Saturday, December 29, 2012

Historivia 101

Who did this rather elfin-looking baby (born in November, 1890) grow up to be? I think you will be surprised. The answer is below, although I did take the precaution of using 128-bit AES encryption.

Answer: U2FsdGVkX18AHnwRXpHul0QvyPKXBELDpvXxaoSju/M6zmbMxwgA4YqT3IUsUvUO

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Penguin Eggs

A few weeks ago I was telling a story about traveling in Scotland, and how I found myself in Inverness. The Youth Hostel had a notice for the 'Inverness Folk Music Club', so I went to check it out. The feature that night was Nic Jones, an English Folksinger with an incredible voice and guitar technique. I bought a copy of his album, and wound up hitchhiking back to England carrying an LP. (I still have it--it's called 'Penguin Eggs, and features several Australian Whaling songs, along with a number of traditional tunes.) Every time I hear the opening chords of 'Canadee-i-o', the first song on that Album, the hairs on the back of my neck rise....

(From the Book of Faces, December 11, 2012 - Thank you, The Story Space.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Brigham Young

I've gone past the Brigham Young Monument in Southern Vermont numerous times, while riding my bike  from Rowe Camp out to Harriman Reservoir and back. It marks his birthplace, and is on the top of a really steep hill. The view is of woods and hills, followed by more hills, and it's quite a ways down to Whitingham, the nearest town. I can see why he wanted to get out and go somewhere else. (Click on photo to see a larger version.)

(Some people like to believe that the last two words in the Inscription above are a veiled reference to the 56 children he had with 16 different wives.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Strangest Person

(From the Book of Faces, December 7, 2012 - Thank you, Laura Packer, and Bella Vida by Letty):
This poster is beautiful and touching. But, somebody has to be the strangest person in the world...which leads to an interesting question. Imagine if there was a Royal Commission, or Quadrennial Contest, to determine just who the Strangest Person in the World was. Would having it be made official lessen the pain for that person, or make it even worse? Would the notoriety and exploitative job offers be any compensation, or would it just be twisting the knife in the wound?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Do you love Christmas?

Do you love, love, love it? Want to celebrate it year-round? Find yourself stringing more and more lights every year? Have you watched every single movie version of "A Christmas Carol", and wish they'd show them all the time? Do you know the dialogue to "It's A Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story" by heart? Are you thinking about moving even further North, so you'll have a plausible excuse for wearing those Holiday Sweaters?

Do you love Christmas, and yet, oddly enough, find yourself celebrating the Holidays alone? Now there's Kringle Mingle, the online Dating Service just for you. And, if you're actually good-looking, and/or have an unusually large head, we may even use you in one of our Commercials! Don't delay, join today--and get a free Santa Hat just for applying!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tax Exemption

It's Election Day, just came back from voting. And I said "Yes" to Question 12, which demands that, "Even if all other tax loopholes are closed, so as to balance the budget, there remain an exemption for Flying Cars, Jetpacks, and any other kind of personal Airship".

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Beyond Butt Dialing

First bike ride of the Post-Superstorm Sandy, no-more-Indian-Summer Season. Temp in the upper 40's, but very windy. Did 52 miles, Beverly-Ipswich-Newburyport, Rowley-Byfield-Georgetown-Boxford, etc. Then was trying to make a cellphone call, only to discover that I had done something an order of magnitude beyond Butt Dialing--I had somehow "Butt-Added a Speed Dial Number". Back home, I was going through the Phone Manual when I ran across this helpful piece of advice: "Don't try to dry your phone in a Microwave Oven".

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Indian Summer

Since it is such a rainy day today, with the weather only expected to get worse, I thought I'd post some true Indian Summer pics from a recent jaunt up to York and York Beach, ME. (Click on any photo to see larger versions.)

Causeway to the Steadman Island Preserve.

The famous "Wiggily Bridge" at the end of the Causeway, close up (not my photo). It's a mini-suspension bridge that is not anchored at the ends.

Looking past tidal flats up the York River.

Barrel Mill Pond (Tidal).

The Cliff Walk along the shore (Photo by hiddeninthecity.)

Indian Summer, cont.

After the Cliff Walk, I drove up through York Beach to Cape Neddick to see the historic Lighthouse. (Click on any photo to see larger versions.)

Cape Neddick Lighthouse, AKA the "Nubble Light".

The boxy white thing on the left is a tiny electric cablecar used to go back and forth to the Island.

More Cape Neddick.
The people sitting in this car were wondering why I wanted to take their picture. Notice the immature Seagull standing on the exact center of their roof rack.

Heading home on Rte. 1A. Somebody takes Halloween very seriously....

