My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Surfin': Hamming on the Go

Mobile ham radio operation is the subject of this week's installment of Surfin'. After you read it, you can leave your comments (if any) here.

airliner enthusiast

I have a mild case of airliner enthusiasm. I caught it from my sister, who has it in spades.

As a an airliner enthusiast (AE, for short), I drop everything whenever I hear a jet overhead to see what it is the source of the sound. Living at 910 feet ASL and 22 miles (as a jet flies) from the runways of Bradley International Airport (BDL), I see a lot of low flying airliners. (I also see other interesting aerial sights, like a tanker refueling a B-52, but that's another story.)

I also read Patrick Smith's weekly Ask the Pilot column on Salon. If you have a mild or bad case of airliner enthusiasm, you should read Ask the Pilot especially this week's installment, which talks all about our infliction.

monster's holiday

My sister remarked the other day how all the rockers from our era have been dropping like flies lately. She's right and another one just bit the dust: Bobby "Boris" Pickett, whose dead-on Boris Karloff impression propelled the Halloween anthem Monster Mash to the top of the charts in 1962. Bobby died of leukemia. He was 69. (from

I was a big monster fan back then.

I remember my mother taking my sister and I to see Godzilla, King of the Monsters at the State Theatre in Waterbury in 1956 (I was 5 years old). My mother liked monster and horror flicks, too, so she didn't mind, but I will never forget how the line to buy tickets to that film wound its way up East Main Street and around the corner down Brown Street.

Godzilla scared the crap out of me and was the source material for many future nightmares, but I was a satisfied customer and kept coming back for more. I tried to see every new monster flick that came out and I watched all the old ones on television. I was also an avid reader of Famous Monsters of Filmland and I built most of the monster model kits sold by Aurora back in the Sixties. So, when Monster Mash came out, I loved it.

In Bobby "Boris" Pickett's memory, I dialed him up on my iPod this morning and listened to my collection of his tunes on the way to work. I only had two: Monster Mash and Monster's Holiday, which was a Christmas holiday season follow-up to Mash.

I actually like Monster's Holiday better than Monster Mash. What can I say! In Holiday, Bobby impersonates Boris Karloff again reciting a monstrous version of The Night Before Christmas. As I was listening to Holiday this morning, it suddenly reminded me of Boris Karloff's narration in the animated version of Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

I wonder if Bobby Pickett's Monster's Holiday was the inspiration for hiring Boris Karloff to narrate the Grinch? It's possible because Monster's Holiday came out in 1962 and the animated Grinch in 1966.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

apple reports $770 million profit... maybe now they can afford to fixmy mac

Apple reports $770 million profit! Maybe now they can afford to fix the defective Mac that they sold me!

By the way, the problem has gotten worse since I took this photo. There are now 9 ugly vertical lines on my Powerbook display.

it can happen here

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

another local fun factory goes bye-bye

I was born and raised in Waterbury, CT, which was a big factory town just like most of the towns up and down the Naugatuck Valley.

Most of the factories were of no interest to a kid including me, but there were two local factories that I always considered "fun factories," not because they were fun to work at, but because of the products they produced.

Eastern Color Printing Company in Waterbury invented the comic book and my father was a pressman there all his working life. Most days, he brought home a handful of comic books and Sunday funny papers that Eastern Color had printed that day. I saved a lot of the comic books. Many would be considered collector items like the first issues of Spiderman, Fantastic Four, Thor, X-Men, Submariner, Captain America, etc., etc., except that the books my Dad brought home were coverless. The covers were printed and stapeled to the guts of the comic book at another plant located in Meriden, CT. Even coverless, some of the first issues I have are worth a few bucks, but not as much as they would have been worth if my father had worked at the Meriden plant!

I worked a few summers at Eastern Color in the late 1960s, which was just about the time they got out of the comic book business and finally moved out of Waterbury. (By the way, it was no fun working in that "fun factory." The pay was very good - union wages - but the working conditions were terrible.)

The other local "fun factory" was Peter Paul in Naugatuck, CT, which produced my favorite candies: Mounds and Almond Joy*. Whenever we drove by the Peter Paul plant on Route 63, I would smile and smack my lips when I saw the big Mounds and Almond Joy logos emblazoned on the side of the building. Evidently, Peter Paul gave factory tours, but I never had the opportunity to take one and in retrospect, I am glad I did not after having seen the inside of the other fun factory.

Well, yesterday, Hershey, the current owner of Peter Paul, announced that they are closing the Naugatuck plant and moving the Mounds and Almond Joy production to Virginia. That news made me sad and I am sure there is no joy in the homes of the 200 workers at Peter Paul who will be out of work.

Hershey has a history of screwing things up in Connecticut. They bought Lake Compounce, the oldest amusement park in the USA, which happens to be located at the bottom of the hill on which I live, and ran it into the ground and now this! Next thing you know, they will replace the almond on Almond Joy with a peanut.

And so it goes.

* Mounds and Almond Joy were always my favorite candies. Mounds is a coconut bar covered with dark chocolate, while Almond Joy is a coconut bar with an almond on top covered in milk chocolate. (Some times I felt like an almond, some times I didn't.)

All my life, I was a proponent of a dark chocolate version of Almond Joy. Well, about five years or so ago, I was in the check-out line of a local K-Mart perusing the candy display and. lo and behold, I noticed a special edition of Almond Joy: a dark chocolate version. I bought a handful and am sorry that I did not buy them all because they were delicious (just as I thought they would be) and I never saw that special edition for sale again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

local mystery

I won this postcard on eBay.

There is no information on the card to indicate what the postcard depicts. It is likely a local restaurant because the postcard's publisher was located in Waterbury, CT. It reminds me of a restaurant named Larson's that was located on North Main Street in Waterbury, but I don't know for sure.

If anyone has a clue, please let me know.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Surfin': Hamming Maps

Maybe “Mapping Hams” would be just as appropriate for the title of this week’s Surfin’. In either case, you can read it here, then come back and leave your comments (if any) here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

goodbye, Land Barge II

Land Barge II is no more. The car became a moving money pit and lately had been exhibiting a new feature that was likely to cost me: the engine would just stop running without warning. It would start right up again with no problem, but the thrill of coasting into the breakdown lane on the Interstate during rush hour got old real fast.

After a lot of prodding from my family, I bought a new car rather than used: my first new car since I was single. My first used car was a 1982 Subaru wagon and it was the most reliable, problem-free car I ever owned, so I decided to buy a new Subaru, a 2007 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport, to be exact.

I picked up the new car on Monday and so far, so good. I haven't driven a stick regularly in 12 years, so I just have to get used to driving a 5-speed again.
And this car does not qualify as a land barge, so I can't call it "Land Barge III."

Monday, April 16, 2007

April Nor'eastern

We had a heck of a storm pass through here Sunday and Monday. Adding up the totals from yesterday and today, the weather station here recorder 5 inches (on the dot) of precipitation, maximum recorded winds at 38 MPH winds, and a low barometric reading of 971.6 mb at 7:50 AM today, which is pretty darn low!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

idiot or fear monger?

For days, the local television weather gurus and their talking head counterparts in the news departments have been predicting that a huge storm, a classic "Nor'easter," was going to strike our neck of the woods today. As the big storm approached, the chatter on the local television stations got louder and louder striking fear into the hearts of the citizens and causing a run on bread, milk, and gasoline at the local convenience stores.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has been downgrading the storm for the past two days. If you compare the NWS forecasts with the stories coming out of the local television stations, you would think they were talking about different weather events.

So, why are the television stations sticking to their stories and still predicting a big storm?

Are they just fear mongers, who are trying to scare people to such a degree that they will stay tuned to the local television stations so not to miss any of pearls of wisdom dripping from the local newscasters' mouths and more importantly, the countless advertisements and commercials that surround those rare pearls?

Anyway, this morning, I am eating breakfast, reading the newspaper, and listening to the local news on WVIT - Channel 30. WVIT is still playing up the storm big time and they have a reporter named Amy down on the shoreline in New Haven reporting on the weather conditions on/in Long Island Sound.

Amy is really agitated about the deteriorating weather conditions and to make her point, she says that two hours ago (at 7 AM) the beach where she was standing was not covered with water, but that now (at 9 AM), that same spot is inundated with surging water!

I shout back at Amy, "It's called 'high tide,'" but she does not hear me and prattles on with her report. (High tide in New Haven was at 10:02 AM today.)

So, was Amy just doing her job and being a good little fear monger for WVIT or is she just an idiot and does not know about high tides?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Surfin': Mapping Hams

Maybe "Hamming Maps" would be just as appropriate for the title of this week's Surfin'. In either case, you can read it here, then come back and leave your comments (if any) here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

I don't read as much fiction as I should.

I read tons of fiction when I attended college, but after I graduated and got more and more into ham radio and computers, I read less fiction and more non-fiction in order to learn about and keep up with technology. However, I usually dropped whatever I was reading whenever there was a release of a new book by Kurt Vonnegut.

By far, Vonnegut is my favorite author. I've read and enjoyed most of his books and I learned something from each one. But, Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday. There will be no new Vonnegut books to read and the world will be worse for it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

new cool map tool

Google My Maps is a new map tool that allows you to personalize Google Maps and share them with other Internet users

My Maps went live a few days ago and being a map guy from way back, I immediately started playing with the tool and in a short time created a map for the local historical society, which I webmaster for. The map is a work in progress, but if you peruse what I have done so far, you will get the idea.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Surfin': Hamming at CE0Y

"Hamming at CE0Y" is the title of this week's installment of Surfin'. After you read it, you can leave your comments (if any) here.