Friday, December 04, 2009

On Humility and Gratitude.

In the age of immediate gratification, it's easy to forget to slow down. I am battling this trend by writing in my blog again after several months rather than just tossing an update on my facebook page. Of course, the irony of this is that many of you will see this because of facebook, but that's just distribution.

My mother had a medical emergency about 7 weeks ago, and it really put things into perspective. I dropped everything and went to the hospital in Portland, Maine for five days and had the opportunity to spend time with my amazing family. I am happy to say that she is home and well again (thank goodness), and I am feeling less frantic about life. Thanksgiving was particularly poignant this year. Here's what I have realized lately:
1. I can find peace and stillness here. (wherever and whenever "here" is)
2. I am grateful for so many things that I easily become overwhelmed with joy and humility when I pause to think about it. Pausing to think about it is rewarding.
3. You really never have any idea what life is going to bring. Comfort is good, but I can't let myself think everything can go on forever the way it is. Because it never does.
4. Time really flies. I found myself thinking, "I'd like to make that dish that I made recently...uh, last month? year?... crap."

I don't mean for this note to sound pessimistic or morbid, but I have been feeling incredibly philosophical and full of gratitude lately, and to a degree, relinquishing control over the things that I ultimately cannot control has been cathartic. Experiencing gratitude has allowed me to tap into emotional recesses to which I would have otherwise been numb has been powerful. As the winter travels in (slowly this year, thankfully) I am feeling quiet and peaceful.

I'll do some real writing soon, but I just want to thank my friends and family for being my friends and family. You have no idea how much joy and humility your love and kindness brings me.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Coming Out in Middle School

An interesting, indepth article about coming out from the New York Times.

Monday, August 24, 2009

There Will Be Blood

Dan and I finally watched the movie that has been sitting next to our television at the top of our Netflix cue for about two months: There Will Be Blood.

I will say this: they accomplished what they were going for. Watching someone deteriorate -- or watching someone confirm all your suspicions about his unsavory nature -- is uncomfortable. The filmmakers did a wonderful job, and I never need to see it again. Do I recommend it? Well, I don't know. It depends on how up for a movie that shows the grit of oil prospecting and drilling you are, how up for seeing the harsh realities of not-quite-modern life you are, and how up for eerie music you are. If you're up for all that, I'd totally recommend it. Otherwise, steer clear.

Moving on.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Have I mentioned how much I love this game? I have played it through twice -- once on my computer and once on Dan's -- and I still can't get enough of it. I have fun experimenting with different strategies, playing around with the effects of emphasizing specific plants, etc. Zombie bowling continues to get harder and harder as the game advances.

This is the first computer game I have loved since Brickles (for those of you younger than 28, it's a game that was on the Apple computers and it kind of like Brick-breaker, only simpler and cooler).

The premise is that you have to protect your house from a zombie invasion, and you do that by planting defensive and offensive plants that shoot things at the zombies as they approach your house. It's all cartoony and cute, and the zombies make funny sounds.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Singing Beach

I went to Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea yesterday, and it was wonderful. It was the first time I'd taken a vacation day to go to the beach, and you can bet your ass I'll do it again. With a M-F 9-5 job, it's hard to get to the beach when it isn't crowded on the weekends, and I don't go for crowded beaches.

Yesterday, I found the quiet end of the beach and set up camp. I had my beach blanket and arranged the sand in a nice way that felt like a little mini beach chair supporting my back and neck. I went swimming in the ocean a lot, which was a ton of fun (and good exercise, too -- I didn't get winded today when I walked up the 10 flights of stairs at work) and quite relaxing. The sand is so soft that it squeaks underfoot! And I layed there listening to the sounds of the waves crashing over themselves. Bonus: I got in for free because it was before 9:00 am and they hadn't set up camp yet! Score!

