Friday, December 21, 2012

The 27th Victim

Throughout the entire post-Newtown CT shooting tragedy there have been heartfelt tributes to the "26 victims" of Adam Lanza's terroristic shooting spree. Just ... 26. Church bells around this country pealed 26 times today.  There are "26 angels" watching over us all, from Newtown to every town.

But there is a 27th victim that everyone seems to be purposely and deliberately overlooking. His mother Nancy. 

Personally, I have purposely and deliberately eschewed a lot of the news reports surrounding this story. I do not want to wallow in the national sadness, and it gets none of us anywhere to sit for 24 hours in front of a TV and look at pictures of beautiful children and their teachers, all dead.

And I am about 500% done with friends on Facebook and Twitter furiously freaking out on either side of any political fence surrounding this pasture of sadness. Relentlessly.

There are too many crazy people, lock them all up! We need more compassion to help those with mental illness! There are too many automatic and semi automatic weapons and they should all be banned, hell ALL guns should be banned! There aren't enough guns! If teachers had guns, or if there was a trained guard at the door, no one would be dead today except Adam Lanza. There are too many violent video games and TV shows in the world! It's all his mother's fault everyone is dead. It's not his mother's fault, he would have found a way to kill her and others whether or not those guns were hers. 

I don't understand why Adam Lanza did what he did, I don't. I don't think anyone ever will. And I am okay with us never understanding why. We don't need an answer really other than evil finds evil, no matter what.

But as a parent of a kid who isn't 100% perfect, who is weird and who has said and done things in the past that disturb and frighten the disturbable and frightenable, well... I can't help but feel horrible for Nancy Lanza. And the fact that her death does not matter, is not counted amongst the victims, saddens me to my core.

I am sure she did the best she could with the hand she was dealt. I have to fault her with keeping weapons IN HER HOUSE (duh) with a child/adult living there who simply was not doing well mentally from all accounts. But does she deserve to be brushed aside, hated, denied a place with the other 26?

Am I alone in this? If I am, that's okay. Tonight I have a burning candle and equally burning tears for a mom who ... well, didn't deserve this, and doesn't deserve to be forgotten.

Friday, December 14, 2012

once upon a time

Today there was a horrible shooting in Newtown CT where a 20 year old man walked into an elementary school and killed a horrible amount of people, 20 children and 6 adults, before killing himself.

I have nothing to say about gun control or mental illness (whether or not he had some diagnosed illness is something I do not know).

What I want to tell you is when Geoff was in fourth grade they did a lot of training with the elementary school staff and children for an event such as this. Geoff insisted that if there was a gunman in the school in the building at his door wherever, he was going to fight him.

"They told us that we were to get with out teacher and huddle in the corner. But I'm not going to huddle in the corner. I am going to throw a chair at him. I will fight him. I will stop him from hurting the other children. If he gets through the locked door, I will stop him."

Tonight, I remember these words from him over six years ago, when he was small, and full of this passion and anger and fight. I let him know that the best bet for his survival and the other kids' survival would be to huddle in that corner and wait for it all to blow over like "Sean of the Dead" when they say "Let's go down to the Winchester, have a pint and wait for this all to blow over..."

Part of me was proud of him to be that balls to the wall fighter. Geoff's Fuck Yeah attitude has always impressed me. It isn't machismo, it isn't pride. It isn't a testosterone fueled insanity. That's just plain selflessness that I know is such a part of him. And... Part of me wanted my baby to always be counted as safe.

All these years later, it is all I can think of tonight.

In the meantime, a former classmate of the college I attended lost his daughter today. She was very little. And didn't have someone like Geoff standing between her and a gunman throwing a chair at him and yelling at him to fuck off... tonight I mourn Charlotte, even though I never met her...

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Comments Moderation

I switched over to Blogger in 2010 because the hand-made blog I had painstakingly built over the years was becoming obsolete due to the fact the comments system I was using was switching over to something that my brain could no longer comprehend. I figured jumping through flaming red hoops so people could give me feedback was stupid. Blogger equalled easy. Someday I'll put my own domain on this so my URL isn't stupid long and stupid stupid, but in the meantime, it suffices.

I noticed over time that no one was commenting anymore. I would get 50-80 visits a day, from all over the place, and no one said anything. People used to comment. Then... nada, zilcho, nuttin.

Angelalalalalalalalaaaa said that the Captcha on the comments was hard to read, and sometimes impossible to get past. So... I made a couple of changes.

I got rid of the captcha, and turned on comments moderation.

Turns out, a lot of people are commenting on my blog and they're all spammers. Stupid mothereffing spammers. And perhaps 45 of the 50 visitors a day are really just bots finding my blog, and the captcha was stopping their stupid crap from coming on board. Now I see.

So. I don't even know why I should even bother with comments anymore.

I feel like a voice in the wilderness.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Post Birthday and Thanksgiving Update

I turned 46 about a week ago.

Not very thrilling, exciting, or interesting. You get to a certain point in life and birthdays are just days. Although it was kind of cool getting a constant barrage of birthday wishes from people on Facebook, starting with the Russians and Ukranians, and moving westward across the globe. That put a smile on my face. And most of them were not just "happy birthday" written on my wall but really sweet messages of love from friends.

Who needs a card or gifts. They are so overrated. Real love and kindness outweigh.

My actual birthday was on a Monday and I didn't really want to go out on a Monday. I had suggested to Doug that we go out on Sunday night but ... he wrinkled his nose and said "but football. And it's not your birthday so no." I schlepped myself home from work, and all three of my family members were ready to go out. Geoff had finished his homework, Jess had CLEANED A LOT OF THE HOUSE which is a gift far greater than anything in a box, and that made me feel much better about going and spending time with them. I usually just want to watch Monday Night Football and go to sleep when I get home.

 At the restaurant, when the girl asked if I wanted dessert I said "It's my birthday so I'll have another glass of wine instead," and she brought me wine AND dessert. Really super helpful when you're accounting for your sugars coming from the alcohol and you don't want ACTUAL sugars. Hmmm. Luckily, everyone at the table had at it. I had a small bite of the ice cream and I ate the strawberry.

That's about as exciting as it got. I'm 4 years from 50 and a thousand miles from the 17 year old I sometimes think I am.

As many of you know, during the summer Doug and I went to a friend's house to help dispatch some chickens.

These same friends repeat the deed with turkeys, and I didn't go on this trip but Doug did. He came home with a 27 pound turkey.

For four of us. My parents had plans and the other people I'd asked to come over all had plans too. I figured he'd come home with a bird, I had no idea it would be the size of a truck

Doug put it in the oven at 10pm the night before Thanksgiving at about 190 degrees. He said it would be done around 10am, we'd go to the last home Varsity football game of the year, and make the sides and whatnot and eat by 2pm. He was pretty spot on with his estimate. It was done a little earlier than he'd thought it would be, so we tented it and left Jess home with the task of the pies and the green bean casserole. She didn't get to the mashed potatoes and stuffing part of things so I whipped those up and we did, indeed, eat at 2.

The turkey was fantastic - just quite possibly the best turkey we've ever had. Farm raised, hand cared for, perfect. I don't think I can ever get a grocery store turkey again. It was more expensive per pound (but seriously, only like a buck more a pound) and we ate off of it all week. And I have 2 pots of stock, one of which I have to portion into smaller containers and freeze... not sure how that's all going to fit in the freezer...

The Thanksgiving football game was really good. Our team won big (45-12 I think) and there were more people there than I've ever seen anywhere in my life. No room in the stands, so we stood on the sidelines and chatted with a dad whose son graduated last year and got his Eagle. Geoff has always looked up to Steve, and his dad is really nice, so it was great to catch up with them both.

Geoff had a rough end to the season as I mentioned in the last entry. He pretty much decided that he wasn't going to suit up for the game because it was stupid and a waste of time. He didn't last year. But I think some of the guys talked to him and convinced him to come and suit up. So he did, and he had a great time, and was very happy. A better note to end the season on than the Thursday prior with their game getting canceled and him getting pissed off about the season getting ruined.

