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Guest reading at my old elementary school a fourth time March 5, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Books, DVD, Education, Personal, Photography, TV, Video, Weather.
4 comments

Previous guest reading posts: 20152016, 2017

Friday was March 2, Dr. Seuss‘s birthday, which meant it was time to read his books at Leo F. Giblyn School in Freeport. It was my fourth year as a guest reader. I finally learned what this day is commonly known as: National Read Across America Day.

I read to seven classrooms and two remedial reading classes. For the latter, which were taught by my friend Lori Downing, I read Green Eggs and Ham. As the other seven classes, I read The LoraxIf I Ran the ZooHop on PopDr. Seuss’s Sleep BookMr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, and Gerald McBoing Boing, the book that started my guest reading journey.

What separates me from other readers is I incorporate voice acting into my reading. I even take cartoon character requests. My throat grew scratchy after doing certain voices, but it was worth it to entertain the kids.

Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book has a newscast tone, so I read it like a news anchor. For The Lorax and the end of Green Eggs and Ham, I based my delivery on the acting in the 1970s CBS specials. Green Eggs and Ham was part of Dr. Seuss on the Loose in 1973 while The Lorax was a full half hour the year before. I first saw them on VHS in the late ’80s and then again on DVD about a decade ago.

As I read, I had the teachers take candid pictures. I combined those, and one Lori took of me, into a collage:

While I was inside Giblyn, a nor’easter was raging outside. A mix of rain and snow fell as coastal flooding affected streets around the school, at least in the morning at high tide. I didn’t grasp how bad the storm was until riding home and then arriving home. A few small tree limbs were in the driveway while a bigger one fell in my neighbor’s backyard. Power went out twice around 3PM, based on my mother’s DVR recording of General Hospital and the time flashing on the stove clock.

I may not be able to guest read next year. My South Florida-based cousin is getting married on March 2. If that’s the case, I had a nice four-year run with so many great memories.

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Audiobooking 2: Listen Up! November 12, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Basketball, Blu-ray, Christmas, Comedy, Commentary, DVD, Film, News, Personal, Politics, Sports, TV, Video.
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Early last December, I listed all the audiobooks I had listened to while working out between June and the day I wrote the post. I said “there [would] be more audiobooks to come in the weeks ahead.” This follow-up post will list those books, all of which I listened to on Audible.

Since my misadventure with Dick Cavett’s left-leaning book collection of New York Times blog posts, I’ve only listened to apolitical or right-leaning audiobooks.

From last December to now, here is what has guided me through workouts, bedtime, and boredom:

I have many more audiobooks I plan on listening to between now and the next post, whenever that will come. Just today, I started Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes’ book on Jack Kemp. It’s called Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America. After that, I’ll move on to the another Rush Revere book: Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner. Then, a series of autobiographies should keep me occupied through the summer. Until next time…

2014 WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony April 12, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in DVD, Interviews, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Technology, TV, Video.
6 comments

Previous Hall of Fame ceremony recaps: 2012, 2013
Later recaps: 2015, 2017, 2018

Last Saturday, the WCWP Hall of Fame welcomed four new inductees in a ceremony in the Goldsmith Atrium at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.  This year’s inductees were Rita Sands, Frank D’Elia, Ted David, and the late Bill Epperhart.

You can see videos of the ceremony at the end, but first, the pictures:

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Pete Bellotti welcomed the audience shortly after 1PM:
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Images from the intro video, voiced by Jim Cutler:
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The ceremony was hosted by Jeff Kroll:
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Bill Mozer assumed the co-host position:
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Rita Sands could not make it to the ceremony, and instead pre-recorded an interview with Bernie Bernard:
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Bernie:
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Bernie and Jeff posed with Rita’s plaque:
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The second inductee of the day was Frank D’Elia:
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The view from my camcorder:
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Frank receives his plaque:
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Like Rita, Ted David was unable to attend the ceremony.  But he did record an acceptance speech:
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Dan Cox, WCWP station manager, spoke next:
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Dan brought up ceremony audio engineer Zach Parker to share the news of a generous donation to WCWP by Zach’s father:
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Then, reflections of Bill Epperhart began.  Dan shared his memories first, then Frank, Bill Mozer, and Jeff joined in.

