February 12, 2006


"Buzzer beating" the snow last night... posted by Jess

Well, we did it. We beat the snow and managed to have an amazing time in our favorite playground, Mohegan Sun.Thanks Matt, you did a great job organizing!

I had a great whole evening/night at Mohegan Sun... Seven us of us started with dinner first. After that, we needed some digesting, so what better way than with some table games?

Some folks had a good night at the craps table (I did not). However, at video poker, my original $10 that I started with yielded $400 with 4 aces on one hand.

After that it was some Chocolate Dream martinis at the martini bar/planetarium (Godiva Chocolate liquor, vodka, Baileys = yummy).

Finally, at around 10:30PM, it was off to the dance club they have there, where we felt cool with our own coffee table and bottle of Captain. (for a set cost per table, they hook you up with your own waitress and a bottle of your choice - they supply the mixer. It was REALLY fun to feel so cool. :-)

And, we realized how nice it was to actually have somewhere to SIT once you are done dancing. That's something us peasants had never before gotten to experience at a dance club!

The snow started around 11:30, we left at around 12:45AM. Our hero Tom , the designated driver, did an awesome job driving us home. Thanks Tom!

We all agreed I must be sure to "thurn tirty" more often.

Can we say slow morning today? The blizzard hit around 4AM, so we have a nice fire going and absolutely nowhere to be.

It was so nice to have a such fun night out with all my friends. To steal a phrase from Professor McGonagall in the latest Harry Potter, it was a night of "well-mannered frivolity".

Being a movie and board game fan (oh, and not rich either), we all usually opt to stay in together and hang out on weekends. Which is always a great time (and Matt makes a *killer* chocolate dream martini).

But, sometimes, you just have to cut loose and thurn tirty.

February 06, 2006


Jess's List of the best First Five Movie Minutes posted by Jess

As many of you know, I absolutely love the movies. I love knowing what goes on behind the scenes making them. I love hearing trivia. I love movie props. I love finding the right movie quote to fit *any* moment, and then trying to be stumped to figure out where the quote came from.

I was thinking the other day about how some movies just suck you right in from the start. The introduction may be riveting, disgusting, funny as hell, or just plain weird - but it sets the tone just right for the rest of the movie.

I was trying to think of some of my favorite "Movie Introductions" - the first five minutes that set the tone.

In such a short amount of time, it's impossible to think of all the ones I love. Here's what I could come up with in a few minute's thought, in no particular order:

Ghost Ship
Without giving away any plot secrets, let it be known that as a horror movie fan, the first five minutes of the movie Ghost Ship are the most delightfully grisly minutes I've ever spent watching a horror movie.

Gone in 60 Seconds
The left-hand dial ticks across a clock. The clocks spreads out across the whole screen, and the dial turns into a speeding road, while still ticking. The ticking sound blends perfectly into a great Moby song (Flower), and we are given a tour of a bedroom that contains family photos and other strange artifacts, while still tapping our feet to the captivating song.

The Matrix
That ever-familiar disjointed chord that is now synonymous with The Matrix is how the movie starts. The chord never crescendos, which is perhaps what makes it so memorable. A screen so dark - and a tall, gorgeous, exotic woman in full black shiny leather proceeds to make movie history in one of the most beautiful - and most parodied - movie moments ever.

Jaws
It made number one in Bravo's 100 Most Scary Movie Moments countdown, AND it happened in the first five minutes. The audience never saw it coming.

The Fellowship of the Ring
We were not only treated to epic battles and introduced to a great story... who can withstand the power of Cate Blanchett's sultry vocal chords narrating the story itself?

Amelie
The movie is endearing, and warms the heart, and it starts with the very first introduction of Amelie and her family. The counter on the DVD didn't even read 00:30 and I was enamoured.

Jerry Maguire
Okay, I'll 'fess up. I was never, ever interested in The Who's Magic Bus until I heard it in context. The repetitive, pulsating block-tapping sound sets such a great tone for a movie about instant action and quick talking. AND - sounds killer with a good set of speakers.

What are YOUR favorite movie introductions? Why?

December 31, 2005


Goodbye, Scooter. posted by Jess

Today we put Scooter, our eight year old ferret down. Truthfully, I was sure he was going to go right here in his beloved home, and frankly, it's kind of hard to deal with the fact that we had to put him down at all.

But, when your ferret all of a sudden starts screaming, and won't stop screaming, you can't just watch that happen and not do something.

He had been having rough days lately, so it wasn't too much of a surprise. But it's still sad nonetheless. However, no matter how bad his days were, even with the cage door open, he still told us he wanted to be here by somehow managing to leave the cage and snuggle in a pair of pajamas located all the way across the room.

The only thing that brightens me is remembering what a great ferret he was. He was a wierd kid, sure, but he was great. He did things his way. Perfect example, when we bought him, our old roommate had him and we had bought Scooter and his sister Slinky a starter cage kit.

The hammock was just a thin plastic thing, so we went out and bought some nice fleece to cover the hammock. Slinky loved it. Scooter on the other hand, seemed to dig out the fleece every night and always ended up sleeping on the cold plastic. Accepting defeat, we took away the fleece, and Scooter slept happily on the plastic. He's loved it ever since. And, ever since, we have never really been able to explain all the wierd things he does that seems to make sense to no one else but him.

We'll miss you buddy! Eight years is a long time. I can't ever remember *not* having you.

December 15, 2005


Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. posted by Jess

November and December has proven to be busy months for me.

Oh, this is great thing. A great, great thing. Why? I've been having a BLAST! I'm so busy having a blast working hard and playing harder that I haven't even had time to catch up with my updates here. I'm sure at one point I will write in detail about each one like I want to.

So, Inigo Montoya said it best: Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

1. Participated in a fund-raising event for Keith, an employee at Mini of Peabody who became a partial parapalegic after a diving accident. The fund raiser was to help raise money for continued therapy for Keith, who showed up with bells on to thank those who showed up. What was the event? Autocross day! Timed handling on a traffic-coned parking lot. I'll go into more detail, but let's just say that I was a little surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the sound of screeching tires and the smell of burning rubber. I will be joining the BMW Car Club this spring so that I can do this again. It was that fun. And, we raised $4,000 for Keith!

2. Got a tattoo. Finally. And Matt designed it for me, so no one else will ever have what I have.



First-gear handling event - Autocross

3. Submitted a really cool project I was very happy with up to OpenNTF, End User Power Tools. This is in addition to The Automated Admin, which I uploaded a few months ago, and already has 179 downloads to date! Sweet!

4. Participated in another fund-raising event with Eloise - Mini's Making A Wish. We collected Toys for Tots, stuffed them into our Mini's, and then all 40 cars got a police escort on a nice scenic drive to deliver the toys to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. All in all? 1,017 toys.

5. Working hard on my Lotusphere presentation.

6. Decked Eloise's halls. A red Santa hat on the front seat headrest, snowflake window clings all around, and finally, battery-operated Christmas lights on the back window. She's doing her job spreading Christmas cheer - I see smiles everywhere when I park at night!

7. Helping with the long-lost art of Christmas Caroling on Saturday, thanks to our friends that invited us along. Knock on doors, start singing. Hot chocolate all around!

8. Reboot was screened last week, and we got the call today that she was accepted into a fantastic after school program that will start in January called "Reading to Rover". Children that are having trouble reading will read to the dogs - after all, the dog's aren't going to judge them! The program has proven nationwide that it does indeed improve reading. We met with an evaluator last week who screened about five dogs with us. They loved Reboot, and were impressed with her behavior. You go, 'Boot!

9. Decided it's time to take my business, Solace, to the next level. I've given enough classes on computers and Internet at Neighborhood Guilds and Adult Education seminars, that I want to give them on a regular basis. The problem? No place to have them. I need to find a rental space that will enable me to have, at the start, enough room for a bathroom, a table, and 10-12 chairs. At a later date, I can get 10 or so computers in there, and have hands-on classes, including after school programs for children (which I've already done, just not at my own place). The rental will have to be el-cheapo at the moment, but you never know what you'll find until you start looking, right?

I think that covers it. Is it New Year's yet?

December 01, 2005


King Kong. When CGI is NOT the best option... posted by Jess

The new version of King Kong is coming out. Sorry, but I'm just not buyin' it.

He's supposed to be big. Really big. We're supposed to not be able to believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big he really is. I mean, we may think Great Danes are big, but that's just peanuts to King Kong (sorry, Mr. Adams).

Purely based on the trailers I've seen, I just don't think this new version of King Kong looks that big. Or scary. Or even REAL. This is the same reason that I didn't want to see The Hulk. He was far more real and believable as a real person. And scarier, actually.

In all fairness, I did read the IMDB trivia list for the new 2005 version, and they mentioned that they specifically point out that this Kong is 25 feet tall, where he was specially mentioned to be 50 feet tall in the other movies. Okay, I admit I was wrong. But he's KING KONG, not Mighty Joe Young!

I never saw the original 1933 version, but the 1976 King Kong with Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges will always be one of my favorite movies. I don't know why I will always have a soft spot in my heart for that Kong. I think it's because at the time, I was so young I couldn't recognize the kitch-factor of the movie itself, but I remembered it being so sad.

Anyone remember Dana Hersey's unmistakeable voice on "The Movie Loft", shown on WSBK-TV38 Boston? It always used to be shown on weekend afternoons.

Anyway, cut to the end of the movie where King Kong has just been shot down and plunged from the Empire State Building. Everyone's happy, and yet Jessica Lange's character is upset. King Kong's heart beats loudly, then slower, and slower, and then... stops. It's quiet.

I remember asking my parents why Lange's character is so sad that King Kong is dead. After all, he's a big ape that caused mass destruction and mayhem, right? He's dangerous! They answered that King Kong wasn't trying to hurt anyone, and he was just a really big ape, and that people didn't understand. King Kong doesn't know he's not supposed to crush buildings, he's just trying to get away from the people that are shooting at him.

So maybe this is the first time I learned that things or people aren't necessarily what they seem. Maybe this is the first time I learned that people (or things, or apes) that appeared to be bad, weren't really.

Or maybe I just really got a kick of "Bambi meets Godzilla" that The Movie Loft always showed with the movie.

November 22, 2005


The Littons Visit Rhode Island posted by Jess

Last weekend our good friends Joe and Shirley Litton came up for a nice long weekend to our little state. Ironically, we spent most of our time in Connecticut, but oh well...

The weather was fabulous! Sixty degrees, and not a cloud in the sky. Sadly, most of the leaves were down, but there were a few flaming red trees around in scattered places.

A great time was had by all, including Reboot, who serenaded Joe and Shirley's arrival by squeaking "Duckie" (her stuffed duck toy) over and over.

We took Joe, Shirley, and my mom to our favorite sushi restaurant, Peking Tokyo, in Mystic, CT. The night consisted of ritual Sake bombs (Sapporo beer with a shot of hot sake), and Matt introduced Joe to the famous Peking Tokyo rite of passage: a piece of wasabi tobiko (roe soaked in wasabi).

The rest of the weekend consisted of driving around locally to take in the local scenery, having lunch at Mohegan Sun, and finally, a nice homemade dinner of buffalo/teriyaki tenders and a crackling fire.

All in all, a great weekend! Joe took some pictures of our neighborhood on the way out, and captured this interesting shot of our indian burial ground. What is that glow in the bottom right corner? Exactly, that is the question. A high-res version is available if anyone wants to see it.

The rest of Joe's piccies are available here.

November 06, 2005


Burning Mini's II - Haverhill/Ipswitch, MA posted by Jess

I promise I won't talk about Mini's exclusively... well, I'll try!

This saturday Matt, Reboot and I drove up to Haverhill, MA, where another Mini run was taking place.

The weather was perfect, the foliage was on fire, and it was a great day for driving. We drove all around Haverhill and Ipswitch, stopping for lunch at Essex Pizza.

The first stop was at Mini of Peabody, where a shipment of Mini's was arriving just as we were.
Eloise finally got her Union Jack license plate frame.

The next stop was at Russell Orchards and winery in Ipswitch. What a day for the apple orchard! There was a marketplace, some farm animals to pet, free cider tasting, and a fantastic live bluegrass band.

The next stop was at Kimball Farm to visit the Llamas. Reboot really wasn't sure what to make of the llamas.

But then again, if I was a dog, I'm not sure what I'd think if I saw this towering in front of me. But what nice posture!

Finally, we winded back to the farm where we started for a nice cookout and bonfire.

Great people, a great ride, great scenery... a great day all around. Both Reboot and Matt were fast asleep the whole way home. :-)

View the complete day's album here.
There's some more great shots.


October 26, 2005


Haunted MINI's 2005 posted by Jess

"Something Mini This Way Comes..."

That was the theme of my first Mini Cooper event, from the Ocean State Mini Club last Saturday night. And yes, it was pouring and muddy. And no, I didn't really care!

33+ Mini Coopers and their owners gathered in Chepachet, RI to line up and go for a run. We made five stops that night to various haunted locations in Chepachet, consisting of old haunted factories, dams, and trees. Tom D'Agostino, a historian and investigator from the RI Paranormal group was our guide, and did a fantastic job of telling in-depth stories and answering questions at each stop.

Tom, dressed up and telling a story at a stop:

A nice touch for Halloween: costumes for us and the Mini's were encouraged. I decided to theme it this year (though Matt couldn't put together anything in time, this was short notice) - Eloise was Serenity, I went as Kaylee, the ship's mechanic, and Reboot, well, she was the good Shepherd, even though she didn't go on the run. :-)

The people that had organized the entire run gave us all goodie bags as favors for the run, consisting of a "Haunted MINIs 2005" window cling, and a CD of horror movie theme music. We were told to listen to the CD during the run, to add to the creepy atmosphere.
Once the run was over, we all gathered at the local pub for a buffet dinner.

This was me and Matt's first time meeting everyone, and they were such a great bunch of people. Everyone made sure I knew where I was suposed to go, and even let me borrow a two-way radio so I could stay with the group.

Oh, and did I mention it was raining and muddy?

Because it was night, the pictures are a little dark, but you can certainly see a small chunk of the total Mini's all lined up. It was definately a fun experience, especially seeing 33 decorated Mini's lined up on the side of the road at each stop! The reactions of the passers-by were nice to see, also.

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October 20, 2005


Batman Begins posted by Matt

Ok, on the topic of movies, we watched Batman Begins last night. We popped it in around 9:30 expecting to watch a portion of it and go to bed early. Instead, I was completely entralled with it and did not end up going to bed til close to midnight. This is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. I think it was due to how they made it somewhat believable. If you have not seen it, check it out. I just wish I saw it in the theater.

October 18, 2005


Kung Fu Hustle posted by Jess

If you haven't seen the movie Kung Fu Hustle yet, go rent it. How can one movie be so funny, silly, comical and utterly ridiculous, yet at the same time still be amazingly beautiful and visually stunning?

Anyways, I'll be posting again soon. I've got book reviews and vacation pictures to share.

Now if only I could peel myself out of my car...

September 30, 2005


Meet Eloise - my 2002 Mini Cooper S posted by Jess

Here we are... me and Eloise. Well, and Reboot, of course.

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Eloise is a 2002 electric blue Mini Cooper S. She only has 23,000 miles on her. As you can see, she's an adult, but has so far taken the gentler side of life. I think it's time for her to show the world what she can do... there's definately a party girl in there.

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She's cute in a geeky, saddle-shoes sort of way. However, don't let the light-blue exterior fool you. Once you get behind the wheel and drive - there's SO much more going on behind the scenes and this girl needs to and should be taken seriously.

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I think me and Eloise will be able to bring out the best in each other. Or maybe we already have?

I got to do my first "Mini wave" today. Matt and I saw the navy blue little guy zipping around town a few times this morning while we were doing errands. On the way home, there he was, a few cars ahead. We caught up, and zipped by and waved. He was already giving us the "thumbs up" as we drove past.

There's an Ocean State Mini club, and a few other local regional clubs. There's hardly a weekend where there isn't some sort of Mini rally going on. They get together, go for a nice drive, and usually end up having a picnic lunch somewhere and visiting a tourist spot.

How wonderful just to get out of the house and doing something fun with new people... I just can't wait. It just keeps getting better and better!

Oh, here's something funny, pointed out by Cindy.

Here's Cindy and Nate's 2002 mini Cooper standing next to MY 2002 Mini Cooper.

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My 2002 Mini Cooper requires oil changes every 6k-10k miles or so. Cindy and Nate's 2002 mini Cooper requires changes also, though a little more frequently than mine.

