Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Miami Beach 'Montauk' Monster washes ashore in Old Lyme, CT

This unidentified specimen was discovered January 11, 2016 in Old Lyme, CT

Edit: First named after the Montauk Monster, this new creature's legend shall live on its own rite and heretofore shall be dubbed The Miami Beach Monster!

This is a bit of an odd topic for this blog but seems worth writing nonetheless. My wife and I are between homes right now and have been renting in the beautiful Hawk's Nest Beach in Old Lyme, CT.

It's been an unseasonably warm winter this year and much has been said about the effects of El Niño. I happen to be a climate change believer (are there any left who aren't?) and think the effects of El Niño are compounded by the changing climate caused by manmade activities. Either way, it is obviously a warmer winter to this point. Last year in this climate, things were a bit delayed as well.

Sunrise on Sound View Beach - Old Lyme, CT
Sunrise on Sound View Beach
Old Lyme, CT
As a result of being between homes and living by the Long Island Sound, we've been spending a lot of time walking on the beach. Coastal Connecticut is absolutely gorgeous and many people from the nearby cities of New York, Boston and Hartford have summer homes here.

Each morning I've enjoyed taking our dog for a walk on the empty beach, watching the sunrise and looking for treasures that the tides may have brought to the shores. We have a growing collection of shells, smoothly polished stones and beautifully-etched sea glass.

But what I happened upon the brisk morning of January 11, 2016 is anyone's guess. It was an unusual morning on the beach, as a higher than normal tide overnight was caused by a storm the day prior. The freshly-smoothed sand rose much higher on the beach and with it was, frankly, a lot of garbage. I spotted children's beach toys, tangles of monofilament line, a plethora of plastic bottle caps and water bottles, glass beer bottles and soda cans in varying stages of decay.

This was not the worst of it, however. Peeking out of the sand was this beast. Measuring about 18"-20" in length with fierce fangs and claws, this monster had washed up overnight.

I showed the photos to a friend, Pete Garvin, who has lived in the area for years and he quickly identified this as similar to the Montauk Monster, first spotted in 2008. Unfamiliar with this legend, I did some research and I guess that turned out to be a raccoon... In 2012 the Brooklyn Bridge Monster was found. The folklore and the legend live on in 2016 with this latest sighting, the Miami Beach Monster!

WHAT IS THIS?!

Miami Beach Monster Characteristics:
  • Wispy white tail like a badger or skunk
  • Fangs like a bear or a fisher cat
  • Claws like a badger or bear
  • About 18"-20" in length

In case folks are worried about this rotting away on the beach, I did take the proper steps of calling the officials to remove it. The DEEP's website suggested contacting the town's Public Works department and so I did. As of yesterday evening, January 12, 2016, this specimen has been removed from the beach and we may just never know what it is!

Additional Photos:


For fun, I sent the photos to WFSB, who posted them online and on their Facebook page.

News Coverage:


Remember this creature we showed you yesterday? Well Kevin P. Hogan WFSB did some digging today and has some answers for...
Posted by WFSB - Channel 3 Eyewitness News on Wednesday, January 13, 2016

WHAT IS THIS? A viewer sent us photos of a strange creature that washed up on the beach in Old Lyme over the weekend. See more photos here --> http://tinyurl.com/joj3m95
Posted by WFSB - Channel 3 Eyewitness News on Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Monday, September 28, 2015

Chasing Ice

If there are still any climate change skeptics out there, I highly recommend a documentary called Chasing Ice. It's the story of a National Geographic photographer James Balog who captured hundreds of thousands of images over a span of 3 years from 25 cameras mounted in extreme conditions around glaciers in the northern hemisphere. The purpose? To create time lapse videos that put a visual to the retreating glaciers that are indicative of a changing climate and ultimately contributing to sea level rise that scientists have been predicting for years. Not everyone responds to data. The imagery is undeniable.

Watch James talk about the film here: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/james-balog-chasing-ice-vin

Now, he's set up 8 time lapse cameras in Antarctica to see what's happening at the South Pole.

Just like the video of NFL player Ray Rice punching his then fiancé in the face in an Atlantic City casino elevator - the visual evidence is a metaphorical punch in the gut. You need to see this to better understand the changes that are happening beyond the focus of our daily lives.

