Thursday, April 30, 2009

Las Vegas, Thursday

I wish I knew who ever thought that having a conference in Vegas and then beginning classes early in the morning was a good idea?! I didn't stay up too late last night but did play a little blackjack and had a good time even though I did contribute a tiny bit to the Vegas economy! Time to go hit the coffee service hard before the first class! Fremont Street tonight.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Las Vegas, Wednesday

So apparently the Hilton Empire is not wealthy enough and feels the need to charge 14 dollars a day for internet. Consequently if I do any posting it will be via cell phone. I apologize in advance for the quality! Going down to hear Randy Mantooth at our conference opening now. Emergency!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Winging My Way Westward

I seem to have completely and totally lost my grasp on time as here it is almost the end of April already and I am, perhaps as you read this, on my way to Nevada to attend the Navigator Dispatch Conference being held at the Las Vegas Hilton. How on earth did that happen and why was I up until after 10:00 last night packing? Honestly, I used to be such an organized person but all of that seems to have flown out the window in the past few years. Honestly, I am sometimes ashamed to call myself a Virgo!

Ah well, total disorganization aside, I did ultimately decide to bring my laptop along for the trip so I will try to post occasionally just to let you know that I've yet to have lost said laptop in an unlucky throw of the dice or spin of the roulette wheel! I've also been playing around a little bit with the "Blogger on the Go" stuff so I might put up an occasional post via cell phone from time to time if I remember that I set it up for the application!

I probably won't get to do too much blog-reading while I'm away but that doesn't mean I've forgotten about all of you - I'm just too busy attending conference classes, taking way too many pictures, or having a good time!
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Packing in Progress

Boarding pass for Southwest ... check
Important papers to get into dispatch conference ... check
Charger for camera battery ... check
Extra pairs of socks ... check
Paperwork for Las Vegas Hilton reservation ... check
AARP card for car rental discount ... check
Charger for iPod ... check
Way too many shirts ... check
Not enough pants ... check
Charger for cell phone ... check
Suitcase ... er, suitcase??
Ah heck, I've still got time!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Taftville Dam That's Big!

In my last Looking at the Sky on Friday post, I featured this picture that I had taken along the banks of the Shetucket River with the old Ponemah Mill in Taftville in the background. Mimi, our beloved Queen of Memes, left the following comment that sort of made me laugh a little "... I love this shot! The water looks so peaceful and calm."

Certainly not a humorous remark so you're probably asking yourself why that would have made me laugh, right? Well, the reason is simple as what you can't see in the above picture, due to the fact that it's hidden by the tree branches, is this ...

Which then leads to ...

... the Taftville Dam! As any old New Englander will tell you, any old mill here in New England worth its salt has got a dam (or former dam) nearby as - back in the day - water was the primary power source used to generate the electricity for the mills. I'm pretty sure that most dams weren't this big but the Taftville Dam needed to be large due to the size of the mill it provided power for.

While doing some research yesterday, I came across some rather interesting information about Ponemah Mill that I thought I'd share with you if you're so inclined to read on:
"The Ponemah Mill has more employees than many of the towns in the state have inhabitants; and the yards of cloth it annually manufactures, if spread out, would reach a distance of 11,364 miles, or nearly half round the world. This mammoth establishment is said to be the second largest cotton factory in the United States, if not in the world. It is situated on the Shetucket river, in the village of Taftville — a suburb of Norwich about 3^ miles from the centre of the city. The building of the dam and the mill was commenced in 1867, and the company commenced running the machinery in 1870. At that time there was not a house in sight of the privileges; and where now stands a small city in appearance, with streets lined with handsome houses spreading out in various directions, there was but rocky, half-cultivated and neglected farming lands. The entire length of the mill, including a hundred-foot machine shop, is 1,576 feet. Some idea of its vast size can be arrived at by stating that this number of feet makes the mill but a trifle less than a third of a mile long. It manufactures a fine quality of cotton goods, which find a ready market all over the country. The company owns 190 tenement houses, besides stores, store-houses, and various buildings connected with their manufactory."
This information was part of a report titled, "NORWICH,CONNECTICUT: Its Importance as a Business and Manufacturing Centre and as a Place of Residence; A Brief/Review of Its Past and Present issued by THE NORWICH BOARD OF TRADE, January, 1888". The report listed not only the Ponemah Mill but many of the other mills that made up an important part of Norwich. It's really quite fascinating reading - or at least it is to me! - but that's probably because I love learning about the history of an area plus it's amazing to me that our forefathers were able to accomplish so much with nowhere near the technology that we take for granted today.

It seems a shame to me that once upon a time man was able to harness the power of nature to create all of the power he needed and now some balk at even putting up windmills that provide a clean, natural energy alternative. Maybe it's time we took a look back and used some of the good ideas that others before us had (granted, not all of them were good!). In the meantime, though, I'll keep finding interesting spots that provide a glimpse into the past and maybe, if I'm lucky, even have a story to tell.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - Along the Shetucket River

Here it is - not only Friday again but the last Friday in April. How on earth did that happen?!?

