Sunday, July 30, 2006

Zip Trip to Manhattan

A week ago last Friday, I got an email from a friend asking me if I would be interested in taking a quick trip to Manhattan. Of course, I would. My friend, who works in networking high-tech was on call that weekend and he volunteered to head to a cleint site to swap out a CISCO switch box. I love New York City, definitely prefer it to LA and since I hadn't been there since before 9/11, I jumped at the chance as I hurredly did a load of laundry. I was told that 'the work' would only take a half an hour, so we would be free to do our own thing for the weekend.

My friend picked me up early Saturday morning and he was already exhausted, since a violent thunderstorm hit the Boston area the night before and he had to wait for power to come back in a building in Milton. When the power came ack out, he had lost power at home, and as this was yet another hot an muggy weekend, he couldn't sleep without AC. Once that came back on, at about 4am and he tried to catch a little sleep, he got another trouble call.

He picked me up at home and we stopped for breakfast at Joe's a local diner (Eat at Joe's). He couldn't do any work until 3 pm and he arrived at about 9. You can make it to Midtown from here in 3 hours, depending on traffic and few stops, 4 hours of 'normal' traffic and we allowed 5 hours for a lunch break. We left about 10am. We ran into my brother Al at the diner.

We hit the road at 10am, stopped at a McDonald's somwhere around New Haven, got hit with a downpour in the area, and all I can say is thank God for air-conditioned vehicles, as the air was thick and soupy. Just open a window and feel what you are missing. We relied on GPS to get us to the World Financial District and we made it with about 20 minutes to spare. just try to find a parking space, especially with equipment. But we found one in a valet parking underground garage. I'm sure my friend will expense the parking.

I had to go to the bathroom while my friend went to work. Since it was only supposed to be a 'half hour's' work, I had a fresh Time magazine and an Ipod. I opted to wait in the lobby of the building which had its own self contained Mall, like the Gap, Starbucks, a few restauranst that cater to the workday crowd and were closed, but there was a Chinese restaurant that was open, which would come in handy later. But I had planned on just accomplishing two things this weekend - Bleeker Bob's Record Store in Greenwich Village and a trip to Chinatown.

The building is directly across the street from Ground Zero, in fact, there were tour busses that were discharging tourists on the second flor lobby where I was, so they could view the hole, which is guarded 24/7 by the NYPD. I grabbed a seat outside a cafe and got comfortable.

The hours would pass. I walked around and browsed in the stores, went outside, where the air was tropical and there were a few downpours and umbrella vendors were soon making a brisk business by unprepared tourists. It cleared, I tried getting in touch with my friend, whose Nextel was unavailable, but my Verizon had 4 and 5 bars, better than it is at home. I sat outside for a little bit at the waterfront, as I could see the Statue of Liberty, off into the distance, a tiny figurine from my vantage point. But I could have easily been in Cambridge on the Charles rather than New York on the East River (or is it the Hudson?). I called Chris and we talked for awhile but I cut it short so as to not use up all my battery power and another rainshower chased me indoors. Off across the river, you could hear the sounds of an outdoor conert or street fair.

There was a Starbucks on the lower level and so I went down there for an iced Americano. I went back to my roost and continued reading my magazine. About 9, I started to get hungry. I didn't want to eat much because I knew my friend would eventually finish up and we would go eat, so I went down to Starbucks to check out the sandwiches. But I wasn't about to pay $5.75 for a cold sandwich, when for a few bucks more, I could gom to the Chinese restaurant and have hot appetizers. Sure nuff, my phone rang as I chowed down. It was my friend telling me to go get food, although he was starving. I told him I was way ahead of him. After I eat, he sent security down to get me, as I was afraid thatn they'd kick me out of the lobby eventually, since the place has since gotten vacant. They do kick people out, but not until midnight.

He finished up with work at about 10 and so we headed out to the hotel, the Times Hilton. Guided by GPS, W 43th was blocked off for a concert, but I got out and asked the concierge where we could park. Once settled it, we went out to Dallas BBQ, which my friend had heard good reviews. I loved the music. very Motown, but the 'crispy fish' was not the best of had. Despite the fact that New York is supposed to be a 24 hout town, many things were closing even in Times Square at around 2am.

I plugged in my Ipod and it didn't charge, but I think that it won't recharge unless the battery is really low. He plugged in his cellphone.

