Thursday, April 29, 2010

Supermarket sushi (Daily Photo 4.29.10)

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I genuinely like supermarket sushi — it's cheap and good in a pinch when you have a craving for raw salmon. It's not the kind you find alone in some refrigerated case. There's a dude who makes it fresh.

Well, to be fair, fresh-ish.

I want waffles (Daily Photo 4.28.10)

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A braeburn (Daily Photo 4.27.10)

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Tan curtain (Daily Photo 4.26.10)

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They don't make DJs like Matt the Cat anymore

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Sometimes I like to think I have a deep appreciation for all kinds of music. The sad truth is, I know jack-shit compared to a lot of people. I'm a fucking teenybopper.

Take this guy. The cat at left is a good friend of mine from college, Matt the Cat. You may remember him as the host of the Night Prowl show on XM's '50s on 5 channel for 7 years. The cat at right is B.B. King, blues legend. I knew Matt back when he was studying radio production and hosting college radio. We hung out and he lived near me for a few years, and we used to talk rock, soul, R&B, and jazz. The dude was already fully formed as a DJ with a tremendous personality, the kind of disc jockey you never hear anymore. His collection of vinyl records was a Smithsonian of classics, obscure and forgotten groove shit and rock from before it was rock, played on a pristine turntable. He'd already forgotten more about music than I've ever known. He's one talented bastard.  

He's not at XM anymore since the merger with Sirius, to the dismay of all his fans -- look up Matt the Cat online and all you see are people begging XM to bring him back. Matt's been doing a great podcast (Friday Night Cat Fight) and now is shopping around a new radio show, The Juke in the Back, with Matt spinning fantastic old tunes you may never have heard before.

If you like great music, download The Juke in the Back here (it's an hour long, perfect for a commute or a run) and give it a listen. Then tell me (or better yet, tell Matt the Cat) what you think.

[Download The Juke in the Back]

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dogs under the apple trees (Daily Photo 4.25.10)

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Amazing how relaxing it can be, spending an hour or so picking up dog shit from the yard. The apple trees in the back are blooming. They never yield any apples, but that's fine. They're decorative.

Our three apple trees in the back of the yard form a canopy. It's much cooler than normal under there, and no grass grows because it sees so little sunlight. It's the kind of place you'd want to hang out with a lawn chair and an iced tea in the summer heat, if it weren't for the dog shit and the neighbor's shed and the whining from the beagle left alone in another neighbor's pen.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

We're walking advertisements (Daily Photo 4.24.10)

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Took this just before the start of today's 12-mile run with Nik. Read more about it here.

It may be difficult to see from the massive logo on our shirts, but we're both decked out from head-to-toe in Brooks Running gear. Our hats, shirts, shorts, shoes -- even my underwear is made by Brooks. We're in the Brooks ID program. I'm an honest-to-God sponsored athlete. Fuck you, high school bullies.

Puddle-water (Daily Photo 4.23.10)

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Took Stanley with me on a 5-mile run this afternoon. I've written before about Stanley's love of puddle-water. Luckily he found some, in a shallow spot by the public high school right near the sports fields. I brought my own. In a bottle.

Before and after (Daily Photo 4.22.10)

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A thunderstorm rolled in this afternoon just before sunset. Here we are on the 3rd floor of my house, gazing out over Fall River with the Taunton River and Somerset in the distance.

This is about 15 minutes later, same spot, after the thunderstorm passed overhead.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Worms and trash (Daily Photo 4.21.10)

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My neighbor has tulips in his yard. These are mine, which I planted last year. No fucking buds. Not even one goddam bud. Miserable fucks. Just a bunch of goddam leaves. Is that why I bought tulip bulbs and spent all that time on my knees last fall, planting the miserable son of a bitches, getting a worm in my hair that fell out of the pine tree above me so I skittered backward onto the grass slapping at my head to get it out, so I could get some raggedy-ass leaves in my front garden?

One of them even has a hole in it! Look, in the middle of the photo. It's right in the middle of the leaf! How's a thing like that happen? Worms? Those same worms? Fuck you, worms!

