Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye, 2012

Even though a lot of good happened in 2012, like getting my Masters, going on vacation, getting a teaching job, and starting a doctoral program-I'm looking forward to 2013.

I've applied for a bunch of jobs in my career field, and I think this is a better opportunity. Working with the kids is fulfilling, but the bank account needs help, the Beetle needs to be repaired, and we have some home improvements that need tending.

So, come on 2013 and bring some nice changes with you!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Swap Meet Redux

Last week, when we woke at 5am, it was 31 degrees. We reset the alarm and at 6am, it was 30 degrees-so we decided to skip it.

Today, it was 39 at 6am, and we got there at 7am, which is normally pretty late to get going. That said, we got a prime location and probably saw most of foot traffic, based on where customers parked and entered. This was about half of what we had two weeks ago.

It wasn't a bad return for five hours work. We completely emptied four boxes of stuff out of storage, consolidated down what we do have, and will probably pull more stuff out of the garage and storage this week.

We have a Russian family that will come look for us next week, because we have more of an item they wanted, we just didn't bring it all with us. We've even decided that we're going to buy another table to put stuff out, because we'll earn it back in about an hour's time out there selling.

It's kind of nice to put some money in our pockets AND clear out stuff we needed to get rid of, anyway.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Ed and I stopped at a farm stand yesterday, and I got pictures of their gorgeous orchids-but they're on the iMac, which Chef has camped at pretty much all evening.

I'll add them later.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Semester Break Treat

I went to pick up textbooks today. After last semester, it was rather pleasant to only have two books to buy, or in my case, rent. I'll have no need for stats books after this semester, save for the SAS book I bought last semester.

While at the bookstore, Ed pointed out the latest JK Rowling book, which reminded me of my intent to visit the library to borrow Nelson DeMille's The Panther. However, since I was there, and since I didn't have to blow $300 on books this time around, I decided to look for it.

The search was fruitful and even better:
It was cheaper than buying the eBook version!

Now I get to enjoy one of my favorite things to do: a soak in a very hot tub with a brand-new book. Awesome.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Drive By Googly Eyes

I have to thank Anne Wheaton for this idea: she and Wil Wheaton carry around bags of stick on googly eyes and randomly add them to things. I thought it was too funny, and the next time I ordered something from Amazon, I added a bag of eyes.

My plan was actually to use the small ones on magazines in the checkout at the supermarket, but my classroom got them first...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Photo a Day-2013?

Blogging every day has become so ingrained that I can't bring myself to stop, even on the days when I don't have a lot to say.

So, for 2013, I'm thinking it's time for a twist. I'll still blog every day, but perhaps I'll take a picture or vlog every day. This way, there's a post to come check out each day, but sometimes, the image will do the talking.

Part of the impetus to do this is that every day, I walk around with my iPhone and one or two video cameras. Some days, I have a third video camera. If I start pulling them out of the bag more often, I'll hone those skills I learned in class last year. This will come in handy later in my doctoral research, too.

For this, I may resurrect some features I've done in the past, but with a twist. What's For Dinner Wednesday will pretty much be the same, but maybe a Soundtrack Sunday video here and there when I can't find what I want to share on You Tube? Considering some of the rare new wave and prog rock we own, this may be the way to go.

Bring on the New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dr Who Teaser

The traditional Dr. Who Christmas special was on tonight. Now, we have to wait until APRIL! Grrrr!

His new familiar, Clara, looks and sounds familiar. More like, the Doctor didn't SEE her last time, as she was Oswald, a Dalek (but she didn't realize it). In a little interstitial they showed on BBC last week, this was brought up, and Matt Smith comments that he never saw her-implying that this was a completely new character.

However, in tonight's episode, when Clara first enters the Tardis, she asks about the kitchen because she makes souffles. Wait a minute, Oswald made souffles. Sure enough-it IS the same person-in two time eras.

And now, we have to wait until April to find out what the heck is going on!

Something different happened with tonight's episode, though. A friend tagged me and a few other former coworkers/sci fi geeks and we had a running commentary on FB throughout the show, during the commercial breaks. We enjoyed it so much that when the shows resume in April, it'll be our 'date night' to watch and comment together in real time.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sometimes, the Best Gifts Aren't Under the Tree

As I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, I realize that the best gift my mom gave me was sharing her love of feeding her family. Sure, I can buy cookies at the store (and sometimes do), but the ones made at home taste better.

Which is why there is cinnamon roll dough proofing in the oven right now.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Next Iron Chef Is...

I still don't know.

