Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trek Verve 4; My First Impressions



I’ve been an avid bike rider for well over twenty-five years.  My late brother got me into the sport and I’ve been a fan ever since.  I enjoy road biking and absolutely love mountain biking.  But, while bombing down the hill, balls to wall, is a ton of fun, the aftereffects, not so much.   And by aftereffects I mean, backache, headache, neck ache, (insert body part here) ache.  You get the picture.  My Nishiki hybrid, while still a very functional piece of equipment was starting to get a little long in tooth.  I had resigned myself to a few more years of riding it and then burying it with full honors.  After all, I must have put about eight to nine thousand miles on it.

A few months ago we were visiting some friends in Florida and he took me out to his garage to show me his new toy a GIANT hybrid.  Very impressive bike.  Front shock, gel saddle atop a shock absorber seat post, and the best part a handlebar that adjusts so an old duffer like me can ride in a more upright position.  Perfect!  As soon as I got back home I began my research. 

Now I’m the kinda guy that researches everything to death and after an aggressive Internet search on hybrids, I came across the Trek Verve 4.  Obviously they have a Verve 1, 2, and 3, but the 4 had most of the goodies that I wanted.  Mainly a 27-speed gear train, lightweight aluminum frame, trigger shifters rather than twist grips, and an adjustable front fork with lockout.  It also had upgraded Bontrager tires and rims as well.  I went to my local bike shop, took one for a test drive and ordered it. 

One of the things I like about having a hobby, and I have many, is the ability to add tschokes and upgrades.  Biking is no different.  I had the bike guy dump the platform pedals and add a pair of Shimano M540 clipless pedals.  I’ve ridden clipless forever and these are a great lightweight, easy to get in and out of pedal. Of course I had to get new riding shoes as well a riding computer. I really don’t trust my head to some ten dollar bucket so I also ordered a GIRO Air Attack Shield helmet; in red and black of course.  The cool thing about the helmet is, well, the shield.  A smoked grey, detachable eye shield that hooks on the helmet with three magnets.  Since I wear glasses I’m loath to take two pairs with me; my regular and my sunglasses.  This solved the problem, case closed. 

So, how does the bike ride?  Well I went out for a ten-mile cruise today.  In one word; freakin’ awesome.  Yes that is two words but you get the idea.  The ride is extremely plush.  The front shock soaks up the bumps beautifully.  I made one adjustment to the factory setting and I think it is spot on.  The seat post, while not adjustable, helps dampen the smaller bumps, dips and cracks in the road. Together with a more upright riding position and a soft gel seat to boot, I was very comfortable.  It’s pretty lightweight so the acceleration was pretty good.  Not three-thousand dollar composite frame good, but good enough for me and much faster than my old steel frame bike. 

I also like the 27-speed drive train.  It was extremely easy to quickly find the right gear for cruising, climbing and accelerating instead of trying to hunt it down.  Hunting for the right gear is not too much fun especially when you are in the middle of long climb.  I pretty much switched back and forth between the large and middle chain ring.  I think only the most odious of hills will require the granny.  The steering was very responsive and precise.  One cool feature is the Bontrager Satellite Elite handgrips.  They are paddle shaped, perfect for the way I like to ride; loose grip with my fingers lightly resting on the brakes.  The paddle shape helps distribute the weight on my hands resulting in less shock being transmitted up my arms.  Less fatigue equals more riding time. 

After one or two rides I usually start thinking about upgrades.  New this. New that.  My mountain bike has literally every part replaced except for the frame.  I’m not seeing that in this case.  Good new for my wallet, not good new for the bike shop owner. The shifters are precise, the brakes very good, and the derailleurs, while not top of the line by any stretch of the imagination did their job very, very well. Trek really got it right.   I still have to make a few micro adjustments to dial in the saddle position, but a couple more rides oughta get that taken care of tout suite. 

So bottom line.  It is a great bike for my purposes.  Upright riding position, comfortable cockpit and a super plush ride. I think this is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship. 



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Some Things Are Better Off Left Unseen, Like Naked Reality Shows

A pretty weird article popped on my Facebook feed a few days ago. Jesse Nizewitz, a New York model, is suing Viacom for $10 million because they “accidentally” showed her, shall we say, lady parts on television. Oh, by the way, the television show she was on is called, get this, “Naked Dating.” That’s right, she is suing them because she was shown naked on a show where you are supposed to be naked. Apparently the editor of that show failed to blur out her private parts during a segment where she is wrestling naked with an equally naked guy on a beach. Call me old fashioned, but when I was dating, wrestling on a beach with my date wasn’t really a consideration. Bowling, a movie, maybe a nice dinner; naked wrestling, uh-uh.

