Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bing vs Google

Jen just sent me a cool link. It's a site called Bing vs Google. Give it a search string and it will return a side by side comparison of... well... Bing vs Google.

I've been giving it very goofy search strings such as how long do I have to wait before redheads take over the world? Google is consistently faster when given nearly nonsense input and the top items returned appear to be more relevant. In fact, the just mentioned search string actually returned a site called Realm of Redheads which I will be checking out when I have more time.

Try the comparison out and see which one gives you better results. I think I will be sticking with Google for my searching needs, although Jen pointed out that Bing has an API that works with Microsoft technologies and that is pretty awesome.

Still, I go with Google for my own meager uses.

And if backing Google in the search war with Microsoft doesn't get me an invite to Google Wave then I guess nothing will.


Google Wave Overview Video

Just so you can see what I still haven't been invited to test.


This one's going to be as random as the last one...

Well, I have reached the point of just wanting my bad teeth (two, maybe three) pulled the hell outa my head. Nothing seems to beat the pain at this point. I've had a couple of days now where the best it gets is a dull ache mixed with periods of pure hell fire. I can live with it for a while, but it's messing with sleep. Sunday I slept very little due to paranoia. Monday we were out a little bit later than normal. Last night I couldn't sleep when I tried even though I was exhausted to the core of my soul.

I'm an optimist now (thanks to my lovely wife who I am absolutely, ridiculously in love with) so I am sure today will be better. I'm just really tired and a little edgy.

No Google Wave beta tester invite yet.

I have been using the new facebook lite instead of the normal every day facebook. I really didn't see anything about it that was all that special, it was just new and different. Until now, that is. I went onto facebook proper and my entire news feed was taken up with friend's announcements from farmville and mafia wars and what not. I like playing mafia wars (on myspace, generally) but I don't feel the need to broadcast announcements to all of my friends every time I do something. Those kinds of application based posts are not displayed on facebook lite. That means I miss out on surveys which I sometimes take because they can be fun or funny, but it also means I get to see my friends actual status updates without scrolling through three pages to do it. Sorta like twitter. (gasp!)

I didn't notice this until I looked at my stats this morning, but I topped the 7,000 public image milestone on Flickr this weekend. Thanks to the Rochester Fair. I had hoped (sillyishly) to top the 10,000 image mark (public, private, and restricted combined) by the end of the summer. I didn't make it. I went over 8,300 though. Proof of just how much of a nerd I am. HA! Suck it non-nerds!

The Google Wave beta tester invites are supposed to be coming out in two minutes. I casually glance at my email... nuttin'. (I don't know why I even want this. I don't do much instant messaging anymore except with my wife during those sad times we are not sitting next to each other. I guess it's just nerd points. I want to look at the lesser nerds around me and say, "well I was a Wave beta tester" and look down my nose accordingly.

The Boston Red Sox are in the playoffs again. I think that is six times in the last seven years. Congratulations to my once woefully awful but in the 21st century dominant home town baseball team. Of course, they have lost their last five games in a row and only managed to clinch because the team chasing them for the wild card is proving to be just as inept as they are. Texas lost to the Angels last night after we had lost to Toronto. (We lost to Toronto again!!!) Still, it doesn't really matter how you get into the post season, it just matters that you get in. When the playoffs start there will be eight teams with an equal chance of winning it all. I am 100% behind my Red Sox, god bless them, but in what feels like a bad memory coming back to haunt me yet again I really don't expect anyone to beat the Yankees. I am going to root like hell against them, as is my duty as a loyal Bostonian, but I think they have the team to take it all this year. That is depressing. Go Red Sox!

I just tried loading Google Calendar and it is down. Hmmm... Google having issues... is it Wave related somehow? Are their servers getting hammered or something? hmmmm (no, I don't think they are related. Google is a giant and I will not doubt them. They are a glorious collection of perfectly placed 1's and 0's that I hope will someday topple the Microsoft Monopoly (well, maybe not topple... I like a lot of MS stuff, despite my CS degree, and I don't want them to go away... I would just like a little more of a level playing field and more honest competition that results in more awesomely ass kicking software for nerds like me to drool over) and bring the wonders of open sourced goodness to the masses.) It's 10:10... still no Wave invite. >insert sad face here<

Today is the last day of September (more on that in a minute) which means tomorrow is the start of October. That is important for three reasons. First, my niece is about to have her first birthday. More cake smooshing pictures to take. I love it. I love her. I can't wait for the party this weekend. Second, Halloween fun. No spook houses this year, unless the kids beg... and they won't... not yet... not for another year or two I think. It means costumes and candy and silliness. I love it. I have always like Halloween, but now that I've spent the last two of them seeing them through the eyes of two amazing kids I like it even more. The third reason, and the real reason I broached the subject, is opening night for the Boston Bruins. They are opening up against Alex Ovetchkin and the Washington Capitals. After the pain of last season's play off ouster at the hands of the fricken Whalers I am really anxious for some pay back. I want that cup this year. I want it bad! Go Bruins.

Speaking of today being the last day of September. It is the 30th, which means it's our Monthiversary. Happy 0.33 years of marriage Jenny. I love you more and more each day. My only want or need in this life is to make you happy. At least as happy as you make me. I love you sweetie.

And with that... I am ending this one on the best note possible.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Other Random Stuff

I might win the nerd lottery tomorrow. Google is unleashing the new Google Wave beta tomorrow.

Based on the confusing info I've read, Wave will take instant messaging, email, wiki, and file sharing and smoosh it all together into one shining chunk of wicked awesome.

A few weeks ago I put in my name to be one of about 100,000 beta testers. The invites come out tomorrow. If I get one I think I will get to invite a few other people to use it with me. Which means you all had better start being nice to me pronto! (just kidding, you're all nice to me all ready)

What else?

My teeth have been hurting like holy hell all day today. Pain meds have not been having much of an affect. I think it might be related to the fact that I am completely exhausted. That would be counter productive though as the teeth pain tends to make sleeping difficult. Figures, eh?

What else?

