Sunday, January 31, 2010

Three Sunday Shots

Just a few quick pictures from yesterday as it's off to work for 16 hours and no time to be on the computer. I'm a bit disappointed with a lot of the pictures because - believe it or not - the weather forecasters got it wrong and the blue skies that they had promised for the day fizzled out around 10:00 a.m. leaving me with some pretty lousy lighting.
Regardless, though, it was a nice little mini-break and Amanda had a wonderful time hanging out with her brain-twin Sami -
While I attempted to take some pictures at the Mount Holyoke College Campus- the place that most definitely looks like one would expect Hogwart's to look -
Then before leaving for the night, we stopped at a scenic overlook where I attempted to get a picture or two of the beautiful full moon that chose just that moment to go hide behind some clouds -
Sometimes it seems like the Photo Gods just like to sit back and laugh at we mere mortals!  Ah well, it just means I'm going to have to try again another day, right??
Anyhow, I'm off to work - everyone have a great Sunday and stay out of trouble!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday in Massachusetts

The kid and I are in middle Massachusetts for the day - specifically the Holyoke/Amherst area - and even though it's still pretty darned cold out there, I've got plans to go take some pictures of the local area later.

We arrived yesterday evening around 5:30 and after checking into our hotel (which I was able to score a major deal at courtesy of Priceline!) we drove over to Hampshire College where we picked up Amanda's friend, Sami.  From there we made the short drive to South Hadley where we had a nice dinner at the what appeared to be the most happenin' place in town - Johnny's Bar & Grill.

Following that we popped into a cute little coffee shop that was very eclectic and even featured a singer strumming on her guitar who reminded me a bit of Alanis Morrisette.  I wish I could remember the name of the place but I think I was too busy being bemused by the whole experience!

From there it was across the courtyard to a small movie theater where we saw The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the last movie that Heath Ledger was working on before he died.  When Ledger died one-third of the way through filming, his role was recast with Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell portraying transformations of Ledger's character Tony as he travels through a dream world.  To be honest, it was hard to tell where one character ended and the other began at times as the movie itself is pretty trippy.  Not bad, mind you, but a movie you have to pay close attention to or you'll be totally lost.  Definitely not one that you want to get up and go to the restroom or the concession stand during!  Amanda, of course, loved it!

Today the plan is to drop the girls off at the local mall so that they can see Sherlock Holmes together (they are both major fans of both the movie and Robert Downey, Jr.) while I see what I can find with the Nikon.  Mount Holyoke College is a definite target as it bears a striking resemblance to Harry Potter's Hogwart's and I was enchanted with the campus the first time we drove up here to see Sami.  Beyond that, I shall see what I shall see! Like I said, I just hope I don't freeze my fingers off in the process!

Friday, January 29, 2010

On the Road Again ...

Even though it's so cold  I'm shivering like a mobster in a tax office, the sun is still shining brightly so Amanda and I are throwing some stuff in the car and heading out on an impromptu road-trip to the State of Massachusetts. 

Not to worry, I'm taking along the camera and plan on doing some picture-taking while Amanda hangs out with her brain-twin, Sami, and gets some needed teenage-time doing whatever it is that teenage girls like to do these days.  I'm pretty sure that the zombie make-up is staying home, though!

Everyone stay warm wherever you are! 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Winging It On Thursday

"I pick the prettiest part of the sky and I melt into the wing and then into the air, till I'm just soul on a sunbeam." ~ Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull

"I think it is a pity to lose the romantic side of flying and simply to accept it as a common means of transport...."  ~ Amy Johnson

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon By the Thames

After getting a clean bill of health from my doctor yesterday afternoon, I took a drive south of Norwich to the Stoddard Hill State Park Boat Launch in Gales Ferry in search of train tracks with the hope of maybe catching an afternoon Providence & Worcester train making its way north. I found the perfect spot by the tracks but unfortunately, I didn't find any trains. I tell ya, freight trains are tricky buggers but I guess that's half the fun in trying to photograph them - you have to catch one first! It's turning out to be a great lesson in patience!

Still, it wasn't a wasted trip as I found something just as nice to photograph:

What with no trains clackety-clacking down the tracks for me to take pictures of, I decided that the two swans were would be perfect subjects for the afternoon:

In addition to having the company of the swans, as I was hanging around by the tracks another car pulled in next to mine and I was soon joined by a rather nice gentleman who had stopped by to take in the scenery after attending to some business he'd had in the local area. He was from Enfield, which is more towards the middle of the state, and said he enjoyed this part of the state whenever he had the chance to get down this way. We talked for awhile about trains and the river and photography before he decided that he had to head north for the day and bid me good luck with my photography. It was actually a rather nice way to spend the afternoon even though I suppose talking to strange men by the side of the river might seem a bit dangerous to some; he really didn't strike me as the serial killer type, though!

Before giving up on the trains for the afternoon I was rewarded with this beautiful view:

So ... no trains but it wasn't a total loss and perhaps next time I'll get lucky - though I'm seriously thinking of bringing along a lawn chair, a blanket, and a thermos of hot coffee just in case I'm going to be there for awhile waiting!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tired Tuesday Tidbits

Figured I had best pop in and say "Hey!" and let those of you who read know that I am still alive - though not necessarily kicking!  I am suffering from a complete and total lack of enthusiasm to do much of anything except play mindless games on Facebook and putter around the house not accomplishing a whole heck of a lot!

