Archive for January 2015

This is going to be a very challenging second half of the school year   Leave a comment

For various reasons, I won’t get into the specifics of what’s on my mind in regards to work. Mainly for the sake of being professional and also being mindful I know some of my coworkers do read my blog. I do want to share some of what I said in a blog post from two years ago.


When this school year started I lost much of my confidence in the classroom due to some things the happened with me the previous school year at another school. Those collective things (which I will not discuss in detail either here or in my longer explaination) were the reason I decided to leave that school community after one year. Going into this school year at the Mission Hill School gave me the fresh start I was in need of in the aftermath of the previous school year. If I had gone to MHS last year instead of this year I would have stayed on for longer than I did.

As I hinted at above several things happened last year that led to me leaving the school where I was after just a year. By the end of the first week of school this year I had made the decision to part ways with Boston Public Schools at the end of the school year. The little confidence I’d been able to muster was swept away by the end of that first week. I’d been working with children 11 years going into this is school year. For the first time since my time in City Year I found myself doubting myself and my ability to be productive in the classroom more times than I’m willing to admit. Not just that first week throughout the year. In every other area I was fine but once I stepped in the classroom I could literally feel the confidence in my skills shatter to pieces. I consider myself fortunate I not only realized it so early on but I was able to kept the cloud from ruining what was otherwise an opportunity of a lifetime.

The Mission Hill School is known to education communities all over the world. I have wish only continued success to the MHS community moving forward.

…Note the part I bolded.

The circumstances are very different this time but the feelings are the same. When I re-read that blog I wrote two years ago, I remembered what I was dealing with at the time and I why I felt so self-conscious and why I felt such self-doubt.

Like I said above, the circumstances are different. One take away I have from meeting other folks battling depression last summer is the hightened awareness. You’re more conscious of how you feel others might interpret the things you say and do. For me, this year has been an uphill battle just to get out of bed and get to work.

I quoted my past post because I know it will provide some context for those who talked to me about it two years ago. I know it’s not fair to those who will have no idea what I’m talking about and to you, I apologize. I simply can’t say anything more specific than that at this time. There are colleagues I need to talk to first and I will speak no more on this until after I’ve talked to them.

What I WILL announce now to everyone is this will be my final year at my current school.

I made that decision official last Thursday and filed the necessary paperwork. Unlike two years ago, my decision is permanent. None of the unncessary drama I caused for myself two years ago. I talked to my family about it and they agreed this is the right decision for me. As for what I might be doing next year, I’ve set aside some time this weekend to work on my resume. Ideally, I’d like to avoid the excess pool entirely if I can. Open Paraprofessional positions in the district will be made available online on March 1.

In the meantime, I will be looking for new employment opportunities elsewhere. I’ll be much more open about my job search this time around while I’m at it. In the event I find work before the end of the school year elsewhere, I will immediately file my 2-weeks notice. I know I’ve said this before to many people but this time, there the feeling’s much more urgent.

Apologies to my fellow WordPress Friends   Leave a comment

…Specifically those who’ve been following my blogs.

To tell you the truth, I have yet to look at any of your blogs. It’s not out of spite or because I think my viewpoint’s more important than yours. Neither of those are true. The site’s been getting rolling updates over the last 16 months. Every time I think I have something figured out, something changes or is added.

For 2015, I am going to make the effort to check out the blogs of those who have been supporting me since day 1. I owe you that much. The goal is to read and comment on at least at least 10 posts a week from here on out. I look for ward to seeing what you guys have got!

~ B.A.


Posted January 19, 2015 by brendan2k5 in Blog, News, Serene Adventure

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“Smart Snake is a Scam!”   2 comments

Ok so you guys know the saying “if it sounds to be good to be true…”, right?

Well, guess what: Smart Snake IS legit.

I’ll never forget what I talked to them last month and found out my understanding of what “Runddl32.ll” means is very different from what it actually is. Before they offered 7-Layer Protection, they took the time to educate me on what it actually is so that I can make an informed decision as to weather or not I want to buy the additional protection (which I did recently). If they just wanted my money, they wouldn’t have done this.

