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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yes, I really want to YALE very loud

I met with the director of the Central Connecticut Writing Project in New Haven yesterday on the campus of Yale (she doesn't teach there, but it was a good location between our sites). I was happy to finally see the campus and, like Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge, I quickly felt the air of being in a very special place.

While meeting about NWP funding (or lack thereof) and learning I have a report due to them this Saturday (one I thought I already did, but I have learned that I had not), my lawyer from the closing of my house in CNY called me to say I OWE money at the closing, instead of MAKE money. This is after I sold the home for less than I paid, I put money into the house so it would sell, and I have put almost every cent I made over the last four years into living there. Because of primary mortgage insurance, real estate and lawyer fees, and taxes, I need to find more cash to actually sell the house.

I closed my coffee meeting and left Yale so I could meet the workers at a refugee relocation agency in New Haven. I suppressed my house whoas so I could learn about their fantastic work.

There is irony in all this: Yale, refugee services, the defunding of the National Writing Project, returning to teach in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation and being told, "Well, Crandall, to close on your house, you owe more $$$."

Something is very, very wrong. I made $12 - to $18,000 a year while doing my doctorate work in Syracuse. Most of this was invested in that small, modest house and with the communities I worked with. I was a good citizen, paid my taxes, met my monthly mortgage, and did repairs. And I lose out? I am sure I am not the only one.

I want the Obama administration to bail me out. I chose education, I chose home ownership, I chose integrity, and I chose a career working with youth so that I could prepare them to be successful in their own lives. "If education pays, where is the pay off?" It would have been a better investment to give the refugee youth I work with a check to attend four-year colleges. Instead, it is like I burned all that cash up in a worthless home investment while trying to fulfill the American dream. For now, Langston, I defer to you and every other individual who has questioned who truly benefits by prosperity in the U.S.

That is why I have chosen to YALE really loud. The Gods are crazy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Leatherman

Two of my graduate students, Andi and Peter, told me I should look into "The Leatherman" legend of Connecticut for my 2012 blog. There are many varying stories, but he was a vagabond who never went indoors and who was seen wandering between Connecticut and New York in the 1860s. Many became curious of this wanderer and his leather clothes.

Every 34-days he returned to the same locations at the same time in a cyclical routine of wandering to and from New York. His legend continues as people continue to report they have seen him in the same locations he traversed over 150 years ago.

Is he a ghost? Did he really exist? Might he be crazy for wandering the streets in Connecticut with all its crazy traffic? Or is he simply a man just like me who never could afford the ridiculous prices of this excessively expensive state?

No one really knows for sure. BOO! I scared you. I know I did.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Words with Friends, not Day with Friends

Perhaps the 21st century redefines social spaces and how individuals get together to play games. Here I am in Connecticut playing a Scrabble-like game with friends, family, and colleagues across the nation and world. That is something rather remarkable and I am glad to have discovered the mind distractor, although I recognize it can suck up a little too much time.

Even so, on days like today when I have continued my manic movement of reading, writing, and grading, it has been fun to be distracted from time to time to play with others, even though many of the others I play with CHEAT (no, Cynde and Nikki....not you. It couldn't be you).

And its strange, too, because I can now FaceTime and, like Words With Friends, it changes actual face time with friends. It seems I see human beings less and less as I age, but I am in more constant contact with them. I wonder how many points I would get for Connecticut Crandall. Probably 0. I would never be allowed to play such letters.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vision

My department met with Paul G. Vallas yesterday and heard his vision for Bridgeport Schools and his desire to network communities to do what is best for students, including accountability, professional development, and support. Dr. Vallas has worked in Chicago, Philladelphia, Haiti, and New Orleans and use financial resources from multiple organizations to bring reform, sustainability, and balanced budgets to struggling school districts.

