Wednesday, October 18, 2017


I bring in my plants because the temperature takes a nosedive.  All summer and into the fall, my plants have been outside enjoying fresh air and sunshine, so I expect total depression and some faltering health amongst the plants.

I am wrong.

I have  plant that I rescued a couple of years ago from the WalMart "We're Gonna Die and We're 90% Off" rack.  Since then, the damn thing has grown like, well, the weed that it is.  All of the time I've had it, the plant has been green.  Suddenly, during the summer, it turned reddish purple.

According to the plastic name plate that has been stuck inside the plant since I bought it, this is a red ardisia plant.  However, it has never produced any red berries, and the leaves don't seem to match up to the images I see on the Internet.  Perhaps someone recognizes this plant and can enlighten me.

In the meantime, it has only been twenty-four hours since the plants have been back inside for the first time since last spring.  My Franken-Reddish/Purple-Plant has already gone from a sprawling outdoor plant to a climbing-crazed monster that seems very happy in its walled indoor world.

Please, though, if you can identify this plant for me, that would be terrific.  I can usually only grow mold, so this is all very exciting, and I'd like to be able to say proudly, "Hey, I can grow ------!"

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


This morning when I leave for work, it is warm and breezy.  According to my phone, it is 74 degrees outside.  According to my car, it is 68 degrees.  Either way, it's mighty warm for this time of year.  But, during the workday, something happens.  By the time I leave work at 3:30 p.m., it's chilly -- somewhere in the vicinity of 54 degrees.

It feels great.

We are slated to have one chilly day on Tuesday, and then the temperatures will soar into the mid-to-high seventies over the next several days.  I'm not taking my air conditioners out just yet.  It's still too early.

Tonight, though, I turn on the heat for a few minutes, just to make sure the furnace is going to kick on when necessary.  The morning is slated to be about 34 degrees, and I will probably kick on the heat for a short time again when I get out of bed ... after sleeping in the ice chamber of a room that includes an open window and a fan.

Ah, the cool weather -- here for a second then gone again as summer takes one final swing at all of us.

I know, I know.  Part way through the fall, I'll be wishing for winter.  Halfway through the winter, I'll be wishing for spring.  Halfway through spring, I'll be begging for summer.  It's a mad cycle that continues on and on.

It's this cycle that drives the New England Brain.  It's the cycle that allows us to blast the heat in the morning and crank on the a/c in the afternoon without ever missing a single beat.

Monday, October 16, 2017


So ... I posted the other day about my credit card getting hacked, and I received a bizarre email response via Google+.  Someone offered to hack into all of my accounts, all of my school grades, all of my students' grades, and all of my emails, etc...  She offered it up like it's a great service!

I'm thinking maybe I wasn't clear about my blog post.  Just to set the soon-to-be-hacked record straight, I didn't enjoy having my credit card invaded.  It was a great discomfort and resembled somewhat of a proverbial proctol exam.

Look, kid, while I appreciate the offer, my personal grades were/are fine, and I'm happy to leave my transcripts intact.  As for my students, they're doing just fine, as well.  I don't need my email hacked nor anyone else's, for that matter.

And, as I mentioned in my original post, I'm POOR. 


I don't own my car nor a house nor any bonds nor mutual funds.  Your best bet at my credit cards is probably Dress Barn, maybe Macy's, and occasionally Kohl's when I get the 30% off coupon.

I just don't get it.  How did I become such a delectable target?  What the hell is wrong with people that they would aim so low on the financial totem pole?  Okay, then.  Hack me up.  When you don't get anything out of it but a used car and some cheap knock-off sports jerseys, you'll figure it out.

In the meantime, though, keep those excellent Google+ comments coming.  They're doing wonders for my ego.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Although I don't have a chance to attend the local Oktoberfest, I do get to enjoy watching people head down the street on foot from the satellite parking lot that just happens to be in the industrial park across the street from my house.  My weekend is too packed to make it down to the actual venue, but I do have a few moments to vicarious listen to the frivolity wafting through the trees and past the old mill buildings.

