Sep 092012

Okay, thought I’d have some fun and blog my day today as it unfolds …

6:40 a.m. Hey look, I slept in all of 20 minutes! And this with the bed (and house) all to myself as my wife has taken the boys to Massachusetts for the weekend to visit her parents while I paint the porch floor—do I know how to live or what?

The good news is that I finished painting yesterday afternoon, so now I have all day today to fret about, er, I mean, *ENJOY* the opening Sunday of the NFL season. The Jets kick off against the Bills at 1 p.m., so that means I have a little more than six hours to kill. Luckily, I have BIG plans for the day, you know, like the laundry and grocery shopping.

Like I said, living the dream.

7:04 a.m. Major problem already—I only have short white socks to wear! How could I have let this happen on game day—I’ve only had nine months to plan what I was going to wear today! And somehow I ended up with white socks instead of my traditional black ones?! Really?!

And if you think that I think that the color of the socks on my feet in my house over 80 miles away from where the game is being played today actually could somehow have a bearing on the outcome, then you’re clearly not a sports fan. Sure, I’m an atheist and don’t believe there’s any sort of overarching force that affects the universe—but when it comes to sports, all that goes out the window.

Hypocritical much? Absolutely. But what I wear on my feet affects the game as much as where I sit in my living room does while watching. You may (absolutely correctly) think that’s zero percent, but I will have black socks on my feet by the time kick-off rolls around. I just hope wearing the white ones doesn’t ruin it all anyway.

7:58 a.m. Showered and eating breakfast, I check my email and discover (via my wife) that the article about my book is in this morning’s New Haven Register. GAH! At least they took the time to make sure to have my profile picture match Benedict Arnold’s—jerks of a feather, flocking together. So much for wanting to finish breakfast.

Well, no one reads newspapers any more, right? Maybe none of my friends will notice.

Continue reading »

Apr 192012

So after NOT winning a Pulitzer Prize (yet again), I’ve begun to question my “career” choice. As some of you may have seen on Twitter/Facebook, I was toying with the idea that I might be better suited to being a human cannonball, although I was pleasantly surprised that no one really suggested that the idea of shooting me out of a cannon was an excellent place to start.

Anyway, I realize that writing is probably what I should be doing, but I figured that re-training might be in order, which would mean going back to school. Of course, the idea of me heading back to campus at my advanced age is laughable on many levels—heck, as my son likes to point out, I was there when they first came up with the idea of counting.

Me: “How many fire we need to cook mammoth?”
Thag: “More fire than we have, like fire plus more fire.”
Me: “Fire plus more fire? How that?
Thag: “We could … count number of fire needed to cook mammoth by using fingers. One fire finger, two fire finger, five fire finger …”
Me: “Oww, head hurt thinking this … let’s just have sushi again.”

I thought it might make more sense for me to look into online courses. I went to my alma mater’s website to see what they offered via the intrawebz … Business administration? Computer science? Education? Nursing? Really??!!

What type of practical areas of studies are these in this Internet Age? Really, what needs to be offered by any school truly interested in becoming online learning relevant are courses that would be better in tune with how people are living nowadays, which is pretty much online.

As always, I’m here to help, you know, because I continue to be a giver.

In that spirit, here are—

The Top 14 Online Courses That Should Be Offered in An Increasingly Intrawebz-Centered World

1. The Psychology of Vaguebooking
2. Winning on eBay Isn’t Always Winning
3. (Very) Basic Punctuation and Grammar for Message Boards
4. Anatomy and Dissection of LOLCats
5. FARK Memes and Impact on Post-Modernist Thought
6. Self Help Independent Study: Resisting the Urge to Tweet About Every Bodily Function
7. Internet Porn: Why Pay for the Cow When You Can Get the Milk for Free
8. The Gentleman’s Survival Guide: Feigning Interest in Pinterest
9. Dealing with the Stress and Reality of Fantasy Sports
10. Learning What NSFW Stands For Before A Visit with Human Resources
11. There’s No Cure for Going Viral: How To YouTube Your Own Groin Shots
12. The Art of Google Fu
13. Conspiracy Theory 101: There’s Really No Such Thing as Too Crazy
14. Rule 34: Learning How to Unsee Things

Courses are filling up now …


Apr 152012

As most of you know already, Damned Connecticut was recently voted “Top Travel Blog” in Connecticut as part of the inaugural Websters, sponsored by the Hartford Courant. That now *officially* make me an “award-winning” blogger. As such, it’s time to start acting like a “winner,” which means taking my cues from my formative years (when I watched a lot of pro wrasslin’) and referring to myself from now on in the third person.

So first off, Ray would again like to thank all of you possibly unbalanced people who took the time to vote for Kate, Steve and Ray’s blog, Damned Connecticut. Ray would also like to especially thank the anonymous person out there (again, possibly unbalanced) who nominated us in the first place. Ray is just amazed that something partially from Ray’s brain could reach so many people—in the last year, Damned Connecticut has had over 250,000 visitors—and that so many of them actually liked it enough that they felt compelled to vote for it. Just crayzy, so to speak.

