Sunday, August 30, 2009


If you have no idea what Facebook is, well it is a social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. Users can add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves.

Additionally, users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region. The website's name stems from the colloquial name of books given at the start of the academic year by university administrations with the intention of helping students get to know each other better.

A January 2009 study has ranked Facebook as the most used social network by worldwide monthly active users, followed by MySpace.

I really had initially ZERO interest in Facebook or MySpace because is does seem to be a waste of time and not particularly "fun" or "interesting" but I joined because my niece Dena had sent out invites to everyone and I thought it might be a good way to stay in touch with family members.

So I signed up and suddenly I was bombarded with invites from people that I hadn't heard of in years!
 (As a newbie I was ignorant about all the different privacy settings available to me at that time, but I quickly learned!!)

The first few weeks I went back and forth between "This is cool!" to "This is so annoying and intrusive!" Of course, it usually depended upon 'who' had discovered me on Facebook and sent me a friend request...

But now, I think Facebook is interesting, fun, a sounding board, time-waster and a also ultimately a good way to stay in touch with family and friends.

I have learned how to adjust my settings so people can't see my Facebook page and profile unless I want them to and once you learn to manage Facebook and to tweak it to your own preferences; then it can be as inclusive or as exclusive as you want it to be - and it is no longer intrusive as it was before I learned to control it.

I do take a few quizzes, toss a few pillows and post a couple of pics now and then but it isn't something that I spend a lot of time on - some of the Facebook pages are amazing exercises in über-narcissism but then, so is a blog...

So now the question is:

Comments, anyone?

Hello out there!

If anyone wants to make any comments - they are now enabled and you don't have to sign up for or into anything. There is a spam reduction field where you have to put in some words so that the spammers don't get crazy...

Comment away!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

NetBook Deals

So it seems the latest craze is the NetBook. What is a NetBook? The word 'NetBook' is a portmanteau of the words Internet and notebook. A NetBook (sometimes referred to as mini notebooks or subnotebooks) are a rapidly evolving category of small, light and inexpensive laptop computers suited for general computing and accessing web-based applications; they are often marketed as companion devices to augment a user's other computer access. Walt Mossberg called them a "relatively new category of small, light, minimalist and cheap laptops."

(My NetBook an iPhone together so you can see the size ratio.)

In the short period since their appearance, NetBooks have grown in size and features, now converging with new smaller, lighter notebooks. By mid 2009, CNET noted "the specs are so similar that the average shopper would likely be confused as to why one is better than the other," and noting "the only conclusion is that there really is no distinction between the devices."

Of course, this is not 'really' true because while a NetBook is a pretty awesome little device at this writing, it doesn't yet replace a full featured laptop or desk top system.

Because NetBooks are optimized for low weight and low cost — most NetBooks have omitted key features like the optical (cd) drive or ethernet port, and have reduced specification and computing power.

The best part about a NetBook in my opinion, is the portability, low cost and the ability to have Internet access independent of WiFi or a LAN.

It is true that I could just get a USB Internet Modem for $19.99 - $29.99 (plus data plan) but do I really want to take my great big full-featured Toshiba laptop - and it's high replacement cost - out on the beach? Not I.

So - on to the costs - and my NetBook.

In researching NetBooks, the best deals (in my opinion) were with Verizon or ATT.

I thought that Verizon's NetBook offer sounded pretty good.

The NetBook is an HP Mini 1151NR for $199 and a signed 2 year data contract which runs from $39.99 for a 250MB monthly allowance (10¢ per MB after) to $59.99 for a 500 MB monthly allowance (5¢ per MB after)

The AT&T NetBook offer is generally the same as Verizon's but offers you the choice of two NetBooks: the Lenovo S-10 and the Acer Aspire. Both are priced at $199 (after rebate) and offer similar data plans.

HOWEVER - and note this HOWEVER:

If you go to Radio Shack, they have an in-store special on NetBooks so that you can get the Acer Aspire for $149 and the Lenovo S-10 for $89. The ATT data plans are the same cost through Radio Shack.

So after a bit of research, I ran down after work to Radio Shack and picked up the $149 NetBook and a $29.99 wireless travel mouse and voilà! I had joined the league of the NetBook.

I ultimately went with ATT because it was the cheapest and had better network coverage in my area according to reviews by end users.

(Blogging on my NetBook - woo-hoo!!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mole Poblano

Last week, while watching(almost)the entire season of Top Chef Masters (thanks to iTunes!); I got SO hungry for Mole Poblano that I was either going to make it or go somewhere that had it on the menu.

Luckily for me, we have a GREAT Mexican restaurant in Lindenwold, NJ just about 10 minutes from the house. It is called: La Esperanza and they have a GREAT Mole Poblano.

It was DEEEEEE-LUSCIOUS!! Tender, fall off the bone chicken smothered in thick, rich chocolate red-brown Mole Poblano sauce. It is served with tortillas, beans and rice - and to add to the decadence I ordered maduros (carmelized fried plantains), guacamole and Sangria. It was awesome and I was a glutton for sure...worth every piggy bite!

So, what IS Mole Poblano, you ask?

Mole can be best defined as a very thick, homogeneous sauce with complex flavors. This distinguishes it from most Mexican salsas which are watery, often raw, and contain fewer ingredients (usually nothing more than tomato, onion, garlic and chili pepper) in still-identifiable chunks.

The most common way to consume mole is over chicken, though any kind of meat may be served with mole sauce. Another preparation, more common in restaurants, is enchiladas (corn tortillas wrapped around chicken, cheese or some other simple filling) baked in mole sauce.

Because of the labor-intensive nature of mole, when prepared at home it is most often made in large batches on special occasions, such as religious holidays or weddings.

The most popular kinds come from the Mexican states of Puebla and Oaxaca, and there is an annual national competition in the town of San Pedro Atocpan in the Milpa Alta borough of Mexico's Federal District, on the southern outskirts of Mexico City. Oaxaca has been nicknamed the "Land of the Seven Moles."

In Guatemala, "mole" refers to a dessert composed of fried or boiled chunks of plantain in a chocolate/spice sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Mole Poblano, whose name comes from the Mexican state of Puebla, is a popular sauce in Mexican cuisine and is the mole that most people in the U.S. think of when they think of mole. Mole poblano is prepared with dried chili peppers (commonly ancho, pasilla, mulato and chipotle), ground nuts and/or seeds (almonds, indigenous peanuts, and/or sesame seeds), spices, Mexican chocolate (cacao ground with sugar and cinnamon and occasionally nuts), salt, and a variety of other ingredients including charred avocado leaves, onions, and garlic. Dried seasonings such as ground oregano are also used. In order to provide a rich thickness to the sauce, bread crumbs or crackers are added to the mix.

Now - while most people associate mole with either with Puebla or Oaxaca , but the origin of Mole Poblano, the thick, rich, chocolate-tinged sauce made so famous in the colonial mountain city of Puebla, Mexico, is still disputed, and generally involves these two versions of the legend:

The first says that 16th Century nuns from the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles, upon learning that the Archbishop was coming for a visit, went into a panic because they had nothing to serve him. The nuns started praying desperately and an angel came to inspire them. They began chopping and grinding and roasting, mixing different types of chiles together with spices, day-old bread, nuts, a little chocolate and approximately 20 other ingredients..

This concoction boiled for hours and was reduced to the thick, sweet, rich and fragrant mole sauce we know today. To serve in the mole, they killed the only meat they had, an old turkey, and the strange sauce was poured over it. The archbishop was more than happy with his banquet and the nuns saved face. Little did they know they were creating the Mexican National dish for holidays and feasts, and that today, millions of people worldwide have at least heard of mole poblano.

