Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas All!

All the presents are under the tree. My daughter is near bed, excited for what tomorrow will bring. I managed to visit with my old neighbors in Forest Hill and make it to church with AM and her family. My mom has arrived to visit and help with the morning preparations. My Dad and stepmom will arrive tomorrow morning for the gift exchange. I hope all of you have a wonderful time this holiday season, filled with love and blessings!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

You ever have one of those weekends when something you were not sure would happen, suddenly happens, catching you a bit by surprise. It was something you wanted to know, something you thought might be possible one day... you have wondered, waited... kept a positive mental outlook. But then, when you aren't expecting it, you find out... what a wonderful feeling, the best of all surprises. I have been in a daze, reveling in the happiness this brings. I am a very lucky fellow!

What is the source of all this celebration?

Yes, you guessed it.. I am going to heaven! I found out how to do it from this web site!

But just in case that turns out to be a fraud... I am comforted in knowing that I will be back as a Zebra in my next life -

Like I said, I am one lucky fellow! :-)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Was out Christmas shopping today and got a phone call from my dad. He got the results of his CT scan and there is no sign of a tumor anymore. Last year, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and soon after he went into the hospital with pneumonia and almost didn't come out. This year, the surgery, chemo and radiation treatments have done their job.. along with just getting back from two weeks in St. Maartens (that had to help!). Some gifts you just cannot put a bow on and set under the tree!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It has been foggy here the last few days. Not sure if it has to do with my childhood living in England, but I find the fog comforting. Things seem quieter, there is usually not much of a breeze, sounds seem muffled. I also like the play of contrast, shades of gray on gray, the way lights are transformed into shapes and auras.. I often tried (usually unsuccessfully, I got this one from Google images) to capture that in my earlier days of black and white photography, will have to try again with my new camera. Maybe it is the attenuation of color on days like this that make them so vibrant when the sun comes back. Probably a life metaphor in there somewhere, but I will leave those to AM. ;-)

So many movies have made fog seem "evil", so I am thankful I have not seen too many of those, but a dog howling stills brings to mind the "Hound of the Baskervilles" a movie that made for some restless nights when I was a wee lad. ;-)

How do you feel on foggy days?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Where does the time go! I guess watching 3 out of 4 performances of the Wizard of Oz can make a dent in your blogging time, but it was fun trying to see what changed from performance to performance. Some of the ad libs by the 4th performance were hilarious, and all the kids were having a good time. I also got to practice with my new camera.. finding it hard to hold that thing still in low light.

OK.. I am all done with my shopping and decorating... yeah right! I am making progress, but it always happens.. I can find presents everywhere for a few people, and cannot for the life of me figure out what to get the others. Think I should just go with gift cards and booze at this point? Or maybe make a little more effort? ;-)

The forecast tomorrow is for a chance of snow. I am sure all the kids are putting on their pajamas inside out, walking backwards to their beds, and leaving spoons on their window sills. Anyone have any other superstitions to get a snow day?

Hope everyone is enjoying the festive music at the malls, the energetic walks from the outskirts of the parking lots, and the patient conversations in the checkout lines. :-) Humm... back to for now.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Mine was very enjoyable with great food, drink and company at AM's house, followed by fourteen of us going to see "Enchanted." Friday I was inspired by the sales flyers and my mom's request that I buy my Christmas present from her... so now I finally have my new digital camera. I am still learning how to use it, but got some good practice shooting some skydiving activities on Saturday. I am looking forward to getting back into my photography, it's been a long time.

Starting to get into the Christmas decorating frame of mind... will drag my tree out of the attic soon and get it up. I like the fact that my tree has all its lights already on it, but have now learned that when they go bad.. it is a "pain" to get them off. I would like to meet one of the poor souls who clip all those lights into the trees in the first place, that has to be a tough job, I wonder what profanity sounds like in Chinese?

So who has all their decorations up and Christmas shopping done already? I have barely started shopping.. but plan to do a lot this week.. then just have to wait for the packages to arrive... what did we do before online shopping? Oh yeah, I remember that Christmas Eve in KMart with the lights being turned out... not going to let that happen again! :-)

Monday, November 19, 2007

I am usually pretty patient, but when my cable, internet and phone all got knocked out this morning, I was a bit annoyed, since I do a fair amount of work from home. I called and reported it and was told that there was an outage and it would be back up soon. Patience I said. When my daughter came home from school at noon and could not contact me through our usual methods, phone, IM or e-mail... I was concerned. To keep the worst case scenarios from playing in my head, I dashed home after lunch to make sure all was OK. It was, apart from a young girl who was bored out of her mind! Now, I remember the days before internet, cable TV, video games, etc.. but this 13 year old has never known a day without the internet. It may as well have been a full power outage, we would have just been colder! :-) I walked out back and could see the painted lines in the grass showing where my cable was, and the fresh trench marks and spool of cable at the pole... I called Comcast again.. and was told that the outage was fixed. "Not for me", I replied. But since it was after 1 pm by this point, they could not send someone out until tomorrow, and that was going to be sometime during the day, would I be there?. "You mean I need to stay here all day so you can fix the cable you dug up in my back yard?", "Yes, sorry", she said (then started going on about the difference between a meteor and meteorite) ;-). We will see what time this repair gets done tomorrow. Fortunately, I have my cellular modem for the laptop, several hours of shows on my DVR and my cell phone. Redundancy can help with patience. :-)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It was an all blogger birthday celebration on Friday, with Anne, Dan, myself and AM. We were all impressed with Anne's new iPhone.. I really have to get one of those soon! We were in Annapolis at the Rams Head to enjoy the sold out Mark Cohn concert and some refreshing local brews. It was a great start to a fun night!