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Talking Whale

Beluga Whale named Noc mimics human speech:

When the New England Aquarium in Boston had an open seal tank in front, there was a harbor seal named Hoover that could talk. He sounded just like an old homeless guy--guess that's who had the patience to sit and talk to a seal. Heard him talk a number of times, it was pretty amazing.

Monday, October 22, 2012


For people who are busy inside, or are in another part of the Country:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Last Outdoor Swim of 2012

Probably the last outdoor swim for the year. Biked out through Lexington and Concord to Walden Pond, and went for a half mile swim. Woo-hoo, it was cold! It's nice, though, that they bring busloads of Tourists out to peep at the leaves, not to mention gawking at us crazy New Englanders who are still swimming outside in late October.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pumpkin Breaks 4 Minute Mile

Breaking news from New England: Pumpkin breaks the "Four-Minute Mile" of competitive vegetable husbandry. Yesterday, at the Topsfield Fair, a giant pumpkin grown by Ron Wallace of Greenwich, RI, set a new World's record--and broke the fabled "One Ton Barrier"--when it weighed-in at a whopping 2,009 lbs.

In other news, Boston Attorney Mitchell Garabedian has been retained by an anonymous "prize-winning vegetable". Garabedian is reportedly suing a Rhode Island "Grower" for an unspecified amount, for inflicting "a ton of physical and emotional abuse" on his client.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Swimming in the Shadow

It's been pouring rain here all day today, so I am glad that I went for a swim yesterday at Walden Pond. Was sitting on the wall, reading and soaking up the sunshine, so I got into the water on the late side. The water was quite chilly at first, and the setting Sun was directly in my eyes. So, I kept my eyes aimed downwards, towards the water, or kept them closed when I came up for air. (Whenever I swim with my eyes closed, I wind up unconsciously swimming in the direction of the Sun anyway, so I guess that makes me a Heliotropic organism.)

Once I got close to the back end of the pond, I was in the shadow of the trees, and did not have to look down or keep my eyes closed. But when I turned around and headed back, I realized that it was taking me a long, long time to get out of the shadow. I was in a cosmic race--could I swim faster than the sun was sinking?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gourds Gone Wild

'nuff said

(From the Book of Faces, September 25, 2012 - Thank you, Anne Crockett, and Gypsys Melting Pot)

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Future of Publishing

You can only keep up with so many magazines; and as today's Pluggers cartoon points out, as people age, their health concerns will edge out other interests. Obviously, the future of Publishing lies in producing multi-topic periodicals tailored to the subscriber's ailments as well as their interests. Herewith are some suggestions:
  • Better Homes & Gastritis,
  • Car and Diverticulitis,
  • Christian Science Heart Monitor,
  • Country Living Will,
  • Field & urineStream,
  • Guns & Amniocentesis,
  • Martha Stewart Assisted Living,
  • Reader's Digestion,
  • Rolling Gallstone,
  • Southern Living with Arthritis, and
  • Women's Wear Dialysis.

Please feel free to add your own ideas, and together, we can save print publishing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


(From the Book of Faces, September 13, 2012 - Thank you, Laura Packer:)

Laura Packer: My pet cucumber. I don't know what you're thinking, and I don't want to know.

Michael D. Cohen: Perhaps we should set up a playdate with our little Rocky:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bobcat Scrapple

(From the Book of Faces, August 28, 2012 - Thank you, Laura Packer:)

Just lost an entire hour, reading XKCD, a Science-based, online cartoon by Randall Munroe.

Have come to two conclusions: a) I would follow a comic called Bobcat Scrapple v. the Jetpack Ferret Lawyers*, and b) there is definitely a connection to the Local area. This is just one example of Munroe's twisted genius:


*Read a few of them, and you'll see what I mean, or just go here: Trochee Fixation.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

International Beer Day

Tomorrow, August 5th, is the International Day of Beer. It's a little-known fact that the dude on the Sam Adams Label isn't Adams (he wasn't very good-looking), but P. Revere himself, taken from the John Singleton Copley Portrait. So go have a Beer with Paul Revere!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Torture Device

Yesterday, my bike seat was officially recognized as a Medieval Torture Device by the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). So, I improvised a new one, and then bravely set off for Walden Pond. It was, how shall I put this, still a pain in the ass. Below is Rev. 2, and yes, the Tape of the Ducks is a major binding agent. Off to Walden Pond again, hopefully with less distress.

LATER: Well, it's an improvement. Am just going by the seat of my pants here, but may still need to come up with Rev. 3....

Friday, July 20, 2012


If you see even one movie about Bacon this year, it might as well be this one. I hate to say this, but it makes Cinderella look like a Fairy Tale:

"Baconauts" - Hormel® Bacon Minute Films

In this thrilling science fiction drama, two brave baconauts land on a strange planet and make contact with an alien life form....