This last weekend in April is going to be one extremely busy weekend for me as not only am I working today, Saturday, and Sunday but I've got to make some attempt to get myself ready to fly out to Las Vegas extremely early Tuesday morning after working until 11:00 Monday night. I already feel the sleep deprivation setting in! I certainly hope that Jen isn't expecting lively conversation as we fly out for the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch Navigator Conference as I get the sneaky feeling I'll be sleeping shortly after we're airborne - or at least that's my hope!

Meanwhile, before things get too crazy, Fridays here in the Blogosphere are special as it gives us a chance to take a look at the skies along with the hostess of this meme, Tisha of Crazy Working Mom.

For this week's photo I chose one that I took a couple of Thursdays ago from the banks of the Shetucket River. The building underneath the blue skies and puffy clouds is the former Ponemah Mill in Taftville, Connecticut. Established in 1866 with workers who were predominantly of Irish descent, at one time the mill was purported to have the largest weave-shed under one roof and was the site of a strike in April of 1875 that helped to usher unions into the country - however, that's a story for another day!

The mill operated for over 100 years and is still home to several small businesses. Before the economy took a major nosedive, there were plans to turn the old mill buildings into luxury condos while maintaining the historic elements of the structure but I'm afraid that project has gone by the wayside. It's a shame, really, as it's quite the impressive building but it's starting to fall apart from age and neglect like so many great old buildings do.

Ah well, I should see about doing some pre-packing for my trip before heading into work this afternoon - which the weatherman has promised is going to be a beautiful one! Wherever you are on this last Friday in April, I hope your skies are blue and the only clouds above you are of the cottony type. If not, I'll be you can find some over at Tisha's blog if you follow the linkies!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

AFI Artwork Redux

Probably because she was bored out of her mind Amanda, for some reason, was searching through my blog archives a couple weeks ago. She came across a drawing that she did based on the song Love Like Winter by AFI and when the song got stuck in her head, she decided she wanted to do an updated version.

Some of you may remember the following artwork that was part of my Manic Monday post on February 18th, 2008 in which Manic Monday host Morgen had given us the word two as our word of the week. I took that opportunity to write about AFI (A Fire Inside) and Blaqk Audio, a side project two members of the band undertook during their spare time. Both of these groups became part of my regular listening repertoire as a result of hearing their music through Amanda and liking it.

AFI - Love Like Winter

In the post I titled Amanda's drawing wrong and called it Love Like Winter but it's actually titled Warn Your Warmth to Turn Away which are the opening lyrics to the song Love Like Winter. The drawing depicts Davey Havok, lead singer of the group, dressed similarly to how he appears in the video. This picture was drawn using colored pencil and Sharpies.

The updated version which Amanda has again titled Warn Your Warmth to Turn Away, also features Davey Havoc in a setting similar to where the video was shot. This time Amanda did a line drawing with black Sharpie, applied a blue wash to the entire picture, and then used watercolors to complete the picture. You can click on the title link above if you'd like to look at a bigger version.

Now not that I have any idea what it is to be an artist but I think it's kind of cool when, as an artist, you can take an older version of a drawing or painting or whatever other medium you work in and update it to reflect a newer style or vision of that same piece of artwork. Granted, I would hate to see Amanda do that with all of her drawings as I think she's done some darned fine ones that stand very well just as they are (prejudiced mother that I am!) but it is rather interesting to see how she's progressed in her artistic style and how she tweaks things.

It's too bad Davey Havok doesn't read my blog, I'd love to know what his take on it is and which picture he likes better but unless he, too, is bored out of his mind someday and finds he ends up Goggling himself to kill some time, I doubt he'll ever pop by. Still - one can wish, right?!?
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seriously? It's Been a Month Already?

My mother mentioned to me during a phone conversation yesterday that we have officially been in Spring for a full month now but I'm having a little trouble believing that as I think I could count on less than two hands the number of good days that we've had in that past month. The past three days have been rainy and borderline cold and enough to make a body think that it's still March and not anywhere close to the end of April.

I know I've been having trouble remembering things lately but I honestly can't remember a winter that has gone on as long as this one has nor can I remember ever being so cold all the time. Of course, that could be because I'm coming down with a chronic case of Old Fogeyism or my iron levels could be bottoming out again as it's been an awful long time since I've had an infusion.

Either way, I'm ready for some warmer weather so I guess it's a good thing I'll be heading out to Las Vegas next week. Of course, with my luck it'll be cold and rainy the whole time I'm there, too! What do you think? Should I pack a coat and gloves?

