Tuesday, October 31, 2006

2006 Pumpkin Creations

Happy Halloween!

These were my entries into the pumpkin contest this year at work.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Photos: Blowing Rock and Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina

Last weekend we took a trip out to the western part of the state, and checked out the scenery during "peak" leaf season.

View from Blue Ridge Parkway

Blowing Rock

Tree on Grandfather Mountain

View from Grandfather Mountain

Under the swinging bridge

Monday, October 23, 2006

My Dunkin' Donuts Depravity Days My Be Numbered

Ever since moving to the South, I have missed the availability of Dunkin' Donuts. Their donuts are far superior to Krispy Kreme, the donut shop mainstay of The South, and I'll take a Dunkin' Donuts coffee (affectionately known to me as The Sweet Nectar Of The Gods) over a Starbucks any day of the week. Whenever I travel to the Northeast, I make sure a trip (or five) to Dunkin' Donuts is on the itinerary.

Finally, however, I read today that Dunkin' Donuts is attempting to expand into the South. I can't wait!

I certainly believe there is a market for Dunkin' down here. A poll on MSNBC on consumers preference between Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts split the vote essentially right down the middle, with Dunkin' Donuts having a slight edge when I checked the vote.

Time To Make The Donuts...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Barack Obama considering a run for the Presidency

Illinois Senator Obama said today that he is considering a run for President in 2008. I have a few thoughts on this, some ridiculous, some less so:

*Could the Democrats really nominate someone whose name sounds like "Iraq Osama"?

*Oprah Winfrey is a huge fan of this guy. Apparently he is pretty inspiring. This makes me think there's no way the Dems will let him get nominated. Parties are afraid to have an inspiring politician run for office. They'd much prefer a guy like John Kerry.

*Obama has a new book out. Hey announcing you might run for President is a pretty good way to promote your book, no? Who wouldn't be more interested in a book that is by a guy who might be the next President? At least more than a book by some guy you never heard of but who's name sounds like Iraq Osama.

*It's awfully hard for a Senator to win the Presidency. Unlike governors, senators have a voting record that is easy to hold against them. There hasn't been a Senator elected to the Presidency (without being a V.P. first) since John F. Kennedy.

Barack Obama


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Why is quiche called quiche?

No straight man would ever walk into a public restaurant and order quiche without expecting snickers from any other guys within earshot. Why? Because quiche is the lamest name ever given to a food. It's dainty and it's weird. Even if it were spelled the way it's pronounced "Keesh," it would be acceptable, but no way am I ordering a food that starts with Qu and doesn't end with esadilla.

The shame of it is that quiche is actually the manliest food you could ever eat - if it were called what it really is. Ham, Egg, and Cheese Pie. PIE! Breakfast Pie! Who doesn't love pie? Who doesn't love a nice omelet? An omelet pie! What a great invention! I want to get me some ham egg and cheese pie right now!

But quiche? What do you take me for, some kind of wuss?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hiding In The Weed

From Yahoo! News and Reuters, an excerpt...

Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet-high marijuana plants. General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff, said on Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover...

"It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices ... and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," he said...

...Incineration had its drawbacks.

"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.

One soldier told him later: "Sir, three years ago before I joined the army, I never thought I'd say 'That damn marijuana'."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

One Last Post About Cory Lidle That's Not Really About Cory Lidle

I really annoyed at least one person with my last post. Someone posted an anonymous comment, accusing me of accusing Cory Lidle, the ballplayer who died in a plane crash yesterday of being a terrorist. That couldn't be further from the truth. Obviously the outpouring of sadness from the many people in baseball who worked with Cory Lidle attests to the fact that Lidle was a real decent guy, and it is very apparent that this was a tragic accident.

My posting yesterday, which I stand by and which I may have less than eloquently stated, was that it is interesting how hearing that the pilot was Cory Lidle was a relief to us, as though we found out it was our next-door neighbor who we'd been to barbecues with in past summers. For many people, the pilot of the plane went from being "possibly some psychopath," to "that nice guy who pitches for the Yankees," even though they had never had any interaction with him other than seeing him pitch on TV or maybe hearing him get interviewed on the radio.

That's all I'm saying.

Whenever someone commits a crime, you'll invariably read a quote in the news from a neighbor, co-worker, or even family member expressing shock that this person they "knew" could have done such a thing. It's natural that we never like to think that a person we know and like could have a dark side. And we seem to have the same feeling about ballplayers we see on TV, even though we know them less than we do our co-workers.

Rest In Peace, Cory Lidle. My heart goes out to your family members.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

And Suddenly, Hearing The Name "Cory Lidle" Eases Our Fears

This afternoon, after hearing news that a plane crashed into a New York City high-rise building, I was glued to the news. I listened to the story with great attention as it developed. From the moment the story broke, fears of the incident being an act of terrorism rarely subsided. Why did the FAA say it was a plane, while eyewitnesses said they saw a helicopter? We all, including Chuck Scarborough all felt doubt that this was not intentional. That is, until we learned that Cory Lidle was the pilot of the plane. Then, we all relaxed, felt sad for Lidle, who was obviously a new pilot who had lost control of his new powerful plane and accidentally and tragically crashed his plane.

Now, I am not saying Cory Lidle, the man who pitched for both and the Yankees, was a terrorist. But I think it is a very interesting statement about our "relationship" with professional athletes. We really believe we know these guys. But what do we really know about Cory Lidle, just because he was a pitcher for the Yankees? How do we know he wasn't an Al Qaeda sympathizer, or just a maniac? Just because we saw him pitch on TV?

