Sunday, November 29, 2015

On Grieving

Someone shared this with me earlier today, I had to share it as well...

Someone on reddit wrote the following heartfelt plea online:

“My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

A lot of people responded. Then there’s one old guy’s incredible comment that stood out from the rest that just might change the way we approach life and death:

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me every time someone I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to ‘not matter’. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the waves come crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find the waves are only 80 feet tall, or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.


Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”
**********
UPDATE: 11/30 - I unintentionally forgot to include the link to the original post. I manually typed it here because in the original post, it was presented as a graphic with white letters on a black background and can't be read by screen readers. For the original post CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Where's the Fun?

As I close in on 3,000 posts and more than 11 years into this blog - I have recently found myself reflecting on its life and future.

I hate to say that I am closing it down or even to say I won't be posting...I do still love this place and I am especially grateful to all who've read it over the years.

I do recently find it hard to get to and when I miss a day or more, I begin to feel guilty. I know, it's silly to feel that way, but I do.

I just don't know, but I think it's only fair to at least say there is a chance that there will be longer gaps and fewer posts, and I know that could eventually mean that some, or even all of you who do so kindly come to this place will eventually stop.

I can't express my gratitude adequately enough - I've shared a lot here, perhaps more than I should have sometimes.

This isn't goodbye, it's just I have no idea at all...I may show up tomorrow and just go in a posting frenzy...maybe I shouldn't say anything and just do whatever feels right when it feels right....

Can you tell that I am thinking out loud?

Feel free to chime in on comments...for now, I am going to bed.

I love you all, especially the radioactive one!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Firepits are Good


My Saturday was filled...then I faded!

I "slept in", Saturday, which to me is anytime after 5:30 am (I got up around 8).

I had a bunch of materials left over from the bath remodel that I wanted to return for a refund, it was a workout just getting it all into the car from upstairs, but I got it done. I had tickets to a pancake breakfast fundraiser, my plan was to hit the breakfast, then head to the tile shop to take care of business.

At the breakfast, I ended up bumping in to a number of people I know, so it was nice. I brought a deck of cards to try out a new trick I have been working on, I went to perform it for a friend and the two grand kids of a colleague - of course they kept screwing it up - but I was able to improvise and do a different truck that wowed them.

The tile shop return netted me back about $650! On the way back, I stopped for a froyo and got a call from my friend Ameesh - who was planning to go walking and asked if I was interested, Despite getting a good upper body workout loading the car and then later unloading, I knew I could use a good walk.

We did a 6+ mile loop and went back to his place. Next thing I knew there was a firepit going, his wife made some apps and we sampled some Ace Pumpkin Cider (super delicious), Nitro Stout (pictured above, also yu,,y) and a Red Wine that they had picked up (I didn't think that was all that good).

Later, other friends came by to hang for a while - I was planning to go see the Road Dawgs later than nigiht...I got home around 6:30, maybe 7...I sat on the couch for a bit and ended up passing out. By the time I woke up I was feeling off...so I decided to stay in. I got so much sleep, I woke up at 5:30 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep!

An Evening With Gilbert Gottfried

Friday night I saw comedian Gilbert Gottfried live. I had seen Gilbert once before and it was the only time I ever laughed so hard at a comedy show that I nearly pee'd my pants and stopped breathing. He's not for everyone, it's a very unconventional comedy act, but for me, it's just so damn funny!

It was either the late 1980's or early 1990's when I first saw him perform, until Friday night...and once again, nearly stopped breathing with laughter.

Cooler this time, he was very accessible at the end of the show - he greeted his fans (sure, he was selling merch too) but he is so different off stage, very quiet, humble and gracious.

Here are some pics...most taken by my friend Joel:

Gilbert checking out the crowd before show - I took this pic

Me and Gilbert - taken by Joel
Here are some shots Joel took during the show:




Finally, here's an artsy post-show shot, taken by Joel:


Thursday, November 05, 2015

The Short and Tall of It


On the left, the shortest of all my colleagues, 4 foot something (also 93 years of age and still works full time). On the right, the tallest of all my colleagues, 6 feet 10 inches.

This is a spectacular photograph.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Bathroom Done....ish

The contractor I hired to do the bathroom completed the job, in a proper amount of time, for a fair price, he showed up for work every day, did exactly as I asked, provided perfect service...there is a first for everything!

The bathroom looks amazing!

I do have one more thing to do to it, I decided I want to put sliding doors on the tub/shower instead of a shower curtain. I set up an appointment for next Wednesday, their earliest available spot, for a well reviewed local company that specializes in such work.

Feeling good about it all...

Monday, November 02, 2015

Coyotes

There have been a large number of coyote sightings in my town. Worse, it seems animal control doesn't give a crap.

My stance is we should kill off the population - before they kill one of us, they are dangerous.

I have a headache, a bad one.

Stupid coyotes!

Sunday, November 01, 2015

From the Mouths of Children

There were a number of baptisms in church today. Usually, the sermon during baptisms is geared toward the kids, who all come up and gather around the altar and Julie, our rector includes them in the sermon by asking questions.

Today, one of the questions she asked of the kids was if they could name a famous saint. One kid said St. Paul, another, St. Francis...then, out of nowhere, one young child uttered:

St. Louis

The church erupted with laughter!

