The foliage is coming, the foliage is coming!

I love fall, and I'm glad it is here, but I really, really, REALLY love that this map includes the word patchy, which I believe is only ever used to describe fog.



Is it wrong...

...that watching the National Parks on PBS just makes me want to buy a helicopter?

(Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching Ken Burns films, but I also like trying to identify the voice talent used. Tom Hanks, Sam Waterston, Tom Bodett, etc. in the last few evenings...)


My people are Nordic...

Hmm...not a single t-shirt sale yet. Must be the lousy design. Maybe I'll just put a picture of this on a shirt with the "My people are Nordic" tagline.


SALMON, one of my favorite foodstuffs, is also one of the easiest fish to prepare, and I think we all agree, one of the most delicious. This fine specimen was seasoned ever so sparingly with salt, olive oil and dried dill, and left under the broiler for 10 minutes. It was then flipped, automagicaly removing the skin, and returned to the firey flames of the broiler for 5 more minutes. Before this all began I had been boiling baby red potatoes for 10 minutes or so. So nice. The salmon holds up well to broiling/grilling, with or without marinade/seasoning, but is also tasty baked at lower heat, and even, believe it or not, boiled, which we like to call poached. For some reason "poached" sounds better than "boiled" when you're talking about fish. To poach, which might just be the easiest technique, place fillet in a pot, add poaching liquid (I use W-A-T-E-R) just to cover, and apply high heat on the stove top. Pay attention, and when the liquid begins to boil, remove the heat and start a timer for 10 minutes or so. After ten minutes, drain the pot and you have some tasty boiled poached salmon. Some of the fat will boil into what looks like sea foam (or maybe worse?) but it can just be blotted away with a paper towel, or you can rinse the fillet after cooking. Serve warm, or better yet, chill and serve the next morning with bagels and cream cheese. Beware of cats.

cats want salmon



This fix does not inspire confidence in the utilities of New Haven.

messy 11

The pole is attached to an adjacent pole, but then "leveled" with some additional bits of wood...

messy 6

Clearly, this is a busy junction, and there are obvious signs that the work has been done recently, and perhaps as a temporary fix, but it sure looks bad.

messy 2

I'll drive by again in the near future to see if anything has improved.



We went to Ikea. We went through Ikea. We got to the warehouey section before the checkout, and noticed the big ass fans up on the ceiling!

Big Ass Fans in Ikea

I stopped to take a picture while noticing what big ass fans they were!

Big Ass Fan in Ikea

Upon even closer inspection of the big ass fans, I noticed that they were, in fact, Big Ass Fans®

Big Ass Fan in Ikea



Minor pallirondack chair update

Primered Pallirondack

Just completed the primer coat for the main chair. This weekend I will figure out the arms and start the final painting phase. I hope to have this project done before it snows, but If not, I will sit in the chair in the snow, I promise.


It's time...

...to revisit a specific book sale treasure!

Library Exhibits

You may recall bulletin boards from your school years, in classrooms, in hallways, and in the library. This book is specifically about library displays, both in schools and public, or even private libraries.

Baseball For Boys

In addition to examples of display boards, there is information about lighting, spacing and materials and techniques. Including "LIGHT DISTRIBUTION ON A VERTICAL SURFACE."

angle of light


spot vs. flood

Also, ideas for seasonal favorites such as SEED CATALOG TIME!

Seed Catalog Time!

And who could forget NATIONAL NEWSPAPER WEEK? Coming right up in October!

National Newspaper Week



Vikings in the grocery store

I stopped by the Stop and Shop on my way home for quesadilla supplies, and I ran into these two fellows.

Playmobil Vikings

Playmobil Vikings

Let's call them Dørg Hårmënskjarn and Svëntil Jørmgrüns, respectively. They come two to a package and in case you didn't recognize underneath all that regalia, they are made by the Playmobil toy company.

