Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The nightmare after christmas

Tim Burton's masterpiece of the early 90's featured a bony figure with the head shaped like a pumpkin.  His name was Jack Skellington.  After Halloween Town celebrations began to bore the fictional celebrity, he stumbled upon Christmas Town.  He decided to emulate Christmas Town's leader, Santa Clause.  He and members of his town made presents filled with snakes and broken heads.  Using skeleton reindeer and his personal ghost of a dog, zero to drive the sleigh, Skellington went through Christmas Town to the horror of town members.  My nightmare after Christmas did not have Tim Burton's imaginary genius.  There was no Jack Skellington with a ghostly Zero leading his way. 

My nightmare came on the evening of December 28, 2010 as an overdue Eagles vs. Vikings game was about to start.  I was at my computer and had noticed blotches of brown on my ceiling's corner, which bordered my condos back wall.  I heard some dripping as well and centered my attention on the circuit breaker panel that sat flush against my back wall.  The dripping was coming from inside the circuit breaker panel!  I opened up the panel with swirling emotions enveloping my body.  To my horror, I saw water in between the individual breakers!

Ok. I needed to stop and think.  Had I ever had this happen before?  No.  Knowing that water and electricity were never a good mix (even though Phil from Groundhog Day might disagree), I asked a friend to help me with figuring out the best course of action.  He shut the circuit breakers off, and I immediately phoned the owner of my condos property management company.  She said she would work on getting a roofer out but doubted it would happen that evening.  Wonderful.

Darkness filled my one bedroom condo leaving me with a flashlight and my cat.  I went over to my dads to watch the Eagles get upset by the Minnesota Vikings.  I remained restless about my condos state.  A call from my property management company gave me more information about the situation with water inside the circuit breakers.  Her husband, an electrician, told me that just because you shut off all power in side your condo, you still have power coming in.  I pondered the purpose of even shutting the breakers off at that point.

Water continued to drip onto the black plastic covers of the breakers.  Fortunately, I noticed where the water was coming in with the aid of my trusty flashlight.  The breakers themselves rest in an enclosure against the wall.  The entire cover lays on top of this enclosure.  Drips of water were seeping through the crack between the enclosure and the cover.  This was how water was landing onto the breakers!

I took a trip to walmart well beyond midnight on my nightmare after Christmas picking up three candles, scented Garden Rain (if I'm going to be in the dark, I might as well have something that smells nice).  I came back and wondered what I was going to do next.  I was thinking the worst, an electrical fire featuring something similar as a terminator entering the planet earth from the future to save John Connor (minus a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger).

I soaked up the fear, knowing that I might as well use the moment to feel a little trepidation (after all, I have lived to write about it).  Then I had an idea.  Thomas Edison would have been proud.  I decided to shove paper towels in between the space of the leak and turn on the circuit breakers.  The dripping was consistent enough so I decided to use 30 minute intervals replacing a half a sheet of a paper towel with another one.  At least, I could go online now and not feel like I was a member of the Apollo 13 mission.  This lasted about five times, and I eventually got tired of this being worn out from the day prior.  I cut the breakers again providing a minuscule amount of personal security and climbed into bed.

Hours later, the day began as I lay asleep in my queen sized bed.  A phone call from my dad got me up.  I began to wonder when the roofer would get to my place.  I looked over at the circuit breaker panel and saw the paper towel hanging town.  I removed the paper towel and noticed the dripping had stopped.  No more worries for me.  That was my nightmare after Christmas.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Prescription for success: become a ninth grade dropout

Yes, you read the title correct.  It's hard to imagine someone who did not complete the ninth grade becoming a success.  While not a standout academically, he was interested in English and would read the dictionary filling an arsenal in his brain with copious amounts of words.  This hobby would serve him well in his adult life.  You may know the rapper from Detroit.  His name is Marshall Mathers, but he is known as Eminem.

American public schools and parents teach that the road to success in life is through education.  Graduate high school with good grades.  Do well on the SAT.  Then, a place in a college classroom will await you.  Following this educational tunnel, are a good job and money.

Eminem's success goes contrary to the pathway of success defined by what our society has taught us throughout our childhood.  His upbringing involved frequent moves forcing him to enter two or three schools in an academic year.  This resulted in him being bullied frequently.  He was beat up and thrown into lockers.  His welfare ridden childhood did not leave opportunities for him to mature and develop as "normal" American kids would.

His interest in English propelled him to pursue another interest, rapping.  The pale white kid from eight mile, began rhyming words together.  He found ways to make any word rhyme even if it meant "adjusting" the pronunciation.  In a 60 minute interview this fall with Anderson Cooper, the slim Eminem showed this technique using the word orange.  He reeled off a verse following a pause worth two breaths that would make Robert Frost smile with giddy.