So anyway, hopefully you'll be hearing more about some "Mini Adventures".

September 23, 2005


The automobile(s) saga ends with some new additions. posted by Jess

Yes, that's right. Additions. Two. As in, Matt traded his not-running-$3k worth of repairs needed Saturn. And, I traded in my lemon-no air conditioning-barely running-worth less than Matt's car Pontiac.

Here's the story. And it was meant to be.

Saturn of Warwick is, IMHO, the best car dealership I've ever been to. The salespeople are friendly, and salaried. They don't work on commission. They have a great selection of non-Saturn cars. You can even purchase 100,000 mile warranties on any used car. As far as Matt and I were concernced, there wasn't anywhere else we were going to buy a new car.

Anyway, on their website, we found a 2004 Mazda 3 with low mileage. It looked perfect, so we called. The car was in their Boston dealership, but that was no problem. Saturn of Warwick bought it, and sent it down to Rhode Island specifically for Matt to drive on Saturday. Seeing pictures, and reading the stats, both Matt and I had a really good feeling about the car.

Saturday came, and we showed up at Saturn, met the salesman Matt had been talking to all week on the phone, and walked to see the car. Because the car was there specifically for Matt, Bob (the salesman) didn't want anyone else to stumble upon it, and parked it in its own small lot around the dealership.

The Mazda 3 was beautiful. 4-door, and a nice silver/grey color. It's a really sporty looking car. It just screamed "Matt!" It also had a factory installed 6-disc internal changer, and a red-colored racing interior. Drove beautifully, we knew it was going to be Matt's.

A bright yellow Mitsubishi Lancer was there also for him to look at. The color definately put Matt off, but driving it put him off even more. It had that boxy-sedan feel to it, even as a 5-speed manual.

Here's the thing. Way back, in the farthest corners of the Saturn lot, yet 2 cars away from the Mazda, was a 2002 light blue Mini Cooper S (6-speed manual), with 23,000 miles on it. I went and peeked in the windows, but I didn't say anything - this was Matt's day.

Matt asked Bob if we could drive the Mini. He looked at me and said, "This car is YOU!" I drove it, and it was amazing. Again, Matt, being so great, said that we would do what we had to to get me in that car.

To make a short story long, in one of the more crazy things that Matt and I have ever done, two days later we left the Pontiac at Saturn.

Matt drove his Mazda 3 home, and I drove my Mini Cooper S home.
I'm sure Matt will blog about the details of his new baby. And I'll introduce you all to Eloise.

September 12, 2005


When it rains, it pours... posted by Jess

So much to blog about... so little intravenous chocolate.

The blog-backup begins by including our quick getaway last weekend to visit Matt's parents in their new house in Florida. Since we flew to Tampa, and Joe and Shirley live in Tampa, of course we needed to stop in and see them! We had an awesome time with them, and even managed to go to Busch Gardens with Joe and their son, Ben!

Since we were told that we were their first "real" guests in their homes, I brought down a little beach chair ornament that said "Rhode Island" on it for the guest room. I told them they must start a tradition - anyone visiting the Littons must bring a tchotchke of some sort from where they are originally from.

So, everyone, note to self: Visiting the Littons? Bring a treat from your hometown for the guest room.

So that was a blast, and hopefully we can get the Littons (and anyone else that would like to come visit) up here in RI. It's autumn in New England, and there's no better time!

Saturday brought my car not starting. One minute it was fine, the next minute it wouldn't start. Thinking it was the battery (which was wierd, as nothing was left on), we pushed it into the street, popped the clutch, and let the car run and recharge for a long time. It still wouldn't start.

On the way home from bringing my car to the garage last night, Matt's car decided it wanted some attention, too, and decided to overheat. I mean, really overheat. And the heat itself decided to break, blowing only cold air in, so we couldn't even draw any heat into the car from the engine.

It limped to the repair shop (different than mine), and mom the hero picked us up and drove us home.

We came to find out this morning that Matt's car is basically toaster-caked: the head gasket is destroyed, along with a cracked something-or-other. Looks like a new car is in our future, and ASAP. Ugh. Did I mention that not seven days ago we just paid $500 for four brand new tires for the very same car?

I'm still waiting to hear on my car. We think it's the alternator, so that is worth fixing, at least.

We just called and cancelled our water filtration system we had being installed tomorrow... for those that don't know, we have well water that's always had problems, and it seemed a good time to upgrade our mini-treatment facility in the basement to the newer model. That's quite laughable now. We also have a vacation coming up, too. Matt and I go away every year on our anniversary. Thankfully it's paid for already, so it can't come soon enough (if we have to hitchike to the airport, dammit!).

The worst of it is, and this is why I'm hating myself at the moment, is that I really have no business complaining right now. At least we still have a house, our families, and our health, unlike so many others at the moment, who have nothing.


Though Scooter's not doing too well at the moment. He had a bad night last night. Keep him in your thoughts. He's an old guy (even for a ferret) and he's had a wonderful life.

August 25, 2005


The music from the year you graduated high school posted by Jess

I read this at Libby's site, and everyone started following suit. I was reluctant at first for reasons, but it looks like too much fun, so here goes.

Here's the assignment.

Go to musicoutfitters.com, and do a search on the most popular 100 songs from the year you graduated high school. (You can do this by searching on the year you graduated).

Bold the ones you actually like. (Understand that the word "like" in this case means, at the very least, "wouldn't immediately change the radio station from.")

Pick a favorite. Underline that favorite.

Strikethru the ones you loathe.

Italicize the ones you consider to be guilty pleasures.

Both Matt and I graduated high school in 1994 (we met in the dorms in college freshman year). As we have the same year, as not to confuse our tastes, I'll state for the record that this is my list. :-)

1994 was a bad year for music, as far as I'm concerned. I really don't like R&B, and it was pretty much mainstream from then on. 1994 also was the year that Aerosmith wussied out and had string after string of sappy love songs. Even Meatloaf had a random song in there somewhere... Nah. When me and the girls put on fun songs we used to listen to in high school, we rarely go back to the stuff from senior year.

Or maybe that was just when I started really getting into Dream Theater. This was kind of fun, really. I can see my descent into alternative, and my penchant of enjoying wedding reception music. :-)

Anyway, without further ado, here's the Top 100 Hits of 1994.

1. The Sign, Ace Of Base
2. I Swear, All-4-One
3. I'll Make Love To You, Boyz II Men
4. The Power Of Love, Celine Dion
5. Hero, Mariah Carey
6. Stay (I Missed You), Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories
7. Breathe Again, Toni Braxton
8. All For Love, Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting
9. All That She Wants, Ace Of Base
10. Don't Turn Around, Ace Of Base

11. Bump N' Grind, R. Kelly
12. Again, Janet Jackson
13. I'll Remember, Madonna
14. Whatta Man, Salt-N-Pepa
15. Wild Night, John Mellencamp and Me'shell Ndegeocello
16. Without You / Never Forget You, Mariah Carey
17. You Mean The World To Me, Toni Braxton
18. Can You Feel The Love Tonight, Elton John
19. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, Prince Symbol
20. Fantastic Voyage, Coolio
21. Baby I Love Your Way, Big Mountain
22. Regulate, Warren G and Nate Dogg
23. If You Go, Jon Secada
24. Back and Forth, Aaliyah
25. Now And Forever, Richard Marx
26. When Can I See You, Babyface
27. Please Forgive Me, Bryan Adams
28. So Much In Love, All-4-One
29. Shoop, Salt-N-Pepa
30. Any Time, Any Place / And On And On, Janet Jackson
31. Shine, Collective Soul
32. Said I Loved You...But I Lied, Michael Bolton
33. Return To Innocence, Enigma
34. All I Wanna Do, Sheryl Crow
35. Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, Crash Test Dummies

36. Can We Talk, Tevin Campbell
37. Funkdafied, Da Brat
38. I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That), Meat Loaf
39. Gangsta Lean, Drs
40. Because The Night, 10,000 Maniacs
41. Cantaloop, US3
42. Whoomp! (There It Is), Tag Team
43. Come To My Window, Melissa Etheridge
44. Stroke You Up, Changing Faces
45. I'm Ready, Tevin Campbell
46. 100% Pure Love, Crystal Waters
47. Anytime You Need A Friend, Mariah Carey
48. Because Of Love, Janet Jackson
49. Linger, Cranberries
50. Loser, Beck

51. Found Out About You, Gin Blossoms
52. Gin And Juice, Snoop Doggy Dogg
53. Never Lie, Immature
54. Streets Of Philadelphia, Bruce Springsteen
55. Getto Jam, Domino
56. Endless Love, Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey
57. I Miss You w/ Aaron Hall 58, Understanding, Xscape
59. This D.J., Warren G
60. Cry For You, Jodeci
61. Keep Ya Head Up, 2Pac
62. Who Am I (What's My Name?), Snoop Doggy Dogg
63. Another Night, Real McCoy
64. Your Body's Callin', R. Kelly
65. Tootsee Roll, 69 Boyz
66. I Can See Clearly Now, Jimmy Cliff
67. Never Keeping Secrets, Babyface
68. Crazy, Aerosmith
70. At Your Best (You Are Love), Aaliyah
71. Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through, Meat Loaf
72 Amazing, Aerosmith
73. Always, Erasure
74. Groove Thang, Zhane
75. Dreams, Gabrielle
76. Mr. Vain, Culture Beat
77. Mary Jane's Last Dance, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

78. Anything, SWV
79. Beautiful In My Eyes, Joshua Kadison
80. Stay, Eternal
81. Flava In Ya Ear, Craig Mack
82. U.N.I.T.Y., Queen Latifah
83. Prayer For The Dying, Seal
84. Secret, Madonna
85. Here Comes The Hotstepper, Ini Kamoze
86. Everyday, Phil Collins
87. Don't Take The Girl, Tim McGraw
88. Got Me Waiting, Heavy D and The Boyz
89. December 1963 (Oh, What A Night), Four Seasons
90. Indian Outlaw, Tim McGraw
91. Always, Bon Jovi
92. I'm The Only One, Melissa Etheridge
93. Back In The Day, Ahmad
94. Love Sneakin' Up On You, Bonnie Raitt
95. I'll Take You There, General Public
96. Always In My Heart, Tevin Campbell
97. What Is Love, Haddaway
98. And Our Feelings, Babyface
99. Bop Gun (One Nation), Ice Cube
100. I Wanna Be Down, Brandy

August 06, 2005


Make new friends, but keep the old posted by Jess

Something else I managed to do this week was go through old pictures again.

I had gone to a wedding last month for one of my dear friends from high school, and managed to get a recent picture of those same girlfriends from high school that I've kept in touch with over the years.

In fact, the cool thing about us four girls is that every time we're together, we manage to find someone to take a picture of us all. In fact, after college it was pretty unanimously decided to become tradition.

This reminds me of a photo of my mother, in England, as a teenager with all her nursing school gals. There was about six of them, I believe, sitting around a table. A few years ago when she went back to England, she got together with all the girls, and they took another picture around the table, and both photos ended up in the newspaper!

It's very cool... maybe if I ask nicely she'll let me post it. After all, it's already been in the newspaper, right?

Anyway, while I had the photo box out, I remembered to pick out some other ones of us from over the years.

HIGH SCHOOL - Sophmore year, I think?
(top, Jess and Erin, bottom, Erin and Beth)

Beth Erins Jess.jpg

COLLEGE
- our usual Thanksgiving-eve get together. Maybe sophmore year again?

Beth Erins Jess 2.jpg

WEDDING
- 4 years ago. There's another picture of Beth's wedding, but I couldn't find it.

Beth Erins Jess 3.jpg

WEDDING - last month. This was Erin's wedding, so for some reason, I think only the professional photographer got the pic of us all together, although I thought someone else did.

Beth Erins Jess 4.jpg


Happy Birthday Lotus Ranger! posted by Jess

"Man, why do I gotta be Mr. Pink Lotus Ranger?"

Happy Birthday Ed!

pinkranger.jpg

This and this will shed a little sense for those who don't follow the Domino side of the blogs...

August 03, 2005


Update - doing much better! posted by Jess

Yes, doing much better as of today, though I'll probably still be taking it easy for a few days just to be sure. I'm still finding myself making some post-symptom errors. The basics: Grammar, spelling, plus enough absent-mindedness that tells me I should NOT be near a server that doesn't belong to me right now!

My main problem now seems to be my sudden and annoying fear of 8AM and 8PM, and the few hours after those times. I have to take my antibiotics then, and will have to for a month. The "Ginsu" pill, as I call it. "It slices, it dices..." The feeling of a midget on my chest is gone, only to be replaced by a Tasmanian Devil in my throat, chest and stomach.

Oh well.. as I said before, a means to an end. But sometimes it just feels good to do some good old fashioned complaining. Who knew? I've already been yelled at for not telling anyone I wasn't feeling well on Saturday.

At least I've had a nice chunk of time to devote to persusing the LDD forums. I don't even know how many years it's been. I hated not feeling so helpful anymore. But, now that I can't get a salary unless I'm out there, well, getting it, it's so hard.

I forgot how relaxing it was for me to post there. I'll have to make an effort to get back there more often. I just don't want to post, and then not be able to follow up on it.

I suppose I could post in the mornings, but I'm not really sure I want to be giving any advice before I've had my morning coffee. In fact, now that I think of it, I shouldn't even be allowed near a computer.

July 31, 2005


Now I have Lyme disease - the price of living in the country! posted by Jess

Friggin' ticks. That's all I have to say. Those freakin' #$#@$%#% ticks.

Last year my sweet Reboot became infected while we were on vacation. My parents saw her go from appearing to not feel well, to being so lame, she could not even be able to drag herself off the couch and walk. After a month of antibiotics, she made a full recovery.

Apparently it's my turn now. The day before yesterday, I started popping the Aleve for a headache that wouldn't go away. Very rare for me. I never even get sick. (We won't talk about Lotusphere. Those responsible, you know who you are! Been there, blogged that!)

Last night I knew I felt terrible. By terrible, I mean having a neck so stiff and painful, that I'm at a loss for an appropriate simile or metaphor. Now THAT'S rare. I can come up with a simile or metaphor for anything. It's a skill.

This morning, a lovely fever brought the whole package together nicely, along with a red circle on my shoulder. Not to mention the feeling that a 300-pound midget was permanently sitting on my chest, it felt so heavy. (ahhh... now she's getting her imagery back!)

I was given a month's supply of doxycycline, along with a warning to stay out of the sun. Noooo problem. I hope the symptoms go away in a few days, I'm really not sure how long the initial symptoms are supposed to last. At least I have a light week coming up. Not that I could do any of it, at this point. In the meantime, I'm on the couch (pretty much unable to move) with my lappy and wireless, and my darling hubby doing an awesome job taking care of me. If you see me on IM, say hi... I'll be bored stiff (the jokes never stop, folks).

The only thing good that ever came out of ticks as far as I'm concerned is Patrick Warburton's persona as the "big blue bug of justice", aka, The Tick.

I guess it's a little worth it for that.

July 30, 2005


Life's Little Instruction Book - My Favorite Entries posted by Jess

I was looking over my careworn copy of "Life's Little Instruction Book" that had been dredged out of the basement. Several entries in my copy stand out from all the others in the book, having been marked by a thick, yellow highlighter marker.

The book, by H. Jackson Brown, contains 511 little snippets and advice on how to live a happy and rewarding life.

I have *no* idea when I highlighted these early in high school. I only even vaguely remember doing it. In fact, I definately didn't even remember at ALL until Matt showed me the book and said that he had enjoyed flipping through and seeing the ones I had marked. "Gimmee that!" I had said...

Aside from picking new ones as favorites (now that the house, car, job, and "real world" snippets pertain to me), it was interesting to see which ones I had particularly liked even then. Reading the entire book now, they are all wonderful ideas. Lots of them pertain to day to day activities. The funny thing is, a lot of them didn't mean anything to me being a kid. In fact, all the ones I'd highlighted are pretty idealistic, when you look at them.

But I'd probably pick the same ones today anyway!

So without further ado, here's the ones I highlighted when I was a kid:

1. Compliment three people every day.

16. Be the first to say hello.

37. Make new friends, but cherish the old ones.

39. Take lots of snapshots.

94. Make it a habit to do nice things for people who'll never find out.

107. Smile a lot. It costs nothing and is beyond price.

157. Take time to smell the roses.

188. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.

197. Don't forget, a person's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

252. Take good care of those you love.

327. When you arrive at your job in the morning, let the first thing you say brighten everyone's day.

456. Send your loved one flowers. Think of a reason later.

488. Make someone's day by paying the toll for the person in the car behind you.

July 28, 2005


"Puss and Reboot?" posted by Jess

Puss in Boots

Puss in Reboots. Nah...

