Monday, June 23, 2014

Status, Please

So, what's been happening since April?  Somehow, nothing new of note, and simultaneously a schedule that's more packed than any I can recall.  The last three weeks have been given over to major housecleaning and renovation - the kitchen ceiling being the largest of the projects, and one that certainly has proven to be a challenge.  Albeit, a challenge that has now been mostly solved, with the timely arrival of Sean Scorsone and John Hurson as Ceiling Team B, as well as the rapid construction of two T-Braces.  Oh, T-Braces - you hold the whole ceiling in your hands.

And, as mentioned previously on these pages, I took advantage of the dumpster that was rented for the kitchen demolition and cleared quite a volume of stuff out of the basement.  Yes, there's still plenty of stuff to go through down there, and double yes, the attic wasn't touched, but the dumpster did go back to the leasing company about 3/4 full, which I'm considering a successful purge.

Purge Lite®?

I was largely spurred on in the scouring of the basement by a quick trip up to Hamden (CT) to assist in the scouring of a house up there - a house that was owned by a God's-honest hoarder.  My takeaway was two-pronged:

  1. Having seen what an actual hoarder's house looks like from the inside out, I can rest easy that I am NOT a hoarder, myself.  I make it to packrat, maybe, and,
  2. I need to live in a totally empty room.
Thankfully, the Great Hamden Scouring fell smack-dab in the middle of the week that I had the dumpster rented, so when I got back home, I was able to ramp up and keep trashing shit with a renewed vigor - an energy borne from some deep existential unease.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why I Oughta...

Another thing that's happening around this time is the annual urge to clean and remodel.  This year, I'm being more ambitious than usual.  On the docket (in addition to finishing up the Yarn Barn re-hang) is a new ceiling in the kitchen, getting the basement cleared out and organized, finishing up the back porch, building a reading nook/bench/cabinet in the master bedroom, and (perhaps) regrout the bricks on the front stoop.

The goal is to get the kitchen ceiling and basement work organized, so that I can rent a dumpster for a couple of days and get all the demolition debris and basement crap out the door at the same time.   This probably means that I'd have to get the basement sorted out in advance of the dumpster arrival, which requires thinking and making decisions about piles of stuff.  This is pretty much the thing in life I'm worst at - figuring out what to do with my stuff, and fighting the desire to hold on to simply everything.  I'm definitely not a hoarder, thank goodness, but, boy, if there's a compulsion spectrum similar to Autism for the hoarding instinct, I'm definitely on there, somewhere.  Whatever the hoarding equivalent to mild Asperger's is, that would be me.


Monday, March 31, 2014


Ah!  Now between classes and wrapping up most of the current freelance work I have on my plate, I should have the mental energy to turn in a few Ramblers in the next couple of weeks.  I'm not sure exactly WHAT I'll be writing about, since my brain still has the needle hovering just above 'E,' but if the past is any guide, just the physical act of writing will get some ideas flowing.  And I promise they won't all be the Rambler about Rambling kind.

Other little updates:

The Yarn Barn: I've in fact finished painting the Yarn Barn a few weeks back, and successfully mounted it on the wall in Yesenia's creative space (not the hell sure what we call that room, these days...), but I realized after a couple of weeks that a) the colors I chose to harmonize with the walls in the room were harmonizing too well, to the point that the barn was kind of camouflaged, and b) although I had hung it quite stably, I found that sitting underneath it was giving me deep anxiety.  Putting a and b together, I opted to paint the wall an accent color and to add further (mostly token) support to the bottom edge. The wall has been painted (sort of a mud color, really) and the new 'feet' have also been painted, so all that's left to do is attach the feet, drill holes for them and rehang the barn.  So that should be done this week.. that deadline was in no way prompted by Yesenia's comment that it was turning into another half-finished project.  Being exiled from her creative space is taking quite a toll, and no number of warm baths seems to take that edge off.

