Saturday, April 28, 2001


I read a bunch of on-line newsletters. Scratch that. I subscribe to a bunch of on-line newsletters. I skim most of the contents. Unfortunately. Tonight though, I was reading Scripting News, and it pointed me to HeroMachine, a neato Flash application. Check it out.

Friday, April 27, 2001

My Aching Back: Part 5

I now have two back exercises from my visit to phyiscal therapy to combat my recent back woes. (I'd say my back is about 80% healthy.)

One is to lean backwards while standing, as far back as I can go.

The other is to lie on my stomach, palms in front of my chest as if about to do push ups, but the hands are closer together. Then, using only the back, arch backwards, using the arms only for support. (The back is doing all the work here.) The finishing position is the arms fully extended, the back fully arched.

I have to be conscientious to do these exercises whenever I feel the back pain. The therapist also suggested being more conscious of my posture, and to bend my knees whenever I need to lean forward from my hips (which occurs while I'm changing diapers, washing dishes, or brushing my teeth). I'm going to have trouble trying to be perfect here, but if I can reduce the strain on my back, I'll be able to fully eliminate the pain.

Turkey Hill

I explored Turkey Hill this afternoon. From the Arlington, Massachusetts listing of recreation and conservation areas, Turkey Hill is "A hill marked by a blue water tower off Washington Street."

I have lived within walking distance of this conservation area and water tower for nearly five years, and I haven't once visited it. So today, with Mia, I tried to walk up the hill to the water tower. I promptly got lost, and had to ask my neighbor for directions. She showed me the entrance to the path off of her yard, which took me straight up the hill, directly to the tower.

The views were spectacular. I could see the distant Boston skyline through the trees. The hill was still littered with leaves from last Fall, and it cast a serene orange glow throughout. The hill had enough trees to safeguard it from the nearby streets, but it was sparse enough so that I could make out the contours of the land I was walking on.

When I reached the tower, I walked around it. Mia and I were completely alone, and the tower was cold, warning us "not to trespass" its permeter fence. I walked around it, and then left the hill top by another side street, which eventually dumped me out on Forest Avenue, which crosses my street.

It was a splendid day to forge new territory. And to think I lived here this long without visiting this.

Shoes for Not Working

Since I stopped working, I haven't worn shoes except to go to church. I've been wearing sport sandals, or sneakers. Today, I took all four pairs of my 'working' shoes to a local shoe repair store, and requested each of them cleaned, and retapped, or resoled, depending on use. I get to pick up these shoes on Tuesday, May 1. Getting shoes 'cleaned and repaired' by a shoe store is an easy way to make them feel new. And I like to make my old purchases feel like new.

You might ask what will I wear to church on Sunday, if my shoes won't be ready until Tuesday? I have a pair of infrequently worn dress shoes just for the occasion, although I'm sure God wouldn't mind me showing up in my sport sandals.

Wednesday, April 25, 2001

In Between Jobs

Today, I accompanied my wife as she visited her office. Of course we brought the baby, and we walked around the building showing her off. Her company is very large, and since I've been out of work for four weeks, it was nice to visit an office, and refamiliarize myself with cubicles, copier machines, and coffee pots. I miss 'working'.

I haven't started job hunting in earnest, but I have a few feelers out. And people have been in touch with me, so I'm hopeful.

What have I been doing? I've begun cleaning out my basement (it's unfinished). I work on my resume. I am reading (presently going through An American Tragedy). I watch DVD movies. I wash dishes, and try to clean up around the house. I nap. Mostly, I'm "on the beach", as someone remarked to me recently. And in all of this, I help with baby.

It's too bad I can't get a job doing this.

My Aching Back: Part 4

My back is much better, although I'm still taking the pills that were prescribed to me on April 6. I will be visiting a physical therapist tomorrow.

Sunday, April 22, 2001

Shenandoah and Come Di

I recognized the music in two commercials I watched over the past weekend.

A commercial for the U.S. Air Force features a woman's voice, intoning a hopeful tune. Gentle music complements her.

For a soap commercial (Zest?), I heard a male voice do an up-tempo 'scat', a verbal 'riff', accompanied by a jaunty piano.