Puss in Reboot? No...

Why, Puss IS Reboot!

Puss and Reboot.jpg

And yes, I'm sure it goes without saying those red eyes were digitally altered. It's just all too fun to go crazy with the camera while the doggie's playing. Sock wars, her favorite game.

And when we looked at the results, we noticed a striking similarity!

July 25, 2005


The Andrea Doria - the greatest marine rescue ever posted by Jess

I love watching movies, and then going to Internet Movie Database and reading the Trivia section of the movie to see if there's anything interesting there.

After watching the movie Ghost Ship, I had to check out trivia for it.

As it turns out, one ship's backstory was modeled after a real incident with a ship called the Andrea Doria. In fact, in the movie, there is a photo of a ship listing on one side in the ocean. That was a real photo of the Andrea Doria.

My curiousity was piqued.

A quick Google search yielded AndreaDoria.org, a site created by one of the survivors himself, who was on the ship when he was three years old. But it's not just a little site about this ship, which sank off the coast of Nantucket in 1956 after colliding with another ship.

I clicked on a link titled, "The Events", and still really only expected to read a quick story about what happened that night. Boy, was I wrong.

The author of the site had put together a timeline and narrative based on the recollections of survivors, crew members, and watchers. He has included real photographs, and passenger lists, and diagrams placed in the story where it happened.

I have never been as enthralled reading anything before.

Please, visit the Events page to start reading. But be warned, leave a few hours so that you can read it from start to finish. You won't want to stop reading. The pictures, the events, you'll feel like you went through it just like the survivors did. You'll even go through it from the eyes of both captains on opposing ships... you'll know the two ships were doomed even before their captains did.

You'll read the actual messages the two ships sent to each other, and subsequent messages sent to other ships as the Andrea Doria realized it was listing so much, that lifeboats on the other side of the ship could not be used.

You'll read about the passengers that switched rooms at the last minute, or went upstairs to play a late game of cards or made some other decision of fate that involved the rooms that got destroyed.

You'll read about the other cruise ship that heard the S.O.S and had to make a split-second decision about the ramifications of bringing his 1500 passengers off-course to rescue the passengers of the Andrea Doria.

You'll read about families that were split up and placed in seperate lifeboats and subsequent rescue ships, only to have to find each other at a crazy port of call in New York.

I had discovered this site last summer after watching Ghost Ship, and wanted to blog about it then. I also had wanted to email the site owner and let him know how much I had enjoyed reading about it, and how moved I was. I just visited the site now to link to it, and noticed a scrolling ticker at the top that announced that Anthony, the webmaster and Andrea Doria passenger, had died just this past October. That's what I get for waiting. I'm really, really sad I never emailed him when I had the chance.

I read the 'About Us' page, and in the 'Thanks' section on the page, he wrote, 'My mother, Angela Grillo, who had the courage to drop me off the side of the ship to save me.' He also dedicated the site to the people that died during the collision.

And yes, the story is about a sinking ship, but remember - it's also about the greatest marine rescue ever.

AndreaDoriaSinkingAndLifeboat.jpg

July 20, 2005


The Denver Pit Bull Ban. When you don't understand something, kill them all! posted by Jess

Denver Pit Bull Ban Leads To 'Dogs in Hiding'

Yes, it's true. Pit Bull owners who live in the city of Denver wake up one morning to a knock on their door. A policeman tells them they have 30 days to remove their dog from the city, or it will be taken from them and euthenized.

Oh, by the way: Here's the ordinance, which states, "A pit bull is defined as any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, an American Staffordshire Terrier, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of these breeds."

Any dog displaying the majority of physical traits? So if my dog looks like a terrier it can get ripped from me and destroyed?

Sounds like an old fashioned witch hunt to me.

Some people are selling their houses to keep their dogs, others are bringing their dogs underground, and over 300 owners have given their dogs up, who have been placed on "death row" and destroyed.

Apparently, because Pit Bulls are bred for agressive behavior, they are unpredictable and can't be controlled.

Let's look at some issues. And please understand, most of this is just plain venting. I'm quite furious right now. You probably can't tell from reading this. I don't get that upset very often.

From someone who's worked so hard to with Matt to raise an upstanding pup, I've learned so much about pack mentality, behavior, and methodologies, and how training relies heavily on a dog's instinctive behavior anyway.

- Breed specific laws? That's just dumb, and there's really no other way to put it. Outlaw one breed, and people will just move on to the next breed to shape and mold the same way. That's why it's called 'breeding', and not just 'birth'.

- Dogs that are bred a certain way can (and in fact, must) be trained in any possible situation. In fact, it's a lifelong process. Every situation is a new situation, and therefore the dog must be trained during it. Huskies are bred to pull sleds. Owners that have huskies have to work twice as hard to get their dogs to walk on a leash, because the dog wants to pull. The dog can learn to walk on a leash, of course, but the training methods are going to be a little different for a dog that is bred to pull.

- Reboot's trained well, sure, but is she trained in all possible situations? Of course not, and it's wrong for me to say that she is. We approach all new situations with extreme caution, and make a point to teach her the right way to behave in that situation.

Sometimes we look like idiots when we are out and praise the hell out of her for sitting next to us. That doesn't look like much. But, what people don't realize is that this is probably a new situation, and we've just taught her the right way to behave in that situation. Maybe there was a squirrel in front of her and she just let it go without even wanting to chase it. Maybe she sat down when there was a piece of food in front of her. Who knows.

The point is, if she behaved correctly, she needs to know that she did it right for next time. If she didn't behave correctly, she absolutely must be corrected, or it will happen every time.

- Why is it not required that dog owners take their dogs to training? Why has there never been an ordinance for this?

- A license to breed. Sure, it's a phrase that gets used in jest of people, I know, I know. But some dogs are poorly bred so the owners can make a quick buck. They are bred with no prior knowledge of the dog's history and temperment, and are not properly socialized nor taken care of after birth. Yet these puppies are sold for $500-$2000 to families (I do understand that it's also up to the family to check out the reputability of the breeder).

- The media sensationalizes dog attacks based on breeds. Obviously any dog attack is a tragic situation, and I'm not trying to trivialize it in any way. However, dogs are profiled by breeds, and therefore create public fear and inaccurate perception about these dogs. The only thing that ever gets mentioned in any news article is the breed of the dog. Yet, there are about three major factors that can influence how a dog may respond to a situation:

1. The basic function of the dog (guard, show, pet, friend, etc.)
2. Training, socialization, and living situation of the dog
3. The reproductive status of the dog (spayed, neutered, in heat, just had puppies, etc.)

Funny how you never hear about the status of the other two factors... and we wonder why the public are scared of them?

Reboot was slated to be euthanized in a shelter in Ohio. When someone got wind, they drove to OH, picked up the entire litter, brought them back to RI, and placed them in foster homes all over the state, Reboot having been placed in the care of one of my colleagues. She's half German Shepherd-Norwegian Elkhound.

Sure, she looks mosly like an Elkhound. But she is also tan colored, and has a black dot on her cheeks. We obviously don't have a shepherd ban. But, by these rules, because she looks like a shepherd, Good Citizen Certificate or not, we'd get our 30 day notice.

I just hope it would give us enough time to sell our house.

July 05, 2005


When analytical people take voice lessions... posted by Jess

I love to sing Karaoke. The problem is, or was, that Karaoke is usually imitation. When I sing, I try to make it sound as close as I can to the original person that sung it. Why not?

Therein lay the problem. After all this time, I had absolutely NO idea what my "real" voice sounded like. I decided about two months ago to take voice lessons to fix this problem.

Not only am I learning alot about singing, but I'm also learning about myself, and the way I approach things. If you ever want to learn about yourself, take voice lessons. No lie.

The lessons themselves are a blast. I can sing soprano (who knew?) and get to watch myself improve on a weekly basis. I also have an excellent teacher who has been in lessons since she was young, has sung on stage, and still sings jazz locally. She knows what explanations and methods were the most effective for herself, and teaches me accordingly.

That said, we also tease each other because I'm causing her to have to change her teaching style just for me. One of the excersises is to exhale slowly while the instructor counts to 10. Well, I'm SO busy carefully planning the exhale around the boundaries of a 10-count that it ends up coming out not smooth and way too forced. Finally, she told me just to forget the counting, and do it anyway. Much better!

Something else I never thought would be so hard is to actually sing words. It's a truly humbling experience. You'd think singing a simple song would be easy. Much of the lessons starts out singing the vowels, "ahhh" "oooh" "eee" "ooooo" before getting to words.

Well, this is also a problem for me. I'm so busy listening to myself sing and trying to concentrate on how to form the words, that the actual song comes out timid and unconfident. (We've been singing standards so far because there is no predisposition to want to imitate.) Again, in a final act of desperation, my teacher sung alongside me one time saying "who cares how it sounds right now, concentrate on how it feels."

She's so right. It's SO hard for me not to analyze every step of the way, and wonder if I'm doing it correctly, and try to put together everything I've learned in between the tone and the words themselves.

The funniest thing you could ever see is watching two analytical people try and figure out how to put up a teddy-bear wall border for a new baby's bedroom. *cough cough* Cindy and I *cough* cough*.

"Now it says 'curl the edges backwards around the top of the water'".

"How can we curl it backwards when it doesn't specify which way is the front to begin with?"

"Do we have to submerge the whole thing in the water, or just the backside?"

"Arggggggg!!!!!!"

That said, I can't wait until next week for more lessons. Now if I could not take my analytical work with me to the lesson, I'd be all set!

Author's Note. I would now like to point out that Cindy's son DOES indeed like the teddy bears regardless of how crooked they are.

June 20, 2005


Canine Good Citizens and Funny Signs about Seatbelts posted by Jess

Everybody wish Reboot good luck on Friday... she is taking her AKC Canine Good Citizen test. I'll post more about it after Friday (whether she passes or not), but for now, it's the first step in her becoming a therapy dog. We'd ultimately like to be able to bring her into nursing home and children's wards in Hospitals, so here's hoping.

I'll tell you on the next post in detail about what the actual test entails (entails, I crack me up), and Reboot's got everything nailed! Down, stay, heel, leave it, other dog distractions, having her paws, ears and teeth touched, etc.

It was funny in class to see 20 dogs all lined up against the wall in a "down stay", while 20 dog owners stand opposite them 50 feet away. If I am ever in a drop-in class again, I'll take a picture. It's a good one for a caption contest. :-)

The only cause for concern is the separation test. Reboot must be separated from us for three minutes while she stays with someone else on a leash. She does get agitated and whiny, however we've been practicing. Ironically the other German Shepherd in our class has the same problem. The instructors shook their heads and said, "always the female shepherds...", so it must be a protective issue, I'd imagine.

Wish her luck, our Reboot's worked SO hard the past two years. Pass or not, we love her anyway.

That said, after Reboot and us had a well-earned game of Frisbee after work last Friday, we headed to Tom and Melanie's house for some pizza and movie watching. Actually, we all love The Fifth Element, so it really turned into movie quoting rather than watching, but anyway... after pulling out of Tom and Mel's apartment complex, we passed this sign on the way out. After a quick glance, yes, we had to back up to make sure we read it right.

Thanks Tom, for sending us the pic!

DSCN1196.JPG

June 10, 2005


A helpful bank teller... posted by Jess

I always make my deposits to the same ATM every week. Me being the math whiz that I am, I usually end up adding up all the checks on the back of the deposit envelope before I seal it (I never remember to bring paper OR a calculator).

I got a letter a few days ago about a discrepency in my deposit amount, seems I *said* I deposited $18 more dollars than I really did.

Turns out I had, as I sometimes do, transposed "79" and "97". The teller included photocopies of all the checks to prove the total.

Just to be even more helpful in helping me realize how I could have made a mistake, she also photocopied the BACK of the deposit envelope , where I had my chicken-scratched math that came out to the right number. :-)

June 05, 2005


A new lawn is born... posted by Jess

We are now the proud parents of a brand new raised, loamed, and hydroseeded front lawn. Date of birth? 6/2/05, 7k sq. ft, 4 inches. Name? Lawny Kitaen.

No, we don't have any children. But in suburbia, is a new lawn really that different? Bleary eyed, we emerge from our house to turn the hose on for morning feedings. We get a small break after that, then we're back for the afternoon watering. This is not after we've loaded up on necessary supplies from Lawns R' Us. After all, we've never had a lawn before. I almost considered throwing myself a shower to get all the supplies we didn't have. Fertilizer, mower, extended hose, faucet with timer, spray bottle, crib, diapers, and a 'binky' for when it gets lonely when we are out of town.

Out of town? Who am I kidding? The first night we had the lawn, we had to go three hours away to a wedding. I almost didn't want to leave, but Matt assured me it would be okay on it's own for a night. I worried the whole time.

We've been the slackers with a terrible lawn up until now. Each neighbor up until this point has had their toddlers, and then moved on to their second child, the lawn. We chose to get the inside done like we wanted first. We painted. Then we hardwooded the entire house. Then we decorated. Our front lawn? It sank. Yes, sank. Literally. Four or five inches, not counting the sinkholes. You see, our house was the house the street contractors used to dump all the "empties" from the other houses during building. There is a board sticking out in the backyard. I don't want to know.

We did need to figure out if we were ready for a lawn first. Once we make the investment, there's no going back. Kids go back to school in the fall, Lawny needs fertilizing. Kids get crooked teeth and require braces from a specialist. Lawny has grubs and will require chemical treatment from a specialist. WE'LL be requiring chemical treatment when we are done with this lawn.

Is it ready for college yet?

May 26, 2005


Flickr surfing... posted by Jess

Everyone has heard of Flickr, the photo-sharing site, and yet I always thought of it more as a photo storage site than anything. Until now.

Matt introduced me to a new fun pastime for us, surfing Flickr photos. If you go to "Everyone's Photos" on Flickr, it displays the most recently updated pictures. These change so quickly, hitting Refresh on your browser will cause a new block of pictures to appear.

Well, would you know, we had SO much fun one night with our respective laptops on the couch hitting refresh, laughing, and looking at photostreams.

Each picture tells a story. There are some wonderful photographers out there. There are some amateurs. There are mothers diligently capturing all 300 frames of their child's first birthday. There are pictures of cityscapes from views one might normally never get to see. There are rare birds, and babies with their eyes crossed. Among an album filled with the contents of the inside of someone's trunk, there is a captivating picture of a toothless man. Never have I thought a streetlight could be so beautiful if the light is just right. The most amazing photos I have seen are things that I never in a million years would have even thought to take a photo of.

And that's just from hitting 'refresh' once.

The Flickr user names are just as personality-filled as the photos themselves, from Uncleboatshoes to Fast Eddie.

Here's one you can all enjoy perusing, those of bEEfEatEr's. I've gotten his permission to share with you all what had me and Matt captivated for hours.

Happy Flickr surfing. Who thought normalcy could be so out of this world?

May 06, 2005


Cuttin' it up on the dance floor posted by Jess

Amazing... three whole blogs from my husband in a row. It makes me so happy, I love to read his stuff. Hopefully, this pattern will stay current and we can expect more, and let the 'www.jessAndWhereTheHellIsMatt.com' (not real) domain expire.

However...

*grabs blog ruthlessly and rips from Matt's paws*

I was looking at all our pictures from our 2004 October cruise and Universal Studios trip (which was such a success, we just booked again). I've posted a photo album here.

However, I had completely forgotten about this woman in the black tank top cutting it up on the dance floor:

9588781_3e0f1c88dd_o.jpg

April had gone out to join her in this photo, but right up until then, she was out there dancing alone. And her husband was sitting at a table all by himself with his back to her. Not even watching. She was beautiful! And having so much fun! And he was missing it all.

Matt and Bill got up and went to him at the table and sat down. April and I watched as a few moments later all three of them got up and walked over to the bar. The bartender poured some shots of vodka and Red Bull (apparently he was a bit tired) and Matt and Bill paid for it, and toasted with him.

Not five minutes later we all watched in amazement as he joined his wife on the dance floor and seemed to have more fun than she did!

If something beautiful is happening around you, don't miss it. Alternatively, if someone else is missing something beautiful happening around them, don't ever be afraid to point it out to them. You just may make some new friends.