My friends know me well, texting at 10 pm to ask me who won. Thing is, I actually went out tonight-something I rarely do! So, we haven't seen it.

Odds are good for a winner we want, because we're down to Nate Appleman, Amanda Freitag, or Alex Guarnaschelli-and we want either one of the ladies.

We'll know in an hour!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


A high of sixty degrees is something I am no longer accustomed to, and in eight years here-it's freaking COLD!

What am I going to do when we inevitably move further north after I'm done with school?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Paid Vacation

Until January 7th!

Last year, I had 11 days off because work was closed, but it was unpaid. I think I like this year's way of doing things!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

One of the Coolest Parts of My Job

Among my students, I have one who is not capable of doing the work when his class comes to me each day. At the beginning of our time together, he didn't talk to me much, but I caught little snippets of his speech and responded to them. For instance, he said a line from a Wiggles song over and over (yummy yummy), and I sang some of the lyrics and his face lit up. My comment to his teacher "I think he's trying to tell us he's hungry". They got back to their classroom, crackers were offered, and he was happy.

I brought my iPad to school to occupy him, and this was a smart move. He enjoys it, so we're both happy. His current favorite is the Charlie Brown Christmas app I showed him. One day, I forgot the iPad at home and handed him my phone, which is in a blue case. Yesterday, the iPad died while he was using it and he came up to me and tugged on my shirt and said "blue iPod?". He was excited that I realized what he wanted and handed it over.

A lot of times, it is assumed that kids who are on the lower end of the autism spectrum fail to communicate when the opposite is really the case-they're communicating, and we're not opening our minds to the many ways that this can be achieved. My student and I have developed a bond, and I look forward to my time with him. It may be mutual, because he's starting to come give me back my devices with a hug at the end of class.

As well as the direct interaction, I get to see the progress other students make. One girl in a class across the hall likes playing the piano in her room. At the beginning of the year, it was obvious she didn't speak very often-but she had an amazing ear for music. Tonight, we had a Christmas event at school, one where she bounded up to our director, loudly said "Hiya, Mrs. A" and went over to the piano to play and SING Christmas carols.

The first week of school, you could have told me this was going to happen and I would not have believed you. It is amazing to watch the progress our kids make in such a short amount of time. The best part is getting the front row seat to the transformations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Little Gifts, Big Smiles

This afternoon, I walked into the office at work and saw that there were gift bags for all teachers from the Deans. Cool. Unexpected gifts are always cool.

Even better is when the gift is chocolate. Hershey's special dark, which I love. I'm a happy camper.

No, I don't need a lot to be happy-just give me the chocolate.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cookie Time

Last week, I made vegan peanut butter cookies for a coworker, as well as some Chocolate chip cookies for home. Both batches were a huge hit. I found that I like cookies with three parts shortening, one part butter (not for the vegan, obviously), because that gives a good crunch while retaining the buttery flavor.

Monday, I continued a tradition and cooked a luncheon for work. Alas, I picked up a 25 pound bag of flour on Sunday and wrenched the screws in my neck, to the point that I didn't prepare the cookies to go along with that lunch.

Instead, I made more cookies tonight, and I'll make more tomorrow. Finally, the students will get cookies on Friday. Ultimately, when I make stuff for others, there's a small portion that stays home. Let's just say that by the end of the week, my guys will probably have had their fill of cookies.

Then again, I'm not making rainbow cookies for work-those will be made sometime next week. Yum.

Monday, December 17, 2012


When you're playing Song Pop with someone, and they tell you to stop choosing 'Old People Music' categories (read: anything other than Today's Hits), do you feel justified in stomping their butts in every other category?

Yeah, me too.

The best part may be that this person has also been beaten in 'Today's Hit's a time or five...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tips for the Swap Meet Selling Novice

A few months ago, I participated in my first Swap Meet at the local Drive In. I did very well, almost netting $200 in five hours. This wasn't bad, but I brought home more stuff than I had wanted to do. So, this time, I went in a little more prepared, and I figured I would share what I'd learned.

1. Save your bags. The first time around, many people who purchased items from me asked for bags. Whoops! I didn't bring any. Since then, any grocery bag or decent bag from shopping has been saved in a tub in the garage. It was so much nicer to have bags at the ready-and the customers were happier.

2. Have your supplies ready. I have a little tin with price labels, a sharpie marker, tape, and fluorescent colored index cards. About half of my stuff was already priced, but I tended to price as I went, and it was nice to have them in one easy to find place.