On a sad note - we are down one member of our household as Amanda found Tardis dead in his habitat last evening. So far Amanda hasn't said anything about getting a new snake and I'm rather hoping she doesn't as it's tough to lose a pet no matter what kind it is. This past Satuday I thought Evra had gone missing when I couldn't find him anywhere in his habitat but thankfully he had just done a really good job of blending in with the bamboo. For awhile there, though, I was really upset about it as I've come to be rather fond of the little green guy. Hopefully he doesn't decide to go the way of Tardis and he's still alive when I get back from my trip West. Fingers crossed on that one!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Speaking of Things & A Recipe You'll Love!

This past Saturday Jamie sent me pictures via cell text of some balloon animals that she made while sitting at a yard sale they were having down in her part of Florida and she suggested I use them in a blog post so I thought I'd do so. After all, this post is about nothing in particular so maybe some balloon animals will liven it up! This first picture shows Jamie with her first-ever balloon animal that she made which she said was a puppy. I guess I can see that!

Speaking of yard sales, I guess there will be none around here for awhile as it's back to rain here in Connecticut for the next couple of days. I'm not really surprised by that as we seem to only have a couple of good days followed by more rain. I guess it's great weather for frogs, though - which is the look Jamie was going for when she stuck green balloons on the ends of her fingers!

Speaking of things on one's fingers, I managed to get some poison ivy between the fingers of my left hand last week while doing some yard work and pulling up saplings at my mom's - not hanging out in railroad tunnels with hobos as some have suggested on Facebook!

I then managed to transfer that poison ivy to the right side of my face which warranted a trip to the doctor's office before work yesterday as my right eye was starting to swell shut and that didn't seem like a good thing. I'm on a 6-day treatment of oral steroids which the doc said should clear me up and I'm also armed with Calamine lotion and Benadryl to stop the itching. I haven't had poison ivy in years and I've got to say - I haven't missed it!

Speaking of missing things, I was supposed to go in for a dental cleaning today but rescheduled it as I didn't think the dental hygienist would want to be exposed to the poison ivy all over my face. Apparently it's not something a person can get via contact with the rash but I still thought it better to cancel for today and go another day "just in case". Besides, going out with Calamine lotion all over one's face is just not a good look!

Speaking of looking, I hope you liked the way those last two balloon animals looked! Jamie said that the green one was a deer and the purple one was a rabbit. She had a good time making the balloon animals but the yard sale itself wasn't much of a success as they only made about $10. I guess it just goes to show how badly our economy is doing when you can't even clear $20 at a yard sale. It hardly makes it worth the effort.

Finally, speaking of making efforts - we are having a potluck at work tomorrow to celebrate my supervisor's birthday and I have to make potato salad and cornbread to bring in as my contributions. I've got this great recipe for cornbread that you all might want to make an effort to try as, trust me, it's delicious!

3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 c corn oil
1 t salt
1 14 3/4 oz. can creamed corn
2 8.5 oz. boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
1 c sour cream

Mix together in order. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake @ 375 degrees for 40 min.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be in the kitchen for awhile trying to remember how to cook! Hope everyone has a great Tuesday, let me know if you try the cornbread!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Here's Your Sign!

With a tip of the hat to my friend Andrew, who sees lots of idiots in his job as both a road paramedic at American and an Emergency Room paramedic at the William W. Backus Hospital, I present to you the Top Idiots of 2008 ...

Number One Idiot of 2008

I am a medical student currently doing a rotation in toxicology at the
poison control center. Today, this woman called in very upset because
she caught her little daughter eating ants. I quickly reassured her
that the ants are not harmful and there would be no need to bring her
daughter into the hospital. She calmed down and at the end of the
conversation happened to mention that she gave her daughter some ant
poison to eat in order to kill the ants.

I told her that she better bring her daughter in to the emergency room
right away.

Here's your sign, lady. Wear it with pride.

Number Two Idiot of 2008

Early this year, some Boeing employees on the airfield decided to steal
a life raft from one of the 747s. They were successful in getting it out
of the plane and home. Shortly after they took it for a float on the
river, they noticed a Coast Guard helicopter coming toward them. It
turned out that the chopper was homing in on th e emergency locater
beacon that activated when the raft was inflated They are no longer
employed at Boeing.

Here's your sign, guys. Don't get it wet; the paint might run.

Number Three Idiot of 2008

A man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America, walked into the Branch
and wrote this, 'Put all your muny in this bag.' While standing in
line, waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that
someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he
reached the teller's window. So he left the Bank of America and crossed
the street to the Wells Fargo Bank. After waiting a few minutes in line,
he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and, surmising
from his spelling errors that he wasn't the brightest light in the
harbor, told him that she could not accept his stickup note because it
was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either
have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of
America .

Looking somewhat defeated, the man said, 'OK' and left. He was arrested
a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at Bank of America.

Don 't bother with this guy's sign. He probably couldn't read it anyway.