Albums: Okay, so there are two albums mostly in the can, and have been mostly in the can for the last year or so.  What's the hold up?  The hold up is that my original plans for bringing in players and singers to respectively handle the guitar solos and backing vocals have mostly come to naught.  I've always had problems with guitar players (a joke that ran so thin during my Copper Man days that I started to bitterly think of it as a riff on Spinal Tap's drummers), but the fact that I've found it easier to get two excellent drummers, a killer organ player, great trumpet work and even a bagpipe solo with minimal fuss while still not being able to lock down a single guitar solo is a scenario that's depressingly familiar.

Hopefully, this is going to change pretty soon.  Backing vocals are the first down, and I've rethought how to approach them from my original conception of a uniform all-male team (Ansley and Bran), recording together in a loose, CSN style.  Since there are two albums, it'll now be broken down to two male singers recorded at separate times for the first album, and a mix of whichever female singers I can round up for the second album, which is helpfully already titled Women in Prison, so there's at least some nice thematic unity there.

Guitar, I don't want to curse, ala PCMA irony gods style.  I'll tell y'all when there's something in the can, and not a minute before.

And after all of this recording is done?  Then what?

I'll get back to you on that...


Sunday, March 16, 2014


So, my MacBook is in the shop.  Again.  And so is my car - basically, I'm expecting to wake up in a tub full of ice, missing a kidney next.  Any day now.

But I digress.  About five minutes ago, totally at random, I decided to see if there was a Blogger app in the App Store.  And there was.  So it had now been downloaded and is what I'm typing this on.  How's that for timely?

Even without benefit of app, I expect the Rambler to pick up steam in the next couple of weeks - I don't think I have 'seasonal affected mood disorder', or anything like that, but February made me pretty much not want to do anything that required me to be awake and thinking at the same time.  

So: let's see what Spring has in store.  I welcome it with anticipation and iPhone in hand.


Monday, March 10, 2014

March Marches On

You may note that the Rambler has been taking a time out for the last few weeks - this is not-coincidentally related to the fact that my web programming classes resumed in early February.  Somehow, these classes seem to take over my life, even though they're only two nights a week and I'm not paying that close attention, this time around (as my grasp of the material shows).

The classes in this round are Advanced CSS and PHP.  I get the former more than the latter, and learning CSS top to bottom is really one of the two main reasons I'm in the program in the first place. The second reason being Javascript, which I'm starting to dread.  I'm dreading it mostly because it's a language pretty similar to PHP, which means there's actual programming involved, and that's where my ability to parse the internal logic of the code breaks down.

So, expect a number of intermittent posts that consist primarily of me whinging about all this.  I apologize in advance.  I'll at least try to keep the despair entertaining.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Longest Shortest Month

Man, but I bet everybody has been pretty much hating this last few weeks about as much as me.  Look around, you can see it in their eyes - a weariness, a need to see the sun, the deep-down physical hunger to lay oneself down on a verdant bed of grass in the shade.  

So that's thing one: the weather has really dragged me down.

Thing two is probably more specific to me, although it's still very much weather related - on three seperate occasions in the last two weeks, I have done major cosmetic damage to my newish car.  First time was the day after the biggest storm, when the roads were a lot narrower than they normally are, and the hedges are substantially harder.  Doing a k-turn, I backed up against an icebank wrapped around a big hedge, and put a nice little dent in the rear fender.  Then, about a week later (after a small snow and the resultant plowing), I smacked the front right bumper pulling in my the driveway at about five miles an hour into half of a massive ice block that had been a mountain of snow next to my driveway, but the plow had cleaved it in twain and thoughtfully deposited a gibraltar-sized chunk into the driveway.  There was a loud and depressing crunch, and a quick examination revealed that the bumper had actually shattered at the corner.

THEN: two nights later, driving back from class in Midtown Manhattan, I smacked a pothole on the Palisdaes Parkway.  Hard.  Although I was going the speed limit, it was an immediate blowout.  I limped on until I could pull over at the closed Alpine Scenic Area.  On the plus side, I think I may have set a personal best time for changing a tire.  When I walked in the bedroom around 11:30 to tell Yesenia what had happened, she just laughed.  And really, what else can you do?

According to the assessor, the damage in full comes to around $1100 - which is good and bad news.  The bad news is that it doesn't quite reach my deductible (each item has its own deductible), but it's also about $1000 less than I'd been fearing.  So thank heaven for smallish favors.

