Friday, July 29, 2005

Today's sky report

Seems a little quiet in the blogosphere this week. Do the computer electrons take vacations like the rest of us, kind of an HTML Holiday? Anyway, the sky report for today comes from Kreblog, who reported in carpool yesterday that the sky all around his house was orange after the thunderstorms blew through. Orange enough to cast an orange light on the cars going by, the side of his house and everything else in sight. Sounds like the same color as the UFO sighted in Exeter last week ( Hmmm…is Kreblog's name David?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Today's sky report

I have a two-parter today - a report from the eminently successful Blog 'n Brew and a short report from my ride home from that event. First the Blog 'n Brew: Once again, Blogmaster Kreblog corralled a bunch of us eCoast bloggers to meet face to face. While this may seem contrary to the general anonymity of blogging, it works real well. You see, bloggers are people who have a need to express themselves, which makes for great barroom conversation - lots of witty thoughts, overlapping, meandering, opinionated, personal, and just plain funny. Anywho, some of the same suspects were there from our last BnB, including:

Granite Rants
Mrs. “I promised I’d blog but I haven’t” Rants

Missing in action was Seacoast Perspective who claimed it was his wedding anniversary but interestingly, hasn’t updated his blog in almost a month. I think he was scared to come. During the course of the evening, he was compared to other famous no-shows such as Snuffleupagus and Weapons of Mass Destruction. And joining us for the first time (for a B’nB) were:

4 Kids, Mom, and Dad
You Who?

After our last B’nB, I handed out a few awards in the post that followed (
Prior B'nB Awards). Contagious, jonesing for recognition, asked that she receive another award after this B’nB. In fact, she had a specific request (my award). So here we go with this month’s awards (drum roll):

Best use of too much information (what a surprise) – Contagious
Most blog groupies - 4 Kids
Most broken blog promises – Mrs. Rants
Oldest last post – Lnotes
Best grasp of local music scene 10 years ago – Granite Rants
Most likely to over contribute for chicken and beer – You Who

And a special Blogger’s Appreciation Award goes to Kreblog, who not only hosts the event but who is also instrumental in helping many of us with our techie blog questions.

And now the ride home. I had taken two wheels to Blog ‘n Brew, looking to beat the heat of the day with a cool ride home. Leaving Paddy’s, I did my usual pre-ride fiddling and diddling around: unlock your gear, insert earplugs, put on helmet, put on glasses, put on jacket, zip tank bag closed, open zippers on jacket and so forth. It wasn’t until I got underway that I finally looked up and saw, A REALLY BIG AND ORANGE FULL MOON. Right then, I knew the ride home would be nice. I threaded my way around the edges of Portsmouth to Rt. 1A. As I headed east, the big moon was in my face and acting like a spotlight – it was bright enough that the scenery coming at me was darkened by the backlight. As I shot past Odiorne State Park, the trees and buildings cleared and I was left with the flooded salt marsh on one side (tide was in) and the ocean on the other. The moon created pools of light on both surfaces. It was easy to see where the phrase “moon river” originates when there’s a wide swath of moonlight streaming across the calm ocean to the beach in front of you.

Because it was summer, I was expecting a bit of traffic on 1A. Not to disappoint me, there were several cars just poking along enjoying the moon and the sea. With precious few passing lanes, I was unable to enjoy the costal curves as you can do in the fall or winter, but the relaxed pace suited the mood of the evening. I turned off the coast at the 101 junction at Hampton Beach and headed to Exeter.

I had expected the temperature by the beach to be significantly cooler. As I traversed the narrow lane of land between the marshes and the ocean, the temperature did cool off some, but it didn’t plunge as I had hoped. Not until I reached the exit by my home did the night air actually begin to feel cool. Thus chilled from the ongoing heat wave, I was able to sleep better.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Today's sky report

Today's morning sky was filled with sun and anticipation. The second in a series of Blog 'n Brews is tonight and who can wait?

Besides the second Blog n' Brew, today is also the 14th annual Ride to Work day ( The idea behind this effort is to promote motorcycling as more than just sport. If motorcycling was used more often as a form of basic transportation, there would be less crowding on the highways, in the parking lots and so forth. Even though the Ride to Work non-profit is based out of Minnesota, I have to believe that this cause might a bigger deal in California or Florida where you can be assured of more days of sun and warmth than in NH. Although, let's not forget that NH has one of the highest (if not the highest) number of motorcycle registrations per capita.

Much like my first day on EZ Pass (see post below), I expected everything to be different on Ride to Work day. Instead of 50 cars to every motorcycle, it would be the other way around. As I mounted my bike for the ride and headed down my small road, I expected to be joining up with other motorcyclist as I got on to larger and larger arteries. We would ride as a pack, kind of like the road into Weir's Beach during NH's motorcycle week. As I reached the corner at the end of my road, all I saw were cars and trucks. Merging on to Rt 101, I was surrounded by cages (cars). Where were my biking buddies? Did they not know it was Ride to Work day? Do none of them have jobs to ride to? After about 5 miles, I saw one bike going the other way. I gave him a nod and a wave, which were not reciprocated - almost as if he didn't understand our solidarity in our work transportation. For the whole 45 minute trip, I may have seen 7 or 8 motorcycles - less than I see on a normal day. What gives? How are we going to change the world if people don't care? Could it be that everyone drove today so they could listen to NPR reports on the Bush's new Supreme Court nominee? They're missing a lot of fresh air…

Realistically, in NH motorcycles should be seen as a hobby or a sport and not as a form of transportation. I have ridden a lot of miles in all kinds of weather, and unless you live 10 or less miles from work, you are going to get wet, cold, baked, burnt or bruised. I generally ride with a full riding suit, which helps deal with changing weather conditions, but even so, there will always be rides where you will uncomfortable. Still, I remember as a boy, trying to justify the purchase of a bike to my mother by saying I could use it instead of a car. I didn't get the bike.

As a footnote to my EZ Pass Rage post, the system seems to be sorting itself out. They have moved the EZ pass lanes to the middle, leaving two lanes to the left for tokens (I'm not sure why they didn't figure this out earlier). Still, as I was approaching the lane this morning, a car was in front of me without a transponder. The man rolled into the booth, nothing changed or flashed and he drove on. Now that's a discount.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Today's sky report

Maybe I should call this one today's nature report. As I was leaving for work on Friday, I saw a (not so) little head peaking up at me from the culvert that feeds the pond to the right of my driveway. I had to look, so I stopped the car, got out and looked down into the culvert. Already thrashing through the weeds and cat-tails, making his way back to the pond was a very large turtle. Not being well versed in all things turtle (necks, soup, the rock band), I'm not sure what type it was. When I described the size (back bigger than a serving platter) and the pointy face to other non-experts, they indicated that it might be a snapping turtle. One on-line guide says:

Snapping Turtle
Size: 8 - 18½"
Habitat: muddy, weedy ponds and marshes
Food: scavenger, eats crayfish, small turtles, frogs, fish, and ducklings
Notes: won't bother you if you won't bother it, but stands its ground when provoked

That seems to fit the bill, given that the pond is rather muddy and weedy and there are plenty of frogs in the pond on which he/she can feast. In fact, it may be the power of suggestion, but could it be that the nights are getting quieter as the bullfrogs are picked off one by one?

On Saturday, as I was mowing around the house, I saw another turtle on the other side of the house (when I say I live in a swamp, I'm not kidding). This one was slightly smaller than the one I had seen the day before, and its back was cleaner, not having any of the residual pond scum on its shell that the previous day's turtle had shown. It made me wonder how far turtles travel and whether or not this turtle was related to the one by the pond. Whatever the relationship, it now sees clear that it will be best to keep our small dog inside or he may lose a nose to the snappers....

Monday, July 11, 2005

Today's sky report: EZ Pass rage

In case road rage doesn't have enough causal factors, the State of NH has finally opened their long-awaited and long-overdue EZ Pass system. As a dedicated carpooler and commuter, I signed up as quickly as I could remember all my license plate numbers (not that quickly). As the time approached for the grand opening, I began to hear of others who had already received their transponders. By last Friday, I was getting very anxious - EZ Pass was scheduled to start Monday (today) and I hadn't received my transponders. It was with great relief that I found the magic package had arrived Friday night. Of course, they only sent me 3 of the 4 that I ordered (funny how they knew to charge me for all four), which means I'll get a chance to interact with their humanless customer service (voice menu hell or email, take your pick). The transponders were quickly installed on all my vehicles and as I traveled through the tolls over the weekend, I dreamed of a day (Monday, in fact), when I would whisk quickly through the tolls, the envy of all the other drivers.

It was with great excitement and anticipation that I hopped in the car today, anxious to show off my new EZ Pass transponder to my fellow carpoolers. Unfortunately, it turned out to be bad karpool karma Monday. Seacoast Perspective called in kid sick and Kreblog showed up at the usual meeting place, but was unable to remove the key from his car. I think his car was jealous of my car and its shiny new transponder and retaliated by not letting him get out with the key. So, as Kreblog headed out to get his car fixed, I headed off to my first tollbooth, the luster of the moment dimming, yet not extinguished.

The ManchVegas merge was unusually bad this morning. People can't seem to get the hang of three gazinta two, no matter how long it's been going on. As I got through that mess without any changes to the exterior dimensions of my vehicle, I started getting excited: no more would I crawl throught the tollbooths. I was going EeeeZeee. Rounding the curve off of 101W to the Everett Turnpike south, images of flying began crowd my thoughts until I came crashing back to earth. The whole damn highway was stopped! Now, this has happened off and on over the past several years as they reconstructed the Bedford tollboths, but it wasn't supposed to happen today. Not on MY EZ day. We crawled, LA freeway style, minutes passing us by like sands through the hourglass or something like that. Signs continued to urge me left towards the EZ Pass lane, but the traffic never sped up. I was depressed right up until I could see the toll plaza and there it was!

A glow filled the horizon over the tollbooth. I could see the big sign over MY EZ Pass lane, at once inviting and taunting. But I couldn't get there as driver after driver zigged left and right in front of me. Could it be they had seen my transponder and were conspiring to keep me from sailing through? Were they all jealous because they still had to hold the heavy metal of the tokens while I electronically paid without ever rolling down my window? Could they just be a bunch of dopes completely unable to figure out how to deal with the changed traffic patterns?

Passing under the EZ arches was anticlimactic. The lane, once I could get to it, was completely empty. I found myself speeding up to 25 mph, although the recommendation was 10 mph. Not wanting to be the first EZ Passer to be arrested for blowing through the tollbooth, I tapped the brakes and there it was: "Go EZ Pass". Need I say more?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Today's sky report

Yesterday I did the border dance on two wheels. It sounds a lot more esoteric than it really is. I motorcycled between Maine and New Hampshire for about 175 miles. It went something like this: NH, ME, NH, ME, NH, ME, NH, ME, NH, ME, NH. I was not looking to take quite so many crossings, but I got lost a couple of times and deviated from my planned route. Which is why I like just exploring come across so many scenes that whiz by that call for further inspection. Most of the time, you roll forward and try to process what you just saw (i.e. a beautiful view of a mountain, a bevy of boats on a lake, a nicely manicured lawn, an ice cream place with a sign that says, "no food") before the next scene intrudes on your brain. Sometimes I wish I could see in real time but process in slow motion, or that I had a mental TiVo that captured what I saw and indexed it for later retrieval. My mental TiVo works, it just lacks labels...

Steamy weather is back - what a spectacular Fourth of July weekend. Three days offering up the best weather you ever get in NH. It was warm, not hot, dry, not humid and sunny, not cloudy. The skies were smiling.