Monday, December 31, 2012

Final Words for 2012

If you have been monitoring Facebook at all today, you've already seen dozens, if not hundreds of variations on wishes for the new year and/or reflections on this past one.

I'm not sure i have anything original to add to many of those sentiments. On a personal note, I want to thank everyone who stopped by here to read my blog, listened to my podcasts and offered comments.

I know the world of social networking has changed a lot in the years since I started this blog and while I've latched on to some of those other mediums, I have no plans to abandon this wonderful forum and I hope you will all continue to come by, and perhaps drop a line every so often.

Extra special thanks to Radioactive Girl.

May all your wishes for 2013 come true.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bananas

As the snowfall was near it's most forceful yesterday evening, I realized that I had no bananas and had to go out to get some. Correction, I made the questionable decision to go out in the storm to get some.

I drove very carefully, and eventually, made it to the store and pulled into the lot. As soon as I got out of my car, another car pulls up right next to me, very fast, nearly taking out my driver side door and the windows comes rolling down with a maniacal woman yelling at me, "why did you insist on tailgating me on a snowy road?"

I was puzzled and though I heard perfectly what she said, I insisted she repeat herself by plying, "excuse me?" She repeated herself and I then took a deep breath so as to not say something horrible or mean and understanding that the weather brings out the crazies...I replied, "ma'am, are you aware that for me to tailgate you, I would have had to be behind you?" I then walked away and left it there.

I ended up having to go to a different store to get the bananas but it was on the way back home and the rest of my journey was uneventful.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

When We All Get to Heaven

I took this musical meme from December of 2008 but updated it to my current iPod selections - these are the songs that came up today:

1. Put your iTunes on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!
4. Tag 10 friends who might enjoy doing the same as well as the person you got the note from.


IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY" YOU SAY?
"Dancing Queen" (from the "Mamma Mia" Soundtrack)

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Are you Walkin' and a Talkin' for the Lord (Hank Williams)

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Shout to the Lord (Darlene Zschech)

HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
Lemon Tree (Peter, Paul & Mary)

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
As Fast As I Could (Josh Turner)

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Casualty of You (Of Montreal)

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Beatles/Love Soundtrack)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
You're Not My God (Keith Urban)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Sky High (Jigsaw)

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Life's Railway to Heaven (Russ Taff)

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Erie Canal (Bruce Springsteen)

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Brilliant Disguise (Elvis Costello)

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
I Feel Free (Cream)

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Everyday angels (Kilmberley Locke)

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Smoke Two Joints (Sublime)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
I Love Livin in the City (Fear)

WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Nothin' to Lose (Kiss)

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
Scorpion (Red Horse)

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
Sleeping in Paris (Roseanne Cash)

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
A Showman's Life (George Strait)

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Then I Did (Rascal Flatts)

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
Running From Your Dad (Bowling for Soup)

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
You're Always on My Mind (Sam Cooke)

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
Truth for a Truth (Jakob Dylan)

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
See the Constellation (They Might Be Giants)

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
She Turns Me On (Smash Mouth)

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
When We All Get to Heaven (Brad Paisley)

Friday, December 28, 2012

(Return of) The Book Meme

In this final week of 2012, I have been going back to the vaults and refreshing certain meme's and post ideas updating them to the current day. I found this book meme that back in 2007, I saw on Joy's blog.

Instructions:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fourth sentence.
  4. Post the next three sentences along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.
  6. State the book title and author.

So, here's today's version:
"Tell 'em to see The Dirty Dozen." "It's Barefoot in the Park Mrs. Salerno," offered Linda. "Tell 'em Dirty Dozen" yelled Sal.

From "Sons of the Pope" by Daniel O'Connor (with Peter Randazzo)

Daniel O'Connor is a friend of mind that I've known since childhood and only a couple of years ago did I know he ever had written a book, this was before the publishing deal. I had no idea he even had an interest in writing! The book really is a terrific read.

And now, I wish to official tag everyone!

If you wish to consider putchasing a copy of this fine book, click on the BUY FROM AMAZON link on the appropriate graphic below and at least 4% of your purchase will be donated to the ER-D Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund. (Note: Kindle edition cost $5.99); your cost is not affected by this donation.

Physical Edition                     Kindle Edition
              

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dream Bieber

I had a very silly dream last night. Of all people, Justin Bieber was going to the same school as my daughter and for some reason, it was my job to pick him up from the train station to get him to school.

One oddity of the dream is that there was no indication in the dream that it was a different school than my daughter is in now however, the train station that my daughter and I met up with him at was very vividly the Kings Highway station, back in Brooklyn, NY.

Wen we got to the school, some mom tried to trick him out of a autograph by presenting him with guidance forms to sign but I diverted it by suggesting he go straight to the guidance office; he thanked me for the save then Victoria high-fived me and said, "that was cool Dad!"

Funniest thing, my daughter is not even into Bieber! I have recently done some research about Justin Bieber's musical influences and my daughter has been out of the country for the past week so in different ways, both have been in my mind recently and I guess they crossed paths - so bizarre!

(Another) RetroMEMEspective

Here's how it works. Go into your archives from 2012 and post the first sentence of the first post from each month. Sounds like fun, huh? Like I said last year, this could either be fun or incredibly boring. You don't have to explain them, but I thought I would go ahead and give a short explanation.

January: “The slate is clean, time for a do-over.”

February: “Soul Train was how I learned about "urban" music, it was the perfect complement to American Bandstand and for a kid that was totally obsessed with music, it's one of the things looking back that made growing up when I did special.”

March: “It's time for American Idol to sign off for good.”

April: “As if there hasn't been enough about the Bruce Springsteen show here, this is a picture of (from left to right) me, Justin, Joe, Jill and Linda.”

May: “Definitely feeling the effects of life's stresses but I am working through it as best I can.”

June: “Words tomorrow.”

July: “I've compiled most of the photos (including more than the ones in the posts below) I snapped on the Chicago trip in a shared dropbox folder and you can see all of them via this link below:

August: “Most people, including myself, could probably write at length about the last few days; more accurately, some of the stuff I've heard in conversations - really deep, heavy and in some cases, brutal stuff, but this isn't the stuff you write about.”

September: “I just recently got into the series Dexter and had watched the first 7 episodes of season 1 to this point.”

October: “October is both Breast Cancer Awareness month and Disabilities Awareness month.”

November: “There's a comfort in knowing you are reading this, knowing that as I sit here and type this, partly to avoid the work at hand and partly because I know there's a chance you will read this and any chance to communicate with you brings me some joy.”

December: “After church, my daughter and I went for brunch at a place called "Eggcetera".”

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Revisiting The Road Trip Shuffle

I first did this in 2006 after Bryan did it on his blog after seeing it another blog, etc. If you wish to see how it turned out back then, click here.

..."'In Random Rules, The A.V. Club asks some of its favorite people to set their MP3 players to shuffle and comment on the first few tracks that come up—no cheating or skipping embarrassing tracks allowed.' Based on the honor system, this could prove a nice little jolt to our languishing blog community."

