Saturday, July 30, 2005

The majestic Basselope!

A photo of the rare African Basselope!

Friday, July 29, 2005

If you can find a better ad it!

I like Lee Iacocca as much as the next guy -- he's an American success story and all that.

But these new Chrysler commercials he's doing are some of the most annoying ads on TV! I especially can't stand the one with his granddaughter that airs 15 times during every newscast on any channel.

However, it is commendable that his fee for appearing in the commercials, plus $1 for every Chrysler sold between July 1 and the end of the year is being donated to his foundation for diabetes research (his wife died of diabetes).

Clean shaven

My goatee experiment is over. After letting it grow for two weeks, I shaved it off this morning.

I grew a goatee for a couple of weeks last year. It was, shall we say, less than popular in our house, so it didn't last long.

But I always wanted to try it again. So I started letting it go while we were on vacation. I really liked it for a while, but this morning I decided to get rid of it on a whim.

Actually, for some reason, it started bugging me last night. For some reason I just wasn't sure that it looked right on me anymore (and it was a little itchy). Then this morning I was trying to trim one side of it and took a little too much off. It didn't look very good, so I just got rid of the whole thing.

Unfortunately, I never took any pictures of myself with the goatee. Actually, you can see a little bit of it in its early stages here (you may have to use some imagination to see it).

Happy Anniversary to me

The first anniversarry of "Off the Top of My Head" passed quietly earlier this week. I started this blog on July 26, 2004.

I had planned to do something special to mark the occassion, but never really came up with any good ideas. The next thing I knew, the day had come and gone.

I am considering making some changes to the site, like maybe trying a different Blogger template and weeding out some of the links posted to the right. Anyone have any suggestions?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bye-bye Filene's

Local Filene's to close following Federated/May merger
Filene's is about to become a thing of the past. By 2006, all Filene's stores will change their name after being gobbled up by Macy's.

For Crossgates Mall, which has both stores, that means the Filene's store will close.

The Filene's in Rotterdam Square Mall will change it's name to Macy's.

The company that owned Filene's, and is merging with the company that owns Macy's, also owns Lord & Taylor -- which is also located in Crossgates. However, L&T is not changing its name.

You'll recall the current Macy's in Crossgates used to be a Jordan Marsh, before they were taken over by Macy's about 10 years ago.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. I'm told L&T had already closed at Crossgates. Shows you how often I go shopping. I don't think I ever set foot in that store anyway.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Diving Into 'Potter 6'

Disregard my earlier whining about not being able to read the new "Harry Potter" book right away. I'm now three chapters into the book, only a week after its release.

I was going to look for it while we were on vacation. We passed a bookstore in Lake Placid and I was about to stop in when I was stopped by the sign on the door that said "We do not have the sixth Harry Potter book."

But after returning home, Kris found the book in the grocery store. There were only about six copies left when I grabbed ours on Sunday.

I hope to still finish the Adirondack book I started while on vacation. Maybe I can work on that while Kris is taking her turns with the "The Half-Blood Prince." In the past, I usually wait until she goes to bed and is done reading before I get my turn.

Anyway, I love the Potter books. So it should be fun.

Doctor #10

Billie Piper and David Tennant star in "Doctor Who."

The BBC has released the first images of the new Doctor Who.

Production began last week on the new season of the show, with David Tennant becoming the 10th and (I believe) youngest actor to step into the role of the Time Lord.

The first episode won't air until December. It will be a special appropriately titled "The Christmas Invasion." Then season 2 will officially begin most likely in March.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Best. Vacation. Ever!

The dock for our cabin on Silver Lake.

Vacation is over. Tomorrow we return to reality.

But what a great vacation it was! We spent a week at Silver Lake in the town of Hawkeye, NY – very close to Lake Placid. Kris’s uncle owns a cabin right on the lake and generously offered it to us for a week.

The cabin is in an absolute perfect location, surrounded by mountains. In fact, you have a clear view of Whiteface in the distance. The lake is just the right size – not too big, not too small. Although there are some power boats and Jet Skis on the lake, it’s still pretty quiet. There isn’t any public access to the lake, so there aren’t a whole lot of people there.

