Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wii waste

After a year of saving, Nolan finally had enough money this week to go out and buy a Wii.

Since we're ending our YMCA membership, we were giving serious consideration to getting the Wii Fit package. It looked kind of cool after watching Nintendo's promotional video.

Then we saw this video, which made us realize what waste of money it truly is...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The best there is at what he does...

It's been a while, but I haven't mentioned yet how great it is that you can now find movie trailers on Hulu. I finally bring it up now because it gives me a good excuse to embed the trailer for "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry music

Despite the gazillion radio stations playing non-stop Christmas music, I have yet to hear two of my favorites.  Here they are...

Whatever happened to Crash Test Dummies anyway?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chrome wasn't built in a day

I’ve been test driving Google’s web browser, Chrome, since it was released a few months ago. I like it, but there are a few things keeping me from making it my full-time browser…

The problems with the mouse wheel are really annoying. You can use the wheel to scroll down on a page, but it’s kind of jumpy. You cannot scroll back up. And you can’t click the wheel and then scroll by moving the mouse – that’s a feature I like a lot that’s available in just about any other product made for Windows.  (UPDATE: I just installed the latest version of Chrome on my computer at work and scrolling by rolling the mouse wheel now works fine.  I'll have to upgrade at home.  But you still can't click the wheel.)

Perhaps my biggest issue is the fact that there are certain sites I use for work that only work in IE. I use Firefox at home and have an add-on called IE Tab that will allow me to run those sites in IE from within the Firefox browser (thanks for turning me on to that one, Mike). However, I have not been able to find any such add-on for Chrome. This is a must-have for me.

Lastly, this one is a nitpick, but my favicon on this blog doesn’t show up in Chrome. It works in IE, Firefox and Safari. But in Chrome I just get the orange Blogger “B.” I see other sites’favicons fine, just not my own. What gives?

Does anyone else who has played with Chrome have any suggestions for getting around these issues?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

'Lost' & found

I'm getting pretty psyched for the long-awaited return of "Lost." Here's a sneak peek of the season premiere...

The Santa Stages

Garcia’s may have closed, but those of us on the restaurant’s e-mail list are still getting updates from owner Rick Lamparelli. This morning’s e-mail blast was just to let us know that he’d be preparing one of his signature dishes at a Clifton Park restaurant, Salsaritas, this Friday.

Anyway, what I wanted to pass along was this little holiday gem from his newsletter…

...the 4 "Santa" stages of a man's life??

You BELIVE in Santa Claus
You DON'T Believe in Santa Claus
You ARE Santa Claus
You LOOK like Santa Claus

Four days

My biggest concern last Thursday afternoon was whether or not I should brave the sleet and freezing rain to attend a farewell gathering for my co-workers at a bar in Troy. I eventually decided to heed the advice of Bob Kovachick, who suggested maybe it wasn’t the best night to go out.

Later that evening Kris and I were happily enjoying “30 Rock” when the power went out in the middle of the show (btw, watch the episode here on Hulu). The ice storm cometh. The power came back an hour later, but was cut off again in the middle of the night.

That night we could hear ice crackling and branches snapping outside the window. But since there was nothing I could do about it, I did my best to ignore it and go back to sleep.

The next thing I knew there was a cell phone ringing. It was 7 a.m. and work needed me to come in early. I looked out the window and saw branches down everywhere – including on top of my neighbors’ car.

Kris and I mainly communicated through text messages that day in order to conserve the battery on her phone.

We ultimately decided to flee town and spend the weekend with her parents. I picked Kris and the kids up after work and we headed north – although just getting out of Niskayuna was easier said than done. Seemingly at every turn we kept running into roads closed due to downed branches and power lines.

We eventually made it to Moira. While I was grateful to have heat and lights, after a couple of days I was very anxious to get back and see what was going on with our house and neighborhood.

On Sunday morning we spoke to one of our neighbors on the phone. She told us she had talked to one of the National Grid crewmen and that he told her we’d have our power back that day. So we headed home!

We were greeted by a dark, cold house. About 38 degrees cold. It turns out it was a different part of our street that went back online Sunday. There was still no juice for us.

But my mom had her power back. So we borrowed her generator and used it to fire up a couple of space heaters in the basement. That night we huddled by the fire until the basement was warm enough and then we all slept down there.

I had to wake up once in the middle of the night to put more gas in the generator. It was eerie to hear the crackling ice dropping off the trees all around in the now above freezing temperature.

The next morning, after coffee brewed on the camp stove, the kids went to school and I went to work (after first taking some time to survey the damage around the neighborhood and at my mom’s house). At about 12:30 p.m., four days after the lights went out, Kris called me to report we were back to normal.

It was so great to come home to a cozy, well-lit house and sleep in my own bed!

All total, power was knocked out to more than 200,000 homes and businesses in the Capital Region. As of tonight there are still about 40,000 in the dark. My hat goes off to the National Grid folks working around the clock to get everything back to normal.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If a tree falls...

I was pretty bummed the weekend after the layoffs began at work. So we figured getting a Christmas tree would liven things up.

We’re basically cheapskates and Kris found out about a Christmas tree farm all the way up in Greenwich where you can cut down any size tree you can find for just $25. Yeah, it’s about an hour away, but we actually calculated the cost of the gas and figured it was still a savings.

Since you can get any size you want, we found a tree that I think would qualify as GINORMOUS (at least compared to our past trees).

The tree is beautiful, but here’s the catch – it was growing right up against another tree. As a result, the branches on one side are much longer than the other. The trunk is essentially off-center. So when we placed it in the tree stand it immediately started to fall over.

We weighted the stand down with whatever we could find – namely some paint cans, an ax, an iron wedge and a couple of C-clamps. For good measure we tied some fishing line across the front of the tree so that if it did begin to tip it would lean into the line.