May 01, 2005


Is it just me? posted by Matt

I was watching TV Sunday night and I saw an odor eaters commercial. Nasty green clouds emanating from a pair of penny loafers and they say something like "Your foot odor may be worse then you think". Then they zoom in on a penny and Abe Lincoln coughs and lets out a "blech". The next think I think is "That doesn’t sound like Abe Lincoln". Well, nobody really knows what he sounds like. But with all the plays and movies, I seem to think of him with a voice like that in Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure. So, am I the only one who thinks they know what Abe sounds like? Be honest :-)

April 07, 2005


No..No..Notorious! posted by Jess

Sunday night Matt and I were enjoying taking out Matt's cousin to Dave & Buster's for dinner in the Providence Place Mall. At 5:30 when we were getting ready to leave, we got a call from our neighbors. They never call my cell phone, so I needed to make sure everything was OK. "Are you anywhere near your house?" he asks.

Now. Let me interject here. Here's a great example of what NOT to say when there is absolutely NO emergency at all. So once we had established on the phone that my house was NOT burning down, not being robbed, and no one was having a medical emergency, it turns out that they had two free extra tickets to go see Duran Duran (new album tour) at the Mohegan Sun Casino Arena. Sweet!

Thanks to the lovely smallness of our big little state, we were able to leave Dave & Busters's, which is in Providence (right at the top of the state) at 5:30, drive home, let the doggie relieve herself, freshen up, drive to the Sun (CT, near Mystic), and managed to meet our neighbors outside the arena entrance at 7PM.

What a show. They all looked great. Simon has aged very, very well, and it was obvious (which they also later announced) that they were most certainly not expecting the screaming fanatical welcome they received. It was about 5 minutes of solid screaming before they could even get a word out.

They played some of their new stuff, which to be honest I hadn't heard (it was OK), but mostly all the old songs we know and love. Everyone else was holding out for Rio (the encore, as Matt correctly guessed), while being difficult as usual, all I wanted to hear was Ordinary World.

The times they are a' changing, though, which was made apparent during the slow grooves of Calendar Girls. Simon announced that he wanted to see a show of lighters. If you didn't have a lighter? "Hold up your cell phones! I want to see a sea of blue and purple!"

How cool was this? The ratio of cell phones to lighters was staggering. Looking out into the arena yielded a few speckles of small orange flames, but they were completely outnumbered by the glow of hundreds of cell phones that were held up.

I just think of what a fantastic world we live in, in which I can see one of my first music videos ever (Union of the Snake) on V66 (UHF video channel) when I was about 9 years old, and finally be able to see them live 20 years later... only to find that while the national nicotine level has drastically reduced, the radiation level has gone up considerably.

April 04, 2005


Guest Blogging: Reboot is actually even smarter than they say she is posted by Denise

Reboot is actually even smarter than they say she is, and other thoughts on being a guest at Chez Stratton.

I recently took a fairly significant leap in my life and was lucky enough to fall into a big fat safety net of love, namely a quiet road in Charlestown, aka Chez Stratton.

First, there was the rescue. It's a long story, but the bottom line is that I got to a place in my life where I felt the only way to get out of a failing marriage was to leave (as my husband said over and over in the dozens of voicemails he left me after the event) like "a thief in the night". Except that it was during the day. In any case, I rented a U-Haul, and Matt and another friend helped me clean out my stuff and start my way to my new life.

Matt and Jess took in my not insignificant pile of belongings (I promise you'll be able to walk around in your basement again by the end of April!... or maybe early May) and me with equal aplomb. After a warm welcome from Matt and Jess and an enthusiastic welcome from Reboot (replete with jumping, kisses and gifts of dog toys), I wasn't there much more than five minutes before my laptop was configured for the wireless network, I had a cup of coffee in hand and was happily plopped on the couch watching CSI.

And so started a comfortable routine. We all work pretty hard during the day, so evenings were all about relaxing (jammie pants, happily, are de rigueur at Chez Stratton).

Sometimes, I just needed to talk. I could go on and on about my misgivings about the past and my plans for the future, encouraged by the warm light of understanding in her eyes. When I had exhausted myself, Reboot would lick my face, snuggle in a little closer, and we'd both settle down for a good night's sleep.

Being somewhat cynical ("everyone needs a practice marriage" is one of my favorite sayings) and a two-time loser in the love-and-marriage game, it was a balm to my heart and soul to spend time with Matt and Jess. If you've come to doubt true love, hang with them for a while, and your faith will be restored.

You won't see it on the Travel Station or find it in the Triple-A guide, but if you are blessed as I am to count Matt and Jess among your friends, Chez Stratton, with its 5-star plus rating, will be there when you need it most.

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Denise and Reboot

February 06, 2005


Jess's Little Instruction Book posted by Jess
  • Drop two Altoids into your hot chocolate for the perfect cup of smooth, creamy mint hot chocolate.
  • Drape a damp paper towel over your plate of Chinese food before reheating it in the microwave, and it will steam it back to life and taste like it was just made. (thanks Matt, for discovering that one!)
  • A quick word on Orange oil cleaning products. Sure, they do a fantastic job of cleaning your house, and it smells great. Just remember that it’s also most likely the cause of your new fruit fly infestation.
  • The ruler with a bubble in it is called a 'level', not a 'leveler'. Expect jokes to follow when you don't get it right.
  • For a quick and inexpensive way to overhaul a room in your house, change the doorknobs, change the light fixtures, change the faucets, and change the paint. It will look like a million bucks even with the same furniture, but you only spent about $200 on small changes.
  • Baskets. Trust me, they can even make trash look pretty.
  • If you have a dog, and you have a game system, splurge and get the wireless controllers.
  • How to make the perfect party appetizer in ten minutes flat: In a large pyrex dish, spread a layer of cream cheese on the bottom. Add a layer of butterscotch/caramel over that. Add a layer of granola on top. Finally, stick tons of sliced apples in the dish and sprinkle cinnamon over the entire thing. To eat, use the apple as a scoop (like nachos and salsa). Even when the apples are long gone, people will still scoop up the dip by itself and eat it anyway.
  • What do you have to add?

November 02, 2004


Another Halloween gone by... posted by Jess

As usual, Matt and I had fun handing out candy this year.

Halloween used to be just another day for me, but over the past three years, I have started going to Halloween Horror Nights, have attended Bill and April's Halloween-themed costumed wedding, and gone to the Jack O' Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo.

Since then, I have embraced my "Inner Halloween" and have come to love the night that I loved just as much when I was a kid. Apparently, the night loved the kids back. Sunday night was 65 degrees! It almost made me pine for the days when my mother used to make me wear a thick, heavy jacket over my costume. Wait, no it didn't.

There's nothing like a nice, heavy corduroy jacket to crush a pair of fairy wings on a bright autumn evening. But I digress.

There's one thing that living in the suburbs did teach me about trick or treating. Kids remember the "good houses". Matt and I both remembered how much fun we used to have trick or treating, and so we usually become a parent's nightmare (because we feel that the kids shouldn't be the only one getting scared). That's why we always give out the BIG full size candy bars. None of this "fun size" business (which really isn't that fun, actually). Thanks to stores like Costco, and BJ's, it's pretty inexpensive.

Oh, and we also dress up to answer the door. The kids and parents love it, so that's why we do it. What fun is trick or treating if the people who answer the door don't want you to have fun?

We got a lot of toddlers this year. Lots of ninjas, Cinderellas, one Dora the Explorer, and one very cute, very small red dragon perched in his daddy's arms. We had a feeling that when we were giving him candy, mom and dad were reaping the results of THAT one.

All in all, it was a fun night for everyone involved. I'll post some pics of our Halloween costumes when I get them off the camera.

October 18, 2004


Back from anniversary vacation posted by Jess

Every year, Matt and I try to go somewhere for our anniversary. This year, we decided to bring Bill and April along, who has their third anniversary also in a week (Nate and Cindy couldn't go, and were definately missed).

We went to Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure (big surprise), then rented a car, drove to Miami, went on a 4 day cruise to Cozumel Mexico, came back, rented another car, drove BACK to Universal for Horror Nights, came home, and slept for 15 hours straight.

One of the more eerie things on the cruise was the front of the boat. One night we went out, and you could see nothing but inky blackness after the pointed tip of the boat. Not only that, but you could hear no sound coming from the engine. And if that weren't creepy enough - there was NO wind. Apparently, the boat can get caught in a wind tunnel, where the wind direction is the same way the boat is going - therefore canceling out the wind that the boat is causing by moving forward. April and I had to look over the side of the boat frequently just to make sure we were even moving.

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Every night, there was "Karaoke with Jamie". As it turns out, Jamie rocked. Literally. She hooked us up. Bill did his amazing likeness of the B52's with "Love Shack", April rocked the house with "Just A Girl" by No Doubt, I sung Nellie Furtado's "Turn Off the Lights", and Matt did his usual Karaoke staple that brought the house down - "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang. Even Jamie thought it was worth noting to the crowd that the song is 8 1/2 minutes of pure rap that's normally sung by three different guys.

Well, throughout the rest of the cruise, everyone was coming up to Matt and saying, "You gotta do that again!" So, the next night, he did, and got people dancing, and a standing ovation (after the girl next to us shouted, "Joey Fatone!", we laughed). I sung the karaoke classic, "I Will Survive" and was quite happy to see people dancing.

Here's something I never knew - southern people can parrrr-ty. The Georgians whooped and hollered every time someone sang a country-western song, and the North Carolinans (Carolinians?) decided to pit the NC women against the NC men.

Oh, and we can't forget 47 year-old Tammy, one of the NC women, who shouted "he's so cute!" when Matt left the stage. Tammy was so infatuated with Matt that after Karaoke, we all went to the dance club - where she grabbed his hand, and didn't let go for the rest of the night. I didn't care, I'm not a jealous wife by any means, and as Tammy said herself, "I don't want to make you mad - after all, you get to go home with him tonight!". I hung around with Bill and April as Tammy led Matt everywhere she went. We even gave Matt a new nickname, unbeknownst to Tammy - Matt "BT" Stratton... boy toy. ;-)

So why did Jamie rock? The next night at Karaoke, it was set to end a few hours earlier than normal. The NC people and our table started pouting, and Jamie said sorry, she had to go by what was on the ship schedule. Then she yelled, "Matt's table and the NC people, stay back a sec, I have to talk to you." She then proceeded to come up to us and whisper, "Karaoke's not really over, I got us some extra time to sing and settle the score with the NC gang." Turns out the guys won. Figures.

She hooked us up, so we hooked her up on our comment cards.

Outside of the Karaoke room was a bathroom. Now, you walk into a room marked "Ladies", and expect to see a restroom, right? Apparently the people at Carnival missed this little lesson in convenience. You see, they made the door the same color and material as the wall. Once me and April found it, we headed out to find Bill for congratulations. A few minutes later, another girl came and in we started chit-chatting about the elusive door. She said, "some guy out there had to show me how to get in!" Sure enough, it was Bill, who said that he could tell she was having trouble finding the door. When he went in there, she was on the opposite wall thumping on the walls.

There's a door in this little room here somewhere:

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We made port in Cozumel, Mexico for 12 hours, where the entire trip there can be summed up by one accidental gem of a shot:

"Dude, where's Carlos n' Charlies?"

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Then it was back to the Universal Theme parks. This is a trick shot we took there. The shuttle is actually only about 3 feet tall, and is hanging in midair by the scaffolding. However, if we stand in the right place, the shuttle appears huge resting on the base of the building behind us.

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For those that don't know what Horror Nights are, Universal Studios reopens again from 6:30PM till 2AM and sets up fog machines and "scare zones", where extras in professional makeup come at you with chainsaws and loud noises, and haunted houses. Now, these ain't just regular haunted houses. We're talking full-scale-even-tough-guys-will-get-scared haunted houses.

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We went through one particular house, and at one point, I looked through a fence on the other side of the wall where we were walking, and there was a scare-actor with a nasty bloody face and a chainsaw. He was coming up to people at the wall and scaring them. I went around a corner, and it was a maze of different walls you could go through. I went through one, and found myself face to face with the same chainsaw guy. I really, really thought I had gone somewhere I wasn't suposed to and was face to face with a scare-actor who looked really angry. He came at me with the chainsaw, and of course I screamed, and then realized I hadn't gone the wrong way, he was just scaring people from all angles!

If you do go, be sure to go on a weeknight. We went on Friday night and had a blast, and was able to get through many of the haunted houses. Saturday was a different story. The park was oversold by about 3,000 tickets, and the biggest fear we had was that we'd lose each other. Each house had a 2 1/2 hour wait (no restrooms), and it was impossible to breathe, let alone move. Do NOT go on a Saturday.

The Travel Channel and Discovery Channel have specials on about Horror Nights, be sure to watch it if you can catch it.

So, to sum up, we had a fabulous time. We're all the type of people that are outgoing enough to make conversation with anyone and everyone, and from the lady at the car rental place down to the poor people stuck in elevators with us, we'll get you laughing*. You've been warned.

Damn. Back to doing my own dishes.

Speaking of cruises, if you book anytime over 7 months in advance, the value of the price vs. what you get in return is phenomenal. $239 for a 4 day cruise to the Western Carribean, and everything is included except drinks and airfare. And even then, by checking online frequently, we got $100 round trip airfare. If you've never thought about it, and want a fun and quick getaway, think about a cruise. I think they are highly underrated for the value that comes with them. The food will be sorely missed. Pretty much every night was either prime rib, filet mignon, lobster tails, or some sort of midnight buffet. And no, I don't work for Carnival.

* "Suck it in, fat boy, we've got a car to rent." - Bill, to Matt, whose backpack was rendering the elevator door unable to close. People did not realize Bill and Matt were together.

September 22, 2004


Gratuitous Reboot Pics... posted by Jess

Just because I haven't posted a picture of her in awhile!

I walked into my bedroom the other day to find this:
Maybe if I sprayed HER pillow with my Lavender Vanilla, she'd go there instead?

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But then again, ever since she was a pup she's always preferred some sort of pillow to lie on:

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She's vegged on the couch right now. On top of my blanket. D'oh...

September 09, 2004


My Suburban Diary posted by Jess

While the sticks it is, yes, my street is also the heart of suburbia. Two matching cul-de-sacs on either end (no, we don’t fly in… the street is a T-junction), enough trees to provide shade, and the only traffic is from those that live here. It’s perfect. In fact, sometimes, it’s so perfect, that it only makes sense to poke a little fun at it.

One of these days I’ll tell you about the April Fool’s joke Matt and I pulled on our neighbor. We got a voice mail message in return… “allllright Strattons, this means war!”. I expect any day we’ll turn into those people from the movie, The Burbs. I have visions of me standing on my roof with my army hat and binoculars and… *shudder*.

MY SUBURBAN DIARY

7 AM
Called my neighbor directly to the left of me. We laughed about how the woman across the street who runs a day care has clients that drop their children off every day like clockwork. You could set your watch to the parents dropping their children off every day. Then my neighbor stopped laughing and said, “Oh man, the white caravan just pulled in? I better get in the shower!” and hung up.

9 AM
I am out with Reboot, and look around. Of my entire street, at the moment, I have the only car that is not a minivan. My neighbor to my right must be having a playgroup, there are about 10 minivans parked in the driveway. Either that, or it’s her turn to host the “Hell’s Mommies” party.

10AM
Get call from neighbor a few doors down telling me not to answer the door. The tax assessor is making the rounds. Neighbor wants to know, if she sleeps with the tax assessor, maybe he won’t write down the fact that they finished her basement last month. Neighbor’s husband calls and wants to know the same thing.

12PM
Talk to my neighbor who wants to know when I’m going to have children. She was the one who warned us when we moved in that there was “something in the water” in this street. I told her we have a RO filter installed. Talked to my other neighbor who is pregnant with her second child. I told her that when we finally do announce to the street that I am pregnant, I will be marching down the street with a white flag.

1 PM
Could get mail today, could not. Who knows. Depends on whether the mailman feels like delivering it today.

2 PM
Return all toys that Reboot stole to their respective houses.

3PM
Visit the neighbors in the street walking dogs/children/tax assessors. We joke about whose turn it is to mow the cul-de-sac. Neighbor claims his house is not directly on it, so he’s safe. Another neighbor just proudly turned up with a riding mower one day – he’ll be proud until he realizes he’s ‘inherited’ the cul-de-sac.

4PM
UPS driver pulls in. Reboot barks protectively. Then starts whining for her biscuit from the UPS guy. I get a call from my neighbor who wants to know if I just got anything good.

5, 6, 7, 8 – MIDNIGHT
Reboot goes to neighbor’s door and swipes it with her paw to “knock”. Neighbor lets her in. Reboot gets an extra dinner. Leaves that house, goes to next. That neighbor lets their dog out to go play with Reboot.

