Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Stuff

A reasonably nice weather day for Easter today. I picked up Vickie at her mom's and was surprised that she chose to wear a dress for church. After the service, the little kids had an Easter egg hunt while the rest of us hung out inside for some food.

Vickie and I watched a movie called "The Machinist" starring Christian Bale; the movie was awesome (though Vickie talked through the entire thing :) ).

Remember the Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies I mentioned yesterday? I baked a test batch today. Interesting recipe and concept, Vickie loves them, want to make a tweak tomorrow - I'm sending some to my friend's Cathy and Chuck's son Chris who is away at college and another batch to my 5 favorite folks in the Midwest.

Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of my dad's death, along with my cousin's wife passing this week and word of the son of some friend's from church passing earlier this morning - some of the Easter service and music really took on a very different meaning today.

I'm thrilled that the Mineo's have agreed to host the next friend's reunion on April 20th but I am concerned that so few of our core group have responded to the invite as of yet. Regardless, I'll be heading to NY earlier that day to distribute handmade afghans to victims of hurricane sandy in Breezy Point and the Rockaways.

My daughter and I heard this new sond by Fall Out Boy today and we both realy like it. Check it out:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Quicky Notes

  • Got a 5.75 mile outdoor walk in today.
  • Found a recipe called, "Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies", making them either tomorrow or Monday.
  • Stupid "Choice Hotels" charged me for a hotel room that I cancelled and never used; fighting that one for sure.
  • Verizon tried to rip me off by a so-called "billing error" - I of course read my bill and yelled at them. Verizon is on a thin wire with me. I won't do business with either satellite provider and the only other choice is Comcast. I may still switch just to screw them for a while.
  • I need to make a choice on a treadmill already, I really need to have one here.
  • Have you ever heard of a recumbent elliptical? I hadn't until I was in a store that sells fitness equipment last week; very interesting item.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Bad Choice

Last Sunday night I made a hotel reservation on ChoiceHotels.com for the following Tuesday night down in NY where I attended the funeral. That same night, I founder a less expensive room and cancelled that reservation, within the acceptable time frame indicated to not be charged and received an email confirming the cancellation.

Today, I am reconciling my books and notice that ChoiceHotels charged my AMEX card for the cancelled room! Those fuckers! I called them, got bounced around and had to forward the email they sent me as they were unable to come up with the cancellation on their computer system even though I provided the cancellation number they gave me.

This is so wrong - sorry, I don't accept this and think they should not only provide the appropriate credit but I feel I should be compensated for the error. Lord knows if I "screwed up" they would charge me.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bereavement Haiku Session

As you know, my cousin lost his wife. Over the two days I spent with the family for the funeral, as sort of a therapy, I wrote and a number of haiku's came to me; I put them on FB as they came to me but I have collected them here:

the love of my life
taken from me, i am lost
my heart is broken
**************************
though the pain is great
for my kids, i must move on
i need to be strong
**************************
i still feel you here
you will always be with me
right here in my heart
**************************
our time was too short
our love will always remain
your spirit lives on
**************************
i'm all out of tears
when will this sadness subside?
when will i have peace
**************************
on the other side
your soul has passed through this world
look down upon us
**************************
the final goodbye
though your body has left us
your spirit lives on

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

One Bad Maneuver

It's been a long two day stretch. I believe I summarized yesterday for you - today, on short rest, I awoke at 6:15 and hit the "gym" at the less than stellar Days Inn Woodbridge/Iselin and thought I might grab some some of the "free" breakfast in the lobby. I never have awesome expectations but I figured I might get a piece of fruit, some yogurt maybe, and every now and again - there may be a waffle machine. This dump had bread, a toaster, some dry kiddie cereal and juice - NO, NO, NO and N-O!!! I settled for my post workout protein shot and some water.

I had a short stay on FB before getting ready for the funeral service and cemetery. After checking out of the hotel, I made my way to Staten Island with enough time to deal with any traffic events that might happen (surprisingly, none did), and if not, to get some breakfast. I decided once I got to the church and parked, to ensure a spot, I would walk to the closest Dunkin Donuts, which was 0.6 miles away according to Yelp!.

