Thursday, July 30, 2009

Well, now what do I do?

I'm conflicted.

I'm not sure what to do.

Or how to react.

David Ortiz, the beloved "Big Papi" of the Boston Red Sox, tested positive for steroids in 2003, according to the New York Times.

Papi's statement indicated surprise and a desire to find out what he's supposed to have tested positive for before he would comment further.

I hope it's false though in baseball's steroid era, I sadly lean toward accepting the NY Times report as correct.

If it is, it sucks big time, tarnishing two World Series titles and leaving me and millions of Red Sox fans confused. We roundly booed and loathed Barry Bonds, took great pleasure in chanting STEROIDS! and CHEATER! when Alex Rodriguez, and looked on with confusion and contempt as fans welcomed Manny "I need my female hormones" Ramirez was welcomed back to the Dodgers after serving his 50-game suspension for using banned substances. They cheated (in the case of the players) and ignored the cheating (the fans). How could anyone with a love and respect for the game support and encourage these guys?

But now it's Big Papi, not some guy I never liked or crowds on the other side of the country.

What the hell do I do?

Do I boo the next time I see him? Do I sit stoically? How do I react when the Fenway fans start to cheer him during the next homestand? Do I rationaize and say "this is different than the other situations somehow"?

If it's true, I'm disappointed and, I guess, not entirely surprised. But neither feeling helps me figure out what the hell I do now when I see Big Papi come up to bat.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

High-tech in the pool but not for long

Have you heard about the huge ruckus arising from the World Swimming Championships underway in Rome? A year after records fell like dominos in Beijing and the Speedo LZR bodysuit was all the rage, swimsuit technology continues to evolve to the point where observers think that the new suits, such as the Arena X-Glide and Jaked 101, are simply too fast.

How fast are they? Paul Biedermann of Germany wore a new X-Glide in the 200 meter freestyle finals yesterday. Michael Phelps, he of the 8 gold medals in Beijing, wore a Speedo LZR designed with 1-year old technology. Biedermann not only blew away Phelps by a full body length but smashed Phelps' world record. In doing so, Biedermann handed Phelps his first individual loss since 2005 and dropped 2 seconds off his prior best time in that race. In fact, Biedermann has chopped 4 seconds off his previous best times (good enough for 5th in Beijing) in just the last year since switching to the Arena X-Glide, a staggering amount for this race at this level of competition.

Phelps apparently wasn't too pleased. His coach threatened to pull Phelps from future races unless something was done about these new suits. And now, FINA, the governing body of competitive swimming, agreed to a ban on the suits starting next year, referring to them as technological doping. In the meantime, world records continue to be shattered in Rome as the new high-tech suits give a whole new meaning to "arms race" in the pool.

So what's the deal with these suits? The newest and fastest ones like the X-Glide and the Jaked 101 are polyurethane, increasing the body's buoyancy so a swimmer floats higher and therefore encounters less resistance as they pass through the water. Do these suits really help? You bet. Everyone knows it, including Biedermann:

"The suits make a difference. I hope there will be a time when I can beat Michael Phelps without these suits. I hope next year. I hope it's really soon."

As I watch all of this and read about the uproar, I can't help wondering what the big deal is. Yes, the suits make you go faster. But so did the full body suits originally used in 2000 and before them, the Speedo that Mark Spitz wore in 1972, when compared to the full body knitwear that swimmers wore in the early 1900s. Hell, female competitive swimmers wore suits with skirts until 1974!

Technological advances come to every sport. No one is talking about banning composite poles in pole vaulting despite the fact that they allowed vaulters to crush records set with wooden poles. Is anyone screaming that Roger Federer should be forced to use a wooden racquet rather than his carbon fiber racquet? Of course not.

If FINA really wanted to take the technology out of the equation, we'd be seeing naked 100 meter freestyle at the Olympics, a sight that would no doubt boost TV ratings and make competitive swimming MUCH more popular during non-Olympic years. Of course, the $400 polyurethane suits do occasionally and unexpectedly show off a bit more of the swimmer than expected, such as the case with Ricky Berens and Flavia Zoccari (heads up...these are NSFW images).

The fact is, the suits are completely legal right now and the records are going to stand for some time to come. The idea of adding an asterix next to the records set with these new suits is ludicrous. Unlike performance enhancing drugs, which are illegal not only in sports but in general public, these suits are available to anyone who wants to wear them. I applaud Michael Phelps' loyalty to Speedo, a company that made him a millionaire many times over, but I can't get too worked up for his second-place finish simply because someone else found a better suit and put it on. I think Biedermann had it exactly right when, following his victory, he commented on the suit controversy:

"It's not my problem. It's the problem of FINA. They should handle it really fast."

