A to Z Blog Challenge Recap

Well, I survived my second year of the A-Z blog challenge. I was smarter about my participation this year. I had about a third of my posts fully written in advance, about a third well drafted, and then a third with just a few scattered notes. That took a lot of the pressure off and gave me time to explore other participants’ blogs.

When I checked at the end of March, I think there were around 1,900 people signed up. I copied the list, plunked it into Excel, and sorted alphabetically so as each letter came up during the month, I could visit the blogs that began with that letter. There were plenty of of links in the list that didn’t work at all for me. I don’t know if that means those people didn’t sign up correctly or if they thought they were going to participate in the challenge, changed their mind, and took the blog down. There was also plenty of attrition early on. I’m talking people who quit participating at the letter A or B. And there were some letters, like S, that had over 200 blogs. I simply couldn’t visit them all in a day. Continue reading →


I spent 6 years living overseas. I lived for extended periods of time in 8 countries and visited 12 more. That impresses some people. At one time, it impressed me. But that was 10 years ago and there are 176 countries I’ve never set foot in. 176. And Antarctica. I’ve already been alive 37 years so it doesn’t seem to me like my countries-visited to traveling-years-passed ratio is very good.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia are very high on my list. The first is likely to happen soon but the second is not. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are not very easy to get to, and when I go, I’d like to go for a long time. Well, I’d either like to go for a long time, or I’d like to race through them on the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge. Either way. Continue reading →


I suppose I myself am a Yankee, having been born in New York State. But the idea of calling northerners Yankees seems quite old-fashioned to me. My dad is a Yankees fan. He has to be – major league baseball is the one professional sport that Buffalo does not have a team for. It is baffling to me that a city that is so economically depressed and with such high population flight can support an NHL, NFL, minor league baseball, lacrosse, soccer, minor league basketball, and women’s hockey team. But it does. I guess since Buffalonians really have nothing besides crappy weather and high taxes, they cling to their sports and their NFL team that has never won the Super Bowl and their NHL team that has never won the Stanley Cup. I can understand why my dad needs the Yankees.

Dad in Yankees Hat.jpg

My parents. Date unknown – probably around 1990, give or take a few years.

What else are people writing in the A to Z Blog Challenge? Check out today’s featured blog, sponsored by the letter Y: Your Daily Dose. It’s a participatory A-Z challenge. The author gives you a word and the readers post songs with that word. Fun!


Knock on wooden teeth, but outside of the dentist’s office, I have never had an x-ray. I’ve never broken a bone or had any major health issues that necessitated one. In the dentist’s office, however, I’ve had plenty. Plenty of x-rays, plenty of novocaine shots, plenty of teeth pulled, plenty of cavities filled. My teeth are really bad. I’ve gone without health insurance for extended periods of time but I do not go without dental insurance. Except when I lived overseas, but any sort of medical work done outside of the US is reasonably priced, so there’s no need.

Part of why I had so many teeth pulled is because my mouth is simply too small. If I hadn’t had them pulled, they’d be sticking out every which way. So I’m grateful for all those hours in the dentist’s chair when I was a kid, even if they didn’t have the topical anesthesia back then. I felt every millimeter of the needle going into my jawbone over and over. Brutal. But I amaze my dentist (or the hygienist, to be accurate) now at my tolerance for pain while she scrapes and jabs and pokes. None of that fazes me. Continue reading →


I am not a whiskey fan. Or bourbon, brandy, cognac, or scotch. I don’t even understand the difference among all these.

But do I love Manhattans. Maybe it’s the cherry. Maybe the vermouth. REDACTED Whatever it is, Manhattans are easily my favorite cocktail.


What else are people writing in the A to Z Blog Challenge? Check out today’s featured blog, sponsored by the letter W: Whispers of Worth. For the A-Z challenge, the author is offering little nuggets of wisdom to introduce some simplicity into your life. You may have heard them before, but they are worth repeating.


My students in Honduras, and to a much lesser extent my students in Mexico, had some unusual names. In Honduras, I was told it had a lot to do with the city being the largest shipping port in Central America. Women would get pregnant by seamen (pun intended) from all around the world but by the time the baby arrived, the men would be long gone. The women, not being highly literate, would give the babies names that were similar to the men’s names but names got distorted due to differences in the sounds of Spanish versus whatever the fathers’ native tongues were. Or they would give the babies names that were words on the ships, cargo containers, or books and magazines the men read.

I don’t know how much truth there is to all that, but I do know a lot of my students had creative and unexpected names. My favorite was Victor Hugo. He was a chubby little guy in the fifth grade class I taught. All smiles and sweetness. Maybe his mom knew who Victor Hugo was and maybe not, but either way, I think he’ll achieve some greatness in his life. Or at least I hope he won’t end up in political exile somewhere. Continue reading →


I’ve had my fair of jobs that required me to wear a uniform, starting with my very first official job at Burger King. I still remember the stiff and scratchy navy blue pants, the chunky black orthopedic sneakers, the visor that did nothing to keep all the grease out of my hair, and the polo. The heavy, ill-fitting polo shirt. Polo shirts that are three sizes too large seem to be the unifying factor of all jobs in my life that required a uniform. I don’t understand why uniform manufacturers seem to think the minimum weight for anyone in a job that requires a uniform is 150 pounds, but that seems to be about the weight that aligns with the smallest size polo available. Besides Burger King, these jobs also subjected me to this fashion crime. Continue reading →


Sierra Mist? That seems to be my only association with the word sierra, although Sierra Mist really came out after my soda drinking phase.

My house was full of soda when I was a kid. Soda and Little Hugs (remember those?). We had pallets of soda in glass bottles in our garage and back hallway, and boxes and boxes of Little Hugs my dad brought home from the dollar store. We weren’t allowed to gorge on them, however. We had a strict limit of one per day. The same principle applied to our candy drawer and cookies; we always had plenty of junk food in the house but we had to ask permission every time we wanted something and my mother kept our intake moderated pretty well. Continue reading →