The other legend states that mole came from pre-hispanic times and that Aztec king, Moctezuma, thinking the conquistadors were gods, served mole to Cortez at a banquet to receive them. This story probably gained credibility because the word mole comes from the Nahuatl word “milli” which means sauce or “concoction”. Another connection could be that chocolate was widely used in pre-columbian Mexico, so people jumped to that conclusion.

What do the real experts say? “The idea of using chocolate as a flavoring in cooked food would have been horrifying to the Aztecs—just as Christians could not conceive of using communion wine to make, say, coq au vin. In all the pages of Sahagun that deal with Aztec cuisine and with chocolate, there is not a hint that it ever entered into an Aztec dish. Yet, today many food writers and gourmets consider one particular dish, the famous pavo in mole poblano, which contains chocolate, to represent the pinnacle of the Mexican cooking tradition. …the place of origin of the dish and its sauce, the Colonial Puebla de los Angeles; this beautiful city, unlike others in central Mexico, has no Aztec foundations – and neither does the dish, regardless of what food writers may say.” Taken from The True History of Chocolate, Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe [Thames and Hudson: London] 1996 (p. 216-7).

There is no greater expert on pre-hispanic Mesoamerica than Michael Coe and this detective is convinced. Case closed (for now) on the mystery of the origins of mole poblano.

Wherever it came from - it is delicious and I am glad that someone created it!!

Mole Poblano with Chicken


1 (4 - 5) pound chicken, cut up in at least 6 - 8 pieces.
4 dried pasilla chilies
4 dried mulato chilies
6 dried ancho chilies
or 14 dried ancho chilies.
2 cups boiling chicken stock, fresh or canned
3/4 cup blanched almonds
I cup coarsely chopped onions
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped, or I cup drained, canned Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 cup lightly packed seedless raisins
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
I tortilla, broken in small pieces
I teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground canela cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons lard
2 cups cold chicken stock, fresh or canned
11/2 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons sesame seeds


NOTE: Review the instructions for handling of chilies before you begin this recipe.

Heat 4 tablespoons lard in 12" - heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet and cook until brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until almost cooked through approximately 20 - 25 min. Remove chicken and drain on paper towels. Set aside. Drain any excess lard from pan, do not rinse pan.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the mole (sauce). Prepare the chilies using the method described. In a large bowl, pour 2 cups boiling chicken stock over the prepared chilies and soak them for about 30 minutes.

Blend the almonds in the jar of an electric blender until they are completely pulverized. Force the nuts through a sieve and return them to the blender with the chilies, their soaking liquid, the onions, tomatoes, raisins, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, tortilla, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, anise seeds, salt and-pepper, and blend at high speed until the mixture is reduced to a smooth puree.

Alternative - Make Sauce By Hand

To make the sauce by hand, put the chilies, onions, tomatoes, tortilla and garlic through a food mill set over a large bowl and discard any pulp remaining in the mill. With a pestle, pound the almonds, sesame seeds and anise seeds in a mortar until they are pulverized, force them through a sieve, then stir the mixture into the chili puree. Stir in the chilies' soaking liquid and add the cinnamon, cloves, coriander, salt and pepper.

Preparation Continued

In a heavy 10 - inch skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the lard over moderate heat. Pour in the mole and simmer it, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Add the cold stock and the chocolate. Cook, uncovered, over low heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has melted. Cover the skillet and set it aside off the heat. Using the skillet the chicken was cooked in, return the chicken to the skillet. Pour the mole sauce over the chicken, turning the pieces about in the sauce to coat them evenly. Cover the skillet and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, basting the chicken now and then with the sauce.

To serve, arrange the pieces of chicken on a heated platter and pour the sauce over them. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds.

Makes 6 - 8 servings

NOTE: Prepare Dried Chilies

Rinse the chilies under running cool water. Continue to let the water run over the chili as you work. Break the chili in half and pull out the stem and rinse away the seeds. Cut or tear away the ribs.

Once the chilies are cleaned, tear them into pieces and place in a large bowl.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Diet & Exercise - Day 1

Today is DAY 1 of my new diet and exercise commitment. I have been a member at Bally's Fitness for a while now and I have a brand new P90X in the box gathering dust in my closet. Funny how having both a gym membership and a P90X hasn't lost me a single pound - oh, that's right, I have to USE them to get some results...therein lies the rub.

But today - a new start!

I have signed up on and have a online coach to get me into shape tout de suite!

I have the P90X, I am going to the gym today after work and I am starting my balanced, non-fad 2000 calorie a day diet.

Now I have never had a weight or fitness problem for most of my life. I am a former tanker, prison guard and police officer. My 20 year career in law enforcement and the military kept me in shape and my body type and metabolism allowed me to pretty much eat as I wanted. Since I am half-Japanese and I still maintain a lot of aspects of the Japanese diet; namely white rice everyday, three times a day if possible - so most diets menus and foods just don't work for me.

I do enjoy brown rice now and then - but ONLY when I WANT brown rice. The brown rice PR campaign extolling it's nutty, chewy, wholesome taste and texture just doesn't work for me on a daily basis, but then I am a bit of a rice snob. Most Asians I know are rice snobs.

I prefer Japanese short grain white rice - not Chinese, not Thai Jasmine or Indian Basmati - but Japanese short grain white rice. The Japanese also make a microwave single serving rice bowl - ready in 1.5 minutes and tastes AWESOME!

In any case, now that I have a less active lifestyle, I have gained 20 pounds or so over the past 3 - 4 years, and I don't like it.

I worked out with a personal trainer a few years ago who didn't listen to my desire to simply maintain my body the way it was and he started me on a regimen of heavy lifting, supplements and a high calorie diet typical of a weightlifter and the pounds and muscle piled on - a back injury then derailed my working out and I was left with more weight that I had ever known on my frame and a bad back that kept me from doing anything but simply taking it easy, not lifting more than 10 pounds and being very careful not to put any stress or strain on my back.

Finally, my back issues are still present but under control and better overall so I have been cleared to start working out and I hope to get back to my happy weight of 175-180 and to lose my belly.

It is going to be tough since I am a carb-o-phile and also hate water.

I have never liked water, never drank water unless it contained coffee, tea or all of the wonderful chemicals, flavorings and corn syrup in a can of soda pop - Coke was my preferred carbonated drug.

In the past two years, I have switched from soda pop to Glaceau's Vitamin Water; namely the Dragonfruit Power-C variety, so less high fructose corn syrup and 1/2 of the calories. 16 oz. of Coca-Cola has 200 calories and 16 oz. of Power-C Vitamin Water has 100 calories. The label say 50 calories but it is for "one" serving if you read the label and the label also says that a 16 oz. bottle contains "two" servings. Tricky, tricky!

Glaceau claims that their Power-C vitamin water blend, with dragon fruit and taurine, “enables the body to exert physical power by contributing to the integrity of the musculoskeletal system.” It hasn’t exactly instilled in me the strength and ferocity of the dragon that legends promise, but it is yummy. It meets my entire vitamin C needs for the day and 50% of the daily recommended values for 5 of the B-vitamins. I guess we can’t all be strong like dragons, but at least we can be well-hydrated and vitamin-rich the entire year.

Power-C, unfortunately, has 50 calories per serving and I can guzzle 500 calories or more of it a day - not good on a 2000 calorie a day diet.

SO - today I bought a bottle of water, plain, clear flavor and calorie less water to go with my 500 calorie Baja Fresh Chipotle Chicken and Mango Salad.

However - I STILL can't drink plain water - just can't, won't willn't! I added a packet of 10 calorie Propel grape flavored water additive and it is actually not so bad.

Maybe I can skip my workout since I cut so many calories by changing this one thing?!

As I eye up my now empty fried flour tortilla shell bowl that my salad came in - I think not.