(I know - crappy picture - but there really is a bagpiper on the loading dock.)
As I am outside packing up my car and getting myself ready for a day of misadventures, the German music is suddenly interrupted by the sound of bagpipes.  Around my neighborhood, the sound of bagpipes means one of two things: a wedding or a funeral.  Occasionally, bagpipers set up on the steps of the Catholic church at the end of my street.  If it's on a weekend, it's a wedding; if it's on a weekday, it's a funeral.  This is Sunday.  It must be a wedding.

But, I am wrong.

I follow the sound to the industrial park across the street.  Standing by himself on a concrete loading dock is a lone bagpiper.  He is serenading the people parking in the satellite lot as they trek two-tenths of a mile to the brewery down the hill.  It's a shorter walk than the mall during holiday shopping hours.  Still, apparently, it must be good business to hire entertainment for all those terribly weary people who have to hoof it around the corner.

I'm not begrudging the brewery.  I like the bagpipe music, though it's somewhat eerie that this poor guy is just kind of standing there piping, being pretty much ignored by the Oktoberfest revelers.  It's a little weird, though.  I'm thinking maybe an accordion player or a small Oompah band might be a better fit. 

That's just me, though.  It's probably just my mindset that I should be singing along to Roll Out the Barrel or She's Too Fat For Me if there is an Oktoberfest afoot.  Somehow Scotland Forever and Loch Lomond don't have the same effect with the smell of bratwurst filling the air.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


During the summer, in the course of de-cluttering my life, I came across a heavy winter coat that I have not worn since a winter outdoor college lacrosse game (my son's game, not mine) two years ago.  I tried it on to see if it still fit; it did.  I reached into the pocket and found $35 cash.


Today for school, I am debating what to wear.  Now that my tiny closets are less cluttered and most of my clothes are on accessible racks, it's super-easy to pick out outfits.  It's a little cooler today, so I'm thinking maybe a jumper with boots.  But, as I stall and hem and haw, I realize that time is getting away from me.

Instead of dressing for success, I reach for a pair of cargo pants that I haven't worn since last spring.  They're clean, look pressed, and I can throw on some shoes without socks.  Life is good.  Best of all, the pants still fit.  This is an awesome development (since last night I tried on a pair of jeans that didn't fit nearly so well ... or at all). 

After getting myself dressed, I check to see if the side leg pocket will hold my phone.  Hmmmm, there seems to be something in there.  Could it be...?

Yup, I find more money.  Not much.  Under ten dollars.  But, still.  Clean money - laundered along with the pants the last time I wore them.  Thank goodness that pocket was snapped shut.

Okay, so I worked on cleaning and organizing this summer, and I worked much harder than $45 worth (or, as this case may be, less than $45 total), but I am still feeling pretty good about myself.  Not only did I thin out my clothes and belongings, I paid myself to do it.  Score!

Friday, October 13, 2017


One of my credit cards got hacked.

This is the second time this has happened to me.  What shocks me is that the company didn't think it necessary to contact me for weeks.  Unfortunately, this is the same credit card on which I charged my airline tickets.  Fortunately, those charges seem to have gone through with no problem.

Seriously, though.  It isn't the hundreds of dollars of charges from tool companies that tips off the credit card company; it is the $1 charge to eBay.  Thanks, credit card company (she says facetiously).

I have a second card with the same company.  When I call them this afternoon to straighten it all out (I kill the card instantly), I decide to have the customer service rep check the second card.

"There are some charges that we have questions about." Shit.  "They're from February..." February?  Fuuuuuuuuuck, dude.  Could you have notified me just a little SOONER?!?!

Turns out those charges are valid, after all.  My second card is solid.

I decide that I should probably check my bank credit card, too, since it was my bank ATM/debit card that had some fraudulent action on it when I cut it up a year or two ago.  (I never replaced the ATM/debit card.)  I call the bank service number and am stuck on hold, and stuck, and stuck, and stuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

Turns out that credit card is solid, too.