Here's the 10 that came up for me this time (FYI: #songs on ipod: 15,465):
  1. Another Girl, Another Planet – The Replacements
  2. Hidden Away – Josh Groban
  3. I Miss the Innocence – Phil Vassar
  4. Putnam County – Tom Waits
  5. Red Hill Mining Town – U2
  6. Alienized – Volbeat
  7. Honky Tonk Blues – Huey Lewis and the News
  8. Let’s Get It On – Jack Black
  9. Our Deal – Best Coast
  10. Man or Animal - Audioslave
I would love very much to hear how your list turned out.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Free Write

Here's how it works:
  • Blank paper
  • Pencils
  • Timer
Set timer for 5 minutes, In a quiet dark room, sit back and just breath in a controlled fashion and just relax, freeing your mind to wander without allowing your brain to take hold or control of those thoughts. Focus on the breathing and relaxing and let the mind go where it will. After timer ends, turn on a light, set timer for 15 minutes, put pencil to paper and start writing. When timer ends, stop writing - post as written. Here's what I've got:

Rescued from what could have been torture. Grateful for the good friends who took me in and for certain, a good time was had. Yet with all of it behind me, all that consumes me in this moment are the things I wish for, but can't have right now. Not material things, not things that would make me selfish - they aren't material things, something far more significant.

I close my eyes and dream for a moment to feel, it's the only option I have for the time being. I smile because finally, the faces I see are the faces I really need to see, the faces that bring real joy.

Tomorrow, it will be as if this holiday never happened, the real world goes back into order, for a short time, but that familiar routine returns, and hope can once more spring eternal even though spring seems so far away from the recent winter solstice.

The thin blanket of snow marking a white Christmas this morning can be interpreted in many ways - a blank slate, a sheet of innocence, the purity of hope.

I'm taking long, slow breaths, slowing my heart beat so that I can savor each, calling your name.

33 Things About 2012

This is a meme I've done here before, I thought I'd try it again:

1.What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
Visited Chicago, met Tori in person, ate Alligator.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I try not to make resolutions for the new year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, in fact on the 18th of this month, Alexis Noelle Dergarbedian was born.
Congrats to parents Patty and Mark and  big brothers Nicholas and Noah.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
The deaths fresh in my mind, and everyones, are those in Newtown, CT. earlier this month.

5. What countries did you visit?
Is New Orleans a country? LOL! I stayed within the continental United States this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
I'm not certain I would elaborate on that here but if I did, it would take up a lot of space. Suffice it to say that I'll be happy to know that the people that mean the most to me are happy and healthy.

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 25th. I met Tori in person for the first time and also, Claire, Nick and Shane - it was the best day ever.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
At the pinning ceremony for the class of 2012 ADN Nursing class, I was recognized for my hard work and dedication by the entire class and presented with a certificate.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I don't know if it's a good or bad thing that I can't come up with something for this but I want it to be a good thing, and so it is..

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Touch of the bug in November, nothing so awful.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A stethoscope, because it got me to take the time to write something meaningful for someone meaningful.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My friend John "Cookie Monster" Paolillo. Despite his house being destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, he set an example of leadership and showed his caring soul to all by getting out every day and helping others who were devastated by the storm.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
John Boehner and just about every other republican in congress.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage (that one still hasn't changed - lol).

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I've already spoke of how meeting Tori was awesome - highlight of my year. There was another pretty great moment when a group of friends that I grew up with got together back in our old neighborhood. Then, there was one of those friends whose book was published!

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Were I willing to take the time and really reflect on the new music that came out this year that I took to, I might say "We Take Care of Our Own" from Bruce Springsteen/E-Street band but because of the very recent end of the Mayan calendar thing, "It's the End of the World as We Know It" by REM makes me laugh.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter?  Same-ish.
iii. richer or poorer? Richer (Not necessarily financially but in other ways).

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Reading; for some reason, I read way less than normal this year.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Watch TV, I think. I watch a lot of TV and I don't have a real problem with that but I wonder, now that I am forced to put thought into it, if I might have been more creatively productive otherwise.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With my daughter away with her mom, it was up in the air as of this writing.

21. How many one-night stands?
None.

22. What was your favourite TV program?
Dexter, Mad Men, Breaking Bad.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No.

24. What was the best book you read?
Didn't read a lot of books this year but the best of the ones I did was "Sons of the Pope" by Daniel O'Connor.

25. What did you want and get?
I'm assuming this means material goods. Is it really bad that I have no idea?

26. What was your favorite film of this year?
Didn't see many this year, and none of them very current - again, I have nothing to add here.

27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I didn't do anything special. I even went to work. I did receive a great gift that was actually made special for me. I turned 48 this year.

28. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
This is one of those questions that if I write anything I would think so deeply about it that I would occupy pages and pages. I could easily come up with a number of things then narrow them down to figure out the "one thing" that the question calls for. Already, I've use many words to ultimately say nothing and so without further ado (does anyone know what that really means?), I shall end my answer to this question without actually answering it.

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
I am so not fashion oriented; much more fashion challenged.

30. What kept you sane?
Knowing that my teenage daughter needs me.

31. What political issue stirred you the most?
The idiot Republican party.

32. Who did you miss?
I always miss my folks, especially during holiday season.

33. Who was the best new person you met?
My friends in "The Road Dawgs, except for Meghan who along with her hubby (and kids), I've known for a long time.

That’s about the size of it.

And now i must present a photo of me. Here is one from last night:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Memories

As a kid, Christmas eve was my favorite day of the year. In the days leading up to it, I would follow my dad around to the fish mongers and in some cases, right to the docks. My dad was a commercial fisherman in his home country of Italy before coming to America so fresh fish from the right sources was a must.

One of the classic Italian traditions on Christmas Eve is "The Seven Fishes". My father would make a frutta di Mare that was just so incredible that later, when I moved away from home, I would ask him to prepare another tray for me to take home. I would eat this stuff for Breakfast, lunch and Dinner and sometimes in between - Since he passed away, I've never had anything close and most of the time, have never tried to. I must say though, that the DiPalma's have invited me to their home this evening for their version of "The Seven Fishes"; out of my love and respect for them, I won't try to compare.

Christmas eve morning began at the very crack of dawn and I recall waking often to the sound of pans clanging, and mom & dad fighting for space in our small kitchen. I didn't have vivid memories or breakfast, not sure it was every anything special as my parents were really busy but I am sure there were occasionally bagels from the shop up on Nostrand Ave near Ave. V. These were real bagels that so many of you have never had, they were had rolled and boiled - what would be considered "Artisan" by today's standards was just the right way back then.

For me and my sister - and in the very early days, our older brother as well, the anticipation of opening the presents that were under the tree (Santa often delivered our gifts early), there was a time where Santa (George Eckleman) would actually come to visit, and there was an annual visit from the great Ed White with a loaf of the most amazing Italian bread from Caputo's bakery down on Court Street.

On occasion, my brother and I would grab one of the live crabs, name them and race them before returning them to my dad who would later prepare them as part of the feast - my brother and I thought nothing of consuming them even though we had earlier taken them on as pets for a short time; seems so strange but it was so fun.

