This Is Your Brain On Kids…..Any Questions?

So, we had an enjoyable, but tough weekend up on Squam Lake in New Hampshire this past weekend. Both Steph and I have been feeling slightly under-the-weather. Not bad enough to stay home, but not good enough to be at our most energetic. Now pack all the STUFF you need with 1 year old twins, haul it two hours north, stay in a house that is completely un-child proofed and then sprinkle in 3 other cousins, all under six years old (including another set of twin boys) and you have yourself a casserole of exhaustion. I mean, TOTAL exhaustion! Here’s the cherry on top: one of ours decided to throw up on Sunday morning. Yeah! Like I said, fun, but exhausting.

Here’s the point: today and tonight I’m preparing myself to play hockey and then about 15 minutes before I leave, remember that I broke not one, but TWO hockey sticks in my previous game and I have no sticks. Which means no game. These kind of things never used to slip my mind! Ah, well. Two things will never change: they’re cute and I love ’em.


Like The Corners Of My Mind…

Oh brother, I’m on a high school kick now. Remember yesterday’s post when I said Mr. Schofield looked like Jabba The Hut? I wasn’t kidding! I went back to the old Class of 1989 Nashoba yearbook and found his picture:

OK, so I feel a little like a jerk for saying it and I didn’t mean it from the weight perspective. I mean, he was a little overweight, but it was his face! I mean, look at it! Years removed from high school now, it seems so juvenile for me to be writing it, but damn, it really is true. But again, he was a good teacher – one of those guys who set the tone early and didn’t take shit from any kid. See yesterday’s post.

Now, in leafing through the yearbook in an attempt to find topics to blog about, I came across the Fondest Memories section. Each kid got a little space in the yearbook to put their fondest memories from high school. Here’s what mine looked like:

Alright, so here’s a breakdown of what all this means.

  • “1/1/88 – P.W.E.” was my girlfriend and the date we started seeing each other. I met her when we worked at Shaw’s Supermarket in Clinton. She was from another town, so I pretty much dropped off the high school scene at Nashoba during my junior year. I was around much more my senior year, but still spent a lot of time with her. It ended halfway through our first year of college and for years afterward, I felt really bad about how it ended. But you learn and move on.
  • “Robert Plant 10/30/88” – fairly obvious. My friend Spencer and I saw him at the Worcester Centrum. I think we were heavy into “Tye Dye On The Highway,” but both of us were Zeppelin fanatics, so we just had to see him. Opener: Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.
  • “Van Halen 8/15/86” – this was the “5150” tour, when we thought that Sammy Hagar just might be as good a replacement for Roth as possible. In retrospect, we were wrong, but the show was super fun for us 5 freshman. And of course, the band were consummate showmen, I’ll give them that. The songs don’t hold well today, but the good memories do. I believe it was me, Steve Tuft, Jim Dickhaut, Don Lanza and Gregg Stewart. Openers: Bachman Turner Overdrive. No kidding.
  • “Beating Gardner” – if I remember this correctly, Gardner hadn’t lost a regular season high school hockey game in nearly two years or something like that. They were a FORCE! I believe someone had written on the bus’s frosted windows “Gardner – we come in peace.” Anyway, it was late in the season of my junior year and we had already been eliminated from postseason. They were 17-0-1 and we were like 7-8-3 or something like that. For whatever reason, we went up to their building on a Saturday night in a packed house and played like a house on fire. Nashoba 4, Gardner 2. Yours truly potted the winner on a pass from Jim Cellucci. Probably the highlight of my high school hockey career.
  • “Freshman Initiation” – ok, this was very early on during our freshman year. We thought it was totally awesome that a few of us had gotten invited to a junior-senior party at someone’s house in the woods of Stow. Oh, we had no idea what was coming. I’ll spare most of the details, but we found ourselves in the middle of the woods in just our underwear and had to walk back, down the road, undressed as such, while cars drove by. Let’s just say the older kids lured us out there with the utmost super-secret weapon – senior girls. We really thought……nevermind. I believe this was me, Jim Dickhaut, Steve Tuft and Neil Lefebvre, but I can’t be 100% positive on that one. I can tell you this: we got a lot of attention and giggles in the hallways from those senior girls the following weeks. I remember walking into the house at the party in my underwear and all those older kids are there laughing at us. The laughter died down a little and then I said sarcastically “WHAT? We’re not getting laid?!?”
  • “Boston Garden – Constantly” – this is a reference to the many Bruins games I was able to attend since my dad and a friend of his split season tickets my junior and senior year. Very good memories as they Bruins fielded excellent teams back then.
  • The next one says “Prom” but that (W) was supposed to be next to it. It just meant the Wachusett Regional prom, which is where my girlfriend went to high school. I had a much better time at that one than I did at my own.
  • “R.E.M.” – just a reference to one of my favorite bands at the time. I still have not seen them live to this day.
  • “Pumpkin Hunt ’87” – typical juvenile delinquincy here. A few of us went around the town of Bolton stealing pumpkins and smashing them places. I feel bad about this one now, having kids and all, but back then, as you probably know, we couldn’t have cared less. Boys being boys. Memories are foggy, but I believe it was me, Scott Hayes, Josh Harmon and one or two others.
  • “U.S. History” – well, there it is! Maybe I did really enjoy history more than I thought I did. Class was taught by Mr. Eilerman, who had a hand in setting me straight a little bit, something for which I will forever be grateful for. A good, decent man with a wacky sense of humor and an excellent teacher who cared. Also pulled his money out of the stock market the Friday before the market crashed in ’86. How I remember that I have no idea.
  • “Zeppelin or U2 at midnight” was a just a reference to what I would listen to the most when I got home from going out. I’d just lay on my bedroom floor, put on the headphones that made me look like Princess Leia, and tune out. It was a total precursor to college, when I would do the same thing (with different music) – lay on the living room floor and not really tune out, but pass out. There were plenty of nights when I woke up the next morning, headphones still on, shoes still on, jacket still on. Ouch.
  • “Busted at R.T.” – I will never, ever give this one away. You’ll just have to wonder.