Playmobil Vikings

I grew up with Playmobil, and along with Lego sets and Fisher Price Adventure People, they were some of my favorite toys, often all at the same time, with buildings made out of Legos for the Playmobil and Fisher Price people to live in.

They are still some of the best made plastic toys in my opinion, and I just noticed that even though they all retain the same classic Playmobil faces underneath all their costuming, it does appear that Dørg could stand to lose a little weight, at least based on Svëntil's slim and trim figure...

Playmobil Vikings

That's right, Fatmobil. I guess in 1986 (thanks internet!) they added new molds to offer larger and smaller body types, besides the adult and child sizes of figures.

I'm glad Playmobil is still going strong, and still offering interesting sets. The little catalog that came with Misters Hårmënskjarn and Jørmgrüns shows an ancient Egypt series of playsets including an entire pyramid set. I also appreciate that they offer amazing sets that are just about modern everyday life. Like when your crazy cat lady wife complains that you didn't grill enough hot dogs to feed all the kittens...




This bridge that I drive under nearly every weekday has had some strange "repairs" done to it...


The support structures all seem to have been patched with very rectangular patches for some reason. My pictures aren't very good, but one of these jammy, trafficy, rush-hour mornings I'll roll by nice and slow and you'll see the crazy shapes. If you look at the far end of this one, you'll get the idea.


I like the way they look, but I'm not sure why they're there, or why the whole pillar structure wasn't just resurfaced entirely. Mysterious.


Another day, another hopper...


This weekend was all about the backyard campfires, which I'm not sure can be called campfires. Back-fires, maybe? I was invited to a nice little gathering for Saturday night, which I believe was referred to as the burning, a much smaller gathering than the Friday night hotdogs&beer&carnivorousplants festival, but besides The Burning™ it also involved Jiffy-Pop popcorn and full-size smores, which I now believe to be essential back-fire activities.

The weather has been perfect, warm and sunny days followed by crisp and clear nights. This has meant a dramatic decrease in mosquitos, and a rise in the appearance of more interesting insects. Or maybe I'm just noticing more of them because I find them more interesting. Either way, this fine specimen of grasshopper has been on the front window at work lately, sunning in the afternoon.


The window is particularly great if, like me, you are intrigued by how these things are "put together", as you can see the critter from all sides.



Much respect, glasshopper.


Sunday self-portrait

Press button to Alex

One from the archives, this time I even know where I was...Baltimore. After watching all of the episodes of The Wire recently, I have a renewed respect for the place, knowing that it's not all as awful as the series portrayed it. I'm sure it can be that bad, but the whole city isn't like that. It just couldn't be, right?



whoops, missed one...

A busy day shouldn't keep me from posting, but social life trumps blog, I'm afraid.


OJ, (of A DONG fame) had some folks over after work yesterday for a backyard campfire. Hot dogs, snacks and beer all included. Also, X-Files style lighting effects.


It was a beautiful evening, with an interesting cross-section of personalities from OJ's social circles. Also, Olivia's carnivorous plant collection.


There was plenty of great food and drink, but I didn't quite have time to assemble the teeny-tiny ingredients I brought for teeny-tiny dessert. I did re-create the scene this morning, for your viewing pleasure.

mini smores

Them there are some micro-mini smores and them there micro-mini-smores are tricky to put together, or at least I haven't figured out the best method yet. I did try a few minutes in the toaster oven, and it did add the right color and flavor to the marshmallows, but they are notoriously hard to control.

mini smoresplosion

Clearly, more R & D is required.


IRELAND: Connecticut edition

Old Dublin Pub

I do have more Ireland pictures and tales to tell, but tonight I was invited to a birthday gathering at the Old Dublin Pub, right here in Wallingford, CT. Thursday also happens to be the traditional Irish music night and is an open session for musicians.

Old Dublin Pub

The music was an added bonus, and they were even kind enough to play Happy Birthday when the cake came out.

