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6 1463

The Haunting in ConnecticutYeah, whatever…

Sheesh, another embarassing showcase of the state I call home.

First we have a pet chimpanzee maul someone and now we’ve got a creepy haunted house movie with a kid barfing on the poster…

I’ve driven by the house portrayed in the movie. Many times.

No joke, as the crow flies, it’s less than 5 miles from my house. I was going to drive by today and snap a picture for this post but apparently there’s a police car out front in an attempt to keep the curious away so I’ll describe it instead…

It’s a dumpy multi-family home on a busy road surrounded by a bunch of very similar dumpy multi-family homes. The kind that’s had all of its porches enclosed so as to be listed to have more bedrooms for rent than it actually should.

Unfinished attic? Put up a rickety staircase on the exterior, toss a dirty mattress up there, and you’ve got yourself another room to rent.

Can you picture it in your head now?

(I’ll admit, I’ve exaggerated slightly — but it really is a dumpy looking multi-family that I wouldn’t ever consider living in — and look what the inside of my house looks like!)

It’s also not, as I’ve heard reported by the national media, in Northern Connecticut.

Seriously, the town’s name is Southington.

Would they name a town Southington if it were in the northern part of the state?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Anyway, I’m officially declaring that it’s not haunted.

It’s not even scary looking!?

It’s just a dumpy multi-family home that they current owner, through no fault of their own, will now be able to charge an arm-and-a-leg to rent out. Bonus for them.

And all this talk of orbs or anomalies in still photos — well, being a pro photographer, let me straighten this out once and for all…

It’s called dust on the sensor or a smudge on the mirror… Oh, and that prism hanging from a hook over there in the corner of the room where the “contact” occurred isn’t exactly helping the situation…

Yeah, that’s right, I’m a skeptic.

If you believe that this movie is based on a true story, you’re either a teenage girl who thinks that vampires with messy hair are “Hottie McHott” hot or you’re just a weirdo. My mailman is actually one of the latter.

He asked me a few months ago to take a look at some of his cemetery photos taken during one of his, um, “expeditions”.

The photos were taken with a piece-of-crap Sony point-and-shoot and then enlarged to a point where, well, you could see every jaggedy pixel. Basically, to him (and his cohorts), there were ghosts all over the place.

To me? Well, the photos were overexposed, over-enlarged, and the sensor on the camera obviously had some crap on it. The lens was scratched too…

Of course I didn’t have the heart to tell him, just nodding my head saying, “Yeah, that’s kinda neat…” as he eyed my camera equipment.

Then I turned him down when he asked if I’d be interested in going out for the next investigation…

Please don’t waste any money on this terrible movie.

Here’s a photo of another local home that I’m pretty sure *is* haunted.

Now this house is creepy...

Well, at least it looks the part…

For the curious, I can even give you the street address — no police cars outside or anything. Just creepy-goodness.

And maybe it’s just me, but I find it hilarious that the movie’s tag line is “Some things can not be explained.”

That’s certainly true — a lot of things can be totally fabricated though…

1 1132

State of Connecticut
Connecticut might not be gaining people very fast, but it’s at the top of the pack when it comes to gaining income. In 2007, Connecticut not only remained the nation’s richest state — it widened its lead, a report today showed.

Total income per person rose from $50,762 in 2006 to $54,117 last year — the highest in the nation and more than 40 percent higher than the national average of $38,611, according to the report, from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The 6.6 percent gain in Connecticut’s per capita income from 2006 to 2007 was well above the 5.2 percent national average.

Connecticut’s high proportion of white-collar workers has been a major factor in keeping the state’s per capita income the highest in the nation; 39 percent of workers over 16 saying they are employed in management or professional jobs, according to the Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey. Another 15 percent said they held office jobs.

– – – – – – – – –

I knew I lived here for a reason…

But seriously, while it might sound like it’s the greatest place in the world to live, it’s also very expensive… Not Southern California expensive, but not real far off either…

I couldn’t find the raw data anywhere, but I find it shocking that the total income per person was around $54k!?

Do they really mean per person?

