Advertisements
jump to navigation

SJFS 2017 Night 2 recap May 8, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Horse Racing, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Phone, Photography, Sports, Thoroughbred, TV.
13 comments

Other SJFS recaps: 2008, 2008 meet-and-greet, 2009, 2010, 2011, 20122013 Night 1, 2013 Night 2, 2014 Night 1, 2014 Night 2, 2015 Night 1, 2016 Night 1, 2016 Night 2, 2017 Night 1

Keyboardist Jay Rowe‘s 15th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars benefit continued Saturday night with the second of two concerts. The headliners were Chieli Minucci (“key-L-e min-OO-chee”), Steve Oliver, Nelson Rangell (soft g), and Steve Cole.

I was only able to get 3 1/2 hours of sleep, although I may have gotten an hour or two more when I thought I was half asleep.

At 6:45 AM, I stretched and went down to the Hampton Inn fitness center to exercise. Running on the treadmill was tough. My body was used to the treadmill at home and I could only manage a broken 2.4 miles (meaning I took a lot of breaks) before giving up and moving on to weightlifting. (I had a better handle on the treadmill yesterday morning, running 5 miles with less breaks.)

Later in the morning, I went to the lobby to drink hot chocolate and mingle with musicians and fellow jazz fans. First, I ran into Mark Abrams and his wife Phyllis. Then, I had a long, engaging, intriguing conversation with Nelson Rangell. My mother Lisa was in on the conversation for a little while. As a went to pour my second cup of hot chocolate, I met Steve Oliver, who was pouring a cup of coffee. I told him I’d been a fan of his music since I first heard it on The Weather Channel in 2002. He was pleased to hear that.

While my parents spent the afternoon at Mohegan Sun, I edited pictures from Friday night, chose the ones to include in the recap, uploaded them to the website, and placed them in the rough draft. When I was finally finished, I killed some time walking from Hampton Inn to a couple of stores on Boston Post Road (U.S. 1). I didn’t buy anything, but at least I passed time before dinner.

When my parents returned, we drove up Boston Post Road to the Olive Garden in Orange. I ate minestrone and cheese ravioli with meat sauce. Delicious.

It was 7:15 when we arrived at Veterans Memorial Auditorium back in Milford. I watched a replay of the Kentucky Derby on my iPhone since I forgot about the race. Always Dreaming won by 2 3/4 lengths.

At 8:00, the dream of Saturday night’s concert became a reality. Kevin McCabe of Jumpstart Jazz got things started with a welcome and thank yous:

After Kevin introduced Jay Rowe’s house band, he introduced Jay himself. His band was made up of Rohn Lawrence on electric guitar, Dave Anderson on bass, Trever Somerville on drums, and Steve Scales – who graduated from the University of Bridgeport earlier in the day – on percussion.

We’ll get to pictures of the band and headliners after you see the…

SET LIST
1.
Smooth Ride (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Smooth Ride (2016)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

2. Daybreak (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Global Village (Special EFX) (1992)
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci (acoustic/electric guitar), Steve Oliver (acoustic guitar, vocals)

3. High Noon (Steve Oliver)
Originally heard on: Positive Energy (2002)
Featured musicians: Steve Oliver (acoustic guitar, vocals), Chieli Minucci (acoustic guitar)

4. Lavish (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Deep as the Night (Special EFX) (2017)
Featured musicians: Chieli Minucci (acoustic/electric guitar), Nelson Rangell (alto sax)

5. Vonetta (Nelson Rangell; Earl Klugh cover)
Originally heard on: Soul to Souls (2006)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (flute), Chieli Minucci (acoustic guitar)

6. Another Star (Nelson Rangell; Stevie Wonder cover)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (alto sax), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

7. Turning Night Into Day (Nelson Rangell)
Originally heard on: Turning Night Into Day (1997)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (alto sax), Steve Cole (tenor sax), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

8. Thursday (Steve Cole)
Originally heard on: Spin (2005)
Featured musicians: Steve Cole (tenor sax), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar), Steve Oliver (electric guitar), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

9. Going in Circles (Steve Cole; Friends of Distinction cover)
Originally heard on: Pulse (2013)
Featured musicians: Steve Cole (tenor sax), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

