At least it does if even a winter of record-setting snow in your senior year of high school didn’t scare you off the idea of college in western New York. 

M texted that he enjoyed the snowball fight out on the quad, and shared the view out his window. 

Fortunately, there’s not supposed to be any additional snow between now and when he heads home. Because I suspect that a 385 mile bus trip on the afternoon/evening before Thanksgiving is going to be tediously long even in good weather. (The bus company has got to be delusional when it says this is a 7 hour trip.)

So happy he’s going to be home tomorrow!!!  

Three images

A religious icon created by Br. Robert Lentz was on the cover of our church bulletin today; the black-and-white copied version seems more powerful to me than the original color version that could be found online.


I’m reminded of the famous quote from Pastor Martin Niemoller, which I first encountered a few decades ago on a pink triangle pin.


And I was going to try to create an image of this woman crossing her arms and looking unwelcoming, but doing it this way turned out to be a little easier.


I know that New Hampshire really loves its first-in-the-nation presidential primary, so that every 4 years it can get a completely disproportionate amount of attention, before sinking back into obscurity. And I know that states around here are small enough that a fair number of people live and work in different states. And I know that radio waves cross state borders.

But as a Massachusetts resident commuting to a Massachusetts workplace while listening to a Massachusetts news radio station, should I really have to spend the next few months listening to obnoxiously conservative ads for Chris Christie?!

On the lighter side, I was recently watching an internal corporate video about patient experiences. Whoever did the closed-captioning was clearly not familiar with Massachusetts (or the local accents), because in the captions one patient mentioned being referred to a doctor in “Wister.” It wasn’t until his voice caught up with the captions that I realized the patient was actually sent to Worcester!


At least there is if your real life involves deconvoluting the molecular weight of a protein from mass spectral data, and the instrument software can’t do it, because the post-doc who you’re helping has bought his protein from Bob’s Discount Protein Store, and there are too many interfering peaks.

Doing the algebra on a paper towel is, of course, essential.


Note: that’s Virginia as in “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” I’m not aware of any movement in the state of Virginia to eliminate algebra instruction. Though there are some states (cough *Texas* cough) that have made Algebra 2 optional.


Cat vs. cucumber

If you’re the sort of person who likes surfing the internet for cat videos, you’ve probably already seen videos like these, in which people place cucumbers behind unsuspecting cats, then cats turn around and see the cucumbers and leap into the air in shock, while (figuratively) shrieking, “OMG, a terrifying green thing has crept up on me and is about to attack!”

Despite the video evidence, this seemed rather implausible to me. So I did what any good scientist would do: grabbed my camera and a cucumber from the fridge, and waited for the cat to start eating. Here’s the result:

Figuratively speaking, he’s saying “Oh, there’s a new thing on the floor. I wonder if I can eat it? Nope, doesn’t smell like food. Oh well.”

Maybe we have so many random objects lying around on the floor that he’s used to the concept.

Or maybe it’s because he’s cool as a cucumber.

I’ve been thinking recently that I need to update the sweater portion of my wardrobe. I wear sweaters for 6-7 months each year, and my sweaters currently fall into 3 general categories:

1) Sweaters which I bought at yard sales because they were wool and really warm. These are often too warm for work, and over the years most have shrunk enough to be uncomfortably tight when just relaxing around the house.

2) Sweaters which are hand-me-downs from my mother-in-law. For years she’s been trying to winnow out her enormous collection of clothes, and although I’ve said “No” to most of them, I can’t say “No” all the time. They’re all either too small for me, or look like things an old lady would wear.

3) Sweaters which I bought new many years ago, and are now saggy or misshapen or pilly or faded, not to mention just looking outdated.

Earlier this week, someone at work emailed out a department photo he’d found buried in a computer folder, showing our group 8 years ago. It was a bittersweet blast from the past, since 3/4 of the people are no longer with the company. But I had to laugh when I realized I was currently wearing the exact same sweater as I’d worn in the photo. 

It looked a lot better 8 years ago. 

Yeah, definitely time for some new sweaters.

Two busy days

Friday night we went to my old high school, for the event honoring a couple of my all-time favorite teachers. It was great to see them again, as well as some other teachers/administrators that I remembered. Oddly enough, although the teachers’ careers spanned 35 years, the “former student” contingent consisted of 5 people from my graduating class plus one guy a year ahead. So we wound up having a mini class reunion as well. Although E and I skipped the impromptu after-party that my classmates decided to hold (complete with leftover cheese tray from the event, because you’re never too old to cadge free food at school), since I have a cold and we had to be up early the next morning.

It was clear that the fact I’d started a gay/straight alliance at the school had left a lasting mark. (This tied in with a bunch of other changes the honored teachers had helped promote, which is why the topic came up.) Remembering how stressful it been 25 years ago, to be one of very few out students, it was truly a wonderful contrast to come back as a mature adult and simply introduce E to people as my wife, and not have anyone blink an eye. There are a lot of times I marvel at how much society has changed in the last few decades, but to be right back in that environment where I first came out, the contrast was especially notable. No matter how much I hoped for change when that group first started, I truly couldn’t have imagined a world in which I’d someday be legally married to a woman. Or that those same teachers would someday greet my wife just the way they’d greet that of a straight male alum.

Saturday morning, E and I went to volunteer with a group of people from church, at a local organization that collects donations of furniture and household goods, then distributes them to people in need. Although M had volunteered there a few times with youth group, it was our first time volunteering. It’s a massive operation: warehouse full of stuff, ~100 carloads of items donated each Saturday, ~70 client families helped each week. We schlepped tables and heaved bureaus and wheeled bins full of sheets and towels and pots and pans. And not once did anyone mention the horrors in Paris. Because we were all simply too busy, focused on the good work that needed to be done, right here and now. Perfect.

And today, because we are middle-aged and I am feverish, we are sleepy achy lumps who are interrupting naps only to do a little laundry.


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