Football

It's rare that I  watch a football game in which the Patriots aren't playing. With the Pats off and me heavily desiring to procrastinate from grading, I saw there was a game between the  New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants...so I went for it.

This has been one of the wildest football games I've ever seen, an offensive frenzy with lots of excitement and incredible plays. As I type these words, the game is tied at, are you ready for this, 49! 36 seconds to go....

20 seconds to go...

Amazing...Saints win 52-49

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sorry!

It's been a few days, this 8 week course on top of a particularly busy schedule these last few months have really caught up with me. I am sorry I haven't been here as much as I want.

In good news, the bathroom remodel is coming along well, just a couple of very minor glitches. I am betting it will be done very soon.

Grading final exams right now in the 8 week course - here's how it's going:


later.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Financial Aid

I've been working inside the higher education system for long enough to see some crack that are so obvious that I can't imagine why they haven't been patched up this far in. I am all for the idea of financial aid, I think in theory it's great and opens up the opportunity for education for so many people. That said, the system is so broken and it needs to be fixed now.

Int he current system, let's say a student qualifies for $1000 in aid and there expenses are $800; they can finagle a refund check and cash out  the $200. In fact, I've heard with my own ears student complaining about needing their refund checks for a variety of things such as vacation, Christmas gifts, cigarettes, and other things they should not be spending that money on. Whatever isn't spent on tuition and text books MUST go back into the system - we need to implement this right away.

Another rule that must be implemented immediately is academic criteria for maintaining financial. I say you should be required to maintain a C average or better or you lose your aid. You did below a C, you get on a payment plan, wages garnished and all, and pay what you took for an education that you chose not to take seriously. maintain the C or better, you keep your aid as long as you qualify. There should also be additional requirements that limit the amount of courses that are at a D or below - this is common where people tack on a "bullshit" course just to maintain 12 credits and then skate by in that class...there should be no skating by on that dime...ever.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Locked

The Carnage

I was frantically running about this morning - I had to lure my cat into my kid's room to lock him up in there for safety while the contractor is in the house working; needless to say, we are enough days in that he has made the association that he's getting locked up and that makes it harder to do so.Then, of course once successful, he immediately begins his gut wrenching howling. The move is to have everything it its place so that once he gets locked in then you make a run for the car and off to work to minimize hearing said howls.

I locked him in, ran down only to realize I left my keys upstairs in my bedroom...which I keep locked while the contractor is on site. No problem, spare key to bedroom hidden in the office. Oh crap, the office is locked too. Oh yeah, spare car key is locked in bedroom with car key-car key...panic sets in, f-bombs flying so fast and furious I worry the FAA may intercede.

After a few minutes, I take a deep breath and realize I do have a fully charged cell phone with Internet access. I know if I call a locksmith, I'm probably in for $150 - so I google "How to Get into a Locked Interior Door" (brought to you courtesy of proud moments).

First solution involves the sentence, "How to fashion a lock pick from a large paperclip". At first I was game, then I realize that all of my paperclips are locked in my office. then, it hit me that even if I can perfectly "fashion' the necessary tools, lock picking takes practice, what are the odds I pick up on that skill right away? I was already getting close to being late for work...what's next.

I pass up on several other Macguyver like things that just seemed unrealistic to a very practical statement, "when all else fails, grab a hammer" - I have (or as you will soon see, had) one of those. The illustrated instructions indicated that one should "take several shots at the handle, not so much because it will do anything, but it will help you take out your aggression on it for being locked." The idea was to wack it good a few times then use the claw of the hammer to wedge against the door and yank the handle off the mechanism (I oft grab the opportunity to use the word mechanism....and the word oft).

After a number of good wacks (as you can see in the photo above), I go for the yank and like right out of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon, nothing happens to the door handle but the top of the hammer breaks right off, the wood handle itself split clear off - I just started to crack up while yelling WTF (and secretly looking for a camera crew).

Can't forget the desperate attempt to "hacksaw" the handle off...see ridiculous excuse for a hacksaw in the picture above). Anyway, it occurred to me that since I am mid bath remodel, maybe the contractor has a hammer in my house, so I rumble through his belongings and find one...hoping it's a better quality one than mine (imagine explaining that to him as I add the cost of a new hammer to his next payment), I get aggressive on the handle again and this time, make some progress...I get the handle to fall off leaving this odd protrusion that I have no idea what the heck to do with...so I return to that web site to see what comes next. While attempting to navigate phone with my left hand, I grab the mangled protrusion from the door and give a forceful twist and the door opens.

The rest is irrelevant but of course, the whole time since locking Oliver up in my daughter's room, he's yelling and then terrified, I suspect, at the loud whacking of the door handle....

Anyway, I made it to work on time (barely) and have already replaced the door handle.

How was your morning?

Monday, October 26, 2015

NFL Commissioner Me

Here's just a few of the things I would do were I named NFL commissioner:


  • Offensive pass interference would go away, it's a stupid penalty and makes no sense.
  • Pass interference, needs to be reviewed. For certain, the penalization would change, it's way too drastic.
  • The safety would go away.
  • The on-side kick would disappear - another stupid part of the game.
  • New rule: In the red zone, you can attempt a FG more than once, as long as you have enough downs.You can even attempt a field goal and if you miss, proceed with regular play (again, in the red zone).
  • No player can have hair sticking out of their helmet past the name on their jersey. Players with hair that long will not be allowed to play in the game - hair must either be gut or tucked into something. If hair comes out, they would incur a penalty.