Good thing we did that because the next day Kris was sitting at the computer when she noticed the tree starting to tilt.

The ultimate solution was to screw a hook into the wall and tie a ribbon around the tree to hold it up. If it counts for anything, at least Kris found a nice, green, festive ribbon.

Too close to home

I know it’s been a while, but there was a whole series of events that completely took the wind out of my blogging sails. There has been much to write about, but I have not had the time, energy and/or desire to sit down and start blogging.

The most recent escapade is our ice storm adventures. I’ll get to that in a subsequent post.

But it started back on Dec. 4, when things began to hit the fan at work. I don’t usually write about work too much and I don’t plan to make a habit out of it, but this one is hard to avoid.

Late in the day that Thursday was when word first started getting out that we were going to be facing layoffs. I didn’t find out about it myself at that point, although it was apparent something was up and I had my suspicions.

Those suspicions were confirmed the next morning when I sat down to check my morning RSS feeds and saw the headline on – “WNYT to reduce work force.”

Anyone who knows anything about the media business – or just the economy in general – had to know this was coming. The question now was who was getting the ax? The TU story didn’t say much. It was a very nerve-wracking drive to work that morning.

As I said before, most people had to expect that the industry troubles would catch up to us eventually. I just didn’t expect the cuts to go so deep. Over the next several days we said goodbye to 17 co-workers (an 18th person accepted an offer to become part-time).

My job was safe, but it was still very hard to see what was happening to friends and colleagues. I understand some of the business decisions, but that didn’t take any of the sting out of it. Everyone has their own story – families at home, babies on the way, many of the workers had been there for a decade or more. We soldiered on tried to keep doing our work as person after person filed out past us. Tears were shed, but somehow the job still got done.

And it still is getting done. Those of us fortunate to be left behind are adjusting to “the new normal” – figuring out how to do more with less.

As for those laid off, each and every one of them is loaded with talent. It is my sincerest hope that they all land on their feet and find something even better than what they had before.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Let there be light!

AUNT BETHANY: Is your house on fire, Clark?

CLARK: No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas

This picture of a house in Guilderland is posted on's Homes For the Holidays page.

It sparked some discussion about whether it was real or a Photoshop job.

If it's genuine, then Clark Griswold has nothing on this guy! I shudder to think of what the electric bill must look like.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A sad sign of the times

The effects of the weakened economy hit home today as one of my favorite restaurants closed its doors for good. This was the last day of business for Garcia's Mexican Restaurant in Colonie.

I developed my love of Mexican food in Garcia's, which seems like it's been around forever (it's actually been 25 years).

Admittedly it has been a while since we last ate there. But for a while, we would go there often (for us that might mean two or three times a year). I remember going there to celebrate our first Gotcha Day and another time for dinner on New Year's Day. The first time I ever went there was for lunch with a bunch of people from work shortly after I started at the station (that had to be 1994 or 95).

Garcia's owner Rick Lamparelli was a frequent guest on the noon news for cooking segments. Whenever he came in he usually brought in plenty of food for everyone -- and it was always so good! I enjoyed his Cinco de Mayo visits almost as much as the famous Golub Price Chopper feast.

When Rick did come to the station he usually brought a stack of free Margarita coupons (at least he used to). We still have some in a drawer that we never redeemed. Sadly, now we never will.

So adios Garcia's. Thanks for all the great food!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thankful for Thanksgiving

We had an awesome Thanksgiving yesterday.

The boys caught “Willy Wonka” on TV in the morning and then watched a good chunk of the parade.

After lunch, we needed to get out of the house and do something. So we all walked up to the high school and held the first annual “Rooney Thanksgiving Race” on the track. Nolan came in first and was awarded a medal we made before heading up there.

Later in the day we went over to my sister’s and just had the best time. The kids had a blast playing with their cousins and we enjoyed visiting – and eating! I massively overate, but that’s what it’s all about isn’t?

Don’t worry, this morning I got up early to work out. So now I feel a little less guilty.

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us and I even got to watch some snowflakes fall this morning, I’m feeling decidedly less bah humbug about the Christmas season. Now I’m ready! Bring it on!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Memorable moments

The folks at and have narrowed the list of Yankee Stadium's greatest moments down to 10 and are now asking the fans to cast their vote.

Here’s the list:

  • April 18, 1923: Babe Ruth hits the first home run in the stadium on its opening day.

  • July 4, 1939: Lou Gehrig delivers his emotional farewell speech.

  • Oct. 8, 1956: Don Larsen pitches a perfect game in Game 5 of the World Series.

  • Oct. 1, 1961: Roger Maris hits home run No. 61.

  • Oct. 18, 1977: Reggie Jackson becomes “Mr. October” after hitting three home runs in Game 6 of the World Series

  • July 18, 1999: David Cone pitches a perfect game with Don Larsen in attendance.

  • Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2001: Tino Martinez homers in the ninth to tie Game 5 of the World Series. Derek Jeter’s 10th inning home run at 12:03 a.m. wins the game.

  • Oct. 16, 2003: Aaron “F*****g” Boone’s dramatic 11th inning homer defeats the Red Sox in the ALCS and sends the Yankees to the World Series.

  • July 1, 2004: Jeter dives into the stands to catch a foul ball in the 12th inning against the Red Sox.

  • Sept. 21, 2008: The end of an era – the last game ever is played in the House That Ruth Built.
Before looking at the list, Gehrig’s speech was the first thing to leap to my mind.

I came up with more or less the same list on my own before looking to see what had. One of the events I thought of that they didn’t include was George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch before Game 4 of the 2001 World Series, just a month and half after 9/11 and a couple of weeks after the beginning of the war in Afghanistan.

So what do you think? Cast an official vote on or vote just for fun right here on my blog.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The most wonderful time of the year

When you prepare for any event, you need to make sure you warm up first. Thanksgiving is no different.