The cabin we stayed in was a good size. It and several other nearby structures were once part of a boys’ camp that opened decades ago. It has been remodeled in the years since. It has a large, rustic living room with hardwood floors and a beautiful stone fireplace. The kitchen was filled with windows that offered a corner view of the lake and mountains. Thomas had his own bedroom. Nolan slept in a loft above the living room that he had to climb up a ladder to get to. We slept on a bed placed on a screened-in porch that stared out at the lake. Each night the moon rose up over the mountain across the lake directly into the center of our window.

We arrived at the cabin Saturday afternoon after stopping at the outlets in Lake George while on our way and having lunch in the village.

The first couple of days we just hung out around the cabin. We did a lot of swimming and fishing and Kris and Nolan did some canoeing.

At night we would sit inside and play games. We’d often make S’mores for desert after dinner. Once the kids were in bed, Kris and I would kick back and read or go down and sit by the lake.

I started reading a great book I found in the cabin about the history of the Adirondacks and was fascinated reading about tales of the French and Indian War and the ordeals of Isaac Jogues, a Jesuit priest from France who became the first European ever the lay eyes on what would become known as Lake George after being captured by the Iroquois.

On Monday we went to Lake Placid to do some shopping. There is a free trolley service that circles through town. So while Kris went shopping for school clothes for Nolan, the boys and I went for a trolley ride. For a while we were the only ones on the trolley, so the driver let us stop and get off for about 10 minutes at the depot for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad so we could see the choo-choos up close.

On Tuesday we took the kids to Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY. That was a huge highlight for them. They both saw Santa and told him what they wanted for Christmas (a choo-choo for Thomas, a Rescue Hero toy for Nolan). Nolan has been talking it about everyday since.

I got a kick out of it too. It seems like not much has changed there in 50 years. It was like stepping back in time. It reminded me of what Storytown (now the Great Escape) used to be.

Wednesday was mountain climbing day. We hiked up Owl’s Head, just outside of Keene, NY. It was a pretty easy hike for Nolan. Thomas rode in the backpack. This was his second and likely final mountain in the backpack. Next year he’ll be too big. And after getting left behind for two days in a row, Chester got to come with us this time and hiked his second mountain. When we reached the top the view was spectacular and the blueberries were ripe for picking. The only downside was that the batteries had died in our camera, so we couldn’t take any pictures.

Hawkeye is only about 90 minutes from Kris’ parents. So on Thursday morning they came out to spend the day with us. They brought some bait and helped Nolan do some more fishing, but we still didn’t catch anything. That’s ok. For Nolan, really, the fun is in casting the line out into the water.

At the opposite end of the lake there is a small beach with lots of shallow water that is only accessible by boat. We asked the kids Friday if they would rather drive up to the top of Whiteface or go to the beach, and overwhelmingly they chose the beach. So we loaded everyone into the canoe paddled down the lake. It took about 30 minutes to get there, but was very much worth it.

The plan for the rest of the afternoon was to pack everything up so that Saturday morning we could just get up and leave. But then we realized that if we left as soon as Thomas woke up from his nap we could be home by bedtime. We knew we had a lot of work to do at home – our living room floor was refinished while we were gone, and we had to moving everything back into the room. Plus, we were having such a great time that we really hated to leave. So I guess we sort of figured that, since there really wasn’t anything left to do, leaving Friday was like “ripping the Band-Aid off.”

We returned home Friday night to the rude awakening of a soaking wet basement from a torrential storm that we had missed and the chore of putting the living room back together. >>Sigh<< Back to reality.

We had such a great time. Everyday was fun. It was terrific to spend so much time with the kids. And I can’t remember ever feeling so relaxed for so long. Continually Kris and I kept smiling at each other and saying how happy we were to be there and how much we didn’t want it to end. It was without question our best vacation. Yes, even better than Disney.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Having a great vacation!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Crazy coach

Police say tee-ball coach paid player to hit disabled teammate in head
Unbelievable. C'mon, people, this is tee-ball!

An overly-competitive coach in PennsylbamaArkansipa is accused of paying one of his players to hit a mentally disabled kid on their team so the disabled boy wouldn't be able to play.

Harry Potter and the Impatient Fan

The latest 'Harry Potter' book is being kept under wraps in the back rooms of book stores.Remember me saying how it was driving me nuts that "Revenge of the Sith" was out in theaters and I hadn't seen it yet?

Here we go again.

I -- like about 11 million other people -- have been dying to get my hands on the next Harry Potter book ever since I finished reading "Order of the Phoenix" two years ago.

