September 25, 2017

Favorite Things...

Many years ago I found a list of “My Favorite Things at Walt Disney World.” written by a diehard Disney fan.

Here’s my ten things that I look forward to at every trip at the Magic Kingdom:

  1. Walking down Main Street USA, making the turn by the Emporium and looking down Main Street.
  2. Walking through the doors at the Haunted Mansion. Feeling the cold air and that distinct Haunted Mansion smell
  3. The smell of popcorn on Main Street USA
  4. Feeling the mist in the Pirated of the Caribbean ride
  5. The smell of gasoline at Tomorrowland Speedway
  6. Seeing the park transform at night.
  7. Playing a game of chess with my daughter at Tom Sawyer Island
  8. Enjoying a Dole Whip while watching people ride the Magic Carpets of Aladdin.
  9. Watching the Carousel of Progress show - always see something new.
  10. Enjoying breakfast at the Crystal Palace as the first big meal of the Disney Vacation.

The orginal list:

My Favorite Things at Walt Disney World

This is just a fun list I brainstormed one day when I was "homesick" for WDW. I posted the list in rec.arts.disney.parks and was amazed at the huge response as a lot of other people posted their own personal lists of favorite things. Since I don't have the permission of those folks, I'll stick with my original list here, but you might want to put your own together just for fun.

  • "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...da da da da da (couldn't remember the words) and warm woolen mittens...brown paper packages tied up with string"...none of these can compare with my favorite things at WDW:
  • Entering the turnstiles, walking under the train station, and viewing the castle for the first time every trip
  • The turn-of-the-century music in the town square of Main Street
  • The big dill pickles you can buy in the cul-de-sac east of Main Street
  • Smelling the bakery and the candy shop
  • Breakfast at the Crystal Palace (Puffed French Toast)
  • An evening at the marketplace, browsing the stores, especially the kitchen store, the character shop, and the book store
  • Pirates of the Carribean...especially the dirty foot of the one Buccaneer that sits on the bridge toward the end of the town sceens
  • Strolling past the lawns and gardens surrounding Cinderella's castle
  • Browsing in the Yankee Peddler
  • "Helping" my wife mix purfumes in the Old Antique shop
  • Tony's Town Square Cafe
  • Slowly strolling the World Showcase Promenade... when everyone else is walking fast
  • Sitting in the lobby of the Grand Floridian...watching all the people that can afford to stay at this hotel and wondering if someday I'll be one of them
  • Soaking in the atmosphere at Dixie Landings
  • Riding the mountains (Space, Splash, and Big Thunder)
  • Impressions De France
  • The impromptu plays and events in World Showcase (the Chinese Jugglers, skits in the United Kingdom)
  • Listening to the phone "conversations" in the Main Street Market House
  • The organ music as I walk by the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse
  • The jungle cruise at night

What About Your List?

What's on your bucket list? What are your favorite things that you look forward to each Disney World trip?

September 24, 2017

Pool Skimmer Basket

If you have a Hayward Pool Skimmer for an above ground pool. You should know a trick with the skimmer basket.

You can lock the basket in the Pool Skimmer.

If you don't lock the basket the basket will float around and at some point will get stuck in the skimmer basket. Then it becomes very difficult to take the basket out to clean it.

See this photo of how to lock the basket in the skimmer:

Pool Basket 2

This seems like a very basic setup and common knowledge. However, for the entire pool season, it was very painful to get the basket out of the skimmer. We couldn't figure out why it was so difficult. Did we buy the wrong size basket?

Simple Instructions

Insert the basket so that it rests comfortably in the skimmer. Then rotate the basket so that the open slots lock into the skimmer baskets.

September 23, 2017

G-Shock Car Shock Promotion

Recently I got the following strange text message from (724) 242-0422:

Text Message

I decided to check it out, and fill out the online form (which was hosted free by jotform.com). The form asked some basic questions about my car and my contact information.

