Saturday, November 30, 2013

Meme: Sugar Shack

This song was popular 50 years ago yesterday. Hear it here.

1) In this song, our hero orders espresso. What's your standard coffee order?

Decaf with cream (no sugar).

2) Originally the phrase "sugar shack" meant a small cabin where sap from maple trees was boiled into syrup. So for breakfast today, would you rather pour syrup on pancakes, French toast or waffles?

Waffles, Belgian Waffles to be specific.

3) The name of the group that recorded this song is The Fireballs. "Fireballs" is also the brand name of a red hot jawbreaker. Do you like cinnamon?

I do like cinnamon but I wish the name for the flavor of "red hot" candies was something other than Cinnamon; a word which I prefer to associate to the spice used in things like French toast, coffee rolls and the sort.

4) In 1963, when this song was a hit, newscaster Walter Cronkite was one of the most trusted and influential men in the country. Do you have a favorite TV newsperson?

Sara Underwood, a local news woman in MA - she has a trusting voice and I'll admit it, she's hot.

5) The Rambler was named 1963 Car of the Year by Motor Trend, and their most popular model was a 9-passenger station wagon. What's the car of your dreams?

I'm not a big car guy but I always loved the early model (late 1960's) Camaro.

6) The Zip Code was first introduced in 1963. How many different Zip Codes have you had throughout your life?

According to my calculations, five.

7) What was the first thing you thought about when you woke up this morning?

The silly headache I had and how much I wanted it to go away.

 8) Are you a good pool player?

No, though during the time I was high school age, I played almost every day for a period of time and got decent. However, that was more than 30 years ago, not so much any longer.

 9) Do you actually make a wish when you blow out your birthday candles?

Of course I make a wish, what the heck kind of question is that?

I Slept In and I Liked It (I Planked for a Minute and I Didn't)

The sum total of the exhaustion from all the driving knocked me out last night and while I awoke briefly at around 7 am this morning, I grunted and fell back asleep until around 10. Me sleeping that late is a very rare occurrence but it had to be done and I don't feel guilty.

After a treadmill workout, I had to do a 1 minute plank as I am on day 9 of the 30 day challenge. If you ever want to see how short a minute is, go on the TV show Chopped. If you ever want to see how long a minute is, try planking.

I failed my first attempt at a full one minute plank but waited a short while and tried again. I failed my second attempt as well but I was determined to get the job done. On the third attempt, I accomplished the task and while proud in the moment, dread the idea of doing it again tomorrow.

The usual mish mash about people stomping all over each other on Black Friday and worse, crowds gathering to shop on Thanksgiving evening. I really hate this shit! As cold as this sounds, I have no mercy for anyone that gets hurt on one of these vicious shopping trips - I said this on Facebook and I will repeat it here: "If you plan to go out Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving, you have no idea what either holiday is really about and I am therefore really sad for you."

I think that be all for the moment.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Drived

The long drive back from NJ was relatively uneventful, other than I had to pee very often, which made me feel old :)

Vickie and I had a nice time, and it was great hanging with family.

I am pretty beat thought, glad I don't have to get up early tomorrow!

You ever have that feeling like something is different and you have no idea why?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I write that just after 11pm on Thanksgiving, still in something of a food coma, still swearing "that will never happen again" and most of all, thankful.

It occurred to me recently that next June, this blog will be 10 years old! It's amazing how the social media landscape has changed since then but I am so grateful for the special relationships and friendships that have come into my life as a result of this particular form.

I find myself at this moment in a hotel room in Toms River, NJ, my daughter about 8 feet away on her bed texting with her friends after having hung out with cousins that she doesn't get to see all that often and I am glad that I got to spend time with family and it wasn't at a funeral (or a wedding).

Tomorrow, I will visit with a cousin (and her family) that I've only seen once in the last 20+ years. I look forward to that visit way more than the extremely long drive home back to MA.