But still, it does mean that my next few days are going to be a little complicated - dealing with insurance company, body shop, and car rental, all while still going to work, getting to class and watching with grim anticipation as the Polar Vortex rolls in for another round.  I mocked it once before, and now I understand its power.  I wish I knew what to sacrifice to it to appease the Angry God of the Northern Wastes - apparently, my fenders and front tire were not penance enough.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Story Ideas from the Subconscious

Here's what was in my head this morning when I woke up:

  • All the animals decide that the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics is their ideal platform to finally tell humanity to cut the crap.  They elect a single mare (named Winnie) to be their representative, and focus their willpower to grant her the power of speech for fifteen minutes.  During the ceremony, as planned, she breaks from the parade, shrugs off her rider, and walks up to the stands to address the stadium crowd and the viewers at home.  Everyone is impressed with the sophistication of what they think is an animatronic horse, and the animals' message to humanity is lost in a series of tweets and talking heads raving about Russian showmanship.
  • A famed architect has developed a method of finding the living spirit of a building by building a model of it out of dried straw, which he then converses with.  
  • The military convoy has gotten caught in a severe blizzard, and the soldiers have to find a way to survive in the frozen wastes for several days.

- D.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The 1 and Only

Like all epic quests of yore,
here is a map of the territory.
Normally, when I have business on the East Side, I park uptown around 116th and Lexington and take the 6 downtown.  Makes getting in and out quick and painless.  Yesterday, though, traffic across the GWB was slow and I felt like parking on the Upper West Side instead.  It's right around Columbia and I simply like the neighborhood better, and at the back of my mind was the possibility that we would grab dinner in the city and the area around 110th street and Broadway is packed to burstin' with great, diverse and not-too-pricey restaurants.

Of course, that complicates getting to the East Side, normally, with lots of transfers and adding a lot of time to your trip.  But we were meeting just east of Central Park (60th and Madison, to be exact), which is also right at the southern end of the park.  And there's a crosstown train right there, that you can conveniently pick up at Columbus Circle and 59th.  But I made great time coming in, and decided to simply walk from the Columbus Circle stop across town.  And it was lovely.

I met up with Yesenia, and on the way back, I asked if she wanted to walk back across town to get on the 1, or take the subway.  She opted for the walk.  And it was also lovely.

We got to the 1 at Columbus Circle around 4:30, so rush hour was just moving to full throng.  But we got on the train right away, and it was a partial express, up to 72nd.  Wonderful!  We'll be back at the car by 5:00, and home by 6:00 (if we don't eat in Manhattan, that is).

The train pulls in to 72nd street, and here's where the plan derails.  Not the train, of course - the train stays on the tracks.  It's just that it stops working and will not leave the station.  The doors close, the doors open.  They close, they open.


Close, open.

Close, open.

The conductor, with increasing agitation after each series of attempts, calls on the P.A. for some unknown persons at the back of the train to stand clear of the doors.

The train, already packed full when we pulled into the station, keeps getting somehow even tighter as the train sits in the station.  The minutes pass, five, six.  Then, the conductor, again:

"This train is out of service.  THIS TRAIN is OUT of SERVICE!  All riders must exit the train.  RIDERS EXIT THE TRAIN!"

We move as one out to the platform.  It's the only way we actually can move, we're all packed so tightly together.  Yesenia and I and thousands of other riders wait outside the now empty train.  Inside, a pissed MTA employee strides the entire length of the train, checking (I presume) for stragglers.

A couple of more minutes pass.  Then the automated station announcer:

"The. Next.  Uptown.  One train.  Will arrive in.  Twenty-five.  Minutes."

The entire crowd groans.  Yesenia has had enough, and starts up the stairs.  I follow, trying to discuss a plan with her.  "We're not getting a cab," I point out, "I don't mean that I'm opposed to taking a cab, it means that there's no way we're going to be able to flag one, now."

Yesenia: "How about the bus?"

"It's about the same speed as walking."

"We can walk."

"Fine with me."

We climb up to Broadway and proceed to walk the forty-three blocks to the garage.  Slushy lakes ring small mountains of dirty snow at every crosswalk.  Night has fallen.  And it's a forced march, rather than a lark.  I have not had anything to eat all day, except a cup of tea about ten hours earlier.  It is most definitely not lovely.

