Monday, March 31, 2014

Hanging On

With all the rain we had yesterday, and the minor flood that infiltrated the basement when the sump pump hiccoughed, I'm surprised there's still quite a bit of snow left around. And the surprise I got when taking the photograph, it's flurrying mixed with sleet. It doesn't show up on the photo. Old Man Winter just won't let go. Typical New England weather, but we're a tough breed. We come from hardy stock. We didn't wimp out and heed the call "to go West" or to warmer Southern climes. We stayed. Old Man Winter can huff and puff, but we'll out last him.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Affirmation of the Day

Wabi Sabi: Nothing is perfect. Nothing is permanent. Nothing is complete.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. The jeans formerly belonging to The Young One (she doesn't like the style) are now mine. I can fit into them. I don't have to lie on the bed to pull up the zipper, and I can put stuff in the pockets.

2. My girlies aren't into eating bread for toast or sandwiches, but bake two loaves of bread (Amish white and Cinnamon Raisin) and it's hard to find a crumb left.

3. Got an email from a friend I haven't heard from in quite some time.

4. A new contact asked me for a business card.

5. The cold Himself shared with me seems to be a fast mover.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Some exciting news from the world of literature. A new translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, Beowulf is to be published. Some 90 years ago, J. R. R. Tolkien translated the epic tale of the hero Beowulf and his battle with the monster Grendel., but for some reason, Tolkien never submitted the work for publication. Tolkien's son, Christopher Tolkien has contracted to publish the work with publisher HarperCollins. Also to be included in the work, is a series of lectures Tolkien gave about the poem during the 1930s at Oxford University. The book is expected to hit the shelves in late May.

Hey, Kid, this would make a most excellent Mother's Day gift or a birthday gift. Just in case, you need a subtle idea.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Adonit Stylus

I love my iPad 2. I love being able to pop it in my bag and I can have everything I need at my fingertips. Finances, files, entertainment. I like taking notes using the note app, Penultimate by Evernote instead of carrying around a bulky notebook or scraps of paper. The only downer to taking notes on the tablet was the stylus. Most styli are the size of your finger tip. The fat, round size makes it hard to see where your mark is being made. Why can't companies make a stylus that was more like a pen? They used to when the old Palm Pilots were around.

I happened to Google slim stylus one day and came across the Adonit Jot Pro. Just what I was looking for. A fine point tip and clear disc lets you see where your mark is being made. It also magnetically attaches to the tablet so it won't get lost. So of course, I wanted one right away. Staples has them online, but not in their stores. And the sales help didn't know what I was talking about. Ditto Best Buy not having them in the store or the help knowing about them. I was going to order online when I found one in the iPad accessories aisle of Target of all places. Oh joy! Oh rapture! I can now take notes and feel as if I'm writing with paper and pen instead of a tree trunk.

Adonit makes the Jot in different styles and prices ranges. The Jot Pro is modestly priced at $29.99

Monday, March 24, 2014

For Teachers

Contact the Education Department at the Worcester Art Museum to register. (508) 793-4333 or
(508) 793-4334

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Only Ten Minutes

Some cook top cleaner had spurted through the grate on the oven door and left a white trail on the inside of the glass. The streak had been there for quite a while, but it bothered me. Himself was on Spring Break, and it seemed like such a little project. Remove the 6 screws from the oven door so I could clean the inside of the glass.

Himself took the door apart without too much fuss, and I was able to clean the inside of the glass. Putting the door back together was another matter. Screw holes and door parts wouldn't line up. The oven glass wouldn't fit in the proper grooves.  A 10 minute job turned into a lot of horses' patoots. The phrase Himself utters in frustration when the girlies and I are around. He also said through gritted teeth, "I'm not going to take this door apart ever again!" There might have been two or three more exclamation points. I was too busy making myself invisible to really know.

Some two hours later, the oven door was back in place. Sort of. One of the plastic side trim pieces cracked and broke in two. I made a repair appointment on line with Sears.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Adjust your hauberk and strap on your greaves. The Knights are almost here. The Worcester Art Museum acquired the armor and arms collection from the Higgins Armory when that museum closed last year.

