July 24, 2017

I enjoy crossword puzzles but I’m not great at them (I recall my grandmother doing them in ink). I tried some free apps that were largely lame, so a couple months ago I started paying for the NY Times crossword app. You do get what you pay for.

I was doing today’s puzzle (Monday is super easy, it then gets harder all week). After whipping through the across clues, it really seemed like a down answer was Sheboygan. Really? Who knows Sheboygan? Great brats, but in the NY Times?

Sure enough, the clue was Wisconsin city on Lake Michigan.

I think the clue should have referenced bratwurst…

Amazon Echo Show – Thumbs Up

June 30, 2017

I pre-ordered the original Echo (Alexa) before it came out in 2014 (put it under the Christmas tree as a surprise), so of course I pre-ordered the new version with a touch screen, the Echo Show. It arrived two days ago.

All the video call and drop-in stuff is dependent on people close to you also owning one, so while cool (and creepy) I’m not sure we’ll use that. I debated buying one for my wife’s sister who we often FaceTime with. We’ll see.

But who cares? It’s Alexa with a better speaker, YouTube search, music lyrics on screen (I like that a lot more than I thought) and your calendar right on screen.

I’m quite happy with it.

Who Moved My Teachers?

March 31, 2017

I’m a Brooklyn guy, but I grew up in Milwaukee. My brother is a University of Wisconsin system professor and his wife was a long time grade school teacher. She literally retired because Governor Walker made her job miserable. So this article hit home

The school of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison never used to have trouble attracting applicants with dreams of becoming teachers. Its graduate program is ranked fourth in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and until recently, its undergraduate program in elementary education typically received between 300 and 400 applications for its 125 spots. Now, says Michael Apple, a professor in the program, it only gets about one applicant per opening.

Romance = Pizza

February 16, 2017

My wife has always purchased little gifts for our daughters on Valentine’s Day. That’s a nice thing, but the end result is that they feel that Valentine’s Day is a family event. So Valentine’s dinner has to please everyone.

Obviously pizza meet that criteria.

To truly understand the history of New York pizza, this article about Patsy Grimaldi is a good start. Patsy has the unique honor of not being able to use either his first or last name for his restaurant due to legal issues (sold his last name, first name already in use). He opened the original Patsy’s in Brooklyn:

Aficionados soon began to make pilgrimages to Old Fulton Street. Next came the celebrities: Bill Cosby, Bob Costas, and John Turturro were regulars. Warren Beatty called to sweet-talk Carol into saving a table for him and Annette Bening, whom Patsy asked, “So, are you in the movies, too?” In 1995, Patsy and Carol were sued by Frank Brija, who had bought the East Harlem Patsy’s. Much legal wrangling ensued, the result of which was that the Brooklyn Patsy’s became Grimaldi’s.

Getting older, they sold the Grimaldi’s name. If you are eating Grimaldi’s anywhere in the country, know that it is no longer authentic. It’s good, it’s just not Patsy Grimaldi.

He recently opened a new place in Brooklyn called Julianna’s (his mother’s name) which may serve the best pizza on the planet.

We did not go there for Valentine’s dinner.

But we did go to Patsy’s. This is a place in the same NYC pizza lineage  but it’s not the same Patsy. This place (well, not the Brooklyn location) came first and it’s the reason Patsy Grimaldi can’t use his first name.

Is it as good as Julianna’s? No. Is the pizza awesome? Yes. Can you get in with two kids and not wait forever, and is it walking distance from our place? It was a school night, we didn’t have much time and the pizza was fantastic.

Was it romantic? Great pizza with your wife is always romantic.


September 12, 2016

My oldest brother Tom is 58. He’s a professor at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Generally he teaches summer sessions, but Governor Walker has cut back on education spending, so this past summer those sessions didn’t exist. So what did my brother do with the extra time? Catch up on reading? Travel? Spend lots of time with his new grandson?

No, he trained for an Ironman Triathlon.

If you are aware, the “Ironman” designation for the race means specific distances. A 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride followed by a full 26.2 mile marathon. Any one of those individually is brutal. To get an official finishing time you have to complete them all in under 17 hours.

Tom has done this before when he was younger, so his lack of sanity was not in question. I saw him in July when we visited his new grandson in Chicago. He looked crazy in shape.

So I’m pleased to announce that yesterday my brother finished the Wisconsin Ironman. He was slow and steady the whole way, finishing a bit before midnight.

If you want to see the crazy mass swim start, this video is from two years ago:

End of Summer

September 6, 2016

It’s good to have friends.

Over Labor Day weekend we got to go to our friend’s lake house in Connecticut. It’s on Candlewood Lake, which is the biggest lake in Connecticut and quite beautiful. And this summer they got a boat for wake surfing. If you aren’t familiar with wake surfing, the boat is specially designed to produce wake in the shape of a continuous wave. The back of the boat has large ballast tanks that fill with water to add weight and there’s some mechanism to direct the wave (it can be either on the left or right depending on the surfer). The boat goes quite slowly compared to water skiing (10 – 12 mph) and you surf fairly close to the boat, since you need the wave it is producing. You are initially pulled up with a rope, but once you get good you can throw the rope back to the boat and simply surf the wave.

I did get to try it and while I did inhale much of the lake at first, I ultimately did get up and rode the wave for quite a while, but with the rope. It’s quite fun.


No face plant this time…

This is our friend Dave (owner of the boat) doing it right:


Look ma, no rope

And for the kiddos, they have a “tube”. Now when I hear “tubing” I think of being pulled in a large inner tube. I don’t picture this ginormous beast…


They call this a tube

They got whipped around and thrown off (the ones in back anyway) and had a general great time.

All in all a great end of the summer weekend.

Cape Cod Vacation 7

August 29, 2016

Another Cape Cod vacation is in the books. You can pretty much go back and read a post from earlier years, it’s basically the same. The spot is gorgeous and we have a blast every year.

Describing the beach we stay on (Skaket Beach in Orleans MA) is hard. Other than being extremely kid friendly, it’s the tides that are exceptional. These pictures are from the same spot on our deck.

At low tide you can literally walk a mile straight out.


At high tide, not so much.


It’s basically two different beaches. High tide is a great swimming beach and low tide is great for crabbing/clamming/walking.

There’s a section that looks like a stream at low tide where some trees were deliberately planted in a row and some wise guy put signs on the trees:


It’s West facing, so people come to the beach at sunset to take pictures (and always applaud with the sun goes down).


Our girls catch crabs. They named the horseshoe crab Kyle:


And these are some of Kyle’s friends:

The nearby Cape Code Rail Trail is ideal for biking:


And we always play some mini-golf:


This guy builds a big sand castle on a low tide day. By late afternoon the high tide wipes it out…


Our dog can’t come because we rent the place, but the neighbor’s dog loves Danielle:


On a particularly windy day, this sail surfer entertained us with some serious air time (40 second mark).

Just another amazing vacation…