The next day, he told me the outlet probably didn't work as his cellphone didn't charge, so he plugged it in in the bathroom. His phone began to ring and there were problems at work. He said 'we'd' need an escort into the building, but I suggested that he let me be on my own and we would keep in touch by cellphone. I would have many 'bars' on my Verizon, while I kept getting his Voicemail on his Nextel.

So, about 10:45, I set out walking down 5th Ave, with my eventual destination was to be Bleeker Bobs and Chinatown. I brought with me a bottle of water and a camera and a Time magazine for the times I'd be sitting down killing time. I took pictures of Bryant Park and the New York Public Library, which isn't far from Times Square and got a picture of the Flatiron Building in the distance.

The weather wasn't bad for walking as the showers and humidity from the day before had been replaced with clear and temperate skies. Good for people watching which is the only way to see Manhattan.

I essentially walked down 5th Avenue snapping pictures with my disposable camera. I took a picture of a cool building, that reminded me of a modern Addam's family house, (not sure of the name the style of architecture) which was near Greenwich Village. I toyed with the idea of visitng the Empire State Building but the cost and the line discouraged, but we would visit it the next day.
I got some nice pictures of the Flatiron Building.

I eventually made my way to Bleeker Bob's on West 3, but before getting there I took a rest stop at Washington Square Park. I saw some street performers, with one guy juggling fire and a skateoard, and another group of break dancers. A fun diversion. Another stop I made before getting there was the East-West Bookstore, somewhere around 5th and 22nd or so.

I needed the break, good thing I had a bottle of water with me. After a few minutes, I pushed on to Chinatown. Passing through SoHo, however, along Broadway, New York was having a typical Sunday street fairs with clothes, toys, linens, food and music on display and for sale. Some great soundns and smells, but I opted to refrain from eating until Chinatown.

When I finally got there, I was exhausted, hungry, my feet were killing me and I had to go to the bathroom. It was in Chinatown that I encountered my largest crowds and even walking moved at a snails pace. I would have really enjoyed the experience, but I was just too tired and getting cranky. I stopped at a restaurant whose name I can't rememer, got shrimp that was listed as $14.99, got charged $16.99 and it did not come with rice. (Extra). And even the tea was in a can. I would have not chosen this particular restaurant had my feet not have been killing me. I also had some dumplings since they had no wontons on the menu. The food was good, but I was still somewhat disappointed nonetheless. I toyed with the idea of taking the subway back to Times Square, but I had a chance to rest and got my second wind. My friend called and told me he was still stuck at work, so I saw no need to hurry back. So I started walking back via Broadway.

No soonet than leaving Chinatown, after checking out some of the stores, which seemed to push the same kitchcy Chinese things (I will revisit the place when not tired) and having walked passed a restaurant called WonTon Garden on Mott, (will eat there next time) I passed by a plant store with a young Chinese woman eyeing a Fairy Castle Cactus. I encouraged her to make that purchase as she was checking out others, although I felt the Fairy Castle was definitely the one she should buy. She bought it! I should sell plants. I stopped in the store, packed with plants and leaves and was a jungle atmosphere and I asked him how much his Pachypodium was. He didn't know waht I was talking about, so I referred to it my its common name, Madagascar Palm, which he still didn't know what I was referring to, so I brought him over to it. It was about one foot tall and was selling for $20. Good to know, if I ever get mine to grow (more about that in another post). I saw one young women with her packages, walking down the street, balancing a plate of food in her other hand wending her way through the crowd. She must have been a Native New Yorker (the song was playing in my head).

I walked up Broadway, branching off at the Flatiron Building and took a rest stop at Union Square Park. I needed to get off my feet, so I found a piece of wall to sit on as I watched the skateboarders, lovers, native and tourist do their thing. I called my friend Chris again and after about 20 minutes, decided to push ever onward.

It was starting to get dark as I walked up Broadway past the Flat Iron Building and the street was getting deserted. Where were the 'Lights of Broadway'. I started to pick up the pace, although all I wanted to do at that point was to cut my feet off.

At about 8:30, my friend called, said he was FINALLY done with work and I told him I was headed back to the hotel but god knows when I'd arrive. The solution was he was calling a cab back to the hotel, so he had the cab stop and pick me up at Broadway and 33rd. We got back to the hotel, I hit the shower and we went out, (more walking) so he could buy souvenirs.