This was the (evening) view from our camping site. Dinner the first night was grilled corn on the cob, grilled swordfish steak, and a hand-made Greek salad. Desert was rice pudding & chocolate pudding (a little of each), plus a couple of TJ's coconut bon-bons. (Annie was too modest to list all of the food she made, but it was really good.) If there's one thing that Annie and I agree on, it's that we'll never starve....

 Found this bad boy on the side of our tent the next morning:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lake ChargoggaWhat?

Last week, Annie and I stopped at the Mobil Station next to this strip mall in Webster, MA. Right behind it is the Lake, which has one of the longest place names in the World. Here's the Town's official sign, with the full name on it:

(From the Book of Faces, June 17, 2012 - Thank you, Bunkosquad, for the top photo.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chimney Cap

The day before Memorial Day, I was out at Walden Pond, swimming; but on Memorial Day itself, I was up on the roof, installing a Chimney Cap.

It was a very hot day, and the roof tar was melting, and I was "schvitzing like a Chazer", and I really should have been back at Walden Pond, but I got it done. Swimming outside the day before was such a primal experience, it gave me the courage to go up there and do it.

In some ways, it really was a waste of a beautiful day, but then again, who wants to go up on the roof and risk their life on a crappy day?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Daddy Cool

(From the Book of Faces, June 6, 201:)

Brendyn Schneider:

I picked this up at "Happy Harold's" Discount Records in Toronto (1970?). The title did it for me. When I got home and heard it, I was blown away! It is hard to believe that it was written and produced by Bob Crewe, the same guy who wrote and produced "Silhouettes", "Sherry", "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore", and "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You". 

Michael D. Cohen: Holy Time Warp, Batperson! I didn't know that song, but I do know their song "Daddy Cool", thanks to the Australian band of the same name. I bought their album, "Daddy Who? Daddy Cool", circa 1973 at Robert's Music Store on Bank Street in New London, CT, and played it a lot. After graduation, my roommate Ken Baker, and his wife Connie, were recruited to teach in Australia. When they came back, they told me that the young lady who lived upstairs from them in Melbourne used to sneak out of her house when she was a teenager to go listen to that same band....

Brendyn Schneider: Yeah, The Rays were awesome. You should write a book, Mike.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

First Outdoor Swim

Woo-hoo! First outdoor swim of the season (that brief bout of bodysurfing back in March in La Jolla obviously not counting)! Biked out to Walden Pond this afternoon, and swam a mile, plus. Later, when I was biking back through the farms and open land in Lincoln, the air was so clear that it looked like pictures of the French Countryside before WW I.


Say you have a traditional Jewish mother, and she asks you to do something for her. If you were to say to her, "I can't right now, Ma, I'm texting", she'd probably reply, "Texting, shmexting!"

I don't know what Shmexting is yet, but it sounds like the next big thing. Anyone for a Start Up?

Friday, May 25, 2012


As Annie likes to say, skunks make wonderful, affectionate pets. But, they have to be descented first. This is expensive and, I think, leaves them defenseless. But what about genetically-modified skunks that could spray Clove or Cedarwood Oil? Either one would probably be a good deterrent, without ruining your backyard's ambiance. And the Cedarwood Oil would not just repel fleas and ticks, but actually kill them. So get to work, Mad Scientist guys.

Of course, the followup to this would be skunks with Designer Scents. You'd go over to someone's house, and they'd want to show you their new pet, "Lavender", or "Patchouli"....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Today's Trivia

Oddly enough, there are no Operas set during the Korean War. To make up for this, here are some suggestions (feel free to add your own):

Collina Cotoletta Porco,

Il Perimetero Pusano (featured aria, "MacArturo, non piscio in Yalu"), and, finally,

Un Ballo in MASH (with climatic duet, "O Franco! O Margaretta!).

Monday, May 7, 2012

Turkey Hill

Went for a 54-mile bike ride, from Centerville in Beverly up through Ipswich and Newburyport, with my friend Linda.

We went through Newburyport on some busy roads, finally turning off onto Turkey Hill Rd. Nowadays, there is actually a good chance that, if something is called Turkey Hill, you will see wild Turkeys there. We didn't see any, but we did stop at the old Quaker Cemetary. Instead of the usual rectangular plot, the 18th Century Marble gravestones were arranged in family goupings (Sawyers, then Browns) along a trail that leads down to the Artichoke Reservoir.

Further along, in Byfield and Rowley, we saw plenty of Turkeys--in fields, yards, and along the side of the road. We passed by a house where Linda has often seen a Peacock standing on top of a car in the driveway. No Peacock this time, but we did see a shy Guinea Hen by the side of a shiny Maroon Lincoln.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Extreme Sport #1

Marathong: Just imagine trying to run 26.2 miles, in uber-uncomfortable underwear that is trying to cut you in half, and you'll have an idea of this exciting new sport. Coming soon to a Patriot's Day near you.