The Fallen

I'm sitting at a desk out in the lab today and I hear a student from the writing center yell out for help. I ran over to see one of the part time writing specialists on the floor. I think she's around 70 years of age, she took a fall on vacation less than a year ago that set her back a few weeks but recently she's seemed fine.

She mentioned that she's been nursing a bum knee - she used the arms on her chair to get up to take some pressure off her knee and one of the arms was a bit loose and that's how she lost her balance - or so it was assumed by her and the student.

We took out all of those chairs right after - did what I could to help her, she refused professional medical treatment and insisted she was fine. over the next few hours I checked in on her a few times, as did a few others, including a visit from her husband (they live in the same town).

When I left, all seemed fine. I got a text earlier by another colleague telling me that the woman had fallen a second time. I hope she is okay!

Post Concert Frivolity

After the Ringo Starr concert on Friday night, we went back to The Four Seasons hotel lounge to celebrate a friend's birthday. I wouldn't normally end up there, but I don't regret going...especially since we got to hang with some of the musicians from the band.

At first, Jimmy spotted Gregg Rollie, who most famously played with Santana and Journey. I went over to him and chatted very briefly, then asked if he would mind coming over to say happy birthday to my friend who was a fan - he was gracious enough to come over for a few minutes to offer good wishes and take a few photos.

Steve Lukather, most famously form Toto walked by, he was gracious enough to wave but it was obvious he just wanted some down time with his friends, so the wave was enough.

Greg Bissonette, who has played drums on lots of things and with lots of folks, including early David Lee Roth solo projects, was sitting with his friends. I went over and shook his hand, chatted very briefly then asked if he would consider coming over to say happy birthday to Jimmy, who is a drummer himself and a fan; he said, "sure thing, be over in a minute." A minute or so later, he had snuck around so we wouldn't see and he came from the other side of the area and him and his friends sang happy birthday and hung out with us for a chat and pictures. After he let, we ran into him later in the lobby as we were leaving and he spent more time with us...very nice guy.

Great night for sure!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ringo Starr & His All Star Band

Months ago, after the John Mellencamp concert at the Wang Center in Boston, I wrote them to complain about a problem at the venue (I may have told this story)...long/short - I ended up with 2 free tickets to Ring & His All Star Band. I took my friend John, as big a Beatles fan as I've ever known.

Here was the band lineup:

Ringo
Gregg Rollie (Santana, Journey, etc.)
Richard aige (Mr. Mister)
Steve Lukather (Toto)
Todd Rundgren (Utopia, Solo, Nazz, etc.)
Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth, etc.)
I didn't get the name of the Sax Player

And the setlist:

Matchbox
Play
It Don't Come Easy
Island in the Sun
I Saw the Light
Evil Ways
Rosanna
Kyrie
Bang the Drum All Day
Boys
Don't Pass Me By
Yellow Submarine
Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen
You're Sixteen
I'm the Greatest
You Are Mine
Africa
Oye como va
I Wanna Be Your Man
Love Is the Answer
Broken Wings
Hold the Line
Photograph
Act Naturally
With a Little Help From My Friends
Give Peace a Chance

Fun show!

Busy - Update

Very busy weekend, I'll bullet a few events here and elaborate later:

Saw Ringo Starr & His All Star Band
Met Gregg Rolie (of Santana, Journey, etc. fame)
Met and spent a little time with Gregg Bissonette (Of many works including early David Lee Roth solo)
Participated in the Walk to End ALS - a very emotional day
Saw The Road Dawgs
Ate too much
Grading

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Walk to Defeat ALS...This Saturday

This Saturday is the Walk to Defeat ALS. WHile I did reach my modest fundraising goal of $210, in fact, I am at $240, you can still contribute - and I hope that you will consider it, every donations counts, even $1.

Click the image below to go to my page:


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Another Year, Another Contractor

You may recall the frustration I dealt with a little over a year ago when my kitchen was remodeled. I had planned on doing the bathroom shortly after but needed a mental health break from contractors - but the time has come.

After months of searching and interviewing contractors, deciding what I wanted, getting the materials, the contractor began demo today.

I am anxious, but hopeful.

Monday, October 19, 2015

EVENT NOTICE: Designing for ALS - This Wednesday!

Designing for ALS
Wednesday, October 21st
12:00pm-2:00pm
Institute for Human Centered Design
200 Portland Street, Boston MA

Few people take on the construction of a new home. And it would seem especially daunting for someone who has just learned that they have ALS. But that is just what Stephen Winthrop, his wife Jane Williamson and daughters Casey and Hannah, decided to do.

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by a progressive weakening of muscles in the body that can leave the patient unable to move, speak, eat, or even to move one's head. Some patients with advanced ALS communicate only by moving or blinking the eyes.

Jane and Stephen considered renovating their existing home but knew that its many levels and steep driveway would limit its renovation potential. Instead they chose to build a new "ALS-friendly" house elsewhere in their beloved Wayland and committed to use their experience to create a case study that they could share with others in similar circumstances.