Movie Weekend

I love going to the movies, always have and until I have a home theater room with the biggest possible wall sized screen; nothing will replace the whole experience of being in the movie theater. This weekend we saw three movies, I would have loved to have seen four but not sure that Ed wanted (or wants) to go see the new animated film by 宮崎 駿, Miyazaki Hayao called Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ, Gake no Ue no Ponyo).

Anyway, we saw:

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

OK, I had almost every GI Joe toy growing up. I also watched the cartoon. Being a young kid during the 80's was awesome. (Micronauts, Thundarr the Barbarian, Freakies cereal!) As far as I am concerned, the toys and the cartoons from that era are the best!

However, I have to say, even though there was a little cheesiness to it, I really enjoyed this movie. This movie is based off a toy/cartoon/comic book. It isn't like other comics that could be deep, or thought provoking. It was always mainly about action, cool weapons, good guys and bad guys, getting caught and then escaping. This movie is just that. A action movie from start to finish. Has enough of a storyline to make it from beginning to end, but is mainly about the action. It doesn't give you a lot of back story to the characters. You do get a couple flashbacks, just so you know who people are, and how they are connected. But this isn't really an origins movie. I think some people were expecting some kind of epic movie experience. This movie is not that! This is a popcorn/ summer action movie/ and a way to relive some childhood memories for those of us who grew up watching the cartoon, or playing with the toys.

I will admit though, although I did like the movie, some of the special effects were not that good. There were a few times during the movie where I saw something that just looked too fake, and I was like ... "that is just cheesy". But overall, it was a fun movie. Definitely not one I regret going to see.

Julie and Julia

I loved this movie and Meryl Streep certainly put in yet another amazing performance as Julia Child. When an actor plays a real-life character, I always hope they will capture the physical essence of the person, the tone of a particular voice and its speech patterns. A good actor can usually give us something that's good enough. But, this time, watching Meryl Streep as Julia Child as she stands at a table with her classmates at Le Cordon Bleu; as she sits down to dinner with her husband, Paul (Stanley Tucci), the two of them really enjoying each other and their food-goes beyond mere acting. Streep isn't playing Julia Child here, but something both more amzing and more truthful - she's playing my idea of Julia Child.

The performances by the leads and the many supporting roles are great - you can't help loving the characters portrayed. The biographic nature of the 'Juila' story combines nicely with the more present day 'Julie' storyline - leaving the viewer to root for Julie's cooking goal while simply falling in love with Meryl Streep's Julia Child. In both stories we are treated to their relationship with food, their husbands and the challenging worlds they inhabit.

I did not read the book by Julie Powell, and her blog still exists at:

but I did read the posthumous biography of Julia Child and loved it. If you are a fan of Julia Child or Meryl Streep or movies about food - go see this movie!


Because of Meryl Streep's height (5'6") several camera/set/costume tricks had to be employed to mimic Julia Child's height (6'2"). Countertops were lowered, Streep wore extra high heels, and forced perspective camera angles were used.

Both the Paris and Boston train terminal shots were done in the beautifully restored New Jersey Transit Hoboken Train Terminal waiting room.

Eric Powell's quote ("I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by") was originally made by Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005). Eric explains this himself, immediately after delivering the line.

District 9

Now this was a movie I knew almost nothing about before I saw it - just that it was about aliens hidden in a ghetto in Johannesburg.

The movie was completely not what I expected and I ended up enjoying it.

It is best to go see this movie knowing as little as possible about it. The following movie trivia won't spoil your experience.


The leading actor/star, Sharlto Copley had not acted before and had no intention of pursuing an acting career. He stumbled into the leading role as Neill Blomkamp placed him on-camera during the short film.

All of the "prawns" in the film are CGI with the sole exception of the ones on the operating table in the medical lab.

The mutilated animal carcasses in the background of many scenes were real and with only a few exceptions, were already in the real slums and shacks used for the filming.

All the shacks in District 9 were actual shacks that exists in a section of Johannesburg which were to be evacuated and the residents moved to better government housing, paralleling the events in the film. Also paralleling, the residents had not actually been moved out before filming began. The only shack that was created solely for filming was Christopher Johnson's shack.

The idea of the prawns being obsessed with cat food came from two inspirations. In impoverished areas of Johannesburg, Neill Blomkamp would see people selling cheese poofs and other snack foods out of large 3-foot tall bags and wanted the aliens to have a similar cheap food. The decision to make them cat food came from one of the producers who used canned cat food to bait hooks when fishing for prawns in Vancouver.

Several Afrikaans curse words can be heard throughout the film, including 'doos' (which is a slang term for vagina) and vok/vokken (which means f**k/f**king). Also at some point, a sniper says "Kom na pappa", which translates to "Come to daddy".

Speaking of movies, I can't wait to see the new "Tetsuwan Atomu" or Astro Boy movie that is due out October 23, 2009!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

860 calorie breakfasts and losing weight - TGIF!!

Well, I am one week back from Nantucket or Nansuckit as we nicknamed it. I have to do my papers this weekend to finish that bit of the INSDSG summer program, because MONDAY is a whole new day.

I think that change - real,true,lasting, change - doesn't happen until you are really sick of a situation or personal trait to the point that you just can't take it any longer. I am at that point with my body. Nantucket was the first time that I have been on a beach in over 5 years, perhaps longer...closer to 7 years I think.

In any case, I just had a hard time being on the beach (regardless of all of the other out-of-shape beach goers around me) and stayed in my t-shirt all but one day when Jennifer, Jolene and I went to Siaconset Beach. It was a hard thing for me to take my shirt off and actually go down to the beach into the water. Thank God the water hid my belly LOL.

I have never had a weight or fitness problem for most of my life. I am a former tanker, prison guard and police officer. My 20 year career in law enforcement and the military kept me in shape and my body type and metabolism allowed me to pretty much eat as I wanted. Since I am half-Japanese and I still maintain a lot of aspects of the Japanese diet; namely white rice everyday, now that I have a less active lifestyle, I have gained 20 pounds over the past 3-4 years.

I was working out with a personal trainer who really didn't listen to my desire to simply maintain my body the way it was and he started me on a regimen of heavy lifting, supplements and a high calorie diet typical of a weightlifter and the pounds and muscle piled on - a back injury then derailed my working out and I was left with more weight that I had ever known on my frame and a bad back that kept me from doing anything but simply taking it easy, not lifting more than 10 pounds and being very careful not to put any stress or strain on my back.

In retrospect, I should have really insisted that I just do the workout that I wanted to maintain my body the way I wanted - but that is all past and the reality is that I have to get this weight off. OFF!!

Now, my back issues are still present but I have been cleared to start working out and I hope to get back to my happy weight of 175-180 and most importantly, to lose my belly.

I signed up with and I am going to spend this weekend getting all of that info in order so that Monday I can get started on my workout and diet plan.

I will be doing a 2000 calorie low carb plan along with my workout and will track my progress via my blog. Yes, I will post my fat "before" photo at some point before Monday - the shame of it might really kick me into working hard ASAP. Did I mention that I HATE HATE HATE working out? Well, I HATE it.

So today, I will enjoy my breakfast of a venti Starbucks green tea latte (370 calories), a Starbucks egg salad whole wheat sandwich (490 calories) and get my head in the right state for Monday.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

It is Sunday morning and I am back home. I had originally planned to return on Saturday and then I found out that the program ended by 12:00 Friday so I decided to get off the island as soon as possible. This weekend is the annual family fishing trip & seafood party hosted by John & Lisa.

In any case, class ended on time Friday and I was back at the UMB Gouin Village units by 12:00 noon. I had packed up everything before we left for class and so I just did a quick check and then called Milestone Cab (the BEST cab service on Nantucket, gotta give them a shout out!) to take me to the Hy-Line Ferry dock in town. "Mike" the Bulgarian cabbie that Jennifer, Jolene and I had gotten the other day buzzed me down in no time and I had checked in and was on the dock and ready to go by 12:30.

