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Showing posts from March, 2010

Anthony Trollope

I claim that Trollope is one of my favorite authors. I read a number of his books in the 1990s, including the one that happens to be the title of this blog (see? "He Knew He Was Right" has nothing to do with politics...). Some captured me more than others. I was assigned reading HKHWR in college, but just wasn't able to complete it in the allotted time. The teacher had described it as "the best book that nobody has ever read", pointing out that Trollope's contemporary Dickens was more widely known, and, even among Trollopian novels that the Barchester Towers earned him more fame. I found HKHWR interesting to the point that I vowed to read it in the future, and I did just that--cover to cover--while traveling through Europe in 1998. It absolutely absorbed me. I hate to say it, but I thoroughly enjoyed how Louis Trevelyan fell victim to his jealousy, torturing himself throughout the 900-page novel. Further, at least two other of the subplots are neatly wrapp…

It's going to be a long ride home

It struck me a short time ago that I haven't used the mobile version of this blog since testing it out. I probably will shy away from it unless traveling, enduring a blackout, or something out of the ordinary. For one thing, I prefer typing with more than my thumbs, and I am simply afraid of leaving embarrassing typos all over the entry.

So, what's going on now? Well, I'm on the train again. I boarded about 10 minutes prior to departure, and had what might be considered a "Dream Car". It was empty but for a few quiet types like me, and I was prepared to read or just relax for the next 100 minutes. Then they got on the train. Who are "they"? Only the noisiest, most restless band of about three families who ever boarded a train.

About 10 minutes into the journey, I, along with the other quiet types, are amused. I did move away from the noisy section of the car, but just don't feel like switching cars altogether, a decision I'm bound to regret. The…

Strange day at the beach

Here’s one other story I previously told on Facebook that strikes me as kind of currently relevant, owing to a label I used in the photography entry from two days ago and the snowball assault mentioned yesterday. In this story, there are no snowballs being thrown, but there is an attack of a totally different kind.

Back in 2004, while still living on LI, I was in a pretty good running routine, and often ran along the shore at Jones Beach. In early September, I peaked, and ran from Field 6 to the West End jetty and back (about 8 miles round trip). Feeling good--and hungry--I decided to reward myself with a hot dog and soda in the concession stand. With the dog in my left hand and the soda in my right, I headed outside. Suddenly, I felt a solid smack on the back of my left shoulder and then two lighter hits, all of which caused me to raise the arm in an almost defensive motion as I whirled around to see who it was. In an instant, the hot dog was knocked away by the seagull that had bee…

Snowball fight averted

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I realize I posted this on Facebook last year, but I can’t think of the February 2005 ski trip mentioned in my previous entry without recalling the following shenanigans with my friends.

On this particular trip, I got to ski four mountains over four or five days. On one of the days, three of us left the others and went up to Jay Peak (pictured here; the photo was not taken with my Seagull 120, but rather a small digital camera that fit in my pocket...). After a nice day on the slopes, we returned to Stowe that afternoon, and were promptly assaulted by all the kids in the group, who bombarded us with a cooler full of snowballs they had made.

That evening we were all cleaned up and waiting for the town shuttle to pick us up and drive us to the restaurant we had chosen for dinner. The group comprised 7 or 8 adults and about 10 kids. Somebody was going to throw the first snowball; however, rather than get into a snowball fight before dinner, someone suggested we take aim at a telephone po…

Ok, I think I’ve developed my last roll of film

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I remember throwing out the one-gallon containers that I used for mixing and storing film-developing mixtures before moving in late 2005. I had bought my first digital camera in 2002, and stopped using my film cameras by early 2005. So, when packing up my apartment later that year, I looked to thin out a large chest of camera gear and did something of a purge. Some bulky film-developing stuff and flimsy novelty point-and-shoot cameras were the primary victims. Really, I could have discarded more right then and there, but I decided to hold on to most of it.