The Bruins regular season starts Thursday. Oh Happy Day! I should log into yahoo and get my fantasy line up squared away, pronto. I just clicked on a link to a hockey news article on rookies to keep an eye on this year. Maybe I'll try and grab some as free agents and look like the fantasy hockey nerd who can read the future. Or something like that.

What else?

The books on tape experiment is proceeding nicely. I am well into the second of the seven Dark Tower novels. (Eddie has already been drawn and I was introduced to Detta/Odetta this morning.) I am not finding my mind wandering while listening to some strangers voice talking to me. I am following along with the details quite well. Of course, I have read this book three or four times in the past so maybe it's all subliminal in some weird way. I don't care, I'm enjoying it.

What else?

I am about to read an article called How Iconic Movie Characters Would Deal with a Zombie Attack. The first iconic character is John McClain from the Die Hard series. Isn't it obvious? He'd machine gun the entire zombie horde to jello while running around barefoot. duh

What else?

Nothing. We'll call it a night... for now.

Greg the Bunny - Count Blah

I've posted a youtube clip from this and it is brilliant, but Larry just sent me this. It's the whole episode and it is the most amazing piece of (uncensored) television in the history of the human race.

Watching puppets drop F-Bombs is one of the greatest things in the universe.


Last night we had dinner with Jen's friend and former co-worker Wendy, her boyfriend Rick, and her daughter. It's a strange vibe. We make plans with them fairly regularly and almost every time when the day arrives something comes up and one of us has to cancel. Last night we pulled it together. It was a close thing though as Jen and I were so incredibly tired after our night of possible-breaking-and-entering paranoia (which in my case at least hasn't eased all that much yet).

We had a good time. Wendy made a nice dinner and we talked about a lot of things, including real estate shopping, Rick is an agent, which may have been a sort of subconscious maybe-we-should-move thing on my part. I don't know.

What I do know is that I have learned to fricken hate the Everett Turnpike.

If you take the Northern half of Route 3 across the Mass/New Hampshire line and follow it North for a while it eventually turns into the Everett Turnpike. This is a toll road with the tolls (at least the ones I know of) situated on the exit ramps when you drive North, and the entrance ramps when you drive South.

I didn't know the area and I am not familiar with that stretch of highway. I had directions printed off from Google Maps and I had the GPS on my phone showing my location with the route to Wendy's marked.

Maps told me to take exit 11. When I approached exit 11 the GPS appeared to be telling me to stay on the highway. I decided to follow the GPS. I did not make a mistake by doing that. Nor would I have made a mistake by taking exit 11. As it turns out, exit 11 runs perfectly parallel to the highway for a long stretch. Maybe a quarter of a mile or more. It wasn't until I saw the toll booths just a few feet to the right of the highway that I realized my mistake. The GPS did want me to take the exit, it's just that the two roads were so close together you couldn't tell by looking at it.

Crud, thinks I, as I continue heading up to exit 12. I took the exit, paid the toll, took a left turn and crossed the highway via an overpass, took a left turn to get back on the highway, and paid the toll again.

When I got to exit 11, this time heading South, I took it. Again, it stayed parallel to the highway for a while. There was a hard right turn at one point, but the tolls were still ahead of me so I knew I had things right this time.

Except that the tolls are on the entrance ramps on the South side. Suddenly I was on the friggin' highway again.

I went South to exit 10, crossed an overpass to get to the other side of the highway, and paid the toll again and got back on heading North. This time I managed to raise my IQ a few points to a level somewhere above that of a chimpanzee and navigated the exit correctly. I did make one more wrong turn on the way to the house, but it was just a minor one and easily corrected. In the end I was 17 minutes late.

The moral of this story is, I would prefer not to live near the Everett Freakin' Turnpike. Stupid highway. Stupid, stupid highway.

(more like stupid driver, but let's not consider that.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Two Additional Items from Last Night

Okay, two more brief things from last night.

Well, inspired by last night as the case may be.

I have been scouring the Internet for a police log for the Methuen police department. I want to know if anything came of our call. I want to know if two nitwits got busted messing with people's parked cars. It's the 21st century and I have become quite accustomed to getting tons and tons of information at the touch of a button. I cannot, however, find any logs for the Methuen police department for yesterday or any other day. I was hoping the Lawrence Eagle Tribune would have one but they appear to suck even worse than the Lowell Sun. (Maybe someday I'll write another hate filled post about how the Lowell Sun nearly destroyed my beloved UMass Lowell college radio station, 91.5FM WUML, a few years ago. Not today though.)

So in this age of instantly available information, I cannot find a Methuen police log. I am saddened by this. Google and the area newspaper sites have let me down.

The second thing is more along the lines of weird coincidences that really don't mean anything but just feel freaky at the time.

What was I reading last night? I was reading Duma Key by Stephen King.

Last week I wrote a little thing about how I loved reading the horror novels of Clive Barker. I said something along the lines of the only horror writer I still read regularly is Stephen King and how Stephen King hasn't done anything all that scary in a long time.

Leave it to last night for me to stumble upon King's return to form.

I have been reading Duma Key a little at a time for a very long time. I bought it in hard cover almost as soon as it was published. I would read a few dozen pages, put it down and read something else for a while, and then go back and read a few dozen more pages... wash rinse repeat.

A couple of nights ago I got back into it. It isn't bad. It's generally pretty good. I just keep having something more interesting pop up and I sort of lose track of it. One thing it has going for it is creepiness. It is a spooky story.

Last night after Jen and I had settled down enough to go back to bed I picked it up and started reading it again. Maybe ten minutes later the main character walks down a flight of stairs late at night in the dark. He looks out his picture window and sees what can best be described as a ghost ship sailing in the Gulf of Mexico. That was creepy. He turns on the light and standing right in front of him is what can only be described as a zombie who had broken into the house in order to get him.

Yeah, that scared the shit out of me.

You've still got it Mr King. Bless your heart, you've still got it.

Last Night

Okay, here's what happened last night. 16 hours after the fact it all is starting to seem silly, but the paranoia and the pissed-off-ed-ness is still there.