There were a constant flow of drop-in visits from neighbors, family and friends on their way to other places, and then our actual guests. One of our regular guests was "Uncle" Joe and "Cousin" Maria Lauria. While not blood related, they were in all sense of the word, family and their arrival was always the most anticipated - not just by me and my siblings but by our other cousins that would be there as well. Maria's gifts were always the "best" and most eagerly anticipated - in some cases, even more than Santa's.

We had a tradition of opening those gifts at midnight, because that was when it was actually Christmas and looking back, it must've been an interesting dynamic for the adults to see all these kids running around so far past their bedtime all wired up in anticipation of opening the gifts. As the years went on, there were a few where liberties were taken and we didn't quite wait until the midnight hour.

Such beautiful, fond memories of a time so very long ago.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Not Just Home to Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg

Last night I went to the TSKK Christmas Party in Webster, MA. the only reason I went is because I was really bored and my friends, "The Road Dawgs" were playing there. Webster is a pretty good haul from where I live and beyond the suburbs and into the country; it's a whole different type of place.

Here's a picture of some of the folks in attendance:
There was a point in the evening where these two were dancing and the dude (Drunk 2 for the moment captured, that shirt got a round almost as much as Drunk 1), held his hand up as if to say, "just a sec"; he then took off his construction boots, his very old and dingy construction boots and returned to the dance floor in his sweat socks.

It was an interesting evening, the band sounded great, the people were very different but also harmless and festive. I just kind of hung back and observed; it was fun.I was totally surprised by ow ridiculously inexpensive the beer was. A draught Killians Irish Red in a freezing cold glass mug was a mere $2. Really, the only dreadful part of it all was the very long, boring and drawn out drive home.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fashion Mullet

Fashion Mullet
I snapped this picture using the MAC on my desk, clicking the shutter button then running backward to get the whole shot. I referred to this outfit jokingly as a "fashion mullet" - business on the top and casual on the bottom; it seems to have gone over well :)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My brain is so scrambled, I am stuck - gotta stop here I guess.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Briefly Speaking (Depending on How Brief I Actually Am)

Thanks to all who've listened to my Podcast yesterday, I'd love to hear some feedback.

I seem to be so wrapped up in so many different things that I can't seem to get any of them finished. I need to play catch up a bit.

Nobody in Framingham believes the Mayans, if they did, the stores would not be as crowded.

If you are a Jeff Lynne fan, head over to AdamCarolla.com and download the interview Carolla did with him, it's a good one.

Some pictures:

This was going aroun on FB, called "The Paramedic Christmas Tree"
 
This was in Whole Foods in Framingham; I snapped the photo. It's a Christmas tree made from broccoli and radishes

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Podcast: Very Emotional Day

From an open forum about a recent tragedy to an in the moment bus acceident involving people I know, and care about very much, there were many deep emotions on this day. This is an often somber but very real reflection on my day - one that shook me a bit.

You can download or subscribe to the podcast from the host site, here.

Or you can listen right here on this page:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Like a Ton of Bricks

I guess that old saying, "You can't fool mother nature" likes to remind you how true it is every so often. After work yesterday, I was trolling about from store, to mall, to store, to store running errands and trying to fulfill my holiday wishes and grab some needed produce from the market. This, after a more emotional day than usual as the after effects of last Friday's horrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

After coming home, I had many things to accomplish in a short time so I went right at it. I recall at one point feeling the need to take a short me moment and I went over to sit on the couch. Next thing I remember was waking up, laying down, covered, with a cat atop me. I have no recollection of he laying down or covering up part but at least two hours had passed from the time I took the break to the time I awoke. At that point, I could feel the exhaustion so I shut down everything and went upstairs, all the while eyes in tired quint mode and body dragging but I made it to my bed and was out pretty quickly until my 5 am alarm.

Funny how easy it is to overlook the rest component of taking care of oneself. I do the exercise thing every day, I at least try to eat reasonably well, but I am still not always good about the getting the proper rest thing - I know it's important, gotta get better at it I think.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Elf Yourself - The First Take

After creating this, the site crashed and I thought it was lost. I made another take that was funny, but not as funny as this one - I posted that to Facebook and was over it.

Later, I snooped around and somehow, was able to recover the original take and am now presenting it here - I totally love the badass mug on my cat!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday Evening Post

I feel like I need to mention the tragic incident in Newtown, Ct yesterday. I don't really know what to say though. So much has already been said, some that seems to make sense, some that's far too radical and pretty much all driven by the deep emotion of the event. I have been filled with sadness but have also done my best to find a way to move on from it. I really just have no understanding of why these events happen, why they seem to be more frequently happening and how we can really prevent them. I can say that it's these types of events that challenge faith like no other. I really can see no rationale for such an occurrence from any angle. I hope all of the families of people that were killed and/or injured as well as the survivors can find the peace they need to carry on.
********************
I went to Babies R Us today to get a gift for my friend who is registered there. I printed out the registry list, picked an item then asked someone where I might find it. He took me on a wild goose chase that led to nowhere so I went back to the registry desk to ask if one of them can help me find it. This dude took me in a different direction that the first one but again, it was the wrong direction. I took a third try hoping for a charm but willing to abort mission on a fail so I asked one of the girls at the registry counter. While her directions weren't perfect, it got me close enough so that I found what I was looking for. I got to the register and was asked if I had one of the cards that every darn store seems to want people to carry around and I told the cashier that I didn't have one, but I would really love to get a 20% discount on my purchase. I don't know how it worked, but sure enough, I got 20% off on my purchase.
********************
A few notes on the 12 12 12 concert for Sandy Relief:
  • Springsteen was awesome. I could have done without Jon Bon Jovi joining him but I can let it go.
  • Roger Waters/Eddie Vedder - Eh, so so. I wouldn't have missed it, it didn't totally suck, could've been way better.
  • Adam Sandler - Funny, yet meaningful.
  • Bon Jovi - they still sound okay, a bit formulaic, passable though.
  • Eric Clapton - Fabulous.
  • Rolling Stones - disappointing waste of time. They still sound good and perform well but they only did 2 songs because they are all about the money, not the music anymore and I just don't really have that much interest in them anymore.
  • Alicia Keys - Very strong set; very passionate.
  • The Who - just awful! They need to go away and just be this legendary band from the past. Any time they spend in the public eye performing at this point will only serve to diminish their body of work. I am not convinced Pete still actually plays his guitar, Roger can barely carry a tune and needs to leave his short closed and wear a damn sweater over it so it can't accidentally open and that thing they did with Keith Moon was just stupid.
  • Kanye West - I refused to watch this moron. Kanye has no place in the lexicon of popular music, he's a farce at best.
  • Billy Joel - One of my all time favorites but I've sored on him in recent years because he's kind of become a shell of his former self. His performance here was pretty good.
  • That's where my DVR cut off. Regarding Paul McCartney though, he needs to hang it up as well. The guy is a certified living legend and his body of work both with the Beatles, Wings, and some solo stuff is strong with few exceptions. However, I am so over him in the present.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Serenity Now

Things got a bit hectic at work in the lab, there were a couple of students doing things that they should not have been doing and after dealing with that, I needed to step away for a few seconds, just walk it off and take a deep breath and then move on. At this point, I posted to FB from my phone the words, "Serenity Now! SERENITY NOW!!!" both to help put the incident in the lab behind me and to conjure a laugh recalling the famous Seinfeld episode.

