Q1’s Domestic Goddess Move

24 Apr

Domestic goddess I am not, probably much to Ma Jaracz’ chagrin. I can tidy up OK, and if I have time to lean, I know I have time to clean–though you could come over right now and say, “Been busy, huh, Jill? How’s your Candy Crush Saga going?”

“Oh, I’m stuck at level XXX [I actually don’t know what level I’m on], and it’s one of those stupid ones where you’ve got to bring down the ingredients and there are bombs and there’s–”

“‘TIME TO LEAN’ DOES NOT RHYME WITH ‘CANDY CRUSH SAGA’! GET TO CLEANING!”

And I’d be forced to admit you have a point and that you’ve astutely noticed that I have issues with paper and books and putting away the laundry in a timely fashion, so I will scuttle off and take care of some of that right now.

Since I am not much of a domestic goddess, my idea of “spring cleaning” is also pretty minimal. Today though, my big move for this quarter of the year is tackling the coat situation. I’m declaring winter officially over, and we are not to wear the big, heavy coats again until late fall. I don’t care if we have a run of frigid weather around here. Layer up the fleeces and throw a lightweight coat over it. We’ll manage.

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Meet the Newest Addition!

23 Apr

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Oh, new HP Officejet Pro 8620,

You’ve just entered my life, and I can’t tell you how you’ve made it exponentially better. When I saw your feeder tray actually works and you could hold more than 50 sheets of paper, I was swooning. But wireless printing? Automatic duplexing?? I am printing all of the things double-sided from the other side of the house from now on! Let’s not even start talking about how I can scan and copy multiple pages onto one sheet. That just blows my mind–and the trees will thank you too (eventually….I’m certainly going through a lot of paper to figure out how all of your features work).

While I will always appreciate your predecessor, your capabilities are making me slightly regret that I didn’t bite the bullet and get you sooner, but maybe that makes me appreciate you all that much more.

Here’s to a long and happy life of printing, scanning, faxing and copying!

Your pal,

Jill

Killing the Hills

21 Apr

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Sunday in my neck of the world was one of those perfect weather spring days. Sunny, glorious, get outside. Today I’m also looking at a lovely sunny day, and I kind of want to ditch my computer (after I meet a deadline, of course) and go play. But yesterday? Patriots Day? Marathon Day? Completely sucked. Rain and cold combined for a pretty lousy day outside that probably played a part in how overwhelmed I felt by a lot of things going on (or not going on) in my life.

I hadn’t been to see the Boston Marathon in a few years–I was out of the country two years ago, and last year decided to avoid the crowds at the finish. This year I thought I’d check out a different part of the course, so I grabbed my cowbell and made my way to the start of the hill section and watch from there for a little while. I forgot to wear my waterproof shoes and grab a jacket that deflected water a little better than my windbreaker.

One of the reasons I don’t run marathons is because I can’t imagine running that far without causing some serious damage to my body. I’ll gladly do a 5K, and I’ve been known to train up to the 10K distance, but beyond that, my body just doesn’t like the pounding. I also don’t like listening to music while I run (and to be honest, I don’t like cheering for people who have their headphones in during the race) because I want to experience the race at its fullest. I also tend to have my running music going through my head regardless….though another reason that I won’t do races longer than a 5K is because I tend to either repeat snippets of these songs or mash them up, and if I had only a couple of minutes of the “Run Lola Run” soundtrack going through my head for four-plus hours, I’d go absolutely crazy.

The bigger reason I don’t run marathons is that for some reason, I get a little verklempt about the marathon as a goal. The massive numbers of people who’ve trained so hard for months, who want to realize this goal, and who are all doing it at the same time just overwhelms me. I can’t cry and run a marathon. Please. Where would I shove 26.2 miles’ worth of Kleenex?

So I stood in the cold rain for a couple of hours, cheering on all of the Steves, the Karas, the Heathers and the Mikes, the people running on Team Beef (best team name ever, Nebraskans!), folks from Denmark, Scotland, Colombia, Jamaica, Sweden, England, Germany, Brazil, Japan, this woman who’s planning to deliver a baby in six weeks, a 70-year-old guy who doesn’t look older than 60 and countless other people who were running for causes, running to win or running for themselves.

My favorite though was Brent from Alaska. He stopped by a police officer who was near me, gestured to the road and demanded, “What is this?”

The cop didn’t know what to say, so Brent kept going. “Are these hills?”

“Um, yes.”

“Let’s kill ’em!” And he took off running up the incline that would eventually become Heartbreak Hill. I’m kind of sorry I didn’t think to note his number. I hope he killed the rest of the course.

I wish I had killed the rest of yesterday, but I’ll be honest, some pretty big hills got in my way. Today’s a new day though, and it’s time to start climbing them again. Finish line’s just on the other side–not so far away.

