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.
* * * * * *
In baseball news, I think the Yankees need to stop already with the 40+ year old injury prone vets and start building new talent.
* * * * *
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.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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.
********************
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.

And It Is Friday Morning

Not sure what the deal with this cold is. Wednesday, I woke up with a sore throat that as I wrote here, felt like a steel wool pad was lodged in there. Thursday, the throat was fine but my head was pretty badly congested, felt like it was in a vice. Also, I was coughing more than on Wednesday. In general though, by the end of the day even though I new I wasn't close to 100%, I felt way better than the day before.

Today, the sore throat is back, it's not nearly as severe but there is still that annoying scratchy feeling and there is still a cough. Once I drop my daughter off at school, and I make two necessary stops at the grocer and post office, I have another midday nap in my plans to continue to rest and heal.

I have two sets of plans this evening. A friend is appearing in a play and I have not just a seat, but a front row seat - this will be a distraction to the cast of I can't control my cough. I bought the ticket over a month ago, I didn't plan on having a cough.

Later the Road Dawgs are playing an important gig where they are competing for a spot in the venue. I'd like to be there for my friends at a time when they need their friends to be there for them, so ill try my best to show up, if even for a short while.

Fortunately, this is a holiday weekend so I have Monday off as well. I haven't been at work since Tuesday and when it's being sick that keeps me away, I actually miss it!

Catch up with all of you later.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Another Five More Questions Answered

When was the last time that you were called too thin?
There’s a nursing professor at the college, Sr. Baby – she’s a nun (though I don’t know which order). Sr. baby has a pretty heavy Indian accent and is very soft spoken but a sweet, patient lady. The other day, I was fixing a fax machine in the reception area and she came over and said, “You look very thin!” I turned and asked her, “Alright, what is it you need?” she smiled and said, “No, really, you lost lot of weight.” We then chatted about my health, weight loss and stuff for about 10 minutes and then she said, “When am I going to get a new computer for my office?” “AHA!!!” I said, “I knew you were looking for something!” Fun!

Tell us about your grandparents.
By the time I was born in December of 1964, all but one of my grandparents had died; only my dad’s mm was still alive. I know that my mother’s mother was severely diabetic and lost her vision and a leg to the disease. Her husband was not a very good man, my mother’s dad was as I recall from the stories somewhat abusive and an alcoholic – kind of a deadbeat.
I know my dad told stories of his dad but I sadly don’t recall any of them. My father’s mom, born in 1899, visited the U.S. only once in 1969, staying with us for about a month. I know that she didn’t like it here and wanted to get back to Italy! I remember her yelling at me and my brother, we were a couple of rascals.

How old were you when you started working and what was your first job?
Believe it or not, the first paid job I had was at the age of 9 years old, working at Hirsch Printing. The Hirsch family were neighborhood friends, father and son ran the print shop while the mom ran a corset shop. The print shop was at the end of our block, no streets to cross. I would sweep the floors and clean up initially – for $1.00 an hour. I worked there into my teens eventually doing some offset print work, collating, flyer distribution – it was a good time.

How do (or did) you parents feel about what you do for a living?
My parents sadly didn’t live long enough to see me work in my career. They did get to see me get my Master’s degree, which made my dad very proud.

When was the last time that you asked for your money back?
I don’t recall specifically but I have no problem doing so. I work really hard for my money and if I buy something, I expect to get what I pay for and when I don’t, I expect a refund.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Brief Update

Still feeling like crap but the fact is, my cold is the last thing on my mind right now.

Aside from all the hurricane aftermath that friends and family are dealing with, there's another concern on my mind.

My dear readers, in somewhere between 1800-1900 posts since 2004, it's rare if ever that I've asked you for anything but today, I am going to.

Someone very important to me needs some good vibes, good thoughts, prayers, whatever you can offer. I know, you want more but I can't give you more, so something else I ask is that you don't ask for more. Thanks, I knew I could count on you.

The photo here was taken at 11:36pm outside my front door. Not horrible here but along much of the path of hurricane Sandy, there is a nasty Nor'Easter that nobody needs right now. I know Mother Nature doesn't often assess the needs of others as she does her business but please.

That's all for today, I just took a dose of an allergy medicine that I stopped taking because it makes me feel crappy and sleepy. I already feel crappy and I need to sleep and it does stop my nose from running so I figured what the heck.

Goodnight, and thanks again.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Is That a Brillo Pad in My Throat or...

This morning at work I felt as if I was a step or two behind but I wasn't sure why. I left for lunch near noon and made a pitstop at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription then headed to Trader Joe's to grab a few items and lunch (using the $15 gift card a colleague gave me in gratitude for my assistance with her iPod-that story later).

After consuming my Reuben on Rye wrap in the car while listening to a Fitzdog podcast, I returned to work. When I settled back into my desk to check for the 768,423 emails (slight exaggeration) that came in the hour I was gone, I noticed that I was feeling even crappier than I did before I left, that wasn't in the plan.

When at the pharmacy, I picked up some zinc lozenges. Last time I felt the onset of a cold, I took zinc lozenges and Emergen-C and it worked great; so I thought I should try that remedy again (I still have an ample supply of Emergen-C at home).

By the time I left work at 3:45, I was feeling yet crappier, throat was ablaze and feeling like a steel wool pad had been lodged deep inside. I had to sto to pick up my daughter but then I headed home and got a cup or Pumpkin tea going almost immediately.

All I can do is rest and do the fluids thing and take care as best I can and hope this passes quickly. Now the Trader Joe's gift card story.