When I returned to my desk, there was a card on my desk in a white envelope with my name neatly printed in a handwriting that I couldn't identify. I opened the envelope to find a card from a student in the practical nursing program who is also a nun in the order of the Marist Missionary Sisters.

I guess if you really need serenity now and ask for it, sometimes at least, you might get it. What a nice lady.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Keep Sandy in Mind

I didn't get to watch all of the 12-12-12 concert for Sandy relief last night (fear not, it's on the DVR), but one important thing I hope it accomplished other than raise lots of money is to put the damages that the hurricane did back in from of people's eyes.

So much happens so fast and with such short attention spans and being out of the media since it happened six weeks ago, my biggest fear is that people outside of the affected areas simply forgot it ever happened.

I've made a personal commitment for this to me my primary charitable cause throughout 2013, I have a lot of personal reasons for that but I ask that you all at least keep those people whose lives were changed in your thoughts and prayers and if you have the ability to offer assistance, financial or otherwise, please do so.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'm Here With...

I had a shitty day at work today. Actually, only a fraction of my day was shitty but it ruined most of it - I'll tell you the shitty part then how it got better.

The shitty part:
I have this ridiculous colleague that becomes more useless as time passes. We are supposed to be peers - we have the same job title and thus, the same job description but he is a jackass! He has no freaking idea how to do half the things that we need to support and train faculty on, especially the cornerstone product, Blackboard  - our learning management system.

A few months ago, he calls me and says "faculty member X is having issues with Blackboard doing so and so". I reply, "X has been here several times and I showed him each time, he keeps forgetting - not sure how best to handle at this point." Then I hear faculty member X say, "hi Chris!" Fucking jackass has me on speaker phone and says nothing about it. I told him after that to NEVER call me on speakerphone again, use the handset hen ask me if it's okay to go on speaker.

Today, jackass calls and says, "I'm here with faculty member Y and she wants to do this and that and I can't figure out how". First thing that pisses me off is the thing he could figure out is a basic function that is very commonly used and it's our job to support faculty to use this function. I have my own damn work to do and I am sick and tired of having to do his and clean up his frigging mess. I told him flat out that I have no time and that he should know how to do this and that I couldn't help him. then what do I hear, "Hi Chris, this is faculty member Y...." Again, ass face has me on speaker.

I emailed my boss and told him this has to stop. If I am going to do both our jobs I am going to get both our salaries or I am not answering the damn phone anymore. My boss is supportive of me and knows this jackass is a jackass but his hands are a bit ties because of union protection and I am limited in actions I can take because jackass and I are in the same union...very frustrating to work so damn hard and have to put up with that crap.

How it got better:
My friend and colleague Barbara is having a baby and there was a baby shower for her - so I crashed it because the dummies in their department didn't invite anyone that should have been invited. I only stuck around for a short time but it was fun and took my mind off of the story above.

How the day got even better than that:
Yesterday, I got a wonderful birthday gift in the mail, a pair of mittens that were made especially for me, right down to the dying of the yarn my favorite color for the reason it's my favorite color. I never got a gift like that before - still blown away by it's awesomeness plus, the mittens are badass. When I got home today, I asked my daughter to take a picture of me with the mittens and then I asked her "How are you suppose to pose to model mittens?" From there, it was not stop laughter for quite some time. Here are the photo's:

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sons of the Pope

My good friend Dan O'Connor's novel Sons of the Pope is out this week (Kindle version available now, physical version ships 12/12).

I just finished the book today and it's really terrific, I am not just saying that because I've know Dan of more than 35 years, it's the truth.

"In Brooklyn, before the murders, before the miracle, before the 1940s were gone forever, there was a tree. If only they let that tree alone. If that sycamore tree had been allowed to stand, then maybe Biaggio Falcone never would have been the head of the Campigotto crime family. Perhaps little Joey Salerno would not have been born like that. Joey's father, Sal-just home from World War II-probably would never have gotten involved with the New York underworld, and his wife Mary wouldn't have to spend her entire life caring for an eternal child. There may have been no reason, four decades later, for that desperate pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. No need for Pearl Gholston to venture across those tracks, or for anyone to call upon the one known only as The Diabolist. Experience the richness of a story that spans half a century. Love and hatred. Devotion and betrayal. Murder and miracles. If only they let that tree alone."

If you click on the BUY FROM AMAZON link on the appropriate graphic, at least 4% of your purchase will be donated to the ER-D Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund. (Note: Kindle edition cost $5.99)

Physical Edition                     Kindle Edition
              

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Understanding Barbara

"Sometimes I step out of myself and the me that remains is just a shell, a part of the whole trying to be everything - sometimes, with less than nothing. I hide the pain inside because everyone around me needs me to be strong for them but the cost is higher than I can afford to pay sometimes...I need to be fed, I hunger, I may not be alone, but I can't help but feel that way.

This isn't solitude, for solitude is soulful when it's a conscious choice.  I don't know exactly what this is, but if I was a betting man, I'd bet that it's loneliness. I find myself living one moment at a time, sometimes in the company of friends, sometimes with nothing but the four walls that surround me and the ambient sounds of darkness. But, this hunger, this thirst, this desire for that connection..."

I found this in one of my notebooks, not 100% certain when I wrote it but within the last couple of years for sure. When I came across it today, I reminded me of meeting that lovely elderly lady, Barbara, at BJs on Friday evening.

I spent a little time thinking about it and while I really have no idea if I was right about why Barbara was there or insisting on chatting as long as she did, my thought that it all might have stemmed from some manifestation of loneliness seemed feasible because it's a feeling I understand.

I have gone to stores or malls or just places simply to be in the presence of other human life. I've walked through a store and wandered aimlessly though a mall simply because the idea of being in my house felt so unbearably empty.

I don't know how to end this or if it's even possible to transition to another topic so I will just stop.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Good Reminder

It's easy to find faults with Facebook, but once per year, my favorite thing about Facebook happens - birthday wishes. There was a period today where I made a joke to a colleague, I said, my phone was vibrating so much I had to take it out of my pocket to avoid any accidents. I know, I have a brilliant comic mind and you are laughing your arse off right ow, so take a few moments to compose yourself and I'll be back. #lovebeingsillysometimes

Seriously, it was almost overwhelming, one after another and it felt good; made me feel like I matter in this world and its touching.
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For those of you who shop this time of year, especially those of you who shop on Amazon.com. May I ask that you use the link right here on the blog, probably just to the right and perhaps a bit up from this post. Using that link will give you the same great Amazon experience you are used to but also indicate to them that you got there via me and as such, yield me a modest commission. I am donating 100% of my commissions to the ER-D Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, so please, help me help our friends.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Barbara

I went to BJs after work today to get some grocery items that I normally get from there. It is not uncommon for there to be a variety of sample booths and at one of them was an elderly gent pawning off samples of bacon. I chatted with him jokingly telling him that he should be the most popular cat in the place giving away free bacon. He replied with a bit of a sour puss seeming genuinely upset that he wasn't. Just across the aisle, there was an elder lady offering samples of peanut butter sandwich crackers and she has convinced yet another elder lady to try one. I got in the mix explaining to the sampler that there was a kind old chap across the aisle offering free bacon and he's feeling a bit down. I encouraged the lady to go over and have a sample and chat him up for a bit, that it would surely make him feel better - she smiled and agreed to go over after her chat with cracker lady.

