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.