Archive for December, 2013

25 Days of Thanks- Day 17

December 17, 2013

Thankful- A Fly Went By by Mike McClintock

I sat by the lake.
I looked at the sky.
And as I looked,
A fly went by.

And I was hooked.  These were the words that started my adventure into reading.

Now, sure, there were stories read to us at bedtime by my Mom and Dad (and even some stories that they made up that we still remember to this day.  Bert and Herbert were a family favorite).  Both of them are performers and had no problem putting in the right passion, inflection, and character into the story to keep us interested.

As we got older, their inflection turned to encouragement.  Encouragement for discovering this world of books on our own.

We stumbled along the way.  We’d pick out a book at the library that might have been a little too advanced.  Or maybe a word that had a bunch of letters that we thought shouldn’t exist being next to each other.  But they never let us give up.

For some reason though, I remember A Fly Went By was a personal mission for me to read.  I remember fingers underneath the words trying to sound them out.  I’d wonder if the pictures gave some sort of clue to what the heck was going on.  And little by little, page by page, I learned about why the fly went by the little kid just enjoying life on the side of the lake.

Little did I know my parent’s true intent…. they were starting my prep for the GREs.

All joking aside, I realize this wasn’t their intention.  But fast forward the video to 1:36.  Towards the end of those two pages, here’s the text:

The fly does not know that the frog is not mad.
The frog does not know that the cat is not bad.
The cat runs in fear of the dog, I can tell.
If I can stop him, then all will be well.

I’m in my early 30s and I needed a second to piece that all together.  During the GRE test that I took, there was a logic section.  Questions in this section included-  If George sits next to Mary and Bob sits next to Sue but Sue sits next to Mary and there’s only 5 chairs.  Where does Amy sit?

If you continue to read, it only gets worse:

The fly ran away
In fear of the frog
Who ran from the cat
Who ran from the dog
The dog ran away
In fear of the pig
Who ran from the cow
She was do big!
The cow ran away
From the fox, who ran
As fast as he could
In fear of the man
That man hear a thump
And away he ran!
It was just a sheep,
With an old tin can!


So to my parent’s masterplan of starting me early into the world of logic and reason, I say kudos.  Job well done.

I need some Tylenol.

Thanks for reading…


25 Days of Thanks- Day 16

December 17, 2013

Thankful- Diet Coke

I don’t ever drink Coffee.  It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s honestly that I’ve never really tried a good cup of coffee.  I know that my Dad shared some of his with us as kids but I just never got into it.

My vice is Diet Coke.  I freely admit that I enjoy it regularly.  It’s my caffeine fix.

Co-workers sent out wish lists for this year’s Secret Santa.  There’s included gift cards, gloves, pay raises.  On mine, three out of the five were Diet Coke.

There is a ton of information out there that says “Diet Coke doesn’t do harm to the body”.  And there are other sources that say, “Diet Coke is harmful to the body”.

But what it comes down to is that it might be time to stop being thankful for Diet Coke.  It’s time to stop gambling with this one and just stay out of the fight.  I got enough to deal with.

So, yes, soon enough… maybe after the holidays…. I’ll be more thankful for water, or seltzer, or maybe even coffee.  Do they make carbonated coffee?

Thanks for reading…



25 Days of Thanks- Day 15

December 15, 2013

Thankful- Split Checks

“So wait… who put in the $20.  Do you need change?  No, no.. you put in too much.  Who’s got change for a $20?”

“Spain!  You never carry cash on you!”

“Ok so you had the Hotter Than Hades Sandwich… plus the Diet Coke… plus part of the appetizer.  Oh… you didn’t eat the app.  You got a salad… That’s not on here.  Oh wait.. never mind.  Ok, but didn’t you have a mozz stick?”

“Who’s the math wiz of the group?”

“Hi.  I apologize in advance for the massive amount of instructions I’m about to give you.  There’s cash inside the bill holder thingy.  Then take $20 off the Hello Kitty card.  Then $24 off the Detroit Tigers card.  Then put the Tuna Melt, one soda, and the side of sriracha on the Don’t Mess With Texas card.  And then the rest on the Discover.  Oh, you don’t take Discover…. We’re going to need a few more minutes”

(I write this knowing full well that I have never been a waiter or waitress so I cannot provide that side of this “Thankfulness” tonight.  I can imagine that you all already have a ton of things to remember, and then on top of that, you have to remember who ordered what.  Not saying it’s always easy!)

Split checks solve a lot of the issues as the meal is winding down.  It solves a lot of the awkwardness as people try to figure out how much they owe.  And as a person who usually don’t carry too much cash, it solves that issue a lot of the time.

But I always forget to ask.

Thanks for reading…

25 Days of Thanks- Day 14

December 15, 2013

Thankful- QuizUp

Quick one tonight…

Trivia fan?  Check out the iOS app, QuizUp.  Tons of different categories from Disney to Wine.

Now this isn’t an app where you just answer the questions for fun.  Instead with this app, you actually play against someone from anywhere in the world.  Beat a guy in Singapore tonight in Lost (TV Show) trivia.