Anyway, to commemorate The Websters, the online staff of the Courant held a small happy hour party at Firebox in Hartford, and invited all the winners. Steve and Ray attended the event (Kate was home with her and Steve’s newborn son Daniel—pronounced “ray,” I think), which was like The Oscars, you know, minus the glitz, red carpet, paparazzi, throngs of adoring fans and Billy Crystal. (Pretty sure even James Franco was too busy for this one.) Still it was great of the Courant to do anything for Ray and the rest of us.

When Ray and Steve arrived—not “early bird” first, since Ray (a.k.a. “Mr. Compass Head”) actually underestimated the time it takes to get from New Haven to Hartford—a few of the other winners were already there. When Ray and Steve walked in, Ray is pretty sure the mental reaction around the room was like this …

Of course, this was coming from a room full of geeks. And when Ray says “geeks,” Ray does so lovingly, and in an effort to be honest. Everyone there was being honored for having “really cool” websites that they built and operate themselves, Ray, Steve and Kate included. If that’s not in the vein of true geekery—even if it’s actual respected journalism, as in the case of CT News Junkie—then Ray is not sure what is.

Upon arriving, they asked Ray and Steve to put on name tags, which Ray normally dreads and was exacerbated by having “Damned Connecticut” under Ray’s name—not that Ray isn’t proud of Ray’s website, but for the rest of the event, when someone came up to Ray and Steve, you could see them sneak a peek or two at the name tags, which was invariably followed by a sort of a “Oh, crazy ghost hunters” look and polite nodding.

For the record: Although there are plenty of haunted places mentioned in Damned Connecticut, Ray, Kate and Steve are not ghost hunters or paranormal investigators. Although Ray, Kate and Steve have visited many allegedly haunted places, Ray, Kate and Steve don’t have infrared video cameras or special microphones to record EVPs, nor have Ray, Kate or Steve personally reached across the spirit void to make contact with departed souls in psychic ways. As the website says, Ray, Kate and Steve are into “all that’s weird, unexplained or unusual in Connecticut,” from giant jack-in-the-boxes to mountain lions to UFOs that fall from the sky.

Of course, by the time Ray can explain this in conversation, people had usually already moved on to the sliders or sliced salmon that had been put out. (Great food at Firebox, by the way, although Ray is disappointed that Steve didn’t take Ray up on one of Ray’s patented $5 American challenges: To take one of the giant platters of bacon cheese fries off the buffet table, go sit in a corner of the bar and eat the entire thing by himself.)

Chatting it up with complete—or even incomplete—strangers at a cocktail party is (by far!) not one of Ray’s strong suits, so it’s good that Steve went along. He’s much better at going up to people and breaking the ice—if Ray had been alone, chances are Ray would’ve stood in the corner sipping his bar-brand cola trying not to make eye contact with anyone in fear of someone realizing that Ray (and his “award-winning” blog) didn’t really belong there.

The good news is that Steve doesn’t have these kind of hang ups, and he and Ray were able to mix, mingle and make a few new BFFs including Michelle and her posse from CT Working Moms, the crew from Local Band Review and Ian from Sox and Dawgs—you know, because Steve is a huge Yankees fans and nothing is more exciting for him than talking Red Sox baseball. (And yes, Ray did take great pleasure in eventually sneaking away from the two of them so Steve could bask alone in Ian’s Red Sox diatribes.)

Oddly enough, at no point during the evening did anyone ask Ray and Steve for their autographs. Probably too intimidated, Ray imagines.

They also may have been intimidated by being in the presence of a soon-to-be-published-again author. Steve, again demonstrating his promotional abilities, repeatedly tried to kindly pimp our upcoming book. (Ray says “our book” because very few people realize that Ray and Steve have an agreement where Ray so completely ghostwrites for Steve that it *almost* seems like Ray does absolutely everything to the untrained—and even trained—eye.) Despite Steve’s enthusiasm for our project, more than one person he mentioned it to sort of gave it that nod parents give their children when they tell them about something that happened on this week’s episode of “Pokemon.” “Oh Pikachu beat Raichu and you wrote a book about jerks? That’s nice, dear.”

Eventually the time came for The Websters to be presented, and Ray, being the brayve soul that Ray is, pushed Steve toward the presenter when Damned Connecticut’s name was called.

That's *pride* on Steve's face, not confusion over not seeing his name on the certificate.

Although Steve had planned a lengthy acceptance speech (and interpretive dance), and Ray had encouraged him to tebow when the time came, Steve opted for the low-key approach and just said, “Thanks.” Whatev.

Following the presentation, Steve asked if he should take the award home or if there was a way how Ray, Kate and Steve might share it. Ray told Steve to take it for three reasons: 1. They deserve it because no one would know about Damned Connecticut if Steve hadn’t been spiritually guiding it and writing nearly Pulitzer Prize-winning pieces, or if Kate hadn’t designed it so brilliantly; 2. Ray would probably toss it in the drawer of his old desk with his journalism awards, where it might see the light of day once every six or seven years; and 3. Ray knew if Steve brought it home, Kate would completely freak out, which is a pretty entertaining thought if you know Kate.

Sure enough, Ray hadn’t even gotten to North Haven on his drive home when Ray got a text from Steve: “First thing out of her mouth—u didn’t take the only award I hope.”

Who knows—maybe by next year Ray will have his own certificate for a top blog! (Yeah, and maybe Ray will stop referring to himself in the third person by then.) In the meantime—

Again, Ray says thanks to everyone.