I did manage to edit the pictures that I took at our annual employee party the other night and I'd have to say that some of them came out pretty good while others ... eh, well, there are always others, right?!?  I'll try to find a decent one of myself to post here later on just to prove that I can, in fact, wear make-up every great once in awhile.  Truth be told I'm none too impressed with the pictures of me as it's evident that I have no chin (or is that too many chins?) but I guess it is what it is.  I wonder how much a chin implant costs?!?

Yesterday was Monsoon Monday here in Connecticut but I didn't really mind the wind and torrential rains as it was also semi-warm.  Today the sun is playing hide and seek with the clouds and I'm hoping it stays out long enough for me to go out and try to take some pictures after my doctor's appointment this afternoon for my annual physical.  Of course it's scheduled for smack in the middle of the day but I'm hoping it won't take too long.

Quick update on Jamie as technically I'm not allowed to say anything (there are academy rules about public posting) - she is doing very well and is determined to succeed.  I'm very proud of her and think she'll do great - this is a wonderful opportunity for her to get her life headed in the right direction.  Mail at the academy is always appreciated so if anyone wants her address to drop her a postcard with some words of encouragement or something let me know and I'll be happy to send it to you.  For those of you who have already written to her - thank you again!  She and I both appreciate it!

I'm still trying to get a fire lit under Amanda's back end with her college application to Montserrat but the kid seems to have inherited the procrastination gene from her father's side of the family.  Hopefully she'll get inspired soon as I'm getting tired of nagging at her and she's getting tired of hearing it.  Unfortunately, not tired enough to do something!

Please send some good thoughts and prayers to Amanda's friend Darci down in New Jersey.  She's going through a family crisis right now that I'm not at liberty to elaborate on but I'm sure that they could use all the positivity possible.  It's something no family should ever go through and though I certainly hope that it resolves itself towards the best but it's not sounding too good right now.

Can you believe it's the last week of January already?  Where did the month go?  Not that I'm complaining, mind you, as truth be told I've got no problems with the winter months zooming by.  My electric bill for last month was pretty horrifying even with the infrared heater my mom gave me for Christmas.  You may have heard the scream of anguish I uttered after opening it!

Ah well, off to be poked and prodded for a bit and then maybe I can find something to take some pictures of.  If the sun stays out, this could be a nice day to climb back up Meetinghouse Rocks and try to get a picture of the sunset.  After all, I'm still sore from the first climb so why not go for a second?  I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Icicles on Sunday

Last night was my once-a-year chance to get all dressed up to attend the annual employee party that my company throws so needless to say, there wasn't a lot of time for blogging!  No doubt pictures from the event will be forthcoming soon but in the meantime I thought I'd share a shot with you that I took while out at Meetinghouse Rocks in Norwichtown on Friday.

Morgen over at It's a Blog Eat Blog World shared some of his Michigan icicles on Saturday and they definitely make these look tiny in comparison!  Truth be told I much prefer our smaller icicles here in Connecticut and rather liked the way the water was dripping from the rocks and forming the small icicles.

With the geography that we have here in Connecticut, it's not hard to imagine that most of the land was carved out of giant glaciers as they left us with some very beautiful landscape.  Sometimes it almost looks like the trees are barely hanging on to the side of the hill like this white birch here!

Here's hoping that you have a beautiful Sunday no matter where you are and what you're doing.  I'll be at work fieling 911 calls while resting up from last night's festivities and giving my feet a rest as they are definitely not used to wearing dress shoes!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Reader-Inspired Post That Goes to New Heights

Much to my delight, I received an email the other day from someone who reads my blog via Now, I know that there are people who read via the Bulletin as my Stat Counter tells me so (on the few occasions that I bother to check it these days!) but they aren't the commenting type apparently. That's okay, I know that not everyone is and I'm just happy to have people reading. However, to get an email from someone is - to me - really special and I wanted to share that with you as well as the pictures that it inspired.
"Hi Linda,

I read your blog in the Norwich Bulletin every day. Thank you for sharing. Mostly, I wanted to write and let you know that your pictures are absolutely awesome! You are an artist with a camera. As a train nut, I love your pictures of the local railroad action.

A suggestion if you would like to get some great shots of Norwich from a distance – behind the First Congregational Church in Norwichtown are two paths up to the top of Meeting House Rocks. The view from Avery Chapel is breathtaking.

Again, thank you for sharing.

Thank you so much, Patricia, for writing and I'm glad you've been enjoying the my train pursuits! Thank you, also, for your suggestion to visit Avery Chapel.  On Friday I decided to do just that being that the weather was rather nice - especially for January!

Some of you may remember that I've posted a picture or two of the First Congregational Church of Norwichtown back when I was doing my Steeple Chasing series that was inspired by Princess Patti of Ansonia in the Valley.  Just in case you're new here or you've forgotten - this is it: 

This quintessential New England white clapboard church is actually the fifth meetinghouse for the congregants of the First Congregational Church which was first gathered in 1660. The current building was constructed in 1801 and sits at the western corner of the historic Norwichtown Green.