We put the kids to bed a little after 8:00pm and Jen and I stayed in our room, sitting on the bed, each with a book. We call this a reading date. We both love to read and we both love being in the same room with each other, so we read together.

At about 10:00ish there was a knock on our door. I got up to answer it. It was the neighbor in the apartment next to ours. He said he just saw some one in our driveway, possibly messing with one of our cars. He said there was a woman in a car parked on the street in front of the house and when he (our neighbor) came out of the front door she yelled to the guy in our driveway and he started walking toward her. Our neighbor confronted him and asked him what he was doing. I don't know what he said in reply, but he jumped in the car and he and the woman drove off.

We checked the cars and they seemed all right. The locks weren't tampered with, no windows broken, no signs of mischief. I checked the back of the house, the back door, and all of the rooms and windows. Again, no signs of foul play.

We called the police and told them what happened and they said there was nothing they could really do about it based on the tiny amount of information we had for them, but they would send a patrol car into the area. That was really all I wanted them to do. If they were still around I wanted the cops to come and wave the flag a little and scare them off. Within minutes I saw a squad car drive up to our house, slow to a crawl as the officer driving took a look around, and then slowly move up the road. Thank you very much. It's a small thing, but it was seriously appreciated.

So what was this pair-o-twits doing in our driveway? I suppose there are a few possibilities. The innocent hippie in my thinks he might have been cutting through our yard to meet up with his lady friend. Doubtful, but possible I guess. Maybe it was a teen from the apartment building behind our house sneaking out for some non-parental-approved Sunday night fun. Maybe we were the first (at least I think it was first, none of the houses around us seemed to have anything out of the ordinary happening) stop on a smash and grab spree. Maybe, as our neighbor (who once told me that he was a police officer in his native country before moving to the United States. I suddenly see that as a plus) suggested, they were looking for car parts. He said their car looked similar to ours. Again, it's possible. They weren't trying to steal the car as it was parked on the inside of the driveway with another car behind it. Who knows.

What I do know is that Jen and I both reached a level of paranoia that neither of us has ever reached before. Even though nothing actually happened we still felt pretty violated. There was some definite freaking out going on. It was quiet, we didn't want to wake the kids, but it was there. We did a lot of walking through the house looking out the windows. We did a lot of quietly listening to whatever was going on outside. Jen got to sleep at about midnight. I was up until maybe quarter to one, and when I did finally sleep I didn't stay asleep for long (partly due to my fricken teeth, but that's beside the point).

We both felt better this morning. Jen decided to sleep a little later than usual so we didn't get a lot of time to talk about it prior to getting to work. Still, our house shopping plans that we had put on hold for a couple of years or so may now be back on the table. I also think any home shopping we do might be in more rural neighborhoods. Both of those points are paranoia talking, but that doesn't make them any less there. We've asked our landlord for a few security upgrades. Basically more lights on the side of the house. I would have liked to have been able to flood the hell out of the driveway with light last night, but we really couldn't.

When we come right down to it, nothing happened. We'll relax a little as time goes by and prepare ourselves a little better to handle something like this in the future. We live in a fairly urban area. There is a city with a bad reputation not far away. Neither of us ever thought that something like this was impossible. There has always been a healthy dose of paranoia to begin with (it's not uncommon for me to check the doors a few times a night, just to make sure everything is cool).

Nothing has actually changed except our level of freaking. There will be more vigilance on our part, that's for sure. I still feel safe in the house, just not quite as safe as I felt 24 hours ago. We're not going to move out any time soon... but at this point it's possible that we will move out sooner than expected. Who knows.

I thanked our neighbor a few times last night and I will thank him again now.

We'll have to see how this situation affects our attitude in the future. I honestly don't know how it will go.


Last night was a bad night. (I'll share when I feel up to it)

This video sort of shows my mood right now.

Thank the Hockey Gods for Milan Lucic.

Rochester Fair

Here are some more pictures from Saturday's trip to the Rochester Fair. It seemed like there were more animals this year than last, and less rides. There was also a sad lack of all day ride passes for the kids which greatly cut down on their ride enjoyment. The fair food was also a bit of a step down from last year, although the ice cream was good and four of us ordered what turned out to be the world's largest pieces of fried dough. It actually required three paper plates to hold it. We're talking massive chunks of friend dough.

Everyone had a good time though. The kids only got to ride a few rides, but the ones they picked were really fun. They loved the animals. I think I want to open a textile plant that only makes things out of Alpaca and Llama fur. Those might be the two softest substances in the known universe.

We started with the pigs. There were grown up pigs...
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 003

...There were baby pigs (with numbers painted on them, not sure why)...
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 005

...and there were posted instructions telling us how to go about eating the pigs. Yum!
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 010

There were sheep, including black sheep.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 033

There were cows. Lots of cows. This one makes me think of Pink Floyd. (get it?)
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 038

There were also baby cows (calfs to those in the know) including very hungry baby cows.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 065

The Alpacas were cool. Softest fur ever. I am usually more of a Llama guy (probably thanks to Monty Python) but the Alpacas won the day for me.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 077

I like to eat. That's why when I see this I can think of nothing but stuffing.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 106

The bunnies were as cute as... well... bunnies. The kids said they wanted pet bunnies. I had to think of a safe way to tell them the problems that stem from owning two bunnies... and how two bunnies quickly turn into 100 bunnies.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 117

Games and rides galore.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 170

That is a big pumpkin. I mean, big.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 214

Food vendors galore too.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 225

I knew giraffes had long necks, but I had no idea they had the longest tongues in the universe. This picture doesn't even begin to hint at the truth.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 250

I always expect to see Kangaroo wearing boxing gloves.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 273

The obligatory ferris wheel picture. We didn't ride it.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 296

Another view of rides and games galore.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 297

Last but not least, a squinty picture of me and the girl of my dreams.
2009-09-26 - Rochester Fair 222

Sunday, September 27, 2009

iPhone Astrophotography

Moon over the Quick Stop... This is getting out of control, isn't it.

iPhone Astrophotography

Jupiter over the Quick Stop. At least I think it is.


