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Today was much colder and snowier than the forecast predicted. I wore my shuba (fur coat) so I was very warm and the snow looked very pretty - large, white beautiful snowflakes. After a weekend of bitter cold, with high of 11F (-11.5C), today wasn't as bad as it could have been with maybe 25F (-4C) high.

What really messed the commute up was not the snow but the holiday weekend schedule. Today is President's Day and many people have a day off work like my Dad or Bear. I, on the other hand, had to go to work. It is not a day that absolutely every one has off. It depends on your company. But all the subways and trains are on the weekend schedule with fewer trains and weekend work and all sorts of fun. I didn't realize this until I was almost at my train this morning.

The subway was late and I thought, well, I'll be late, I'll catch the next train. But by the time the subway made it to my destination, I though that I might have time to catch the usual one. But there were no newspaper people by the subway station and the street was emptier than usual, and as I got to the entrance of the train station, it finally dawned on me why it would be emptier. I pulled out my phone with the train schedule app and saw that trains were running once an hour (instead of four trains an hour during rush hour) and the next train was 45 minutes wait. I slowed down my super walk and sighed. I didn't stress about it - no one comes to office hours at this point of the semester.

The commute ended up being worse on the way back. The train was 20 minutes later than usual but it came on time despite the ever increasing unexpected big snowstorm. It was the subway that messed everything up because during the weekend my subway line doesn't stop at the usual stop due to various work. I had to take another line to go further downtown and then I ended up waiting 40 minutes for my subway line to show up. There was no reason given, it was just super late. So I came home an hour later than usual. I read my book and listened to music so it wasn't so bad. Bear was home with Tanya and I wasn't rushing to work, so I didn't stress too much. But I guess this semester is all about weird commute.

Otherwise, my Monday was fine. I graded on the train, taught paragraphs and connections, made peer review sheets, read my book (I'm back reading "Buried Giant" by Ishiguro - it took me 100 something pages to realize that this book is not meant as a historical novel set in 6th century Britain, but a historical fantasy set in fantasy 6th century Britain where dragons and ogres are real). I don't really care about the Grammys but I had it on in the background for a bit so I could watch the opening number from Hamilton. I was singing all the words. And I watched "Downton Abbey" episode from yesterday. I found that on teaching days, I can't grade in the evening - I really need to decompress. 13 papers left to do by Thursday.

This weekend was nice. We went to Long Island to visit Bear's parents. Bear took a day off on Friday because we needed to both be at the post office to apply for Tanya's passport. All three of us had to be there in person, according to the rules. Tanya and I went to a local store two weeks ago to get her passport photo done - it was surprisingly easy. She looked at the camera at the second try. She is mostly fascinated at new places and observes. Don't put up a fuss. So that helped a lot. I really thought it would take a lot longer.

Anyway, on Friday, once we got back from the post office, we had lunch, finished packing and drove to Long Island. There was a snow forecast of Saturday and cold, so we didn't want to get stuck anywhere and thought we might as well go early. There is a lot more snow on the ground in Long Island than in Brooklyn. Tanya and Bear ended up playing in the snow in the back year for a bit, while I unpacked.

The weekend itself was nice. I spent most of it at the kitchen table grading papers. But I got a lot of work done, while also making time to socialize (Bear's brother and his girlfriend came over on Saturday so her kind of birthday party). And, most importantly, I finished the 3rd Robert Galbraith book. I read the last 50% in three days, while traveling and grading. so that's a sign of a good book for me. I just wanted to keep reading. I will do that book post sometime this week to talk about this year's books but overall I do really enjoy these detective novels.
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It took me four hours to get to work this morning. I made it five minutes before my first class started, so it worked out. I missed office hours but it's early in the semester, it's not like students care. But this was just a stressful commute. I'm on the train back now and it came on time, so hopefully the commute back will be more normal.

New York City got the second highest snowfall since 1869 and we missed the record by .1 inch. But it didn't feel like a big snowstorm to me until today. We spend Saturday holed up at home watching the snow and listening to a really strong wind. It felt like a regular home day. We stocked up on groceries, I cooked. I read writing samples.

I spent a lot of this weekend cooking. On Saturday I made soup for Tanya and meatballs for her too (Not a total disaster this time! Yay!). Yesterday, I made bean and barley beef soup, and chicken plov (rice and chicken dish). Soup came out really well. I burned the plov a tiny bit but it was still good.