I was amazed when I recognized the armed forces music. It was music by Daniel Lanois, and voice by Emmylou Harris, from the soundtrack to the movie Sling Blade. I love this haunting song. It's the shortest song on the album: a scant one minute, nineteen seconds. However, when I heard this song during the movie, I thought "it'd be wonderful to get the soundtrack". On just the strength of this song, I bought the CD.

I was even more amazed when I recognized the soap music. It's from Paolo Conte, an Italian singer. One of my favorite singer/songwriters is Tom Waits. He didn't do this soap commercial; Paolo Conte did. What's the connection? A while back, I was actively looking for music like Tom Waits. A chance album review I read said that Paolo Conte sounded like Tom Waits. Just like that, I bought a Paolo Conte album. And it was amazing. The songs were happy, sad, and wonderfully different. I grew to cherish this album.

I located another review saying that Mr. Conte is the Italian Tom Waits. The song for the soap commercial comes is "Come di".

Hearing these two tunes used in a commercial fashion was pleasantly surprising. And, yes, it made me feel a little smug knowing I had heard it before.

Saturday, April 21, 2001


Lately, the obituaries have given me pause. Today, the New York Times reported that the inventor of the single-handle faucet died. The inventor's name was Alfred Moen, and he was 84. Mr. Moen told his company's newsletter: " ought to be able to get what you want out of a faucet. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that a single-handled mixing faucet was the answer, so I began to make some drawings." He had to convince a metal products company to build his design, and it originally sold for $12.

Fast forward: Moen, Inc. is one of the world's major producers of plumbing products. It's presently a division of Fortune Brands.

Mr. Moen did not finish college. He held some 200 patents, and served as the head of research and development until 1982, when he retired. Now this is a life!

Thursday, April 19, 2001

Safety Deposit Box

Today, I did a highly adult thing. I went to the main branch of my bank in Harvard Square, and put some important documents into my safety deposit box.

The ritual of obtaining the box is enough to remind me that I'm a grown-up. First, you sign in. Then you present your key to the attendant, who then uses it along with his master key to open the small safe (yours!) inside the vault. Then he grabs the actual deposit box itself. This is a thin, long, black metal affair. The attendant then ushers you to a small room with two chairs (presumably more than one person can view the box at once). Then the door closes, and you're all alone, with your most valued possessions.

For me, a sampling includes: my birth and baptism certificates, and the title deed to my wife's car. Our marriage license is in there as well.

When you leave, it feels like you just finished confession: relief, pride (I just did something good!), happy. It's wonderfully sobering to visit your safety deposit box.

Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Caps and Pens

The Washington Capitals stuck it to the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime, winning 4-3 in this NHL playoff game. The playoff series is now tied 2-2.

I love watching ice hockey. It's the most exciting television sport to me. And no, the puck isn't too small. I rarely watch whole games now. I remarked to my mother-in-law a few weeks back that I've watched my share of hockey games: all I need is to snack on a few minutes of hockey on TV now and then.

I like the moment in an ice hockey telecast when the referee blows the whistle to stop play, and instantly the players 'stop skating', and glide to their next position. They slide in graceful curves back to the face off dot, or to their positions. Occasionally, there will be a quarter-hearted push, or shove, between opposing players.

I always feel like skating after watching any ice hockey, usually because I see a player do something that I'd like to try: skate backwards with one foot, and then change direction; a nifty cross-over deke. My playing days are over, but the love of the game remains.

Root Canal

My wife discovered yesterday that she needs to have a root canal done, and I found a good explanation of the process at I found out about this web site through, always a terrific resource for primers on many subjects.

Tuesday, April 17, 2001


I spent some part of the evening reading about the Trellix and Blogger deal. I am a big fan of Dan Bricklin's web site. And of course I love BLOGGER. Reading about the deal was actually very heart-warming. I used Trellix to build a web album of my Paris trip with my wife, and I'm looking forward to some positive synergies here.

Monday, April 16, 2001

Days and Confused

I'm so confused about days and dates since I've stopped working. In the evening, I was about to take out the recycling bin, for the usual Wednesday pickup. My wife (who is also not working!) told me that it's only Monday. And then she reminded me that since Monday is a Massachusetts holiday, the recycling pickup would be on Thursday.

Sunday, April 15, 2001

Easter and Patriot's Day

Happy Easter.