I was okay with getting another brisk walk in even though I had already worked out. My plan was to get their new egg white and turkey sausage flat bread sandwich with my coffee. I figured I'd get some sustenance and protein but lo an behold, the turkey sausage was missing - I brought the sandwich back up to the counter and they said, "no, turkey inside". "No, it isn't, see?" (Me holding open sandwich clearly missing a sausage patty. "Turkey inside egg!" Then I got it, there were microscopic bits of turkey sausage cooked into the egg - that blows!!!

I should have listened to my gut and just gave it back and got my money back for this mockery but I needed to take a bite to see what the deal was and boy, did I regret that; what a piece of undelicious crap. I literally left it there on the table and walked out in disgust.

About twice a year, I get a strong urge, that I satisfy, for a McD's Sausage, Egg and Cheese McGriddle. After the debacle at Dunkin, I noticed a McD's across the street and thought that #1 of 2013 had to happen. I go in and ask for a McGriddle (as configured above) and she asks me, "Would you like 2 for $3?" "I would love to be able to eat 2 but I am watching my figure (chucking), so I'll just have 1." "That'll be $3.28." "What? You will give me 2 for $3 but only 1 for $3.28?" "Yes sir, don' forget, the $3 for 2 doesn't have the tax added yet." I just don't get the McMath of it all, 2 was 1 cent less than 1. So, I took two, ate 1, texted my sister that I had an extra just in case anyone was hungry. Nobody ever ate the second one, so I eventually threw it away but did not feel guilty, it was paid for.

My cousins kids were very brave at the funeral and even spoke. It was sad though. the ride to the cemetery was short in distance but long in time and was very emotionally draining - Emma's parents were so broken at this point, it was so hard to see them like that. My cousin was so strong, as were his kids.

We all later retreated for a meal together and this turned out to be some nice joyous family time but ran long as the service was quite slow. It was time to say goodbye to all and as I left, I messaged another cousin that lives nearby hoping to say hi for a very short time before the long drive back to MA but it didn't work out. I began my journey home and made a turn, then a small decision that ended up adding over an hour to my journey. I made it home safely though in a little over 5 hours.

Tomorrow, it's back to work. I hope Julian and the kids can be strong and find their way through this hard time. Oh, and thanks to all of you who've reached out with your condolences, that is very sweet!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

From a Day Inn in New Jersey

I left MA around 8:30 this morning and was able to go a solid hour and a half before taking a short break to ease the pressure on the sciatic nerve, stretch, get a cup of coffee and a morsel for fortification and a schosh of gas to get me to NJ, where just about the only thing worth anything in NJ is the low price of gas, (sorry, I have never liked NJ - gas price was 3.319 full service).

Once back on the road, I made it straight through to NJ, about another 3ish hours. I took in a workout on the treadmill in the crappy hotel fitness center - for a number of reasons, then I showered, changed and made my way into Staten Island to meet up with the family for dinner before the wake.

I did get to see some family and a few friends that I hadn't seen in a very long time. Of course, there was that awkward "sorry it had to be under these circumstances" thing but it was still nice to see them.

I know that tomorrow will be very, very difficult, especially for my cousin, his children and Emma's parents. I hope that all will find peace and find a way to move forward. Thanks to all of your for your kind thoughts and prayers!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Scrambled

Sometimes the politics of the workplace make the frustration so unbearable taht you want to scream! People refuse to admit to a mistake and accepting that sometimes writing something off as a loss makes far more sense than beating a dead horse; it makes me wonder if some of these people are in public sector only because they couldn't survive a minute in the private sector.
* * * * * * * * * *
My Thyroid Cancer Awareness bracelet broke! I wear the thing every day, took it off to shower and it snapped right on the C in Cancer. I immediately went to www.thyca.org and found out how to get another and ordered a 3 pack. That bracelet has a special significance to me, I hope the new ones get here soon.
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I don't care for March Madness.
I don't think Tyler Perry is funny.
I think that the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry this year will be focused on a battle for last place.
I watched a Jethro Tull concert performance from 1970 with my 14 year old daughter.
"The Voice" season 4 started today, it was a great show.
Less than 2 weeks until "Mad Men" returns.

That's all for now. See ya tomorrow from somewhere in the "Tri-State" area.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Pause from the Sadness - Happy Sunday!

Today was a very happy day! I picked up Vickie to go to church and we were both looking forward to a Palm Sunday tradition out our church, Hearts of Palm sandwiches after the service. I knew there would be a short supply because the woman who traditionally makes them was going to be away and left a (way) smaller than usual batch.