But, here's what surprises the shit out of me:  I.  Am.  Poor.  POOR.  Poor, people.  I don't own a flaming THING, not even my car, and my bank account is really, really, really tiny.  If you're going to hack someone's credit card and you don't want to be caught right away, you should probably hit someone who holds a giant balance.  Between the credit cards I own (and occasionally use), including store-based credit cards, I carry a plastic-based debt of maybe $2,000.  Maybe.  That's across the board.

Of COURSE I'm going to notice (as will my credit card company) if someone starts wracking up a balance.  I rarely carry any balance. What I do carry is cash.  I deal exclusively in cash for my daily and weekly needs: groceries, gasoline, wine...  Every bill I pay is done using a check.  I very rarely use the internet for anything credit-card related, and I will do so even less now.

To you cyber-thieves, I guess I should apologize.  I mean, NICE TRY, for real ... again, anyway.  I'm sorry I am poor and broke and owe so much student and parent loan debt that you honestly are hacking up the wrong card.  I'll work harder on that whole "make more money" crap so we can both enjoy a better lifestyle.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Dear Younger-But-Not-Youngest Brother:

(North Beach - See our shadows?)
I had a blast with you last weekend when you drove four-plus hours (after the ferry ride across the upper part of Lake Champlain) to run an errand that is less than a mile from my house.  I enjoyed all the laughs, the food, the wine, the gallivanting around between Maine, the beaches of New Hampshire, Newburyport, and our old home town (still my home town). 

I especially enjoyed that you brought snacks!  Holy crap, dude, MONSTER TRAIL MIX!  There is very little in this world that is better than Monster Trail Mix. 

Oh, sure, I made refrigerator chocolate chip cookies in an attempt to out-do you, and I bought gooey cupcakes that accidentally fell over upside down in the container, but still.  The best part?  You also brought along Reese's Pieces.  Now, I'm not much of a fan of Reese's Pieces, but while you were eating those suckers, I was stuffing my fat hand into that bag of Monster Trail Mix like I was headed to the gallows at any given second and picked my last meal ... of Monster Trail Mix.

Of course, the hilarious part was when you lost one of the Reese's Pieces in my car.  You were afraid it would melt into the front passenger seat and leave a stain.  Not to worry.  My car seats are Scotch-Guarded against such disasters.  But, then you admitted you were also kind of concerned that the errant Reese's Pieces candy might melt and make it look like you had some kind of weird pooh stain on the sitter portion of your jeans.

Well, Brother, I am pleased to admit two things.  The first thing that I am pleased to admit is that you did not have any type of brown chocolatey-peanut butter butt freckle on your pants, at least not that I could tell.  I wasn't really looking because that would be weird and because, to be completely honest, we got laughing so hard chatting in the car that I totally forgot about the situation.

(No pooh for you!)
The second thing that I am pleased to admit is that when I left work today, two full days after your departure, I FOUND that blasted Reese's Pieces pellet right in the middle of the floor on the passenger side.  It was mixed in with all the schmutz we brought into the car during our rainy morning scenic adventure, the one we took right before you left.

So, Little Bro, no worries about anyone else in my car accidentally sitting in a half-melted candy and being butt-tattooed by the Reese's corporation.  Even though it has been exceptionally warm the last couple of days, I found that little candy bastard fully intact and in no way, shape, or form missing its outer shell nor inner gunk.  I know you, though.  You probably worried at every rest area and again on the ferry home: Do I have a brown spot on my derriere?  Do my jeans look like I didn't stop driving soon enough?  Do I need to be considering adult diapers so soon in my young life?

It's okay, Kid.  Candy has been rescued; crisis has been averted.

Oh, and HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!  I figured since the card wasn't quite as funny as usual, embarrassing you with a semi-truthful blog would do the trick.