Category Archives: college

Not Only Once in a Lifetime (Hopefully!)

this halloween is shaping up to be a big one and not because of a costume party or trick-or-treating or anything relating to halloween per se, but because of temple owls college football. ok, i heard you groan right then, but stick with me.

c graduated from temple university school of pharmacy and two of our three kids also graduated from temple, but from boyer college of music. our oldest was in the band while she was at temple as well as drum major for two years, which served as a reason to buy season tickets to temple football. truth to tell, ten years ago, the band was the only reason to go to a football game. our youngest was also in the band while he was in school so we held onto the tickets, and also because they are prime club level tickets on the fifty yard line at the philadelphia eagle’s stadium. truthfully, we didn’t go to a lot of games and when we did, we only stayed until after the band had performed, because temple was usually losing or embarrassingly losing.

now i’ll admit that i have not always been a football fan. my dad played football in college, so football was often on in the house during the season, and mom would occasionally watch college ball after dad died. but for a big chunk of my life i ignored football. after i met c, i started to learn more about the game just by watching with him, since he had played in high school and briefly in college. now i think i’m pretty knowledgeable about the game, although i’m also smart enough to keep my mouth shut most of the time when it comes to commenting on the game. (there’s little worse than sitting next to a person who complains constantly during the game but doesn’t even know what is really going on down on the field).

the plan was to stop buying season tickets after our youngest graduated. and then something kind of wonderful happened: the temple football team started to win. over the years they have had a few marquis players who made it into the nfl, but you could count them on one hand. a couple of years ago there were more than just a couple of talented kids and last year there were even more talented kids on the team, and most of them were freshman. this year the majority of the talented kids are sophomores and juniors and temple is at 7 and 0 for the season so far. more importantly, they beat perpetual powerhouse penn state for the first time in 74 years!

so this year, temple plays notre dame at home on halloween night. and the game is the college game of the week on abc network. and the show “college game day” will be broadcasting from independence hall on saturday morning. whew! i’ll tell you that philadelphians are not used to such positive attention and temple football fans especially are not used to positive attention. ok, so maybe notre dame has something to do with it… but hey, we’ll take it.

now those of you who are used to be affiliated with schools who have big winning teams are yawning at our excitement and you’re certainly entitled to your cynicism, but you know yourself how fun it is to have a winning team. we just keep pinching ourselves to remember to savor the moment, because, well… this could be the one time or this could be the beginning of something.

let’s hope this halloween is filled with nothing but treats for the city of philadelphia and their temple owls!!


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Filed under college, Fall, family, football, friends, history, school, success, tradition

Next Steps

if anyone had told me when i was a kid that i would get as much pride out of my kids’ achievements as i did of my own achievements, i would have told them they were crazy. and yet, it has happened.

j, our youngest just graduated from temple university’s boyer college of music with a degree in music education and jazz performance. he was our third college graduate, so we’re three for three and most of our friends and family are sick of us bragging about it. well, sometimes you get the privilege of bragging. at least for a little while.

it’s not just the big things like graduating from college that get me beaming. it’s all the day-to-day things they do – things that show how they use their skills and talents and figure things out – that make me so proud.

all three of our kids are working and mostly self-supporting and these days that’s saying a lot. so maybe they don’t have the job they always wanted yet (how many of us do), or are earning as much as they want to earn (how many of us do) but they are working and living their own lives, making their own decisions and navigating their own relationships. in short, they have been launched.

every once in a while we meet up with parents of kids that our kids went to school with and it’s astonishing to hear just how many kids didn’t make it through the whole launch process very well. i’m not judging based on things like living at home due to college debt or trouble finding a job — that’s stuff tied to the economy and screwed up political decisions in this country – i’m talking about bigger issues like drugs or crime or early divorce or aimless/chaotic living, jail or even death from drug overdose.

it’s very sad to hear that some of those kids who were filled with potential when they were little just lost something along the way. it makes me wonder what happened and why. sometimes you could see that it was parents not taking up the job of being a parent and sometimes it seems like there is little reason at all. i don’t believe in always blaming parents because it seems to me that parents can’t take credit for all the good in their kids nor can they be blamed for all the bad.

it makes me grateful that c and i have three great kids. we love them, we’re proud of them and we’re so happy to have good relationships with them and their significant others. life doesn’t get much better than that.