On Sunday, Bear went to dig out his car from the snow. He said the whole driver side was buried under all the snow. In the afternoon, we all went out so Tanya could really play in the snow for the first time - I showed her how to make snowballs which she adorably tried to do by just trying to lift some snow and throw it up. Bear went to check his car again and discovered that with the plows and everything, his car got buried a bit again. There is just so much snow that there are not a lot of places to put it. The main street is very clear but side streets, not so much.

My parents live in a sort of a cul-de-sac, so they were not dug out until today. Last week, my Dad took this Monday off since he has extra vacation days he needs to use. He wanted to hang out with Tanya since my Mom had to come babysit. Well, yesterday afternoon my Mom called all upset since they weren't dug out yet and there was no way for her to make it to me on Monday morning. Bear basically just took a day off today from work, since he has personal days. Semester just started and I really can't just cancel a class. Well, I can but those are reserved for big emergencies.

Which leads me to this morning's commute. First the subway was five minutes late and went slower than usual. Which meant that I missed my train by two minutes. The next train, seventeen minutes later, just never showed up, with no annoucements. I got on the next train with left another 13 minutes later by the schedule but in really started off even later. And then it went slowly. So I got to my destination an hour later than usual. And then the uni bus took its sweet time to arrive and moved slowly. There was a lot of snow. Good thing I wore my snow boots. So four hour morning commute. This is the first snow storm of the winter and I'm already over it.

I grew up with lots of snow. I loved sledding and cross country skiing. But not a lot of people had cars when I was a kid and I think that makes a lot of difference. I remember a lot of snow as a kid but it wasn't such a tragedy.

At least all my students made it to class and we had a good class, I think.
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The snow storm on Thursday made this week feel strange. My university first cancelled all morning classes late Wednesday night. One of my classes was therefore cancelled but not the second one. I was supposed to give the midterm and I didn't want anybody not showing up because of the storm and having to do a make up later. Plus going in for just one class was not worth it with all the commute. So late Wednesday I cancelled my second class and rightly so for on Thursday morning University realized that the snow kept falling. All classes cancelled officially. Papa worked from home and Mama was watching Tanya and I could grade some papers. The snow was very pretty and heavy.

On Wednesday afternoon my Mom picked Tanya and me up and we left for my parents' house for the next week and a half. Bear has started his work season where he needs to stay late at work from Tuesday to Friday and works Saturday morning with Sundays and Mondays off. It is much easier for him to stay at his parents' house on late nights as his work is much closer to their house. And my parents love having Tanya around. And as much as it is often difficult for my Mom and I to be under the same roof, it is ultimately better for Tanya. And Papa can drive me to work instead of me taking the train. Next week Bear needs to work Monday so he is just coming here tomorrow and I'm staying put. But regularly until May I will spend Tuesday afternoon to Saturday morning at my parents.

I definitely can get some grading done while my parents play with my kid and I have Folder Review on Monday (meeting with a program director) so I need to get a lot done. There is plenty of misreading and failing grades. And one student fudged formatting and thought I wouldn't notice how wide the spacing was. I pulled up his paper since they have to submit it online as well as a hard copy and I 'fixed' his formatting. It was 4 pages instead of 5.

My Mom picked up us on Wednesday instead of Tuesday because Tanya had her pediatrician appointment on Wednesday for her last two vaccines until August. She is 69cm already and 17.5 pounds. She's getting heavy.

The doctor, however, is overly concerned that she is not sitting independently yet. She can sit, she just still leans forward a little though and is not sitting up by herself. She rolls around a lot; it's hard to contain her and she gets to toys easier that way. I think she is still a little scared of sitting. I read that on average babies sit at 6 and a half but there is no worry until eight months. And my Dad sat later and so did many other babies I heard about. So I am not worried at all. But my doctor thinks action should be taken now and I should call the early development program to have her evaluated. She already wants to say that Tanya has a gross motor delay. But Tanya does absolutely all other skills and American Pediatric Association only says diagnosis is appropriate at 9 months nor at 7. I get that the doctor just wants the best for Tanya but I think it is really too early to worry and it makes me a little uncomfortable. I'll probably call anyway, it wouldn't hurt I just don't think it is really of such an immediate concern.
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I think this semester there has only been one week so far where I had a full week of work that wasn't disrupted by snow cancellations. Thursday was another snow day. On Tuesday, in anticipation, I gave my writing students homework for it, so they would just have to upload it online. (I put it on the board on Tuesday and I still had a couple of students who emailed me to ask what the homework was because they couldn't remember and apparently did not write it down. They are college students too. Sigh.)