A few hours later I got the following email from a gmail.com account. Not sure why it didn’t come from Casio or from a marketing company:

Subject: Re: G-Shock Promotion Mix -
From: "Sierra Shelley"
Date: Thu, September 14, 2017 4:16 pm
To: xxx...@cryan.com

Congratulations, I am happy to inform you that you have successfully been entered into the paid to drive by G-Shock Promotion Mix program. An expert, who will meet you has been allocated to install the decals on your car. You will therefore receive your payment alongside the money that will be paid to the national car Specialist(expert) in the mail. So when you get the payment, you will take out your first week pay of $500 and give the rest to the Specialist. This is to afford mutual relationship between you and the Specialist. A check of $2170 would be mailed to you to cover your money and the Specialist money. In view of this,

Please confirm the following details:

*How long do you intend to carry the advertisement on your car? One(1) month, two(2) months or three(3) months?

*Do you use your car everyday?Also reconfirm your name and address as it should be on the check, where your payment should be mailed. You are to be checking your email daily for updates and while your check will arrive in the mail.

Regards

Wait...What Did I Win?

Wow a check for $2,170? Wait a minute... what?

It's a bit weird that they would rush out a check and not schedule an appointment with the specialist. In addition at no point have I been notified of the rules of the program. I haven't signed any contract. Some thoughts came to mind if this was a legit program:

  • What happens if pieces of the sticker go missing, am I obligated to notify the company?
  • What if I was going on a long vacation or a business trip? Am I allowed to leave the car in my garage and still get paid for the week.

No rules. No Contract. So, ya something is weird.

I decided to see how far this would go. I confirmed the information and a couple of days later I got the following email:

Check in the Mail

Subject: Re: G-Shock Promotion Mix -
From: "Sierra Shelley"
Date: Tue, September 19, 2017 3:16 pm
To: xxx...@cryan.com

We like to bring to your notice that our representative have mail out payment to you and we have been informed that Payment of $2170 was send to you that will cover the decal expenses and your first week payment via USPS with the Tracking #940550...320131979711 it will deliver to you today or tomorrow.

© 2017 CASIO AMERICA, INC.
www.casio.com

So, I haven't signed any commitment and already I am getting paid? Oh and good luck trying to find an image of what the casio "small sticker" looks like.

 G-Shock Car Wrap
I created this mockup so other people will see what a G-Shock Car Wrap would look like.

Check Arrived!

Yes its a Cashier's Check! Wahoo! I got $2,170 in the mail. But that's all that was in the Priority Mail envelope: an 8 1/2 by 11 paper.

Fake Cashier's Check

Bank Check Fraud2

There are several things wrong with this check, here's a few observations:

  • Printed on a plan 8 1/2" x 11" paper and doesn't contain any invisible fluorescent fibers
  • Cashier's Check have the issuing bank telephone number on it. That is missing.
  • The Authorize Signature line is supposed to have a micro print. That is missing.
  • Contains a "Reorder 140-5187 Form #7200" on the bottom. Which is Avanquest Software's Business Voucher Checks ($29.19). Do you really think that Navy Credit Union would be using this paper for their Cashier's Check?

Not Over Yet!

There's more to this story. I'll update with lots more to this story. It's not over yet!

Phone Numbers Used in Scam

  • (724) 242-0422 - Original Text message to socialite the offer.
  • (813) 419-2870 - Correspondence after the letter was received

Addresses Used in this Scam

  • vanessase4@gmail.com
  • 1500 Rankin Rd, ARLINGTON Texas 76015 - Where $1,670 was to be sent

Additional Information

You can learn more about Cashier Check Scam at How to Spot Cashier's Check Fraud - Examples of Scams

September 22, 2017

Seamless Images in Affinity Designer

Someone added a comment to a previous blog post asking how I was able to make a background image in Affinity Designer. It's pretty easy to do.

Here are the steps on creating a seamless asset in Affinity Designer. To do this, I'll utilize some functionality in OmniGraffle.

A seamless background image is a pattern that looks the same no matter how big the background is. Think of it as wallpaper pattern.

Steps to create the pattern

  • Open up OmniGraffle
  • Drag and drop the Seamless Background image
  • Omni Image

    In the Image Setting, in the Object Panel, select the 'Tile Image to fit Shape' icon.
  • Now reshape the shape to a large size, such as 1000 px. It's important to keep the image ratio, this is done by holding the shift key and drag the corners.
  • Once done, simply copy the object.
  • Open up Affinity Designer
  • Create a new document.
  • Paste in the file.
  • Open up the Style Panel
  • Right Click on the Image and select the 'Create Style'

Now you have a style that has the background image.