But imposing the ban now? Too late. Those swimmers have already left the starting blocks.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Arghhh Microsoft

Can someone please explain to me how Microsoft can release a new "service pack" to address issue in MS Office 2008 for the Mac and NOT realize that installing it will make it impossible for you to open documents created using the earlier revision of MS Office 2008, leaving you no choice but to trash the applications and reload from the original CD and update right up to but not including the latest update?

Of course, this is an improvement. The last time they issued a service pack for MS Office 2008 for Mac it merely killed your ability to open any PowerPoint files that were created by Office 2004 so at least the Microsoft bugs are getting with the times and affecting more current files.

Needless to say, I was not pleased to spend that extra time tonight at work trying to MS Office running properly.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hi, Chuck. Bye, Charlie.

The good news: NBC has apparently picked up one of my two favorite shows, Chuck, for 13 episodes next season.

The bad news: NBC has canceled one of my two favorite shows, Life, for good. Never underestimate the power of a TV executive to scrap a smartly written and compelling show in favor of the dreck and dross that's increasingly passing for prime time television. More reality shows or Jay Leno, anyone?

Perhaps USA with it's "Characters Wanted" tagline will pick up the story of Charlie Crews and the rest of the Life cast. One can only hope.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Endorsement by the Almighty

Driving through the next town over earlier today, I noticed a moderately impressive sign by the entrance to a local church. In very large letters it read "Vinyl Roofing by Top Choice" (name changed to protect the innocent). As I passed the sign, I glanced down the driveway leading to the church's parking lot and saw another, even larger sign saying the same thing and planted directly next to the building's doors for all the worshippers to see as they entered.

Two thoughts flashed through my head as I drove by. First, I'd never seen a church so prominently promote the provider of good and services like that. However, as a non-profit, if doing so got them a deal on a new roof, more power to them. However, it was the second thought that spurred on a whole host of thoughts that would have seen my hands rapped by the nuns if I'd gone to a Catholic school. Basically, I wanted to just tell "Top Choice" to print a sign saying what they were really promoting: Top Choice: God's Choice for Vinyl Roofing!

That, of course, made me want to see the future Top Choice brochure, chock full of testimonials from other satisfied customers...

"Once we got the new roof from Top Choice, we never had another leak in the temple, even after 40 days of rain!" ~ Yaweh

"Damn, this vinyl roof stands up to even the worst heat." ~ Satan

"Choosing a Top Choice roof ensured balance and harmony in my home for years to come. " ~ Buddha

Friday, July 24, 2009

Political humor for editors and writers

Vanity Fair offers a fantastic look at Sarah Palin's resignation speech through the eyes of a literary editor, copy editor, and researcher. Frankly, I don't know how her advisors let her leave the building let alone go out and speak in public.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Long day with a dose of kindness

Wednesday was a fun day as I and two colleagues managed to visit three different airports (one of them twice) in two times zones over the course of 16 hours. After leaving my office at 1:15 AM Tuesday night, getting home at 2 AM, snatching two hours of interrupted sleep, and then getting up again, I shambled into TF Green Airport here in RI at 5:30 AM, got on the 6:30 non-stop to Chicago, spent 6 and a half hours in my company's office there in meetings, followed by the return to Chicago Midway and a two-leg trip home.

Unfortunately, this was very confusing for, which only allowed us to check in for our first flight 24 hours in advance. As a result, we were forced to check in at the airport for the other flights and, for anyone who has flown Southwest knows, if you check in that late, you are absolutely screwed when it comes to getting a seat if the flight was full. Apparently, there was a mass exodus from Chicago and Baltimore and both flights were 100% full. My cheery and entertaining traveling companions, L & N, both retained their good humor and resigned themselves to center seats. Me? I was too tired to really care. I think I slipped into a Zen state and the Universe came to my rescue.

First, despite all odds, there was one aisle seat left when we boarded at Chicago. Yes, it was in the row immediately in front of the exit row so the seats didn't lean back but really, when operating on two hours of cat-interrupted sleep, it's possible to doze just about anywhere. After our delayed flight from Chicago landed just as our connecting flight from Baltimore was due to take off, we lurched to concourse B like business-traveling zombies and discovered yet another completely full plane and we were almost dead last when it came to boarding (two other business-traveling zombies showed up just as we were walking down the jet way).