Also, I had two tables for my things, but next time, I'll have two tarps to put things on-they'll be going into that supply tub this week.

3. Do some research. The first go round, I had priced things similarly to what they would fetch on eBay. This was the wrong tactic, and the reason why I brought things home. This time around, I priced a little higher than yard sale, and was willing to take reasonable offers. That doesn't mean that the woman who wanted to pay me two bucks for a Lenox Tinkerbell ornament priced at ten was going to get it. (That sucker could get thirty on eBay.)

4. Bring a chair and an umbrella. This time, I forgot those two items and I regretted it. I think they will be loaded up before I put anything in the van next time. That way, they're the last thing unloaded and I'll be ready to sit by then.

5. Bring more than you intend to sell. Yes, that sounds weird, but hear me out. I had put out a dozen different mugs, which took up a bunch of real estate-and one guy bought them all. Yes, we brought stuff home, but it was good to have a variety of items.

6. Related to that, don't be afraid to bring items you think won't sell. Ed grabbed a tub out of storage yesterday that was Jane's kitchen items. All were duplicates to things we had. I hadn't even unpacked the entire tub and one guy bought the can opener. Most of the Pyrex dishes sold, too. Many of the items are in excellent shape, I just hadn't considered them as worthy swap meet items. Score one for Ed.

7. If you can, bring company. While Ed was partly there because there are things I can't lift (and I made the mistake later of lifting 25 pounds-REALLY BAD IDEA!), it was good to be able to go walk around to see what others were selling and shop. I visited the same produce vendor I'd visited after I packed up all my stuff last time. It was better to visit earlier in the day.

8. Bring seed money. Last time, I got two rolls of quarters, $40 in ones and $40 in fives. This time, I came with no quarters and only $10 in ones and $15 in fives. I honestly didn't touch my seed money, because most of my earliest shoppers had exact change. Still, you can't count on that. You will only need quarters if you price things at fifty cent increments, I skipped that this time and wasn't weighed down with change.

9. Have an apron with pockets or small change bag. I used a VeraBradley wristlet hooked to my pants, but I did bring an apron from my waiting table days. It is in a tub that is ready to go back next time.

10. If stuff isn't selling, move things around. I think that's the retailing background, I will move my stuff around, because you never know what catches people's eyes.

11. If there's activity around your things, people will stop and look. I learned this one a very long time ago-I sold more computers (other than Christmas week in 1990), the week we had the department torn up for remodeling. So, if I was playing around with stuff, it got people interested. Contrasted with the people in the stall next to mine, who sat in their truck the whole time-we got a lot more buyers, even though they had a lot more stuff.

12. Pack a cooler. This is something I didn't do this time, but last time, I brought some vitamin water, probably because it was much warmer that day. The drive in has a snack bar, they do great business in breakfast foods-but I was busy when Ed brought back mine. Chances are, you will be, too. A cooler with some fruit, muffins, and something to drink will keep hunger at bay until you head out.

13. Prepare for a long haul. I stayed until noon last time, but we saw a distinct drop off around 11:15 this time, so we packed up and were among the first to leave. With what we had left, we weren't going to get too much traffic. Next time, we might be there until 2pm.

14. Location means everything. This time, getting there a half hour earlier meant we got a better spot. Next time, I will get my butt out of bed a half hour earlier than that, just to have a shot at the same general area in the prime selling area. (Last time, I was out in the boonies). If they open at 5am, be prepared to get there no later than 5:30. Yes, I did a bunch of business in the dark!

Next time, I may have more lessons to share. I have three less tubs of stuff, and more more money in my pocket, so I'm a happy person, but I'm shooting for five less tubs next time!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Change in Plans

We thought there would be an addition to the household, a kitten that we would call Pygmy Puff.

Alas, the two kittens were ill, though my friend and I did not know it. Pygmy Puff succumbed first, then the other kitty did a few hours later.

We're thinking that because we were prepared to add to the animal population in our home, we'll start looking at the Humane Society for another long-haired kitten or cat that needs a home. GameTeen and I don't seem to have too much of a problem with Scamp, and we're thinking that may bode well for another long hair.

If not this month, sometime soon, because too many cats need homes.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Twenty sets of parents aren't tucking their child in tonight, after giving them a hug and kiss and sending them off to school this morning.

Twenty children won't be opening their last two Chanukah gifts, or the things Santa was ready to put under the tree in ten days.

I can't imagine being those parents, and it tears me up to think about the holidays and milestones those parents aren't going to see.