All in all, it was just what the doctor ordered. I am a total sun junkie, and being in the sun for 5 hours straight with no break was mood-altering. It almost made it OK that I didn't get any sleep last night because our A/C broke. All in all, it was lovely to have a beach day all to myself.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How the Health Care Mess Affects Entrepreneurship
by Scott A. Shanes, Courtesy of the New York Times

This article corroborates some of my beliefs that health care is not just specifically only a human rights issue: it's a socioeconomic justice issue. I have never found it fair that larger companies with stronger bargaining power get lower premiums than smaller companies and individuals. Furthermore, who pays for the companies' premiums to be lower? Certainly not the health insurance. That cost is reflected in individual and small business plans. That's just my two cents. -LBL

In response to my earlier post on declining trends in rates of entrepreneurship in the United States, a lot of people commented that the cost of health insurance was a big part of the problem. So this week I am taking a look at the effects of health care on small business and entrepreneurship.

Clearly, health care costs have reached levels that are adversely impacting entrepreneurial activity. One result of the spiraling expenses is the inability of new companies to offer health insurance to their employees. The Kauffman Firm Survey, which tracks a sample of new businesses drawn from the 2004 cohort of U.S. start-ups, reports that only 29.5 percent of new employer firms and only 12 percent of all start-ups provide health insurance to their full-time employees.

A second effect has been to lead many older small firms to reduce health care coverage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducts an annual survey of health care costs, the majority of businesses with three to nine employees do not offer employee health insurance; only 49 percent of these businesses did so in 2008. Moreover, the foundation data indicates that the provision of health care is much lower among small businesses than large ones. Only 62 percent of companies with three to 199 employees offer health insurance, as compared to 99 percent of businesses with more than 200 employees. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Economy 2009, 25 percent of the 15.7 million workers in small businesses do not offer health insurance.

Self-employed people are much less likely than other people to have health insurance. The 2009 Small Business Economy reports that only 49.3 percent of self-employed workers have employment-based health coverage, as compared to 70.5 percent of wage and salary workers. Moreover, the S.B.A. publication also shows that approximately 3.7 million self-employed people aged 18 to 64, or 26 percent of the total, are uninsured.

Small businesses also pay more for health insurance than large companies. According to the Commonwealth Fund, small businesses now pay 18 percent more than large businesses pay to obtain comparable insurance.

A third effect of the tremendous rise in health insurance costs over the last decade has been to impose a huge financial burden on new companies. The cost for the average new company to provide its employees with family health insurance at the average cost for firms of its size (as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation) is now $68,611 a year, more than double what it was 10 years ago. Granted, some of those costs aren’t paid by the employers, and some employees have individual coverage, making the actual numbers paid by employers lower, but it’s still a huge figure in comparison to new-firm revenue. According to the Kauffman Firm Survey, the average three-year old surviving firm generates only $152,000 in revenue annually.

Finally, because leaving a job to start a business causes one to give up employer health insurance, the employer-based health insurance system in this country is keeping some people from becoming entrepreneurs. A recent working paper by Rob Fairlie of University of California Santa Cruz estimates that workers with employer-provided health insurance have 2.5 to 3.9 percent lower odds of becoming self-employed than those without health insurance, suggesting that health insurance affects the start-up decision.

To all the readers who commented on my earlier posts and got me to look at health care costs and entrepreneurship, you’ve got me worried. The health care mess is clearly weighing down entrepreneurship in this country.

Scott A. Shane is a professor of entrepreneurial studies at Case Western.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Growing My Hair Out, Getting a Red Dress, and the South End Open Market

Ready for a change. That is what it comes down to. I think I'll keep the bangs, but I see myself growing this out for as long as I can stand it. I am sort of liking having it a bit longer, and I miss being able to pull it back. We'll see. The fact is that since adolescence, I have never gone longer than a couple of years without changing my hair somehow. I am not that into messing with my hair color, so right now, that means growing it out. It's kinda fun.

Work is going well. I really enjoy my new capacities (well, the capacities are less new now since my promotion was in January, but they are still relatively recent). I am doing more letters and reports and am able to focus on projects and large meetings. I can't tell you what a difference it makes when you're working really hard on meeting deadlines to not have to be the front-line for phones. I still do back-up, which is totally fine, but not being front-line is such a step up. It's bizarre -- it's as if I have a career. Well, I do! It's not necessarily the one I had had in mind for myself when I was growing up, and I am really looking forward to teaching math, but I have to say, this is nice. I am really happy with the people I work with, and working downtown is super-convenient.