Jen woke up with a cold this morning. Talk about a bummer. That officially makes today a sit-around-and-flake day. After food shopping and running a few errends that is. (you are fascinated, I can tell.)

On the up side, I just listened to the remastered version of Sgt Pepper. It sounds great!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rochester Fair

We got home a few minutes ago after another great day at the Rochester Fair. The pictures will wait until tomorrow. We're all really tired.

Night Night.

The Rochester Fair

We're going to the Rochester Fair today. I would post a better picture from last year but this is the only one that doesn't have the kids in it and this page is kid-picture-free. You have to go to the other page to see one with the kids. (they look so little!)

I'll post pictures from this year's fair... or course... probably three or four thousand.

Good Day!

Friday, September 25, 2009

iPhone MMS

Well, it's finally here. Welcome to 2002 everyone!

Finally, after being the laughing stock of the smart phone universe, AT&T has activated Multimedia Messaging Services for the iPhone. I went into iTunes a little after 1:00pm and took the tiny little update that gave me the MMS option under Messages. I then had to reboot the phone (no one told me that, I guessed it) and there it was. I had MMS enabled.

I then took the most recent picture I had taken (Jen perusing the menu at The 99 the other night) and pic messaged it to Jen.

She didn't get it.

She has an iPhone too, of course, and hadn't set up the MMS yet. I expected her to get the usual You-Have-Received-A-Picture-Message-Go-Here-To-Get-It bullshit message we got prior to this update but she didn't get that either.

So this functionality has been on the phone itself since June. AT&T blocked it because they didn't think their network could handle it. They then spent three months beefing up their systems so that it could handle the additional data transfers and the very first time I try it... it fails.


I foresee the end of a certain exclusivity deal in the near future.

Learn to Use the Force?

They didn't have toys like this when I was a kid...

The Fire Alarm Just Went Off

So the fire alarms just went off. As is usually the case here we all waited about five minutes before deciding to go outside. They test the alarms so often that generally speaking the alarms are not a sign of danger, they are a sign of maintenance.

This morning when I left for work it was cold outside. I park close enough to the building that I can just scoot in without being affected by the weather too much so I left my coat in the car. A fire alarm however would require me to be out in the cold waiting for permission to go back inside. I wondered, while sitting at my desk, if I went outside I was going to be cold. If I stayed inside I would be nice and warm. Toasty warm. Very warm. Well done. ahhhhh

Then I went outside. The wind hit me and I went to my car to get my coat. I then walked back to the front of the building where the throng of fellow co-workers were waiting. There I learned something distressing. The sun is very warm today. The breeze is cold, but the sun is warn. Had I just stayed in the sun I wouldn't have needed the coat.

Damn you fire alarm for messing with me. Damn you.

It was, of course, a false alarm.

Luckily. Even if I did look like a stooge wearing a coat.

Stupid fire alarm.

Do you think they know?

Yesterday was supposed to be the day the teeth were going to start getting repaired. That of course did not happen. The result? All day long I had really bad tooth ache pain. Much worse than normal because the meds weren't working. I don't think it was the worst pain I've had since things got bad enough for it to be a daily thing, but it was the worst since that one memorable night when I hurt so bad I couldn't sleep at all.

I think my teeth knew what was supposed to happen, and when it didn't they celebrated. They rubbed my nose in it.

Stupid teeth.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I just dropped the kids off at school. Who's the luckiest stepdad in
the universe? Me!


Today was supposed to be the day I got one of my teeth fixed but now it's just another day off. My tooth is clearly upset by that, but the rest of me is just going to enjoy the day. We might be going to America's Stonehenge in Salem, NH this afternoon. Just the sort of thing a nerd with a camera will love! (everyone else is probably going to be bored silly, but I'll apologize if I have to.)

Enjoy the day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Books on Tape

I've never listened to a book on tape. I tried once but didn't get far. My sister was taking a trip to Italy and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was being released on the day she came home. She had wanted to read Order of the Phoenix again before starting the new book, but with all of her vacation plans she wasn't going to have time. I used the dying tool known as file sharing and downloaded the book on tape so she could listen on the plane. Of course, the book is so freakin' huge that it took a mountain of CDs (this is the pre iPod world for us) to hold it and it was immediately apparent that it was terribly impractical. So defeat was admitted.

That didn't mean I that I didn't go absolutely nuts downloading different books on tape in the hope that some day some one would listen to them.

Fast forward to last night. The Mrs and I were both talking about the down side of authors writing long series of works, specifically the Harry Potter series and Stephen King's Dark Tower series. While we both really enjoyed both series (Jen hasn't finished Dark Tower yet, so no spoilers here) we both continually find ourselves re-reading parts of them.

For example, the film version of The Half Blood Prince came out this summer. I re-read that book before seeing the movie, and then when I finished I just had to re-read The Deathly Hallows too. In both series, when a new book was released I would read the previous book (or two) to get back into the story. I think I've read The Gunslinger about five times. I think I've read Goblet of Fire about four times. What's more, now that both series are finished we both have the desire, maybe a better word is need, to read them both from start to finish.

That's a lot of re-reading. A lot of time spent reading things we already know quite well when we could be reading new things that might be just as rewarding.

During this discussion Jen mentioned that she had listened to the earlier Dark Tower books on tape and that the guy who did the reading did a wonderful job. That got us thinking about our long morning commutes. I take my iPod with me to work and am always listening to music. Maybe I could listen to a book for a while instead.

So, digging through old files and some shopping produced a copy of each Dark Tower novel on tape. If you listened to the whole thing without stopping at all it would take more than five days. That's a lot or listening. I loaded The expanded edition of The Gunslinger (which I had not read, although I did start reading Jen's copy before bed last night) onto my iPhone and listened to disc one on the way to work. It wasn't so bad. It also wasn't the reader Jen had so loved, but he's on some of the other editions we have.

As it turns out, the time it takes to listen to a single disc is just a touch shorter than my drive each way. So I listened to all of disc one and the first couple of minutes of disc two. That should make it pretty easy for me to find my place if I go a couple of days without listening.