As a teacher, I got the news after I'd finished with my students today and I worried about how they'd react to the news. I hoped that if something like that happened at my school, I'd be able to herd my charges to safety and out of the sights of some gunman on a tear.

Here's the thing that gets me: We hear the NRA lobbying heavily about our second amendment right to bear arms being sacrosanct. However, that amendment was created at a time that we did not have an organized military, our militias were made up of volunteer citizens.

We need changes to our gun laws. Driver's Licenses are renewed every four years, why not something similar for permits to carry guns? We register cars, why not our weapons? We have systems in place that if someone gets convicted of a vehicular offense, their ability to drive goes away. Why not the same for guns?

I'm not saying NO guns, I'm saying there needs to be better oversight and control of those that are out there. We need to have each weapon registered, each gun owner to go through similar refresher courses as those who have professional certifications.

And I would to love to know why people need automatic weapons. Those who are hunting deer or bear or other wild game don't want to shoot the animal with 15 or 20 rounds. What practical use is there for that kind of weapon in non-military situations?

It makes no sense to me. It's a safe bet that it makes no sense to you, either.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Shopping is EASY with Sear's Shop Your Way!

I remember when GameTeen and Chef were pre-schoolers and how Ed and I would do the shopping scramble to purchase gifts. One with the boys, the other trying to dash items off to the register after we saw that our kids liked them. Then, we'd try to get gifts into the house without the kids knowing we had them in the car-never an easy thing.

Then, the miraculous holiday season of 2000, when many retailers finally embraced 'the Interwebz', and I could shop online, while the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade occupied the kids in the next room. The best part was that neither of them knew the boxes dropped off by the UPS dude were their gifts.
,br /> Nowadays, the jig is up, the kids know Mom and Dad buy the gifts and they come directly to us for the things they'd like. I am the keeper of lists, not only for me, but for the boys and for Ed, too. I'm not a fan of being the keeper of the lists, not when I'm trying to create lesson plans and study for classes, too! Why can't someone else keep those 'likes' and 'wants' together for me? Maybe in a way that is fun?

I think Sears heard me, and the rest of the list keepers, because they came up with a solution for all of us: Shop Your Way.

I signed up last week and have been noodling around the Shop Your Way site ever since and I am impressed. It has Lands' End, my favorite brand for classic clothing that last for years, it has Sears, home of name brand appliances and electronics and those built to last Craftsmen tools, but Shop Your Way is not just a website for the Sears brand storefronts. That's just the beginning.

Here's where it is different: Shopping is a social experience, and Shop Your Way is social media for shopping. Once you create a profile, you can 'like' items you want to purchase, put them on your wish lists and have a quick reference to go back to when it's time to buy.

Like for me, we need a new sofa. I found a few favorites and put them on my wish list. Then, I noticed a friend had posted a 'Help Me Choose' in my feed, and I voted on the dining room table I liked the best. Pretty neat, in my opinion. When you like or wish list something, you have the option to make it public, just your friends, or private-which is a winner for moms like me who want to keep the gift plans a secret a little while longer. (Note to self: must get the kids to make their own accounts, so I can look at them!)

To be honest, Shop Your Way seems like a mash up of all the best qualities of those social media sites you probably use every day, only for shopping. I've added friends I know, so I can get an idea of what they're looking at and knowing some, definitely get inspired in my future purchases-there are some areas of home decorating I can definitely use some help!

It's easy to sign up and get started, in fact, it takes seconds if you decide to link it to your Facebook account. When you do, you'll see who among your friends are already on the Shop Your Way site, with the option to follow them.

I didn't even tell you my favorite part of Shop Your Way, the way they contact you about deals! If you look at an item, you see the regular price and if it's on sale, the sale price is on the site, too. BUT, you get messages about deals on the site, and on specific items you've liked or put on your wish list. No more having to go to the website to see if something is on sale-they contact YOU! How awesome is that?

Most of my Facebook friends can tell you that I am a nitpicker website usability. Several of my favorite retailers have horrible websites that are cumbersome, and as a result, I don't shop with them as much. I can definitely see Shop Your Way becoming my online shopping destination. The only quibble I have about Shop Your Way, and I mean the ONLY quibble, is that the site is slow to load. I suspect that will get easier the more I use it, but for now, I'm loading something and opening another window for a moment or two, then going back. It's a minor issue that Type A's have to put up with once in a while.