They Will All Suffer For This Outrage!

I’m currently in the middle of Rising Tide, a pretty large bio lent to me by my father-in-law about the 1927 Mississippi River floods that devastated much of the south along the river. It’s a pretty stunning read and I’m not even 1/3 of the way through yet. It’s so odd how such a momentous, far-reaching tragedy has largely been forgotten. Makes we wonder what else I don’t know about.

I was thinking the other day how fun it might be to be a history teacher. Then I remembered that the only person who truly cares about history is the one actually teaching it and I quickly realized that maybe it wouldn’t be so much fun. Ever since college, my interest in history has skyrocketed, but in high school, history was just another thing I had to study for. History class itself was one of my favorites because our teacher loved to shut off the lights and teach via this device that I cannot even believe I’ve forgotten the name of the overhead projector. You slip a clear piece of plastic onto it and then use a sharpie-type marker and it projects on the wall.

This meant one thing: lights off was a chance to:

  • Make all kinds of shadows on the wall with your hands. Some of questionable taste. All ridiculous.
  • Pass notes to others
  • Write notes to girlfriends
  • Sleep
  • Do homework for the next class (yeah, the one you didn’t do the night before)

Unfortunately for me, sleeping was never an option, because I cannot sleep sitting. But plenty of people slept. Which reminds me of a classic high school moment. It was freshman year in high school, early in the year. I was sitting in Western Civilization, quite possibly the worst class of ALL-TIME. I mean, I love history, but Western Civ was like being poked in the eye with a stick, over and over and over. Anyway, I’m sitting there and we’re seated alphebetically. Four seats in front of me is Mark Blanding and I notice that he is completely asleep. That doesn’t bode well, because the teacher is Mr. Schofield, a large man who bears a striking resemblance to Jabba The Hut. I kid you not. That said, he was a good person with a solid sense of humor and a good teacher, many of us didn’t like him because you actually had to work in his class, but I think we all respected him. Or feared him.

Anyway, Blanding is sitting there, head down, and Schofield notices after a few minutes. He stops his lecture (thank god) and quietly walks over to Blanding’s desk and KICKS it so damn hard. I tell you what, Blanding jumped nearly a mile. And since we’re all 13 and 14 years old, it’s the funniest damn thing we’ve seen at school yet. Even Schofield was laughing, very very proud of himself. NOBODY ever fell asleep in that Western Civ again.

I had no intention of this turning into a high school memory, but that’s the beauty of blogging, you write about one thing and it spurs memories of others. Now I’ll have to think of some good high school stories to share.

