Sunday, December 23, 2007

New toys for Boys

So we took down the gate from in front of the fireplace in time for Christmas. It took Christopher about 30 seconds to fill the fireplace with toys. And himself.

Then Deb decorated for Christmas and did a wonderful job.

Then I decided I wanted to move into the 21st century and we bought a 42" LG LCD flat panel. So all of Deb's hard work went back into storage.

Here is a picture of Christopher watching TV. This TV even makes him look small!

Yes, Roger has been contacted and we will be fixing the ugly wiring over the New Years weekend

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Shout Color Catchers - wish I had these in college!

I've meant to write about this for a while and I was reminded of it when I was doing a load of jeans this morning.

The other night we were at my boss' house for a small Christmas celebration. One of the women I work with started talking about how her boys do their own laundry. She told of how he separates the colors out and how he took it too far with every shade of brown/black/dark blue in its own pile.

So I asked her if she has 'color catchers'. See here for what I'm talking about.

I have two theories on who created these:
- a woman who was sick of her husband saying 'sorry honey, you know I always mess up the laundry, so why don't you do it'

- a teenage boy, who by nature is lazy and wants his mom to do his laundry, and is sick of pink or baby blue underwear. This allows me, um him, to throw everything in one load

I know I found out about them because of #1. I still have a number of things I'm not allowed to wash, but that list dwindles each year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pay more attention to your car than your girlfriend, and win a new one? (car that is)

Yes, that is what happened here. May be it is me, but isn't that sending the wrong message?

"Dodge has announced the winner of the "Are You Tuned Out" contest, which invited the boyfriends and girlfriends of gearheads to write a short essay explaining why their significant other was completely ignoring them. The winner was Zach Madrid of Colorado Springs, who was so tuned-out that he was unable to have a "civilized conversation" with his fiancĐše if there was a car on television. As the winner of the competition, Madrid gets a brand new Caliber SRT4, which is sure to drive a wedge deeper into their already delicate relationship."

This reminded me (and Deb) of most of the years when we were dating, she'd call my parents house and my Mom would tell her I was outside working on the car. Especially the summer of 1988 when I put a new motor in the Capri.

Even today there are times when I'm working on the car instead of helping her. This picture is me installing a new clutch cable, quadrant and firewall adjuster on the 97. Yes, that is the drivers seat on the floor.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

At least it will drop to $50,000 in a couple of years!

$104,000 insurance quote. Wow, I thought mine was high as a teenager.

I remember sitting in the kitchen at my parents house right after I graduated from college and being quoted $5000 a year for a 1990 Mustang GT. Oops, I guess I wasn't getting a GT for a while. I waited 7 years, which included getting married and turning 25, before I could afford the insurance on a 1997 Mustang GT. It has been all GTs since then.

For those who didn't get the subject: when a male turns 25 his auto insurance usually goes down by 50% or more. Not sure why being 25 makes you less a risk, but I didn't complain when it happened to me.

Looking at the article, 10 tickets in John, Pat and I combined (well, maybe not, John how many tickets did you pay for Pat?) No, the links aren't to the cars we owned. John's was a brown Z-28, Pat's was a grey Laser and mine was a white Capri.

Of course, since he has a 240SX he probably thinks he's a 'drifter'.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

BBC America - new favorite network

So US TV sucks these days. Not just because of the writers strike, but the focus on reality TV.

So I started watching BBC America. To give you an idea of the tone, most of the shows start with a splash screen with

"the following program contains accents you would have heard a lot more if you hadn't thrown our tea into boston harbor"


"to find out what on earth anyone is talking about, please use closed captioning"

Then they tell you what that is and how to turn it on. See an example here.

There are three shows that I really like:

Torchwood, which is a Dr. WHO spin off.

Top Gear which is a hysterical auto show.

Graham Norton, which is basically the most obnoxious talk show you've ever seen. They had the original Dukes of Hazard cast on a few weeks ago and I was laughing so hard I couldn't drink my beer.

They actually edit out the audio of the curses and rude comments instead of having FCC 'clean' versions of the shows.

Who knew? Part 1

Size 5 is not between size 4 and 6

Sorry dear

Thursday, December 06, 2007


This comic reminds me of my friend Jen from UMASS.