As I went about my way, I looked across the aisle and gave the bacon guy a thumbs up to which he smiled (that made me smile). Many minutes and aisles later, I was perusing some ridiculous item of so little importance that I no longer recall what it was but while doing so, I felt a shopping cart graze my bottom quite harshly. I turned to find it was none other than the peanut butter sandwich cracker sampler who immediately grabbed my arm apologetically and with great concern and emotion asked if I was alright and apologized.

Her and I began chatting, she introduced herself as Barbara. She was impressed that I worked at the college and taught computers and was full of questions about technology. We chatted for a few minutes and then I went toward my wagon assuming ample time had passed to alleviate her guilt for crashing into my rear but she just carried on with the conversation. I really was not in a rush and I sense that this woman, who I would guess to be at least deep into her 70's, really wanted someone to talk to and keep her company. I took a nosy gander into her shopping cart and it seemed evident she might be in this cavernous market more for the idea of being around people (and free samples) than in dire need of bulk sized products. I couldn't leave her, I stuck around and we chatted for a good 10-15 minutes before she seemed to realize that it might be a good idea to move on.

At first, I just carried on down my aisle but a few seconds later, I realized there was a powerful moment that had happened.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Johnny Pump


I won a contest today!

***4th Trivia Question*** What is an old Brooklyn (and New York City) slang term for a fire hydrant?

First person to post the correct answer below will win a free KINDLE copy of Sons of The Pope. Good Luck!


I knew the answer was Johnny Pump, and I got the answer in first. I knew the answer becuse I gre up in Brooklyn and we called then Johnny Pumps back in my childhood.

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From WikiPedia:
A fire hydrant (also known colloquially as a fire plug in the United States or as a johnny pump in New York City, because the firemen of the late 19th century were called Johnnies),[1] is an active fire protection measure, and a source of water provided in most urban, suburban and rural areas with municipal water service to enable firefighters to tap into the municipal water supply to assist in extinguishing a fire. Buildings near a hydrant may qualify for an insurance discount since firefighters should be able to more rapidly extinguish a fire on the insured property.

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I won a Kindle version of the forthcoming novel, "Sons of the Pope" written by my old friend Dan O'Connor. The book is being released on 12/12, please, if oyu like reading or are looking for a gift for someone who does, support Dan and buy the book (I'll be purchasing several copies).

Monday, December 03, 2012

Minutae (sp?)

Nice lazy title!

I wrote a few "social poems" today - in the Haiku structure.

I actually fell asleep at my desk today! Crazy, I know. It was after lunch and the air was really weird. Several others said they were woozy as well but I was the only one, that I know of, that went out. I don't think anyone noticed, I looked around carefully afterward - it was only for a few seconds.

As much as end of semesters is tough for students, and it it, it's tougher on teachers who have to grade all that work.

I've taken on a songwriting project - hoping to write an original song for my friends "The Road Dawgs" - it's going to be a more daunting task than I thought but I will try.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Hoy

After church, my daughter and I went for brunch at a place called "Eggcetera". This is her sipping on her Mountain Dew and not happy about being photographed.

We then went to Home Depot to find a Christmas tree. This is the tree as is looked tied to the roof of my card. I snapped this in the garage when we got home.

This is the tree right after it went in the stand; it's shorter than I thought for some reason but still cute. My daughter wasn't dancing for joy here, she realized she was in the frame and was attempting to escape - which makes it funny!

Friday, November 30, 2012

American Express

You may recall earlier this year, I divorced myself of Bank of America first by moving my banking to a local credit union and then, by cancelling my BoA Visa card. In researching credit cards, I went with the American Express Cash Everyday card. I have been pleased with the simple, yet good and fair rewards program and while they are also a big-ass institution, the research and reviews indicate some level of consistency and consumer fairness.

I have thus far, found 3 places that don't accept Amex:

(1) Sweetspot - this is a new fro-yo place that I happened to be near, and since they had a no sugar added option, I thought I would give them a try. I got my yogurt, it came  out to $3 and some change, I had no cash at the moment and turned over my Amex to which the guy said, "sorry, we currently only take MC, Visa and Discover. It was  a little embarrassing to tell the guy I had literally zero cash and apologized, handing him back my cup and he then said, "don't worry about it, thanks for stopping in (it was their first week open) and please, come back again. A few days later, I went in and brought the cash wanting to make good on my purchase and they were appreciative but insisted the first one was on them...been back a few times since. the guy did mention he was planning on accepting Amex soon...not sure if they do yet.

(2) Christmas Tree Shoppes - The thing that was odd about this is that they are owned by Bed, Bath and Beyond, who does accept Amex. I had waled around the store for a while and didn't have too many items but I had not enough in cash on me and wasn't willing to run to the ATM down the road so I just left my stuff on the register and left when they told me they don't accept Amex.

(3) Cost Cutters - I went to pay with my Amex after my haircut today and was shot down. I had enough cash but only with a shitty tip. I apologized but the nearest ATM, while not far, was not close enough to motivate me to go back - I'll make it up next time.

I thought about getting a Visa as well, for the times when Amex isn't accepted, but I hate credit cards and while I use them always, I do son only for the reward points, dollars - I pay off the bill in full every month, I haven't paid interest on a credit card in 21 years.

Abrupt end.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

About Half a Dozen Things

This is a photo of my parents taken with their Christmas tree from 1958. My mom is pregnant with my brother, who was born in March of 1959. I may have actually posted this shot here before but I just ran into it and it made me smile.
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In baseball news, I think the Yankees need to stop already with the 40+ year old injury prone vets and start building new talent.
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I have the day off tomorrow; I am using the last of my personal days that I would otherwise lose as the end of the calendar year if I don't use it (them).
* * * * *
Feeling super bad about a young friend who has been under the weather this week. Luckily, he has the best mom on the planet to help him get through it. I hope he gets better soon!
* * * * *
Thinking a lot about the after effects of Hurricane Sandy. One of my friends whose home was destroyed was telling of something I hadn't though about. For those with damaged structures awaiting repair, the onset of cold weather adds a whole new dimension to creating even more damage, such as frozen pipes. I know those of us out of the picture and with the stories not on our local news anymore, we don't all have it on our radar. Please folks, pray or send good thoughts to these people. And, if you are so inclined to make a donation, better than the Red Cross is an organization that gets way higher a percentage of the money to the actual cause, www.er-d.org.