Again, L & N split off into center seats as I maneuvered toward the back seeing, dear God in heaven, two open window seats! Oh rats, they were occupied by little kids whose heads were too low to be seen over the seatback in front of them. D'oh!

So with grace and aplomb, I came to the third row from the end. Then it happens.

I smile at the older woman in the aisle seat and say, "Excuse me, ma'am but is that center seat taken?"

She smiles, says "no" and unsnaps her seatbelt.

And moves into the center seat.

"Ma'am, please, I'll be happy to sit in the center seat. I don't want you to have to give up your aisle seat!"

"Oh, sit down," she says with a smile. "I've got a son as tall as you and I know he needs the extra legroom. You can have it."

And with that, any frustrations at airport delays and overly full jetliners vanished, swept away by an act of unexpected kindness after a very long day.

Thank you, ma'am. On behalf of business-traveling zombies everywhere I owe you one.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bike Path Brainiacs

Today, we indulged in one of the wonderful pleasures of living where we live...enjoying the scenic East Bay Bike Path. Only two houses away from it, we have easy access as a result to the lovely Colt State Park, downtown Bristol (summer rides to the new Bristol library are now the norm), and then the towns of Warren, Barrington, and East Providence to the north.

Today, we cycled out around mid-afternoon, forgoing our helmets in favor of our matching "Acadia National Park" baseball hats (yeah, I know, we should always wear helmets but it was such a nice day and we weren't going to be on the streets with cars so comfort was king), and headed north for Warren, the site of the annual Quahog Festival. For those who don't know, a quahog (most often pronounced KWAH-hog or KOH-hog) is a hard shell clam, not to mention the home town of the Family Guy.

Two years go, we explored the festival for the first time, enjoying its artists' tents, crafts displays, bandshell with local musicians, and largely avoiding a variety of Rhode Island "delicacies", most of which are deep fried (I think it's a state law). At that time, Jenn and I wandered our separate routes and when we met up again, each said "oooo I have a piece of art to show you" and we both, without any prior conversation, led the other to the exact same piece of artwork, a stunning photo of a weathered footbridge stretching across a march on Cape Cod. Actually, the whole "we found and liked the same thing independently" happens a lot to us. It's kinda scary.

Anyhow, we elected not to plunk down the many dollars it would have taken to buy the piece as we were leaving only a few days later for an 8-day trip to Maine. The picture eventually did make it home as Jennifer's 40th birthday gift but that's another story of personal perseverance while searching for an art gallery in the face of a torrential downpour in New Bedford.

So, after enjoying it so much then, we elected to spend part of today's lovely weather biking to Warren and wandering this year's festival. Due to lousy weather and long hours of work, this was only the second time we'd been on the bike path since July 4th and oh what a difference it made.

Riding into town and back on the holiday was an exercise in frustration and repeated instances of "what the hell are they doing?" as parade-goers strolled down the path in complete ignorance of the most basic etiquette designed to keep people safe. Families meandered down the path 4 and 5 people abreast, strollers stuck out into the middle of the path, and when we politely asked people to move to the side to allow those of us on bikes to get through, we were rewarded with nasty looks, muttered profanity, or a simple refusal to move.


Ah...that makes me feel better.

There are signs at every intersection and junction illustrating this rule. For those without the synaptic capacity to raise their heads and actually read the signs, there are big honking pictures painted on the asphalt to illustrate that bikes go on the right like cars and walkers go on the left so they can see the people coming toward them and not blunder into the path of a bicyclist coming from behind them. Why this was so hard for people to understand on July 4th, I don't know, but with 100,000 people in our little town that day, the collective IQ on the bike path (present company excluded, of course) could have been scooped up and kept safely in an egg cup.

Not so today. Today was a day when loads of people were on the bike path, folks who use it regularly to walk, bike, and run. Glory of glories, everyone knew how to use the bike path safely! As a result, we could all enjoy it without freaking out about the risk of running over little kids, having to swerve to miss some yahoo with a cell phone, or skidding to a halt to avoid having to swing to the left to miss a stroller and be faced with other oncoming bicyclists.

In the end, it made for a much more pleasant ride -- sunny, a lovely breeze, warm enough to be comfortable but really no humidity, and a fun time at the festival. Sadly, our photographer friend from New Bedford wasn't at the event this year though even if he was, we're in "look but don't buy" mode on art and other stuff right now with adoption costs looming. But in truth, a nice free afternoon at the festival and on the bike path with people who are considerate enough to use it properly was damn near a work of art all by itself.

