Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Job

I will soon receive my first paycheck so I feel I can write a bit about my new job. Of course, it is not a real paycheck; it is a direct deposit of my month's earnings. What is it about me and monthly pay? It really doesn't matter whether you get paid weekly, every two weeks, twice a month, or monthly, but it is a good thing we are used to it. Sure seems like a long time betwen getting paid, but it all works out the same.
Anyway, my job is fascinating. All I really am is a guidance counselor for a big high school, one with thousands of students. Only problem is that I never meet any of them in person. I spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing transcripts, which come from all fifty states and over a hundred foreign countries, not that I have seen ones from all those places. Although, if you can read Afrikaans, I need your help.
Every once in a while, I get to talk to a student, but generally it is all done by email. I have actually talked to more moms than I have students so far. I get excited when I talk to real students, whether it is the dropout whose counselors and teachers think is really smart, with a great future, or the nationally ranked figure skater finishing up Advanced Placement classes to enter an eastern university in the fall. Those might be the only two US students I have talked to this month, but I really like both of them and hope to be part of their either future or continued success.
I knew that we drew a fair number of students who were very good athletes, the kind that move away from home and go to these camps where they practice several hours a day under serious coaching, then do school work for a few hours. And I knew we had entertainers, young people whose singing/dancing/acting success did not allow them to attend traditional schools. But what surprised me was how many equestrians go to our school, although I should say, take our classes. I see equestrian stuff on the TV in Olympic years, but otherwise don't think much about it. Now I have a reason to watch if I ever see it on the screen again, because I might have talked to or worked with the competitors.
However, most of our students are not famous people or athletes. They have their own reasons for not going to traditional school, whether it be that they are sailing around the world with their parents, or some other reason, often quite personal.
The other thing worth mentioning is how damned efficient this whole organization is. Over 70 people work in this building, the old Cushman place between 20th and 22nd on Vine Street in Lincoln, right next to that huge abandoned junior high school. We are a small cog in a big wheel here, as the department I am part of, Extended Education and Outreach, does many things beyond an independent study high school. EE&O does all the distance education and College Independent Study,, graduate and undergraduate, the Summer Reading program, Fire Protection and noncredit programs. We have staff who prepare, actually write and design classes, staff who make this available on-line. We have really efficient clerical staff who take orders, file massive amounts of paperwork and do lots of little things I would be used to doing myself. We mail thousands of books and syllabi around the world from this building, but our tech people keep a system up and running that allows students to do assignments on-line, and to instantly know their grades.
All of our teachers are part-time contract employees. There are only three of us who work here who are full-time, although the two half-time teachers both know lots more about how the place works than I do. There is a Director, an Associate Principal, and the Academic Adviser(me). Pam remembers when they had 15 to 20 teachers, madly grading massive amounts of mail. Now, some, though not nearly all of that is done automatically. The student does the evaluation, enters answers on-line, clicks, and gets their grade. Teachers still grade closed book tests, and projects mailed in.
And while maybe I'll notice something else later, it really seems to be an organization with a shared goal, no bickering or hassles. People seem to work well together to make the operation run smoothly.
More later.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nothing to say?

Looks like it''s been a month since I wrote anything. And I still don't have much of anything to say.
It sure was great, the wedding, and seeing as many family members as we did.
And this branch of the family has a wedding coming up, but I am under strict instructions not to discuss it in a public manner. We are as excited as anyone; we're just not being quite as funny as Kevin.
Just to change the subject: Has anyone noticed that McDonalds is widely advertising their 32 ounce Coca-Cola (and all other soft-drinks) now for $1.00. It is splashed in neon paints across the front of McDonalds here in Lincoln. This wouldn't be such a bad deal, except that this offer replaces a long-running promotion that sold you the same drink, only 42 ounces, for 89 cents. This is a 47% increase in price.
Now, I understand prices will go up as the dollar weakens and gas/diesel prices go up, but 47%? Give me the proverbial break.
Think of how this would be applied to other situations. Motel 6 would now be Motel 8.82. ITunes downloads would be $1.46. Dollar stores could now be $1.47 stores. The $5 sandwich at Subway is now $7.35.
You know, Mickey D can do whatever they want, but what irritates me is the advertising of the fact that they seriously boosted their prices, at least on one item.
As far as I know, this advertising is limited to actual McDonalds sites. I have yet to see a television commercial or billboard.
I should consult with the family member who knows about advertising, but there has to be some assumption involved that either we don't care, or that we can't do the math to figure out what a rotten deal it actually is.
Probably both.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wedding Day Celebration Summary

Another beautiful day has dawned and as I peer into it, through somewhat bloodshot eyes, the memory of the previous evening slowly circles into view. It was just a marvelous wedding, starting with a beautiful ceremony and finishing with a splendid party in a lovely old building surrounded by friends and family. Hugs all around.

The memory of this special day will live in the photos and videos, but more importantly it will always be in our hearts. As I mentioned at the reception, seeing your daughter married is a special time for the fob. I am not articulate enough to explain the emotions that you experience on such an occasion, nor can I express clearly enough the love that is shared at such an event. It brings a tear to my eyes even yet this morning.

So now what? After a year plus of planning the marriage is in the books. The newlyweds will be off to Hawaii tomorrow for 10 days of hard earned R&R, while we will slowly move back to work and focus on what comes next. No R&R for us. Now that we have stimulated the economy, we need to work to swing the debt load to a more positive position.

I would note that in the room last night there were only a handful of people, my Aunt and cousins, who could say they knew Pat Gallagher, our grandfather. However, there was one gentleman who was not a family member and knew both grandpa Pat and my dad Cecil. I felt that Gallagher connection throughout the wedding and it helped me feel that somewhere my parents and grandparents were smiling.

