The 500 Mile Weekend – Stef Graduates

This was the culmination of 17 years of education. It all began with the “Counting Worm” on the wall outside her kindergarten class!


Between yesterday’s round-trips to Bradley Airport and Hofstra University (I suspect this is the first time I’ve mentioned Stef’s school by name in the blog… now that she’s done) and today’s additional round-trip to Hofstra I am fried! So is everyone else in the family. It was all well worth it.

Stef walked with (judging by the call of names) three or four million fellow graduates on the Hofstra University football field. It was a marvelous moment for Helaine, my parents and me–Stef too I suppose. This was the culmination of 17 years of education. It all began with the “Counting Worm” on the wall outside her kindergarten class!

The Fox family has been through a lot. A child cannot grow to nearly 22 years (Stef will be celebrating her second 21st birthday next month) without some angst, grief and premature aging of her parents. Stef did not disappoint in that regard.

I will write more about today later. Meanwhile, tonight it seems like quite an accomplishment and we are proud of all she did.

One More Debate

The politics of slime is distasteful to me. However, what if you’re running for president and feel you have all the answers and your opponent will be taking us to hell in a handbasket

There’s a presidential debate tomorrow night in Hempstead. It will be at Hofstra University–the Harvard of Hempstead. Wow! The election just is three weeks away.

Is there anything that can be said or done tomorrow which will turn things around–save the day for John McCain? What over-the-top trick could he have up his sleeve? Is there an October surprise?

The cable buzz is McCain will bring up William Ayers and possibly Reverend Wright. Is it too late for those associations to resonate? It’s no longer a matter of helping the undecideds make a decision. At this point John McCain will have to turn some people around to win.

The politics of slime is distasteful to me. However, what if you’re running for president, feel you have all the answers and your opponent will be taking us to hell in a handbasket? At that point does the end justify the means? Is it acceptable to slime if in your heart-of-hearts you’re sliming for “all the right reasons.”

It will be interesting to watch the battle unfold. I suspect Obama will try to go on offense before McCain can. No matter what, I’ll bet fewer people watch than last time.

Here Come The Folks

Stefanie graduates from high school tomorrow. I can’t believe that. She should be in a ‘onesey’ with baby powder flying. It has happened too quickly.

In the fall she’ll be attending Hofstra University, and I think she’s pretty psyched.

As part of the celebration, my folks are flying up from Florida this afternoon. In fact, they’re probably at the gate at Palm Beach International now.

The house, normally clean and neat, is cleaner and neater. It was a good excuse for Helaine to get Steffie and me to hold up more of our end, at least as far as presentation is concerned.

One of the sore spots has been our patio furniture which sits behind the house in an area that gets no sun. Every spring it is covered in… well it’s probably best we don’t know exactly what it is covered in! It’s just not the same color as the ‘native’ furniture.

Helaine thought it would be a good idea to get a power washer – and we did. In fact we got two. Neither of them worked.

Still she wouldn’t give up on the idea. This morning she went to the rental place and picked up an industrial strength power washer.

Holy s***!

I’d say it could take the chrome off a trailer hitch, but that analogy has already been appropriated elsewhere.

So, here’s another experience I’m only getting in my mid-50s. It certainly was something that never presented itself while growing up in apartment 5E or my many years as a renter.

Of course we use my parents as an excuse to do these things, but the truth is, they probably won’t even notice. This is for us; our own piece of mind. My parents are just the excuse.

I wonder if I can use the washer on my car before we return it?

Visiting Hofstra University

As a parent there are some moments that are benchmarks – signals your child has reached an important milestone. Sunday was one of those days.

We woke up early and drove to Hofstra University, where Steffie has been admitted for the class of 2009.

It was a spectacular day with bright sunshine, dry air and comfortable temperatures. I asked Helaine to shoot a few pictures as we crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge, because on a day like today, Manhattan in the far distance is very impressive.

Our trip to Hofstra went without a hitch and took around 1:30. By the time we got there other families were also arriving. There was little need for on campus directions – all we had to do was follow the throng.

As we walked along there were students and faculty wearing ribbons and “Ask Me” name tags. One of them corralled us, took Steffie’s registration information and handed her a cloth bag with school materials and a very large, gray, Hofstra t-shirt.

We stood around in the sunshine for a few minutes and then walked into a large theater, taking our seats in the fourth row.

About 15 minutes before the scheduled start time the Hofstra Pep Band began to play. They started out of sight, but were lifted up to stage level on an elevator in the orchestra pit. Though they weren’t the tightest group I’d ever heard, they accomplished their goal, because we were getting enthused.

It should be noted, there are pep band songs that every school’s band plays. It’s probably very lucrative to own the rights to “Give Me Good Lovin'” originally done by the Spencer Davis or a dozen others that are played wherever hoops are shot.

The first official speaker was the president of the university, brought on the the dean of admissions. The the provost came and spoke a little longer.

Though Steffie has already made up her mind to go to Hofstra, it became obvious that a major thrust of this session was to sell undecideds on choosing Hofstra.

Colleges and universities have a difficult job. They must take enough students to fill their school, but they have no way to know how many who are accepted will really attend… or how many who are wait listed will still be around if they’re needed.

Even as a non-profit, without a neutral or positive cash flow each year, schools won’t survive.

Steffie has decided she wants to major in public relations which is within the School of Communication. In a wonderful talk, Professor Ellen Frisina explained the long painstaking deliberations that came before deciding to call it the School of Communication, not Communications. She admits she still isn’t quite sure what the difference is, but it is singular!

We were very impressed by Professor Frisina and went up to talk with her, as did with many others, after the session.

