Thursday, December 28, 2017

My First SPIFF Meeting

"Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose,"

My first SPIFF meeting was coming; I was nervous. The agenda, 'A fun Activity and Christmas Caroling around the School,' failed to appeal to me.

I had had a pretty good time with my second grade buddy during our one-on-one ( which substituted for my missing the first SPIFF organizational meeting ), and we certainly got along well enough when he was one of my advanced math students. But one-on-one, part of a larger group, doing a "fun activity"?

And Christmas caroling involved singing, right? I wasn't sure how I felt about singing in public. Even familiar Christmas carols. Even as part of a large group. Even if half the group consists of second graders. I'd be singing in public.

The Learning Buddies coordinator is also a SPIFF senior pal. She greeted me outside the classroom as we seniors waited for the teacher to prepare for us. She assured me I'd be fine, even after I told her about my beginning-level singing skill. Her optimism buoyed me.

The time came, and the teacher came to get the seniors. I found Eric, we went to his desk, and I sat down ( the senior SPIFFs got to sit ). There was a loud buzz in the room; everyone was talking … but the teacher was able to tell us about the fun activity.

First, some serious talk: the student was to write a finish to the following sentence: "I can spread peace in world by … "; there were several levels of answer and I recall talking about his behavior with his parents and sister.

 The student was also to make a snow globe. The materials for the snow globe were at our desk: letter-sized stiff ( i.e., construction-like ) paper with a circle drawn on it, and a rectangular piece of paper about eleven inches by four inches. Eric got his box of crayons from his desk and began quickly. Soon we had a snowman inside the circle, complete with hat, carrot nose, mittens and black buttons on his coat.The 
snowman was  standing on a mound of snow and snow was also falling. We cut the circle from the construction paper. We formed the rectangular piece of paper into a hoop, cut two slits in it on opposite sides from each other, and made a nice stand for our snow globe. We worked on a couple of Christmas-themed word search games. The words
 were long and it was hard, but we enjoyed helping each other find the words.
Our Snowglobe

The school's music teacher came in the room. She would direct our singing tour. First, she handed out songbooks … actually five sheets of paper stapled together, one set per student-senior pair. "The student is to hold the book, but hold it up to share with his or her senior PAL, OK? Everybody got that?" Everybody did.

We walked to one kindergarten class, the teacher introduced us and we sang.  " … Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose, and if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows." The class applauded appreciatively.

We serenaded another kindergarten class, then went to the balcony; "We'll sing to the school," the director said. This is a second-floor walkway around the center of the school, surrounding the empty second-floor space above the first-floor library. From it one can see into many first-floor classrooms around the library perimeter. We sang one carol from there, then retreated to the classroom from where we had come. We played a bit more word search, the teacher thanked us seniors for participating and sent us home.

Once again I left the school amazed at and basking in the overflowing warmth that can come from giving oneself to second graders.
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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

... More Clean Cut Lately?

When I set about solving the problem of my hairy neck, I did my research.  I found tidbits here and there, but no one who seemed to have figured it out.  In the past 2 weeks, I've had 3 people complement me on my new "clean cut" look.  I decided to make the quick guide I would have loved to have found before I started.

Keep in mind, I'm talking about the neck only.  A man with a 5 o'clock shadow still looks clean cut if his neck is clean.  And I'm only talking to my brothers out there with neck shaving issues.  Some people can just run a razor blade over their neck, clean up a nick or 2, and go about their day with a flesh colored cleanly shaven neck.  Mine would have been bright red, irritated the entire day, and ingrown hairs the next.

1. Get laser hare removal.
You might be thinking, "duh."  But laser hare removal doesn't actually remove your hair.  It's not a magic bullet.  It removes some, so it's more sparse, and it makes the hairs thinner.  It also stops ingrown hairs.  At some point you could get it so thin and sparse people would call it hairless, but I'm not recommending spending $1,000 a year.

2. Don't shave so close
Of course you'll reduce the redness and ingrown hairs by not getting a close shave, but that defeats the clean neck goal, right?  Here's the thing.  You if your hairs are already thin and sparse, and you do a half ass job of saving what you have left, it's pretty clean.  I started using a Norelco One Blade.  It's supper easy, and precise, if not extremely close, but that's perfect.  But we're not done.

3. Conceal it
At this point your neck probably looks like you're half way to a 5 o'clock shadow, but one without the bumps and redness.  This is a huge improvement over the red bumpy neck you had to walk around all day with.  For a model perfect, clean shave neck, there's one more step.  Concealer.

Yeah, yeah.  That's for women, and whatnot.  There is a point there.  You want a clean neck because you want to look good.  If you look like a man wearing makeup, you're not going to look good in our society.  If you find the right one of you, and be subtle about your application, no one will know.

There are many different kinds, styles, and colors.  I'm no expert, and there are experts if you look.  There are many online resources.  The makeup counter at a department store is probably good too.  I read a few guides, watched a couple of videos, and just did some trial and error.

