Archive for December, 2009

Hello 2010!!

December 31, 2009

The theme for me for 2009 seemed to be baby steps.  Baby steps towards getting healthy.  Baby steps towards new directions.  Baby steps towards my 25 Days of Thanks.  Baby steps towards love.  Baby steps toward life.

I going to continue the step theme this year but no more baby steps.  This time, Shaquille O’Neal steps.  Some things have got to change in 2010.  I think I waited too long for the change to happen instead of going out there and making it happen.

Ever seen Evan Almighty?  It’s definitely not winning any awards but there’s one scene that I saw today that hit pretty hard.  To set it up, Morgan Freeman plays God, and during a scene with Evan’s wife, explains to her how to get through some troubles she’s having.  Here’s the line that I’ll probably remember for a long time:

Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?

The point that I see in all this is that I can’t take advantage of too many opportunities by taking baby steps.  2010 will be a year of bigger steps.  2009 was a great year.  But 2010, I have no doubt, will be a year to remember.  Hope it’s the same for you.  Happy New Year:-)

Thanks for reading.  My 25 Days of Thanks will be completed soon!  Also pictures from the holiday including why my dad looks like he does in the picture below,

why if one picture is worth a 1000 words

what does the follow up picture say?,and how I hope I’m this happy at 90 and wearing a hat like himHappy 2010:-)


25 Days of Thanks- Day 15

December 21, 2009

Thankful- The Right song at the right time

This comes in two fashions:

  1. Radio Fortune Teller-  Maybe it’s bad news you got on your cell phone or a crazy decision you have to make.  You then get in your car, turn it on, and BAM!, Lullaby comes on by Shawn Mullins.  Maybe not the best song but something hits you during that “Everything’s goin’ to be alright, rockabye, rockabye…”
  2. Group of Friends in Car- Don’t Stop Believing comes on the radio and the car erupts with “Turn it up!” and all that’s going through your head is “Well, duh!” like some 13 year old valley girl

I believe in some crazy things.  Ghosts, life out there somewhere in the universe, Santa Claus (he’ll be covered in a later post)…

I don’t believe some higher power comes down at the right moment, sees that I’m listening to the radio, and changes the playlist for that station.  Songwriters are smart.  They know the emotions to play into.  They know that music becomes popular through connections.  Whether it’s a connection to the beat or a connection to the words.  I’ve had both at the right time but I’m thankful for, however it happens, that moment when you turn on the radio or change the station, and BAM!, you find just what you’re looking for to help you put a smile on your face.

Not Thankful- New York State

One group that cannot make the connection is New York State and their voting down of policies that would have helped make all people equal.  If there’s a song titled, “Pull your head out of a**”, I hope it’s played on the radio the next time you’re in your car.  I’m a Catholic who has no problem saying, please stop basing policy on about 20 words from a book that has 774,746 of them.

25 Days of Thanks- Day 14

December 21, 2009


[Cue advertising voiceover]

I’ve tried a few different things to keep track of my finances from good ol’ paper to software for my cell phone. Nothing seemed to work because it was always missing something.  But then I found is a web based money manager that can link with a variety of accounts.  In addition, it can also help keep your finances in check through budgeting options and account alerts.  It has it all!  Check out today!

[End advertising voiceover]

In all seriousness, I keep coming back to this site to help keep some things in check.  I don’t balance my checkbook but I do track and categorize the purchases I make through this site.  Helps with putting a clearer picture on this whole money thing for someone who doesn’t have that kind of background.  It’s free and plays nice with the bank I use.

So thanks!

25 Days of Thanks- Day 13

December 21, 2009

Thankful- The cable that connects my IPod to the car

Covered this topic before that I sing in the car.  Every now and again a good song comes on the radio that I’ll belt out.  But it’s those moments when I really need a song that I can get into that I’m thankful for the wire that allows me to connect my IPod to the car.

Can’t really say too much about it other than that…

25 Days of Thanks- Day 12

December 21, 2009

Thankful- The Little Things

This world is so random that I love it when you have those “Huh” moments.  It’s somewhere in between the “Huh!” moments, where someone tells you something surprising that you didn’t think would happen, and the “Huh?” moments where you look at something and think, “Well how the heck did I manage to do that?”.

For example:

  • I’m in Church the other day and notice that the people lined up in front to hand out Communion had somehow arranged themselves in order from tallest to shortest.
  • A child was screaming at the top of his lungs to his family the other day.  Another child, from a completely different family managed to work his way into the crowd and present the kid with a cookie.
  • If the sun is shining the right way at the right time of the morning, it gets right into my eyes and wakes me right up
  • My sister and I were walking through Harvard’s campus and she turns to me and says, “I feel weird swearing (translation:using bad language) on this campus.”
  • Best part of the spring- the sound of the children playing in the playground at Margaret’s House.  It’s a day care center that’s in the residence hall section of RIT.