10. Chips and Salsa (Steve Oliver)
Originally heard on: 3D (2004)
Featured musicians: Steve Oliver (acoustic guitar, vocals), Chieli Minucci (acoustic guitar, vocals)

11. Sunlight Within (Steve Oliver)
Originally heard on: Global Kiss (2010)
Featured musician: Steve Oliver (acoustic guitar, vocals)

12. Mirage (Steve Cole)
Originally heard on: Turn It Up (2016)
Featured musicians: Steve Cole (tenor sax), Nelson Rangell (flute), Rohn Lawrence (electric guitar)

13. Sonora (Nelson Rangell; Hampton Hawes cover)
Originally heard on: Destiny (1995) (alto sax); My American Songbook, Vol. 1 (2005)
Featured musicians: Nelson Rangell (whistling/piccolo), Steve Oliver (acoustic guitar), Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

14. Katy’s Groove (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Smooth Ride (2016)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards); Foran High School Advanced Vocal Ensemble, directed by Theresa Voss

15 (Finale). Cruise Control (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Butterfly (Special EFX) (2001)
Featured musicians: Everyone

Here are the pictures, starting with Jay Rowe:

The end-of-solo glide:

Rohn Lawrence:

Dave Anderson:

Trever Somerville:

Steve Scales:

Chieli Minucci on electric guitar:

Acoustic guitar:

Steve Oliver on acoustic guitar:

“Guitar symphony orchestra” intro to “Chips and Salsa”:

“Olé!”:

Electric guitar:

Vocals:

Nelson Rangell on alto sax:

Flute:

Chimes, at the beginning of “Sonora”:

Whistling on “Sonora”:

Piccolo:

Back to whistling:

Steve Cole:

Steve Oliver and Chieli:

“Tayyy-yo!”:

Chieli and Nelson:

Steve Cole and Nelson:

Nelson, Steve Cole, Chieli:

Steve Cole’s “wall of guitar” for “Thursday”:

The Foran High School Advanced Vocal Ensemble, directed by Theresa Voss, vocalized on “Katy’s Groove”:

The finale: “Cruise Control”:

Jay had many people to thank, but Rohn wanted to thank Jay:

With that, the 15th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars was complete.

I had another engaging conversation with Nelson the following morning as I began editing pictures. I finished editing them on the drive home, which only took an hour and a half. Until next year, Milford.

Advertisements

SJFS 2017 Night 1 recap May 8, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel, Video Games, Weather.
13 comments

Other SJFS recaps: 2008, 2008 meet-and-greet, 2009, 2010, 2011, 20122013 Night 1, 2013 Night 2, 2014 Night 1, 2014 Night 2, 2015 Night 1, 2016 Night 1, 2016 Night 2, 2017 Night 2

On Friday and Saturday nights, keyboardist Jay Rowe hosted the 15th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars in his hometown of Milford, Connecticut. The concerts benefit the Milford Public Schools music department. Friday’s headliners were Will Donato, Nick Colionne, Jeff Kashiwa, and Rick Braun.

It was ten years ago April 28 that I attended SJFS for the first time, making this my 11th year in attendance. Like that first time, my parents came with me.

We left for the Milford Hampton Inn at around 2:30. It had been rainy and windy all day, but the rain let up and wind diminished about a half hour into our drive. Unfortunately, we encountered heavy traffic throughout, especially in Connecticut.  Under normal traffic, we’d be at the hotel in an hour and 45 minutes, but the drive took nearly twice as long this time.

Perhaps as a good omen, the Watercolors channel on SiriusXM played “Smooth Ride,” the title track from Jay’s latest album:

Watercolors was on throughout our not-so-smooth ride. I also spent the first half of the ride breaking in my new Nintendo 3DS XL. I played a couple of 3DS games – Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 (just the time trials) – as well as two DS games – Mario Kart DS (again, only the time trials) and You Don’t Know Jack.

After checking in and settling in to our third floor rooms, we made our way to the home of Smooth Jazz for Scholars: Veterans Memorial Auditorium, located in the Parsons Government Center. Along the way, we ate dinner at Wendy’s.

