Showing posts from November, 2010

Kitteh is Mad

He's annoyed that I am studying instead of scratching behind his ears...

Is it Too Early?

I think not. It's after Thanksgiving, everywhere you go, you hear Christmas carols on the Muzak. That means it's time for my favorite modern-era Christmas song:

Of course, this means I'm listening to it instead of studying Spanish. What can I say, the horn section is too good not to enjoy at least once tonight.


Have you heard of brainlifts?

It's a procedure that I have mixed feelings about. Basically, a neurosurgeon implants wires into the various lobes of the brain, along with a battery, and it stimulates your brain to a higher level of functioning.

Currently, the procedure is one that can be obtained by those who have money for cash-only neurosurgery practices as a way to be on their A game in whatever their field is. The article I read was about a lawyer who wanted to return to practice after six years away and didn't want her colleagues to think she wasn't as sharp.

To me, there are great possibilities and great pitfalls. On the great side, what if it helped those with cognitive delays, such as Down syndrome or mild retardation to 'catch up' to normal levels of intelligence. On the down side, if this is only a procedure that the rich can get, would it widen the socioeconomic divide?

Where do you draw the line? Do you have to make two standardized tests for studen…

Brain Freeze!


In the Thick of Things

This coming week is the last week of the semester, my last as an undergrad. On tap for me:

1 final (on Wednesday)
1 paper
1 quiz
7 chapters

Then the following week is finals for USF. I have two scheduled at the exact same time, the result of one of those classes occurring in Tampa and the other in Lakeland. Both professors have kindly offered to allow me alternative times to take their tests.

The day after that, I have a HUGE presentation on Spain for class (en español). The following week (after graduation) is finals week for the school where I take that course.

In amidst all of that is further interviewing and meetings for the committee I'm on.

So, the homestretch of this semester feels more like a gauntlet.

You'll all understand if the blog is heavy on short posts, right?


Our Thanksgiving tradition for years has been ham. Yes, we've done a turkey here or there, but Ed's not a big fan. If I brine it, he'll eat it. However, the call of a ham that's been slathered in mustard, coated in ginger snap crumbs and basted with bourbon is usually too much to pass up.

Then we got the grill.

I'm not sure who suggested it first, but Ed definitely was up for a grilled and smoked turkey. He went and visited our GMG dealer to see what he suggested, and Ed arrived home with a big container of greek rub and directions to cook at 275. However, the message I got is that it'll take a while, so I started that bird at 9:30am.

Yeah, I should have called Ron and found out how big a bird he tends to do. It was done in just under three hours. It was sooooo pretty.

However, Jane was planning on us arriving at 5pm, so we waited on carving.

Our patience was rewarded, as it was tasty and tender. It still had great turkey flavor, a hint of smoke and it was…

Big Bucket of Brine

The above bucket was purchased in 1999 from a little family-run food companyright by our house in Frederick, Maryland. They made the best apple butter you could buy in a store, and also made other jellies, preserves, pickles, relishes and chow chow. Their products are sold all over the area.

On one of the trips to the little shop beside their small factory, I noticed these pails outside with a sign that said they were a buck each. My first thought was 'hey, I've got a brining bucket, and a few weeks later, I made Alton Brown's turkey brine in it.

The bucket is a little piece of the place I called home, called into action whenever I need to brine. Yes, at 4 gallon size, it does get used for other things, but first and foremost is transforming a bird from boring to delicious.

While it is working its magic, I look at that pail and think of the little company it came from and the little city that was a great place to live.

The Sum is Greater Than the Parts

While I knew that participating in the selection committee would involve a lot of work, I really had no idea that the rewards would be so plentiful.

First up, I am making connections with people who can help me in my future educational endeavors. Then, you have people who have gladly given me advice about the best direction to take in those studies.

Today, I had to complete reference checks with another committee member (State law dictates that at least two selection committee members interview the references, so we were adhering to the rules).

My partner and I got to talking about the path I've decided upon and why it is important to me. She revealed that she also has a child on the spectrum and we talked about the state of education for children with autism. There are great teachers who click with our kids, but in the public school setting, they're limited in what they can and cannot do.

I shared that while my plans and future research won't directly help Game Teen, he …

Crunch Time

My presentation about Salvador Dalí for my Spanish class is due in the morning. I know what I want to say, but I have to go about writing it 'en español.' Apparently, I've picked up a lot more spanish this semester than I realized. This is where having a musical ear must be paying off. I notice when things don't sound right.

This doesn't mean I know what to say in place of the incorrect things yet!