Number Four Idiot of 2008

A guy walked into a little corner store with a shotgun and demanded all
of the cash from the cash drawer. After the cashier put the cash in a
bag, the robber saw a bottle of Scotch that he wanted behind the counter
on the shelf. He told the cashier to put it in the bag as well, but the
cashier refused and said, 'Because I don't believe you are over 21.'
The robber said he was, but the clerk still refused to give it to him
because she didn't believe him. At this point, the robber took his
driver's license out of his wallet and gave it to the clerk.

The clerk looked it over and agreed that the man was in fact over 21 and
she put the Scotch in the bag. The robber then ran from the store with
his loot. The cashier promptly called the police and gave the name and
address of the robber that she got off the license. They arrested the
robber two hours later.

This guy definitely needs a sign.

Idiot Number Five of 2008

A pair of Michigan robbers entered a record shop nervously waving

The first one shouted, 'Nobody move!' When his partner moved, the
startled first bandit shot him.

This guy doesn't even deserve a sign.

Idiot Number Six of 2008

Arkansas : Seems this guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided
that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab
some booze, and run.

So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window..
The cinder block bounced back knocking him unconscious. It seems the
liquor store window was made of Plexi-Glass. The whole event was caught
on videotape.

Another idiot with another sign!

Idiot Number Seven of 2008

I live in a semi-rural area ( Weyauwega,Wisconsin ). We recently had a
new neighbor call the local township administrative office to request
the removal of the Deer Crossing sign on our road.

The reason: 'Too many deer are being hit by cars out here! - I don't
think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.'

A very large sign goes to this complete and total idiot.


Not that I do everything right every time but thank the Lord I am smarter than these fools!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Scenery

I've missed a couple weeks of Lee's Sunday Scenery meme for one reason or another but thought this Sunday I'd jump back into things with this shot of the historic Cargill Falls in Putnam, Connecticut. Putnam is located in the "Quiet Corner" of the state and is also home to Day Kimball Hospital where I was born almost 51 years ago.

About three years prior to the September day of my birth, the look of Cargill Falls changed drastically when the Quinebaug River overflowed its banks and flooded Putnam. The Quinebaug was hit with a one-two punch from both Hurricane Connie and Hurricane Diane when both passed through Connecticut within days of each other during the third week of August. On August 19th, 1955 the flood waters ripped through Putnam causing a factory fire and nearly $6 million in damages while changing not just the look of Cargill Falls but of Putnam itself.

As a kid these falls always fascinated me but I had no idea of the history behind them or of the changes that were brought about in 1955 due to the fury of Mother Nature but if I had, I think I would have been even more fascinated.

Hey, Boukie, you're a Putnam boy now, got anything to add to this??

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Of Course It's Art! But Would Boxcar Willie Have Liked It??

The plan for this past Thursday was to take Amanda up to my mother's house so that she could "rake in a little cash" by helping out with some yard work that my mother really doesn't need to be doing by herself. After all she's going to be 75 in June and even though she's in darned good shape for someone her age, she's got a pretty large yard where leaves and sticks like to congregate and it's way too much for her to be doing on her own. Add on the fact that Amanda has great plans that require money and it seemed like a pretty good combination ... except for the fact that Amanda and Manual Labor are apparently not exactly good friends; matter of fact, I am beginning to suspect that they are not even passing acquaintances! Which is too bad as she could accumulate a pretty good bit of ka-ching if she would just put her back into it a little bit.

Anyhow, all that aside, while Amanda was getting acquainted with the nuances of a lawn rake, I took the chance to drive the short distance to Plainfield (the next town over) and spend some time by the side of the railroad tracks in the hopes that maybe a freight train or two might pass through. While waiting to hear a whistle blow, I walked around and took some pictures of the hopper cars that were parked on the various sidings.

As you can see, one man's method of storage on wheels is another man's canvas and the graffiti definitely adds a different perspective to what were once plain railroad cars. Personally, I think they're kinda cool and believe that last picture is my favorite of the group and would look pretty nice framed and hanging on my wall .. or maybe the first one or possibly even the one in the middle! I just can't seem to make up my mind! What do you think?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday

Hmm, here it is the middle of April and I am writing this post from beneath two afghans and a fleece blanket whilst wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt and hoodie ... and I'm still cold!! What is wrong with this picture?? Rumor has it that it will get up to 70 degrees today but I don't know ... I hate to get my hopes up or wear a short-sleeved shirt as, so far, Spring has been a major disappointment here in Connecticut.

Case in point - my entry for this week's edition of Tisha's Looking at the Sky on Friday meme ...

This shot was recently taken on the Chelsea Parade which is now within walking distance of my humble abode and, believe it or not, it was taken at about 3:30 in the afternoon. A rather cold and dreary 3:30 in the afternoon I might add!

Ah well, here's hoping I can take the same shot sometime soon when the sun is shining, the sky is a beautiful blue, and the trees have leaves. While I'm waiting for that to happen, be sure to go check out the other entries in this week's meme - I bet you find some sunny skies there!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I've Been Given an Award - Honestly!