At 8:10, the show began, as Kevin McCabe of Jumpstart Jazz welcomed the audience and thanked sponsors:

The show opened with performances by West Shore Middle School general music students, directed by Chris Kalafus:

…and the Foran High School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Jessica Shearer:

Then, it was on to the main event. Jay Rowe’s house band consisted of Rohn (“Ron”) Lawrence on guitar, Dave Anderson on bass, Trever Somerville on drums, and Steve Scales on percussion. Pictures of the band and headliners can be seen below, but first…

SET LIST
1. Bumpin’ on Hollywood (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Red Hot and Smooth (2006)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Jonathan Law/Foran High School horn section, Rick Braun (trumpet), Will Donato (alto sax), Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax)

2. Funkability (Will Donato)
Originally heard on: What It Takes (2010)
Featured musicians: Will Donato (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

3. New Life (Will Donato)
Originally heard on: Will Power (2005)
Featured musician: Will Donato (alto sax)

4. When You Love Somebody (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: Influences (2014)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (guitar, vocals), Jason Grant (drums)

5. The Journey (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: The Journey (2016)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (guitar), Jason Grant (drums)

6. Movin’ Up (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: Play (2007)
Featured musician: Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax)

7. Do It Again (Jeff Kashiwa; Steely Dan cover)
Originally heard on: Upcoming album
Featured musician: Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

8. Notorious (Rick Braun)
Originally heard on: Body and Soul (1997), Sessions: Volume 1 (2006)
Featured musicians: Rick Braun (flugelhorn), Will Donato (tenor sax)

9. My Funny Valentine (Rick Braun; standard by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart)
Featured musician: Rick Braun (vocals, muted trumpet)

10. Everything is Alright (Rick Braun)
Originally heard on: Around the Horn (2017)
Featured musicians: Rick Braun (trumpet, vocals), Rohn Lawrence (guitar, vocals), Jay Rowe (keyboards, vocals)

11. Morning Call (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: The Journey (2016)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (guitar), Jason Grant (drums)

12. Supersonic (Will Donato)
Originally heard on: Supersonic (to be released July 2017)
Featured musicians: Will Donato (alto sax), Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax)

13. Hyde Park (The “Ah, Oooh” Song) (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: Another Door Opens (2000)
Featured musicians: Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax), audience (“ah, oooh”)

14 (Finale). Grazin’ in the Grass (Rick Braun; Hugh Masekela cover [a.k.a. “Grazing in the Grass”])
Originally heard on: Shake It Up (collaboration with Boney James) (2000); Sessions: Volume 1 (2006)
Featured musicians: Everyone

As promised, here are the pictures. We start with the “Bumpin’ on Hollywood” horns:

Jay Rowe:

Rohn Lawrence:

Dave Anderson:

Trever Somerville:

Steve Scales:

After “Bumpin’ on Hollywood,” Will Donato went to the lobby to start “Funkability.” He worked his way through the audience, picking out my friend Kelly along the way to the stage:

Now, the on-stage shots:

Tenor sax on “Notorious”:

Nick Colionne:

Vocals on “When You Love Somebody”:

Working through the audience on “Morning Call”:

Spotting my camera:

Striking a pose:

I gave him an approving thumbs up as the audience laughed.

Jason Grant was on drums for Nick’s songs:

Jeff Kashiwa:

Rick Braun on flugelhorn for “Notorious”:

On hitting the last note: “I can do it!”

He did:

Muted trumpet for “My Funny Valentine”:

Regular trumpet for “Everything is Alright”:

Rick also sang “My Funny Valentine”:

…and “Everything is Alright”:

Rohn backed him up:

And so did Jay!

Will and Rohn:

Jeff and Rohn:

Rick and Will:

Rick and Rohn:

Will and Jeff:

The finale: “Grazin’ in the Grass”:

Jay had some closing remarks as the song wound down:

The last note:

Before I left for the night, I caught up with Will Donato and we posed for a picture:

It’s always nice to see him. He’s been very complimentary of my work, and was when we spoke Friday night. It goes without saying that I’m fond of his work, as well. When I posted on Facebook yesterday that I was back home, he left the following comment:

Mike! It was so great to see you! You always make me feel so welcome when I travel back east! I respect and admire YOUR talents! WD

Reading that now brings a smile to my face.

A recap of Saturday night’s show can be seen here.