Filed under college, family

how kaavya viswanathan got lies, got harvard, and got a prestigious clerkship anyway… (and she’s not alone)

used to be that you were embroiled in a scandal and that was it for your reputation and your future.  now, you’re rewarded.  maybe the real world has become the distortion reality of ‘reality’ tv.

if you’ve never heard of kaavya viswanathan, you should look her up.  she engineered a book titled, how opal mehta got kissed, got wild and got a life and she’s the poster child of what’s wrong with, oh, a whole lot of our society today.

this kid, offspring of two physicians, got a half million dollar book contract, got into harvard and became the toast of the town.

so, the next part of the story is that another harvard kid read kaavya’s book (which apparently a whole lot of other people involved in actually publishing it did not) and accused her of plagiarizing megan mccafferty’s books.  then a whole lot of other people piled on as they read through the book.  turns out, being the model of overachievement that she is, kaavya plagiarized (cut and pasted as one blogger referred to it) from not one, but four authors (megan mccafferty, sophie kinsella, meg cabot and salman rushdie).  ripping off themes, characters, whole passages and even dialogue.

how did this happen?  she says she has a photographic memory and unconsciously lifted…  bla, bla, bla.    bullshit.  there was nothing accidental (or original) about her writing or her story.

so here’ what i think went down here: (i only know parts of this to be true, the rest is speculation)

kaavya was identified as some kind of writing prodigy by ivywise, the firm her parents paid a boatload of money ($30,000) to make sure she got into an ivy league college… which kind of begs the conclusion that they had to conjur up some kind of prodigious ability for this kid in order to justify their pricetag.  ivywise consultant (btw, they have descriptions of their specialties: “students seeking admission to highly selective schools and under-represented minorities” and my favorite, bragging that they can get your kid admission into “pre-kindergarten programs, kindergarten, elementary, middle, secondary and boarding schools…

so, ivywise’s overpaid consultant has a connection with a ‘packaging’ firm who took the outline of the book (it wasn’t even a manuscript) and pimped it out to publishers and hollywood studios.  they all bit.  kid got a book deal and admission into harvard.  ivywise consultant got big pay.

here’s where it got really interesting.  another kid at harvard wrote an article in the the harvard crimson defending kaavya on the grounds that “rappers sample from other music artists all the time and no one calls it stealing.”   ah, yep, they do call it stealing if the rapper doesn’t pay royalties for the material that’s been sampled, snotnose kid.  so, if kaavya had just cited and quoted the sections she stole, she would have been okay?  not so fast, speaks a douchebag from u of penn, ‘cuz kaavya only stole just enough material to qualify as ‘fair usage’ and isn’t guilty of plagiarizing at all.

in the immortal words of chris rock, “just ‘cuz you can do it doesn’t mean it’s to be done.”

so kaavy was not drummed out of harvard for her offense, went on to graduate, and got into georgetown law school, which in a lot of ways makes a whole lot of sense.  after that, she scores a prestigious clerkship.

does anyone else think there’s something very wrong with this story?  so, we don’t believe in forgiveness of people who came into this country illegally decades ago, or for criminals who have served their time, but this liarthief?  not a problem.

probably the most disturbing part is that there were people lined up to defend kaavya, even if it was using the idiotic “everyone else is doing it” defense.  yeesh.

mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be liarthiefs*. people, please raise up kids with integrity even when you see that distortion reality pays off.

*reference to the song, “mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys” by ed and patsy bruce.

p.s.  there’s a p.s. to this story.  both of kaavya’s parents were killed last summer when the small plane that her father was piloting crashed.  kaavya is an only child.

