Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Taking Dad to Notre Dame" - by Sharon Sears Slusarski

(On October 24, 2009, the Sears family traveled to South Bend, Indiana, to watch the Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on Boston College in a football game.)

"We finally made it -- we left at 9:30 Thursday night and arrived at the hotel at 10AM. We had less than half an hour to brush our teeth and change and we had to pick up tix to the Football Luncheon at The Joyce Center. Dad looks like it was one hell-of-a car ride!!"

(In the photo above: Kerriann Kada, Pat Mullen Sears, Daniel Sears, Harry Sears, Pat Sears, Sharon Sears Slusarski , Tim Sears, Shawn Sears Peikin, Collen Sears Kada.)

"After the parade - Tim rushed Dad down to the sidelines. Tim got a special pass for Dad to stand on the sidelines until the coin toss. What a treat!"

(In the photo above, Harry and Tim can be seen on the Notre Dame sideline just prior to kickoff. They're standing right behind a security guard with a yellow vest and a guy with a red jacket and a grey hood.)

Happy Halloween!!

Tonight is not the night for hordes of Chaos, the rat-creatures of Skaven, the race of Elves, or the Empire of Bretonnia. No, tonight belongs to the Legions of the Undead: Nagash, his Skeleton Army, the Screaming Skull Catapult, and the Giant Spider spreading fear and terror. There's no way to beat them. The best you can hope to do is run away. Check it out:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Marilynn Mullen in the New York Times!

It's not every day that a Mullen gets quoted in the New York Times. Alright, it wasn't exactly a quote -- it was a paraphrase. But still, Marilynn's name and references to the Cranbury Library appeared in the October 29th edition of the N.Y. Times! Check it out here:

I've always said that Marilynn can take any subject in the world and turn it into a Library story. The irony of this N.Y. Times article is that they started with the Library and turned it into a story about baseball!

In case you're wondering (I was!) this story appeared in both the online and the print versions of the newspaper! Congratulations Marilynn!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Elinore and Rory Come to Cranbury!

Elinore Davies and Rory Macqueen were in the States from London this week visiting with Eli's sister, Hannah. On Wednesday evening, though, they took a break from the glitter of New York City to check out the slightly quieter and much more bucolic setting of Cranbury, NJ. Marilynn and I decided to mark their visit by combining two quintessentially American holidays -- Halloween and Thanksgiving -- into one. While Marilynn prepared a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, I introduced Eli and Rory to the art of jack-o-lantern carving. The photo above shows them getting acquainted with the tools of the trade. The photo below shows our finished products.

Rory is convinced that his pumpkin carving job is the best of the three. To see if he's right, though, send me an email ( with your vote as to which jack-o-lantern is the best: the skull, the cat, or the ghost. And a Happy Halloween to everyone!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Two More Members of the Family Tree!

The Lillis branch of the Mullen Family Tree has had a major expansion. As reported by Brian Lillis, the proud grandfather, "We have our own shock to the system with 2 new grandsons in a week - one each to Grainne and Cliona. We are both thrilled to bits and are spending a lot of time in London with both of them. They are fine babies, both weighing in at 8 ½ pounds."

In the photo above, from left to right are: Grainne (Lillis) Beeney holding Matthew Beeney; Anne Lillis with arms around Callum Beeney and Liam Beadle; and Cliona (Lillis) Beadle holding Edward "Ted" Beadle.

Congratulations to the Lillis clan!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What a long strange trip it's been ...

Last Monday (October 12th) started off innocently enough. I had a great breakfast, went to work, had a little snack, and headed down to the BMS gym for a light lunchtime workout. I did my usual abdominal workout, a couple sets of pushups and started using one of the leg machines. I finished one set, stood up to say something to a guy lifting with me, and BOOM! I passed out for the first time in my life.

The BMS EMT group was all over me in minutes. Their initial diagnosis was low blood-sugar level (my count was 50) and they rushed me to University Hospital in Princeton. Once there, I was hooked up to a portable heart monitor (see below) and put through a battery of tests and examinations.