Of course, dear reader - you find your way here and read about my life and my world and I find that so interesting and wonderful that you would take the time to read this blog and come back. Thank You!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Appliance Restoration Business

In my exhaustive (obsessive) research for new appliances, it had become quite clear that the old adage, "they just don't make things like they used to" is as true as can be as far as appliances go; at least it seems that way to me - I hope I am wrong.

the appliances in my kitchen now are all around 20 years old, still work, and have never been needed a repair. If my current appliances didn't look as old as they are, I might be inclined to keep them until they die.

This all got me thinking. I suspect I am not the only human currently in search of appliances and while I may be more frantic about it, I bet others are seeing the odd mix of reviews and concluding the same as I have. I wonder if there is a market for appliance restoration?

Imagine someone coming in, or maybe if necessary, taking your appliances to the shop and performing a restoration that makes them look good as new. If someone came to me and said they can do that to my appliances, I might consider it.

Hmmmm!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Bruce on the Way

High Hopes track listing: 
1. High Hopes (Tim Scott McConnell) – featuring Tom Morello
2. Harry’s Place * – featuring Tom Morello
3. American Skin (41 Shots) – featuring Tom Morello
4. Just Like Fire Would (Chris J. Bailey) – featuring Tom Morello
5. Down In The Hole *
6. Heaven’s Wall ** – featuring Tom Morello
7. Frankie Fell In Love
8. This Is Your Sword
9. Hunter Of Invisible Game * – featuring Tom Morello
10. The Ghost of Tom Joad – duet with Tom Morello
11. The Wall
12. Dream Baby Dream (Martin Rev and Alan Vega) – featuring Tom Morello

I was excited yesterday to see that there will be a new Bruce Springsteen album dropping on January 14th. There is more information about it on his website if you wish to read deeper and it's available for pre-order, including an Amazon Limited Edition that looks neat.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bippity Bop

That was one heck of a football game last night. Who decided to have night games? Clearly it was not someone who had to get up at 5 am or so for work the next day. I won't go into further detail (unless you ask) but suffice it to say, we New Englanders all had a sluggish day.

Somehow the refrigerator I researched went up in price by a thousand dollars...how the heck can that be real? A thousand? The cosmos are fucking with me I tell ya? I'm already in knots over this whole project - the stupid jerks who designed this house layout the kitchen in a way that forces me to require a counter depth refrigerator (or needing to pretty much gut my entire first floor)...ugh!!!

I am gearing up for a long drive for Thanksgiving, even longer when one factors in the holiday traffic that I hope to avoid but know that is not possible.

What are you all doing for Thanksgiving?

Finally for this post, I want to tell you all how proud I am of my daughter, she has worked really hard in school and is really maturing - she's awesome!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Story where I got Emotional about a Student

It started with an email from a student whose work had taken a bit of a turn of late. I didn't enjoy her email - here are some snippets (unedited):

"I am really upset by last several grades I have gotten from you.  Do you honestly think that by just giving someone a zero you are doing them any good..."

"Seriously I think your ultimate goal is to fail everyone....... because that is pretty much how you are making me feel right now."

"I can say with all honestity it is by far the worse class I have ever taken and I can not wait till the end of December for it to be over."

Those are some doozies, no? I addressed every part of her email, I won't go into detail but I think I got through; this was her response:

"Thank you for responding my apoligies it has been a stressful couple of weeks and I guess i just finally snapped.  I have a daughter in the military and she is not doing well right now and was injured

I again apologies for my extremely insulting remarks you are correct one should never email while angry."
 
It got to me that the situation with her daughter must be consuming her. I send another email just letting her know that I was sorry about the situation with her daughter and I could imagine how hard that must be. I reminded her that I knew from her earlier work in the course that she was a good student and I was mostly concerned because of the radical changes and so forth. She understood and send one more email and this is the one that made me particularly emotional:
 
"Thank you it is very hard especially when they are so sa far away but the marines have been very good with her and she should be home for a visit in Feb.  Add the upcoming holidays into that equation and its enough to drive a mother insane I havent seen her since August so it is very hard.  Knowing your child is hurt and you cant be there for her.  
 
