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Middlesex 20th Reunion

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Last weekend we drove up to Concord, MA for my 20th high school reunion. Middlesex School is an independent boarding school that was founded in 1901 where I lived and learned from age 14 – 18.

The campus was designed by Olmstead, the same fellow that laid out Central Park, and is just as beautiful now as I remember it. The four years I spent there were the foundation of my education and schooling.

An innocent request by one classmate to check into rates for a banquet at the local inn evolved into my somehow organizing the class get-together for Friday evening. In the end it all worked out and those in attendence had a great time sharing stories about what we’ve been up to the past 20 years and what we’ve heard about others that didn’t make it.

As always, Alumni Weekend fell on a spectacular New England Spring day and groups of us wandered around the campus poking about our old haunts. Some places hadn’t changed a bit and others were radically upgraded or new all together. There’s two new dorms, one named “the new dorm” and I guess waiting the label from a particularly generous alumni. There’s also a brand new science center that is topped by an observatory. Everyone agreed that the athletic center can hold its own to any Manhattan health club and the new Student Center in Ware Hall (with it’s floor to ceiling glass windows) is a welcome change to the old student/faculty center that was known as the “Stu/Fac.”

The addition of wings on some of the dorms was done so subtly that only careful examination revealed the difference in brick tone (and redeemed my sanity). It was strange to walk into the old BP dorm where I lived on the top floor in a shared suite with others in a “quad” and see how much they’ve changed things around. Not only have they broken up all the odd-shaped nooks and dormers that used to make it so den-like, they’ve also sub-divided the whole floor into a series of singles. The old wooden staircase are gone, there are safety rails everywhere, and as of a few years ago they’ve put locks on all the doors. As my old dorm master said, they basically took the front door down, replaced the building, then put the old front door back on. Time rolls on I guess – I’m now sounding like one of those crusty old Alums lamenting the good old days.

It was great to bring Zoomer & the kids out to see my old school. I’ve always wanted to share this part of my life with them. I hope they got at least a sense of what it was like to spend time here. Tyler jumped right in and had a blast with the other kids. Tyler and Chloe got along grand which prompted her father John to say, “they’re getting along better than we ever did!”

I took a few photos of the weekend but am kicking myself for not taking more – too caught up in the present I suppose – if anyone wants to submit more photos from the weekend for the album, send them my way.

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Cherry Blossoms

The rainstorm last night brought down many of the cherry blossoms from the tree that overhangs our driveway onto my car. As I drove off to work and sped down to work this morning I left behind a flurry of blossom petals in my wake.

The car behind me must have thought I was heading home after an Indian wedding.

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Number 5

It’s been a grueling curriculum at St. Matthew’s Little Leisure this year. Tyler’s pre-K class covered a letter each week. The first week was the letter “A” and they worked on crafts that used apples, colored in construction paper cut in the shape of an “A,” you get the idea. After 26 weeks of that, they moved onto numbers and picked up the pace a bit and covered a number each day. On Tuesday, Tyler was home sick with a stomach ache (he slept it off) and he subsequently missed the number five. Today he was back in school and they covered the number six and they had Tyler make up his exercises on the number five.

Unfortunately, this confused Tyler on the order of the numbers – he thought they were teaching him that the sequence was 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 5 – which I had to straighten things out with him tonight as I put him to sleep.

Imagine the chaos this would have caused if he went through the rest of his life with these numbers the wrong way around – all because of a stomach ache!

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Shopping

Flash, the name Tyler gave our trusty green Honda Odyssey served as our chariot for a shopping run to a huge outlet mall about 30 minutes away in Pennsylvania. We only go there a couple of times a year and I think we now have it down to a science. We head out as early as possible and time it to arrive about 10 minutes after opening. After securing a good parking spot that allows for rapid, clean lines of escape, we head inside and plunge ourselves into the major stores we want to hit that day. Momentum was pretty good but we got way-laid at the Marshall’s (pictured above) which was fascinating because the household goods and toy sections were like an attic for failed consumer goods. The 3 foot pepper mill, the porcelain statuette of a cherub playing soccer, the gigantic paella pan, cooks for 40 – these were the things that stores just couldn’t move and one can see why!