I hear you thinking right now, I do. You're skeptical of this new thing. You're asking "Suzanne, what's in it for me?" Well, there are deals that Shop Your Way only gives their members, you know, those private sales that you always wondered how you got the deal? Here's the deal: Go to Shop Your Way and set up an account. Find your friends and look around the site. Within minutes, you'll have some friends with you, you'll have some items in your personal catalog and the list keeping burden will be gone, THEN, you'll be in line to get one of these bad boys on Monday:

Yes, I told you how to get into a private sale. If you're not done with your Christmas Shopping, go sign up because it's free. Then, come Monday, you'll be sitting pretty with private sale pricing early enough that you can have the good stuff shipped to your house.

How this deal works-you will have early bird access to some hot deals on cool last-minute gifts THIS Monday (December 17th) from 1am to 11:59am CST. Yes, the early bird will catch some deals this week!

Consider this my (and Sears) gift to you!!

Disclaimer-This is a sponsored post with, I am a Sears Blogger, but the thoughts and opinions expressed about Sears Shop Your Way are completely my own.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cat vs. RSD

The cat owns me. I am most definitely his favorite.

What this means is that when I am home, he wants to possess me. The usual routine is when I get home, I pick him up and he proceeds to climb up on my right (bad) shoulder, then he heads across and covers both shoulders, like a stole.

Then when I sit, he needs to be near me, which results in this:
It doesn't matter where the leg is, he will force his body next to my leg. He doesn't care that it sends my nerves into overdrive. If I move, even while he's sleeping, less than a minute later, he is velcroed once again.

So, I wised up and moved my left leg, placed it out of his reach and thirty seconds later, this is what he did IN HIS SLEEP:
I don't think he understands, and I don't have the heart to tell him it doesn't feel as good for me as it must for him!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I bring the iPad to school to use with one of my students. Some of the others, they ask to use it, too, and sometimes, I'll use it as a reward. For the most part, they play with Angry Birds, though the Charlie Brown Christmas interactive book is a big hit with many.

Then I hook my iPad to the iMac to add some PDF docs to read-and find a bunch of pictures they took in the classroom.

Thinking of using the instagram talk to the hand picture as my background...

Monday, December 10, 2012


Frustrated that we don't have enough to make ends meet, my car is sitting in the mechanic's lot because I don't have the money to tow it home, and then today's capper...
GameTeen's Medicare, which he was eligible for because we are below the income cap for it, was dumped the first of this month in favor of a 'share of cost plan.' Basically, that means we need to pay $1968 out of pocket, then Medicare would pick up the rest.

Only problem is his medications cost over one thousand dollars a month. That I do not have.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Changing Tastes

When you have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are correlated issues. For Gameteen, this means he has sensory issues that lead to a somewhat picky diet that goes beyond the 'I don't like that's' that some kids have.

There are some rules we've learned in sixteen years of parenting GameTeen, such as:
He gravitates towards 'white foods', like bread, milk, rice, pasta, yogurt
He doesn't like sauces on his food, which means no gravy, marinara or other stuff
His foods cannot 'touch'
He has a problem with eating most proteins, unless they are ground up

Textures cannot mix, like you can't have raisins in oatmeal or ice cream with additives
Soups have to be broth like

Gradually, though, there has been a change. In the past six months, he's been amenable to things like spaghetti with a tiny bit of marinara, or trying the gravy on his Thanksgiving turkey. We offer, but we do not push, thankful that for a kid on the spectrum, he does eat a variety of foods that meet his guidelines.

With the leftover turkey and chicken carcasses of the week of Thanksgiving, I made a huge pot of Turkey noodle soup, fully expecting that GameTeen wouldn't touch it. Chef and I love this stuff and well, we can eat a stockpot on our own. However, I did offer it to him on a night where we were eating a variety of leftovers-and he gladly partook of it. I fully expected him to eat one spoonful and reject it, as he had in the past. Instead, he emptied the bowl and asked for more.

Still more shocking was that he asked to bring it to school for his lunch for two days, and he chowed down on all that he'd brought both days. It's got quite a bit of veggies floating around in it and still, it didn't phase him that they were there.

Then came today's lunch, which was tuna melts. He turns up his nose at anything but fried fish filets, but he agreed to have some. I was fully expecting him to take a bite and leave the rest. He ate the same amount as the rest of us-then asked for more.

We've gone from baby steps to giant leaps in such a short span of time. Fortunately, many things are cooked in this house that can be easily modified (meats are marinated or given dry rubs, for instance), so that he won't require a separate meal. Some days though, it can be very limiting. It is so nice to see that offering, but not forcing the issue is starting to pay off with him. While he'll never eat everything Ed, Chef or I do, he's opening the door to so many more options with this willingness to mix textures.