Yesterday at work was one of those days from a very warm place that no one wants to go to so what better way to relax after such an ordeal than with an award tag? (I bet you thought I was going to say a nice big drink, didn’t you?? Ha!)

The lovely Carrie of Asara’s Mental Meanderings passed along the Honest Scrap Award the other day to myself and six others after she herself received the award from Naissa of Naissa’s Rage - which I believe is a WoW blog. Where this award originally came from I don't know but I'm sure that there's some sort of meaning behind it - of which I remain totally clueless about!

Now, of course this award has to have rules otherwise it throws out the entire balance of the Blogosphere or something like that so here they are …
  • When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
  • Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with the Honest Scrap Award. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
  • List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!
Whereas finding seven blogs that I think are brilliant wouldn’t be that hard as there are a lot more than seven of them out there, I’m going to be a rebel and break Rule #2 simply because I can and, to be perfectly honest, I'm too worn out to tag seven other people. If you’d like to steal this one (as Bud might say) then go ahead but I leave it entirely up to you.

Now as for listing ten honest things about myself ... that part might be a bit harder but I will give it my best shot. Seems to me that after all the things I’ve already told you folks about myself that finding ten new things might be kind of hard but if I can’t think of ten real things, I’ll fake it! Well, I guess I can’t do that or it wouldn’t be ten honest things, would it? Darn … okay … hold on while I dig deep into the “About Me” files …
  1. After working 16-hour shifts, when I get home I tend to be a bit crabby and get on Amanda’s case about all of the little things that I find to be annoying such as dishes in the sink, cupboard doors not shut, lights left on, etc. I’m sure she doesn’t appreciate me being such a nag when I first get home but I can’t seem to help myself. Sorry Amanda!
  2. My friend Cyndi says that I am the most incredibly boring person ever when it comes to shoes because I seem to be stuck in a white athletic shoes/black oxford-type shoes mold. She seems to think I should get myself a nice pair of blue or red shoes but I just can’t seem to bring myself to wear colored shoes. There will definitely be no stepping on my blue suede shoes as I will never own a pair!
  3. I have pierced ears but only wear earrings maybe a dozen or so times a year mainly because I wear a uniform to work and can only wear certain types of earrings with it. The rest of the time, I just tend to forget!
  4. I am afraid of heights. I may have mentioned that before but it bears repeating. I am afraid of heights. However, in spite of that, I would love to go up in a hot air balloon just once.
  5. When I was a kid I absolutely loved horses and really wanted one but that’s something you can’t have when you live in base housing and move every two years. I made up for it by having a nice collection of china horses and reading every horse story I could get my hands on!
  6. I have a scar on my left knee from when I was about two years old, a scar on my right wrist from a ganglion cyst removal when I was a teenager, scars on the palms of both hands from carpal tunnel surgery, and abdominal scars from my two c-sections. Now if I ever turn up dead somewhere without identification, the police can refer back to this blog for identifying scars.
  7. When I was a freshman in high school I somehow got hooked on the old “Speed Racer” cartoons. Talk about early Japanese animation! I didn’t see the live-action movie that came out awhile back as I figured it wouldn’t hold a candle to my animated Speed!
  8. My very first commercial airline flight was from Hartford , Connecticut to San Antonio , Texas in June of 1976. I was so nervous about going to Air Force Basic Training that it never occurred to me to be nervous about the flight!
  9. As far as fast-food french fries go, I think Wendy’s are the best out of all of them but that’s only because there’s no Jack-in-the-Box here in the great Northeast and I can’t get my hands on their seasoned curly fries - preferably with an Ultimate Cheeseburger on the side!
  10. Every great once in awhile I get a little nervous about spending the rest of my life alone but then I remember that I really do believe that it’s better to be alone than with the wrong person and I get over it – until the next time I get a little bit nervous!
Whew! There you have it – ten honest things about me put as honestly as I know how! Thanks, Carrie, for the award and I hope it’s okay that I don’t pass it along! Please don't send a troll or something after me!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Questing Across Connecticut

While checking my own blog stats last night, I came across a blog that I thought might be of particular interest to my Connecticut readers and I wanted to take the time to give it a shout-out while I go spend 16-hours telling ambulance crews where to go. Someone's got to do it, ya know, and I've been told a time or two that I'm actually pretty good at it. Plus it's National Telecommunicator Week and what better way to spend some of it then from behind a microphone being a telecommunicator??

At any rate, if you get a chance, go check out Connecticut Museum Quest - a blog whose goal is "Destroying the myth that there is nothing to do here". In reading over bits and pieces of Steve's blog, including the home page, it appears that he started his blog to log his visits to all of the museums in Connecticut. While he initally thought there might be 100 or so museums to visit, since starting his quest Steve has found out that there are upwards of 450 museums and/or places that might qualify as museums in our small State of Connecticut. Definitely enough to keep him busy for a long time to come!