I know many are optimistic that he will be able to provide serenity to a local school district that has struggled in the post-industrial, mid-size city such as Bridgeport. I, too, look to his leadership for its vision, investment in teachers and students, and smart choices to push youth towards success. I am hopeful his time in southern Connecticut allows resources to unite and to provide best practice and services to a school system with a troubled past. Bridgeport, like many cities of its ilk, needs direction, and direction is what I hope he is able to accomplish.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Daly News

Last night, I sat with journalist Mike Daly of the Connecticut Post at a Martin Luther King celebration at Fairfield University. He and I, along with Hugh Bailey of the Post, and memoirist Sonya Huber, were asked to judge an essay contest in honor of MLK. We chose winners in grades 6, 7, & 8.

Mr. Daly talked at our table about how the news has changed throughout his career and laughed about the days where he had to go to a library to find information and, when he wrote, he came across as smart. He remembered how harsh editors were and ruthless their feedback came at him. In today's era of "everyone is an expert" (and "everyone can create a blog to report their facts") (I did not tell him about mine) Mike discussed that newsrooms have rapidly changed. He sits at his desk and googles what he needs instantaneously. At the podium last night he joked with the audience to buy newspapers. I joked back, "But can't I read it for free online?"

Either way, I knew I was in the presence of a very knowledgeable man, especially in regard to Bridgeport's history. He encouraged me to submit a 700 word essay to him immediately about my thoughts on teaching writing in urban schools. I said I was up for the challenge, but I need a few weeks to collect my thoughts. I also had tremendous respect for his zest for words and how he took notes of each presenter before he got up to speak, drawing attention to what they had to say as he introduced our kids who won.

Events like last evening take some time to process. Click here for a sample of Mike Daly's writing.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This is a shout out to Senator Bob Duff


I post this, today, with complete respect for Senator Bob Duff who continues to be a champion for youth and writing in the State of Connecticut. Whereas I have dedicated my first year in Connecticut to learning more about the state, I feel it is important to tip my hat to the man who is partially responsible for making my work possible. I met Senator Duff this summer when Faye Gage, the previous Director of the Connecticut Writing Project, invited him to speak with teachers and students. I quickly admired that he would take time from his busy schedule to listen to them about the importance of teaching and learning to write.

I met with him again yesterday to update him on our programs and, once again, was impressed by his amiable willingness to meet. He is someone I have quickly learned to respect in Connecticut.

The following is from his state profile:

Bob Duff represents the 25th Senatorial District, which includes Norwalk and Darien. Reelected to his fourth term in the state Senate in 2010, he continues to serve as chair of the Banks Committee and as vice chair of the Transportation and Energy & Technology Committees. Bob also chairs two subcommittees as a member of the AppropriationsCommittee.

Bob’s continuing commitment to “stand up for you” is evidenced by his legislative accomplishments. Determined to save Connecticut homeowners from the ravages of predatory lending, in 2008 Bob rallied the legislature to create a package of assistance programs and reforms to reduce the number of home foreclosures in the state. He’s also led the way in energy conservation and planning, historic preservation, consumer protection and transportation.

To read more, click the following: Bob Duff, Supporter of Writing Instruction in Connecticut

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hello, 2012

The first telephone book ever issued contained only fifty names. The New Haven District Telephone Company published it in New Haven in February 1878. That is Connecticut.

I laugh. Phone books continue to be sent to me and I have stacks of them in a closet that need to be recycled. I wonder who funds these in a technical world where our fingers might only need to tap across a QWERTY keyboard to Google what I need. It is interesting how quickly our society changes (and resources go with them).

A man in my graduate class today shared a photo of the 1960s where an African American man was being attacked by a police dog. He reminded us that fifty years ago, the U.S. was struggling to act out its democratic promise. Sixty years ago, women were encouraged to find a husband, and not a job. Once upon a time, English was the norm in U.S. schools but many teachers today experience over 100 languages being spoken in their school district.

What we need is to teach and encourage youth to be flexible for the changes to come. I believe in the past for offering us knowledge and foundations. Yet, I also think we need to be logical with the curriculum we offer. Would it be smarter to teach the yellow pages or how Facebook makes staying in touch possible? I believe some feel a return to the Yellow Pages is good for us.

But is it?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Collaborative Art

While in Kentucky, I gave each student a country in Africa to research and instructed them to artistically represent what they learned onto the country I gave them. Each country was a puzzle piece that fit the continent and, together, we created a piece of art that represented all our learning.