Saturday was a relaxing day with not too much to do until the afternoon when we took a road trip to my old neighborhood in Forest Hill to pick up my daughter and have dinner with my "old" neighbors. (they aren't really that old.. just from my old neighborhood) :-) We had a good time with new introductions and delicious food, then trekked our way back south to the "new" neighborhood.

Sunday, the daughter and I were up early for the last horse show of the fall season. It was a cold, blustery day.. with a few raindrops here and there at the beginning, but the day turned out nice and the show went well. She decided to enter into some morning walk/trot/canter classes and an afternoon jumper series (small fences). She won first place for the first time on Pilgrim (her horse) on the second of the jumper classes and was thrilled (especially after a little difficulty on the first jumper class). We came home cold and tired, with a rainbow of ribbons and smiles on our faces.

Looking forward to the shortened work week and Thanksgiving festivities. I usually don't have too much trouble finding a few things to be thankful for, but this year will be especially easy! :-)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tonight I witnessed several incidents of husbands being thrown out of cars, the disappointment over not being able to have a baby, confusing discussions over money, and a beautiful cop who was making a mint on speeding tickets. Then it was my turn... and I won the Nobel Prize! We were playing the Game of Life. :-) It was a bit different than I remembered from the version I grew up with... seemed like you could do more "gambling" in the older edition, but I also recall those games hardly ever finishing, since they took so long. It was fun playing together, laughing, and for a change a computer was not involved!

What are some of your favorite non-computer games?

Monday, November 5, 2007

My birthday is tomorrow! As I reflect on the past year.. nah.. not going to get all introspective and stuff like that. Just going to say it has been a great 6 months, must be the blogging... it brings me such joy! ;-)

Got to enjoy an early celebration on Friday with a wonderful dinner and a play. It was Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew", but done with modern costumes and props. This made for a interesting presentation, from humor to some unsettling parts along the lines of domestic violence, but seemed to end with a more modern "mutual respect/team approach" to relationships. I think I am going to start saying "Well Met" instead of hello for a while.. just to be brave ( or stupid?).

Saturday brought the 30th anniversary gala for Changing Focus. It was a fun event, with a lot of folks I've known for a long time now. We even managed a few dances, of the slower variety.. will be at least another week before "the Twist" or "Brown-eyed girl". We followed up this event with The Crayfish at a local bar, always entertaining!

Sunday I started to feel a cold coming on, and it has been making itself noticed more today. Hopefully after a few naps today and a good nights sleep, I will shake it soon. Nothing quite as much fun as being sick on your birthday. (OK, I am sure that can be topped in many ways.. just going for the sympathy comments) :-)

OK. go ahead and top it.. what were some of your more "fun" birthdays?

Off to bed... Have a good election day!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I know we needed the rain, but I am glad it finally ended! The horse farm is not a good place to go after three days of rain, actually one day makes quite a mess!

With the clearer weather, we managed to meet up with some of my daughter's friends at Hershey Park on Saturday. It was fun, got to ride some of the roller coasters.. but I did not get a chance to ride my favorite one - The Great Bear. We rode the Comet, my daughter's first roller coaster (front seat with her mom when she was 5.. she was just tall enough). We rode it three times that first day, just the once this time. The Wild Mouse and the Wildcat also. On our way out, my daughter caught sight of the S'Mores stand... good eyes! We both enjoyed that treat on the way to the car.

Last week's weather was also a problem for other reasons... on the minor side, my commute was horrible, on the major side, Denise, the woman who cleans my house was in a car accident... some cuts, minor back injury, and a broken hand... I am told she is OK, but out of action for a while. So today I cleaned the house... it's been a while since I have done many of these tasks, but I managed to get to about 70% of what would have normally been done. I have a renewed appreciation of what Denise does for me. Get well soon!

On to the start of another week... hope everyone has a good one!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Had a wonderful weekend with trips to a friend's wedding on Friday evening at the Antrim Manor in Taneytown, and to "Symphony with a Twist" on Saturday night at the Meyerhoff in Baltimore. The "Twist" series always has an unusual aspect to the performances... in this case, the first piece "Frankenstein" had the orchestra supplementing their usual instruments with toy instruments, plastic tubes, and a percussionist blowing up and popping paper bags (and throwing them towards the conductor afterwards). It was definitely not your expected orchestra performance, probably a part of why we enjoyed it. The blue martini's before hand may have helped? ;-)

Also of note, the day arrived last Thursday that our family no longer has a car older than my daughter. I had taken ownership of a 1990 Toyota pickup and used it for the past year or so for mulch runs, dump runs, etc. But with it needing a new exhaust system to pass emissions, 5th gear not quite reliable and a lot of rust underneath.. I decided it was time to give it to charity and free up the space in the driveway. One American Red Cross web form later and I had a call that someone would be by soon to pick up the pickup. So sometime Thursday, while I was out at lunch, the truck vanished from my driveway, on to wherever those things go.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How long is soon? I have many references, but they are all so vague. "See you soon"... could be a few hours to a few weeks or more. The popular e-mail ending.. "talk to you soon" seems fairly short, since the easier "ttyl" ("talk to you later") would be used for a longer time span. My daughter's response when I ask her to do something.. "I will soon" can be anywhere from minutes to the end of time. Then there is "ASAP" or "As soon as possible"... a popular acronym, which should have some sense of urgency, but seems to mean "when I can get around to it".

The reason I need to know... a light appeared on my dashboard for the first time in my car's 8 year lifespan. "Service Engine Soon" in brilliant yellow. It's not flashing, the car is running fine as best I can tell (and it is in no way related to the amount of fuel I have left in the car). So I am planning to get it checked out in the next day or so. Should I be concerned? Maybe it should have said "Service Engine ASAP".