Obviously, with all the technical problems, we had to book the room for another night. While I was away, my friend tried to catch some sleep, and there was a 'problem' with the room. Apparetly, they were full or something, but the problem was soon fixed. I decided to wait till morning to get my souvenirs. We ended up walking down 7th Avenue, almost headed into Mid-town, when I protested I could go no further, so we stopped for pizza to get off my feet. Not bad. Wasn't really hungry, but I am on a mission to test out all the pizza joints throughout the world so this place was open at 1am.

The next day, my friend was scheduled to be 'released' from work at noon, but that didn't happen until 2:40, but he didn't have to go back to the client site until the end of the day to pick up his PC, so we had most of the day to 'enjoy'. I let him pick what he wanted to do and after picking up some newspapers for my brother, some tee-shirts and I did get a Creedence Dance CD from Bleeker Bob's, I had almost all the souvenirs I needed. But he wanted to go to the Empire State Building.

The last time I was in New York was before 9/11. I last went with my brother and sister as 'touristas' and one thing a tourist would do would be to go to the top of one of Manhattan's tallest buildings and check the view. At that time, I would have preferred to go to the top of the Empire State Building because it is more the epitome of New York in the popular imagination over the World Trade Center, which was technically taller. They had been to the top of both, so we went to neither.

So, even though I've been to the top of tall buildings like Boston's Prudential Building and Hancock Tower (900 feet) and Seattle's Space Needle. Ironically, I never went to the top of the Las Vegas' Stratosphere even when I lived there for years and years, but I said okay, since it is the building that King Kong climbed on, so if it was good enough for him, its good enough for me.

Things of course, have changed dramatically since 9/11 when it comes to sightseeing from tall buildings. Going to the top of the Empire State Building was akin to going on an airplane. Check your bags, remove your belt and shoes and go through metal detectors. All this and an hour and a half wait. We figured what the hell, we'll spring for the extra bucks to go all the way to the top of the 102nd floor as well as the view from the 86th floor. Of course, after all the waiting my feet were killing me, but the view was fantastic and I got a few good pictures. I opted NOT to purchase the audio tour and on the 86th floor, I was shooed away from sitting on the outside of the outside steps. It was quite crowded up there, and in the end, I was glad I went. Now that's a New York 'must do' is now done.

That killed most of the afternoon, so we headed back to my friend's client's office to pick up his PC. We went to Battery Park, enjoyed the beautiful day, watched the children run under the sprinklers, since it was quite warm out. I would have preferred to go on a cruise, but they were not running on Mondays, so I tried to talk my friend into a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, but he wanted to head for dinner so we could get ready for heading home after the rush hour traffic abated, so we went down to the Wall Street area and went to Delmonico's for EXCELLENT (and expensive) food. I had the Shrimp Kabobs. I thin they were U22s, or the largest shrimp available, For the first time in my life, I got FULL eating shrimp.

After dinner, we let the GPS guide us out of The City and headed back home, arriving around 1AM.

If there are duplicate thought processes in this post, my apologies. I wrote it over a period of weeks.

Next up: Mainly Maine.

Friday, July 21, 2006

First Trip to Vermont

At the end of June, me, Bruce and Rozz went camping in Vermont. Brandi and Jesse were supposed to come along, but when Jesse couldn't make it, Brandi had lost interest, so it was just the three of us. I was looking forward to it, as I had never ever had been to Vermont, which is strange, considering I was born in New England and I've seen more of the West than the East. Actually, it was kinda designed that way, since my original idea was to go the furthest away from home and get those 'out of the way' that way, when I 'retire' and get tired, I'd hit the closer to home states then. Little did I know at the time, I'd be living in Nevada but I have visited many states in the West - most notably Hawaii, my favorite, which I was very fortunate to visit twice and have visited all the major islands, except Molokai. I've also been to California several times, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico and (via AMTRAK) Montana and slept through Idaho. I want to see the ones I haven't been to yet, like Arizona and New Mexico and I personally think Colorado is over rated. Just my opinion, so withdraw those daggers!

Packing was far easier, since this was a 'standard' camping trip, as, unlike Pemi (which is coming up in about two weeks, Bruce isn't selling things. I arrived in Braintree on Wednesday and the first thing we did was to pick up Boo (Bruschi) from the vet, as he had been neutered. Things have changed since I did that to Copa, since Boo didn't have to wear one of those funnel collars because they did internal stitches and used glue on the outer stitches. The only thing was to keep Boo and Sapphire separated so that they wouldn't play to vigorously for the next eight days. We left on Thursday afternoon.