Other than that the week has been a regular week. Bear and I watch a bit of Olympics in the evenings, usually online on replays (I use my parents' cable account for that). I watched moguls, luge, skeleton, cross country, aerials, downhill skiing, figure skating - all kinds of good stuff. Since I was home on Thursday and then my regular Friday, I did catch some events live too. The free program in figure skating for men this year was so weird as everyone kept falling.

Yesterday, Bear and I had a fun Valentine's Day. We usually keep it low key: I get Bear a card and he gets me a card and a rose/flowers and he cooks me dinner. He didn't feel like cooking this year so he got Chinese takeout, which was delicious (Wonton egg drop soup, veggie boiled dumplings and eggplant chicken with garlic sauce) and Bear also picked up Chocolate Brownie Ben and Jerry's frozen yogurt. And he got me a really nice little bouquet of white daisies, red carnations and one rose (and red and white were our wedding colors). We had Chinese food and watched "Elysium" and had a great night. ("Elysium" was ok as a movie - not the most brilliant one, and I predicted the ending pretty soon into the movie, but it was entertaining enough).

We also had a competition for a sappiest/stupidest/most ridiculous Valentine's Card we could find. I got one that went "Our love is a miracle" etc. and the best line in his silly/ridiculous card was "I love you because your smile has touched a place deep inside of me and filled my soul with the hope of a thousand dreams" Hee. Who writes this stuff. But that was definitely very amusing. And because we are on the same wavelength, we also got each other a second, more normal card and we both ended up picking a very similar card of two children with backs to the camera in black and white. (His was 'wife' card and my was to 'husband' but it was pretty similar).
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This has been a weird week. We had two snow storms in New York and because of them and because of the wake and the funeral for Bear's Grandma I only worked one day this week. And I spent three days and nights in Long Island at Bear's parents' house.

The wake was originally scheduled for Monday but Monday morning came with the gigantic snowstorm (a very pretty snowstorm after it all settled, but still). I was all ready to go to work and then take a train to Long Island, but my classes were cancelled for the day because of the storm. So I was just going to go with Bear straight to his parents. As we left around 9am, his Dad called to say that because of the snow they decided to postpone the wake to the next day and funeral for Wednesday. But we were already on the road, driving slowly and carefully and we decided to just keep going. That way we could be there for his parents and Bear could shovel their driveway and do anything snow related that needed to be done. I spent most of the day in their house commenting on rough drafts.

On Tuesday, I cancelled my classes at University so I could go to the wake. I worked on papers in the morning. Then we spend 2 to 4 and then 7 to 9 at a funeral home for the viewing and went to eat in between at an Italian place. Bear's godmother Mary drove all the way from Pennsylvania for three hours to be there and it was nice to see her despite the circumstances. She just came for the afternoon because of the Wednesday expected snow/ice storm and drove four hours back that day. Viewing are generally pretty strange.

On Wednesday, my school had a delayed opening because of the new snow storm and after some debate in the morning whether I should try to go teach my afternoon class (my morning one was cancelled) I decided to just cancel it so I could go to the funeral and also not travel in nasty ice rain. Bear's family is Catholic, so there was a funeral mass and then we drove in a family limo for an hour to a cemetery in Queens. There weren't a lot of people (a lot more came the night before) because of the storm but it was a very classy family goodbye. The cemetery service was very quick because of cold, freezing icy rain and then we went back to Long Island and went to lunch where we could reminisce about Carolina a little. In the late afternoon, Bear spend some time looking at his grandmother's photo albums and I was looking at the family tree book one of the relatives has made. Carolina was one of nine children. She was of a German descent and the family member traced the family back to 1680 in Germany. I do love geneology. Plus the book had various memories of Carolina too. Bear told me he felt like Harry Potter who discovers in Book 7 that he didn't know Dumbledore at all, since he only knew his grandmother as his grandmother and only at a certain point of her life. I think it is true of all people, though.