They, with IHCD, assembled the necessarily large team. The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD) provided architectural design. The team included Keystone Development Corporation, Shepherd PMC, PEAC Automation Systems,Ergonomist and Physiotherapist Tucker O'Day, Priscilla Andersen Interiors, Dorma Doors, Toto USA. Steve Saling, a designer with ALS who assisted in the design of the award winning Leonard Florence Center for Living Green House® in Chelsea, and a partner in PEAC Automation, helped with design and technological solutions. Stephen and Jane and their two daughters recently moved into their new custom built Craftsman-style home.

Jane notes: "We are proud of what we are creating. This house is adaptive without looking institutional. It will extend not just the quantity of Stephen's life, but its quality, giving him as much independence as possible for as long as possible."

Stephen and Jane hope it will be a model home for not only ALS patients but also a far broader population of aging people living with mild to moderate functional issues.

Stephen and Jane, along with IHCD Architectural Designer Ruth Super, will share their knowledge and research gained during the process of creating their new home.

When: 12:00pm-2:00pm October 21,2015
Where: 1st Floor, 200 Portland st Boston MA 02114
To RSVP please contact Willa Crolius at wcrolius@ihcdesign.org or call 617-259-1655.

This event is FREE and open to the public, a light lunch will be served.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Haunted Happenings 2015

Haunted Happenings is an annual event that spans the entire month of October and turns the town of Salem, MA into a hotbed of activity - a 180 degree shift from the normal quiet New England suburban setting it enjoys the remaining 11 months of the year.

Coon's is a card and gift shop that has been a fixture in Salem for many years. I have been visiting Salem in October for more years than I have lived in New England, and Coon's is always a part of each visit.

I asked my kid to snap this photo of me beneath the Coon's sign and flag to send to some of my other friends who love Coon's.

This is a picture of my kid alongside one of the passersby, Lots of costumes, lots of fun.


 This cracked me up. There was a Bernie Sanders table with this paper mache recreation of current candidate Bernie Sanders. Like him or not, you gotta admit this is funny!
 The only reason this photo was snapped was because about a minute or two before, I had seen a pic of the fantastic Tori's dog dressed as Wonder Woman. My daughter noticed this lady right after showing her the picture so I snapped this and sent it along to Tori.
All in all it was a fun day,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Special Delivery

I was expecting a delivery of the last of the materials I need for the contractor to get going on the bathroom remodel. I had been prepared for the delivery with strategically placed tip/bribe money in hopes I could get the delivery kids to bring the stuff all the way upstairs (when I requested delivery, the company only offers tailgate delivery).

Doorbell rings this morning and it's an older guy, didn't seem to have any help either. He asked, "you want the stuff in your garage I suppose?" I had to ask, though even my tone had to sound defeated, "You can't bring it in here?" At least hoping to get it in on the first floor. "No sir, tailgate delivery only."

Defeated, I went to open the garage door and began chatting with the delivery guy, who revealed that her was 80 years old. Unbelievable, this guy delivered a bath tub, a vanity, a granite counter with a sink and a few other things - some big and heavy stuff. he did know exactly how to move the stuff properly so it would take minimal effort and he did have a lift gate on his truck and a hand truck but still, made me feel like shit at 7:45 am watching an 80 year old move that stuff and not only not complaining, but clearly happy and awfully nice.

I guess the contractor is going to have to deal with the heavy lifting.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Big Eff U to the MA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation

I hated it when I first learned there was a $5 charge to use most of the state parks in MA. In particular, I love to go to Walden Pond but at $5, I almost only go if I could borrow a parking pass from the library.

This year, they raised the rates to $8!

I think it's unfair and just plain wrong to charge a fee to taxpayers at state parks. I'll go one further, I don't think there should be a fee as National Parks either.

Just what the fuck do they do with our tax money?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

This is Something I Would Do

NOTE: Yesterday, when I posted this, I did copy the source but it seems to have gotten edited out in the whole HTML mystery...anyway, this is where the story came from:
http://www.tickld.com/x/af/man-makes-the-staff-at-walmart-lose-their-minds-this-is-genius


I came across this story tonight (or this morning if you want to get technical). It reminded me of something similar I did at a Mobil station in Toms River, NJ a few decades ago when I used to drive out to visit my folks. In NJ, all gas stations are full serve, so I would hand off my credit card and the get handed back to me a clipboard with a receipt to sign. I often would sign the names of famous people or random friends of mine - if you dig around this blog, I've posted a few over the years, Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Elvis...

You'll get a laugh out of this guys story, that is, if you have a sense of humor :)

Man Makes The Staff At Walmart Lose Their Minds. This Is Genius.

Over the past 6 months, I have been playing a fun game with my credit card company. The game finally backfired on me today and led me through the most hilarious moment of my life. Most people would have been embarrassed, but me, I'm a little twisted, so I laughed all the way through it like an a**hole.

With any story, there is a setup process. Here is the setup to this story. About 6 months ago, I was making a purchase with my credit card and when I went to sign the electronic signature machine, it was broken. By broken, I mean that when I touched the pen to the machine, it went crazy and didn't look anything like my signature. It looked like a drunk 4 year old signed my name for me. It accepted the signature without any problems. So this really made me wonder what I could do to give my credit card company something to laugh about. I mean, they obviously don't review the signatures since they never called me or declined a purchase. It could have been a stolen card.