September 02, 2004


Universal 2004 - another success! posted by Jess

The 2nd Annual Lotus bloggers meetup was again a rousing success!
Returning this year was myself, Matt, Joe Litton and his wife Shirley and son Ben, Julian Robichaux, and John Vaughn. Among the new attendees were Rob McDonagh and Mac Guidera.

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From the "celebrity bloggers" corner, we seem to have guest appearances from Ron Livingston (of Office Space fame) and Joey Fatone from NSync. Oh never mind, it's just Matt and Julian (who both get mistaken for the two, relatively, on a regular basis).

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Even the friendly server got into this one! The neat thing was, the chef was still here who made Matt some great wings last year. Matt asked for him, and he was still there, and remembered Matt and made him some more.

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Matt is the KING of the arm-extended camera shot.

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As always, a good time was had, and hopefully there will be many more next year, which will probably be in Chicago from the buzz going around.

Speaking of buzzes going around, Joe graciously had us do a tequila shot Friday night. Well, Sunday night, Matt and I were in Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville bar at CityWalk, which is right down the street from Pat O' Briens.

The band playing was excellent, they were very energetic and played the typical songs you'd hear at a wedding reception to get everyone dancing and having fun. The problem? No one was dancing, and short of Matt and myself, no one looked like they were having any fun. There were probably half the tables full in the whole place.

So what else do you do when you want to liven up the place a bit? A round of tequila shots for myself, Matt, and the band, of course. They enjoyed it, and during their first break, the bass player came out and sat down with us and said thanks and we started talking.

Here's the first really cool bit... turns out the band, The Kyle Henderson Project (fronted by Kyle Henderson, formerly of The Producers) was the same band that played at the LotusSphere party during the Superbowl. He seemed to think that no one was listening to them, they were all watching the SuperBowl. So I'm trying to find a blog in which someone talked about the fact that there was a band playing, I thought it would be kind of neat to email it to them.

Anyway, here's the second really cool bit: Kyle Henderson, the lead singer, until about three years ago when he started gigging full time, was a Lotus Notes developer!

The funny thing was that the place was still pretty dead, but when the band came back on for their next set, he's at the mike and he yells, "how many Lotus Notes developers we got in this place tonight?" Matt and I cheered, and we and the band all had a good laugh. No one else got it, but we were having fun.

The people in front of us seemed to be having fun, they started dancing, and the people to the right of us looked like they were having fun laughing at my facial expressions every time I had a shot of tequila, so when the band took their next break, we all sort of joined to do introductions and form a large table. When the band came back out, at first they looked disappointed as it looked like we all left (the people that were actually having fun, it seemed) but then laughed when they noticed we had all joined forces.

So once again, fun is what you make of it. And it's not like anyone in Orlando knows who we are. At least I hope not. :-P

August 26, 2004


The art of roller coaster designing posted by Jess

In order to get psyched for our upcoming trip to Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure, we watched a Travel Channel special that was an inside look at some of the more popular roller coasters. They covered my two favorites.

In Islands of Adventure, there are two coasters that are my favorite. The first is The Hulk, which has the most exhilarating first 5 seconds of any ride I've ever been on. You start in a tunnel, slowly creeping up, hearing a voice say "the reactor can't take it, it's too much, it's..." LAUNCH! All of a sudden you are propelled forward, feeling your cheeks sucked backwards, as green lights surround you from the tunnel. The next thing you know, you are high in the air outside already dipping downward to start the ride.

The launch sequence (designed by NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory, as they usually are) requires so much power that the ride has it's own power generator, lest it cause all of Orlando to lose power just from the ride launch.

But here's the neat thing: I had commented to Matt one year as to how loud it was, we were all the way across the park and I could hear it roaring as it went every time. Well, I found out that the Hulk rails have a hollow buffer around the rail to make it sound like the Hulk is roaring! Whaddya know, it was all part of the ride's experience.

As for the second coaster, that would be Dueling Dragons. It's actually two coasters intertwined. The line starts the same, in a medieval castle, and then you are asked to choose your fate, Fire or Ice. This is where you choose the red or the blue coaster.

The ride is suposed to be a mid-air fight between two dragons. The ride is artfully designed to that at several points along the ride, there are near-misses as the dragons "swoop" at each other. Be noted: you won't even know this unless you're in the front row! The key point in the ride is a fast-approaching game of chicken, in which both coasters veer out of the way at the last possible second, avoiding a head-on collision with the people in the other coaster. Again, you won't see a thing if you aren't in the front row.

This coaster has always been my favorite because it's so smooth, comfortable and quiet (aside from the screaming, of course). You don't get jostled around, it's pure bliss as you can just sit back and enjoy the feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Again - it's by design. You are riding a dragon flying in the air! You should feel like you're soaring. The key feature the coaster designers wanted to add to the experience was that realism. They accomplished it by adding a square-foot buffer of gravel around the rails to absorb noise and shock, leaving nothing but a smooth ride.

So, my hat's off to you, oh designer of gut-tormenting coasters. I'm sorry I ever doubted you, you really do have it all under control...

August 13, 2004


Messing with people posted by Jess

At Stop & Shop yesterday...

Matt is in line. Bill's mother walks in and sees him standing there.

Bill's mom: "My god, they let you out?"

Matt: "Well, not really. The cops are outside waiting for me."

Man standing behind Matt in line: *silently picks up his things and moves to a new line.*

August 11, 2004


My right to the armrest! posted by Jess

Yes, there has been a long silence. You know when so much stuff is going on internally, to voice something else externally would seem trite and forced, and I didn’t want that. That wouldn’t be being true to myself, and that’s something that I will always be from now on. So I wrote nothing.

I remembered when I was at an old company, and someone came up to me with one of those little puzzles you get as a trade show giveaway. He said, “you’re our only hope. We’ve all been trying to do this, and can’t do it, so I’m giving it to you because I KNOW you’ll be able to solve it.”

I looked over, and there was everyone else in the company, and me. I figured it out in a few minutes, and then sat there. I was this close to taking the whole thing apart and handing it back to him, saying I couldn’t figure it out either just so I could be part of “the group”. But, in the end, being true won, and I quietly handed it back to him all completed, but there was still something missing.

A few times I’ve also tried to be trendy. It didn’t work, and I always seemed to go back to my usual comfy punk look, again with something missing.

I was talking to a friend, who told me something recently that hit me like a bolt of lightning.

Everyone has an equal right to happiness.

If we are in a movie theater, there’s one armrest for two seats. I can’t hog it the whole time for a movie, but you know what? Neither can the person next to me, either. We both have the same right to that armrest.

Finally, I found out what was missing. My own acceptance of myself. I have just a right to happiness as the next person. Whether that happiness comes from geeking out playing Nintendo, playing role-playing games with my closest friends or blasting the not-so-subtle Rammstein’s “Du Hast”, it’s what makes me happy. So it may be a little unorthodox for someone of my particular demographic, all it means is that it’s a little harder to find peers with my own interests.

For years I had wanted an eyebrow ring, but never got one for fear of how it would affect everyone around me. But I never realized how it would affect ME if I didn’t get it. So, one of the first things I did was go out and get one. Such an action had never felt so right. It still does.

So, with that, what’s a girl to do? Whatever it is I feel compelled to do. And I’ll do it proudly.

Never, ever, EVER sacrifice who you are for anything or anyone. And don't ever let anyone make you feel like you have to, either. You have the same right to happiness as everyone else.

Life is good!

*STATIC* … and now back to your regularly scheduled programming… *STATIC*

May 21, 2004


Mmmm. Starchy. posted by Jess

Matt and I were discussing dinner tonight, and came up with an interesting question, putting our other more pressing issues aside (How do they put carbonated soda into the bottle without it all overflowing with foam? How come the candy rows in the front of the store never change size, yet they are always coming out with new candy bars and I can still always find the old ones I am looking for? Where is all that room coming from?).

Is a potato a vegetable? I said no, I thought it was a starch. Matt thought it was a vegetable. He also mentioned that foods aren’t starch, they contain starch.

So I did what any other 28-year old independent women would do in my situation. I called my mother. She knows everything. Matt once told her that if he was ever on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, she would be the phone-a-friend. You want to know the opposite of an abundance? You call my mother (a dearth).

She informed me that a potato is, in fact, a tuber. Who knew?

April 17, 2004


When the grownups get to come out and play posted by Jess

Last week, I went out Monday and Saturday night to see two very different bands...

Monday the 5th was The Crystal Method at Lupo's at the Strand in Providence, and Saturday was Tower of Power at the Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun (free show, woo hoo!)

Going from electronica to funk and soul was a switch, but even more of a switch was the people watching, and how different the age and clothes were. The only thing that was the same was the attitude of happiness at getting to hear/see great music.

The neatest thing that I love about concerts is that when I look around, I see adults of all ages grooving in their playclothes, myself included. The funnest thing, especially on a Monday show, is to remember that probably only a few hours before, these people were bankers, electricians, stock brokers, morticians. Closing a deal. Fixing a computer. Stressing over a proposal due. Clad in business suits, ties, high-heels, and very modest makeup.

Then the night begins, and the clubs become OUR Chuck-E-Cheese's, where an adult can be an adult.

It felt very real.

March 19, 2004


Always have something pretty in sight. posted by Jess

This is something that is becoming more and more important to me as time goes on. And I can't even really tell you why. I just know that it makes me happy when I have something nice to look at.

Maybe it's because it's not often that I used to actually stop and LOOK at anything. I never would know what I missed.

Here's what I see when I wake up every morning. I love waking up (well, that's a lie. Sometimes I really, really hate waking up!) and starting my day off looking at soothing colors.

Until I had it, I never knew what I was missing. But now, I love it. I wake up every morning feeling like I'm in a bed and breakfast, or on vacation. I get to see soothing blues from my bedroom, primrose yellow from the hallways, and a nice gentle brown from the living room. It's this one spot in my bedroom that shows me all the colors. This, is just another simple pleasure that makes me happy.

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March 18, 2004


An untouched storm... posted by Jess

The weather recently had been beautiful... 50-60 degrees, sunny. I thought I was finally able to hang up my hat and scarf.

But no, Mother Nature had some surprises, her latest being a winter storm dumping about 3 inches of snow upon us a few days ago.

But this was different.

Normally it snows, and for a few hours, it's absolutely beautiful. Then the snowplows come through, creating brown snowbanks, and leaving slushy piles of snow in their wake.

However, because just a day before it was 55 degrees out, the snow was sticking to the trees and bushes, but leaving the roads seemingly untouched, and the snowplows still nestled in their garages.

Driving along for the past few days has been wonderful. This is the lovely side of winter I never get to see. No dirty snow, tall brown snowbanks, nothing to disillusion the winter wonderland. It's like those first few hours after the snowfall was frozen in time, and continues to be...

March 05, 2004


So close, yet so far away... posted by Jess

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February 26, 2004


History Repeats: US Army Band needing guitar player posted by Jess

My dad was joking the other day how the US Army Band is looking for a classical guitarist to add to its ranks...

I had to take a peek for myself, and sure enough, there is a vacancy.

What the position-filler doesn't know, however, is that the position wouldn't exist at all had it not been for my father.

He was in the US Army Band in the 50's (for trumpet, I believe), and drafted along with him was then pop-star Steve Lawrence. Steve brought his own chorale pieces with him, and they all called for one thing: a classical guitarist. At that point, the band did not have an official "record" in the database for such a position.

In order to add a new field to the database of US Army Band Classical Guitarist, my dad and Steve made a field trip together up to the US Pentagon to appeal for a new position. They got it, and my father became the first ever classical guitarist in the most prestigious band in the armed forces.

You can read a little bit about the history of it here, including a picture of Steve L.

What strikes me as the most interesting is the ripple effect. It's not very often I get the chance to trace something like this back to the beginning.

January 28, 2004


An alcohol conundrum? posted by Jess

Here's something to ponder...these are the silly things I wonder about on a regular basis.

When going to dinner party, it's normal and considered good practice to bring beer, or a bottle of wine, or both. So when the host asks you what you want to drink, here's the thing.

Do you go for the alcohol that the host already has, or do you open what you brought?

The first suggests that you don't want what you brought*. So does that show that you think you didn't bring anything good? The second suggests that you are rejecting what the host has provided, and do you plan on doing the same thing for dinner?

Kind of silly, really, but I've wondered, nonetheless. :-)

*Smoking Loon 2001 Merlot (California) is the best wine I've ever had for under $10, btw. And a beautiful bottle also, if you like that sort of thing.

January 26, 2004


Reboot, the party animal. posted by Jess

Sorry for the huge photos twice in one week on the page.. but I couldn't help wanting to post these.

My neighbor gave me a balloon, thinking that Reboot might want to play with it. I tell you, until that bad boy popped 15 minutes later, Reboot was just like a little child. She didn't try to chew it, rather she enjoyed holding the string down with a paw and paddling it back and forth with the other paw, just like we all did when we used to get a balloon!

The best part was when she let go of it and it floated to the ceiling. We have as an MPEG file. At first she whined, but then was smart enough to jump up and yank down the string. When it hit the ground, she then pulled down the topmost part of string so she could continue to play with it.

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January 12, 2004


Don't ya hate it when things you love get trendy? posted by Jess

I just discovered this article on MSNBC today:
Martial Arts Meets Dance in Health Clubs, with a subheading of "Brazilian exercise popping up in trendy gyms". They are talking about Capoeira, Brazilian martial arts.

I think it's wonderful that the art is spreading, as no one had ever heard of it when I started taking it. I say that, but at the same time, that's exactly what's bothering me about it.

Call it fun, call it aerobic, call it rich with history, but please don't call it trendy. That implies that it's a superficial fad that no one's ever heard of before, and that it will soon disappear and probably become laughable later. I can't stand the thought of a group of people remeniscing ten years down the road over coffee one day talking about my dear Capoeira, saying, "what WERE we thinking?"

I become selfish at moments like this, selfish at things and hobbies that I hold near and dear. Maybe I hold them too near?

Some people could say the same about blogging. I'm certainly not one of the first people to ever blog, and I probably helped make someone else sick of the subject. But you'll never hear me cheapen it by labeling it a trend. Writing is special to me too, and I'll never cheapen someone else's blog by thinking that what they write about is unimportant. It's important to them.

I always root for the underdog. Ask me who my favorite team is, the answer will always be the same - the one that's currently in last place. The one no one's ever heard of before.

Maybe that's why things like this bother me so much.

December 29, 2003


Happy Christmas and Merry New Year posted by Jess

Well, Happy Christmas at least still sounds right to me....

My mother is English*, and I've always loved how she says "Happy Christmas" instead of "Merry Christmas". I think it sounds cheerier.

This January, some changes are afoot in the blog. Be prepared to look out for the "Giration of the month" award. That's all I'll say for now. But you have been warned.

I've been saving up my cool examples of how great our little state of Rhode Island is. So also be on the lookout for "Rhode Island Stories" which will find their way here every so often.

Here's to a new year full of hope, cheer, and healing.

* Yes, I am also Italian. In fact, if you've ever seen me in person, my physical appearance is 100% Italian. But I am an English girl at heart. The way I sum it up is quite simple. I burp a LOT, but I _always_ say excuse me. :-)

December 08, 2003


Reboot's amazing intuitiveness... posted by Jess

We've all known how smart Reboot is, it's been vividly apparent ever since the moment we brought her to our house.

But intuitiveness cannot be taught, and tricks go only as far as the treat bag.

I was home the other day and had to change my home voice mail message. I was in the kitchen, and called the phone using my cell. Reboot was in the bedroom playing with the ferrets.

I had to call the phone to let it bring itself into voicemail. Reboot immediately made the connection that:

1. The phone was ringing
2. There was no movement from me, no rush to answer the phone, and
3. It had rung more times than necessary, especially as I was home.

She ran into the kitchen and paused, looking at me with a worried look on her face. I told her it was OK, and instantly her tail started wagging and her ears went down.

Dogs are so incredible, especially to be able to learn everyday activities enough to make a connection when a red flag is raised. My mother was telling me that Reboot sounds like a great candidate as an assisted-living helper dog. I would agree, though I'd also be the first to say that I could never give her up!

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December 01, 2003


Some Monday morning humanity posted by Jess

I was thinking about this in the car over the weekend.

Picture the most corporate, busy, always-on-the-phone CEO-type you can think of. Always untouchable, usually a little intimidating, even their name gets talked about with hushed voices.