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's been an interesting few days... my big work event went well last Friday. We have received praise from our Institute Director on down and it looks to become an annual event! Oh joy another 12 hour workday! ;-) I took on the D.C. beltway on a Friday evening to catch up with AM and enjoy her fun event. Many stories have been written of the D.C. beltway, but they are only true when there is an accident, which is almost daily... I was lucky that night, no accidents and it was a relatively painless drive. John the Trucker would appreciate that I did not try to cut anyone off, just patiently plodded along and listened to some soothing music. :-)

Saturday had me on a quest to find the title for my old pickup so I could donate it to charity. That had the added task of sorting and filing about a years worth of documents that had piled up. It was something that needed to be done, but it is mindless work. I found the title in the very last pile of papers I sorted.. how does that happen all the time! The bonus side was finding some savings bonds that had been stashed away for many years, maybe I will spend them on something extravagant? (Or save them for many more years?)

Sunday was a day for everyone to catch up on sleep, watch some TV, order some wedding presents, and for me to format the huge amounts of text from Friday to be ready for this week. Another mindless (OK, semi-mindless) task that would have probably driven me crazy had I not had the appropriate beverage and TV diversions.

Today started off with the right plans, but after a phone call from school and a daughter who did not feel well, turned into a work at home day, doctor's appt, etc. As AM mentioned about being off balance, these are the days I feel off balance. I know what I should be doing, but need to adapt to the situation quickly. She has had to adapt for a long time... I cannot complain about one day!

So my tasks remain, to properly "jellify" a PB&J sandwich for my daughter's lunch tomorrow (her term, not mine), take out the recycling, walk the dog and get ready for another day. Will see how things work out tomorrow. :-)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Updates: My dad is doing well... he is getting chemo and radiation therapies over the last few weeks, and while it has been tiring for him, he is getting through it.

AM has a nice new blue cast, being decorated now by her friends and family. She is getting around better with less pain as the days go by. Getting out of the house from time to time for short trips and lacrosse games.

As for me.. I have been helping out where I can. Managing to keep all my web site projects up to date. Trying to get ready for a big work event next Friday. But today I got out to play some golf. It was a long day in the heat (5.5 hours to play 18 holes), but I managed a couple of pars and a birdie, even though I had a few meltdown holes (an 8 on a par 3.. ugh). Then off to meet up with some friends for some 8-ball. I had some good shots there too. Tomorrow is a work holiday, so not feeling too guilty about indulging myself. (OK, those who know me might wonder about that). Tomorrow, I will have to do a lot of good things for others to make up for this! ;-)

I was blessed with a lot of laughter over the last few days... a mom's text messaging attempts...friendly teasing about new tattoos (not mine)... creative use of trees in golf shots (mine)... my friend's pool banter (My good friend Chad used to keep me in stitches when we were shooting pool, looking forward to celebrating at his wedding in two weeks!).

What are some of the things that have made you laugh recently?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ran to the liquor store tonight to pick up a few items. While waiting for my turn to check out I noticed the patron ahead of me having a conversation with the cashier. A few seconds went by and as I got closer, I noticed that the fellow checking out was talking on his bluetooth headset and the cashier had a phone under her ear and was having a completely different conversation. He finished his transaction and continued his conversation as he walked out the door. The cashier continued hers and went all the way to handing me back my credit card before a muffled "Thank you".

I have a bluetooth headset, but it's a strange sensation having conversations on it... it feels like I am just talking into space.. or most of the time to my windshield. Maybe if I hold my hand to the side of my head and pretend to have a phone it would seem more normal? I feel like I am being rude if I am talking on it when the drive-through speaker asks for my order, and that is not even a real person (OK, I guess there is one somewhere). Do other people feel this way? Or do I need to adapt to the new age of communications everywhere, all the time... I don't think I have that much to talk about! :-)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Odometers... you used to be able to see them all the time as they clicked over a mile at a time, waiting for those milestones of your car's life, 40,000 then 50,000 and on. My more recent cars have reached the 100,000 point and beyond.. the 1984 Dodge Omni died at 84,000, my 1979 Triumph Spitfire had to be retired for a practical car when I joined the workforce. Since then, my 1990 Nissan Maxima was traded in at 205,000 miles for the 1999 Nissan Maxima I currently drive.

Well, yesterday while driving, for some reason I decided to switch over the display from the trip odometer (which is always on, showing me how I am doing on this particular tank of gas) to the overall display. It had just passed 180,000 miles... I missed it by probably a few minutes... oh well. Thinking back I realized that I was still married when I got this car... two years later I was separated, a few years after that divorced.. and now here I am at 8 years of owning this car. It has taken me to the Outer Banks, Rehoboth, and Ocean City on vacations, faithfully delivered me to work and back - day in and day out, escorted me on dates, tolerated the dust and debris of numerous horse farms. It only complained once.. when I stuck its nose into the back of an SUV one day, but that was soon rectified by my insurance company.

Some fellows get very attached to their cars, very protective. Maybe if I had a $60,000+ vehicle, I might?.. but then what would I drive to the horse farm? Am I attached to my current car? Well, it has been a good car... very few problems for all those miles. So to mark this mileage landmark... I washed it... something else that doesn't happen very often!

Now I just need to get the footprints back on the windshield, the bits of straw on the floor, and a pair of riding boots in the back seat, so all feels normal again. :-)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Doesn't seem like nearly a week since I posted last. I was in the dad routine... having my daughter with me this past week. Had to do some emergency shopping for jeans on Monday, since she seems to have shot up again. I really don't want her all grown up yet.. but it sure will be nice to be able to buy her clothes that will last a while!

Wednesday was my girlfriend's surgery to set the breaks in her lower leg. Was at the hospital with her parents to offer whatever support I could. She was in at 7:30 am and out at 2:30 pm, to go home to recuperate. I have to say I don't agree with this modern philosophy of medical care. She should have had at least a night in the hospital with the pain medicine on demand. Instead she had to suffer through it at home. She has her mother staying with her, who compliments her motherly nuturing with her past nursing skills, but it was still a long period of unrelenting pain. She is doing better the last few days, sleeping longer and finding the right combinations of medicines that keep her comfortable.