While in my role as lector, and participant in the role of "Peter" in the reading of the passion, I was quick to leave the sanctuary after the Eucharist so that I can get first crack at those delicious finger sandwiches - and to ensure my daughter would have a taste as well.

I volunteered to drive my friends kid home as she and her son had to rush home, we did so after sticking around another 15 or 20 minutes, giving her a chance to play with the other kids more and me and Vickie a chance to socialize, her amongst her teen friends and me with the adults.

After dropping little Carly off, Vickie and I went for brunch, then we went to buy a fedora for her, then we went to hang out and play around at Guitar Center. We first were admiring electric guitars and basses. We each took a photo with a cool guitar:


We then went into the drum room. There was some dude rocking out on drums so I tried to add accompaniment on the bongos - I think it pissed him off a little but I enjoyed it! We then fiddled with as many neat percussion thingamajigs we could get out hands on, Vickie tested out a double-bass pedal, and then we headed to keyboards.

Normally, Vickie will sit down at a keyboard and play for a while but not today, instead, we pushed a few buttons then retreated to the audio recording/live audio/DJ room where I did a badass David Guetta impression.

Next up, the acoustic room for some godawful strumming then a final sweep of the rest of the store which featured me on the world's shortest ukulele solo (unofficial) before we left.

We had lots of fun - I made some chocolate truffles:
Making these, made me want to own a chocolate tempering machine (because tempering chocolate without one is tedious and complex). They are bittersweet chocolate with a hint of orange!

Lots of good stuff, we shared lots of fun and laughs.

R.I.P. Emma (Saturday Was Harsh)

I was somewhat cryptic over the last few days, not because I wanted to be, but I was trying to be respectful of my cousin's wishes. It is with such great sadness that I report that my cousin Julian's wife Emma passed away at 2am on Saturday. Emma was in her mid 40's and the mother of 4 children as well as the love of my cousin's life - hearing his heartbreak has been heartbreaking to all of us.

I was out Friday night hanging with "The Road Dawgs", celebrating tow of their birthdays as well as helping out with photos and video. I got home around 1 or so then stood up for about an hour. I was woken by the phone around 8 am to learn of Emma's passing but didn't put it together until much later in the day that right around the time I went to bed is when Emma died; there's an awful kind of punctuation effect of the unpredictability of life in that realization (for me anyway).

I'll be driving down to NY on Tuesday morning to attend the wake and then the funeral on Wednesday before driving back. Lot's of time for reflection.

If you are reading this, please send good thought and/or prayers to Julian and his kids to after having to go through a funeral, during holy week to boot (which has significance for their family), must find a way to move on.

R.I.P. Emma

Friday, March 22, 2013

Back

For the last couple of days, my back has not felt good at all. I was at the vet yesterday and when I went down to pick up the cat carrier, some guy held his hand out to help me get up uttering, "I can see your pain, I'm just getting over it myself." It's not the first nor will it be the last time my back flares up but as in the past, I'm pretty sure that in a week or two, maybe three, it will be okay. I can't bring myself to complain about it this time though because my cousin's wife is fighting for her life, and losing her battle.

Death always has some effect, more so when it's someone in your own age group or younger. The brink of death, the battle for life, all of it aside from the normal emotional of familial attachments to the person, we are forced to confront our own mortality during these times.

Treasure what you have and the people that you call family and friends - the people that are good to you.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sad

I can't say a whole lot more than I did on Facebook the other day, that is, a family member is very ill, gravely so. A woman in her 40's with 4 children and a loving husband - it's all very sad right now.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Goth Baby 1D

Goth Baby's big sister is a big 1D fan, so he hears their music all the time and it makes him smile and dance. One day, their mom saw this cute 1D hat that's baby sized, so she got it for the boy and he kind of has a crush on the cute little girl on the hat, so he's thinking about her but she only has 1 heart and all her thoughts are on 1D.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Snow that Broke the Blower's Back

Just this season I talked about how my snow thrower has made it into it's 11th winter still working its magic. Well, today, on the heels of the passing of my treadmill, my snow blower showed signs of its age and was no longer able to perform its job after only a little more than half the work was done.