Tonight, in Connecticut, I am doing a similar project but assigning students to visually represent LITERACY in the sections I give them. The goal, of course, is to collectively unite our thinking about literacy into a piece of art that represents the multiplicity of our ideas.

I have not done this project in four years and I am hopeful it will turn out looking unique. The goal is to establish thought-provoking representations of what my graduate students know. I will let you know how it goes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

One thing that has not changed in my living environments: Kentucky, New York, and Connecticut, is the position I take on Sundays. Alice would refer to this as the "L"-shaped colon position in reference to how one sits on an airplane. For me, though, it is the form I find myself in while preparing for the work week, catching up on tasks I have put to the side, and doing the piano keyboard thing.

That is, on Sundays, I write, grade, and read.

Sure, the t.v. is on (somewhere in Cicero, Mike's screaming can still be heard - Go Giants), but I spent my time sitting...sitting...sitting. In fact, when I get up to pee my bones crack because I have been in the L shape for so long.

Man, there are other L's I would rather have: love, licorice, liquor to name a few. Yet, Sundays position me on my arse.
Ugh.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It took a while, but it followed me to Connecticut

If I was braver than I am, I might have ordered a pizza last night after removing the seven inches that fell in Stratford, Connecticut. My snowblower, however, was thankful to be put into use, though, and because I live on a busy street, I had the big plows pushing a barricade at the bottom of my hill. They also knocked over my mailbox. I fixed it fast.

It came down rather hard for a while and people were still driving my street. I guess it is not easy for people to stay in and, perhaps, more CNYers are in the area and know that seven inches is nothing to sweat about.

The forecast has temperatures warming up and that is fine by me. I do not want ice to build up on my steps because Weijing and I will never be able to climb to my front door.

Outside my house are several pine trees and I love the way they look with snow piled upon them. They only need a red cardinal to make it more picturesque. With the day spent in doors, I actually unpacked more things since I moved in last August. A little bit here...and a little bit there.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Use of Elmo Pajama Bottoms

Over the holidays I bought my brother-in-law a pair of Elmo sleepers and introduced him to the LMFAO video, "Sexy and I know it." For some reason we all pictured Dave rockin' this song at the deck party and Casey saying, "Oh, just let him go."

Now, I have recently learned that Elmo, himself, has adapted the song. Dave has new lyrics to work to, and a costume already designed for him so that he can dance for my sister.

Look out Sean and J.C. - beware Pop and Casey - Dave's Elmo and He Knows It!

Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nuts about Quirky Karma, Happiness and the Noise

Sometime after I finished my first Masters degree, it occurred to me that if I wrote a page a day, I would have a novel by the end of the year. Arriving to that idea fresh out of my hippie stage, I wrote a postmodern book about a squirrel named Nova Scotia who fell in love with an albino squirrel. Their forest was being torn apart to build a new zoo and they went to war with human beings (I, too, have never reread what I wrote, but it kept me busy for a year). I based the story on the albino squirrels I always saw on U of L's campus.

Fast forward through the Brown Years, the Syracuse University Years, and now I am in Connecticut.

This morning when I was running I saw an albino squirrel. I instantly got a good feeling that it was a sign that a lot has changed in my life, but the peculiar exists to remind me of creativity, oddity, and things that make me go "hmmmm." Thank you, White squirrel, for triggering a piece of my past and making me feel a little more comfortable in this Connecticut world.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yo, DFLI, I Live in the Nutmeg State


For my own sake, Nutmeg was a name a Dragonfli once used in Kentucky. I do not use the powder spice made from the nuts and I am not sure I would recognize a tree if I saw one. Even so, I now live in the nutmeg stage (thanks, Barbara for the trivia)

The following comes from the Connecticut State Library: According to the book State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers, and Other Symbols by George Earlie Shankle (New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1941):

"The sobriquet, the Nutmeg State, is applied to Connecticut because its early inhabitants had the reputation of being so ingenious and shrewd that they were able to make and sell wooden nutmegs. Sam Slick (Judge Halliburton) seems to be the originator of this story. Some claim that wooden nutmegs were actually sold, but they do not give either the time or the place."