I had to get to Boston's South Station ASAP to exchange my Saturday ticket and I wanted to forego taking the bus (which took 1.5+ hours) and just get a limo or taxi to zip me from Hyannis to Boston in less than an hour. However, Friday was also the day that family, friends and celebrities descended upon Hyannis to honor Eunice Kennedy Shriver at her private funeral.

(Pallbearers, from left, Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Sam Shriver, Maria Shriver, Robert Kennedy Shriver, Tim Shriver Jr., Mark Kennedy Shriver and Tim Kennedy Shriver carry the casket of Eunice Kennedy Shriver outside Saint Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church in Hyannis, Mass., on Friday. Photo: Adam Hunger/Reuters)

There was NO one available before 6 PM to get me from Hyannis to Boston. If I didn't get to Boston before 6:00 PM, the only train going to Philly was at 9:45 PM. I figured that there wasn't much I could do but hope for the best and would get home when I could. Shigata ga nai, ne?

I didn't have to be in line for boarding until 1:10 - 1:15 for the 1:25 ferry so I wandered about the dock shops until I saw the Nantucket Nectars Ice Cream Shop (Yes, THAT Nantucket Nectars, although the "Toms" are no longer on the island now that they made it big...) and so I popped in to get something to drink. The "Juice Guys" ice cream stand is basically a hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop with the Nantucket Nectar juices and some baked goods. They had an interesting ice cream flavor called Lobster Crunch - vanilla ice cream with red caramel and some crunchy element that I can't remember...

If interested, here is the story of the "Toms" and Nantucket Nectars: CLICK HERE

Anyhoo - I settled on a "Pink Nectar", some watermelon-peachy smoothie with vanilla yougurt whenb I noticed that standing next to me was Soleil from class who also got some kind of smoothie.

We went out to wait in line for the ferry and were idly chatting when she asked me if I wanted to ride with her to Boston. It seemed that she had worked in the area some 20 years before at the now defunct Wang Laboratories (At its peak in the 1980s, Wang Laboratories had annual revenues of $3 billion and employed over 40,000 people.) and had recently been contacted by an old co-worker in the area.

I thanked her and declined, telling her that I already had a P-B bus ticket in hand although I was also trying to get a limo/taxi to take me to Boston's South Station directly to save time and to avoid the incessant bus stops which made an hour trip by car almost 2 hours - an hour longer. I really didn't want to inconvenience her and I couldn't imagine her friend (who lived 21 miles away from Boston in Lexington, MA) would want to take a total stranger into downtown Boston.

We boarded the ferry on time and continued chatting across the sound when about halfway across, I went to check our location on the GPS and to keep Ed apprised of my status on the escape from the island. Ed & the boys were on a fishing boat out of Belmar, but we kept in pretty constant text contact via our respective iPhones.

So here I am in the middle of Nantucket Sound texting Ed back and forth when suddenly my screen fades by 50% and then out of nowhere I see the apple icon appear before the whole thing faded to blackness.

Even though I knew that there is no hope for resuscitation, I had to make an effort to revive my quite dead iPhone. The iPhone, not surprisingly, did not respond to any of the reboot/restart attempts and so I knew that it was gone. Literally in the blink of an eye, the technological marvel that had guided me all over the island and kept me in constant touch with home and work - was just gone. Still, silent, dead.

We arrived in Hyannis on time but Soleil's friend was caught in the traffic coming in for the funeral and so was about an hour late. It was after 3:30 before we headed into Boston. My chances of making it home by midnight were looking slim.

To make an already too long post short, I ended up taking the offer of a ride from Soleil and her friend zipped me directly to the Apple superstore in downtown Boston within an hour and I was literally in and out of the Apple store in 10 minutes. They gave me a new iPhone (free - thanks to the $69 protection plan), plopped in the sim card from my old iPhone and even flagged me a taxi to get me to South Station which was about 10 minutes away.

I texted Ed immediately from my new iPhone and as predicted, he was worried about me having lost contact with me in mid-text some 3 or so hours earlier.

The rest was pretty smooth sailing. I arrived at South Station at 5:15 PM or so and exchanged my ticket for the 6:40 PM to Penn Station NYC. From NYC, I would transfer to another train that would arrive at 30th Street Station, Philadelphia at 12:42 AM.

I made it home on time, with a couple of unscheduled delays but thanks to the kindness of strangers, I made it back and here I am posting my blog over a cup of Earl Grey tea with Maya at my feet and the cicadas singing in the trees.

Life is good.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Goodbye Nantucket!!


It is here - the LAST DAY of this 2 week academic adventure/fishbowl experiment.

We have one more block of instruction and discussion this morning and then we are supposed to be back at the condos by 12:00 noon so that I can start my trek back home via the Hy-Line Hi-Speed Ferry from the dock.

While I do not have any second thoughts or regrets about leaving this island affectionately referred to as the "Little Grey Lady of the Sea", because of the grey shingles and frequent fog, I have mad some good friends, had some good laughs and I will certainly miss them!!

A bit of Nantucket trivia:

Nantucket is an island, a county, and a town. It is the only place in America with the same name for all three.

The name Nantucket is derived from a Native American word meaning "faraway island" or "land far out to sea."

• Nantucket was populated with approximately 1,500 Native Americans of the Wampanoag Tribe when it was discovered and charted in 1602 by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold.

• The history of Nantucket's settlement by the English begins in 1659, when Thomas Mayhew sold his interests to the "nine original purchasers": Tristram Coffin, Thomas Macy, Christopher Hussey, Richard Swayne, Thomas Bernard, Peter Coffin, Stephen Greenleafe, John Swayne, and William Pike for, "thirty pounds...and two Beaver hats one for myself and one for my wife."

• During its whaling days, Nantucket was the third largest city in Massachusetts, with a population of 10,000. Only Boston and Salem were larger.

• At its peak, there were 88 Nantucket whaling ships sailing around the world. Nantucket Island was considered the Whaling Capital of the World from 1800 to 1840.

• The Great Fire of 1846 destroyed the wharves and much of the business district. This fire, the dwindling demand for whale oil, the silting-up of the harbor, and the discovery of gold in California in 1849, all marked the end of the whaling-era prosperity and the beginning of an economic depression that lasted until tourism replaced whaling as Nantucket's economic base.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Instructional Design on Nantucket

The two courses that I went through these past two weeks were:

INSDSG 602 The Adult as Learner

3 Credits

Students are introduced to the body of knowledge concerning adults as learners. This course focuses on the principles of adult education, learning styles, variables that affect adult learning, motivation techniques, appropriate training methodologies, reinforcement of learning, skill transfer, and measurement procedures for identifying learner characteristics.

By permission only

Part of MEd program in Instructional Design; for more information, email:,

INSDSG 604 Communication Theory for Organizations

3 Credits

This course focuses on the study of communication as applied to instructional technology, and on theories of media communication. It covers audience variables, systems of media analysis, message structure, environmental factors, and the integration of these elements into an efficient communication model.

Prerequisites: INSDSG 601 and 602 and Graduate degree student.

By permission only

Part of MEd program in Instructional Design; for more information, email:

TED Talks II

Well one more wake up and I will be on my way off island with 6 credits and 2 core classes done in my M.Ed in Instructional Design program. I am hoping to be finished with the entire program by Fall 2010.

Tonight, we had another night session and saw two videos:

1. TED Talks - Clay Shirky on "How Social Media Can make History":

I felt that is was pretty interesting and certainly shows the change, progression and development of the internet towards an omni-media future where it will become the hub of a lot of the current media and social interaction.

