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Friday, November 30, 2012

A Great Second Day at #LRA2012

Those of you who attend conferences may know how difficult the process is for deciding on what sessions to attend. During some time slots, it's like "I want to go to this, and this, and this," and other time slots it's like, "How much money did I pay to come all this way?" I made an executive decision last night that I was going to work in my hotel room and not attend the Literacy Research Conference. Yet, walking along the bay yesterday morning caused my brain to move and one symposium, "Methodogical Issues in Ethnographic Research in Adolescent Literacy in Urban Settings," caught my attention. I didn't look at who was presenting, just the room where I wanted to go. The description sounded perfect for what I've been thinking about lately.

When I arrived, I realized one of the presenters was Valerie Kinloch, a woman whose research was extremely influential to my dissertation while working with the boys in and out of school. I met her in Orlando when Marcelle Haddix received the outstanding new researcher award, loved her writing, but never saw her present. She was phenomenal, as was Allison Skerrett from the University of Texas at Austin. They both have a powerful command when presenting. The third individual, Maisha Winn of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I didn't know. Yet, when she started talking, I said, "Wait a second? Is this Maisha Fisher?" Carol Lee, sitting next to me said, "Yes. She's Winn now."

I was out of my mind. I'm corny....I needed to get a picture with Maisha.

Because of all the poetry work I did in Kentucky, I found Maisha Fisher (now Winn's) research as soon as I started my doctoral studies. I began with her and I ended with Kinloch. The crazy thing is that I used Carol Lee's work with activity theory as central to my theoretical framework and all at once they were in the same room. Carol Lee is the one that confirmed it was Fisher presenting! I had no idea so many of my intellectual role models would be part of this session. I just knew I was interested in the symposium that was offered.

This will be the highlight of my 2012 LRA trip. Kelly Chandler-Olcott would laugh at me, but I was star truck. Actually, I will see Gerald Campano tomorrow, another hero, so my star gazing has yet to finish. I also want to find Marcelle, again, and give her a bear hug (I'm a bear, indeed).

Through 15 years of NWP work, 4 years of LRA, and many years of NCTE, I can't remember a session as smart and thought-provoking as this one. Powerhouses of exceptional scholarship and teaching. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Associated as literate, and conferencing

Day one at the Literacy Research Association conference in San Diego is now complete. I type this with a fight to ward of sleep and to recognize the power of having brilliant minds gather with a mission to make learning accessible to the many despite the obstacles placed before us through the social constructions of schooling.

I began yesterday with chairing a session and hearing stellar presentations about coding co-constucted knowledge through digital storytelling, and pontificating the art of flash fiction. I co-presented on collaborative teaching and coaching teachers to empower themselves as writing instructors. Then the afternoon turned to reunions and conversations with mentors, role models, and dedicated scholars.

And this all began with my Enterprise car rental having an emergency light come on. It sat in a parking lot all day and, well, I must take care of that tomorrow.

As always my day is spinning and well, it was yesterday, so it has already spun. All I have is apologies. My mind is sparked around a million and one considerations. So, time to make sense of all this phenomenal learning.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'm in San Diego...barely

and I'm hoping to win the Powerball tonight.

I was dropped off at 7:30 a.m. to catch a train to Newark airport. This went okay until I realized the ticket was booked for next week and not this week. I thought, "hmmm, how strange." Then I checked my Expedia airline tickets and they were for next week, too. Somehow the date was one week off, but the times I needed. I got a great deal on those flights, too. But, alas, Expedia says I have to pay a penalty to have the tickets changed and the price went up a lot. I budgeted this whole conference for $800: hotel, car rental, and food included. Whoops. Not any more.

Then, when I get to Newark with new arrangements, it begins to snow hard and everything gets delayed. Lucky it only lasted an hour or so and I was in the air rather quickly. Still, east coast to west coast, my brain is trying to process how it is that my tickets were booked for next week and not this. My administrative assistant is telling me that I'm losing it and I need to slow down.