Yankee peddlers from Connecticut sold nutmegs, and an alternative story is that:

"Unknowing buyers may have failed to grate nutmegs, thinking they had to be cracked like a walnut. Nutmegs are wood, and bounce when struck. If southern customers did not grate them, they may very well have accused the Yankees of selling useless "wooden" nutmegs, unaware that they wear down to a pungent powder to season pies and breads." Elizabeth Abbe, Librarian, the Connecticut Historical Society;Connecticut Magazine, April 1980.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Alice's Brilliant Idea Finally Implemented in Connecticut


Every year, Alice Stevenson (the History counterpart to my English class) joked we should start the first day of school with the song from THE KING AND I, "Getting to Know You."At the college level, though, new students arrive every semester, so yesterday was like a first day of school.

As students trickled into my graduate course, I thought I would finally use the song she suggested to introduce myself to students and vice versa. It was an easy task to lip sync to the musical and shake everyone's hand. Musicals are corny and, well, so is learning, no?

Of course, it was not as special without Alice at my side laughing at the foolishness of the idea. But I can say, Alice, I did it and I made fun of myself like you would want me to....and it sort of worked.

The only thing that could have been better would be if Alice was still right next door to laugh with me.

Sigh. I miss teaching with her immensely.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sorry about this post


But I can not help it.

After four weeks of a winter break, where I revised a dissertation, created two new syllabi, revised a book chapter, organized twenty teachers to score for Scholastic, did a workshop for 4th graders and another for 5th graders, wrote three recommendation letters, sent requests to several politicians on behalf of the Connecticut Writing Project, created a budget to keep our site alive, and mentally wrestled with the financial reality of selling a home in upstate New York, it is time to teach once again. I think I had a bit of a break at some point, but somehow I remember it involving a sausage roll and fist fights.

So, I want to go on vacation, but it's "back...back to school again."

Lucky for me, I only have to teach for four and a half hours tomorrow. It is always strange f the night before a new set of students arrive. I will only have some new students, though. Most of mine have carried over from last semester. Only the content and courses will be different.

Still getting my bearings

42 million people have had lives disrupted from civil unrest. 16 million of these individuals live in refugee camps in other nations. In 2008, the United States granted asylum to 1% of refugee populations worldwide.

These are some of the findings from my dissertation, and I wanted to know more about Connecticut.

Connecticut has relocated approximately 3,000 refugees since 2005. Many of these are Karen from Myanmar who were living in camps of northern Thailand. Also, individuals from Congo, Somalia, Cuba, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Liberia, Burma, Burundi, Iraq, and Bhutan found homes in Waterbury and New Haven.

Carol Pipher describe the changing demographics in the U.S. as diversity happening in the middle of everywhere. For me, it represents that the American dream is still alive. Yet, I also know that the dream is much harder than most imagine (including those who are American-born and struggling in the U.S.).

And this this said, I have much more to learn about Connecticut's work with refugee families.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

1841 and Bowling in Connecticut


The game of nine pin was very popular in Europe and eventually made its way to the United States, including Connecticut. Yet, because of gambling, Connecticut outlawed nine pin to inhibit the ways men placed dollars onto pins. To get around this, they added a pin, so that ten pin bowling became the sport it is today.

I know this because last night I went bowling with a group from Fairfield and checked into its history. Sure enough, there is a Connecticut connection. I am a little sad, however, because I was heading to a high score and lost my mojo. I ended up with a 182 and still, to this day, have not broken the 200 mark. That is a new goal to my life's bucket list.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I am not Bill Cosby

I was invited by the 5th grade team at Kings Robinson Magnet School in New Haven to do a workshop with students and teachers on comparative/contrast writing. In researching the school, I learned that the one and only, Bill Cosby, recently visited the school and shared his vision of hard work, perseverance, and dedication. I had to laugh that I, too, was fortunate to work with such stellar students (and that laughter is not from novocaine and my lip hanging down to the floor).