Anamorphic Illusions - watch and have your mind blown....you're welcome!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Potpourri for $4 Alex

The biggest news of the last few days was the Powerball jackpot, which ended up around $550 million. The hype was so out there that for the very first time ever, I even played. Numbers were released a few moments ago and sadly, I did not win :)

At the coaxing of my friend Dan, I listened (via) Spotify, to the new Graham Parker and the Rumour record. Graham has not recorded with The Rumour in 30 years - the music, the soul, the spirit, as fresh as ever, pleasant listen!

A group of people at my church have been sewing, knitting, whatever to make afghans and comforters for those affected by hurricane sandy. I have volunteered to deliver them, I hope that happens soon.

So far, I like Windows 8  a lot. I am hoping to get some time with the new version of MS Office soon.

I've been thinking quite a bit about the term I mentioned a few days ago, "Social Poetry". I may have more to say on it soon.

Be well and thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Morning at Walden Pond

With a day off today, I decided to get my outdoors on and took a drive to my favorite place in all of Massachusetts, Walden Pond for a few laps on the trail. The first lap was a nice brisk walk while the second was a bit more leisurely and reflective.

I took a few short videos, incorrectly, but watchable, via phone. the first one here is of a daring individual who despite the temperatures in the high 30's or low 40's, decided to take a swim. While he did have a wetsuit, it was pretty odd to see (he managed to draw quite an audience from the trail hikers). Here's the video:

This next video is just one of me walking the water's edge along the pond:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thinking Out Loud

To tree, or not to tree - that is the question. I'm pondering whether or not to get a Christmas tree this year because my daughter is going to be away, out of the country, with her mother from before Christmas and into the new year.

While the spirit of the holiday has some value to me this year, if I am the only one around to see it, does it serve a purpose? Will the tree just serve as a reminder that there is no one around to enjoy it or is it something that I am meant to enjoy?

Perhaps these questions seem crazy but they've run through my head. I will still find a way to derive joy form these holidays - I'm still going to have gifts for a handful of people, it will still be Christmas with or without the tree.

Without my daughter around, I will literally be the only human who sees it and while Oliver does seem to enjoy drinking from the tree stand and occasionally, grabbing at the ornaments, I am not convinced he will miss it. However, will I? I don't know.

If I get it early enough, my daughter and I can at least have the time to go pick one out and decorate it, that's always fun. Would I be cheating her of that if I don't get a tree? Should I make the decision hers?

This shouldn't be so difficult.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Social Poetry?

I've been trying to put together a long-form poetry and over the last, I don't know, 6-8 weeks or so, have only been able to come up with verses that don't necessarily work together. I've been posting them to Facebook but since some of you taht read this blog don't see my Facebook feed, I thought I would compile some of them here:

The first two are related and were written on the same day:
It's a cool fall Friday morning
and while I'm working I'm thinking of you
I hope you're somewhere smiling, that your day is all you want it to be
and maybe for a moment, that you are thinking 'bout me
* * * * * * * * * *
It's still the same brisk Friday
But the working day is through
I sit here counting blessings
And thinking about you
* * * * * * * * * *

These next three were all written either just before I was going to bed or while I was trying to get to sleep, but couldn't get there so easily:

I know I should be sleeping
but I've got you on my mind
there's so much I want to say to you
with the words that I can't find
* * * * * * * * * *
before i close my eyes
before i call it a night
through any and all of the darkness
you are my source of light
* * * * * * * * * *
Before I drift off to dream
know that it's you that I'll be dreamin' of
In dreams a thousand miles are just a few steps away
and now I must go lay my head down

Finally, a Haiku I wrote today:

Touched by the spirit
lost in a magical world
enchanted by you

Friday, November 23, 2012

Holiday Spirit

I find it really sad that the retail community has shifted black Friday to begin earlier and earlier, and in some places, on Thanksgiving. So when it came to today, though I have chores and grading to complete, I wanted to enjoy the day and do something spirited and and anti-black Friday I can think of.

My daughter and I started by going to a place called "Candy World 'N Mor"; which has a many aisles of candy stacked with candy topped (and bottomed) by even more candy. Additionally, they have other bargainy items and then, yet more candy. I spent $33.85 in there! My daughter was super happy, so it was worth it, and pretty fun! They even had a few sugar free items that made me happy.

Next up was lunch. Initially, daughter wanted pizza, which changed to "anything delicious". A quick check on Yelp and I found a very nearby place called, "Georgio's Roast Beef and Pizza". Initially, I suggested getting a large Roast Beef sub and splitting it. My daughter looked at me with a no face, later explaining that she was sorry she didn't want to split anything but she was hungry. She ended up getting the "Super Beef" sandwich while I regrettably ordered a small eggplant parm sub. Her sandwich looked, and according to her was, delicious while mine flat out sucked. I didn't let it bother me to much, I was hanging with my kid and having a good day.

Next up, The Enchanted Village. I have to say, I allowed myself to be in the moment and surrender to the spirit and it really made for a good experience. Every few minutes, the song "White Christmas" plays and it actually snows in the village. Well, not real snow, foam snow, but you get the idea.

If was a nice day with my daughter, who is going to be away with her mom for a pretty long time during the Christmas holiday and I won't see her from a few days before Christmas until a few days into the new year.

Finally, look at my crazy cat:
I couldn't stop cracking up, he comes upstairs into my office and he's meowing up a storm with this super serious face - I look at him and there's this thing just hanging off his whiskers and it just flopped around as he was meowing. So funny!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

It's easy to get repetitive on a blog that I've written for this long and through many Thanksgivings. I should start right off by thanking you for coming hear and reading this blog. When I first started writing here and through the first couple of years, blogging was a far more popular form of social networking. I've made and held onto some great friends through this medium and have even met some of you. While the interactivity through comments and such have seemed to all but go away, I happen to know that there are more people coming to this blog now than have been in past times. So again, thank you for being a part of whatever this is.

I am grateful for my daughter who from the time she came into my life, made me realize that I had purpose in this world; as crazy as it might sound, I really had no idea that was the case before her.

I am grateful to my friends, my true friends, who have seen me through times in my life when I was just so filled with doubt, through the tough times to get through - for making me believe that there are people in the world that care about me.

This year, I am most grateful for one particular person in my life and for getting to know four other very special people that are the center of her world. I was just about ready to stop believing in certain things that are essential to believe in - now I know that no matter what, I've had the gift of meeting and knowing someone that proved to me beyond the shadow of any doubt that those things are real, they do exist and that possibilities are endless.'

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

From Under the Covers

The picture and this post were composed literally under the covers.

It was a long day,very hectic at times, somewhat emotional at times, But I am going to bed smiling, and thankful.

Monday, November 19, 2012

That Time of Year

This is a very difficult time of year for me. In fact, I am almost certain I've talked about this here, maybe even recently, but it's what's in my head at this moment, so a little blog therapy is an order.

My father died in March of 1993. His death came as a surprise for two reason, he wasn't all that old and, nobody would have expected my mother to outlive him.  The shock was so great that for the first few nights, my mother was convinced he'd be walking back in the door any time. Also, for the holidays that year, there was a place setting left for him, even 8 and 9 months after his death.