She was the first person I ever saw end her emails with 'TTFN' or 'PPF'. This was back in 1989.

Anyway, great comic


(can you tell me what 'PPF' means?)

Ancient Irish beer makers?

The answer to the fulacht fiadh (pronounced "full-oct fee-ah") ?

Makes perfect sense doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

UMASS has the 2nd ugliest campus?

See here.

(My brother Pat went to Drexel, so he can't give me a hard time about this)

I remember the campus as being fairly nice when I was there (86-90), but it looks like it went down hill since then.

Maybe these guys don't appreciate steam heat?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

It is good to be a boy - Part 2

So Christopher is getting to be more and more like me every day. Or so Deb keeps cursing.

Recently, he figured out how to open the 'child proof locks' on the doors. I'm sure you've seen them, you have to squeeze them and rotate to get the handle to turn.

At 21 months he's figured out how to open all the different ones in the house. So we're back to baby gates on all the doors. Now he's watching us open those and is trying to do it himself. Luckily he can't get the leverage he needs. Yet.

Oh yeah, most of the kids in the neighborhood who are older than 3 CANT figure these locks out.

He's also likes to watch football.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

UMASS beats Syracuse at Basketball!

Yup, 3-0 vs Syracuse all-time. see here.

Of course, there wasn't as much drama this time as in 1996.

My brother John was having a party at his house watching the game, and I was in Atlanta. When the game ended, just as the buzzer sounded, I called him.

He didn't say hello, or wait for anyone to say anything he just said 'f-u Chris' and slammed down the phone. So I called back a few times ;-)

Did I mention that John went to Syracuse?

Or that Christopher's God Father did?

No, we won't talk about Lacrosse ...

Interacting with the 'Youth' of today

I had two different experiences with the 'youth' of today. First, last Tuesday I presented at Career Day for Meghan's middle school. I only presented to the 8th graders, but it was still fun. I did the usual 'what school I went to', 'what jobs I've had' and 'what does my day looks like' slides in the power point. I then showed them some things about the Internet in general and Facebook in particular.

I showed them my profile, a shared group about a teacher that I had an respected in High School who died this year. I also showed them a page by another student from the same high school that was trashing a different teacher. I talked about how I would give an interview to the student who setup the first group, but that I would go out of my way to make sure the student who setup the second one would never work for me or anyone I know. I think it sunk in with most of them that their actions are noticed by people, even ones that they have never met or ever expect to.

I also showed them a picture of my brother Pat that I had placed in my Facebook photos, but 'tagged' as him. It was showing up in his profile when you viewed it. I told the story of a kid who went on vacation for a week, but a 'friend' had posted embarrassing photos of him and tagged them, so the whole world could see them in his profile. Since he wasn't around to remove them, lots of people saw them.

Finally, I showed them the 'way back machine' and a google search on my name that returned results from 1991. Spooked a few of the kids that all this information was available with a simple search. I had one girl give a big 'uh oh' when I told them that things on the Internet never go away.

Probably the best part was on Friday I received 3 letters from the students thanking me for my presentation and the cool, and scary, things I showed them about the Internet.

Then Monday of this week, I chaperoned Meghan's class to Fernbank, a museum in Atlanta. I was assigned 8 kids, 7 girls and one boy. And the boy didn't really know any of the girls. At first I felt sorry for him, then the drama started. Apparently he had just broken up with his 'girlfriend' and all her friends kept coming up to him to 'talk' and give him grief. Christ, what drama. I got sick of it so I took my group to another part of the museum away from everyone else. As we were walking away he mumbled 'thanks'. I told him 'just wait it gets worse'.

Other than the small dramas that are so typical of middle school, the trip was great.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We had a nice dinner with the Lukasiks in the newly-renovated dining room.

Here is a before picture from 2004:

Here is the after:

It took us five and a half days to strip the old wallpaper, clean the walls, repair the sheetrock under the chair rail, primer and paint the walls. We painted the ceiling, the molding, the windows and finally hung a new light.

All while the girls and Christopher wouldn't leave us alone.