The IB program implemented at the school teaches students to view the world as curriculum, to read often, and to aim high. The kids treated me like a superstar and energized the potential of what young people can do when given the tools to write. Their teacher, Tania Nicole Williams (who participated in the Connecticut Writing Project's Summer Institute at Fairfield University, recently sent me the invitation after she completed an audio podcast project with her 5th graders. They impressed me so much I knew I had to go.

I am charged by her brilliance as an educator and what her colleagues had to say about their young writers. The hope and magic is definitely alive at their school.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Colleague

My colleague, Sonya, and her husband, Cliff, had me over for pork chops last night. Having bought a buy one, get two free, sac of potatoes, I chose to make creamed potatoes as my cover dish. Earlier this week, I read her book, COVER ME, and loved the wit and pace in which she writes. We are both new faculty to Fairfield and have bonded over a few professional training sessions.

She's a year older and Cliff is a year younger, but it all works out....Latethirtypostforty somethings who found themselves at the same school and living in the same town, all with interests in writing. We talked about books, aging, moving to Connecticut, domestic life, and what comes next.

It's nice having acquaintances in the area to say hello to now and again.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

TeAcHeRs

Teachers often get a bad rap. In fact, they seem to get a horrendous one in the age of high stakes accountability, union bashing, and anti-public school mentality. With this said, I see some of the same flaws and I have to admit, these flaws are real.

That is not why I post, however. This is to celebrate what I witnessed last night.

Twenty teachers from the Connecticut Writing Project volunteered to score writing for a national contest. They gave up an evening to be trained, arrived, and began scoring. They realized they would have to finish on their own in the next two weeks, but committed to the creativity of youth, they were willing. They are not being paid. I could only afford to get them pizza. Yet, they came. And they talked about why: "to see what the nation's best are doing," "to discover possible writing assignments" "to encourage more types of writing beyond state assessments," "to be with colleagues," "to recharge my battery."

These are parents, spouses, and educators with 100s of students every day yet they find a little more oomph in their week to support one of the few programs in this country that promotes the artistry of youth.

That to me is heroic. That is admirable. Thumbs up, Connecticut.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Not Judge Judy. Judge Bryan


I will be spending free time this week (rumor is that free time still exists and that I should designate a part of each week to it) to scoring for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. My team of twenty teachers will look at short fiction, flash fiction, poetry, news writing, essay writing, portfolios, dramatic scripts, and expository writing and help this program find the best adolescent writers in the United States.

When I taught in Kentucky, I sent a few entries their way and my kids won a gold and silver keys. I was proud of them. The publications of writing and artwork that result from this are astounding and, for the best, scholarships are offered.

In 2012, creativity deserves to be recognized and that is why I promote the work of these organizations. In a time when curriculum becomes more and more standardized and leaders look to quantify what is known rather than qualify the possibilities of what youth can do, I applaud Scholastic and the Alliance. They offer hope.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

So, This is what I am doing here.

The Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield, an affiliate of the National Writing Project, is dedicated to improving students’ writing by strengthening the teaching and learning of writing, providing professional development programs for classroom teachers and expanding the professional roles of teachers.

The CWP – Fairfield Invitational Summer Institute uses the model of teachers teaching teachers and has trained more than 350 teachers, kindergarten through college. In addition, CWP – Fairfield offers to a wide audience of educators a rich assortment of programs, including nationally recognized speakers on reading, writing and learning issues, Young Writers' Institutes and Writers' Retreats.

The Connecticut Writing Project was designated a Center for Excellence by the Connecticut State Legislature in 1986 and shares with other Writing Project sites the Carnegie Corporartion od New York’s evaluation as the “best large-scale effort to improve composition instruction now in operation in this country”.

Monday, January 9, 2012

More Connecticut Trivial

This all arrives from the U.S. Census Bureau:

Approximately 3,578,097 individuals call Connecticut home (that is approximately 1% of the nation). Hey, it's a very small state.

77% of the state is White, 10% Black, 4% Asian, and 8% other. With this said, almost 20% speak a language other than English at home.