Once this is done, I've got an interview for Psychology of Aging tomorrow, some reference checking for the selection committee, several paragraphs about spanish dance styles and four chapters to read by next Monday for a final.

Yes, a final. NEXT WEEK!

Back to the grind.

(Maybe I'll share the finished product about Dalí when I'm done)

Next Iron Chef, Season 3

Of course, if Food Network has a reality based competition show that isn't about making fanciful cakes or confectionary sculptures, I'm watching it. Which is how I got sucked into Next Iron Chef Season 3.

No, I didn't blog about it, like I enjoy doing with NFNS, because it's just too much to keep track of that stuff while studying. Instead, from the beginning, I had a favorite, and a few that I thought would be cool to see in Kitchen Statium on a regular basis. Ming Tsai was my front runner, because, well, he IS old school Food Network to me. Bryan Caswell and Marc Forgione just exuded calm competence and cooking chops. Dusty Estes and Marco Canora annoyed me from Week One, and I wanted them gone.

Dusty's arrogance was her downfall somewhere around week four, but Canora made it to the final. In the whole competition, he took every opportunity to knock Chef Tsai's efforts while puffing his chest about how he was truer to whatever the week's theme was.


Girl Time

When you live in a house with three males (four if you count the cat), you either give in or life is not pleasant. For the most part, I fit in better with the guys, but every once in a while, I need girl time.

Fortunately, I got some of that today. Meghan texted me after I'd gone to bed last night "wanna meet for lunch?" Heck, yeah, especially since it involved checking out one of the local Vera Bradley retailers that was in the same shopping center as the preferred lunch destination.

Also on tap was some shopping. Meghan has lost nearly 50 pounds on Weight Watchers and that means that clothing items are too big. I kept her company while she perused at a few stores. We somehow made it through Books a Million by just walking down the main aisle. I can't explain that one.

My schoolwork called me away, but it was good to just kibbitz for a few hours.

A Mother's Intuition

Today, Game Teen's school had a Thanksgiving luncheon for all students and their families. The school provided turkey and drinks, and we were asked to bring a side or dessert. (I was quite pleased to see that the entire huge pan of macs and cheese I brought was demolished)

As we're relatively new to the school, I didn't know where to sit, and Chef decided for us, choosing a table with two moms and a gaggle of adorable young ladies and a little brother who was quite charming.

Something nice about having a school (or even an ESE program within a school) is that the parents usually lack the clique mentality you might find when the kids are in a normal environment. Such was the case today.

In less than five minutes, the conversation among we three moms was going like we'd known each other for ages. We talked about what ASD diagnosis our children had and where our child was in treatment approach. What we all had in common, despite our kids having different challenges?


After a Long Wait

Some of my friends are sitting in movie theatres across the country, waiting for part one of the last Harry Potter installment.

We have a local movie theatre that just added an IMAX screen, and Deathly Hallows is only the second movie they'll be showing.

So now, the dilemma. Do I take the kids to the drive in to see it over the weekend, or do I wait for Ed's day off next week, so we can all go?

Say What?

Last night, I was too wiped out from my duties on the selection committee to study for a test I would be taking tonight.

So, this morning, prior to the day's classes, I got about 1.5 hours study time, and then another half hour tonight. Not terribly much, but the material was overlapped in my other two psych classes this semester. I figured I'd take my lumps and get about an 80 out of the test.

(I have an extra credit opportunity AND I was running about a 90 heading into this exam)

I didn't do an 80, I got a 72. However, others in the class who DID spend a lot of time studying got lower grades. Much lower grades, to the point that the professor will be spending the day tomorrow reviewing the tests and graphing the questions that many of us got wrong.

She stated there will be a curve, and the grades will be corrected by the weekend.

So, if I did better than many of my peers without studying, perhaps it was a good thing I didn't study?

A Very Unique Experience in Applied Learning

The light post yesterday and the very late post tonight are the result of a wonderful opportunity I was given through my school. I am the student representative on a committee to select an important leader for the University.

To say the experience was incredible really doesn't do the whole process justice. There was so much I've observed, learned and gained from this opportunity that I could write for weeks and not get everything in print.

First up, seeing a major recruiting firm coordinate the process, seeking candidates out and advertising in targeted publications was great. In all my years of retail, most jobs we had available weren't even advertised. Seeing great candidates from all over the country says that the school is well regarded, but more importantly, gave us a glimpse into how similar academic institutions all around the country operate.

Then, the candidates. While I can't speak about who is considered in this role, I can say that the way they all pro…

Sunrise From My Room


Which Would You Do?

