Independence Day Explosions

I was celebrating Independence Day with some friends in New Hampshire and we went down to the docks at Lake Winnipesaukee to watch the fireworks. I got several photos and decided to post them.

Photos taken on a Canon Digital Rebel XT with an 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 zoom lens.


Five months is an awfully long time for me to go without any kind of update at all. There are a couple reasons for it, not the least of which is that I keep planning on updating the design of the page before I update next—not that the two are mutually exclusive. The other has simply been life interfering.

Since the biggest update has to do with what’s written directly below this one, I should get it out of the way first: My grandmother passed away on Tuesday morning. It was quite a shock to all of us, because she had been doing very well, only to aspirate on her breakfast Monday morning and go into cardiac arrest. The broken leg was healing so well that they had put a regular walking cast on it and expected that she was going to make a full recovery. She was in good spirits and was responding well in all areas. And then it all came crashing down. After a day on the ventilator, we made the decision that it was for the best if we take her off, and once we did, that was it. It’s for the best, really. It’s certainly a better situation than the alternative, with a decline from the Alzheimer’s reducing her to a person that couldn’t even recognize her own family. She went out with at least some of herself intact, which is good.

The rest of what I could say isn’t really much in comparison. Work is going great, life is pretty good (apart from the elephant in the room) and I happen to be going on vacation next week to see a friend get married in Key West. That’s going to be great: a friend and I are renting a convertible and driving down the Florida coast from Miami. I bought a brand new camera for the occasion and I plan to get a ton of good shots.

So yeah, that’s about it.

I want to kick Christmas in the bells.

Merry Christmas.

It’s 2:30 in the morning (Christmas morning, that is) and I can’t sleep. Many, many things contribute to this lack of somnolence, not the least of them being that OMG ISS CRSSMAS! followed closely by visions of me wrapping gift after gift as I was doing earlier today. Considering that I only bought a few gifts this year—yes, I was wrapping other people’s gifts—why was I wrapping?

Well. Saturday night, my 80-year-old grandmother fell and suffered a compound fracture to her right fibula and tibia. Not that she had much choice in the matter, but had she any, she couldn’t have picked a worse time to do it: she was home alone with my youngest brother, while my parents were 30 minutes away about to see a stage production of Beauty and the Beast, and my sister, my brother, my other parents and I were at my sister’s place celebrating Christmas with each other.

I think the round of phone calls from brother-to-mother-to-sister, followed by all of us (save my other parents) zooming in the nearest automobile to the house must have been no longer than fifteen minutes. We almost beat the ambulance to the house. Which is nothing, considering that my parents managed to make the 30+ minute drive from wherever they were to the hospital before the ambulance got there. Now that was some fast driving.

Long story short (too late), she’s got a bad break in her right leg just above the ankle. She’s badly osteoporotic and has Alzheimer’s, so any serious trauma invites with it some deeper potential problems. So far, not many of them have really surfaced, but the long-term effects are complete unknowns at this point and can only be looked at as possibilities. Unfortunately, one of those possibilities that needs to be kept open is that of amputation. But I’m going to try not to think about that and instead will stay positive.

So it’s been a busy few days. A trip to the emergency room (my first ambulance ride and damn, I didn’t even get to be tied to the stretcher), a trip up to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center the next day to see her, two trips to church (once for mass last night, once for Christmas Mass tonight), and almost a complete afternoon and evening of wrapping gifts to make up for the fact that my parents couldn’t do it. And we haven’t even reached Christmas morning yet.

So if you want to ask me “Do you hear what I hear?” then what I’d better be hearing is the sound of Christmas writhing in pain from getting royally knocked in the jewels. It has not been very kind to me or my family this year.

You think YOU have it bad…

Wachovia bank sent Joe Martins of Georgia a letter after he closed his checking account, notifying him that he owed $211,010,028,257,303.00 on the account.

For the comma-declined, that’s more than 211 trillion dollars.

The letter includes the clarification, “no cents.”

“I didn’t know what to think. Obviously $211 trillion is a little above what I put in my bank account,” said Martins.

So the next time you think you’ve got it bad, just remember that you aren’t the guy who owes more than 70 times the national budget to his bank.

(via Consumerist)

Growing Up and Getting Older

I was up in Vermont a few weeks ago, visiting my parents, and while I was there, my mother asked me if I would hook up the new surround receiver they’d bought, which is always fun for me because it means I get to tell my parents what to do (they don’t seem to understand why I put so much importance on the right usage of sound equipment, I think). This meant a trip to the electronics store for appropriate cabling, so once I took an inventory of what was needed, we took a Saturday morning trip to the nearest Best Buy. Unfortunately, Best Buy didn’t happen to have any cables of the appropriate length (and on top of that, the cables they did have were unbelievably expensive), so we decided to forgo the cables for cheaper alternatives to be found at Radio Shack. But while we were there, I decided to head over to the video games to see if they maybe had a display for Guitar Hero III, which had not yet been released. They didn’t, which stunk, but I was surprised to turn around from the game display to see my mother standing next to a stack of Nintendo Wiis with what can only be described as a look of delight in her eyes.