To the left of the church as you are facing it are the Meetinghouse Rocks - the site of the second and third meetinghouses for the congregation. I really wish that I was able to find a picture somewhere of those buildings as I just can't even begin to fathom what they looked like standing atop the rocks.  I can understand why the congregants built them up there, though, it's very pretty on the summit as you'll soon see.

One of the two paths that Patricia referred to in her email begins at the base of Meetinghouse Rocks and leads up a rather steep set of stone stairs to the summit. This is actually the path that I took down from the summit as I opted to climb the second path, located behind the church, up as it didn't require the skills of a mountain goat! Truth be told, this particular path may have been easier going up than it was going down but I had my Dad's trusty walking stick with me and took my time as I really didn't want to end up in a pile at the bottom of the path with my camera in pieces!

Both paths have boxes with Visitor Information and brochures that explain the history of The Albert Curtis Avery Memorial Chapel that now stands at the summit and it was nice to know that visitors were welcome as I'm always a little afraid that I might be inadvertently trespassing somewhere when I'm out looking for pictures.  The brochure that I picked up welcomed me to Avery Chapel and just asked that I remembered that I was walking on sacred ground. 

The Avery Chapel was built as a gift to the church so that its namesake would always be remembered.  Albert Avery was an advisor to the Senior Pilgrim Youth Fellowship of the First Congregational Church who died unexpectedly at the age of only 32 the same year I was born - 1958. Inspired by the significance and beauty of the Cathedral of the Pines in New Hampshire, a place the Senior Pilgrim Youth Fellowship traveled to every year, it was decided to build a chapel patterned after the Cathedral as a remembrance to Albert.

With many people donating not just money but their time and talents to the project, it became both a church and community effort which was completed in time for its very first service to be held on  March the 29th, 1959 - Easter Sunday.  Over 200 people made the climb to the summit to attend the service.  

Over the past 50 years, the cross has been replaced, benches have been added, and flowers and bushes have been planted in memory of other loved ones. Services are still held at Avery Chapel for various occasions including an Easter Sunrise Service that must have the most spectacular view in all of Norwich. 

From the summit one can get a gorgeous view of the Norwichtown Green and some of the historic homes that surround it as well as the Johnson Home for Ladies (the large white building) that sits on the corner of Town Street and West Town Streets. I've often driven by and thought it might not be a bad place to spend one's advancing years as one becomes history while overlooking history.

I've driven past Meetinghouse Rocks and the First Congregational Church more times than I can count and had often wondered about the summit but was never quite sure how one got up there.  Thank you again, Patricia, for telling me about those two paths and giving me the inspiration to climb to the summit.  It's beautiful up there and I can guarantee you that it won't be my last visit; I've already made a note to myself to go back during sunset sometime soon and if I can ever roust myself out of bed early enough in the morning, I'm sure the sunrises from there are well worth the early hour.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Training Myself on What to Do With My New Day Off

With the advent of our newest dispatcher being fully trained and able to step into his new rotation, my work schedule has changed ever so slightly and I now find myself with having Wednesday afternoon/evening off. Not quite sure what to do with the novelty of having this extra time, I found myself having to find something to do yesterday afternoon so I did one of the things I like best ... grabbed the camera and headed to Indian Leap Falls in search of the elusive southbound New England Central Railway train!

The area had thawed significantly since I was there last Tuesday afternoon so I stopped to take a couple of shots of the falls themselves before heading to an area near the footbridge and waiting for my prey to hopefully arrive this time!  Turns out I wasn't there too long at all before I heard the sound of a train whistle coming from the Norwichtown area and I knew that finally I was going to get a break.  A few moments later the elusive NECR engine approached the trestle bridge and crossed over to my side of the river.
Now I know for a fact that the engineers never ever sound the horn after they've come over that bridge - or even approaching it as there's no roadway - but darned if the engineer didn't give the horn a hearty blast as the engine approached me.  I was darn lucky that this other shot wasn't one big blur as I'm pretty sure I jumped quite a bit!  Still, I'll take it as a friendly gesture as he wasn't waving any single fingers in my direction as he passed by!

Giddy with my success at finally capturing a southbound train on the trestle, I decided to hot-foot it down to the harbor near downtown Norwich in the hopes of perhaps catching the afternoon northbound Providence & Worcester train.

Less than five minutes later I was rewarded with a double engine P&W making its way through Norwich - woohoo!  Or is that "choo-choo"?!?

All in all, I'd have to say that it was a rather good first 'new-day-off' and perhaps Wednesday is going to be my lucky day for trains from here on in.  Now to go in search of some other locales to shoot in as I've no doubt you folks are getting tired of seeing the same old places post in and post out but I really hope you don't mind trains as I appear to be fascinated with them lately!  I'm hoping to someday get that 'perfect' shot that I can submit to Trains magazine and be officially published once the editors are done ooh'ing and aah'ing over it!  Bear with me, this may take awhile!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Belated Happy Birthday to E.A. Poe

Had he still been alive - and a darned fine feat that would have been! - Edgar Allan Poe would have celebrated his 201st birthday yesterday. Wow, I hadn't really thought about him being around all that long ago as he's been rather alive at my house what with having his painting hanging on the wall in the dining room just above that of H.P. Lovecraft.  How many of you can say that, eh?  Ha!  Not too darned many I bet!

