Friday, November 20, 2015

Five-Tidbit Friday: November 20, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving! 
Thanksgiving may only come once a year, but there's mounting scientific evidence about the benefits of developing thankful habits. Researcher Glenn Fox at the University of Southern California has been researching how gratitude alters the brain. “A lot of people conflate gratitude with the simple emotion of receiving a nice thing. What we found was something a little more interesting,” says Fox. “The pattern of [brain] activity we see shows that gratitude is a complex social emotion that is really built around how others seek to benefit us.” As you gear up for the big feast, here is some advice to help you and your family be truly thankful at Thanksgiving.


Although copyrighted by celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme in 1986, the Turducken (a kind of “Russian Doll Roast”) traces its roots back to at least medieval times, when animals might be stuffed within other animals for the sake of spectacle. (See also,  “illusion foods,” or “incredible foods.”)

Schott’s Food & Drink Miscellany includes this example of a Russian Doll Roast involving way too many birds: “stuff a large OLIVE with CAPERS and a CLOVE,” and so on, it says. The directions continue stuffing birds, including a bec-figue, ortolan, lark, thrush, quail, plover, lapwing, partridge, woodcock, teal, fowl, duck, chicken, pheasant, goose, and turkey, until ultimately we’re told to “place the TURKEY inside an enormous BUSTARD.”


According to Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Food, at Sea and Ashore, in the Nineteenth Century, Thanksgiving used to be a bigger deal. For roughly the first half of our nation’s history, Thanksgiving reigned as the premier holiday among the Europeans who came to America, and their descendents. (Celebrating Christmas was too “churchy” for the Puritans.) For a fascinating tour of Thanksgiving meals through the ages, including the "Turducken," be sure to check out


Did you know that Jingle Bells was originally written as a song to celebrate Thanksgiving Day? James Lord Pierpont wrote it, quite possibly right here in Massachusetts, some time in the 1850’s, almost certainly at a time when one might expect the heavy snows to begin as early as November.
Placard Commemorating the composition of  "Jingle Bells" in Medford, Massachusetts


Probably all of us have driven along Route 9 in Shrewsbury, past the Worcester County Food Bank. On their website, you can quickly identify the nearest food pantry, learn where to donate funds and food for the hungry, volunteer to help with the distribution process, and learn how to advocate for the hungry in your community.

See you here in two weeks. Hope you have a decent weekend, and a very wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Five-Tidbit Friday: November 13th, 2015

Röntgen and his beard
It’s Movember! Both the “No Shave November” and “Movember” movements encourage men to abstain from the razor for thirty days in order to raise men’s health and cancer awareness. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder to tell which hair is charitable, and which is just garden-variety facial fluff.  
On November 8th, 1895, German physicist William Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays. National Radiologic Technology Week is celebrated each year during the week of the anniversary of this discovery. Röntgen’s own unruly chin-growth predated the UK’s Decembeard event.
According to the Boston Globe, the Massachusetts State Legislature’s Labor and Workforce Development Committee has put forward a bill to increase the minimum wage to fifteen dollars per hour. The introduction of the bill coincided with Fight for $15 demonstrations in over 270 cities, involving thousands of workers across the country. The bill still requires approval by the House, Senate, and Governor Charlie Baker.

Veterans’ Day was observed this week in Worcester and around the country. President Obama’s Veteran’s Day speech focused on jobs, as Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post writes:

“We’re in the midst of a new wave of American veterans,” said Obama, referring to a generation of men and women who have weathered the longest stretch of war in U.S. history. Those veterans have struggled in recent years to get care from an overwhelmed Department of Veterans Affairs. They’ve faced a higher unemployment rate than their civilian peers and an increase in suicides.
Here in Central Massachusetts, many work continually to honor the service of our Veterans, and to help them find ways to serve their country at home. The Worcester Veterans’ Services Division aims to supply local veterans with immediate financial aid, medical assistance, and referral services on issues such as housing, employment opportunities, health, and education. Notably, four of our area colleges and universities--Worcester State University, Fitchburg, Nichols College, and Mount Wachusett Community College--have been designated “military friendly” institutions.  


Describing one particularly personal commemoration of our country’s veterans, former SHARE-UMMS president and UMMS Library Assistant Paul Julian writes: “On July 9, while on a walk, I stopped to read a Veteran's monument on Upsala Street in Worcester. I had read others on my walks, but this was special, because Richard Leo Jandron , for whom the memorial was erected, died from his wounds sustained in Cherbourg, France exactly 71 years before. I said a prayer for Gunner Mate Jandron, and it occurred to me that I should do this for every veteran who is so honored here in Worcester. Working with two lists, I learned that there were 237 such monuments here in Worcester. I decided to seek them out so that I could pray and reflect on the sacrifices these brave veterans made. I aimed to walk to all 237 monuments. Today, the day before Veterans Day, I journeyed to the last one on my list for Lt. Paul Adams, which is located on Sunderland Road here in Worcester. I have found this to be both a moving and illuminating experience. We owe so much to our veterans. May their sacrifices always be appreciated by us.”

See you here next Friday. Hope you have a very decent weekend . . .

Friday, November 6, 2015

Member in the Spotlight: Delia Perez

Delia Perez
Interviewed by Laurie Lynch

Delia is a bright, outgoing, hardworking woman who always has a smile on her face and is always willing to help out her co-workers. Delia Perez began work as an Intake Assistant for the University in the department of Coverage Enhancement and Appeals Programs in July of 2014. In her day to-day-work, she handles and processes important paperwork for organizations such as The Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA). She loves her co-workers, and recently joined the Diversity Committee at UMass.