She looked at my stepfather and breathed, “They have them in stock.”

The thought that my mother would be interested in buying a video game system sent me practically into overload. Parents aren’t supposed to be this childlike, right? Truth be told, though, it was a pretty adorable sight. Almost as adorable as the later sight of my mother standing in front of a television with a wiimote in her hand, flailing her arms in the air while throwing a virtual bowling ball down the lane.

But I digress.

When we got to the checkout line, the woman at the checkout looked over the various pieces and asked us if this was a Christmas purchase. “No,” I said. “This is an impulse purchase.” I then remarked that my idea of an impulse purchase wasn’t something like this, though; my idea of an impulse buy is more like a new shirt at Target and wasn’t usually on par with a video game system.

Then I thought about what I’d said and realized something. “You know,” I said, “I must be getting older. My idea of an impulse buy used to be something like ‘Hey, look, a new CD.’ Now, I’ll walk into a store and go, ‘Ooh… boxers.’ ”

It was a joke that my friends thought was funny when I got back home, but I came to another realization today: I’m sitting in my living room right now and watching the Food Network. Before that? Golf.

When did I become old?

I used to watch cartoons on Saturday. Later, I might watch a bunch of movies over the weekend. Lately, though, I’ve found myself aligning my TV interests with interests from other areas of my life. I never once thought I’d get a kick out of cooking shows, but I found that the more interested I became in cooking good food, the more interesting these programs became. The same with golf: I used to think that golf was a great game to play, but not so much to watch. Isn’t it strange how our tastes change?

I listen to NPR, I read nonfiction books, and while I still love to bust out a game like Guitar Hero and heavy metal, I find it interesting that my idea of a fun night with friends usually involves some kind of food I’ve cooked rather than a six-pack of beer.

Then again, there’s no reason we can’t do both.

Delayed Clarity (or, Taco Bell is bad for you, m’kay?)

I got hit by a car today.

Well, not me so much as my car. I was turning into Taco Bell behind some guy who, at no notice, stopped his car, threw it into reverse and just… backed right into me. I barely had enough time to put my own car in reverse and try to back up while honking my horn.

Luckily, I got away with only a scraped bumper. I stopped, got out of the car, looked at the bumper… meanwhile, the guy in the other car leaned out of his window, asked if I was okay, and no sooner had the words “I’m fine” come out of my mouth (in a rather disgusted manner, no less) than he practically zoomed away in his green Subaru wagon. He just waved out the window and was gone. I didn’t have a chance to get insurance information or even a license plate number.

I was just so shocked by what had happened. And, later, I was just pissed off by what had happened.

When you think about under-pressure situations, you tend to think that you’ll do the right thing. That you’ll make that right decision at the crucial moment. And then, the moment happens and it just… passes you by. And the decision you thought you were going to make never even occurred to you.

Now that I’ve been through it, I should have seen the signs of risk when it came to this guy in the Subaru. The fact that he didn’t get out, that he seemed so eager to get out of the situation… these should have been signs to me that this person probably had no insurance.

It’s this delayed clarity that tells me that perhaps, if I hadn’t gone to Taco Bell for the junk food, I wouldn’t have gone through all of this. So, obviously, the moral of the story is that Taco Bell causes car accidents. Remember that, kids.

Unplugging The World

My father is made of completely different stuff from me.

A couple of years ago, he started a new job as the HR director for a company, and when he joined them, they gave him a Blackberry. Apparently, all of the executives had them.

After a couple of weeks, he gave it back.

My father is the kind of person who doesn’t like to be available anywhere he goes. He didn’t even have Call Waiting until recently—and I’m pretty sure that he only did that because it came with a package deal. His point was simply that if somebody needed to get in touch with him and he was on the phone, they would call back. Simple. Straightforward.

I, on the other hand, am almost constantly reachable. At work, at home, in the car. I have email and the Internet at my hip. My laptop is wireless and if I really needed to, I could tether it to my cellphone and have a full Internet connection—anywhere there’s a cell signal.