The average person commutes 25 minutes to work (probably, in my opinion, less that four miles. The traffic is that ridiculous).

Now get this: The average price of an occupied home in Connecticut is about $300,000. Yeah, right. Interesting, however, the median income or homeowners is $66,7000 dollars and for non-home owners is $35,000. My read is that most people can not afford to live here. This might explain why 10% of the state lives below poverty.

My analysis...this space is not the reality of the rest of the United States. Only one reality.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Scrabbled


The good news in Connecticut is that I have an administrative assistant that lives around the corner and who has a turntable Scrabble board. She beat me two games to none as I simultaneously played her old skool style while tending to the 21st century Words with Friends version on my phone. In some ways, having the cell phone and the in-person version of the tile game going at the same time makes for much more interactive word play (although Words with Friends lets you attempt words without being challenged - it simply tells you when a word is not a word).

We hit a snafu on the old fashion game, though, when Dictionary.com acknowledged words that her Webster's dictionary did not. It was a conundrum of whether or not a digital word book was worthier than the printed one that is traditionally used in game play. We tended to use the online dictionary more because it was more tolerant of acceptable words.

I don't know about you, but an evening playing Scrabble is always a good evening. My letters did not cooperate, but it still is fun to see how many points you can rack up. I know that if these word games continue at this pace, I will be putting tiles down in my sleep.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

PEZ pay attention to me!

I am not sure whether or not I will find a more phenomenal post than this. Yesterday while driving home I learned that PEZ candy's largest factory is in Orange, Connecticut, a couple towns from here. I learned this from a Geico commercial of all places and I almost went off the road in excitement. Could that mean there is a Pez tour that friends, family, and I can take when they visit? Is it like a beer plant that has tastes after the tour? How much is admission?

I am stoked.

Of course, there's controversy surrounding the plant and I doubted the green Gecko myself because I didn't realize Connecticut had jobs that typically were outsourced overseas. I am totally intrigued about everything PEZ and I imagine I will learn a lot when I finally get a walking tour. Kentucky had its Derby, and New York has its big apple, but Connecticut has the PEZ factory. That is beyond cool and it is now a quest to find it.

Sigh. After careful research, I learned they don't give tours. They do have online videos, though. Boo Hoo.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Return to Karma, 2010

I wrote a letter last night to a mentor, a friend, a guide, an angel, and an inspiration to thank her and her husband. In 2010, I spent my year focusing on KARMA and questioned the world for 365 days of kismet. It was a year smack-dab in the middle of leaving the classroom in 2007 and arriving to Connecticut in 2012. Does doing good by the world result in goodness to return?

I love Louisville and I love Syracuse. I also love the work I have been able to do in both locations. Now I am in Connecticut. It has been a difficult road (far from easy), although I have grown to appreciate the experiences I have had with the individuals who changed my life, the obstacles that presented themselves to me that I needed to overcome, and the daily existence I was fortunate to establish with many people I love. With this said, for the last four years I have not have had economic comfort and I lost money. Recent news, too, added to my financial woes. I had begun to think that I made a mistake doing doctoral work and leaving the financial comfort I once knew.

And this is the reason for today's post. I believe in magic and love. I also know I have a lot of karma to return to the world.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Javier Colon - Sooner than Later


My 2012 postings would not be complete without a nod to Javier Colon and his accomplishment of winning the first NBC Voice show. The better trivia is that he came from Stratford, Connecticut, where I currently hang my coat when I return from the University. So, he's a local guy (although I haven't seen him at any events I've gone to or at any of the local grocery stores).

Here he is singing Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. We might do better in Connecticut by having him sing in loud speaker's across the state. He's got an inspirational tone, no?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A little history of the state I am in

I am not going to delve into my mental state. It is a bit tricky right now due to life circumstances, but I thought it would be smart to learn more about the place I reside. First of all, Connecticut rhymes with got to get a haircut. It is a bit forced, but it is a fact, indeed.