There are others but these are just three that are coming to mind.  Now, sure it borders on “Rain Man” moments or “Random Acts of Kindness” moments but it’s those times that you’d like to turn to someone, nudge them, and say, “Hey, check this out”.  Life isn’t perfect until you have someone to share it with.

It’s that chuckle when you see something unexpected.  That smile that cracks on your face in the oddest moment.  It’s the thing that change you’re whole day around.  I am thankful for the little things in life that I see everyday.

25 Days of Thanks- Day 11

December 21, 2009

Thankful- Interpreters

Two things to know:

  1. How do I put this…I fumble over my words sometimes.  Those who know me know that the idea eventually gets out of my mouth but I pick my words carefully which can lead to… um, fumbling
  2. The National Technical Institute for the Deaf is housed at RIT and shares a lot with the campus culture.  In the residence hall and apartment system, deaf, hearing, and hard of hearing, all live in the same communities.  To help with communication, American Sign Language Interpreters are available for meetings, events, and classes coordinated by RIT.

So put these two things together and lets just say I’m very thankful for the interpreters I get to work with.  The other day I was worried that when they see a request with my name on it, they run in terror but I learned at an event that was thankfully far from the case:-)  To all the interpreters in the world, thanks for what you do.  For the ones I’ve worked with, thanks for being able to translate Jeff Spain into English and then into ASL.

25 Days of Thanks- Day Ten

December 11, 2009

Thankful- A Smile

A couple reasons/stories:

  • Elf is a great movie and has a ton of quotable lines.  One of the greats- “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite”
  • At Canisius, we had to take some science courses as part of degree.  There were a few different choices but most flocked to Nutrition.  Myself and about 50 other students piled in at 9:30am for Mr. Chumerainian (that’s probably not how you spell his name but some may remember who I’m talking about), which was shorted to Mr. Chu I believe.  Mr. Chu was the definition of a hard a** but his tests were word for word from the book and if you did the project and reviewed the end of chapter questions each week, you were pretty much guaranteed an A.  Yea, that didn’t happen for me.  Call it slacking, call it other interests, me and Mr. Chu didn’t see eye to eye on his grading.  All his fault.  Probably.  One day, after a particularly bad quiz, I went to see him in his office.  We chatted for a few minutes about some extra credit but the conversation quickly shifted to some personal stuff.  Shocked and intrigued, I went along with it to see where it would go and all of a sudden, he came out with a line that I don’t think I’ll ever forget- “A smile is a small curve that can straighten a thousand things.”  I don’t remember much of that conversation but I do remember hearing those words and literally looking down at the nameplate on his desk to make sure I was talking to the same guy.  I think he could tell that it kind of hit me pretty hard because from then on, every time walking into that class, he’d make sure to look and smile.
  • If you work at RIT and a 6 or 7 foot tiger has waved at you either Tuesday or Thursday, it was probably me inside.  As part of my job, I dressed up as the RIT mascot for some promotion of the RA position.  Best part about it is watching the people with long faces walk by, look up, see this smile tiger character, and have their outlook completely change.  For that moment, for that second when their face lights up, wearing the suit is worth it.  The weight of the tiger head goes away and the heat from the costume having zero ventilation passes.  The fact that they smile for an instant is an awesome feeling.

So if you’re reading this, do me a favor, make someone smile RIGHT NOW!  Don’t think that you can’t!  This is the internet!  There’s facebook and instant messenger and all sorts of stuff!  There’s got to be a neighbor, a friend, a coworker that you can make smile right now.  If you need to, show/send them this.  Made me laugh out loud in my office the other day and also think of how some professors have a hidden streak of genius that doesn’t get tapped into very often.

25 Days of Thanks- Day 9

December 10, 2009

Thankful- Hairdressers/Stylists/Barbers

Morning Routine-Jeff Spain- 7 years ago:

  • Wake Up
  • Hit snooze button between 5 and 10 times
  • Freak out about being late
  • Shower
  • Brush teeth
  • Brush Hair back, then find good part in hair, combover from there
  • Put on khakis and shirt
  • Run out door

Morning Routine- Jeff Spain- Today

  • Wake Up
  • Hit snooze button between 5 and 10 times
  • Freak out about being late
  • Fall Back asleep
  • Wake Up again with a “Huzzah!” thinking I kinda planned for this (May just be exaggerating here a little…)
  • Shower
  • Brush Teeth
  • Face Moisturizer
  • Hair Paste, rub in hair, determine if it’s a messy in front day or messy part day (lately, messy part)
  • Put on clothes
  • Run out door

