Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No Voice, No Problem

Christmas came and went. Sharkey and I came and went to Minnesota. You know, you do not truly understand how cold, cold is until you step outside into a -8 degree climate with gusting wind. Yes it is true. It was frigid. First day we were there, -8 was the high. Second day we were there 0 was the high. The next day the temperature shot to 22 degrees. That felt like summer! The even more insane thing was that when we hit Pennsylvania on our way back this past Saturday, it was 73 degrees!! Think about that. From the time we arrived at MN to the time we hit the PA border we had an 81 degree temperature shift!

I have to admit. Minnesota is sort of a blur to me. We got there and it was go, go, go... The time just flew by. Wrapped presents, went shopping, thawed out windshield wiper fluid reservoir, wrapped more presents, cooked food, ate food, went to visit grandma, unwrapped presents, played with kids, played with dogs, ate more food, played guitar hero world tour w/ Sharkey, Character Builder, and CB's Husband (now that was fun!!!!), drove home... This description is my recollection of this past Christmas.

So from Minnesota to PA I received my last "present" for the holidays. Between Wisconsin and Ohio I picked up "the head cold." You know what I mean? It's the "Barbara are you up, Barbara are you up....I'm up now....I can't sleep, my throat's all scratchy...I'll get the aspirin and Sucrets...aspirin and Sucrets?" I'm on stage three at this point. No more sore throat. Just the dry, choking cough and lack of voice. I cannot talk w/o sounding like either James Earl Jones or Peter Brady in that "Time to Change" episode...

It is going to make this weekend interesting. I am supposed to cantor this weekend. I may have to get a sub....

I know I need to man up, but the truth is, I am the biggest Mamma's boy when I get sick. I want to just go to sleep and not get up until I am better. Sharkey on the other hand is the total opposite. She gets sick, she moves around, and still does stuff. This is a total foreign concept to me. I shut down like the East coast does when snow falls... I have gotten a bit better in the 8 years we've been married, but I still like the sleep, read book, watch movie, play video game method of recuperating. I do hate not being able to talk though. It is very limiting, but then I remembered, I have a blog, I still have a voice....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the Road Again

Sharkey and I are off to the Midwest for Christmas. Yesterday, I shut down my PC after putting my out of office on and setting my phone to voice mail only. IT FEELS GOOD! We had decided months ago to road trip it from PA to MN because gas was at like $4.50/gallon and it would've cost us like $1500/plane ticket to fly, plus board Maggie, plus rent a car, plus pay for gas when we got there... Fortunately, Sharkey and I both love road trips. And since we are driving, Maggie can come with us. She is a great traveling dog too, we are sooo lucky she is... I grew up w/ multiple road trips for family vacations. My Dad loved to drive, and drive we did, all over the USA and a bit into Canada as well.

We actually got off to a good start today. Usually we do not make it out of the house until 11am-12pm, but this morning we were up and out by 8:30am. What you need to understand is that neither of us are great morning people. We would like to be, but it is just not in the cards. Sleep always wins. The funny part is that this morning, all of us, including the Maggie-Moo were nestled all snug in our bed. So I am surprised we were able to get going so early. But here we are in a nice, warm hotel room in glorious Toledo, Ohio. We made good time and we can unwind for a few hours before we all hit the hay and then get up and do part 2 tomorrow.


You may think Toledo is a weird place to stop, but it is about 1/2 way between where we live and Sharkey's parents, and more importantly there is a Texas Roadhouse restaurant next door. So driving all day I am thinking about a salad, loaded baked potato, and medium filet with warm cinnamon buttered rolls. You know, driving long distances requires incentives!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How Do These Songs Get Passed On?

Sharkey and I have the most stimulating conversations. We solve earth shattering issues. We discuss ethical dilemmas currently facing our country. We plan strategies to solve many of the common man's problems. Our last topic was especially stimulating. For this session we discussed the way certain songs are passed from generation to generation from geographic location to location. Case in point, the Jingle Bells, Batman smells song:

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin laid an egg...

