Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve...Great Expectations

New Year's Eve is often billed as the event of the year, but I have found it doesn't really live up to its hype.  Not unlike Valentine's Day, there is an unwarranted pressure to have an especially good time on New Year's Eve, and those great expectations often leave the night falling short.  Sure, I have attended some fun New Year's Eve parties, but no more fun than parties on any other occasion, or on no occasion at all for that matter.
In order to bring in the Millennium (remember the calamity that was predicted when changing from 1999 to 2000 - hard to believe that was 15 YEARS AGO!), some friends and I decided to bring in the New Year with something exceptionally better than usual.  Living in Boston at the time, we made plans to spend the New Year's weekend in NYC - staying in a fancy hotel, dinner at some trendy restaurant, and bringing in the New Year by club hopping around the city.  I'm not trying to be vague on the plans, but see, I don't remember much of it.  Unfortunately, that wasn't due to the great time I had.  The week leading up to our time away, I came down with a cold.  By the time we left, it had turned into a really bad cold. I spent most of the weekend on serious cold medicine and forced myself to  get out of bed, take a shower, put on my fancy party dress, and leave the hotel room.  It was New Year's Eve, and I did not plan on spending it sick in bed.  But that's exactly what I should have done.  By the end of the night I could hardly walk on my own and spent New Year's Day at the bed, waiting for Urgent Care to open on the 2nd.  After being diagnosed with pneumonia we headed back to Mass. where I was nursed back to health in my own bed.  New Year's Eve is never what it's cracked up to be!
I returned home from Hawaii on the red eye a day ago and don't feel like I've caught up on my sleep yet, evident by the nodding off every time I sit down.  I've received a couple of invites for this evening.  Although, a soiree is what is expected for tonight, staying in my pajamas, soup for dinner, and early to bed sound much more appealing to me this year.
How about you?  A fan of New Year's Eve parties or of going to bed at a reasonable hour?

Sunday, December 28, 2014


It's always a relief to have finished all the Christmas shopping.  Gifts for kids are pretty easy.  Even if you don't know what to buy for a kid, their parents are usually able to give hints on what the kids want, because they want A LOT of things.  Adults, on the other hand, can be quite challenging.  Adults don't go around much commenting on the things they want because most of the time adults buy those things for themselves.  Every so often, a mention might be made about something they'd really like to have, but often that is larger than the average friend or family member might buy -  like a car or a new kitchen (I've tried!).  Therefore, on most occasions I'm left to my own devices with finding gifts for friends and family members.  Once Christmas arrives, all the presents have been wrapped or stuffed in bags, there's an "I'm done!" feeling that occurs.
But it doesn't last long!  January is only a few short days away, and I have some important January birthdays to worry about.  Before my dad passed away, there were only 11 short days between Christmas and his birthday.  But even now, January still has a few birthdays that I buy for.  And I've used up all my good ideas with Christmas!  No rest for the Christmas gift weary...It's time to get my thinking cap back on again!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The 50th State

A few weeks ago, BuzzFeed posted a "story" about how employees in their London office were given maps of the US and were asked to fill in the 50 states.  The results were shared, and they are quite funny.  These are just a few.  
I can't say I'm surprised.  Most from this country can't name all 50 of them either...especially those rectangles and squares in the middle.  The map they were given was a bit confusing too as both Alaska and Hawaii were moved from their actual location to where Mexico would be.  A few of the Londoners still located the 49th and 50th state, some mixed them up, and others left them alone altogether.  

While Hawaii and Alaska are not attached to the rest of the country, they ARE still part of the US.  While I'm not sure what the rest of the world is taught about our geography, how specific they go beyond locating the country, I am almost certain that the high powered executives that run companies like Staples, Amazon, Costco, and Home Depot DO know that Hawaii and Alaska are part of the United States.  So why is it that they either refuse to ship there or charge more to do so?

With the holidays right around the corner, I've been making my shopping list and checking it twice.  Since I'll be spending Christmas in Hawaii this year, it is much easier to order gifts (what I can) and just have them sent right to Hawaii than buy them here and try to lug them over in my luggage.  Plus, the tax in Hawaii is only like 4% compared to our 10%.  That's the beauty of online shopping, right?  Well, wrong, a lot of the time when shipping to Hawaii (and Alaska).  