Either way, I landed safely in San Diego and my hotel is really nice. The scenery is also gorgeous. First time in these parts and I look forward to seeing it during daylight hours. I always like to stay in rooms that are nicer than my house. Fancy Smancy Nancy, he writes as he eats a banana and granola bar for dinner and plans to head immediately to bed.

And tomorrow, we're off! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fingers Crossed, Connecticut

The weather is not cooperating (or they're predicting it won't cooperate), but I'm heading to the West coast again this morning to eventually arrive to Humphrey's Half Moon Inn while I attend the Literacy Research Association conference. First a train, then an airport, then a flight. Actually, first a car to get dropped off by a train at an airport, although the wintry mix Gods and Goddesses are in the forecast. Either way, I'm up for the adventure, especially as it is an event that reunites me with the Syracuse University family that supported me these last four years.

That, and I've never been to San Diego but have heard again and again and again that it is close to utopia. My high school friend Kathy lives there with her husband and children; I hope I am able to steal time away to at least have a drink with them.

The travel side of academia is wonderful, but my heart is with teaching and I feel bad about missing classes to present on my research. I'm sure my students don't feel the same (they're doing a party dance), yet I like to build classes and at the end of the semester, while away, I am feeling unlike myself.
C'est La Vie. I look at this picture and smile. I can't wait to see the landscape.

Monday, November 26, 2012

AA BB CC DD EE FF

Gi Gi!

This post is for Gigi Minto who knitted me a winter hat and who, unbeknownst to her, has fed me on numerous occasions this week. Yes, the mother of my administrative assistant thinks about me and the cold temperatures of Connecticut, but also about having enough food in my fridge. Last week before departing to Vegas for the NWP Annual Convention, I was handed a tray of ziti and sausage. Then, last night, finishing final touches before departing to San Diego for the Literacy Research Association, she sends over a plate of turkey, stuffing, and turnips. SCORE!!!!

I am forever grateful for such random acts of kindness and I know I need to pay it forward as soon as possible. I used to say that there should be an organization to unite retired people who like to cook with younger people who like to do chores for others. I'm down with such trade, especially when it saves me from having to spend time in the kitchen.

So, I guess this post is a coupon for Gigi. Whatever favor she needs, I've got it when I return.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lois strikes again...

...this time over turkey in Connecticut.

There was a bit of a scuffle in preparation for Thanksgiving this week because my administrative assistant insisted (say that ten times fast) on making the potatoes. That's my territory and within the few things I know how to contribute for gatherings. On Thursday morning, she sent the following video:

It is of her scrubbing the bathtub in preparation of mashing the potatoes with her feet. She worked with her nephew to stage this performance and, to borrow a Swedish saying, to get my goat. I laughed all morning when I saw it (and I post this to admit that her potatoes were really good and I'm glad she was given the authority to make them).

Thankful for the comedy.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"On and On" by Kelly Soule Eberle

Last year, I had the pleasure of teaching Austin Begin, a film major at Fairfield University and an extraordinary young mind. Throughout the Fall and Spring semester, I realized I had a kid with unique talents and an acute eye to tell a visual story. Two day sago he posted this on Facebook and I knew I had to steal it to celebrate my life in Connecticut. Not only are the water scenes familiar to the Long Island Sound, but I've always been a tremendous fan of acoustic guitar and an amazing voice. I do not know Kelly Soule Eberle, but I quickly fell in love with her song and talent. It reminded me of the music I used to hear with students in Kentucky and I felt a bit of rejuvenation from hearing this online.

Now I need to get the .mp3 and have it in my ears or in my car as I travel. Beautiful. I remain proud of Austin and his talents, but am also thankful he introduced me to his friend's talents. Amazing.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Turkey Coma Friday Aftermath


I will take most of Friday to digest all I ingested on Thursday. I must take this moment to acknowledge how thankful I was to be invited into the Kelly household for their family gathering. The food was delicious and the company engaging.

While celebrating, I received this video from Nikki of my mother and little sister playing Heart and Soul on their IPads. Ah, 21st Century (and my baby sister looks good, no?)

And I missed the stupid hats (bummed). I live for such corniness and I feel I wasn't part of it this year.That is why I'm sending a challenge to my nephews to make us elf hats and shoes for when I return for the December rituals.