Too good to be true

Striking a blow for calorie-conscious chocolate lovers everywhere this summer, a Swiss confectioner has apparently concocted a no-melt, low-cal chocolate that actually tastes good.

Following the herd

Sigh...I've given in. I've joined Facebook. Will my life ever be the same?

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Congratulations to Zac Sunderland. Starting at the age of 16, when most kids are worrying about getting their driver's license, he set out to circumnavigate the globe and become the youngest person to ever do so alone.

Two days ago, he completed his quest, 13 months after setting out. The idea of circumnavigating the globe is astounding, doing it alone even more so. Doing it alone when you're 16 going on 17? Amazing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Movie Review: "Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince" aka Portrait of the Dark Lord as a Young Man

Part of me wishes that I could watch the Harry Potter movies independent of any knowledge of the books to see how they stand up as movies on their own rather than adaptations of beloved novels. As with any film based on a book, readers of the books always bring preconceived notions about what does and does not need to make it to the screen. And when those preconceived notions don't pan out, it's difficult not to let that fact color your viewing of the film, rather than considering it as an independent entity.

Such is the case with "Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince" (hereafter known as HBP). After seeing it this evening in an early showing on opening night, I can honestly say that I enjoyed it far more than its disappointing predecessor, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" but not nearly as much as early films, such as the stellar "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", which offered not only the finest adaptation but I believe the best embodiment of the spirit, energy, and emotion of the books.

As anyone who hasn't been living in a cave for the last few years knows, HBP marks the beginning of the end of the Harry Potter saga as Harry and friends return to Hogwarts for their sixth year. The history and psychology of Lord Voldemort, the darkest of dark wizards, is given depth and color. Students fall in love. Past foes are revealed as frightened and flawed. Violence comes to the school, and a beloved character dies in an apparent act of base betrayal.

Theoretically, each of those elements is found in the film version of HBP but in most cases, without the full spectrum of depth, colors, and tastes. It's not too surprising, of course, when you're faced with turning a 652 page novel into a 2 hour and 15 minute film. Even so, like "Order of the Phoenix," I felt short-changed by the film's screenplay as critical elements are skimmed over, major plot points are ignored or simply left unexplained, and elements that we know are critical in later books are either only hinted at or outright eliminated.

There are also "don't blink or you'll miss them" appearances by significant characters (Nymphadora Tonks, for example) who, if you didn't know to look for them or remember them from the prior film, you would be left wondering exactly who they are and what they're doing in the film. By the same token, one major, traumatic event in the middle of the film is a) nowhere to be found in the books, b) serves little purpose in the the film except to offer a big bang, and c) is then completely dropped as if it never happened. Why this set piece is in the film while the climatic events at the book's conclusion are played out in a far more quiet and less dramatic fashion, I have no idea.

Despite this criticism, which I candidly admit does unfairly compare the movie to the novel, HBP offers a great deal for the audience to enjoy including a wonderful design for the world of Harry Potter, some truly magical special effects, and the first Quidditch match that actually feels like you're watching a sporting event rather than a computer-generated game.

As always, the acting is solid with the performers inhabiting their roles like a comfortable set of wizards' robes. Several of the long-time, younger cast members also get the opportunity to expand and shine. Tom Felton's Draco Malfoy moves from sneering cardboard cutout to a dangerous yet scared young man. Bonnie Wright finally has an opportunity to step up as Ginny Weasley and her few quiet scenes with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) are redolent with romance, tenderness, and just a touch of sensuality that hints of what lies ahead when the characters leave Hogwarts and enter adulthood.

Veteran Jim Broadbent, making his first appearance in a Potter film, is outstanding as Professor Horace Slughorn, a newcomer to Hogwarts with a terrible secret and a love of name-dropping. Where Slughorn was a bit of a buffoon in the book, Broadbent tempers that buffoonishness with pathos and regret that come to a head as his secret is revealed. He's matched stride for stride by the great Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, former Potions Master and now Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Wonderful sleek and oozing with disdain in the prior films, Rickman's Snape is more fully rounded now, as you can see his performance taking into account and setting up the events and revelations that come in the final book (and were previously unavailable to Rickman).

One of the keys to the story and a focal point of the film, is the exploration by Harry and Professor Dumbledore (an excellent Michael Gambon) of Lord Voldemort's history by way of memories. While I regret that the screenplay limits these journeys into memory to two...well, two and a half...the film makes the most of them with stunning visuals and two outstanding and frightening portrayals of Lord Voldemort in his younger years by Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Frank Dillane. In each case, you're captured by the knowing gleam in their eyes, the effortless manipulation, and the hunger for power. In their own way, these two are more frightening than the older, snakelike Voldemort portrayed by Ralph Fiennes (Hero's uncle, by the way), showing us the face of evil emerging.