I don't remember if Bruce relied on GPS or not, or we just went down route 2., to southwestern Vermont. We made a dinner stop at a place called the Wagon Wheel in Plainfield, Mass, where we could let the dogs out on their leashes. It is a roadside quick food place more appropriate to a Dairy Queen and they had on the menu fried clam rolls which was Leery to try, because I didn't know how much of a food turnover they had so I opted for a BLT and some hummus and pita. I figured they couldn't ruin a simple BLT and the it was good. My fears were allayed about the turnover as the place soon got busy with locals stopping by. We talked to a few locals about dogs since having dogs, such as the seldom seen Papillions, which is the breed that Sapphire and Boo are attract attention. Soon we were on our way about an hour later. We stopped at a rest area in Guilford, VT as a rest stop and later in Ludlow for provisions like hot dogs, buns, Vermont cheddar cheese (of course) and marshmallows. We arrived at camp, whose name I can't recall about 8PM.

Bruce thought it was 'quiet time' and he kept on shushing us - and Rozz and I refused to whisper in the woods. Turns out that 'quiet time' was 11PM. We set up camp.

By now it was growing dark and it was occasionally raining. Just before entering the camp site, however, and bordering it, is the Plain Road cemetery. Talk about spooky. Miasma, fog and all that, and I couldn't help thinking of the movie "Night of the Living Dead". ("They're coming to get you Bar-bara").

Bruce and Rozz have a larger camper - a Cabana, with A/C, radio and a bathroom, sink, etc. As I was getting ready to go to bed in my 'area' which I felt was smaller and lower ceiling, my claustrophobia acted up big time and I refused to sleep in 'the coffin room'. I opted to sleep in the front seat of the Tundra, where I wished there was manual windows. Not everything 'modern' is best, as I had to turn on the vehicle to put up or down the windows and with the rain, it was quite humid. I had to sleep with windows down until we had a thunderstorm and a quick downpour. Then, of course, I had to deal with the mosquitoes.

Ok, so now I've found some documentation on the campsite with the name. It was the Crown Point Camping Area in Perkinsville, VT. 05151 (802)263-5555.

So, during my first night in the Tundra, we had a very vivid lightning storm, and with the cemetery just feet away and the fact that I remember a Weather Channel Storm Story about a group of campers in upstate New York, who were camping when a severe and unannounced thunderstorm came through, knocking down trees left and right. One tree fell on their camper, but they got out alive as it sliced where no one had been sleeping. All this and the fog and thoughts of 'Night of the Living Dead". I had to turn on the car to put up the windows. But it really wasn't that bad, aside the humidity, as I had my lantern, hanging from the clothing hook and stuff to read, an AM/FM/Shortware radio and my Ipod. I found a classical music station that came in very loud. So loud in fact, I listened to it through the headphones that were beside me.

I had to put the windows down again when the storm passed. It was so humid it was foggy everywhere.

The next day despite being damp, we were able to get a fire going so we could have eggs for breakfast cooked over a campfire. We then headed out to explore the Ludlow area. We stopped to get some medication for Boo, as Rozz grew concerned about his comfort as well as the fact that he was peeing more than normal and it appeared that he wasn't aware he was doing it.

At the local shopping plaza, we again found people who were attracted to the dogs. It was a retired couple whose daughter had Papillions. They told us of a place to eat called Stans. They told us of the 'Early Bird' specials. Stan's turned out to be a high-end restaurant that you wouldn't expect to find in the middle of the woods. The 'early-bird' specials such as Chicken (I had that). Rozz had the Swordfish, Bruce had steak (I think) and the salad bar was excellent. We raved about the food there.

While in 'downtown' Ludlow, checking out the small shops, I stopped in a hardware store where I picked up (and almost forgot to) mosquito netting. There was plenty, tent size, but that's okay, I just draped it over the open window. Did the trick.

It rained steadily throughout the night, so much so, we couldn't get a fire going the next morning. While Rozz, stayed behind working on her embroidery, Bruce and I decided to go for breakfast at a diner we had passed earlier. Only one problem, the road the diner was closed 'due to parade' and there was a detour. After trying to get through to the diner, I suggested that if we can't beat 'em let's join 'em. We pulled over, parked and walked to downtown Springfield. This Springfield reminded me of the Simpson's Springfield.