And it is Black Friday. I am doubtful I will do anything except read in my house. I may walk up to Targets, but when I drove by their today they already had ropes up to guide tomorrow's shoppers into the store. That horrified me a bit.

Yet my family here makes me happy and puts a smile on my face. Let the season begin!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Whoops! Happy Thanksgiving!


I almost forgot to post today. Too wrapped up in the Macy's Day Parade and doing my part for today's feast in Monroe, Connecticut. Either way, have an awesome holiday.


I plan on eating until the point of exhaustion. I think I got a start last night while watching The Grinch and eating pizza. Gobble Gobble Gobble, y'all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Can't rid the sillies in Connecticut.

Last weekend, I emailed Lois, my administrative assisted to tell her I was trading in last year's Christmas lights because they already don't work. Honestly, I've been trading in lights since I lived in Clarskville, Indiana - two homes ago. Well, Lois told me off. She made me feel real bad that I did this and, feeling guilty, I bought new lights this year. I'm working again and I no longer have to live like I did as a graduate student.

Either way, I sent her several videos last week to let her know she hurt my feelings because I never thought twice about trading last year's lights for new ones when they didn't work. I saw it as a fair trade and all the boxes report a 3 year guarantee. The videos escalated all evening as I sat home reading. The above is one of my theatrics. I was looking at them again last night and they cracked me up. This is evidence why I try to stay busy as much as possible. When I have spare time, I get this way.

Either way, the lights are now up and I'm feeling festive. I hope you are, too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wondering about wonders and wandering in the

world of adolescent texts. I feel blessed to have been able to spend one semester teaching Young Adult Literature. Over the summer, I heard a few teachers buzzing about a book called Wonder by R. J. Palacio and I immediately ordered it.

Enroute to Vegas, I thought I might have a few minutes to read the book (that is the life of seated isolation and airport travel - time to read). I didn't know what to expect, other than a story of a young man with a disfigured face. The title, the story line, and the writing had me wondering why this book is resonating with teachers and students.

And so I read it. And I am glad I did.

Wonder is one of those books that I find difficult to write about. Instead, I simplify and say, "you've got to read it." Palacio does a great job of providing perspectives of the young man, his sister, his friends, and his sister's boyfriend. Each chapter adds a layer about the integrity of youth to live by precepts, morals, beyond the adult world (even with our fear that kids can be extremely cruel).

I'm also a sucker for dog narratives and let's just say that the part that emotionally charged me (18,000 feet above the U.S.) was the family's relationship with their dog. Such gentle, universal emotions poured from the pages and kept me thinking, reflecting, and wondering throughout. I have no quotes from the text or profound insights. Instead, I leave my thinking with a recommendation - Read It.

I am sure I will be thinking about Wonder for a very long time.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bonus on Sunday...Proud of the Fairfield Stags

I saw that Fairfield University was hosting the MAACS volleyball tournament this weekend. I looked at the schedule and didn't go. Yesterday, though, I saw that Fairfield's team made it to the finals, so I went. The students around me said that Fairfield has not beat Siena in over 6 years. Their team was smaller, but they played together very well. They dominated the first game and Fairfield was up during the second game but lost it in the end. We all thought it was over when the lady Stags rallied. Actually, that is an understatement. They got their into their groove and everything began working for them. They played awesome and, after five matches, they won the MAACS tournament and will receive a space during the NCAA volleyball tournament.

While in Louisville, I loved when the NCAA volleyball semi-finals came to town. Watching exceptional teams powerhouse their way to the next venue was exciting. That was how yesterday felt. The adrenaline was miraculous and the come-from-behind was beyond memorable.

I sat for a short while with Coach Johnson, the men's basketball coach, and talked with him and his wife. I don't think any of us expected a triumphant day like that. The first two matches were that disappointing. But, just when it came time to kick it in gear, the ladies did.