Maybe tonight I'll dig through the old files and see if I can pull out the first five Harry Potter Novels so I can line those up next. I can pretty much guarantee that I will totally lose interest in this little project after a few days, but for now I am into it.

I'll tell you how it goes (without spoiling anything).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Do you know I like Funny or Die?

I'm not sure why this one is so funny, but it is...

I like Funny or Die

Autumnal Equinox

Today is the first day of Fall. Damn it.

When Spring started the temps never got out of the 40s. When Summer started the temps never got out of the 50s and it rained for a month straight. We didn't get Summer weather until the middle of August.

I was hoping that, if Winter carried into Spring and Spring carried into Summer then Summer would carry into Fall.

No dice. It's totally Fall weather out there now. Cold in the morning, nice in the afternoon, cold at night.

Crud, I hate when Summer ends.

At least it means Hockey isn't far away.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Clive Barker

When I was in High School a few of my friends were really into horror movies. I wasn't, but not because I had anything against them. I just hadn't seen a good one yet. I was more into Sci-Fi. Then one day I found myself over some one else's house watching Hellraiser II and loving it on a couple of different levels. First, it was scary as all hell (no pun intended). Second, it was a gross out that I thought looked cool instead of just gross (lets rewind to when Julia comes out of the mattress). Third, it was a collection of fantastic one-liners coming from all directions. It was interesting in that the obvious principal monster in what was essentially (at least to me) a monster movie was not really the bad guy. The bad guy was a normal looking guy.

I really liked the movie and not long after Larry and I rented the original Hellraiser. I liked Hellraiser II... I loved Hellraiser. Again, the obvious monster was not the bad guy. He and his monster cohorts were just four demons doing their job (and enjoying it). The real bad guys were a woman and her brother-in-law who had a fling behind the husbands back. It all kinda spiraled downhill from there for the two of them. It was exceptionally gross but not as bad as the sequel. Somehow the gore actually meant something. It wasn't just splatter for the sake of gross out.

I found out the movie was written and directed by an English guy named Clive Barker who was primarily known as a writer. He had started out writing short stories and then moved on to novels before taking a shot at films. I went to the Tewksbury town library and picked up a novel called Damnation Game. I read it over the course of a few days and was absolutely hooked.

Over the course of the next year or so I read everything I could get my hands on. If I found myself in a library or bookstore the first (and often only) place I went to was the Horror section and the authors whose names began with B. His short stories were unbelievably intense. Dread still sticks in my memory as the best of those. His novels were often hugely imaginative works where the world was transformed into something completely incredible. Weaveworld, Imajica, The Great and Secret Show, and it's sequel Everville all kept me glued to the page. I devoured them. I couldn't get enough.

Then he started losing me. He made a couple of movies that weren't all that great. Candyman was okay but his original story was infinitely better. The same could be said about Lord of Illusions. Neither movie was bad, but neither was all that wonderful either. He published two novels, Galilee and Sacrament that did absolutely nothing for me. He then published a couple of novels that were geared toward children, and a couple of collections of his plays (he wrote plays before turning to short stories). None of it was bad, but none of it was enough to rope me in. After a few years he wrote a novel called Cold Heart Canyon that was pretty good, but then he seemed to stop publishing new fiction.

He moved on, I moved on. My tastes changed a lot. I still enjoy a good horror movie these days, but I don't have a lot of interest in seeking them out. I still read as much as I can, but horror just isn't drawing me in much anymore. Many years have passed and (most) of the things that called to me when I was in my teens and twenties aren't calling to me now that I'm in my thirties. I am much more into comedy and action movies than anything else now, although the Sci-Fi is still a big draw. When I look at the books I've been buying over the last five years or so, most of them are histories or biographies, or even travelogues (and Sci-Fi). It has been ages upon ages since I've read a horror novel written by anyone other than Stephen King, and let's be frank here; The King's work isn't very horrifying and hasn't been for a long time.

What is the point of this, you may ask? Well, three things in recent months have happened that have very much surprised me.

First, I found myself in a movie theater with my step-son a few weeks ago. We were seeing the movie G-Force, the one about the hamsters working as secret agents. Before the movie started there was a little short film/PSA type thing that played. It was clips of reasonably famous people talking about dreams. There was one scraggly looking Englishman who said something about how his dreams might be nightmares to other people but they were fun to him. After a few other faces flashed on the screen another shot of this same Englishman came up and it had his name displayed. Clive Barker. I didn't recognize him at all. I was surprised by that. Granted, I hadn't seen his face in years, but still... he was my A+, #1 favorite writer, I should have recognized him.

A couple of weeks later Jen and I were in the Salem public library. We were wandering around the stacks looking at whatever was there. I happened to find myself in Fiction - B and looked for that familiar name. There he was. Much to my surprise, there was a novel there I had never seen before. Mister B. Gone. He had managed to sneak a new book out without me having any clue. There was a time when I knew of his upcoming releases long before they hit the shelves.

Today I was hit with a third surprise. He snuck a movie out right under my nose too. The Midnight Meat Train. It's based on one of his better short stories and the reviews look pretty good. I have read four or five and most of them agree that it is the best Barker film since Hellraiser.

I will probably read Mister B. Gone at some point. I have a lot of things I want to get to first, but it is on my to-be-read list for sure. The movie however is probably going to be missed. Watching movies without my wife isn't much fun for me and I don't think a movie about people being butchered (literally) on the New York subways is something she'd be all that interested in. If I find myself lying awake some night with you're-not-sleeping-tonight level tooth pain and it's on cable somewhere I might watch it, but otherwise probably not. It wouldn't be the first of his movies I didn't see, and the ones that really interested me the most were those he wrote and directed which is not the case here.

You don't really notice your own tastes changing. You don't really get to see your personality shift from interest to interest. Still... I have hard cover copies of The Great and Secret Show and Everville on our new IKEA bookshelf. Maybe a nostalgia read is in order. For old times' sake.

Thanks for the frights Clive.