I’m pretty sure the “average” family of 4 in Connecticut isn’t pulling in over $200k… At least I hope not… or I’ve got to start thinking about getting a second job!

My guess is that it should say that it was the average among wage earners.

Still seems a wee bit high to me.

3 5566

Coach McLellanOver the weekend I learned of the passing of my high school track coach.

He was 77 years old and in a nursing facility due to Alzheimer’s.

I call him my track coach but he was better known in Connecticut as a legendary football coach as well as “the” gym teacher at my hometown’s high school.

He started at the school in the early 1960’s.

Now, by the time I was in high school, in the 1990’s, he was like something you’d only seen in nostalgic “good old days” movies.

Big chested, big square teeth, brush cut, whistle around the neck, clipboard in hand, and a booming voice that wasn’t overly loud but came through clearly as a growl more often than not.

He was the epitome of the classic high school football coach that doubled as the gym teacher

No simple task for an older John Wayne type to be surrounded by a bunch of Gen-X’ers slipping into the grunge era — it must have been confusing to him — but, man, did he ever command respect.

And he got it too.

He wasn’t your friend, he was your coach — whether you were on one of his teams or not.

I remember running track when all of the other teams had started wearing long mesh basketball style shorts and leaving their over-sized singlets untucked.

We’d step off the bus with our short shorts and singlets tucked in like we were competing in the 1948 Olympic Games.

One classmate of mine, upon hearing of his death, mentioned that he’d wanted to get an earring in high school really badly, had his parents approval and everything, but refrained for fear that Coach would rip it out and was, now 25 years later, happy that he’d made the decision not to get one.

I doubt Coach would have ever actually said something like that out loud but I 100% believe that that’s the way he thought.

Glenn McLellanOld school.

For real, he was straight out of the 1950’s…in 1991.

Thinking back, I can only think of one guy in our high school that made the mistake of getting an earring. I can think of around 30 that got one once they were out of high school and out of Coach’s view.

The man clearly had an impact.

So, back in February, a former student of his (way older than I) posted on Facebook that she was doing some sort of volunteer work with comfort/therapy dogs in South Carolina and she’d walked into a room and saw a familiar face — Coach McLellan.

She posted a picture of Coach, still looking like a big strong gym teacher, and mentioned that Coach was suffering from Alzheimer’s related dementia and that his wife thought it was wonderful to see him light up reliving the “old” days — all but ignoring the dog in the room.

With that, I contacted my fellow alum for some contact details and wrote Coach a letter…the old school way…on paper the very same day.

I’m glad I did.

Here it is…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – |
Hi Coach!
My name is ##### ###### and I went to AHS from the Fall of 1990 through the Spring of 1994.

I was mostly a rec-level athlete growing up so by the time I was in high school, and in your gym class, my athletic endeavors were pretty much coming to a close.

As such, my moderate athletic abilities were pretty much unknown to everyone — myself included.

In Grade 9, I had gym class during seventh period — at the very end of the school day. The group in our class was an unsual mixture with a handful of kids from all four grades — something that didn’t usually occur for gym or any class, really.

Not sure if it was a scheduling mix-up or what — it was a weird situation but for a ninth grader coming in, it was pretty intimidating — especially for someone that wasn’t considered extraordinarily athletic.

One of my first memories of that gym class was when you paired us up in twos for two-on-two basketball.

Basketball was never a strength for me and I think that was obvious to you. You paired me up with DS (name removed but he went on to became a professional athlete).

Imagine that — a freshman paired up with a senior who just so happened to be the star of the soccer and basketball teams…and pretty much the most elite athlete to ever attend the school. Crazy.

As a result, I thought it was pretty neat that he even knew my name. And I’ve got to admit that his abilities on the court actually kinda made me look good too.

I also remember that when the floor hockey session eventually came around in gym, I was somehow forced to do recreational dance with B.T. (the female gym teacher) instead.

In fact, during my four years in high school — I never once got to play floor hockey in the gym; the one activity I knew I’d excel at.

But my fondest memory came in the Spring of my freshman year.

My parents had always said things like “Make the most of the opportunities presented to you” but I’d never really been able to apply that to anything in my life at that point.

It was the day we had to run the mile down on the track for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.