 Anyway, she is claiming that having her lady bits broadcasted to the entire world has caused her, “extreme emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation and embarrassment.” And to add insult to injury her boyfriend dumped her. Boyfriend, “Hey Jess, wanna grab a pizza?” Jesse, “Gee no I can’t. I’m going to wrestle a perfect stranger without my clothes on. Maybe next week.” I could see where the boyfriend might want to move on.

 Well, in the interest of good investigative journalism I tracked down the offending photograph to see for myself how embarrassing it really is. After viewing it for, oh about a second, I think I will also sue Viacom for emotional distress. I’m sure the three people that actually watch the show will sue Viacom as well.

 When I was telling this story to my wife, she said that she was watching a news show about “naked” reality shows. Apparently, this is a brand new genre in television. Sure enough we have “Naked and Afraid,” where two people are trying to survive in the wilderness for a few weeks and they are, drum roll please, naked. Why anyone would want to be in the woods for a few weeks with no clothes on is beyond me. I’ve gotten mosquito bites fully clothed AND after applying bucket loads of repellent. Going naked in the Louisiana Bayou? Not for all the tea in China, my man.

 “Naked Vegas” and “Skin Wars” are two more shows that feature body paint artists using people as canvases. Great Britain had a show called “Naked Office.” Apparently casual Friday was too mundane. Let’s start the weekend off with a bang by coming to work with no clothes on. I thought my wife was joking when she said that there is even a real estate show called “Buying Naked” where couples search for their dream home in the buff. Can you imagine having an open house and prospective buyers show up naked? Don’t sit on the couch, and spray some Lysol when you leave, please.

 Reality shows are very cheap to produce, more so because now you don’t need a clothing budget, but really, a whole bunch of shows about naked people? “Naked Nascar?” “Naked Home Remodeling?” “NCIS Naked Edition?” I certainly hope not.

 I’m not a prude but I’ve been in enough gym locker rooms to tell you that naked isn’t all that it cracks up to be. I mean, most people are better off left very clothed. There are certain things that you just can’t un-see. Can you imagine if they had a “Biggest Loser Naked Edition?” We would all be permanently traumatized.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Gazebo Inn; The Best Part of My Summer Vacation

My wife and I were fortunate enough to get a gift certificate from our two wonderful sons to the Gazebo Inn in Ogunquit, Maine.  Nothing could prepare us for what lay in store.  We drove up from Connecticut in a horrendous rainstorm. I thought I saw an ark plying the passing lane on the highway.  Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it was hours of relentless, torrential rain.   I was also recovering from food poisoning and was in a pretty foul mood.  We finally get to Ogunquit in the middle of the afternoon, and according to our GPS, it was no more than a few minutes drive to the inn.  Wrong!  There is a peculiar shaped intersection with no stop lights smack dab in the center of  Ogunquit that turned a ten minute cruise into forty-five minutes of rain soaked bumper to bumper torture.  

Finally we see the Gazebo Inn in the distant mist.  We park the car and haul our travel weary selves into the inn.  We are greeted by Scott, the owner and operator of this gem of a bed and breakfast.  Immediately his warm, enthusiastic, and engaging manner makes us forget the hell we just went through.  He begins to take us on a mini-tour of the inn.  To say that this place is gorgeous is to do a dis-service to the word gorgeous.  Stunning, amazing, dazzling, enchanting—take your pick.  Scott’s obvious pride comes through as he describes the renovations, use of recycled materials and workmanship involved in the building. The exercise room with sauna, media room with an extensive DVD collection, bar, laundry room, common room, kitchen, salt water pool and spa, all add up to a perfect stay. The decorations, level of artistry and attention to detail is incredible.  I mention to Scott that I used to build furniture and he launches into a fascinating story of how the floors and bannisters were made.  Wood geeks will be thrilled with this.  Others will simply stare in awe. 

One thing that strikes me as unusual is during the tour is that Scott  continually says that if you want something, take it and settle up with him later.  Want a nice bottle of wine from the bar?  Un-cork it and pay for it when you see him. Like a hat from the gift shop?  Put it on your head and settle up when you see him.  Interested in the most comfortable robe you have ever worn?  Put it on and settle up with him later.  Amazing in this day and age the level of trust he has in his guests. 

