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.