Some thoughts from the process:
- If I ever hear 'let's wallpaper' again, I will run away
- If we ever decide to paint any room red (or any shade of red!), please shoot me
- The man with the yellow hat is an idiot
- I like Curious George, but not for 18 hours in a row

There are some new pictures in the Flickr site also.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Inflicting our Music on our children

Driving home yesterday in the great Atlanta traffic, I landed on a station playing an Eagles song. I listened all the way to the end, which is odd since I've probably heard it a thousand times. As I stared at the bumper of the car in front of me, it occurred to me that the Eagles wasn't a band I found and liked, it was one of the ones my Dad listened to.

Being a parent now, it occurred to me that we are defining our children's' music taste by the stuff we make them listen to. Meghan received an iPod for her 12Th birthday last year and I was helping her pick out songs on iTunes. (No, I don't have an iPod, see this thread.) I tried to download some of the songs I knew she liked as well as a few from my past that I thought she would like. No such luck, nothing I suggested that wasn't released in the last year made it on the iPod.

Coincidentally, the comic strip Zits (see above) did a whole arc on the Dad's love for the Beatles and the son liking them as well. Of course, they blew it by ending with the 'elevator music' comment at the end. Ask any parent with teenagers or older and you'll find there are overlaps in the music they liked.

Looking at my musical tastes, I see some of my parent's influence. Most notable these days are the Eagles and Simon and Garfunkel. I still have the concert in central park CD in the auto-changer in the car. Looking at today's music, I like some things, but a lot of it is crap. Of course, a lot of what I grew up with was good and a lot was crap, so I try not to judge what my kids listen to. Of course, no Justin Timberlake. He just annoys the crap out of me.

I do sometimes sneak on a Led Zeppelin CD, or put the classic rock station on, or leave the 'big 80's weekend' on when driving the kids around. About 50% of the time they don't complain.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Anyone remember CCD?

In the last week I have been in two different meetings where comments were made about CCD. Both were meetings outside of work where I didn't know the people involved very well. The first was a conference call with a 'consortium of competitors', the second a technology architects meeting. In the first one after a comment by another person on the call, I then made a joke about it and several people on the call didn't get what were joking about. I had to explain it was 'church school for Catholics'.

The second was even funnier. The meeting was a presentation about User Centric Design. He was a good presenter and at the beginning he apologized for changing between 'You Guys' and 'All, you All' since he lived in New Jersey and Texas. His group is called 'CCD' and he commented that he feels like he's in church school every day. I laughed and said 'That proves you're from Jersey' and a couple of people laughed. The presenter then said 'Yeah, even though I'm Jewish I know what that is'. Again, had to explain it to a few people.

It is interesting that this came up twice within a week. More interesting is I'm in the South and they call it 'parish school of religion' (PSR) instead of CCD. I taught both Meghan and Courtney's classes for several years at St. Catherine's.

Another flashback: as a kid in Catholic School, we used to call CCD 'cruddy crappy destroyers' because our desks would be trashed after each class. As a teacher, I made sure my kids didn't mess with the desks in the classrooms we were in.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This is old school Giants NOT the red jerseys

No comments about how the game went. It is the Giants we're talking about.

But this is the jersey they should have worn. Anyone younger than 30 know who wore 11?

More pictures here

Saturday, November 10, 2007

80s Flashback

As I'm driving home from work on Thursday, an 80's song by Bon Jovi comes on. It was 'living on a prayer' or 'living on our hair' as my friend Laryssa used to call it.

Those failing brain cells fired in their weird way and I remembered the song 'Bitchin' Camaro', of course I can't think of a Camaro without thinking about John. John wasn't a mullet-head Camaro owner, more of a flannel and corduroy. (Don't know what flannel is? Norm is a good example these days.)

Of course, Laryssa memories often fire those synapses around other odd 80's things like: 'I Love Dumb Guys' bumper stickers (This was a store in Pittsfield. MA) and Flat Street dance club and of course, Chevettes.

Just a few random thoughts

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween 2007

Christopher had a blast. He wasn't sure at first what to do, but it didn't take long to figure out people were giving him candy!

Meghan was a captive princess of a pirate, Courtney was a Vet and Christopher was Curious George.

Deb took Courtney and Christopher around, while Meghan went with her friend Rebbecca.

More pictures here.

Ice Cream!

Christopher had some ice cream last weekend.

More pictures here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Best Drinking Stories Ever

Okay, so we can't top these stories, but my brothers and I are no slouches!