Check in a hotel and pay them 15 bucks a night for the use of their in-room WiFi, OR

Take your laptop out of the hotel and into the adjacent airport lobby, where they proudly
provide FREE WiFi?

Yeah, I'm cheap-and in an empty airport. I don't think they considered the airport offering something for free that they charge a nice piece of change for.

Nor did they consider the fact that 'additional handicapped parking' is only accessible by stairs after 9pm, unless you already have a room key.

If I leave this little piece of the world for the next 48 hours, it'll only be if I find out the See's kiosk is already in the nearby mall...

You Would Think Changing a Watch Battery Would Be Easy

It's not.

I stopped at two places I've been to in the past to get my watch batteries replaced, and both don't perform this service anymore.

Then three more stops in the mall (technically four) and I struck out again. Penney's had some watches on clearance for 10 bucks, but they were too trendy looking for my needs. Besides, I have a jewelry box that has at least a dozen watches in it, all won during my tenure with the Disney Store.

I'm going to try a few more places tomorrow, or go without for my meetings Monday and Tuesday.

Plans and Reality

Today's plans:
Drop GameTeen at school, then head to campus to study and lead a meeting of the club I chair, then drive over to the Tampa campus to spend five minutes taking a quiz.

Today's reality:
Drop GameTeen at school, spend three hours studying, two hours in the meeting, drive to Tampa. The part that didn't happen?

That quiz. The professor wasn't in her office. On Wednesday afternoon, she asked me to send her an email reminding her that I was coming. I held up that end of the bargain, but did not have a response.

When I took my laptop to a seat nearby to find out if there was an updated email, I was stopped by an academic advisor. "Are you here to see so and so for advising?" I explained that I was there to see Dr. B. He told me "I saw her a little while ago.

Apparently, I must have just missed her.

I did the tactful and diplomatic thing: I fowarded the email I'd sent Wednesday, with an addendum "I guess I should have followed up with …

Not Happy with Volkswagen Right Now

I want to show you all something. What do you think this is?

Yes, it is the interior of my car, specifically, the driver side door.

It looks like something's missing, right? Like maybe this?:

What I want to know right now:
*Why this part broke, when I do 95% of the driving of this car and I don't abuse this item.
*How this can happen when I have grip strength in my left that is about 30% less than most people (yes, numerous wrist surgeries and tests of grip strength bear this out)
*Why the heck would a part like this would be made of PLASTIC?

And the biggie...


My options are to
A. Epoxy the heck out of it and hope it doesn't happen again
B. Take a piece of duct tape and fashion a pull tab on the door up by the window
C. Roll down the window every time I want to close the door-which would be like, every time I want to actually drive my car
D. Pull on the Netting in the door that is…

Out From Under the Stress

Last night, for the first time in over a month, I finally felt like I was on top of my school work. That's because I've been missing assignments, unable to study for tests in the manner I need and not keeping up on the readings because the Jane BS took up my time and cognitive resources.

I had four assignments due last night and they were done before midnight. This morning, the alarm wasn't set for an hour before normal in an effort to get some studying done. No, I slept until 7. It was nice.

Heck, a professor is allowing me to take a quiz Friday because I'm going to miss the class Monday (for school related business) and I've got all but five of the pages read for that already. There are two major papers due the week of Thanksgiving and the legwork is done for both.

It felt really good to finally be on top of the work, instead of buried under it for so long. Then, tonight, I found out there's a test next week in a class.


Guess I need to get my n…

The Update on the Leg

We wait.

According to Dr. J, it's the best he's seen it in years, which is the truth. His opinion was that I should keep doing what I'm doing. In other words, I should probably become a permanent student, so that my legs are elevated for many hours a day while I study.

Now, if only I could set up my perfect study plan, a comfy chaise with a rolling desk to put the books and laptop on. Something like this would be a good start:

While I'm dreaming, Ed would like a Dodge Challenger and the kids want iPads.

Where was I?

Oh, right. I'm apparently doing things right as it pertains to my leg. Dr. J's mindset is that it's better to leave it alone until it really poops the bed. At least I know what that looks like and so far, the changes that I've noticed aren't enough to be cause for alarm.

I also have a copy of Dr. B's interpretation of the ultrasound. It wasn't stated this time, but Dr. J's rationale for ordering the exam in the first …

Applied Learning

As I've mentioned many times before, I attend a Polytechnic branch of my university. The literal translation is 'many disciplines', but what it really means is that students get the opportunity to put into action what they learn in the classroom.

In other words, applied learning.

Recently, I was asked to participate in a committee for my campus as the student representative. It is quite an honor to sit at a table with a dozen PhDs from my school and be asked for my opinion on the task at hand. The process is fascinating, and the opportunity is one that I'm flattered to be given.