September 21, 2017

Union Oyster House

The Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in Boston and the second oldest in the United States. The restaurant opened in 1826 and continues to be a favorite for locals and tourists.

Union Oyster House

Ten Things I learned about the Union Oyster House

Some things that I learned about this historic establishment.

  1. Hawes Atwood founded the oyster house on October 7, 1826
  2. The establishment had various names over the years:
    • 1826 -1842 - Atwood's Oyster House
    • 1842 -1860 - Atwood & Hates
    • 1880 - 1916 - Atwood & Bacon
    • 1916 - 2018 - Union Oyster House
  3. The Atwood family were the original owners and owned the place for 87 years. Other Owners over the years:
    • 1826 - 1913 - ( 87 Years ) Atwood Family
    • 1913 - 1927 - Fitzgerald Family
    • 1927 - 1970 - ( 57 Years ) Fred L. Greaves
    • 1970 - current (47+ Years) Mr. Joseph A. Milano, Jr., and Ms. Mary Ann Milano Picardi.
  4. Formed as a corporation in March 9, 1914 by Fred L. Greaves, Charles A. Ross and John D. Marks for $5,000.
  5. The "Old Oyster Bar" inside the restaurant is the orginal one which was built in 1826.
  6. James Farren was one of the original Oyster openers. He was a champion long-distance oyster opener over the 55 years he opened approximately 6,000,000 oysters.
  7. In 1933, in the middle of the Great Depression, the Union Oyster House expanded by opening a second-floor dining room capable of seating an additional 50 customers. In 1941, the oyster house opened three new dining rooms on the second floor and installed a new kitchen and bakery with all new cooking and dishwashing equipment
  8. The large sign on the top of the Union Oyster House has been there since 1957. The street level sign outside of the building has been there since 1956.
  9. Kennedy Booth - Upstairs is where you'll find Booth 18. That is where John F. Kennedy ate at the Union Oyster House. (It was his favorite restaurant) Senator Edward Kennedy would also eat at the same booth.

    Sign reads:

    Kennedy Sign

  10. Listed as part of the National Historical Landmark in 2003. Only the main building is considered a landmark, the expansion done in 1941 doesn't count as part of the National Historical Landmark. The Landmark sign outside is on the building that is designated as a landmark.
  11. On November 28, 191, Frank Kelleher ate a total of 120 oysters at Union Oyster House, breaking the previous record of 84 oysters eaten by a Harvard student in 1916. He accomplished this in 2 hours and 15 minutes. (He would have kept going but his friends convinced him that it wasn't necessary.)

Building History

The building that occupied by the Union Oyster House was built in 1714 and has been an oyster house since 1826. Before that, it was a dry goods store wherein 1769 Benjamin Thompson, conducted early experiments with gunpowder and pressure cabinets.

The building also serves as headquarters for revolutionary movements. Between 1771 and 1775 Isaac Rogers published there the famed Revolutionary "Massachusetts Spy"

Daniel Webster Sign:
The Original U-Shaped Mahogany Oyster Bar where Daniel Webster was a Constant Customer. He Drank a Tall Tumbler of Brandy and Water with Each Half Dozen Oysters and Seldom had less than Six Plates

September 20, 2017

CSA Shares at Hanson Farm

Several Framingham farms have doing CSA (Community Support Agriculture) shares. Framingham residents may have seen lawn signs promoting the CSA Shares.

Framingham's Hanson Farms is one of the Farms that offers CSA Shares.

CSA Shares

How CSA Farm Shares Work

The program allows local farmers to get cash up front to help cover the cost of operating expenses. In return, the investor will get a weekly share of fresh locally grown produce from early June to late October.

The amount of produce received every week is enough to feed a family of four. The share does vary weekly depending on what's available to harvest and the current weather conditions.

Some of the items require the Investor to pick their own - a fun activity for the kids!

Plan Duration and Cost

The standard CSA program last for 20 Weeks and cost $650 (2017 figures). That comes to $32.50 a week.

For smaller families, there is an alternate share program where you get a share every other week. So you only get 10 pickups.