So in advance of the official holiday in a few days, I just finished eating my first Thanksgiving meal of the week. Today was the day Neil Golub of Price Chopper came on the Midday news to demonstrate how to carve a turkey.

This is an annual event. The Price Chopper CEO will make the rounds on most of the local TV stations. Then his staff puts out a spread for the entire staff, leading to a lunchroom line that stretches out the door and down the hall.

It is hands down the best day of the year at work!

God, I love baseball

Can you deny that more than any other sport, the American pastime drives American innovation?

They may not have a cannon, but all the same I can't wait to try to catch a chicken spiedie at the Joe!

h/t Yanksfan Soxfan

Good news from The Onion

I've posted Onion video clips from time to time. But "The Onion Radio News" is always great for quick hit of humor.

And now the good news -- they've finally made their radio segments embedable...

'Destiny Calls'

Ok, "Lost" fans, what's this all about?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Talkin' turkey

By posting this video, it is not my intention to knock Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, although I'm sure some will take it that way. I just think it’s kind of funny – and would be no matter who was giving the interview.

Here’s the deal –the governor of Alaska gets to traditionally pardon a turkey each year before Thanksgiving just as the president famously does.

This year, after ceremoniously giving one bird a new lease on life at a turkey farm in her hometown of Wasilla, Palin proceeded to grant an interview to KTUU-TV.

However, as she was speaking a farm worker can clearly be seen slaughtering birds in the background. Turkeys can be seen twitching through their final moments as the governor talks about everything from the Alaskan state budget to her Thanksgiving plans with her family.

At least I think that’s what she was saying. After a while you stop listening to her just watch the farm guy in the background and wonder, “Doesn’t anybody realize what’s going on in this shot?”

Apparently someone did. KTUU says the photographer did alert the governor, but she didn’t really care. After all, she is a hunter.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Trailer Trekkin'

It's a cruddy bootleg, but here's the trailer to the big screen "Star Trek" reboot. It debuted yesterday in front of "Quantum of Solace" (which I still haven't seen, damn it).

It will officially be released online on Monday. I'll probably embed a better version then.

So? What do you think? It certainly looks different than anything we've seen before -- and yet also familiar at the same time. It was cool seeing all this different looking stuff and then hearing the classic "red alert" siren.

It will remain to be seen if J.J. Abrams and company have changed the right things.

UPDATE 11/25: As promised, I've updated with a better quality version of the trailer, although I hoped to find a more "official" embeddable version. I guess, sadly, not every studio is on board with letting people embed their trailers and supply their films with free publicity.

By the way, now posted here is a newly tweaked version that includes a glimpse of Leonard Nimoy at the end. You can find it in high-quality Quicktime on Ain't It Cool News.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's NOT beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Have you noticed anything odd while surfing through the radio tuner in your car? Two local stations – 98.3 WTRY-FM and 100.9 WKLI-FM – have already made the switch to all-Christmas music, all the time.

Are you freakin’ kidding me?!?

Look, I love Christmas as much as the next guy, but this is kind of ridiculous. We’re still raking leaves for crying out loud! Who wants to be listening to Christmas carols on Veterans Day?

I always feel kind of bad for poor old Thanksgiving. That’s a great holiday on its own. But it doesn’t stand on its own anymore. Now Thanksgiving is simply the kick-off to the Christmas season.

Or at least it was. The way things are going, soon Halloween will be considered the start of the holiday season (if it isn’t already).

The bottom line is, these radio stations and the stores that start putting up their holiday displays after Labor Day must be doing it because someone wants it. Everyone I know complains about seeing Christmas stuff too early, but if there wasn’t a demand for it then it wouldn’t be here.

So who are you people? I know you’re out there. Stand up and admit it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yesterday's Enterprise

So this is what the Enterprise will look like in J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek."

At first I wasn't too sure how I felt about it. Yeah, it looks cool. But if this movie is supposed to fit into established Trek canon, then this ship doesn't work -- it strays just a little too far from the original design of the 1960s TV series.

Yeah, they changed it for the earlier movies, but that was worked into the story. The Enterprise was retrofitted after the the events of the TV series. But this is supposed to be a prequel (sort of). So the ship should look like it used to, shouldn't it?

I finally rationalized the slick new Enterprise by comparing it to the Klingons, who famously underwent a makeover in the movies and modern spinoffs -- after make-up effects and budgets advanced. And the new and improved bumpy-headed Klingon look extended into many flashbacks, time travel stories and whatnot that predated the original series.

So if I was OK with that, then I guess I can learn to be OK with this souped up Enterprise.

Alright, I'll stop acting like such a ginormous geek now.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Our greatest natural resource

How many of us have joked that if we just find some way to harness the seemingly boundless energy of our kids then we would solve our nation's energy crisis?

Well, then there's this...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Michael Crichton dies

This news came as a shock:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The literary agent for Michael Crichton says the author has died in Los Angeles.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights
Crichton is one of my favorite authors, having written such great books as Jurassic Park, Airframe, Timeline, Prey and Disclosure, just to name a few. He also created the TV show "ER."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a posting on his website says Crichton died unexpectedly after a courageous battle with cancer (I can't get into the site -- it appears to be down).

Crichton was 66. He started writing books about 40 years ago to help pay his way through medical school.

One of the things I loved was how he would take a complex scientific subject -- like DNA and paleontology in Jurassic Park, quantum physics in Timeline, nanoscience in Prey or genetic engineering in Next -- and explain it so thoroughly, but also in a way that made sense to the average reader. And then he'd marry it to an awesome adventure story.

His last book came out in 2006 and I was looking forward to his next one. He'll be missed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Free Stuff Files: Election edition

Election Day is here and you can celebrate Democracy buy getting free stuff!

Stop into any Starbucks today and pick up a free tall cup of coffee. I will be all over that one. I might even hit a couple of different Starbucks, since you can't travel a half mile in any direction around here without bumping into one.