I’d always been “okay” at most of the tests — pull-ups were always very easy for me.

Running distance though, not so much.

So you had our whole class walk down to the track and set us off running.

Most of the girls walked.

The smokers walked slower.

I started off trying to stick with the “real” athletes like Larry, Ken, Jimmy and John (all jocks in the stereotypical sense) and was doing a pretty good job sticking with them.

Then I started to pull away from them.

And then I lapped them.

I remember thinking in my head as I began the fourth lap, “What on earth is happening?”

Seriously, it was like no one else was even trying…except they were.

The guy in the converse high-tops and argyle socks that couldn’t shoot a basket, was horrible at volleyball, and mediocre at soccer, should not have been leading the field.

By OVER a lap!

I remember crossing the finish line winded and you coming right over with the watch in your hand and a grin on your face and saying, “Brainy… you’re on my track team now.”

Perhaps it was my very first runner’s “high” but I really thought you were kidding.

That is, until we went back up to the school and you showed me where the track locker room (which I’d always thought was just for football) was.

Not even taking off my gym clothes, I went to the pay phone to call my dad — “I’d need to be picked up later. I’m joining the track team!

Now, it was kinda awkward to be the new guy on a team with so many upperclassmen.

And being the new guy who didn’t appear to have much athletic ability made it even more unnerving for me. And joining the team mid-season? Well, that was unheard of. And it certainly didn’t help that I was a little bit shy too…

But you took me into that locker room, introduced me to everyone and pretty much set my mind at ease.

Actually, I was scared shitless and felt really, really, out of place. I didn’t feel I’d truly earned the full backing of Coach McLellan, the legendary High School football coach.

But you did back me. 100%.

Even though you didn’t coach the distance runners directly, you made sure I was taken care of — and I can’t thank you enough for that.

That weekend, I went out with my dad and we bought some running shoes — really ugly Asics with horrible green and highlighter yellow trim that totally clashed with our uniforms.

Three school days later, I was on a bus to Stafford or Tolland or somesuch other outpost in Connecticut for a track meet and running the very first event of the meet and as the only runner from our school.

I finished “in the points” and, being my first real race, it was a personal best.

On the bus ride home, I sat with Joe Gillis — nicest guy around — and I remember thinking… I’d have been home watching tv with parents right now… but instead I’m a valued member of the track team and sitting with a popular senior on the bus talking about how we did in our events.

For a ninth grader, that’s a big deal.

So as the weeks passed, I got better and better, and started doing more of the distance events — all of them actually — and by the end of the season, the 5000-meter was “my” event and I was finishing first with consistency and qualified for the State Open.

Somehow, a couple of freshman, Jeff and I, had managed to reel in and surpass every other distance runner on the team. It was really neat to have guys who, weeks prior, wouldn’t even so much as look at me in the hallway at school, darting back and fourth across the football field cheering me on by name for both straightaways.

While I was pretty much a non-factor at States… as a team, we won the State Title in 1991. What an awesome bus right home that was from East Hartford…

Now, still not really feeling comfortable with my place on the team, I skipped the team banquet that year.

Man, you got in my face about that at my next gym class, called me into your office down in the locker room, gave me my JV letter, shook my hand, smiled, and told me not to skip another one in an almost silent tone that only an intimidating football coach could.

The following fall, instead of hanging out at home, I joined the cross country team.

And then I did track again. And then cross country. And then track again and so on wracking up six varsity letters and adding another State Championship in 1994 — when I was a factor.

Not to bad for the seemingly unathletic kid that played tuba in the band and rode the “loser cruiser” to school each and every day.

Oh, and for the record, I never skipped another team banquet.

Now, my parents were never really athletic. I’m not sure there’s an athletic bone in my Mom’s body. My dad was more of a musician who ending up working for one of the insurance companies. But what man doesn’t want to be good at sports?

My dad died back in 2010 but my fondest memories of him are how he’d show up at every single track meet — you know where we had crowds that could be counted on a single hand — to watch his son outrun everybody.

He was beaming with pride sitting on those bleachers next to the tower hearing all of the guys cheer me on as I boringly ran in a big circle twelve and a half times, then four times, and then, later, another eight times.