In some respects, adopting my mom's approach has been worth it. In my house as a kid, there were 3 or 4 vegetables on the table every night. You didn't have to like them, you didn't have to eat them all, but what you took had to be consumed. We don't put out that many of items, but we also adopted the eat it or don't, but if it's on your plate, you have to try.

Sometimes, as a parent, the little victories like this one are so gratifying...

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Bartending Blunder

On several websites, you can find the recipe for a drink called the 'Bailey's Chocolate Covered Cherry'. My boss found it and thought it would make a great signature drink for our party and made a pitcher of the Kahlua, Baileys, and Captain Morgan, with the plans to layer in the grenadine called for in the recipe.

How many of my readers just looked at that combination and cringed?

Grenadine contains citrus, Bailey's contains cream. Have you ever mixed the two?

Well, it didn't go well.

Here's the thing: I don't think Grenadine is the best way to add cherry flavor to a drink, but my other idea at the time wouldn't work, either: cherry 7Up. It wasn't until I got home and realized that Kirshwasser is the way to add cherry flavor without curdling things. Also known as Cherry Brandy.

Now, the drink is kind of potent, and adding more alcohol is going to make it more potent. I just have to figure out exactly which non-alcoholic mixer to add...

Friday, December 07, 2012

After Hours Work Party

I can't tell you the last time I was to a work based celebration that wasn't held during business hours. Most of the time, we'd either have potluck or catered in, and it'd be mostly simple affairs.

The bosses are having a huge holiday party at their house tomorrow. Fifty people attending (our work staff at both locations is 25), catered by a restaurant I've reviewed on here and love and then the thing that I'm not used to: the boss posted a picture of the makings for the signature drink we'll be having tomorrow.

Booze? At a work function? I think the last time I encountered that was when I lived up in Maryland. Still, those Bailey's chocolate covered cherries sound really good...

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Little Drummer Boy Challenge

From the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, I am once again running the gauntlet. What gauntlet? The one in which I avoid hearing The Little Drummer Boy, in any version at any time.

Last year, I made it until the 23rd of December. This year, I almost was taken out last week, when I helped out in the office. I happened to look at Pandora as one song was ending and the next one was supposed to be TLDB. I closed my coworker's browser window so fast, it would make your head spin.

For the most part, I am safe. In the car, the radio is usually tuned to NPR. I don't shop the mall very often. The music at home is light on Christmas music until mid-month, and I can choose it. The only thing that could potentially kill it is the work Christmas party this weekend. How do I avoid it?

I gather up all of my Christmas CDs and make a playlist on the iPod (about 10 hours of music imported), then offer it to the boss for everyone's musical enjoyment. Oh, there's wide variety and something for everyone, considering that we own about 50 CDs of holiday music. It will make people happy...

Unless they think a party isn't complete without hearing The Little Drummer Boy

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


There is a reason they are cute.

Meet Pygmy Puff.

As soon as he/she is weaned from mama, he/she is going to join Scamp in overtaking our household.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Z, T, and Degrees of Freedom

Last night, I would have told you there is no way that I'm going to pass this take home final. Tonight, I'm sure of it. All these formulas are coming back...

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Beauty of Facebook

For my Stats class, the final project is a ten question survey, one that I have to analyze the results and present as a report. Originally, since I'm working with the student population that I ultimately will be developing the dissertation research, it seemed to make sense to give them one. However, the IRB (Internal Review Board) would probably take issue with me asking questions of my study population before they've given approval to do so.

Instead, I created a teacher survey. The objective is to reach a minimum participants of 30 to have significance in the results. Smaller than that and you can't really apply what you've learned to the population. According to our textbook, 121 is the ideal and our professor says you never need a group more than 630 to achieve significance, because it's a large enough sample of the population.

So, teacher survey. I work with 15 teachers, but that still doesn't get me to N=30, the goal of this assignment. This is where Facebook comes in: I've reconnected with many of my past coworkers, and many of my friends are teachers. Probably 75 people in my friends list are teachers, so I've been shaking the trees for people to take my survey.

Today, a teacher asked if she could share my survey, since she's at a large school, and her friend list probably has 200 teachers in it. Then friends who aren't teachers shared it, because they also know teachers.

In a half hour, the responses to my survey have doubled-and I'll have my N=30 before I go to sleep tonight.

Beats those people with the clipboards standing in the mall!