Seven weeks of Netflix April 29, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Comedy, Film, Internet, Music, Personal, Technology, TV, Video.
add a comment

In a post last month, I noted that I ran out of things to watch on Netflix and, in addition to playing video games, began watching YouTube channels instead. Less than a day after I wrote that post, I discovered things to watch on Netflix again. I started with a few movie classics that I had never seen. First up was Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles. That was followed by a pair of Rob Reiner films: This Is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride, both of which featured Christopher Guest and Billy Crystal. From there, I moved on to a few music documentaries:

I went back to YouTube for a couple of days, but then I took a big step. Actually, a giant leap is more like it. I decided to watch all 278* episodes of Cheers, followed by all 264* episodes of Frasier, its spin-off. “Let the journey begin,” I told myself on the afternoon of March 12 as I loaded the pilot episode of Cheers. What followed was textbook binge-watching. It took only 20 days to watch all 11 seasons of Cheers. It took 17 days to watch every season of Frasier, which also ran 11 seasons. The last day I watched Cheers and the first day I watched Frasier overlapped, making for a combined 36 days of 542* episodes. The journey was worth it.

* – Multi-part episodes are split up.

With the two long-running series out of the way, I spent the next two days watching four stand-up specials: two by Dave Chappelle, one by Jo Koy, and one cinematic release by Kevin Hart. After that, there were four documentaries:

After a few days of DVDs and Blu-rays, I returned to Netflix to watch the third season of Dawn of the Croods, one of many Dreamworks animated series made for Netflix. Unfortunately, the season ended on a cliffhanger. Yes, Cheers and Frasier had cliffhangers, but seasons weren’t released to Netflix months apart. Within seconds of watching a cliffhanger finale, you could move on to the next season’s premiere.

All that remained for me to watch were two movies: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, which I watched a few times on VHS when I was 12, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which I don’t recall every seeing.

Now, the well has run dry again, but I expect there to be a handful of movies and documentaries to watch in May. Until then, back to YouTube.

2017 WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony April 3, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Interviews, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, TV, Video.
4 comments

Previous Hall of Fame ceremonies: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

It may have been April Fools’ Day, but there was serious business at LIU Post on Saturday. The 2017 class of the WCWP Hall of Fame was inducted during an afternoon ceremony in the Goldsmith Atrium at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.

It was the sixth ceremony overall, but only the fifth I’ve attended. I couldn’t make last year’s ceremony because I was in Milford, Connecticut, ahead of the second night of musician Jay Rowe’s annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars benefit concert series. Thankfully, this year’s HOF ceremony came six weeks before this year’s SJFS.

I arrived on campus about a half hour before the ceremony, which was due to start at 1PM. As always, I took pictures and video. You can see the video at the end of this post, but first, the pictures:

The ceremony began with an introduction by Dan Cox, WCWP’s Director of Broadcasting:

…and a video narrated by Jim Cutler:

The 2017 inductees are John March:

John LiBretto:

…and Neil Marks:

2015 inductee Jeff Kroll was the host:

2012 inductee Hank Neimark introduced John LiBretto:

2013 inductee Harry Lowenthal had a question for John:

Pat Kroll presented John with a gift bag:

John March was interviewed ahead of the ceremony from his home in South Carolina:

Hank accepted on John’s behalf:

The third inductee of 2017 was Neil Marks, introduced by Jeff:

The view from my Panasonic HC-V770 camcorder:

Neil had a speech prepared:

Neil’s family:

I took this picture of Neil with the family before the ceremony:

Then, it was story time:

Neil’s father had a question:

Pat had a few stories to share:

The ceremony concluded with this picture:

…and cutting of the cake:

Then, it was off to the Abrams Communications Building, home to WCWP for 51 1/2 years, for more reminiscing:

Now, the video:

Video was recorded with my Panasonic HC-V770 camcorder and mixed with audio from my Tascam DR-03. Thanks to Dan Cox for providing the introductory video and interview with John March, which were incorporated into the video.

It’s an honor and a privilege to capture events for WCWP and to mingle with fellow alumni. Congratulations to John LiBretto, John March, and Neil Marks. Welcome to the WCWP Hall of Fame.

March 14 winter storm pictures March 15, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Photography, Weather.
add a comment

It was a quiet 29 days following last month’s blizzard. Despite that, I kept snow shovels on the front porch just in case there was at least one more storm before spring. As it turns out, there were two. The first storm, which came through last Friday, delivered a few inches of wet snow which barely accumulated on pavement. I only had to shovel one strip of the driveway where wet snow did accumulate and wouldn’t melt in the warm March sun.