The alternative plan cost $350, which comes to $35 a week.

Hanson Farms has an interesting cost saving summary PDF of how the program is a win-win for everyone. In the PDF, you can see how the Investor was able to save a lot of money over the grocery store prices. In addition, the PDF shows the various type food that might be available every week.

Supporting Local Farms

Using the CSA program is a great way to support local farms. While you may get some produce cheaper at the local supermarket. Supporting local farms via CSA helps local farmers grow excellent crop.

September 19, 2017

Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub

Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub, located in Glen New Hampshire, is a pub style restaurant well known for their grill food and BBQ sauce. It's a favorite for locals and seasonal visitors. There have live entertainment on the weekends.

They are famous for the BBQ ribs. I remember getting some back in the late 1980s. They were really good and I look forward to trying them again.

On this particular trip I skipped the ribs as I didn't want to spend much money - we were on a low budget trip.

Red Parka Pub

Gluten Free Options

They didn't have a Gluten free menu. Our server worked with us to create a dish that my six-year-old daughter could eat. They do have gluten free buns.

The server did tell us that they didn't have a dedicated fryer so we couldn't order french fries.

We ordered a cheeseburger with no bun and a side of string beans - fortunately, my daughter like string beans over french fries.

We went to the salad bar and got from fresh vegetables to start. My daughter was very tired from a fun day at Storyland. She just ate the salad and didn't touch much of her dinner.

Overall Feeling

The food was delicious and my daughter loved it. I think she was a bit skeptical about her food because they didn't have a Gluten free menu.

Can't really recommend this place because officially they didn't have any gluten-free options. However, if you're looking for good BBQ this is the place to try. The BBQ sauce was delicious and I would go back just to try the ribs again.

Finding the Red Parka

The Red Parka is located in Glenn, New Hampshire. Just down the street from Storyland. It's a great place to stop after a long day at the park. You can enjoy a nice meal and avoid the traffic through North Conway.

You can purchase the Red Parka BBQ sauce, which is gluten free, at the bar or at Zebs General Store in North Conway.

September 18, 2017

Swiss Family Robinson Tree

The Swiss Family Robinson Tree is a walk-through attraction in Walt Disney Adventure Land.

The attraction allows guests to see how the Swiss Family Robinson lived. The attraction is based off the book series and 1960 movie.

The attraction first opened in Disneyland in 1962. (Two years after the movie release)

This is a fun attraction for those kids that might be scared of dark fast moving rides - such as the nearby Pirates of the Caribbean. Also fun for kids that are just starting to learn to read, as there are information signs which describe each area of the tree.

Swiss Family Tree

Fun Facts

Some fun facts I found from other people from planning previous trips:

  • The tree in which the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse resides is called a Disneyodendron Exiums, or "out of the ordinary Disney tree," so dubbed by the Imagineers who built her. It is classified as a building, so is subject to the same safety and building codes as all of the other structures in Walt Disney World. Also, the tree contains 800,000 fabricated leaves, which each cost $1 to produce!
  • Swiss Family Treehouse has concrete "roots" that stick 42 feet into the ground, and a steel superstructure. That tree is gonna be there a while.
  • Swiss Family Treehouse -- Maybe it's because Swiss Family Robinson was one of my favorite books growing up, but I love this attraction.
  • The treehouse is a different experience in the bright sunlight when you can look out over the surroundings, or at night when you walk through Robinson's home in the flickering candlelight. I always go twice: once in the daylight and once after dark.
  • Sometimes there's a line, but it doesn't last, so if you see a line, come back by later.
  • In Disneyland, the attraction was closed in 1999 and reopened shortly after as Tarzan's Treehouse. The Swiss Family Treehouse is still alive in Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland.