He told me there is a "70% chance" that he'll play next year. I hope he does. While he had a really rough time personally for a couple of weeks, I think in the end he got a lot out of the process and has learned a lot about himself and others.

 Steve told him that Junior and Senior year you get to play a lot more and it is a lot more fun. Freshman team is fun and Sophomores are kind of lost in the shuffle, but he encouraged Geoff a lot and I'm glad for that.

You can't quite see it but Geoff decided to do No Shave November, or Movember, or whatever people call it. He looks like an Amish kid with the long curly hair and the beard but no real visible mustache. He shaved it off this weekend because he just couldn't stand it anymore. I thought that was funny. It looked cute.

I guess that's it. I can't think of anything else.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The final game - ruined

Geoff's freshman squad had their final game of the year scheduled today. He was pumped and psyched for it, really couldn't wait to play and was very much looking forward to the great big finale.

His coach emailed me at about 1pm with bad news, and surprisingly it had nothing to do with Geoff and his attitude or any other problems with him.

Seems about 10 of the freshmen on the opposing team were suspended. The coach told me it was for bullying. Geoff said that the rumor mill at his school was that they were smoking pot and ganged up on other players who didn't want to.

Doug and I were sad and shocked, and I have to say I was incredibly relieved that  nothing that happened had anything to do with Geoff.

In the greater scheme of things, when I look on Geoff and I look at kids his age, I need to stop and be so incredibly thankful that he is the person he is.

He never lies to me. I sometimes doubt his stories, and have to double check stuff he tells me, but he never lies. Never.

He can be exceptionally kind, surprisingly so. We were at the market on Thursday and he saw the mom of one of his friends loading her car up. He ran over to her and said "May I help you unload your cart and take it for you?" She looked stunned and thanked him but she was all set. She looked at me with this big smile and said "he really is the most kind of all the kids I know."

I feel that football this year could have worked out so much better for him, and I'm relieved it is over and we don't have to think about it any more. I think he is required to suit up for the Thanksgiving game, but if he isn't required, if it is optional, I'm not going to make him do it.

If you have read this blog over the last 12 years, you know this boy makes my head explode sometimes.

But the long and the short of it is that he is a fantastic person and I need to be more thankful for him and the young man he is becoming. 

A Rant about Adobe Scene7

In my happy little part time job, where I work (like I am right now) in B's living room with the chickens strutting along the patio, and the woodstove cranking, and the bearded collie sleeping at my feet, I am truly happy.

Unless I have to work with Adobe Scene7.

What is Adobe Scene7? Well, this wikipedia article pretty much accurately sums it up. It is a "rich media" management tool, web based (although you can buy a desktop version of it) where you can build catalogs, emails, presentation marketing packages and all kinds of things.

You may have used Adobe Scene7 as a consumer as mostly retailers use this program to build their online catalogs. A viewer can zoom in, rotate, change colors of items to see what they'll look like (oh, this dress is lovely in puce! Not so lovely in orchid).

Our customers upload media into Scene7, our software helps build the online shopping experience.

One of the things I have been trying to do FOR WEEKS is get a "universal viewer" to work so one of our clients can have their sales reps carry around an iPad or other tablet device, instead of 6 print catalogs, one of which weighs a million pounds because it is so full of stuff.

Some days, the links work, the previews generate, everything looks great. I go back to it the next day and the exact same links render differently, don't pop up in a new window the same size as they did the day before.

It is almost like there is a ghost in the machine.

The Adobe support for this product is horrible. Their in house support says "reupload your content and try again." Thanks. I've done that. They referred me to a creative partner, and this creative partner charged us by the hour, and we still don't have a solution. She was nice and all and came back a few times with "there is a configuration error on their end in the server, they're fixing it. But now something totally different is wrong.

I'm frustrated with Scene7, I WANT IT TO WORK because in theory, it is pretty bad ass. But right now, I have a migraine, I want to throw my laptop into the woodstove and blind kittens and drown puppies.

There, I got it out of my system.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Yesterday at the cooking school we hosted the second of four workshops on Macarons. The workshops have been sold out for weeks, which is great. And we are really excited to offer them again in the new year, along with two other classes. One in Pate a Choux (sorry, I can't make little accenty things, not sure how to do that) and French Fruit Tarts.

If you are not sure what a macaron is, it is different from macaroon. Which most of my people will know about. A coconutty little delight usually enjoyed around the Jewish holidays. Macarons, pronounced slightly differently due to the lack of that extra O, are a meringue and almond shell with a flavored filling. The  shells can be flavored too but not with too much liquid or with anything with high oil content. They are primarily the "bun" to the little "burger" of sweet flavory goodness. And the fillings are where the flavor lies.

The Patissier, Jackie Lee Donabed, runs what I'd call a nano-bakery (like nano-brewery, only for baking) called The Blue Macaron. Classically trained in all of the french confectionery arts, Jackie designed this workshop as a four hour long in-depth training in these little pillows of sugary delight.

The entire first hour plus was demonstration. The six students watched as Jackie made a batch of macarons from scratch, talked about all the things that could possibly go wrong, all the ways to make it go right. She whipped the egg whites, made the almond "flour", heated the sugar, brought it all together and showed the technique of folding the dough all together and piping it onto the trays. She then made a salted caramel filling, put it all together and it was delightfully wicked and delicious.

The students in the class then got their turn. Having watched step by step, she had them execute. For the most part they did everything exactly right... with a few mixing hiccups. Discussions about what went wrong "so you know next time" mostly concerned the folding of the flour and the meringue together. Doing it too hard crushes the proteins in the egg whites. And a few of the students had shells that were not perfect but now they know.

The students were encouraged to use food coloring for their shells, and they made their choice of minty chocolate or spicy chocolate ganache for the fillings.

The results were colorful and delightful.

All told, the amount of work that goes into one of these suckers is STAGGERING to me... queen of the toll house cookie and the quickbread. I will never ever question why they are so expensive again. To make a dozen, it literally takes more than an hour. Go ahead and measure that against a banana bread, even if you make a cream cheese frosting.

They are delicious, little heavenly pillows that you bite into, and the shell dissolves in your mouth and the filling dances around the melting meringue... it's sublime.

Our students yesterday were hard on themselves for not having perfect results. The shells were all different sizes, the fillings were uneven... too much in some not enough in another. Learning that delicate balance from the act of folding and mixing to the piping and twirling, the filling and resting... all of these come second nature to Jackie as a professional. The students need not be ashamed. They did a fantastic job.

All told, not a bad way to spend four hours on a Sunday afternoon.  Pictures? Of course.

The first batch ...

Jackie Lee Donabed, our Patissier

Pipe, press, twirl. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Erin approves!

The students become the masters.

good sizes, a little too close together.

Orange is an interesting choice of colors...

the ready to bake macarons wait...

Piping, piping, piping!

Look at those perfect little "feet" on the macarons!
That's the goal.

fililng, filling, filling...

a finished collection. Beautiful.

The light at the end of the football tunnel

I'm up very early on a Monday USA holiday (and I think a holiday elsewhere maybe... I should look that up) where most people have the day off but some, like my husband do not. I always like Monday holidays, because they make that lovely weekend thing extra long.

I'm actually going into work but not until later. Geoff's football team has a game at 10am at another high school, so I'm going to go to that game and leave straight from there.

Geoff hasn't fared very well in the last couple of weeks with football. He was off to a great (and impressive) start and just sort of self destructed. Twice now I've been called and asked to take him home from practice, the second time was bad enough that he asked to go see his psychologist, whom he rarely sees because he says he just "doesn't need to."

I'm incredibly glad that Geoff recognized in himself that he needed to go talk to someone, and made the request. The season hasn't gone well, mostly because he kind of feels he doesn't have a place. The coaching staff, or maybe the school district, made a weird choice about teams. There is usually a Freshman team, a JV team and a varsity team. They didn't have enough kids to field a JV team, so they put all the 10th graders on Varsity (and hardly any of them have had a chance to play) and Geoff got assigned to Freshmen, which pissed him off to no end.