Check it out.  Add me if you want.  

Hope those in the Northeast are enjoying the snow!

Thanks for reading…

25 Days of Thanks- Day 13

December 13, 2013

Thankful- The Silence of Snow

Little known fact, I like walking outside when it’s snowing.  Particularly at night.

There’s a certain peacefulness when there’s a heavy snowfall.  Sounds become muted.  Light bounces off every snowflake and illuminates the little piece of world around it.  Tiny shadows hit the street as flakes pass by the street lamp.

You can barely hear the cars passing.  And your shoes make a crunching sound as you mark the first paths over the accumulated snow.

Looking up towards the sky make it seem like billions of stars surround you.

The best time for taking all of this in is after a good day and night of skiing.  The mountain has turned off all its lights yet you can still make out the trails, lifts, and the towers.  People are packing up to go home.  Kids are expending those last bits of energy before melting into their seats in the car.  A few people rummage around closing up the different offices and shops.  And your feet aren’t working 100% correctly due them being stuck in that constricting ski boot all day.

I never really knew why it was so silent when the snow was falling but just a few days ago, a conversation thread popped up on a site I visit that described what was happening.

Why does it seem that when it is snowing outside, it seems quieter?

(Please note that Reddit can be a dark place.  If you’re new to Reddit, please be careful where you click because one wrong click can lead you to a very dark and scary place.  Reddit isn’t all that bad!  There are cool threads for things happening at RPI or in Albany.  Just be careful.  Reddit is kinda like the China section at Macy’s.  There are lots of pretty things to look at but if you take a step in the wrong direction and break something, it will end very badly for you. )

I had no idea the science behind it related to sound waves and temperature.

We each have the little things we’re thankful for and this is just a small one I wanted to share with you.

Thanks for reading…

25 Days of Thanks- Day 12

December 12, 2013

Thankful- The Slapper

It’s not necessarily the most popular musical instrument, however it plays an integral part of one of the Christmas Holiday classics.  You might know it more from this song:

Around 1:07, the orchestra goes completely silent and all of a sudden you hear… WHACK.  The a few seconds later… WHACK.

It’s a split second where the percussionist is in control.  A split second where the conductor, the band, and the audience turns towards you and waits for that… WHACK.

If you’re just a second off, the whole piece is thrown off.  The band can’t wait for you!  You have to be on your game.

So there I am.  High School.  Hair perfectly coiffed but a little blown out from the marching band cymbals the song before.  Any time I crashed the two things together, a gust of wind would toss my hair in all different directions.  Videos of this still play in my house around the holidays.  Thank God my Dad hasn’t figured out YouTube.

Nervous as a son of a gun though.  I remember that our Band Director had a two sets of lights for the band and an additional set of lights just for the percussion area.

Whispers could be heard in our percussion section as the parents would send stares in our direction… “If our son or daughter screw up it’s all because you couldn’t get the darn beat right”

(In reality this didn’t happen.  The parents were always nice and supportive.  This is just my nightmares talking…)

I had two jobs during this song.

One, the sleigh bells.  Easy.  Ring ring ring ring pause ring ring ring.  Bring it down a little…. ring ring ring.

They were cake.

Two, the slapper.

Take a look again at the picture.  The spring on this thing adds an additional challenge.  This isn’t a manual instrument.  You need a physics degree to understand the right time to get your hand in motion so that Newton took over… and then you need some precise muscle control to know when to bring it back.  Start that a hair too soon or too late and all the audience hears is silence.  Silence.

But, if I remember correctly, it was spot on every time.  To the slapper, I say, “Thank You” for my brief solo during an awesome Christmas Song…. and for the lingering anxiety that I’m even feeling right now as I type this.

Thanks for reading…

25 Days of Thanks- Day 11

December 11, 2013

Thankful- Garageband

A question that comes up at random parts of a person’s life is, “Hey, you play any musical instruments?”

My response is, “Heck yea!  Been playing the drums since I’ve been 8.  I’m no Neil Peart, but I can get by…”

Them: “Why the drums Jeff?”

Me: “Because all my notes were on one line.”

I was never good at musical scales.  Sure there were the different tricks including FACE and Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, but I had a tough time translating that from my eyes, to my brain, to my fingers, and then back again.  Give me a beat and I could make it happen.

But you can’t whip out a set of drums at a moments notice.  Someone with a guitar can bring that thing most places.  My drumset takes two, sometimes three people to lug around.

So I’ve started to expand.  Problem is that with a limited budget, I can’t spring for lessons.  I found out recently that there are lessons right in front of me already on my computer!

Garageband is an Apple program that is mostly used for basic recording of music.  One of the deeper parts of the program is that they provide some pretty cool lessons on how to play guitar and piano.  Heck, you can even skip the lessons and go right into learning a particular song.  Already downloaded John Legend’s Ordinary People to learn over a long weekend on piano.

Lots of free software and videos are out there if you want to give it a shot yourself.  YouTube has a wide variety of tutorial videos on the subject.  Garageband is easiest for me.