Upcoming Travel Ideas

Next weekend we are planning on going to the Rochester Fair. We've heard it's not very good this year, but we already told the kids we were going and it would be hard to let them down based on one review. Besides, even if it's terrible there will still probably be something they'll love and it'll be worth it just for that.

Jen and I are also planning on taking a New Hampshire leaf peepin' trip in the very near future. Last year we hit the Kancamangus Highway twice. Once on a specific leaf peepin' trip and once on the way back from Mt Washington. This year we haven't decided where we'd like to go, but there is a good chance we'll go back on the same route we took last year.

In preparation for this I started reading a book Jenny Claus gave me last Christmas. It is called Weird New England and it is a collection of strange, bizarre, spooky, and... well... weird stories from around New England. I'm still on the first chapter, but so far we have a haunted covered bridge and a haunted village in Vermont, and a grave robbing in Malden, MA.

I like the idea of using a book like that as a travel guide, but I don't know if I'd actually follow through. As cool as it would be to say that I visited a haunted covered bridge in VT, if the ghost of Emily popped out and said, "BOO!" I would probably shit a brick and run home and never go outside again. (hehehe)

So we're looking for Northern New England leaf peepin' destinations. If you know of a place leave a comment.

Have a wonderful day, and don't let the ghosts scare you (too much).

I found a few links to recommended scenic drives and leaf peeping sites. Share with your friends, I always say:

If I find more I'll post them here.

On the Kancamagus Highway. Lower Falls is 7 miles west of Conway, while Rocky Gorge is 2 miles further on and requires a .1 mile Con way walk in. Lower Falls is right on the Kancamagus, and is a busy spot on hot summer days. It has pools, small sandy beaches, picnic tables, parking and changing rooms. Rocky gorge has picnic tables, drinking water and parking; swimming prohibited in the Gorge, but you can take a dip in the pools above the falls. Sabbaday Falls is located 3.5 miles west of where Bear Notch Road joins the Kancamagus. You can't swim here, but the 25 ft. falls' beauty is well worth the easy .3 mile hike in.

This one references Kancamangus a lot.

Covered bridge?

The second page of this .pdf is awesome.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why Only Two Days?

Weekends need to be longer. Two days is not enough. Last night we went to dinner with some friends, Mike and Tammy and their daughter and Maria and Roman and their soon-to-be-baby-who-is-about-four-weeks-away-from-being-born.

Mike is taking a new job in a couple of weeks. He is going to work four 10 hour days and then get three day weekends. I'm kinda jealous.

Today is going to be quiet. Jen has to do some work and I have to do lots of laundry and a few errands. Last night was great, today will be too. Just a different kind of great.

Yesterday we finished off another complete (so far) television series on DVD. We watched the last (so far) episode of Scrubs. Now we need a new television show that is out on DVD to obsess over. We have a bunch of years worth of Smallville, which Jen really likes. We have the full run of The X-Files, which I really like. We also have everything available so far of South Park which we both really like. To top that off, we haven't watched the two most recent South Park Seasons on DVD. I think we'll start there and see what happens. I generally do not like television, but watching shows commercial free at my leisure takes some of the lame out of it. We've watched start to finish two sitcoms recently, Friends and Scrubs. They are both shows I avoided when they were on the air, but I liked them both on DVD. Maybe TV doesn't suck as bad as I thought it did.

Okay, off to do laundry!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kessel to Toronto

I woke up this morning, took a leak (well I did!), and downed a few advils. Then I went to check my mail. Not much, only took a second. Then I checked twitter. Ahhh, so the Bruins finally traded Phil Kessel.

I was very much on the record as not wanting to give him up. I was also, in the last week or so, very much on the record as just wanting the whole damn circus to end. I was seriously sick of listening to Kessel speculation in the press. I just wanted it to go away, no matter how it was resolved.

...and now it has. Kessel was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for three draft picks. That's all you ask? Well, how about a 1st and 2nd round pick in 2010 and a 1st round pick in 2011. Consider that the Leafs haven't made the playoffs in something like 1,100 years (slight exaggeration) and you see the potential for this deal to be ginormous in favor of the Bruins.

Now we have to root for the Leafs to suck up a storm for the next two years. I always root for the Leafs to suck, but now we have some major incentive.

Kessel had surgery in the off season and won't be back for a couple of months. We were going to be missing him for a while regardless of his contract status. He probably was not going to hit the 36 goal mark he hit last year. Still, there is a lot of production that is going away.

Except... I keep forgetting about Marco Sturm. He missed almost the entire season last year. He's in the 25-30 goal range too. Maybe that's what the B's are looking at. Roster wise this is almost like a straight up trade, Kessel for Sturm. Considering that Sturm is more of an all around player, while Kessel is pretty one dimensional, I would say the deal they made looks REALLY good. Assuming Pete makes three really good picks, and further assuming that the Leafs do their part and suck immensely.

Go Bruins!

Go Suck Leafs!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bruins Hockey is Coming!

Here's proof... a new commercial. Sorry for running NESN commercials on my site, but this is pretty funny.

Coming soon

Originally uploaded by robj_1971
It seems so far away, but it's really right around the corner.



Roadie Interview

If you're a fan of old Rush you might want to take a look at this.

It's an interview with Ian Grady who was with the band from the high school gym days in 1969 through the Signals tour in 1983.

Doctor Teeth

The dental hoopla continues... indefinitely.

I booked the appointment for the root canal ect surgery based on the assumption that I would be able to make monthly payments to pay off the huge bill. Nope, they shot me down. Pay it all or don't do it.

So I won't do it.

I don't know what I am going to do, but I can't afford a lump sum of four grand to be paid in one installment one week from now. I think maybe I might take a shot at rescheduling for some time in December and have some of the work done, and then in January when my insurance resets for the year I will have a little more done.

In my earlier years I had three teeth pulled. The primary reason was because I had no insurance and couldn't afford to do anything more than that. Now that I have insurance I find I am in exactly the same boat. What good is dental insurance?

Still, onward I shall persevere.

Chin up little trooper, you'll figure it out eventually.

I might buy a lottery ticket on the way home today.