In addition to the museums he visits, Steve has also wracked up an impressive number of posts about what he calls "Curiosities" here in Connecticut which includes such things as The Birthplace of the Hamburger, The Best Free Cheesecake, The Oldest Public Park (in America), The Most Photographed Church, The Creepiest Old Prison Site, and - one of my personal favorites - The Coolest Cemetery. If Steve's goal is to try to get people more interested in exploring parts of Connecticut that they may never have heard of then it worked on me at least as I now have a rather lengthy list of places I want to go! As a matter of fact, his latest post The Oldest Seed Company in the US has me chomping at the bit to go check out Old Wethersfield before some idiot knocks the cool old buildings there down to build more commercially viable buildings.

Steve's blog doesn't stop there, though, as there's also a Epherema page where Steve puts the random stuff that falls outside of what CTMQ is truly all about. On this page you'll find links to Modern Library’s Top 100 Books, 50 State Highpoints Project, and Wacky Beverages! All in all, a little bit of something for everyone it seems and I found myself reading post after post while making a longer and longer list of places to visit. Honestly, I think that the State of Connecticut needs to put Steve and his blog on its website as he's doing a darned fine job promoting the place and with people staying closer to home for vacations these days, his blog will point them in some interesting directions.

Don't just take my word for it - though I certainly wouldn't lie to you! - go check out Connecticut Museum Quest and then feel free to come back here and tell me that I was right, I don't mind!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A New Look for an Old Blog

The Resident Artist (aka the Resident Zombie aka the Oldest Daughter) told me that it was long past time I updated the artwork on the header of my blog as a) she no longer had green hair b) she was no longer enamored of squids and c) she felt that her artwork had vastly improved since she did the last drawing.

With all of those reasons, how could I possibly say 'no'? Exactly - I couldn't! The only problem was going to be in the changing of the actual artwork as Se7en, the designer of my blog template, has completely disappeared from the Blogosphere and we were going to have to figure it out on our own. Luckily I have the pieces of the template stored in my Photobucket account and even luckier, Amanda knows how to use Photoshop so she was able to take the old artwork out and replace it with her "new and improved" version.

A lot of you aren't going to quite get what the new artwork is all about but I know for a fact that some of you are and even though I don't quite get the whole of it yet myself I am learning - slowly but surely!

In the meantime, we'll continue to travel through our own little bit of time here at "Are We There Yet??" with or without a Tardis and I do hope you'll enjoy the new look! By the by, Amanda would love any feedback you'd like to give her - good or bad - on her artwork so please leave a comment if you have a moment.

My Daughter ... the Zombie

Nothing for nothing but while most mothers have daughters who are in search of the perfect prom dress this time of year, I have a daughter who is in search of the perfect zombie look ... someone please tell me I'm not the only one!

Her current favorite band, Creature Feature, was having a contest so Amanda just had to dress up as a zombie the other day and then go over to the local cemetery for a photo session. As she was still dripping "blood" I made her zombie walk over and she got more than a few strange looks but I guess that was to be expected. While Norwich has it's fair share of strange sights zombies generally aren't one of them! Or are they ...

After coming home from her photo shoot we decided to order Domino's for dinner as I pretty much had nothing in the house and when the doorbell rang Amanda insisted on answering it in full zombie regalia. I had visions of the poor delivery driver throwing the pizza in the air and running off screaming but as it turned out the delivery kid thought she looked 'awesome' and told us he'd just read the Zombie Survival Handbook and was all set for the invasion when it happened.

Sigh ... it appears that we are surrounded and don't even know it! I wonder if I should try to find that book at the local library??

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tracking the Taft Tunnel

Even though Spring has been taking its own sweet time arriving here in Connecticut, last Thursday was an exceptionally nice day. Luckily for me, it also happened to be a day off for me and even though I had plans to finish painting the kitchen, it was just too pretty outside to be inside so the painting plans were scrapped and I went in search of some history instead.

Thursday's plans included lunch with my friend Rhonda in the small town of Lisbon, which lies just north of Norwich, and which I drive through on a regular basis to get to my mom's house in Canterbury. It's also the town that lays claim to the "first railroad tunnel in America" - as proudly displayed on their Volunteer Fire Department patches as well as on the side of their ambulance.

Not knowing exactly where in Lisbon this piece of history might be, I stopped in at the Town Hall after lunch and asked. It seemed the smarter thing to do rather than walk miles and miles of railroad tracks - especially considering there are several different train lines that run through Lisbon. The kindly Town Clerk pointed me in the right direction (which made perfect sense once she told me!) and off I went.

As I had suspected, the railroad tunnel is located beneath Tunnel Hill (like I said, it made perfect sense!) but you can't get there from Tunnel Hill Road (I had tried that already and there was no tunnel there to be found). Instead, you have to park along Route 12 shortly after you cross over the bridge heading north out of Norwich and then walk into the woods a little ways.