Sunday, December 02, 2012


My friend Jenn is a sucker for kitties. It is probably why she took in a stray that had been wandering around her mom's house about 5 years ago. Scarlett was a maine coon mix. She was tame, but wanted her freedom.

So, Jenn adopted in Tigger, a ginger tabby to keep her company. When I met Jenn almost three years ago, he was a few years old, but seemed like a kitten, very lithe and sinewy and little. At least it seemed that way.

Scarlett wanted to be outside more and more, and Animal control kept coming through Jenn's apartment complex. Scarlett kind of had a family near Jenn's mom's house, out in the country, so her mom asked them if they were amenable to having Scarlett again as an outdoor cat. Back to the country she went.

Tigger was lonely, and on one of her trips to the store to buy food, a little kitten charmed Jenn and came home with her. That's when I realized that Tigger wasn't as kitten like as he seemed.

Sadly, Tigger got sick and died over the summer, and Jenn didn't want Lily to be alone, so she adopted another animal from the Human Society (number 3), and Lulu has a home. The two girls are small at 2.5 years and 6 months, but they bonded really well.

Then Jenn bought a house. I was there today and noticed while she was scrubbing the pool that she had an audience:
I joked that the kitties must have known a cat loving lady lived there. They didn't run from us, but they didn't come close when a hand was extended their way. I took a few pictures, thinking that maybe I could ask around at work and find out if anyone wants a pair of cute kitties.

The plan was for us to study, which we both did. Three hours later, I looked out in the back yard and they were still there, huddled together and shivering a bit (it was about 60 degrees at that time). About ten minutes after that, Jenn saw mama kitty out there, and the two of them were doing everything they could to latch on and nurse (they look like they're around a month old to me). Jenn then got bowls to put water and food into to take outside for them to eat. Poor things were so hungry, they shoved mama cat out of the way and she walked off, as if it was more important for her babies to get the food. Out came a second bowl, so she could eat.

They picked the right house, but both Jenn and I posted the pictures on our Facebook wall, both hoping that someone has room in their home and hearts for two strays...

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Secret Santa

We're doing this at work, and it's something I have not done in years and years. Typically, my holiday parties at work would involve a game called Dirty Santa, Chinese Gift Exchange, Yankee Gift Exchange or something like that, in which people open gifts and others have the chance to 'steal' what you have.

I had to fill out a questionnaire about my likes and dislikes, then they were all turned in. Monday through Friday, we give smaller gifts, but at the holiday party, we exchange a gift with a value around ten dollars. Nothing too bad.

One of the days involves a gag or novelty gift and this is where I'm truly my father's daughter. I came up with a gag gift that would have my recipient in hysterics laughing BUT it would also tip the hand of exactly who her Secret Santa is. Instead, I am regifting the horrendous door prize I won at my holiday party last year with a note completed by Ed "I think this goes PERFECT with your decor." It doesn't, not by a long shot!

Fortunately, I went to study at Panera with my friend Jenn today, and she's absolutely right-getting out of the house to study makes me far more productive on that front. On the way back home, I realized I was passing a place that would be a good resource for an ornament (Monday's gift), so I went in-and found all the remaining gifts for my Secret Santa.

I'm wondering who got me, and if it's one of my teammates. If so, I'll probably get good stuff. If not, it could be a crap shoot-even though I work with everyone, I only interact with half the school when they've got computer problems!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Walk In Treatment

I arrived at the suggested clinic at 7:25 this morning to see one person waiting outside. I was number two. Ten minutes later, someone else arrived to get a walk in slot and was turned away. They don't kid when they say they only take two.

The deal was that we'd be taken back if someone else didn't show for their appointment, the other person was in a lot of pain-her body language said it all. I could manage my pain just fine, so I'm glad she got there before me and had the opportunity to get taken care of quicker-pain sucks.
,br /> Around 9:30, I was brought back and interviewed by a dental assistant. She took an xray, then reported back that it looked like a simple extraction, which was a huge relief. I was preparing for having things cut out.

The dentist came in and repeated that things looked straightforward, that she'd rather just use topical injections of novocaine instead of numbing one side of my face. Some lidocaine on the gums and I only ended up feeling one of the novocaine shots.

She worked on me for about twenty minutes, three of which were rough, but in comparison to the neck stuff, not too bad. The dentist showed me what she'd extracted and the abscess, which was in the remaining canal that had been left of the original tooth. She told me that everything looked clean. I wouldn't need follow up for that, but she'd like me to come back for a regular full checkup in a few weeks.