A portion of the Higgins collection will be on display starting with a grand opening party on 28. March 2014. Followed by a Renaissance Fair over the weekend.

Not only will the suits of armor be featured, but the Batman costume worn by Michael Keating in The Dark Knight will also be on display. As in old meets new. Meant to show how armor is still around today.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week

1. Had The Brother and his wife over for St. Patrick's Day. Was the first family event I've hosted in three years. Good food, good company.

2. The snow has melted enough that I can take a walk around my block. The Young One told me of comedian, John Pinette's mantra he used during his exercise routine. I find myself keeping time to, "Ravioli and a nap. Ravioli and a nap." (Pinette was in Himself's math class when Himself taught at Malden Catholic High School in the early 1980s)

3. We went to see Mr. Peabody and Sherman. I loved that cartoon as a kid and the movie didn't disappoint. Not only did we have the theater to ourselves, but there were lots of bad puns.

4. Yesterday, was the Vernal Equinox. Snow still on the ground and the temps are still cold, but hope Springs eternal that the warmer weather will arrive before July.

5. During the Winter term, the Young One was stressed out with the MQP she's been working on. Classes started this week and all her classes assigned a large amount of work due the second class meeting. The same day, her team has to turn in their 30-60 page MQP paper. A week or so ago, I ordered the Doctor Who Adipose stress toy for her (and one for me). He arrived on Tuesday and made her laugh a little of the stress away.

How was your week?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy First Day of Spring

The Vernal Equinox happens today in Worcester, Massachusetts at 12:57 PM. The temperature is supposed to near 50o F. If the weather dudes are right, you'll find me in the sunroom.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Feast of St. Joseph

A comment was made on yesterday's St. Patrick's Day post about my dad's birthday.

"I wonder how old he was before he figured out they weren't celebrating HIS birthday? I bet he and your mom are having a grand celebration!"

Turns out, March was a big birthday month for Dad's family. His father's birthday was 22. March. His uncle and person he was named after had a birthday on 24. March. His aunt, the defacto matriach of the family in this country had a birthday on 12. March and an uncle from Dad's maternal side had a birthday on 29. March. This uncle became a lawyer and later a judge. After law school, Dad went to work for his uncle, a sort of apprenticeship.

Back in the old country (Italy), 19. March was the feast day of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. The day was a sort of Father's Day. Celebrated with special foods, in particular, Zeppole di San Giuseppe, a kind of cream puff filled with a rum flavored, custard filling, dusted with powdered sugar and topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry. No Italian would have given a thought to poor St. Patrick.

Knowing my dad because he was treated as the crown prince and heir apparent, he would know the celebration was always HIS (-:  And yeah, I bet the celebration is still going on.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day

My Dad loved St. Patrick's Day. Not because of corned beef and cabbage. That wasn't our food. Not because of green beer. Dad didn't drink except an occasional glass of wine on a special occasion or at a wedding. Dad loved St. Patrick's Day because it was his birthday. Dad always laughed saying he was more Irish than the Irish and would have been 95 years old today.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lunch with Sigi

The second workshop for the Art of Science Learning was held at Clark University in the heart of Worcester. Our afternoon assignment was to consider problems and opportunities about urban nutrition. We were to roam the neighborhood and observe assigned grocery stores and restaurants.

Before leaving for my destination, I decided to take my bagged lunch outside and enjoy the sunshine. I had driven by the university a million times, but had never visited the campus. I made my way across the quad to a group of stone benches facing a statue. Seemed like a nice place to have lunch. The students were on Spring Break so there wasn't a lot of activity. The temperature was in the high 30s to low 40s combined with the sunshine and a light breeze, the weather was quite balmy for New England.

As I read the plaque on the statue, my lunch companion turned out to be none other than Sigmund Freud. Who knew such an august visitor came to Worcester? Certainly not this Boston snob.

In 1909, Freud was invited to lecture at Clark University to help celebrate the anniversary of the university's graduate school, only the second graduate school in the country at the time. The statue was installed for the centennial celebration of the event.