Connecticut was an original colony founded by the Dutch after they ventured up the Long Island Sound and began trading to work against the English and the Pequot Indians. With them came small pox that did a number on indigenous people. The Dutch didn't last long and by 1965 they retreated to Great Britain. Colonists from Massachusetts went south and began to settle the area with easy access to the water.

It is interesting to know that Long Island could have been given to New York, but through the power of the Duke of York, the Empire state claimed the land. I suppose it might be nice, today, to know I could cross the sound and visit relatives in the same state. Alas, they're Yankees because of York's prestige.

Connecticut was involved with the American Revolution. The British landed to its territory to maintain power of their colonies, but as history tells us, they failed. It was occupied shortly by the French during the revolution efforts, as well (more indication of Europe's imperials thirst - the same lust that divided Africa and caused the civil wars of the 20th century that uprooted many of the refugee families I have worked with). Americans, however, were triumphant (and note that the land they claimed belonged to native Americans before European occupation.

That's a good start and I will finish there. More is to come, however, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Always jousting, never sitting still

So, 2012 is supposed to be about envisioning a future for myself in Connecticut. I left Syracuse with much optimism: an offer on my house, new syllabi created, a space to learn more about where I'm living, and hope.

Ah, surely I joust.

I bought a lemon of a home when I returned to CNY. I should never have purchased one, but having sold my house in Indiana, it seemed like the logical thing to do. I lived paycheck to paycheck to fulfill my mortgage obligation AND I loved that house: the land, the nature, the woodburning stove, the openness. I did not have much extra to invest in home repairs, although I did what I could.

When I moved in, we noticed the floors were uneven and when we had the home inspected an officer saw nothing wrong. He reported the floor must have been replaced. We now suspect that was a scam by the realtor at the time and that the jousts underneath the house had rotted and the floor sank.

Witness the jousting above. That is me against life. Live versus me. Several inches of water have resided underneath the house in the crawlspace for more than a decade and this has caused jousts to rot. That is why the floors are uneven. The inspector I had did not report this when I purchased the home, yet the inspector hired for SELLING my home discovered it. So four more years of joust rot has occurred. It needs to be repaired and, because I am an honest person, I will repair it.

Thunk. Whack. Phwtt. Bop. Life is hitting me hard again. I truly am jousting.

As I try to think ahead to the Connecticut world, my mind is focused on my house in Syracuse. C'est la Vie. I am imprisoned to a soaked foundation in North Syracuse that needs a gigantic sump pump. Let the slurping of my wallet begin.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day #2

I left Syracuse about 11:30 this morning and made it in time to see the basketball team beat DePaul throughout dinner time. Recognizing this year is about Connecticut Crandall (and my mental meandering), I thought it might be appropriate to offer some trivia. Before I do, however, I must shout out to my brother-in-law, Mike, for buying Cynde a pair of orange sweats she is to vain to wear. I benefit from the regifting and I proudly wear his Syracuse gift.

It is 279.95 miles from my parents house to my rental in Stratford, Connecticut. Mapquest predicts it is a five hour drive, but I have averaged about four and a half hours.


Syracuse plays UCONN on February 25th at 9 p.m.

Both Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun won their 700th game within the same week in March 2005. UCONN has won big East tournament championships in 1990, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, and 2011. Syracuse has won big East tournament championships in 1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 2000, 2003, 2010 - They have one more than the Huskies.

Is that enough trivia for one day? How about the fact that Boeheim has a 1.7% Career win advantage over Calhoun. With this said, Calhoun has led Connecticut to one more NCAA championship than the Orangeman.

I am sad that the Big East will no longer be what it once was.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hello, 2012


As my sister pointed out to me as I hastily tried to put together a last minute movie to close out 2011, "Bryan, that music is really stupid. Don't you have anything better than that?"

The truth is, NOPE. Not on this machine. And I am still not comfortable with the new version of IMovie. So, I am still playing.

Either way, this is a wave good bye to my New York life the last four years and a greetings to the state of Connecticut. For the next 365 days I am hoping to learn much more about my new environment and envision projects that might make the world a better place. In the meantime, the video above is a montage of a few memorable scenes in 2011.

I know. I know. I know. The music is terrible.