Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Theme music for yesterday evening


I can't imagine what a category two or three would do. I only had branches and leaves, but it took a couple of hours to pick it all up, tie it in twine, and place it curbside. The storm seems to have been hit or miss throughout most of Connecticut. Some areas are without power still and trees haven't been touched. They're lying against buildings. Other areas doesn't look like anything happened at all. The gazebo in downtown Stratford has the most obvious evidence of a storm. Half of it was crushed by a fallen branch.

I talked to my neighbor who said he slept through it but it felt like being on a creaky old ship. The winds rocked every window from every direction and you were conscious of all the sounds, just waiting for the one snap to crack open your house.

And I'm glad I took 17 yesterday. The news is reporting that the Thruway is closed between Syracuse and Albany because of floods. That's simply crazy.

Ah, but soon it will be winter. Great.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Music for 17 East


Directions. Play this song full blast. Find someone you love and twirl them about. That's what I'd do.

From Binghamton to Newburgh, radio reception was sporadic so I put in the Beatles Revolver album. "Got To Get You Into My Life" came on and I cranked up the volume.

I hope it will add rhythm to your Tuesday. I know it has added to my own.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Reward

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It is great to see my Baby again, but I'm perplexed, like my parents, about the strange cysts popping up all over her body. They began before I left and we took her to the doctors and they thought they were bites. After I left, they became more abundant and caused hot spots. She was medicated, made dopey, and it was reported they went away. About a week ago, however, they came back and abundantly.

These are only on her stomach, but her side, back, neck, head, and legs are loaded with them. They look like blood blisters and they are hard. They don't bother her and she seems to act fine, but they are getting so large and there are so many, that they are beginning to push her hair out...like she is a rocky surface where tufts grass are growing.

They are ugly and feel horrible when you pet her. She doesn't mind them, though. The vet says he's only see such a case one other time - on a horse.

Anyone know what this is? Any leads? We'd like to help our poor Baby. Something is not right.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Well, I valued electricity more


I fled. I got in my truck with my dissertation documents and returned to Syracuse. I've been working at the University all day in a quiet office with much juice. I couldn't predict whether or not Irene would trigger the hype they were predicting and I didn't want to take a chance. So, I drove the four hours to see my family and to have multiple outlets to use.

Depending on the reality, I may stay in Syracuse for a while writing or, if the predictions falter, I will return to work there early in the week. This is the life of a gambler, I guess. 24 hours from now I might be saying, "Silly goose. You shouldn't have listened" or I can be saying, "Nice job, buddy. You just earned yourself the fortune of three days of productivity that you wouldn't have had if you stayed."

Oh, the noise above? It's my temporary distraction from working at Syracuse University. Soon, this place too will be an alma mater.
(That is, if Irene doesn't jolt west and flatten the salt city.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene as a baby


So this is Irene when she was a little girl and just starting out. I thought it would be cute to remember her when she was only a baby.

I post this for memory's sake.

It might be funnier in a couple of years.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My friends, the Muppets


I guess it is inevitable to feel panic when it comes to weather models. We just don't know. 50% of me is ready to prepare for the end of the world, and the other 50% is thinking, "Well. This is some hype." Either way, I'm listening to all predictions and being prepared for the worst.

The bottom line is that I need electricity to power my computer so I can write. If I can secure it, I must stand still so I don't lose precious time. If it looks like several days will be lost to down lines, then I need to have a back up plan.

I am laughing, however, at the way my story seems to always be written. I don't want to stress out any more than I am, but the stressors seem to be building, so I am staying well aware of all options.

And, it's all good. It's all good.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Clueless


I post this after thinking about who defines who has a clue and who has the power to decide who doesn't. I am thinking that I'm rather clueless myself and if the mantra, the more you know the less you know is true, then I'm screwed. I've been trying to know my entire life.

I was talking with a teacher who works in a high-power school, meaning that all students are from upper-middle class homes, all go to college, and curriculum is AP and secure. Although she knows there are other students at the school, because of its location and community, it is not discussed - a taboo. Only phenomenal kids from phenomenal homes go there. The students harass teachers if they don't feel they're being taught to get in the best colleges.

I began to think, "Boy, I really am clueless."

I'm uncomfortable of the language of "best" because it instantly creates "least." Bollucks. If a student goes to a really awesome school and lives in a really awesome neighborhood and attends a really awesome college and then gets a really awesome job, how prepared are they to live in the world where awesome is less common? Or is the illusion of awesome kept in Pleasantville and reestablished because no one every lets the real world come inside?