Every ten blocks, I call out the number of blocks remaining.  We hold hands.  Well, our gloves cling to each other with our hands inside.   We discuss dinner options.  Eat uptown?  Get pizza up in Rockland?  A few balloons are floated, but the pizza option is the mutually agreed upon conclusion.

About an hour later - after pausing at a favorite bakery to pick up some dessert carbs - we reach the garage.  It's another ten minutes there, while the lone employee deals with five customers and moves all the cars himself.

Surprisingly, after all that, at least the drive home is pretty quick.  And we discover that well-earned pizza is pizza that tastes good.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Illicit Rambler

Very VERY slow day at work today, as about 70% of the department opted to work from home, today. Which option sounds quite nice, but since I live about five minutes from the office, I felt that if anyone should be in-house in case an emergency design situation arose, it might as well be me.  But since the work is so thin, I'm sneaking a little time for a Rambler.  Such a rebel!

BTW: I can't imagine a more first-world 'problem' than an emergency design situation, but they seem to happen with depressing frequency in every industry I've worked in, and always seem to have life-and-death level impact for those that come running to you with them, creative brief held aloft in one hand, flaming like an Olympic torch.  And the sweat they're covered in?  Flop sweat, of course.

Anyway®, working from home would be wonderful, especially since Yesenia is also working from home today and the idea of both of us sitting on the couch by the fire firing off emails and tweaking code is almost painful to contemplate in light of where I'm actually sitting.  Which is a cube.  Under fluorescent lights.   Also a first-world problem, but you can still feel sorry for me.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Teeny Tiny

Let me tell you what this ongoing cold weather has done to me: I'm composing tonight's Rambler on my iPhone.  Which is a first.  And the reason I'm putting up with the insane tedium of typing long form on my iPhone?  Because I don't want to get out of the tub.  That's right, I'm rambling to you live from the bath.  Which is also a first.

Hey, that's two firsts in one post!  Impressive, no?

As a side note, for those out there who (like me) are attempting to knock off the winter weight?  Don't eat Mexican food.  It's the food where all the calories from all the other healthier, leaner foods go.  They do it just to go somewhere they feel wanted.

All right.  Time to de-tub and get in that bed, now that Yesenia's gotten it all warm.  If only there were a way to go instantly from the bath to bed, without the steps in between that will lower my body temperature.  Someone smart should get on that.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Infinite Recursion

For today's entry, I'm going to direct you to an appreciation I wrote about Dave Sim and his comic masterwork, Cerebus.  Since there's a chance that people reading that may come here, feel free to stroll around and also to visit my very outdated website at  It's all part of my ongoing attempts to break the internet by creating an unending link-loop.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Up Jumped the Devil in a White Nightgown

And BOOM, the whole place gets hit with snow and ice and it's crazy, crazy cold.  I'm of two minds about winter - fashion-wise, I love me some sweaters and I like when the weather agrees that it's a good time to wear one.  On the other hand O MY GOD IT'S FUCKING COLD.

Well, that sort of makes it sound like I don't like the cold.  I do, actually - I love being outside on cold, brisk days.  The white, heatless sun in the crystal blue sky, the overwhelming silence that is like no other season.  But I like winter to stay outside, and when it's as cold as it's been for as long as it's been, the house gets quite chilly.

I mean, of course it does - it's a 90 year old lathing and plaster job with no insulation in most of the outside walls.  But there's a deep set chill in some rooms that's kind of alarming.  I've taken to calling the first floor bathroom 'The Ice Cave', and it's not much of a surprise, as it's a small outside room with no heat and the entire wall given over to a window.  During the first half of the cold snap, the faucets actually froze shut.  I do not kid.

So all I want to do on nights like this is get into bed at 7:00 PM and stay under the covers for the next fourteen hours.  At least there's one great thing - when I renovated the master bedroom, I added insulation, and now it's not just the warmest room in the house, it's genuinely, actually warm by real-world standards. Naturally, the floor gets very cold, because it hangs over the front porch and there's nothing but cold air under there.  Because the house was built when people liked freezing their balls off.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Stewed Air

I'm smack dab in the midst of the first real serious diet that I've done in about a decade.  It's going well (enough) - usually, the first ten pounds fall off pretty quickly, and then the next ten takes a little longer, and the last ten is basically like proving Zeno's Paradox with a bathroom scale.