The second video to me was a bit of a left turn, but interesting in its own right.

2. Charlie Rose: "A conversation with Neurologist V.S. Ramachandran".

Interesting topics; but for me, a bit disjointed and the whole point of watching these videos for this class was lost on me.

14 Hours and Counting to get OFF NANTUCKET!!!

Sentiment by Escada

I have had a favorite cologne to wear ever since I discovered it at Douglas years ago. Oddly enough, they no longer carry it and even if they did, I can get it MUCH cheaper these days online than in the store. To get it at 70% off retail, CLICK HERE.

Sentiment by Escada is a great scent for an Aquarius, I think. It is described as:

"A modern, sensual fragrance for a man with generosity of heart and spirit a man in tune with his era. This scent contains jackfruit, green lime, juniper, spices, and warm woods."

I can't speak to the advertising but it is an awesome scent and I have never had anyone not like the scent so it will be my signature scent for as long as I can get it - or until a better one comes along.

30 Hours and Counting!!

What a Gorton's Fisherman kind of day it is - gray, raining, foggy-hazy - dreary. Somehow in the gray morning, the weathered gray cedar shingled houses of Nantucket are not quite so charming - or perhaps it is just the cumulative effect on me of these last intense two weeks on Nantucket. Here is the view outside my window this morning:

I am looking forward to coming back from class today and getting sorted, packing up for the journey home and seeing the two most important faces in my world - Ed, the best partner, spouse, friend, cheerleader, hero and champion anyone could ever hope for or have in their journey through life and Maya, my sweet, loving innocent 70+ pound fur ball of pure, unconditional love. They are my family, my anchors and my port in the storm every day of every week. I love them dearly and with all of my heart.

Last night, Chris, Erica, Jolene and I went to Jettie's Beach for dinner and I had an oddly compelling urge to get a raincoat (at 50% off) - which if you ask anyone who knows me; is not a particularly common or normal urge for me at any time - but I am SO HAPPY I did!!

Time to make the coffee and the countdown to getting off the island has begun!!

29 hours and 49 minutes....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Family of Origin

In talking about feelings and how they drive behavior, I think that for me it is also really important to understand the whole 'family of origin' concept and how it affects our respective feelings and behavior.

It certainly has been a revelation that has truly taken my understanding of myself and others in my life to an entirely new level.

In terms of relationships, I think that two people, a couple - cannot fully join to each other until they have dealt with and understand the influence that each brings to the relationship from their families of origin.

This can hold true for close friendships, I suppose, but I found it was really relevant in my own primary relationships over the years as I think back on the important relationships that I have had in my life.

While connection with extensive family networks can be a great source of support and encouragement, they should never be a controlling factor in the lives of you or your primary relationship with your spouse.

Many spouses are still as connected or even more connected to their families of origin as they are to their spouses. Clear signs of this are when one or both spouses excessively serve the family of origin and allow the family of origin to crash into their lives whenever and however they choose without discussion or restraint.

There are oftentimes no boundaries set on the family of origin’s impact.

Whether geographically close or not, extended family relationships can be unhealthy to a couple's relationship. This enmeshment may show up as an adult child calling their parent several times a day and depending on the parent's support instead of their spouse.

This often means that the spouse is in second place to the parent or family of origin.

I’ve also witnessed and encountered situations where sons and daughters place their parents before their wives and husbands, perhaps insisting for example, that all major holidays be spent with them - and them only.

Families, clergy, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances of all types are capable of damaging individuality. Families can be too distant and detached from one another, but they can also be too close.

It may be hard to picture too much closeness, but closeness can be stifling if you are unaware of the impact it is having on your primary relationship.

When individuals are too bent on pleasing one another, healthy engagement gives way to unhealthy enmeshment.

* Each person has to know what the others are doing.
* No privacy and no appropriate secrets are permitted.
* Gossip is rampant.
* Communication is triangulated.
* People tell one another how to behave and feel.
* People talk for one another.
* People tell others how the others are feeling or what they are thinking.
* One or more family members is overly controlling.
* The family has a “right” way to do things and no other way is tolerated.

Before I heard and understood the term “enmeshed families,” I had developed my own definition for these behavioral traits: a big wad of tangled snakes writhing together and biting each other.

The analogy was based on the realization that such families are tangled in each others' lives to the point that you can’t tell where one starts and the other stops.

They often live from one “biting” episode to another. Perhaps somebody is not talking to somebody else at any given time or creating hurt and issues where none is intended.

It is a cycle of twisted, negative behavior that causes more damage and hurt to a relationship and the family at large as opposed to being nurturing and a truly loving environment.

When extended family units are enmeshed, often individual families are also enmeshed because that’s the way the adults learned to relate to one another.

For instance, enmeshment happens in the parent—child relationship when a child is expected to fulfill the family's choice of career.

Enmeshment happens in marriage when the husband and/or wife isn’t allowed to maintain his or her individuality but is expected to mold to others' expectations.

Enmeshed families often come together to create enmeshed relationships. These families tend to stifle creativity and stick to rigid traditions that aren’t very helpful in maintaining a loving and secure environment for all of the members to flourish as individuals and as members of the extended family.

Individuals unknowingly trapped or willingly kept in their family of origin issues tend to only be interested in defending their “standards” or traditions than seeking truth and living cooperatively and giving respect to all members of the extended family. Oftentimes individual members are sacrificed or punished to maintain the fixed tradition(s) or rules.

If you can see the elements of enmeshment in your family, start drawing healthy boundaries. Put yourself, your mate and your immediate family first.

If need be, explain what’s happening gently to people as you change and adjust within the family group(s).

Give yourself permission to plan a trip away this holiday season. It doesn’t have to be far. Nobody in your extended family will die if you aren’t there, and you and your own family will be healthier for it.

When two individuals are differentiated and secure in their own identities, they can give themselves to one another and become truly integrated and attain the respect and intimacy within the relationship for each other to keep it healthy and alive.

This DOES NOT mean that either member has to abandon their respective families or values taken from their families of origin.

What this DOES mean is that they have a close and stable relationship with their parents and a loyalty to the system in which they were raised, but now they combine their family backgrounds into a new and distinct system where differences in the families and the respective individuals are allowed to exist without being ostracized, punished, disrespected or held hostage by either families' members.

Enmeshment is the opposite of individuality. Take the chains of conformity and control off of you, your mate, and your kids.

Allow and encourage yourselves and your spouses to be who you are and to manifest the strengths that you have to strengthen each other as well as your relationship.

Allow and encourage your children to share their feelings, even if it sometimes involves something negative.

Support healthy communication and teach the giving and receiving of grace.

Strive for happiness and be mindful of others' feelings and treat them as you might want to be treated. Clichéd and trite? Perhaps, but who doesn't ultimately want to be treated with respect?

Finally, know when to let loose the ego, let go the fight and to disengage from unhealthy family interactions.

Family is an important, beautiful thing and your family of origin helped to define "who" you are and is equally important if you understand its pros and cons.

With respect, communication and acceptance of all members in the family to be who they are; the twisted snakes will fall away and love, laughter and happiness will reign - building bridges where once dark chasms existed.

You only have your happiness, your spouse and your family to gain.


Feelings Drive Behavior

"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

- Carl W. Buechner

This may be a simple statement, but it more often than not rings true - if we are being truly honest with ourselves.

I know that it is true for me and once I became cognizant about the reasons - and the process - in which I think and act the way I do, I was able to effect change in myself and in my environment.

I think every person has deeply personal emotional needs that are far more powerful than their knowledge needs. Generally, emotions drive behaviors, making them far more important than facts and logic in the behavior change process.

Stop and think about what makes you feel and act the way you do and the process in which you experience others and the world around you day-to-day be it at home, or office.