Anyhow, Amanda celebrated the day by wearing one of her E.A. Poe t-shirts to school and then came home and did a new piece of artwork in honor of the dearly departed:

This particular piece of art was created using ink and - believe it or not - coffee!  After sketching out Poe, the paper was then painted with a fine layer of coffee and then inked over.  Makes for a pretty amazing effect, doesn't it?  I swear to God, I don't know where this kid gets her talent as I doubt I could even do one line properly on the man's cravat!

In sadder news for our beloved Poe and his fans in Baltimore, it seems that the "Poe Toaster" failed to show up with his customary birthday gifts.  Every year since 1949 on the 100th anniversary of Poe's birth (usually at night), a cloaked individual has left a half-bottle of cognac and three roses at the foot of Poe's tomb in the burying grounds next to Westminster Hall in tribute to the legendary poet; but for the first time in 61 years, no one showed up.  It's left the Poe Society mystified and baffled - as well as disappointed  those who made the pilgrimage to Poe's grave for this year's birthday observance.

Upon hearing the news Amanda immediately stated that we needed to go to Baltimore to rectify this injustice but alas - day off or not - driving to Baltimore at the last minute was obviously not on the agenda!  Perhaps if we lived closer I might have actually entertained the idea as it's a shame to see a tradition fade away but I'm sure the Toaster had a good reason for not being there.  Perhaps he was feeling crummy.  You know how toasters get sometimes!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Take This Tune - The Heartbreak Version

This week over at Jamie's meme Take This Tune, contributing author Fairweather from Fairweather's Red Mud Inn asked us to rip open our chests and pull out our favorite heartbreak song. As I tend to relate music to events in my life - including having had my heart grape-stomped on a few too many times - there is a veritable treasure trove of heartbreak songs from which to choose including ones from various and assorted artists like The BeeGees, Meat Loaf, Nickelback, Reba McEntire, and too many others to name. However, in an attempt to keep this post short, I'm only going to pick one song - for now!

Hit the play button and listen while I try to explain what it is about this song that pulls rather strongly at my heartstrings.

"One Believer" is from country singer Steve Wariner's 1993 album "Drive" and - like so many of Steve's songs - it drives your way right into your heart and parks there while blaring the stereo over and over until you know the lyrics almost as well as you know your name.  The man, in addition to having a golden voice, is one of the finest guitar players in the world and is one of only four people who have been given the "Certified Guitar Player" (CGP) award by Chet Atkins. No mean feat! 

Steve has released 18 studio albums - most of which reside in my CD collection - and has charted more than fifty singles on the Billboard country singles charts including ten Number One hits. Even though I like the Number Ones, some of my favorite stuff by Steve are songs like "One Believer" as the guy really knows how to sing about love lost, heartbreak, despair, and the difficulty in moving on after having once found love and then lost it. There are times when I swear that he wrote songs like "There For Awhile", "When Will I Let Go", and "Some Fools Never Learn" just for me.

As for this song, just read the lyrics and you can see wherein the heartbreak lies:

- Steve Wariner Lyrics

And as for me, I'm still one believer ... I just try not to think about that very much these days. That doesn't mean I've forgotten. I haven't.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New London On a Nice Day

Callooh! Callay! It was a beautiful day!  And I got to get out and enjoy it a little bit.

Sunny blue skies and temps in the low 40's - just what the doctor would order to lift one's spirits and make the winter more bearable. I posted on my Facebook page that I was going to go out and enjoy some sun and my cheeky friend Claire from across the pond insisted that I needed "Pictures or it didn't happen!"  Sheesh ... force me to take the camera out - the nerve!

So where to take the Nikon to prove that I was out enjoying my day rather than sitting at home and waiting for the next storm to hit?  I know, down to the Thames River in New London where I could take pictures of birds in flight with the Gold Star Bridge in the background -

Or a fishing boat docked to unload it's latest catch -

Or the sunken rusted out hull of a what looks to be a former fishing boat that is now home to quite a few seagulls -

Or even better - the United States Coast Guard Cutter Eagle whose homeport is New London; which happens to be home to the United States Coast Guard Academy - a place I would really like to get some pictures of if I can ever figure out how to do so without trespassing on government property and ending up in the brig!

And let's not forget one of my favorite photography targets - trains!  I managed to get these two pictures of Amtrak Acelas without having to wait for hours unlike my pursuit of the elusive New England Central Railway train!

After some coaxing Amanda decided to join me outside and sat in the car with her sketchbook while I snapped pictures.  Part of the deal, though, was that I had to take her to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law.  I had offered to drop her off at the movies while I was out taking pictures but unlike a lot of other teenagers I guess she would rather go to the movies with her mother than alone (I will take that as a compliment whether she meant it that way or not!).

I must say that it's most definitely a different take on the Sherlock Holmes characters that I'm used to but that's perfectly fine by me!  As it turned out, I rather enjoyed sitting in a darkened theater for two hours watching these two guys -

What is it Claire likes to say?  Oh yes ... nom nom nom!!!  Yep, I can be shallow with the best of 'em!