It's not a bad walk as there's a pretty good path that looks like it may double as a road from time to time. My only hesitancy was in the big sign that read "State Property - No Trespassing" but I figured that if it were off-limits, the kindly Town Clerk would have told me so rather than sending me off to get arrested! At least that was going to be my defense if a couple of State Troopers happened by!

After a short hike through the woods I came upon the Quinebaug River and the railroad tracks that run along it, took a left, and followed them a short ways around a curve where the tunnel awaited me in all of its tunnel-like glory. Yeah, yeah ... I'm sure there's really no such thing as "tunnel-like glory" but bear with me, it sounds good!

The Lisbon railroad tunnel, which is officially named the Taft Tunnel, was originally built by the Norwich and Worcester Railroad in 1837. There is some debate as to whether or not it's actually the very first railroad tunnel in America but it is most definitely the oldest railroad tunnel in America still in use in its original form as the tunnel and tracks are still used by the Providence and Worcester Railroad.

300 feet long by 23 feet wide by 18 feet high, the tunnel was carved out by hand using picks and shovels which is evident when you look at the walls and ceiling - which drips a lot of water. The tunnel is very cool but kinda creepy when you're in there walking around by yourself and wondering if a train might be coming through at some point in time! If a train did, there would certainly be room to flatten oneself against the wall but I can only imagine that it would be horribly noisy as well as quite scary if that happened.

This picture shows the view from inside the tunnel looking back towards the way I came in. I didn't walk all the way through as the further end of the tunnel had quite a bit of standing water and I didn't have the right footwear to walk through mud and muck - plus I figured with my luck a train would come through while I was halfway through!

The thought occurred to me that perhaps it would be a good idea to come back out to the tunnel another time and perhaps bring Amanda with me as she might find it to be kind of cool, too. Hopefully by then the other end of the tunnel will have dried up a bit and we could walk it all the way through to take pictures on the other side.

As I started walking back the way I came, I noticed two men heading down the tracks in my direction and as they didn't look like State Troopers coming to arrest me for trespassing, I found myself getting just a tiny bit nervous as I was obviously out in the semi-middle of nowhere with no one knowing where I was. Most times I'm either too naive or too stupid to think about being out in places alone but for just a moment or two I started thinking about that - darn all the crime that has been sprouting up all over the place these days!

Before I had time to work myself into a good bit of nerves, though, I noticed that one of the men was also carrying a camera and as I got closer the man in the lead asked if the tunnel was much further up the tracks. Whew! "Nope, just around that corner," I told him. We then discussed the possibility of a train coming through which I thought would be cool and would add to the photos but which they thought would be too close for comfort. I guess I can see their point, trains are pretty big - especially when you're standing right by the side of the tracks.

I'd definitely like to do some more exploring out there but next time I'll take at least Amanda with me so I'm not out wandering in the woods by the river by myself. Maybe with any luck I can get her a little interested in local history, too.
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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Greetings

It's still not very Spring-like here in Connecticut so for today's picture I dug into my archives for a shot of last year's azaleas. Unfortunately, this plant stayed with the old house but I'm sure whoever lives there now will enjoy them just as much as I did.

Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, may you have a wonderful day filled with family, friends, and fun!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday

I'm briefly back from my blog hiatus just to let everyone know that I am still alive and well and just about ready to rejoin the Blogosphere. In trying to keep with the words of wisdom "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything" I have been not saying anything for the past couple of days. The recent rash of killings in this country has really set me on edge and every time I would sit down to write a post, it would end up going off onto a rant about what's wrong with people. I figured that there was more than enough negativity going around that I didn't need to contribute to it and yet at the same time, I didn't really feel up to doing "light and fluffy" either so hence the break.

It's been a good break and the kitchen is almost completely painted, my batteries are just about recharged, and I think I am past the ranting phase so after I get through a doctor's appointment today to see what my recent MRI revealed and this evening's shift at work, I hope to get back into blogging. To be honest, I've missed you guys!

In the meantime, here's my contribution to Tisha's Looking at the Sky on Friday meme.

As you can see, winter seems to still be hanging on here in Connecticut but yesterday we had some beautiful blue skies and I think it actually got close to 60 degrees. What you can't see is that there are - honest! - buds on the branches and that maybe, just maybe there will be some leaves soon. If not, I shall have to give serious consideration to moving someplace that doesn't have winter from October until May!

Hope everyone is well and I hope to be around to visit soon!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Brief Blogging Break

I've decided to take a couple days off from blogging as I'm feeling just a tad bit burnt out, overwhelmed, and somewhat sad around the edges. With all that this seemed like the perfect time to practice stepping away from the blog for a bit being as how I do not intend to blog regularly - if at all - when I head west later on this month.

So, while I try to get the rest of the house organized and maybe finally paint the kitchen, I am going to leave you with another of Amanda's line drawings. I've decided the kid has a definite gift for the macabre ... Vincent Price probably would have loved her!