Josh and his cake

The cake, by the way, was homemade by Josh's girlfriend Jenny, and was peanut butter with icing and a layer of fondant with stars. Also, it was amazing.

Josh's PB cake, by Jenny

The session was busy, with at least a dozen different players over the course of the evening, including more than one pennywhistler.

Old Dublin Pub

Old Dublin Pub

That's Old Dublin Pub owner Paul Pender, jammin' on the whistle and running the session in that last pic. Awesome.


Still lost

I ordered a GPS unit on Friday and received it today, but it doesn't seem to be able to find any satellite signals. Lame, not unlike this post complaining about it. I'll try it again tomorrow, and then probably send it back for a replacement.

Other than that, I have yet another weekend to myself as Val is off to NC and I am unable to attend. I was hoping to get lost with my new GPS, but I don't think that will work, so maybe I'll just get lost old fashioned style like I usually do.

On a vaguely related note, here is a blog about strange maps that I enjoy...



tending to craze

Stuck on Mad Men, Netflixing and watching online, struck by a season two line from Betsy Draper. Accused of being "profoundly sad" she replies

"No – it's just my people are Nordic."

Inspired, I turn to t-shirts. This is deserving of a finer design than I have time for this evening, but wanting to set, um, inkjet to cotton(?), I added a cafepress.com store to my roster:


If you're of the Nordic persuasion, and if you'd wear a shirt "explaining" your disposition, GET A SHIRT! Or wait until I have a finer design worked out. Right now it's all about the idea...

(Also, if you like cameras, or motorcycles, or maybe even d.h.w.e., I also have shirts for you. I mean, mostly for me, but also for you.)


Pallirondack update

I'm not sure which Phase I'm on at this point, but progress is still being made, even though things are still a bit rough around the edges, the planning has paid off.

To see the chair, be the chair...

test drive

this project has legs,


and a backbone...


why, it's practically a chair already!


Here, I'll prove it...

hey, look, it's kinda a chair!

Next Phase...ARMS!


Adventures in West Hartford.

There was something for everyone at the book sale. Books to kill your coffee table, for example.

them's big books

From the book sale, we headed to West Hartford with Jesse and Olivia, specifically to visit the largest Asian supermarket in the area, A-DONG!


We started with a late lunch at Pho Boston, which is a few doors down from A DONG, and right next to a Salvation Army Thrift store. Is it the perfect strip mall, you ask? Perhaps.

Pho Boston

I had the chicken pho, but it was still the standard beef-based broth, and it was delicious. We went next door to the thrift store for a while, and then headed to the supermarket.


There were the usual items, but amazing quantities of them, and so much more.

words fail me



Val found this gem in the kitchen items. Now I am a rich man.


Clean and Handy

If we know two things about bird mouths, we know they are clean and handy.

Toothpick Bird!

THANKS OJ! We'll have to go again sometime.



SOMEONE volunteered at the Book Sale for the lunchtime relief shift, so when I went to pick her up, I was left browsing the tables and couldn't help myself. Or rather I DID help myself to the following...

Library Exhibits

Den Svenska Hemslojden

Tree Guide

...and perhaps the greatest find, the Ladies of the North Series.

Ladies of the North

Actually tourist guidebooks, but for some reason each featuring a young lady, I assume, from that country. Other highlights include...






Lame post, yet awesome in it's own right...

The Who is awesome. If you didn't already know that, or learn it from Freaks and Geeks or some other reputable source, get right on it. I'm not just saying that because I've been drinking, I truly think we can all find something to relate to.

Also, I've been drinking.


P.S. - I'm not trying to cause a big sensation, just talking 'bout someone else's generation...

P.P.S - Road to Perdition was horribly miscast. Discuss.


Pallirondack progress

Phase 2 - Pallirondack

The Pallirondack Project update...all the major measurements and cuts have been made, and just this fine, cool evening I layed out and primered some of the pieces. A few planks had some cracks that were administered to with good ol' white glue or in more severe cases, wood putty. All will be gray primer as it comes together, but then Im thinking I'll sand it and paint it a nice shade of blue.


