A friend offered me a ticket to last night’s Pirates game. I had a Gunner’s Hotdog which was a foot long and about as thick as Winston’s arm, it was awesome. In addition, during the Great Pierogi Race in between innings, the trailing pierogi (which I believe to be Oliver Onion) made a late desperate effort to catch up to the 3 pierogies ahead of him and caught up to Sauerkraut Saul and shoved him as hard as possible. This resulted in Sauerkraut Saul flying forward crashing into Jalapeno Hanna and Cheese Chester and the 3 Pierogies came tumbling to the ground, while the trailing Oliver Onion sauntered around the mayhem he caused and finished the race first. It was a nasty bit of competition, but highly entertaining!

For the first time ever, I decided to take the public transit into the city, it is a light rail train and it cost $3.75 each way (they only take exact change which is a policy that could only be imagined by a government run entity). The train was clean and 98% of the passengers wore Pirates gear. The 30 minute train ride is actually longer than driving your car into the city. It never gets up to a high speed and makes frequent stops, but it was very comfortable and is fun to be in a vehicle with hundreds of other fans that are all excited for the game and sharing in their misery on the way home from a loss. It was worth the $3.75 and extra time to get to be surrounded with some great fans.

Back To School

Kids First Day School

Today our kids are going back to school, but now in a new school. Dalia enters Kindergarten and Winston enters second grade. They had an opportunity to tour the school and kick the tires on the place, it seems to meet their satisfaction. Dalia is extremely excited to enter the land of big kids and be a part of the social scene, Winston dreads school. School is a major inconvenience for him, it takes him away from leisure, socializing is not in his top ten things to do, and he gets into trouble if he does not pay attention to things he does not want to pay attention to. I can relate to Winston, but I do not want him to duplicate my nearly two decades of boredom in schools, I want him to be engaged and to excel. The schools want him to excel too, but it won’t be easy. He has the brains, but there’s the old saying about leading a horse to water.

We had a great weekend, my parents came up and brought all kinds of goodies. We spent the afternoon doing a brief tour of Pittsburgh, you really need a couple days to see all the great things the city has to offer, but we had a good time checking out The Strip and driving through a couple of the scenic areas. We’re heading back home this weekend, but after that, anyone is welcome to visit us anytime!

We have a Fantasy Football draft this weekend, I have not watched a single preseason game or read a single article about it, I haven’t played a softball game this year, I am ready to go home and hang with the guys on Saturday. 

Pennsylvania Motor Speedway

I spent a large part of my Saturday with plumbers, so when the Roto Rooter van pulled out of my driveway I knew it was time to do something fun with the family. I love taking them to new places and exposing them to a variety of activities, I remembered hearing about a big dirt racetrack about 30 minutes away from our home, it is called the Pennsylvania Motor Speedway in Imperial, PA. 

The cars weren’t especially polished, but the course wasn’t even paved, so why bother. The bleachers were wooden and warped, my flip flop fell off and dropped about 10 feet to the earth, I sent Winston under the bleachers to retrieve (which was a mission he was eager to accept). They sold 6 packs of Bud for $15 and that includes the bucket of ice they come served in. We sat down around the first turn in the track and prepared to watch our very first car race. The cars start up and it is loud, deafening, the kids cover their ears and Jaclyn runs down to the concession stand to buy ear protection. She returns and the cars start out on the track, they wiggle left and right for the first lap, Jaclyn speculated it was to assess tire traction or to warm up the tires, I have no idea, it looked silly. The guy with the flags on the elevated platform next to the track pulled out the green flag, that means…GO!!!!

The cars slam on their accelerator and come roaring down towards us, as they approach the first turn they try to make a 90 degree turn while driving 100 mph, which results into a skidding slide with dirt flying up into the crowd, the tires finally grip again and they take off on the next straightaway. It looked exhilarating, if I raced a car on that track just once, I know I would never be able to give it up, I would have to do it over and over again until I was capable of winning every race, it just looks addicting. This is a habit that I do not need to encourage, in fact, Jac suggested that she’d kill me if I ever took up race car racing.

Here’s a quick video of one of the races, they race every Saturday, its cheap awesome fun:

Toby The Bee Hunter Meets The Bee Man

A fly would come buzzing across the living room, it was distracting and disgusting, we all watched it land on the coffee table with contempt. I’m not sure who it was, but someone had the idea to alert the dog, Toby.


Toby popped up, totally alert, his tail straight up, he scans the room ready to take action. We’re all thrilled by his desire to remedy the situation, scoot forward on the couch and point at the insect.


Toby lunges forward, his mouth gulps at the fly, it disappears and the only evidence of the event is a slimy runway of saliva that now sits on the table. We stare at where the fly once was, it cannot be seen, we zoom out and check out the broader room and still see no signs of the fly. I look at Jaclyn to confirm that Toby ate the fly, we agree it has been eaten, and let out a roar of approval for Toby.