Every time I talk to them, they walk me through my computer’s vital functions, show me my computer’s entry points, how hackers can get through and how important it is to keep those entry points secured.  They take customer satisfaction very seriously. They go over what exactly they will do before and after they the work. They invite you to see the difference in performance for yourself.

The reason I am bringing this up now isn’t just to promote this company. It’s also to warn you there are scammers who are using this company’s name to perform phishing scams. One such person called me a few days ago right after I got off the phone with Smart Snake. Warning signals went off at once when the caller said they calling about money network protection. I fully understood they were not Smart Snake when they requested remote access when Smart Snake already had remote access to my computer at the time. First they tried to pretend they were Smart Snake and then they changed their story saying they were calling to warn me Smart Snake is a “scam”, even directing me to the company’s dirtsheet on the Better Business Bureau’s website. For the record, yes Smart Snake has 32 complaints made against it but ALL of them are closed.

I skimmed through the details and the ones that weren’t pretenders were clearly people who did not understand what they were buying. What you are getting first and foremost is 24/7 technical service and advice from a team of experts. They will also clean your computer, remove errors, close the holes in your computer’s network and do it in about an hour’s time max.

Having upgraded my package deal with Smart Snake twice now, I can confirm two things:

  1. They go out of their way to protect your privacy.
  2.  They will not force you to do anything you don’t want to do.

…The pretender who called me had the audacity to try to peddle network to me in exchange for ending my contract with Smart Snake. That’s how I knew it was really a competator trying to get me to cut my ties with a company that has been nothing but honest with me from day 1.

Smart Snake technicians are Microsoft Certified which means they underwent specific training through Microsoft to fix computers that use Windows Operating Systems. There is a difference between being Microsoft Certified and Microsoft Verified: The first doesn’t actually work for Microsoft but the latter either does or is authorized to service Windows Machines on Microsoft’s behalf. Smart Snake is the former.

Smart Snake has serviced my computer 11 times over the last 3 years. If they really wanted to screw me over, they would’ve done it the first time. I have seen enough to know if they really wanted to, they could have taken my hard drive hostage and I’d never know. All three times money exchanged hands, I used their secure payment form on their website. Verification is a 2-step process: First you need to print the contract they email to you, sign it, scan it and then send it back as an attachment. That’s how they know the peron they’re dealing with is a real person and you have a hard copy of the signed contract.

They are certainly worth the investment and are willing to negotiate all of their packages. I got an extra year on my latest package for example so…yeah. During the haggling process, they will show you what other companies would charge for what they offer and it’s certainly outrageous in comparison. You’re paying a fraction for Government-level computer service. Despite the bad press I will continue using Smart Snake through 2019. They have proven themselves trustworthy in my book.


“Selma” (2015) does a Masterful Job of connecting the Present to the Past   Leave a comment

It’s been almost four months to the day the death of 18-year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri galvanized the nation in a spirit of outrage unseen since 1965. In the months that followed that and the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police in New York, citizens have taken the streets, raising the voices and demanding change to the current system that allows law enforcement to legally kill unarmed civillians and not be punished for it. Corporate Media’s been looking at other things for about a month now (Missing Plane, Murdered NYPD Cops and now the Terror Attacks in France) but the important thing is those leading the protests of today stay focused and keep moving forward weather the cameras are rolling or not.

I call this the New Civil Rights Era.


Before Selma, the last movie that covered the turning point in the Old Civil Rights Era was the 1999 feature Selma, Lord, Selma. That movie was from the perspective of a group of young African American girls (now adults) who were there for the first march from Selma to Birmingham–the event forever known to history as Bloody Sunday. Although the historical account was accurate, that movie was clearly made for a younger audience and a different time.

Selma, on the other hand…it came in at just the right time.

David Oyelowo plays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’ll pause for a moment to remind folks to remember to include the “Jr.” part as both his namesake and his son Martin (Luther King) both have “Dr.” in their titles. Anyway, a few years before the movie was filmed, classified documents, tapes and FBI reports were recently declassified. The newly declassified data revealed how extensive J. Edgard Hoover (played in the movie by Dylan Baker) was in spying on Martin Luther King.

