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Friday, October 03, 2008 09:17:57 PM
Mood: Excited
Vote For Me

This year, Election Day falls on my birthday. I also happen to be a long-time creator of online political satire. Coincidence? Yeah... pretty much.

Vote for MeWith politics in the national spotlight, the urge to make fun of the candidates gets too big for me to ignore. That, plus a nifty new microphone, resulted in the birth of this little ditty entitled "Vote For Me". I tried to keep this one party-neutral so it could be enjoyed by everyone, which was easy this time around since the Bush administration wasn't in the picture. Honestly I'm pretty jazzed up for this election. Sure, I have my preferences, but I think either one of these candidates will be a great step forward for America. They actually seem to agree more than disagree on many of the issues and wind up nitpicking in their debates and stump speeches. Anyway, I hope people get a kick out of it.

Tocci Ponders: What is it about riding a motorcycle and feeling the need to do so in a group? You just don't see that kind of comradery with other vehicles. You probably have never seen a fleet of compact cars rolling down the highway. Then again, if you did, would you even notice?

I haven't posted anything in about two months. Lately I've been working on this animation and spending a lot of time learning Actionscript to make a related game, which I hope to post here soon.

Tocci Ponders: Why don't any hockey players learn martial arts to protect themselves? They can't possibly like to be punched in the face all season long. I would imagine if Steven Segal were a hockey player he wouldn't have to worry about getting into fights. After he breaks the first guy's arm in three places, nobody else would ever mess with him.

Links that don't need a bailout:

  • Lip syncing with McCain and W - The lips just match so well it's uncanny.
  • Is McCain Palin's Bitch? - There are a lot of political satire videos out there, but this one is my favorite so far.
  • As much as I love to hate her, Paris Hilton made a pretty decent one a while back.
  • The winner of the election has been predetermined!
  • If you like the Rick Rolling phenomenon from the previous link, you may be strangely entranced by the Interior Crocodile Alligator. I was actually "alligator rolled" to this one from probably the most random (and often horribly offensive) board on the internet, /b.
  • I found two good resource sites for phone numbers lately. 1) is a great place to find the hard-to-find contact phone numbers of companies who try to keep them on the DL. I always get better results with a phone call than with an email. 2) is a place to lookup the number of a telemarketing call or hang-up to see if anyone else had the same problem. Apparently the same companies annoy countless people, and now we can all bitch about it together since we're basically powerless to do anything about it.
  • In even more outdated news (It happens when you take 2 months between blog entries), I found some cool links while watching the Olympics. I was curious about the Olympic medal counts historically as well as per capita medal counts. Interesting stuff.
  • Just For Now - Props to Imogen Heap of Frou Frou for laying down this song in realtime. I know how hard it is to record tracks even with multiple takes, so what she does here amazes me.
Friday, August 01, 2008 04:21:37 PM
Mood: Happy
Stranded again, Jersey Shore, Tomatoes, BBQ, etc

On the lake, events seem to happen in pairs. First I rescued birds two weeks in a row, and then I was stranded two weeks in a row. Yes, it happened again. A week after my battery went dead on me the last time, Chris and I were going to try out a new lake and I wanted to be absolutely sure that the battery would last all day. I bought a brand new battery and charger, but I didn't anticipate that the trolling motor would break. We were moving along the shoreline far from the boat launch when the propeller hit a small rock. I've hit plenty of rocks in the past without incident, but this time the drive pin (the little metal bar in the picture) shattered. motor kitThe motor still worked fine but the propeller would not spin. I pulled it into the boat and inspected it. We didn't have a spare drive pin so Chris and I were forced to go MacGyver on that bad boy. We scoured our tackle boxes for anything that could be cut into a drive pin. Eventually we ended up binding three fish hook shanks together with some braided line and superglue. Believe it or not, it worked. We were so confident in our handywork that we fished the rest of the day with our jimmy-rigged motor. The fishing was not so great, but we'll be telling that story for a long time. When we got home I ordered the spare parts for the motor you see pictured here, which I will now take with me every time I'm out on the lake. I call it my "oh sh*t kit".

Tocci Ponders: Why do they call it "common sense" when so few people have it?

Seagull on a JettyThat same weekend we went to the Jersey shore and had some fun on the beach and Chris's family's boat. The ocean water was ridiculously cold for July so unfortunately we didn't do any swimming. Next time. We did end the day in spectacular fashion with a feast of crabs, clams, steak, tuna, corn salad, etc.