Denise at work is a generation older than I and her husband a generation older than that. As such, adapting tot technology is harder for them and they are at least realists and accept that about themselves. A year or so ago, they asked if I would go to their joys to setup a new DVD player they had purchased; I set it up and created an reference diagram for their remote illustrating how to switch between the DVD player and the cable box - they were grateful.

A few weeks ago, Denise mentioned to me that she wanted to buy an iPod but had no idea how to load songs onto it. I told her it was easy and she should go for it but she was afraid to make the purchase. I told her that I could help her - I showed her in 5 mins. Using my iPhone and she then went to make the purchase. She figured it all out and in gratitude, gave me the gift card.

Monday, November 05, 2012

May I Place an Order?

A couple of weeks ago, I made some delicious cookies, I posted the recipe on this very blog right here. I brought a few of these cookies into work, partly because I enjoy sharing and partly because I want to get them out of the house faster so I am not tempted. most enjoyed the cookies very much, some more than others but that's about how it usually goes.

Today, I'm walking through the halls on campus and a colleague stops me and asks if I was taking orders for "those fantastic pumpkin cookies". I laughed loud enough to get a teacher in a nearby classroom to stick her head out, make a face, then close the door. I told my colleague that I was glad they liked them but I in fact, was not taking orders. I went about my day moderately entertained at the request.

Several hours later, another colleague approached me and he said the following, "I didn't know you take orders for your baked goods." I busted a gut, not sure at this point if it was just a practical joke but I did reply that I was not taking orders and just kept laughing.

Look, they were very yummy cookies, in fact, my next batch of them will be a sugar-free (ish) version friendly for diabetics (and pre-diabetics).

Sunday, November 04, 2012

5 More Questions Answered

I think it was a couple of weeks a go I did a post called 5 qeustions answered. That, this and a couple of future posts will feature questions taken from a collection of memes I found.

Can you do any accents? If not, do you know someone who is good at it?
I’ve dabbled in them and I think if I had the need to be good at them, I could become relatively proficient. I don’t know of any of my friends who do accents (other than those who already have accents other than mine).
Do you, or have you ever, thought you have a book in you?
Yes, have even had a few false starts. I don’t know that I’d ever pop out a novel, but I’ve written very short stories, poems and a few essays and even begun a screenplay. Several times I’ve started putting a poetry collection together with the premise of talking about each poem from the writer perspective: inspiration, storyline, scenario, thoughts, etc.

How does the weather effect where you live?
The common saying here in New England is if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. There are days when I’ve awoken to feet of snow outside and others with triple-digit temps, and everywhere in between. I’ve celebrated my birthday, in December, in below zero temps and in 70 degree temps, all right here.

What was the last thing that you did to help someone?
Something that I often do, at the grocery store, I can reach all the shelves and am often asked by people shorter than I, in particular elderly ladies, to help them with some top shelf items.

Have you been or are you a vegetarian? Thoughts?
I was a vegetarian for nine years. I became one after reading about the digestive system and kind of getting grossed out. I have no problems with it, I do find it interesting that there are so many different reasons for people choosing to be a vegetarian and how many different types of vegetarian’s there are.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Mail Call

I remember when I was younger, especially when I didn't have any or many responsibilities, I loved the idea of getting mail. A few times over the last couple of years, my (now 14 year old) daughter had said after I stooped in the driveway to retrieve the mail for the day, "I never get any mail!" She said it with kind of a disappointed/sadish tone.

I told her how I used to always want mail and on the rare occasion I got some, how excited I was. I told her that as I got older, and had more financial obligations, getting mail was not so much fun because getting mail almost always meant getting another bill that had to be paid.

There are though, instances where the mail can be fun, and make you feel good. Many years ago, an old boss turned me on to a book called "The Groucho Letters". The book was correspondence between Groucho Marx and family and show biz industry people and friends. At the time, the book inspired me to send an occasional hand written letter every so often. I haven't kept up all these years letter but I have sent a few over the more recent years and they are also met with great appreciation.

More recently, I've been inspired to write to some very special people and it brings me so much joy not only because it's something other than a bill to deal with but it gives me the opportunity to reach out to people I care about.

I received a really special piece of mail on Friday and while I always love getting "good" mail, Friday was the last day of a very trying week and this one piece of mail really took an entire week of really hard emotions (courtesy of the wrath of Hurricane Sandy and it's effects on friends and family) and let me put the bad stuff aside long enough to just smile and be happy (thank you!).

For all you readers out there who might find a few minutes of spare time, find yourself a bland sheet of paper and a comfortable writing implement and write a letter to someone - trust me, it will make you and whomever you send it to feel good.

Friday, November 02, 2012

How Could I Not Get Emotional

NBC aired a 1hour telethon style event to raise funds for the American Red Cross relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy.

As I watched the footage in between and during the performances, I just could not help but break down, again.

I've seen a few of these disasters now over the last few years but this time, the landscape was familiar turf, places I have memories of.

I feel very helpless and even useless. I donated to the American Red Cross and I know that means something but I just feel like I should do more.

I hope those whose lives have been thrown for a loop can bounce back sooner rather than later.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Something I Wrote

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.

I thought about you today. Not that that is earth shattering news, I think about you much of the time. I sometimes zone out of wherever I am only to imagine you in the same place with me and of course, me wherever you are. It's often during these times a passing stranger will notice me smile and either smile as well or walk faster, head pointing down, not understanding at all.

I just read what I wrote above, made me think of you again, and again, I smiled.