Sigi and I sat in companionable silence. He was interested in the book he was reading, and I was basking in the glow of Spring fever.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week:

1. A bottle of Ziller Glossy Black Ink that was used as a hockey puck by an upset cat at 3 AM because he was shut out from the bedroom for jumping from dresser to dresser. The cat made a power play as he swiped the bottle of ink from the middle of the dining room table to score a goal when the bottle up-ended in a black lake under the baseboard heater and all over the wood floor. Fortunately, the ink is acrylic and didn't stain but came off the wood by using an entire roll of paper towels and half a bottle of Pledge Multi Surface Everday Cleaner. Miraculously, the ink didn't spill on the carpet otherwise the dinner menu might have featured Cat-ciatore.

2. There's a chance of going on an exciting field trip. I don't want to say, in case I jinx it.

3. I enjoyed a delicious Whine and Cheeze party.

4. Didn't get a phone call. Well, did get a call, but it was a false alarm and wasn't for me. No news is good news.

5. Today is Pi Day! 3.14...Celebrate today by having pie!

How was your week?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Answer Is...

The tag on email sent from my iPad asks, "Is it July, yet?" A friend in a warmer clime, sent back a cheerful "Spring is just around the corner. Does this help?" Yes, thanks for thinking of me, but with another storm due last night and into this morning, where the initial onslaught is heavy rain (pray there's no flooding in the basement) and then temperatures in the early morning hours are expected to drop rapidly causing a flash freeze (at least there will be no water in the basement today) and the towns and cities have already exhausted their snow removal budgets and there is little or no salt to be found for taking care of the roads and sanding doesn't really cut it. The hobbits have summed it up nicely.

Monday, March 10, 2014

We Were Like Gods

To set the stage, BC, before children and calligraphy took over my life, I was a computer programmer. I began in the early to mid-1980's working in the early days of computers for small business. Personal computers were still a decade away, and we worked on mini-systems. Computers were no longer so large they needed their own building like ENIAC and UNIVAC, but they were still large, about the size of a full-sized automobile. I worked for a small, software house where my job was to tweak the back-office accounting package the company sold to banks. I had the lofty title of "consultant" and serviced 21 banks in 5 states.

The Young One told me, in general terms, a bit about working on the game project and working in a group.

"...and then we didn't have much to do because we had to wait for the code monkeys," she said.

"Excuse me?"

"Code monkeys...programmers."

"Code monkeys? CODE MONKEYS! Programmers. COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS. I'll have you know we were treated like gods!

"I was picked up at the airport in a limousine. When I went to the banks, crowds would part like the Red Sea when I walked down the corridors. I would hear hushed and reverent whispers, 'Here comes THE Programmer. THE Programmer is here.' I would be shown to a private office or corner workstation where workers were told 'Don't disturb THE Programmer.' Someone would be assigned to bring me a cup of tea just the way I liked it or to timidly ask if I would like a muffin, donut, bagel, or sandwich. At one bank, the woman who was in charge of keeping track of the safe deposit boxes wept with gratitude after I wrote a small program to automate when the safe deposit boxes were to be renewed. She no longer had to wade through an index card file. Hours of work for her was reduced to a few minutes with the press of a button. After that, every time she saw me, she thanked me profusely.

"Computer Programmers. We were like gods."

"Yeah, so, we had to wait for the code monkeys to finish..."

Sunday, March 9, 2014

There And Back Again

The Young One's quarter term in California has ended. Tonight, she will be flying back home.She had a wonderful experience on the West Coast. Some good. Some not so good.

She enjoyed working at Disney Interactive. She liked the Mentor that was assigned to her team. She loved the project they were given. The Young One's team surpassed the Mentor's expectations.  She learned how to get the work done with team members who do not play well or work well with others. She learned stress not only effects one mentally, but physically. She learned how to deal with roommates who were not welcoming. She learned it's probably best to leave home when you have the means to support yourself so you do not have to rely on roommates who leave their piles of dirty dishes in the sink, and rotting food on the counters, and on the floor for you to clean when it is time to vacate the apartment.