His rhyming technique was used in the battle rap scene of Detroit.  He faced discrimination from black folks who didn't feel like he belonged.  The challenges he faced fused with a difficult childhood left him full of rage.  However, it gave him ammunition to make lyrics that could make people relate to him.

His second place finish in the rap olympics in the late 90's brought the lyricist to the attention of former NWA member, Dr. Dre.  The two met and worked seamlessly on Eminem's Slim Shady LP.  It became an instant success and featured the billboard hit "My Name Is."

Over a decade later, the bullied boy who did not reach tenth grade has outsold any rapper in the history of the genre.  His success does not negate what society teaches in terms of how to be successful.  However, it is not the only way to be a success, and an education is not always the prescription.  He figured out a way to use his interests and a difficult childhood to become successful.  That is a prescription for success.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eagles vs. Giants december 19, 2010...a reason to never give up hope

The Philadelphia Eagles went into the New Meadowland Stadium on Sunday, December 19, 2010 with the division title on their minds.  While this was their focus, you may have thought they were playing for the better of last place in the division.  Throughout most of the game, their offense sputtered like a 1985 Ford Tempo.  Mike Vick received little protection in the pocket allowing the Giants formidable defense to disrupt passing plays and knock down balls.  Even as the 9-4 team struggled, they never gave up hope 

The Giants did the opposite on offense.  The Eagles were able to stop their run game.  However, Manning to Manningham was called several times during the game.  Their passing propelled them to a huge lead.  The Giants were up 24-3 at the end of the first half.

The forth quarter led to more woes for the Eagles.  The Giants scored on a connection from Manning to Kevin Boss bringing their gigantic lead to 31-10, in the games final round.

The Giants defense proved what they have done the entire season, they like to limit big plays and limit their opponents scoring.  Down by 21 points, the Eagles would need to mount a comeback usually reserved for their opponent's brother Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.

Seconds trickled off the clock and time was running out.  So were the Eagles timeouts and opportunities for them to score.  A questionable fumble by Desean Jackson was not challenged by Coach Andy Reid and the Eagles hopes of a comeback seemed dashed.

Light came into the sunless field in East Rutherford, N.J.  After scoring a touchdown, the Eagles surprised the unsuspecting Giants with an onside kick in the middle of the quarter.  They recovered the kick and scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive.

Suddenly, the Eagles saw themselves down by seven, 31-24.

The Eagles defense helped the offense as this major comeback came to fruition.  They stopped the Giants on a third and eight forcing them to punt with 3:08 remaining in the NFC East title bout.

The MVP candidate Vick led the Eagles down the field using his swift legs and amazing arm.  They scored with under two minutes remaining and the game was tied 31-31.  Here they were, the team from south Philly tied after being down by 21 points.

The inspired defense from the cheese steak city came onto the field knowing they had the opportunity to put the ball back into the offense's hands.  They stopped the shocked Giants on three plays and the Eagles would receive a punt with 14 seconds left on the depleting time clock.

Rookie Giant punter lifted the pigskin on a line drive to Desean Jackson.  The rest is history..........


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lee loves phils over money

December 14 was an amazing day for the Philadelphia Phillies.  The rest of the baseball world experienced electric shock like the one you would feel if you touched a "hot" 220v wire.  The Phillies signed Cliff Lee, a Cy Young award winner to a guranteed contract for five years worth 120 million.  The New York Yankees offered the post season standout 150 million.  Lee's choice was based on the following: being happy is better than more money.

Lee was the most sought after free agent in the 2010 off season.  The Lefty from Arkansas was pursued by American League champions, the Texas Rangers.  The World Series hungry New York Yankees were in the race until the very end.  Unexpectedly, a sleeper team came into the picture, the Phillies, who had the 32 year-old for half a season in 2009.

As articles burst through the web, it's pretty clear Lee was happy during his first stint in Philly.  For him, the Phillies clubhouse was a lot of fun for that three month span.  It was the most fun he had in his entire career as a major league pitcher.  This was why he was upset when he was traded to the Seattle Mariners.  Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino traded texts with Lee throughout the previous season.  He (Lee) remarked at how wished he were still a Phillie.

Lee had many options in terms of teams willing to sign him and for a lot more money than the Phils signed him for.  Learning from the veteran lefty, happiness is more important than money.  People can learn from Lee's decision.  He didn't say it either, he proved it (statistics courtesy of the Huffington Post).


Video bar on blog, featuring staind's "so far away!"

Check out the video bar on my blog.  I have staind's "so far way" with lyrics on it.  Can you resonate with the lyrics, including the triumph of over coming an obstacle in your life?  Are you dreaming?  Can you look back and see the purpose of what you had to go through to get you to where you are now?  Post a comment and let me know what you think.


Rutgers vs. Louisville

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why do you read fiction? Vote on my poll.