Springfield, VT is, like many New England towns, a former textile town that drew its power from water generated through a dam and waterfall. A large sign in the middle of Main Street read 'WELCOME ALUMNI'. We had to ask what the parade was all about and we were looked at as if we were dopes. Seems like everyone from Springfield and the Tri-County area knew what 'Alumni Weekend' was. Anyone who graduated from (I assume) Springfield High School could march in the Parade. Only a few years were represented and mostly were all old-timers.

I tried to enter 'Main Street Pizza' but the door was locked and there was a kid inside flipping dough. That was the dumbest thing I ever heard. Here was a guy who had a captive audience of a few hundred (I think) who came out for the parade, and he was closed! And it was now lunch time to boot! I stopped in a Radio Shack franchise to pick up batteries and I was in luck. Instead of a 4-4-10 (Four packs of four) batteries for $10, I got a 5-4-10. Don't know if Radio Shack changed its policy, or because it was a franchise and not corporate run or maybe it was an 'Alumni Weekend' special, but it was a good deal, so I took it.

After the parade, we were able to use the main access road and we went up to the Royal Diner (and the Royal Flush Bar) to get something to eat. I was hungry by then. I had some nachos and a tuna on white toast. I think I sent the sandwich back because the bread didn't seem toasted enough. The place was quite busy, considering that there were signs advertising 'Alumni Weekend' specials.

After lunch, we went back to camp, bringing Rozz some food and we promised we'd go shopping, which we did by visiting the Quechee Gorge area where we visited a few antique shops and stores. I picked up a few bargain containers for plants. Always looking for something unusual to use as planters. At some point, we pulled over to a yard sale where I picked up some Chinese ceramic pots for a buck a piece. Glad not everything was gone.

One thing that I picked up at a 'farmhouse' antique store was a 3 volume vampire story titled "Covenant With The Vampire", "Children of the Vampire" and "Lord of the Vampire" by Jeanne Kalogridis. All for a buck a piece. I wasn't planning on reading them right away, by I couldn't help myself, I am reading the first volume. So far, you know the plot - standard Dracula fare, but the author seems to have done her homework about Rumanian/Transylvanian folklore and culture. A good read, so far.

On Sunday, we packed up camp, and let the GPS guide us through the 'shortest' (yeah right) trip home. It took us through Claremont, N.H., where I once had an uncle who lived there, the Sunapee region, south of Concord, through Manchester and then home. We stopped at a Cracker Barrel restaurant which was decent.

All in all, I had a great time, as I usually do when I am with Bruce and Rozz. I will post pictures in a few days, but if I don't, it'll be because I am headed to NH for my second Pemi bluegrass Festival and another round of selling, music and camping (and fun).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

'My Computer' on My Computer

I got my pictures back from the Vermont camping trip at the end of last month and I copied them off the disk onto my 'P' drive. For the second time, I have had a problem with 'My Computer'. When I get into this program, it finds 0 items and won't close so I end up having to kill it. I think I may have taken the disc out of the drive without ejecting it. But I have had this problem before. Running shutdown goes so slow I end up killing power to it. I did this twice today and no workie.

Figuring the computer needed to shut down normally, I ran shutdown and let it take its sweet time going down. It took awhile, but it eventually shut down. Powering it back up, the first thing I checked was 'My Computer' and this still doesn't work. Windows Explorer works, to a point, but not if you click 'My Computer'. I think I have 118MB on my C drive, and although I know I have space issues, this isn't enough to kill it.

My network works, I use DSL and mail works which means I can do 'most, if not all' what I usually do, but I need to know how much space I have at any given moment. I download a lot of podcasts on my P drive and I am always monitoring space on my C drive.

I did a full system scan from both Adaware and Norton as well as defragging both drives, no problems (last night). I have had this machine since 2000 when I bought it to log on from home when I worked at Fidelity. What a mistake not buying a Mac again. My old Mac laptop still gives me no problems since 1997 or so. Its just not cost effective to upgrade (it can only handle OS 9).

My machine is a 2000 Pro, Compaq Presario Laptop. My next machine *WILL* be a Mac, but until then, any ideas how I can get 'My Computer' back. No, I won't upgrade to XP.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Oh My God - They Killed Kenny!

Ken Lay drops dead of a sudden heart attack. How convenient. If he has really died, my condolences to the family. All is forgiven.