However still doesnt excuse my behavior and I really am sorry for that."
 
This is the one that made me stop being a teacher completely and try to relate only as a fellow parent and that gave me a clearer understanding of how she must feel.
 
I am glad we worked it out but it was just another one of those teaching experiences that stops you in your tracks.

Plank Fright

Have you seen this picture floating about on Facebook (or elsewhere) recently? I (almost) completely ignored it at first but then I heard more and more about people giving it a go.

A few days ago, an old college buddy had posted how he had completed his first 2 minute plank, that got my attention.

Out of boredom and desperation to add something different to my exercise, yesterday I decided to take the plank plunge and commit to this thing (at such a stupid time too with the holidays and all). I pulled out my yoga mat, cranked up the stop watch app on the iPad and went down for the 20 second plank to put day 1 in the books.

It's going to be a long and painful 30 days!

This in not easy, at least not for me. However, I am going to fight my way through this and I am going to succeed. I wonder if it will mean anything.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

That Time of Year and Everything Else Right Now

As we roll into the end of the year/holiday countdown starting with Thanksgiving, it becomes what has been an emotionally difficult time of year for me. I have such great memories of the holidays from when I was a kid, so it makes me miss my parent's more than usual.

I've been lucky to have some good friends, my friend Linda's family is where I've spent may thanksgivings over the last decade, all but one in fact. It's fun there because her kids and grandkids fill the house with fun, food and they've always made me feel like family.

This year, I'm finally bringing this kitchen remodel to fruition and while I suspect that demo and installation will likely not commence until the new year, I need to get new appliances, which for me means tons of research, lots of second guessing, several panic attacks, decisions, more second guessing, etc. To date, I've picked a refrigerator and a dishwasher and have gone back and forth on an oven several (dozen) times and have yet to select an over the range microwave as I second guess that decision over a range hood. There's more but I will spare you - you get the picture, I am a wreck.

I actually got emotional about a student this morning - I will tell you about that story soon.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Massholes?

I admit it, I used that title because it's an attention getter - I know, shameless whore that I am. Seriously though, another casino project in MA was voted down. The thing is, as one news broadcaster put it, "the consensus in the state is that we want a casino in MA, just not in our town."
It seems that someone has to agree to let it be in their town, no?

BTW, I didn't make up the expression Masshole, wanna read more into it? Click here!

I'd like to think that having a casino in MA might help keep property taxes in check but I also realize there is a cost associated with that and I can't say with certainty that the costs outweigh the benefits. I can say, that as property taxes rise and salaries remain stagnant, there are people (including myself) that may end up getting priced out of town or the state.

I know it's not an easy decision, but it seems that the larger percentage of the population does in deed want a casino in the state - that's what the polls have said, but like I mentioned, if that's the case, it has to end up somewhere.

Onto more important things, I am struggling with deciding on a kitchen range. I may have been swayed into switching to electric but after learning that those flat tops scratch and don't work with certain types of cookware, I realized it's not made for chefs, but house keepers. Now I may not be a chef, or even close - but when I am cooking, I need to be able to cook - the search continues.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Knowing When to Say When

Despite last Monday being a "bye" week for our class (no classes for Veteran's day), with the local football team (Go Pats!) playing tonight, I knew I had limited attention of my students. In fact, one of them, despite my promise last class meeting to get them out in time for the game, emailed me claiming to be sick.

Hard for me to give the benefit of the doubt on this one but either way, he was gone and the rest, showed up ready to work (as they have all semester). We got through the plan for the evening and made it out in plenty of time for kickoff. I mentioned to them that I like to keep my promises and when I promised that they would be out in time for kickoff, I meant it. I then added, "Back in class meeting number one, I promised if you weren't preparing all along that the final would be the hardest test you ever took - and I keep my promises." That got a terrified chuckle or two.