Reading between the lines, there, I bet you can figure out the math - yes, I started this diet when the holiday season ended and I found myself about thirty pounds overweight.  What's especially annoying about finding myself on the north side of 200 pounds for the first time in about fifteen years is that back in June, I had hit 193 and I said (to Yesenia, but also apparently to some God of Irony), "Hey, I'm going to get down to 180!"

I did it wrong, though - rather than losing thirteen pounds in six months, I gained fifteen.  Oy.

So, now, the diet.  Which is going pretty well, thanks to the two factors of Yesenia (who is also dieting with me) and the startlingly excellent site/app "My Fitness Pal", which lets me be ridiculously obsessive about calories.  It's now not an uncommon event for me to log in my calories after dinner, and say, "Oh, I have to burn some!", and promptly head out the door for a half hour walk.

As I said, thus far, it's working.  The only problem with dieting in winter is that my body's native instinct is to eat as much as possible during these cold, dry and dreary months, along with sleeping and remaining as sessile as possible for as long as possible.

Well, at least there's plenty of snow to shovel for that cardiovascular workout.  Feel the burn.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Pounding Down the Files

Short post, tonight - I spent the last couple of hours (after Yesenia went to bed) getting together some voiceover narration and various Dave performing clips for a video to promote Resonant Motion, a not-for-profit that I call myself the 'Director of Communications and Social Media' for, which mostly shakes out as me offering advice and building the site.

Came across a couple of interesting artifacts in my dig, including performance footage from my 40th birthday party, which I'm definitely going to share some highlights from, here.  At some point!  These things take time, you know

Anyhow, everything has now been uploaded and sent to the director / editor, which means I can brush my teeth and go to bed.  Or, I could brush your teeth and go to jail.  Your call.


Sunday, January 12, 2014


Christmas is about home.  It's about family, and celebration and blah, blah, blah.  But at least as much as anything else, Christmas is about forgetting about bad and lame shit for a little while. Somehow, the colored lights and the tree keep it at bay.  That, and getting to see everyone you know and care about and drop out of your own life and into theirs for a little while.

But we finally arrived on the other side of the holiday season yesterday, with one last round of socializing and the breaking down of decorations and packing everything back into the attic for another eleven months.  And that, of course, is when the mopiness lands square on my forehead.  Yesenia thinks it's the new diet, a theory which certainly has the ring of truth.  But it's also those doldrums a-comin' in, once the lights go off and the party fades away.

I have about two-and-a-half weeks before I return to school for the second round of coding courses (which will most likely be PHP and Advanced CSS, if I read the calendar correctly), and I have a few projects that need my time and attention between now and then, so that's okay.  But as many close readers of the Rambler will have deduced, one of my big things is THE WAIT.  That interminable period between one thing and where you want to be.  No colored lights to celebrate that, unless someone makes strings of gray and beige LEDs.

Actually, I can't even imagine what a gray light would look like.  Really, I don't think it's physically possible.


Thursday, January 9, 2014


So, after almost two months of wanting to go to the new Zinburger at "The Stores at Nanuet" (oy), we decided to make a trip tonight.  The last time we tired to go - a weekend lunch, after a matinee of Frozen - there was going to be a forty minute wait.  That's too long.  When Yesenia is hungry, she starts to get cranky, and the longer she waits, the less enjoyable the meal will be for her when it finally arrives.

Tonight, there was a ten minute wait.  Which, for a Thursday in the middle of a cold January, is kind of surprising.  But good for them.  We grabbed beer (Naragansett Cream Ale) and hard cider (an Orchard that is Angry), and then had a turkey burger (her) and a veggie burger (me).

Annnd…?  Well, it was my second time at a Zinburger, and I knew what to expect and enjoyed it.  Yesenia, who has being hearing hype about the place from me and many others for the last few months was pretty disappointed.  "I don't get the whole 'fancy' burger thing," she said.  Actually, the ironic quotes around 'fancy' may be mine.  I replied, "Well, it's not that fancy.  It's just burgers."