I'm thankful that I called around as soon as I realized what it was, that I was the second arrival and that this dentist was really good. It sucks that this clinic is an hour's drive (due to no direct route for the 20 mile trip), but if I only have to go twice a year, I can definitely do that.

It hurts, but not anything horrible. I'm on a soft foods diet this weekend, but I was able to eat a quesadilla for lunch from the taco truck (because they're really soft) and then pasta for dinner.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


The title says it all, and doesn't. It only hurts (on the Suzanne scale, that is) when I try to eat, but it is definitely an abscess.

A long time ago, I wore the SAME bands on my teeth when I had braces. So, for six years, my teeth had these metal caps on them and one disintegrated a couple of days after I had them removed, while eating an ice cream sandwich. So, at 16, I got a crown.

This is the same crown that broke 11 years later, on December 23-and my dentist came in to his office on Christmas Eve when I called his office and asked for a recommendation for one of his dental school buddies in Maryland to do an emergency repair. I mentioned that I'd be in NY the next day and was told to meet him at noon.

It lasted another 15 years and got loose, then fell out. Alas, I was here in Florida and unemployed, so I just lived with a post where the tooth had been. The post wasn't one piece, it is two, and they've separated, with one part touching the tooth in front, the other touching the tooth behind.

Yesterday afternoon, I noticed the post halves were wiggling, and this morning, the swelling. I know that thing is screwed into the jaw and I am not ignoring it. So, tomorrow morning, I'm going to a clinic and hoping for the best, as they have two walk in appointments each day.

Normally, it would be a root canal or an extraction. This may be a lot more involved, like cutting out a wisdom tooth might be. I don't know, mine never arrived-which the wonder dentist I speak of marveled about and was quite relieved, given my smaller than average jaw.

Hey, at least I already have the medication for afterwards...
,br />

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grace Under Pressure

A friend's half brother is in Hospice tonight. They don't expect him to make it through the night.

She's in her early 30's, and this is the first time she's seeing end of life up close and personal. Brother is much older than my friend, and they didn't really have a relationship, he has a daughter only a couple of years younger.

Still, she has a lot of compassion for the situation and is being the rock for her mom. She texted after tonight's visit to Hospice, and had plenty of questions. The type that she knew she could ask at Hospice, but figured it was better to not ask them in front of mom.

So, I answered with what I knew, the difference between unconscious and coma, the rawls, how you know there are only hours left.

Those of us who walk the path know the pain, and will guide someone going through it. She's composed and focused on being her mom's rock. It sums up my friend-handle everything in the moment, process and have the emotional reaction later.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thinking Like a Boss

Right now, it means that someone is venting at me for a situation that they've put themselves into and I'm losing patience. It was a stupid mistake, one that could have been avoided, one that has been repeated all too often-but this time, it had a different outcome.

I'm trying to be sympathetic to this person, but looking at the situation as a boss, I would have come to the exact same conclusion as the boss did. Each time I try to point out 'well, why did you do this?' or 'you know, they aren't psychic-how can someone fix what they don't know is broken?', I got more excuses and blame on someone who didn't cause the situation.

If it keeps up, I will have to say, if I was the boss, I would have fired you, too-and here's why. I really don't want to, but I'm getting tired of hearing the blame game, especially since the blame rests solely on the person dishing it out.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Yeaaaaaaa! Then Again...

I bought a network cable tester, which arrived last week. Today, after everyone was done using the network at school, I went into the telecomm room and started testing lines.

We have three lines out of that room, each going to a different building on camps. My thought process was to try the closest locations myself, then get someone to help with the cable that terminates at my classroom.

I got the first one checked, no problem. It actually looked cool, lighting up eight lights in series-and I only had to walk back and forth 50 feet to confirm what I knew, that the Internet working in that building.

Alas, I couldn't get into the office that holds the other nearby router, so I enlisted GameTeen to help me with the one on the other side of campus. I handed him a walkie talkie and the tester with a Cat5 cable hanging out of it. (testers work with male connectors, wall jacks are not male). Then, I waited.

Five minutes later, I had an answer. The series would light 1-2 4-5-6-7-8, then back again. This cable is bad . For a moment, I was excited that I'd pretty much eliminated everything else, and this result meant I was right.

Then the realization that oh, wait, now I have to figure out how to restring about 150 feet of new (INSULATED) Cat5, when I can't be a monkey until the doctor says I can climb things. I'll still have my students walking into my classroom and "Is the Internet working?" and they'll ask one at a time, because they're so focused on asking the question that they don't listen to their peers.

Hopefully, I can say yes very soon...