The other two deals I wish I could take advantage of, but sadly they don't have any shops with convenient locations for me. But maybe this will be helpful for some of you out there in blogland.

First up, enjoy the sweet taste of freedom at a participating Ben & Jerry's scoop shop between 5 and 8 p.m. That's when they'll be passing out free cones. Personally, I'd pick Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream.

Lastly, an "I Voted" sticker will get you an free star-shaped doughnut with red, white and blue sprinkles at Krispy Kreme.

MMmmm...delicious democracy...

Monday, November 03, 2008

John Williams tribute

This is just too darn awsome...

Getting it all done

We had an insanely busy weekend, which featured:
  • Halloween (see above photo)
  • Junior Warriors Basketball
  • Selling more popcorn for Cub Scouts
  • Donating blood
  • Dinner with the Prices
  • Church and religion classes
  • The Wiggles concert in Albany
  • Yard work

Kris has chronicled all of it on the Rooney Train.

Needless to say, I’m exhausted today. I need to get to bed early tonight because it’s going to be a looong day tomorrow!

Friday, October 31, 2008


I'll watch anything with the irresistibly cute Zooey Deschanel (who doesn't love her in "Elf?"). So when I spotted this on Keyboard Krumbs, it seemed like the perfect Halloween treat. (Thanks, Rob!)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Decision, decisions

(No I'm not talking about the election)

David Tennant has announced his decision. Now I have to make mine.

After three fantastic years playing the Doctor in "Doctor Who," Tennant announced last night that he'll soon be leaving the show.

He has five more episodes to go -- this year's Christmas special, titled "The Next Doctor," and then four stories that will be spread out over 2009. When the series returns for a full regular season in 2010, someone else will be in the leading role.

Now here's the big I tell Nolan? "Doctor Who" is currently his absolute favorite show. I would imagine that in the United Kingdom, even if you're not a fan you would still have to live under a rock not hear this news. But Nolan would never know if I didn't tell him.

So should I share the great big geek news with him? Or should I let him be surprised (assuming I can keep it a secret until 2010)?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'You will stay dead this time!'

Here's a sneak peek at season 7 of the most action-packed show on television, "24."

The new season begins in January. This trailer will air at the end of the "24: Redemption" TV movie on Nov. 23.

This is a different version of the trailer than the one released by Fox about a year ago -- before the writers strike forced the network to postone the entire season. Personally, I like the new trailer better.

Bring on the Bauer Power Hour!

(Note: you find a larger resolution version of the trailer here.)

Here's what a Fox news release said about "Day 7" last year...

24 is back, unlike ever before. Set in Washington, DC, “Day 7” opens with CTU dismantled and JACK BAUER (Kiefer Sutherland) on trial. Bauer’s day takes an unexpected turn when former colleague TONY ALMEIDA (Carlos Bernard) returns. Meanwhile, President ALLISON TAYLOR (Cherry Jones) leads the country alongside White House Chief of Staff ETHAN KANIN (Bob Gunton) and First Gentleman HENRY TAYLOR (Colm Feore).

A national security crisis prompts an investigation by a team of FBI agents including Agent JANIS GOLD (Janeane Garofalo), Agent RENEE WALKER (Annie Wersching), Agent LARRY MOSS (Jeffrey Nordling), Agent SEAN HILLINGER (Rhys Coiro) and security specialist MICHAEL LATHAM (John Billingsley). Although CTU is no longer, CHLOE O’BRIAN (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and BILL BUCHANAN (James Morrison) are back for another momentous day of shocking events.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Did you know?

Brian Williams posted this video on The Daily Nightly last night. There's some fascinating food for thought in here...

From the Free Stuff files...

Don't forget, America, since a base has been stolen in the World Series, WE ALL GET FREE TACOS TODAY!
This is part of Taco Bell's "Steal a Base. Steal a Taco." promotion. They promised to give away tacos if a base was stolen during the Fall Classic.

So stop into your local Taco Bell today between 2 and 6 p.m. to get your free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco!

Then & Now

Here's another shot of the new Kirk and Spock, courtesy of Empire. This time we get a side-by-side comparison, with Zachary Quitno and Chris Pine emulating a classic Nimoy/Shatner publicity shot.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Adding to my wish list

Add the Google-powered G1 phone to the very long list of tech gadgets I wish I had.

The barcode scanner app demonstrated in this video is one of the coolest things ever!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baseball is like a box of chocolates

This morning Mike Greenberg of ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning Show" read an excerpt from a Buster Olney column, written the morning after the Tampa Bay Rays improbably won the ALCS, outlining why he believes "Don Zimmer is officially baseball’s Forrest Gump."

(I'd link you to Olney's column, but you have to be a paid subscriber.)

Don Zimmer has officially seen everything.

He played with Jackie Robinson. He played with the Brooklyn Dodgers when they finally won World Series in 1955. He played with Sandy Koufax and against Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.

He played with the infamous ’62 Mets and he managed the Red Sox in ’78 when Bucky Dent ripped the guts out of Boston.

He was there in the dugout as a coach through the Yankees’ dynasty in the ‘90s. He was there as a coach for Aaron Boone’s homerun.

And now he is part of the Rays organization as an assistant and threw out the first pitch before Game 7 on Sunday – a night when the Rays became baseball’s version of “Hoosiers” and the Miracle on Ice.

Forrest Gump has nothing on Don Zimmer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kirk & Spock 2.0

Here's the Entertainment Weekly cover...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Star Trekkin'

At long last some official images from JJ Abrams' "Star Trek" are starting to appear. You can find them in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly -- or all over the Internet if you prefer.

These have been released in advance of the new trailer, which is due in a few weeks.

Ain't It Cool News has links to all of the pictures.