Unfortunately, I will not be among those picking up a copy this weekend. We're heading off on another vacation soon. I'd love nothing more than to bring "The Half-Blood Prince" with me, but for various reasons that's not likely to happen.

"Chamber of Secrets" and "Goblet of Fire" are the only ones we actually own. I guess if the pattern holds, while probably wind up owning this one at some point too, since it's another even-numbered book.

We usually wind up borrowing the books from someone. For the last book, Kris and I were so impatient that we eached borrowed our own copies so we could read it at the same time. Neither one of us wanted to wait for the other.

Hopefully we'll be cracking into it very soon.

Hooray for babies!

Congratulations to Dan and Michelle Lortie (an old high school friend), who welcomed their new son Bret into the world early Wednesday morning.

Bret was born at 12:30 a.m. on 7/13 and weighed 7 lbs. 13 oz. (7/13 on 7/13!)

Mom, dad and big sister Alyssa are all doing fine.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What's the world coming to?

What kind of world are we living in when "Will & Grace" gets 15 Emmy nominations -- more than any other show!!! (except "Desperate Housewives," which also got 15). It was even nominated for Oustanding Comedy Series.

Outstanding Comedy Series? Are you kidding me?!? Has anyone watched this show recently? It may have been funny in the first few years, but it is dreadful now.

I don't know anyone who feels otherwise, and yet it still ranks as one of the top-rated comedies on TV. Either I only hang out with people who have better taste than the rest of the country, or this is a sad commentary on the current state of TV comedies.

Everything old is new again

Tuesday was Nolan’s 5th birthday (wow!).

He celebrated more of a “birthday season” this year with not one, not two, but three birthday events spread out over two weeks.

Every year the Great Escape hosts a “media day” where members of the media and their families get free admission to the park. For the past few years, media day has landed on or near Nolan’s birthday. So we planned to take him and one of his friends to the amusement park for his birthday.

But then media day turned out to be more than two weeks before his birthday this year. We decided to use it to celebrate anyway and even had a birthday cake ordered and waiting for us for lunch.

This past Sunday we had my mom and my sister’s fmaily over for dinner and yet another birthday cake.

Then on Tuesday we took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese for dinner. I’ve heard parents tell nightmarish tales of this place, but it really isn’t so bad if you go on a weeknight.

Here’s the thing that really blew me away about Nolan’s birthday. So many of his presents were the same kinds of things I loved as a kid.

For starters, his party on Sunday had a Spider-Man theme (my favorite comic book character).

He got a ton of “Star Wars” related presents, including two light sabers, a Darth Vader sprinkler, Vader pajamas and a very cool Millennium Falcon playset.

To top it all off, his friend Danny gave the Season 1 DVD set of their current favorite TV show – “The Dukes of Hazzard” (last night I watched the original pilot episode with commentary from John Schneider and Catherine Bach -- yeehaw!).

So I think it’s safe to say I’ve been enjoying his presents almost as much as he has.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Patrick update

Patrick back in action. Posted by Picasa

I haven't said anything in a while about my nephew Patrick, who has been fighting a courageous battle against leukemia since last fall.

I'm pleased to say he's doing well and is back on the soccer field. He's attending soccer camp trying to get himself back into a "normal" lifestyle.

He recently spoke at a Relay For Life event in his area and will be recognized as the "Honored Patient Hero" at the Lexington Light the Night Walk in October.

He's also the subject of another article in his local paper...

After leukemia ended his last soccer season, Barsotti happy to be back
By LARRY VAUGHT Sports Editor

Attending soccer camp on a hot, humid July day has not always been one of Patrick Barsotti's favorite things to do.

But as he ran the field in a pickup game Tuesday at the Centre College Soccer Camp, Barsotti wasn't about to complain. Not about the heat. Not about the fall that hurt his hand. Not about the extra running or stretching after the game.

"It's just good to be back out here with these guys. It's amazing. I was just waiting for this day to come so I could be back part of the team," said Barsotti, a Boyle County junior.

Read the whole article...

Friday, July 01, 2005

Water logged

Ribbit, ribbit. Posted by Picasa

It rained today. A lot.

The picture above is the view looking into the window well outside one of our basement windows. I spotted Kermit swimming around outside the window after the third major storm of the day blew through.

Yes, we did get some water in the finished basement, but I don't think any major damage was done.