Internet: I Need Your 80s Knowledge

17 Apr

My British friend is getting married in a few weeks and for the dancing portion of the celebration, she wants to play Kylie Minogue’s version of “Locomotion” and have me lead everyone in doing the dance.

What dance? There’s a dance specifically for this song?

We fly to YouTube. “It’s not from her video. I just remember doing it,” she said.

We couldn’t find any videos of Brits from 1988 who are doing this particular dance–not in the clubs, not in random gatherings, not on the streets. There are lots of different “Locomotion” dances on the Tube, but not the one she’s thinking of. I thought maybe it was particular to her area of England, but she said she was 10 at the time and didn’t really travel much.

I’ve asked around a little bit and have heard that maybe this dance could simply be a conga line, with everyone moving their arms in a steam train motion. My friend thought there was a little more to it, like the macarena (click on that link at your own risk).

Internet, I’m asking you: If you were around during the late 80s and were in Britain, do you remember this dance and can explain it to us? Help a bride and groom out!

The Derby Season Begins at Home

16 Apr

This weekend marks the home opener for the Boston Derby Dames 2015 season. Charm City will be in from Baltimore for a double-header featuring the Boston B Party against Charm’s Female Trouble, then the Boston Massacre facing Charm’s All-Stars.

I could talk about rankings, rivalries and gameplay. All of that is bound to factor into creating a couple of exciting match ups. As an official, the teams will just become colors to me, and I’ll be concerned about doing my part to make sure the game is played safely and fairly. I’m slated to track penalties for both games, as well as serving as Head Non-Skating Official (NSO) for the second game.

What makes this game exciting for me is that we’re going to test a game with fewer NSOs–the rules state that you need seven NSOs for a sanctioned game, but traditionally, having some extra positions helps with game flow. A couple of those positions came about when the game had both minor and major penalties, and they were necessary to make sure penalties were captured, tracked and displayed properly. Now that the game has only major penalties, do we need three people to track all of that?

I’ve done games with just a penalty tracker and inside white board (this NSO writes penalties on a white board that stands in the center of the track and serves as a display), and that seems to work. Now I would like to see if it’s possible to get the job done without the white board. If it’s possible, that’s just one test, one data point. We never know what gameplay will be

The first bout starts at 5:00, and the second starts at 7:00. Get your tickets today!

Was It Me? Get Your Tickets and Find Out!

15 Apr

Hey Friends!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be one of the featured storytellers at Story Club Boston’s monthly story night. Each show features a theme that three featured performers riff on, and there’s also an open mic for members in the audience who want to play along.

I did one of SCB’s shows last year and am thrilled to be invited back. It’s always a fun evening, and organizer Ken Green does a great job at bringing interesting people together and providing an encouraging environment for storytelling.

This month’s theme is “It Wasn’t Me!” which will feature tales of wrongful accusations–or in my case, perhaps it’s an accusation dodged. What did or didn’t I do? Come on down to the Milky Way Lounge in Jamaica Plain on Monday, April 27 and find out. The show starts at 6:30 PM.

Hope to see you there!

Art Restoration Project

14 Apr

One evening a couple of weeks ago, the Boy and I heard a crash in my office. Concerned, we dashed to the room and discovered that the art my Grandma Jaracz had left me (or maybe it was one of the things from her house I’d claimed after she died) had fallen off the wall.

You haven’t heard about the Jaraczs grand art collection? OK, so it’s not along the lines of the Wildenstein Collection or Steve Wynn’s collection, Grandma Jaracz did have one piece that I’ve never seen anywhere else:

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It’s a 3D Lentograph of “The Last Supper,” Plate No. 103 by Anita’s Imports in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That’s right, 3-D, with patented technology. It’s been popped into a wooden frame that’s been stapled together (with no glass front or protective backing), and the kicker is that the hanger on the frame is this:

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This, my friends, is a pull-tab can opener. Knowing my family, it’s likely from a beer can, but it’s a relic nonetheless. In fact, when anyone comments about the picture, I quickly pull it off the wall and say something like, “Yeah, the 3-D is cool, but it’s hung up with a pull-tab!”

We have no idea why it fell off the wall. This was just before Easter–I’m not saying that the remembrance of Holy Week events had anything to do with the incident, but if you’re easily spooked or are heavy into religious symbolism (there is no image of the Virgin Mary in the pull-tab, contrary to popular belief), then maybe you can read something into that.

Yet now I’m going to have to restore this piece to its original glory. That means making sure the art is wiped down with a “soft cotton or cheese cloth,” per the directions on the print, it’s carefully tucked behind all of the metal tabs on the frame and then the pull-tab is carefully polished and reaffixed. Only then it may be rehung in all its glory to once more grace my office with its presence.