I started out modest by signing with a line or an "X". Occasionally I would do last name first. After a couple of months, I became bolder. I wrote goofy ****, drew pictures, etc. Here's a list of some of my favorite signatures over the past few months:

I AM NOT KINGPIN
I STOLE THIS
**** OFF
**** YOU
WALMART SUCKS
CALL ME
CROTCHY CROTCHINGTON
MY BALLS ITCH
911
I'M A CRIMINAL
THANKS FOR THE STUFF

Today at Walmart I went the extra mile. When it came time to sign my name, a thought popped in my head. I should draw a picture. But what picture should I draw? I smirked as something completely juvenile came to me. This is a rough drawing of the signature that I provided:


Yes, I know, it's not my best artwork, but I didn't have the time to be elaborate with the drawing. I had to look like I was providing a signature. Right after I hit "OK", there was a pause. The register then said "COMPARE SIGNATURE ON SLIP TO CARD." One thought popped in my head: "OH *!"

It then printed the receipt and there in black and white was my drawing of a johnson and balls. The lady at the register didn't immediately look at it. She asked for the card. I handed her the card and she flipped it over. Then she brought up the receipt and she smirked, but then took a stern tone and said "These signatures don't match."

At this point I was in tears from trying to hold back my laughter. I tried to explain to her why I had done it, but it didn't matter. I probably didn't make sense as I laughed hysterically through the explanation. She then paged the manager and I erupted in laughter. The guy behind me in line got a glimpse of my signature on the receipt and began laughing. The manager comes up and the woman from the register begins whispering to him. I then hear a few words "he drew a penis..." as she holds up the receipt. The manager blurts out a short laugh and then controls it. He turns to me and I'm out of breath from laughing and I'm still giggling like a schoolgirl.

Manager: Sir, your signature...heh...umm...doesn't match the signature on your card.
Me: I know and there is a good reason for that.
Manager: (quietly) You drew a penis on my credit card machine.
**The guy behind me bursts into laughter.**
Me: Yeah, I didn't think this would happen. I've been trying to see how far I could go with my signature before the credit card company did something about it.
Manager: I guess you learned your lesson.
Me: Yeah, the credit card doesn't accept penis.
**The guy behind me now can't stop laughing.**
Manager: OK, I'm going to decline the signature and have you sign it again.
Me: Fair enough.
Manager: This time, really sign it.

So I had to sign it again and they wouldn't let me keep my artwork. Those bastards. I had single handedly broken up the monotony of their daily routine and given them something that they will be talking about for years to come and they wouldn't let me keep it. They will tell their grandchildren about the guy that drew a johnson and balls as his credit card signature. So I have a plan now. I'm going to get a new credit card and sign the back with my johnson and balls drawing. Then I will consistently use that as the signature. That way, if I ever get caught in the same situation, the signatures will match. That will really mess with them.

In My Ears 2015 Vol. 14

Here's the most recent batch of music I've been listening to:

Warren Zevon - Sentimental Hygiene
Warren Zevon - Transverse City
Month back I set out to relisten to the the entire Zevon catalog, I got about halfway through...picking it back up; love him.

Genesis - ...And Then There Were Three
Genesis - Duke
Genesis - Abacab
Seems I am on a catalog frenzy - this is some of the remainder, with still one or two to go...you may recall some dude on Craigslist giving a way a bunch of Genesis CD's free, at which time I set out to listen to all that I had, including those I got free. It's interesting here to detect the transition from prog to pop as a group (though I don't think it was a total transition), it'll be more evident in their last records.

Vertical Horizon - Everything You Want
The record that made all the difference for the phenomenal Matt Scannell. This is a great record!

Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material
Sophomore release, as brilliant as her debut...did I mention that it's a brilliant record?

Rush - Power Windows
Rush - Hold Your Fire
Rush - Roll the Bones
More of me working through catalogs, I began listening to the Rush stuff after seeing them live for the first time on their 40th anniversary tour. "Hold Your Fire" may be my personal favorite of their albums.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Creative Retention: Changing Lives

One of the toughest parts of my job is seeing students who your gut tells you have the ability to succeed and then somehow life gets in the way or circumstances change and make success seem impossible - whether it be in the short term, for a course, or long term.

I had a student in my 8 week accelerated online course come visit me today to discuss their situation, it was grim. In order for them to just pass by the skin of their teeth they would need to score an 86.15 or better on every assignment and the final exam - not impossible, but not an easy task. Further, their hope is to transfer the class and to do so most often requires a C or better, an impossibility even if they were to score a perfect grade on each assignment.

In running through the possibilities and discussing the accelerated course versus the full semester course that I am teaching and amidst the discussion, the student asked if it were at all possible for them to transfer out of the 8 week accelerated section and into the 15 week full semester course.

I had to stop and think for a good few seconds to process this idea, I verbalized out loud how it would completely change this student's possibilities for success and then mentioned that it relies mostly on whether or not in week 5 of the semester the registrar would allow this and since it is way past add/the drop period, they may charge the student for another course. the student was willing to pay this high price - their reaction to this spoke volumes as to their commitment and desire to do better and I went to bat...

I told the student that if the registrar would agree and you agreed to the registrar's decisions, I would allow them to switch sections. I had the student come downstairs to me and the registrar employees on my campus were not able to make a decision on this situation, but I told the student to hang on, went in the back, and called the registrar to explain the situation - to my joy, he agreed to allow the swap with no financial penalty to the student.

We had to fill out a little paperwork but it got done. The student came in feeling defeated and off course, they left smiling, with a renewed sense of purpose and hope and grateful.