The perfect one for my neck is Maybelline - Fit Me! - Set+Smooth.
Maybelline - This is an expensive brand, and you can get it anywhere.
Fit Me! - This is the product line.  It comes with the right applicator, and a convenient packaging.
Set+Smooth - This is the style.  It's important to note that this works on my neck, but not every place on my body.  It's made for "normal to dry" skin.  My neck is a softer less greasy surface than my face for example.  The color I need on my neck isn't the color I would need on other parts of my skin.  My neck doesn't get a lot of sun, and yours probably doesn't either.

This is just my advice.  Take it however you like.  I guarantee more than a few men with clean lines on their neck are doing exactly this, a just not talking about it.  Like I said, I wish I knew all this when I started, so I thought I'd share.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Parking Lot Day Brightener

"You haven't changed a bit!"

One recent sunny Monday afternoon, my wife and I went grocery shopping, as is our custom, after I had finished my work at my parish. She had her list, I had mine, both of them on our trusty smartphones, and mostly containing the same items. ( We live in the same house, after all, and view the same grocery inventory. ) I dropped her off at the door and parked the car as far from the building as possible; I like the walk.

After we had corralled all we needed and almost finished checking out, I left her with the groceries, the cart, and the job of paying for them and went to get the car. We've ritualized this; I bring the car to the entrance, we load the trunk, and she doesn't need to walk to the car parked in the far reaches of the parking lot.

As I was walking down a parking lane, cars parked on both left and right, I noticed a car a couple ahead of me with the engine running and backup lights on. I slowed down, both to make sure I was not in the way of this vehicle and to clearly indicate to the driver that I wasn't going to walk into his path.

As the car backed up, the driver got to approximately even with me and the car stopped. The driver rolled her window down. The female driver said, "DecisionOne?" referring to a company whose local call-center was once across the street from where we were and is now a couple miles further south. That company is my former employer, and the one from which I retired.

A little unsure what was happening, I said, "Yes."

"You still there?" the driver asked.

"No; been gone for 6 years," I replied.

"Hmm; that's about how long I've been gone."

With that, she rolled up the window and began backing again, turning the car to go from where I had come. I continued walking to my car, and noticed her car stopped moving ( again ). The front passenger window rolled down; "I don't remember your name," she called.

I took a step or two closer; "Walter Jost." I vaguely remembered the driver's face. "And I don't remember your name, either."

She gave me her name. A light went on in my head; nice woman. "You haven't changed a bit; nice to see you," she said, as the window rolled up and the car slowly pulled away.

"You haven't changed much, either."

I kind of floated the rest of the way to my car, struck with the realization of how a chance encounter with an ex-colleague, a colleague with whom I was hardly close, a colleague from a long time ago, can make an otherwise ordinary day seem extraordinary.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Key Life Lesson

One day, back when I was a leasing agent, I had a move-in to do.  That means going over all the paperwork, and rules.  Making sure the new tenant has what they need.  I started my day by heading over to the apartment to make sure it was ready, and the key worked.  It did.  So imagine my surprise 10 minutes after finishing the move-in process, when the resident came back because the key didn't work.

Didn't I check that?

So I walked with her back to the apartment, put the key in, and turned it.  Worked perfectly the first time.  "I'm not sure what went wrong before, but it's working now," I tell her.  She, and her daughter who's helping with the move, surprise me by asking me to stay while they check it, as thought they didn't just watch me successfully unlock the door with it.  I stand there and... watch them each fail to unlock the door.


I unlock it for them again, and hand it back.  They ask me, "Can we get a key that works?"


I say, "Let me check with the property manager," and head back to the office scratching my head.  The next morning I stop by to explain my notes to him, and the trouble she had.  He says, "Of course,"  and starts filling out a work order for a new set of keys to be made.  I stop him and say, "Weren't you listening?  The key works fine."

He tells me, "The key works... for you.  You know how to turn a key.  You push it in a tiny bit, and pull it out a tiny bit, as you turn it; without even thinking about it.  You don't need a crisp new key.  She does."

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Laser Hair Removal - Review

I have "recovered" from my third, and possibly last, laser hair removal treatment.  I think I'm ready to give it a review.

The first thing you need to know, is that the second treatment doesn't do much.  This is what the operator told me, and she was right.  It thins the hairs you have, turns some off, but also turns on others.  I say this because I highly recommend one or three treatments for anyone who gets ingrown hairs from shaving.  It is amazing.

The treatment does cause some lesser ingrown hairs when it happens.  But after the recovery phases, I have not gotten a single ingrown hair since I started.  My third treatment was over a month ago, and I haven't had one in a full month.  I feel like they are behind me.

I paid $100 each treatment, and I am glad I had three.  I feel like I understand what to expect better having done so.  I would recommend people start with one, and move on to get the other two depending on their experiences.

I suspect I will need a maintenance treatment once in a while.  Maybe that means every year.  Maybe that means every few.  The fact is, I'm a man, and I have testosterone.  My neck hairs will do their best to bounce back.  This has been a small price to pay, and I'm happy to keep with it.  I highly recommend.