Where it becomes relevant is the social psychology class is covering group dynamics, groupthought and how to avoid everyone saying 'me, too,' when they don't necessarily agree. Each point that we covered in class today was something I've witnessed as part of this committee's mode of operation.

So while this honor wasn't really meant to be an experience of applied learnin…

He Did It Again

You'd think he'd learn.

Tonight, Chef bugged me to cut his hair. Once I was done removing Samson's curls, it was time to do Game Teen's head. I'd let both of them leave their hair long for their Halloween costumes.

I did a #2 clipper on Game Teen and didn't even get to take an after picture before he went into the shower. This is how he came out:

I was otherwise occupied, so Ed came and told me not to get mad, but Game Teen decided that I hadn't cut his hair short enough. All I can really do is laugh, because this isn't the first time the child decided that my hair cutting job wasn't short enough.

We asked him if he wanted one of us to take a razor to the rest, but he said no. So what you see above (and the sides that are also modified in patches) is what they'll see at school tomorrow...

Chuck is Good

We're at dinner tonight and Chef spies a picture of Chuck Norris on the wall.

He commented that the two Uzis Chuck is holding are a waste. According to Chef, Chuck just needs to eat a watermelon and spit out the seeds. This would be better than any other weapon.

Then, he tells us that he doesn't need a flame thrower, either. "Just feed him a bean burrito, and he'll be able to do the job."

The guy's tears cure cancer, now this? Who knew?


We've been anxiously waiting. There's a location on the other side of town, a few miles away from campus. However, the 20 mile drive just to get a frozen confection is a little far for a regular treat.

So, we were happy to notice a new location closer to home being readied for opening. In fact, Ed and I drove by the location earlier this week to see how close to completion it was. Pretty close.

Tonight, Chef and I ran an errand to the nearby pet supply store. While waiting at the traffic light, we saw this fella:
ICE GUY!!!!!

This had to mean one thing: the new Rita's was open!

Chef and I quickly completed our business at the pet store (shampoo for Scamp and a laser pointer, at Chef's request) and we pulled into the lot, with Ice Guy happily waving. We gave him high fives.

The $1.00 gelatis were wonderful. I'm hoping that now that it's close by, I can use the promise of a trip to Rita's to corral the kids into doing my bidding...

Home Stretch

The marathon moving effort is nearly done.

If not for a deluge this evening, Ed and I would have finished schlepping all of Jane's stuff to the new ALF. Instead, we'll be heading over there in the morning, as soon as Game Teen is dropped off at school.

It's been a long week. In the best of circumstances, I hate moving. When it's someone else's stuff I'm hauling? I detest it.

I can't wait for this to be done.

At least I don't have to unpack any of it.

What Kind of Fire?

Ed was scoping the late night television choices and draws my attention to this

Which begs several questions:

Which one was caught dancing, therefore bringing God's wrath upon the family?


Which one snapped and decided to set the house aflame? I said Ginger Jinger, because her name is spelled wrong. Ed says Jackson, because he always looks like he's plotting something.

It wasn't anything that interesting. No, a few of the Duggar girls decided to join the fire department and discover that skirts are not regulation fire fighting attire.

Anyone Want to Wager?

Lies. Deceit. A person who is cognitively stunted at the egocentric stage normally witnessed in five to eight year old children. At least all this studying helps me recognize this.

To whit:
Jane was kicked out of ALF-1 because she was not medically compliant. She refused to believe this, even after Ed and I had conversations with several people at ALF-1. They're lovely people, we understand their frustrations with her, because we have the same issues.

No impulse control.
Disregarding any instruction that she perceives as being too difficult to do.
Canceling doctor's appointments because she doesn't want to be told what she needs to do.
Garbling any important message to the point that it in no way resembles what was said. (The phone taking a soak was the result of one person telling her never to leave the building at ALF-1 without the phone. It morphed into 'you must always have the phone next to you')

Last week, I expected to hear that she'd picked a skilled …


Three years ago today, I embarked on an adventure of blogging daily. At the beginning, 30 consecutive days of posting seemed nuts, an impossible task.

Granted, the rules allowed for 'off line blogging,' in which one could write a post on a particular day and as long as it was posted on the day it was written, it counted.

30 posts seemed like so much, but 1,096 days later, it's not so bad!

Thanks, NaBloPoMo, for encouraging bloggers to get into a habit. And to those of you who start on that journey today for the first time, you never know-three years from now you might also be surprised at what the month of blogging did for you.