All people want to feel good about themselves. If we can understand the underlying emotional motivators that drive a person's behavior, then we can better understand and then better communicate or deal with that person.

Generally, I think people feel good about themselves when they feel more powerful, intelligent, capable, successful and secure. I know that this is true for me on most days, unless I have a need to feel otherwise be it victim, saint, matyr or hero.

I used to find external reasons or excuses as to "why" I was feeling the way I was, oftentimes wanting to place blame on anyone but myself.

Now, I try to step outside of myself - or my emotional reaction - to try to understand "why" I feel the way I do and what gain I am getting from the behavior or message I am sending AND receiving.

Sometimes I do know and choose not to care so that I can wallow in whatever my primary and secondary gains are in the particular instance but more often than not; I do try to examine, reflect and take a hard, honest look at myself to see what I am really doing and wanting from the situation.

Emotions drive behaviors — but facts and information are still an important part of understanding your own or another person's behavior process. I think feelings and emotions hook people first and logic and factual information follow close behind.

If and when people are motivated to change, they need to have simple, practical information to act on to use as a springboard for growth, understanding and ultimately change.

Otherwise, one stays in the "well, that is the way I am" state of being and no growth, introspection or change can occur

Both emotions and knowledge must work together for change, but I truly believe emotions come first and are paramount to what drives our behavior, and if you can understand the process of 'how' and 'why' you act the way you do - it will only then open the door to true growth and self-enlightenment; as well as improving your ability to work and communicate with other people.


TED Talks

Tonight we had a night discussion around two videos from TED Talks (

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx community program, this year's TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize.

The first video was by Tom Wujec on "3 ways the brain creates meaning":

The second video was by Tom Wujec on "Language and Thought":

Both were interesting ideas and there was some lively discussion about both, although Pinker's video created the most dialogue.

Madonna's New Single - "Celebration"

Madonna has released her new single "Celebration" and it is awesome fun. Available on iTunes. Here is a remix version from YouTube. With less than 2 days to go on Nantucket, it is certainly à propos!! Enjoy - Celebrate!!!

Microwave Rice & Bento Boxes

Less than 2.5 days left until this program is over and I will be going back across Nantucket Sound for home.

Along with the core group of great people that I have met: Chris, Erica, Jennifer and of course, Jolene, my lifesaver has been the miracle of microwave rice and my Tiger Bento Box.

The first week, class was done by 12:00 - 12:30 so there was no need to bring a lunch. This week, the classes are going later, until 2:00 or so and we are required to bring a lunch.

This week's lunch for me has consisted of:

Monday: Thai tuna and rice, Vietnamese Summer Rolls and Miso Soup with Aburage.

Tuesday: Southwest Chicken and brown rice, steamed, shelled edamame and pears in syrup.

Wednesday: Japanese Chicken Curry and rice,spring onion miso soup and fresh apricots

Thursday (tomorrow): Gyudon (Beef Donburi), red miso soup and pickles

From the compact nature of the bento box to the included chopsticks and case, a few of my classmates were amazed at what a small container could hold.

My lunch was also made possible and easy by the availability even here on Nantucket's Stop n' Shop of microwave Nishiki white and brown rice. 1.5 minutes in the microwave and a perfect, hot steaming bowl of Japanese rice. My nephew David would SO love these!!

Truly awesome. And yes, I bought out both cases of white rice and one of the two cases of brown rice.

I gave Erica four of the white rice packets and she, like me - was thrilled at the comfort of having the staff of Japanese life in her pantry; ready to spring to service in a mere 1.5 minutes!

Survivor Island with microwave rice - it's a good thing!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Clam Chowder II

So one more bit on clam chowder with a local recipe:

New Englanders use the Native American term quahog. The name quahog derives from the Narragansett Indian name for "poquauhock." The scientific name, mercenaria, of these clams comes from Latin meaning "wages." because Native Americans strung the shells like beads and used them as money or "wampum." Quahogs replace fish in the fish-milk stews of coastal England and France to become New England chowder. Prounounced "chowdah" by people situated north of Connecticut.

In Maine, those living on one side of Penobscot Bay like their clam chowder made with tomatoes, while those living on the other side like it made with milk and no tomatoes. Maine residents often call their region "Down East" and their chowder "Down East Chowder." The definition of of "Down East" is:

When ships sailed from Boston to ports in Maine (which were to the east of Boston), the wind was at their backs, so they were sailing downwind, hence the term “Down East.” And it follows that when they returned to Boston they were sailing upwind; many Mainers still speak of going “up to Boston,” despite the fact that the city lies approximately fifty miles to the south of Maine’s southern border.

By 1836, clam chowder was already well-know in Boston and served at Ye Olde Union Oyster House, the nation's oldest continuously operating restaurant. The building that houses the Union Oyster House is about 250 years old. Daniel Webster, the noted lawyer and orator who served as a Congressman and as Secretary of State, was a regular at the bar, where he was known for downing a tumbler of brandy and water with each half-dozen oysters--and he'd rarely eat less than six plates of the tasty bivalves!

Herman Melville (1819-1891), American novelist, devoted a whole chapter in his famous 1851 book Moby Dick. He writes of the Try Pots, a chowder house in Nantucket, Mass., which served only cod or clam chowder:

However, a warm savory steam from the kitchen served to belie the apparently cheerless prospect before us. But when that smoking chowder came in, the mystery was delightfully explained. Oh, sweet friends! hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt. Our appetites being sharpened by the frosty voyage, and in particular, Queequeg seeing his favourite fishing food before him, and the chowder being surpassingly excellent, we despatched it with great expedition: when leaning back a moment and bethinking me of Mrs. Hussey's clam and cod announcement, I thought I would try a little experiment. Stepping to the kitchen door, I uttered the word "cod" with great emphasis, and resumed my seat. In a few moments the savoury steam came forth again, but with a different flavor, and in good time a fine cod-chowder was placed before us . . . Fishiest of all fishy places was the Try Pots, which well deserved its name; for the pots there were always boiling chowders. Chowder for breakfast, and chowder for dinner, and chowder for supper, till you began to look for fish-bones coming through your clothes. The area before the house was paved with clam-shells.

Western Rhode Islanders prefer clear chowder, while others swear by adding just enough tomatoes to tint it a pretty pink color.

Joseph C. Lincoln (1870-1944), author of 47 books and plays about Cape Cod wrote about New England clam chowder:

A New England clam chowder, made as it should be, is a dish to preach about, to chant praises and sing hymns and burn incense before. To fight for. The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought for--or on--clam chowder; part of it at least, I am sure it was. It is as American as the Stars and Stripes, as patriotic as the national Anthem. It is 'Yankee Doodle in a kettle.'

"Nantucket Clam Chowder"


1/4 pound salt pork or slab bacon, finely diced
1 quart fresh quahogs, shucked, packed in 1 cup of their own juice (see note)
2 cups water
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 1/2 cups diced new potatoes
4 cups milk or half and half
8 teaspoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Note: If you buy your clams in the shell, you will need to shuck them with an oyster knife and reserve 1 cup of the juice; if there is not enough, add commercially bottled clam juice.

In a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat, saute the pork or bacon until all fat is rendered and all that remains is the cracklings. Remove them and reserve. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.

Take the clams out of their liquid and reserve it. Rinse the clams in 2 cups water. Strain the water and reserve. Finely mince the clams.

Saute the onions and clams in the pork fat for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the cracklings.

In a saucepan, heat the milk or half and half; do not boil. Add to the chowder. Serve hot with a teaspoon of unsalted butter on top of each bowl. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Serve with crackers.

Makes 8 servings.

Fireworks Video from Boston Pops on Nantucket

Here is a brief video of the fireworks show after the 1812 Overture finale. Yes, the video is sideways due to how I was holding my iPhone so just turn your monitor on its side...