On Thursday, I needed to head back to work and it was long, long trip by two trains that took close to four hours. And it was still very icy, so I tried to walk slowly and carefully. I taught my classes and then my Dad picked me up and drove me home finally. And I caught up on the Internet. And watched a bit of Olympic Games too. I really love the Olympics so I'm looking forward to that. But, yes, a heavy weird week.
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I had to spend over an hour this evening doing an online harassment training seminar since everyone at work at University has to do one. It was mostly tedious but I learned all the policies like you can't even have anything on your phone that another person might find offensive. Or if you show vacation photos at work, that's fine, as long as there isn't a provocative bathing suit picture. Mostly it was about how complaints are handled and how to refer anything to Human Resources department because University really, really doesn't want to be liable. At least most hypothetical situations were done in graphic novel form. I do recognize that this web seminar was useful to be aware of the policies I just wish I didn't have to spend over an hour doing it.

In other news, my nose started running today so I have to deal with a delightful cold. And today I had to bundle up. At least the temperatures might even get above freezing soon. I snowed a little last night, so the sidewalks were a bit icy. Usually I walk up a giant hill for 10 minutes when I go to Local College but today I was on time to take a bus two stops that takes me up the hill (it only comes every 30 minutes, and it never seemed worth it to wait for it before).

I taught classes on consequences of Reformation and on gender in Ancient Rome, although that second class was more on how to do Citations. I'm definitely back into the semester mode with lots of grading to do already. But it is good to be back at work.
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Well, today totally qualifies as the strangest first day of class I've had. New York is covered in many many inches of snow right now and it is affecting everything. It was already snowing at 8am when I met up with Rosemary for our commute to University for the orientation for the Writing Program we as teachers needed to go to. The drive there was pretty good, despite a bit of snow. But it was clear as early as 10am that the snow would only get worse.

I did manage to get copying done and talk to administrators I had to talk to and after the orientation I took a campus bus to the new campus I'm teaching on. I've never really been to that part of University, so I stopped by the Student Center to explore my food options (very nice ones with pizza and Chinese and burgers and nice cafe) where I had pizza and then took the bus a few more stops to my building.

I had maybe an hour and a half before class and I spent most of it chatting with another teacher, also waiting for her class as we were figuring out the classrooms and the buildings neither of us been in before. It was there that we found out that the University cancelled classes after 3pm. One of my classes ends at 3pm and another starts at 3:20. So I send a homework mass email to my second cancelled class and actually got to teach the first. They were mostly writing a Writing Sample, so first day is pretty easy.

Once I found out that I will be done at 3, I called my Dad who works maybe an hour away. He wanted to pick me us since he was leaving work early and then I could stay at my parents' house. The problem was that he came across two accidents and massive snow and it took him 4 hours to get to me, finally picking me up at 5pm. I had my Kindle with me, at least, which I read while I waited. (I got Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling out of the online library yesterday). It took us a bit to get to his house too. But finally, after much careful driving, we made it safely.

Tomorrow will be super cold with lots of snow on the ground. Local College cancelled morning classes until 11. So one of my history classes is cancelled tomorrow while I have to go in at 1pm. My Dad is working from his house tomorrow, so he can drive me. My problem is that most of my notes for the intro class are at my place, so I will just have to wing it tomorrow unless Local College would cancel afternoon classes too. We'll see.

At least in the evening I was able to catch up to "Teen Wolf" on my parents' computer and watch a new episode of "Supernatural" on their very large TV.
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It started snowing finally about a few hours ago, after anticipating snow all day. Bear is staying at his parents' house tonight since it is closer to his work and he will need to help them shovel tomorrow. His Dad just had back surgery a couple of weeks ago, so they really need the help.

I went out the house this morning to mail some letters and do a little shopping and to get fresh air since it will be so cold for the next few days that I doubt I'll leave the house.

I am contemplating a cooking project - I'm going to try making black bean soup for the first time and I'm using dry beans. I've been looking up various advice and recipes online and will improvise something tomorrow.

Today also marked the long awaited return of "Community." And it is back to form since the showrunner is back. Last season I felt I was just sitting through the episodes but I'm back to enjoying them now. I'm so glad the show is back.