Today, I went through the storage chest again and purged some more things: the remainder of items that hinted at film developing, a bulk film loader, a slide copier, and some old light bulb holders all bit the dust. What’s a bulk loader? It’s hardly worth explaining, but it was a device that would take a long roll of film, and spool it onto reusable film cartridges. It was way cheaper than buying individual rolls of film, but I real…

More thoughts on my ancestry

It is my Dad’s forebears whose lives I’ve spent so much time pondering, as information about them is more readily accessible than it is for the ascendants of my Mom, who was a second generation American.

The more I pieced together the different branches of my family tree, the more it often felt like a puzzle—whereas friends and family were playing online games looking for treasures, wizards, or whatever, I was on a more noble quest, seeking real people from long ago. Every time I found another ancestor, it felt like I found another prize, and was eager to move on to the next level, or generation, as it were. I would try to secure the basics of their existence—date and place of birth, marriage date, date of death, etc, and refer to as many sources as possible to obtain or verify that information. However, when asking too directly about when a relative close to her died, my aunt gently chastised me for what must have seemed to her as a lack of compassion, teaching me a valuable lesson: O…

MTA gripe 2

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Ok, I think MTA gripe 1 should have been split 50/50 with the town of Southeast, given the very odd design of the parking lot and the placement of the parking and ticket machines. MTA gripe 2, however, rests squarely with the MTA.

I had afternoon plans in the city and then had a ticket to the Rangers game in Madison Square Garden that evening. So, I took the train down to Grand Central, made a few stops on foot, and then met my good friend and headed to the arena.  As I noted in MTA gripe 1, there are limited trains available during non-peak times, and my options to get home after the game were either a 9:56 pm or a 12:06 am train.  Hockey games usually end just after 9:30, and I realize that I will have to escape the Garden crowd, get downstairs to Penn Station and the subway, take that uptown one stop, catch another subway or the Shuttle across to Grand Central, and then get to my train.  Believing that every second is going to count to have a chance of catching the 9:56, I try to …

MTA gripe 1

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Ok, I do like it up here in the Hudson Valley. Perhaps I’ll get into why in a future post or two. But, here I want to mention one of the things that irks me: the trains. Now, the service on Metro North trains is usually fine; that's not the issue. My problem is their limited frequency.  The first part of my journey to NYC is along the non-electrified, single-track length north of the transfer point--the town of Southeast, with trains running there every two hours during non-peak times, and every hour from there. Since the drive to Southeast is about 20 minutes longer than to my local station, I normally stick with the nearer one, until just recently, when an appointment came up that made me think it a good time to check out Southeast.

Here is a Google Earth image of this roughly half-mile-long train station and parking area...



I arrive at the station with about 10-15 minutes to spare, entering the parking lot from the road emerging from the left side of the image.  A sign directs p…

I can name all of the presidents

Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, JQ Adams, Jackson…

I don’t need to refer to the internet or look at a chart, nor am I able to do this from mindlessly repeating their names over and over in some kind of memorization exercise; nope, nothing like that. It’s just that some things have a way of sticking in my head, and I am interested enough in history that I can often associate past presidents with a significant event or time period (westward expansion, Civil War era, WW I, Great Depression, etc). In other instances, something in pop culture helps me remember. For example, the first few listed above roll off the tongue or keyboard pretty easily, but it’s easy to start getting stuck once the seventh and eighth ones come up--unless you’re a Seinfeld fan, in which case you may recall Kramer escaping the wrath of a gang by accidentally flashing them their sign--eight fingers--representing the eighth president, Martin Van Buren,

Van Buren, WH Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmor…

Writing around Word

I don’t know if I am clever or deviant.

A few weeks ago I used my film scanner for the first time since doing some initial scanning after purchasing it 5 years ago. This particular brand has its own file format. It lets the user scan the image, and import the file into MS applications such as Word, Outlook, etc, but, as far as I can tell, doing any image editing requires purchasing their deluxe software package. For as much scanning as I do, I see no reason to purchase additional software. Well, the only other program I have that could open the file was good ole MS Paint. From there, it was a breeze to save the image as a jpg, open it in another program, and then make my minor edits in that application.