The neighbor gets nice red and yellow tulips, I get jack-shit. There's garbage under there, too, trash that blows into my yard from the street. Trash doesn't blow in anyone else's yard! I look! I see! I've got three napkins, a Cool Ranch Dorito bag, and a Twix PB wrapper in my front yard right now. Why do I suck so bad? What's wrong with me that I can't have a good yard with fresh beautiful flowers? Why can't I have nice things?

Stupid flowers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Random ball of human hair (Daily Photo 4.20.10)

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Nik and I found this clump of hair about the size of a good-sized orange lying in the gutter in a street by our house. At first I thought it was animal fur. But the closer I look at it, then and now, the more I start to wonder if it isn't human hair. Nik agrees that it looks human.

I'd rather not guess how it came to be there.

But if I had to, I'd say someone with trichophagia threw up there. That would make it a trichobezoar. There's a couple of 5-dollar words for you.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Water dragon (Daily Photo 4.19.10)

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I was going to do the usual thing of not trying to explain what this is. But as I post this photo, it occurs to me that the color combination reminds me of an Asia album cover. I'm thinking this one minus the water dragon:

I didn't intend that. I was photographing a factory by the waterfront while driving by with the camera out the window with the shutter open. If I'd seen a water dragon I would've photographed that instead. For obvious reasons.

Near Mallard Point (Daily Photo 4.18.10)

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Attempted an 11-mile run. By way of inspiring my lazy fucking ass to do it, I gave myself a location goal: run to Mallard Point in Somerset, take the daily photo, and run back.

I got there -- just up the street, to be fair. I didn't actually venture onto the point itself, which is a peninsula of thin woods framing a walking path, because it was running late and I was using up precious minutes of sunlight 5.5 miles away from home when I was struggling to run. So I found this spot near Mallard Point to take my daily photo, just as the sun went down behind me. It's untouched. That's what Freetown looked like across the Taunton River: two-dimensional and yellow.

I didn't finish the 11-miler. I called Nik and got a ride home 7.6 miles in. Shit happens.

I didn't actually have to shit. That was just a figure of speech meaning sometimes it's not good.

Dogpile (Daily Photo 4.17.10)

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It's like this very often.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A mug full of sea monkeys (Daily Photo 4.16.10)

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Nik & I have been whipping up tea concoctions in the Perfect Tea Maker. It's this device in which you dump loose-leaf tea, add hot water, steep, & pour without getting a mouthful of leaves and buds. This is a mixture of jasmine dragon phoenix pearl and lime teas. The pearl tea comes in hard BB-like pellets that look very similar to rabbit turds.

But when you add the boiling water, the pearls start to expand. They unfurl in the water at first thick and furry, like hairy spiders stretching their legs, then unroll into leafy fingers of seaweed. It's like a miniature ocean-floor diorama you can drink.

It's mesmerizing to watch. Nik: "It reminds me of when I had sea monkeys."

Sunset 3-miler (Daily Photo 4.15.10)

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Nice little sunset 3-miler.

Duck or rabbit? (Daily Photo 4.14.10)

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Duck or rabbit?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

BMW Win (Daily Photo 4.13.10)

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Free BMWs at Costco! What did YOU win today?

Weekend in Bar Harbor, Day 4 (Daily Photo 4.12.10)

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We spent the last day in Bar Harbor taking the dogs for a nice long walk in the morning to tire them out for the ride home.

Since there was almost no one around, we let Myrna off-leash for a while. She's a herding dog, and has great recall, so she doesn't go far. Stanley, we will never let off-leash unless he's fenced in. If we ever let him wander around alone, that would be the last we'd ever see him. He'd pitch himself off a cliff looking at a running brook, and that would be it.

I don't want to be a big advertisement for Acadia National Park, but it's a fantastic place. Serene, quiet, calm, perfect for de-stressing.

Eventually, you have to leave. But Boston's very nice as well.

Weekend in Bar Harbor, Day 3 (Daily Photo 4.11.10)

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We spent this day doing an 11-mile run-walk along the carriage roads of Acadia National Park, starting near Long Pond in Seal Harbor. The dogs were happy to go -- note how they're facing away, further on the road.