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Dan Epperhart, Bill’s son, accepted his father’s plaque:
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And gave an eloquent, emotional speech:
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Then, Jeff Kroll and Bill Mozer tossed to other alumni in the audience to share their memories:
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Phil Lebowitz was first:
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Then, Mike Phillips:
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Neil Marks:
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Bruce Leonard:
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Roberta Epperhart O’Neil, widow of Bill’s brother Mike:
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Pete Vogel, Bill’s cousin:
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The last stroll down memory was provided by Jay Elzweig:
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Jeff wrapped it up:
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The only thing left to do was pose for pictures:
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Ceremony Part 1:

Ceremony Part 2:

As you can see, this year’s WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony ended up running for a little over two hours.  Memories were shared and praise was heaped.  It was a day I won’t soon forget.  Congratulations to Rita Sands, Frank D’Elia, Ted David, and Bill Epperhart.

My Sandy experience November 10, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, DVD, Health, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Travel, TV, Weather.
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The nightmare known as Hurricane (or Superstorm) Sandy was thrust upon my attention on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 24, hours before seeing pianist David Benoit perform at the Iridium Jazz Club.  The first report I read about the storm had a few scenario options, which included turning east out to sea and taking a sharp westerly turn toward the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S and combine with an approaching cold front.  By the second report, the latter scenario became more likely.  With each passing report until it made landfall in South New Jersey on the evening of October 29, more and more models showed that worst case scenario.  And with each passing report, I grew more and more paranoid and fearful of what would happen.

Sandy was so large that its effects were first felt through cloud cover on Saturday, October 27.  The following day, October 28, showers and minor wind gusts began.  I couldn’t stand hearing the wind plowing into the windows and wall from my Wantagh home’s east-facing bedroom.  So, I slept in the basement that night.

When I woke up early on October 29, the worst still hadn’t arrived, but the wind was still strong, around 30 miles per hour with gusts in the 50s.  Somehow, the power did not go out during the morning.  But by 1:30 PM, the power began to flicker off and on.  And at 1:45, the power went out to stay and wouldn’t return until nine days later.  As the wind continued to howl upstairs, now approaching sustained winds of 45 mph with gusts to 60, back in the basement, I used my Sennheiser studio headphones to listen to audiobooks on my CD-playing Walkman.  But spoken words were unable to completely drown out the sound of wind.  So, rather than waste battery power on my iPod, I used the Walkman, which runs on AA batteries, to listen to music.  I took two pairs of CDs that I used for my two recent WCWP Homecoming Weekend shows and a dozen albums.  When I wasn’t listening to news radio for the latest on Sandy, or sports radio to forget about Sandy, I was listening to my CDs.

My parents, sister, and I were prepared with plenty of bottled water, bags of food, canned goods, AA batteries, C batteries, D batteries, and a generator.  We didn’t use the generator until after the height of Sandy, which came around 8PM, shortly after it transitioned to a post-tropical cyclone.  As the worst winds pummeled the house, gusting as high as 85 mph, we congregated in the living room where an extension cord ran from the generator in the back yard to the middle of the room.  There, I plugged in a power strip and we plugged in a table lamp for light, and all our rechargeable electronics.  For a little while, we watched DVDs on my sister’s laptop.  After a couple of hours, my dad turned the generator off and we all went to sleep.  I returned to the basement for that.

Outside of a tree falling in my next-block neighbor’s back yard, two shingles falling off our roof, a toppled-over garbage pail on the side of the house, and branches and leaves on the grass, I was clueless as to the extent of damage in my area.  But a tree fell a block east of our house, which is why our power went out, and a few trees fell one block north and west.

At around 11AM on October 30, I walked around the exterior of my house to take aftermath pictures.

I began at my front patio worked my way around the house and then to the curb:

The pails on the west side of the house:

I fixed the pail that blew over about a half hour before taking pictures.

The container that covered the gas cans for generator fuel blew off:

When the power strip wasn’t connected to the extension cord, either the microwave or coffee maker were plugged in.

I turned this table upside down on Sunday and removed the tiles, stacking them on the ground near the wall:

The tile-less table was moved slightly by the high winds.

There had been a tree in the center of this empty space:

Part of it fell into our back yard:

Or it may have been from this tree which fell at around 6:00 the night before:

I was in the basement listening to a CD on my Walkman and could hear my dad in the kitchen saying “Tree down!”

You can barely see a tree down up the road to the east:

To the west, a utility poll was slanted (not visible in pic):

A week later, my sister took the following pictures on our street from east to west:

But the absolute worst hit areas were waterfront communities.  Main floors and basements were destroyed.  House and building fires that started after flooding began couldn’t be contained and had to burn out.  Knowing all this gave me survivor guilt.  I felt guilty that my house was hardly damaged and all I lost was power, while my friends in places like South Freeport, Baldwin Harbor, Island Park, Long Beach, Lido Beach, and Massapequa lost everything that wasn’t on the second floor or higher.  The Rockaways and Staten Island were hit just as hard.