I don't have a clue. I'm amazed though that economic status equates to our definitions of who does. Perhaps there's something wrong with me, but while some gravitate to the brightest and the best schools, then I have to say I like working with the dimmest and the least. The conversation of perfect spaces reminds me of eugenics too much. And last I checked. Hitler was a monster. And all those who were clued in to his perfect race allowed him to happen.

Nope. I'd rather work elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

silent footage


I could ask you to pick up your computer screen and have you shake it. This, I could say, simulates the earthquake felt by the Virginia fault line that shook buildings on the eastern coast.

But more interesting is the potential landfall of a northeastern hurricane being watched by weather gurus around the world. I've read books on hurricanes that brought damage to Long Island and I've speculated that it was only a matter of time before another one hits. When they don't, the confidence of people builds and they move closer to the shoreline. After they do, people are left to ask, "What was I thinking?"

Although I'd hate to see anything catastrophic, mother nature is showing once again that she is queen of Russian Roulette.

Only time will tell.

Here, I found home video footage of damage from the early 1900s. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Okay, Janis


Going for a run last night I noticed that a few leaves have jumped the gun and begun to fall. I wanted to yell at them and say, "No. No. Summer hasn't even begun," knowing that I haven't had too much of a summer, other than stressing on a few items: writing, packing, moving, writing, settling, writing, revising, worrying, etc. And now...well, the leaves don't lie.

School buses are greasing up. Sport camps are back in session. Grass is turning brown. Hurricanes are beckoning. The Deck part is over. So, the time is coming to say so long to Summer.

Bummer.

I didn't get to appreciate it much.

Either way, I will listen to Ms. Joplin and think of philosophers who once said that Summer is the season of lies: its flowers, its warmth, its energy, its availability of more time to play. Instead, the falling leaves tell a more honest story of winter, the cold, darker days, and ice. Ah, but the cycle will bring spring around again and the promise of further lies.

Perhaps I prefer fiction, because the lies at least offer hope.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fingers crossed


In anticipation that I might one day make money again, I took my weedwacker and my Ipod to varying locations to get them functioning again. The music left me sometime last Fall and the power tool decided it would stop working when I unpacked it from the Pod. Joy. If all works well, I will be able to do yard work soon while listening to a downloaded Podcast.

It's been a while since I've had earphones in. I am looking forward to it again, especially because I always used it as an excuse to go for long walks. The way I saw it, I could learn and exercise simultaneously.

I should hear sometime this week if either one of them can be salvaged. I hope so. And when and if they are, I will put them on a charge card. I think I can begin using them again.

Man, the way I've lived these last four years....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Did Jack Wagner show up?


Sigh.

I missed Mike and Cynde's Deck part with the 80s theme and so, consequently, I didn't contribute to the 2011 pong table, the collection of bottles along the railings, or the volume in the CNY air. Instead, I stayed home and revised, revised, revised.

Here's a collection of 80s music. I'm hoping my mother recognizes some of the songs. She posted on Facebook that the 80s was a decade of disco music and she was too busy raising kids and couldn't pay attention to trends. Um, that's was the 70s, but considering she had three of us from 1969 through our graduations in 1992, I can understand the twenty years that made her oblivious.

It's funny. I remember listening to her and her cousins about growing up when they did: the music, the television, the dances, etc. We thought they were so old (but cool) to have lived when they did. It is strange to think that more generations have passed and soon, well, the YouTube generation (read Nikki and Dylan) will laugh at how silly they were in the early 2000s. I think that is the coolest thing about aging...recognizing nothing stays still and soon, poof, it all transforms.

In that rhythm is where I hope to find serenity.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Diana


When I was nineteen and living in London, I met a girl named Gina Armaro who adopted my CNY Sesame Street tendencies and introduced me to her world of NYC, activism, and zest for diversity. For many years, she and I remained friends and spiritually connected our journeys as we moved from location to location and constantly tried to apply what we learned from our Binghamton mentors to make the world a better place.

She contacted me yesterday to let me know that she's written a book that is taking off. Although she is living in Miami now, she will be back in these parts for a signing and she wanted me to be there.