I'm curious as to why my facebook friends read fiction.....I have a short poll with four statements below my followers.  It's anonymous and involves just two clicks.  I appreciate your feedback.


Lift up your case of the "Mundays" with Van Halen's jump

Take a look at Eddie Van Halen's smile (guitarist).  It reminds of an ex-Phillie 3rd baseman.   You may know him.  It's gold glover Scott Rolen.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Realization in camden, including my 1.5 GPA in 1999

I think I did it, and I made it! Today, I realized I belonged in the university environment as I discussed a variety of subjects with my professor.  It's not like I haven't felt a part of the school, tonight was different, like a light bulb experience.  It's been a long struggle for me in terms of my educational performance (see the graph I created for my application to Penn below). 

My GPA from 1998-2009
Yet, I stood in his office with a seltzer bottle by the window, shadowing him from behind and a PC from behind to the left.  I was like "I'm here!"  All the struggles I had in school in early college and high school seemed to dissipate in this wonderful moment.  It just goes to show no matter what happened in the past, doesn't have to predict what we do in the future. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No title

In times of great stress, this is when you find out who you really are.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday season brings joy, hustle and bustle, and stress...

This is the season of giving.  It's a time when you share yourself with those whom you love most in your life:  your family and friends.  Between work and shopping though, I want to remind you to take care of yourself.  This may be easy to say as to do lists may resemble a maintenance sheet on the back of a fork lift at the Home Depot.

Taking caring of yourself is a very important thing to do as being busy may distract you from this important piece in life.  One way to apply this is you need to reward yourself for your hard work.  You can do this through, possibly, reading (your favorite blogger).  Exercise is also an important component as it increases those beautiful endorphins.  Exercise can also be a bridge to sluggishness as you cram extra activities into an already full schedule pushing your internal clock to the limit.  Exercise will alleviate your energy levels.

Family issues can make the holiday season stressful.  Surprised?  As I write, I'm reminded of my experience interning at the crisis center at Underwood Memorial Hospital Woodbury, N.J.  I learned that people spend more time in the crisis center during the holidays than any other part of the calendar year.  From our childhoods, the family system never changes this can be quite the disappointment, which may bring on bouts of depression or anxiety.  I learned the unchanging family system from Dr. Snader in Psychology of Adolescence at Rutgers-Camden.  Does your mom complain about your dad sitting on a leather recliner while she bears the chores?  He doesn't seem to care.  Does your brother still tease you as he did when you were 10 and 8?  You may be the middle child who was "lost" in between the favorite more "accomplished" one and the youngest who was spoiled with gifts from less strict parents.

While wrapping presents, don't forget to make an interval of time for yourself so that you can sustain your well being.  After all, you need to keep yourself healthy and happy to accomplish your daily tasks.  Don't let those family issues impact the level of your joy either.  Know that people generally do not change, but you have the ability to not let these issues get you down!  Savor the moment.  How often throughout the year do you get to spend this time with those whom you cherish the most?


Monday, December 6, 2010

Easier or challenging road: Which one will you choose?

Everyone wants things to be easy in life.  We want smooth rides, with no traffic, and no red lights.  I hear students at Rutgers discussing which courses are easier and which ones are harder  They say, "Is Calc 3 easier than Calc 1."  What's an easier major Psychology or Biology?

Relationships can work the same way.  Wouldn't it be easier if we didn't make that phone call or send that email to a friend to remind them of how we care about them.  Wouldn't it be easier if people came to us and we didn't go after them?  Wouldn't it be great if people apologized if they wronged us?  It would help us move on from the hurt we experience.

Yet, these are the issues that we encounter in life.  Do we take the easy road and skip taking that "difficult" course?  Alternatively, do we challenge ourselves making the extra effort to do the best thing that we get us what we want?  Will we make the effort to reach out to a friend who may or may not be in need, or will we wait for them to come to us?

Sometimes there is NO easy way out in life and you have to fight for what you ultimately want out of life.

Here's a video that highlights this human struggle:

Make great things happen now!

There is no time but now to make great things happen in your life!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My journal entry from Tuesday, November 17, 1992 from Mt. Misery (very unedited)!

The springboard of our trip to Mt. Misery was the belief that environmental education was important.  This education involved learning the interaction between multiple phenomena in the environment including:  "geography, climate, plants (flora), and animals (fauna)." As 11 and 12 year old students from Sharp school, Cherry Hill, we hit the soft soil of the pristine pinelands eager to explore.  We went through bogs, toured the forest at night, and played games.  What a great trip!

Save the Pines was very fun we did lots of obstacles and we tried not to get too many casulteis.  At lunch again was very good.  Pine Barrens Ecology was wet + fun.  We went  into the cedar swamp, and we did lots tests.