Friday, June 29, 2007

Prepping for vacation

Actually, I haven't packed a damned thing.

And I'm gonna be upstate at Canandaigua with only dial-up access, but I'll do my best to stoke the old blog with text on a daily basis. Not that there's much to say.

Lake. Mountains. Beat-up tennis court. Wacky cousins of Kate's. Grill.

These will be our themes.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My butt is tired

Yes it is, from driving to and fro here in the Garden State and across that rivulet they call the Hudson over in the Empire State.

Tomorrow, I return to the inaptly named Roseland to chat with a firm that is soon to become the newest member of the Citigroup family. And then I floor it to a Mexican restaurant for my triumphal, official send off from the firm which dare not speak its name. I may be late, but not too late to dig in to some frickin chimichangas and fish tacos, if you know what I mean, nudge nudge wink wink.

I am surprised that a search on "fish tacos" at google images takes 3 screens to yield any non-tortilla related results. It used to be a very common euphemism. What's wrong with the young people of today?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pre-disastering the car

Our 1996 Legacy Outback wagon has one very rude trick that it likes to play during vacation season. At some point in time, I will stick the key into the ignition and the think doesn't start. It doesn't click or turn over. Just a funereal silence in the steaming summer heat. We've had it happen twice in the Finger Lakes, once on Block Island, and once on Martha's Vineyard. Never more than once a summer.

This happened today when I stopped -- on the way to pick up Mom at the Newark airport -- at the rest stop between Exits 11 and 12 on the Turnpike (was this once the Walt Whitman?). I went in, had a "bio break," and then came out to a non-responsive wagon.

But I know by now what to do. I walked away from the car, affecting nonchalance. I got a drink and a very healthy (to be sure) snack. Ten minutes later, I wiped the grease off my face and went back out to the car. She started right up.

So I'd have to say the car is pre-disastered for the summer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ahh, youth

After a nasty hot and sweaty ride out Hollow Road and back down Spring Hill, on which I saw many fine examples of New Jersey excess (how bout 9 frickin garages) cheek to jowl with country gumba white trash bungalows, I was standing astride my bike next to Maggie's playground at the circle at the end of Spruce St talking to Carol and Craig. We looked down the street and here comes a black Nissan, going suspiciously fast for these child-filled parts.

The Nissan parks. Out get five people, a totally hot young mestiza chick, a buff Rafael Nadal looking dude, and another motley trio of guys. The one black guy, sensing our suspicion, walked passed us and said "good evening." What can you say to that?

Meanwhile, young Nadal had begun his courtship ritual. "Cmhere," he says to the doe-eyed young Mexican girl. "I'll put you on my shoulders." She passes. So he proposes a demonstration of his prowess. He walked across the field to an oak by the basketball court, pulls down a branch, and climbs all the way to the top of the tree.

But he was not finished with his display of masculine skill. No he was not. He gave us a cartwheel of sorts, and then he jumped up on a picnic table and did a diving somersault, after which to played dead most infectiously. Then he climbed up on the jungle gym and hung by his knees. I for one wanted to fuck him by then, but I had to go home to water Mary's plants. But I do hope he got some. She was cute.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Road to Greenwich

I brought my old bike to Larchmont, and when casting about for a destination, I found that Greenwich was a mere 12 miles away. And so I headed out along US1, the Boston Post Road in these parts, for the capital of the Gold Coast.

Mamaroneck. Up hill. Rye. Mercedeses. BMWs. 1 crosses 95. Big Box trucks.

Port Chester. Finally something interesting. I knew Port Chester was largely hispanic, but going through on bike let me check out the variety. Peruvian, Columbian, Brazilian, Salvadoran restaurants collectively outnumber the Mexican, and there's good looking Indian and a "Middle-Eastern" grocery to boot. Much promise for dining.

On to Greenwich, up and down hill and dale, past (what's this?) the Ferrari-Maserati dealership, where I considered stopping to browse. Thankfully, I didn't, for after sailing past the Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, and Jaguar/Land Rover vendors, I arrived at the much more distinguished Lamborghini guy, who had probably just popped over to Port Chester for arroz con frijoles.

Undeterred by the allure of fresh steel, I soldiered on to Greenwich, savoring the deliciousness of arriving stinky and sweaty in the capital of hedgefunddom on a mountain bike which was handed down to me almost 20 years ago by my now stepmom.

Stopped in to Whole Foods for a sports drink. Of which they had none chilled, pathetically, but there was a bevy of high-end trophy wives putting perfectly coiffed kids into high-end SUVs. But I guess that's just America today.

Went down the main street, looking for something interesting, something unique. Very little to be found. Just traffic and super-high end retail. The most interesting thing was that there were traffic cops instead of lights. That's a good way to spend tax dollars. Personalize the most anonymous transaction. It's probably meant to deter traffic from auslander like me.