The word tether is rather interesting. Lately I’ve been wondering if that’s not exactly what this constant stream of connectivity is doing just that: tethering. My father has sometimes referred to a cellphone as a leash. Oh, he has one, sure—but he rarely uses it and mostly, it’s just there in case of emergency. When he and my stepmother go away for a weekend, I don’t even think they take it with them, which is annoying if I need to talk to them when they aren’t at home. Sometimes I wonder what the point is, having it and leaving it on the kitchen counter.

And sometimes, I wonder if my dad doesn’t have the right idea.

Most times, I enjoy the universe that’s at my fingertips. If I want to talk to my friend Anna in Germany, the only thing I have to worry about is whether the six-hour time difference between us means that she’s asleep. If I want to bone up on a subject that’s caught my curiosity, a quick glance at Wikipedia can fill me in on everything about it I ever wanted to learn and more. Who was that guy who was in that movie with that other guy? In fifteen seconds, I can tell you.

It’s downright addicting.

And that’s what I worry about. After all, Step One is admitting that you have a problem.

Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of unplugging. Oh, I couldn’t do it completely—my job pretty much totally prevents me from doing that, given that I sit at a computer all day. But several of my coworkers—not so oddly, they tend to be the older ones who have families—tell me that when they get home they don’t even think about a computer until they get into the office the next day. Me? I get home and the first thing I do after closing the door and perhaps putting down whatever groceries I was carrying is to power up the laptop again. After all, since it doesn’t need to be plugged in all the time, I can have it in the kitchen with me while I’m cooking dinner. But am I missing out on something bigger by not being “out there?”

I mentioned to a friend today that I was thinking about disconnecting for a bit (knowing that he had done the same thing several months back) and he said, “It’s not that hard and it’s honestly pretty fun. Less intarweb, more real life.” And I thought about that for a second and realized that I don’t have much of a real life to speak of. Most of my friends are people that I work with, and sure, we socialize in varying degrees. But since moving to this city more than a year ago, I haven’t really developed a life and circle of friends that were my own. I tend to stay at home a lot and do my own thing, which is fine to an extent, but am I missing out?

I think that truly, the idea of removing myself from what has been a pretty major part of my life since I first went online in the early ’90s is downright terrifying. Back when I started, it was much easier to stay offline: you had to use a phone line to do it, and it cost money while you were online, so there was a limit to what you could do. Also, it was slow as molasses. But these days, the constant-on source of information flowing through the air is as ubiquitous as water, and it’s much more difficult to turn it off.

Is it something to worry about? Maybe, maybe not. But small as it may seem… I think I might have a problem here.

Damn Knives.

Do you remember that Charmin commercial where there was the little girl practicing the piano with no success… until she puts the toilet paper on her fingers and all of a sudden she’s playing like she was Mozart?

That’s what my right ring finger looks like right now after a trip to the Emergency Room.

I was making steak and went to clean the chef’s knife after I cut it up. And then boy, did I ever cut it up. My finger, that is.

I called my friends Steve and Nichole over because I had nothing to dress the wound with, and it wouldn’t stop with the bleeding. So after a call to my stepfather, I decided to head to the ER.

By the time they got to me (around 10, and I got there at 8), the bleeding had stopped and what was left was a fingertip that looked like it had been split with an ax. The doctor gave me a tetanus shot and put some Dermabond on the wound, which was the only option, since stitches wouldn’t have really worked there.

So now, I’m wondering how I’m supposed to shower with this thing on, let alone cook or clean or type (which is proving to be quite difficult at the moment).

Update 9/25/07: Check out the picture. Yes, that’s a Taco Bell quesadilla in the background. :)

Didn’t Get It.

Well, the theatre just called, and I didn’t get the part. Can’t say as I’m surprised, but I certainly am disappointed.

Oh well.


I had an audition tonight. It was for a show I’ve always wanted to do called The Last Five Years, by Jason Robert Brown. It’s got everything I want in a show: it’s witty, challenging, and absolutely moving.

I think that my audition went very well—as well as could be expected, given the relative inexperience of the teenage rather young accompanist. I sang quite well and felt quite good about the whole ordeal. They told me that I could come back and sing again tomorrow and there will be callbacks later in the week.

Here’s the thing that’ll most likely prevent me from getting the part, though: My looks. That’s not to say that I’m not good-looking enough. It’s simply that the character I’m auditioning for is, well… well, he’s Jewish. And I’m SO not. I don’t even remotely look Jewish, if you consider the traditional stereotypes. It’s not that there aren’t Jewish people who look like me, but the character’s name is Wellerstein, which would imply that it’s a German origin, and I definitely don’t look like that.

But if they can rationalize it enough, I think it’d be a really great opportunity and I know, I just know, that if I get it I’ll absolutely knock it out of the park.

Keep me in your thoughts. I could really use this thing right now.

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