Hidden Mickey

  • We noticed a hidden Mickey on the Swiss Family Treehouse. This was on the actual bottom part of the tree, where the moss is starting to appear on it. There was several hidden Mickey shaped moss on the tree, we noticed it going up, but double-checked going down.
  • As you walk around the trunk of the tree before you get to the first room on the side of the tree is a side silhouette of Mickey.(not tri-oval) It is white with green moss splotched on it. I confirmed it with the cast member attendant who said he was told it was white and on the tunk. Another way to find it is lookup at the prayer room and you will see an oar sticking out of the bottom, the blade of the oar points to the place on the trunk.
  • There is a silhouette of Mickey positioned about halfway up the back of the tree trunk. Darker moss forms the outside part of the silhouette outline. You pass it in easily viewable spots the first time you are heading up the stairs and the last time you are heading down the stairs.
  • If you look at the candlestick and the two mugs, they look like a Hidden Mickey.
  • I noticed a Hidden Mickey in the carved design on the chair backs in the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. It was in the room with the shell sink, which I believe is the dining room, and the distinctive three circles are there.

September 17, 2017

Jerry William Impersonation

Bostonians that listened to AM talk radio in the 80s and 90s probably hear Jerry Williams at one time or another.

Jerry Williams was the Dean of talk radio. He always complained about something. He always would complain about Mike Dukakis, The Big Dig and other local Boston issues.

Sadly Jerry Williams passed away in 2004.

Jerry William Impersonation

This is a clip from the late 1990s where Jim Flaherty did a great Jerry Williams impression. It's a great spoof on how Jerry use to be annoyed at just about everything.

Audio Quotes

September 16, 2017

Five Cool Text Graphic Tools

There are lots of cool websites online that can help create cool graphics. These are useful when you want to convey a simple message and want to draw some attention to it. These are very useful to catch attention in Slack, Facebook or Twitter posts.

Here are five cool graphic tools that I have found online, bookmark these so that you have them when you need them:

Text Craft

textcraft

Design your own logo or text for your website, blog, YouTube videos, screenshots, forum sig., artwork, Minecraft server, wallpaper, computer games etc. Textcraft is a free online text and logo maker and is also compatible with iPad and Android tablets.

Website: https://textcraft.net/

Pixel Speech Bubble

pixelspeechbubble

Write some text and click the create button to make your own pixel speech bubble graphic.

Website: http://pixelspeechbubble.com/

Cool Text

cooltext

Cool Text is a FREE graphics generator for web pages and anywhere else you need an impressive logo without a lot of design work. Simply choose what kind of image you would like. Then fill out a form and you'll have your own custom image created on the fly.

Website: https://cooltext.com/

Mega Cool Text

megacooltext

Introducing the Cool Text Generator for Nicks lyrics for the Internet, you just write your cute Nickname in the form, then copy and paste it on your Facebook, Twitter or Google+. We have all the lyrics you are looking for you to write a funny nick, different and Nice Nick.

Website: http://megacooltext.com/

Cool Fancy Text Generator

Cool Symbol Fonts

Cool Fancy Text Generator - Create Cool Font Text is a handy tool that helps convert normal text to different cool stylish text with many cool font styles. Just click on a style to copy it to the clipboard and paste it anywhere you want.

Website: https://coolsymbol.com/cool-fancy-text-generator.html

September 15, 2017

FontDoc Copy/Paste

Earlier this year I wrote about how FontDoc was a useful application to see what font looks best for a given text. You type in any text and in a few seconds, you see your text using all the fonts on your computer. Simply scroll through to see all your options

This is certainly better than judging a typeface by the name - after all many fonts look different when you mix upper and lowercase characters.

FontDoc Cool Feature

There is a cool benefit that I didn't mention - copy and paste. You can copy the text and paste it into any document and it will paste in the text using the font style you selected. How cool is that!

Font Doc Example

This makes it really easy to look at header text in different font styles and then paste in the one that you like the most. This will work in any application - Affinity Designer, Photoshop, OmniGraffle, Microsoft Word and more. Any document that supports rich text (RTF) will support this.

This is way better than judging what looks better based on the WYSIWYG menu.

Drag and Drop Works!

Fontdoc Drag Drop

You can simply select the text and drag and drop it into your application. In the above screenshot, I dragged and drop the text to Microsoft Word.

One Exception to the rule

The only caveat is that the font has to be installed. So if you're using FontDoc to check Fonts that are not on your computer, the pasted text will be pasted in Helvetica font style.

The fix is easy, simply install the font and try again. Note: You may need to quit and reopen the application in order for the application to recognize the font.

