Saturday, December 31, 2005

A New Year's Eve Eve special--CAPTION THE PHOTOS!

Last night, New Year's Eve Eve, we met these lovely people for dinner...

Patrick & Karen

The "we" of "we met..." was comprised of...




AND NOW, for the special part of this post, I bring you three special photos. Use your comments to caption these photos!

Photo #1

Photo #2

Photo #3

Monday, December 26, 2005

Have you seen this?

The Global Rich List gives you an idea of where you fit in the world economically, based on your annual income. Based on the explanation of how they got their figures, it appears that their numbers are a few years out of date (they use figures obtained from the World Bank in 2000), but that wouldn't be too much of a difference.

What's astounding is how profoundly poor most people are. The people who created the site point out that just about anyone who can access the web is pretty wealthy compared to the rest of the world. We only feel poor when we compare ourselves to the very rich, a habit that afflicts most of us.

This revelation brings two primary thoughts: 1) Be thankful for all you have; 2) give more to help those who have far less.

Good thoughts.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Some Dodger shots

I switched the new camera to its black & white setting for a bit. Dodger was the barely cooperative model. Here he is, in all of his retro b&w glory...

And now, one color shot...

Yeah, that's what I have for you today. I didn't feel like leaving the house in the nasty weather! :)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A few shots from this afternoon

If you click on these, you'll be taken to the full-size versions of what I uploaded. Those, however, are significantly reduced from the real full-resolution shots. I think I could make wall-size posters with the originals.

Anyhow, as I'm enjoying the evening, sipping Marc's homemade egg nog, I'll share these shots in the hope that they bring you some enjoyment.


Update: My other half rightly pointed out that putting photos online--even with reduced resolution--is begging for them to be swiped. Not that I think I'm Ansel Adams, but why not be safe? So I've swapped out the prior versions for watermarked ones. I hope the watermark doesn't detract too much from your enjoyment of these.

Friday, December 23, 2005

More fun with the camera

This afternoon, we had an early dinner at a place I've mentioned before, Smokin' Al's Famous Barbecue Joint in Bay Shore. After that, we ran a few errands.

Along the way, we stopped at EAB Plaza. In front of two large (19-story) office buildings is the largest Christmas tree anywhere around here. It's even bigger than the Rockefeller Center tree. So Marc patiently waited as Aaron and I took some pictures.

The tree and plaza

They also have a skating rink there, although it can't compare to the Rockefeller Center rink. Even so, the parents and children skating around the rink called for a few pictures.

Hey, someone's off the ground!

Yours truly watching the skaters and taking a photo all at once, courtesy of the camera's self-timer

I really like that last one and not because I'm in it. There's just something about it that appeals to me. Now if I could just figure out how to re-grow my missing hair. ;)

I also like that I was able to try various approaches, tweak the settings just the way I wanted, figure out just what length of exposure I wanted and count on the camera to carry out this night shot with clarity and a complete lack of "digital noise." Once that was all set, all it took to put myself in the picture was adding the self-timer to the settings I'd already selected.

Blogs I read

It occurs to me that the "Blogs I Read" list on the right isn't entirely accurate. I know it doesn't include a number that I read regularly, and it's been ages since I went through it to delete ones that I no longer read or that may even have gone inactive.

To anyone who should be on there but isn't (like it's such a big honor!), my apologies. If it really irks anyone, please e-mail me, and I'll be glad to fix that. Otherwise, one of these days I really should get around to updating that thing.


P.S.--before hitting "Publish Post", I clicked on Blogger's spell-check utility. How can Blogger's own spell-checker not recognize the word "blogs"? Can someone explain that to me?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bits from my day

Day three of the transit strike (thankfully, the last). I put the little point-and-shoot camera in my pocket this morning. Not all of the photos are terribly good, but, if you can bear with some blurriness, I'll be happy to share a few photos.

First, a shot of the train station as I walked to the elevated platform in the morning to catch my train to Manhattan...

Normally, when I get to Penn Station, I take a back corridor to get to the part of the subway platform I want (so I get on a particular part of the train and I'm in the part of the 14th Street station I want when the train gets down there). On an ordinary day, there'd be lots of people taking the same back corridor. Today? ...

In a part of the station that was open, the ordinary crowd of commuters was increased by the many subway commuters who were using the railroads to try to get around. It's hard to give you a real idea of the scale of this crowd. This is the best I could do...

After the fun of Penn Station, I walked a few blocks to the PATH station...

I walked the mile to work on Tuesday--and still have had a lot of added walking--but a colleague mentioned the alternative of taking the PATH train, and it sounded like a good idea. So that's what I did. It cut my walking by 10-15 blocks (shortened the north-south walk a lot but added a bit of east-west).

Was the PATH train crowded this morning? Um, nope...

Old looking beast, isn't it?

After getting off the train, I walked a few blocks to a place near work where I could buy something for breakfast...

Then it was on to work. Fast-forward to lunchtime. I went here for some nice Italian food...

In this same area (and right near where I work) are tiles that were made post-9/11 by many different people who contributed to the effort...