Turns out that was a good choice, for Geoff. Which is why he was doing well. He knew the drills, knew what to do, and kind of at times exhibited some leadership, according to his coaches.

But in the last 4 weeks they've been playing JV games with other school districts who didn't field a Freshmen only team, or schools that had enough kids for JV and Freshmen. So the JV guys are getting to play, and the Freshmen, who were doing well and getting gelled together and stuff, are now standing on the sidelines. Geoff gets to play one or two plays in a game so he feels like he's taken a step back and it upsets and frustrates him..

And I think this and the season and the whole thing has worked his last nerve. He's sick of it. He's incredibly sick of it all. He's sick of practice, he's sick of the guys, he's sick of running, he's sick of drills.

He started working out for this season at the end of June, so I can see why he's sick of it. But there are only two weeks left, and it isn't worth self-destruction to get out of things at this point. Just... see it through to the end and the light at the end of the tunnel is not a freight train coming your way buddy.

I've been kind of disappointed too, but I'm also incredibly proud of him. He's done great work. He has hung in there, made some new friends. He looks great - dropped about 20 pounds and looks kind of super. He's kept all of his school work organized and his grades are doing well, so he's managed to balance everything he needs to balance in order to be on a team, dedicate 3 hours a day during the week and most of his entire Saturdays or Friday nights to, and done a good job of it.

But... I don't know if it is all worth it though. For the same amount of money he could have joined the YMCA for a year.

He told me there is "only a 70% chance he'll play next year" the other day. I told him not to think about next year, but get through this one. I am taking my camera to the game today, and since Doug is not with me I am not compelled to sit in the stands with him.... and I can prowl and take some pictures.

It is a beautiful day out so ... let's seize it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Voting Stickers - a brief rant

So today is Election Day all around America. Dozens of my friends on facebook and in their blogs or on their twitters or wherever are posting that they voted. Great. Good on ya.

But many of them are posting pictures of stickers that they got at their polling place. Complete with big shit-eating grins of how proud they are that they got them a sticker. For voting.

And some of them are pissed off that their polling place doesn't HAVE stickers.

To this, I say, What the hell do you need a sticker for? Are you in elementary school? Did you do a good job on your homework? Were you nice to a kid in the hallway and a teacher saw you and gave you a sticker as a reward?

What the hell, America? You're not five years old already. Grow up. I pooped today, did anyone give me a sticker? I ate lunch today... Any sticker for me? I did my job for 6 hours today, does that garner a sticker?

Look, it's your right as a citizen to vote. You register, you vote, you participate. If you choose not to participate, that's fine too. It's your right. You don't get rewarded with cute assed little stickers that you'll peel off and maybe stick in the trash or in a little chotchkes album or whatever.

Be fucking thankful no one cut your hand off for voting. Or shot at you. Or tried to blow up your polling station.

Just do it and get on with your life. And stop acting like you deserve a trinket to show everyone what a big boy or girl you are.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Sandy from the Eyes of Long Island

Some of you may know I grew up in Huntington NY, on the North Shore of LI.

When I left for college in 1984, I swore I would never go back. I wasn't happy on Long

Island. Everyone was cramped into a small space, I grew up in "the projects" and I really wanted to be in a place that had space, had mountains, had elbow room. Wide open spaces, room to make my own mistakes, as it were.

I went to college North of Boston, in a place with lots of elbow room. I met and married my husband in college, who grew up in a place with lots of elbow room. I went on trips to places with mountains and plains and big wide rivers. I knew I would never go back to apartment buildings, mass transit nightmares, pushing and shoving, New York.

When we got married, we lived in a couple of towns where the elbow room was lacking, one very affluent town and one rather not so bright and shiny city. Eventually landed in super small town spaciousness up near the Merrimack River. And I have enjoyed making this town my town.

My visits to Long Island are few and far between. My sister and her husband still live there. My parents moved up to Cape Cod several years ago, so a lot of times holidays take place there, or here, and rarely at my sister's because to be honest, it is an epic and horrifying pain in the ass to go to Long Island.

9/11 happened, and it made me suddenly incredibly proud to be a New Yorker. I had walked away from the crowds and the insanity of city and "Island" life. But all of a sudden I realized watching what was going on there that this was really a part of me, a part of my heart and soul. Remembering being at the top of the World Trade Center, the Twin Towers, so many times... Remembering taking Doug there, the boy from Wide Open Spaces USA, for the first time. He'd never seen an Hasidic Jew. It blew his mind.

I realized that my bluntness, my sarcasm and my sometimes too big a heart all come from growing up there. It made me who I am. And the smile of being proud that the people there who never walked away from the City, but loved it and stayed there and took care of it were taking care of each other.

Fast forward 11 or so years to this week, and Hurricane Sandy.

Knowing that we all make fun of the storm alerts and the 24/7 news cycle and the "French Toast Warnings," I thought why the heck are they making such a big fuss over a Category 1 hurricane. It'll be like any other wind and rain storm that we get here all the time. Panties were in a bunch everywhere. And I felt relatively calm and assured when I realized the storm was going to take a left turn before making it to my house.

As everyone knows, it beat the shit out of lower Manhattan, Long Island, the Connecticut Shore, the Jersey Shore and Staten Island. Really beat the shit out of it. Like none of us even imagined.

And now I'm sitting up here in the north country, in the wide open spaces, watching Facebook updates from friends who still don't have power, friends who have run out of gas and fresh water because they either didn't plan or didn't take it seriously. I'm watching my sister and my friends waiting for things to get back to normal... each of them have their house standing and while food may be rotten and in the trash at least there is a roof overhead and the promise that it will all be okay.

A lot of people are not convinced that the chaos is as widespread as it is. But it is. When I look geographically at the location of each of my friends who are dealing with this, it stretches from the East End of Long Island up into northern New Jersey and down to the Shore, the entire shore, of that state. Friends in Maryland and Delaware are also recovering from this experience.

My friend Tracey wrote this on Facebook yesterday, and I asked her permission to share it here. I am watching from a distance as my friends are living in the middle of what is on the very edge of turning into Thunderdome.

Update Storm Sandy aftermath – Chaos transitions into anarchy on the quaint north shore of Long Island as gasoline shortages now pit one struggling human being against another. Police abandon intersections, where they have been stationed controlling traffic, to surround any gasoline locations that are lucky enough to have both electric (to pump) and petrol (in the tanks). Lines are miles long. We’re being told that the situation is being driven, primarily, by the inability of the big gasoline tanker trucks to actually get & transport the gasoline to the gas stations in order for the people to get it.

Cars that run out of gasoline while waiting in line are just abandoned and pushed off the road. People (in full blown panic) running up ahead of the line trying to fill random containers with gas, like Poland Springs water jugs, are restrained & explode with emotion. Businesses/homes that had been lucky enough to run on generators thus far, are going down like dominos – unable to power their generators with gasoline any longer. In this way… conditions, ever changing, continue to deteriorate in the wake of Storm Sandy - uncertainty becoming the only constant.

All of the gas stations are surrounded by yellow ‘do not cross’ police tape. You know who is pumping, from a distance, from the number of police cars with lights flashing that surround – and the mobs of people trying to get through the police lines.

There is not a D-cell battery ANYWHERE to be found, at this point. People who had been running their cars to look for supplies (batteries, ice, etc…) or to charge laptops/cellphones with car charges are no longer able to do so. The guy smiling at you in the hour+ long coffee line at the Dunkin' Donuts would kill you for the few gallons of gasoline in your car. He lies to you, with his eyes, when he pretends he’s not thinking exactly that.

Where will we go from here?

It  sounds a little dramatic, a little hyperbolic, but really... it's not. And this is town by town by town across a several hundred mile long area.

Here's to hoping it gets better soon. And that no more weather arrives to pose further problems. 

stupid move...