We'll probably go back to Port Chester soon for something grilled and garlicky. As for now, I have no business in Greenwich, a town of no chilled Gatorade.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Manor of Stone

The Larchmont Manor. Where even a renovation can run you $5-6 million. Recently a profusion of stone foundations has sprung up. It's too much, I tell you, too much.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Words of wisdom

Mary got some marketing goodies in the mail from Liberty Mutual that say she can "Save up to $576.92 a year or more on home and auto insurance." Up to X or more. I gotta remember that.

In other news, amidst the general tumult of the exciting Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (just don't say "SIFMA") exhibitors hall I saw Denise Valentine, with whom I interviewed at Celent back in December. She has now left Celent, meaning that now 4 of the 6 people I interviewed (including the one who let slip that Celent had turnover issues) with are now gone from that seemingly unhappy firm, leaving only CEO Octavio Marenzi and the none-too-prepossessing Mayiz Habbal. One wonders how one could allow a small firm to hemorrhage so badly and be so blissfully oblivious to the horribly obvious causes of the defections. That's the one job I'm happiest to have not gotten.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In praise of the teachers

Natalie's 1st grade teacher Mrs. Mills is a creature of note. She has a voice that is permanently stuck on the talking-to-child mode. She has full body, 24/7 commitment to teaching, in a way that one sees only very rarely, so that though she may occasionally seem over the top to adults, the kids gaze at her with an awe and reverence utterly denied their parents. The other night Natalie told me in bed that she was sad she wouldn't have Mrs. Mills for 2nd grade, though the fact is she might, as Mrs. Mills is being up-graded.

Let us note also Linda Rockoff of Graham's U-League's D-class. Cash money. Absolute command of the classroom and marvellous rapport with the kids. Though she broke her arm in umpteen places she pulled through and finished out the semester.

It has been a fine year in school.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The big ride

Tomorrow morning I'm off into the big blue yonder of biking, leaving me one last occasion to harass you for a donation to the fight against diabetes. I'm feeling good, Gatorade's a chilling, the bike's all tuned up, with shorts fresh from the drier. I'll tell you all about it.

In other news, Graham is moving forward with potty training. Upon taking his maiden poop in a potty, he looked directly at Mary and said "can I have the coal-tender cars now?", since this was in fact Mary's bribe for him to sit on the potty. Kids are rather transactional these days.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Guitar lessons

Heading into a subterranean warren of drop-ceilinged basement offices behind the Sovereign Bank I see there's a guy with a beard and yarmulke giving electric bass and guitar lessons to shaggy, quasi-pubescent Princeton boys. Guys who may or may not have figured out how to masturbate productively, at the same age as the one we refer to as "Cool" stood outside of Purdy's on Franklin one smelly July eve in the late seventies and proclaimed he had been counting his pubic hairs and had gotten to well over a hundred. You know the age.

So it's good to see that guitar's not dead, although, given the level of engagement with which these kids attack their instruments, it's almost there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Update from the shed

Well, I thought that the Raccoon had eaten all the kittens, but apparently it had not. Yesterday a pair of gray fluffy kids appeared, along with one scraggly tomcat pop. They mewled softly -- but damned near continually. Mary chased them from back to front and back, and then meowed to one of them in the shed. It meowed back. She was deeply moved, whereas I could really give a fuck, being preoccupied with matters much weightier, of which in due time. So Mary put out some tuna and dad ate it. As dads are wont to do.

This morning one of the kittens was in a cage. The other cavorted nearby, perhaps a kitty victory dance. Animal control was called, and arrived, parking a shiny white "Princeton Borough Animal Control" truck across the mouth of the driveway, diesel engine on and spewing, as he had done the time before. Only this time the truck had a built-in cage holder compartment, and a big hydraulic lift in the back, presumably for hefting deer carcasses. Our tax dollars at work.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Once more for the money, one more for the road

Yes, my grousereaders, we are nearing the end. This Saturday the Rock and Ride Against Diabetes team, to which we have recently recruited Dinni Jain of CHHS '86 fame, will set off to ride 30 hilly miles through the lushly bemonied and sparsely betrucked New Jersey countryside, in an effort to raise consciousness and cash in the fight against Diabetes. Diabetes, we will recall, is on the rise:
  • The incidence of diabetes has increased by 61 percent since 1990 and continues to rise at an alarming rate.

  • One out of every three Americans born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes.

  • More than $132 billion direct and indirect healthcare costs are attributed to diabetes (2002 statistics).

These are some serious numbers, but we can all help. I'm calling on all of you out there, you vast readership you, those of you who haven't yet given, to reach down and make a contribution and help me make up the small remaining gap between where I am and my ambitious goal of raising $2000 towards a cure.

Every dollar helps.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Critters in the shed

It is astonishing to think that this drama has played out over such a long time period. I reported kittens in the shed almost two weeks ago.

One of them got snarfed by a wild animal, with some remains left over in the alley between our shed and the neighbors. The siblings kittens came over and batted playfully at the remains.