Tocci Ponders: If Bear Grilles, the Man vs. Wild guy, finds a fly in his soup. Does he bother to take it out?

Red TomatoesIn other culinary news, the Tocci tomato harvest has begun. The plants are huge and some of the fruits are starting to turn red. It's about that time of year to eat tomato salad until we're sick of it.

Tocci's Simple Tomato Salad: Cut 1-2 large tomatoes into wedges, discarding any hard parts near where the stem was attached. Add about 1/4 cup chopped red onion and a handful of finely chopped fresh basil. Drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil. Optionally add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Give it a generous sprinkle of garlic salt, stir gently to mix, and enjoy.

This past weekend we attended a small cookout at Dave and Meri's home. We had a lot of fun but the highlight for me was their daughter Myla. A little more than a year old, she's already talking up a storm. She's a big fan of the movie Enchanted it seems, because she would often interject any conversation with "true love's kiss". But the best moment for me was when we were able to get her to say "use the force". Too funny.

Tocci Ponders: Why is there Latin writing on American money? Last I checked, we speak English here. There are no native Latin speakers. If there's going to be a second language on money, I would figure it would be Spanish like the signs at the Target stores.

Punch!On Monday, we attended a beer distributor's party at the Saw Mill on the Seaside Boardwalk. The food was pretty good but it was overcrowded as usual. We still had fun and walked the boardwalk afterwards. I won a box of fun dip on my first dollar (I always put my money on "white sis"... because I have one) and got to play my favorite punching game.

Summer links. Actually, all're links... even if there are only some of them.

Thursday, July 17, 2008 12:52:29 AM
Mood: Neutral
House Hunting, Stranded & Skunked, B2

We're officially house hunting. For the past few weeks Jenny and I have been putting the wheels in motion to get our first house. We've seen a bunch so far but none of them really caught our eye as a true prospect. There was one house that we both really liked but it was right up against some high tension wires. We were both a little disturbed by that. I have no idea how long this process will take but the longer it goes on the cheaper these homes seem to get, so I guess I shouldn't rush it.

Random Quote:
A peasant to King arthur: "Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony". - Monty Python and the Holy Grail

geeseAs beautiful as it is out on the lake, fishing sucks when you wind up stranded on a boat with no motor a mile from the boat launch. To make matters worse, I was officially "skunked" having not caught a fish all day. I intended to fish the deep side of the pond first and the shallow side second, but I never made it to the shallow side. I was at the end of the deep side when the battery for my trolling motor died. Luckily I always bring an oar with me for emergencies such as this (my fishing boat is really a converted rowboat) so I wasn't completely stranded, but I never anticipated breaking down so far from the launch. Standing up in the middle of the boat, I paddled first on one side of the boat and then the other, doing my best to go in a straight line. It was taking forever. About half way back, two guys in kayaks spotted me and asked me if I needed help. I didn't want to impose so I said, "No, thanks. Enjoy your day. I'll make it." They said it would take me forever and wouldn't take no for an answer. Before I knew it I was being towed back to the bank with pure manpower. It was actually pretty amazing how fast they were able to get the boat going. At the end of the trip, I had caught no fish, but I did find some really nice people to strengthen my faith in the human race. Besides, I had two other successful fishing outings since my last blog entry so life ain't all that bad.

Random Thought: "Skits" on rap CDs only exist to mess up the random play feature of my ipod. Come on, Wyclef. Cut me some slack.

B2Yesterday Jenny and I went out to scope out some new marine batteries for my boat and on the way home I noticed something flying in the sky ahead. It was a B2 Stealth Bomber! You just don't expect to look up and see a Stealth Bomber flying over your town. I still have no idea why it was there, but it was pretty crazy to see. [Update: The bomber was in the area for a flyover during the National Anthem at the all-star game in Yankee Stadium. Thanks, Justin.]

Tocci Ponders: Why is "ammo" short for ammunition? Shouldn't it be "ammu"?

Links: Take two. They're small.

