Jenny Zigrino


Jenny and Her Entourage

Jenny and Her Entourage

Jenny Zigrino appeared on Conan O’Brian’s TV show last night. She is pictured above right, with her posse, on the show’s set. Dan sent me the photo along with a heads-up of the show’s airing. Although, the show aired on Thursday, she was recorded Wednesday and in the end, Anne and I watched it Friday morning. This is how I usually watch SNL now, no longer being able to stay up late enough to watch late-night TV. Anne and I once attended a Johnny Carson show live, back in the day, which was recorded in the afternoon and aired later that evening. Maybe waiting a day is now cheaper? Here is a link to the standup routine that Jenny performed. I’m not sure how long this link will last, but it should be good for at least a few days. Conan’s show is on cable (TBS), where the adult nature of her act plays better than it would have on broadcast TV. You have been warned, but her routine is really very funny.

We met Jenny last October, when we were visiting LA. She and Dan picked us up from in front of the iconic LA city hall and we all went out to lunch together. We ate at Square One Dining in East Hollywood, near the big blue Scientology building. I asked if that was where Tom Terrific, et al. attended, but Jenny said that he and all of the other Hollywood A-list personalities went to a tonier mission across town. During lunch, Dan took to teasing her with a bit of one-upmanship. Dan had his brand new leg tattoo that was going viral on social media, while Jenny had just gotten back from making an appearance at a convention in Texas. This game play alternated with another one that involved identifying the other almost famous celebrities at the restaurant. In person, Jenny is really a very nice person.

3 Best Things about Teaching


School Time, Winslow Homer, 1874

School Time, Winslow Homer, 1874

What are the three best things about teaching? – June, July and August

Narrative art is art that tells a story, which is why I like the paintings of Winslow Homer so much. His work often tells a story. Today’s story/painting is “School Time”, a picture of idyllic 19th-century pastoral life. The scene is a schoolyard, outside a little red country schoolhouse. The teacher is calling the students into class, to begin the school day. Today was Anne’s last school day for this academic year. School’s out for summer, if not forever, as the Alice Cooper song went. As a kid, I always loved the end of the school year. Full of anticipation, it was often the highpoint of summer vacation, before set in the tedium of the dog days. Observing Anne, it is now apparent that the end of the school year is just as exciting for the teachers as it was for the students. We’ll go out to dinner tonight, to celebrate the end of her school year. Dinner will be at Las Palmas, where the food is good, and the margaritas are oh so fine. Maybe as in the past, there will be a few drunken teachers there too, also celebrating the end of the school year. Even if we get there at six tonight, they will have had a few hours head start. Anne has her summer all mapped out. June will be a busy month, full of planned projects and then it’s off to the cabin for her and a couple of months of kicking back on the beach.

Wear Sunscreen


Poster from Lippencott's Magazine, July, 1896

Poster from Lippincott’s Magazine, July, 1896

Last weekend, we attended two graduations and heard more than a few commencement speeches. Many were quite good, while some I have already forgotten. This post will condense the good one and dispense with the rest, thereby saving you the reader much personal time and a sore butt. Most commencement chairs were inevitably uncomfortable and their discomfort was most noticeable during the lulls in the ceremonies.

First up was David Leonhardt, a columnist for the New York Times and editor of the column, The Up Shot. He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Niagara University. He said that whenever he was eating dinner, either with just his wife or with close friends, he was the only one at the table without a graduate degree. He thanked Niagara for remedying that. Of all the speakers, he was the only one with whom I had some familiarity with. I like The Up Shot, with its clever infographics. The gist of his speech seemed to me to be selling those who have already purchased. He was selling the value of a college education to a room full of graduates. He reeled off facts and numbers that asserted the value of a college degree for everything from finances to longevity. His speech was less stirring, rather more affirming, telling these newly minted graduates that they had done the right thing.

The main commencement speaker at the University of Rochester was the educator, Deborah Bial. IMHO, she was the best speaker of the weekend. She launched her speech by taking a selfie of the university president and herself. Her theme was along the lines of to your own self be true. In this social media era, where self-branding is routine, she argued to the graduating class of 2015 that they should strive to try to keep it real. She pulled no punches when she offered up NBC’s Brian Williams and the Yankee’s A-Rod as poster children of how not to manage your brand.

The final speaker that I’ll mention is Richard Rashid. He founded Microsoft Research an adjunct to the Microsoft. He gave up a secure and prosperous position to head research for what was then a company that had only recently just moved out of the garage. You could say that the rest is history, but his put was summed up with the analogy of the closest parking space. When parking, it is always easier to take the first available spot, but when you drive right up to the front door there is frequently a better spot there. He explained that while this is not always true, it is true more often than you would think, because so few people try for that primo parking spot.

To the graduating class of 2015, don’t forget to wear sunscreen.

Road Worriers


“In a quarter-mile take the next left fork, then in twenty-two miles take the right fork on to I-70 West. Take the left fork now. No, not the right fork that’s the dinner fork. Doesn’t that look like the Caesar dinner salad that you just ordered in front of you? Take the salad fork. Take the left fork NOW, you stupid human! I can’t wait until the robot revolution begins or I get my learners permit, whichever one comes first, it won’t be soon enough.” – Siri.

First flight of the Wright Flyer I, December 17, 1903, Orville piloting, Wilbur running at wingtip.

First flight of the Wright Flyer I, December 17, 1903, Orville piloting, Wilbur running at wingtip.

We left Rochester on Monday morning, giving Nink a ride to the airport so that she could retrieve the car that Bob had left there earlier in the morning, for his uh-oh dark-thirty flight, beginning another one of his marathon road trips. Anne had some harrowing moments, driving through Columbus, during rush-hour, in a rainstorm, but we made it to Dayton fine. In Columbus, we slow-rolled pass an empty, bashed-in car, with both front doors wide and both airbags deployed.

The Wright Cycle Company

The Wright Cycle Company

We are home now, having had our fill of semis and orange barrels, but this morning, we visited the Wright Brother’s old bicycle shop, in downtown Dayton. This one is now a national monument. It was their fourth of five bike shops that they had run. Henry Ford took their final one to his Greenfield Village in Michigan, every last brick of it. Still four out of five isn’t too bad. Wilbur and Orville did it all. They were mechanics, engineers, cyclists and aviators. They were true 20th century renaissance men.

Rene’s Graduation


Rene and Alice All Robed-Up

Rene and Alice All Robed-Up

Meliora! Sunday, was another graduation day. This time it was Rene’s day. He graduated From the University of Rochester, with a Masters of Mechanical Engineering. The setup for his graduation was similar to Dave’s. The weather was identically perfect. The people here keep speaking of snow at graduation, but I’ve never seen it. One important difference between Rene’s and Dave’s graduations is that as a member of the faculty, Alice got to present Rene his diploma. When it was announced that Alice, his mother, would be presenting Rene his diploma, the crowd gave them a big “Ah.” 

Alice and Rene at the Kodak Center

Alice and Rene at the Kodak Center