So then I went back to work. At the end of the day, I headed back to the PATH station. The uptown entrance near 14th Street is actually in the side of a building...

Not a lit sign--just highly reflective

I used my special $3 Metrocard ($1.50 each way for the PATH train)...

And then I waited in the station...

Until the train came...

It wasn't empty this evening...

Even getting out of the PATH station was a challenge tonight...

Now, at the end of a hard day, I know I can count on the Long Island Railroad and their compatriots to make things worse.

Yesterday, they had changed the "how to get into Penn Station" rules to make things a little better than they were on Tuesday. So then what did they do? They changed it all around again. Today, all LIRR passengers had to enter through the door at 8th Avenue & 33rd Street. To do so, passengers had to go to 7th Avenue & 33rd Street and enter a serpentine line set up with police barricades. Then you had walk to 8th Avenue, then back to 7th Avenue, then back to 8th Avenue. And then?

Then, when you once again got to 8th Avenue, they let everyone loose to push toward the entrance in one big crush. Nice plan, guys.

Here are a couple of shots taken while I was standing in the huge line with literally thousands of other passengers...

Approaching the final pre-entrance crush

Some other lovely moments this evening. There was this diminutive woman who was pushing her way through the crowd, because her life and appointments were far more important than anything the rest of us had to do.

It was so adorable when she went to push past me. Having noticed her coming, I just planted my feet. Yeah, she was so cute trying to get past. She was maybe 90 pounds. I could lose what she weighs and still need to lose more! The poor thing came to a sudden stop. :)

Then there was the guy waiting to see what track his train was on. It will be hard for me to properly describe this. Basically, there was just one pathway through the crowd. My train had been called, and this putz looked around, clearly saw what he was doing and, with a fuck-all-of-you look, decided to block the way (and not just for a moment) just so he could stand where he wanted. I'd venture to say that his side is still sore from where my elbow, backed up by the rest of my body moving at a good clip, accidentally connected with him. I quickly said, "oh, sorry," and kept moving. Such a terrible accident. :) I don't think he'll do that again anytime soon. Bastard.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Regarding the NYC subway & bus strike

I hope the union president gets an incurable head-to-toe poison ivy-esque rash.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I want to go out and take some nice night photos. For now, all I've managed to do was fiddle with the camera while sitting in the truck while Marc picked up a few things at Waldbaums.

As dark as it was, I ran the camera's ISO setting to 1600. Normally, this should yield a ton of grain or, in digital parlance, "noise."

I've blurred the license plates in this shot (just seemed wise, for some reason), but take a look at this...

Of course, shooting hand-held at night through the windshield at 1600 ISO, it's not perfection. Still, I'm impressed. For those of you not into photography, trust me, this is pretty impressive for the conditions!

Back on the train gang

Three hours in bed, and now it's time to head back to Manhattan. I'm on the 6:49 train, and I can't say I'm looking forward to walking the mile from the station to my job in this cold (22 degrees, at last check). Damn transport workers union!

UPDATE: the evening commute was hellish. The LIRR managed to make a bad situation much worse. I always know I can count on them.

Heading home

Well, we didn't reach a final agreement with the nurses' union tonight, but at least I'll get to sleep in my own bed tonight. I'll probably get just three hours of sleep--and the morning commute may be a nightmare--but at least I'll be able to sleep in my own bed next to the one I love.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fixin' to get stranded

A transit strike is looming, and here I sit. We're in the midst of our own union negotiations (with our RNs).

We're going late tonight. Late enough that I may have a very hard time getting out of here. It's coming up on 11pm, and the transit strike is scheduled to start at 12:01am. Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Hurray for Chanukah!

Yesterday, we picked up my Chanukah present. It's not Chanukah yet, but Marc didn't make me wait. He got me a new camera. Truly new--it was just released to retailers on Friday. It's the Nikon D200. It got amazing reviews when preview models were given to reviewers, and my experience so far supports those rave reviews.

So today I took the new camera, and was joined by this man for a little trip to play with the camera...


We stopped by the side of a busy road to shoot some high-speed bursts of fast-moving cars. The results were very impressive! I'd post them, but a bunch of stop-action shots of cars would be dull. I can't wait for rugby season to start!

Next, we headed to Jones Beach State Park. We saw seagulls, of course, including this one...

We enjoyed the lovely day at the beach...

We wandered a bit and looked for things to photograph, like this leaf...

And these barbecue grills, abandoned for the season and in need of some rust removal...

Aaron looked for his own perspective on things, of course...

And then we headed back to the truck to drive home...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Rest in Peace

I haven't posted anything in a few days, and I planned to put something on here tonight. Perhaps a couple of photos I took on the way to work this week.

Then came upsetting news this evening. Usually, I'm not one to get too excited about celebrity deaths. However, tonight brings news of the passing of John Spencer (known to millions as "Leo McGarry" on The West Wing).

We met him once, while we were waiting to be admitted to a Broadway show a few years ago. He was trying to keep a low profile, and I can understand that. If lots of people had seen him, he wouldn't have had a moment's peace.