What Does Rob Mean?

I was just asked to tell everyone that, "Rob means short and furry."

Thanks you

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I just read something AWESOME in Variety (thanks to Twitter)

Here is a link to the Variety story.

Here is the actual text that I am copying in full because it is so awesome (except for the whole it's-on-MTV thing. I would rather any other network [except showtime... I'm still pissed about Dead Like Me getting sacked] run this new show.)

MTV goes 'Ape' for puppets
Network greenlights 'Grey the Bunny' spinoff

MTV has greenlit puppet-populated project "Warren the Ape," a spinoff of erstwhile Fox and IFC series "Greg the Bunny," for a 2010 launch.

"Bunny" creators Spencer Chinoy, Sean Baker and Dan Milano will exec produce "Warren," with Milano performing as the lead puppet character, a brash, out-of-work actor who is trying to revive his Hollywood career after "Bunny" was canceled. Given a 12-episode order, series will be a mock celeb-reality show.

"We're kind of making fun of ourselves a little bit at MTV," said East Coast senior veep of series development Brent Haynes. The idea is that Warren "has fallen so far from grace, all he can get is an MTV reality show."

Production has begun on the spinoff, which was ordered based not on a formal pilot but footage that was shot for series consideration and won't air.

"I immediately loved the idea," Haynes said. "We just gave them a bit of money and sent them out in the field, (to) give us an idea of what the concept would be. They came back and delivered a short piece that blew us away."

IFC aired a series of "Bunny" shorts before Fox ordered 13 episodes as a sitcom to air in 2002. Canceled after one season, "Bunny" returned to IFC in various formats. The show's creators broached the spinoff idea this year.

Other exec producers for the series are George Plamondon and Betsy Schechter for Picture Shack Entertainment and Kevin Chinoy and Francesca Silvestri for Freestyle. Seth Green, featured in "Bunny," might make cameo appearances in "Warren" but is not directly involved in the production, Haynes said.

On a mission to boost its live-action scripted slate, MTV has most recently moved forward on "Hard Times," about a 15-year-old late-blooming high school student, along with selected film projects that could serve as backdoor pilots.


Slight Let Down

I was really excited when I heard about this. It's a web application called Myna that I heard was going to essentially be an online multitrack audio recording application.

Now that I've seen this demo I doubt it's going to cut it. What's with the importing audio you've recorded thing? That doesn't help much at all.

Still, here's the walk through:

The Hospital Experience has Ended

I got to the hospital at noon yesterday. At just about that time Jen was returning to her room after finishing her tests. The doctor who did the tests said she had no problems and would be going home soon. 90 minutes later we were told one of the doctors wanted to talk to her. An hour after that we finally got out. Red-Tape-O-Rama.

Still, there is no sign of anything serious. The doctor made some preventive recommendations, but otherwise she is sound as a pound. We're both back to work today although we are both very tired. Neither of us got more than a couple hours sleep on Tuesday night. Last night we went to bed at 8:00 and more or less slept through the night. I can't imagine staying up much later than that tonight too. very sleepy

To sum up though, my love is doing fine and I am thrilled to pieces that we didn't have to be separated for a second night. I officially made a new house rule: No overnight hospital stays for either of us for at least 50 years. It's a law now. You can't go breaking house laws.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Hate Hospitals

They told her at 2:00 yesterday that she was going to have a stress test. It's 9:30 now and they still can't even tell her when it's scheduled. She also has a bitch of a nurse right now who sounds condescending and just plain mean. I miss her so much and I can't go and be with her until noon. Worst of all there is nothing at all I can do to help her through this right now. I love her so much I would do anything to be there in her place.

Hospitals Suck

We have been married for 109 days.

On Tuesday Jen spoke to her doctor about some symptoms she'd been having off and on over the last few days. Her doctor suggested going to the emergency room to have a few tests run. The tests all came back negative (excellent) but they still wanted to admit her over night and run a couple more tests Wednesday morning.

I left work at 11ish and sped (literally... I drive too fast even when I'm not trying to get to my wife while she's in the hospital) to her side. I had to leave a little before 3:00 to get some stuff for her (see the previous post) and then I had to leave again at about 6:30 because we thought of one thing we'd missed the first time.

Visiting hours end at 8:00. She didn't have another patient in her room so her nurse told us I could probably stay a little after that. I didn't end up leaving until 9:00.

I remember when Linda McCartney died, Sir Paul said that over the entire course of their marriage there had only been one night that he and his wife spent apart. That was the night he spent in a Japanese jail for possession of marijuana. Outside of that they were always together.

Personally I find that to be beautiful. I very much wanted to someday in the distant future be able to say something similar about my marriage.

And after just over three months our streak is broken. It's nothing to be upset about. The tests are necessary and they will show what we already know; there is nothing wrong with Jen. But...

Tonight is the first night of our marriage that we are separated. Really it's the first night since I unofficially moved into her apartment in Salem about a year and a half ago.

I hate it. I miss her so much. I am going to call in to work tomorrow so I can be there for her when she is discharged. Visiting hours don't start until noon. I don't have to go to bed at a decent hour tonight. I am tired but I know I won't be able to sleep much if at all without her with me so I have popped on a blu ray (and am going to pop in a second one as soon as I post this) and am just going to sit here missing her and if I fall asleep that's fine, if I don't that's fine too.

I love my wife very much and I miss her terribly tonight.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Follow the trail of the flowers.

This morning I felt one of those urges to make a cutesy display of my
love for Jen. I went to and ordered a dozen roses for
my sweetie.

I scheduled the delivery for today with the destination as her
office. Ten minutes later she told me she had to leave the office to
go home and meet our landlord for something.

I immediately called to have the destination address changed. I waded
through 100 voice options and read off my huge confirmation number
only to be told that my order wouldn't be in their system for an hour.

As soon as I hung up I got the your-order-is-in-our-system email
(grrrrr). So I brought it up and tried to edit it. Nope, can't do
that. So I went to the FAQ and found the email address to send order
help requests to and gave the old address and the new address.