In Massachusetts, tomorrow is a holiday: Patriot's Day. The Boston Marathon will be run. There will also be an afternoon Red Sox game (versus the Baltimore Orioles). Post Offices and banks will be closed. And we actually get one extra day to file our taxes because the IRS center in North Andover will be closed.

Friday, April 13, 2001

Good Friday

Today of course was Good Friday, the most solemn day in the Roman Catholic church. As a practicing Catholic, I was at mass today, serving as a lector. Everything about the Catholicism stems from the death of Jesus, which sets up his resurrection three days later in Easter. I don't claim to understand this profound weekend, but I believe it, and that's all that's asked of us.

My Aching Back: Part 3

Wouldn't you know it: my back felt slightly better today. And when I visited the doctor, she confirmed that part of the back spasm has subsided. She did end up prescribing some physical therapy to get at the rest of the back. I will begin this effort on April 26. For now, I'll be taking the pills, and trying to stretch my back as best I can.

Thursday, April 12, 2001

My Aching Back: Part 2

My back still hurts. Thankfully, I have an appointment tomorrow (Friday, the 13th). I'll likely have to undergo some physical therapy, although I'm still open to fixing my back through medicine. My Mom told me she was out of work for about a month with lower back strain a few years ago.

I also tried filing for unemployment today ("daddy on the dole"). The computer systems were down at the Unemployment Office (which they call the Division of Employment and Training). I called three times, each time greeted with the forlorn cry of "our systems are down". The last person said my claim was filed, but I think I should follow up tomorrow (Friday, the 13th).

Monday, April 9, 2001

Tiger: He Never Lets You Down

Tiger Woods has achieved the impossible by winning The Masters this past weekend. He now owns all four of the major golf trophies: The Masters, The U.S. Open, The British Open, and The PGA Championship. These are the major tournaments that measure a golfer's greatness. Now Tiger has all four trophies on his living room table.

Writers are tripping over their tongues, as they try to put this achievement into perspective. As I tried to sort out this myself, I recalled my own giddy moments when I put together my own web page for Tiger, nearly five years ago. Back then, I admired the excitement Tiger made me feel about a sport I didn't care about. As I followed Tiger, and as I learned golf, I came to fully appreciate Tiger's desire for excellence. I found it hard to believe that Tiger would live up to his own lofty goals, simply because I didn't think a single player could dominate such an exacting sport as golf. I was afraid to be let down.

Tiger didn't let me (or the world) down last weekend. He fought off two tremendous competitors in David Duval and Phil Mickelson. He fought off the frenzied atmosphere (is it a grand slam? a Tiger slam?). He fought his own nerves. And he prevailed.

After every Tiger achievement, I keep saying that if he were to retire then, he could be satisified. I am wrong. I would be satisfied, but Tiger wouldn't. He is the greatest golfer to walk this earth, and I am so happy to be alive to witness his greatness.

Friday, April 6, 2001

My Aching Back: Part 1

I'm thirty-three today. And my back hurts. Actually, it started hurting on March 26, two days before Mia was born.

Today, I went to the doctor's, and was prescribed two medicines: Naproxen (taken twice daily), and Cyclobenzaprine (taken once daily, before bed). I'll report back on how these work, but the doctor did say that if after a week my back wasn't feeling better, I'd probably have to undergo some physical therapy.

Thursday, April 5, 2001


Tomorrow will be my birthday. I'll be thirty-three.

My mother-in-law is in town this week, to help with the new baby. She presented me with a new golf bag (from Izzo) and I'm delighted. With today's start of The Masters, the gift puts me in a great frame of mind.

Monday, April 2, 2001

Dropping My Palm

I dropped my Palm Pilot VII this morning, in a fit of clumsiness. It was outside of its carrying case, and the crash and clatter of the device as it hit my kitchen tile was scary. The stylus, batteries, and battery cover were separated quite dramatically.

So this is the part where I say that I haven't synchronized the contents of my Palm Pilot since March 22. I was worried that it wouldn't even turn on.

Quickly, I put it all back together. And in amazement, it worked! Hurray! The Palm Pilot case is remarkably sturdy. David Pogue in PalmPilot: The Ultimate Guide, 2nd Edition says "The glass screen, the electronics inside, and the dark-gray case usually withstand desk-height drops." Definitely.