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Filed under college, crimes, lies, success

off kilter

when i was a kid, i had a gyroscope.  it was a satellite looking thing but with a way cooler name (if you were a geeky kind of kid…)  pull the string, toss it onto a hard surface and (through the wonder of physics) no matter how the angle of the surface changed it would happily spin, maintaining orientation.  

use the term moral compass and that’s the image in my mind.  

those two words have come to mind a lot lately.  two more words: penn state. 

when the story first broke, it was broadly brushed as though some along the chain of command fulfilled their obligation to inform those who had the power (and responsibility) to act on behalf of an innocent child.  then the grand jury report was released.  

the first witness to a child being raped in an on campus shower by an adult man (as awful as it is, that bears repeating – a witness saw a child being raped in the on campus shower by an adult man) had that feeling in the pit of his stomach. (you know that feeling, the one that tells you that something is seriously off) he told his superiors. 

apparently those superiors did not experience the feeling in the pit of their stomachs.  or maybe they did.  then they felt the overwhelmingly human need to protect.  but not the child victim. 

the truth got bent off its axis and a rape got translated into maybe kinda some kind of could be misinterpreted as sexualish play and bumped to the fellas upstairs.  up there it got translated into “horseplay”.  

did anyone stop and think of the victim?  a child.  the victim was a child.  

nobody does the right thing for a child.  not surprisingly there are more children.  everybody does the right thing for the god of football.  everybody does the right thing for the god of the university.  everybody does the right thing for the god of the almighty what i perceive to be my prestigious job (and even still everybody does the right thing for the god of funding for the charity and access to university facilities).  

nobody does the right thing for a child.

there’s been criticism of the parent(s) of the victims for not reporting the abuse.  shades of the catholic church whose excuse for not reporting rapes to proper authorities (as opposed to “church” authorities…you’re not above the law, father) was that “the victims never brought it to my attention”.  the victims were children.  

the students took to streets of campus to protest.  not to protest the university’s cover up of child abuse.  not to protest the (mis)use of university funds (presumably tuition monies) to pay for the legal defense of those who covered up a crime.  not to stand up for the courageous young victim who spoke up about what happened to him.  

to protest the firing of a beloved football coach.  presumably to protest an act that might mar their beloved football season.  

there seem to be a whole lot of people these days who need to get their moral compass checked.  maybe we could send out some of those gyroscopes.

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hell week

last week was one hell of a week.  forget the earthquake and the hurricane, don’t mention the tornadoes spawned from irene. last week (and some of this week) was drop your kid off at college week – a unique kind of natural disaster. 

the angst factor was pretty well up there last week for friends and loved ones who were the drop-ers. (i’m not being smug, i’m probably being fuzzy, our first drop off was over a decade ago) it’s another one of those parent milestone things that you know you have to go through and you think you’re prepared, but it still whops you in the face.  

our first one didn’t move very far, but the sensation of having one less child living in your house is still startling.  there’s a lot to get used to that’s easier to get used to if you’re still fretting and shuttling two others who are still at home.  

dropping off the second one got more painful, partially because she picked a school that was 4 ½ hours away from home and partially because with two out of three gone, the house really did get a lot quieter.  

our third didn’t go far away, but losing the last of three was pretty jarring.  suddenly it’s just the two of us again, like when we were first married.  (we didn’t have a lot of time alone as newlyweds so we’ve spent most of our lives with the chaos and hustle of family life)  

but now i’ll get all philosophical and say things that are designed to sooth the sadness of when a child leaves home.  and it won’t make much of a difference.  because, like all the other parent/kid transition things, it’s going to happen and you don’t have a choice in the matter.  time will pass and you’ll get used to it.  

they’re not gone forever, they’re still a big part of your life and you’re still a big part of theirs, just in a you-don’t-have-to-remind-them-to-do-anything-or-clean-anything-up kind of way. they can be annoyed with you in their own dorm room or apartment, you don’t have to hear them slam the door.  they still like some of your cooking, they’re good cooks themselves and maybe they’ll invite you over. and their taste in wine and beer gets better. 

for me, what probably hurt more than the quiet/empty house was the realization that the kids (i still get to call them kids) at the beginning of their lives and i’m on the other end of mine.  (that, and that college is a hell of a lot more fun now than it was when i was there and that i should have just relaxed and had more fun while i was there) 

so maybe it’s time for mom and dad to start throwing parties and enjoying keggers.  that’s one way to fill up an empty house.

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