Nine Minutes

I got to thinking this morning as I hit “snooze” yet another time. Why does it go off in nine-minute intervals? Well, a quick Google search yielded the answer in several places including this blog (guess it’s not the first time a blogger has posted about this issue!)

Anyway, nine minutes is a tough timeframe for me. If it were five minutes, I would not fall back asleep but for some reason by the time nine minutes arrives, I’m back in dreamland. The more I hit the snooze, the harder it becomes to wake up.

This makes me wonder. How long is nine minutes? It’s time enough for four, two-minute commercial breaks on television. If you’re a pasta lover, you know it’s the time it takes to cook spaghetti. From my TV producing days, I recall nine minutes as being the length of the typical “first block” of news. A lot can happen in nine minutes.

My alarm clock is literally decades old. I’ve had it since I was a kid. It’s amazing the thing still works and the superstitious side of me is afraid to try something new. But, still, it nearly always gives me pause every morning as I think about the magic interval of nine minutes.

First Day of First Grade

ImageThe last 24 hours have been about waiting. Me waiting for my kids to return from their dad’s after 10 long days…Maria waiting for the night to be over and the first day of school to begin… and both of us waiting for the bus. It was Maria’s first time on the school bus even though she’s in first grade. Last year, we drove her to before school care at her Catholic school so she didn’t take the bus. She always wanted to ride the bus with the other kids and now is her chance. The poor kid was seriously up all night and couldn’t sleep. It was like Christmas, or the first day of school, or the first bus ride — a big day for an almost six-year-old girl, and her mother.

Changes at Local Newspaper

By now many of my local readers have heard that our daily newspaper, The Post-Standard, announced it no longer will publish and deliver a newspaper seven days a week. Instead, it will move to Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, with smaller, newsstand-only newspapers in between. It plans to focus its efforts online now.

I have been thinking about this news frequently since I first heard it. I am wondering what’s happening to my city. Can Syracuse still be called a city, if it no longer has a robust daily, printed newspaper? Already, I can see the demographic changes in the population of my hometown. There are many more older folks than ever before and fewer young people. The majority of these older folks are not even on computers, let alone iPads, Kindles and the like. What will they do for news? Turn to TV? Try to learn the computer?

Cities have many characteristics but in my mind, they include the following:

Diverse population – age, gender, race, etc.
Robust media
Education centers
Healthcare
Arts
Tourism

Syracuse has lost young people, experienced media consolidation and changes, seen merged hospitals and lost a symphony. In addition, it is experiencing deep economic woes in the form of fewer tax dollars and job loss. The housing market is struggling.

None of this is encouraging to me, a young person trying to make a life in her hometown.

Good Writing

I came across this excellent article from Ragan Communications that outlines 37 of the most common writing errors. It still shocks me so much to see the things that trip people up! Contractions are my biggest pet peeves. Between the your instead of you’re and its instead of it’s, it drives me crazy.

But what truly is the most appalling is that people don’t seem to have any interest in trying to be good writers. Don’t they realize it makes them look unintelligent? Even if they are very smart people, a grammatical error or punctuation problem can make a person look dumb.

I am fully committed to helping my students realize that in spades this semester. I never want them to make a sour impression on their professors, future employers, internship supervisors or friends.

By the way, have you ever missed any of these 37 rules?

A Time to Start Anew

Several months ago I rediscovered yoga. Although I am not flexible at all, despite my small frame, and it’s challenging to do the poses, yoga makes me feel invincible. In fact, I feel 10 times taller when I am done with a session. I usually do 20 to 30 minutes at a time and I choose the de-stress variety. I’ve found that if I stick with it two to three times a week, I truly feel a difference in my stress level. Unfortunately due to tons of craziness during the summer, I’ve moved away from yoga. Fortunately I now have a chance to move back.

Back to school, to me, is a time to start anew, much like the new year. It’s a chance to start a new schedule, recommit to an old activity and just recharge. To that end, I will recommit to my yoga practice. To supplement that, I plan to eat smaller meals throughout the day to keep my energy high for the busy days ahead.

I feel energized just thinking about it!

P.S. If you would like to try yoga yourself, check out www.yogahealthfoundation.org to find a yoga studio near you, offering free classes in September and October.

Back to School and Other Things

My vacation is over. We hosted a housewarming party, took the kids to the Adirondacks camping, went back to school shopping and got haircuts, visited Maria’s first grade school and teacher, attended a clambake and celebrated my birthday and felled a tree in our backyard. All in all, a very busy week!

Now, on the eve of going back to work, I also am anxious about the start of the semester. I will be teaching two public relations writing courses this fall and one begins bright and early tomorrow morning! Balancing both along with my family and work will be a challenge. I am hoping the stress doesn’t get to me.

To help, I am taking a couple hours alone this evening to reorganize, pack a good breakfast and lunch and catch up on bills and other things weighing on me. I am hopeful the fresh start will lead to a a great start to the week and the semester!

Twas the Day Before Vacation

I had all good intentions of writing a parody of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” but due to how busy I am trying to get ready for vacation, I just couldn’t make it work! It’s always a catch 22 when you decide to take a vacation. The more quickly you work to get everything caught up, the more work is waiting for you when you return. I used to think it just wasn’t worth it but I’ve learned that a lot of my worry is self imposed. I mean, half the time no one even notices I’m gone! Seriously, we all need a break and at times we’re too hard on ourselves to just take a breather and relax. So on this day before my week-long vacation, I’m taking a deep breath and preparing to be away from the office. I can’t wait!

Potty Training

So it’s about that time again…time to train my 2 1/2 year old to use the potty. The first time around, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Now that I’m more fully aware, I’m dreading the whole production. To make matters more challenging, she has NO INTEREST in sitting on the potty. None whatsoever. What’s more, she is scheduled to move up to the next room at daycare where all the kids use the potty. No pressure, right? I’m hoping that when the new school year starts and we’re back into a routine that I’ll be able to whip her into shape with the three-day potty training boot camp program. Here’s to no more diapers!

Smiling even though she’s still wearing diapers! 🙂

Happy 100th Birthday Julia Childs!

Today’s Google doodle features Julie Childs, the famous chef. She would have been 100 today. In honor of her, I thought I’d share a favorite recipe of my own. Enjoy!

Eggplant Parmesan

1 large eggplant
Cooking oil
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
Bread crumbs
Tomato sauce (can be jar or homemade)
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
Italian herbs

Peel and slice eggplant into thin slices. Coat with egg/milk mixture and dip into breadcrumbs to coat both sides. Fry them in cooking oil, making sure they are nearly submerged in oil. You may need to add oil along the way. Once they are fried golden brown, move them to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil.

Using a rectangular backing dish (I like the glass Pyrex), line the bottom with sauce and put a layer of eggplant on the sauce. Top with sauce and then mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese to your liking. Add another layer of eggplant, sauce and cheese until you run out of eggplant. The last layer should be cheese. Sprinkle italian herbs over the top (dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste). Bake at 375 for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Enjoy with a side of pasta and sauce!