I got a chance to visit on Friday and Saturday, doing a few honey-do's, cooking a few meals, trying to play Florence Nightingale (OK that is tough for a guy). :-) I am hoping to be able to do more in the coming weeks.

Today my daughter was with me to go to our annual local horse event, the Columbia Classic Grand Prix. We sat in the heat and watched horses that I will never be able to afford, jump over fences higher than I ever want to think of my daughter jumping. I overheard a mother near me saying that if her daughter ever did this, she would probably have a heart attack on the spot. Only had one bad spill.. a fellow was launched off his horse into a fence, when his mount refused at the last second (he was fine)... sometime's I wonder how many people come to watch the horses "crash".. like in NASCAR? ;-) We saw a lot of people we know from the various horse farms and summer camps, as expected.

Monday, September 17, 2007

It was a very eventful weekend. First of all, thanks to all my Changing Focus friends who came out to the Art Gallery mixer on Friday night.. it was a great success and everyone seemed to have a great time.

Saturday I was up early to help with a photo assignment... my girlfriend was going to photograph the start of a sailing race on the bay and we were in a power boat, chasing down catamarans that were moving along quite quickly. The weather was a little chilly with the strong breezes and overcast sky, but we were having a good time until a series of unfortunate events collaborated to send her crashing onto the floor of the boat. She landed badly and broke her leg near the ankle in three places (as we would learn later). She was in a tremendous amount of pain and had to endure a bouncing boat ride back to shore to meet the ambulance crew, get some pain medicine, and then be transported to the hospital. She is home now... on Percocet and still in a lot of pain, awaiting the scheduling of surgery later this week to set the fractures and begin the healing process.

Sunday was my daughter's first horse show with her own horse. The last one was about 6 years ago at a different farm with a cute but unpredictable pony. She knows her horse very well now, and they did great. Two second place, two third place and three fourth place ribbons will now decorate her room. She really wanted to win an event, but was aware of the things she did wrong, and she, as well as her mom, stepdad, myself, various grandparents were all happy with the results. The next show is in October, and she is looking forward to that next chance to prove her and her horse's abilities.

So there were some very good times this weekend, but the injury tempered that and made me remember how quickly things can change. My girlfriend has a lot of people ready to help and praying for her quick recovery... I am one of them. :-)

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Popcorn workers' lung" Have you ever heard of it? I remember something about some fatalities at a popcorn plant some years ago.. but then I read this:

Exposure to synthetic butter in food production and flavoring plants has been linked to hundreds of cases of workers whose lungs have been damaged or destroyed. Diacetyl is found naturally in milk, cheese, butter and other products.

Heated diacetyl becomes a vapor and, when inhaled over a long period of time, seems to lead the small airways in the lungs to become swollen and scarred. Sufferers can breathe in deeply, but they have difficulty exhaling. The severe form of the disease is called bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn workers’ lung,” which can be fatal.

Now I am a huge fan of microwave popcorn, it was the reason microwaves were invented I think, and it is a staple in my daughter's "diet". So should I be concerned? Reading further I find that the fellow the article is about is 53 years old, was eating popcorn at least twice a day for more than 10 years, and had a habit of inhaling the vapors from the bag when it came out of the microwave....which seems to be the worst thing to do. His doctor told him to stop eating popcorn and he lost 50 lbs and can breathe better now.

So for now, I guess my daughter and I can keep eating moderation.. but perhaps we should stop huffing the buttery vapors from the bag? (Article from NY Times)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

I have seen some strange things in the road in my life. Watched a huge rear axle come off the truck trailer next to me on the way to work one morning. Have seen a sad variety of animals who fell victim to the hazards of crossing the highway. Was in an hour backup on 270 for what seemed to be a boot in the road. But today, driving my daughter through the countryside to a new tack store, I happened across a new addition to the highway decor. It was, as best as I could tell on my two passes by it.. a black bra. There were no other clothing items near it, no homes in the vicinity... just a bra in the middle of the road, in the middle of nowhere. Made me start to wonder how it got there... anyone care to fabricate a scenario where this could happen? Being a guy, I am not completely familiar with this item of clothing, but I am quite sure they don't fly out the car window without a bit of effort. :-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Was just filling out the school picture form for my daughter.. it's picture day tomorrow. What package to choose? Do I really need 283 wallet size photos? With her name on them? Maybe 4 8x10's?... I think that would bother her to have 8x10 portraits all over the house. I usually split them with her mom, but there is always something weird, like 3 4x5's, so then have to figure out who gets the extra one. Should she be retouched or as is? I think she looks pretty as is. Then the one that really confuses me.. why is it more expensive to have one background over another? The environmental background is the cheapest.. are they trying to get us to have all our kids photos taken in the trees to raise global awareness? Does anyone get the new laser background?

I settled on package number 3, on the traditional background - retouched (just in case she is having a bad hair day). Now if she just looks awake in the photo, that would be great!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I am watching SNL, it's a rerun, but I recall when this show first started. I was in college in 1978 when John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Dan Akroyd, and others were on this show. We had all the great sketches, Coneheads, Two wild and crazy guys (when Steve Martin would host), the Bass-o-Matic, Swill, Samurai whatever, and many more. Our college lives revolved around it, we would go out early on Saturdays, to be back to watch the show by 11:30. There would be a packed house in the TV lounge, laughing uncontrollably. Have not had that experience with SNL in a long time. Cannot even imagine a TV show these days that I would plan my evening around... of course with DVR's that is not really an issue. What are some of your favorite sketches from the early SNL days?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I have a modest home... big enough for myself and my daughter and not really a hike from one end to the other... but a coworker of mine found this today, the Habitat for the Un-Tamed Spirit. These spheres are suspended from trees and the largest is 10.5 ft in diameter. I can see the advantages.. if the neighborhood gets too rowdy with racoons, bears, etc.. then just move to some new trees. But I have to think living in one of these would be difficult... especially having to climb out of the tree in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom! I guess for a couple of squirrels it would be rather luxurious. :-)

Monday, August 27, 2007

When the Voyager spacecraft were launched in 1977, they each took a golden record that contained information about earth. Music, greetings in different languages, images of life on this planet. NASA has started a blog for suggestions to cover the last 30 years.