I'm also rereading Art Spiegelman's "Maus." After going to the wonderful exhibit on Spiegelman's career at the Jewish Museum last month, I just wanted to read it again. It's been over ten years and I don't remember all the details. It was the first graphic novel I really read and learning the background and even seeing a dead model mouse Spiegelman used is really adding a new level to it. (The Jewish Museum in New York also has a great Chagall exhibition right now and the museum is free on Saturdays - this why I love living in a big city.)
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19 inches of snow. University only cancelled classes before 11:30 and as I teach after 1:30 I had to get to work. I did cancel the office hours in the late morning. So the day felt a bit surreal with no traffic and the whole world being white and clear.

Some pictures of our snow )

In the morning I read and commented on a few close reading assignments. Many talked around the issue without clearly defining anything and many just paraphrased the whole two paragraphs and thought that it was analysis. Sigh. Run-ons also continue to be a problem. I was happy to see that one of my students from Basic Comp had the clearest paragraph that actually answered the assignment question and set up what the debate was in the fair use paragraphs. I was very proud of him. He definitely can write his ideas better now and I’d like to think that I had a little bit to do with it.

The classes went alright. We went over what makes a good paper, the structure of it. And the grading criteria. Then I actually made them take a piece of paper and draw a line on it, writing out how Jenkins would answer the assignment question and then how they would. I wanted them to make sure that the answer was not identical since that would not make a string thesis. I still know they will go for simple. My goal this semester is to get them to complicate their argument just a little bit.

First two minutes of today’s “Community” were so funny I couldn’t stop laughing. I need to rewatch it tomorrow. Good episode of Bones too. Bones )

Yemen joins the growing list of countries rioting against their governments .
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When I woke up this morning I really did not expect all that think blizzardy snow. The forecast was for Wednesday night so I was not expecting anything in the morning. I thought I would work from home in the morning, read the primary sources for my Egypt lecture and then go up to campus after noon. But one look outside and I knew I needed to not risk the snow blocking the roads completely. So Mama, who luckily had a day off from work today drove me after breakfast. It took us maybe 40 minutes instead of usual twenty and in part and on hills we were going very slowly. The roads were pretty bad. And if we came to a stop, and the snow kept falling, the car did not want to always move or at least wanted to try to skid. But slowly we were driving in. The last part of the drive to Local College is up a fairly steep hill and Mama knew there was no way she could drive up there in these conditions. So she dropped me off on the bottom of the hill and I walked uphill, in the snow with think white flakes completely covering my coat and my hat. It was really beautiful, all the white snow, but also messy and not the best commute to work. But it was definitely winter. I knew there was no way Mama should drive to pick me up after work, so I took the bus back in the evening. The bus option was much better in this weather.

For lunch I got vegetable minestrone soup and small French fries, maybe because didn’t want to wait too long for them to make it and also because it was the soup type weather. And it was a good meal. The small French fries were actually a ridiculously huge portion.

My Egypt lecture went ok. It was not my best probably because I’m not that comfortable with the subject. Once we get to Greece it will be much better. The discussion of the primary and one secondary source reading (about status of women in Ancient Egypt) went over much better because shockingly many actually read them and brought the print outs to class.

I get so tired around 7pm now but brain needs a bit more sleep than I’ve been giving it lately.

I’m actually hoping University will cancel classes tomorrow, it is not like tomorrows class that is basically a review of what a paper looks like is that important.

Exercise: 15 minute walk uphill in the snow and 18 minutes on the Wii
Cross stitch: pink.
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49 out of 50 states have snow. That’s the whole South. And some people don’t want to see that the weather is changing. We got a good amount of snow but now as much as in post-Christmas blizzard. Since we aren’t actually blocked in our house, it is a plus.

‘Got Medieval’ has a great response to Palin’s use of ‘blood libel’ and the subsequent Jewish WTF response to that.

I turned on TV at 9pm (while still doing the free stepping thing in Wii – I do like the option of watching tv while technically exercising) to see “Modern Family” and ended up watching Obama’s speech from Arizona memorial service. It was a good speech. I really liked the part that we should aim our government to be like the little girl saw it. It was a bit unsettling to go to “Modern Family” comedy right after that for a few minutes. Good show, though, as usual.