Sconset Beach & Clam Chowder

Jennifer, Jolene and I set out this morning at 9:30 AM for Siaconset Beach. It is about 6 miles from the Gouin Village and we can take a transit shuttle for $2.00 so we decided to forego the idyllic notion of biking out there and back. In truth, the biking thing is a whole lot of work and in hot, humid sticky weather - it is not idyllic or romantic in any way, unless being sticky, sweaty, hot and dirty are your idea of nirvana.

The formal name is Siasconset, but locals call it 'Sconset for short.

It is at the most eastern point of Nantucket, and you look out into the Atlantic Ocean and all you see beyond that is Portugal. Well, if you could see Portugal anyway...

All the travel and leisure magazine rate Sconset beach the third best in New England.

It was not crowded, and Sconset beach is a wide expanse of sand dotted with occasional sunbathers, book readers and we saw a seal here and there in the water.

The water was cold - even for Jolene - and so we just sat on the beach and just chatted and sunbathed from 10:30 to 12:30 before we headed back to the village of Sconset to have lunch at the Sconset cafe.

There was a Sconset Cafe Clam Chowder on the menu and it stated that it is said to be the "best" on Nantucket - so I had to try it.

Jennifer and I have pretty much tried every chowder at every place we have been and the Sconset chowder is not the typical thick, creamy Quahog chowder that we have had all over the island. The Sconset chowder was a "true" Cape Cod milk chowder. It was a thin, unthickened milk-based chowder with chunks of red potatoes and chopped Quahogs. There was also a golden slick of butter floating on the top.

It was a good chowder, but not great by any means and certainly not "the best" I ever had by a long shot.

It is said that native New Englanders will say that the thin milk chowder is the most authentic one as opposed to the thick, wallpaper paste consistency chowder that predominates the country as "New England Clam Chowder". Supposedly, New Englanders believe that chowders should be thickened with crackers - nothing else.

It is unclear if chowder was an invention of the French, British, or Native Americans, but its development clearly has links to the growth of the fishing trade off the coast of the Canadian Maritime Provinces and New England. Fish chowder received its first bit of publicity in 1751 in Boston, while there was no written reference to clams in chowder until 1833, when Lydia Maria Child mentioned that “a few clams are a pleasant addition” to her fish chowder recipe. (While it makes many New Englanders squirm, Ms. Child also used the same recipe to introduce the concept of adding tomato (in the form of ketchup) to her chowder — instantly igniting the issue that has forever sundered sensible New Englanders and their milk-based New England Clam Chowder from their big-city neighbors to the south with their tomato-mish-mash Manhattan Clam Chowder. Will these senseless feuds never end!?)

Anyway, in 1837, another cookbook writer, Eliza Leslie, took the courageous stand that “chowder may be made of clams,” and further secured the world’s gratitude by advocating the use of potatoes in chowder. In decades to follow, thousands of varieties of clam chowder evolved, often according to ingredient availability (soft-shell clams, or steamers, being the staple in Maine because of their abundance; quahogs being chosen on Cape Cod because of their profusion).

Among thousands of clam chowders, no more than three or four broad categories have taken on names that chefs or food snobs would agree on. There are two recognized types of New England clam chowder (the assertive chowder made with quahogs and seasoned with herbs and often garlic, and the sweeter, more subtle steamer, or soft-shell, clam chowder, which is less heavily seasoned). According to Jasper White, both include a creamy broth with clams, potatoes, onions, celery, and salt pork or bacon, but neither of these two varieties has an official name other than New England Clam Chowder.

Yes, there is Manhattan Clam Chowder, which some have characterized as vegetable soup with clams. It, too, has many, many varieties. In between — geographically and culinarily — there is is Rhode Island Clam Chowder, which has neither tomatoes nor milk, but a clear broth (although pitchers of hot milk are often served alongside for those who realize that Rhode Island is actually a part of New England).

In your zeal to understand chowder, you have fallen into the trap of believing that — like most things in our commercial society — everything in the food world is branded. There is no official Boston Clam Chowder, nor can we find any agreement about what particular variation of New England Clam Chowder it would refer to. That doesn’t mean, of course, that dishes by that name don’t appear on hundreds of restaurant menus inside and outside of Boston. Authentic Clam Chowder is either an oxymoron or it applies equally to any and all clam chowders ever made.

I actually like any variety of clam chowder as long as it has milk and potatoes - and I despise Manhattan Clam Chowder as much as I love the creamy versions.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Boston Pops on Nantucket

A annual benefit for Nantucket Cottage Hospital, the Boston Pops on Nantucket is a tradition - this is their 13th year.

The host was Chris Matthews from 'Hardball with Chris Matthews'.

Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops' annual Pops on Nantucket concert featured Broadway sensation Michael Cavanaugh, hand-picked by Billy Joel to star in his smash hit Movin’ Out. Cavanaugh brought a fun night of the Piano Man’s music to Jetties Beach, including such show-stoppers as “River of Dreams,” “You May Be Right,” “Uptown Girl,” and “Piano Man.”

Keith Lockhart also lead the orchestra with music from the Boston Pops' latest release The Red Sox Album, including Fenway’s favorite “Sweet Caroline,” and other baseball classics such as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with soprano Kristen Watson and tenor Matthew Anderson, and “Casey at the Bat” with narrator Jeremiah Kissel.

The concert culminated with the 1812 Overture and fireworks.

As thousands of people left the beach and headed for town, we managed to run right into an empty cab that held 10 easily - so we were whisked back to our units in no time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

INSDSG 602 The Adult As Learner - DONE!!

The first week of life at Gouin Village is finished - and it was an intense but really rewarding week. I certainly got a lot out of the week's lessons and activities; and I certainly learned more in this week than I would have in the same class over 14 weeks in Boston in a traditional classroom setting.

We were introduced to the body of knowledge concerning adults as learners. We focused on the principles of adult education, learning styles, variables that affect adult learning, motivation techniques, appropriate training methodologies, reinforcement of learning, skill transfer, and measurement procedures for identifying learner characteristics.

We had to do a brief synopsis of 'what' we each learned and what we would take away from the experience and then attribute it to a head, heart, hand sort of viewpoint.

In my head, I have to say that I learned SO much about myself and about myself with others. I also learned to appreciate people I might not have prior to the course and also learned different strategies and methods to communicate and work with people in my day-to-day; so I definitely will be taking away more valuable and effective tools than I came into the program with - that is for certain.

That said, I am SO SO SO glad that it is done more week!!!


Judith's Surprise Birthday Cake

Judith who is the Program Director had a birthday right before we arrived last week and so I thought it might be nice at the end of the week to get her a cake to celebrate. I had a cake made by the Nantucket Bake Shop and while they could not put a red cardinal or the 'left center right' dice on the cake (Buddy Valastro could make a KILLING on this island!!), they did make a beautiful chocolate cake with red roses and white icing on short notice. I found some beer bottle candles and voilà!

Last night when she returned to the village, we had the cake waiting for her on the dining table.

Here we are singing Judith 'Happy Birthday' and she seemed really happy with her cake!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy Birthday David H!!!

Today is my nephew David's birthday and since I am on Nantucket until the 15th, I am unfortunately missing his birthday celebration tonight.


Love ya!!

Uncle Pat (^_^)

The Accomodator

One of the other self-assessments that we did on our own was the Kolb Learning Style Inventory

Based on this assessment - I am very firmly an 'Accomodator'.

"The Learning Style Inventory (LSI) is a simple self-description test, based on experiential learning theory, that is designed to measure your strengths and weaknesses as a learner.