Finally we go to our room.  It was one of the smaller ones at the inn, but incredibly lovely.  Handmade cherry bed frame, leather club chairs, fridge, and even a Keurig coffee maker.  A pocket door leads to the bathroom with a two person tiled shower, rain shower faucet, pedestal sink, and on and on and on.  I can only imagine what the larger rooms and suites must look like. 

I’m still tied in knots from the trip so I head off to the sauna for a nice schvitz, as my wife makes dinner reservations.  They have a book with menus of area restaurants available to peruse.  Also, Scott has made some delightful dining deals with several of the restaurants; we chose the seventy-nine dollar deal that includes two apps, two entrees and a dessert.  Immediately, the night manager books us a reservation.  And, you guessed it, settle up tomorrow when you see Scott. 

The meal was divine and we head back to the inn.  The sheets on the bed are this amazing microfiber material that feels like the most expensive, high thread count cotton.  I had one of the best nights sleep in ages.  Guess what?  The sheets are available for purchase in the gift store.  Guess what again; we buy a few sets! 

The bed part of the bed and breakfast was great, now for the breakfast. Our sons kept on telling us about the blueberry juice and scones.  What?  Blueberry juice?  Oh yeah, delicious.  The scones?  To die for.  My diet goes out the window as I tuck into sausages, cinnamon French toast, home fries and cranberry scones.  The second day we had scrambled eggs, hash loaded with chunks of corned beef, spinach with cheese and a red pepper pesto sauce and blueberry scones. 

The weather for the second day was warm and clear so we decided to drive into town.  Big mistake!  There is NO, let me repeat, NO parking in Ogunquit.  We drive back to the inn and bump into Scott.  We explain our dilemma and he tells us that he is driving into town and would be glad to give us a ride.  Nice!  We kick around town and take the trolley back to the inn.  We settle in beside the spa.  The gurgling waterfall is so soothing as we soak up the sun.  We chat, read, decide where to go for dinner, and just relax.  I take another schvitz in the sauna and get ready for dinner.  We go to a place for lobster, because we are in Maine and, well, how do you go to Maine and NOT have lobster? 

Morning comes and it is time to leave. NOOOOO!!!  I’ve been to many hotels and motels and they all have one thing in common, you can’t wait to get the hell out of there and head home.  Not the Gazebo Inn.  I begin to plot out how I can actually move into it.  It’s your most comfortable shirt, your chilling sweats, and your favorite pair of shoes all rolled up into one experience.  It is so welcoming, so comforting so absolutely awesome.  Scott, Bruce and Peter have made customer service an art form.  I cannot wait to go back. 












Friday, July 18, 2014

The Hurricane; A Classic Summer Cocktail




There is nothing like a refreshing cocktail after a long day of... well I'm on summer vacation so it's a long day of play.  I washed and waxed the Mustang, ran four miles at the gym so I think I deserve a little bit of relaxation.  The Hurricane cocktail has its origins in New Orleans.  It is generally accepted that it was first created at Pat O'Brien's.   The name of the drink comes from the hurricane glass it was served in.   Here is the recipe that I used.


Hurricane Cocktail 

2 ounces of dark rum
2 ounces of light rum 
2 ounces of passion fruit juice
1 ounce of orange juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 tablespoon of simple syrup
1 tablespoon of grenadine
garnish with orange slice and cherry

For my dark rum I chose one of my favorite rums; Ron Botran.   Ron Botran is distilled in Guatemala.  It is a blend of rums that are aged anywhere from five to fourteen years.  Also, it is not made from molasses as most rums are, but from from sugar cane juice.   The light rum is Rhum Neisson from Martinique.  I had to special order this rum from Amity Wine and Spirits in New Haven because it is not readily found in in my area package stores.  The Niesson distillery has been producing rums since 1931.  Rhum Niesson is another rum that is not distilled from molasses.  It is a rhum agricole in that it is produced from sugar cane juice.  Also, this rum weighs in at one hundred proof; not for the faint of heart.  The rest of the ingredients are obviously available at any grocery store.  Pour all of the ingredients into a steel shaker filled with ice, pop the glass on, shake until blended and strain into a hurricane glass filled with ice.  Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry, sit back, sip, have another sip, have another sip, enjoy and blog.  






Friday, April 18, 2014

For Cryin' Out Loud Facebook, Get my Demographics Right!