The more we learn about the story, the more it does in fact seem like it was an inexperienced pilot who lost control of his too-powerful plane. We read tragic quotes from him, from just a month ago, where he talks about how safe flying is, and how safety features are in place, and that even if an engine died a pilot could still land safely. But I just wanted to take this moment to think about our emotional connection to the players we watch on TV. We like to think we know these guys, based on interviews and media accounts, and just watching them perform. But, when you think about it, it's kind of silly.

Aircraft Strikes New York City Skyscraper

When checking my e-mail, I saw a headline saying an aircraft had hit an NYC building. Thanks to the Internet, I'm able to watch live NBC New York news, with Chuck Scarborough anchoring. There is a ton of confusion, with the FAA saying it was a plane, and eyewitnesses saying it was a helicopter. The building is up on the Upper East Side, and it seems pretty unclear at this point whether it was an intentional hit on the building, or an accident.

Two bodies have been found on the ground.

Besides the obvious, this feels like 9/11 to me with all the conflicting reports and uncertainty. I imagine this is an extremely scary time for Manhattan residents.

NBC Story: http://www.wnbc.com/news/10053779/detail.html
CNN Story: http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/10/11/plane.crash/index.html
Live NBC video : http://www.wnbc.com/index.html#

UPDATE: 3:47 PM - The FDNY is saying the aircraft did not significantly penetrate the building, despite the frightening-looking video, and most of the aircraft fell onto the street. The fire was put out very quickly. The incident happened at about 2:50 PM, and it appears at this point the only casualties may have been to the passengers or pilots of the aircraft.

UPDATE: 3:56 - One report says that the aircraft made a sharp right turn right before the impact, leading to speculation that it was an intentional act. Scarborough wonders out loud if it was a 9/11 copycat. Another eyewitness says she saw the impact and it looked like a helicopter trying to avoid the building, having mechanical trouble. By the way, I am writing these updates not because I think my blog is a news source for anyone, but rather just to document it for reference later. My immediate thought was of course of family I have up in New York. My sister- and brother-in law live on the Upper WEST Side, and I can't think of anyone I know who live up near this building (524 East 72nd Street) right now.

UPDATE: 4:02 - I haven't heard anyone else say this, but I just realized today is October 11th - not quite an Anniversary of 9/11/01, but enough to make a person wonder. All official agencies are calling it a "fixed-wing" aircraft (i.e. airplane), contrary to eyewitnesses reports of a helicopter. Plenty of fodder for the conspiracy theorists out there, but the developing story is that it was indeed a plane due for White Plains airport - a story that seems to have been corroborated by ID on the luggage found on the ground.

UPDATE: 4:11 PM - Thinking about the odd date, I thought about Flight 587 that crashed in Queens in the months after 9/11. That crash actually happened on November 12, 2001. At the time, many people felt it was too coincidental for it to have been a mechanical failure. I'm hearing that today's incident involved a craft Cirrus, single engine 4 passenger plane, that has a parachute system in place, in case of mechanical failure. Scarborough says that the Cirrus plane could resemble a helicopter if the wings had somehow fallen off.

UPDATE 4:16 PM I just now heard that 4 people are dead from the crash - two of them inside the building.

UPDATE: 4:38 PM WNBC just had someone on who says the owner of the plane may have been Cory Lidle, a pitcher for the Yankees. They found a purchase agreement for the plane with Cory Lidle's name on it, and WNBC's news anchor Len Berman says he found a separate news report where Cory Lidle was a new pilot who had purchased a plane with the same description. In the just-finished ALDS, Cory Lidle allowed 3 runs on 4 hits in 1.3 innings.

UPDATE: 4:49 PM - The AP says that a law enforcement official confirmed that a member of the New York Yankees was aboard the aircraft. This is pretty shocking. Lidle could hardly be called a "goat" in the ALDS, though he did pitch pretty badly. Is it crazy to wonder if Lidle was so distraught to have crashed himself into a building? Lidle's passport was found on the street below the wreckage. The latest report says 9 people have been admitted to a local hospital with injuries from the crash.

UPDATE: 5:05 PM - It has pretty much been confirmed that Cory Lidle was the owner and pilot of the plane that crashed. Lidle was 34 years old. In 1979, Yankees catcher Thurmon Munson was killed at age 32 while trying to fly an airplane in Canton, Ohio. This is just bizarre and tragic. Lidle was also a former Mets pitcher.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Cool Invention For Unclogging Drains: Zip-It!

We have had a clog in one of our bathroom sinks for the past few weeks. I guess you could call it a "slow drain," where the basin fills up fast and takes a long time to drain out. My wife checked the trap, which was clear, and we'd tried all the traditional chemicals, to no avail. This weekend I found a better answer to our drain troubles, and it doesn't have any chemicals to dump into the water supply.

The product is called a Zip-It, by Cobra, (it costs $3 at Lowes!) and it's basically a 16" plastic strip with a bunch of teeth on it. You stick the Zip It down the drain, and slowly pull it back up. I pulled up enough hair and other gunk to make me think I had lost a hamster down there at some point. I used the Zip It to clean out all the drains in the house, and then tossed it. It's disposable! Consider this product Mike V approved!

I am not the most handy person around, as my wife can attest. My greatest accomplishment as a homeowner was installing some dimmer switches without burning the house down. Of course my lowest point was falling through ceiling, from the attic. So any easy household tool that can make me a hero is a very valuable find, indeed.