For example: on my lunchbreak today, I am going to walk down the Sabella Couture, where I have an appointment about my wedding dress. Yes, I am going to wear a red wedding dress, and because they are not mass-produced, I am going to have one made. I am so excited! It's going to be a chunk of change, but that's OK. All wedding dresses are. There are no pictures that I can post of it since it's going to be custom-made, but I can tell you that it's going to be more like an evening gown than a wedding dress. Strapless with a princess neckline and a fitted waist, my red dress will drape elegantly down to the floor. No train -- just a flare. Simple, elegant, and quite me. Also, when Patty and I were at the South End Open Market this weekend, I saw some headpieces that I am thinking would make excellent accompaniments. They gave me ideas, at least, and I am thinking about having something color-matched once I get my dress swatch fabric samples. (I am trying to decide between two reds).

Incidentally, I highly recommend the South End Open Market. Hot though it was, Patty and I had a great time looking at the jewelry, stationary, photos, small bags, pottery, mousepads, buttons, and glasswork, all hand-crafted. It was like a free museum. I bought a few things while I was there and it didn't break the bank at all. I was impressed. The vendors change weekly, so there's no telling exactly what it will be like, but it's definitely an experience to repeat.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer, FINALLY!

Can I tell you how happy I am that the sun is finally shining? I was getting seriously depressed there. I'm starting to suspect that I have a slight case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, since when the sun disappears for a long time, it has serious consequences for my mood, my willingness to do things, my ability to handle human noise, etc. The sun came out and everything changed. Whew! Maybe I'll take some B vitamins.

As usual, the summer season is going by quickly. It's been nice not to have classes (I won't take another class for school until the fall) and I am glad that I'm doing well in the classes and that they are serving me well. The literacy class changed the way I think about teaching math, and I wasn't expecting that. Northeastern has a really good program.

Dan and I have been in and out of Maine a bit, always with a mission, and it's sort of nice to bum around in Boston. But I will tell you, I'm getting tired of living in the city. Not sure what there is to do about that at the moment, since we're so well settled here and life is good. However, I'm feeling the "get me out of the city!" pangs now and again. We'll see. For now, we have a great apartment and we love living in JP -- especially across from the Forest Hills Cemetery -- and we're not planning anything yet.

I've been playing a LOT of Plants vs. Zombies. It's a great game. Download it now.

At any rate, now that the weather is nice, I'm thinking of taking a couple of beach days here and there, assuming that it warms up enough to justify putting on a bathing suit. YAY heat! There is nothing quite so relaxing to me as hanging out in the sun.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Oops, it's sorta been a while, huh? And Extended Rapid Transit Service in Boston!

Well, all I can say for myself is that I was thrilled not to be near a computer again for a while after my first semester ended. Seriously. That and the fact that I am basically a Facebook whore. I do all my updates there nowadays. There must be some way to link Facebook updates to blog updates. I'll have to look into that.

Also, I have REALLY been enjoying the weather. I love warm weather! Well, I've been enjoying the warm, sunny weather. I have not been enjoying the raininess, but that's OK. We need it. The spring took its sweet time, and it looks like the summer is, too. Dan and I haven't had to put the AC into the window yet, which is definitely a record for us. In the past, we almost always have it up in May. Now we're nearly halfway through June and haven't needed it yet. It's been quite mild.

Well, the update that I'm sure everyone knows but I haven't written about it here yet is that Dan and I are engaged :) That was a such a surprise. And I have a lovely ring! TOTALLY unexpected.

You may know that I have a penchant for reading about urban planning and redevelopment. The city of Boston has long been trying to connect the two branches of the Silver Line between New England Medical Center and South Station, and also expand it further south to serve a broader population and get into that vast zone between the Orange Line in Roxbury/JP and the Red Line in Dorchester. However, due to budgetary concerns, those plans had been put on hold. Excitingly, the State of Massachusetts was approved for a stimulus money to improve the public transit in this way. The idea is that we can't put in an underground line there, as many completely developed cities cannot. However, on Blue Hill Ave. we happen to be able to remove medians and expand the road to include a dedicated bus lane. In this way, the city of Boston as well as the US Government Executive Office of Transportation hopes that this project can serve as a model to other US cities for increasing the availability and reliability of public transportation. See the project plan here:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This music is like crack for my soul.