The second storm was to come yesterday and it was expected to be a massive blizzard that would drop a foot or more of snow amid strong gusty winds. As impact approached, the forecast track shifted west. Sleet was expected to mix with the snow, limiting accumulation to a foot at most. Some computer models were expecting a change to rain, which would limit snowfall even more. That’s what ended up happening.

I woke up at around 7AM to the sound of sleet pelting my east-facing window. The changeover had happened after only a few inches of snow accumulated. In the next hour, sleet began to mix with, and change to, rain. The rain turned the snowfall to slush, but didn’t wash it away. That’s where I came in. I went outside just before 9:00 and shoveled the driveway except for its edge in case snow plows came through again. I wouldn’t want my work to be undone in that area.

It was grueling. Shoveling a few inches of slush is much tougher than shoveling a foot of powdery snow. Plus, in spite of gloves, my fingers were cold. After an hour of laborious shoveling, they were numb and my outer layers of clothes were soaked. Running warm water on my fingers when I got back inside turned the numbness into painful prickling for several seconds. It wore off after a minute.

Luckily, the rain never changed back to snow and the snow plows didn’t return. So, I shoveled the edge of the driveway around 3:30 while temperatures were still above freezing. There was a brief snow shower early in the evening, but it merely coated a few spots.

No winter storm post would be complete without a photographic timeline. We start at 8:17 AM:

10:14 AM, after shoveling:

1:33 PM:

3:53 PM, after additional shoveling:

Watching YouTube and playing video games March 8, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Game Shows, History, Internet, Interviews, Media, Music, News, Personal, Politics, Technology, TV, Video Games.
1 comment so far

After about a year of watching TV shows, movies, documentaries, and comedy specials on Netflix in my downtime, I nearly ran out of things to watch. As a result, I turned my attention to YouTube. I watched several episodes of Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, Game Sack, and Gaming Historian on there last year. But in the last month, I’ve re-watched Game Sack and Gaming Historian episodes, and binge watched The 8-Bit Guy/8-Bit Keys and My Life in Gaming. This post is about how I discovered the channels I frequent.

I discovered Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show last year while looking for interviews of Kevin on YouTube. I was listening to his book, How I Slept My Way to the Middle, on Audible last March, and was completely unaware of his chat show, which he’s had since 2009. In the two months that followed, I watched episodes with guests who I was familiar with or whom I didn’t expect to express their political beliefs. Once I was caught up, I would watch new archived episodes two days after they streamed live. I tried watching one episode live, but I focused more on the chat room discussion than the interview. For a few months, the KPCS YouTube channel was down; all videos were gone. Eventually, they were restored and I resumed watching new episodes.

I found Gaming Historian while looking for longplay video game videos like they have at World of Longplays. What I got instead was informative historical documentaries on video game franchises, consoles, companies, and industry executives. Norman Caruso does a great job.

I discovered Game Sack, a channel run by Joe Redifer who co-hosts with his friend Dave White, via suggested videos after watching some Gaming Historian episodes. Each episode features playthroughs and critiques by Joe and Dave of the same categories I listed for Gaming Historian, as well as video game genres. The videos are entertaining, informative, humorous, and well-spoken; a perfect blend.

David Murray is the 8-Bit Guy. His videos focus on retro technology such as computers, digital cameras, and the aforementioned video game consoles. A video about video game music in the 8-bit era was suggested to me after a Game Sack episode. That video inspired David to start the 8-Bit Keys channel, which focuses on synthesizers and keyboards. I binged watched those videos a few weeks ago while recovering from an upper respiratory infection.

I support the latter three YouTubers on Patreon. Searching for other YouTubers to support on that site led me to My Life in Gaming. I watched an episode or two and became hooked. It’s hosted by two friends named Coury Carlson and Marc Duddleson (aka Try4ce). Their videos range from masterclasses on video game consoles and hardware for capturing gameplay to live streams of gameplay. Similar to Gaming Historian and Game Sack, they also have videos devoted to video games and VG developers. They even had a series of “How to Beat” videos which parodied 1990s VHS tips videos. Here’s one of them.