As they ran off the court and the reality hit, they burst into tears. It was one of the more memorable moments since moving to Connecticut and made me proud - I love when underdogs win. It also made me miss coaching and the three-games a week I added to an already intense teaching schedule. But, I can say I was there and the ladies of Fairfield University should be very thrilled by their accomplishment.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

RIP, Laura, Class of 2004

Last night, I was online for a short while with Laura W's father. She was in the class of 2004 at Brown and her pops was a dedicated, doting man who did anything for his daughter. Four months ago, Laura passed on and the news took most of us by surprise. With a theatrical, full-of-life soul, Laura was passionate about everything. I remember vividly how she walked into my room during my fourth year of teaching like a Broadway musical. She sang. She created. She desired. She laughed. And she filled our school with energy and spirit. I also remember how she came to the Men of Quality meeting (Omega Psi Phi's support of Black male youth at our school) and insisted she take part of the good work, too. It was only fair, she protested. And she became an instant member.

I didn't process her being gone until her dad reached out to me last night. I took the evening to look at several photos he posted of his daughter and of the peace globe he created in her memory. He took it to the beach with him and, as an artist himself, shot several photographs including the one on the right. Of all his photos, this is the one that spoke to me most about Laura's spirit. She was bubbly, glowing, and dreamy - always centralizing the earth in her desire for it to be more exceptional.

While looking at photos of her life and then her father's artwork, I got choked up. Laura was a classmate and friend to a young man named Daniel who got sick in my class one day and never returned. He passed very young (in his junior year, 2002) and classmates purchased a star for him in the sky. Now, whenever I hear Elton John's song, "Daniel," I think of youth who have too short a time on earth. Daniel, I hope you are enjoying Laura's company in the great whatever and the two of you are singing showtunes from Rent (which is what I know she would make you do with her).

And that is how I will end this post - with the song that Laura sang all the time. I still haven't seen the show, but I know the score well because of her. Thank you, Truman, for the artwork and thank you, Laura, for the music.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Returning to CT to Write on the Bus @ncte12 @hoops4hopeusa @writingproject

Over the summer and during a walk around the Long Island Sound, I listened to a NWP radio program hosted by Tanya Baker where I heard an interview with Richard Kent of the University of Maine Writing Project. A fan of his for several years, especially while teaching in Kentucky and reading what he had to say about instruction, I enjoyed his talk about writing with athletes. After all, most of America's students play one sport or another (Kent writes that 60% of our youth are involved in organized sports). Similar to athletic training, writing is a great way to advance skilled processes. Building athleticism is like building writing sustenance.

When I heard the show featuring Richard Kent, I thought about the goals of Hoops4Hope and the possibilities of Literacy4Hope with my cousin Mark Crandall. I've presented in Connecticut "Ubuntu Matters" to discuss the findings of my research with relocated male youth from Africa and how they helped me see that they became writers in the U.S. when  communities supported them (note: communities in school also inhibited them). As young athletes, their soccer coaches held tremendous secrets for instructing playing performance: skills, drills, practice, scrimmage, play and reflection. Similar to Mahiri's work with basketball players and literacy, I also found a literacy in soccer (and if you want to read a stellar book about refugee youth and soccer, I recommend Outcasts United). Similar processes were not readily observed in all the school classrooms I visited with the young men, however. Instead, teachers read to students and assigned worksheets in preparation of state examinations and rarely built them to be writers. They built them to be test takers because that was what they were pressured to do. In many ways, writing processes were ignored by a majority (and the young men with only five to six years of formal schooling recognized this). Literary analysis prevailed. That is how we measure reading, writing, and thinking in English classes, I guess - to train every young person in America to one day become an English academic? hmmmm.

As I departed the MGM in Vegas yesterday I found myself side by side with Richard Kent, the author. I introduced myself and before the evening was over he and my cousin Mark were emailing one another. This, I feel, is the power of the National Writing Project. This is the energy that comes from bringing creative people together.