These are the moments at work that fill the soul.

Idea - Nap Drills

We go out of our way to have fire drills, preparing for an event that may never happen. I do think it's very important to have fire drills but they kind of suck in the winter! Also, again, the odds of a fire happening are super small.

Let's talk about a nap drill...at some random point, an alarm sounds, everyone gets a power nap I'd be willing to bet that anywhere in the world if you polled any 5 people at random, no less than 1 would welcome a power nap - that's way better odds than a fire breaking out.

Who's on board?

Dumb Ass!

I got an email from a colleague today, not the first I've received from them and it was also someone who I've emailed several times (this is relevant). My work emails include an image of a business card, which clearly has my name on it.

Today, I received an email from this person addressed, "Dear Dan" (my name is Chris). This is not the first time they've addressed me as Dan and not the first time I've corrected them...clearly their head is to far up their ass or they completely lack the intellect required to calculate the difference between a first and last name.

Quite frankly, someone with an MBA should have the intelligence to not make this mistake, certainly not more than once and certainly not after having been corrected.

It's just stupid at its finest.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Fed Up with the Cell Phone Assholes!

I was so burned up at lunch today that some time later, I posted this to Facebook: "Time we get serious, how about this as a law - you talk on your cell phone while your car is not in park, you lose your right to drive in the US for life. I know, sounds extreme, right? Look at the death toll and tell me what's more extreme. I saw a jackass driving today with the phone in front of his face. What the hell is it going to take to prove that this kills people? Holy FUCKNUTS!!!!!"

It is mind numbing to me how many people I see locked into their devices while behind the wheel in traffic, I just don't understand the incredible lack of intelligence of these people; how it is they don't realize that they are putting their life and worse, the life of others in serious jeopardy?

I am not exaggerating here, as wild as it sounds, the extreme nature of my suggested fix above may be the only way to start making a difference - heck, we can resolve the traffic issues at the same time.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Big E

Spent yesterday at the Big E...many highlights, the one I can't stop thinking about is a donut filled with soft serve ice cream, then topped with marshmallow and Oreo cookie crumbs (the booth lets you choose ice cream flavor and toppings).

What is The Big E you ask? Well, at its root, it's and agricultural exposition but it has over the years expanded to be, well, for all intents and purposes, a state fair.

Last time I went to The Big E, my daughter was still in the young bratty stage and didn't really capture all of it. At 17, she really got to appreciate it from a very different perspective and she had a great time.

It was great that our friend Rebecca joined us as well - Rebecca moved to Boston only a month ago for school, and she has been working super hard on her studies so it was nice to get her out of the city for the day and super nice to have her with us for the day!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

In My Ears 2015 Vol. 13.50: "NYC"

Recently listened to a playlist I called NYC, named for a road trip I took to NYC with my pal Nancy all for the purpose of visiting a storefront in Times Square called "Pop Tart World". I know, and you wondered how I manage this slender MMA type figure :)

Here are a few pics from inside the place:



Back to the music...I put together a playlist of 39 songs that made sense for this trip for a number of reasons. In this post, I will list the songs and if I am feeling like it, and remember to do so, perhaps in later post(s), I'll get deeper into the songs.


  1. Big Yellow Taxi - Amy Grant
  2. Changes - David Bowie
  3. New York Skyline - Garland Jeffreys
  4. Breathe - Alexi Murdoch
  5. Amarillo by Morning - George Strait
  6. I Melt With You - Bowling for Soup
  7. This is Me Missing You - James House
  8. Moments - Emerson Drive
  9. Every Light in the House is Blown - Cledus T. Judd
  10. Somewhere Only We Know - Keane
  11. Santeria - Sublime
  12. Personality Crisis - New York Dolls
  13. Rockaway Beach - Ramones
  14. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away - Eddie Vedder
  15. I Love Bosco (Bosco) - TV Commericials Vol. 1
  16. You've Got to Hid Your Love Away - Elvis Costello
  17. The Weakness in Me - Joan Armatrading
  18. Whatever it Is - Zac Brown Band
  19. This is God - Phil Vassar
  20. Why Didn't I Think of That - Doug Stone
  21. Cinnamon Girl - Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs
  22. Rockin' Around in NYC - Marshall Crenshaw
  23. The Only Living Boy in New York - Simon & Garfunkel
  24. New York State of Mind - Tony Bennett with Billy Joel
  25. What Goes Around Comes Around - Justin Timberlake
  26. Closing Time - Semisonic
  27. Welcome to the Future - Brad Paisley
  28. I've Been Loved by the Best - Don Williams
  29. Upside Down - Jack Johnson
  30. New York - U2
  31. People Are Crazy - Billy Currington
  32. Outbound Plane - Suzy Boggus
  33. The Reason - Hoobastank
  34. New York City Serenade - Bruce Springsteer & E Street Band
  35. I've Cried My Last Tear for You - Ricky Van Shelton
  36. Cape Canaveral - Conor Oberst
  37. Old Hippie - Bellamy Brothers
  38. Join the Book Club - George Carlin
  39. Leaving New York - R.E.M.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

An Odd Way to Learn of the Death of Someone You Knew

A colleague of mine came back from summer break to announce she had gotten married - surprise! At a local event this past Saturday, I ran into them and met her husband for the first time and it struck me how he had this familiar look to me, he reminded me of an old friend of mine named Gene.