September 14, 2017

John Winthrop Statue

John Winthrop (1588-1649) was an English Puritan lawyer and one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He served twelve terms as Governor between 1630 and 1649 and he was one of the founders of the First Church in Boston, which was established in 1630.

John Winthrop died in 1649 and is buried at the King's Burial Grounds.

In 1880, the City of Boston commissioned a statue of John Winthrop and put it in Scollay Square at the 250th anniversary of the founding of Boston. (September 17, 1880)

The statue was moved in 1904 as the area was being refitted for the new MTA subway station. Scollay Square was renamed Government Center. The statue ended up in front of the First Church in Boston.

John Winthrop

Twelve things I learned about John Winthrop and the statue

  • The bronze statue was done by Alessandro Nelli in 1880.
  • The statue is 7' by 2.5' by 2.25' on top of a 4' by 8' concrete base.
  • The face is based on the Vandyke Portrait which is now on display at the Harvard Art Museum.
  • This is bronze statue is a replica of a marble statue that is located in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building which was done by Richard Saltonstall Greenough in 1876.
  • Congress allowed Massachusetts to have two statues in the Capital Building Statuary Hall. The other statue representing Massachusetts is Samuel Adams. John Winthrop beat other historical notables such as John Hancock and Paul Revere.
  • The John Winthrop statue was on display in the vestibule of the Boston Athenaeum for four years before being placed in Scollay Square.
  • The statue shows John Winthrop holding the Bible in his right hand - close to his heart. In the left hands are the scrolls to the Massachusetts Charter. The body is position as if he is about to step off the "Arbella" to the New World
  • To the side is a tree stump with a rope around it - holding the vessel to the wharf.
  • In 1968, the statue was damaged in a major fire was at the First Church. Part of the building hit the statue and the head fell off. The head was never recovered and mysteriously disappeared.
  • The statue was removed from the site for repairs and was placed back in 1975. The original head was never found.
  • There are two sculpture signatures on the statue: R J Greenough Sculp 1873 and Alessandro Nelli 1880
  • In 1974, a request was made to move the statue to Winthrop Square in Boston's Financial District. (People thought it was weird to have a square named "Winthrop" without a proper statue.) The First Church declined the offer. The owners of the square eventually settled on the Scottish Poet Robert Burns who wrote the famous poem "Auld Lang Syne."

Note: I was able to figure out that Alessandro Nelli worked on the statue even though nobody gives him credit. His signature is on the back of the statue. His work on this statue isn't even mentioned on the Wikipedia page.

Some John Winthrop Notable Firsts

American Slave Trade

The first documented reference to the slave trade in Massachusetts is the journal of John Winthrop (the founder of Boston), who recorded on 26 February 1638 that the Massachusetts ship Desire had returned from the West Indies carrying "some cotton, and tobacco, and negroes, etc., from thence..."

UFO Sighting

John Winthrop has the earliest recorded written record of a UFO in America. In 1639, Boston Founder and Governor John Winthrop made a peculiar entry in his journal. Within, he describes how several sober men spotted an unusual object in the sky that shone as a great light. The object was large and moved across the night sky that suddenly took on the shape of a pig.

Finding the John Winthrop Statue

The statue located near the corner of Marlboro and Berkley Street in the Boston's Back Bay. (299 Berkeley Street, Boston MA)

September 13, 2017

Framingham 2017 Mayor Election

The Town of Framingham will have it's first Mayor election on September 26, 2017. There are 6 candidates that are meet the qualifications to be the first Mayor of the city of Framingham. The top two winners in the September primary will face off for the November election.

Framingham Sign

Here's a list of the candidates and a link to their official websites:

  • Josh Horrigan - "We, as a people, Have decided to Change. Now let's commit to it."
  • John Stefanini - "We need to bring government to people, rather than people to government."
  • Dhruba Sen - "My vision is to make Framingham one of the top 5 Smart Cities of the world."
  • Mark Tilden - "There's no reason a major part of the marathon route which appears on the national stage each year shouldn't stand out as a bustling hub of our growing city. "
  • Yvonne Spicer - "I'm running for Mayor to build our new city government in a way that is open and accessible to everyone."
  • Ben Neves-Grigg - "Ben's vision is to move the City of Framingham forward as the most desirable city in the Commonwealth."
  • Priscila Sousa - "will govern to provide a voice for those who have become disenfranchised by the status quo."