I can still picture the look on his face saying, “Yep, that’s my kid.”

I went two seasons without losing a single race at home. I think the only time I wasn’t the first across the line was at one of the invitationals we went to. Talk about a personal confidence booster.

And that’s 100% on you, Coach.

I sometimes wonder if teachers even know when they’re “making” one of those moments for their students.

Sure, I may have drawn attention to myself on my own that day in gym but you took it upon yourself to make it more — and gave me the confident backing to really apply myself.

Further, after you’d passed the coaching reins on to Kurt — he pushed the same type of confidence on entering me in invitational meets with times well beyond what I’d ever done.

4:18 mile? Me? I can’t do that.

I did it.

Confidence is a crazy thing.

My life would have been *so* much different had I not gotten involved with that track team. Err, had you not forced me to get involved with that track team.

No way would I have been “rounded” enough to somehow find myself in the National Honor Society. No way would I have ever considered myself athletic scholarship material. No way would I have even had a girlfriend in high school.

It’s amazing, just a few months ago the Class of ’94 had our 20th reunion.

At heart, I still kinda of define my high school self as the dorky tuba player in the band that didn’t talk much… But the reality is that most people remembered me as a really fast runner. That’s a pretty cool high school legacy for someone like me. Something I’m really proud of even if I still find it difficult to believe.

Thank you for noticing and forcing me to pursue something that I was naturally good at. Something that I didn’t even know I could do and something that, had you not “put” me on the track team that day, something that I never in a million years would have pursued on my own.

You gave me my first opportunity — my first big break — and I certainly rode it as far as I could. And I’ll tell you, I’ve taken advantage of every other opportunity that first once opened me up to.

Thanks so much Coach!

0 2984

New Worth 2015-07I often say that “Data Don’t Lie” but sometimes it’ll really surprise you.

The fact that I squeezed out a positive number last month is quite shocking to me as it was a month when my property taxes were due and I guess I kinda felt like I was spending…and spending…and spending some more each month.

So, just a few explanations on the movers and shakers…

The savings dropped so much because, as I mentioned, my property taxes were due. I don’t have my real estate property taxes built in to my mortgage which basically means that my mortgage payment doesn’t have anything going into an escrow account.

The upside is that my mortgage payment is under $500 per month and stays the same regardless of whether taxes go up or down. The downside is that, twice per year, I need to pay my taxes myself — out of pocket.

If you’re pretty good with your money, it might be something to look in to. I love it.

Connecticut, the state where I live, also applies a property tax to automobiles so those were paid too.

On the liabilities side of things, I’m thrilled to report that I knocked another $2800 off of the auto loan.

The downside is that when I started rapidly paying that balance down (from $11k), I had pretty much zero credit card debt. Now I have over $7k owed at a relatively high interest rate.

It’s okay, though. (I’ve explained my reasoning in the past)

A few more weeks down the road when the auto loan is gone, the credit card balances will start to fall quickly.

I’m on the right track.

0 1108

Red vs. BlueHere in Connecticut, the mostly Democrat legislature recently passed a budget and sent it on to our governor, also a Democrat, to sign off on.

All hell broke loose.

The Republicans balked that the “new” taxes were too high and that it was terrible, devastating even, for businesses that operated within the state.

Big companies like General Electric and Aetna jumped on the bandwagon criticizing the additional taxes they’d have to “apparently” now have to pay.

General Electric even threatened relocating. Gasp!

Of course, some investigative reporter types soon pointed out that the “new” business taxes they’d been lamenting were taxes those companies were exempt from anyway as a result of getting special tax credits as incentive to do business in Connecticut.

Didn’t matter though — the Republicans had gotten their message on the airwaves first and they continued to dominate the headlines.

Connecticut taxes are going up and it will be crippling to everyone and all of the employers will leave the state.

Mass hysteria.

Truth of the matter is — unless you’re making over $500k per year, chances are, your taxes for 2014 will actually go down.

Yep, 99% of us will be paying less tax but we’re freaking out that we’ll be paying more…and losing our jobs in the process.

Love how that works. All mis-truths.

