Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Yep. Effective March 30, 2012, I will no longer be a member of the working class. Technically, I'll be earning a tiny bit of money on the side (more on that later) but I will no longer have a full-time job. Mentioning this to anyone immediately elicits one or more of the following questions:

Aren't you too young to retire?

I'll be 57 in June. By many standards, that is still young. But my mother died at 60, my father died at 64, and my older brother died at 39. That doesn't mean that I'll die young, but it's not a good family track record. I'm in good health, but I have an erratic heartbeat, a pacemaker, and a body loaded with arthritis. I'm old enough, believe me. Also, after 15 years at McGraw-Hill and 17 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb, I was technically eligible to retire at age 55. I held off as long as I could.

Why are you retiring?

I'm retiring for two reasons. First and foremost, because I can! Marilynn did an incredible job of managing our money over the years. Up until a couple of years ago, I couldn't have told you the difference between a 401(k) plan and a pension. Come to find out, I have two of each! And a bunch of IRA's to boot! Marilynn was pretty sure we were financially set, but we took it to a professional financial guy just to make sure. After looking at our books and discovering that the kids were grown and gone, the house was paid off and that we had zero debt, he told me to retire whenever I felt like it.

The second (and far more important) reason that I'm retiring is because my job stopped being meaningful quite some time ago. It all started with the decision by BMS to outsource their IT function to EDS (now HP). Whether that was a good decision for BMS and its stockholders is irrelevant and not worth arguing about in this blog. But it left me with a job which, over time, I began to detest. The better I did my job, the more pain and suffering I caused to former co-workers who had been outsourced. After four years of dealing with that, it is in the best interest of everyone concerned that I move on.

Aren't you going to miss the challenge?

I will miss the challenge that I had four years ago, managing a staff of IT professionals, but not my current job. I will miss the group of BMS people that I worked with and all of the ex-BMS people who were outsourced, but I won't miss a single member of the HP management team. Not one of them.

What are you ever going to do with all of your free time?

Here's a preliminary list that I put together. I'm sure it will change as I settle into retirement:
  • Exercise: Basketball (probably only 2 more years left at most), teaching Spinning class at BMS, weightlifting, and recovering from all of this exercise will absorb a lot of my time.

  • Writing: I wrote and published a small book a few years ago and enjoyed the experience. I'm eager to give it another shot with a slightly more complex topic. I'm also going to spend a lot of time with this Blog, revising it slightly to focus on current events.

  • Genealogy: I'm the keeper of the Mullen Family Tree. Many of the links on that tree are in dire need of authentication.

  • Web Programming: I've done a little Javascript programming, but I'm thinking that programs like this need to be updated, probably using this programming environment.
  • House Projects: With the kids all gone, there must be a thousand projects that need to be done, starting with painting the picket fence.

  • Environmental Commission: I'm currently the absolute least effective member of the Cranbury Environmental Commission. I'm going to try and change that, possibly even taking a few courses related to Environmental Science.
  • Reading: I'm going to shoot for two books a month. After all, I am married to a librarian!

Plus, there's always a family function going on: Mulleniums, Mullen Christmases, weddings, graduations, births and, yes, the occasional funerals. And then there are the grandchildren. I only have one now, but I'm expecting more. I can't imagine getting bored!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

If Dr. Seuss had owned an iPhone ...

You've heard of texting, possibly even sexting, but have you ever heard of Seussting? I'm pretty sure that Marilynn and I invented it back on January 13, 2012. No idea what I'm talking about? Well, click on the image below. It's an iPhone text exchange initiated by Marilynn when she realized that she had sent me to work without a spoon in my lunchbox. Marilynn's texts are in white; mine are in green:

So, the key point of this blog entry -- the very reason for it's existence -- is not to document the fact that I have been spoiled by Marilynn. That's already a well-known fact. She's actually packed me a lunch almost every day of my 34-year business career. Nor is it to draw attention to the fact that I have zero attention span at work. I freely admit that composing these text messages was the highlight of that particular day. No, the entire purpose of this blog entry is to document for posterity that I invented Seussting!

Ciara Leary: Another Leaf on the Tree!

First official photo!

Avril and Tony Leary are the proud parents of yet another beautiful girl, Ciara Angela Leary. She was born slightly before 5am on Wednesday, February 1, in the Royal London Hospital. Coincidentally, little Ciara was born on Avril's birthday! Below are a few pictures of Ciara and the entire Leary family. In case you're wondering (I'm sure you are!) Ciara is my newest third cousin once removed! Congratulations Tony and Avril!