Class dismissed.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Walk in the Park

For the first time ever, I decided to drive to Cushing Park in Framingham to take my walk. Cushing Park was once the site of a hospital, not it's set on a nice plot of land and has a well maintained walking path.

One thing I've learned these past few weeks of trying to find my way out of my workout funk and nursing some sore bones is that it doesn't take long to get out of great shape. Not long ago, I felt that I had gotten into pretty decent cardio shape but after a few weeks of slowing it down, I don't feel so strongly about that any longer. I need to change that!

I spent a fair amount of time researching kitchen appliances for the upcoming kitchen remodel. I hate this! Too much to learn about features and brands and brand reliability etc. It gets more confusing when I read great reviews on consumer reports then see bad reviews of some of those same products by end users. Why can't this be way easier?

If any of you that see this can share some insight about your kitchen appliances - brand, reliability, how long have you had them, pros/cons, electric vs gas for range/oven...anything you got, please post as a comment.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Kitchen Nightmare - Moving Forward

I received a call from the regional manager of the company that I contracted with and he apologized for the error on their part and agreed to move forward with the job at the contracted price. I feel better!

In unrelated news, I saw my daughter perform - sing some songs at a "coffee shop" event at her (high) school. It was great to watch her and all the kids supporting each other and doing a great job.

I better run - sorry this is so short, but I am really tired.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kitchen Nightmare - First Edition

After months of working on this and finally getting a firm quote that I was happy with, this past weekend I put a sizable deposit on the kitchen remodel. this morning, I get an email from them saying they made a mistake and left something off the quote and basically wanted an extra $550 or so. what made it ridiculous is that is was for "reconnecting kitchen appliances." It's a kitchen remodel, every kitchen remodel, their business, has this as part of it - there is no way at all that it's possible they made a mistake, this to me is a predatory practice equivalent to extortion.

I was very careful with my reply, but basically I told them that if they decide they don't want to honor the contract, that I expect a refund of the deposit my noon tomorrow or interest charges would accrue. Furthermore, I would be filing a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the state Attorney General's office who handles consumer complaints. I will not allow anyone to fuck with me like this - if they honor the contract, they will not have any room for error, I will expect nothing short of perfection from them.

Please folks, if people try to pull a fast one on you, call them on it. Don't let anyone get away with any crap! Can you imagine they let a kitchen remodel walk away over $550? Even if it was an honest mistake, which it would be near impossible, don't you think that the call to me should not even have to be made? Just move on ad do the job, do it right, and have another satisfied customer who may refer you.

In fact, I had enjoyed such good customer service up to that point that I have already referred them but quickly rescinded those referrals this morning after this. I need for it to play out.

We shall see.

Fitness Funk

1132 consecutive days, not counting today, I have found it in me somewhere to exercise. I've brought this up many times as to the why...but more than three years into this, I find myself in a rut of sorts.

I have plenty of equipment and opportunities to keep it interesting but I find myself on the treadmill most of the time. Plus, over the last 6-8 weeks, I'm fighting my way through some aches and pains and it's all telling me that I need to seriously consider revamping the program a bit, mixing it up and focusing.

The whole point of all of this is to do good for my health and my body, it would be all for naught if I begin to break down, so I need to get a grip on it all and think about how to move forward.

I shall keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Eyeglass Timing

Imagine driving in traffic when all of a sudden, your eyeglasses split at the bridge and fall off your face...that's right, while driving at the speed limit. Sound scary? It happened to me this morning!

I didn't panic but I was nervous. I was able to scramble my way to the side of the road without much interruption and switch to my sunglasses. The problem is that without glasses, my vision is really poor; this was a potentially dangerous situation that fortunately, worked out.

I ended up at my conference and had to wear my sunglasses inside, which sucked! I took my broken ones inside and fiddled with them at breakfast and was able to reassemble them and wear them, but they are frail and it's going to happen again.

