Because of the snowstorm, I'm working from home today, which allowed us to have lunch as a family this afternoon. And what goes better with a snowstorm than French toast?



French Toast for a Groundhog Day Snowstorm French Toast for a Groundhog Day Snowstorm
Photo ©2011 M. Burstein. All rights reserved.



Squeaker agrees, even if she usually waits until the end of lunch to shove all the food into her mouth.


Squeaker Enjoys French Toast For Lunch Squeaker Enjoys French Toast For Lunch
Photo ©2011 M. Burstein. All rights reserved.



And Muffin was delighted as well, even if she did miss her morning nap.


Muffin Enjoys French Toast For Lunch Muffin Enjoys French Toast For Lunch
Photo ©2011 M. Burstein. All rights reserved.

No doubt you've noticed that I haven't kept up with blogging as much as I'd like. A lot of that is due to the usual reasons, which is that life is keeping us very busy. However, I didn't want to see Gregorian year 2010 vanish into the ether without a quick note about what I've been up to in its last week. (Or you could skip to the end, which is a good bit, and has Marvin in it.)

I took the week as vacation, not because Nomi and I were planning to use the week for anything special, but mostly out of necessity. My vacation schedule is now somewhat dependent on when our babysitter plans to be away, and like many people she chose to take her vacation in the last days of December. So I ended up having to do the same. Nomi and I basically spent the week at home, taking care of Muffin and Squeaker and trying to keep up with everything else we had to do. (I'm thinking of revisiting the concept of a "routine" with my next "The Brookline Parent" column, and if I do, it'll be based a lot on our experiences this week.)

Anyway, as most of the country knows, on Sunday and Monday the east coast of the United States was hit by a snowstorm that reached blizzard conditions in many areas. In the Boston area we got 18.2 inches over the storm, tying the storms of December 20-22, 1975 and January 7-8, 1996 for the tenth highest snowfall from one storm in Boston's recorded history. In our building, the four condo units have divided the snow removal task into week-long blocks, and our week ended on Sunday night. So on Sunday evening we shoveled out our building and put out ice melt. Yes, the storm was still going on, but it made it easier for the neighbor taking over on Monday.

We took the kids out on Monday to see if they would play in the snow, and the experiment wasn't exactly a success. The cold weather got to Muffin, and she started to wail almost immediately after we put her down on a snowbank. Perhaps we'll try feet-first next time. (That's a joke, for all the mandatory reporters reading my blog.)

As for the rest of the week, let's see... I kept up with a project at the office. I worked on a short story that has a deadline (and here's a hello to the editor assuring her that I'm still working on the story). Nomi and I caught up with some television and watched the fascinating film "Milk" (2008), about which I hope I'll have time to say more later. (We also saw "Return to Oz" [1985].) I discovered a book called "SuperHero ABC" by artist Bob McLeod and began reading it to the kids; they love the book, and I'm hoping that means they'll take on my love of superhero comics as they get older. (I'll try to have more to say about that book as well.)


SuperHero ABC by Bob McLeod SuperHero ABC by Bob McLeod



We did manage to get some socializing in, thanks to friends who understand that if they want to spend time with us, they probably need to come to our place so we can keep an eye on the kids. My former student [livejournal.com profile] fynixsoul, who had come in from Chicago to visit her family, was stranded by the storm, so came over one afternoon and got to spend time with the kids. (She helped us watch them at Boskone back in February, when they were much younger and easier to corral.) Our friend [livejournal.com profile] madknits also came over one evening, and we had a free-ranging conversation over many topics; he also brought us a nice gift from New Orleans. Finally, we met [livejournal.com profile] dungeonwriter for the first time; she was in town staying with [livejournal.com profile] sharonaf and her family. (While she was visiting, I managed to turn her onto Hereville, so I expect Barry Deutsch to send me a cut.) (That was another joke.)


Hereville by Barry Deutsch Hereville by Barry Deutsch



But for the most part, Nomi and I spent the week caring for the kids. There's a lot you have to do when you have twin toddlers in the home, and the amount of time it bites out of your life...you know, I think I will make that my column for next week after all.

For all of you who are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve, have a wonderful time. As for our family, well, it's Friday night, so after shabbat dinner I think we'll go to bed.

May 2011 be an auspicious year for all of us.

Finally, for those of you who skipped to the end, here's Marvin.


Marvin the Paranoid Android Marvin the Paranoid Android

That's funny. When I left for work this morning, the sidewalks were clear...

As many people, including Nomi, have already reported, we had a major snowstorm in the Boston area this afternoon. So, as usual, it meant a small adventure. Despite the weather prediction, Nomi and I both decided to wear shoes and not boots today, as neither of us really like to wear our boots unless we have to. We figured we'd take our chances this afternoon.

As the morning progressed, though, the predictions for the intensity of the storm got worse. Which would mean a more difficult slog home for both of us.