Hope everyone had a lovely Saturday and that your Sunday is great, too.  It's off to work for me but that's okay as it's Chick Flick Sunday where this week we've got Slumdog Millionaire, The Secret Life of Bees and L.A. Without a Map - which stars David Tennant.  Sounds like a good shift to me!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Talk About Bad Timing!

It hit 48 degrees at Bradley Airport, the official temperature center in Connecticut, yesterday and I missed it.  Never set foot out of the house as I felt like Death eating a small cracker when I was rudely awoken by my stomach at 6:15 in the morning.  I thought maybe if I went back to bed I'd sleep it off but alas, I still felt pretty lousy when I officially got up at 9:00.  Lousy enough, in fact, to cancel my planned outing with my mother and spend the rest of the day in my robe and jammies sipping tea and nibbling toast.

What a total waste of a day off with the temperatures above freezing in January.  Terrible timing on the part of my digestive system!  That's what I get for eating all healthy foods on Thursday, I apparently shocked my system too much!

Ah well, the forecasters said last night that today was going to be another very nice day before a storm moves into the region tomorrow.  They can't decide if it's going to be rain or snow so I'm going to hope for rain and expect snow!  I'll be at work for 16 hours so it won't be bad for me as even if it's snow I won't be tempted to go out and shovel it!  Plus there's no school on Monday so Amanda will have plenty of time to do snow removal should there be any.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to get out and enjoy the nice weather we've been blessed with today - I don't want to miss it two days in a row!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Thursday Thought

I've always found it rather sad that a Christmas tree goes from being this in all of its glory -

To this when everything is said and done-

It always gives me a twinge of guilt when the time comes to stick our former tree by the side of the curb and wait for the mulching to begin which may be part of the reason why it took me so long to finally get our Christmas tree out of the house this year.  Well, that and I smacked myself a good one on the top of my head last week during the initial taking-down of the tree and it took me another week to finish the job!  However, the living room is back to just being the living room now and I'm thinking the spot where the Christmas tree was would be an ideal place for a treadmill.  No sense wasting all that space, right?

While I ponder that some more, everyone have a great Thursday but before you do that, please pop over to Captain Picard's Journal and ask the Captain to pass along birthday greetings to his good friend, Graham, who is celebrating - I hope! - over in England today! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Freezing Some Moments in Time (Literally!)

I think there's probably a distinct possibility that I suffer from S.A.D. - Seasonal Affective Disorder aka the Winter Blues or Winter Depression.  Some of the symptoms of S.A.D. may consist of: difficulty waking up in the morning (check!), tendency to oversleep as well as to overeat with especially a craving for carbohydrates which leads to weight gain (double chin check!). Other symptoms include a lack of energy (check!), difficulty concentrating on completing tasks (big check!), and withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities (well, little check on this one).  Hmm, now that I look at all that, I may suffer from S.A.D. all year round!

Well, okay, maybe I'm not really that bad but I do know that I get pretty depressed when it's cold and overcast all the time and don't want to leave the house unless I absolutely have to (i.e., work and groceries).  Not that I'm a great outdoor person either but there's something to be said about being able to grab my camera and head out looking for photo opportunities - something I really haven't had the inclination and/or chance to do in way too long.

With yesterday being bright and sunny and the temperature almost above freezing, I decided around 4 p.m. that I needed to stretch my legs so I bundled up and took the Nikon down to one of my favorite places - Indian Leap Falls and the railroad trestle where I've spent many an hour waiting futilely for a train to come by!   I figured the area around the falls should be pretty well frozen and it was with the cliffs across from the lower falls being covered in a frozen mist that made them resemble very large pieces of frozen cauliflower.

Had I really been adventurous I would have tried hiking over to the area across from the falls just near the top of that picture and gotten a shot facing the falls but I figured with my luck it would be too slippery and I'd slide to my frozen death in the cold waters of the Yantic River below.  Chances are good I'd have been a Popsicle floating down the Thames before Amanda realized I hadn't come home to make her dinner and sounded the alarm! See?  Sometimes common sense does prevail in my head!

I ended up spending close to an hour walking around the area while hoping that maybe the Train Gods would have pity on me and send a New England Central Railway train trundling down the tracks but alas, no such luck and finally my fingers - even encased in warm gloves - told me it was time to go home so that I could sneak up behind Amanda and place those rather frozen fingers on her nice warm face! Bwahahaha!

It was nice to get out of the house into the sunshine and fresh air for a little while and take a few pictures which I have put into a collage for you below.  Everything is of the frozen variety starting with the frozen Yantic River below the trestle in the left hand corner (which looks a lot like the picture I used on my Christmas cards this year!), the frozen embankment along the railroad tracks, the frozen water of the Lower Yantic Falls, a frozen view down into the falls, a frozen tree, more frozen cauliflower-likeness as a result of the frozen mist, a view to the frozen railroad trestle, a frozen flock of birds flying above, and in the middle - the frozen photographer!  I believe if you click on the collage you can view it in a bigger version should you desire over on my Flickr page.