Just based on these images, I love the look of this movie and can't wait to see more (although I don't remember Chekov having curly brown hair. He's supposed to look like one of the Monkees!). I'm dying to see what Zachary Quinto (aka Sylar of "Heroes") does with Spock!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Buy some popcorn, help a Cub Scout!

Nolan is selling gourmet Trail's End popcorn to help fund our Cub Scout activities for the year -- and you can help!

Just check out to see all of the delicious choices. There's something for everyone.

But just in case popcorn isn't your thing, you can also make a donation of $25 and the popcorn will be sent to the men and women of the U.S. military.

When you place your order, be sure to enter the following code: TEQN3R6. That way Nolan will get credit for the sale and he will be one step closer to his $300 goal.

Your support will help fund camping trips, our annual Pinewood Derby, a trip to the USS Massachusetts and lots of other great Cub Scout activities. All you have to do is visit and enter TEQN3R6.

Thanks again for your help!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mr. October

Nolan played a good game today as his fall baseball team traveled to North Colonie.

We didn't have the really cool professional umpire we had last week. This time it was just a kid only a few years older than the boys playing ball.

But still, Nolan thought it was cool to go to another town for the first time and play on someone else's field.

He had a great day at the plate with 3 RBI for the day. The first two came on a double in the first inning. The third RBI was on a single he hit with the bases loaded.

In between he reached base when he got hit by a pitch. He took one in the shin, but says it didn't hurt.

His single really should have been a walk. But I guess they have some crazy rule that says they're not allowed to walk in a run. So even though he took four balls, he had to keep going until he either struck out or got a hit. Two pitches later he got his single.

We have one more game at home next weekend. That might be the last game for the fall, although there is a chance we'll play one more.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Autumn in the Adirondacks

There is nothing like the great outdoors to put everything in perspective.

Today is a perfect example.

We went to visit Kris’ parents for the night yesterday. The fall foliage is just about at its peak in the Adirondacks. So you can just imagine how beautiful the drive was.

Unfortunately, the emphasis is on the word “drive.” Enjoying the scenery from a car at 55 mph is not the same as getting out and soaking it all up.

So on our way back home today we made time to do just that. We stopped at the Adirondack Visitor Interpretive Center at Paul Smith’s College – a beautiful location we’ve visited many times before and will likely visit again.

We did a quick hike on one of the trails we haven’t done before. It took us through the woods, out to the edge of Barnum Pond and then back on a boardwalk through an area that’s usually swampy but seemed pretty dry today.

The colors were spectacular. I don’t think the photos I took do them justice. But it was much more than just the views. Kris kept ooing and ahing over the different trees giving off an unmistakably autumn aroma.

When we were on the latter half of the hike – enjoying the sights and smells and watching kids trot along the trail ahead of us – it hit me that I felt completely at peace. All thoughts of money, work or any of life’s other demands had melted away. I was experiencing a perfect feeling of contentment. I wish I could feel like that every day.

Now Kris and I are talking a lot about becoming “46ers” – climbing all 46 of the Adirondack high peaks. We figure that if we can climb two or three a year, then we’ll achieve 46er status by the time we’re in our mid-50s.

I took a lot of pictures on our hike today and yesterday during a brief stop in Lake Placid. I uploaded most of them to Facebook.

One of my regrets in life is that I never took a photography class in school. I love taking pictures and always hope to capture “something special.” Unfortunately, most of the pictures never work out the way I envisioned them in my mind.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Shortly after the Dow plunged below 9,000 for the first time in five years, came this...

WASHINGTON (AP) - White House says American people should remain confident about economy despite market fall.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

What do you know, Joe?

I'm going to miss having this guy around...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

'Heroes': Burning questions

I’m still enjoying “Heroes,” but it’s clearly not the show it was in its first season. I fear the series, now in its third year, is growing too convoluted for its own good.

Here are a couple of observations I made after watching this week’s episode (you might want skip the rest of this post if you haven’t watched it yet – or check out the embedded copy below).

  • I don’t get how Peter’s power works – and I suspect the writers don’t either since his character is a frequent source of contradictions. If he absorbs the power of any super powered person he comes into contact with, then wouldn’t he already have Sylar’s power? In fact, wouldn’t he have had it for a while now?

  • While speaking of Peter, if he has Claire’s healing power, then how was Future Peter killed by a gunshot? We’ve seen Claire recover from worse. Likewise, why does Future Peter have that nasty scar on his face? Wouldn’t that have healed?

  • Sticking with the future storyline, Future Molly should have been about 13 or 14 years old. So how come she looked like she hadn't aged more? (I know the answer to this one. They weren’t jumping far enough into the future that they could get away with casting an older actress. But I think it was far enough that the little girl who plays Molly couldn’t pull off a believable teenager.)

  • What happened to “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World?” In season one, it was imperative they rescued Claire from the evil Sylar. This year Sylar gets a hold of her in the season opener and – nothing happens. What’s up with that?

  • I’m all for thinning out the cast, but wasn’t there a whole storyline with Nikki, Micah, his photographic memory cousin and Aunt Uhura that just got dropped?

  • I hope season three doesn’t end with Nathan apparently getting killed again. Twice was more than enough.

There are other nitpicks, but this is what comes to mind right now.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A fly on a wall

Like much of America, I just got done watching the vice presidential debate between Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin. It was widely predicted to be the most watched vice presidential debate ever.

But for me, the most fascinating part came when the debate was over.

When last week's debate between Barack Obama and John McCain ended the would-be first ladies came on stage, some pleasant handshakes were exchanged and then they couldn't bolt in opposite directions fast enough. I think that's the way it usually works.

But this was different. Their whole came families came on stage and mingled together like they were at a backyard barbecue. Most interesting -- Biden and Palin could be seen chit-chatting together. I would love to know what they were saying!

Can you hear me now?