In the end, it's the competing visions of youth sacrificed for evil and youth stepping forward into adulthood that drive "Half-blood Prince." While I might not agree with everything that is included or left out from the novel, director David Yates and his cast get that one right.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Green Sculpture

With the ongoing saga of Cape Wind perhaps edging toward a long-awaited ruling to move ahead and Rhode Island's offshore wind farm slated to get underway soon, green wind energy is steadily making its way into New England and frankly, it's about time. Personally, I'm in favor of these wind farms not simply because they take advantage of a renewable resource we have in abundance in this region but, quite frankly, modern wind turbines are fascinating to watch. Slowly rotating (unlike the whizzing older ones that remind me of freestanding blenders), these sleek and elegant machines are hypnotic pieces of modern art. Each day on my way to work, I pass two and without fail, they never cease to amaze me.

The wind turbine at Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth, RI, has generated almost 40% of the school's electrical needs since it first began turning in 2006.

The graceful 336-foot high new wind turbine erected by the Town of Portsmouth catches your eye virtually everywhere in town and along the shore. (See more about it in this CNN clip as well as this segment from National Geographic's "World's Toughest Fixes")

Sunday, July 12, 2009


A colleague of mine sent me this video from the recent TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference showing an amazing new approach to computer interfaces dubbed "Siftables". It's really quite remarkable.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


A thought I had as we drove to McCoy Stadium tonight for a PawSox game...

If I could have a non-cool superpower (no flying, superstrength, etc.) I might choose the ability to permanently modify those monster car radios and woofers to only play Liberace and Engelbert Humperdink as a means of inflicting the same pain and suffering on their owners that we suffer as a result of their ear-crushing volume and spine-twisting bass.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Porn ADD

Sorry for the radio silence this week. It's been crazed at work and I've been crashing early every night. While there will be more new posts coming this weekend, here's one thing I meant to comment on earlier this week:

Apparently the rise of the Internet and availability of streaming porn are having a detrimental effect on the quality of porn in our attention-deficit society. The leading lights of American porn are bemoaning the loss of the scripts, characters, and plot development that were the hallmark of the pornography industry. Because that's why people watch porn...for the character development. I can see the industry fighting back now with "Roxy Ravishes Ritalin".

Sunday, July 5, 2009

In the face of intimidation

Wow, just when you thought Sarah Palin couldn't get any more unhinged, she decides to go after reporters and bloggers who report on rumors that have been swirling around Alaska for months. Really, it's a brilliant tactical move to take a shot at quashing free speech and cowing the media on Independence Day. The named target of her ire? Blogger and Huffington Post writer Shannyn Moore (aka "A Girl from Homer"). Kudos to Ms. Moore for calling out the Barracuda (or as Ms. Moore calls her, "a coward and a bully") today by making a prepared statement while standing outside the Alaskan Governor's office.

Fellow HuffPost contributor AKMuckraker offers this excellent look at exactly what the coward and bully is overreacting to and why it just makes her look even more ridiculous. I still fail to understand how anyone can consider Sarah "I'm not a quitter which is why I'm quitting" Palin a viable national candidate.

Maybe she's just operating on an entirely different level from the rest of us, like we're beginners at the game and she's a chess grandmaster, plotting out an intricate and brilliant plan that's looking 30 steps ahead. It could just be some bizarro political performance art (maybe the cheesy Runner's World photo spread is part of the performance). Or she really could just be a thin-skinned zealot receiving bad political advice from the First Dude, I suppose. Whatever the case, I'll never forgive John McCain for inflicting her on us. And based on Todd Purdum's crushing article in Vanity Fair, McCain might never forgive himself either.


Congratulations to Tim Wakefield of the Red Sox on being named to his first-ever MLB All-star Game. Wake is not only having a really solid year but has been the good soldier for the Red Sox since the mid-90s. Since then, he's done whatever has been asked of him -- start, close, middle relief -- and was instrumental in both of the Red Sox World Series championships.

While his knuckleball can sometimes desert him for no reason in the middle of an inning, by and large, he's been as reliable a starter as any the Red Sox have had in my memory, eating up inning and making opposing batters look like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon as they flail away at his sublimely slow and utterly unpredictable trademark pitch.