I often credit Gene with saving me from further destruction, one day I was walking down Avenue U in Brooklyn and Gene was walking in the opposite direction, when we noticed each other, we stopped for a quick "Hey, what's up?" when before I had the chance to say anything, gene said, "Hey, I know that look, hang on a second." He then fumbled through the various pockets of his leather jacket and pulled out a business card, handed it to me, and said, 'call this guy, right after you call their office, you'll feel the weight begin to lift form your shoulders and it will all be alright - I just went through it myself."

The card was for a man named Lance Roger Spodek, an attorney specializing in personal bankruptcy. How did Gene know? What the hell did I look like walking down that street? I can tell you, that I was about 27 years old and in debt for a ridiculous amount of money and that it was eating at me every minute of every day.

gene was right, I called Spodek's office the next day, within a week the harassing and threatening calls from the credit card companies I owed money to came to a complete stop. It wasn't long after that all the papers were drawn up and I had a court date; the judge made me feel really bad about the poor financial decisions I had made to that point but soon after, he dismissed all of my debt, and let me keep my car.

A big part of my life changed forever the moment I walked out of that courtroom, I have not owed any money to anyone with the exception of my mortgage and an occasional car load since, my credit rating is as perfect as one can be. More than two decades have passed since I went through that experience. I take that experience with me each and every day of my life and use it as much as I could to teach others of my mistakes in hope that they won't make the same ones that I did. To this day, I remain grateful to Gene for someone seeing what he did and giving me that card.

I hadn't seen or heard from Gene in many years, life just moved on. Yesterday, at work we shared a cake to help my colleague celebrate her marriage and it reminded me again of Gene, so I decided to hit up the old Google monster.

After a lifelong battle with alcoholism, Gene's liver failed, and at the age of 55, Gene passed away back in 2011. Almost ironic that he once played in a band with his previously deceased brother called "The Medicine Men".

Rest in peace Gene.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rain

Boy did it rain today! So much rain fell that the lobby of the campus where i work flooded. So much rain fell that some cars on the main road met with water up to the windows. So much rain fell that one of my colleagues drove a distance of less than two miles and it took 75 minutes.

Boy was it a mess out there...yet, there were more reasons to be grateful. I only hope the west coast can get some more frequent rain as they need it way more than we,

Goodbye September!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Defeat ALS

I just signed up for the Defeat ALS Walk - for my local peeps, if you feel like taking the walk as well, join the team I created by clicking on the team page link on my personal page, the team name is "Friend of the Farrell's" - I am walking in honor of a friends brother. I know lots of people are always asking for donations and support and it's not always the right time, if you are unable to contribute financially at this time, then may I ask that you help by sharing the page? Thanks! - Chris

Click the image below to go to my page:


Monday, September 28, 2015

The Podcasts I am Listening to These Days

It's been a few years I think since mentioned the podcasts I am listening to - so here goes my current listens:

All Songs Considered - still one of my primary sources for new music to listen to, great show.

Fitzdog Radio - Comedian Greg Fitzsimmons either rambles solo or chats with another comedian, actor or some other celbrity - lots of fun.

Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast - Every other episode is an interview with an actor/celebrity. the show was built on interviews with real old timey stars but there are sometimes current stars. Every other episode is called "Gilbert & Frank's Amazing Colossal Obsessions" - here Gilbert and Co-host Frank Santopadre each recommend one of their favorite films.

Larry Miller Show - A standup and actor, just being himself and being cool. This is such a charming and neat podcast, totally infectious weekly fun.

Nick Dipaolo - This dude is a funny fuck, way too right wing for em but entertains me as he always has.

Piper's Pit - With the death of Roddy Piper, I learned he had a podcast and am working my way through the available back episodes,. What I've listened to so far is interesting and entertaining.

Pop Culture Happy Hour - Delivers just what the title implies - a really fun listen!

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me - A really fun news magazine/comedy show disguised as a game show.

Wooooo! Nation with Ric Flair - Another wrestling based podcast, which I find interesting for it's storytelling and behind the scenes banter.

WTF with Marc Maron - The gold standard in podcasts. You get a Marc Maron monologue and an interview (occasionally two)...awesome show.

In My Ears 2015 Vol. 13.25: "The Moon"

With the eclipse activity last night, my daughter and I sat for some time at the end of our driveway, to help pass the time, I came up with the following playlist featuring songs that reference the moon:


  1. Pink Moon by Nick Drake
  2. Moondance by Van Morrison
  3. Bark at the Moon by Ozzy Osbourne
  4. Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra
  5. Shoot the Moonlight Out by Garland Jeffreys
  6. Can't Fight the Moonlight by LeAnn Rimes
  7. Talking to the Moon by Bruno Mars
  8. Moon River by Andy Williams


It was a nice way to help pass the time while watching the wonders of the cosmos.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Cell Phone/Service Update

I had been with Verizon Wireless since 2002, when I called to cancel my service, the customer servant seemed confused and genuinely sad that I was leaving (I guess he's a good actor).

I sold my Verizon phone (an HTC One M8 that I didn't love), bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and am now with Cricket Wireless.

Loving it!

Insurances and Remodels

Just got my renewals for home & car insurance, might be time to get a quote or two outside to see where I am at.