I need to get me some new ones!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lunch Time Pay it Forward

I had gone to lunch and noticed that I had two coupons in my car. Both were for 20% off entire sale at Christmas Tree Shop and both would expire after today and I knew I would not be using them. I decided to use half of my lunch hour driving to Christmas Tree Shop, look around for the two fullest baskets and give a coupon to the shopper (if they didn't already have one).

It did not take long to find the two takers and the joy I saw in both of their faces over something so simple was at the very least equal to the joy I got back. It felt great to do!

In another pay it forward, all commissions earned between today and 12/31/2013 from any of you kind enough to use my Amazon link up there in the upper right will be donated to the relief efforts for the recent typhoon in the Philippines. Furthermore, I will personally match the commission amount dollar for dollar to double the donation; so please, if you are going to shop with Amazon, please use this link to do so.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sushi and the FlipFold

My daughter got a really fine report card, more than me being proud of her, it made her proud of herself and that is really the best thing of all. As a reward, I told her I would take her to eat anywhere she wanted and she selected all you can eat sushi (fine by me).

We both indulged in sleeping in this morning, her later than I but both, way later than usual - especially for a Monday (thanks to the Veteran's day holiday). I got a little work out in but did not eat anything knowing that I would be going overboard at the restaurant and my kid didn't eat before we left either; so we were primed for gluttony.

We enjoyed ourselves with lots of great food and had a good time. We walked off some of it by heading down the strip mall and into Christmas Tree Shop where I proceeded to make silly jokes at things and with other shoppers. After, we went into The Container Store, where I found an "as seen on TV" item that I had always been curious about, The FlipFold.

I rarely buy these things from TV because even if they let you send the item back if it's crappy, which is more often than not, you gotta eat the shipping and handling charges both ways, so the potential loss is too great. In this case, The Container Store has a liberal return policy so there wasn't any risk involved in giving in to my curiosities.

while I did have a basket full of T-shirts to launder, I couldn't wait to try this out so while the dirty ones were washing, I refolded every other of my T-shirts and I must say, this device is a keeper!

More than it being faster, the uniformity and neatness of the end result is really nice and made it so that I can actually store the shirts better in my closet. I am keeping this one for sure.



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Avocado's Number

It you've ever taken a chemistry class, you have heard of something called "Avogadro's number". For some reason, I often think about this when I purchase avocados and just as often, joke (sometimes silently, sometimes aloud) by saying avocado's number.

My daughter expressed a desire for avocado the other day, then again today. On both occasions, I used them in a version of a grilled cheese sandwich. Today, it was provolone and mozzarella with avocado and tomato on multigrain bread; yum!

In celebration of her excellent report card, my daughter got to choose a restaurant for is to go to, so tomorrow, with no school for either of us, we will go to Minado for an all you can eat sushi feast.

My cat's nose drips sometimes, this cracks me up!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Back to the Kitchen

Back in May, I talked about being in the exploration phase of remodeling my kitchen. Many months later, after a lot of research (I mean a lot), negotiations, second thoughts, and reluctance, I finally made it official and placed a deposit on the remodel today. As I said back then, I really have no idea how much time I will remain in this house but regardless, the kitchen is in pretty awful shape and will need a remodel regardless.

Some brief details, I chose natural Maple for the wood species/color.
The counter tops will be quartz.
There will be a tile backsplash.

Yes, I am anxious about the whole project because it's expensive. Not exorbitant, but it's a lot of money considering all factors in my life at the moment.

I'm anxious because I tend to be anxious about these kinds of things anyway.

It's going to be a while before destruction/construction gets started, so I have a good amount of time to build on that anxiety, and to select back splash tile and appliances - and be anxious about those things as well.

Once things get going, it's going to be 3-4 weeks where I must survive without a kitchen at all.