Now I must carefully decide if I invest in a repair or a replacement. On the repair side, just the cost of pickup, deliver and diagnostics will get me to $200 and I would safely assume the parts I know it will need will add $100 to that - so the minimum repair bill I see is $300, again, for an 11 year old machine. To purchase a new, comparable machine will cost between $1,000 and $1,200 but considering the time of year, I may be able to get some better deals on an end of season closeout.

Right now my thought is to wait it out. If we have another major blast, I will need to suck it up and pay a plow but short of that, I have time to explore my options - perhaps looking into the cost of buying those few parts and replacing those myself to see if that will work, and then there is the option of placing this on Craigslist, attempting to get a few bucks for it toward the purchase of a new machine.

Decisions, decision....I hate the sorts of decisions but sometimes, they can't be avoided, so I guess I must just roll with it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Midterm Grades and Spring Break

It's spring break week at the college, so there are many fewer students around; which is a welcome break.

As a teacher, midterm grades are issued around now - I just completed calculating and submitting mine. It's kind of grim thus far, here's the breakdown:

A      2
A-     4
B+     2
B      3
B-     1
C+     0
C      1
C-     1
D+     1
D      3
F      9
Total 27

There were 36 at the start, 9 have abandoned the class in some form. Of the remaining 27, 1/3 are failing and the sad part, it's just laziness - not submitting work; hopefully they get their ass in gear and try to turn things around in the second half.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Art of Asking

A compelling TED talk that I heard about today from a dude on NPR - this is way interesting.


Billy the Boxer

My friends Kathy and Chuck added a puppy to their family a few months ago. Today, my daughter and I were invited over to enjoy a meal of Corned Beef and Cabbage and a visit with everyone, including the rapidly growing dog.

Billy has tripled or more in size since I first saw him and he's just so lovable and friendly. His eyes are all buggy from the flash and in fact, I used a special effect to tone the flash effect down a bit.
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Last night, I went to bet at 9:30 pm, felt great to get a good night's sleep!
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Working on a new music CD project looking as a gift for an upcoming birthday, can't reveal much more right now.
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Fans of "Goth Baby" will have two new versions to view in the next few weeks.
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I received 10 or so hand made afghans from the knitting ministry at church. They've been making these over the past few months for the vicitims of Hurricane Sandy. Now that they are compelte and blessed, I will be delivering them sometime in April.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Post Script

Yesterday I made reference to my mailbox post, this is the jury-rigged version. Once, it stood firm in a concrete base beneath the earth just down and slightly to the right in the photo. If you look close enough, you may detect that the extension that the mailbox sits on is so worn, it barely stays attached to the post. I've added new nails a few weeks back but the wood is so shot that the nails barely hold it on. In fact, every few days, the extension and attached mailbox just fall away as if some form of mailbox post leprosy.

I planted the post into the 5 gallon bucket then dropped a 50 pound bag of sand I had in the garage then topped it with dirt, it tilts over as if to say, "I could've had a V8!" every couple of days, this picture is the jury-rig at it's best, which as you can see is quite sad.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have a new post and a commitment from a friend to help install - soon!
 
Treadmill shopping continues - right now the front runner (pun intended) is the NordicTrack Elite 9700 Pro. In fact, I emailed the salesman who assisted me with a few questions the other night who insisted I get back to him when ready for "the best deal available" so I will see where that gets me.
 
I put my non-functioning treadmill on the free listing on craigslist the other day and got 50 or so bites in less than an hour despite me saying it is broken and need a $300-$350 minimum repair. I took the add down and replied to a few folks so hopefully, one will show tomorrow and take the old one away.
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My car is really filthy and the extra daylight we are getting only serves to remind me for longer; I need to get to a car wash almost as bad as I need to get a haircut.
 
 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This Post is Not About Mildred Fleener

Had to throw in an Odd Couple reference for the title just because.

Officially had to rule out my first treadmill choice because it won't work in the space I have for it. I've got a few alternates and confirmed with my insurance company that they are going to pick up $400 of the cost (that's pretty sweet).

My mailbox post needs replacement, my friend Andy is going to help so today I went to Home Depot at lunch for supplies. In addition to a new post, I had to buy a bag of concrete mix and a back of rocks; this was very odd to me.