Selma doesn’t hold back. At the same time, it doesn’t come with a hidden political agenda. This was the main complaint those who were there had for Selma, Lord, Selma. They felt it didn’t go far enough to give the full picture. Selma does that and more. President Lydon B. Johnson (played in the movie by Tom Wilkinson) didn’t want to be on the wrong side of history and as was shown in the movie, at the same time he didn’t want to be a champion for change at first. Even when he was forced to take action, he waited until almost the last minute to push for the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

…One thing Selma does masterfully is it humanizes all of the major players. Dr. King was the face of the Civil Rights Movement but he had alot of things going on behind the scenes your history books don’t talk about. Yes, his conversations were tapped by the FBI. Yes, people regularly called Coretta threatening to kill her and their children. Yes, their marriage was threatened by false alligations.

The showdowns between MLK and LBJ and later LBJ and Governor Wallace (played in the movie by Tim Roth) really stood out to me. That one on one conversaton with Wallace was clearly the deciding factor–at least in the film–that pushed LBJ to act. That said, I do wish to point out the movie doesn’t really go out of its way to paint anyone as a hero or a villain. The movie’s intent is to make the audience think and talk about the Present to Past connection with the protests of today.

Remember this?

Of course you don’t unless you were there. 1400 people were there and yet it got little media attention. This happened in Boston the day before Thanksgiving two months ago. A look at anything related to the protests on Social Media and you will see the opposition doing everything in their power to keep the attention away from the root of the problem. Pundits and Racists alike dismiss it as “a black thing”.

…Same thing happened 50 years ago.

The fact of the matter is, change is never easy. As the lyrics in the cover song Glory say, there needs to be a collaboration of the young and the old to move things forward.

There also needs to be a collaboration across the races. I intentionally kept this detail until now to say this: When I went to see Selma this afternoon, the theater was packed. I looked around before and after the film ran and noted at least 90% of the audience was white. I admit I was more focused on listening to the audience’s reaction to the film at certain points. The liberal use of the word “Nigger” as well as other, more known expletives by Governor Wallace and LBJ drew shocked reactions. The difference betweeen LBJ and Wallace, however was Wallace was clearly a racist. The distinction is made crystal clear during their showdown in the Oval Office.

A powerful learning moment happened after the first march was driven back. One of the marchers is angered and wants to retaliate with violence when Andrew Young (played in the film by Andre Holland) confronts him and and lays out the cold facts of the only possible outcome retaliation will cause. You take the violence to the police and they come down hard on you.

…Sound familiar?

To me, that felt like a direct message to those who’ve taken up the New Civil Rights Movement in recent months. This is why I said at the top this movie was released at the right time.

Anyway, I think I’ve gone on long enough. I give the movie a 10/10. This movie, like the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner are symbols of the New Civil Rights Era. The torch has been passed. I think now is the time for those who were on the front lines 50 years ago to step in and impart some wisdom on the new generation.

They’re ready to listen now.


Just in Time for the New Year: The Green Line Extension is On!   Leave a comment

First, here is the Green Line north of Boston as it is now:


And here is where the new planned stations will be:


Here’s a video of the new extended rail line from Lechmere to College Ave. (no audio):

…The rail going off to the right at the very beginning leads to Union Square. It’s one stop so I didn’t see the merit in including it. Here’s a picture of Union Square now:


The plan will require Lechemere Station literally being moved across the street from its current location. The likely reasoning for that being twofold: They can build the new station while still keeping the current one open at the same time. They kept North Station open when the Green Line was moved underground 20 years ago. This shouldn’t be too hard to pull off given that.

In case you’re wondering, the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (M-DOT) secured $100 Million from a $1 Billion feberal grant. Unlike the Big Dig, THIS project has been paid for in full. I’m also pretty confident there will be funds left over. I will ask the T Rider’s Union to urge M-DOT to put the rest on the MBTA’s debt it inherited from the Big Dig (more on this in a separate blog post).

It’s likely construction will be done in phases: First the new stations and the trolley new sevice yard (the current one is at Lechmere station) will be built. Then, new rail lines will connect the stations to the new Lechemere station. The next phase, which will likely result in a temporary stoppage of service will connect the new Lechmere statiom to Science Park station (which itself was modernized 10 years ago).  The final phase will be the old Lechmere station being demolished.

Construction will likely be done in the next 10 year so we’ll see ^_^

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