Now, trust me, I’m not complaining, but lately I’ve been getting an eyeful in my sponsored links feed on Facebook. I keep  getting ads for things such as “Babes Ride in Fast Cars,”  “50 Plus? She Don’t Even Care,” and “What Every Guy Needs.”  The babe is riding in a Camaro, so I immediately dismiss it because my current whip is a Mustang. “The 50 Plus? She Don’t Even Care” site has a sense of urgency; limited openings, so I have to act fast. I cringe at the grammatically incorrect title, and besides, my wife would CARE. However, I do foolishly click on the “What Every Guy Needs” link to see exactly what I need and discover that I need a date with a stranger.  My mother taught me never to talk to strangers and again my wife would care. Strongly!   

I decide to click on the See-All sponsored links in hopes that something more my style will appear.  More dating sites.  That’s a shock.  Learn French?  Non!  A Brazilian wax for $39. Is that a good deal?  I’m a comparison shopper but I wouldn’t even know where to begin researching that!  Angie’s List? Would they even review that?  Here’s a weird one.  Something about ED and if it is possible to reverse ED.  I don’t anyone named ED and I’m sure that with the right motivation, ED can reverse himself on his own.  “C’mon ED, get up and get with the program.  Reverse yourself!”


I knew that clicking on the links would make matters worse and when I refreshed the page, there is now a girl with enormous breasts laying on the hood of, you guessed it another Camaro. Hey Facebook, knock-knock, “I drive a freakin’ Mustang!”  This is followed by an ad for those creepy looking exposed toe workout shoe things, Younger Woman/ Older Man, and a disturbing picture of three of the most disgusting looking guys showing off their enormous guts pitching weight loss.  Really? If the picture is any indication of how effective this technique is, I’ll pass.  A shot of a woman taking off her underwear catches my attention.  It’s titled “Bad Girls Have More Fun!”  I’m not convinced that you can scientifically prove that, but I click on it nonetheless.  OMG another Camaro! Well, another Camaro filled with a girl with large breasts.  Here is one that beckons me.  “Use Me As Your Toy! This doll wants to get “na-ke-d!”  With me right now.  Seriously, na-ke-d? She could be in Uzbekistan for all I know so how in world are we going to get na-ke-d? In the interest of research I naturally clicked on the link.  Fully clothed I can assure you.  Well, another dating site.

Surely Facebook would have figured out my real demographic by now.  Instead of seeing pictures of smokin’ single women on/in cars I dislike it would probably be more useful to them to show me advertisements of denture cream, Depends and if I keep on clicking on these links marriage counselors.  But alas they have somehow falsely concluded that naked women on cars are more of my style. Well, yea, to a certain point, but in the end, my wife would still mind. 




Monday, January 13, 2014

Yes Virginia, I Did Have A Heart Attack

So, up until last week, I thought I was in pretty good health. Well, sadly I was mistaken because I just suffered a heart attack.  What?  Yes, that is exactly what I thought.  How could this happen? I go to the gym a couple times of week, eat pretty well, and am physically active all year round. Sure, I was being treated for a cholesterol problem, but nowadays who isn’t?  The CDC reports that a third of all Americans suffer from high cholesterol.  So I wasn’t alone.  But yet...

I was plowing the recent snowfall when I felt a tightening in my chest.  It was bitter cold, so I naturally thought that was reason.  I went in, sat down and it went away.   But the rest of the day I felt kind of off. I had, what I thought, was a lot of indigestion; some mild discomfort under my breastbone. Annoying, but not too serious.  That afternoon, I took a nap, woke up and wasn’t too hungry for dinner.  That was a warning sign to my wife, who know I have a pretty good appetite.  As the evening wore on, the symptoms got worse.  The chest pain would come and go, each time getting a little worse.  I consulted with Dr. Internet and wasn’t really convinced.  I didn’t have pain radiating down my arm, I wasn’t sweating, and I didn’t feel nauseous.   About 8 o’clock the pain suddenly got severe.  So severe that I couldn’t breath. I took some aspirins just in case and got dressed.  Now the pain was excruciating and we called an ambulance.   They arrived, hooked me up to an EKG machine.  The results were somewhat puzzling.  The readout said no heart attack.  They transported me to Middlesex Hospital.  I was wheeled into the ER and was immediately set upon, and interviewed by a bunch of nurses and techs.  More EKG patches were attached to me.  More EKG’s were taken and still no indication of a heart attack.  I was then taken to the Cardiac Care Unit.  The doctor in charge came in and discussed the possibility that it was simply an esophageal spasm.  Now that was something I could wrap my head around because I still could not believe that I could be having a heart attack.  That was until the pain started coming in faster and faster waves.  When they describe the feeling as an elephant sitting on your chest, they are not freaking kidding.  It was a pain that was positively the worst I had ever experienced.  Intense, crushing, debilitating pain.  I was screaming and writhing in anguish.  The entire cardiac team was in the room, taking blood samples, more EKG patches and readings, nitroglycerine and finally morphine.  The EKG tech and the cardiologist were having a pow-wow and I could tell that they weren’t discussing the NFL playoff picture or the current cold snap.  The cardiologist looked at me, smiled sweetly, and in her beautiful Barbadian accent informed me that, yes, indeed, I was having a heart attack.   This did nothing to diminish the pain.  Now panic set in.  Heart attack.  People die from heart attacks.  People are disabled from heart attacks.  I’m looking at this room full of strangers and thinking, “So these are the last people that I’m going to see on this earth. Could they have at least brought up a couple of scantily clad women?”  Oi Vai!  They stabilized me, gave me more morphine and transported me to Hartford Hospital, where they had an emergency cardiac catheter team ready and raring to go. 