So Mary called Animal Control. This guy came over, leaving his racing green Princeton Borough pick-up truck parked at the mouth of our driveway on the no parking side of Linden Lane. Clearly an emergency, so why not bend rules. He left a couple of traps, one of which got the mama cat, whom he took away later the next day.

The next night he left the traps inside our shed. In the morning, I opened it up to find one of them populated by.... a Raccoon. No sign of kittens. I have my suspicions. The raccoon was scared, and postured and hissed at us when we tried to give him water. Not surprising.

We called the animal control guy, left messages, and in the evening, while I was out biking, (training for the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure next weekend in Princeton) the guy slipped in and took the Raccoon's cage.

I'll let you know if I see any more kittens.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Amistad

Greg Belanger, CEO of the Amistad, was in the house this evening with son Jon telling us all about the ship and its upcoming hype journey across the Atlantic to England and Africa and whatnot and how they're just gaga about it in England.

I gotta get me one of them.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

In Traffic near Philly City Hall, 4:05 pm

Nothing is much more vexing than being caught in traffic for no good apparent reason. In the heat of the day, a 15 minute crawl of a mile around Philly's City Hall was particularly vexing. Lots of people smoked on the nasty hot streets, people from all strata. I guess they can't smoke inside. One woman pushed a populated stroller through the gridlock, which didn't seem all that wise.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A typical New Jersey day

For team lunch to conclude wrap of a project (I wasn't on the project, but the lead guy has left), we set off for the much-acclaimed DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies in Trenton. We went to the one in Hamilton, actually, because it has a bathroom, unlike the original and staunchly anti-plumbing joint in the heart of the Chambersburg section.

After picking up the tallest of us in downtown Princeton, we headed off down the Princeton Pike. Quakerbridge Road, which we woulda taken, is shut down. Flooding? Last rains two days ago. Whatever. A bunch of women in SUVs who really should have taken that turn are shunted south to Province Line Road. Traffic where we least need it.

5 minutes later, US1 Express is shut down because of some wreck. We divert onto US 1 business. This is getting old. Finally, we pick our way through some of Trenton's less scenic parts (that takes some doing) to DeLorenzo's. This one is also pretty old, and though it has a bathroom, it's through the kitchen and clearly intended for staff initially. This family was never pro customers really, "You like the pizza, you eat it. You don't like the pizza, get out!" would seem to be there motto.

The pizza, in the end, is quite good, but not in the same league as Pepe's and Sally's in New Haven or John's in the city. Even though it won the coveted "Golden Pie Award" from the National Association of Pizza Operators in 1986.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

5:16 Northeast Corridor Express

At first I couldn’t see them, at least only one of them, a 250-pound woman exhorting another onto the train. “Just lift your foot, you got it.” She said. One of the two guys in the 5-seat cluster gets up, offers, his seat, then the other one.

In comes another 250-pound white woman, blind, in a bright pink matching shirt and trousers. Then another big one, this one black, in day glo kelly green coordinates, with a cane. They smell of urine, and carry cuisinarts in blue bags and other parcels. They thank the very polite men profusely, and then keep talking loudly. Some commuters leave the car, their commuter silence, so precious yet so often violated by cellphone conversations, now thrown in the street and trampled.

And what do they talk about so loudly and incessantly on their way home?
Of their victimhood (“they should have hydraulics to lower the trains down like kneeling buses”, “That man should have told us these (round-trip excursion) tickets weren’t valid during rush hour! $78 to go to New York and back”).
About human nature: "Everybody talks about how people are rude but I see so much decency, so many truly kind people, those nice men..." which was answered by a round of profound "mmhmms"
About how rich people are brought low by death (“It don’t matter how many pairs of shoes you got when the time comes.. You could have one foot in a shoe, but when the time comes…”)

Monday, June 04, 2007

48th St, Convenience Store, 3:37 PM

All the newfangled caffeine drinks were hidden back behind the counter, like pornography from back in the day. What's up with that? Are there bands of marauding youth who are out there snagging Red Bulls and dashing out? I know I'm old but those things are not tasty.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

In Nirvana

Walking onto the sidewalk, I heard a young voice come out of the house singing "Don't know what it means, don't know what it means," and it took me a few minutes to place it. It was Nirvana, from 1991'sNevermind:

He's the one who writes
all those pretty songs
And he likes to shoot his gun
And he likes to sing along
And he don't know what it means, don't know what it means

And the singer was Zeke, who is maybe 12 or 13, thus born well after the song was released. Which tells you something about Nirvana.

Friday, June 01, 2007

In other news

In the midst of a very loud thunderstorm, which made Natalie jump when I was reading stories to her, I went and looked in on Graham, whom I had put down 15 minutes before. He was out like a rock. Very sweet.

They're both from Texas

Maybe it's just me, but I find there's something spookily Bushean about Michael Dell. He looks like the younger brother who daubed a little enlargement cream on his jowls.