Ubuntu, a Bantu word some credit with roots in Liberia, is a spiritual movement. The word loosely translates, "I am who I am because of who WE are." Ubuntu mattered to the young men I worked with in my research, but I am realizing it also was powerful with the students I was fortunate to teach in Kentucky. It should matter to young writers in New York and Connecticut, as well. Young people become writers when a COMMUNITY is supported (and in my opinion the Kentucky portfolio community was hundreds of years ahead of the nation before it was removed from state accountability - bad, bad move Bluegrass State).  I learned from my Kentucky days (and the activity theory I adopted during my doctoral studies) that we will not be successful teaching young people as writers until we pay attention to how our schools and out-of-school support systems establish writing communities for youth. The National Writing Project remains exceptional in my opinion because it tends to Ubuntu in tremendous ways. It always has and it always will. Each of us who have participated in a summer institute sponsored by a local site has learned the importance of working with fellow teachers. Acknowledged, supported, and encouraged to be leaders for our schools, we benefitted from learning and sharing together.

And that is why I am returning to Connecticut to write more than ever before in the pursuit of working with all youth, including athletes, artists, rebels, strugglers, achievers, disbelievers, and the disgruntled. They deserve investment locally in Connecticut and with global programs like those offered by Hoops4Hope. I remain committed to such youth and the adults who work with them including the ISI teachers yet to be born. My writing and instruction will only get better as my community grows larger and larger. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

and I didn't win the Lexus...

but I did locate my credit card.

It was a day. I got up to head to the National Writing Project conference when I learned that my credit card was not in my possession. My guess is it wasn't returned to me from the waiter at the hotel. I went to security and they didn't have it either, so a large portion of my morning was spent putting a hold on my card.

I went through a great day at the conference and returned to the hotel and went back to the restaurant. Sure enough, they had it. I proceeded to open the card again and decided since I was lucky, I might as well play a few slots, including the chance to win this red car.

You will be happy to know there's no reason to be jealous. I was up two dollars and that is the most I ever got at the machines. So now I'm heading back to Connecticut thinking deeply about greed, waste, excess and volume and, with an ankle that is almost healed, I'm in need of exercise and a change of diet. I feel like a slug. Vegas fascinates me, but I'm overwhelmed by all the dazzle.

I prefer simplicity and I need to relocate that in my own life.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Luxor-ious and away from Connecticut

My first flight was interesting. I was in the back row by the bathrooms so as people waited to pee they're butts were right in my face.

I forgot how long it takes to get to Vegas and I'm exhausted, but I can't complain about the Luxor. In fact, I have a spacious room with a Jacuzzi. What? I went bargain fare as I always do.

Sin city is just that and I am going to try to stay out of trouble, even though I did pack quarters. I'm unsure why NCTE and NWP bring us to locations where attending sessions seems to be silly compared to the fun to have elsewhere. Still, this is the locations and who am I to complain?

In the meant time, I need to sleep. Good Night.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Viva the NWP Annual Meeting...

...in Vegas at the National Council of Teachers of English Conference.
I wish I could say I was flying there to enjoy myself, to get an early start on Xmas gifts, and to gamble. Alas, I'm heading there to sleep, wake up, attend several sessions of important meetings, have a working dinner, sleep, then fly home. Of course, on the plane trip there and back I need to read three books and finish revising my paper for the Literacy Research Association conference in two weeks.
Did I mention that the only flight I could get was from an airport an hour and a half away from here?
I suppose this is better than the San Diego trip to come where I need to train for an hour and a half to an airport so i can fly out west.

Joy.

I have to admit, though, that I like sitting passively while being trapped to focus on one thing. I'm a terrible academic because I can't work with others around. I'm too easily distracted and quickly jump into entertaining mode. I need space with strangers so I can focus on getting tasks done. I did pretty well last night by zoning the world out and writing for eight hours straight. It is my new world of having to take my dissertation and chisel out shorter pieces (a lot harder than it might seem).

I'm also bringing a few stacks of quarters. I won't play too much, but I think it might be cool to come back with more money than I arrive with. We shall see.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Because sometimes I miss teaching in Kentucky...

...and the letters I would receive.

Last week I was doing professional development in New Haven, where we were shifted to and from this or that building. Before I left, though, I nabbed a series of writer's notebooks off my shelf so I had models of how I used them with my students in Louisville.