After shopping around for the electronics on my list, I found that Staples had the best deal on the price and free shipping.  However, after entering all of my shipping information the order stopped with a "We don't ship to Hawaii" message.  Most everything else I needed I was able to order on Amazon.  I had just recently signed up for a free month of Amazon Prime, which offers free 2-day shipping and is amazing when I'm having things delivered here  - sometimes it only takes a day and it's even been delivered on SUNDAY!  Anyhow, after having all my items in the cart, ready to pay, I got to the shipping screen....a few of the items were not available 2 day, but were guaranteed 5 day, a few more were not guaranteed any time, and they wanted to charge me $5 to send a gift card for Kindle books to Hawaii - the exact same gift card that came in an envelope through the regular mail was going to be free sent to my house but $5 to send to Hawaii.  When I send mail to Hawaii it still costs me $0.49 to mail an envelope so where in the world did they come up with $5?!?!?

That's the thing about all of these weird shipping practices.  When using the US Postal Service, the costs don't change because it's Hawaii.  Their priority shipping is based on weight and zip code.  Shipping to Boston will cost the same as shipping to Kona - it's the same distance.  And envelopes are sent with the cost of a stamp - regardless of where it's going.  And Hawaii IS part of the United States.  Of course UPS and FedEx are going to be different, but still.

After all was said and done, Apple shipped the electronics I needed on Thursday, and the package arrived yesterday...for free!  I ended up shipping the gift card to my house for free as that is easy to pack and had the remaining items sent to my mom's place, still taking advantage of the free (albeit slower) shipping.  Fingers crossed everything arrives by the 25th!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes - Staying In School

One of the reading groups in class has been reading biographies/studying people who have made a difference over the last couple of weeks.  This week their passage was about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first women to receive a medical degree in the US.  The passage told of how, in a time when a woman's role was vastly different than it is today, Blackwell always worked very hard in school, always practicing and asking for more work.  Her father had also been quite influential in her motivation.  I asked the kids some guiding questions to build comprehension of the reading.  They found words that were new to them and used the context clues to figure out the meaning.  During this discussion about working hard in school, one of my boys said, "My dad tells me I have to stay in school and learn."  We all agreed and then he said,  "My dad quit school and now he is plumber."  I told him that a plumber is a good job.  (My plumber makes more per hour than I do.)  He shook his head, "No, my dad said he has to work in poop.  He comes home with poop all over his pants.  I'm going to stay in school.  I don't want to get poop on my pants."
Well, that's as good as any reason to stay in school!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

When It Only Rains Every Couple of Years Or So...

"It is like a firehose aimed at us from the south of Hawaii," was the news report this weekend about the rain forecast for this week.  As we know, it doesn't rain here very often (especially over the last 3-4 years in particular) so when a storm is coming it makes headline news.  I wasn't holding my breath though.  We've had a whole year worth of rain forecasts that were unfounded.  So imagine my pleasant surprise when it was actually raining this morning when I left for work.  I wouldn't say "firehose" raining, but it was real rain anyhow.  I think this was the last time it rained for real here.  It has been that long since I've used my windshield wipers.  They're maybe three years old and have only been used a couple of times.  And that's why they did this this morning on my way to work...
My short drive to and from work this morning had the rubber on the bottom of the driver's side wiper flapping back and forth, the wiper virtually useless.   It frustrates me to have to buy new wipers when, literally, they've been used less than five times.  The dry weather and lack of use dries them out so quickly that they probably last less time than if I used them regularly.  
Replacing the wipers is also a challenge for me.  Obviously, buying new wipers is few and far between, so I'm not very practiced in it.  I threaten to really watch how to take them off hoping that will help me understand how to put them back on.  But in the end, I have such trouble with them.  They're like a puzzle, and the directions on the package are unclear.  
By the time I get to the autoshop, the storm will have passed.  There, I'll buy another pair and it'll be another two years before I get to use them again.  
But hey, at least it IS raining.  It's sorely needed and definitely a welcomed sight.