I see a stylist (yes, a stylist) about once every 5 weeks.  Each time there’s the usual chit chat about work, life, his house, and vacations.  Jason is a great guy a cuts a good head of hair.  He’s upfront and honest too saying, “Nope, can’t give you George Clooney’s hair today, but we’ll see what happens.”  Then 30 minutes later, poof, done.  And it looks ok most of the time.  The times that it doesn’t is usually my fault when I insist to try something different and he goes along with it.  But each time I go, in the midst of the chit chat, there’s some morning routine tip that will come out that’s pretty handy.  In addition, I’ll let him know what my hair has been doing lately and he might try out a new product to see if it helps the problem.  Since he’s the professional, he’s usually spot on.  My issue is that I don’t have the budget to keep up with it.  I’m about 4 products behind right now.

Some things that I’ve learned:

  • Shaving straight down the face can cause irritation.  Instead shave along the chin line from side to side
  • They make a powder that when sprinkled in your hair, you’ve got about 5 seconds before it turns to cement.
  • Facial moisturizer is key
  • Most people don’t know how to use hair paste correctly.  Got to warm it up by rubbing your hands together to get it to activate.

While this may sound like part of an episode of “What Not to Wear”, I figured I share the knowledge because, hopefully, it’s worked.

So to Jason and all the stylists/hairdressers/barbers, thank you.

25 Days of Thanks- Day 8

December 9, 2009

Thankful- My job

Here’s some of the random things I get paid to do:

  • Shoot off t-shirt guns
  • Dress up in mascot costumes- So if Ritchie waved at you today, it was me.  And if he waves at you Thursday or Friday, wave back!  So many people passed by and I’m all dancing around and waving, and got nothing in return.  Granted some people have a fear of mascots, but it’s ok, it’s me underneath there.  If it helps, picture me with the reddest face imaginable because that’s what’s going on underneath the helmet.  Not only is it hot, but even though people might not know it’s me, I still blush like a son of a gun.
  • Put on a party for 300-500 people.  Saturday night was an awesome event called Chocolate on Ice.  Thanks to those who came out to support.  Major kudos needs to goto the student staff who stepped up and helped me through my franticness!
  • Get pies thrown in my face.  It was for a great charity and I’ll never forget sitting in the lobby of MacVicar letting students pie me and the RAs
  • Go to ghost walks, movies, tours, museums, baseball games, football games, and all sorts of festivals and events
  • Watch the 4th of July fireworks from the greatest of all spots in America.  Seriously, never before has there been a place like the top of 26th Street residence hall in NYC, to see the biggest fireworks show ever.  It’s like the finale of a small city show but lasts for a complete hour.
  • Sit in a dunktank
  • Go skiing in Vermont

There’s many other things but all in all its the students and staff that keep me going.  I’m thankful for all the stories, for all the laughter, for all the “foot in mouth” moments, and everything you bring to the table.  Thanks for making this job fun and exciting each day.

In addition, I’m thankful that my job allows me to make mistakes, to be human if you will.  I’m not perfect both personally and professionally.  But that sense of knowing that it’s ok to try, that it’s ok to challenge, that it’s ok to stick your big toe in the lake, helps me deal with the fact that I have no idea what I’m going to walk into day after day.  Thanks to the student and professional staff who, over these 10 years, have supported and allowed me to grow, discover, and (cue Indiana Jones theme) experience one heck of an adventure.

25 Days of Thanks- Day 7

December 8, 2009

Thankful- Knots that are already in the laces for jackets/sweatshirts

I consider myself a proactive person.  I try to think ahead a few steps, try to look at how a choice may play to the future, try to anticipate and prepare for problems.

But, sweet mother of frustration, I have ripped more laces out of hoods of sweatshirts because no man, woman, or machine, tied a knot in that lace that goes into the hood.  It’s cool when you first buy it because the lace hangs evenly on both sides.  But then, when you wash it, you get that nifty surprise of one side of the lace being caught on something else, pulling the opposite end into the fabric of the sweatshirt.

It’s more like a black hole.  All the folding, all the scrunching, all the manipulating can’t help you get that little lace back through the metal hoop.  I’ve heard of different tricks but the only one that works is to just pull the whole darn lace out of the hood.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever really used the laces to tighten my hood around my face…It’s the principle of the matter people.  When you pay for that jacket you also pay for properly placed laces!

Maybe that’s what I’ll invent to make my millions, but in the meantime, thank you to those companies that tie a big enough knot in the end of your laces to make sure hood laces stay in their proper place.