I wish this stuff was easier, hate having to think about any of that stuff and wish I could rely on the fact that my loyalty to a company would matter.

I did a quick quote on Geico's website, homeowner's was about the same but Auto appears to be about $400 less...going to verify this week.
***************
I've given a good faith deposit to a contractor to secure his services for my bathroom remodel. I ordered the last major components on Friday - the bathtub along with the tub and shower thingies.

Of course the tub is a special order, 3-4 weeks away, which may delay the start of the project. Of course I called the contract, who was set to start 2nd or 3rd week in October - I only thought it was fair so that he can take on a job or reschedule so he can take jobs instead of waiting for my stuff to come in.

Feeling a bit stressed - leftover from the kitchen remodel nightmare last year...wish me luck!


Food Trucks, Music and Fun

I started my day with a visit to the Farmer's Market, a commonplace event for me on  Saturday but being in Maine the past two weekends, it was a bit of a homecoming; there's only two more weeks left!

This afternoon, I spent the day at an event called "Metrofest" in Framingham - there were bands all day, and all were very good. There were food trucks - I picked a bad one but the ice cream truck rocked it! There were all sorts of vendors and booths - including one by my school, I spent a lot of time supporting my colleagues in spreading our word.

It was a fun day...what did you do today?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lock the Freaking Door!!!

What is the deal with some of the people I work with? For at least the 4th time, today I walked in on someone in the employee rest room because they chose to not lock the door.

I've gotten to the point where I now open the door slowly, so today, there was barely any light passing through but it was enough to alarm the idiot inside that there was someone about to enter and got them to scream as if they were being attacked...just gave me a heart attack!

For heaven's sake, this is a college, we are supposedly professional people with some education - hard fucking hard it it to lock the door before to take care of your business?

I felt compelled to hang a sign...we shall see if it works.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Eleven Years of "Goth Baby"

Yesterday was the 11 year anniversary of meeting "Goth Baby" -


There's a whole story behind him...click the picture and see all the posts (or find the "Goth Baby" label to the right of the blog)

R.I.P. Yogi Berra


I guess the game had to end sometime. Yogi was a NY baseball icon, he was the bridge that made Yankees and Mets a single entity, New York baseball. Yogi's wit and humor will always stand the test of time, his memory will always be and I will mourn his passing only because the mortal world is just not going to be the same without him in it.

Rest in Peace Yogi, send our love to The Scooter (whose first words upon seeing you in the great beyond had to have been "Holy Cow!")

I originally wrote this on Facebook earlier today.

Monday, September 21, 2015

One Minute Ahead, The Next Behind and Pics

I don't know why, but I find it so hard sometimes to stay on top of everything. There are periods where I feel productive and on top of things, all caught up...then it seems a minute later that I feel a bit lost and behind.

Here's some pics from Maine:









Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mained

This was the second weekend in a row I spend time in the state of Maine. I also happened to spend a little time in New Hampshire this weekend, a brief visit to Mount Washington.

The odometer has seen some action!

This weekend was about a visit with some old friends, the Ten Broeck's

I have a few scenic pics, that I really should post, but I can't at the moment - perhaps I shall offer them tomorrow.

Just listened to a cool interview with Richard Thompson and currently listening to one with Lemmy.

How you doin'?

Missing my reunion gang and craving a trip to Illinois.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

College Application Seminar

It gets a bit more real each day. Today, my daughter and I sat through a college application seminar at her school....lots of information, dates, notes.

We're both slightly overwhelmed but in an excited and positive way.

I should write more, but I am at a loss for words.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hazing

I've never had anything good to say about fraternities, or sororities for that matter. but hey, wanna have a club, go for it. However, this hazing crap - time to take a hard line.

I have a pretty simple solution to dealing with these crimes, yes, hazing is a crime in my opinion - and I don't mean a harmless silly prank, but that's not what goes on most of the time.

Here's my suggestion for a solution to stop the madness: first offense, a $100,000 fine, immediate expulsion, a year in prison and banned from enrolling in every college in the U.S. for a period of 5 years; this is on top of any criminal charges that may be necessary for injuries or deaths.

Let's stop the abusive behavior and bullying.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Rest in Peace Tim

Learned today of the passing of a former colleague, who is the son of another former/current colleague.

I'd been mostly out of touch with Tim after he left to pursue his education, career and a stint in the military. We connected a couple of years ago on Linked in but remained mostly distant acquaintances.

Tim was a good kid, good worker, fun dude and was liked by all.

Heard from a colleague that his service in Iraq took a major toll and that in recent years he had suffered from depression.

37 is so young.

Rest in peace Tim!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cabbage Island Clambakes - 2015

My daughter and I visited Cabbage Island Clambakes in Boothbay Harbor, Maine for the first time last year; we loved it so much, we went back this year - today! this year we are staying overnight - here are some pics of our day today:

This is the docks, the boat we took to the island is the one over there on the left:

From the boat, our sailboat neighbors trying to make it all happen:

Attempt at a panorama:


A Lighthouse:


Where they prep and serve the lobsters on the island:


Lining up for the trays of joy:

How ya like that plate:



Me and my kiddo making goofy faces on deck:

There's a bald eagle in this picture, way in the back atop one of the tree. The captain let us use his binoculars to get a good view, super cool:

This is the best shot of the trip...love it!




Goofing around with a Nemo guitar:

Goofing around with a Nemo uke: