No Night for Dog Walkers

Posted by Steve on Sun, 12/21/2008 - 11:02pm

It's treacherous out there. After two wet snows since Friday and a day in the upper thirties, the temps crashed after sundown, almost instantly freezing any standing water on the sidewalk and stoops.

It's nights like this that I wish I hadn't housebroken my dogs so well. They'd sooner cut their own throats than mess in the house. Worse, I can't even push them out the door to do their business in the back yard. They just sit by the back door looking miserable.

It's also nights like this that I'd like to see public flogging of thoughtless home and apartment house owners who don't shovel their walks. Fifteen years ago, while walking my dog Paco, I broke my right wrist (both bones) on the slippery, unshoveled sidewalk outside a low-end clothing store on lower Broadway. So I've got no tolerance for this laziness.

Man, I love technology!

Posted by Steve on Thu, 12/18/2008 - 11:38pm

Karen and I gave each other new T-Mobile G1 wireless phones for Christmas this week. My old (2002) ATT Nokia accidentally drowned when I dropped it in the sink a few days ago. Since I was fed up with ATT's relentless price gouging and had planned to fire them as my wireless provider anyway it was off to Costco to seal the deal with T-Mobile and this cool phone I'd been reading about.

For those who don't read the techie consumer fan sites like the G1 is sorta like T-Mobile's answer to the iPhone but with a major twist. Its Android operating system "engine" was built by Google which means that there's a terrific bundling of Google's suite of killer apps on the phone. This isn't intended as a review of the G1. There are tons of those on the web, including an excellent overview here.

This is about one of the many unique features on this phone which only the crazy kids at Google could have built, Shop Savvy, and which could save you a bundle with your home improvement purchasing. Shop Savvy lets you do real time price comparison shopping while you're on the road.

Dreaming of a (non)White Christmas

Posted by Steve on Mon, 12/15/2008 - 6:14pm

Judging by how prolific they've become in recent years a lot of people seem to like white Christmas lights. I know I'm gonna get mail about this.

I'm not real big on Christmas. I need to be coaxed (okay, dragged and beaten) into something resembling yuletide spirit. For me, white mini-lights just don't cut it. They have the holiday charm of a corporate office park or a South Beach mojito bar, and about as much comfort and joy as my 60-watt desk lamp. They don't say Christmas to me. They say, "Co-op Sales Office: Suite 300".

White Christmas lights tell me "Like, I was at Saks this weekend and they had the most totally delicious winter display of Ferragamo anaconda leather boots..."

White Christmas bulbs are the lighting equivalent of dropping "Merry Christmas" in favor of the PC generic, "Happy Holidays". Is this is how we celebrate the rich cultural diversity of our country during glad tidings season? With a soulless white light bulb?  By making our houses look like Tavern On The Green?

Back from Nantucket

Posted by Steve on Tue, 12/09/2008 - 1:55pm

As we do every year, Karen and I packed up the dogs and headed off to Nantucket for Christmas Stroll. It's a tedious trip involving 6.5 hours of boring driving and 2.5 hours of even more boring sailing. With stops and check-in at the Hyannis Steamship terminal, we generally leave Brooklyn at 8am and arrive at Karen's house near town in Nantucket around 6pm. Or about the same time it would take to leave NY and check into a hotel in Moscow.

If it wasn't for this annual break from my work schedule, my Christmas spirit would last as long as the buzz from two Christmas Eve margaritas. But as soon as you step off the dock in Nantucket, the town envelopes you with the sights, sounds and smells of a 19th century Christmas. Which, of course, is what it's intended to do.

While I always bring my ubiquitous electronic leashes -- my cellphone and laptop -- I rarely use them. It's basically five days of rest, relaxation and sore feet from negotiating Nantucket's slippery cobblestone streets. And unending heartburn from the gallon of quahog chowder, five pounds of prime rib and the hot eggnogs I scarf during the trip with no regard for the consequences.

It also gives me a chance to get away from the often ostentatious and overly precious rehabs and restorations of Brooklyn to study the subtlety of understated Nantucket architecture and to possibly steal a few ideas I can use for myself.

Love it or hate it, Nantucket's strict architecture codes have resulted in an island where you won't find five different kinds of siding and three different styles of modern windows on the same house. Nor a beautiful old Victorian obliterated with vinyl siding, a Home Depot metal entry door and a stainless steel fence surrounding a concrete slab where a lawn is supposed to be. Even the island restorations are made to look like they were done twenty years ago.

As a result, you won't find a single example of "eyesore" on Nantucket.


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