All these videos inspired me to buy NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), Game Boy, Super NES, and Sega Genesis video games to add to my collection. I even bought a refurbished Xbox 360 with a wireless controller a couple of weeks ago. Once it arrived, I bought several pre-owned games at a nearby Gamestop. They include puzzle games, quiz games, racing games, kart racers, and platformers. The game I’ve played the most thus far is Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. I bought the Xbox 360 because it’s backward compatible with most Xbox games which I plan on eventually getting. I also have in mind the Playstation 3 because of its backward compatibility with PS1 and PS2. If only the PS4 and Xbox One were backward compatible with all their predecessors.

Getting back to YouTube, there are two more channels I’d like to discuss. For a couple of years, I’ve been subscribed to a channel called Prager University. It was created by talk radio host Dennis Prager as “an online video resource promoting knowledge and clarity on life’s biggest and most interesting topics.” The channel “gather[s] some of the world’s best thinkers and distill[s] their best ideas into free, 5-minute videos on things ranging from history and economics to science and happiness.” One video led me to another channel. It was by Dave Rubin, a former left-wing ideologue who is now a free-thinking, open-minded classical liberal. After watching that video, YouTube suggested another video from Dave’s channel, The Rubin Report. Now, I’m hooked on that, too. I haven’t binge watched videos, but I have seen his commentaries and most recent interviews. Not only is Dave a political commentator, but he’s also a gamer. He played through Contra on the NES in his latest live stream video.

If you like video games and/or politics, I recommend you give these channels a try. They’ve given me hours of information and enjoyment. Thank you all.

Guest reading at my old elementary school a third time March 6, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Education, Personal, Photography.
add a comment

Previous guest reading posts: 2015, 2016

I was back at Leo F. Giblyn School in Freeport last Thursday to read Dr. Seuss books on the week of his birthday for the third year in a row. But that wasn’t all. I also helped with the morning announcements by reading a Dr. Seuss-inspired poem/quiz. My delivery style received praise from teachers and students alike.

I read a variety of books this year. The book I read to most classes was The Cat in the Hat. I also read Horton Hatches an Egg; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; My Many Colored Days; and Gerald McBoing Boing, the first book I read two years ago.

As usual, I incorporated voice acting into my reading, which led to cartoon character requests afterward. I even got requests for presidential impressions.

My sister Lauren told me on Friday that the school was still buzzing about me a day later. That made me beam with pride, just as I was beaming when I was there on Thursday.

Until next year, here’s this year’s [mostly] candid shot collage:
mcguestreadingcollage-30217

9PM UPDATE: This afternoon, I received a gift bag of food from Trader Joe’s with a card that read as follows:

Dear Mike,

Thank you so much for all your help on each and every Dr. Seuss/Read Across America Day at Giblyn. Thank you especially this year! ♥ You were really the star of the day. Your talent in reading, voices, and photography ensures a successful day!

–The Giblyn Reading Dept.

February 9 blizzard pictures February 10, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Health, Personal, Photography, Video, Weather.
1 comment so far

This is my 400th post!

After the January 7 snowstorm, I was prepared for a bombardment of similar storms, or even blizzards. But outside of light snow the following Saturday and last Tuesday, the rest of January was relatively quiet. The only heavy precipitation to affect Wantagh was rain. There was the potential for a snowstorm on Super Bowl Sunday, but it never materialized. Relieved, I let my guard down. Last Friday, I told my friend Rob that I didn’t expect anymore big storms the rest of the season.

I was wrong.

On Monday, I learned that there was another storm on the horizon, and this one would not miss us. And as usual, the forecast for yesterday’s storm, ironically on the heels of unseasonably warm conditions on Wednesday, worsened as it approached. 6 inches of snow was the max in Monday’s forecast, rising to 10 inches, and then 14. Also, the winter storm warning was upgraded to a blizzard warning because the wind forecast increased. (Coincidentally, there was a blizzard four years ago yesterday.)

As snow fell yesterday, I went about my daily routine inside, including running on the treadmill for the first time in two years. At around 12:30, it seemed like the snow was about to end, but the radar filled up with more snow while I was on the treadmill. Snow didn’t end until around 4:00. 20 minutes later, my sister Lauren and I shoveled the driveway.

I brought an 18-inch ruler outside with me to measure snow in the middle of the driveway. I was surprised to only measure 8 inches of snow. Assuming that wasn’t the resulting of drifting, we were lucky. Nearby North Massapequa received a foot. Shoveling took about an hour. Thank you, Lauren, for your help.