Friday, April 13, 2012

News Flash

Desperate to gain market share, LinkedIn buys for 1.3 Billion. Now they can send out emails that say, "Laura Packer is connected to the Baal Shem Tov", "Annie Crockett is connected to Queen Elizabeth I", and "Mike Cohen is connected to the Alien that crashed in Roswell in 1947"....

(From the Book of Faces, April 13, 2012)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Time for some Nerd Talk

My computer died this weekend. What to do? Upgrading from one computer to another is tough enough, but replicating a dead one is very difficult and time consuming (and it's never the way it was before).

Did a Hard Drive-ectomy, and put it into an external drive enclosure (after a quick refresher course on SATA vs. IDE drives). Drive still working. Yay! Went to Microcenter in Cambridge, and found what was supposedly the exact same computer (a refurbished Dell Optiplex GX520) for only $149. Back at home, opened the box and discovered it was actually a GX620, which is smaller and laid out differently.

Performed another Drive-ectomy, and then transplanted the original Hard Drive into the new computer. Closed it up, connected the external cables, and turned on the power. Amazingly, "Plug and Pray" actually worked--the BIOS accepted the new drive, and Windows came up. After Windows registered the new box's different hardware (Disk & DVD drive, USB Controllers, etc.) and rebooted, there was my desktop--exactly the way it was before!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Robot Journalist

Just came back from Ignite Boston 9, which is put on by O'Reilly, the Tech Publishing Company. One of the coolest presentations was on Boxie, the Story Gathering Robot:

Imagine a cardboard version of Pixar's Wall-e character, but with added ├╝ber-cute human voice, and you've got a fair picture of Boxie, Alexander Reben's documentary-video-making robot.

Here is another video:

We sent this robot out to autonomously gather human narrative about its environment. The robot had a specific story capture goal and leveraged humans to attain that goal.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Caption Contest

This was for a caption contest, and I still think my entry was the best:

You know I can't sleep in the upper bunk!

(From the Book of Faces, February 25, 2012 - Thank you, Annie Crockett, and Sleeping in Tents.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012



Feb 5 - Carrying out a new tradition, the fans of whoever loses a major sports championship now get to destroy downtown Vancouver, BC. The Fung Wah Bus Line has been offering $3.00 fares from both New York and Boston.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Story Space 20th Anniversary

The Story Space Committee (of which I am a Member), has been working very hard to bring this event together.

Back on Tuesday, February 4th, 1992, Brother Blue and his wife, Ruth Hill, convened a small group of storytellers at the Bookcellar Cafe in Cambridge, MA. This was no ordinary monthly swap meet or "Third Wednesday" open mike. Here in the friendly confines of a bookstore with a noisy espresso machine and a laid-back atmosphere, they began a weekly Storytelling venue, meant for seasoned tellers and newcomers alike. No one had tried to have storytelling every week before, but it caught on - big time! The gatherings grew, both in attendence and fame. People from all over the U.S., and many other countries, came to tell and listen to stories.

How time fies! We're now coming up on our 20th Anniversary, with much to be proud of and to rejoice in. Brother Blue has passed on, but his inspiration lives. The gathering he started is now The Story Space, and it still meets weekly in Cambridge. Inspired by Blue's example, many other storytelling venues have been started all over, but we are still the World's first and only weekly storytelling venue.

So, in recognition of our 20th Anniversary, we're planning quite a celebration, including a performance by Nationally-known, Master Storyteller Jay O'Callahan.
Jay was, by a strange coincidence, the Feature at that very first meeting back in 1992! We'll also by joined by Ruth Hill, esteemed tellers, and other surprise guests.

It's 7pm, Tuesday, February 7th, at the Harvard-Epworth Church, 1555 Mass Ave, Cambridge (just north of Harvard Sq. and the Cambridge Common). See The Story Space/Events  for full details. $15.00 in Advance, $20.00 at the Door.

(From the Book of Faces, February 1, 2012)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Love That...

Dares Reveal Its Name

After being together for 20+ years (and living together for at least 6), I decided it was time to go public: so yes, I am in a "Relationship" with Anne Crockett.

Plus, now that she's taking classes at Simmons, I can truthfully say that I am going out with a "Hot College Woman". And one that's an "A" Student, as well.

(From the Book of Faces, January 31, 2012 - Thank you, Annie Crockett.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

First Ride of 2012

The cat greets me after I return from the first ride of the New Year. Only 28.1 miles, but it's a start. Notice the incredible sunset in the background:

(Amazing cellphone pics courtesy of Anne Crockett. She was wearing an LL Bean Jacket and slip-on shoes, the shutter speed was set at 11,180 fpf (Fathoms per Fortnight), and she had oatmeal with chopped pecans and craisins for breakfast.)