Because not all of you who read this blog are FB friends, this happened yesterday:
Just got to BJ's and there was this disheveled elderly woman working the can redemption machine with a sack that looks like she's been rummaging through trash cans all day for. I guessed it was about 5 or 6 bucks worth so I approached her and asked her if she would sell me her bag of cans for 20 dollars. "In a heartbeat handsome" She replied. I laughed so loud, gave her 20 bucks and she literally scampered away with glee as if she hit the jackpot. The door checker saw the whole thing and was laughing his ass off. I cashed in the cans at the service counter, $6.25 - how do I shop after this?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Quick (at least that's the intent before starting) Notes

Dead Treadmill (or DeadMill)
My treadmill died the other day and I am missing it so much, more than I ever thought possible to miss a piece of torture fitness equipment. I plan to replace it but don't want to do so hastily, I need to research current models and get the one I want. I thought about a short-term gym membership, maybe 2-3 months. I've noticed most offer a free 7 day pass, I might just go from gym to gym and get one 7 day pass after another - it'll get me a free moth or so and give me the chance to explore multiple gyms (though I hate gyms, which is why I like having home exercise equipment).

Pope
Glad they picked one. Not that I care anything about the Pope but at least there'll be less interruptions to TV programming.

Patent Trolls
Losers that extort money from good people. Right now, these jerks are threatening the podcasting community. Go to www.eff.org/shield to learn about and support the SHIELD ACT; a piece of legislation that will help curb these trolls.

Celebrity Wife Swap
I haven't watched in a long time, got old for me. However, most recent episode with Gilbert Gottfried and Alan Thick was very compelling.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Accidentally Rude

On Facebook earlier this evening:

Me: Is it possible to accidentally do something rude?

Joy Durham: Yes. I've done it.

Mario Marsillo: yes absolutely

Here's why I asked:
I was accidentally rude today and felt super bad. I was at Whole Foods at lunch and after I threw away my stuff, I somehow got some kind of lunch residue, possibly someone else's, from the trash receptacle and just went and made a grab at the napkins just above. What I failed to realize is that there was a woman gong for the same napkins and I basically stuck my hand above hers taking the napkins to clean the scuzz off my hand. She gave me a death stare once I noticed and I apologized and tried to explain that I was on autopilot hving been grossed out at the though of someone else's scuzz on my hand but she continued with the death stare and seemed to be unforgiving.

Mario offered some additional feedback after I posted the story:
I think she was just grossed out by what happened the reason didn't matter. I think there is an unforgiving vibe running around like a flu. This is the second story heard about Whole foods and unforgiving customers in two weeks. The first one was from a neighbor who said a customer yelled at a cashier for incorrect price scan and kept yelling while they were doing a price check alas the cashier was just doing protocol. People that buy high end foods are demanding a farmers markets hot beds of politics and media agendas.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wizardry

It's not uncommon to return to campus after a big storm and find many things electronic and/or computer related in some sort of disarray; this morning was no exception.Sorry in advance for any overly techno-geeky terminology.

First call was a biggie, nobody in the computer class was able to log in, the ended up extending to all four computer classrooms on campus - none of the computers could connect to the network, and they came to hunt me down. I had a pretty good idea where to look first and sure enough, none of the switches where all those computers connect to the network were powered on - turns out the "uninterruptable power supply" wasn't nearly as uninterruptable as it's claims, and had died. I had to do the quick fix and plug the switches directly into a wall until a new UPS could arrive but sure enough, the classroom was back in action and the dean of STEM referred to me as the "hero who saved the day" - to my boss (can't say that don't feel good).

Next up was the freshman nursing class in the auditorium, the instructor couldn't get the projector to power on. This is not uncommon on Monday's because there is a youth symphony that uses the auditorium as a rehearsal space on the weekend and very often, they blow a circuit breaker; that was my first thought but as the instructor and I were on the way to the auditorium, she mentioned that the computer was on - this couldn't be the case if the breaker was tripped. Turns out, underneath the podium, there is a stack of gadgetry and in the middle of that mess, is a power supply for the control panels at the top of the podium. The power switch to the projector works off that panel but that panel was not getting power as that power supply was as broken as the English I used to write this sentence. I made my move, powered on the unit and on came the projector and immediately, the instructor sighed with joy as the students sighed with the opposite of joy.

My work was done....until just before lunch, but I need not go into any more stories, it felt good to be the "wizard" who got things working for folks.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chaperone?