We roll into the hospital and they take me to the “cath” unit.  I am immediately stripped of my clothes, and two ladies, whom it never met before, pull out disposable razors and immediately start to manscape my junk.  Afterwards, when I checked out their handiwork, it appeared they gave me something of a porn star design. I don’t know if that was by design or some sort of cruel revenge for getting them out of bed three o’clock in the morning.   Kinda creepy, and very itchy to be quite honest.  Ladies, I don’t know how you do it. They inserted a balloon through my groin, inflated it in the affected artery and installed a stent.  Forty-five minutes later we are done.  I’m wheeled into the intensive care unit, slapped with more EKG patches, stuck with IV needles, and tucked into bed. 

And what a bed it was.  To avoid bedsores, hospitals now have anti-decubitus (pressure sores) mattresses.  They have this wave-like action that continuously moves to prevent pressure points.  Yeah, that’s all well and good, but this “wave action” literally moved me from the head of the bed to having my feet dangling over the edge. As soon as I got comfortable, it shifted again.  ALL NIGHT LONG!!!   The nurses would haul me back to the head of the bed and as soon as they finished, I “waved” myself back to the foot.  Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep in the hospital. 

When the cardiologist came to visit, he looked my straight in the eye and said, “Mr. Scott, you are one lucky man.  There was no damage to your heart.  You’ve been given a second chance!”  When he said that, it was as if, the clouds parted, nymphs started playing lutes and lyres, and unicorns gaily leaped over rainbows.

 I spent the next two days in the hospital being visited by an assortment of doctors, nurses, techs, and aides.  I was given pills and potions, stuck innumerable times and fed the most God-awful food imaginable.  But, in the end I did walk out under my own power.  And that is the bottom line, walking out rather than being carried out.

As I recuperate, I have some time to reflect upon this entire ordeal. A second chance.  Not too many people get one of those.  I’m a real good cook and usually eat pretty healthy stuff, but I suppose that some of my more un-healthy habits have to come to an end.  No more searching for the perfect burger.  No more snacking on cheese.  Bye-bye butter.  Hello, oatmeal. How ya’ doing no-fat? Salt? We don’t need no stinkin’ salt!   Anyway the bottom line is, if you have a pain in your chest, don’t consult Dr. Internet.  Get your ass down to the hospital! Oh, by the way, I ended up removing twenty-eight EKG patches from my arms, legs and chest.  And about three pounds of hair from my chest.  Ouch!







Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thankgivingukah Latke Recipe

Here is a variation of a friend’s recipe that I hacked.  I start off with peeling the potatoes, then shredding them in the food processor.  Today I peeled 10 pounds of potatoes.  Then I placed a hefty handful on a tea towel, wrapped it up and squeezed out as much moisture as possible.  Then I made a batch using the following amounts. 


3 Cups of dried and shredded potatoes
2 eggs
1/3 cup of diced onion
2 Tbl vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
2 Tbl flour
¼ tsp baking powder 

Blend well and then drop about a small handful into the hot oil.  Don’t put more than four into the frying pan or it brings down the temperature of the oil.  I ever so slightly flatten the latkes with a metal spatula.  Cook until the first side is golden brown.  Flip and cook the other side under golden brown.  Remove, drain on paper towels and serve hot with applesauce or sour cream.  Enjoy.  Note: if you are making a lot of batches, change oil often.