Tony, Ciara, and Charlotte

Avril bringing Ciara home

In her own bed

Marie Notarfrancesco: February 9, 2012

Obituary for Marie Notarfrancesco

It is with great sadness that I report of the death of Marie Notarfrancesco of an apparent heart attack at approximately 6:15am on February 9, 2012, at Frankford Hospital in Philadelphia. Marie was a fixture at almost every Mullen Family event and always had a smile on her face. She will certainly be missed by the entire extended family. Below are a few of the testimonials written about Marie by her family, providing a glimpse of the kind of person that Marie truly was:

From Marian Notarfrancesco, Daughter-in-Law:
Our Marie was the best Grammie ever to Willie and Kenshin. Our Grammie was the most kind, patient, loving, generous, funny and accepting person we knew. Grammie was just such a wonderful person and we were truly blessed to have her in our lives. We will miss your many hugs, kisses, words of wisdom and most of all your bright smile. We will miss you at Christmas morning, school events, our cool vacations, karate, soccer games and in our every day lives. Grammie you were always on the go with us and no matter what, even if you were tired, you went to everything we asked. Grammie you made our days brighter each day and anytime we needed you, you were always there for us! We love you so much and will always have you in hearts and thoughts. Miss you terribly! We are sending you a huge hug to heaven every time we look up!

From Marylouise Pezza, Niece:
For someone’s life that was cut so short, Aunt Marie added value to each and every day of it. She was kind and generous to everyone she met and was always ready to jump right in and lend a helping hand or offer some practical advice. She left a very positive and lasting impression to all. Aunt Marie enjoyed hosting parties and helping others’ parties be successful. She liked to be organized and plan the next big adventure. She was like a second mother or very dear friend to so many. She enjoyed all different kinds of sporting events from Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies, to Temple Owls, to Valley Soccer, to Action Karate. She was a proud supporter of all family activities including competitions, moving days near and far, and designing marathon apparel.

Aunt Marie enjoyed eating out especially Bella’s for a cheese steak hoagie or a delicious chicken parmesan. She always enjoyed a slice of Mack and Manco’s pizza along the boardwalk of Ocean City. She was a volunteer for so many things. She was a St. Clements teaching assistant, a St. Charles lunch mother, and most recently, a counter at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She helped so many people keep up their daily routines like Aunt Dolly, Gram, Mrs. Notar, and many others. She liked celebrating each holiday season either with a few simple decorations or a full ensemble like at Christmas time. Aunt Marie was a somewhat simple person and you could usually find her on Saturday nights at 5:00 Mass followed by dinner out with family members. She will be sorely missed but certainly remembered for all of her fine qualities that have left a mark on us all. Aunt Marie was the fun aunt.

From Patricia Sears, Aunt:
Marie was still in high school when we first met at a family gathering. Meeting the combined Notarfrancesco-Mullen family was quite an ordeal for a teenager but she came through it with her usual grace. We liked Marie immediately. How thrilled we were when their engagement was announced. On meeting the McCarthy's we saw that Peter had obviously chosen a wonderful girl from a fine Irish family. The first grandchild's wedding was a major event. How we danced and sang at their wedding! The birth of their son, the first great-grandchild, was a time of jubilation.

The Navy gave the newlyweds some private months away from family but eventually they moved back to o Philly with little Paul. The threesome became fixtures at family gatherings. They rarely missed an event. In 1975 when my mother was at Nazareth and then Holy Redeemer, Marie was there with us. She was a strong presence at Mom's funeral that summer as well as all family funerals that followed.

Mary & Nick began the family reunions after Mom's death. Marie always worked along with Mary. We could always count on Pete and Marie coming to parties on time or even a little early.They immediately joined in helping with any of the last minute preparations. Marie and Pete were present in January when we celebrated "Mullen Christmas" and Joe's 80th.

Peter & Marie took excellent care of Mary in the years following the deaths of Michael and Nick. As so often happens, they were often taken for granted. They were just always there for her. While awaiting her apartment at Gloria Dei she lived in their home. Mary moved two more times and they took charge of each move. They brought her to their home for holidays and took her to extended family events.

Marian was welcomed as part of their family when Paul brought her home and she became his wife. Being a grandmother was Marie's delight and she and Peter enjoyed Paul & Marian's sons.

Marie and I had many long phone conversations over the past ten years. These were often precipitated by the health crisis of a family member, Mary in particular. We met in hospital rooms, elevators, etc. Marie was always very thoughtful and generous. When Peter invited me to lunch at Holy Redeemer he made it clear that he did not think of this on his own; Marie had told him to "treat Aunt Pat." On the night Mary died, I walked Marie downstairs She paid my parking fee before I realized what she was doing. That is Marie!! She thought of others in little ways as well as major areas. Her concern & compassion was evident in allowing me to be part of the preparations for Mary's funeral. She also made sure Nancy, Winnie & I all had mementos of our big sister which we treasure.

Heaven is richer for your presence, Marie. So many people must have been there to joyfully greet you and lead you to OUR FATHER. What a celestial traffic jam there must have been with your mother, dad, aunt, niece, and other McCarthy's; Peter's parents, and so many of the Notarfrancesco's and Mullen's you met so long ago..

Marie, how proud I am to be your Aunt Pat as well Pete's. How privileged we are to have been a part of your life. I know without asking that you will continue to pray for us. One more thing, Marie, please give each of the family in Heaven a hug for us.