What would you suggest? How would you like another civilization to perceive us? Based on the 80's videos on VH1... an alien race will think we all have big hair!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

David Letterman has his "brushes with greatness" where people tell their stories of meeting someone famous, usually with a funny embellishment added.

When I was 11 in England, Queen Elizabeth II came to visit our school. We were all paraded out in our clean uniforms to greet her. As she came down the long line of kids, I wondered if she would stop to talk to me? We had all been "briefed" on proper behavior around the queen, and I was getting a little nervous. As she approached me, she stopped and turned... and asked the boy next to me his name and shook his hand. Darn.. all I can say now is that I almost met the Queen of England!

Also, many years later, I met Walter Koenig (Chekov from Star Trek) and no it was not at a convention, it was at an overload gate during bad weather at the Cincinnati airport.. can't remember what I said to him.. but I got a smile... then realized who he was!

Care to share your brushes with greatness?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

One more week before my daughter goes back to school. The supplies have been bought, still some shopping to do, but we are currently working on the adjustment to earlier bedtimes and wake up times. I know that first Monday will be a shock to her system, probably mine as well! I am looking forward to the start of the school year and getting back to a more normal schedule.

The last few cool evenings and the school year starting have me thinking of the fall, my favorite season of the year. It has been a wonderful summer, with a lot of great things to look back upon. And for the first time, I can go back and look through my blog and recall all the wonderful things that have happened to me this summer. Thanks for inspiring me to start this AM, you really are a Cool Girlfriend (among all your other titles). :-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It was a great weekend. Based on my experiences over the past few days, I have been inspired to:

1. Build a very short rocket in the basement (I don't have a barn)
2. Learn how to play the piano.
3. Relax and read by the pool more often.
4. Buy a new car (a hybrid perhaps)
5. Never work in a cubicle or a place called Chotchkie's
6. Spend as much time as possible with my girlfriend, she makes everything more enjoyable.

It was a wonderful time, we saw Jeff Lorber at Ram's Head in Annapolis on Saturday... not sure how many people actually know who he is... but I first saw him in the 80's and it was a good show. At Ram's Head it was a smaller band, but fun just the same. Got to enjoy time with kids, family and friends, celebrate my dad's birthday, and toast the anniversary of our first three months together. Another memorable weekend... I am a lucky fellow.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Phew! 102 degrees today.. at least that is what the thing said on my computer. I know I endured this kind of heat and humidity as a child, but now I wonder how people survive without air conditioning in this part of the U.S.

When I lived in Baltimore City, we had window units and would avoid the parts of the house not being cooled.. but I have to think of the people who lived in that house in the 1900's (it was a very old house)... maybe it was more rural then, with breezes? Perhaps they were just "used to it"?

I remember when we lived in Florida, my parents used to keep the house at 70 degrees... brrr!.. and with 90+ degrees and 100 percent humidity outside, it was quite a shock to my system. But, the worst temperature contrast was when I worked in a beer and wine drive-through in Ohio. It was 115 degrees around the cars, 40 degrees in the coolers... and all the time we had to ask people if they wanted a soft pretzel! It was easily my least favorite summer job!

What were some of your least favorite summer jobs?

Friday, August 3, 2007

Learned something new about my grandfather today when I got this photo in an e-mail from my mom. He passed away when I was very young, so do not have any of my own memories of him, but found out he was the commander of a calvary unit in the 1920's and loved his horses. Maybe it skipped a few generations to get to my daughter?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm working along, waiting for midnight. At the end of each month, the traffic patterns for my work web site need to be analyzed to see what content is most popular, how many people are visiting the site, where they are coming from, etc. I could do this anytime I guess, but like to get this done so the computer can crunch through these huge files and we have all the data for last month when I get into the office tomorrow morning.

I was reading John's entertaining blog the other day about trucker language ( and was thinking about all our professional languages. When I was doing photography, it was about f/stops, focal lengths, depth-of-field, fish-eye's, push/pull proceessing, D-76 (yes, I am old) and so on. In computers, a whole new and dizzying array of terms and acronyms.

So tonight I will be rolling the logs and resetting the Apache service, then transferring them from the server and running them through the web analytics software. I am doing this all through a remote desktop connection on a VPN over TCP/IP, but on a non-standard port.

John... your language is much more interesting! :-)

Friday, July 27, 2007

As the child of a military officer, I have lived in a lot of different places. Sometimes I think it would have been nice to have grown up in one area, but you don't really miss what you never knew. On the one hand, you get to start over many times, doing things differently, on the other hand, you tend to have to give up friends and make new ones. One thing for sure, you do get to experience different "cultures" and learn to appreciate parts of each of them, including your own.

I started this thinking of the regional forms of my entertainment in all these different locations as I was growing up... playing keep-away from the mosquito fogging truck in Florida (not really a game, more self-preservation); Cricket, Conkers - I think I had a 5-er once (here is how to play this strange game using horse chestnuts) and Snooker in England; Euchre, Ultimate Frisbee and various drinking games in college in Ohio (part of the education.. right?). As for living in Maryland, the games I have found unusual so far are a dart game variation on a wooden board (American Darts), Duckpin bowling and Pitch. Any other Maryland, Northeast US games I am missing? Have any special games that you played growing up? Any other forms of nut based entertainment? (I have to think Conkers is one of a kind). ;-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I have been writing a lot about my dad in the blog so far, since his hospital visits and surgeries have been of concern to myself and my friends. He is doing well, having just returned from a weekend at the Eastern Shore this afternoon.