Bar Harbor has a unique tidal feature: at low tide, a sandbar opens up from downtown Bar Harbor across Frenchman Bay to Bar Island. You can walk all the way across, about a half-mile, over what's the sea floor half the day and rippling sand the other half.

People have been known to get stuck on Bar Island waiting for the tide to go back out. There are tidal charts nearby to help the stupid, but it still happens. Someone likely biked out there and realized that the rocks and shells and boulders of the sea floor are a nice place to ruin your rims, then left the bike there.

As I said earlier, nothing much is open in downtown Bar Harbor until Memorial Day.

Weekend in Bar Harbor, Day 2 (Daily Photo 4.10.10)

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Duck Brook Bridge, Acadia National Park. We spent our time walking the dogs along the carriage roads, a total of 8 miles.

We got in a little running later in the walk when it started to hail. It's not easy running in a jacket, jeans, and carrying a backpack. But it can be done.

We discovered Stanley's favorite thing: running water. He became transfixed by every stream and brook -- numerous, because of all the thaw higher up in the mountains. So every time there was running water, Stanley had to race over and check it out, and stare into the water. Sometimes he drank some. Mostly he stared at it. I'm not sure why. Confession: I think Stanley isn't that bright. Lovable, but not that bright.

Weekend in Bar Harbor, Day 1 (Daily Photo 4.9.10)

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This was Nik's birthday. We were going to celebrate it quietly, at home -- but we've both been feeling the stress of work and life, and we got a little cash back from the government this tax year, so we decided to be spontaneous and dash off to Bar Harbor at the last minute. It's one of our favorite places to go, even when it's far off-season like now. Almost nothing in Bar Harbor opens until Memorial Day except the grocery store and one joint that sells fudge and terrible coffee. The appeal is Acadia National Park, right next door.

So we piled the dogs in the car, rented a super-cheap cottage, and drove 6 hours north.

The dogs were OK with the trip at first. It's not their favorite, but they bear with it.

Because they know they'll get to check out the sites when they get there.

I took over 200 pictures this weekend. To keep things sane, I'll keep it to three or so pictures a day.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Leaf-wafting Luftwaffe: A pleasant afternoon with the pickpocketing gypsies of Teavana (Daily Photo 4.8.10)

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The latest leg of the epic journey across America to find a good cup of tea took me back to the place that started it: Teavana. We liked a few teas we sampled there, so I bought Nik a few Teavana items for her birthday, which is tomorrow.

If you've never been to a Teavana, you should go, even if you don't care for tea -- maybe even because you don't like tea. At some point you should experience what it's like to be in thrall to the store's sales personnel. It's like being caught in a tidal wave of unrelenting up-selling, and the only way to bail yourself out is with a Perfect Tea Spoon ($3.99). I went to Rome once. As soon as I stepped off the train and rolled my luggage to the sidewalk, two gypsy women immediately latched onto me and started groping for my bag and wallet. I had to run away, yelling and beating the air with my free arm to shoo them away. This was very much like that, but in English.

Even across the mall atrium, approaching the door, I felt two sales associates' hawk-like eyes size up my tenderness and fighting spirit. I ventured inside, even telling the sales associates I was looking for birthday gifts for my wife: a nice mug, a small-size Perfect Tea Maker, and a couple of teas. Within mere seconds, a saleswoman was foisting into my helplessly upturned arms a large-size Perfect Tea Maker, the aforementioned spoon, a Perfect Tea Mug, sticks of rock sugar, a thermometer, and a timer. The latter being a small clock ($8.95).

SHE: And you'll need a timer...

ME: I think I'll be OK.

SHE: You already have a timer?

ME: We're making our tea in the kitchen -- there are two clocks already in there.


SHE: This one would be just for the tea.

ME: Right. [pause] I think she's got one.

I put everything back except for a small tea maker, which I was informed was of clearly inferior quality, and the spoon. We could always use another spoon. I went to the other side of the store and looked at some of the mugs, and the saleswoman followed me, a slight leer skittering across her mouth, as I moved toward the cast-iron teapots. The latter being metal containers that hold a little bit of hot water, averaging a couple of hundred dollars each. She told me I should buy one -- several, even. I said, "Nah," and took a small mug and went to the counter to buy the loose tea.