September 12, 2017

Ashland Ale House

The Ashland Ale House is a local pub in Ashland, Massachusetts. It's far away from all the busy shopping area near Route 9 and the Natick Mall. It is located in the same plaza as Market Basket.

Ashland Ale House2

Five Things I learned about the Ashland Ale House

The place is very popular with the locals, so expect a 20-30 minute wait during the typical dinner hour. If you arrive before 5:30 on a Saturday night, you shouldn't have much of a wait.

The booths are made to sit six adults. On our recent visit with a party of six, we opt for a table. While we had to wait 20 minutes for our table, we made the right choice with 2 kids. It just made things a bit more comfortable.

You can play Mass Keno while you're at Ashland Ale. Learn about the game before you go. You place all bets and collect winnings at the bar. Who knows you may win enough to pay for your dining experience.

Most people visit to try the large beer selection. They have over xxx different types of beers mostly from New England. I tried the Apple Cider from Lookout Farms. It was very good. My advice is if you're trying something new, don't order a large - you don't want to be stuck having to finish off a beer you don't like.

Framingham Beer Works has about 15 beers on tap and British Beer Company has 26 Beers on tap. Ashland Ale has 20 Beers on tap

Gluten Free Options

Ashland Ale house has a limited Gluten Free menu. They don't have a dedicated fryer for French fries but will bake the fries. Which tastes just as good as the frier and I would recommend getting those instead of the regular french fries.

My daughter got a cheese burger. She liked it a lot, especially when we cut it in quarters. She ate most of it and we didn't take any home with us.

Finding Ashland Ale House

From Downtown Framingham, take Concord Street all the way to about a 1/2 mile from the Ashland town line.

September 11, 2017

Police Phone in ToonTown

In Disneyland Toon Town there are various props to make it a fun place to visit. Just outside the Post Office is a mystery red phone. When you pick up the phone you can hear some pretty funny police conversations.

Toon Town Phone

Here's a bit of the conversation that I captured back in 2000. To capture this audio, I actually brought a removable telephone pickup recorder that I got from Radio Shack. Luckily that the area wasn't too busy and I was able to capture this audio clip.

The entire clip I captured was 5 minutes long. (I waited to make sure that I had the entire recording.) If you want a copy of the entire track let me know.

September 10, 2017

QA Warning Graphics

Here are a few graphics that I put together for Slack. Feel free to use these when you feel they are appropriate.

Feel free to use the URL instead of the graphic - that way you don't use up valuable Slack storage.

Code Freeze Appears2http://www.cryan.com/images/CodeFreezeAppears2.jpg
Code Freeze is Closer than it Appears.

How About That Releasehttp://www.cryan.com/images/images/HowAboutThatRelease.jpg
"How about that Release?"

No Going Back Nowhttp://www.cryan.com/images/images/NoGoingBackNow.jpg
There’s No Going Back Now

Go Wronghttp://www.cryan.com/images/images/GoWrong.jpg
What Could Possibly go Wrong?

I archived the graphics on the QA reference page. If you're a Quality Assurance tester, frequently check out the page as new QA graphics will be put there.

September 9, 2017

List of the Best Self-Help Books

What would happen if you ask 200+ productivity bloggers what their favorite self-book book is? How many different responses would you get?

The people over at selfdevelopmentsecrets.com took a survey of various Productivity Bloggers and asked them which Success book influenced their life. Check out the survey results and then check out the bloggers who responded with books that have influenced you.

selfdevelopmentimac
www.selfdevelopmentsecrets.com/best-self-help-books

The selfdevelopmentsecrets.com has a lot of other survey results. It's a good site to learn about the best books to read in the vast world of business books.

What's nice is that it's an unbias view of books and authors which adds to the credibility of the information.

September 8, 2017

Intensify CK

Intensify CK is an Mac OS Application that makes it easy to touch up images. You don't need to be an expert in understanding how vibrance, Saturation and Luminosity works. There are some cool presets that can help you get the most clarity and intensity from your images.

From Macphun's website:

Intensify helps photographers of all skill levels create powerful images with unprecedented drama and detail. Precise control of contrast, structure, detail, and sharpening across different tonal ranges delivers high-quality results every time.