Delia grew up in Worcester and graduated from North High School. She also spent a lot of time in New York, where some of her aunts lived, during school vacations and summers. Her mother has fifteen siblings, and her father has twelve! Delia has two brothers, one older and one younger.   

Delia holds her family to be incredibly important. In fact, many members of her family were instrumental in naming her. In her family, they believe a family tradition can predict the sex of a baby. The prediction is made by hanging a chain with a charm over the pregnant mother's belly; the direction it swings tells you if the baby will be a boy (swings back and forward) or a girl (swings in a circular motion). Her grandmother performed this tradition and it told Delia’s family that she would be a boy. However, Delia’s aunt (also named Delia) was the only one who said the chain was wrong. So, Delia’s mother and aunt made a bet that if Delia was born a girl, she had to be named after her aunt. (No one remembers what her mother would have won if Delia had been born a boy.) At 5:15, on October 22, Delia’s aunt won the bet.
In the future, Delia hopes to become a teacher and work with children with special needs, specifically children who are blind, deaf, or mute. She plans to continue with her education at Worcester State University, where she has already completed two years of her undergraduate degree.

25 Fun Facts about Delia Perez:

  • Favorite color – Orange (She is wearing a beautiful orange scarf today.)
  • Favorite season – Autumn (She loves the foliage and all the pumpkin flavored goodies.)
  • Beach or woods – Beach (She is scared of bugs.)
  • Chocolate or vanilla – Chocolate (100% chocolate girl!)
  • Do you have any pets – No (She did have a wonderful Pitbull named Jada. But, due to Delia's schedule, Jada now lives with one of her uncles.)
  • Dream vacation – Africa or Thailand (She has always wanted to go to Africa, and Thailand is so beautiful she would love to go and experience the culture.)
  • Favorite style of music – Very eclectic (Depends on her mood; likes Classical to Hip Hop and everything in between.)
  • Favorite food – Anything Spanish
  • Do you blow dry your hair, let it dry on its own, or towel dry – Towel then air dry
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off – No, leave them tied
  • Favorite book – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Blubber by Judy Bloom (Delia and her mother used to read these books together growing up.)
  • Last thing you bought – Italian bread (Made garlic bread with it, to go with her dinner last night.)
  • Favorite day of the week – Friday (End of the work week.)
  • T.V. shows you secretly enjoy – Once Upon a Time and The Mindy Project
  • Favorite Potato Chips flavor – Wachusett Barbecue (She puts them on everything she can, including her sandwiches.)
  • Do you play a musical instrument – Flute (When she was in grade school, she thought she was really good, but now knows she was really bad!)
  • What's your biggest pet peeve – People who chew like cows
  • Do you have dream car – Range Rover, olive green with cream leather interior
  • If you could only eat 1 meal for the rest of your life, what would it be – Mofongo (A fried plantain-based dish, typically made with fried green plantains mashed together in a pilón, with broth, garlic, olive oil, and pork cracklings or bits of bacon.)
  • If you could go back in time, when would you go to and why – To before her grandparents passed. They helped raise her and although she told them how thankful she was and how much she loved them all the time, she would love the chance to tell them again.
  • If you got stranded on a deserted island with no power source, what 5 items would you bring – A good book, big notebook, pen or pencil, thread with an attached needle and a pot
  • What languages do you speak – English, Spanish, and learning Arabic
  • Favorite hobbies – Knitting and cooking (She loves to experiment with new recipes. She just found a recipe for Jamaican Patties that she plan on making soon.)   
  • Fun fact that not everyone knows about you – Aunt is a published author (Maggie Millet)
  • Do you have a favorite life motto – “A closed mouth don’t get fed”

Five-Tidbit Friday: November 6, 2015


We’ve gotten some helpful feedback about the SHARE blog recently. We apologize that the “Sign-Up by Email” feature is not available on all web browsers. If you’d like to receive updates in your inbox, and don’t see the sign-up box in the upper-right corner of your screen, please send an email to  


More details have been requested about the recent tidbit touting free online classes through

  • The project was founded by Harvard University and MIT, and a number of colleges and universities have since joined in.
  • New courses are continually being offered.
  • The program does not adhere to a traditional academic calendar.
  • At any given moment, a few million students are enrolled in the courses, and the website promotes a variety of ways of interacting with other students in your class, wherever in the world they may be.
  • EdX offers certificates of successful completion, but does not offer course credit. Whether or not a college or university offers credit for an edX course is within the sole discretion of that school.

Signing up for a class is just about as simple as registering for the edX site and clicking on the course(s) you want to take. The EdX site has a useful video explaining how it works. (A couple of years back, I signed up for Harvard’s “Food and Science” course. Signing up was fairly simple and straightforward. Keeping up with the course-load after work, however, was trickier. But when else can you use your kitchen as a laboratory?)


This week, the Pew Research Center released a report about work-family balance in households that include a mother and a father. This prompted the Huffington Post to wonder why so many government policies and employers are stuck in “Leave It to Beaver” mode--notably highlighting that the US is the only developed country that does not offer paid family leave to new mothers. (Additionally, the article points out that “Almost 40 percent of kids in the U.S. live in a home with a single parent or no parent at all (for example, a grandparent's in charge), according to a different Pew study.”)



. . . keeping an eye on the labor-management partnership at Kaiser Permanente. In his address at the recent White House Summit on Worker Voice, President Obama stated, “Kaiser Permanente works with 28 different unions to provide good pay and benefits, but also educational programs, and avenues for employees to help improve quality and care throughout the company — which is why they’re considered one of the premier health organizations in the country.”

See you here next Friday! Hope you have a great weekend . . .