My mom passed away in September of 1997 and from the time my dad died until her passing, at least half of her life was spent in hospital beds. Needless to say, holidays were tolerated during that time rather than celebrated.

I moved to MA in September of 1998, I needed a reboot. However, while I have no regrets whatsoever for leaving NYC, there were only a couple of holiday seasons where the moment I was in was more joyful than the pain of reliving the loss of my parents and the traditions and spirit of the holidays of my younger days.

I know, that probably sounds sad and awful and likely more so than it actually was, I don't know how to effectively convey the feeling.

I do know that I have some more perspective as we head into Thanksgiving and while my daughter has always been a light for me, there are other reasons why my spirit feels stronger this year and why I am confident that this holiday season, while the memory of the joyous moments with my parents will remain with me, I have other reasons to be thankful and other sources of joy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Yet Another Five More Questions Answered from this Seemingly Endless Meme

Do you believe in life on other planets?
I’m not sciency enough to know whether or not the makeup of other planets is conducive to life but I can’t say there is no or has never been life on other planets. The way I see it, if our planet was able to evolve as it has and include such a wide array of life forms, it’s actually more logical to assume the possibility of life existing in some form on other planets.

At what point of your life do you think you started to understand who you are?
I like to think of myself as a constant work in progress J Seriously, in grad school was where I got a clearer picture of the teacher aspect of who I am and my general philosophy of education as a cornerstone for the advancement of civilization.

Are there times when you thought you had taken a fall, only to discover more about yourself?
Back in college, I got my first credit card. I was sure I was a reasonably responsible person but I had no idea what the heck I was thinking or how I managed to rationalize what became a several year period of spending to excess and running credit card bills up. By the time I was 27, I had amassed debt that was more than twice my annual salary at the time and I was physically ill, stressed and anxious at the burden of debt. Eventually, I filed for bankruptcy and it was the best thing I ever did – it was a hard lesson but I have never been in debt since.

Who just doesn’t get it?
Fundamentalists. In this country, we have a very large number of fundamentalist Christians who carry around the bible as if it were a rule book and they choose to interpret it, incorrectly, and hold those interpretations as law.

Do you work out? Have you ever joined a gym and quit almost immediately?
I work out every day, been doing that for just over two years and am very proud of that. However, I have not always had that kind of discipline. There was one time I joined gym and never went back, the only time I had ever been in that particular gym was the day I signed up. Another time I was a member of a gym that was open 24/7; it was in NY and I don’t know if it was cultural or a matter of the time and place (this was late 80’s early 90’s), people would kind of doll themselves up to go there and there was less working out than there was picking up – super strange place, I only went there regularly for a few months then abandoned it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Library and Boy Bands (and a little USPS)

I stopped at the main branch of the Library in Framingham at lunch yesterday to peruse the CD's and donate some books. Normally I would donate first to my town library but I got such a great deal on a few books the day before at the book sale, I wanted to pay it forward.

I ended up meeting the woman who donated some of the books I bought - turns out her daughter made one of those instant decisions that she was no longer into boy bands and wanted to be rid of all of her stuff. She had brought all of the books and videos to the library the day before I got there - I got lucky. Yesterday, she brought in the box with the older boy band stuff - 98 degrees and NKOTB, etc. It was super funny because there was an entire shelf of these literary masterpieces and right beneath it, an entire shelf of boy band stuff.
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You may recall that I mailed 4 dozen cookies to my friend John (Cookies for a Cause) on Tuesday. I sent them priority mail, which you pay a premium for to get them there in 2-3 days (MA to NY should be 2 days). As I was tracking it online, it went from MA to NH, which is in the opposite direction and then worse, yesterday ended up in TAMPA (Florida). I know it left TAMPA this morning, I just hope it gets to NY today and delivered - they are cookies for petes sake!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Joyful Noises

Last Wednesday, the 7th, I asked you all to send good thought, vibes, prayers and the sort to someone very special. I didn't give you much more than that but asked that you just do it as a favor, out of the kindness of your heart. I am happy to tell you that all is fine...thank you so much for just doing and not asking. I posted to FB earlier, "Have you ever been so happy to hear something that you just explode with joy?" This was the news I was referring to, it was one of those reactions that had to be a physical reaction to the emotional response...so great!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This was a great email I received from a student:

Hi Professor,
I have to share this story with you because I owe you for sharing your knowledge.

I just about had a heart attack this evening when I realized that I left my thumb drive in a school computer today. I was worried because of course all my school documents and research papers that I have accumulated during the school year are on this dr
ive. I had not bothered to back it up recently, and I just finished working on a 7 page essay which was only stored on this drive.

Thankfully, when I went back to school it was still in the computer in the Writing Center. The first thing I did when I got home was create a folder in Dropbox and synced everything and now it's in "the cloud".

I can't thank you enough for introducing this service to me for I had no idea it existed until you assigned it as a project.

 
Those are the ones you look forward to!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Miercoles of Blog Posts

People apparently missed me at work when I was out for three days - the last two have been super busy and in fact, after I returned from lunch, I actually had a line of people waiting to see me.

I may have to rethink taking orders for cookies - lol! Seriously, six people have asked so far. On a more seriously good note, one person confirmed to me that they were participating in Cookies for a Cause, so the Cookie Monster will be getting some cookies!!!

The Framingham Library main branch has a perpetual book sale fundraiser that I occasionally peruse. I'm not as much for buying books as I am for borrowing but sometimes you find things on the sale racks that just make sense. Today, I scored  few gems that will make a certain Anime fan and a certain One Direction fan happy. I sometimes feel like I'm stealing though, they sell books super cheap - even new and popular ones.

This song was in my head today:
 
While the cold hasn't yet arrived, the finger cracking has begun...ouch!
 
Has anyone ever actually made it through an entire can of bag balm?
 
I'm excited about the buzz and soon to be release date for my friend Dan's novel, being released on 12/12/12.
 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Best Oatmeal Cookie You've Ever Had!

This is a minor variation on a recipe that's appeared on the Quaker Oats canister (I think). It's from the "Southern Living Cooking School". My main modification is replacing 1/2 of the chocolate chips with peanut butter chips (replacement reflected below). I know, seems very minor but it totally changes the cookie from great to out of this world.

Notes:
I don't use the pecans. If you love nuts in your cookies, pecans are a great addition but for me, this cookie is perfect without them and adding them is not only unnecessary, it's overkill; the peanut butter chip modification does the trick better.

I use a Silpat and/or parchment paper instead of the cooking spray on the cookie sheet; I highly recommend one of those over the cooking spray.
 
