Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lake Compounce

Today may have been the last real day of summer 2009, so we spent it in style, at Lake Compounce.

I never get tired of Lake Compounce. There's a nice variety of wet and dry attractions, they keep it up nice, and every year the boys grow into braving a new ride or two.

This year Samuel went on the Tunnel Twisters (water slides), the Giant Wheel (ferris wheel), and the Sky Ride (ski lift). He does not enjoy speed rides, but he is no longer afraid of heights.

Ethan went on the Saw Mill Plunge (a log ride) and Mammoth Falls (a raft ride). Both were scary enough to excite him without completely terrorizing him. (Samuel still refuses to go on log rides since the time I forced him when he was a toddler because I was so certain he'd love it.)

Back to the city at 9:30pm; Kahlua came with me to return the rental car; ready for bed.

Buyer beware, says Ethan

Ethan: Dad! Don't buy anything you see on TV!

Todd: Why not?

Ethan: Because they will try to steal your money! Like, there's a snuggy that when you buy it, unless you return it in like five days, they'll take like $1,000 out of your bank account!

Todd: That's not good.

Ethan: And--! There's an exercise chair that they say is only $1 plus shipping and handling!

Todd: That sounds like a good deal.

Ethan: But it's not! Because the shipping and handling is like $1,000!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sign of the times

A new store moved into the vacant storefront at our corner at 82nd and Amsterdam. It's some kind of men's grooming emporium. (Side bar: good luck with that.) It replaced a Dominican barber shop that had been there since probably the '50s or early '60s, judging from its dilapidated sign.

This week they removed the old barber shop sign to reveal the remnants of an even older sign--if you look closely you can just make out "Real Estate & Insurance."

Who knows how old it is. It looks older than the '40s, and there wasn't much real estate business in the '30s,'s old.

I'm a history buff but also rather self-absorbed, which means I'm both excited and weirdly surprised when confronted with evidence that life existed in my neighborhood before I got here. I always find it cool, like I've uncovered the tomb of King Tut. I want to stop everybody on the street and say, "Look at that old sign! Cool, huh??"

Samuel promises that when he builds his time machine he will travel back in time and verify the date.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Animals I'd like to pet

"There are only four kinds of animals I want to pet: dogs, cats, platypuses, and beavers."

--Ethan Tarpley

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bifocals! Yea!

In yet another reminder that I'm not, in fact, getting younger, I am now the proud owner of my first pair of bifocals.

Out of sympathy, they don't actually call them "bifocals" anymore. They call them "progressive lenses." As if you're somehow progressing. Progressing toward death.

As I was taking my contacts out for the exam I looked in their close-up mirror and saw some tiny spider veins on my face. Yikes. Must've been a piece of lint.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Babies is Smart!

(Photo of Braxton by Angie Hill. P.S. Cute baby.)

According to an article in the New York Times, babies and toddlers are smarter than they've been given credit for.

In one experiment, eight-month-old babies were shown a box full of mixed-up Ping-Pong balls: mostly white but with some red ones mixed in. "The babies were more surprised, and looked longer and more intently at the experimenter when four red balls and one white ball were taken out of the box — a possible, yet improbable outcome — than when four white balls and a red one were produced."

In order to confirm the findings, I repeated the experiment and found that:

- 100% of the babies tried to eat the Ping-Pong balls, regardless of color.

- The babies were more surprised, and looked longer and more intently at the experimenter when they were in the process of soiling themselves.

- The parents of the babies--despite being supposedly smarter than the babies--were nonetheless surprised and annoyed when they tried to play Ping-Pong and found the balls covered in slobber.

Another victory for science.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Funplex Weekend

Saturday we met some friends at the Funplex in NJ, where we spent several hours driving go-karts, riding bumper cars, playing Magi-Quest, and cashing out our arcade tickets for cheap trinkets.

Later we went to our friends' new house in the Jersey burbs--they have the coldest swimming pool in the US, which I enjoyed until I could no longer feel my torso.

Around 8pm the boys and I dropped Jen off at a nearby Target while we enjoyed one final hour back at the Funplex.

Sunday we managed to wake up by 11am, had brunch, went to the water terrace at the Museum of Natural History, and ended the day with dinner at Planet Sushi.

Jen is watching "True Blood" on HBO, the boys are playing Nintendo, and the dogs are either sleeping or peeing on something.

Quassy Amusement Park

I took the boys to Quassy amusement park on Friday afternoon, in central Connecticut. When we went with Jennifer a few years ago it seemed small and run-down, like the Jersey boardwalk. And the much bigger and nicer Lake Compounce is only a half hour further.

But the boys and I were in the vicinity, so we gave it another shot.

I liked it better this time. It's still a kitschy relic from the '50s: kiddie rides and white painted wood-frame buildings. And it's still quite small: the recent "water park" addition is a tipping bucket and a single slide.

But despite a little rust on the rides, everything was clean, there were no lines, and at half the price of Compounce, it gets a recession-year thumbs up.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Good to be home

I got home from Vegas last night at 2am.