There's almost a certain mystique about them, a business air that sends out vibes of profit margins, ROI and financials.

Now, I thought of a way to bring a dose of humanity into my thoughts of them.

Picture this very person on Thanksgiving day with NO thoughts of work, dressed in casual clothes, and spending the day carving a turkey and playing with their families, children and/or grandchildren.

On a related note:
I always thought it was neat that so many people hit this blog (Fractals and Thanksgiving Dinner). Then I realized that all this time I had spelled the title wrong, and everyone that was searching for 'Thanskiving' was being sent here. What's even MORE ironic is that the subject of the blog is about college. I can see I learned a lot.

On a different note:
Remember this blog? (The unstoppable G.B.E)
I just got a funny insult/comment posted the other day, and felt compelled to reply. Go take a peek.

November 14, 2003


Holy cow, she posted again!… and a really, really big stick. posted by Jess

So, let’s see. Yes, yes, it’s been awhile. My blog, which is my echo of all my thoughts, and I’ve been gone for so long. I will try not to let that happen again.

Here’s a quick summary:

I’ve been doing quite a few Lotus Notes projects. I’ve also been doing lots and lots of home computer repair and training, which I love. I’m also in the works to give some seminars in the Parks & Recreation department about tips for home users to combat spam and learn about protecting against viruses. And lastly, I am trying to get an outline going for a possible free seminar for parents on how to keep the Internet safe for their children.

And, after lots of great feedback from the home users I help from day to day, I’ve also decided I’m going to try to write a book. Though I have never done this before, it should be interesting. I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell you my (working) title, which will at least give you an idea of my target audience: “How big is a gig?”

I am having a blast, and slowly but surely finding my niche, which I have been trying to do for years, and not successfully. Take this blog for example, I always have great ideas about Notes and lots of views/opinions on Internet technology and such, but the fear of sounding like I have no idea what I am talking about always takes over. Over the past month, working with primarily end users, I have discovered a self-confidence I never knew I had. It was comforting to know that I DO have something to offer.

Not to mention I have made an interesting realization. It’s a known fact that it is vital to stay current in the technology field. However, it seems like home users always seem to get the new technology first, and then once the usefulness is discovered, the same principle gets applied to corporations. Therefore, I can rest easy knowing I’m not going to get TOO behind doing home users at the same time I’m getting up to speed on ND6.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And in the meantime, I thank all my friends for wondering what the heck happened to me. I have to admit, it was nice to be missed.

Oh, and I can’t forget my remaining hours are trying to keep Reboot under control and happy. Now, Reboot also happens to be a stick connoisseur, and this is one of her favorites. But, I thought Shepherds were supposed to be smart, and Elkhounds were known for their problem-solving skills?

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October 17, 2003


We've got three corners of the US covered in Orlando... posted by Jess

Matt and I spent our two year anniversary in Universal Studios, Orlando Florida. I knew Jonvon was down somewhere around there, so I asked Joe Litton for his contact info. Well, Joe's son is in Tampa for college, and him and his wife decided it was time for a visit. Then Jonvon invited Julian Robichaux, who was up to the challenge, and finally Bruce Elgort and Gayle hopped on the vacation bandwagon also.

What a great time! Bruce was kind enough to give Matt and I now-collector's item NotesOSS shirts.

Upon everyone gathering in Citywalk, I got a call from Joe that most of the gang had gathered at Starbucks. Knowing Joe, I should have checked there first. (See, now I've met him, so I can tease him.)

We then made our way to camp out for the night at the outside patio at Pat O'Briens, where much laughage commenced. Oh, and Julian's knowledge of tools far extends the small realm of the NSF. ;-)

So now we are home in the world of normalcy and no room service. Here's some piccies of the get together:

Bruce & Gayle: NotesOSS lives! And goes very well on buffalo wings.
The Gang
Matt & Jess: Interesting, the only full glass is the one with no alcohol in it.
Joe and John: Is it just me, or is there an incredible amount of empty drink glasses in front of them?
Bruce, Julian and John: Sorry ladies, they're taken!

Again, thanks to everyone who came. Matt and I were already there, so for everyone to come and visit us was SUCH an incredible honor, especially during the week like that. We so appreciate each and every one of you.

October 09, 2003


Enough already, we get it... posted by Jess

Dear radio station/TV station/advertisement:

Yes, we are all aware that there are numerous words that rhyme with "oct", in October, allowing you to cleverly create some VERY funny sayings and commercials.

I especially laughed when you noticed that this month is also Halloween, and the word SHOCK can be cleverly combined with TOBER to create your very own slang word, SHOCKTOBER.

And I also couldn't help but notice the poetic genius behind your use of substituting ROCK instead on the radio. Ha, ha! See, it wouldn't be funny if it were a classical music station, but you play ROCK music, and now it's ROCKTOBER.

Keep those creative caps on, people!
Sincerely,
Jesstober- er, I mean, Jess.

If I go into a Chinese restaurant and see "It's Woktober!"....

October 01, 2003


This morning I was SO tired... (how tired WAS I?) posted by Jess

Have you ever woken up and it's just one of those mornings that you're physically up, but your brain is still back in bed sleeping?

I made my coffee with no issues. But there I was, standing there with a poured cup, sugar in hand, completely blank about how much sugar I put in my coffee.

Keep in mind, I have been making my morning coffee every morning for about 4 years (except on weekends, when my wonderful husband makes it for me).

Could have been two spoonfuls, could have been one spoonful for all I knew. I kept having to add more and taste it.

Thank goodness after that my brain decided to yawn, stretch, and finally roll itself out of bed. Why did my brain get to sleep in but I couldn't?

September 12, 2003


Growing up too fast... posted by Jess

Here's some updated pictures of Reboot, who is growing too fast. Well, just fast enough to turn into a couch-hog.

I want to tell you how much trouble she is, but truth be told, aside from the traditional puppy antics, she's a damn good dog!

Must be the parenting. :-P

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September 03, 2003


Movie titles that were picked first? posted by Jess

Have you ever watched a TV commercial of a movie, or a preview, and see a movie with a title that's so appropriately convenient, you have to wonder which came first, the plot or the title?

I thought of this when Matt and I recently saw a preview for a movie called "Cabin Fever", in which a group of teenagers head to the woods for a camping trip, and end up battling a flesh-eating virus.

I can just see some screenwriter sitting around one night, thinking, "hmmmmmmmmmm... ha ha ha, they'll be in a CABIN, and get sick, FEVER, get it, get it, ha ha ha!"

(This is all regardless of the quality of the movie. I've never seen it. I'd actually be incredibly impressed if someone crafted a great movie out of a working title. Which could happen all the time for all I know!)

Here's some more I could think of with extremely convenient titles... you be the judge:

Daddy Day Care
Cabin Fever
Shallow Hal
Legally Blonde
RoboCop
TimeCop

Any others you can think of?

August 27, 2003


SAT = Stupid Annoying Tests posted by Jess

Apparently SAT scores are up. Higher than they’ve been in 20 years, actually. I don’t really know what that means.

I’ve always been quiet in the whole concept of how accurate certificate testing programs are, almost afraid to voice my opinion. There’s a reason.

I don’t think standardized tests test anything except how good one is at taking tests.

It’s an art form. It really is, and one slighted towards those left-brained individuals who make up the majority of the world. I’m not one of those people.

I would like to think that I’m Not Entirely Stupid; I made honor roll every semester in High School, and was even on the National Honor Society. I took the SAT’s twice, and even did the Pre-SAT’s.

I never scored over 900 total. I don’t even want to tell you how many scholarships and financial aid it cost me.

For some people, multiple choice is just another test. You pick the best answer, and go on your merry way. For others, it’s a nightmare. We agonize over wording and tenses. We agonize over the clock that’s counting down in the corner of our peripheral vision. We agonize because we can't visualize what we are suposed to be answering correctly. What happens when two choices are right? Who judges which one is “The Best”? And why don’t I get any credit for choosing the one that was at least second closest to being The Best?

What’s the worst that could happen by allowing me to write in my own best possible answer? Someone would have to go over my exam by hand. That means they would have to employ more test-graders, which means they would be creating more jobs. That’s good, right? I’d pay more to take each test if meant I’d be able to pass it the first time… I’d still end up paying less!

August 20, 2003


Dog Blog! posted by Reboot

So my name is Reboot. Everyone says I’m “adoor-able”, but I don’t know what that means.

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I’m smart, too. I’m the best one in my class. My mommy says it’s because of the shepp-ard in me, but I don’t know what that means either. I hope they get it out soon, because right now I don’t feel so good. Unless it’s because of all the dirt I ate.

DIRT!!!!


Sorry, I got distracted for a second. I LOVE dirt.

I also looooooooooooooooove car rides!

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I HATE getting yelled at.

I’m sup-posed to be learning not to mega-bite. I mean, just the part without the ‘mega’. (You hear that word ALL the time at my house.) But I can’t help it, my teeth hurt.

My favorite trick now is to drop all my toys down the stairs and bark at them. I do it because I know it really annoys mommy. That, and when I get yelled at for chewing on something I’m not ‘sposed to, I look around, because, hey, all MY toys are gone! How’d that happen?

So anyways, I’m Reboot.

August 12, 2003


The Record Player posted by Jess

Between my friends, neighbors and family, lately there’s been a lot of talk about childhood memories, and old family photos emerging that have not seen the likes of daylight in, oh, say 25-40 years.

In talking with my neighbors, the subject of record players that we used to listen to when we were kids came up.

Something that I found absolutely fascinating:

Every single one of us used to think that the band was physically STUCK inside that record player somewhere, and that they played for us every time we dropped the needle to make the music come out. If we started the song again, the band HAD to play it again for us.

I can even remember the mental imagery I had when I was a kid… picturing the band somewhere in a big void, playing. Actually, my mental imagery looked a lot like the famous video of the Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan show. I must have seen it somewhere and the image just stuck; I certainly wasn’t around for that!

Unfortunately, I was around just in time for Solid Gold. ;-)

July 17, 2003


Brighten someone's day. posted by Jess

I leave a client site the same time weekly. The first time I left, there was someone sitting by the door, so I waved, said goodnight, and left. Every week since then, he’s been there, and I always still wave and say goodnight. The look on his face when I wave to him makes me think that he looks forward to his smile and wave every week.

It reminded me of a lady who used to live in our old apartment building. Whenever Matt, Werb (our old roommate) and I would drive up the apartment driveway, there was a lady sitting on a rocking chair outside, she had to be no younger than 90.

Matt and Werb used to wave at her, and she’d never wave back. So one day Werb said, “I’m going to make that lady wave at me if it’s the last thing I do!”

So he waved, and waved, and waved. (I think all she did all day long was sit out there on that rocker!) Finally, one day she waved back. And then she kept waving. And then she started smiling when she waved.

When Werb moved out, Matt took over the waving. If you could have seen the way her face lit up every time we went by! You could tell that it was probably the highlight of her day. She’d stretch her arm out and sit up straight and wave.

I think she was still there when we finally moved into our house.

I’d like to think she misses us.

July 14, 2003


A night of surprises posted by Jess

Last Wednesday’s Fates Warning/Queensryche/Dream Theater concert was nothing short of incredible.

For those that have never heard of Dream Theater, it’s incredibly cinematic hard rock, with genius coming out of every note. Songs are epic in nature, and can be on average about 7-11 minutes long. They usually take you through every possible emotion, leaving you in a total state of catharsis at the end of each song, capable of one thought: “phleh.”

As for Queensryche, I only know songs from their Empire album, but it does hold special meaning for me. Right after I graduated college, me, Matt and our roommate Jay would put this CD on and play the whole thing while sitting around playing cribbage and High-low-Jack. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday… and now, every time I hear any song from that CD, all I think about is knowing that it was 6PM, and I had absolutely NOTHING I had to do. No papers to write. No exams to study for. Freedom.

I’ve come up with some superlatives from the show…

Best quote:
The lead singer of Queensryche said it best: “this will be a night of very complicated people playing very complicated music.”

Best concert souvenier:
I woke up the next morning feeling like I had a hangover, though I hadn’t been drinking. Turns out this alleged “hangover” ended up being a nasty virus lasting a few days. Which is why it's Monday and I'm writing about a concert I went to last Wednesday! I’m not surprised, considering how many people I probably bumped elbows with that night. I would have rather had a T-shirt, though.

Fastest rendition of a song that was tough to play in the first place
Any Dream Theater fan knows the song Metropolis. I guess the band decided it needed a little "pick me up", to which they played the entire song at two or three times (I have no idea which one) it's original speed.

Best surprise ending:
Seeing both sets of drums uncovered and a fantastic rendition of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by both bands sharing the stage.

Well worth seeing them if they are in your area!

July 08, 2003


Going to a metropolis to hear Metropolis. posted by Jess

Ed may have his list of things to do before he dies, but I have my list of bands to see play live before I die. I get to cross one off the list tomorrow!

Yes
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Jethro Tull
Orbital
Crystal Method

Dream Theater (woo hoo!) and Queensryche at the FleetBoston Pavillion Wednesday, July 9.

What more could I ask for? A beautiful city at night on the water, and 3 hours of pure, raw musical genius.

July 02, 2003


Respect your elders! posted by Jess

I'm almost through with the most recent Harry Potter book. I've thoroughly enjoyed all of them, and I do agree that JK Rowling is absolutely fantastic.

But (there's *always* a but!).... I wish people would realize that she is not the first person to ever have created a world like this.

Call it "respecting your elders", but how about some homage to the pioneers of the genre? (I'm not talking about Tolkien. We're talking children's book's here). I'm 27 years old. I was spoon-fed Roald Dahl, lunch-boxed Shel Silverstein and midnight snacked on Enid Blyton.

I was NOT lacking imagination when I was a child. Why? I had these authors to thank. For hours, I would immerse myself in magical forests with enchanted trees, would be scared to go to sleep for fear of the Witching Hour and BFGs, and pretended that I, too had a chair with wings on it that would take me to all sorts of lands.

That's all. I'm done. I won't bring it up anymore. I got it out of my system.

Oh, news flash - I didn't grow up to be a satanist, either. Isn't that what's suposed to happen by reading books like that?* ;-)
She said sadly.

June 12, 2003


We get a little wiser. posted by Jess

The other day, I walked into our bedroom, and the ferrets had done something (I can’t remember what, specifically). They probably pulled all the books out of the bookshelf again. Or got into the closet. Something.

It was funny, but it required me cleaning it up, and trust me – ferrets try to help you clean up. But the best help is no help at all. So, I remember scooping up both of them and saying, "I DON’T CARE WHO DID IT, you’re both going in your cage now."

And then it hit me. All that time, my parents really DIDN’T care who did it!

June 09, 2003


Louis Pasteur, want a bagel? posted by Jess

I always like to keep a book tucked away in the back seat of my car somewhere. You just never know when you'll be stuck in a waiting room, or early for an appointment.

Right now, I've got Michael Crichton's Timeline that I'm reading (which was not a very good pick. It's tough to pick it back up after 2 months and remember what's going on).

But it's not the what that's important. It's the where. For some reason, I always end up having to grab a quick bagel at Dunkin' Donuts for lunch every so often, and end up bringing my book in and reading while I eat.

So imagine what happens when I have a doctor's appointment last week and have to wait. I bring my book in. I open it up and start reading.

I get the BIGGEST craving for a Dunkin' Donuts bagel EVER. I can't stop thinking about Dunkin' Donuts. I can smell it, taste it, I can practically HEAR the coffee brewing.

Of course this either means I need to get out more, or I should cut back on the carbohydrates. Those bagels are deadly!

Maybe I'll just start reading a new book and see what happens.

May 31, 2003


Cool and not cool. posted by Jess

Things that are cool:
1. The way anytime my neighbor refers to his wife, he always refers to her as “my supermodel wife Erin”.
2. The fact that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Starlight Express” is not only still alive, it’s actually coming to my state.
3. That about twenty feet from our property line lies a sixteenth-century Indian burial ground.
4. The fact that whenever Matt passes a kid playing a video arcade game anywhere, he sticks extra quarters on the console.
5. As it’s now summer, the fact that I can feel totally justified having a Klondike bar whenever I want.
6. As a Hitchiker’s Guide fanatic, my birthday, February 11, is the 42nd day of the year.
7. Ice cubes.


Things that are not cool:
1. The way it’s state law that cars have to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, but there is no law that the state has to repaint those crosswalks every year.
2. Wasps.
3. Seeing a dog in a car on a really hot day.
4. The fact that when I sit on the deck, I’m so short that the top of the deck blocks my view of the road.
5. Those debit card-swipe diagrams. No matter which way you face the card, it’s always the wrong way. Now try being a leftie and looking at that diagram.
6. Trying to make mechanics believe my car is a three-year old lemon.
7. An oven at 200 degrees.