Political mis-truths.

So, with all of the uproar, the governor called a special session to amend the already voted on and approved budget.

The Democrats made some concessions with the Republican minority and put together a “new” budget. It all got done last night.

This morning’s headline — from the Republicans in state government…

“State is Destined for a Shortfall”

You can’t make this stuff up.

So…the Republicans originally claimed that the tax increases were out of line, got the public all riled up and forced the Democrat majority to make concessions, which they did, and now the Republican’s claim the budget — the one they essentially neutered and approved — will lead to a shortfall in the state’s coffers.

I despise that this is how the American government operates.

It’s ludicrous that the Republicans are trying to have it both ways and putting the Democrats at fault…in both scenarios.

They misled the public and business leaders at the onset in an attempt to smear the primarily Democrat budget.

Then, when they got exactly what they’d wanted on a do-over, they immediately proclaimed that the new budget was inadequate. Worse than before, even.

Since the current governor is a Democrat, he owns it even though the Republican minority is who essentially wrote the final version.

It’s not a lean left or lean right type of thing.

Both parties play the same game.

In this specific case, the Democrats pulled a 180 degree turn due to politically induced public pressure… Basically flip flopping from a ‘Yes’ all the way to a ‘No’.

The Republicans claim the the budget was 100% garbage before the flip and continues to be 100% garbage after the flop.

There is apparently no middle ground.

But that’s the thing, in reality, both version of the budget were a middle ground.

In something as complicated and widespread as a state budget, you’re going to win some battles and you’re going to lose some battles. Weigh your options and hammer out something that pseudo works for every one.

That’s exactly what happens in the government.

Then, they get in front of microphones and cameras and proclaim that, if they’re the not the party in power, that the legislation (proposed or otherwise) is 100% wrong.

The only thing that’s 100% wrong are their claims.

It’s no wonder this country is so divided.

We really need another party…or ten along side the Republicans and the Democrats.

You know, like the other countries on the planet that already have universal healthcare, free education, “working” gun laws, and politicians that know they need to work with others to get things done.

Sure, they have higher taxes than us (which is what it always seems to come back to in the USA) but guess what?

They have more services too.

Services that we’re currently paying for out of our pockets…and paying more for than we would if it were built into our taxes.

Sounds pretty great, right? Fewer things to pay for and more money in your pocket.

Yes, your taxes would go up… considerably.

But guess what? You’d still come out ahead.

Most of the world has already figured this out.

The US is too stubborn to even consider it.

Oh crap, I’m starting to sound like I’m supporting Bernie Sanders for President.

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Sky's the Limit Hiking Challenge
I’d originally heard about this “challenge” from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection back when there was still snow on the ground and put the idea on the shelf.

Basically, it’s a challenge to complete 14 hikes in the state during the calendar year — take a picture of yourself at the trailhead and then another at a location/landmark they specify somewhere on the hike.

As a reward, if you complete 10 hikes, you’ll receive a medallion and if you complete all 14, there will be a drawing for a fancy hiking staff.

Ahhh, the things the state government can afford to money on.

For me, it’s not really about the medallion or the walking stick and I’m in no way upset that my tax dollars are going towards silly (likely plastic) medallions or walking sticks.

It’s more about something fun, healthy, and inexpensive to do with my kids.

With our weekends being so busy, we’re a little behind schedule to get them all done but I printed out all of the “adventure maps” for the kids to carry on the hikes and plotted out the order in which we’d do them.

Yesterday, our first hike was to the Heublein Tower in the Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury, Connecticut.

We’ve been there before…but this time it felt more like a quest.

0 1186

Yesterday we went to a community festival and besides the regular girl scout troops, church groups, local politicians, and sub-par musicians you’d see at any similar event, there was a new group of folks dotting the crowd wearing anti-Common Core t-shirts.

They weren’t passing out literature or anything, thankfully, but “someone” was clearly trying to set an opinion.

I chuckled to myself a bit as I think much of the message they were likely trying to convey was lost based on the folks they’d convinced to wear their t-shirts. It would’ve been a pretty safe bet to say that out of the whole lot of them, maybe one had more than a 4th grade education.