The music to Google's April Fool's joke this year is like crack for my soul. I love this music so much and I was sad when it was no longer available because google took the links down for it. Well, I found it through a German site on April fool's jokes. I have it bookmarked now, fuckers!

CADIE is an Artificial Intelligence portion of the imaginary Google offerings that will answer your emails for you and answer chats for you. It's even capable of chatting with other people's AI's. But it goes one step further. CADIE, in the April fools' joke, of course, becomes so intelligent so as to develop emotions and preferences and decides that s/he would like his/her online representation to be rainbows, pandas, and this music: The CADIE Music.

It's worth reading the page and following the links so you can see what the joke was all about.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Done with Winter Session 2009!

I emerge victorious from my first semester back in school.  All in all, I am impressed with the program at Northeastern so far.  The professors enforced academic rigor.  It was a lot of work, and we were held to high standards, and I'm so glad about that.  Here's the thing: it always bugs me when people complain about their grad classes being a lot of work.  It's supposed to be!  It's a master's degree!  So yes, it was a lot of work, and I was mired in how much work it was and felt like I was pulling myself through it times.  However, it is worth it.  

One thing that has shown through like a ray of sunlight on a clowdy day (like the one we're having right now) is that I have made the right decision.  Part of the program involves classroom observation, and I observed two 6th and 7th grade math classes for 20 hours as part of this course.  Those kids were hillarious!  And I got to see some excellent teaching as well as some excellent examples of how to making a loving school environment without a lot of money.  The school at which I observed was in Roxbury Crossing, otherwise known as one of the poorer communities in the Boston area.  It was an amazing experience.  The kids responded well to me right away, which, as the teacher told me, doesn't happen that often.  I've already been offered a placement for student teaching there whenever it comes around at the end of my courses (about two years from now).

Otherwise, I am REALLY looking forward to warmer weather and the sun coming out.  I feel lucky to live a couple hours south of Union, Maine right now, where we are approximately three weeks ahead.  We have daffodils.  There is less of a chill in the air.  Green grass is showing its head.  Good for my soul.  

All's well.  I start class again this week, so one of these days I should pick up books for it and do some reading.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying some good, old-fashioned lazing around.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Back From Costa Rica!

I did my best to incorporate the stories with photos, so here is the link:  Lindsay's Costa Rica Trip

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Happy February.

Can you fucking believe it's already February of 2009?  I feel like the new year snuck up on me and is skating circles around me.

For updates about my mindset, see the "current obsessions" area that I just updated with a couple more goodies about myself.  

I am in school now, and it's been a good experience, aside from the administrative bullshit (pardon my expression, but that's exactly what it is) regarding health insurance waivers that didn't go through.  I am totally impressed with the calibur of the professors I have and the students in my class.  Discussions are fruitful, and the readings are even really good.  I'm enjoying myself, if really missing having time to myself, time to spend with my beloved Dan, and time to spend with my friends.  March 27, my friends.  March 27 is when this quarter will be over.  After that, I'll be taking one class at a time.  As I indicated in a post a long time ago, I like my job, and I'm not in a hurry to leave it.  With those givens, I'm not in a hurry to complete this degree, and I don't want to kill myself over it.  

I am officially tired of the cold.  When I signed on for the trip to Costa Rica (ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!), I had no idea how sick of the 15 degree weather I would be by now.  I couldn't have timed it better if I'd planned it myself (you may recall that I basically signed up for a group tour and paid the money -- no planning involved because I don't have time for it).  Dealing with the cold was especially hard yesterday, when "they" promised me it would be somewhere around 40.  Well, instead we had a high of 26 with 20 mph gusts, and I was not a happy camper.  I really adopted the idea of 40.  40 degrees sounded nice.  Additionally, due to an ice storm we had on top of a snow storm on Wednesday, every sidewalk is a frozen river of doom.  I'm not proud to admit this, but I get panic attacks when I walk on the ice, so my commutes were harrowing.  I'd get into work or home with my heart racing and short of breath.  Not a good way to start or end the day.   The long and short of it is this:  Costa Rica is sounded pretty nice right about now.  