I got a little more ambitious than planned and started drilling some holes and actually piecing things together. There is a little warp to things which will have to be accounted for in the final assembly, but the back legs and the seat came together pretty solidly, and gave me encouragement for the rest of the project. It was dark out by this time, so forgive me the poorly lit seat pic...

form of...a seat!

If the weather cooperates, I hope to have everything assembled in time to actually sit in the chair this weekend, even if the final paint job has to wait a while.



Self-portrait, originally uploaded by doctorhectic.

Not for lack of other things to post, and believe me, for no lack of narcissism, but occasionally I will now be posting some of my favorite self-portraits. This particular selection is from a trip through some airport between RDU and MSP, by which I mean any airport on the Eastern half of the country. The "connecting" flights were occasionally as far north and/or south as they were east and/or west. If anyone can identify this particular mirrored airport ceiling, please remind me where I was...


IRELAND: Part Four, Galway/Aran Islands

Tuesday, June 16

Off to Galway...We ate breakfast and left the Rocky the dog and the Lifford farm house around 9:30, only to realize that we still had the keys to our room. Luckily we were only half an hour away, and Val was able to borrow a cell phone to call the farmhouse to see if we could post the keys or if we should come back. We came back, confused Rocky, and were on our way again. We drove for a few hours and stopped in Donegal for coffee break and a snack. We've had good luck with upstairs locations, and we tried a little place called "Fillet of Soul". No, really. It was actually a very nice quiet spot for a break but looked to be pretty stylish for the dinner crowd.

Filet of Soul

Back in the car and our next break was Knock, where in 1879 the Virgin Mary and some other holy folks appeared in a vision. 100 years later, the Pope visited, and then a few years later, Mother Theresa. This is a recreation of the vision, in a glass addition to the original chapel.


It was a strange mix of devoted and tourist, and religious/tchotchke shopping.


Lunch was on the cheap, but the places clearly catered to an older pilgrimage-type crowd.


And on the way out of town we had to stop for a photo op by the roadsign with the international symbol for YARN.


Back in the car once again, and into Galway. We stayed right "next door" in the beach neighborhood of Salthill, but it was a 15 minute walk into Galway.


We found traditional Irish music in one of the Rickie-Recommended™ pubs, Tig Coili. There were famous face pics on the wall, including the only two we recognized, Elijah Wood and Shane MacGowan. I declined to pose next to the Elijah photo. Sorry dude.

Hanging with Shane MacGowan

After a coupla pints of Smithwicks and chatting with some locals, we headed down the street to find a bite to eat at The King's Head, a British-ized pub, but with great cheap eats. Val got the mussels and they came in a giant pot with enough to feed 3 people. I got the fish and chips and it was a single piece of cod that was at least an inch think, without the batter.

On the way to our next pub, we ran across mini-travellers!

Galway's mini-travellers

Back to the pub crawling, we ended up at The Quays, another recommended "youth" pub.

The Quays Pub in Galway

It was crowded and we ended up outside under the awning, sitting with an American family from Spokane, Tom and Mary??Beth?? and their 18 yo daughter Paige. Their 20 yo son Jimmy was inside trying to hit on chicks. We ended up avoiding the rain for a few hours, talking to Tom and Mary and Paige, and Tom bought us a round of drinks. The best part of the evening was watching the Tom agonize about letting Paige go off with Jimmy and some tour group so they could go dancing....

"Take a phone!"
"Jimmy doesn't read signals all that well..."
"Do you have the right keys? Wait, those are for our room! Do you have a front door key?"
"Here's 40 euros, but half of that is for your brother..."
"Dancing? I don't know..."
"They're with a tour group? The group leader is taking them dancing?"
"Jimmy's not the brightest, but he's got street smarts. Paige is just naive..."
"Jimmy doesn't have any raingear!"