There is one thing I’ll disagree with. I heard it today, and it had been a theme when we visited other college campuses. The claim is their program will prepare you to walk out of college and into a job, already having mastered in college what you’re going to be doing in the professional world.

I don’t see how they teach, or what they teach, but college is not the real world. I have yet to see anyone, ever, walk in off a college campus “good to go.” There are always nuances and pressures not experienced in college which factor into every job from day one.

This was a positive experience for all of us and I think (at this moment) Steffie is more confident than ever in her choice of a major.

I am more than a little jealous after having read a brochure for their on campus facilities. Each dorm room is connected to the Internet with OC-3 speed – 115 Mbps. That is approximately 25 times faster than my cable modem delivers!

It was also interesting to see this bank of copying machines on the lower level of the library. I’m curious if the availability of ‘cut and paste’ research materials has turned these into expensive dinosaurs?

Our school visit over, Stef asked if she could make a short stop at Roosevelt Field Mall. I’ve written about this mall, built over the airfield Lindbergh used when he flew across the Atlantic, before.

At 7:52 A.M., May 20, 1927, Charles Lindberg left on his solo flight across the Atlantic. The Spirit of St. Louis, loaded with gasoline, lumbered down the runway before finally becoming airborne. He barely had enough altitude to clear the telephone lines at the end of the runway at Roosevelt Field.

You would think Roosevelt Field, though no longer used for aviation, would be a memorial or historic shrine to the bravery, accomplishment and good luck of Charles Lindberg. No, this is Long Island – it’s a mall.

While they shopped, I attempted to sleep in the car. I parked in the garage with the thought it would be cooler out of the sun. That was true. However, the radio reception was awful and I learned everyone on Long Island… OK most people on Long Island… have car alarms which chirp when they’re enabled and randomly wail!

College Days Approach

Stef has decided to attend Hofstra University on Long Island when she begins college in the fall. Helaine and I are very excited. I suspect Stef is apprehensive… though she hasn’t said as much. This is so new and different, like nothing she’s ever experienced.

There are so many things to do. So much to plan for. Already we’ve been seeing an increase in the mail we’re getting from Hofstra. Yesterday there was a letter about on campus computing. This follows questionnaires on housing and some financial forms.

This weekend we’re heading out to Hofstra for an orientation session.

It’s funny how something that was a concept has become reality. This reminds me of what Helaine and I went through when Helaine was pregnant with Steffie. A friend, a producer at the TV station, and I made up names for this expected child: Geoffina, Geoffette, Geoff Jr. and Vendetta.

We all thought it was very funny, until Helaine had her first sonogram and we heard the baby’s heartbeat. All of a sudden this was a real child and those names were gone immediately. The screwing around stopped.

It’s the same thing with college. Reality is setting in.

College Shopping 2.0

I woke up early (for me) Saturday morning. We had another appointment to visit a college. This time Hofstra University. As with C.W. Post, we were going to Long Island.

The day was gray and gloomy with showers as we pulled out of the driveway. Within 2 minutes, we were back to get the instructions.

We used to make the Connecticut Turnpike, New England Thruway, Throgs Neck Bridge trip all the time. We still make it occasionally. It astounds me that no matter when we go, there is construction… and always in the same places.

I’m sure there are places in the Bronx that have been torn up for the twenty years we’ve been in Connecticut! OK – maybe a small exaggeration… very small.

The biggest improvement in this trip is the advent of E-Z Pass. E-Z Pass is a little white box with some sort of radio transponder, that signals the toll booth you’re there. So, no more change. No more stopping.

It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it’s pretty good. I can’t remember the last toll booth tie up at the Throgs Neck. It used to be jammed all the time.

Our trip to Hofstra was painless, and we got there 15 minutes before our appointment.

Back in the late 60’s, while I was a high school student, I used to take a series of busses to Hofstra College and hang out at the radio station. Back then, it was WVWH. The campus was small and close to the center of Hempstead.

Now the campus is huge. Hofstra has become a university. Covered walkways and security separate the campus from Hempstead, which has seen better times.

For some reason Stefanie’s name wasn’t on the list, but that didn’t pose a problem.

After a few minutes we entered a small theater and watched a presentation on the school. An admissions officer (who reminded me of our next door neighbor Margie) spoke before and after a nicely done video.

This was a much more polished presentation than C.W. Post, though that probably speaks to the economies of scale a larger school provides.

The tour, conducted by a student named Emily, was fine. As much as the Post campus is known for its beauty, I was more impressed with Hofstra. The buildings were understated and appropriate. The grounds, though not as spread out as Post’s, were full of mature plantings and lots of sculpture. I’m a sucker for sculpture.

Emily took our group, probably a half dozen or more families, to her dorm… and her room. That was impressive, because while I was in college my dorm room resembled a battle scene from World War II.

The dorm buildings we saw were high rise structures of cement and brick. The few open doors I passed led to tiny rooms. But, for college, this is what you want. Rooms have cable and high speed Internet connections. The buildings have washers and dryers, and the bathrooms in the high rise dorms are cleaned, daily, by the school.

There were other dorms with suites of rooms. Those have clean-your-own bathrooms. I would have perished to some dirt borne disease before Christmas break!

On our way through the school, passing the radio station (now WRHU), I noticed a sign with staff names. At the top of the list was Bruce Avery who used to be our weekend weather anchor at the station. I knew he had become the general manager of the station at University of New Haven station. He has moved up – and he still does weather – now for Cablevision’s News 12 Long Island.

I have created a small photo gallery of some of the sculpture I saw on campus. Click here to take a look