But what if he didn't die? Will there be someone at the funeral home who can independently confirm that his is, in fact, dead? Stranger things have happened. The FBI still can't find Whitey Bulger, not Osama Bin Laden (in fact, the CIA, shut down the office that was dedicated to finding him, according to NPR and as reported on Countdown), and Pablo Escobar, the Colombian Drug Lord, feigned his own death (but I think he is really dead now). But then again , if I were looking down the barrel of a long prison sentence, I would have had a heart attack as well. The difference, being, of course, is I would have waited out my appeal in prison, not at my ski chalet in Aspen. Which is curious, by the way, because his wife Linda, once claimed that the family was 'penniless'. 'Penniless' and having a vacation home in Aspen (and don't forget the high rise condo in Houston.

If he is in fact dead, his legacy will be that he represented one of the greediest periods in American history, one where many innocent folks paid forhis mistakes with their life savings. If there is any justice in this story at all, its the fact that he can't take his chalet with him. Now the question, will the appeal go easy on Andy Faistow?

Meanwhile, Bush Bitch, Ann Coulter has been exposed as being a major plaigarist, according to one company that checks published books for such inaccuracies. She has apparently 'lifted' quotes from the New York Times, the Heritage Foundation as well as right off the brochures of Planned Parenthood. This also, comes from the 'liberal media', MSNBC's 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann'. And this is the same women who bashed Jason Blair of the NY Times for his own plaigarism charges.

Add another brick into the Wall of Shame.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

More about the Flag; Mid-year.

USA Weekend, in its Sunday magazine, had a blurb about flag etiquette (notice I didn't say laws) which was appropos since last week was Flag Day (June 14) and the latest GOP attempt to get us all to 'behave' in a certain fashion. Some interesting points: Congress decreed, some years back, that the flag, since it represents a living, breathing nation, it is therefore, a 'living, breathing' entity, not made out of cloth. Those miracle workers! Giving life to an inaimate object! What's next, the Parting of the Potomac?

In 2003, George Bush, signed his autograph on a flag. Should the President be cited for 'desecration', which itself an interesting word, since it evokes religious devotion. And while, the flag is not meant to be used as an article of clothing or other personal adornment, neither it is to be stretched wide on a football (American) field, either. How come no brouhaha when that is done like there was about 'boobgate' during the Super Bowl a few years back. Neither is the flag to be used as a commercial advertisement to generate sales - remember that the next time you patronize 'Honest Abe's' Used Car Emporium. And as the columnist Leonard Pitts pointed out in a recent column there has been all of 3 or so cases in the past year of actual flag 'desecration'. So, in light of a war which is costing Americans plenty in blood and gold, why is this such a big deal to the GOP. Even attacking the messenger, the 'liberal' New York Times to unite the foolish right wing zealots than did this. Just something to ponder on a summer's day.


Podcasting - I have downloaded several kinds of podcasts over the last few months, quite a variety, and best of all, unlike Sirius and XM, its free. Some of course, are quite amateurish, others are okay, but I choose not to continue to subscribe, but the ones I do are of course, interesting to me and the best become part of my regular listening repertoire. The best one is PodcastNYC, (link to the right), but Rob's been busy of late. I don't have a video Ipod (I've had it for over a year and half and the battery still hasn't failed me, and I listen for several hours a day - knock on plastic). When it gets time for a new batch, I peruse (link to the right), Podcastalley and I haven't really checked what's available in Itunes. I still use Ipodder as a 'test bed' for new podcasts and some of the better ones move to Itunes. I am a faithful listener of, for the best in blues music and although I was destined to abandon it, I have since reconsidered and that is Rockcast, This is the Rock. They come up with just the right mix of current and classic stuff that keeps me coming back for more.

A couple of new ones that I am listening to right now - 'Guy Cast' - college age guys from Maryland talking guy stuff - not for children, 'Horror Cast' as I love horror movies and creepy stuff, a new one, I have yet to listen too, 'Strange Brew' about the paranormal and there are many more to come, including UFOs and Ghosts.

I am not overly religious, as I was born Catholic, don't attend church, but my last church I attended was a Unitarian one in Marlborough. I can't attend one locally, by I listen to a Unitarian Podcast by the Rev. Randy Becker, south of Chicago. One new one I have picked up is the Kings Harbor Ministries for Men, a Wednesday Bible meeting. I find the speakers to be quite interesting and calming and one of the best things about Podcasting is if I get distracted, I can just backup or play again. Didn't think it would hold my interest, but it is. I read the Bible on occasion, and am currently reading the Book of Psalms. But you won't get sermons from me.

