For years we’ve gone to Bob’s Trees in Galway to cut down our Christmas tree — and each year we informally rate our outing compared to previous experiences. We’ve had our share of problems over the years, from terrible weather to cars stuck in the mud to angry tantrums — by both children and adults.
So it seemed like a good time to formally rate each year’s tree cutting adventure based on a fixed set of criteria. I decided to track the following:
Each of the five are assigned a maximum possible score of twenty points. Here are this year’s results:
I’m happy to report that we had perfect scores in four areas. Everyone was upbeat and chipper, the weather was ideal, the ground was frozen and covered with a light coating of snow, and the tree was exceptionally healthy and beautiful.
Where we fell down was in the transportation department. On the way home, we had to stop twice to re-tie the tree to the roof of my car, something that’s only very rarely been done in my 25-plus years of Christmas tree moving.
Due to the seriousness of this problem, only 5 points were awarded in this year’s transportation category, giving us a total score of 85. Not bad.
It’s unfortunate that we failed in a category that we had so much control over, but lessons have been learned. Here’s to doing a better job next year. Nobody expects Christmas to be perfect, but we can always strive for excellence.
The Times Union launched reader comments for news stories and other content this week. Some people think comments are pointless, but if it’s good enough for the New York Times, it’s probably good enough for your local paper.
Unlike the paper’s blog comment system, users must register for an account — and their registration actually requires quite a bit of personal information. This doesn’t mean you can’t have an alter ego, just that your alter ego will need a working email address and some other details attached.
Paul Block, the TU’s online executive producer, said in response to a reader’s feisty jabs, “Let’s hope for some positive discourse on our stories in the days to come.”
That’s an interesting statement from the people who built the area’s most abusive and corrosive online community. For years, the Times Union’s blogs were polluted with terrible comments — and the worst of all showed up in the blogs run by Times Union employees.
Recently they seem to have started weeding out the worst comments, which is encouraging. This is especially interesting since they’ve also stopped warning readers that comments with profanity or personal attacks will be rejected. Could it be that they are finally walking the walk, not just talking the talk?
Well, included in the item about the new commenting policy is this juicy tidbit: “Previously, commenting was limited to our blogs, and for now that system will remain unchanged and separate from the new website system. In time we plan to merge the two.”
Requiring registration will not fix blog comments completely, but would go a long way toward putting the cover back on the cesspool.
One might suggest that having Ron Burgundy co-anchor your newscast ruins your credibility, but really, how much credibility can you possibly have in Bismark, North Dakota?
Will Ferrell showed up on the air Saturday at small-market KXMB and showed that with maybe a tiny adjustment in attitude, he’d fit right in.
Local TV news can certainly be accused of taking itself too seriously, so cheers to the people who run this station for being realistic about their place in the world.
Not to diminish the role of the news anchor, but there is a degree of theatricality involved. A certain studied demeanor, proper inflection, playing to the camera — how much different is that than acting? And when you switch from channel to channel, you see the same role being played by different people.
YouTube is full of videos of turkey frying disasters, but these days most of them seem to be from volunteer fire departments demonstrating the worst case turkey frying scenario.
As a former volunteer firemen, I know how much these guys love burning things in training. Cars, piles of wood, houses — so igniting vats of oil to educate the public is a no brainer.
While I enjoy seeing those huge orange fireballs erupt from the turkey oil, there is no substitute for the real thing. Searching YouTube I found that there are fewer turkey inferno videos than in the past — this despite the proliferation of phones that shoot great video and the popularity of turkey frying.
Could it be that people are finally getting the point? Well. not entirely.
So, do be careful if you’re doing any turky frying. And for God’s sake, please keep a camera ready just in case.
We can all agree on Thanksgiving.
Your religion — or lack thereof — doesn’t matter. Politics? Card carrying member of the John Birch Society or national health care lovin’ socialist, who cares? Yankees fan, Red Socks fan — you’re both insufferable, but on Thanksgiving we can all sit down at the same table.
And if you’re lucky, someone will have made Albany Eye Sweet Potato Crunch.
I’ve been sharing this recipe since 2006, so it’s become a tradition of sorts, to the point of sounding like Sam I Am, except evangelizing for sweet potatoes rather than green eggs and ham.
You do not like them. SO you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may I say.
One important note: never, never, never use canned sweet potatoes. If you do, that might be the one thing that could come between us on this most American of holidays.
Quicky web polls are everywhere these days — particularly on blogs. You know the ones I’m talking about, and I’m sure you’ve taken them. They ask some topical question and seem to have no actionable purpose.
So why all the polls? Because it’s cheap, mindless content? Writers have run out of things to say? It gives the appearance of being interactive with your audience? All of the above?
I think it may be because somebody read that they’re popular with readers; since I have no research to back that up, I offer you this quicky online poll:
It’s inevitable that today I remember my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Kennedy, who used to hand out shiny new Kennedy half dollars to her best students. I was not one of her best students and never got one. But before I go call a shrink, let me tell you that I was obsessed with JFK when I was a kid.
I have no recollection of his assassination, but in the basement I would pore over the copies of Life magazine and Newsday that my father stashed away, remembrances of that terrible time in 1963.
But my favorite thing was The First Family. My friend, Chuck Reamer, had a copy of the comedy record his older brother left behind. We’d sit in his room muching on Fritos, listening to Vaughn Meader and company spoof Camelot.
In the same way I learned about classical music from Looney Tunes cartoons, The First Family gave me perspective on the Kennedy years.
Meader’s career skyrocketed on the back of his JFK impersonation. After Dallas, Lenny Bruce quipped, “Man, poor Vaughn Meader.”
You can find the whole album on this person’s YouTube page.
When I heard that legendary local sportscaster Rip Rowan had died it left me melancholy. There goes another one, I thought.
Rowan was one of those old school guys who were in ample supply when I got into the TV business, before pretty faces became the norm, and street smarts meant more than a degree from Newhouse.
But as I pondered the passing of Rowan, I could not get this thought out of my head: how did he get the nickname, “Rip?”
Like a prayer answered, my question was addressed in today’s paper:
“Rowan had a mischievous streak, which included legendary on-set flatulence, according to McLoughlin. “He did it on purpose. It was murder,” he said.
Ha! Try that today and you won’t get a colorful nickname, you’ll be sent to visit HR — and likely receive a ticket to some sort of sensitivity training class.
Do people have no idea how to act any more?
For example, I went to see Romeo and Juliet on Broadway. Not my first choice, but my wife has always wanted to see the Shakespeare classic performed — and since this production involved Orlando Bloom removing his shirt… well, you get the idea.
Anyhow, the family in front of us spent the entire first act busily rustling around with their snacks. I don’t know what they were into — pretzels, crackers, cookies — but it was feckin’ noisy. My ears ain’t what they used to be, so the distraction made it hard for me to focus on the play. And it doesn’t help that I have a mild case of misophonia.
Now, everybody knows you should unwrap your snacks before the lights go down, so not to annoy the other patrons. That’s a theatre rule, rather like never mentioning the name of the Scottish play. You just don’t do it!
They quieted down, thank God, in the second act. Maybe the parents — well-heeled Connecticut types — remembered their manners. Or maybe they caught wind of us grumbling during intermission.
Either way, were able to enjoy all the dying with a little peace and quiet. And the rippling abbs, too, if you’re into that sort of thing.