Experiential learning is conceived as a four stage cycle:

(1) immediate concrete experience is the basis for
(2) observation and reflection;
(3) these observations are assimilated into a "theory" from which new implications for action can be deduced;
(4) these implications or hypotheses then serve as guides in acting to create new experiences.

The effective learner relies on four different learning modes:

Concrete Experience (CE)

Reflective Observation (RO)

Abstract Conceptualization (AC)

Active Experimentation (AE)

That is, he must be able to involve himself fully, openly, and without bias in new experiences (CE), he must be able to reflect on and observe these experiences from many perspectives (RO), he must be able to create concepts that integrate his observations into logically sound theories (AC), and he must be able to use these theories to make decisions and solve problems (AE).

A high score on Concrete Experience represents a receptive, experience-based approach to learning that relies heavily on feeling-based judgments. High CE individuals tend to be empathetic and "people-oriented." They generally find theoretical approaches to be unhelpful and prefer to treat each situation as a unique case. They learn best from specific examples in which they can become involved. Individuals who emphasize Concrete Experience tend to be oriented more towards peers and less toward authority in their approach to learning, and benefit most from feedback and discussion with fellow CE learners.

A high score on Abstract Conceptualization indicates an analytical, conceptual approach to learning that relies heavily on logical thinking and rational evaluation. High AC individuals tend to be oriented more towards things and symbols and less towards other people. They learn best in authority-directed, impersonal learning situations that emphasize theory and systematic analysis. They are frustrated by and benefit little form unstructured "discovery" learning approaches like exercises and simulations.

A high score on Active Experimentation indicates an active, "doing" orientation to learning that relies heavily on experimentation. High AE individuals learn best when they can engage in such things as projects, homework, or small group discussions. They dislike passive learning situation such as lectures. These individuals tend to be extroverts.

A high score on Reflective Observation indicates a tentative, impartial and reflective approach to learning. High RO individuals rely heavily on careful observation in making judgments, and prefer learning situations such as lectures that allow them to take the role of impartial objective observers. These individuals tend to be introverts.

The following summary of the four basic learning style types is based on both research and clinical observation of these patterns of LSI scores.

dominant learning abilities are Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and Active Experimentation (AE). This person's greatest strength lies in the practical application of ideas. A person with this style seems to do best in those situations like conventional intelligence tests where there is a single correct answer or solution to a question or problem. This person's knowledge is organized in such a way that through hypothetical-deductive reasoning this person can focus it on specific problems. Research on this style of learning shows that Converger's are relatively unemotional, preferring to deal with things rather than people. They tend to have narrow technical interests, and choose to specialize in the physical sciences. This learning style is characteristic of many engineers.

has the opposite learning strengths of the converger. This person is best at Concrete Experience (CE) and Reflective Observation (RO). This person's greatest strength lies in imaginative ability. This person excels in the ability to view concrete situations from many perspectives. We have labled this style Diverger because a person with this style performs better in situations that call for generation of ideas such as a "brainstorming" idea session. Research shows that Divergers are interested in people and tend to be imaginative and emotional. They have broad cultural interests and tend to specialize in the arts. This style is characteristic of individuals from humanities and liberal arts backgrounds. Counselors, organization development specialists and personnel managers tend to be characterized by this learning style.

dominant learning abilities are Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and Reflective Observation (RO). This person's greatest strength lies in the ability to create theoretical models. This person excels in inductive reasoning and in assimilating disparate observations into an integrated explanation. This person, like the converger, is less interested in people and more concerned with abstract concepts, but is less concerned with the practical use of theories. For this person it is more important that the theory be logically sound and precise; in a situation where a theory or plan does not fit the "facts," the Assimilator would be likely to disregard or re-examine the facts. As a result, this learning style is more characteristic of the basic sciences and mathematics rather than the applied sciences. In organizations this learning style is found most often in the research and planning departments.

The ACCOMMODATOR has the opposite learning strengths of the Asssimilator. This person is best at Concrete Experience (CE) and Active Experimentation (AE). This person's greatest strength lies in doing things in carrying out plans and experiments and involving oneself in new experiences. This person tends to be more of a risk-taker than people with the other three learning styles. We have labeled this person "Accomodator" because this person tends to excel in those situations where one must adapt oneself to specific immediate circumstances. In situations where a theory or plan does not fit the "facts," this person will most likely discard the plan or theory. This person tends to solve problems in an intuitive trial and error manner, relying heavily on other people for information rather than on one's own analytic ability. The Accomodator is at ease with people but is sometimes seen as impatient and "pushy." This person's educational background is often in technical or practical fields such as business. In organizations people with this learning style are found in "action-oriented" jobs often in marketing or sales."

How Much Money Did The Shoe Store Lose?

This was a small group activity that was rather interesting...very few groups came to the correct solution.

A man went into a shoe shop to buy a twelve dollar pair of shoes. He handed the clerk a twenty dollar bill. It was early in the day, and the clerk did not have any one dollar bills. He took the twenty dollar bill and went to the restaurant next door, where he exchanged it for twenty one dollar bills. He then gave the customer his change. Later that morning, the owner of the restaurant came to the clerk and said, “This is a counterfeit twenty dollar bill.” The clerk apologized profusely, took back the fake bill, and gave the restaurant owner two good ten dollar bills.

Not counting the cost of shoes, how much money did the shoe shop lose?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I am a Cardinal!

Judith took us through a ritual that happens on Nantucket with this group - and although I 'almost' had it on the first try, it took until my fourth try to get it done 100% right.

Jolene was the only one who got it on the first try and she started the girls' lead in becoming Cardinals.


I feel very lucky that on my fourth and last try, that Jolene inducted me into becoming a Cardinal and if anyone now asks me if I "am a Cardinal". I will proudly declare and respond with, "You bet your sweet ass I am!".

The Chicken Box

More than 50 years ago, Willie House, a young black man from Kentucky, and his wife arrived on Nantucket, where they were employed as domestic servants for a wealthy Nantucket summer family. Soon thereafter the ambitious Willie remodeled a small, vacant shack in what was then a remote part of town, for the purpose of purveying southern fried chicken. He called it the Chicken Box.

Each summer his business grew in popularity and Willie willingly expanded the facility. The Chicken Box became a popular restaurant and watering place during his first decade. As the business prospered, Willie made the decision to bring live band entertainment to the Island. The Chicken Box soon became known as a Nantucket hot spot for Jazz and Blues. Through Willie's booking connections in New York City, many great and near great musicians made appearances at the Chicken Box. Muddy Waters was the most famous of all of the musicians to appear.

Early in the 1970's, Willie's health began to fail but his loyal local customers and friends assisted him in continuing the operation of the Chicken Box. In 1977, Willie retired and sold the business and the buildings.

The purchaser of the Chicken Box was the eccentric Robert "Cap'n Seaweed" R. Reed. He maintained the giant roadhouse ambiance initiated by Willie. Blues and soul music continued to be featured, and with his foresight and imagination a variety of other popular musical sounds and styles were integrated into the entertainment provided by the now "Internationally Infamous" Chicken Box. Cap'n Seaweed introduced Reggae to Nantucket. Some patrons were doubtful about this unorthodox new brand of music, but over the years, the Chicken Box gained a reputation as the venue where top-notch Reggae bands performed. The Captain's conditions for the privilege of playing at the Chicken Box was that the musicians had to agree to play music that was danceable and acceptable to the majority of his patrons.

On May 10, 2000, the Captain sold the Chicken Box to new owners, some of whom are former employees and a couple of friends. These new owners are committed to continue the well established tradition of this Nantucket Institution. The Chicken Box will continue to be unpretentious, friendly and relaxing. It will always be the place where people from all walks of life gather for fun and entertainment. Once you have been here you will never forget the experience ... or shall we say never want to leave.

Sadly, they no longer serve any food - no chicken!!