My only question about his appearance in the All-star Game -- who the hell is going to catch that butterfly pitch?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Horatio

Thanks to Rick Spillman at the excellent Old Salt Blog for reminding me in a recent post that July 4th is not only the birthday for the United States but also the birthday of my favorite literary character of all time, Horatio Hornblower.

When I was 11, I was home with the flu. To help me pass the time, my father gave me his well-read copy of "Captain Horatio Hornblower", which contained Forester's three original stories of this brilliant yet flawed Napoleonic era British naval officer. I'd never read anything like it before and was hooked immediately. From there, I devoured the other Hornblower novels and then moved on to the imitators like Alexander Kent's Richard Bolitho and Dudley Pope's Lord Ramage though surprisingly, I never developed a strong liking for what many consider the best of the Hornblower successors, Patrick O'Brien's Jack Aubrey. Still, none of them could measure up in my eyes and in the 29 years that have passed, I've repeatedly returned to the Hornblower books as you would to an old, dear friend.

Hornblower became such a compelling character for me that my passion for the stories influenced my choice of academic studies in college and compelled me to spend time spent at sea on both a sailing research vessel and as crew and ship's historian for one summer on the replica HMS Rose, now known as the HMS Surprise from the outstanding film, Master and Commander and on display at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

There are other books and characters I love but none of them so changed my life like C.S. Forester's works and Horatio Hornblower. Happy birthday, Captain Hornblower!

See you next year!

And with the last fun groups and a final banner, the 224th Bristol July 4th parade comes to an end almost 3 hours after the Town Crier walked past.

Now we trek back up the bike path to home where we'll be joined by family for a cookout. Gotta love the 4th!

Happy July 4th, everyone!

A parade filled with pride

Sure there are bands and people in uniform but a big part of the parade is the community and cultural groups that march, showing their pride and their passion for their heritage.

Going strong

We've passed the two and a half hour mark since the first members of the parade reached us and have now just started the fifth of five parade divisions.

And the bands march on...

They weren't the fanciest band uniforms but they were certainly the most practical today!

Galaxy far far away

Nothing says Fourth of July like people dressed up as Star Wars characters, though the Leia costume might have been a touch on the risqué side for the crowd.


You've got to feel for the poor souls walking the length of the parade route dressed like Cookie Monster and Elmo. Today is not really the day to be dressed in a fur suit.


We've seen several great bands, RI veterans of the attack on Iwo Jima and the Battle of the Bulge, and loads of politicians. There do seem to be long gaps with nothing in front of us due I think to commercial breaks in the TV coverage (we're seated directly across from the TV anchor pavilion).

Veterans play a major role in the parade...

as do politicians like Senators Whitehouse and Reed (l and r) and Congressman Lengevin (center)

Marching bands, drum corps, and performers from around the country come to the parade

Our usual seats give us a great view of the performers as well as the TV personalities on hand for the live broadcast


And we're off! The town crier, police honor guard, and an Uncle Sam on stilts just walked by. Yep, the parade is underway. Woohoo!

Bristol trivia

The town of Bristol, RI, has both a Church St and a State St. What's the name of the street that separates them?

Constitution Street


Just got buzzed by a huge Air Force cargo jet that came streaking down the length of the parade route.

Hot day in Bristol

It's 10:29 and we're at Church and Hope Street in Bristol. A mile and a half away, the 224th Bristol July is getting underway. It should be reaching us in a bit less than 30 minutes. Until then we get to watch the crowds walking by and enjoy the sun that has finally come out after 33 days of rain and fog.

The U.S. Navy shows the flag for the Bristol July 4th celebrations

One of the wonderful traditions of the Bristol July 4th parade is the arrival each year of a U.S. Navy vessel and her crew to help mark Independence Day. Given the town's patriotic legacy as well as a history that is tied so closely to the sea, participation by the Navy is a perfect fit. Visiting ships are typically open for tours (but you have to get there by boat) and the captain, officers, and crews march in the parade to rousing cheers.

This year, we've been joined by the U.S.S. Bulkeley, an Arleigh Burke-class guide missile destroyer.

The U.S.S. Bulkeley, with decorative pennants flying, anchored just south of Bristol, RI, on a hazy July day

More to come from the Bristol Fourth of July parade...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Gotta have hot dogs on July 4th!

Tomorrow is July 4th and everyone is rolling into Bristol in time for the big parade. I'm 40 years old and this is the first time I've ever seen the Weinermobile in person. It's one of those cultural touchstones for those of us of a certain age, kind of like the first time I saw the Batmobile from the old Adam West series in person.