I won a whopping $75 on blackjack and roulette (hint: wait for 3 reds in a row, then bet it all on black). But my luck ran out on the last leg of my trip home, when I was kicked off the connecting flight from DC. I was already on the plane, waiting to take off, when the flight attendant took 2 passengers off the flight because the luggage apparently weighed too much. Of the 50 people on the plane, I was #49 in terms of importance to United, apparently. Is that pathetic or what?

When I finally got home at 2am, tired and a little irritable, I saw a sign on our front door that Samuel had obviously posted:

"Institute of Future Technology. Time Travel Volunteers Needed."

That cheered me up. I'm going to travel back in time and unhook the cargo latch on that plane from DC so that all the luggage falls out somewhere over Baltimore.

It's good to be home.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Spa to English translation

It's amazing how much you can learn in Vegas.

Spa: gym

Aqua Thermal Treatment Suite: shower area

Crystal Steam Room: steam room with violin music

Experiential Rains: shower with bird sounds

Finnish Sauna: sauna with cold wash cloths

Hydro Spa: jacuzzi

Herbal Laconium: lukewarm steam room that smells like a candle store

It cost me $40 just to work out at this "spa," now I smell like candles, and I didn't even get to see that woman in a towel.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back to Vegas

Just boarded a plane for Vegas. For business. Really.

A mom with a toddler and a baby just came down the aisle looking for their seats. I was thinking, "Please, please sit next to me." But they kept going.

I much prefer sitting next to a toddler or a baby on a plane than an adult. I would request it if I could, but the airlines ticket agent would think I'm mental.

I see a lot of people coming down the aisle. All people I don't want to sit next to. Big, sweaty-armed adults.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Elvis' Floor Plans!

Woo-hoo!!! I got it!

I own the floor plan. It will be hanging on my wall soon.

What floor plan? Duh? As you can easily see from the above, it is the floor plan of Elvis' racquetball building.

What is Elvis' racquetball building? Super duh? The building behind Graceland? Where Elvis spent the final hours of his life slogging through a game of racquetball with his cousin Billy? Where he played the piano and sang the final songs of his life in the early hours of August 16, 1977 before heading back to the house and up to his bedroom?

Yeah, baby.

I can't tell you how much I paid because you would say I am insane. Jennifer approved the purchase last night, but I had to plead, and I promised to sell another book manuscript in order to pay for it. And she already knows I am insane.

But don't be cruel. It was now or never. I was all shook up. Don't make me return to sender. Now and then there's a fool such as I.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Splish Splash water park

We apparently chose the busiest day in the history of humanity to visit Splish Splash. It was like Times Square in rush hour. Long line to get into the park, long lines for every ride. The water slides last 30 seconds, so we probably netted 5 minutes of actual water time during a 7-hour visit.

We were never even able to set foot in the wave pool or the lazy river--they literally had Depression-era bread lines.

Jennifer would like to add that there were not enough women's restrooms. Always lines leading out the doors.

Hard to rebound from that great first impression.

And yet...

It's a real, good-sized waterpark within public transportation distance of Manhattan (2 hrs door to door from Penn Station). We didn't have to rent a car, as we do to go to Lake Compounce, Splashdown Beach, Hurricane Harbor, or Mountain Creek.

The park was nicely designed to incorporate trees and other natural landscaping; it wasn't just a giant swath of cement.

There was a good variety of rides and attractions, from a pirate ship kiddie pool to lazy river to wave pool to lots of tube/raft/body slides.

It was well maintained.

Will we go back? I can safely say it won't be #1 on our list next year, but...I could probably be persuaded to try it again on a weekday. I don't speak for Jennifer.

Thoughts on the Pina Colada Song

I don't like Pina Coladas. I don't particularly enjoy being caught in the rain; I don't know anyone who does. I'm not into yoga. I've never liked the taste of champagne. I've never made love at midnight in the dunes of a cape, but it sounds kind of gritty; I would also be concerned about sand fleas. In short, it's safe to say I would never answer that particular personal ad.

I think what Rupert Holmes has captured in that song is the mantra of two alcoholic, self-absorbed losers. Who are covered with sand flea bites.

BTW, if Jennifer ever took out a personal ad like that, and I responded to it, I seriously doubt that we'd both "laugh for a moment" and say, "Aww, it's you." That's just a hunch.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Locks of Love

I was all set to write about our Saturday excursion to Splish Splash waterpark, or Samuel's obsession with Back to the Future and his attempts to convince me to buy a Delorean, or even Ethan's continuing battle for dominance with the new puppy.

But the biggest news of the weekend by far is Samuel's haircut.

It's a big deal, first of all, because he hadn't cut it in about two years. Three? I lose track.

It's a big deal, second of all, because Samuel is a creature of habit. He doesn't like change. Once he hit the 2-year mark, the odds were good that he was never going to get another haircut again. Ever.

And it's a big deal, finally, because it was his idea to donate his hair to a charity called Locks of Love, which provides hairpieces to disadvantaged kids suffering from medical hair loss. He's always thinking of others, and that is a trait I admire in him. He got it from Jennifer, apparently.

Tonight he informed me that he wants to start brushing it back and blowing it dry like Marty McFly.