An example of how hard Freeport was hit can be seen in this video of damage to the Nautical Mile (Woodcleft Avenue), via The Weekly Freeporter YouTube channel:

Guilt aside, I developed cabin fever after two days at my powerless house (outside of generated power).  So, on the night of Halloween, after riding out Tuesday night in my increasingly cold bedroom, I made the trip to a family friend’s house in Rockville Centre (power had just returned after only two days).  I went on to spend the next week there while power was out at home.  Of all the times for power to come back, on the afternoon of November 7, it was as a wet snow-producing nor’easter began to affect the Northeast.  But unlike Sandy, the center of this nor’easter was far offshore and the winds were not very strong on Western Long Island.  Somehow, the wet snow bent but did not break tree limbs and it gradually melted or fell off the following day.

While power returned on November 7, cable did not come back until two days later.

After experiencing the March 2010 Nor’easter, Irene, and now Sandy, I can only hope that it’s a very long time before another major storm of Sandy’s magnitude hits the East Coast.

We’ll conclude this post with a few pictures in Rockville Centre on November 7 as snow began to accumulate…

…and a picture on November 8, hours after shoveling the driveway at home:

Also:
Laura Donovan: The Domino Effect Of Hurricane Sandy: Why One Natural Disaster Changed Everything For Me
Peter Hoare: How Hurricane Sandy Ravaged My Town (Long Beach)

11/13 UPDATE: Yesterday, I walked my street from east to west to get a close look at the cut-up downed trees, and the damage caused by them:

As I took this last shot, Town of Hempstead sanitation trucks were making the way up the street to remove debris:

Irene, Five Days in Freeport September 8, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, DVD, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Radio, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
6 comments

After 26 years of barely missing hurricanes, or at least direct hits, Long Island’s luck ran out last weekend.

On a Friday afternoon, September 27, 1985, Hurricane Gloria, a fast-moving Category 2, made landfall near Long Beach.  25 years and 11 months later, it was Irene’s turn.  Though Hurricane Irene was barely a Category 1 when it made landfall on Coney Island last Sunday morning (immediately weakening to a tropical storm), it wasn’t moving as fast as Gloria and it came during high tide rather than low tide.  The south shore of Long Island got pounded.  Over 500,000 Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) customers, including myself, were without power at the height of the storm.  Either giant limbs or uprooted trees fell on power lines or transformers caught fire.  I lost power at 1:30 AM Sunday because of the latter.  (Also, the sub-station in Plainedge that we were linked to was badly damaged.)

I prepared my bedroom for the worst by covering up some belongings, including CDs, and putting them on the floor:

I spent Saturday night and much of Sunday in the basement and on the main floor, only going to the top floor in the afternoon to take a [cold!] shower.  While preparing my room on Saturday, I found a lucky rabbit’s foot.  I kept it close by or in my shorts pocket.

I don’t know if the rabbit’s foot was the cause, but our house was spared.  The only damage for us was smaller branches and twigs, and leaves falling around the house.  I took these pictures Monday morning in the front and back yards under a partly-to-mostly sunny sky:

I put everything I had put on the floor back where they were before on Sunday night.  This picture was also taken Monday morning:

More pics from Monday near my house:

I stayed home without power until Monday afternoon when a family friend in Freeport was nice enough to let me stay with them until power was restored at my house.  Villages like Freeport that have their own utilities didn’t lose power for long.  If only that were the case for LIPA customers.  Some didn’t get it back until early this week.  I got it back 3:30 PM Friday.  The family friend was without FiOS (for reasons I won’t get into), so I was stuck with radio, wireless internet (on my laptop), and mobile web (on my cell phone).  I also passed the time by going for walks, listening to music on my iPod, and playing video games.  I hadn’t played Game Boy or Game Boy Advance games in ages until last week.  I brought my camera on one of those walks and stopped by my late grandparents’ old house and Cow Meadow Park (swatting mosquitoes along the way):

Before getting to the old house and Cow Meadow, I saw a sad sight walking up the block where the friend lives.  Curbs on both sides of the street had flood-damaged carpeting, couches, and appliances waiting to be picked up.  I used to live in southwest Freeport.  So, I know what it’s like to get flooding from the bay in the bottom floor of the house.  I got that during the aforementioned Gloria, and Nor’easters in December 1992 and March 1993.  Within months of those last two storms, I had moved to a part of Wantagh that’s a few miles inland.