I'm filled with dread, fear, anxiety and a small splash of excitement. I know, I am nuts.

Friday, November 08, 2013

For Me, It's Jimmy Kimmel

I remember getting to watch The Johnny Carson show when I was a kid, mostly during the summer only because it was on way past our bed time during the school year. While my most vivid memories are of my dad laughing at what he found funny (dad had a very funny laugh as well), the show ran long enough for me to remember Carson's personality and of course, many of the acts and guest that appeared.

Letterman surfaced with his show just as I was about to graduate high school and it became a staple with me, and at the time, with the college crowd across the nation.

as the years went on, talk shows just started popping up everywhere; the cable TV explosion created many new outlets for this format and talk, whether it be late night or otherwise, just multiplied its presence exponentially.

For me, over the last decade, there has been no one to be more consistently entertaining than Jimmy Kimmel. Yes, Letterman is the current "legend" but over the past number of years, I find that show has become formulaic, predictable and a bit old. It's not that I hate it or anything, it's just not got the same "it" factor as Kimmel.

Leno has moments that are funny but he plays to the "safe" crowd and over the long haul, it's just not entertaining. I will watch reluctantly when there's a guest I really want to see but otherwise, I have no use for that show.

Conan was another big hit with the college crowd when he first surfaced in the early 1990's. I happen to like Conan but his is not the type of show that is going to attract a broad audience (in my opinion of course). I think Conan has a very specific appeal but also possesses the ability to keep a percentage of his viewers even when they find themselves growing out of the demographic of specific appeal (again, college-ish).

I could write lots of pages pulling out people like Joan Rivers, Arsenio Hall, the debacles of Chevy Chase and Pat Sajak, Carson Daly and many others who've occupied this space but I'm not writing a book on the subject, just offering a short article on the topic from my own point of view.

I will close with a mention of SNL alum Jimmy Fallon. When Fallon's current show first aired, I wasn't sure it would last but fortunately, both I and the larger audience were patient in letting it find its voice and I think it's quite entertaining. on the horizon, Fallon has been tapped to take over the Tonight show when Leno retires (hopefully) in 2014. Clearly, NBC is expressing a commitment in that they are moving production back to NY city (where that show has it's roots) for the first time in more than four decades. the big question is will Fallon be able to adapt his current show essentially "Fallonizing" the tonight show or will he be forced to fade the colors from his comic stylings and create a more vanilla product to be able to maintain the vanilla crown that has kept the current Tonight Show boat afloat for the last two decades?

I guess only time will tell.

I Was Country, When Country Wasn't Cool

I used to watch all of the music awards shows. Not any more - I pretty much only watch the country music awards shows and the reason, they are the only ones worth watching.

This isn't as much a statement about the quality or preference of the style of music - though, I must say that what passes for "pop" music so often falls short of both being listenable and worthy of being referred to as music; at least in my opinion.

If you watch the American Music Awards, the VMA's, or any of the dozens of other shows that "celebrate" pop music, you see lip syncing, obnoxious tirades, poor production and in general, a show that lacks its main goal, entertainment. The country music awards shows are the polar opposite - packed with real, live performances, minimal bullshit and pure entertainment.

Yes, you do need to like country music but you also might need to get the stick out of your ass if you happen to be one of those people who "don't like country music' without having taken the time to actually listen to it.

My first exposure to country music was as a small boy. Back then, country music had no resemblance to pop music and almost never crossed over; it was a very distinct sound and mind set that was far closer to being something that you either liked or didn't like with not much middle ground. I recall not liking it all that much partly because I was so focused on the sound of rock and roll music, which was still relatively young and partly because my dad like country music and there was a natural rebellion on my part.

The 1980's saw the beginning of a new generation of country music that began to evolve the "traditional" sound of what the world new as country music and that evolution kept rolling. I began paying closer attention and buying records in this genre in the mid to late 1980's and my love for the genre has grown from there. In fact, I even really love digging back into the hard core traditional country sounds at the same time, I love the crossover sounds of the modern day country artists.