Intensify features special algorithms to prevent image artifacts, stackable image adjustments with opacity control, dozens of professionally created presets, adjustment brushes, RAW image support, vignettes and the ability to run as a standalone application or as a plug-in for popular host applications. combine to make Intensify Pro an essential part of any photo editing toolbox.

Intensity Side2

Main Preset Categories

  • Architecture
  • Black & White
  • Creative
  • Detail Enhancement
  • Image Tune
  • Landscape
  • Soft

Making Standard Photos Awesome

I like Intensity because it can help make simple photos taken with the iPhone to look so much better. Check out how using the basic Artistic Preset changes the sky in this Fenway Park picture:

intensifyckexample2

When I load up a file in Intensify CK, I then select one of the Presets, and use the down arrow key to see the change in the image with the different selections.

Lynda.com Class

If you want to get more from Intensify CK, check out the Advance Intensity CK class at Lynda.com. Richard Harrington will help you understand some of the advanced options in Intensify CK. It's a good way to learn to use the software.

Summary

I purchased Intensity CK from a recent Bundle Hunt deal. I don't think that I would use this frequently but think that it's a nice tool to have when I need it.

Check it out for yourself, there is a 15 day trial. Where you can play around with the various presets and see how they can make your photos look different.

For example, there are 9 different Black and White presets. Which is kind of neat to see the difference that each one can do to an image.

September 7, 2017

Harriet Tubman Park

Born a slave, Harriett Tubman (1822 - March 10, 1913) became a famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, leading hundreds of slaves to freedom.

At the age of 28, she escaped slavery in Maryland when her master died. She spent the rest of her life helping other escape to the North and be free.

She died poor on March 10, 1913 in Auburn, New York.

Harriet Tubman never lived in Boston. She visited the city many times to recruit people to help with the Underground Railroad. She frequently stayed at the Lewis and Harriet Hayden House at 66 Phillips Street.

Harriet Square 2017

Ten Things that I learned about the Harriet Tubman Square

  • Opened on June 15,1999 (86 years after her death)
  • The square is only 8,712 square-feet. The sculpture is 10-foot-high and 7-foot-wide titled "Step on Board"
  • According to the Boston Art association this is the first statue in Boston property to be honoring a women. Some people may think that the Mary Dyer statue is the first but thats on State House property.
  • Created by Fern Cunningham, a local sculpture.
  • The Harriet Tubman statue is showing her leading others to freedom with the bible under her arms. Fern Cunningham put her father's face on one of the runaway slaves.
  • There are two monuments in Harriet Square. The Harriet Tubman statue is at the xxx. The Emancipation statue is in the center of the square.
  • The Emancipation statue was created in 1913 Emancipation by Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968).
  • The Emancipation statue was once in Park Square. It was recast and placed in the Harriett Tubman park.
  • On the ground around the Harriet Tubman Statue are pavers created by children in Brookline and the South End. These pavers represent quilts designs that were hung in the windows as a secret message to those going on the Underground Railroad.
  • The Harriet Tubman House, a settlement house for black women who had migrated from the South, is nearby at 566 Columbus Ave.

Only Outdoor Monument to Herriet Tubman?

There is a Harriet Tubman statue in New York city it was put up on November, 13, 2008. In 2016, there was a movement to put one in the Capital building in Washington DC.

Did you know that in 2015 Harriet Tubman was the "People's Choice" to be the next face on the $20 bill. She would replace Andrew Jackson. The last time the face on the $20 bill was changed was in the 1920s when Jackson replaced Grover Cleveland.

20 Dollars
Sample design someone created

If she does replace Andrew Jackson, it could bring more attention to the Harriet Tubman Square.

In 1978, The United States Post Office included Harriet Tubman in their Black Heritage stamp Series.

Some Quotes attributed to Harriet Tubman

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
-- Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist
"There are two things that I got a right to, and those are death or liberty. One or another I mean to have, No one will take me back alive."
-- Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist quote on the back side of the monument.
"Tell my brothers to be always watching into prayer, and when the good old ship of Zion comes along to be ready to step aboard."
-- Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist quote on the back side of the monument.

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