SHE: Are you just "getting into" tea now?
ME: Sort of. Mostly in bags.
This is the scary bit. I knew the teas I wanted. My saleswoman had an accomplice who suggested that for every tea I buy, I should buy a second, more expensive one to blend the first one with. They brought me a metal hatbox filled with tea that cost $22 per 2 ounces. The dried leaves and herbs in there probably cost as much as a year at Harvard. One of them literally wafted the scent over to me with the lid while the other spoke in a hushed and clipped tone out of the right corner of her mouth suggesting other teas she should take down off the wall and likewise waft in my direction, like one of those cartoons where an anthropomorphized perfume odor snakes across the screen and carries Bugs Bunny off. What seemed like several other saleswomen hovered midair in lazy circles directly above me, swooping down occasionally to see if I was still alive. They showed me a canister the size of a healthy loaf of bread and told me this was the "best value" because the canister was $7. I had a crazy idea that it was $7 filled with tea, but no -- just empty, it was $7. "I can fill it for you." I glanced down at some pre-filled canisters and saw them priced at $500. Turns out you can put a lot of 2-ounce servings in one of those.

ME: What have you got that's smaller?

SHE: [pulls out something the size of a Sigg bottle] This is our small container.

ME: Anything smaller than that?

[She reaches under the counter for half a minute, making sounds like it's taking great effort]

SHE: [Shows me a 5-inch tall tube] There's this.

ME: I'll take it.

I bought two teas that day and I ended up going back the next day to get a third -- also because I wanted to experience the up-sell tidal wave again, like the world's most expensive and boring flume ride. Again! Again! But I don't want to leave you with the impression that it was unpleasant. I'm fascinated by salesmen. They have to make a living and they're fantastic to watch. I spent the next few days dying to talk to Nik about it. I imagined what she'd say when I mimed the tea-wafting gesture. That would be part of the birthday gift. I want to take her in there and have them waft tea in her face. I don't want to pay for this, but I want her to experience it. You should too. There are only so many times in your life you can have another human being waft tea odor in your face.

About the tea itself: We drank some. It's pretty good. Lots of flavor. What the hell else do you want me to say about it? It's a bunch of dried herbs and leaves, for fuck's sake.

Hallucination (Daily Photo 4.7.10)

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Working an overnight shift this week. I worked a similar schedule for years, and got sage advice from colleagues that eventually I would get used to it. I never did. Instead, I spent years being either sleep-deprived or dozing off at inopportune moments, like on stairways or highway off-ramps. Hallucinations like this are also not as much fun in real life.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Two dogs one chair (Daily Photo 4.6.10)

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Somehow they both fit on a chair and ottoman.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Daffodils (Daily Photo 4.5.10)

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After a week layoff, I went for a run again today in the sun and warmth. Found these little beauties on one of my usual routes. The dump truck in the background (which I didn't notice until later) really garnishes the overall springtime flavor.

Daily Photo 4.4.10 (plus dessert)

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I spent most of Easter unconscious, sleeping in the morning, sleeping through the afternoon so I could switch to an earlier shift at work. In between, there was family, turkey, rice pudding, and liqueur, in that order. Click the panorama to enlarge.

The dessert, as promised.

Daily Photo 4.3.10 (plus bonuses)

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We've been lucky -- after days of heavy rain (a record-breaking month of it, in fact) we've had a stretch of almost summery weather. Our basement is not a fun place to be. But the above is. We took a moment from cleaning water and other unmentionable fluids out of our cellar to take the dogs for a walk.

Afterward it was back to cleaning. This is the inside of the garage -- not the basement.

But back to more pleasant thoughts.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Daily Photo 4.2.10

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This is, strangely enough, not the same pineapple photographed earlier in the week. That's correct. We had a second pineapple.

Daily Photo 4.1.10

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Self-portrait. April fool -- it's a landscape.

Daily Photo 3.31.10

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Saw the last of the rainstorm on Wednesday.
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