Now its on to other summer events, see you down the line. Peace out.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Whew, it's finally here! A year in the making and the day we have been waiting for is dawning bright and beautiful. Given that we have had 5 or 6 weeks of rainy weekends, the sun was no guarantee.

I am up at 6, I have been up at 6 all week, I am not sure it is nerves, but it seems I just can't get past 6. I suspect that next Tuesday when I go back to work I will over sleep and not want to wake up.

It is so nice I sit on the deck and read the paper and reflect on what is about to occur. State track meet results,a cup of coffee and a stunning morning (did I mention it was nice out?) greeted me.

This wedding feels different than the one for Chris. I guess it is just that I am sending my only daughter off and since we go way back it will be a bit emotional. I need to try and think about what I might say this evening, just a few words from the old man and then let the kids have the stage.

Last minute preparations are underway, Sally is off to get her hair done in about 10 minutes, I need to pick up some bubbly for a quick toast after the wedding but before the reception and I need to start to make sure I have the food ready for the church.

The rehearsal was very nice and Maggie and Brian each said a few words, although Maggie was pretty emotional. It was cute when Maggie started to talk and got a little teary eyed, Brian stepped in and said, let me translate, "Welcome to the rehearsal dinner". He is such a nice guy.

Well enough, I have to start to get nervous...more in the days to come. Peace out!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wedding Week Starts

Today is my first day off so it is the official beginning of my wedding week activities.It's early. I am use to getting up at 6, but today I was awake at 4:45 and didn't get back to sleep until 5:30 and the up at 6:30. I don't think it nerves, but I do have a lot on mind.

Food for the wedding party is my primary objective for today, How much? I have the wedding party count and need to decide if I buy one big sandwich or 15 eight inch sandwich's? The only thing I know for sure is that it has to include turkey, cheese, tomato and mayo. I also need to get wheat thins and chips. I am told that whatever happens I need it split evenly, boys and girls.

Weather is looking very good for the rest of the week after today. We have a 30% chance of rain today and then pleasant 65 to 70 the rest of the week. We haven't talked about weather much, primarily because it has been such a rainy spring.

Unity candle is a problem. Apparently we couldn't find one with a cross on it, only words, so we opted for plain. Sally will decorate it with something.

I have been giving some thought to my comments at the reception. The pressure to be good is intense. More on that later.

Four days,,,ciao

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Wedding 8 days 4 hours 50 minutes

Okay, its 196.38 hours until the wedding starts or 11,810 minutes or 708,600 seconds...but who is counting.

The cake bill has arrived, the first in a series of payments that need to be made prior to go time. The hall and reception cost will come due on 5/14 and between those dates a series of smaller but meaningful bills.

I will advise the Bride to not worry about the weather, she can't control it and to expect that something will go wrong and she should leave that to the variety of hosts and hostesses she has in attendance.

I purchased our gift to the happy couple, thank god NFM finally had another no interest sale. A few other gifts have arrived early, although I am told that being early is traditional and is something to be admired.

The mother of the Bride has been ill, there appears to be a small strain of the flu running around. I am using disinfectant on everything in the house and I am sleeping in an isolation tent. Not sure it will help, but one can hope. I guess if it hits,I hope it comes this weekend so I can get over it prior to next week.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Wedding minus 14 days

I have the bubbles, glow in the dark necklaces, batteries, 6lbs of mixed nuts and a wedding dress hanging in the bedroom...the pressure is mounting. I am going to Horsemans to bet the Derby.

Having THE dress creates more pressure. Now I am worried about tornadoes, fires and floods. I was yelled at six times just getting out of the Brides house, into the car, out of the car and in my house. On top of that I have to write a check for the cake, which I understand is worth about the same a a very good HD camcorder.

I think we have resolved the dad/daughter wedding song, it still came back to the song I liked, but I had hoped for a different artist.

Pre wedding golf group has been resolved, but I am told not to expect to play golf all week. Not sure why not. I posed several of my wedding questions to a good friend in Boston who has already married off 4 of his daughters. His reply follows:

"I don’t know why not (in response to my golf ?) either especially because all you are good for is writing the #$&**()&^^%$$# checks ---- several (experienced) thoughts---I would keep a private (hidden) stash of several very good bottles of wine , drinkable only by you, and reachable only by you when shit hits the fan----several small containers of Grey Goose vodka may work just as well ----you will have 1. a oh, oh we forgot the---fill in the blank—scene 2. also “ Daddy I am not sure I really do want to get married” scene----3. a 1 or 2 members of the wedding party getting sh---face the night before the wedding( and also day of) scene----4. a where the hell is the limo scenes? Private stashes will help in all those situations btw you have no say in the father daughter wedding dance song NONE NONE if she wants a Viennese waltz, just do it even if you cant waltz—no one will notice( even though everyone will watch except for the aforementioned sh—face wedding party people hanging out at the bar) and she will remember it always! Absolutely limit the open bar at the reception ( try not to at the rehearsal dinner---this is your 1 chance to get the other dad) limit by time or $ talk to the head- reception- in- charge person—the bar guys keep running tabs so she/he can advise you several bottles of wine on each table also helps this issue pre wedding photos: small bite size nibble food that wont stain dresses etc if spilled----no complicated little sandwiches no shrimp cocktail with that lovely woops there goes my dress red sauce----- the party will be more interested in drinkee poos than food anyway ---- several extra handkerchiefs in your pockets at all times----------visit every table during reception, but make sure you eat also—must avoid the father-falling down- drunk- syndrome---plenty of time for that afterwards( remember that private stash?)---stash also good for when those sweet multi-colored drinks-ugh- are served

RULE #1: have fun --- RULE #2: have fun--- Rule #3: pray for no snow RULE # 4; stay the hell out of the way"

I love his advice. Ciao