While waiting for teachers to arrive, I thumbed through a few of the books when a stack of letters plummeted to the floor. They were written by Peter, class of 2006, in 2004. He was on a doodie caper, and although he didn't always turn in his work or conduct himself on the same page as was expected, he humored me with his motivation for writing what mattered to him. Below is the first letter of many he turned in over the two years I taught him.

Dear Bryan,

As you may know I like to use the toilet on a regular basis. My favorite toilet in the school is the one right under Carrie and Brenda's rooms. I love them it so because of these seclusion they it have has from the filthy ass brown school population. I have even made it a routined to excrete (spelling?) my bodily (more spelling?) waste every day in 6th period art class. But at about 11:30 A.M. on October 13th, 2004, I noticed a strong smell coming from "my toilet."When I looked in I noticed some on shat in my toilet and neglected to flush. What really got to me was the fact that as this mystery shatter began his dessent (sic) he got his doo foo all over my seat. I go don't know what to do, Bryan. I am lost with out my toilet. So please inform the custodian for me.

Love, PJV

The detective work went on all year as he tried to find out who also used the same commode. As I read this right before conducting a six-hour workshop I could only laugh. This is teaching. This is truth. And you can't make any of this up.

I have a new addiction in Connecticut...

...Scallion Pancakes (note: I want corn fritters for Christmas)

Actually, I'm addicted to Dao Fusion, a Thai restaurant in northern Stratford that introduced me to the appetizer a few months ago. Now, I fantasize about them all the time. If you want, you can try making these at home and see for yourself. I should try the recipe myself.


Ingredients
    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 cup boiling water
    1/2 cup sliced scallions
    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    1/2 cup canola oil
    Salt and black pepper to taste
    1/2 cup ginger dipping sauce, recipe to follow

Directions
In a bowl, sift flour. Slowly add water in a steady stream while mixing with a wooden spoon. Keep adding water until a ball is formed. With the same procedure, one can use a food processor with a metal blade. Let ball of dough >relax for about 30 minutes and cover with damp cloth.
On a floured surface, roll out dough into a thin rectangle. Brush on oil mixture, cover with scallion and season with salt and pepper. Carefully roll dough like a sponge cake. Cut into 4 pieces. Take one piece and twist 3 times. Make a spiral out of this and roll again and flatten to achieve a 5 to 6 inch pancake. In a hot non-stick pan, coat with canola oil and pan sear both sides until golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve immediately with dipping sauce.
GINGER DIPPING SAUCE:
    1/4 cup thin soy sauce
    1/4 cup Chinese chinkiang vinegar
    1/4 cup sliced scallions
    1 teaspoon minced ginger
    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

So, what are we called in Connecticut, anyway?


In New York I was a Yankee. In Kentucky I was a redneck. In Indiana I was a Hoosier. So what should a person from Connecticut be called? An uptight snob?
Actually, there are answers, including a Connecticuter, Connecticoian, Nutmegger, and even Connecticutesian. What do you call someone from Connecticut? Connecticuter? Nutmegger? Connecticutian? 
In the end, it usually ends up being a Connecticuter, but I can tell you I'm a transplant with no roots to the State accept for my love of wiffleball, frisbees and Pez candies, It also appeals to me that I can get across state in an hour and the winters aren't as harsh.
But I'm feeling like a Connectidiot these days and that is what I think we should be called.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

do re ME so fa le ti do

Last night was a Friday night and, exhausted from a whacky week of teaching, professional development, storms, organizing and eventually cleaning, I went through some of my Photo Booth shots and had to laugh.

I can always tell when I'm stressed in Connecticut because I resort to the tomfoolery of posing in front of the laptop.

I'm having fun. I'm not sure if that is what an adult with a Ph.D is supposed to do but that is what puts a smile on my face in times of stress: the many faces of Bryan Ripley Crandall.

It was around 2002 that I stopped carrying a camera to record my life and I haven't developed film since then. Still, I use my laptop to be ridiculous and bring forth the quirky playfulness I cherished so much with students at Brown. The collage to the right are only some of the photos I've shot since arriving to my new location in Connecticut and I guess I'm thankful for the distraction I gave myself after vacuuming, rolling coins, doing dishes, scrubbing floors, wiping walls and picking up piles and piles of papers that accumulate in the world of teaching at Fairfield University.