I spotted this on PopWatch. It's pretty funny to think of all the movies that would have to dratically change their storyline if the characters had cell phones.

Of course, as PopWatch points out, in the case of "Home Alone" no fancy 21st century technology was required. Why didn't the mom just pick up a regular land line and call Kevin? In 18 years, I never thought of that!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A dollar ain't what it used to be

In light of the current economic crisis, the U.S. Treasury Department has issued a new dollar bill...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Farewell to history

I liked what Brian Williams said so much on The Daily Nightly today, that rather than merely link to it, I'm going to save you the step and copy and paste it here...

Watching the last Yankee Game from Yankee Stadium on ESPN with my son last
night -- felt vaguely like the financial news these days. Nobody asked for
what's happening right now in the financial markets. Taxpayers weren't asking
for the burden they've just taken on. Likewise, as they were panning the sad
faces at the end of last night's game, marking the end of the House that Ruth
Built, I was thinking: these fans didn't ask for this. No Yankee fan that I know
was begging...or even hoping...for a new stadium. Bathrooms from this century?
That would be nice. An industry-standard jumbo video screen? Great. A few more
of the amenities baseball fans have come to love at some of the newer parks?
Sure. But the new stadium isn't about the fans (fewer seats at higher prices) as
much as its about the team...player salaries...the owners. But as one
sportswriter put it, "we are the only nation that tears down our own
cathedrals." Aint it the truth.

I enjoyed the broadcast of the game. For a fan like me, there were moments that were quite emotional.

While watching some of the pre-game hoopla with Nolan he was asking me about Monument Park. I showed him some photos I uploaded to Facebook of dad and I visiting the monuments on our last trip to the stadium together.

I told Nolan how he was only 2 months old at the time and that I remembered telling dad that I couldn't wait until he was old enough for me to take him there. Dad advised me not to rush things -- he'll grow up fast enough.

Nolan then looked at the picture of pop and said "That's the past," and clicked forward to a picture of he and I at the stadium, "and that's the future."

"Yup," I said, "Pop went to Yankee Stadium with me, I went with you and someday you'll take your son to the new stadium."

"Or daughter," he was quick to add.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Around the horn

I’ve had several baseball-related thoughts percolating in my head for a few weeks now. These were all originally conceived as separate posts, but I decided lay them all on you at once…

You win some, you lose some
I’m coming to grips with the fact that the Yankees will not make it to the post-season for the first time since 1993.

A number of years ago, I think it was after the 2000 World Series, I wore a Yankee shirt to work and a co-worker (a White Sox fan) asked me, “Don’t you guys ever get sick of winning?” I answered “No,” and explained to him why. For a good part of my youth in the 1980s and early 90s the Yanks were, shall we say, lackluster. I was well aware that dynasties like that only come along once in a generation. I told him that I knew this gravy train wasn’t going to last forever, so I'd enjoy it for as long as I could.

Well it looks like the ride may be over. It was fun while it lasted. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that the Bronx Bombers will be back. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Tampa terrific
So with the Yankees out of the picture, who am I rooting for in the post season? I’ve got to look to Tampa Bay.

I know it may seem odd for a Yankee fan to talk about rooting for an underdog. So sue me.

But as I’ve told friends all summer, taking off my Yankee fan hat and speaking solely as a baseball fan in general, what the Rays have been doing this year has been great for the game and it’s hard not to root for them.

The last couple of weeks, as the Yanks and the Rays faced of, proved a particular moral dilemma for me. The New York fan in me naturally wanted to root for my Yanks in the slim hope that there could still be some sort of playoff chance. But another part of me knew that wasn’t realistic and understood that every Tampa defeat brought Boston closer to first place. Needless to say, I was glad when those games were over.

So when we get to the post season, I guess I’ll be a Tampa Bay fan for October. That is except for one other team…

Joe Torre’s revenge
Last winter I told people that I didn’t mean to wish ill on Joe Girardi and the Yankees, but I thought it would kind of serve the front office right if the Yankees had a bad season while Joe Torre had nothing but success with the Dodgers.

Be careful what you wish for.

As of today the Dodgers are holding a 3.5 game lead in the NL West. Yeah, sure, they probably wouldn’t be there without Manny Ramirez. I guess I’ll have to give you that. But they were doing pretty well before he showed up. I think even without Manny the Dodgers would have been in the playoff conversation at least as a Wild Card if not a division leader.

The point is, for years the knock against Torre from Yankee-haters was that he deserved very little credit for the teams success – that a well-trained monkey could manage a team with Yankees’ all-star roster.

But look what we have now. Without Torre the Yankees are fighting for third place, while Joe is still successful on the west coast. It serves the Yankee suits right for the way they handled Joe’s departure.

Derek Jeter is the real deal
While we’re in the Rodney Dangerfield territory of those who don’t get no respect, there is Derek Jeter. Often I’ve seen him show up on lists of “overrated athletes.”

But he did something great last Sunday when he notched his 1,270th hit in Yankee Stadium, passing a record held by none other than Lou Gehrig – a record no one else will ever possess after the stadium closes for good Sunday night.

Think about all the greats that have stood at that plate – Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, all of the many hall of famers the team has had through the decades – none of them have had as many hits in Yankee Stadium as Derek Jeter.

As if there was any doubt before, Jeter has cemented his place in Yankee lore. He’s going to be the one my kids tell their kids about – the way I’ve told them about Reggie Jackson and my dad told me about Mickey Mantle and Gehrig himself.

Unquestionably, Jeter’s No. 2 will one day be retired by the Yankees. As for the Hall of Fame, I like to think he gets in, but he’s probably not a sure thing. I think there are a lot of people out there who would still try to argue against it. But the Jeter fans now have another piece of ammunition.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

From Gepetto's workshop

What will the "imagineers" at Disney think of next?