His tail wags, he nuzzles up against us, this is his moment.

Fast forward a couple days and Toby is running around the backyard chasing birds and causing havoc. He busts through a garden and stirs up a bunch of bees. Toby is excited by this opportunity to catch additional insects to prove his value to his family, he is not aware that these small creatures can deal him pain. Jaclyn loudly advises Toby to retreat, but he will have none of it. He snaps his jaws at the flying insects trying to catch one, then one catches him on his snout. He retreats in a hurry with bees on his six. He gets on the porch and starts to scratch away at his nose with his hind paw, his face is obviously in discomfort.

I have previous experience in bee extermination (see post from September 2012), which resulted in a violent explosion which alarmed my neighbors, so I am a little gun shy about these things now. I scouted the area out and it looked like bees were coming in and out of a garden, about a 10’ x 10’ area, there wasn’t too many of them, but I enough that I felt like it was out of my scope. We called The Bee Man.

The Bee Man walked right up to the garden where the bees were hanging out and then he didn’t the craziest thing imaginable, he yanked up a bush that sat directly above the bee’s hideout! The bees reacted with supreme agitation and started attacking The Bee Man. The Bee Man yelled, “They are aggressive, I need to get my bee suit!” Jaclyn did not have the luxury of owning a bee suit, so she ran for the cover of the screened in porch.

The Bee Man said that the bees behaved in an unusual manner, they were protecting their ground, but there was not a “nest”, he thought they might be foraging for something. Regardless, he sprayed some poison on the ground and said, “If the bees are gone in 2 weeks, you can send me some money, if they are still there, I am not sure what to do.”

1 week later, the bees are gone, I guess The Bee Man deserves a check.  


Caveat Emptor – Dryer Beware

A funny thing happened when we moved into the house, the washer & dryer were missing. I didn’t remember anyone telling me that the washer and dryer were going to be removed, so I decided to check the contract and review it with a fine tooth comb.

It turns out a fine tooth comb wasn’t really necessary, a standard comb would have sufficed, the contract didn’t state that the washer and dryer would be taken away, but it also did not state that they would be included! Not a deal breaker or anything, would have bought the house for the exact same price either way, it was just surprising, in a bad kind of way, but we press on.

We headed down to Home Depot and put in an offer on a washer and dryer, we opted for high efficiency large capacity units as our family goes through a lot of clothing. As we finalized the transaction, we asked about delivery options and they said that the items need to be shipped to the local distribution center and once it arrives at the “DC”, they can coordinate a shipment to our home. I almost asked if they’d take the old units away, but remembered that the old units were never there.  

It took about a week to get the call to coordinate delivery, in the meantime, a pile of laundry the size of Mount Kilimanjaro accumulated upstairs. The washer and dryer were finally delivered and the guy started to hook them up, he had a thick West Virginian accent, “Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrr, can you come on down here and take a look at something?” I came bounding down the stairs, ready to lend a hand, despite having no experience hooking up an appliance beyond a toaster oven. “What’s up?” I ask. The burly southerner looked like a dazed brown bear staring at a hummingbird and says, “The dryer zapped me pretty good.” There is absolutely no emotion, in a tone in a normal person would say, “My shoe lace is untied.”

“Good lord, are you okay? Do you need a glass of water or something?” I ask with great concern.

“Nah, just part of the job, I’m always getting shocked.” He replied. “But there’s either some wires switched up in the dryer or your electricity is not grounded properly. I’ll just take the dryer back with me and give you a new one next week.”

He took the dryer away and Jaclyn came downstairs with a very sad and disappointed look on her face and the two of us looked at our lonely washing machine without her dryer companion.

Jaclyn said we should run a load of wash, we can just let the clothing dry off outside. We take a minute figuring out the washing machine, we push a variety of buttons, never thinking to read the instructions, it starts and we’re up and running! We watch the washer, the door on top is clear and we watch the laundry spin around in beautiful circles.

About 30 minutes later the cycle completes and I run into the garage to throw out some boxes and notice water trickling in through a small crack in the cement floor. The discharged water from the washing machine is not draining properly and appears to be backing up through the cement floor. This looks like a big project. Plumber coming tomorrow to assess. Keep your fingers crossed.

There are times in life when there is an enormous gap between your intent and what actually happens. I hate that gap, I spend so much time in my professional and personal life narrowing that gap through constant planning, preparation, and practicing, analysis brings me comfort, the gap gives me agita. We have waded into a gap with our new home, we have work to do, unforeseen work to do, but it is being whittled down. It is still such a fabulous home with a wonderful yard, we’re just breaking it in.  