Even so, we were able to speak to him briefly, and he was quite charming. For those who just knew him as Leo McGarry, you should know that he had a lengthy career, appearing in many movies and television shows, as well as performing on stage. I told him that I loved him in West Wing and every other part I'd ever seen him in.

He was a great actor and a charming gentleman. He died too young, and the world is diminished by his loss. Rest in peace, Mr. Spencer.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Aaron and the kids

As some of you may know, we have a friend staying with us. He quickly hit it off with the dogs. They just loooooove their Uncle Aaron.

Last night, as we were watching a movie, Aaron fell asleep on the floor. Mandy curled up behind his back, and Bernice came up behind his head. Then she sniffed his head and cradled him with her cone (yes, she's still/again chewing her paw, so she still has it on)...

This morning, the fun continued. The dogs love for someone to get down on the floor and play with them, and Aaron doesn't hesitate to do exactly that. That's one of the reasons they love him...


Since this gorgeous man tagged me, I have some work to do. (Ah, to be tagged by him! *sigh*) ;)

The assignment? "Name 5 simple pleasures that you like most, then pick 5 people to do the same." Okay, here goes...

1. Taking a cup of coffee and the Sunday New York Times out to the sunroom for a relaxing morning of slowly reading through the paper.

2. Spending time with friends at the house. As nice as a night on the town can be, I really prefer having a nice dinner here at home with close friends, sharing drinks and laughing the night away. Last night with Aaron, Byrne and Inez is a great example of that. (No, I'm not telling you who Inez is. That's for us to know!) :)

3. Taking my camera out for no particular reason and strolling aimlessly, looking for interesting little things to shoot. This works particularly well in places like Manhattan.

4. Watching Marc sleep. He looks like an angel when he sleeps. Sometimes I'll just lie there and watch him sleep, gently stroking his hair.

5. Going for a drive with Marc. We love our little day trips. With all that's been going on, good and bad, over the past couple of years, we've done fewer day trips, but we'll get back to them. The truth is, even a short drive with Marc can be fun. It just feels nice.

So let's see now, whom should I tag? I think I'll pick...

1. Andy
2. Knotty
3. Matt
4. Will
5. CoffeeDog

I hope you folks don't mind, but this seemed like a fun one to me.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Marc's probably going to get back at me for posting this picture of him, taken early this morning before he could shave or undo what sleep had done to his hair. Even if he doesn't mind, you can see that Mandy isn't thrilled to see the camera. Well, too bad. I think they're both adorable...

Friday, December 09, 2005


In case you missed it, the Iranian President has added to his lovely comments that Israel should be "wiped off the map" by questioning whether the Holocaust happened and then saying the Israelis should be moved to Europe.

It all makes me feel like Iran should be moved to the clouds, courtesy of Israel's nuclear arsenal. How can people not see the differences? How do they blindly condemn Israel when it has had to face such neighbors for all these years?

Israel's "neighbors" call for its destruction, while tiny Israel, even when fighting for its survival (as in 1973), never used the weapons it has had for decades.

By the way, is anyone going to take some real action before those homicidal maniacs in Iran get the bomb? The efforts to date have been weak and ineffective.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I'm one of those people who gets upset when the English language is butchered. I won't claim that my usage is perfect, but I am relatively literate.

Unfortunately, I even manage to get irritated when slang terms are misused. That brings us to the title of today's post, the word "twink". (N.B.: The period after "twink" is outside the quotation mark, because the mark does not contain a quoted phrase.)

As I originally understood the term, "twink" was derived from the snack food known as a Twinkie, as both the food and the boys known as "twinks" were thin/smooth, blond and, one imagines, full of cream.

Lately, every handsome young man seems to be referred to as a twink. Clearly, some among us have lost their way. Maybe it's just me, but these little things really irritate me!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Friday, December 02, 2005

Holy ship!

Last Friday, our flight into San Diego didn't arrive until almost 11pm, so it was quite late when we got to the hotel. I'd stayed in this hotel years ago, and I've always remembered the wonderful view of San Diego Harbor from the balcony. It's not the finest hotel in town (although not bad), but the view is wonderful.

So I was looking forward to it, and I was pleased when we checked in and learned we were on a high floor. Being on the 12th floor, as I mentioned to Marc, we also wouldn't have to worry about privacy. No one could see in at that height. Sure enough, my first stroll to the balcony that night confirmed my expectations.

When we woke up, the first thing I wanted to do (well, okay, the second thing *wink*) was enjoy our location right by the water's edge. Secure in our lofty privacy, I threw open the curtains and...

Well, so much for no one being able to see in! :) As we learned with each new day, we were right across from the cruise ship terminal. Each morning brought yet another gigantic cruise ship. This one, taken from ground level, is the Dawn Princess...

I got the truck in the shot to give some idea of size, but I was a lot closer to the truck, so the perspective makes the truck look bigger than it really does in relation to the ship. At 77,000 tons, the Princess Dawn was comparable in size to the other ships we saw during our stay but is larger than many warships. Even the Midway, an aircraft carrier built in 1945 that is now berthed in San Diego as a museum, isn't as big. The size is staggering.