Over the summer, I tend to keep a football, basketball, baseball, and two sets of baseball gloves in my backseat for those “Just in case” moments.  Might be time to add the guitar to the mix!

Thanks for reading…

25 Days of Thanks- Day 10

December 10, 2013

Thankful- Adjustable Desk Lamps

It’s not that overhead lighting turns me off, it’s just that there’s something.. this may not be the right word… but something noble about an adjustable desk lamp.

A lot of times towards the end of the day the comment I’ll hear most often is, “Turn on some lights back here!” or “You like working in the dark?”.  And to be honest, I kind of do like working in the dark.  Distractions fade away and my office desk is either lit up by a desk lamp or the soft glow of my computer.

And I also think about what people see as they’re walking by.  Maybe it’s just me but walking by an office where someone is in it and the room is lit up like a movie set, I don’t think too much about it.  Either good or bad.  All I think is, “Cool.  Someone else is here at this time of night.”

But if I walk by an office and the room is dark but a single lamp lights up mounds of paper on the desk, I see a person focused on the job.  Willing to risk those nighttime hours of darkness to shine a bright light on one particular problem.

Maybe the word isn’t noble but to me, I’m thankful for those adjustable desk lamps giving me that extra ounce of nobility to get the job done.

Thanks for reading…

25 Days of Thanks- Day 9

December 9, 2013

Thankful- Hats

Today was the Late Night Breakfast at RPI.  Many colleges do these types of events right before Final Exams.  Some call them Midnight Breakfast and actually hold them at midnight.  Others, like RPI, start them a little earlier and get the students fueled up for those late night study hours.

I’ve worked events like that at just about every school I’ve worked at but rarely do I get the treat I was given tonight.

I got an actual chef’s hat.

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve received a chef’s hat at an event like this.  But wearing it tonight reminded me of the power of hats.

The analogy is used often in each of our careers.  We wear different hats that make up our jobs.  I used to say with one of the student groups I worked with that, when things got serious, “Ok… well… Jeff needs to put on the Advisor Hat now and tell you that no, you can’t have a dinosaur at the event”.  At the end of the year, their thank you give to me was a black hat with the word “Advisor” stitched on the front.  Thanks Business Leaders of Tomorrow.

Side note- I tried finding the hat to post a picture of it here.  I know I have it.  If I find it, I will definitely throw it up on facebook.

Getting back to the point, I wonder if you feel the same as I do that when you physically wear a different hat (i.e. chef’s hat), that you don’t automatically go into chef mode.

It’s as if it’s a modern-day crowning to say, “Yes!  For the duration of you wearing this hat, you shall henceforth have the power and privileges of being a chef!  Everyone hail our newest temporary Chef!  Hip Hip… Hooray!”

Quincy, Illinois provided me the opportunity to wear a cowboy hat.  Day made.  Instant southern drawl.  Probably said, “Howdy Ma’am” way too many times.  But I was a damn cowboy.

Brockport, NY- Police Hat.  Oh, and I got the police car along with it.  It was for a homecoming event where we dressed up a police car as the Ghostbusters mobile.  I got to turn on the sirens and everything.

Somewhere, Somestate- Top Hat.  Instant gentlemen.

Surgeon’s Paper Hat- Who needs their spleen taken out?  No this didn’t happen.  Because that wouldn’t end well.

Indiana Jones Hat- Enough said.

Hats are powerful things.  Thanks to RPI for the chef’s hat tonight!

Thanks for reading…


25 Days of Thanks- Day 8

December 8, 2013

Thankful- Hitting the big note in a song in your car

“Strangers. Waaaaiting.  Up and Down the Booooulevard. Their shaaaadows searching in nighhhht.  Streeeeeetlight.  Peeeeeople.  Living just to find e-motion.  Hiding somewhere in the….”

That split second right there.

Are you going to hit it or are you just going to half- a** it?  Are you going to go all in?  Do you have the lungs for it?  Are the windows rolled up?  Sunroof closed?  Ok, looks like green lights up ahead… I’m going for it.


Hairs stand up on the back of your neck as you are thinking, “I am the man!  Steve Perry ain’t got nothing on me!”

The rest of the song turns into a cakewalk as your confidence level is at an all time high.

I’ll give you a more Christmas themed example.  Josh Groban- O Holy Night.  We start around 3:46 into the song…

“Oh niiiiiiiiiiight…. Oh night divineeeeeee…. Noooooooooooeeeelllllllll…” The horn section rises to the big note that’s about to hit…

I take the biggest breath in knowing that it’s the dead of winter, everyone’s car is closed up tighter than Tupperware container, and very few people are on the streets…

“Nooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeelllllll-ellll-ellll” Then the song goes silent.

I looked around the car as if I just won a Grammy award.  Confidence sky-high.  Sure, my face is as red as strawberry.  But dang it.  I just hit that note.  Who knows how it sounded, but to me, it was the bees knees.

So next time you’re in the car alone and a song comes on the radio with a big note towards the end, go for it!

Thanks for reading…