Bonus points to anyone who can ID the quote in today’s subject header.


Return To Sender

The amount of catalogs we get delivered to the house is insulting. It almost hurts me to think about it too much. Other than being a such an enormous waste of trees, many of the catalogs advertise things Steph and I would simply never even consider buying in a million years. It’s almost like the AirMall, except the shit isn’t even funny inside. At least the AirMall is good for a laugh.

The other day, we got TWO of the exact same catalog in the mail. It was from Ballard Designs, a company I can say with 100% confidence that we have never bought anything from and have never even heard of, for that matter. The best part – they had two different covers. Everything else was exactly the same. What did the covers look like? The one that was addressed to me had a bunch of home office stuff and was decidedly male. The one addressed to Steph was of a Victorian-looking foyer, with grand staircase and a headline that said something along the lines of “Design Your Dream!” Sexism at its quiet finest.

Of course, some other retail shop sold our name to Ballard. What can you do about that? Not much. Doing business over-the-counter or online these days pretty much opts you in automatically to all this crap. I kid you not, I think we get 2-3 of these things everyday. I’ve been considering keeping a month’s work, then making a big stack and taking a picture to post here, but I don’t have time for it, plus it would probably just make me sick.

Luckily, you do have an option. Catalog Choice is a website where you can sign up and go through a fairly exhaustive list of all these marketing nazi’s and opt-out of their mailings. Catalog Choice apparantly takes care of the notifications to the publishers. Nice! I signed up about a year ago and did see a noticable slowdown, but I think I need to go back and update my list.

I’d be curious to know what % of total retail spend these days comes from catalogs? I see them as very very old-school, much like phone books, yellow pages or newspaper and TV advertising. It’s not very targeted, clearly, because nearly 100% of the ones I get go right to recycling. Do you still order stuff from mail catalogs?


Ice Cream Hands

The subject of today’s post is actually the name of a great little Australian band that we loved back in the late ’90s when we were running Tar Hut. They were basically Teenage Fanclub. But hell, to me Teenage Fanclub were IT for me back then (and to some degree, they still are). So anyone who was good and could sound like them, well, we drooled over it.

What today’s post is really about is:

a) Ice Cream. As I was putting a few scoops into my bowl last night (Coffee Oreo), I was nerding out on the consistency. For example, I like my ice cream a tad soft. I don’t mean soft serve. Soft serve is not ice cream, I hate to tell you. What I mean is that I like the spoon to glide somewhat effortlessly through the ice cream when I’m scooping it out. Otherwise you find yourself, quite literally, fighting with the container to get a scoop. Often this will cause a most horrifying event – the loss of a scoop. For if you are struggling too much, the scoop will sometimes go flying into the air and on the floor. This rarely happens for me, because to soften it up a little, I put it in the microwave for about 5-8 seconds. But it’s happened before and when it does, it’s like slow motion. Losing a scoop of ice cream can ony be described as a tragic loss.  So that being said, I’m wondering about everyone else – do you like the ice cream to be a little soft or would you rather get a work out and enjoy a firmer bowl of IC?

b) My Hands. As I’ve mentioned here before, I don’t like carrying stuff. At all. I’ve had to adjust significantly to this dislike with the twins here now and I’m managing just fine, but if I had my druthers, whenever we go somewhere I’d love to just take my keys, phone, IPod and whatever and put it in Steph’s purse. Yeah, she loves that. Anyway, I’m coming up on being able to choose my next phone and suffice it to say, things are getting very interesting. There is, of course, the IPhone. I don’t need to spew any details – it’s a seamless way for me to combine my work email, mobile communication, music and web surfing into one neat little device. But switching to AT&T frankly scares the crap out of me and the recent bugs with the 3G phone and battery life issues are also giving me pause. I WANT to love the IPhone. Then, over the past few days, comes news of the Blackberry Storm, RIM’s first touchscreen phone, on the horizon in the next couple of months. See, here’s the thing – my Blackberry just WORKS. It works. No crashing, freezing, great battery life, etc. Email is so painfully seamless it makes me cry. Could it be this is the combination I’m looking for? But then, I can’t connect it to ITunes – that’s a biggie. But wait! Yes I can? Oh, I don’t know what the fark to do now. To be continued……