My daughter serves as an acolyte at church and today, they had a gathering to discuss an acolyte trip to Washington, DC on Columbus day weekend. All the kids got all jazzed up about how great it is going to be and people from past trips were talking up how great it's going to be and after a while, every kids was going nuts because they were so excited about going. Then, the deacon, who is in charge of the Acolyte corps said that they would not be able to go on the trip unless they were able to procure a male adult chaperone. It brought the vibe way down, all these kids who were ecstatic seconds ago were already acting as if the wind had been taken from their sails - I hated that and I wanted to see them all be happy again, so out of nowhere, I just raised my hand and yelled, "I'm in!"

The kids went nuts and the entire room gave me a round of applause as if I'd found the cure to something. It was so odd. I'm baffled that I did that, the idea of chaperoning scares the crap out of me! My daughter was so happy, all of them were. So, I guess I am going to Washington, D.C. in October.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

What?

This was an entry in a discussion board for a Sociology class. A former colleague who is in the class passed it on to me to let me know that she finally understands a bit more how difficult a teacher's job can be (names of writer have been changed to protect privacy, everything else, is exactly as posted including punctuation, or lack thereof):

Hello Classmates and Professor,
My name is Mary Jane I am 40 years and the mother of five out of which two are alive. I also have eight pets two dogs and six cats my cats are descendants of a cat my mother had when my 18 year old son was nine months old and he will be19 years old March 8th. I was born and raised in Arkansas. When I started going to college I was working on masters in Information Technology Systems then I changed to Bachelors Degree Web Design but with my learning disorder I could not master HTML coding so I changed degree again. Now I am working on to my Bachelors of Arts in Creative Writing / Fiction. When I have finished getting this degree I am going to work on getting Bachelors of Arts in Creative Writing / Poetry. My parents have always told me that I have writing in my blood because my cousin seven generations back on my dad side of the family is Thomas Payne the one who wrote Common Sense that started the American Revolution. I would like to be an author and get my poems and stories published that I have been writing since October 1985.19 days before I turned 13 years old when I first saw my soul mate and father of my children. I have a passion for writing and computers. Although I always had a hard time with my grammar skills and I am hoping to strengthen them in this class. My first English professor back in fall of 2000 told me that I could write a paper that would grab her attention right away and leave her want more but that my spelling and grammar skill could use a lot of work. So that is what I am here to do to get better at spelling and grammar because I have some good friend who tells me I should get my stories and poems published but I feel that I need to get better at spelling and grammar before I can get them good in enough to published. The reason I am going to college online is that I am mentally disable I have Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder) and Arkansas State will not allow me to go to college on campus because if I fell threaten or in danger my protector alter could out and hurt someone her name is Marissa and she has hurt someone before. I have nine different personalities and my therapist told my education did not have to die because I cannot go to college on campus because I could go to college online and use all my computer skills. I have a learning disorder where and very bad at math not good with name do not understand what I read I have to hear it to understand it but my mother got me a computer program that scan my book and read it back to me and even turn my books in to mp3 where I can go back and listen to them later. This is why I here studying at an online college to finally get my degree because I refuse to quit trying to get a degree I am going to have to show why I have student loans I also want my two sons that you do not give up on your education no matter what because my three daughters get their education from Jesus Christ because they died at birth and are in heaven!
Mary Jane

What? Please note this post is not made to poke fun and while there are a million thoughts that run through my mind as I read this again, even more than the first time I read it - I'll leave it at thought provoking and leave it open to conversation based on your comments if you wish to leave them.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

This Was a Day

I went to bed with the promise of a storm from the weatherfolk so when the alarm sounded at 5 am, my first instinct was to check the severity and wonder if it would be a snow day. I first took a peek to see if I received an emergency notification text - nope! Since it was still dark, I had to go into the garage and raise to door to see what was up and there was but a thin layer of almost nothing so I knew I would have to work, so I hit the dungeon for a workout.

By the time I resurfaced on the upper level, the daylight through the picture window gave me an unpleasant view of my mailbox post, which had fallen and couldn't get up. I grabbed by boots, jacket and a cap to go assess the damages. Not only did the mailbox post fall out from the ground but the mailbox itself, which rests firmly (via screws) to another length of wood perpendicular to the post and anchored (though no longer) via a diagonal piece of wood.

I attempted to re-anchor the post but it was going nowhere - I ran down the driveway (walked gingerly keeping a low center of gravity to avoid slipping on black ice) to retrieve a hammer and shovel from the garage and chuckling on the way back because it felt like a scene from a bad horror film.