It's supposed to get up near 40 or 45 later in the week so perhaps I'll have the chance to go out and take some more pictures somewhere which I'm sure will help to make me happy and less S.A.D.!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Brief Bit of Blue

Trying to think of positive things about all of this rather cold weather we've been having lately and one of the few that comes to mind is that the skies are certainly blue! 

This picture shows the steeple at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Brooklyn, Connecticut which was built in 1771 and stands at the intersections of Route 169 and Route 6.  I've always wanted to see the inside so perhaps one of these days I'll be able to catch one of their two services a month but in the meantime, if you'd like to see more pictures of this lovely structure, check out this link to Colonial Meetinghouses of Connecticut.

While you do that, I'm going to go check out how things are going at work on this cold January afternoon!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Stylish Award for Moi

Now that I have stepped down off of that 911 soapbox that I tend to futilely climb up on every once in awhile, I can concentrate on a lovely little award that I received on Friday from Sher at Fashion After Forty. Sher is a fashion diva but not in that impossible Hollywood way that none of us could ever hope to attain!  She's got a lovely wardrobe from places like Coldwater Creek, Newport News, Sears, JC Penny, Target and the like and she models some of it for us on a daily basis managing to look very chic and professional yet real all at the same time.  Why, I bet she could even make the uniform I wear to work look great! 

Anyhow, even though I am obviously not a fashion blogger, Sher passed on the

to me as I have my own "unique" style. Hmm, I wonder if that's a good thing??  Truth be told I've never thought of myself as having any sort of style (unless one counts sarcasm as a style!) but who am I to argue with a fashionista like Sher?  Therefore I shall gratefully accept this lovely award and see if I can come up with the seven random things about myself that acceptance requires. 
  1. For the most part I am a fairly healthy person for which I am eternally grateful but for the last couple of days I haven't felt too good.  I'm hoping it's just a passing something or other but in the meantime, the watchword is 'bleh'! 
  2. Even though I don't give a rodent's back end about what's going on in Hollywood or with the beautiful people I have taken to watching "Live with Regis & Kelly" lately.  There are times when I think that Regis and I could have been separated at birth as his take on the world is so much like mine but he gets paid good money for his big mouth while I just have a blog!
  3. Even though I have lived in New England for the vast majority of my life, I don't like the cold and am none too thrilled with my part of the country between January and March.  I don't like to rush my life away but at this point - come on April!!
  4. My first car was a 1975 Chevy Chevette and once my friend Carol (from my retro-post the other day) and I drove all the way out to Oklahoma City in it.  What an adventure! 
  5. I used to know how to play Cribbage but have since forgotten as it was something that my ex and I used to play all the time but since we split up I've had no one to play with. 
  6. Speaking of no one to play with, I miss that Amanda is no longer in concert band as I enjoyed going to her shows. I've been meaning to go to the concerts anyway but without her being involved, I always forget when they are! 
  7. I seriously need to make an appointment with an eye doctor and see about getting a prescription for progressive lenses as I can no longer read anything without the help of a pair of "cheaters".  Progressives would prevent me having to take my glasses on and off depending on what I was looking at so even though they're expensive, I think they would be well worth the money.
So, there you go - seven randomly pathetic things about me which were harder to write than I would have thought! I know I'm supposed to pass this award on but I'm feeling rather peaked so instead will be awarding myself with an early bedtime while I say thank you once again to Sher for thinking of me; it was very, very nice of you!

Friday, January 8, 2010

"When it's not done right, people die and that's the bottom line."

Yesterday morning the Today Show touched on a subject that is near and dear to my heart during a segment called  "Today Investigates".  The report from NBC's Jeff Rosen dealt with the results of a three-month investigation into "a dangerous flaw in the the Nation's Emergency 911 System" and began with Rosen saying, "when you call 911, you assume the operator is well-trained and that they can actually get you the help you need but some safety officials now tell us that the system you trust - the system we all depend on - may let you down when you need it most."

If you don't have time to watch the whole video, the investigation seems to have stemmed in part from an incident that occurred in October of 2007 when a young boy in Texas lost his life.  Apparently what happened was that when his mother wasn't looking, the 21-month toddler went into his family's backyard, got his head tangled in their soccer net, and strangled himself.  Upon finding her son, who had turned blue, the mother called 911 and was - naturally - hysterical.  During the course of the 4-minute call the emergency dispatcher who took the call did not give the mother any medical advice and told her to calm down 11 times.  Three days after the incident, the boy died at the hospital and the family is now suing the City of Murphy, Texas citing "... [lack of] adequate hiring standards, training, [and] supervision ... of its 911 operators."

The City Manager of Murphy said that the dispatcher was doing the job that he was trained to do trying to calm the caller down while also dispatching the ambulance, the fire department, and the police officers.  When asked why the dispatcher was not trained in CPR, the City Manager stated that he was not required to be nor were any of the other 911 operators in Murphy, Texas.  The City denies any wrongdoing in the case and says that CPR would not have saved the child but they have since changed their policy and now train all of their 911 operators in CPR.