Now for a little about my mom. She lives in Bowie, is active in her church, does water aerobics, travels often, and is now semi-retired from her work in biohazard safety (she claims retired, but seems to still have a project going here and there). She is well known in her field and is often sought out by the CDC, NIH and large corporations when they need her expertise. I haven't blogged about her yet, since there has not been an event or activity that has sparked a blog entry... but she comes and takes my daughter to the farm some days, watches my dog when I go on vacation, and is always ready to help out if I need anything. She clips articles of interest (I read them sometimes), tries to buy clothes that my daughter might wear (that's a tough one!), shares her Trader Joes purchases with us, makes her "war cake" recipe from time to time (that one has to be experienced, it's sort of a fruit cake), and takes part in other motherly and grandmotherly activities.

When I was young, my mom and I traveled over most of Europe together, including a trip to Leningrad and Moscow in the 70's. My dad would come along when work and military committments would allow.. but sometimes it was just the two of us, and perhaps 40 more people if she had organized the trip. I remember her coming to my boarding school on Thursdays to take me out for chicken sandwiches and tea, always a nice break from the cafeteria food. We don't spend that kind of time together much anymore, since I have a family of my own to take care of, but I have always been proud of my mom for her many accomplishments and sacrifices... I believe that warrants a blog entry. :-)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Back to reality again... have to refocus my brain to deal with web site issues, project planning and strategies instead of where to eat, what sunblock to use and what shops to explore. Vacation has come to an end... but it was a wonderful two weeks and the memories should hold me over for quite a while.

The last few days I have been exploring Rehoboth with my girlfriend. It was a much different energy level than the week before in Ocean city with my daughter. I enjoyed the slower pace, the less crowded beaches and the eclectic stores... a very relaxing vacation with a very special person. Just what I needed. :-)

My Aunt and Uncle from Georgia were in town for a visit this week and got a chance to come out and see my daughter riding at the farm. My dad and stepmom came also... it was good to see him out of the house. We visited for a while then headed out for my turn to see Harry Potter. Tomorrow the books arrive... we saw a huge crowd outside the Barnes and Noble at 11 pm tonight on our way back from the movie. I'm not in a hurry to get the last one since I have only managed to read the first three books.. so have a lot of reading to do to catch up before everyone tells me what happens in the final book!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Have been vacationing with my daughter, her bff Michele and her family in Ocean City the last few days. We have been enjoying the beach, the cool breezes and summer fun. Tonight we went to the boardwalk and did what all good tourists do.. spend money! Henna tatoo, necklace, sunglasses, food, games, Thrasher fries, more games, rides, yet more games... it was a long day. I love all the games of "skill" that they have.. almost won the pellet gun close. Did win the pool game, shooting in 4 balls... got that on the second try and made my daughter very happy with a huge stuffed dog that will probably scare our real one. What games do you like to play at the beach/carnival/midway?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Dad is home and recuperating nicely.. got by to visit him while on a farm taxi run this afternoon. Had a wonderful day yesterday... got to hang off the side of a sailing catamaran in a position they call trapezing, supposedly I was helping to keep the boat from turning over.. not sure if that was a disparaging remark about my weight or not? ;-) It was a beautiful day to be out on the water and I was lucky to be able to tag along on this event. Thanks!

Had a wonderful time at the 4th of July party... met a lot of fun people and got to enjoy a poolside fireworks show. The occasional rain shower did not impede the festivities, just moved them indoors from time to time. I had the "honor" of working the grill, only burning a few of the burgers and managing to not set anything else on fire.. so I consider that a successful result. The hostess certainly throws great parties... I hope I get invited again... maybe I will burn less burgers next time?

Looking forward to a fun dinner date tonight with my two favorite "girls". Have never been to a "Melting Pot" before.. but remember my parent's fondue parties from the 70's. I used to load up my skewers since I got impatient waiting to eat... I think at this age, I should be able to be more patient. :-)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Good news on my dad! He got back on solid food today and enjoyed the corned beef sandwich he has been craving since his first day out of surgery. (He cannot go to Batimore without stopping at Attman's). Current plans are for him to go home on Thursday. It will be a relief to us all (especially him) to have him back home and finishing his recuperation there.

Happy 4th of July! See some of you tomorrow, looking forward to it. :-)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

As parents, it is our job to teach our children to be independent at some stage in their life. We try to do this appropriately, so we don't teach our 4 year olds to cut the grass and cook dinner. As my daughter has reached teenager status, I decided a rite of passage was due. While playing her favorite game (World of Warcraft) the other day, she was locked out of her account and after a few hours, she came to me for help. I told her to call technical support and work it out. Was this cruel? ;-) She reluctantly dialed the phone and waited. "Dad, I hate this music", comes from the other room... I told her that it could be hours on hold and that the phone battery would probably die (trying to prepare her for the worst). After about 10 minutes or so, I could hear her talking to someone. "Dad, whose name is on this account?" My reply.. "I don't know.. just know my credit card is paying for it!". Some more time passes.. and my daughter comes walking into the kitchen. "All fixed?", I asked. "Yes", she replied, looking quite proud of herself. What should be next on the list? I guess she has a few years before she needs to deal with the MVA. :-)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Well, I was right.. the first place I ended up testing this wireless internet gadget is at the horse farm. It is working (I posted this from there), but the farm is on a fringe cell signal, so the speed is not great. And I have found another problem, I cannot seem to access my work network through this... more research needed.

We finally got some much needed rain.. probably not enough, but a little help!