Since joining Blogger, I've only had a few stretches of focused writing. I noted almost immediately that there is that handy "Draft" feature that lets the user write and then edit/post at their leisure. Well, what I didn't realize until getting around to postin…

That great family letter from 1966

I like genealogy. I have put together a widely branched family tree, the result of pouring through thousands upon thousands of old records, making many visits to cemeteries and genealogy centers, and writing/talking to many relatives, near and far (both in terms of proximity and relation). Well, I didn't do all the work: Some of my forebears lived long lives, stayed on the same farm for 200 years, and did a great job of passing along family information from generation to generation.

In 1966, my Dad’s father received a letter from his sister, outlining the names and birth/death years of this line of the family, which was traced back into the late 1600s. In about 4th grade, I remember having to create a family tree for school, and being happy that my parents could help me make a tree that went as far back as my great grandparents. We learned of this letter a short time after I completed my project, but we were still happy to add its information to the tree. When most people trac…

I'm set up for mobile postings (I think)

Ok, so I've set up my Blackberry to allow me to post while on the go. This is great. Now I can write about all the exciting things going on as they happen, rather than post about them when I get back home. Right now, I am getting my oil changed. Yeah, real exciting.
More seriously, this post is a test. Had this been something I really wanted to write about, I probably would have waited until I got home and was in a better position to more carefully edit...

Back to downhill skiing

So, there I was in Maine, learning the disheartening news that my cross-country skiing would greatly benefit from a downhill lesson. This sucked. As I left Sugarloaf, though, I remembered tiny little Whaleback Mountain in New Hampshire, which I had passed numerous times in my travels through the region. It was easily accessible from the highway, and it was small enough that I didn’t think the terrain would be too terrifying, or a lift ticket too costly for what could be a very short and frustrating day.

I approached the good folks at the ski school desk and asked about a lesson. For an insanely low rate, I got the rental equipment, lift ticket, and lesson secured. I signed up and headed to the waiting area. A college-aged kid skied over to me and asked if I was there for the lesson. When I told him that I was, he explained that I was the only one in the class, so I was getting a private lesson for the cost of a group one. Shoot, score.

As for the fun business of the lesson, wel…

Cross-country skiing

After my downhill skiing struggles, I decided to give cross-country skiing a shot. I did a little research, spoke to some trusted staff at a frequented Eastern Mountain Sports store, and I purchased some classic cross-country skis in late 1993. I had never tried it, and wasn’t even sure that I would like it, but I jumped into the whole xc skiing thing feet--or skis--first. I recall testing them out in a local park early that winter. Yes, a park, i.e., a FLAT, wide-open area, where I got the gist of the whole pushing forward and sliding thing. There was no worry of unwanted acceleration, and it was a good cardio workout. I liked this.

Kick-slide-kick-slide-kick-slide...

I returned to the Catskills with one of my buddies, to try this some more. He went downhill skiing while I headed over to a local golf course and did my cross country. Again, I found myself enjoying this activity. Yeah, there were some mild hills and more turning dictated by the contours of the trail, but the fal…

Downhill skiing

The family of one of my closest friends had a house in the Catskills. That enabled many of us to start skiing when we hit our early 20s. Note that “many of us” did not include me, and that’s not because I was an unwelcome guest, nope, not at all; rather, for whatever reason, I could just not master the idea of pointing two slippery boards down an icy hill and expect to stay in control of them. As soon as I picked up any speed, I panicked, and crumbled to the ground. My friends, with the best of intentions, tried to help. I remember them painstakingly offering instruction, and me not grasping what they were saying. After one fall, I struggled to get the ski back on. The problem was that the ski was pointing downhill, so as soon as I applied pressure to attach the boot to the binding, the ski just wanted to slide away. The idea of an “uphill ski” and a “downhill ski” just didn’t sink in. We were on a mountain afterall, and everything looked downhill. I wasn’t alone, though, in my frustr…

Switchback Ale

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I like to ski. Living in the Hudson Valley means that I am 4-5 hours away from some of my favorite ski places. Since this means an overnight stay, Apres ski becomes a valued part of the overall ski experience. To me, that means a pint or two of a good beer. One of my very favorites is the Switchback Ale, made in northern VT, and hard to find anywhere else. It is not available in bottles, I don't believe it can be purchased by the growler, but every ski place and restaurant in those parts seems to have it. And I am glad they do.