I figured I'd have to wait for them to get back to me. In the
meantime Jen called to tell me she was not going home but instead she
was going to the hospital.

She had had a few pains over the weekend and today called her doctor
about it. He told her to go to the ER and have some tests.

I warped out of work and forgot about the flowers. Unexpectedly she
was admitted for the night. She is fine, they just want to run
another test in the morning.

After she was moved to her own room I went home to get her some
supplies and the flowers were on the porch.

After loading up on books and iPod parapenalia I put the huge
bouquette of flowers into the car and brought them to her.

Those are some well travelled roses!


Posted via web from Robert's posterous

Addendum: What is this? This is me testing the PicPosterous iPhone app. I posted a picture to my Posterous account and it forwarded here, just as it was supposed to. I then posted a second picture to the same album on the app. I wanted to see if it would post here too. It did not. I checked my Posterous page and it is there, but on the same post as the Mac picture.

So, if I wish to post stuff here via PicPosterous on my phone, they have to go into individual albums... if I just email the pictures to Posterous normally they will all show up.

There is still the issue of formatting the size of the image, but I am not going to use Posterous enough to worry about it today.

Thanks for letting me conduct this silly test.

Have a nice day.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Yes, this is offensive. It's also kinda funny.

This is funny too... and offensive.

York's Wild Animal Kingdom

Sunday morning we were sitting at home. Jen and I were in the office messing with the new iTunes. The kids were in the living room watching Full House DVDs. Jen paused for a moment and said we had to go out today and do something interesting or else the kids were going to spend the entire day in front of the tube melting their brains.

She first suggested going back to Portsmouth and checking out some stores she's found near her work. That was fine with me, but the kids would probably hate it. I suggested we find something kid friendly too to sweeten the deal for them. She found something and suggested it to them but the reception was pretty cold.

So onto the Internet my wife goes. She does some research on Portsmouth, NH but eventually decides to widen the search. She stumbles across something interesting in York, ME. York's Wild Animal Kingdom. It is two parks, a zoo and an amusement park. Both together are a tad more expensive than we wanted to go, but if we stuck to the zoo alone it would be affordable.

The decision had been made, but we didn't tell the kids. It would be a surprise for them. We packed into the car and headed North. Visions of Old Orchard Beach were swimming in one first grader's mind as we crossed the bridge on route 95 that separates Maine from New Hampshire. No dice kid, we're going some where else.

We got to the parking lot and spilled the surprise. They seamed a little apprehensive at first. Maybe because the sun was very bright and it was really hot on the pavement. We bought our tickets and then, before entering the zoo area, went to get some lunch.
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The line at the snack bar wasn't long but it was unbelievably slow.

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We spent way more time than we wanted to waiting in the line.
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There was also the issue of the previous day's heavy rains. Half of the picnic area was under water.
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We persevered though and rose above the challenge. That was a good thing because as soon as we got into the zoo we saw this:
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A baby monkey (or similar primate) hanging upside down by one foot. Awesome! I seriously wanted to take him home with us.
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Next to the world's coolest monkey was an area where you could feed goats. Feeding the animals is always fun, but these goats were very up front about wanting some food. There wasn't a shy bone in this guy's body.
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Continuing on the cuteness end of the animal kingdom were the lemurs. We tried to get them to sing, like in the movie Madagascar, but they weren't having it.
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There was a pond where you could ride paddle boats. We decided to skip the boats and took the scenic view. There were paths around the water with a few bridges where you could look down on the boats and the birds. When I say birds I mean ducks and geese. Dozens of them. Each one cooler than the one before. Ducks are awesome.
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We saw a few of these guys at the San Diego zoo while on our honeymoon. This is the world's largest rodent.
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Which lead us to more goats. This time, baby goats.
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Mom excused herself for a minute to do some secret cloak and dagger style work. The kids and I saw these two guys and had to check them out.
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Mom rejoined us just in time for this. Cover your eyes kids. Hey tortoises, get a room!
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Jen's secret agent work had to do with checking on the rules for the goat area. Not only could we feed the goats, but we could go into their pen and hang around with them. Again, the goats weren't shy at all. One of them kept standing up and putting his front paws on us in an attempt to make sure we wouldn't pass him over with the food we were handing out. He also decided that Jen's camera strap would make a tasty snack and took a chunk out of it.

The journey continued and we got to see some huge lizards...
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...some tiny little frogs...
2009-09-13 - Yorks Animal Kingdom and Brown's Lobster Pound 225 ostrich...
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...and a lynx.
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Next we came upon another walk-around-with-the-animals-while-you-feed-them area. This time with deer. Little Bambi looking guys. They were great, but pretty shy. They would come up to you and eat out of your hand, but they wouldn't hang around long enough for you to pet them. We all tried though.
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At the hight of grossness we saw a wildebeest taking a leak... while another wildebeest took a drink. He actually tried to drink straight from the tap. Gross indeed! I failed to get a good picture, but I'm not sure you really wanted me to get one.
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We learned that Prairie Dogs are awesome and that they live at The Alamo, complete with miniature cannons.
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Here we see a Prairie Dog re-enacting the battle. Remember the Alamo!
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There was a large closed in butterfly area. Inside we saw these guys.
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There were also a few butterflies.
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Our original plan was to head home in time for dinner but we were having way too much fun so we decided to go out. It was decided that lobster was the menu item of choice. We wandered back down into New Hampshire and headed toward Hampton Beach where we stopped at Brown's Lobster Pound (is that the name, or is it just Brown's?). The males at hamburgers while the females ate lobsters. It always looks like a major struggle trying to break the suckers open.
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One interesting item of note about Brown's is the view across the marsh. This is what you see.
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Need a closer look? Allow me to zoom in...
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Yes, that is in fact Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. I assure you though, there were no meltdowns and no lobsters were irradiated in the making of this post.

After dinner we made the long drive home. We did manage to stop at one more place in Salem, NH... Hawksie's ice cream. It wouldn't have been the perfect day out without some ice cream topping it off.

So it was, in fact, a perfect day out.

Think we can get a pet monkey?