When I moved the blog over here, I removed all of the html pages for the old blog entries from my old domain, but left the folders with the pictures in them up there so they'd be handy, and because they are referenced here in this blog from the cutting and pasting and moving over that I did ...

and now I accidentally deleted the images folder from the old site. and I do not have some of the folders locally on this laptop, so I can't replace them all.

When I try to do something that I think will be helpful to me, I end up screwing everything up. And that is just epic and stupid.

Makes me want to go back to bed... because now, I kind of need to rebuild all those folders or hand insert all the pictures BACK into this blog, entry by entry.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

I made the graphic here because my sister asked me to. I also made one with Sandy Berger in the middle. But no one got that. Have people forgotten who Sandy Berger even is? Am I the only one who remembers him stuffing secret documents into his pants and saying he "forgot" they were there during the Clinton administration? Oh America. Our collective memory will never forget Gangnam Style, but we forget ole pantsy Sandy. Anyway...

For those of you who know me, I live about 10 miles from the coast of Massachusetts, not too far from the Merrimack River. We breathlessly watched the forecast for Sandy as she trounced all over Cuba and Haiti making her way north. Last year we had a blizzard right before Halloween, so they were calling this storm the Frankenstorm because it could coincide with Halloween AND because it was going to meet up with arctic/cold air coming from the west and north. It had the potential, if it moved just right, to hit New England as a Nor'easter hitting an arctic front, and we'd be digging out from feet of snow, instead of the inches we had last year.

Well, Sandy banged a left and went into New Jersey. Walloping my beloved Manhattan, wrecking the Jersey Shore.

The irony of a storm called Sandy hitting the boardwalk of Atlantic City brought a smile to my inner Springsteen fan. I thought that was sort of fantastic.

I spent most of the day yesterday monitoring facebook, getting reports from friends who were watching waters rise all over Long Island, including my home town. Photos were streaming in. One friend had a tree land on his house, crash through his kitchen. He decided to get out of there before the next tree came down and once outside discovered transformers exploding all over the neighborhood as power lines cascaded with the trees.

My favorite area of Manhattan, the south end where Stone Street and all the Colonial buildings are, was flooded out. My heart breaks for that area. And for Breezy Point in Queens, which burned to the ground, losing 80 homes. It's ridiculously sad. With all that water surrounding, watching the buildings burn.

Nothing happened here. Our lawn chairs got blown over. Doug had a frustrating day because he got an email saying he was an "essential employee" and that he had to come into work. He locked his keys in the car in the parking garage at the train station. He got to his office, and after working for a few minutes got word that the MBTA was going to be shutting down train service at 2pm, so he had to basically prepare to get the 1pm train home. I looked for his extra set of keys, couldn't find them, went and picked him up where I sat in the train station for over an hour waiting... there was a phone poll across the tracks a half mile south of the station and they sat there waiting for a crew to come move it. Eventually, they got buses to come and transport everyone to their stations. He said he could have walked it and we would have been home hours earlier.

That was the only problem with the storm, Doug being inconvenienced.

Which is a blessing. It was nice when all of us were home together eating dinner and watching Netflix. Our tv and internet never failed. In fact, our whole town lost power in very few spotty places. We were incredibly lucky.

Geoff had 2 days off of school. He used yesterday to clean in the "man cave" and rearrange his drum set. Today we washed the dogs, and now I need to clean the bathroom as a result. Stupid dogs. Stupid wet shaking all over the place dogs.

If you got hit hard, my heart to you. My sister and Ronnie are surrounded by down trees and power lines. But they have friends with power so they've got somewhere they can be. I'm glad the storm is over.

And now Halloween can happen tomorrow, without feet of snow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I feel like it might be time for a new design and layout for the old blog face here...
as much as I love my view of the hill in andover, and my green grass, i'm just not feeling it right now. So i'll go through all my old headers from the old blog (i swear I have dozens and dozens of them....) and find a suitable background (maybe even one of my own) and we'll get a facelift.

When it's time to change then it's time to change.

Telecommuting Blues

It is almost 10:30am, and I have nothing to do. Well, I do have something to do, I'm almost done with it, and I can continue to make different versions of what I'm doing, change some functionality but ... (it is kind of badass I must admit. I learned how to "skin" the display for an online catalog for a client who wants their in field sales reps to have a fully digital solution to 11 heavy paper catalogs. And it looks the shit, yo. Kind of proud of myself).

I'm sort of feeling like my time could be better spent maybe?

Working this contract job is fun. I enjoy B, but I feel like I'm still undefined after three pay cycles of 2 weeks each. I've done a couple big projects, I branded all their documentation, letterhead and powerpoint presentations with new layouts. I've done a major 34 page document on some something or another back end thing that I don't even understand so I don't know if it makes sense. Lots of codes and screen shots, and I feel that the higher-ups are happy with it, they haven't pushed back with edits and we have a big meeting with a big customer at 3pm today where the document will be unveiled, but ... I don't know.

Undefined is a good way to put how I feel. I feel like a bench player on the football team who gets called in for one or two plays. Not really making a difference. I had hoped by now that I would really GET what was going on here.

I opted to stay home yesterday and today because B is getting new windows installed on the house and I don't do well in noisy situations. I get super ADD, can't focus, can't get anything done. My next door neighbor is mowing his lawn right now, and even that is too much for me. Unless it is music or silence, I'm useless with noise around me.

Seeing as I'm not actively making business work for the company right now, this blog entry not being official business, I've taken myself off the timer. I ought to get back to it. 

Perhaps I should have gone to B's house today, I might be more on task...

I'm also pondering how all the other employees count their time? I count to the 15 minutes. For instance, this morning at 6am while waiting for Geoff to come downstairs so I could drive him to the high school gym for workouts, I answered three emails. That counts as 15 minutes. I then came home and designed an html message page to get embedded in the blah blah blah system thing that says the site is undergoing routine maintenance (usually the site just times out, so now they want a little blurb that automatically pops up the minute someone goes to log in letting them know maintenance is happening. Come back later). So that's another 15 minutes. Another half hour of other things after taking Jess to the train.

Just realized there is only 1 dog in my yard when there should be 3. Two seem to have taken themselves on an adventure. Damn. Stupid freaking dogs.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pink: It is the new "Star Bellied Sneeches"

Triggered by a blog entry by my friend Amy, whom you should be reading.

We were at a high school football game the other day. The opposing team all had on pink socks, wrist and bicep bands. I turned to my husband and said "oh, so now it has moved to high school sports."

It meaning breast cancer awareness "marketing."

Everyone who breathes knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There is pink everywhere. In NFL games, it is on the shoes, gloves, towels hanging from waistbands on tight white pants. Pink ribbons in the center of the field. Pink in the stands, pink on the cheerleaders, little pink ribbons on the lapels of the owners, coaches. Pink logos on baseball hats. Pink. Pink. Pink.

My son's team didn't have any pink on. But this other squad was in full pink gear. Doug pondered the sideline and uttered what I think is the most prescient and concise assessment of the Pinkening.

"Pink is the new Star Bellied Sneeches." We are more aware, we are supportive and more loving than you because we are decked out in pink. And you are not. We don't got stars on ours while you don't have stars on thars... we got pink socks.

Here's the thing. I know breast cancer sucks. Do not give me shit about this, do not even GO there. I know. Guess what, "I'm AWARE" already. I don't want it, I don't want anyone I know to get it. I've had a few friends with lumpectomies. I've had my friend Aaron's mom go through a double mastectomy and chemo and radiation. My friend Rob's mom went through months of arduous treatments and kicked cancer's ass. Cancer sucks.

But does wearing pink do anything other than make you look like your Nikes clash with your black and gold, or Carolina Blue? Does buying a box of breakfast cereal with a pink band around it really raise anyone's awareness of anything?

Jess looked at the opposing team and said 'oh, so they're trying to raise awareness? Is there a single person in this stadium right now that ISN'T aware of breast cancer already? Some guy will yell out "What's with the all pink socks?" and everyone around him will gasp at  his lack of awareness, and then someone will politely raise his awareness? And the guy will go "Oh, I wasn't aware and now I am? Thanks Pink Socks!" What a joke."