They made a point to say that Spokane wasn't as rainy as Seattle, but they were definitely a family concerned about raingear. Eventually Paige and Jimmy went off into the rain, and Tom and Mary went home. We were smart and caught a quick cab ride back to the B&B at the eventual end of our rainy evening. Jimmy DID have his raingear, by the way.

Wednesday, June 17

We woke up for breakfast, decided to nap after breakfast, re-awoke, and decided to catch a boat out to the Aran Islands, despite the cloud cover and rain forecast. This was not our boat, and that was not our captain.

aye-aye, matey!

The boatride was a bit bouncy, but it was full of day-trippers such as ourselves as well as those who were staying for a while, and came prepared.

stocking up for the island?

In case that's too blurry for you, the young lady is filling her satchel with cheap-ass-yet-delicious Bulmers Cider. Scratch that, nothing is actually cheap-ass in Ireland. I meant, relatively-inexpensive-yet-delicious.

As soon as the boat docked, the rain started right up, and as soon as we had braved the Bike rentals and Minibus tours and Horse & Buggy Tours in the rain, Val tripped and hurt her knee. We found the nearest restaurant and took a lunch break. As it cleared up outside we sat and regrouped.

Aran Sweater Market

We headed out and looked at the Aran Sweater shop/"museum" and then decided to rent some bikes since the weather had cleared and Val's knee seemed ok, and we ran in to Jimmy, Paige and Mary, as they had decided to rent bikes as well. Tom was out walking somewhere, but on our return bike trip we ran in to him as well. We were able to ride around an area of the island with mostly stone fences and livestock.

Inishmore, Aran Islands

Inishmore, Aran Islands

Inishmore, Aran Islands

Inishmore, Aran Islands

Inishmore, Aran Islands

Inishmore, Aran Islands

We missed a few of the ancient sites on the island, but it turned out to be a nice side trip, and a nice day overall, and we each got a new sweater on the island, though neither is the traditional full-on Aran style or weight, but we're not fisherfolk, either. The return boatride was quite choppy, but upon our return to dry land we drove back to Salthill and walked back into Galway for dinner at another upstairs restaurant.


Delicious local seafood, and Val had a fantastic spinach and cheese tart. For desert we opted to walk most of the way home and stop for a pint at a neighborhood pub, PJ Flaherty's. It was a great little place, open since 1870 or somesuch, but we sat in a little section that had some "kids" drinking cider, and there were two guys, and then a guy and a girl making out in front of them, and in front of everyone in the bar for that matter. They got up to go outside and smoke, and one of them knocked a full pint of cider on the floor, causing a serious cleanup scenario. The bartender decided to ask them to finish their pints outside and not return. The makeout queen got a little lippy at this request, but they stayed outside and then left, never to return as far as we could tell. End scene.

Thursday, June 18

Irish Breakfast

I ate breakfast, while Val ate 2 prunes, 1 apricot, a plate of cheese, a bowl of muesli, coffee, orange juice, some berries, some brown bread. We checked out of Salthill and left the Galway area for points south. Stay tuned, it ain't over yet.


Waste Not!

Today I headed over to campus to check out the "salvage sale" of discarded/donated items from last year's students. At the end of the year there are containers placed around campus and students are encouraged to place usable items they no longer want or need into them. It was quite a scene.


Everything was in the former dining hall building, sectioned up into some basic categories. I browsed for a while to get the lay of the land, and came home with some random objects, a few CDs, and the following highlights.

time for coffee

turn clip

turn clip

turn clip

turn clip

magic deck

(this seems to mean 27 Jack of Clubs are included)


(best feature may be this logo stamped on the side)

As for the CDS I picked up a few random things I had never heard of, and some SUGAR and some Johnny Cash. The randoms are Jen Lowe From The End Of This Hallway, and The Juan Maclean Less Than Human.