I had my sonogram at the urologist’s office today. Everything looks fine so I’m happy with that. I really liked the sonogram technician. She kept up fun dialogue and generally made it fun. One more test on Friday.

Exercise: 36 min on Wii. I really like the advance bicycle course and I think I got over the virtual dog running after me. (I have a phobia for real dogs; I’m usually ok with dogs in pictures and such but first time I did the bike game when the virtual dog started running after me I got very uncomfortable. But my brain is back to seeing it as not a real dog.)

Cross stitch: tan on the little bear’s face and paws and some light brown for his ears.
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We are still snowed in today. The big pile of snow is blocking our driveway. The plow crews that our community hired did come in today but they did the other side of it first. So right now no one can take the car out. I did get outside for a bit to talk to one of the plowmen. I love the snow even as I don’t like the hassle it causes many people.

Mark, who did great reviews of Harry Potter online this past year, has started watching “Doctor Who” and posting about the episodes he is seeing. He knows nothing of the show, so this is really first impressions. So it made me want to rewatch some episodes. I watched “Father’s Day” again from Season One and that episode always makes me tear up. Then I rewatched “Doomsday” from the end of Season Two. It is funny, but for me there is a strong association between Harry Potter and “Doctor Who.” In 2007, when I heard that James Marsters would be on ‘Torchwood’ for a few episodes, I figured it was time to finally check out “Doctor Who.” I heard about the show but I had very little knowledge of it. So I ordered Season One, disk one, on Netflix. I got the disk close to the night of Book Seven release. Medusa and I were going to the local bookstore at midnight to get our Deathly Hollows books and we had some time to pass. So we got Chinese food and tried out “Doctor Who” together. And we both really liked it. It was a good mix of sci-fi and a bit creepy and interesting. And I really fell in love with the show and the concept with that first season. My favorite Season is Season 4, because I adore Donna and love every episode. It is fun to see the show again through the eyes of someone just watching it for the first time.

Tempest Act 4 )
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We got snowed in. Our little community usually does not get cleared until other streets are clear and there are not a lot of places to shovel snow at. It is a good thing I don’t have to leave the house until Wednesday. The world is very white and wintery outside.

We were planning to go to Brooklyn today to give my grandmother her birthday presents (she turned 81 today) but it will have to wait until next weekend.

I need to limit my internet time. No non-essential stuff doing the day.
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Woke up at 7:30 since Bear had to drive me home before the snow storm hit. The snow started to really flurry when I got home so the ride back was pretty fast. We basically listened to my new Highlander CD and the CD player in the car kept skipping around, which was mildly amusing. But I was still bummed at having to go home early. Days we actually spend together are rare enough without weather taking one away. At least, New Year is just around the corner for the festivities in my house.

Doctor Who. A Christmas Carol. )

Inception )
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First snow! Well, it was more flurries but still – snow! I do love snow. I have fond memories of playing in the snow as a child and sledding and cross country skiing. My childhood winters were very snowy in a country that was equipped to deal with snow, so snow was never a horrible tragedy like it seems to be here. There weren’t too many cars at the time too. So first snow always makes me happy.

Now that it has actually gotten cold, I want to go outside for walks more. This is weird. I think it is because I do love the crispy air and also because the Christmas lights are up. So it all feels festive. I went around and took some pictures of Christmas lights tonight. During my first Christmas season, I was thirteen and we lived in Brooklyn. And December and holiday decorations took us by such surprise. We lived in this Italian neighborhood that was heavily decorated and I remember when Papa and I were walking around just admiring all the lights. It was amazing to us that nobody was stealing them!

Second season of “Men of Certain Age” premiered tonight. I started watching it last year because of Scott Bakula but ended up watching it because it was so much fun to watch. I really like the friendship of the three main characters and how the people feel like real people with real problems that don’t need Hollywood soap opera plots. And they talk like real people too. So I am looking forward to this second season.
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Snow! It is very winter wonderland outside. The trees are capped by snow, the world is white and the sky is grey since it is snowing all day. Entire eastern seaboard is shutdown. Papa is working from home today since everyone is pretty much been told to stay off the roads. I, for one, am enjoying the prettiness and don’t think it is Armageddon as some news stations are calling it. (I did enjoy Jon Stewart making fun of the snow coverage, though).

Leverage was fun in its little moments with a first of a two parter. It is a nice light show to watch.


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