May 29, 2003


The queens I use would not excite you... posted by Jess

I’ve been listening to Ben Fold’s Five “The Battle of Who Could Care Less” over and over again. The lyrics are so down to earth, it made me think. This sounds like real life. Then it made me think of more songs that sound more like real life than a made-up one.

If your life was a movie, what would be your soundtrack? What songs do you relate to? And more importantly, out of all of them, which one is your “main theme”?

These are all songs I love.
My soundtrack might go “a little something like this”: (pun intended.)

Rush - Virtuality
Once I discovered BBS’, I wasn’t away from the screen long enough to type ‘brb’.

Stone Temple Pilots – Sour Girl
Bad relationship. Can you tell?

Blues Traveler: All in the Groove – Main Theme song!!
Lay back and enjoy the groove. That should be my motto, because it’s certainly how I live.

Murray Head – One Night in Bangkok
Cerebral fitness. In the dorms at URI, I was introduced to chess. Hooked from the start.

Harry Connick Jr. – Wink and a Smile (our wedding song)
Matt and I definitely go together like a wink and a smile. There’s just no question about that. And I really did trade in my old jalopy for a Pontiac*. ;-)

Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
Hey, everyone loses themselves now and again.

Phil Collins – True Colors
…and then discovers that it really is ok to be yourself.

Dave Brubeck – Take Five
…So sometimes you just gotta sit back and take a break.

John Cougar Mellencamp – Your Life is Now
…and see what you have.

Poe – Walk the Walk
Finally, moving on, it’s time to see if I can walk the walk and talk the talk.
I definitely want to walk to the beat of my own drum.

You?

* Okay, I TRIED to trade it in. They didn’t want it!

May 26, 2003


Ferrets in the spotlight... posted by Jess

We went to a party on Sunday. (an unexpected invitation from a new friend… the best kind!) It was at a house right next to one of the state beaches, so there was lots of fields, sands, and an adventure playground.

Somehow the topic of ferrets came up. As we live close by, we ended up driving back home with a friend, put Scooter and Chloe on their leashes, and brought them back to the party. The combination of sand on the playground/beach and lots of people and kids would lead to the little rugrats having a BLAST.

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Well, a blast they had. I’ve never been so proud of them, they were so well-mannered. Their day consisted of having a romp on the playground in the sand (and down the slide a few times, Scooter loved that), and then back to the party to see all the people.

They were patient when children of all ages came up to them wanting to walk them, pet them, hold them, etc. They patiently sat cradled in our arms (rare as it is) while we explained to people when they said “what is THAT?”

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Most people were surprised when we said they were ferrets. They were surprised when Chloe leaned in to give them kisses. They were surprised when we told them how they were litter trained, how they don’t bite, and how they don’t carry “the plague”. And they were definitely surprised to see them out on leashes!

Our ferrets lasted five hours out there in the spotlight. They got tired and each took a nap (one in Matt’s arms, the other cradled in another guest’s arms), and then woke up and got their second wind.

At the very least, Matt and I were able to dispel most misconceptions those ~200 guests had about ferrets. Most people were under the impression that ferrets bit, were extremely dirty, and didn’t interact with people at all. Oh, we proved them wrong that day!

We all had fun. Matt and I had fun “sharing the joy” with others. And believe me, the antics the ferrets pull are very laughable, especially when Chloe found herself in a gift bag and began hopping around. We also had fun being able to show all the kids what ferrets were, and showing them how to hold them and walk them.

You want to know what I really enjoyed seeing? I saw how gentle the children were petting them, and in return, the ferrets sat patiently and let themselves be pet.

And anyway, how can you resist this face? Meet Chloe. :-)

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May 07, 2003


Amelie posted by Jess

As per the recommendations of Joe Litton, my parents, and basically everyone, I watched the movie Amelie the other day. The narrator introduces characters in an unusual way. He tells us the little things that the characters like, what they dislike, and what makes them happy… ie. emptying out a purse, cleaning it out, and putting everything back. We discover Amelie herself makes herself happy by skipping stones. She also enjoys cracking the top of crčme brulee, and the feeling of sticking her hand into a bag full of lentils. Amelie’s mother hates pillow marks on her face in the morning.

This is the sort of thing one could take off and run with…for example, everyone likes certain things. And everyone dislikes certain things. But have you ever thought about all the minute details of life that just, well, makes you happy?

I like the way my car drives right after I drive out of the gas station when I’ve just filled the tank. I also like the way ceramic tile feels on bare feet, and having all my clothes be dry the first time I check on them in the dryer.

I dislike putting on a shirt over another shirt and having the shirt on the bottom get twisted. I also dislike getting interrupted during my favorite part of a song, and lastly, I dislike that instant the magic leaves when you have been outside all day, and all of a sudden you realize you are cold, it’s dark, and the mosquitoes are biting.

I make myself happy by going through every single old photo of mine. I have a crate full of photos, still in their individual envelopes. Yes, it takes awhile, but it’s very, very peaceful, and it’s usually when I am alone. It makes me forget everything, including how much time passes while I’m doing it.

What are your simple pleasures, likes, and dislikes? What makes you happy?

April 23, 2003


Hypothesis becomes Theory posted by Matt

Have you ever started thinking of a song for some odd reason and wish you could hear it? Then one day you get in the car, flip on the radio, and there it is! Well, it happens to me a lot in the US and I am not talking about the "song of the week" type of song. I am talking about obscure songs like Def-Leopard Pour Some Sugar on Me or Snow-Informer. Well, since Monday, I have been singing Europe's Final Countdown. It was from the 80s and I began to sing it when I woke up Monday morning and said to myself "Well, the final countdown has begun... only 5 more days". So here I am riding the train, singing to myself and wishing that I could hear it. Sitting at work and doing the same. Then last night Kenshi asked me to go out to dinner with him.

I was honored once again and actually he asked me last week but I could not make it then. So here we are, driving around in his car and I hear this faint sound in the background. It sounds a lot like The Final Countdown. I interrupt him (appologizing of course) and ask if I can turn the song up. I was so excited. I had had such a crazy day at work and I was drained but the song was revitalizing! I was giddy. I started dancing in my seat and clapping my hands (I avoided the "air drumming"). I was once again happy.

We then went out for sushi and a few drinks. We got into a lot of different discussions over sake but the most memorable discussion we had was when I had a revalation at a bar while drinking some cognac. We began to discuss our relationships because he is very excited to be having his first baby. He was explaining how things change when begin to try and have a child. Sex is no longer just for pleasure but for creation and it is a wonderful time.

We then began to discuss my relationship with Jess and I explained how since day one, Jess & I have been together as much as possible. We have yet to fight (I have said it before and I will say it again, the fact that we don't fight does not mean we dont disagree. When we do disagree, we discuss the situation and reach an outcome without raising our voices at eachother. We dont fall into the "door slamming" and "storming off" routines). Also, through talking with Kenshi and trying to find the best words to use, I made the statement that there is 100% trust in our relationship and 0% jelousy. I followed it up with saying "Jess could go out with 10 male strippers and I would not care". I know she would not do anything just like she knows I will not do anything here. I then explained how I look at things. When I am presented with a situtation, no matter what my state of mind may be, I know that I have Jess and I would not risk losing her for anything in the world. But in Japan, around 10 pm, the girls hit the street and offer you massages (mentioned in another post). I then said that the way I look at situations like that is would I want to have one night of crazy exotic hanging from the ceiling sex to spend the rest of my life living in misery for the fact that I ruined something so perfect.

So many people have asked me how I can have a relationship like I do and I have never really had a solid explanation. Now I do. You have to ask yourself "would you risk everything you have right now for one night of promiscuity, our would you like assurance that for the rest of your life that you will have someone who will love you unconditionally for who you are and not for reasons that are taken on face value?" To me, it is a no-brainer.

There is another theory that evoloved from the conversation and that is the fact that I like to keep a balance in my life. Granted the scales sometimes go in favor of one side or the other but as long as the average is equal, you are doing ok. At one point in our relationship, this was not the case. The balance was heavilly shifted in my favor and Jess was neglected. For those who knew me durring these dark times, you will remember that the root of evil was a game called EverQuest (EQ). I played it for a 6 month period and it is an online game where you adventer in the world of EQ and build up your virtual character. When I first began playing, I was working for the Department of Defence. My daily routine changed because I "needed" to play EQ more then anything else. At the time, Jess was not only working her 9-5 job but also making house calls fixing peoples computers. Her normal time of getting home was arround 9 or 10 pm. When she would get home at these times, I would still be playing but I would finish up and sit with her to talk about our days. However, when the holiday season came around, her housecalls dwindled and she was getting in arround 5 pm. She then saw what it was like for me.

I would get home from work around 3 pm, pee really quick and sit down at the computer to play. It was my food, my drink, but not my niccotene. I must have smoked a pack just playing the game. Jess was used to me stopping playing when she got in or a 1/2 hr later. Now she was sitting on the couch, alone, and missing our conversations. I finally saw the light (it used to be when the sun came up and I was still playing) but in that 6 month period, I spent a total of 93 "real life" days in front of the computer just playing. 3 months of my life were wasted being a slave to a game that cost me a monthly fee to play.

Maybe Japan caused me to step back and look at my life in a different way. I have found that in Japan, so many things are different. The atmosphere is more relaxed (for the most part). But I realize that I like to keep a balance no matter what. This is why I dont get hang-overs. I realize that all a hangover is is dehydration. Drinking plenty of water before going to bed (and the fact that I can pee for 1 min 26 sec *yes I timed it and I had a witness* so you know my bladder is huge) or drinking sports drinks like gatorade. As long as you can balance the rate of hydration with the rate of dehydration, you will be fine. Jess has tried it after a night of heavy drinking and she woke up refreshed instead of hungover.

This is most likely my last post from Japan and I cant wait to head back to the states. I have had a good time here in Japan but with all the work I have been doing, sightseeing will have to be done on the next trip. I do hope to bring Jess with me the next time so she too can experience the culture. Also, it would make things easier on me knowing that even tho I am in Japan, I can still go home to my wife every day after work. Si-ah-nah-ra everyone :-)

April 21, 2003


Takin' ya back to the old school, cuz I'm an old fool thats so cool posted by Matt

I saw something that caught my eye the other day and I hope it makes it to the US. First off, skirt lenght here is "WICKED" short (schwing) and second some women wear these white skirts that are see through. Anyway, I was getting off the train and this girl was in front of me. I must say, it was a very nice leopard skin thong that she was wearing. As for other fashions, some of it takes you back to the days of "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo". Every night on the way back to my hotel in Utsunomia, I walk down a long corridor and on my left are about 3-5 kids bustin out windmills and backspins. It is complete with the "boom box" blasin the loud music for all to hear. Makes me wish I never gave up break dancing, I would have loved to bust out in some old school moves. I wonder if they ever saw all the movies I grew up with. Of them, Beat Street was my favorite. There was a graffiti artist in it called Remo who dies dramatically after getting in a fight with "Spit", another graffiti artist who was painting over everyones graffiti. Thinking back on it, there is this whole situation which was cool back then but just screams "loser" now. Remo gets his girlfriend pregnant so he gets an appartment for them to move in together. He cant afford any furniture so he graffitis the house with the artwork of furniture. He painted a fridge, a sofa, and some paintings on the wall before falling on to the third track on the subway (the electric track, high voltage).

Anyhoo, graffiti is starting to pop up here. Nothing like it was back home but it is more like the 80's when block letters were cool rather then the so called "wild style" it evolved into. I am curious if in 10 yrs, their graffiti will catch up to us as well.

Well peace out homies - keep it real :-P

April 20, 2003


Sunday Night in Japan posted by Matt

Tonight I was honored by Oe-san and his family (No relation to Kintaro :-P) and they had me over for dinner. We dined at his house and also went out for the best sushi I have ever had! Little bit of Toro, some red snapper, oyster, pickled veggies and a great chef! I am up-loading the pics and until they are resized, they will cause the page to have a slow load time (sorry bout that but I am sure Jess will be resizing them soon. I just dont have a photo editor at my disposal). I am wearing a bandana on my head that was given to me by the sushi chef (he gave me some great smokes too ;-) He took two polaroid photos of me but I dont have a scanner so those will just go into the trip folder when I get home. The way I am wearing the bandana in the photo is traditional style but the sushi chef also showed me how to wear it samurai style (so anyone who laughs at me will feel the wrath of my katana!) Well, I am typing this up at their house and dont want to be rude. I will post again tomorrow.

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From left to right it is Sachi and her dog Kuri, Kazue and of course me in the bandana.


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And here is a pic of just me so you can get a nice close up of the bandanna :-)

April 19, 2003


My weekend in Japan posted by Matt

It began Friday night when I manged to get out of work early. I got on the train at Nozaki and took it to Utsunomiya. Once there, I switched to the Shinkansen (Bullet) train and headed up to Tokyo. Once I checked into my hotel, I made a quick change and headed to Roppongi to unwind. I met up with Matt Z. and we grabbed a bite to eat at TGI Fridays. I don’t know why, but I have to try buffalo chicken wherever I go and Tokyo is no exception. The buffalo tenders at Fridays were great.

Around 10, the partying commenced. I went to a bunch of places and drank WAY too much! I lost count somewhere around 6, but I would have to say I had at LEAST a half case of Coronnas. I have not been drinking like that since it was illegal for me to drink. Also, I smoke WAY too much when I have been drinking. Yes I like to smoke but when I hit an all time high for cigarette consumption in a single day and have a raspy voice as a result, I remember why, in fact, I don’t drink like that anymore.

Sadly, I had to leave the party scene while it was still hopping at 3 AM. I had to get some sleep and my voice sounded worse then a “Speak and Spell”. I got to the hotel at 3:30 AM and made a quick call home (actually called Jess at work). She recognized my voice even through the raspyness of it.

If you have been following along with the posts and comments, you would know that I have yet to have a hangover. Saturday morning was no exception (I apologize that I can not experience drinking like the rest of you :-P ) and as always I was up early. Later in the day, I went to Akihabara which is basically the electronics capitol AND it had DUTY FREE shopping (woot!). Of course, because I hardly ever use my credit card (and being like a kid in a candy store), it set off alarms at Citi-Bank and I ended up waiting a half hour for them to call back to the US to authorize my purchase.

I got some great stuff to bring back! You can all drool as I describe them in great detail or check out the pic. So just what did I get? For starters I got a new set of head phones because the ones I currently have are broken. Not too exciting right? Well they are rechargeable cordless headphones with a duration of 35 hrs rechargeable/60 hrs regular battery. They are compatible with TV, Audio and PC equipment and have a range of about 7 meters. To make life even easier on me, the volume control is on the headphones.

Ok… your mouth may have started to salivate but if not, let me move on to my new memory bar. I am sure a lot of you have seen these great little inventions but for those who don’t know, it is basically an external hard drive that you plug into the USB port on your computer. What is so great about the one I bought was that its capacity is 1 GB. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the stick has an “Auto Boot Feature” which enables me to boot my system as if I was booting from a floppy. By flipping a switch, it partitions itself and I get 2 separate drives, one being 1.44 MB. I am sure by this point, Jess’s brother is getting ready to send me an email telling me “I SUCK”. I look forward to your email Jay. :-)

Well, there is only one more thing that I bought (unless you want to count accessories like the 128 MB memory card and the carrying case). So what do these two things go with? They go with the new digital camera I bought. It not only has the ability to take pictures (up to 3x zoom optical / 6x digital) with the typical “auto focus” ability but with the 128 MB card I got to replace the 16MB standard, I can now choose to take pictures in various sizes. Here are my options

Image Size Examples
3.1 M 2048x1536 Printing A4 size images
2.8 M 3:2 2048 (3:2) 3:2 Prints
2.0 M 1632x1224 Printing A5 size images
1.2 M 1280x960 Printing postcard sizeImages
VGA 640x480 Creating home pages

So I got options. The one I like the best is the 2.8M 3:2. What that allows me to do is record images in a horizontal to vertical proportion of 3:2 to match the size of the print paper used.

Along with being able to set the quality of the images, I can also create a folder structure for different types of images. Did he say different types of images? Why yes I did, I am glad you asked. Not only can I take normal still pictures but I can create MPEG 1 movies (up to 90 minutes thanks to the 128 card) , shoot bursts which are basically frame by frame sequence of events (basically like being at a night club with strobe lights), take pictures for email (320x240) image and of course, I can shoot consecutive still images and save them in GIF format for creating animated gifs for web pages.