Postcard from Pittsburgh

13 Apr

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Watch out, hockey fans! There’s a new goalie in town, and she’s so tough, she can block your pucks without needing a helmet!

I’m old enough to shudder at the thought of a hockey puck whizzing at my bare head, let alone be agile enough on hockey skates while wearing copious amounts of pads to stop a puck, so I think it’s safe to say that the National Hockey League needn’t fear my arrival on the scene.

I was in Steel City this weekend to officiate four roller derby bouts: Steel City vs. Boston (A and B teams) on Saturday, and Boston vs. Ohio (A and B teams) on Sunday. These were really great match ups, as Steel, Boston and Ohio are all pretty close to each other in the WFTDA rankings, which made for exciting games that were a lot of fun to officiate. I also got to work with some officiating buddies I don’t get to see often enough and meet some new, very promising officials, All in all, a good four games.

During some free time on Saturday morning, I got a glimpse of Pittsburgh’s sports mania. The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum takes up a big chunk of two floors of the Heinz History Center, and while it tackles Pittsburgh’s love of the Steelers (or “Stillers,” as yinz should pronounce them), the Penguins and the Pirates, it also showcases some more niche sports like boxing, rowing, swimming and marbles (Pittsburgh touts 26 National Marble Champs, plus 8 more from Allegheny County). There’s even space dedicated to a sport called balf–which, if roller derby is niche, this combo of baseball and golf is extremely niche–so niche that the U.S. Balf Association no longer seems to exist.

Outside along the Strip District, it was all pro sports, with multiple sports stores touting all the fan gear you could ever want. The piles of shirts, hats and tchotchkes spilled out onto the streets and dared you to walk down the sidewalks without getting caught up in the frenzy of Pittsburgh sports. Get your Terrible Towels, your athlete jerseys and every form of bedazzled sports shirt imaginable. Show your allegiance. Be a fan. It’s sports time, a good time, and you’re required to participate.

The “Hallelujah Chorus” that Wasn’t

10 Apr

Last story about my church-going Easter experience.

The church I went to had a relatively small sanctuary, and it had a low ceiling on all four sides, but the middle was open and expansive. Depending on where you sat, you could feel a bit of overhead confinement, but in reality, it made an 8-10-person choir sound fantastic.

At the end of the service, as we stood after receiving the benediction, the pastor announced that it was tradition to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” and that everyone was welcome to come up and join the choir–they had extra music available, so don’t be shy!

As people were milling about the sanctuary, grabbing music and trying to find a place to stand among the choir, an elderly gentleman collapsed. Needless to say, instead of the “Hallelujah Chorus,” we stayed put for a few minutes until we were ushered out of the sanctuary and into the Fellowship Hall (or, if you’re a worship-and-duck-out person like me, you got in your car and drove away) while they waited for emergency response people to show up.

It definitely was an awkward moment and one that I wouldn’t care to repeat again. I do hope the man’s OK and that this event wasn’t anything serious. It’s a reminder that even on Easter, life is fragile.

The M&M Easter Story

9 Apr

Continuing on with my church shopping experience…

Did you know that M&Ms are a symbol of Easter? Well, at least that’s what I learned from the “Conversation with our Young People” portion of Easter worship.

An aside: Is “Conversation with our Young People” better than “Children’s Sermon” or “Children’s Time”? I’d think kids could relate to being children, and “conversation” is a pretty long word. It is PC though, I’ll give you that. Kids, do you care about that?

Anyway, a woman who wasn’t the pastor gave the children’s sermon, and bless her heart, she came up with this story of M&Ms and what the M stands for. Now, I kind of tuned out when the talk started with the traditional, “Did the Easter Bunny come visit you today?” But when she got into what the printed M on the M&M stands for, I perked up.

The “m” is for “mercy,” which God gives to us. Turn the piece of candy 90º and you’ve got a “3,” which reminds us of the three days after Jesus died before rising from the dead. Now, turn it 180º, and you’ve got the “E” for “Easter.” Finally turn it so you see a “w,” and that’s for “worthy” because we’re worthy of God’s love. As you eat your springtime M&Ms, keep this Easter promise in mind.

As the Boy said after he wrapped his brain around this story, mad props to this woman for trying to be creative. I give that to her, and I know she told this with the best intentions–for all I know, she spent Saturday night swearing about having no ideas for the conversation time, was stress-eating M&Ms and got this lightning bolt. Yet, even the best intentions have a way with playing with kids’ minds. Who knows which one of them will think about this every time they eat M&Ms. Or apply for a job there because they feel the company really speaks to their beliefs? Or experience extreme disappointment when they learn the true meaning of the m? Who knows–maybe I’m going overboard–I’ve still got crazy camp songs going through my brain. Nope, nothing could toy with young people’s minds at all.

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