I returned to attempt to dig around where the post once stood firm and there is a large concrete block that wasn't budging. I re-nailed the mailbox anchor to the post, where it held but showed it's need for replacement as the wood is old and the nails are not firmly planted; but, it was enough for now. I then walked the mailbox/post assembly back to the garage and found a 5 gallon bucket and a 50 pound back of sand. I propped the mailbox assembly into the bucket and poured the bag of sand in the bucket surrounding the post. As I carried it back to it's area at the head of the driveway, I knew it wasn't a long term solution. In fact, I used the shovel to grab some loose dirt to fill out the bucket and pack it down a bit to make the hold on the post firmer. I then dug a little pit into the dirt area just next to the concrete piece where the post was previously lodged and I had a short term working solution. I need to get a new post and take care of that sooner rather than later.

I then had to hurry about my getting ready for work and eventually made it there (a few minutes late). I realized after I got upstairs that I forgot something in my car so I headed back down and in my hurry, slipped and fell down about half the flight of stairs - it hurt! Fortunately, it didn't feel so bad that I felt I needed medical attention so I just went about my business and moved on. As the day progressed, my lower back definitely reminded me of the fall. In fact, as I type this at 10:45pm, some 14 1/2 hours later, I'm still a bit sore from it.

I had at one point this morning stepped a way from my desk briefly and left my work cell on the desk. I NEVER do this but a colleague was there and agreed to watch it for a minute so I went to take care of something and returned thanking my colleague for keeping an eye on things. Minutes later, I check FB on the phone to see a posting that included a page of notes a student had left behind with a comment that clearly, my colleague (and former friend - lol) had posted. It really wasn't all that awful but could be taken poorly, so I removed it.

I won't even discuss my further disgust at Verizon after a very brief yet insanely unproductive visit to their storefront location. from there, the rest of the day could only get better - and it did; not much, but better for sure.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Previously Unreleased!

I came across this poem I wrote that forgot about. I need to put some thought into what might have inspired it - I have a few guesses considering the possible time it was written but not certain.

untitled poem

trying to find
                death in birth
we seek life
                and it ends
we live for
                what is it
when and who
                we don’t decide
time is a
                decision for
us not to
make
we are born
we are life
we live again

not certain of when it was written but factoring in the notebook it is written in, my best guess is somewhere between 1990-1992

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Goodbye Sovereign

Last year, I ridded myself of Bank of America and it was satisfying. I've been banking with a local credit union and have been very happy with them. For some time, mortgage rates have been very low, at record lows in many instances. My mortgage, which I refinanced after my divorce, was with Sovereign bank (via AAA). At the time I last refinanced, the rate was good but not anywhere near as low as they are now.

While I hated the idea of my rate being higher than the market by as much as it was, I still had not hit break even on the cost of the last refi (though that was more of a necessary process after the divorce and less about rates) and I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the $2500-$3500 up front refi costs as I am less certain about whether I will stay in my home long enough to break even; there are many dangling variables and I didn't want to tie up the cash or worse, risk losing it.

A few months ago, I was using the web site of the credit union I've been banking with since leaving BOA and saw they had a zero closing cost program at a rate considerably lower than my current one. I thought, win-win; lower my rate and leave another "big bank" in the dust - so, I proceeded to move ahead.

Tomorrow morning I'll be closing on that refi and officially saying goodbye to Sovereign; here's what makes it a better goodbye than the already mentioned perks -

Not long before I started this refi process, I received a call from the mortgage department at Sovereign; they thanked me for being a "good customer" and wanted to "help me lower my rate and put more cash in my pocket". The rep went on and on about how much lower their current rates were and how my monthly payment would be lower, and all the usual. I responded, "so nice of you to be looking out for me (super sarcasm), and since you already hold my current mortgage and have done all the relevant legwork when we wrote this mortgage, I guess it will be simple - you'll just rewrite the note to reflect my current balance and a new rate and there'll be no closing costs, right? (I was serious, there is zero reason for them to charge me anything)" Of course, they had a canned response and after a bit of back and forth I told them that I would not be refinancing with them and would now aggressively pursue a refi with anyone else. Bye Sovereign!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Entertainment/Sports Why?