Friday afternoons are often times of being silly in anticipation of the weekend. By the time this post goes up, it will be Saturday and I will be refocused on my academic side. For a short while, though, I cracked myself up by staying off task.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dear Tooth Fairy,

I write you from Connecticut because I learned yesterday that my nephew, Sean Spencer, lost his lower, right central tooth while eating a breakfast bagel. I know your schedule gets rather hectic during this time of year, especially as 1st graders around the world begin to lose their baby teeth in the first steps of becoming young people. I also know that my father, Butch Wayne, has contacted you recently with an inquiry about funding lost teeth during the AARP years. I appreciated your response when you told him that he's retired and should be comfortable with his pension...why would he need a dollar bill placed under his pillow, anyway. As Pete Caroli always said, "He's got tons of money buried in a vault in the backyard."

It is my understanding, too, that you, the honorable fairy of teeth, sometimes go to Chuck E. Cheese to hang out with the Christmas Elves before they get ready for the holiday season (it is their last hoorah, as I understand it, before they have to fulfill the wishes of Santa Claus). I want you to know that everyone I talk to has told me Sean Spencer is deserving of an exceptional year from both you (for his tooth) and the Elves (for Christmas morning). Could you talk to a couple of them while bouncing in the ball bin or playing Skee Doo, and ask them if they might begin spying on my nephews a little early this year> I want to be sure that their behavior is extra good so that they get what their hearts desire. I don't recommend you leave a Beta fish under the pillow, though. Jacob has not had a good record with those.

Yes, losing a tooth is a tremendous milestone in the life of a young man or woman. It won't be long before Sean will lose his upper left and right centrals and be able to sing, "All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth."  If you do visit my nephew and leave him some cash for his tooth, could you fly by Connecticut and make an arrangement with me? I wouldn't mind pawning a couple of my molars to pay my heating bill.

Thanks. And flutter on, good lady.

Bryan

Thursday, November 8, 2012

May history be told...

Connecticut is getting its arse whipped - this time by Athena.

Don Sawyer, a Syracuse friend who is now teaching upstate from where I live, wrote a Facebook post today about leaving the snow behind. Yet, today, he uploaded a photo with the caption, "Come on, Son. Seriously." I wrote back to him to note that good leaders get good followers...including snow.

I think because of the election and Hurricane Sandy, North Eastern'er, Athena, was downplayed. I thought she was heading to the Atlantic. Nope. She arrived and had much to scream. I couldn't get up my driveway because of the snow and ice. It took me an hour to shovel my way up the driveway so I could park the car. She made me realize how much it will suck living in this house during a bad winter. It's all hill and steps and there's few places to put the snow.

But, I'm counting my blessing. Electricity stayed on and the heat has my toes warm. Seriously, though...the mental whackiness of this weather is taxing the brain. We all need a huge break. And Friday will be a high of 65.

Okay. Perhaps I will have time to mow the lawn.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Yet, another reason why I was never supposed to have kids

This video was sent from my friend Shirley Klein - an annual event from Jimmy Kimmel. I am thinking about this today as Connecticut plans to host a post-Sandy Trick or Treating event tonight. What's that? Oh, yeah...a north easterner is on its way and, well. Ugh. This, however cracks me up.


If you are laughing at these...chances are you, too, were not supposed to have any children. It is sick that we do this and post it on YouTube. And I love it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Because things are bit too frantic,

and because things are also rather hectic. I thought I'd write a wishlist for a Tuesday in Connecticut.
1. People in Fairfield County, Stratford, and Trumbull really would like their electricity back on.
2. NYC schools need a plan. Somehow, normalcy needs to be reestablished.
3. May the right man win today and may the results come quickly and not last a month.
4. Economic gaps need to be lessened in this country, especially in Connecticut. It's hard to live here.
5. Several good nights of sleep.
6. A week away from everything simply to read the books that have accumulated since summer.
7. Good Health to all.
8. Peace of mind to all those who have tremendous worries in their lives.
9. Respect for all who made America the miraculous place it is (and recognition of history).
10. Better living conditions for a vast majority of the world.