I have to agree.

Over the past several years that this has grown more and more "in your face" I've grown more and more annoyed by it. Pink on your take out containers, your iced coffee, pink on your milk carton, your spinach container, your floor cleaner...

And what about when the month is over? When November blows in, cold and dreary, and carries us all the way through the winter, spring and summer months all the way through next September's end? Are we to be less aware of Breast Cancer the other 11 months of the year? And what about someone suffering from Ovarian or Prostate cancer during October? Do we shrug off caring for their needs because it isn't their "month" or their "color" flying from the "Look at me now in all my awesomeness bandwagon jumping because I care!" people, agencies, corporations and sports teams? Oh, we'll care about your cancer in February. Sorry it is a short month with two days fewer of awareness. 

My awareness isn't raised, but my annoyance level is.

I actually look for products that do NOT have the pink all over them. I know they claim that a portion of their sales of that product will go to breast cancer research. There is usually a cap or a limit or some sort of legal mumbo jumbo so that you know they're not really giving all they can (or maybe should, if they're going to bandwagon jump). Just a portion, up to x amount of dollars. So even though 50 million units of our product sold because 50 million people bought into this let's be helpful movement, we'll cap that at 75k units. So we don't lose all that pink inspired cash. 

There is also the issue of once your money, if it goes somewhere, goes... it may not go to breast cancer research. It could very well go to some other thing that XYZ agency supports. And you have no control over it. An agency that is the beneficiary of your Breakfast Cereal Money "donation" can do whatever the hell they damn well please with it, and your 5 cents or whatever goes somewhere other than where you think it is going.

It is all a complete and total sham, or at least appears so to me.

I am kind of glad that my son's team didn't wear pink socks. A couple of the boys have pink socks, I have seen them on the field this month. To me, this is perhaps an individual tribute to someone they love. Or, they see the pros doing it and they've decided to do it themselves. At least it is not a mandate from the NFL downward to collegiate, high school and Pop Warner teams.

And I can admire that if a boy wants to do it, because he loves someone. I'm a little worried about a boy who does it because he sees the Patriots doing it.

If I have kicked a hornets' nest with this entry, I guess that is something that I can expect. Some of you may be upset at me for feeling this way. You're free to let me know what you think. So few people leave comments on these blog entries that I feel I'm talking to myself. But chime in if you have a different or the same opinion. I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Zombie Walk 2012 - The afterword

It was a great day.

A very great day. I went down with Jess and her friends Eric and Sarah, and we met up briefly with my friend Joe and his friends. I had a fantastic time taking pictures of people and the costumes were outstanding. 

I love how every year there are different balances. The first year I was impressed with the amount of Zombie Resistance Fighters, Umbrella Corp guys, survivors.... not quite survivors. One year there seemed to be a lot of religious victims, nuns and priests and whatnot. That kind of grossed me out a bit. But hey, if everyone can be attacked and turned into zombies, why not the clergy?

There should have been some political/politician zombies. I think Mitt and Barack were unrepresented and that was disappointing. There were a lot of zombie inconsistencies. For instance, the Ghostbusters were there, and they looked great but they're Ghostbusters, not Zombiebusters. There was a zombie girl in a bikini with board shorts on, and she was dragging her surfboard by her ankle behind her and it was bitten as if a shark had attacked her... didn't know you could get turned into a zombie by getting attacked by a shark. Are there shark zombies? Hmmm. But -- they looked fantastic.

There was a team of Powerpuff Girls, with the Professor, and he had "Chemical Z" instead of Chemical X. Absolutely perfect.

There were a lot of gay guys there who were HYSTERICAL making all kinds of jokes and innuendo. There were families with their little kids there, and the kids were freaking adorable. One decided he didn't want to be a zombie, he wanted to be a fighter, so he took his gun and walked up to people and yelled "Hey Zombie! Eat THIS!" and made pew pew pew noises.


One year my daughter and her friend went as protestors. I wish there were more of them then, and there were none there this year, sadly...

This being year five, and the fifth year I didn't dress up (year one I put some zombie blood on my face and ate my friend Henry's head a little bit to try and turn him into a zombie, but he was no fun) I was glad to be there and also glad to not singled out for not playing along.

Next year, I may dress as a resistance fighter. Get a bunch of people with me and hit the army navy store for some fun stuff that we can make into survival gear.

The girl with the fishing pole was fantastic.
She used her "bait" to help zombies across the street by the
Hawthorne Hotel and people on the sidewalk were cheering and laughing.

All my pictures are here, but I do want to take a second and congratulate my friend Joe for winning best costume. He went above and beyond with the "Ratto" swims with the fishes zombie. Damn, he was good. Loved him.

There were two downers for me. One, it rained. We got to East India Mall, about a mile into the walk, and it just started pouring. I lost everyone, lost Joe, lost the kids (caught up with them at Harrison's Comic Book Store). The walk just kind of fell apart for me and we ended up at the Howling Wolf, which was overrun by zombies and tourists but we sat on the patio and enjoyed dinner.

The other bummer was a Evangelical witness lady at the gathering.

Now, y'all know I go to church, I am an elder in my church, I love God. I love Jesus. I believe fully in the Holy Spirit. I am a Trinitarian to the core. Now. that said, I also love make believe, I love silliness, I love cosplay and dress up and creativity. I don't see evil Satanic powers in Zombies. I don't think Zombies are from the Devil. If Zombies happen, heck, it's because of science, medicine, corporate corruption, illness, physical world stuff. 

People who want to be dressed up as zombies want to have a little bit of fun, for a couple of minutes. So why do you need to come and witness/evangelize to people right then, right at the Zombie Walk gathering....

You gotta go pee in their cheerios, don'tcha?

I had been out and about in the group taking pictures and came back to Jess, Eric and Sarah who had this woman sitting with them. I'm used to weird people approaching me all the time, and figured that my daughter and her friends have the same magical draw to people. I got a little closer and could hear her going on and on about the Light of Christ and it is so beautiful and pure that even a little child can accept it etc etc etc. The kids didn't want to listen to her, they politely "uh huh, yeah, I guessed" at her. She said "you're not dressed up, you don't seem that into this scene?" and they Hmmm'ed quietly back at her.  I stood there for a bit and wanted to say something but I kept my mouth shut and let her walk onto the next group. I didn't want to get into it with her, because, like I said, this wasn't the time or place in my mind to try and "reach" people.

The next kids that she approached were were NOT as quietly dismissive as my kids. They were downright rude and disgusting. But I can't say as I blame them, and I can't really fault her too badly because she had to have known exactly what kind of push back she was going to get into.

But she probably went back to her people and said that the place was full of evil and "spiritual warfare" when what it was was a mess of goofy people who didn't want to hear her message right there and then. They were there to hang out and have fun. Just ... for crying out loud, let people do that once in a while, wouldya? 

It bummed me out. Truly and deeply. I just don't know what else to say about it.

Anyway. I got to see Joe, I got to eat dinner at one of my favorite places. Eric's friend Jeremy and his girlfriend caught up with us there and we had a great time. My friend Carol came down after seeing my post on facebook saying I was there. All told, the rain didn't ruin the day. It made it different. I still had a great time, and got a lot of great pictures, and am looking forward to next year.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Zombie Walk Salem 2012

I've had dozens of hits to the blog in the last week or so of people looking for info on the Zombie Walk 2012.

Long time readers know I'm a big fan of the Zombie Walk, and I've gone to the last several. This year will be no different.

I'm looking forward to seeing some Zombies that I've taken photos of REPEATEDLY over time, and new friends that I connected with last year, like my friend Joe who was the world's greatest Zombie Magician, pictured here. The zombie rabbit was a super nice touch!

It is always a tremendously good time. I don't dress up, I go as a papparazzi, take a ton of pictures and enjoy the sights, scene and screams.

The Zombie walk info page is on Facebook and you can visit it here. I am not a coordinator, so asking me questions about details does no good. Go to the FB page. I'm sure they'll help you out.