Like many, I look to the entertainment industry and professional sports for an outlet, to be entertained. Like many, I find myself often disappointed in what I get from those industries and I wonder, how many, like I, am beginning to question myself for such a dependence.

I don't mean to imply there is anything wrong with liking television, movies, music, sports, etc. However, I feel like it's too easy to get caught up in minutiae and what ultimately is irrelevant and lose significant portions of the short life we have here on earth.

Perhaps if in fact, this time we share with such things brings us some measure of joy, is that not what we should be striving for? Regardless of where I joy is derived?

It confusing sometimes. I feel like there are times when my time investments pays the relevant dividend of entertainment value but there have been plenty of times, more so with sports of late, that just isn't the case. I've stopped following almost all sports except football and baseball and even those I am not nearly as dedicated as I once was.

It seems I recall there was a sense of pride in athletes at one time where there was more than the paycheck that mattered. With very few exceptions, the paycheck, the economics, the business model is so far more significant to the team and its players than the game, the sportsmanship and the fans.

Hmm.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Marchellaneous Post

Yesterday was my sister's birthday, tomorrow is my brother's. My cat Oliver was born in March but I do not know which day, so I do the right thing by celebrating his birthday everyday by wishing him a happy birthday; he's 7 this year.

Regarding my rant about the USPS the other day, I received a note in the mail stating they found parts of the packaging of the item they lost, including my return address, the shipping address and the postage labels. They allowed me to file a search claim, which means they will look for the lost item and send it back if they find it and if they don't, they will refund the postage; I guess that is something positive.

I need to pick up a few things at BJs tomorrow and will have to pay the $50 to renew my annual membership. I hate paying that fee!

There's been a lot of snow in the midwest and more slated for this week, I am hoping it misses one particular area so that some very special people are not affected by it.

As much as I hate the idea of doing business with them again, I may subscribe to Netflix again. There are two reasonably good reasons: 1. I currently pay $12 a month for the TV box in my daughter's room, she hasn't watched TV in there in ages, at least a year, money wasted. She loves movies and watches Netflix at her mom's - and that's only $8/month. 2. The new season being made of Arrested Development is exclusive to Netflix.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Awake Factor!

Just to follow up, I stayed up until around 3 something then went back to bed and slept until around 8:30 or so. I lazied up for a while, watching TV and loafing (it was kind of nice). I eventually hit the gym around noonish I guess then showered and dressed.

I went to my office because I had to pick up a book I forgot there that I had to send out but before heading to the post office, I reached for my wallet only to realize I left it at home, so back home I went.

After grabbing the wallet, I headed back to the USPS to do by business with the APC (Automated Postal Center). I then hit up North End Treats for a box full of cannolli's to bring to Linda and Bill's. I was invited for dinner there, Linda's kids and grandkids and mother would be there - a celebration of family birthdays.

I had a nice meal, family style Italian and got to chat with my friends, some of whom I missed at the last get together there so it was nice. It was particularly nice to see Linda's mom, who just turned 88 and has been recovering from a mild stroke and yet nicer to see how well she is doing.

I'm home for a short time but I haven't seen my pals The Road Dawg's in a while and they are at one of my favorite venues tonight so I'm thinking I need to catch at least a set.

Oh! I worked out today to the music of Marshall Crenshaw; in particular, his first album. The eponymously titled record was released in 1982 and is still one of the best pop albums ever made.

Sleep Factor!

Friday evening I was just kinda chillin'. This past week was just a bit longer than usual having added to it the trip out to Lenox. While I wish the commute were for a reason rooted in something other than the death of someone, I am grateful to have gotten some time with friends that mean a lot to me and that I don't get to see all that often.

By Friday evening, my body is craving a bit of a rest under normal circumstances, this week it was a bit more as the added driving and emotional aspects of a funeral and the contemplation of mortality. I must say that the eulogy delivered at the funeral mass delivered by the eldest son was really beautiful but also hit on some very meaningful points as one might consider the value of human life.

Sitting in front of my computer, around 8pm, my eyes felt as if they weighed a ton and by 8:30, I simply decided that I needed to be laying down. As I write this, it's Saturday morning at 2:06am having recently awoken and realizing just how tired I was. Turns out, my body was tired enough to take almost the same amount of sleep I would normally get. My goal would be to dally for a few then try to get back to sleep until around 8 or 9 am; I guess we shall see and I also expect that you shall hear...