I maxed out the stress test, my EKG was perfect, my blood pressure was consistently excellent, and my echocardiogram (i.e., sonogram for the heart) showed a strong and steady beat. Everything looked perfect. On Wednesday morning, though, I was sitting up in my hospital bed eating breakfast when I felt what I thought was an accelerated heartbeat for a few seconds. I noted the time (8:47am) and informed the Student Nurse about it when he stopped by a few minutes later. He dutifully inspected the heart monitor log back at the nurse's station. He didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, but he reported the incident to the nurses. Five minutes later, my cardiologist was in my room telling me that my heart had stopped for 3.7 seconds! More than likely, my heart had stopped for an even longer period of time on Monday when I had fainted. His diagnosis was immediate: I needed a pacemaker. After getting a second opinion from another cardiologist in the hospital, I was scheduled for the operation. So, at 11am the next day, I became the proud owner of a Medtronics dual-chamber pacemaker. The model I have is shown below:

And here's how it looks inside me.

It was a relatively non-invasive procedure. I was given a local anesthesia and some kind of IV drip to make me semi-conscious. To tell you the truth, I remember very little about the operation. I lost very little blood and, as you can see, have only a 2" scar. I'll always have that circular bulge a couple of inches below my left collar bone, but I plan on using that as a conversation-starter at the bars.

According to my doctors and everything that I've read, here's a partial (yet representative) list of things that I can no longer do:

  • Have an MRI (damn! ... I'll really miss that terrifying claustrophobic feeling!)
  • Play sports like football, hockey, boxing, judo, karate, rugby, Hurling, Australian Rules Football ... I think you get the idea.
  • Use a gas-powered chain saw, though an electric one is fine.
  • Walk through an airport security system. It won't bother me, but the pacemaker will definitely sound an alarm, so why waste anyone's time?
Here are things that I can continue to do without fear:

  • Run a 4-minute mile (but I'll start with an 8-minute mile).
  • Spinning. If you don't know what that is, click here I teach it at BMS, so it was a relief to know that I'd be able to continue.
  • Basketball! Yes, I can continue to play basketball! Of course, my knees, calves, ankles and back may have to be consulted for a second opinion. Still, it's heartening to know that I can still give it a try again if I so desire (and I do!)
  • Use microwaves, wireless phones, computers, appliances, electric blankets, power tools, lawn mowers, and (sad to say) vacuum cleaners.
  • Have an X-ray, a CAT scan, or an ultrasound.

I won't lie. The actual experience of fainting and being revived was pretty scary. As a matter of fact, I thought that I had died. After those first 2 minutes, though, it wasn't all that bad. I was never in any pain and the care I received at the University Hospital at Princeton was excellent. Marilynn is actually a little relieved that I have a pacemaker! She believes that she has felt my heart briefly stop a couple of times over the past few years. This should prevent that from happening. And it won't interfere with my exercise. I can continue immediately to exercise as vigorously as I like.

So, while it has been a little bump in my road, things could have been much, much worse. It's all good now. Thank you for all of your prayers and good wishes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Congratulations John & Máire!

John & Máire Davis (fourth cousin!) celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary on October 4th with a family gathering in London. In "Máire's words, "We had a lovely weekend - it was really perfect. We had been planning to go away somewhere exotic, and then we thought - why do that? Why not just go to our little place in London and see the family, so we did - also lots of theatre and music and walking about and a lovely meal in Dympna's son-in-law's family restaurant, the Poule au Pot, in Pimlico - much recommended."

Pictured above, clockwise from the front: John Davies, Máire Davis, Elinore Davies, Rory Macqueen, Hannah Davies, Huw Davies, and Tom Davies. Not physically present but there in spirit was Máire's mom, Madge Messenger, whom Máire met with the next day.

John and Máire are also planning on hosting a "big reunion type party" on October 31st in London. If anyone from the extended Family is planning on being anywhere near London during that time, you are more than welcome to attend. Below is the official invitation.