Or a job.

Or taken a shower in the past week.

Regardless of who they’d (poorly) chosen to deliver their message, I’m not really sure what the big fuss is about — besides the blind apprehension to change some folks have — though I’m confident that there are great arguments supporting both sides.

I’m pretty indifferent on this one. I think?

One idea I’m pretty aware of is how a lot of vocal parents out there think their kid is “special” or ahead of the curve and “common core” will only hold back their potential.

I’ll keep it short and just say, I disagree.

And I’ve also seen a lot of propaganda out there on social media from my right-leaning friends about how long division (among other things) isn’t taught correctly anymore because of common core with ludicrous examples of how 10 divided by two is now equal to 4 or some such nonsense.

I’m not certain if it’s part of the Republican and Tea Party agenda to crush the concept, based on my social media experience, it just seems that way. It’s all Obama’s fault, all the time, after all.

I guess I support the idea of a common core education under the impression that the point is to give all kids across all school systems the same education. Kinda sad that somehow gets turned into a political issue.

Go ahead friends, call me a socialist.

Things change and education should too. My oldest smurfling, now 5, is learning how to tie his shoes these days. I was never taught the “bunny around the loop” technique when I was a kid and that’s what he’s being taught. I accept that.

I know the “bunny” method was around back when I was a kid too. I’d heard about it but my parents weren’t “fluffy” when it came to teaching me how to tie my shoes (in the pre-velcro era, I might add).

Even still, based on how often my kids shoes come untied compared to how often mine do, sorry, I think my way is better.

But if the “bunny” method happened to be a common core standard, well, I’m okay with that.

I know my way *is* better but the end result is essentially the same — tied shoes. And I think that’s the point that a lot of people are missing.

Sure, there are a few things in there, such as the bunny, that are just plain silly but, in general, it’s a good idea.

Regarding something that’s a lot more likely to be in the curriculum, when I was in third grade, we listened to 45’s on a record player in math class that played songs where the lyrics were times tables.

I can still hear it in my head now — “Six times Six is Thirty-Six!”

It was nothing more than memorization. We weren’t taught the concept at all. I didn’t know why it was 36 — I just knew…because of a jingle.

As far as I’m concerned now, that was a total failure on the part of the school system.

Sure, I figured it all out the right way eventually, but I certainly wasn’t taught multiplication — I just memorized it.

Do I want my kids to be taught the same way I was? Absolutely not.

Change, in this case and from my perspective, is good.

Now I know it’s unrealistic to think that every school across the country can be on the same page — logistically impossible — but I do think it might be a good idea that they’re all within the same chapter at least.

I switched schools, states, and even countries during my elementary and secondary school years. My first — and most difficult — switch occurred between first and second grade when I moved from Illinois to Connecticut.

Culture shock for a seven year old all on its own, sure. I was light years ahead of my Connecticut peers when it came to reading and writing. For math, I was a little behind — yes, even in a school system where they used a record player to teach us. Ouch.

My real Achilles heel, though, was alphabetical order (which was detailed in this post from years ago).

While I could read and write at a level far beyond anyone in my class, the entire concept of alphabetical order was foreign to me. It apparently wasn’t a priority or even a part of the curriculum in Illinois and, frankly, it made me feel like an idiot for my first few months in the new school.

Not the greatest mindset to have when trying to make new friends.

I think common core’s goal is to prevent that sort of thing from ever happening and — beyond that — set a REAL standard for what an educated person is and should be.

Really, I’m pretty sure I could’ve got my GED by the time I was ten years old. Yet, somehow it’s practically viewed as the equivalent of a high school education.

I can’t say I learned a whole lot in high school but I certainly came out smarter than I was in the 5th grade when I was 10.

I also think that most of the opposition — right leaning or not — to a common education system is coming from people who have never known a different school system than the one they were a part of.

When I graduated from high school, I’d venture to say that over ninety percent of the kids in my class had been in the same school system since kindergarten and I think that’s generally the case across the country.

You don’t know what you don’t see or encounter.

I’d bet that every kid that ever moved from one town or state to another knows exactly what I mean.