It is amazing to think that twenty years have gone by since we walked in Regents Park and played on the beaches of Tintagel. There, she named me "Sea Horse" and announced the sea that she was Diana, princess of the ocean. It is great to hear from her again and to realize she's put her one-of-a-kind energy into a book that others can read. I can't wait to see what she has to say.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sticker Shock


I ran to get a few things at the store tonight and froze. It might be that Connecticut is insanely expensive or it could be that the transition from making no money to making money again has me conservative or it could be that I'm paying rent and a mortgage at the same time, but I was shocked.

People are losing their jobs, the housing market has tanked, unemployment is up, and grocery prices are rising. It's insane. And I recognize we are the land of wealth and joy, but this is a bit over the top these days.

And I saw, too, that crime in coupon theft is on the rise because people are doing anything to save a penny. I don't know. Something doesn't feel right about the direction this is all going. It's something to keep an eye on.

$12 for a container of coffee. What? $15 for laundry detergent?@!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

a little Thursday Muya


One of the young met that informed my research sent me his latest rap video he posted on YouTube. I'm not sure what he's singing, but I'm totally impressed by his 21st century skills and ability to communicate with text he's written beyond school. Here is a young man who came to the U.S. as a Bantu refugee who fled to Tanzania. He's a senior this year and pursuing the change to go to college to become a P.E. teacher.

Today's youth have a tremendous outlet with technology, and in a dream world, he'd be able to use such work for in-school accountability and proof of his communicative talents. This is evidence, though, that today's youth are teaching themselves tools to express themselves that often go untouched (and unknown) by schools.

Hmmm. Seems like we can do better.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

thanks, Dave


I'm on a Hoffman hotdog eating frenzy thanks to my brother-in-law, Dave, who brought me eight weenies to fry in a pan and eat with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Its the ultimate bachelor pad meal and I'm thankful for his contribution because I'm living on a budget until I'm paid again in September.

For those of my readers who don't the brilliance of the CNY company, Hoffman hotdogs are simply the best and worth the journey to Wegmans to purchase a few franks. Of course, the dogs would taste better on a grill, but pan fried they work just as well.

Brillaint.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back in the thick of it, again


I had to meet with my human resource liaison yesterday who offered me several folders of information to read in my spare time and who walked me through investments, retirement, insurance, and saving for a rainy day. The good news from all of this is that I was able to sign my sisters up as beneficiaries, making my worth to them more lucrative. If I simply was to perish, they'd be better off. Hmmm. Funny how fast Cynde responded with her information. Even so, to be fair, KC will get half. The way I see it, one of them can have my dilapidated old car and the other one can worry about my house that needs to be sold.

As we talked, I realized that my retiring age will be 70 years old because I changed gears after ten years of teaching in Kentucky. Yuck. At 70, I can't imagine how sick of work I'll be. I always envisioned myself in a retirement community by then cleaning pools and giving back rubs to hot, wrinkled old ladies with rolls of fat pouring out of their bikinis. So much for that dream. Not even a Margarita or need for Cialis.

Seriously. I wish I could say that I've made any decision in my life for financial reasons. Hell, if I did this, I would NEVER have left teaching to work on a Ph.D. I'd be doing alright and could retire a lot sooner. In fact, I'd be able to retire and start a new career then. Ah, but there's no looking back and I still have investments and some retirement there (although not much). (This coming from the guy who turned down a banking job so he could work for minimum wage at a home for adult men with disabilities...at times, I don't even make sense to myself).

While filling out the paper work, the liaison told me how many in the corporate world are now returning to education because their jobs are at risk and they crave stability. Unbelievable. As if there's much more stability in the public sector...doesn't the public rely on the wealth of the private to function publicly anyway? That would be my guess. I'm not sure if anything is stable anymore.

And so, in a month or so, I will once again be insured and taxed to death, wondering where my income really is going. It obviously won't be invested in the salaries of Connecticut DMV employees. They are shutting down services, and will have to rely on fewer to help more, causing an even more stressful environment than the toxic one that already exists.

It makes me wonder if having a career is just another mythology we fool ourselves into believing. At the moment, I don't know. But I will still watch The Apprentice and fantasize that I live a more luxurious life of greed. If we couldn't have wishful thinking, we wouldn't be American.

Monday, August 15, 2011

There's a song for everything


I've realized that in Connecticut my allergies show themselves through sneezing and running eyes that burn red. This is new. In Kentucky I had sinus headaches from hell and in NY I had eczema and a clogged nose. Here, well, I cry a lot.