This brings us to a photographic timeline that begins early in the blizzard and ends after shoveling:

8:28 AM:
mc20917001a

10:19 AM:
mc20917005a

12:12 PM:
mc20917009a

mc20917010a

2:03 PM:
mc20917013a

4:02 PM:
mc20917017a

5:47 PM, after over an hour of shoveling:
mc20917035a

mc20917036-1a

mc20917037a

mc20917040a

mc20917041a

mc20917042a

mc20917043a

mc20917044-1-2a

mc20917045a

mc20917046a

mc20917047a

mc20917048a

5:57 PM:
mc20917049a

mc20917050a

mc20917051a

And here’s a video timeline:

Light snow with less than an inch of accumulation is forecast for tonight and rain is expected on Sunday. High temperatures will be above freezing every day for the next week. That should speed up the melting process.

I’ve learned my lesson: I’m not declaring in the middle of the season that we’ve had our last snow of the season. In fact, I expect at least two more snowstorms before spring. After they strike, I’ll post about them here.

January 7 snowstorm & January 8 aftermath pictures January 10, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Photography, Weather.
1 comment so far

The first significant snowfall of the season came on Saturday when Wantagh received about 9 inches of snow. The initial forecast that I saw on Thursday called for a third of that, but as with most winter storms, the forecast track moved closer and closer with each run. I was prepared for up to a foot, but we were a few inches short. This is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to forecasting winter storms and snow accumulation. Either the forecast starts high and goes down or it starts low and goes up and up and up. That’s what happened here, and I doubt it will be the last time that happens this season.

Nonetheless, I felt I needed to photograph the storm and its aftermath for posterity. Below is a photographic timeline from the latter half of the storm to the day after:

January 7, 3:35 PM:
mc10717001a

3:36 PM:
mc10717002a

mc10717003a

mc10717005a

3:45 PM:
mc10717007a

9:09 PM, after shoveling:
mc10717010-1a

Snow was tapering off, but still accumulating. I chose to shovel anyway and shovel new accumulation in the morning.

mc10717012a

January 8, 11:04 AM, after additional shoveling:
mc10817001-1a

mc10817002a

mc10817003a

11:08 AM:
mc10817005a

11:13 AM:
mc10817008-1a

mc10817010a

mc10817012a

2:05 PM, after my mother shoveled what was underneath her car and my father’s car:
mc10817013a

mc10817015a

mc10817017a

As I type, milder temperatures are forecast for the next few days with rain coming tonight into tomorrow; perfect melting weather. Until the next snowstorm…

10 years of weight loss and maintenance January 2, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Food, Health, Personal.
add a comment

The mid-2000s were an unhealthy period of my life. I repeatedly indulged in desserts and dinners. I went from normal weight to overweight to obese. I surpassed 200 pounds late in 2004 and climbed all the way to 233.4 when I stepped on the scale on the morning of January 2, 2007, ten years ago today. By then, even my size 42 pants were too small. Enough was enough. I vowed to go on a diet. My goal was 160 pounds.

This diet required a lot of discipline, going for long periods between meals, and limiting myself to under 2,000 calories. I had a little over 2,000 calories on January 2, but the days that followed saw my daily calories drop to 1,600. A typical day began at noon with an Atkins bar, which was 240 calories at the time. A few hours later, I would eat a can of Progresso soup, either Hearty Chicken and Rotini or Homestyle Chicken. At the time, both were 200 calories. An hour or two after that, I ate two cups of Ronzoni Ziti Rigati with 1/2 cup of Ragu Traditional or Meat Sauce and four teaspoons of Kraft Parmesan Cheese. For dessert, which came after another hour or two, I ate three 100 calorie packs of Pringles or Sun Chips. Eventually, those would be phased out in favor of either Special K vanilla or chocolate bars that were 90 calories each, and then Quaker Chewy Granola Bars that were 100 calories each.

Besides eating, I also made an effort to walk daily with the aid of a step counter that I attached to my belt. In my hour-long walks, I averaged around 6,000 steps.

While on my diet, I skipped Easter and Passover dinners, adhering to my routine. When I was in Florida in March to see the PGA Tour’s PODS Championship (now, the Valspar Championship) at Innisbrook Resort, where my grandparents lived, I stuck to my eating routine. My grandpa Carmen was nice enough to buy the foods that I ate daily for the four days I was down there. A few days before the trip, I fell below 200 pounds. By March 30, I broke 190. On April 27, I broke 180. I was below 170 on May 18.