Happy Election, Day.

Monday, November 5, 2012

May all you ecological bastards...

freeze to death in the dark.

That is the bumper sticker that hangs above my father's thermostat downstairs in his man cave. If you ever visit the Crandalls, you will know they keep in 42 degrees in their house during the summer and 105 degrees in the winter. On Amalfi Drive, ecological bastards don't have to pay their bills. It's their choice.

I am thinking of this bumper sticker on Monday morning because at 4 a.m. Sunday, my electricity came back on. After enduring time away from outlets, television, appliances, phone chargers, the Internet, lights, garage door openers, and radio, I realized I'm very very thankful of electricity when I have it. In fact, when I felt the heat kick on I said, "ahhhhhh." I thought of the obnoxious, over the top, electrical light shows that come with the holidays and knew what I wanted to post in celebration of being connected again.

Yes, I have an environmental degree. But I cherish sustainability. My mental state would not be able to sustain a winter without an ability to plug in. My point is that we need to be aware that in a second, all of it can be gone. Therefore, we need to consciously be conscious of what we use, how we use it, and why. I'm all for extravagance and, dad, I may be agreeing with your bumper sticker after all.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Interesting sight for Connecticut

I drove back roads from campus to a friends house for dinner (she has power and made Bonnie-size lasagna dishes with chicken parmesan). When I was riding back roads to her house, I followed several utility trucks who were servicing small towns and properties. Actually, some of these were enormous homes of very wealthy people.

What impressed me though was that the license plates on the trucks were from Missouri. I was stoked to see that our nation is pulling together to help friends in need. They haven't quite made it to Stratford, but they're getting closer. Love to the Show Me State.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hmmm. Might be a nice night to have Chubby's to resort to

With another night of no electricity, I needed somewhere to go. I couldn't sit in my office any longer, so I came home to check on the house. Still dark. I wasn't ready for bed, so I picked up sticks and fallen limbs until I couldn't see any longer. I then went to find Internet service (hence this post).

This was a photo from earlier this week when I stopped to have a beer with my father at Chubby's (Moe on the side) and some charbroiled chicken. Sounds good right about now.

They have restored electricity to the student housing on campus and things should be up and running next Monday.

For me? I don't know. I'm so digital in everything I do. Seems to paralyze me when I can surf the net, update statuses, create plans for workshops and research. I haven't caught the news since leaving Syracuse, but heard a rumor that there might be another storm coming up the coast. I hope not. People down here have been through too much. They all could use a Labatts Blue.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sorry for the late post, Connecticut...

but I've returned.

No electricity.
No heat.
No Internet.
No cable.
No phone.
No way of knowing where to go in a dark house.
No knowledge of when it will be turned back on.

Thankful the house is still there and there's no damage.

Unfortunately, others have not been so lucky in the area, along the coast, across the sound, and to the West.

Sandy definitely was a $%#$%$.

Working in my office to have juice.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I didn't dress up, but I should have.

I could have been Letitia Baldridge for Halloween (and would have looked like Ms. Doubtfire, I'm sure).

Oh, bad taste. Why?

Letitia Baldridge was a Queen of etiquette and an expert on manners, values, behaviors, and the norms of being posh. I discovered her as an undergraduate when I saw a book at a garage sale: Letitia Baldridge's Guide To a Great Social Life. As corny as it is (yep, I'm corny), I carried that book with me around campus at Binghamton and to parties. I would bore anyone who would listen to me with my found friend's rules of what we should be doing over what we, most likely, preferred to do. My point was to remind everyone in the room that we should pay attention to guide books such as hers if we really wanted to be outstanding, socially.

In fact, I even wrote about her while analyzing Castiglione's The Prince in a Renaissance Literature course.

Good bye, friend, who I never met. I am quite certain that posting on my Connecticut blog is obnoxiously distasteful. I know such scribing would make another book if you were still with us to write it. I was saddened to see that you passed on, and feel I've lost a very very distant friend and mentor. Lord knows I need you in Connecticut where the zip code lines dictate massive rules about how to behave and and demonstrate an upstanding position in society. Rest in peace.