But thanks to this post from [livejournal.com profile] norda, I was reminded of the existence of Yaktrax Walkers, an ice traction device that slips on over one's regular shoes. (We were first informed of their existence by [livejournal.com profile] magid last winter, but it was near the end, and we decided we didn't need to get them right away.) Nomi tracked down two sets at an Eastern Mountain Sports store just a ten-minute walk from my office, so during my lunch hour I went out to pick them up. (I also went to Borders and bought some books and a bear.) By the time I returned to the office, the first flakes were beginning to fall.

And when I got back to my desk, I discovered that we were being sent home at 1:30 pm because of the weather. I let Nomi know, but her company hadn't yet made any sort of similar announcement. In the end, though, they did – at just about 1:30 pm. So we arranged to meet. I put on my Yaktrax Walkers, took the Green Line to Coolidge Corner, ran errands at the Post Office and library, and then boarded the Green Line again when Nomi's train pulled into Coolidge Corner. I immediately gave her the Yaktrax, and she put them on after we got off the train.

They did help us walk through the snow, quite a bit.

Since we were home earlier than expected, we went to the Butcherie to pick up some groceries, and we were relieved to discover that although they were closing early as well, they were still open when we got there. We bought what we needed and finally made it home. Nomi took advantage of our early dismissal to make her home-baked challah, which we're bringing to friends tomorrow night as a contribution to shabbat dinner.
A year ago today, Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near New Orleans. It was the worst natural disaster in the United States. It is believed that the hurricane caused more than 1,800 deaths, and it displaced over one million people.

May the victims be remembered and may the survivors find as smooth a transition as possible into their new lives.

(Astronomy Picture of the Day, August 29, 2005: Hurricane Katrina)
For those of us in southern New England, the National Weather Service has issued a Severe Weather Alert for today and tomorrow. I've copied it below, but the parts of particular interest include the possibility that the heat indices will hit 112 degrees in Hartford, CT and perhaps 115 degrees elsewhere.

Stay cool, people.

Read more... )
Last night, at around 8:47 PM, Nomi and I had just finished watching the season three finale and season four premiere of Stargate SG-1 on DVD --

--when the power went out.

This has happened before often enough for us to keep a variety of flashlights scattered about the apartment. We got the flashlights, and I went outside to see what was going on.

It turned out not to be only our apartment, or even just our building. The four buildings that form our complex had lost power, as had a few other buildings in the area. Our next door neighbors in the other building had not lost power, so we knew that this wasn't a major blackout. But I have to admit that I was relieved that it wasn't just our apartment, because that meant that someone else would take care of fixing it.

I called NSTAR's toll-free number to report the outage, and discovered to my frustration that it was no longer possible to speak with a human being, as the whole reporting of power outages is now handled by a voice mail system. There's something more comforting about knowing that a human being has actually listened to your request for service. I used their voice mail system to report the outage, and put in a request that they call with updates, but only between 8 AM and 9 PM so they wouldn't wake us. As it is, I had no way of knowing that NSTAR was actually working on the problem, which irked me throughout the night.

The hot, humid, sweaty night.

The air conditioner had been running in the bedroom, so it remained cool in there for about an hour afterwards. But once the heat filtered into the bedroom, there was no escape. I grew up with air conditioning, and I have little tolerance for heat. We read for a while, but no matter how I positioned myself, I simply could not get comfortable. I kept wishing for a large, battery-powered fan.

Somehow I managed to get to sleep, but then at about midnight the phone rang. Nomi picked it up. It was a recording from NSTAR, telling us that the power would be restored by 2:30 AM. Never mind the fact that I had pushed the buttons on the voice mail limiting such calls to hours we'd actually be awake...

I drifted off to sleep again.

At some point around 6 AM, I woke up in a groggy state and realized that the power was back on. I told Nomi, who already knew. In fact, bless her heart, she had gotten out of bed at 4:50 AM, when the power came back, and turned on the air conditioner. (That was my clue that the power was back.) I slept for about another half an hour.

This morning, after I got to work, I called NSTAR's business line and spoke with a very nice woman named Robin. She's going to get back to me later today with the details of what happened, but it sounds like a transformer went out due to an overload. (I did my best not to be irate towards her, and I think that helped.) We did find out that we're on circuit 3617, so next time I have to call NSTAR, I can tell them that -- assuming we reach a human being.

This incident reminds me of Friday, August 10, 2001, when many parts of Brookline, Brighton, and Allston lost power. We didn't get it back until the next morning, and I had a miserable night trying to sleep. In November 2001, Brookline Town Meeting referred to a Moderator's Committee a motion to investigate whether the town could form its own municipal power company. In the end, the town chose not to do so, but if power outages continue to happen, maybe we'll take it up again.
if you're in the Boston area, note that there is a Heat Advisory from noon to 6 PM today:


A HEAT ADVISORY IS ISSUED WHEN HIGH HUMIDITIES ARE EXPECTED TO COMBINE WITH HOT TEMPERATURES RESULTING IN HEAT INDICES OF 100 DEGREES OR GREATER. AVOID PROLONGED WORK IN THE SUN OR IN POORLY VENTILATED AREAS. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER AND TRY TO STAY IN AN AIR CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENT. PLEASE ALSO CHECK ON ANY ELDERLY NEIGHBORS OR FAMILY MEMBERS THAT LIVE ALONE.

December 2016

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