Back at the friend’s house, she had the complete run of I Love Lucy on DVD.  I got into that show years ago when it was on Nick at Nite.  My love for it was rekindled.  I watched the latter seasons while the friend had them on.

The ride home late Friday afternoon was great.  I knew I’d be returning home to electricity and cable, albeit with an empty refrigerator.  Before leaving, I thanked the family friend for putting up with me for five days.  I returned the favor this Tuesday when I stayed at her house while she was at work to be present for a Cablevision technician to install their services–iO, Optimum Online, Optimum Voice–in place of Verizon’s–phone, FiOS internet, FiOS TV.

Three footnotes:
1. As I type this post, Hurricane Katia is about to turn northeast and move away from the U.S. East Coast.  Good.
2. There were plenty of columns and blog posts in Irene’s aftermath that downplayed the storm and/or reprimanding the media for overhyping it.  Many media did overhype it, but damage is damage.  Downed trees are nothing compared to massive flo0ding, whether from storm surge or rivers overflowing from nonstop rain.  Residents of New Jersey, Eastern New York State, and Vermont are among those that got the latter.  And the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee in the last few days have only added to the flooding.
3. I stumbled upon a blog post that offers the Washington, D.C. area perspective.  It’s written by freelance writer Kristine Meldrum Denholm: How I’ve dodged the demise of the east coast, part II: Goodnight, Irene.  There was minimal damage in her neighborhood and she never lost power.  Kristine is not alone.  My neighbors two houses to the west of me never lost power, neither did my piano teacher in Freeport.
4. Yet another link: Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean summed up Irene at her blog last Monday.

9/27 UPDATE: It’s hard to believe that tomorrow will mark one month since Irene made landfall here.  And as I noted at the top, Hurricane Gloria whizzed (compared to the slower Irene) through Long Island 26 years ago today.  Since I wrote this post a few weeks ago, a few more Atlantic tropical cyclones have formed and none have directly impacted the U.S.  (Knock on wood.)  In checking the August archives at the website Johnny Dollar’s Place, I found an interview John Gibson did with Janice Dean on his Fox News Radio show.  It took place on August 29, the day after landfall:

12/30 UPDATE: Irene was the #1 tri-state area news story in WCBS 880’s countdown of the top 11 stories of 2011:

… But Sunday morning, August 28, we knew the caution was called for.

Irene swept ashore in Brigantine, battered New Jersey, then crossed Coney Island at 9 a.m. on a path for New England.

Throughout its path, Irene caused widespread destruction, left millions without power and killed 56 people.

“We are now into day three of no electricity for hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders,” reported WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. …

Even with all that Irene turned out not to have been a hurricane when it hit our area.

Okay, fine, it wasn’t a hurricane.  It was Tropical Storm Irene.  It might as well have been a category 1 hurricane because it moved slow enough to cause the same amount of damage.

You can read and listen to the rest here.

Home video projects July 1, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in DVD, Personal, Video.
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Last Fall, I captured old home videos of mine to my computer through Windows Movie Maker as AVI files.  The videos were shot between 1994 and 2007.  Unfortunately, WMM captures AVIs with 32 kHz audio rather than 48.  So, for the last week and a half, I’ve been re-rendering those AVI files in the 48 kHz format.  It’s a good thing I have Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 10 (yes, a long name).  I went through each of the 30 VHS tapes, 40 VHS-C masters, and 12 MiniDV masters one at a time.  I imported them into Vegas, Vegas built a 48 kHz audio proxy, I normalized the audio, and rendered.  That took me from last Tuesday through this Monday.  I didn’t stop there.  I captured many MiniDV tapes that I didn’t officially consider home videos.  This included:

  • Video of my late chocolate lab Cocoa
  • A final project I made for a video production class in my last semester at C.W. Post
  • Raw video (most not used) of my senior project, a documentary interview with Joe Falco, a now-retired FDNY firefighter who survived the collapse of the World Trade Center’s South Tower
  • The finished senior project
  • An updated version of the senior project that I made two years after graduating
  • Converted VHS tapes of car video brochures between 1994 and 1998 (I was obsessed with cars at the time and collected printed and video brochures.)

As I write this post, I’m preparing DVDs of my late grandparents’ home movies that I remastered last Fall.  The program I’m using is Sony DVD Architect Studio 5, which came with Vegas 10.