That's all I have time for now.  I have to get cracking on my homework.  Due to aforementioned trip to Costa Rica and aforementioned classes, I have a lot to take care of before I can hop on a plane.
Ben & Jerry created "Yes Pecan!" ice cream flavor for Obama. 

For George W. they asked for suggestions from the public. 

Here are some of their favorite responses: 

* Grape Depression 
* The Housing Crunch 
* Abu Grape 
* Cluster Fudge 
* Nut'n Accomplished 
* Good Riddance You Lousy Piece of Crap...swirl 
* Iraqi Road 
* Chock 'n Awe 
* WireTapioca 
* Impeach Cobbler 
* Guantanmallow 
* imPeachmint 
* Heck of a Job, Brownie! 
* Neocon Politan 
* Rocky Road to Fascism 
* The Reese's-cession 
* Cookie D'oh! 
* Nougalar Proliferation 
* Death by Chocolate... and Torture 
* Freedom Vanilla Ice Cream 
* Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder 
* Credit Crunch 
* Mission Pecanplished 
* Country Pumpkin 
* Chunky Monkey in Chief 
* WMDelicious 
* Chocolate Chimp 
* Bloody Sundae 
* Caramel Preemptive Stripe 
* I Broke the Law and Am Responsible for the Deaths of Thousands . . . with Nuts

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy New Year

Terry Pratchett on being Knighted

It's been a while, and I'm writing on yet another snowy day.  Highlights from the last few weeks:

Christmas in Maine: We stayed at the LimeRock Inn in Rockland, and not only is it a fabulous Bed and Breakfast, but it's also a short walk from Main Street, which is adorable, and as many of you know, home to my favorite coffee shop in the world, Rock City Coffee (aka The Second Read).  I went there pretty much every day and saw people who are near and dear to me every time.  Because of the fact that Dan and I had somewhere to relax on our own accord in between visits with family, we were able to sincerely enjoy them even though we remained characteristically busy.  It was a godsend.  I also got to spend some one-on-one time with my uncle, and we haven't done that for about 11 years!  It was truly wonderful.  I feel so fortunate to have such amazing, caring, supportive family.  

Got a promotion at work: yep -- I have to change my profile, because I am no longer executive secretary.  I am now Associate Science Grant Administrator, which not only sounds like a real title, but it feels like a job with responsibilitiy, too!  The thing about secretaries is that their work is routinely underrated.  I don't feel underrated anymore when I tell people what I do.  It's somewhat validating, but more importantly, the work that I'm taking on is new and interesting!  I'm doing grant letters, working more with the database (I love I push my reading glasses up in excitement), and working more with grantees.  It's more rewarding already.

Started my first week of classes in the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at Northeastern University:  Boy, has THIS been a roller coaster already!  I spent the first couple of days totally panicking because I couldn't possibly figure out where the workload would fit in.  I had a freak-out when the syllabus for a course I'm registered for was posted the day before classes started, in a round-about way, I was informed that this foundational course is designed to go hand-in-hand with another course that I was not registered for AND that started that night.  Yikes!  Well, 50 minutes before that course started, I got registered and showed up for it.  However, freak-out number two happened when I was informed that the two classes were sharing a final project that was a culmintation of 25 hours of field-work: classroom observation time.  Yes, time that I can't be at work.  Right.  So I had to go to work the next day and inform my employers that I have to fit this in before the end of March.  They took it as well as can be expected, and it's going to be a challenge.  But it should be do-able.

I'm going to Costa Rica on February 8!  Kathy called me up a whole week ago and informed me that a group she and Matt are in are planning a trip to Costa Rica.  Well, I'd been hoping to go somewhere warm, but couldn't figure out exactly where, and I hadn't done anything about it since I'm so busy with other things (like a new position at work at two grad level classes).  She basically said that the planning is mostly done, and all I needed to do was figure out when I wanted to join them and purchase tickets.  Sounded good to me!  So I'll be on vacation from Feb 8-15.  Yippie!  

Well, I'm off to do a lot of homework.  If you need me, I have an iPhone now, so I should still be tenable.  By the way, for those of you who text all the time, I have now joined the ranks of texting, so I'll return your messages from now on.