And it has nothing to do with how great a school system is. I graduated near the top of my class from one of the best school systems in the country. I aced the math portion of the SAT. My reading/vocab portion was sufficient but certainly lower than what I would have assumed a top student in a top school would muster.

Even with the crappy, in my opinion reading/vocab score, the perfect math score propelled me into the 95th percentile and I was accepted at all but one of the universities I’d applied to.

And when I got to university?

Complete and utter failure.

My midterm mark in APSC-171 (which was integral calculus for engineering students) was 12%.

And that was with a 46 on the actual mid-term exam so it kinda (sadly) made it appear as if I was getting myself back in the game.

I went to class every day. Did all of the homework. I studied as much as the typical student. I was never much of a socialite and didn’t really enjoy the party scene but I was a failing student pretty much from day one. To my credit, I wasn’t alone.

But how could this happen?

Well, it’s because all school systems were NOT teaching the same thing. I was so unprepared when I got to university, it was almost comedic.

How could a guy with a perfect score on the math portion of the SAT only muster a 12% in a frosh level math class? Seriously.

Thinking back, it’s a shame that my high school wasn’t using record player jingles (or a cass-single) to teach me the formulas for derivatives and integrals. I’d have been prepared then as calculus really is nothing more than memorization.

Twenty plus years removed from it all now, I now know why the school system I graduated from was so heralded.

We were trained how to take standardized tests, plain and simple.

Our town routinely lead, and continues to lead, the State of Connecticut on them and places incredibly high across the entire nation.

To this day, on Zillow.com, I see that all of the schools I attended in Connecticut have a 10/10 rating. Where I live now, the schools are rated 6 and 7 on the same site.

As you may have guessed, from the last 10 one-sentence paragraphs, that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I came from an elite program only to learn I was truly far below average.

But really, I just hope that the common core concept helps level the playing field — not just from the university application aspect but for society as a whole.

It’s not dumbing down the smarter kids. The smart ones will learn, and excel, no matter what. Anyone with a brain knows that.

The concept is solid.

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Sharknado at WalmartSo, yesterday, we took a family trip to Walmart.

We don’t go there very often, partially cause of how busy it always seems to be but mostly because of the people that shop and work there.

I’m not one to judge but… Wait, yes, I am one to judge…

Really — you might think websites like “People of Walmart” are a gross exaggeration of reality for comedic sake but, I’ll tell you, there truly is no other demographic like the Walmart shopper.

Stereotypes exist because they are grounded in truth.

Walmart takes it to another level.

So, anyway, while I was digging through the $5 DVD bin with Duncan in search of Sharknado (don’t judge — where else would I find it?) an announcement comes over the loud speaker.

“Attention Walmart shoppers…”

Yes, it really started like that, but not all cool like it would have sounded at K-Mart. Imagine it in the voice of a barely literate 20-something male hillbilly lacking front teeth.

Yeah — somehow Walmart brings out the hillbillies of Connecticut. Really, there was a shopper in there wearing a cowboy hat. In CONNECTICUT!?

The message continued, in the cadence of a first grader reading out loud, “In two minutes, [insert sponsor here] will be giving away one razor sharp paring knife to everyone in the store over the age of 21. Supplies are limited. Please visit the red kiosk at the back of the store near the baby aisle. First come, first serve.”

Seriously?

First of all, a quick visual survey of the people surrounding me made it pretty unsettling that they we’re about to hand out “razor” sharp knives.

There might even be a stampede — the word “FREE” in Walmart is almost like “FIRE” in a movie theatre.

Further — they’re doing it in the baby aisle?

Are you kidding me?

I don’t know about your local Walmart, but in all of them around here, the “baby” section is in the back corner. The “kitchenware” aisle is usually part of that middle section where lots of just random household stuff is. In short — they’re not close to each other.

Why would *ever* you hand out knives to the gutter of society in an aisle full of diapers?

You can’t make this stuff up.

Making things even funnier, err scarier, while we were checking out, there was an announcement asking employees to do a “safety sweep” of their departments…

Hmmmm… must’ve been a report of someone wielding a “razor” sharp knife or something.

Back to Target we go…

Can You Dig It?

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