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Brussels Sprouts, or is it Brussel Sprouts? hmmm.

Tonight I am cooking some oven roasted spicy chicken thighs, and some Brussels Sprouts. When I was a little girl, my mom used to make them, frozen from the bag, and drench them in butter and salt. I use a touch of butter and a touch of salt. Nowhere near what I grew up with.

I would stab the bottom of my sprout, and hold it up to my face. I would peel each leaf off with my fingers and eat the leaves one at a time. I was a giant, eating cabbages or lettuces.

And if you wonder if I still do this, the answer is a solid maybe.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The answer to the question the old man asked on Friday night... "is their varsity team as bad as these guys?"

The answer is no. Heck, Hell, Hades No.

Geoff had to suit up for the game again, even though he won't ever play on this Varsity team.

 Doug and I were both getting things done at home, so I decided that at about what would be halftime we should head over and see what the haps were.

 We got there and it was 14-13, them. It ended up 33-20 us.

 With 8 minutes left in the final quarter, one of their players got fighty. Our punt had gone out of bounds, and this kid turned around and punched the punter and shoved him. Everyone was looking DOWN the field to where the ball was so the vast majority of the crowd, team and refs missed it, but I saw it. I yelled something like "hey, what the heck was that!" and the dad behind me, who had seen it too, said "someone's getting angry that he's losing... this is gonna get ugly."

Our player who got hit turned around and pushed him back so they started punching, and there was a near bench clearing melee. The refs only saw our kid push, so he got flagged, and they got broken up. While the refs were trying to make sense of the situation, the first kid from the other team went and started pounding on someone else from our team, and screaming obscenities at our coach in his face.


It took a while to get the guys all sorted out, and the coaches and the refs were all trying to talk through what the penalties would be and this kid was still on the field, pacing, yelling, swearing... Eventually the ref threw him out of the game.

I have never in my life booed another team's kid, or cheered for someone getting thrown out of a non-pro game, but I did this time.

The thing that made me mad the most was no one on their coaching staff approached him to try and talk to him and cool him down after he got thrown out. He stomped around and kept freaking out on their sideline. I wanted to go over to their coaching staff and say "hey, coach, manage your player. Talk to this kid. He needs you right now."

It was shameful.

After those shenanigans, playing was a lot meaner, harder, faster, tougher. I saw some of the biggest hits I've ever seen in high school football. I was thankful my son wasn't out there. He'd be eaten alive. One of our guys hit one of theirs so hard that all you heard was this CRASH of the shoulder pads... and he walked away as if he had bumped into some one in the hallway.

Everyone in the stands gasped... the other guy got up, he wasn't hurt, but it was probably the hardest non-pro hit I've ever seen.

Geoff was incredibly happy after the game. Can't say as I blame him. "Revenge!" he said.

Revenge indeed.

I talked to Geoff's coach after this game and asked him what happened with the other team and the freshmen. He was visibly angry about that situation. "That was cheap, they're just such a cheap team. They played their JV squad the whole first half and then in the second half I heard them call out the freshmen to the backfield. They were laughing at us. And they KNEW coming into this game, they KNEW because we discussed it, that we are a freshman team and this is all 9th graders except for Geoff. But they sent out their 11th and 10th graders, and they kicked our asses and thought it was funny. And they're going to hear from our athletics director and from the league on Monday."

I told him that whatever they did on the 20 minute ride home, whatever pep talk they gave the boys seemed to work because they came off the bus laughing like that and he smiled. We had a long talk about how crappy that was, and how it doesn't matter, it doesn't count, and then we talked about all the things they did right. And they all expressed how pissed they were, how bummed out they were. He said Geoff showed some exceptional support and leadership skills in this discussion and he was just amazingly proud of him.

He shook his head and said "How lucky am I to be coaching these kids who are 0-3. They're the best."

Friday, September 21, 2012

More Football

(number 68 is my kid. lookin' good boy. lookin' good)

Geoff's Freshman team played a local school's JV team and they got eaten alive like gazelles by lions in the sub-Saharan Veldt.

It was ugly. Fugly might be a better word.

Best part of the day was when the Hood Blimp took off from the local airport next door, and everyone was excited to see it.

Anyway, It is nice to see Geoff play in a lot of drives, unlike last year when it was one play a game. When we picked him up after the game, all the guys were laughing and having a great time when they got off the bus. It was so nice to see him laughing even after an epic and humiliating loss. He seems to get along better with this batch of guys, calling himself the Freshmore on the team, as they're all Freshmen and he's a Sophomore. He says these guys are his "bros" whereas he didn't seem to have that kind of connection with his grade-level classmates last year.

He had a lot to say about the loss, the fact that a freshman team should NEVER play a JV team...and I agree. He also said that he loves these guys, and hopes that they win a game. He also noted that he is playing better than he did even during week one when his very first play in the game drew an offsides for his team, right off the bat, because he was too eager to crush the bastards on the other team.

Compared to a year ago there is a lot of growth here. And I am intensely proud of him.

I hope his team wins a game soon, so that he can get a victory under his belt. I also hope he gets to pull one major great play, because he says he feels like he is always three millimeters away from doing something great.

Here's to hoping he trains enough to get to that point. And does something great. 

All told though, even though they got crushed.... I'm pleased.  I saw some really good football, and when they got off the bus all laughing and joking and having a great time.... I knew it was all okay.

But I didn't love someone's grampa in the stands to my left.

The entire game he made derisive comments, jokes about our team. "oh, here you go, take the ball I'm afraid of it!" and "I wonder if their varsity team sucks as bad as they do?"

I don't think he knew that these guys were playing the THIRD GAME they've ever played together against a squad that was 1 to 2 years older, who had tons of experience in comparison. I wanted to go over and say something like "Hi, you do realize our team are Freshmen and one or two Sophomores and yours are all Juniors, Sophomores and a couple Freshmen, who have YET to take the field? Can you please stop ragging on my kids?" I take it totally personally and to heart that this guy was just ripping the hell out of these kids.

Yeah, they looked a mess.

But shut the fuck up. Just. shut. up. Just let them play even though it looks like lambs to slaughter.

I don't know what stopped me from saying something. Common sense or just the will to live.

Doug and I were the only people from our team sitting in the "home" bleachers, because Doug didn't give a damn and didn't want the sun in his eyes. All of the other parents were in the lame visitors seats across the field, and I wished we were with them. I miss some of the moms from last year like Cindy McD and Missy, both of whom have boys on the Varsity team.

But all told... honestly, this is a good fit for Geoff.  I'm happy for it. And proud of me for not pushing an old fart off the top of the bleachers for ragging on "my boys."

Momma bear doesn't like when people pick on her babies.

And we got to see the blimp.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I almost forgot to write about the canoe trip we took this weekend. How silly of me.

Our Boy Scout Troop does an annual trip up to Fryeburg Maine to help the local river and watershed conservationists clean up the river.

We get to camp for free, which is nice, and the woman who runs the campground is quickly becoming a fan of our troop. In years past we have had upwards to 40 people... this year the team was smaller due to fall sports and the school year starting, and the threat of bad weather, which always causes people to bail on trips.

In the past we've done it in June, but twice it was canceled due to high and dangerous water... like this past June where we ended up camping but hiked instead of canoed and I got my ass handed to me by a 2000 ft high climb. If readers do not remember that story is here. So doing it in early September after a long dry spell meant there was low water, no real dangerous currents, and an easy go of things.

Because Geoff is not playing on the Varsity football team (he has come to terms with playing with the Freshmen and calls himself a Freshmore) he was free to go away for the weekend. Much to his joy. This is his favorite trip. He loves canoeing the Saco, and we should do it more often with him.

The troop left on Friday night, and Doug and I joined them in the morning on Saturday. The forecast was for morning showers, and those came and went before 7am while we were driving north. By the time we got there it was 68 degrees, sunny, crisp, beautiful...

 We headed out with 8 canoes and one kayak, and had a blast. The water level was REALLY low, so at some points we were scraping bottom.