What is it about the Switchback Ale? Two points to understand: 1) I usually opt for a good ale over a good lager, generally leaning to the hoppy over the malty, and 2) I am not a beer connoisseur. But, there is something magical about this particular brew. Is it the ambiance of enjoying something tasty in a great setting? Perhaps. That has happened to me before (e.g., Second Cup's "Caramel Corretto" coffee drink tasted way better in Whis…

Last thoughts on the Olympics

Ok, I know it is time to move on to other topics, but there are still a number of things I wanted to say about these just-concluded Olympics. I've covered things that were on my mind in the three preceding posts. So, I will skip over those thoughts and randomly summarize the remainder in list form (I like making lists...)

1) Night Train!!! I have little doubt this is one of the things my mom would have loved to see happen: The US winning (seemingly easily) the 4-man bobsled for the first time since 1948. Great job guys!

2) US Hockey: It's Canada's sport. I would have liked for us to win this game, but Canada winning would have been my second choice at the start of the games. In what was easily one of the best games EVER (and certainly for me the most memorable in the last 15 years), the US fell behind 2-0, tied it with 24-seconds left, and then lost it on a Crosby goal in OT. Yesterday, I mentioned how social networking made these Olympics more enjoyable for me. Wel…

Social networking, image fixing, and the Olympics

Before the Olympics even started, I had 'fanned' on Facebook the pages of the Vancouver Olympic site, the US Olympic team, the hockey team, the curling team, Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn, and then added Apollo Ohno, Johnny Spillane, Shani Davis, the Norwegian Curling Team's Pants, and...well, maybe that was it. Seeing the unedited comments made by these folks appealed to me and enhanced my enjoyment of the games. It's one thing to have Bob Costas draw questions from athletes, but it is quite another reading about these folks talking about what is on their mind at any given time they choose to post, be it their restlessness or butterflies before events, their elation or torment after, etc. Sure, the media will play up the Nancy-Tonya-lite spat that could be taken from a few of the posts made by those on the women's Alpine team, but what I didn't hear anybody read on air were the more humble comments they posted (these were from Vonn):
"Watching the opening …

Some more thoughts on the Olympics

I like the racing events of the Olympics more than the others.

Luge and Skeleton are kind of the exceptions, as the riders seem so unprotected and in little control. I think you know where this is going. How chilling was that footage of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili? First, I think the networks erred in showing the footage, a mistake that they stopped repeating several hours after showing it. And, how weak was the response of officials, that it was driver error--a failure to correct a maneuver from the previous turn--that led to his death. Ok, fine, you make a mistake in a high-speed event and you can get hurt--there are risks of injury inherent in most sports--but it sounded like they were saying that death was an expected risk for this event. And the initial fix of padding the cement column? Come on, at 90 MPH would padding have helped? The only solution was what they finally did, boarding up the track to keep drivers who have crashed on the course, to prevent such sudden …

The Winter Olympics are over, time to start blogging

A few friends have been nagging me for years to blog. I already do Facebook and Twitter, so why do I need to blog? Well, as the Olympics were unfolding, I remember night after night finding some story or event amazing, and wished I could preserve it. Sure, NBC put its emphasis on things as it saw fit, but I realize a blog may be the way to help me remember the things that I liked in these games.

For example, there was opening night. NBC kept wondering how it would compare to Beijing, and then they kept talking about how that fourth arm got stuck in the floor. Me? I loved the whales. And, I thought that kid "running" through the wheat fields was just amazing. Ditto for kd lang. Finally, there were those unmentioned extras who were dressed in white pants and white jackets and white hats, dancing while the countries marched in--they were just funny.

Captivating me the first few nights were the Freestyle events, starting with Hannah Kearney vs Jenn Heil in the Women's…