We Could Be Heroes

Winston woke up early, like he always does. Mom needed rest, like she always does, so I rolled out of bed, pushed my glasses on, and took Winston on our weekend pilgrimage to the bagel store (On a side note, you always hear New Yorkers complain about the bagels in other cities and I always thought it was a bit trivial, but Pittsburgh’s bagel situation is worth complaining about…But I don’t need the carbs anyway). 

As as we pulled out the driveway, Winston immediately launches into his Transformers trivia and telling me about his favorite robot characters from that show. He tells me how the Decepticons are evil and he doesn’t like them at all. In fact, he went on to call out some of the most evil Decepticon villains he knew, he hates Megatron and Starscream. I said to him, great heroes need great enemies to show their fullest valor. I cited examples of Britain’s taxation and tyranny uniting America’s 13 colonies, Nazi’s uniting the world, racism providing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a platform to choose love over hate, and how Optimus Prime would be kind of lame if his worst enemy was just some gimpy robot wanted for tax evasion, no, you need great enemies like Starscream and Megatron to really force a hero’s hand in demonstrating their total capacity for greatness.

It got me thinking, that’s what’s been holding me back all these years, I’m lacking a quality villain. How will I achieve greatness without some foolish opposition that I can squash? But then I started to think about all the things parents do and have done for me, all the villainous aspects of going to work every day despite the possibility of bad bosses or lame assignments to put food on the table, the heroism of choosing orthodontic work for your child over the fashionable boots you really wanted, cheering up your kid when he walks ten batters and loses the baseball game for his team, picking up your 50 pound kid because his legs are tired and carrying him to the remaining half mile of the trail, giving your child the last bite of your candy bar…we can be heroes, well, at least until our children turn into teenagers. Then we become the enemy!



I quit Facebook a couple of years ago. One of the reasons for quitting was the anxiety induced when about to post something. There were two scenarios I envisioned when posting something, I was either doing something cool and people would think I was a conceded showoff or I was doing nothing and people would think that I was boring. I didn’t want to provoke a response, I didn’t want “likes” or encouragement, I didn’t want friend requests, or criticism, I am too stubborn, I just wanted to do things my way without anyone bothering me. I preferred to have a deeper engagement, hidden in a dark corner of the internet where perhaps only a few people actually checked it. My thoughts could sprawl and drip into all the corners of my life without thinking there was any motive other than a record of events and an occasional reflection. 

Anyways, I provide that preamble to say that this has been a tough couple of days, but things are turning a corner. Last weekend, I drove back across the state of Pennsylvania to attend my Grandmother’s funeral the day after closing on my house. The day after the funeral (Sunday, August 3), I drove back across the state with my family to begin the process of moving in. Every day since has been filled with movers, contractors, unpacking, and buying. We’re now about 75% moved in and things are looking pretty good. Today is Friday and I’m getting out of work around noon, so I’ll have a long weekend to get the house fully operational, we will also try to enjoy the Washington County Fair (they have a Demolition Derby & Fireworks…Jaclyn is not gung ho about either!). 

In regards to Grandmom, here’s a post of one of my favorite conversations with her:

Great lady who cared about everything you did, tap danced into her 80’s, took pride in her piano playing, gardens, recipes, and family.



Unwrapping Us

Before the movers would throw something into the box, they would grab several large sheets of paper and wrap it around the item tightly and then stick it into the box to protect it from being damaged. This sounds trivial, but when you think about the shot glass from Key West, the ceramic turtle you negotiated for in Mexico where your wife sometimes keeps her earrings, the Christmas ornament from Strasbourg, and all the bric-a-brac you collect through the years, it is all wrapped up in thousands of pieces of paper in hundreds of boxes. 

The past couple of days, we’d examine the obtusely named boxes, perhaps labeled “office”, and then cut the tape with a silver Swiss Army Knife, my hand digs down and grabs a bulbous object wrapped in paper and begin to wonder what it will reveal. I was sitting on a office chair with wheels, Jaclyn with her hands on her hips standing behind me, peering over my shoulder, like a silly little Christmas morning ritual as we anticipate the contents. My general method of unwrapping is to grab the paper, hold it up, and allow the gravity of the object within to pull it out and emerge from the cluster, of course I catch it before it falls to the hardwood floors. I take the paper clad cluster from the box labeled “office” and hold it high in the air by the paper and begin to shake it, the heavy object within starts to loosen from the grips of paper, slowly emerging, like the a birth. I continue to shake it loose, a staple is born, and I catch it with a hint of disappointment. I was hoping it was my Randall Cunningham Eagles Beer Glass. 

Jaclyn is much more practical with the unwrapping, she targets boxes labeled linens, towels, bathroom, and clothing. I pushed those boxes aside to unpack my record player, find my favorite pictures from back home, and proudly display my recently assembled Lego Millennium Falcon. It is a wonder she does not kill me.

The house is still half unpacked, lots of boxes still fill the halls, but we’ve made a ton of progress. Most importantly, the record player has been hooked up and it sounds as good as ever.