I've partied with a few animals over the years (human and not), but Elephants? My favorite quote:

"No wonder they don't sell beer at the circus. Apparently, elephants like to get wasted. In fact, an outpost of the Indian army in the jungle region of Bagdogra has been under attack ever since a local herd of elephants raided the base in search of food and discovered the soldiers' entire winter rations of rum.

Since then, the pachyderms have regularly raided the base for a drink and have smashed down all defenses put up by the army, including electrified fences and firewalls."

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has a similar thought.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

DVR, Ladders and Meghan

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while.

We've had a DirecTv DVR for a couple of years now, but since our house is 10 years old, only one cable was run to where the TV is.

So, while I wanted to watch educational shows or football or Deb wanted to watch something, we always had to fight with the stuff the girls wanted. We also had the Chris vs. Deb conflicts on many nights.

I finally talked to Roger about what to do and borrowed his tools for crimping the cable ends. Then I ran 100' of cable from the satellite, up the side of the house into the attic, back down the other side of the house and finally into the DVR.

We now have 2 cables running in, so we can watch one show and record another, or just record 2 shows. We still have tons of crap the girls like, but I don't notice what they are recording until the disk is full ;-)

So what does this have to do with Meghan? She was my helper, standing at the bottom of the ladder as I climbed up and down. She asked me what it was like to climb a ladder, so I let her go up to the roof above the garage.

Yes, Mom this is safer than the wooden ladders that Dad had. For those who remember climbing 3 stories on a shaking 400+ lb wooden ladder, aluminum is you friend!

To recap:
- I did it without 1 trip to Lowes or Home Depot
- I did it without Meghan asking if she needs to call 911
- Other than borrowing the tools, I didn't need Roger's help

I did that!

No, this isn't about Christopher.

We had a little problem with the oven the other night, namely the bottom element catching on fire and burning long after the oven was off. So I removed the element and sent Deb to get a replacement yesterday. Despite her trying to get the parts people to say buying a new oven, with double ovens, would be cheaper to buy, she came back with the element.

The fire was so bad one of the connectors from the element to the wiring was melted together. So I went and bought a replacement at Lowes. I then fixed the oven and tested it. Less than 30 minutes total time.

So why is this worthy of a blog posting? Well:
1. Usually things like this turn into 2 day affairs with lots of trips to Lowes and curses
2. Meghan only once asked if she needed to call 911 (but did ask Deb what she should say if she had to)
3. Not once did Meghan say 'Just call Roger'.
4. I actually fixed something instead of buying a replacement

No, we won't fix the TV when it finally dies. Plasma baby!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Led Zeppelin part 2

C: but honey, it's only $99 now


C: Yes, I'll still need an iPod.


C: (sigh)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Save Second Base!

Serious, but fun.

If you don't get it, think of high school boys. First base is a kiss ...

Yes, they are banning them in high schools all over the place.

Led Zeppelin goes digital

The following is a hypothetical conversation between Deb and I. Her side is redacted to protect her reputation as a supportive wife:

C: Honey, I need $200 in iTunes gift cards for Christmas
C: Well, the Led Zeppelin Catalog is now available digitally
C:Yes, I have all the songs on CD but
C: Yes, I have all the songs on vinyl
C: Yes, and cassette, but
C: Well, yes I could rip the CDs to the computer, but these new versions are 'remastered'.
C: No, I don't have an iPod, but maybe you could get me one for Christmas?
C: Um, okay, nevermind.


We have a teenager!

Meghan's 13th birthday was last week, so we officially have a teenager. We had the attitude a year or so ago, but we have the whole package now.

Seeing how she is going to be a 'challenge' for the next 7 years, we decided to 'mess' with her on her birthday. (FYI, 'mess' is so 80's. The term now would be 'jack with her'. But I'm old.)

First, we started a month or so ago asking about bringing cookies or cupcakes in at lunch. She kept pointing out that no one does that. On Monday, I asked her again what time she goes to lunch and she ignored me. Repeatedly.

On Tuesday morning, Deb asked her again and Meghan yelled at her that no one does that.

As Deb drove Meghan to school Meghan missed the sign in the yard (go to the Flickr site to see it).