Saturday, June 14, 2008 10:19:15 PM
Mood: Content
Another Bird

I saved another bird today. The story begins miserably with a rather unsuccessful attempt to go fishing from the shore. I tried two spots that were off the beaten path. At the first spot, where I had never been before, I broke one of my rods in half. The water was way too shallow there anyway, so I moved on. The second spot was a hidden pond that I haven't been to in 10 years. It's located way back in the woods behind one of my regular lakes. If I had remembered how far it was I would have worn better shoes and probably not have lugged my entire tackle box. I also forgot my hat so the biting insects in the woods had a field day on my shaved head. To add insult to injury, when I finally reached the little pond it was all overgrown with weeds, trees, and thorn bushes. I returned to my truck blistered, bitten, scraped up by thorns, and sweating profusely.

To try to salvage the trip I decided to give the main lake a few casts before leaving. I'm glad I did, because I noticed a Canadian goose across the lake flapping his wings and swimming frantically trying to stay with his flock, only he wasn't moving anywhere. I asked the two other guys near me if the goose looked stuck and they agreed, so i said, "I'm going to try to save him." The one guy asked if I was going to go swimming. "We'll see," I replied.

I went around to the other side of the lake and sure enough the poor thing was stuck, probably on some old fishing line. There were a few people over there were visibly concerned. I tied a jigging spoon with a treble hook to some 20 lb test braided line and watched to see which way the goose was tring to swim. I cast behind him and let the lure sink, then reeled it in and was able to snag the old line. I figured my braided line had to be stronger than whatever line was under the water, so I wrapped my line around the reel mount and started pulling. The old line started to give way and for a moment it appeared as if I was trying to land the goose with my fishing rod. Soon after, the tension on my rod released and the goose swam away to rejoin his flock as the people across the lake cheered. I didn't even lose the lure. :-)

Despite the miserable fishing trip, the experience with the goose made the whole trip worth it. I wish I had some pictures of these birds but there never seems to be a good time to snap a photo in these situations. I'll just have to rely on my memories, and since that's not a very safe bet I'm glad it's all written on the ol' blog.

Saturday, June 14, 2008 12:34:14 AM
Mood: Aggravated
Blackout, Parties, Another Day on the Lake

I've never appreciated having electricity more in my life. On Tuesday evening, an electrical storm blew through our neighborhood in New Jersey and sent a major surge through our power lines. The lights went out and we immediately smelled smoke, which was coming from the power supply in my media center PC. We fired up our flashlights, listened to the radio, and burned candles all night. The next morning, some, but not all, of our power was restored. I had never seen before. Only half of our outlets worked and they seemed a little weak. I powered up the essentials like the fridge by running extension cords from the bathroom and bedroom. Finally, after two and a half days, full power resumed this morning and I was able to assess the damage. Almost everything in the house still worked except for a few missing bars on the LED display on the microwave. Oh, yeah, and my freaking main computer won't power up! It turns out the power supply on my main computer was also damaged and now shuts itself off after about a second, even though that computer was protected by a battery backup surge protector. Yeah... I have no idea either. I hope that's the extent of the problem. I'll know when the replacement power supplies arrive on Monday. Until then I've just got my little laptop to keep me sane.

Tocci Ponders: If the word horrific means full of horror or horrible, how come the word terrific doesn't mean full of terror or terrible?

In other news, my sister turned 29 in style last weekend. She gets excited about her birthday and always takes the opportunity to throw a party. Then the next day we went to a graduation party for Jenny's Uncle E, who recently graduated from mechanic school after deciding to leave his previous career as a biomechanical engineer behind. I think it's great that he can follow his passions like that and I wish him the best of luck in his new profession.

Tocci Ponders: Today the manager at a restaurant called some patrons "folks". You don't hear that particular synonym of "people" in many contexts these days, but one that comes to mind is "folk music". So my question is, if "folks" means "people", then "folk music" really means "people music"... as opposed to... "animal music"? Isn't all music folk music?

Of course, what would a blog entry be these days without some mention of bass fishing? I caught six bass last Friday, which may be a personal best. I also caught a pickerel. The most memorable part of the day, however, came early when I heard a flapping noise coming from a bush near the bank. I didn't think much of it at first but it started again. Looking closely, I saw an animal hanging upside down from a branch flapping its wings. Bats freak me out so I was reluctant to get much closer. Then I realized it was a bird. The poor thing had gotten its foot entangled in some old fishing line. I pulled the boat up on shore, cut the line with my pocketknife, and the bird flew away without injury. I'm glad I decided to hit that particular lake that day.

I had some photos and some links to post with this entry but they're on my other computer. :-( They'll have to wait.