The results of the 3-month investigation found 911 operators in 18 states in the country are not required to be certified in CPR and receive no 911 training requirements at all.  Industry insiders said "...dispatchers dealing with life-threatening emergencies are treated like receptionists and often paid less" and without the training "what you get are major mistakes"  but "... until Congress beefs up training and especially funding nationwide then lives are at risk."

Those of us who are 911 operators and dispatchers (telecommunicators) here in the State of Connecticut undergo rather rigorous training in accordance with the Connecticut General Statutes and must maintain that certification once we achieve it.  In addition, the Connecticut State Legislature passed a law in 2005 which requires all medical calls coming into a Statewide PSAP (a Primary Safety Answering Point) or 911 Communications Center be handled under what's called an Emergency Medical Dispatch protocol.  Those of us who provide Emergency Medical Dispatch are required to achieve and maintain certification in the protocols along with our Telecommunicator Certification.

The EMD protocol involves a series of questions so that dispatchers can determine:
  • What the medical situation is
  • If intervention is needed immediately
  • What resources need to be dispatched (EMS, Fire, Police)
  • How those resources should respond (lights and sirens or with the flow of traffic)
  • And if pre-arrival instructions need to be given to the caller (CPR, bleeding control, child birth, etc)
As a certified EMD for over six years now, I know firsthand that people DO NOT like us asking a whole series of blankety-blank-blank questions and just want us to have the blankety-blank-blank ambulance materialize in front of their house with the single push of a button but - unfortunately - it just doesn't work that way.  There really is a method to our madness in asking all of those darnd questions and in the long run, those questions provide better care to our patients even if the caller thinks we are wasting time in sending them help.  Trust me, we aren't delaying help at all - generally the other dispatcher has started the ambulance out long before the operator on the phone gets anywhere near close to finishing up those blankety-blank-blank questions and providing instruction.  There is no delay involved whatsoever and I really wish that people could understand that.  However, I also know that time seems to go into slow motion for those who are anxiously awaiting help for a loved one and that what may in reality be just minutes, very well may feel like hours to the person on the other end of the phone.

Had the tragic situation spoken about in the video above occurred in Connecticut rather than Texas, a trained and certified 911 operator would have done his/her best to calm the boy's mother down and then given CPR instructions in order to attempt to resuscitate the child prior to the First Responders arrival on-scene.   Instructions are read from a specific script and not just rattled off the top of someone's head so you know that you are getting the proper help for whatever the situation may be.  Pre-arrival instructions don't always work - sometimes the patient is too far gone - but I know that at the very least the act of doing something is giving the caller(s) the assurance in knowing that they did everything they could to help the patient.

Hopefully someday the rest of the country will follow suit when it comes to how 911 calls are handled and people will no longer hear 911 horror stories like this but will instead hear stories of how people were able to save the lives of their loved ones following the instructions given to them by a well-trained 911 operator who was able to do more than repeatedly tell the caller to calm down.  Granted, calming down is half the battle with any emergency but a lot of times it's easier said than done.  Knowing that you've got a trained professional on the other side of that three-digit line has got to help calm a person down some - or at least that would be my hope!

At the end of the segment Matt Lauer made a very strong and valid point  ... "if any story should ever prompt people to go out and learn CPR, learn about poisoning prevention and things like that, it's this one - it really is."  He is absolutely right.  CPR and First Aid instruction is offered in so many places in so many communities that you really might be doing your family a disservice by not learning it yourself.  Though you might think you'll never need it, you just never really know and just like insurance, it's better to have it there than not.

As for those 911 operators out there who have not had to undergo training and certifications, I most certainly hope that changes soon as I have no doubt that they can feel pretty darned helpless when someone calls who really needs help and they haven't been trained on how to give it.  There is so much more to our jobs than answering the phone and asking "911, what's the address of your emergency?" and I, for one, wouldn't want to walk the tightrope of being a 911 dispatcher without having that safety net of training and certification under me.  I am sure that operator in Texas in the story above felt absolutely horrible but I also know that he couldn't give that poor mother what he didn't have - the knowledge and resources to provide possible life-saving instruction.

Perhaps this was a tragedy that those 18 states can learn from.  I sure hope so.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

All of the posting the last couple days of pictures from my latest trip to New York City with Amanda got me to thinking about one of my very first trips to New York City when I wasn't much older than Amanda in September of 1977. At the time I had just barely turned 19 years old and was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey which made it easy to hop on a bus and venture up to the Big Apple where I met up with my best high school buddy Carol, still only 18 years old, who had taken the train down from Connecticut.

We were getting together to celebrate my birthday a few days late as well as attend my very first Broadway play at the Helen Hayes Theater.  We had chosen Equus as at the time it was starring Leonard Nimoy and Carol and I were admittedly big Star Trek fans which made it totally exciting for us!

Probably the only reason we chose Equus was because of Nimoy as the play itself is rather, uhm, disturbing you might say. Equus was written in 1973 by Peter Shaffer and it tells the story of a psychiatrist who attempts to treat a young man who has a pathological religious/sexual fascination with horses.  Pretty heavy material for a couple of teenagers especially considering there's full frontal nudity at one point; you've got to remember, 1977 was a totally different time as compared to now and those things were still pretty racy.   I can still remember the older lady sitting next to me waking up at just that point in the play and gasping "Oh my goodness!" rather loudly! 