I'm late to the party on this. Chasing Ice came out in 2012. Who knows how much more has changed since then. Please check it out, it's on Netflix and is a little over an hour long - well worth the time.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Pancake Recipe


Perfect recipe for a fall breakfast!

Ingredients


2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 pinch ground clove
1 tbsp honey (alternate: 2 tsp organic cane sugar)
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1-3/4 cup 2% milk
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 cup canned pumpkin purée


Yields


16-20 4" diameter pancakes


Steps


  1. Whisk together dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Form a well, or indentation in the middle and set aside.
  2. Lightly beat the eggs and then combine with honey, milk and coconut oil. Pour into the mixing bowl and lightly stir everything together while folding in the pumpkin purée.
  3. Over medium heat, lightly grease a griddle or frying pan with coconut oil, being careful to watch for the pan getting too hot. It is ready for batter when dripped water quickly splits apart.
  4. Ladle the batter into whatever size pancakes you'd like to make. Optional: toss milk chocolate chips into the batter after it is on the pan.
  5. Watch for bubbles on the top surface, flip to cook the other side.
  6. If desired, drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy!


Notes

To save time in the morning, mix dry ingredients and store overnight in an airtight container.

Monday, February 16, 2015

NASA warning of 'megadroughts' coming to USA

As everyone is aware, it is snowing a lot in the Northeast this winter. The pictures coming out of Boston, MA are pretty much unbelievable.

This, of course, has many folks joking about climate change being a farce. Queue the "Al Gore is fat" jokes from this crowd.

That said, snow melts. New England will deal with it. It's a mess, but it ultimately takes care of itself.

Unless we can learn to economically desalinate ocean water, I'm not sure how the Western half of the United States is going to deal with this.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/14/us/nasa-study-western-megadrought/index.html

It's surprising that anyone jokes about any of this any more. Or that politicians haggle over whether or not they 'agree' with scientists. I don't know when scientific evidence became a thing to 'decide' about whether or not to 'believe'.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanks For Giving Thanks

Let me get this straight.

On the third Thursday of every November, we sit around a glorious feast and speak our thanks for the friends and family with whom we share it. We mention those no longer with us and discuss our gratitude for the armed services. We take some time to reflect on life and enjoy each others' company.

Or do we?

This year, we cut our meals short and scrambled out to snap up the Thursday door busters because Black Friday has spilled over into Black Thursday. But really Black Friday deals started online Wednesday. When the real Black Friday rolls around, at 2:00am, we dash out to beat the crowds but lines have already formed. Chaos ensues and at the end of the day we have a car full of great bargains and possibly some bruises.

Small Business Saturday is lost in the shuffle because Black Friday deals are still available (*while supplies last), and also Cyber Monday starts on Sunday. But it’s not Cyber Monday anymore, it's now Cyber Week.

On Cyber Monday, all the brick and mortar stores have re-branded their Black Friday deals to be Cyber Monday specials and nobody has any idea if they have indeed gotten the best deals or not.

Then, Giving Tuesday rolls around. A day meant to donate to organizations who are trying to do good in the world. But by now, we are exhausted from all the hunting for bargains, we question our sanity, and hate our society because this type of stampeding for extra deep discounts brings out the absolute worst in people, and we have no money left because we’ve spent it all on material possessions we probably didn’t need but couldn’t pass up.

So, were our words spoken on Thursday all for naught? Were they real?

How about if Giving Tuesday moves to Thanksgiving Thursday, spills into Friday, coincides with Small Business Saturday, and then takes over Cyber Week. That way, we’ll pre-spend our money on doing good in the world, have less to spend on stuff we don’t need, and don’t have to leave the dinner table.

Now, please pass the pie!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

iOS7

I've never claimed NOT to be an Apple diehard. I've been using Apple products since I was in elementary school and have never personally purchased any computer that was not natively running an Apple operating system.

When it comes to the iPhone, it took me a few years to get on board. Due to the lack of availability on my provider's network at the time it first came out, I was not an early adopter of the iPhone but whoooey did I want one badly.

That said, I was one of the masses who pre-ordered the iPhone 4 when Verizon first started carrying it in early 2011. Fast forward to October 2013 and that very same phone is still with me. I'm well past my available 18-month upgrade pricing to get a new phone but have yet to feel the need to upgrade to the iPhone 4S or the iPhone 5. My phone works fine, has a decent camera, and aside from slowing down because I've clogged it up with apps and photos, there is no reason to get a new one.