Tyler picked up a pair of “scooter red” Keds, Julia a fresh pair of flower-patterned spats, Zoomer got some shirts and a funky pair of floodwater-hemmed jeans, and dad got a bunch of short-sleeved shirts for the Summer and a nice running shirt to make up for the 2002 World Cup Brazilian soccer jersey that was melted down in the dryer.

We got home late and I now understand the seething disgust reserved by parents for the man that drives the ice cream truck. We hadn’t even gotten dinner organized yet when his plinkity-plink sugar-high melody could be heard warbling it’s way around our corner. The kids immediately started moaning and frowning their entire bodies in an attempt to soften our resolve that they were not to spoil their appetite despite the fact that the entire block of kids were lined up outside the truck for their jet pops and crazy cones. The truck had parked itself strategically in front of our house and the melody played itself over and over as the ice cream man served up one treat after another, the tune was almost mocking us, as if to say, “come on, don’t be such a prude. . . .it’s just ice cream after all. . .” I have to hand it to the kids though, once the truck motored away (this time at top speed, not the tempting crawl when it first came to our block) they finished all their vegetables without too much fuss.

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Busy Saturday (part II)

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So we moved on from Sean’s birthday party with it’s clown/magician and pinata to a celebration for Theo’s Christening which featured the beautiful spread you see on the right. Small talk centered around the usual suburban topics, schools, property taxes, those in the neighborhood that totally bug you with their attitude of “competitive hapiness,” beating you over the head with how wonderful their life is while you node, smile, and try not to show them that you’re checking your watch.

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The last engagement of the day was a birthday party for Claire, one of our neighbors. We arrived just in time to watch the 130th running of the Kentucky Derby where we cheered on Smarty Jones to a win. What made things especially sweet is that someone in the room had worked for Roy Chapman’s auto dealership and said it couldn’t have happened to a nicer man. I’m told that the horse was nearly put down awhile back when he cracked his skull on the starting gate resisting a start. They stuck with him though and even though he’s not from a thoroughbreds pedigree, the horse made a startling recovery and has now gone on to be the first unbeaten winner of the “Run for the Roses” since Seattle Slew in 1977.

After the race, we all enjoyed sipping cool ones to wash down some local pizza smothered in some smokin’ picante sauce that Dave brought back from a recent trip to the Carribean while everyone told stories about how much trouble they got in when they were kids.

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Birthday Party

Just got back from the first of three parties today – this one had a magic show delivered by a clown named Ferris that had the kids rolling.

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Cheetah

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Tyler’s been acting out that he’s a ferocious cheetah these days. If there’s something he doesn’t like, he lets out a growl. It reminds me of Calvin or Snoopy.

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ebay wedding dress

Just when I thought I was going to close out my posts for the day, a colleague sent me a link to an eBay auction for his ex-wife’s wedding dress. “One Slightly Used Size 12 Wedding Gown. Only worn twice: Once at the wedding and once for these pictures.” is closing it’s bid in 3 hours but I’m told the listing will remain for the next 30 days.

The commentary alone is priceless and after 4.5 million hits, he’s formed a little community around the fate of this dress. Chalk this up to another demonstration of the spontaneous networking power of the internet!

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E-book revival

Sony has just released it’s LIBRE e-book based on the Boston-based company, E-Ink technology which they have licensed. This is a recycling of an old concept that Sony has tried before (remember their custom-sized CDROM Databook?) and hope to make a successful go of it this time.

At 40,000 yen a pop with 300 yen to rent an e-book for 60 days, it’s questionable this can beat the incumbent technology. It’s hard to improve on a technology that allows for rapid access, can accept scribbles in the margin, can be loaned to friends, can be used to swat flies and protect you from the rain, supports full color, and runs on no batteries. I’m talking about the plain old paperback.

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Ford Sportka

I can see why these Evil Twin Ford Sportka advertisements got them into hot water.