Batmobile lost its wheel so the Joker got away...

The Jingle Bells, Batman smells songs transcends gender, generations, and geographic location. You could go from East to West coast, north to south, and find someone who knows this song by heart and can sing the entire thing back to you. So how does this phenomenon happen? I know the song has been featured on The Simpsons, Family guy, and on various TV shows, but the interesting thing is that even before those shows, back in the 70's (yes we were little kids of the bell bottom, long hair, bad clothing era), Sharkey and I both knew that song. How does that happen? I lived in NJ. Sharkey is from MN. That's like 1000 miles. So would you like to join our deep, insightful conversation and lend your theories? =)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nubs and Stressin...


Maggie Moo had a grooming session yesterday. She is now all nice, soft, and pretty smelling. She is a girl after all, so she should smell good, right? She decided last night while we were watching Top Chef NYC that Mom looked comfy.


Those are my girls. Aren't they both Sweet!


Sharkey didn't even reposition her for the pictures. Maggie totally put herself into her relaxation poses.


Today was "one of those days." It started so well too. I got up on time, was productive, and reasonably happy, well until I received the phone call at 11am. "JP, you know that thing you helped us with? We think it caused a major problem with..." Yeah, those calls SUCK!!! And then my day went totally downhill from there. I spent the next 5 hours fixing things, verifying other things, and then explaining things to the person who called me. I got everything straightened out, but it was exhausting and I could feel the tension in my shoulders and neck. I had to sit back in my chair, close my eyes and take some deep, relaxing breaths. That calmed me down a bit and then I was able to refocus. I'm hoping for a quiet Friday at work!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Public Speaking Tip #1

I just finished a Graduate course. In this course, all the students were required to do two presentations in front of the class. A lot of people in the class, including me, used Power Point slides for their presentation. Now, I am not new to public speaking. I have taught classes which ranged in sizes of 50-80 people at national conferences. I have delivered a speech to about 200 Japanese American people. So giving a presentation to a group of 26 people for a graduate course is no big deal. You learn a few things the more and more you public speak. You learn what works and what does not. You learn how to read your audience to see if "they get it" or "if they don't get it" and if you are losing them or if you have their interest and attention. But most importantly, you learn to use your presentation tools properly. So here's a tip for you all who do not public speak very often or have something coming up where you're thinking about using Power Point. When you have to speak in front of a lot of people and use Power Point, use your slides as speaking points. They should not have everything you are saying on them!! To illustrate my point...


You cannot believe how many people write every word of every sentence into the Power Point. Then they get up and say exactly what's on the slide. Less is definitely more! And I have news for you people that's not presenting, that's reading!!! Microsoft named the software Power Point, because you are only supposed to show major POINTS and specific IDEAS. I think after listening to each of the 26 presentations 2x, there were only like 3-4 that were decent. The rest were akin to chewing on tinfoil and made you want to stick a pencil in your eye.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Cow I'm on FIRE!

Every 1st weekend of every month I get to do the liturgy at church. It is not a big deal. I do the cantor part. So I sing (yes JP sings) this part, the congregation responds, I sing another part, they respond, etc. I also do the readings from time to time and help out with communion as well. This morning I helped with communion. The Pastor does the bread, I do the wine. The people come up and circle the altar and he gives them a little bread from a loaf and I hand them a little plastic cup of wine. And we go around until everyone has each of the elements. Well, we are now in advent and someone had the bright idea of putting the advent candles on the altar. Two of them are lit right now. As I go around, I pass really close to the candles, and the robe I am wearing is my choir robe and it's made out of a poly blend, the absolute best combustible fabric you could possibly wear. You can sort of see where I am going. Sharkey comes up to the altar and looks me straight in the eyes and tells me, "Be careful of those flames." I get through, just fine, but I still have this picture in mind of how it could have turned out....


UPDATE... I am really shocked by the lack of comments on this post. COME ON PEOPLE?!?! JP almost catching on fire is hilarious!! Do you think you could really offend me or you do not want to say anything because this post has...gasp...Christian tones to it!! =)