Living in a new space with hardwood floors, I'm realizing that there isn't a carpet to hide the dust rabbits that form. Instead, dust is easily scattered and disperses simply by walking by. Vacuums don't pick up the critters like they would on a carpet and I feel like crumbs are everywhere. I'm sure I'll get used to, but in the meantime, I will need to invest in Visine and tissues.

Strange how much of an effect location has on the breathing of a human being. It seems to me that Santa Fe, New Mexico was the only space I've ever been where my allergies weren't haywire.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thanks, Mike


While Mike was here, he got me hooked on Storage Wars. I couldn't find it to watch again last night, but I was thinking about it all day. Here are people who auction a couple hundred to get a storage unit that has been neglected, left behind, forgotten or foreclosed. It's fascinating to see what they find and the comedy that ensues. They spend a little and many times get a lot. I am amazed that people would allow their stuff to go unclaimed, but this is America and they do. The show mesmerized me, especially when they made crazy money quick.

What a bizarre world. It's like garage sales at a whole new level

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I got crabs...Well, a crab

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The brother-in-law, the nephew, and I went to the beach to get out of the house. While Dylan went in the wanter and Mike went to film him, I sat on a blanket and stretched my legs out. I put my hands behind my head, closed my eyes and tried to fall asleep. That's when I heard a flutter above me and this thing fell out of the sky and landed on my shoulder. Well, it was a spider crab being dropped on my by seagulls. Mike said they probably thought I was a large rock and they wanted to crack the shell.

I jumped off the sand and the crab ran from me. It scared me off the towel and then became a momentous occasion for the beach goers of Milford. It will now be a story I will never forget.

Friday, August 12, 2011

question

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Question. Has anyone seen my blue plates? We unpacked almost everything and I'm missing a pile of my blue plates. I only have three. That's definitely not what I began with. I'm wondering if, somehow, they're with the Christmas stuff that I snuck into Cynde's basement or if they're with my office stuff which I refuse to open because it will overwhelm me.

Oh, well. If you you know, will you save me some time by giving me a call.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sleeping in a new space for a while

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I physically unpacked my house all day yesterday to get it in the garage so that the POD people can take their box back and people can get into the driveway. It's a long driveway, but narrow. I don't have an ounce of energy left, but by the time this post goes through, I'm hoping to regroup, reenergize, and rejuvenate.

I didn't need to run. I basically lifted weights for twelve hours.

More to come.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mom, You didn't call


It's been a week and usually my mom calls me to see if I've watched So You Think You Can Dance. I am happy to report to her that last week I did catch this routine - I think the girl's name is Sasha. Either way, I said, "hmmm. I bet I will hear from my mother."

Nope. Nothing. No call about this season. Why? I can speculate. The top reasons why my mother didn't call:

She and Butch are currently dancing in the garage to a piece called "Oh, Deer," where they prance about future venison hanging on a hook.

or

She forgot to watch it because she was watching Days of Our Lives

or

She was doing her toenails

Either way, I was surprised she didn't call. All will be well. It's all good.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday Mediation


As of this morning, I should have keys to my new abode. I should have my POD order for delivery. I should be editing my dissertation. I should be more organized. I should be less overwhelmed.

I AM OVERWHELMED. TOO MUCH TO DO AND I'M STRESSED. I AM AFRAID OF TIME.

So, I looked up this meditation music and will channel it for the transitional weeks. Ideally, I'd put it on my IPod so I could run to it. Oh, that's right...my IPod hasn't worked in over a year because the audio jack is defunct. My income has been too low so I haven't replaced it.

At least I have sneakers. I can still run. I need to unwind, and unwind I shall...sometime today (and tomorrow) (and the next day) (and forever).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hamptons, part two

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As I drive back to Connecticut, and hop across bays, inlets, and sounds, I reflect highly on the hospitality of Hotel Amagansett and the continued success and global vision of my cousin, Mark. I think I first started driving here around 1998 (or training with Judy). Time's have changed. Hair has grown, been cut, and disappeared. Home addresses have shifted, altered, and redefined themselves. Still, the need for good work is ubiquitous. That doesn't change.