The work experience was well worth the time and money. She could have done without the social or lack there of experiences. Sadly, it does not look like any job offers will be coming any time soon as The Mentor and his team were laid off from Disney Interactive  (1/4 of the staff was laid off) on Thursday. Another valuable real life lesson learned. The nature of her industry (computer gaming) is not secure. The Mentor told the kids the industry operates in feast or famine mode.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Don't Forget

Spring Ahead. Daylight Savings Time Begins. Set your clocks ahead an hour before you go to bed tonight.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1.I Skyped another art session with my friend. Distance and weather sometimes makes it difficult for us to get together. Skyping is the next best thing. We can talk, work, share all from the comfort of our own home.

2. Attended the first incubator workshop. A fun day. Met some new people and worked with new methods of learning. A fun day was had by all.

3. I saw a pair of cardinals. Haven't seen them since.

4. The big storm we were supposed to get went South of us. We didn't even get a snowflake. No complaints. I'm tired of all the snow.

5. A perfectly good day turned pear, but I saw a rainbow towards evening.Perhaps a message from the Universe that everything will work out. Or maybe it was just ice crystals reflecting the sun light.

How was your week?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Meaning of Cardinals

Last week, I saw a male and a female cardinal in the honeysuckle vine outside my kitchen window. The male went further into the depths of the vine and stayed there for a few minutes looking into the sun room. The pair then flew away.

I was happy to see the flash of color, a welcome sight from all the white snow and grey leafless branches. And I didn't give the bird sighting another thought. Until I saw a Facebook post about the meaning of cardinals. "A cardinal is a representative of a loved on who had passed away. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you." A sweet sentiment or wishful thinking?

My parents both passed away last year. Dad in August at the age of 94 and Ma in November at the age of 95. When Dad wasn't able to drive, we hosted the family gatherings in the sun room if the weather was nice. Dad's birthday is coming up on 17. March. I think the Ma and Dad cardinals were checking to see if preparations were being made for Dad's birthday celebration.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What's It All About, Alfie?

I've been asked what the Art of Science Learning is all about. Right now, it's an experiment with major funding from the National Science Foundation. The innovators for this project had polled top level executives to ask what they were looking for in today's workforce. Employers wanted employees that had communication,teamwork, and creativity skills. The executives felt the workforce coming out of school now is not adequately prepared in these areas. Those in areas of science, technology, engineering, and math are bright, but they can't explain their work especially to those that do not have a STEM background.

Through the data collection process, there seemed to be a correlation between Nobel prize winners and their involvement in the arts. (For example, Einstein played the violin.) These individuals were more creative than their colleagues who were not involved in some artistic extracurricular activity. The Art of Science Learning developers decided creativity is not innate. It's a skill that can be learned. So, they have developed a curriculum to teach an approach to innovation through the use of sculpture, jazz, improv theater and other arts.

That's where the Fellows come in. That's what the people chosen to participate in the project are called. We will be taught these skills. A new way of being able to look at problems and come up with solutions. We will then use these new tools to solve a real world problem and hopefully, come up with innovative, effective, and creative ways to address issues. We will take an idea through research and development to testing and launch phase.

Three centers or incubators have been chosen each with its own unique problem to solve. San Diego will be working on water issues, Chicago is looking into urban nutrition, and Worcester has chosen transportation as its year long project.

I'm guessing data collected from the incubator projects will be used to further refine the curriculum to be incorporated into the education system in the future.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Worcester Incubator for Innovation

Yesterday was the first workshop for the Art of Science Learning Worcester Incubator for Innovation, a year long project.

From the welcome letter from the director: Welcome Art of Science Learning Fellows, You have been selected from a field of remarkably talented, interesting, and diverse background to pilot an innovation curriculum that links the arts with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning. Coupled with the cutting-edge program, your collective creativity, aptitudes, abilities, and new-found knowledge will focus on the challenge of developing inventive transportation solutions in Worcester.

There are a hundred fellows and after the introduction, we were divided into groups for our first challenge. We were given a box of "stuff": Styrofoam shapes, clay, sticky notes, markers, crayons, dowels, pipe cleaners, tape, magazines. We had to use the materials to model what innovation meant to us, as a team. This technique was called metaphorming. I'm not sure my group accomplished this, but working with the materials was a great ice-breaker for a cooperative task.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Out to Lunch

Actually, I'll be attending the first module for the Art of Science Learning. More later.