Recently, Apple unveiled iOS7 and the new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.

What does any of this have to do with the premise of this blog, you're asking? At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I'll continue.

When iOS7 was announced as a free upgrade, and supported on the iPhone 4, of course I was excited. As an Apple diehard, I'd followed one of the live bloggers from the Apple event and was intrigued by all the new bells and whistles.

Fast forward to a month after upgrading and I wish I could pay to downgrade. If you have an iPhone 4 and have not upgraded to iOS7, don't.

Today is 10/24/13 and "Today"
has been clicked. The date is selected
but is off the screen on my iPhone 4.
Clearly designed for the larger
screen of the iPhone 5.
Does it run? Sure. Does it have all the new bells and whistles? I guess. It's hard to tell when I'm waiting longer for apps to open, have all kinds of problems with iMessage, Facebook won't even load anything, and sometimes my phone just decides not to be connected to the internet anymore. It looks like it is, but it's not. I've even noticed a view of the Calendar that is clearly designed for the larger screen of the iPhone 5 (see photo at right). IOS7 is plagued by bad UI/UX and my experience thus far with it on my device that's a few years old really tells me something, and this is what ties this post back to this blog.

Amidst Apple discontinuing the iPhone 4 and 5, leaving just the 4S (free with upgrade pricing), 5C (new) and 5S (new), they had to find a way to get people like me to upgrade their hardware. I fall into the category of people (in Apple's eyes) who can afford to upgrade and they need me to because they are losing market share to the plethora of Android devices. The problem they face is that I didn't (key word) NEED to upgrade. As I stated before my iPhone 4 is in perfect working condition.

Heck I still have (among about 5 other iPods that have come and gone from my life) an original iPod Touch that is perfectly serviceable as a music and video playing device, for Pandora, etc. what Apple never did to me with that device was to offer an iOS upgrade that rendered it useless - instead whatever iOS version that came out at that time was simply not supported on the device and it would not let me upgrade if I tried. Thank you for that, Apple!

Long story short, I believe that Apple intentionally allowed the iPhone 4 to run iOS7 so that enough of us suckers would upgrade (for FREE! aren't they nice?!) and have a bad enough experience with it that we would finally give in and buy a new phone. It's been well established on this blog how I feel about waste in today's society, and this whole theory of mine highlights the mindset that seemingly will never stop... That we have to constantly upgrade our stuff for the purpose of keeping the economy going, at the expense of the environmental implications of all these iPhone 4 devices that were otherwise perfectly fine and the environmental and personal cost of all these iPhone 5 devices that will offset them. It's the whole concept of buying a car, maintaining it, and keeping it for years and years until it won't run anymore vs. leasing and getting a new car every few years. There are so many implications of the production of that new car every 3 years that far outweigh any slight gain in fuel economy.

I'm a 'buy it, care for it, and use it for a long time' kinda guy. And I don't appreciate my friends at Apple forcing me into a different mindset with my now sluggish iPhone 4.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nissan Leaf...Reserved

June 16th, 2010... The day I reserved my Nissan Leaf.



About two years ago (and two years after we bought our Prius) I vowed that my next car would be fully electric. Back then I figured it would be a plug-in Prius, or something else from Toyota. After all, they lead the way in hybrid technology.

Gotta admit, before the Leaf, I never even considered buying a Nissan. Why the change? Well because the Leaf is the first fully electric car for the masses. Skeptics will argue about the longevity of the battery life. Or that 100 miles in a single charge is not far enough. After all the $100k Tesla Roadster goes 245 miles per charge.

We don't have that kind of dough in my family. In fact the Leaf, admittedly, is a bit of a stretch too. But I fully believe that to see the world change in the ways that my wife and I want to see it change, takes sacrifices. It's not cheap to go solar and it's a risky move to buy the first mass-produced electric car. But heck, we only live once and why not take a chance on something new. Revolutionary. I can't wait for the day that I am plugging my car into an outlet whose electricity is produced by the solar panels in the back yard.

Toyota affected serious change with the Prius and I applaud them for seeing a niche and going after it with gusto. Next time you are driving around, count how many hybrid vehicles you can find. Every major automaker has at least one model.

Will more electric cars come out with longer ranges than the Leaf? I sure hope so!! With China set to have 200 million cars on the road in the next decade, I can only hope that before long, I can't drive anywhere without seeing hoards of clean, quiet electric vehicles.