I reached my goal of 160 pounds on June 16, and my body fat was below 20%, but I was not ready to stop. I continued my diet, falling below 150 pounds on July 24 and breaking 140 on September 7. I had lost 93 pounds in eight months!

I added calories to my daily intake, remaining below 2,000 per day until October 10.

In the following months, my weight hovered in the mid-to-upper 130s. My lowest weight was 134 on April 25, 2008, a day which also saw my lowest body fat: 11.7%. My body fat would hover within 12% (varying tenths of a point), occasionally breaking 13%.

Throughout my diet, I took selfies, though not in the common way, to document my progress. Here are those selfies, all from 2007:

January 30: 215.2 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
February 19: 205.6 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
March 5: 199.8 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
March 30: 189.2 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
April 20: 180.8 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
May 9: 173.6 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

May 29: 165 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

June 16: 160 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

July 3: 155.6 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

July 16: 152 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

August 3: 147.6 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

August 26: 142 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

October 1: 137.4 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

October 28: 135.8 lbs.:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was still able to maintain my weight for the first half of 2009, but my body fat was regularly within 13% by this time.

Unfortunately, the second half of 2009 marked the beginning of my regain. At first, I was able to keep my weight in the low 140s, occasionally reaching the upper 130s. But by the summer of 2010, I was averaging mid-to-upper 140s. By late 2011, I was averaging the low-to-mid 150s.

After Hurricane Sandy, I had reached the upper 160s to low 170s, where I remained until August 27, 2013. That day, I weighed 173.2 pounds and vowed to begin a new diet. The weight loss was slow at first, but I was down 12 pounds on December 23. Unfortunately, Christmastime dinners and desserts followed. Eventually, I was able to find an under-2,000-calorie routine and stick with it most of the time. There were days where I faltered, but not many. I had broken 160 pounds a few times between January and March 2014, but always came back above 160. That changed after March 16. I have not been 160 or above since. I haven’t been 150 or above since June 29, 2014. I fell through the 140s thereafter. I went below 140 pounds several days between September and December, but no lower than 138.8 on two days in October. I otherwise hovered in the low 140s, except for two days after Thanksgiving when I topped out at 146.

I remained below 140 pounds between June 2015 and January 2016, even breaking 130 several times in October and November. After peaking at 144 pounds in early June 2016, I fell back below 140 by mid-June. I was able to hover in the low 130s starting in mid-July, with body fat staying within 11%, but Christmastime eating has put me in the mid-130s and increased my body fat to around 13%. That’s where I stand as of this post.

What helped me lose my weight the second time around time was running, rather than walking the first time, with the help of the Nike+ Running (now Nike+ Run Club) app on my iPhone. Between May 2013 and May 2015, I opted to run and walk. But then, I challenged myself to only run. If I needed to rest, I would stop, and the app would pause. My early runs were around three miles, then four, then five. Nowadays, I’ll run up around 7 1/2 miles, running above eight miles on a few occasions. My average pace has gone from around 15 minutes a mile, when I started, to between 7:30 and 8 minutes per mile today. From spring to fall, I ran outdoors, but I opted for the treadmill in the winter. So far this winter, I’ve continued to run outdoors. In April 2016, I began stretching before each run, something I should have done all along. I seldom experience stiffness thanks to those stretches. Friends say I should run in a 5K, 10K, or higher, but for now, I feel more comfortable running on my own, setting and achieving goals. In the early days, my goal was 80 miles a month. These days, I like to run at least 100 miles a month. It’s even more satisfying when I reach 130 or 140 miles. My first month above 130 miles was September 2015. In September 2016, I broke 140 miles. And just last month, I broke 150 miles. That’s high enough for me; I don’t want to overdo it.

Since August, my eating routine consists of a protein bar, almonds, Progresso soup, pasta, and six graham crackers. That’s around 2,000 calories. There are days when I’ll break that routine, which I hope will be few and far between in the months ahead.

If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, I wish you luck. Thanks for reading. I’ll leave you with a second diet before picture from August 2013 at Planting Fields Arboretum…
mc81113099-2

…and an after picture from October 2016 during my live WCWP Homecoming Weekend radio show:
mc100716008a