Hooray for other people's crap!



YES, there is still more to tell about the trip to Ireland, almost three months later. This is a placeholder post (I know, lame) for the Knock/Galway section of the journey.

leaving Knock



Kermakakku 2.0

My family has long been a fan of Kermakakku, or Finnish Sour Cream Cake. It was an often requested birthday cake for my dad, and a solid party pleaser if you needed to bring a dessert somewhere. Here's the basic idea. Thanks to about.com for the converter!

I had the hankering for one, but as you can see, it's real cake-rich, not that there's anything wrong with that in moderation, but I had also recently made a low-fat, low-cholesterol chocolate birthday cake for a friend with cholesterol concerns that turned out delicious, so I began looking for ingredient substitutions. Here's the side-by-side of the nutritional conclusions.

What, you might ask, made all the difference? Now, it's a damn fine cake, and more like than unlike the original, but I'm not going to say this is an exact replica of the one true kermakakku, especially since there is no sour cream in my version. Maybe I should call mine jogurttiinkivääriolutkakku...since the only two substitutions were greek yogurt in place of sour cream, and ginger ale in place of the eggs. That's right, you heard me, ginger ale. As I was researching ingredient substitutions I read that you can use a can of pop (or perhaps it's "soda" where you come from) in place of the two eggs called for in many cake recipes. In fact, you can go buy a box of certain Duncan Hines cake mixes, mix in a can of pop and bake a totally vegan cake. Just like that. Also relatively shelf-stable, good for camping, or maybe the bomb shelter.

the substitutes

The batter came together like batter, so that seemed like a good sign.


The pan was coated with melted butter, and sliced almonds, and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. While it came out a little dark, it doesn't taste overdone.


Welcome to Jogurttiinkivääriolutkakku.



Ah, Labor Day weekend begins. A three-day weekend for some, the end of summer for many, and hopefully weather worth grilling for.


This is a scan of a party invitation I found a set of at the Goodwill a few months back. 8 invites with matching orange envelopes. Perfect for the traditional Labor Day celebration of charring foodstuffs. The colors and flames are great, but I mostly love how the scale is so off for everything, as though you took some industrial-strength cereal bowl and carefully stacked the briquettes in a pyramid and then filled the bowl with lighter fluid and set a match to it. "Barbeque Disaster" might be more appropriate, or maybe just say "House Fire" instead.

I hope not to disaster the barbeque this weekend, but I've had quite a bit of practice, so I'm fairly confident with my grill skill. We shall see.



HappyHappyHappy congratulations to Stu & Michelle on the birth of their son. This may not seem like much of a post, but at the same time it is SUCH A BIG DEAL!!!!!!

From all your surrogate family around the globe, let me just say how happy we all are for you and yours. HAPPY BABY!


no mo' blo po mo...

Since I took August off from posting anything for some reason, I've decided to try to do this for September...

Na(tional) Blo(g) Po(sting) Mo(nth)
...pick a month + post once a day for that month = success.

Not to be confused with NaNoWriMo...
Na(tional) No(vel) Wri(ting) Mo(nth)
...which takes place in November, in case you need motivation to start your Great American Novel™, or at least a Great American Novel®.

In order to accomplish this, it's back to basics for topics (sights seen, food eaten, knitting knit, um, projects projed?), as well as using multiple systems to actually get them posts posted. Yesterday's post was accomplished due to the fact that there is a free web browser (Opera based) now available for the Nintendo Wii. It was cheaply available before, but is now a free download. It's a pain to type much with the Wii, so I went to flickr and signed in and used their "post to blog" feature. Awesome.

There is also post via email, post via cell phone, and most importantly, post via somebody else's computer. We'll see how this goes.

I mean, WeSeHoThiGo?


busy not blogging...

Phase 2 - Pallirondack, originally uploaded by doctorhectic.

I'm blogging via Wii, & building a chair out of a wooden pallet. And how are you & yours doing?