Category Archives: blather


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It’s just all spam, all the time, isn’t it? Even the real mail, it’s just useless. Every day the mailman brings us several pounds of junk from colleges we’ve never heard of, have no intention of even looking at, and have never responded to after 356 previous mailings. They can just cut it out, but they don’t. (Here’s a clue: with our daughter’s grades and scores, she will not be considering any school that is pretending to be another school. Hear that, Cornell of Iowa?)

And in the email pile? Excellent news! My free iPad has shipped! Oh, but bad news! My Bank of Montreal account has been locked! I have my pick of inheritances or bequeathments from around the world, but I’m not sure I can access them with this Bank of Montreal problem nagging me.

(Oddly, spam seems to have given up on improving my penis. I’m not sure how to take that).

Snow days

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I remember all those snow days I spent playing Rock Band with my father. Oh, wait, that’ll be my kids. I couldn’t get my father to play Pong. And he would never have signed on as the bass player for our band, Leotard SoufflĂ©. We’ve been tucked up inside instead of out sledding or enjoying the wintry mess, primarily because it has been such a mess. Haven’t wanted to drive anywhere; it was mid-day yesterday before our hill was even plowed. Took a walk around the lake but not on it yesterday. Only a delay today, so it looks like Leotard SoufflĂ© will not be on tour.

Car criteria

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Canadian tire coupon

Image by carljohnson via Flickr

When I next get to the point where I’m considering a new car, my experience with the Mazda Protege 5 over the past 9 years  has led me to the point where I believe there are only three important criteria:

  1. Does it have low-profile tires? We have had more flat tires of every type – punctures, bent rims, and just plain whomping all the air out of the tire in a pothole – with this car than I have had in all my other cars combined. Times 5. And I’m not exaggerating. We have to check the tires on a daily basis. This morning it took an acetylene torch to straighten out the rim from yet another encounter with some bit of misaligned pavement.
  2. How hard is it to change the headlights? Because for some reason this car goes through headlights like I go through ginger Altoids. Instead of a simple, easy-to-reach, screw-in system, the Mazda’s bulbs are tucked into a tiny space and held in by a complicated, unfathomable clip system that requires four hands, two pairs of needle-nosed pliers, and a long magnet to install. Headlight change on my Xterra? 45 seconds. Headlight change on the Mazda? 45 minutes of relentless swearing. Per light.
  3. Cupholder position. I will never again test-drive a vehicle without bringing my coffee cup. Can you get into 5th if there is a coffee cup in the cupholder? Can the passenger get her coffee without causing you to drop back into 4th? These are kinda critical design questions that, in my opinion, properly caffeinated engineers would have resolved before it got to market.

My Xterra, which despite its heaviness, poor gas mileage, and lack of heated leather seats (oh, that Beetle), is my favorite vehicle I’ve ever owned, has spoiled me in a number of ways that make it a bad model for future purchases. I may find other vehicles with power outlets way in the back (critical for boot warmers). I may find other vehicles with many independent interior lights. I may even find other vehicles with the clearance to get over a dead deer in the road without having to swerve. But I fear I’m unlikely to find another vehicle with its wonderful system of ceiling lugs, the little cargo attachments that allow me to hang things – bike helmets, wet swimsuits, paddles – from the ceiling so they’re not rolling around the back. Which is why I’m going to have to drive the Xterra ’til it drops.

Also? It has the polar opposite of low-profile tires. Himalayan-profile tires, come to think of it.

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Little known Capital Region facts

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  • Albany’s official nickname is “The City Without a Nickname.”
  • Once known as “The City That Lights and Hauls the World,” Schenectady is now best known as “The City That Could Use A Hug.”
  • Cohoes, known as “The Spindle City,” was also home of the once-popular phrase “Sit On It And Rotate” (origin obscure).
  • Ballston Spa’s name has been making fifth graders giggle since fifth grade was invented.
  • Troy is proud of its association with technologies that fall out of favor: water wheels, parlor stoves, detachable collars.
  • When carpet manufacturers were leaving Amsterdam for cheap labor in the south, Rug City officials launched a desperate campaign to retain the “welcome mat” portion of the business.
  • Henry Hudson’s crew failed to appreciate the future importance of the beaver, using only the tails of the aquatic rodents to deliver naval discipline.

Vacuum snap

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I don’t know if there’s a more satisfying morning sound in the world than the “ssszzznnnnaaaaaappp” sound of a freshly opened bottle of wheat germ. I don’t know another thing that is vacuum bottled anymore, and it’s probably only a matter of time before they change to some horrible new eco-vacu-bag that will somehow save the rain forest. But in the meantime I will continue to enjoy turning that cap just enough to break the seal, just enough to start to let air into the vacuum as slowly as I can, and then that sudden pop of the lid.

Things that take up my time

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  • Figuring out Noah Webster’s tenuous connection to Albany. (He actually spent more time in Lansingburgh, by all accounts.)
  • Filling out proposals.
  • Feeling like a traitor to quality publishing because I’m scanning xerox copies of halftones for an author who doesn’t understand that the images will suck, and wouldn’t care if he did.
  • Figuring out how to make carrot casserole and butternut squash casserole from the same recipe, on the same day.
  • Transporting people everywhere in the Capital District.
  • Eating too many Newman’s Own ginger mints.
  • Finally digitizing a backlog of old LPs, and then finally updating my iTunes list.


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Saw a sign posted on the RPI campus, promoting a food-related club, that said “Sweet corn is better than sex.” Under which someone scribbled, “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.”


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Some people keep asking what I want for my birthday. This seems like the easiest place to sort it out.

1) NICE new measuring cups and spoons. Maybe some brushed aluminum or stainless steel. I HATE the plastic measuring spoons. Don’t know why. I just do.

2) Mad Alchemy embrocation. I’ve been wanting this for years. I deserve it, too.

3) You could throw in a bucket of their chamois creme, too.

4) I could really use another chamois, just like the last one, or like this one from Pearl Izumi. I’m a medium, and I don’t need an expensive pad.

5) My Amazon wishlist (which includes a remote for the PS3) is here.

6) You might find a bargain on jerseys Cervelo (about to disappear) or Garmin jerseys here. Or right at Garmin’s shop. Because a new jersey would be nice, too.

7) Apple Magic Mouse, because the Mighty Mouse sucks.

So there you go.