Everyone take it easy and I will be back and try to catch up to all of you in a couple of days.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I Cannot Believe This Has Happened ... Again ...

"PITTSBURGH – A gunman wearing a bulletproof vest and "lying in wait" opened fire on officers responding to a domestic disturbance call Saturday, killing three of them and turning a quiet Pittsburgh street into a battlefield, police said.

Police Chief Nate Harper said the motive for the shooting isn't clear, but friends said the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

Richard Poplawski, 23, met officers at the doorway and shot two of them in the head immediately, Harper said. An officer who tried to help the two also was killed.

Poplawski, armed with an assault rifle and two other guns, then held police at bay for four hours as the fallen officers were left bleeding nearby, their colleagues unable to reach them, according to police and witnesses. ..."
This is just an excerpt from the news story, please click on the link above to read the whole sad, sorry tale.

... when I heard about this so close on the heels of four police officers shot to death in Oakland last month, I was upset and incredulous to say the least. Is this the direction our country is going when people like this "alleged shooter" lies in wait to kill three men who are simply doing their jobs? Three men who have families that will never seem them alive again ... three men who did nothing to provoke this sort of an attack ... three men that I never met and never knew about until today but for whom I cry ...

This sort of senseless killing has GOT to stop but I fear it's only going to get worse before it gets better. I'll be doing a post about the fallen officers in a day or two once I've had a chance to wrap my head around what is happening in our country but for now, I'm just too upset and worried for every police officer out there - those I don't know but especially those I do. John ... you might want to expect a phone call ...

I've Got a Question - You've Got an Answer

It's Saturday but it's rainy here in Connecticut and I'm at work so it might as well not be Saturday - or the weekend for that matter as I'll be at work tomorrow, too. That's one thing about working in a 24/7 job - weekends aren't really weekends but I've known that for many, many years and I'm good with it. Besides, having time off during the week gives me the chance to visit places when everyone else is at work and I can avoid crowds (and I really don't like crowds!).

Anyhow, enough blathering ... now that Spring is officially here (on the calendar anyway) what are your plans? Planting flowers? Sprucing up the yard? Painting the house? Spring cleaning of the garage? Or maybe just relaxing in the sun with a glass of iced tea?

Do you have any special plans or things you do each Spring?

I'm really looking forward to the weather being warm enough to pot up some flowers to put in the front of the house in containers this year. As I've mentioned before, I no longer have that lovely little porch that I had at my old house but there's still plenty of room for some pansies and petunias and maybe even a geranium or two. Of course, it needs to warm up first for me to do that but it's definitely on the list of must-do-Spring-things! How about you??

Friday, April 3, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - Back on The Thames

You might be a blogger if whenever you head outside with a camera in your hand, you have in the back of your mind that you need to find a good sky shot for your weekly Friday meme!

As I was enjoying the beautiful blue skies down in New London this past Tuesday, I most definitely had in the front of my mind that it was a perfect chance to get a picture or two for Tisha's Looking at the Sky on Friday meme - especially when a puffy white cloud or two floated into the area!

As you can see, there were a couple of light airy clouds floating over the Groton side of the Thames (pronounced like James and not like Tims as our British friends call their river of the same name over The Pond).

I took these pictures from the New London city pier which is located directly behind the Amtrak station and gives a great view of Fort Griswold located on Groton Heights across the Thames.

The City of New London has done a wonderful job fixing up the waterfront area which includes these lovely older style lampposts that line the pier and the walkway along the river. I bet at night they look really nice so I'm going to have to take a trip down there around sunset sometime and see what I can get for pictures.

These flags are also located on the city pier and boy, were they ever blowing in the breeze on Tuesday! If you look closely, I bet you can hear them flapping in the wind!

Whenever I see the American flag in a beautiful setting like this I always think of my father and the other men and women like him - for example Sarge Charlie - who served in the military and fought to keep our country free. I know that if it weren't for them, that flag very well might not be there and I am grateful to every single one of them.

Maybe it's because I was raised an Air Force brat or maybe it's just that I'm a sentimental sap but I do love to see the Stars & Stripes unfurled and waving proudly over our country.

Lastly, this sky shot shows some of the ferries that ply the Thames River going back and forth between Long Island and Fisher's Island. Provided I still go, the high-speed ferry that I will be taking out to Block Island in June will also be leaving from New London. The bridge that you can see in the background is the Gold Star Bridge (a bridge that my mother positively hates to drive over!). Directly on the other side of the Gold Star bridge is the United States Coast Guard Academy and - just a little further up the river - the New London U.S. Navy Submarine Base.

Unfortunately, those blue skies on Tuesday are now just memories found in pictures as we're looking at rain here in Connecticut all day today as well as tomorrow. Sigh. Ah well, April showers are needed if we're going to get those May flowers, right?

Wherever you may be, I hope your Friday skies are beautiful! Don't forget to stop by Tisha's and visit some of the other Looking at the Sky on Friday links!