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.