Will be playing golf on Sunday, will post back if I can manage a birdie like Anne did in Myrtle Beach... can I get a Woohoo from AM too? Will see what happens!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Got a new toy today at work... a Sierra 875U wireless modem. I know.. pretty nerdy, but now I can access the internet from my laptop from anywhere. So with a little more persuasion at work, I can envision myself working some day while sitting in some relaxing location by the water, or maybe at a horse farm (OK that one is likely).

Managed to get by to visit dad at Hopkins tonight... he looked much more rested. They took him off his liquid diet and back to IV feeding due to a build up of fluid in his stomach, but it should only be a minor set back. He was missing his Italian ices.. but soon we hope.

Received a nice surprise call from a friend on a beach in California this morning.. I was at the 7-11 getting coffee.. what a contrast! :-) I was trying my best to picture myself there, but having never been to California it was a challenge.. so I pictured St. Martins and hoped it was close enough.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Quick update on my dad... he is still in the ICU, hoping to move to a ward tomorrow. He has been progressing well, there have been some minor issues, I think mostly related to him not getting much sleep. Seems like someone is in there every few minutes. I did not get a chance to visit today, but will be there tomorrow, I hope. I brought him Italian ices yesterday and those were a big hit. He still is craving a corned beef sandwich from Atmans, but that is hard to convert to a liquid diet. ;-)

He is getting great care and we all appreciate all the nice notes, prayers and concern.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My dad made it through the surgery today. The tumor was a little larger than previously evaluated, but the surgeon was confident that he got the whole thing. He is in ICU tonight and probably tomorrow. I will give an update when I hear more details. Thanks for your prayers and positive thoughts, it is appreciated!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Busy days this week.. thank goodness I had such a wonderful weekend, dancing, road tripping, sunning, singing (off key?), and spending time with friends and family.

Last night I said goodbye to the support group I had been facilitating for over the last few years. I was one of the original members of the Ellicott City chapter that formed in 2001. The personal growth and healing that I experienced there was so important right after my separation and I have been "giving back", trying to help others in appreciation of that. Well, I said my goodbye and was overwhelmed with the number of people who told me that I personally helped them... you never know how you touch others sometimes. I will continue as an alumni and help support the organization, but my days of attending meetings and running small groups was due to come to a conclusion. It has been a very rewarding journey and I have made some great friends.

Father's day, I had my daughter, mom, dad and stepmom all over for an early dinner. My daughter surprised me with a laptop holder (so my legs don't get burned by this unusually hot Mac some days) and I proceeded to try to make a big dinner for my family. I ran out of propane 5 minutes into cooking the steaks and veggies. My spare tank was empty! Home Depot was out of propane (what?). I managed to salvage the meal and it was enjoyed by all. A friend was just saying how well prepared I am... I guess I still need some work in the cooking department. I wanted this Father's day to be special, since I almost lost my dad on New Year's. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November and was scheduled for surgery in January to remove it. Unfortunately, he came down with pneumonia just before Christmas and spent the next two months in the hospital. He came out of that too weak for the surgery, so was destined to see what happened with the cancer. But as fate would have it, while attending a reunion of his medical school class two weeks ago.. the classmate and surgeon who was to perform the operation was so taken with his improvement in stamina and vigor that he decided to go ahead with the procedure. So this Thursday, please put my dad in your prayers as he goes into surgery. There are some risks involved, but I am optimistic that he will come through, if only because he still wants to beat me at chess. :-)

I hope all the other Fathers out there got to enjoy the time with their families!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My drive into Rockville was unusually slow this morning, but with the proper daydreaming material and some music, the time passes nicely. I heard an old Chuck Mangione song on the jazz station this morning and was reminded of going speaker shopping in Columbus, OH with my college roommate. He wanted to hear all these different speakers playing the same song... must have heard that 20 times that day. I seem to have a lot of memories attached to songs... I guess everyone does.. but here are a few of mine.

Downtown by Petula Clark - first song I ever remember.. AM radio in my mom's VW Beatle in Myrtle Beach.
Lola by the Kinks - first radio I ever owned, a freebie from a radio station tour
Honaloochie Boogie - Mott the Hoople - first 45 I ever bought.. not a great first record, but I lived in England at the time. Telly Savalas had a hit record there!
Yes - Fragile tour (in the round) - first concert.
Time for me to fly - REO Speedwagon - driving all night to Daytona Beach for Spring break in college
She's a Beauty - The Tubes - playing DJ for my grad school dorm. Lots of those.. Spandau Ballet, Thompson Twins... trying to find stuff to get people dancing. (It was the 80's) ;-)
Sweet Love - Anita Baker - wedding song
My Yellow Blanket - Barnie CD - driving my daughter to school each morning (when she was in Kindergarten)... I hated that song!

There are many more... and I am working on some new ones! Anyone care to share a few of their memorable songs?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Well, it's official... I am now the parent of a teenage daughter. She turned 13 yesterday and celebrated it the way she wanted... with a sleepover party with her close friends, pizza, hot tubbing and DDR. Oh, and there was cake and presents too of course.

I expect the next few years to be an adventure as she becomes more independent, rebellious and emotional, hopefully not all on the same day! We are a lot alike in some ways, so that may help? She has a quick-witted sense of humor, a pretty laid back attitude on life and at most times common sense. Of course the action/consequence thing needs some work as she and her friends demonstrated yesterday by staying up most of the night... but I did that also when I was her age, so can't fault them too much.