Another thing I love about where country music has stayed for many years is the loyalty of the fan base and the artists to the fans - it's moving and it makes a difference.

Music means so much to me, I love many different styles/genres and respect that just because I may not like some of it, doesn't mean that it isn't good or without purpose. I do feel like the last 15 years or so has seen some really crap being passed off as music and I have no idea how some of these people can even be referred to as artists. However, I recognize that this is my opinion and even though I may not be alone in that opinion, I know there are many who find joy in that which I, dare I say, in some cases hate and even have zero respect for the creators as artists, or even people (see Kanye).

***seemingly abrupt end***

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Day After

One nice thing is that the President of the college and several other execs took the time to email me a thank you note for my quick action and service during yesterday's bomb threat.

I was walking back into the lab/library this morning and as I was about 10 feet from the door, I see something jet by and make a loud noise as it hit a wall. Turns out it was one asshole student throwing a water bottle at another asshole student. I immediately got campus police involved.

As if it wasn't already a stupid thing to do, the day after a bomb threat, any loud noise and/or violent acts is experience by the surrounding people very different, so I had to make sure it stopped immediately (it did).
*******************************
This jerk off player on the Miami Dolphins, "Incognitio", needs to be banned for life.
*******************************
 
I popped into the supermarket to get a single avocado yesterday, this was due to a craving for avocado by my daughter. At the checkout, I spotted that they had these Advent calendars (the ones with a little piece of shitty chocolate for each day of advent).
 
Last year, my friend Barbara was either very pregnant or a new mom, my memory fails me, but she neglected to get her traditional supply of advent calendars for her nephews/nieces - she had mentioned it to a group of us at work. I was about and about a few days later, it was already late December and the usual places that carry them, all at a usual cost between $1 and $1.29, were out for the season and I happened to stumble across a few in a specialty Hallmark store. the problem, the wanted $3.99 each for them; nice ripoff!
 
I had to call Barbara to see if she wanted them, she asked for two, I picked them up for her and that was that. here we are, at the start of November and everyone has Christmas stuff out in full force and I ran into boxes and boxes of the Advent calendars for $1.19 at the market. I did what any insane person would do - I bought 12 of them, then called Barbara to tell her she was covered - the laughter ensued!
 
Enough - good night!!!!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Bomb Threats are Not Funny

NOTE: I had to remove the picture for a number of reasons, suffice it to say, it was disturbing and frightening.


I wish I could say the picture to the right is a joke but it's very real. My colleague found it hanging in the men's room on our floor - thankfully he said something. I asked him to call campus police while I contacted the president's office and other execs right after I went to snap this picture to send off to the execs.

Shortly thereafter, as I was about to get the order to evacuate the building, I learned of my Aunt's passing. I just wanted to leave but I had to compose myself long enough to help evacuate a building. At the same time, our other two campuses were being evacuated as there was a previous threat at the main campus the night before.

The local news was all over the place after the bomb squad made their way through. I thought my phone would explode.

I am not sure I've yet to process the death of my aunt, the bomb threat and all of the emotion of the day and the events leading up to the passing of my aunt - quite frankly, I'm still processing the stuff my student laid on me the night before.

Life is hard sometimes!

Teacher Files

Right at the start of class last night, one of my students asked to speak with me, I asked her if it would be okay if we waited until the break; she agreed - I am glad, you'll see why in a minute.

At break time, she said that she wanted to apologize for missing some assignments, that it was a result of a recent eviction that left her homeless. She went on with sad detail after sad detail, and I had to keep it together and be as rational while being as supportive as I can. Finding the right balance of how to react to being told this very personal stuff is very challenging. Sadder, having had enough years in this game to know, there's also the daunting task of trying to determine if the student is actually being truthful.

I know, most would think, who would lie about something like that? Sadly, it happens more than you would want to believe.