Still it was quite the adventure for Carol and I and we had a wonderful time posing for pictures in front of the theater ...

... and then later visiting the Empire State Building where I posed for this picture at the top.  The quality is pretty terrible as these pictures are pretty old and were taken with what I believe was a Kodak 110 Instamatic Camera - or something along those lines - so I have no idea if I was pointing at anything in particular or not but I have a feeling I was.  I don't believe that was a typical pose for me!  

Good Lord, and to think that I thought I was fat back then. What the heck was I thinking??

This picture of Carol was taken back at the Hotel Edison where we decided to stay for the night.  That was back in the days when you could actually walk into a hotel and ask if there were any vacancies then get a room without having to lop off an arm and a leg to pay for it!  I bet if Carol were to see this she'd be shocked at how young she looks, too!

Anyhow, this trip was just one of several that Carol and I took to New York City while I was living in New Jersey but it may be the only one that I have any pictures of.  Obviously I wasn't attached to a camera back then like I am now which is too bad as the memories these pictures provoke are priceless.  I can still remember how much we laughed when we went to open the window shade of our hotel room and it came crashing down off of the window or how shocked we were when Leonard Nimoy just materialized in front of us while we were taking pictures out in front of the theater.  And what did my brilliant 19-year old mind come up with to say on such an auspicious an occasion?  "Oh, it's you!"  Duh ...

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to go feel old and fat!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Last of Our New Year's Day Trip to New York City

Continuing down Fifth Avenue after leaving the Museum of Modern Art on Friday afternoon, the girls and I came across this statute of Atlas which stands in front of Rockefeller Center directly across from St. Patrick's Cathedral.  As an interesting note, when the sculpture was first revealed it was protested by Catholics who thought it was inappropriate that a statute containing a semi-nude man be placed directly across from the cathedral.  Obviously the protests did no good as Atlas is still standing in the same spot some 72 years later!

Installed in 1938, the sculpture was crafted in the Art Deco style - as is the entirety of Rockefeller Center. Atlas himself stands 15 feet tall and when you add on the celestial spheres that he's holding on his shoulders the whole sculpture tops out at 45 feet high - or as high as a four-story building. In other words, it's a tall statute!

Another wonderful piece of Art Deco is located at the main entrance of 30 Rockefeller Plaza - the relief sculpture of Wisdom which was completed in 1933.

Carved from Indiana limestone, Wisdom is 22 feet high and 14 feet wide and like Atlas, he was the product of one of the United States most prominent architectural sculptors - Lee Oscar Lawrie.

From Rockefeller Center, we decided to head towards Times Square to find something to eat and on our way I caught a glimpse of one of my favorite places in New York City - Radio City Music Hall.

I've only been to Radio City twice - the first time when we went to NYC for my 8th grade class trip way back in 1972 and once for their Christmas Show back in the early 1990's - but I'm hoping to go again one of these days.

I've got to admit, New York knows how to do it up right when it comes to Christmas lights so I'm going to have to make it a point to go back down that way again next Christmas and take some more pictures!  I bet I could even fit in a trip to Radio City Music Hall again, too!

When we got to Times Square we had a chance to see the famous ball that drops on New Year's Eve to signal the beginning of the new year.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've watched it drop from the comfort of my living room and never once have I wished I was in the crowd of revelers who pack Times Square from one end to the other!

It doesn't matter how many times I go to Times Square, though, I still think it's totally cool in spite of - or maybe because of - the hustle and bustle that seems to be there 24/7. It just wouldn't be New York without it! I'm not sure if the girls feel the same way or not but I made them pose for a picture anyway.  What you can't see but what was really cool was that there was still confetti swirling in the air above us from the New Year's Eve celebration the night before!

By the way, see the sign for the Marquis Theater up above Sami's head?  I went to see Damn Yankees there with my cousin way too many years ago and it was one of the best Broadway shows I've seen - ever!  I loved every minute of it and it didn't hurt that Victor Garber was playing the role of the Devil!  I used to love to go to Broadway shows but alas, they have become way too expensive unless you sit in the nosebleed section and bring binoculars to see the stage.  I really miss the annual trips that my cousin and I used to take, though.  Maybe we need to resurrect that tradition.

After dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, we walked back past Bryant Park and the Crumbs Bake Shop that I posted about the other day on our way to Grand Central Terminal where Sami would catch the subway to her home in Brooklyn and Amanda and I would climb on board a Metro-North train back to Connecticut.

I had totally forgotten how close Grand Central is to another of New York's beautiful Art Deco-designed buildings - the Chrysler Building.  New York just has so many beautiful old buildings that I could probably walk around for days and still not get tired of looking at them! 

One last picture because I thought it was cool - this street sign is right outside Grand Central and I just loved all of the flags on it and the perspective of looking up - something you do a lot of in New York City!

All in all I'd have to say that it was a great way to spend New Year's Day and we were fortunate enough to have decent weather while we were there.  It occurred to me as I was nodding off on the train on the way home that there was no snow anywhere in the city and even though forecasters had been predicting lousy weather, we actually saw the sun come out for a little while in the afternoon.  No wonder people say "I love New York!"