She shrugged and ate a few more fries.  Now I have a mission, which is to get Yesenia a good meal that makes her happy.  Any suggestions?

- D.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sleep Not

Another Tuesday, another major bout of sleeplessness.  And here I was prepared to go to sleep without having Rambled.  I'm hoping that the Rambler isn't a thing I only do on those nights when the magical insomnia tour isn't dying to take me away.

I sort of had it in my head today that I wanted to write a longish post (or series of posts) digging into my political philosophies, but it's tough to write that stuff without coming off hectoring,  It really takes a spine of steel and a soul of coal to be a pundit, I think.  It's one thing to be an expert opinion when you're frequently right.  It's something else entirely to be able to keep it up even when you're pretty much always wrong.

So, no politics for me.  And I know I've still got the pictures from the third Yarn Barn entry to post, but that's the type of thing that requires a little more brain power and gumption than I can summon at a quarter to one in the morning.  As the Rambler is sometimes a victim of my going to sleep before I write that day's entry, so are the more ambitious entries a victim of the lack of energy that one has after midnight on a work week.

So I guess I'll just leave you with the promise to write something more cohesive and purposeful tomorrow.  Good enough?

- D.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Les Epiphanies

Last night of Christmas, people!  I used to not think anything about it, but the whole twelve days thing is pretty big in Latin culture - thirteen days, if you count the effort that they put into Christmas Eve.

Anyway, for me?  It is not to complain.  I genuinely lovee the way Yesenia transforms the house for the holidays, and any excuse to extend the colored lights and scent of pine for a few more days is all right by me.


Friday, January 3, 2014

When the Wind Blows

Writing this a little past midnight as Winter Storm Hercules (which feels like it should have an exclamation mark, doesn't it?) howls up my street on its way into New England and upstate New York.  Yes, yes - I know that Rockland County is considered 'upstate New York' by people who live in any of the five boroughs, but since I can get to midtown Manhattan from my house faster than almost anyone I know in Brooklyn, people should probably take the fucking artesianal cheese out of their eyes just stop calling us 'upstate,' already.


Anyway, W. S. Hercules! is probably going to complicate our big plans for the weekend, being the throwdown to celebrate Yesenia's 40th birthday - which is today, as I write this.  I've written a little about the lady before, and anyone who reads this probably already knows how awesome she is, but I'll say it again, because it bears repeating: I am a very, very, very veryveryvery lucky man.  And I know it.  So here's hoping that the weather drops everything it has tomorrow so that Saturday can be free and clear for my baby's birthday.  You hear me, W. S.?

"W. S. Hercules!" - if there isn't a comic out there about Hercules taking a job as a 1920's stockbroker, feel free to make one and use this name.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Into the Newish Frontier

It would be altogether too easy to blather off several reams of observations about the meanings of a new year, both personally and globally.  I'm going to resist this temptation.  I'm also not going to Ramble about the highs (some) and lows (some) of the year just past.  One reason for the elision is that, as I grow older, I grow more and more bored with simply looking over my shoulder and playing monday morning quarterback to myself. Another is that if I couldn't be bothered to get up the energy to write about 2013 while it was happening, I sure as Janus don't have any burning desire to pick through its bones after the fact.

So, let me just trail off with an off the cuff and therefore wholly unconsidered list of resolutions for 2014:

  • As ever, Ramble more
  • Rebuild so I don't always feel vaguely embarrassed sending people there.  The site was thrown together in a haze of post-layoff anxiety, and it shows
  • As part of revamped site, add big gallery of archival content.  Specifically,  I'm going to scan and vid the best of my old flipbooks
  • Finish both albums and then figure out what that actually means
  • Lose the 12 pounds gained in the last year
  • And would it kill you to read a book every once in a while?

Thanks, all - and those of you that i know as friends, i also resolve to be a better friend.  Another thing I realize as I grow older is the importance of friends, so if you are my friend, thank you for your  friendship, and i hope that your own 2014 is a benevolent and rich year.