It will be curious to see if I am still blogging as she reaches college age and beyond and I can look back and remember this day and the step it is towards her life on her own. Each year I think of the things I want to do for her while she is still young and try to balance what will be best for her today, next year and 10 years from now. Being divorced has made that harder in some ways.. but I do my best and am proud of the teenager she is today. Will see if I write that again next year. ;-)

Any suggestions from seasoned veterans out there?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

I was at an end of season pizza dinner for my daughter's soccer team the other day... the coach was talking about how hard this season has been. For a variety of reasons, we have usually only been able to field 9 instead of 11 players and the girls had lost all their matches, a few by 9-0 or so. The coach was upset about this, since it was just a rec league and for fun. So we went into the last match on Saturday with just 9 players.. expecting to be crushed. Not so.. the other team had extra players and gave our team two of their girls to even out the squads... the girls all played hard and the game ended a 1-1 tie. It was such a nice end to the season.. the two girls who played with us were even included in our team photo.

The rest of the weekend was very enjoyable, a charming date Saturday night, and experiencing a new church on Woman's Sunday. I could not remember being at a Presbyterian service, then it dawned on me.. the first school I ever went to was Presbyterian Day School in Memphis, Tennessee. I don't remember that very well (K to 2nd grade).. but between that, and the Anglican and Catholic services I have attended... I knew most of the prayers. It was very enjoyable, I met some fellow bloggers in person and got to hear a great sermon. Thanks for letting me be a part of that special day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Have found another side-effect of my cell phone camera... if you don't hold it perfectly still, you end up with camera blur... but in this case, I actually like it, makes it look a bit like a painting.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Had my palms read last night. Was on a wonderful date and we thought it would be fun (and possibly informative). On the wall in her home were the rates... Character $5, Palms Read $10, Psychic $30, Tarot Cards $35, Future $40 (at least I think that was it, may be forgetting parts). She asked me to hold my hands together facing up and make two wishes, then tell her my name and age. I guess if I had paid for the Psychic reading, she would have already known those things? I did as she asked and she proceeded to tell me things that would happen ... "on my behalf"... she said that often... some things seemed general, a few very specific. But I took the part that God was blessing me with good things (always love to hear that) and that I should not get into an argument this week (not a good time for me to do that)... it has been a while since I was in a good argument, so I am probably safe on that one.

As for the two wishes... I probably should not say what they are.. or they won't come true.. like the ones you make blowing out your birthday cake candles... but so far.. one of them is!

Have a great Memorial Day everyone!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I have been tagged! Not sure how often this sort of thing happens in the blogosphere.. but its another first for me. Where is it written I can't tag back?

Seven things...

1. I want to take my daughter to England in the next few years to show her where I went to school.

2. I would be lost without my Palm Treo

3. I am wearing pink toe nail polish.. oh wait.. that is someone else's!

4. I can be a little sarcastic, but in a good way.

5. I hope I am at least three times smarter than my daughter thinks I am.

6. I am becoming a pretty good cook.

7. I have lived (in chronological order) in, Baltimore, MD; Durham, NC; Myrtle Beach, SC; Memphis, TN; Homestead, FL; Lakenheath, England; Dayton, OH; Baltimore, MD; Bel Air, MD; Ellicott City, MD.

8. I can't count very well (may have to rethink #5)

Courage Lion

courage lion
I finally heard back from one of my clients tonight. I set up a web site for him months ago and no word since... turns out he has been busy getting these little fellows out to the hospitals and other places to help children in crisis. I love this program, part of the reason I volunteered to help him get the word out, at least as far as the web goes. I expect him to bring me a lot of new information this weekend.. but here is the site... feel free to share it with anyone who may benefit.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

When the timing is right.

I was cleaning out my garage the other day and came across a "build-a-bear" dog.. still in its box... never used. How my daughter forgot it was there.. who knows... but she has had enough stuffed animals and is now outgrowing that stage. I was wondering what to do with this, when my neighbor's garage door opened and out came one of his sons and their 3 to 4 year old daughter (who wanted to swing on my daughter's swingset). Stuffed animal + young girl = a perfect match. And the great big smile I got from her the bonus! Things like that have been happening to me recently... and I am enjoying all the smiles!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Think I Need a New Camera?

I've been spending a lot of time at the farm lately. We bought a horse a few months ago and are now responsible for training and exercising the fellow. I have been around horses for a few years now and it always amazes me how each horse has such a unique personality. There are the stubborn ones, sneaky ones, sweet ones, high energy ones... just like us. Our's is a very sweet guy... I may be a little biased.

One of my duties at the farm (besides taxi service) is to document the activities of my daughter. Unfortunately I have two digital cameras, a 4 megapixel Pentax I bought a few years ago and my cell phone. They both have a nice 1 second or so delay before they take the photo... so its always a crap shoot if I get a good photo. Here are the worst and the best as examples (from my cell phone). I think its time to get a new camera!

I'm really not complaining about spending time at the farm.. when the weather is nice, it's a pretty place to be.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I'm Lucky

I know a lot of people and I can say that all my friends are rational, maybe not every minute of the day, but at least most of the time. They don't automatically assume that everyone else is wrong. They don't get angry when you disagree with them. They try not to blame others when things go wrong... even though they are entitled to sometimes! I am lucky!

I know they are out there.... the one's who won't talk to you about a problem, but are happy to report it to the zoning board, local police, child welfare or your boss, and cc the whole world for good measure. Not a personal reference... remember I know a lot of people! There are the neighbors who haven't spoken to each other in 10 years because of a dispute about a fence post, two inches and a property line. Is it that these people really don't want to have friends? Or do they have irrational friends like them and leave us rational folks to pick up the pieces?

I was watching an old Monty Python sketch on Youtube today ( of people who pay money to be yelled at, or have an argument. It's hilarious. Maybe that is what the irrational people want... perhaps I just missed the memo. If so, I am going to start charging them!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

First Time

Well, here goes nothing... inspired by the entertaining entries of another blogger here... I thought I would give this a try. Not the writer she is by any means, but I think it might be fun to share some thoughts with others and document my adventures, ponderings and other strange events that may happen to me over the coming years. Still have to figure out how all this works!

Stay tuned...