One of our scoutmasters got out of his canoe and walked down the river, scooping up beer cans embedded in the sand.

We found a whole bunch of treasure. Enough shoes to fill a giant box, lots of towels and clothing, and a billion beer cans.

The boys had a blast and a half, and Geoff got to do his favorite trip. He's pictured here with our good buddy Thane hamming it up on the seating in the river

The entire rowing/floating/going down the current trip was just under 9 miles. The last 2 or so miles of it we were actively rowing hard to get to the landing in time to meet the outfitter who was picking us up.

We spent a little too much time at the start of the trip picking up one or two little things.

When we made it about six or so miles down, maybe a little more, we ran into things called "strainers" which are trees in the water that catch all kinds of debris. Here is a picture of one of the sisters on the trip (one of the scoutmasters brought his scout and 2 of his daughters who are very outdoorsy and TONS of fun) at one of the strainers.

This one was particularly gnarly, and we did our best to clean. It was hard to get close enough, there were three canoes, and whoever was facing the mess got to clean it. The picture doesn't show all the trash that was above water level... We shook a lot out  with our oars and sent some down river hoping it would was up somewhere easier to catch by humans. Seeing as there were so many people out cleaning that day.

I had a great time, and aside from the fact that my shoulder hurt like hell for two days, I want to do it again. Doug and I were a well oiled machine, knocking down the miles rowing like crazy... I think I could do a 10-15 mile trip with actual moderate to serious rowing (as long as I remember the Tylenol and we bring our air mattress instead of our self-inflating individual bed pads).

Here's my favorite picture of Geoff, taken through the wood smoke. He thought I was taking a picture of the fire, so he didn't get to make a stupid face of seriousness. He and Matt were talking and having a nice time, and I just happened to catch him looking like a normal 15 year old instead of a surly jerk the way he usually does for most pictures I take of him. I'm glad I got this shot... I love this kid.

 All the photos from the weekend are here. If you would like to see them.


It is probably a good thing that I do not work from home regularly. Today, at my new part time job, B told me that because of early release she would be taking her boys on a playdate with another family. I was told to just work here. Thing is, I don't have THAT much to do. I got access to the company website and am redoing the god awful news/press release page and will send that out for review. They have a DEV server and a live server, and it looks like no one does anything on the DEV server, so I had to completely redo a page to match the live server. There is nothing that makes me more crazy than inconsistency.

So I did the one thing I needed to do that B asked me to do. She said one of the clients has a complaint that the log in screen is confusing, that people don't know they need to register and they come to the screen and do not see the "register here" button (like idiots, really) so she asked me to mock up a couple of new looks so stupid people would see "new users register here, for chrissakes!"

I gave her three. It took me an hour. And the hour included me making a quiche.

But I also floundered around for another hour, picking things up, cleaning, forgetting shit in the car and going out to get it. Realizing there were branches in the driveway. Picking them up. Putting them away. I have to put a document together for my lawyer. I may just drive it down to him. Repeatedly forgetting my cup of coffee in the kitchen, and going back to get it only to do something and forget to bring the coffee back with me. It was a comedy of errors.

I contemplated just going in to work at "Awesome" today but realized that Geoff has early release too. He should be home any second now. And he has to be back to the high school at 2pm for football practice, so ... someone has to take him. And that someone would be me. And I'm glad I realized it before I got to like ...Lexington.

The pros are that I had an amazingly easy commute. I only got cut off by one jerk named Brodie who was running down the stairs to get let out. She almost killed me. It was almost like being on 128. The quiche was amazing. My laundry is ready to go get put into the washer. B wants me to take a look at the webpage that I did the welcome screen mock up for and address some other UI/UX complaints the users have only I wasn't paying close enough attention on the conference call yesterday to really remember what the complaints are.

I suppose if I just log in and start walking around I will see them. Hopefully.

Friday, September 14, 2012

All the way from Minneapolis...

We get a lot of foot traffic at the cooking school. Or, drop in traffic. People pull into the parking lot, ask questions. Sometimes they are lost, and need to know how to get somewhere, and I'm kind of no help because I do not live anywhere near here.

But, I have google maps! And we look things up, and I print out sheets of directions for them and send them on their way with prayers for traveling mercies.

Sometimes we get people who stop in because they have been driving by for years, and they're curious about what we do. So I have a packet and a spiel, and I talk up the joint and they usually leave satisfied in knowledge.

Today was different. I was on the phone solidifying a corporate party, answering questions about head count, and talking about how they want to do an Iron Chef kind of judging of the meals the two kitchens prepare.

An older gentleman came in and stood at the front counter, looking around the room at the cookbooks. While the woman was talking I leaned out and whispered to him  I'd be right there. He smiled and said "take your time."

Customer Twenty Questions continued to ask things, and of course I can't tell her to shut up, quit prattling on... and the man left.

I felt badly to have lost him, finished the call and leaned out to see if he was just walking about the building.
There was no sign of him... so I came back inside. Twenty minutes later he returned...

He opened with "I have a question, but it isn't necessarily about your business." This is always a weird opening. We've had weird openings to weird questions from left field, Mars, the depths... and they're always entertaining.

"Do you know where the Center Street Cemetery is?"

Now, I'm not from around here, as I explained at the outset. I pointed to the cemetery next to our building and said "maybe?"

He smiled and said that he didn't think that was it.

You see, "My great, great, great,... great grandfather died in the late 1600s and is buried in the Center Street Cemetery. At least that is what my grandmother told me. And I came here from Minneapolis to see if I can find him, but I'm not having much luck." He told me the cemetery next to our building doesn't have anyone there from the 1600s (looks like it could) so I told him that we could go on the internet and pull up info. We found the East Parish cemetery in Newton is on Center Street, and currently is on the grounds of Boston College's Newton campus. I remembered seeing it, with its gates and trees, whilst blasting past it to head to the nightmare of Newton Center.

We measured the distance from here to there at about 2 miles, and he said he was going to head out to try and find him.

"He's been waiting for a grandson to come visit him for over 300 years. Ten more minutes won't hurt." His smile, he had such a huge smile, as he was thanking me made my day.

I hope he gets to find him. I told him to come back and report if successful. Good luck, guy from Minneapolis!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mid September News

Not much is going on but I like when my stats skyrocket when I post an entry. There is no better ego boost than knowing a bank is reading your blog to see if you slag them. Nice.  For you other non-bank related readers, all like ... two of you, I figure an update is due.  So here it goes.

Summer camp at the cooking school was ten weeks of joyous head exploding chaos. Some weeks were better than others. Jess said that if the last week of camp was the first week of camp she would have quit. Some kids were amazing and sweet, other kids were hell on wheels on fire rolling down the road.

Everyone survived.

I had fun taking photographs, and updating the social networking and other shenanigans across the boards. I enjoyed all of the fun and the employees and the people and most of all being with Jo every day. There are stories, and as Frank Turner says "And we’re definitely going to hell, but we’ll have all the best stories to tell." Oh yes we do.

But ... summer comes to an end and I'm not needed all day every day at the cooking school... so I started looking for another job, preferably a part time job. And I found one. In our school district. At least seven people sent the listing to me, so I knew that there were a lot of people in the school district who knew me well enough to know it was my job.

The job was written as teaching teachers how to use technology. 19 hours a week. And my dream job. My freaking DREAM job. I wrote my cover letter, got the letters of reference, wrote up the teaching plan that we use for the class I teach every summer with professor CM at the local college. They called me immediately for an interview.

But it turns out that the job wasn't what was on paper. This was a tech support job, part time, across the district, where I'd basically be schlepping computers and printers, fixing problems, firefighting, and to be honest, I can do that.

I can do the hell out of that.

But I don't want to.

That is me 1999, working at the College, only then I was in charge. I was managing a staff of 7 students and 2 professional staff members.