I know there is plenty more this little gadget can do (did I mention it is small enough to fit in your pocket?) but I don’t have time to read the 100+ page manual. I just figured I would fill you in on all of its cool abilities.

So those are the high points of my weekend. Hope you all enjoyed it :-)

April 17, 2003


Golden Boy posted by Matt

This is SO Educational! Just wish I had my notebook :-P For those who don't get the reference I am talking about Kintaro Oe a.k.a. Golden Boy. For those who love anime, this is a must see. The episode in particular that I am thinking of is the one where Kintaro goes to work for these women as a software engineer. The big boss woman has these huge knockers (I only say this cause they make sure that you notice it) and she does not like Kintaro. Sometimes, I feel like I am in his shoes. I am bewildered at times because even though it is "educational" it is also confusing. Take this morning for instance. I got up and checked out of the hotel for a few days to head up to Tokyo after work. However I had the same look in my eyes this morning when I was trying to find my train.

GoldenBoy.jpg


Funny thing is, he sorta looks like me too with his hat on backwards and all. Anyhoo, I got on the train which I am still not "sure" if it was the right one and once the train left the station at Utsonomiya, I got off at the next stop (Okamoto). I went to the guy at the ticket booth and asked him how to get to Nozaki... granted it took me 5 minutes to figure out what he was telling me. Then I went to track 4 and the train came. Still at this point in time, I am thinking the train is going in the wrong direction so I ask someone. That too took too long and I missed the current train. He was very helpful however and told me the next train was not the one I wanted but the following was. I got on that train and arrived at work by 9:15 (did I mention I originally got on a 7:15 train and the whole trip should take about a half hour?). So here I am at work, blogging away and fixing bugs.

Well enough about today, how bout a quick look at last night. It was a lot of fun. Matt Z., a co-worker, and I went out for a bite to eat and some BEER (mmmm). Our first stop was a pub that served Guiness (woot). I guzzled a pint and a half before we found out they did not serve food (cept for the peanuts at the bar). We left to find some food and once we walked out the door, these chics started to call to us saying "helooow" ( I do my best to type the japanese accent). Not only do they give massages but they go above and beyond the call of duty. THIS IS SO EDUCATIONAL. Granted, I did not learn anything from them.

We continued to walk and found a great chinese food restaurant where we had some sweet and sour pork, some dumplings and some noodles. We did a lot of walking last night and I woke up with athletes foot. Now it is either of one of two things. 1. It is because my dress shoes do not allow my feet to breathe or 2. the shady hotel I am staying at does not know how to use bleach in the tub. I am leaning towards #2. THIS IS SO EDUCATIONAL!

Well, I am off to do some more work and then head up to Tokyo. I plan on trying to act dumb and enter the no-gaijin areas :-) THAT SHOULD BE EDUCATIONAL :-P

Matt

April 16, 2003


SARS posted by Matt

SARS is the big question on a lot of peoples minds back in the states and FIRST OFF, I would like to point out that Japan has been commended on their ability to keep it out of the country. So just what does it stand for? Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. But it seems like it has more then one meaning. Granted, this does not apply to everyone but I have made an observation while here in Japan and I propose that it has a second meaning. Scary American Run away Syndrome. So what do I mean by this? Well, there are many smoking areas here, some outside but there are plenty inside as well. The ones inside are a confined area that can hold maybe 5 people comfortably.

I openly admit that I like to smoke (sorry mom) and here in Japan, smoking is allowed in areas that you would need to think back to the 80's to remember. Shoping areas, Mc Donalds!, public areas and at work. And when I say at work, I am talking about the designated smoking areas INSIDE the building, not walking outside in the pouring rain to get a fix.

What I am beginning to notice is that when I go into one of these areas, some (not all) people immediately assume that because I am a foreigner, I have SARS. People who have just lit up, put out their cig and leave and people who are having a conversation post cig get up and walk about 5 - 10 ft away and continue it. This is why I have given this virus a new name. I believe that some who read this may be visiting a foreign land and I would like to prove my hypothesis. You dont need to be an American to do this of course and you can speed up the process by letting out a tiny cough just to clear your throat. See the reaction and please post a comment. I would love to know if the "Run Away"ness exists elsewhere as well.

Matt

April 15, 2003


Tune In Tokyo posted by Matt

Well, I landed in Japan yesterday at 3:00 PM (2 AM EST). So far, I seem to be adjusting to the time zone difference quite well. We shall see later on today (If I make it past 4PM, rumor has it I am doing ok). I have uploaded some pics as you can see from Jess's post. Sad part was I did not have a window seat to witness them first hand. Richard, the photographer shown in one of the photos, took the pictures and they are amazing! I will keep you all informed of events as they go. This weekend, it looks like I may get to do some shopping in Tokyo. I will be checking out the "up and coming" electronics shop and I am pretty sure I will be picking up SOMETHING... I will be like a kid in a candy store.

I will keep you all posted on any events going on but please remember I dont have "MUCH" room in my duffle bag if you are all requesting me to bring back a bunch of sake. One per customer please :-)

Matt


Alaska? posted by Jess

Matt's the only guy I know that can take a trip to Japan, and end up with beautiful pics of Alaska.

He was kind enough to loan-the-loaner camera to his neighbor behind him on the plane to get some shots, and got his email address to give them to him. Here they are!

Many thanks to Chris for the IM welcome yesterday. Apparently I have firewall issues with Trillian here at the office, so looks like it's just home for me. Bummer! But on a good note, Chris had my site URL wrong. Which in a strange twisted way is a good thing, because I didn't hear from anyone. :-)

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April 08, 2003


Spring in the air. Oh wait, no it isn't. posted by Jess

There's just something a little disconcerting about observing Daylight Saving Time, and then having a snowstorm the very next day.

(And I'm not talking about disconcerting in the fact that they call it 'observing', yet I have to physically change my clock. Don't get me started. :-)

It's just strange when it's 7PM outside, yet it's still bright enough to see, and it's snowing. Some of our neighbors have some cheery spring front door decorations now, and it's snowing. We bought shrubs to landscape our front yard last week, and now it's snowing.

However, I think the main reason I'm so thrown off course is because of what Daylight Saving Time usually means for me. It's SPRING. It's a tangible way to start one of my favorite seasons, that of rejuvenation, energy, and hope.

We'll see what the week brings.

March 17, 2003


Radio = free. Speech = free. posted by Jess

Dixie Chick's Natalie Maines said that she was ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas, and now radio stations are dropping them because listeners are calling in and complaining.

I quote from MSNBC's article: "Station managers said their decisions were prompted by calls from irate listeners who thought criticism of the president was unpatriotic."

Isn't that backwards? Isn't getting mad at someone for exercising their right to free speech unpatriotic?

Seems to me that we don't pay a cent to listen to the radio. If the Dixie Chicks come on and you don't want to listen to them, can't you just change the station?

Are people now too lazy to lift a finger and change the dial now, too?

March 13, 2003


Stop the Insanity! posted by Matt

Well, I haven't been posting for a while but I have good reason... I have been trying to get a passport expedited cause I am going on a long trip for work (more on that in a bit). So anyway, here are the turn of events that have happened:

Friday of last week (march 7th) my boss walks in and asks me how my passport is. I inform him that I don't have one.

Monday: Look into ways to get a passport in 1 week

Tuesday: Go home sick from work but still research the how-to on passports. Call my boss at 11 AM and tell him I need an itinerary if I am to get a passport in a week. In a 1/2 hr, I have my flight itinerary in my inbox. Make some calls to the passport expediting service and find out that because my licence was just renewed I will need another way to prove my identity (my licence was renewed in January and had to be a minimum of 6 months old). I gathered the following information:
A XEROX OF:
1. my licence
2. My High School Diploma
3. Marriage licence
4. Car registration
5. Insurance car
6. Credit Cards
7. High School Yearbook Photo

And I also included a pay stub from august of 2002 for good measure.

On a side note, I also asked about my birth certificate ( I have 2 versions ) and the passport company says that the xerox with the town seal on it is not good but the little index card I have is fine.

Wednesday: Go to the post office to get my passport expedited and get a sworn affidavit from Jess stating I am who I say I am. The post office tells me that the index card is invalid and I need a better form of my birth certificate. Currently, I think that the xerox with the town seal is bad as well so I drive Jess into work (we currently have only one car cause her's is in the shop). I get to her office and ask her to look up the phone number for the Newton MA Town Hall and the Passport Agency in Boston while I step out for a smoke to calm my nerves. I call the town hall and they are open til 5 so I can get a new birth certificate. I then call the passport agency in Boston and check the morning appointments. Nothing until March 17th (4 days before I fly out) so that wont work! I then decided to check the afternoon appointments and viola, there is one at 1:30 pm on March 12th. Here is the day in a nut shell.

10:30 AM leave Jess's office.
Drive at illegal speeds to Newton MA.
Get lost in Newton 3 times and ask directions (felt weird being a guy and all)

Get to the Town Hall at 12:15 and get a copy of my birth certificate. WTF!!! This is the same thing that the passport service told me was INVALID?!?! I make a stink but the town clerk assures me it is fine.

Try to park my car at Newton Highlands (Green Line stop for subway) but there is no parking. I learned the hard way not to park in places that are not legal when in or around Boston so I drive back to 128 and head towards Riverside, another Green Line stop with ample parking but it is the last stop on the Green Line when heading "Outbound" from Boston. Get there at 12:45, run my ass up to try and catch the train but it takes off before I get there. The next train shows up at 1:00 PM.

Get on the train and frantically look at peoples watches ( I don't own one, nor do I want to ). I get to North Station (Fleet Center) at 1:28 PM. Run down the stairs, run up the stairs of the Tip O'Neil Federal Building, go thru the security check and make it to the passport office on time (maybe 2 minutes late but hey... I'm there right)

Stand in line for a 1/2 hr and finally get to the receptionist. She checks me off on the list and gives me a number. I wait for about 10 minutes and my number is called.

I show the guy my license and immediately he says, "Um... Mr. Stratton, your licence is not more then 6 months old, do you have any other way to prove your identity?"

It was like I was just waiting for him to say it. I produced my many forms of identity verification (this was the only good thing that the passport service told me about) The yearbook xerox did it for me. So, to make a short story long, I will have my passport some time next week before Friday when I fly out to Japan. I just hope I get rid of this darn cold!

P.S. For those of you who dont know what I do, I am a software engineer. I have been working closely with Toshiba for about a year now and it is time for them to release our product in Japan. At work, I had to design a proof of concept application to show we could indeed program in Japanese. We had an outside company take the intial steps for Japanization and I got to merge all our current changes into the new version of our software. That was a headache in itself but it is done :-)

March 10, 2003


Some videos get no respect. posted by Jess

Matt and I watched part of the "100 Greatest Videos" on VH1 a few nights ago.

I have to say, the only video I was really upset about was the fact that Dire Strait's "Money for Nothing" was only number 25.

C'mon! How many of us sat there open mouthed in 1986 *gaping* at the screen saying, "a computer did that? It's not real. But it's not a cartoon. What IS it?"

mtv.jpg


At least it got something at the time.

Here's another interesting bit of trivia. The high-pitched voice softly singing "I want my MTV" in the background is none other than Sting.

March 09, 2003


Mawwiage... posted by Jess

Joe Litton noticed the "As you wish" at the top of the page yesterday, and mentioned how much he loves the movie The Princess Bride.

Joe, we agree with you. Wholeheartedly. In fact, we agree with you so much, that our entire wedding had a Princess Bride theme to it.

It wasn't hokey by any means, don't worry. I've told everyone on several occasions how Matt and I are incredibly goofy people. The Princess Bride is the epitome of True Love and Goofiness.

Here's some of the more fun things we did:

  • Our wedding rings have "As you wish" engraved on the inside of them.
  • My brother played the music to walk us down the aisle. He was kind enough to work out by ear the theme music to the Princess Bride.
  • The two readings were funny monologues about "true love" straight from the book.
  • Insead of saying "I do", we each said "as you wish."
  • Our Justice of the Peace's readings of our vows were a nice surprise to us. After saying "till death do you part", she added, "even though death cannot stop true love, it can only delay it a little while?"
  • All our reception tables were named after settings in the movie/book, ie "Florin", "Guilder", etc. Though I did feel bad for all those people we placed at the Fire Swamp!
  • The best man speech.

Ahhh... my favorite part, and a COMPLETE surprise. He gets up there with another friend of ours, and brings out a book. "Chapter 1", he says. "The Bride."

"Buttercup liked nothing more than to torment the Farm Boy. Farm boy, hook up my computer for me. Farm boy, install that program for me. Farm boy, polish my computer monitor. I want to see my face shining it in by the time I get back..."

As we had asked everyone to watch the movie before our wedding, everyone knew what he meant. I've never seen a Best Man speech get a standing ovation before, but it happened at our wedding. :-)

Anyway, to make a short story long, I just wanted share the reasons for my little "as you wish" at the top of the page.

Some trivia: There IS no S.Morgenstern who wrote the original Princess Bride book. I found out the hard way. I wanted to find a first edition book to collect. Apparently, the "Abridged, Good-Parts version" by William Goldman IS the original, and it's brilliantly written to look like an abridged version. Complete with fake exceprts. If you have never read the book before, you'll be in for a treat. It's absolutely brilliant. I actually got a whole new appreciation for the book once I learned William Goldman managed to trick EVERYONE.


February 26, 2003


Yahoo! Boing boing Poomp! posted by Jess

Last night on my way home from work, I needed something new to listen to, so I pulled out an old mix tape. "The Tetrisphere Puzzle 96 Mix" (the name was always the most fun to come up with).

The tape was created when Matt, Jay (our old roomate and Matt's best man) and I could spend hours happily playing Nintendo 64. One game in particular, Tetrisphere, had puzzles you could solve. Matt, Jay and I are puzzle/riddle nuts, so naturally we were hooked. One puzzle in particular (96, what a surprise!) took about two weeks to solve.

We'd each try, fail miserably, and pass the controller. Repeat. During those two weeks, we had a select number of songs we'd listen to, among those, Dream Theater's "Trial of Tears", which is one of my favorite songs.

Each side of the mix tape had to have it's own title also, that was very important. For example, my Tetrisphere mix had two sides. "The license to kill side", which is a reference to Goldeneye 64. In between trying to figure out the puzzles, we'd take breaks by pummeling each other in first-person shooter games. We'd get quite noisy, too, until a neighbor politely told us that they could hear us shouting expletives at each other down the building. Whoops.

The second side was the "Yahoo! boing boing poomp" side, which is a reference to Mario Kart 64. Toad is my favorite character to race, and I used to and continue to be made fun of for that... he's just so darn cute!

Anyway, if anyone has an old mix tape lying around, dig it out and play it again. You'll be amazed at how you'll instantly remember what the next song is and why you decided to put it on the tape in the first place.

February 20, 2003


Domino? No, Dominoes! posted by Jess

So Matt and I enjoy playing Dominoes online a lot. Until recently, I had NO idea there was actually a game behind those mysterious little tiles that are so fun to stack and then watch fall down in a really nifty pattern.

History of Domino. History of Dominoes. :-)

Dominoes is a really fun game that involves lining up tiles of like numbers adjacent to each other, trying to get each end to add up to a total of a multiple of 5 (this is one reason I enjoy playing online for you...it does the math!). Interestingly enough, I have NO idea what that has to do with groupware, or why Lotus would name their server engine Domino.

I should stop here. I'm geeky enough (and I love puzzles) to try and figure out all the possible correlations, even though I'm sure a quick search on Google would turn something up. Oh wait, that requires a skill in math!

October 30, 2002


How to get stuff done around the house. posted by Jess



I think I've figured it out. Take a vacation for a week, and not go anywhere. By the third day, you'll be looking for something to do, regardless of how un-fun it is. By the third day on my vacation, I had gotten everything done on my list (including painting the bedroom).

It was a great vacation, I'm not complaining! But how many whammies can you hit in one week? Let's see. We had a trip to the DMV (both me and Matt, in and out in 5 minutes. Is that a new record?), we paid some more taxes, and painted.

Oh, by the way. Definately go rent "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist" if you haven't seen it already. wwweeeeeeoooow weeeeooooooow.

August 01, 2002


We have a GoogleWhack! posted by Jess

Woo hoo... I found one!
Are you ready?
Drumroll....
Rhetorical Tintinnabulous.
One result! I don't know whether to laugh or cry.


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