I also have been picking of the Daily Podcast from the Libertarian Cato Institute and coming to an Ipod near you - the Superman Podcast. Yes, there is one out there.

I have also found another use for the Ipod. I recently (last weekend) went on my first camping trip with Bruce and Rozz to Vermont. I had never been to that state, and I loved it. Its Oregon East. But, so I wont forget my experiences, I dictated my musings into the Ipod via a Griffin Italk microphone. It ends up as an audio voice message in Itunes, so I can play it back when it comes time to transcribe it here. When I get some webspace (coming) to store them, it'll be the first 'Pigcast'. I got the Italk when I got my Ipod for use in dictating book ideas like the History of Virginia City, Gloucester fishermen, Mayors of New York or 'Etched in Stone' a book about cemeteries and stone buildings and monuments.

Not all Podcasts make the cut - I was listening to a Music from Brazil Podcast, but it was too much Portuguese so I dropped it, I already have a Podcast on Itunes - Radio Macondo, Music from Cuba. I also have podcast on personal growth like 'metamorphosis', listened to a Podcast novel 'Earth Core' and have Mandarin lessons as well. Some are short lived like '3 Minutes in Shanghai' about an American living in Shanghai. I no longer lsiten to the South China Morning Post from Hong Kong. (mostly business and banking). One benefir of using Ipodder over Itunes, I import files from the download folders into Itunes as a Playlist and can listen them in sequence as opposed to Itunes '1 of 1' format. As you can see, i am never bored - walking, camping, whatever, my Ipod is always with me.

I have also caught up on Aaron The Truck Driver's blog -(link to the right). Always interesting, but now its time to move on to the next blog in the queue. I found a Cacti Blog for example with only a few entries. I have also read all the Shadowlands haunted places in California, (A-R). More spooky sites in California, than all previous states combined - 764, bringing the total to 1272 so far. Still have to read S-Z.


In The Garden:

I have started a new group of mixed cacti seeds that were backordered from Seedrack on June 13. I have about 38 sprouts. Many more seeds than the Home Depot/Walmart variety. In fact, I was in Walmart today and they have taken down their seed rack, just as In was starting to send seeds as gifts. I sent a packet to my friend Chris with a 'birthday' card (no it wasn't her birthday).

I have given up on the Kona Coffee (although it COULD sprout anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months) been about 8 weeks and Tea (camellia senenis), even after scarifying the seeds. I have also gieven up on the Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea Muscipula). In many of my failures, I think its due to me 'burying' the seeds.

On the plus side though, I got fresh Lithops seeds from CSSA Seed Depot and they HAVE sprouted, - Lithops Aucampiae, Dinteri, Fulviceps adn Karasmontana have all sprouted! (Woo-hoo) as well as my Stetsonia Coryne, and Echinopsis Pachanoi (San Pedro). i also have about 8-10 remnants of the January sowing

I also have 3 Dawn Redwood sprouts (Metasequoia Glyptostroboides - I hope they survive) and several little Colorado Blue Spruce sprouts (Picea Pungens Glauca) which are doing quite well despite being flooded out due to our near constant deluge of water and humity. I fear for my cactus sprouts - I want to keep them moist, but with such a lack of sun, there is mold growing here and there.

And I just planted Black Dragon Coleus - Solenostemon Scutellaroides (so they'll be a decent size in time for Pemi.

I can't help myself - yesterday I ordered Pachpodium seeds (Madagascar Palm) - Geayi, Horombense, Brevicaule and Densiflorum as well as Astrophytum Asterias and Pilosocereus Gounellii, just to make it their while to send the order. All for $4.50 (inc. S &H)


The Numbers for June. On June 10, it was the one year anniverssry of having a site meter on the Pig. Someone, from somewhere (parts unkown) was a vistor nearest the 9PM anniversary, (6PM PST as this began in Las Vegas)>

But here is the roundup:

AZ, CT,GA (several),LA,IL,MO,NV,NY,O,OK,RI,TN,TX (a few), WA and WI.

MA - Quincy, Arlington, Hanover and Waltham
CA - Palo Alto,San Diego and Sunnyvale

Foreign: Canada, (Ontario), France, Italy, Japan, Korea (there is an 'all things Korean' podcast out there that I will check out), Switzerland, Turkey and the UK.

Thanks for visiting