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28% savings). The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings). The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings). The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20 declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Please wait while Windows continues f***ing up your computer...

That pretty much sums it up.

I want a Mac and I want it NOW!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

You Couldn't Pay Me Enough!

You Are What You Drink, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

I saw this at the mall yesterday. Someone dressed up as an inflatable cup of coffee.

You couldn't pay me enough to don one of those stupid costumes! I prefer to drink my coffee, not wear it.

At least Victoria's Secret didn't do anything similar. They're only giving away a pair of pink panties with every $30 purchase - so says the signage anyway. I won't step foot in that place; it's waaay too pink for my liking - my eyes...they burn....

Imagine someone dressed as a pair of inflatable pink panties. On second thought - don't. Ewwwww....

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Idol"-ing Away This Evening

Tonight was the first night of "American Idol". I rather much like the audition episodes, they are in many ways more entertaining than the show proper. And so far, this season hasn't disappointed any in the cheap entertainment department.

And now, my list of what I consider to be the highlights of the low-lights:
  • Alaa: Mr. "Love 'Em from the Hair to the Nipple". WTF?
  • The "Go Down Moses" guy: Enunciation? Just say "no"!
  • Nick Stano: Please leave "Unchained Melody" to the pros. Don't try this at home.
  • ZhengZhong: Zzzzzzzzzzz
  • Udgeet: Another WTF?
  • Alexis: Pillar of maturity that you are... not! Oh, grow up!
  • Milo: Looks like Peter Yarrow, sounds like Billy Crystal. 'Nuff said...
  • Ben: What the Flaming Hell was that? Ewwww! And what's with the waxing - dude, that is just plain not right, not to mention against the laws of nature. No self-respecting guy does that. Then again, Ben, you're clearly no self-respecting guy...
  • Paul the Stalker: Ahhh... Security?
  • Cristina: Princess Leia in hot pants, fishnet stockings, and leather boots. Mommy, I'm scared!
I daresay that's enough "entertainment" for one night. I used to like "I Love Rock and Roll"...

(Patti suggested that I should at least make mention of some of the more touching moments. Oh puh-leeze! Save it for Oprah...)

Until Chewbacca yodels again...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Snow Day Dinner

Stew and Biscuit, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

Today was a snow day. Not just for the kids, but for myself as well.

Our street is not exactly on the priority list of streets in Fitchburg that get attention when the time comes to plow and salt the roads. Sure, the Blazer has 4-wheel drive, but is not being used until some necessary repairs are made to prevent things from bottoming out (one of a number of much-needed repairs that all have to wait until after tax-refund time). Suffice to say, I wasn't about to attempt the 25-mile commute to work today. Fortunately I was able to work from home today.

The kids spent much of the day outside (either playing or shoveling - since my back does not allow me to man the shovel for very long), Patti spent the day resting (having come down with the same headcold-from-hell that the rest of us are just about recovered from), and I spent the day in front of the computer, (mostly) working.

Evening came, and this kind of day cried out for something simple, yet warm and filling for dinner. A quick forage in the pantry revealed a few cans of beef stew and a can of peas, and the fridge provided a couple of canisters of pre-made biscuit dough.

The biscuits were brushed with butter, and topped with Parmesan cheese and a garlic-herb blend, and placed in the oven. The stew and peas came together in a large pot, along with a little bit of allspice and some dried parsley (the fresh would have to wait until the next payday). This made for a totally awesome meal, if I do say so myself! If we had some in the house, I could see having a nice glass (or two) of Merlot with this.

It goes to show that sometimes the best things are the simple ones.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Getting "Mugged"

01.04.08 Mugshot, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

Yes, I've been known to get a little surly sometimes, so what of it? I'm damn proud of it!

Seriously though, this photo was taken for the latest Utata project, "Mugshots". It was a hell of a lotta fun. I have a couple of 'em posted to the project already, and I might even do one more before I'm finished.

Plus it helps that they can double as shots for the 365days project on Flickr as well...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Another One Done

Purple Afghan, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

Last night I finished that afghan I started in early December. I was hoping to have not only this one done by the end of December, but another one as well. That's how crazy busy it's been.

At least the next one is started - a nice light blue one for Patti this time.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Good Morning and Happy New Year

1.1.08 Good Morning, originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.

Happy New Year, everyone!

It's been too long since I blogged last (yet again!), but nonetheless here I am, making another go of it.

I'm enjoying a nice quiet morning, while everyone else is still asleep upstairs (except for Bethanie whose internal clock also woke her up despite none of us having gone to sleep until 2am). And the cat, of course. MJ was planning on staying up the entire night and then going to bed at 6am - I wonder how he fared with that.

I'm certainly in no rush to wake anyone up - the house is really quiet and peaceful for a change.