All I can really do is say that I am sorry and offer the most reasonable, generic advice I can. What compounded this was just two weeks earlier, another of my students had mentioned to me that his work was slacking for a similar reason.

I am glad I only had to carry the burden of that thought through half the class instead of the entire 3+ hours. I feel like that sounds selfish of me but I don't mean it that way, it's really hard to think that when I was driving to my house with food and heat that this student may not have had anywhere to go - that's is too freaking sad.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

"Dawg"in' It

Friday night, it was chilling with The Road Dawgs at a place called "Pepperoncini's" in Milford, MA. I have to say, I've been to this place a few times to see them in the past and the thing I like least about the venue is how unfriendly the staff is. In particular, the bartenders and more, one woman in particular are not only unfriendly and unwelcoming, but among the worst at that job as ever. I mean, there isn't a lot to do to pour a beer. You ask for a beer and the bartender grabs a class, pulls a lever and gravity takes over, it's really all about being civil and perhaps going one extra step to maybe smile, be remotely cheerful, perhaps consider the reason people are here is to unwind from a tough work day or week. These people practically ignore you then make it as if they are doing you a favor to serve you. I would never go there at all except if my friends were playing and even then, I think twice.

Despite the horrific venue, the band was in great form Friday night and at the start of the last set, singer Jesse Lee Albright gave us a new rendition of the song Royals, currently on the charts by Lorde and it was killer. The whole band rocked it and it was a nice way to unwind after a tough week and after my conference.

I had no plans for Saturday. I took the day pretty lightly with a little sleep in and staying in my PJs until way later in the day than usual. When I got my self together and worked out and did a few things, showered and all I felt it should at least go to the out of doors and so I did. A few grocery stores and chores later, I returned to relax and had no plan and was okay with that figuring I would watch some TV or heaven forbid read. Turns out The Road Dawgs had another gig, this time with a guest vocalist, who was their previous singer, and someone I've known for a long time, Meghan Larson.

I know Meghan from Church, her husband and kids and her husband siblings and their families - I've known them all for over a decade. On this particular evening, my duties and friend and fan of the Dawgs kind of turned into body guard. the venue, one of my favorites that they play is a terrific little place called "Victory Lane" in Millis, MA. The food and drink are at throwback prices (example, pint of Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale Friday at Pepps - $5.25. At Victory Lane, $3.70). Victory Lane has a "Cheeseburger Club Sandwich', which is killer. It's a cheeseburger on the bottom and a BLT above; with fries it's $6.99! I know, crazy! the crowd is cool and most of the employees are laid back and cool too. The show was fun and loose and on this night, a good chunk of the crown seemed to have migrated from the town I live in - kind of neat.

There was one dude, rather intoxicated and seemingly enamored with Meghan. As the evening progressed, he kept getting closer and closer. I don't think he had harmful intent but he was a rather large fellow in comparison to her so the rest of the band and we fans kind of kept an eye on him and formulated an informal strategy if he attempted to get too close. Fortunately, it never got to anything and the show was fun.

I have attempted over the last two days to get some insight into the band Arcade Fire. I posed a question on FB to which a friend offered some interesting insight. I did my best to give them a fair shot but as of now, they are not my cup of tea. I am glad though that I didn't just make a simple judgment and went a bit deeper - thanks Bryan O'Connor for your insight.

That's all for now.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Recognition

I don't think doing something specifically for some type of recognition is always the best reason to do something but I do think when you are genuine and sincere about what you do, it's important to occasionally receive some recognition.

I had spent the last few months on the planning committee for a conference that took place today and not only did it go well, it was nice that a few key folks recognized how hard I worked on the event and acknowledged it.

I'm tired, left my house at 6:30 am thinking getting there early, just in case, would be a good idea.

I'm really more interested in napping than what I am going to do but I haven't seen my buds "The Road Dawgs" in a few weeks and they are playing - so I am going to catch at last one set.

That's all for now.