PS: I am thankful I wasn't pulled to the dance floor to kick because I would have broke my leg. If this occurred, Aunt Sue and I could limp about in casts together.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hoops4Hope, 2011


Last night was my cousin's benefit in the Hamptons for his program HOOPS4HOPE. This video is from his website and I post it in honor of the work he continues to do and the inspiration he offers again and again. This year they will have the event at their new facility where he works with his wife, Sue. Yesterday, I had their daughters and they kept me entertained with arts and crafts, silliness, and a vicious game of Shoots and Ladders.

More to come.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Taking a Break

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In four years, I've taken two vacations, both at Hotel Amagansett in Long Island (aka Aunt Sue and Uncle Sam's). It is a paradise for me as their ranch sits in the woods by the bay, is in cycling distance to the ocean, has great roads for running, and there's always much material to read.

I was thinking about my Aquarius nature as I hopped along water vessels to get here and how important it is for me to see water on a regular basis. I could very easily live the lifestyle of my Aunt and Uncle, especially if I win the Powerball and can afford to be their neighbor.

It's only 24 hours of R & R, but I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Preppy


When I learned I was moving to Connecticut, I read about it being known as the "preppiest" place on earth. I thought that was a title reserved for the Hamptons, but I am seeing the similarities. I tried to find the movie "Preppies" from the 1980s, but I found this montage instead.

I was a grunge boy. I grew up wearing flannels and t-shirts and in the early 90s these became trendy. I was stylish without having to be stylish. Because I looked like an episode of Roseanne I was in. Fast forward. I now wear ties, but bargain shop like one of those coupon critters they bring onto talk shows - I find the best deal or I don't buy.

Not this world, though. I won't ever be in this particular crowd, but I've decided I can learn a lot from them. Tennis lessons three days a week. Mercedes and Audis. Loafers and Cardigan sweaters. Country clubs and SAT prep. Oi Vay. I'm in another universe than where I've been in the past.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

80s


I may be the only one to remember "Birdland" by Manhattan Transfer, circa (look at their outfits), mid 80s. I like their voice fusion and the way they jazzed their vocal instruments to make you want to move. Kudos to them (and their high hair and odd stage attire).

My internet is sporadic in my current housing, but I hope when I wake up this morning I can play the song and pour my cereal with a little pep from the past.

If 2011 is about noise, hearing them is par for the course.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the sound of summer near the long island sound

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On the last day we gathered, teachers reflected on their summer experience and provided an open reflection about their growth. Tania Nicole Williams shared this audio she recorded and offered us a beat to depart with. I kept the visuals limited simply to hear the voice in which she expresses her thoughts. Such sonic literacy, I'd argue, is undervalued by schools and the work we do wit youth. When it comes to communication, we should be open to allowing youth (and teachers) to share their thoughts in whatever artform works for them. I know this was the secret of the Brown School - the support of every individual's best. Imagine if we were open to such expression in our schools. CWP is my rhythmic reality.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What's with my niece and nephews?


I read this article yesterday morning online that depicted a band of brothers from Eagle Hill in Manlius who created a boy band and are now on tour. This is their video. It's always funny hearing boys, pre-pubescent and with high, choir boy voices, singing about potential girlfriends and their lack thereof (um, kid. Could be that you're still at that androgynous phase).

But it got me thinking that my niece, Nikki, should get to work on creating a Nickelodeon band with Dylan, Sean, and Jacob. She totally could be the Lady Gaga of the group (she's dramatic enough) and I totally see JC on the drums. Dylan can play a plunger and Sean a guitar. They'd rock. In fact, KC already has their first song that she recorded during a family event. It's called "I hate breathing," and it depicts all the complaints Nikki had about life in the course of one afternoon.

They'd be totally EMO and I'm sure Disney would call. Get to work kids. Your Aunts and Uncles ain't makin' it big. We want to retire in high fashion. Start the friggn' band already.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jaws


If my colleague is correct, there are no sharks in the Long Island Sound because they don't feed on fish in the shallow waters between Long Island and Connecticut. I asked her this last weekend when I walked into the ocean. I didn't want to be eaten by a shark. Given that this is shark week, I thought I'd throw a commercial onto the good ol' blog to say, well, the Great Whites have been seen on the Atlantic Coast in large numbers because humans have done a remarkable job advocating for endangered seals which they love to eat. With more of them swimming along beaches where humans bathe, there is likely to be more sharks. Fun.

I know. I know. Casey thinks she can out swim a shark and grab onto its back. In her detective work, she figures if she holds onto their fins, they won't be able to bite her. Drowning? Well, that's not the point. She will hang on for the ride.