I turned it down when they offered it to me, and I could hear the disappointment in the hiring manager's voice. It kind of broke my heart to do it. I hate disappointing others, and the fact they liked me enough even though I have not actually done tech support in like 16 years... and honestly, I'm not above it... I could do it. But it wasn't what I want, and when you take a job that on paper says one thing, and in reality is something totally different, it is much better to know in advance so you can make an educated choice.

Combine that with the fact I had a back up plan.

My friend Beth is a principle in a small software company with no central office. Everyone in the company works from home or works in each others' homes. Her assistant lives in Germany. The CEO of the company is somewhere in Pennsylvania, his assistant is over an hour away. She asked me at the beginning of the summer if I'd work for her, and wanted me full time starting immediately.

I didn't want to take full time starting immediately... because I wanted to work at the cooking school, and I was looking forward to that with all my heart.

But I didn't turn her down. We talked at the time I interviewed for the tech support job, and her position was the same money, and even though she wanted me full time I wanted to try it on for size, so I said yes... and a trial run through the end of the year as a part time employee.

I started last week, and so far I can't see how she thinks there is full time work for me to do yet, because really... I don't know what I'm doing. It is piecemeal right now.

An example of what I've been up to ... For the last few days I've been taking some sales and marketing collateral, doing print screens from one of the customers' online order programs, and putting them all together in an overview.

There were 7 documents, totaling about 20 mb because the graphics are not sized right. I've gotten half of the content pulled together with fresh new screenshots, great mark ups, no toolbars and browser headers because I am cropping them all out ... the images are nice and uniform. And it is under 2mb.

So far, I think I've earned my pay.

I now have to write a script for a demo, that the director of sales is going to do with me playing the part of a perspective customer. We'll record the session through but it has to be scripted so he stays "on message" and all the pertinent questions that anyone would ever want to know will be available for people to watch online.

I love working with Beth, she's incredibly intense but also very thoughtful. I have sat in on several conference calls with customers for everything from tech support to weekly check ins to demos. She is careful when answering questions. She is very kind. And... she has chickens in her yard and they are fun to visit with when I need a break.

There is other stuff to talk about, adventures with Boy Scouts, Geoff and football and school... but I'm kind of super tired and am waiting for jess' train to come home so I'll watch some football with my husband and enjoy.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

football season is upon us...

(Pictured here, Geoff in Green, #21, headed straight for the QB, number 3, right before he pounded him).

I'm not too excited about the Pats and Pretty Boy Tommy, this year for some reason. I am looking forward to Geoff's team, though. It's a mom thing. It's a pride thing. If he was in theater or band or a ping pong league I would be equally excited. I love this kid.

There is a small problem though. He's a Sophomore, and they have him playing on the Freshman team. Why? He hasn't been able to figure that out. But then again, he's probably been told exactly why but he isn't HEARING the answer so he says "Coach H hates me and wants me to suffer and burn in eternal hell for something that I did last year" (His words). We told him Coach H doesn't hate him and want to ruin his life, there has to be a reason. So we ask him... what did Coach H say to you. How did he explain it to you? And he can't give an answer because whatever the answer was or is, he didn't hear it. He is building his own mystery, and painting a house of blues.

I am positive the reasons are valid. Perhaps he is not ready to play with the older guys. There isn't a JV team this year, not enough kids. So there are freshmen, and there is Varsity. And he perhaps doesn't have the maturity.

Or, they don't have anyone big or strong enough to play defensive line? I saw the freshmen. I can't believe how small and wee they are.

I emailed and asked what the deal is, but have not gotten an answer. I don't want to be a nag to the program, I just need to know the answer (whatever it is, I accept it) so I can help him manage his disappointment. So I am hoping someone gets back to me. He wants to quit. He doesn't want to go and play or work out or be there. And it shouldn't be that way.

There was a scrimmage yesterday, evidenced by the photo above. The V team looks really good. Lots of excellent football for so early in the year. Doug and I sat with a mom of a Senior, and she said her son went through the same thing his sophomore year. He played on the Freshman team and hated it. But he did what he was told to do, followed the instructions. It was his second year playing football ever (Geoff had 3 years with the youth football league), so she said she thinks they perhaps thought it was necessary for him to get more fundamentals. Another dad said his son had the same thing. Both boys are seniors, and were out there making plays and doing great work. I watched the boy belonging to the woman next to me soar through the hair with the ball and rotate  to get just another yard. Great work! Great football!

The dad next to us said that he remembers his son had to suit up for his own games AND for the varsity games. Even though he never played in a Varsity game during his Sophomore year, he was required to be there. Dad said that it was frustrating, and his son wanted to explode with rage, to be giving up his Saturdays and his Thursdays (Freshmen play Thursdays) to go to a stupid game and stand there and do nothing. But ... two years later he feels his situation paid off.

There are some pros to this, if you ask me. First, the Freshman Coach is the same one as last year and Coach Matt really gets Geoff, and is kind of a great mentor to him. I love that he can work with him again. Also, games are on Thursdays, and Doug works from home on Thursdays. Last year he had a couple of games he missed because he was in Boston and couldn't just leave at 2pm to get over there to the game. So if Geoff's games are on Thursdays -- it will be great for daddy! Trying to see the silver lining here in all of the possible non-silver lining stuff, on Geoff's part.

My only real issue is the fee. If I'm paying the Sophomore Fee of 400 dollars and he's playing Freshman ball... I think that's bullshit. I really do. If he only gets to play one or two plays a game for 400 bucks, I'm going to be irritated. This is seriously the ONLY thing Geoff does aside from Boy Scouts, the only thing he wants to do, and if it is going to cost us an arm and a leg and all we have is anger and disappointment over it... hmm.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Deliberately Vague

Oh, I know you are reading my blog. I see your visits. Hi. How many times do you need to visit per day? Thank you for driving up my hit-count. If nothing else, I like that.

i am small, but i am not alone. so many others are with me... if what we could do would be this powerful and beautiful you would stand no chance in the face of us. Eagle and sparrow both, God's eye is on us all. Friends, fly with me. I need you. Let's go.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

and, good bye Hermia

So, I just got home from a long long long session meeting at church (why is there so much business that needs to be done? can't church just be church and do its own self-management!?) And I'm exhausted, and I sit down to have time with Doug and I look immediately to the cage in the living room, and there she is on her side dead.

I am fucking devastated. I should have taken her to the vet yesterday to see if she had something that could be cured after her sister died on Saturday but I did not. I was saying "I need to write a check to my lawyer for 2000 dollars and I have 200 dollars in my checking account so ... what the hell am I going to pay a VET with?" And she was eating, and she was pooping solid poops which looked fine to me, and she was drinking, I saw her.

And she's fucking dead.

I can't even.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shadows and perceptions

I just dropped off Doug's Jeep. The brakes failed... he'd been adding break fluid to them but ... now they barely work, and I do mean barely. Luckily the garage is literally visible from our house and I never had to speed up with traffic coming behind me. I managed to coast into the lot and hit the emergency brake to stop it.

On the very short walk home I looked down at my shadow. My hair is very long, and it was "out" as it were, not pulled back in a scrunchy or restrained in any way. There was a slight breeze, and my hair was aflutter. The sun at my back gave me the perfect perspective of this Birth of Venus-esque vision of my tresses.

Suddenly, I was reminded of a similar scene when I was perhaps a sophomore in High School. I was walking in downtown Huntington Village NY, my hometown, and my shadow-hair looked ... awesome. Bouncy and carefree, it looked as if my hair was just flowin' in the breeze, like I was right out of some Marshall Tucker Band song, or perhaps Dan Fogelberg would write a tune about how lovely my locks lilted.

I walked with a dance to my step, imagining that I too must look as wonderful as I perceived my hair to look! Grinning and happy, I felt like I must be gorgeous today.

Until I walked past a store with reflective glass in the window and realized, sadly, I looked like crap, I looked ridiculous, possibly like a maniac or a psycho. My hair wasn't gorgeous, it was long, stringy, tangled and sloppy looking. I stopped my bouncy jaunt and resumed walking like a normal human being.

And today I remembered that, out of the blue, for no reason.