Disney Lab Unveils Its Latest Line Of Genetically Engineered Child Stars

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mmm...slightly vulgar Mexican food...

There’s a minor controversy in part of Troy where a restaurant is opening up called “Badass Burrito.” One mom who lives nearby is all up in arms, saying the name is horribly inappropriate.

I’m not sure how I feel about it. Part of me thinks the name is actually pretty clever (and I do love me my Mexican food). But at the same time, I don’t think I’d want my kids saying “badass.”

I guess I’d just tell the boys, “Don’t say that.” I’m pretty sure one would listen to me and the other still can’t read.

What do you think? Sound off on the badass debate in comments…

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tony Clifton rides again

When looking at a list of upcoming concerts and other performances in the Capital Region, I couldn't help but notice Tony Clifton was going to be at Revolution Hall in Troy on Friday night.

Wait a minute. Tony Clifton?!? As in the Andy Kaufman character?

A quick Google search confirmed it is in fact that Tony Clifton coming to our area.

Obviously, it's not Kaufman behind the dark sunglasses. Although some people were apparently duped into thinking Clifton was a real person, the belligerent and somewhat mysterious character was alternately portrayed by Kaufman's brother Michael and comedy partner Bob Zmuda (not to mention Jim Carrey in "Man on the Moon").

Anyway, my Google search also brought me to this video, which I just thought was too bizarre to not post...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Here we go again

I’ve got a theory about presidential elections. There may be nothing to the observations I’ve made recently, but here goes…

We all remember how close the 2000 election was, where George W. Bush won by just five electoral votes. Most of us had never seen a presidential election like that in our lifetime and didn’t expect to ever again.

Then came 2004. Bush defeated John Kerry by 35 electoral votes – not as narrow a margin as his 2000 victory, but still pretty close.

Given the state of things, I thought for sure this upcoming election would be the Democrats’ to lose. But the latest polls show Barack Obama and John McCain deadlocked or even McCain with a slight lead. It looks like another nail biter.

So this will be three really tight presidential elections in a row. There is a whole generation of voters coming up who only know presidential races like this.

But of course they are not all like this. Or at least they didn’t use to be. Recently I was looking at the electoral vote breakdown of presidential elections going back to 1964. Before 2000, the closest margin we had was in 1976 when Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford by 57 electoral votes. Outside of that, every presidential race between 1964 and 2000 was decided by a wide majority – the biggest of course being Ronald Reagan’s thumping of Walter Mondale in 1984, 525 electoral votes to 13 (Mondale only took his home state of Minnesota).

So if presidential elections used to be so much more decisive, why aren’t they anymore?

The last clear victory was in 1996 when Bill Clinton easily won a second term over Bob Dole. What’s changed since then to make these races so much tighter? I wonder if it’s the way we get our information about the campaigns.

Think about it. In 1996, CNN was a well-established news operation. But MSNBC and Fox News Channel were in their infancy. The glut of cable news coverage as we know it now didn’t really exist yet, but was firmly in place by 2000.

Talk radio boomed in the late 1990s. Rush Limbaugh paved the way in the early part of the decade. Love him or hate him, his show has been wildly successful and set the stage for the likes of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and countless others who populate the airwaves today.

And of course there is a little thing called the Internet, which has transformed campaigning in ways I can’t begin to describe. Not only is it another source of news for the public, but it’s given candidates a new way to reach out to their supporters – who then can start up all sorts of grass roots efforts on their own.

That’s the biggest change the Internet has brought on. It’s changed the way we communicate about politics with each other. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry can start their own blog to spout off or trade info on Facebook. How many of you heard of Matt Drudge before 1996?

The bottom line, my unscientific observations seem to indicate people are talking and listening more (although maybe they’re not always doing enough of both). I’m not sure if that translates into increased voter turnout. I haven’t researched that. But I think those that do vote are much more opinionated, if not more informed.

So there’s my theory, crackpot thought it may be. Our transforming media culture has in turn transformed presidential politics. Back in 2000, we never thought we’d see a race like that again. Now I’m not sure we’ll ever see a race like 1984 again.

'We have people everywhere'

Check out the awesome, action-packed theatrical trailer for "Quantum of Solace." November 14 can't get here soon enough!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

All aboard!

We now officially have two kids in school. Thomas started kindergarten on Friday.

I was nervous about how we would do getting on the bus. But as you can see here, we had nothing to worry about! He did super.

Kris has some more thoughts on the start of school over on The Rooney Train.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sudden silence

One of the most recognizable voices in a America has passed away. I was very saddened to learn this morning of the passing of voice over master Don LaFontaine.

The name might not ring a bell, but you've certainly heard his voice -- mostly likely on any of the thousands of movie trailers he narrated through the years -- many of them beginning with the words "In a world..."

Although he had been in the voice over business for decades, his face had only recently become recognizable thanks to his appearance in ads for Geico and the New York Lottery.

Don died yesterday from complications of Pneumothorax.

There is a small sample of some of his work on Ain't It Cool News.

Going to the movies (or watching TV for that matter) will never be the same.


Boy, 14 years ago (i.e.: single and with disposable income) there is no way I'd miss this!

From noon Sept. 13 to noon Sept. 14 Proctor's is going to host a 24 sci-fi movie film festival. The event is called "It Came From Schenectady."

The scheduled films range from 50s classics ("Creature From the Black Lagoon," "Forbidden Planet") to contemporary hits ("Blade Runner," "Enemy Mine") to the obscure ("A Boy and His Dog," "Tokyo Gore Police" -- making its North American premiere no less).

At least one slot in the schedule will be filled in by a "viewers choice," which you can vote on at the festival's website. I voted for "Akira," but the vote leader right now is "A Clockwork Orange."

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Chosen One

Apparently Barack Obama is the One (and all this time I thought it was Neo...or Anakin Skywalker).