Then Deb went and bought a single black/white cookie and put it in a bag with a 'happy birthday' napkin and brought it to school. After a little back and forth with the office people, they agreed to call Meghan to the office before lunch. Deb was a chicken and took off before Meghan came down ;-)

Meghan still hasn't told us what she thought when they called her down or what her reaction was when she saw one cookie.

I'm sure Meghan will try to get us back for the next 7 years, but at least we got the first shot in!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It is good to be a boy - part 1

So, last night was Meghan's 13 birthday party. I had 8 girls + Meghan in the house and boy did they talk a lot.

I had Christopher ready for bed, but he managed to wet-through his clothes while he was eating her cake. So I started changing him, but didn't have anything to put him in. Deb went to get him something, so I just left him to 'air out'. We were in another room and all the girls were in the kitchen.

As has become typical with Christopher, I let me hand off him for a second and he jumped up and ran away. With the boys hanging out. He ran into the kitchen and you could hear the girls screetching. Most of them just laughed (those with younger siblings) but several did the whole 'eww' and 'gross'. I caught up to him and brought him back into the other room, but I was laughing so hard I almost cried.

Meghan's 13th Birthday Party

Well, we survived Meghan's 13th birthday sleepover party. 8 girls ages 12 to 14, all screaming, talking, talking, singing, talking. And talking.

We met 3 of Meghan's friends from school and the usual crowd was here.

They stayed up way too late as usual and weren't very lady-like in the morning.

I was called 'dude' by one of them twice. Called 'sir' by another one that I've known since she as 3 who usually calls me 'mr. chris'.

I was 'duh'd' 4 or 5 times as well. Must be the age.

Did I mention they talked a lot?

Check out the Flickr site (look on the right for some pictures.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

"'We went for a ride, daddy,"

No, this was not my son. He's only 20 months.

But he will get one of those Mustangs for this 3rd birthday.

Cops Pull Over Boy, 3, Driving Along Highway in Toy Mustang GT

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New pictures are up!

Click on the the link on the right for our Flickr page to see some new pictures.

More to come as we get around to weeding out the good ones!

New Niece!

My brother John and his wife Katharine are the proud parents of a new baby girl!

Joanna Katharine was born on Saturday. For details, go here:

Sunday, October 07, 2007

High School Football, Southern Style

So I took my daughters to their first high school football game Friday night. Meghan is in middle school and Courtney is in elementary, but Courtney's school's Chorus was singing the national anthem so they wanted to go.

Wow, what a difference 20 years makes. The last High School football game I went to was probably a Thanksgiving game when I was in college. When I was at Immaculate ( we were lucky to field 40 or so kids. The school we went to (which isn't where Meghan will go, we've already been rezoned) must have had over 100. (Here is the link to Kennesaw Mountain:

Immaculate had 12 or so Cheerleaders, these guys had 20+ on each SIDE of the bleachers. They must have had 50+ total. Both schools also had marching bands. Other than college I don't think I'd seen marching bands at a football game. It was interesting to see them.

Strangely enough, both Immaculate and KMHS mascot is the Mustang.

Did I mention it was in the low 80's with a little bit of humidity? It certainly makes football different when it isn't freezing.

The game was pretty much the same. Some mistakes, some great tackles and runs. Sitting in the stands looking at all the parents, I had flashbacks to being in high school. I could see the equivalent of every parent of one of my friends or teammates there. Funny thing, most were around my age and many of them are our friends!

It was the homecoming for KMHS so they did the queen crowning etc. My daughters were kind of interested in the gowns and procession.

We left at the end of the third quarter. Unfortunately, they weren't into the game and the novelty had worn off. Maybe we'll stay later next time.


Getting back into blogging

So it has been a few years since I updated the blog. Kids, work etc. got in the way.

The reason I've started again is a received an unexpected (but certainly not unwelcome!) email from a college friend Laryssa. I don't think I'd see her in over 13 years. At the bottom of her email was a link to her blog, so I went and took a look at what she's been up to. (If you're interested, her blog is at: I think that is an interesting way to let people know what is going on, so I'll try it again.

Also, as the kids get older, we have more things that people who know us might be interested in.

There will be a flurry of posts in the next couple of hours, but I promise I'll keep up with the blog!