Ingredients:
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups uncooked regular oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
No-Stick Cooking Spray*

  • Beat shortening at medium speed with electric mixer until fluffy.
  • Gradually add sugars, beating well.
  • Add extracts and eggs; beat well.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and oats.
  • Gradually add dry ingredient mixture to shortening mixture, beating well.
  • Stir in pecans and chocolate morsels.
  • Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
  • Bake at 350o for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Cool slightly on baking sheets; remove to wire racks, and cool completely.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Laking it Till I'm Making it

I thought I was going to have a day to spend with my daughter but that got smashed early so with most of a day to kill and riding solo, I wanted to figure out how to take advantage of the type of weather we are not likely to see again for months - so I took a drive to a nearby lake and pondered.

the picture to the right is a shot of Lake Cotchituate with an appearance by the beautiful sun whose beams were far brighter than usual for this time of year.

I hung around by the water's edge for an hour or so, listening to the water rippling against the shoreline, letting the wind blow through my hair and trying to surrender to the moment and just feel. There was a point where this song came to mind:

What beautiful words:
You fill up my senses like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses come fill me again

Come let me love you let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you let me always be with you
Come let me love you come love me again

Let me give my life to you come let me love you come love me again
You fill up my senses...
 
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I baked 6 dozen cookies today, packed up 4 dozen to go to my friend as part of Cookies for a Cause. Used gloves and a surgical mask (and I'm not even Japanese).
 
Got a lot of grading done.
 
Hoping to take a little trip soon, sort of a birthday present to myself - hopefully the timing is right.
 
Back to work tomorrow after three sick days followed by a three day weekend. Still not 100% but working on it.
 

 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Little Bits of a Particular Sunday

This particular cold I have doesn't seem to want to go away! It's a pain at this point because I am so bored of resting but I don't want to relapse into something worse; so, I am trying to find balance.

I am baking my "Cookies for a Cause" tomorrow - I am going with "Best Ever Oatmeal Cookies", which is a minor variation on the classic recipe found on most Quaker Oats cans. I'll add the recipe to this blog soon.

I had one of my favorite "it's Sunday, treat yourself to a fun breakfast" foods today, Breakfast Pizza. Shout out to the Sherborn Sandwich & Pizza shop.

While the Pats ended the game on the winning side, they played crappy!

My daughter and I had fun hanging out today - not really doing anything special - watch TV, chat, eat, stuff like that, but we enjoyed it!

I need to come up with another project for my students, I know what it's going to be but I need to put it on paper and build a rubric....teacher nerd-speak.

Oh, I just remembered! When I was at the Sherborn Sandwich & Pizza shop, while I was waiting for the food, I overheard a woman placing an order that included a B.L.T. The counter girl that was taking the order asked, "did you want the bread toasted?" This threw me, I never even thought of a B.L.T. without toasted bread, that seemed super weird to me. Then, what appeared even weirder, the lady placinng the order said, "oh, I don't know, lemme run to the car and ask my granddaughter." She returns and says, "no, not toasted - she doesn't want the bread toasted." I was stunned.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cookies for a Cause

Let me start with my Facebook post that planted the seed for this idea:

"A big FB salute to my friend John Blue. John served NYC for 20+ yrs on the police force and retired a little over a yr. and he and his wife got a house on Breezy Point. Sandy decided to take their home from them but not their soul or spirit. John's out there every day doing what needs to be done selfishly helping others even in the wake of is own adversity. Dude, what an amazing example of human kindness you are showing and thank you for sharing."

John is affectionately known as the Cookie Monster and he often refers to us as "all you cookies out there". I first had the notion to bake some cookies and send them to John and then I thought, hey, what if we all do that?

That is what Cookies for a Cause is all about, what I am asking you dear reader, if you are someone who bakes cookies, consider baking a batch and sending them to John; or perhaps bake cookies for your family and add an extra batch for John. Knowing John, ever the kind Cookie Monster, he will not only enjoy and appreciate them but he will share them with those that he is working with in his community to restore order and peace, and the other families who have lost so much.

So, what do you'd say? You with me? I'm going to post a link to this on FB and omit John from that feed and hopefully it will work so it works out as a surprise - right now, John, and everyone in Breezy and Rockaway need a nice surprise.
 
Here's where you can send John his cookies:
John Paolillo
1681 McDonald Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11230

If you are sending from outside of NY/NJ, I recommend priority mail. There are 2 flat rate mailers you can get at the post office that are $5.35 regardless of weight. One of them is a small corrugated box, I've used these to send between 15-18 cookies (average size about 2-2 1/2"). There is also a large tyvek envelope that is not rigid but perfect for using a plastic container to mail with.

Don't forget to add a note of encouragement!

I plan on making cookies on Monday or Tuesday and mailing them the following day. I hope you will all consider joining in!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Matthew

Last year, I told you all about a very young boy, the son of a former colleague, who was diagnosed with Leukemia. I thought you would like to see this fabulous update his mom posted yesterday. A few weeks ago, Matty's mom visited our campus with him and his younger brother and little baby sister and seeing young Matthew reminded me that there is reason to hope and prayer does still mean something.
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One year ago, life was uncertain. Matthew was weak, running fevers in the afternoon intermittently. One year ago, we were in and out of the doctor’s office with questions on why Matt seemed lethargic and had bumps on his body. One year ago, we received a diagnosis.

This year was a lesson. It was a true test of strength. We watched Matthew suffer and then we watched him thrive. Initially Matthew was confined to the walls of a hospital bed. He could not walk initially because he was so weak. Matthew lost his dignity. He had to wear a mask when he left the confines of his hospital bed. He was unable to see his friends and play. Matthew received surgery to implant his port, numerous blood and platelet transfusions, and strong doses of chemotherapy medications in his port and intrathecally.

In the darkness, we experienced light. We received the love of family, friends, doctors and nurses to brighten our days.

December brought a diagnosis of remission. This was the happiest day of my life. Matthew was able to go home. He began outpatient treatment, visiting his hospital team, Mary Jo, Suzanne, and Caroline. We cherished the love of Joshua and Matthew who missed each other so dearly. Family, friends and our community pitched in to help in ways that we could never be repay but hopefully pay forward.

January, Matthew re-assimilated into Pre-school, gaining dignity back when he was able to live like a little boy again and gaining confidence while playing with his friends. We saw him accept his life.

March brought the toughest stage of his treatment after the initial hospital admittance. Lucy blessed our world amidst it all. Matthew took such joy in his baby sister. Matthew had treatments nearly every day on some weeks. Bald, puffy but resilient he continued to play with Joshua, his neighbors, friends and attended school.

Summer came and Matthew began to flourish. His hair grew back. We began to laugh frequently and live. We swam at the pool club, attended the Y, went on vacations with our families and got together with friends.
We moved to Medfield in Sept. Matt began Kindergarten. His teacher describes him as always making them laugh with little stories. He met new friends and is beginning to read site words.

There are no words to describe how truly resilient Matthew is. He is so proud that he can do the monkey bars, kick a soccer ball, and read his mini books. He lives a life that most people could never imagine their children or themselves living. Matthew takes the pills, stereroids, fasting and treatments in stride. He displays sensitivity and love to the people in his life, intertwined with the spunk of a five year old little guy.

God has blessed our lives in so many ways this year. Matthew is alive, healthy and thriving! He teaches us courage, endurance, patience, faith and humor! Thank you so much for supporting us through this journey.