If you're not familiar not familiar with his life story, here it is courtesy of "The Daily Show."

I also got a kick out of this bit (I know it looks the same, but trust me and play -- it's a different clip)...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

'Job well done'

I often can't stand all of the negativity that surrounds presidential campaigns.

The truth is we're all just people and we have different opinions -- and that's okay. Many of my closest friends have vastly different views than me, but we don't hate each other.

I think politicians on both sides of the aisle understand this. Just look at how Bush 41 and Bill Clinton have become buddies.

But during a campaign there is such venom spewed from candidates and their supporters that I get a little fed up. They only serve to rile people up and polarize the two sides.

I've always said that if I was interviewing a presidential candidate or moderating debate the question I'd most like to ask is "What is your opponent's greatest accomplishment?" or "What do you like most about your opponent?"

That's why I was so pleased to see this ad from John McCain that will air during tonight's coverage of the Democratic National Convention...

Sure, it serves a political purpose for McCain. It portrays him as gracious and generous light during coverage of an event mostly focused on bashing him.

But still, I thought it was a welcome change of pace. Too bad it won't last.

Back in the swing of things

We were gone on vacation all last week. Since returning I have been too busy, too tired or too lazy to provide a write up of all of our activities.

Fortunately, my better half was none of those things. She recapped the whole trip on our other blog. So you can read all about it on The Rooney Train and check out the pictures I uploaded to Facebook.

In other news, I thoroughly enjoyed the Olympics. No matter what was on, I found it all to be pretty compelling TV (I actually stayed up until 2 a.m. one night watching a couple of Chinese guys play for the gold in ping-pong).

But what was fun was the fact that Nolan was really into it. Whatever was on – women’s gymnastics, track & field, volleyball, rowing – he was glued to it. He couldn’t get enough. At age 8, I think this was probably the first time he was really aware of the Olympics and he thought the whole thing was pretty cool. So it was great sharing it with him.

We’ve been to Lake Placid many times and have told him over and over how the Olympics were held there before. But I don’t think that really meant anything to him until now. I’m anxious to see if he gets as excited over the Winter Olympics in 2010.

With the Olympics gone and our vacation over, there is unfortunately no denying that fall is right around the corner. Next week Nolan and Thomas go back to school and we will soon be up to our necks in homework, Cub Scouts, fall travel baseball, etc. It’s been a great summer and I’m sorry to see it go.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mark Spitz is all wet

It’s always interesting to watch the reactions of former athletes as their records are about to fall.

Case in point: Hank Aaron. I don’t think it was any great secret that he wasn’t thrilled to see Barry Bonds break his career home run record last summer because of what Barry allegedly did to get there. But he handled himself throughout the hoopla with class and composure.

Then there is Mark Spitz.

Spitz set a record in 1972 by winning seven gold medals at single Olympics. That record has a good chance of being broken this year by Michael Phelps, who now has three golds and hopes to take home five more before these games are done.

Spitz seemed gracious enough when I heard him interviewed on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning not long ago. But then I read an interview with him this morning that left me with a very different opinion of the Olympic legend.

To be fair, he doesn’t seem all that bent out of shape about Phelps surpassing him. His beef is that no one invited him to watch it happen.

"I never got invited. You don't go to the Olympics just to say, I am going to go. Especially because of who I am," Spitz told AFP in Hong Kong.

Spitz feels he’s been snubbed because he didn’t get an engraved invitation from the International Olympic Committee, NBC Sports or FINA -- the international body that governs world swimming.

"I am going to sit there and watch Michael Phelps break my record anonymously? That's almost demeaning to me. It is not almost -- it is,” he said.

Perhaps he has a legitimate gripe. But he’s better off taking the high road and keeping it to himself and avoiding phrases like “because of who I am.” Newsflash Mr. Spitz: this is Michael Phelps’ time. It isn’t all about you.

But Spitz was just getting warmed up. He insisted he would have won eight golds in 1972 if he had the chance.

"I won seven events. If they had the 50m freestyle back then, which they do now, I probably would have won that too," he said.

It sounds like the word humble isn’t in this guy’s vocabulary. The article closed out with Spitz explaining why he thinks Phelps is so successful.

"He's almost identical to me. He's a world-record holder in all these events, so he is dominating the events just like I did," Spitz said. "He reminds me of myself."

The whole article made Spitz seem like he has an ego the size of Rhode Island.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

We'll always have Paris

If you're not thrilled with Barack Obama or John McCain as choices for president, there is always...Paris Hilton?!?

I this clip Paris responds to McCain's "Celebrity" ad that called Obama "the biggest celebrity in the world," comparing him to Hilton and Britney Spears, but questioned if he was ready to lead.

I never thought I'd see the day I'd post a Paris Hilton clip on my blog, but the crazy thing is -- her energy policy makes some sense.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Belated happy bloggiversary to me

Hey, my bloggiversary blew by unnoticed. I just remembered today that July 26 marked the day I started "Off the Top of My Head."

Four years and 1,228 posts -- and nearly as many hours wasted.

Where the wild things are

It seems like boom in the rabbit population in our neighborhood. We, and several of our neighbors, have commented that it seems like there are even more of the little critters than usual this summer.

A few weeks ago Kris and the kids spotted a fox in our neighbor’s yard. A friend of ours who lives a few blocks away spotted a fox near his house earlier that morning – probably the same one that eventually made its way down to our street.

A few days ago our neighbor across the street says she caught sight of some sort of “wild animal.” She didn’t think it was a fox, but I was sure that must have been what it was. Especially after what I saw today.

I dropped the kids off at camp this morning, which is near my mom’s house. After leaving them I spotted a fox with my own two eyes trotting down her street. In all my life I had never seen an animal like that in the neighborhood before.

I guess with the increase in rabbits, it would make sense that there is an increase in things that like to eat rabbits. Still, it’s an unusual sight.