On Sunday, I suffered from a severe bout of food poisoning. I woke up with a horrible pain in my stomach and I immediately implicated the Japanese restaurant that I had the night before for a friend’s birthday celebration.

I’ll spare you the details, but I spent the day either incredibly sick or asleep. Jaclyn shared the same raw sushi that I had and did not have any symptoms. Perhaps it was not the Japanese restaurant. I was just in multiple airports as I traveled back and forth to San Antonio, I think many germs float around in those places. By the way, the Charlotte airport makes a nice impression.

The Airport

Kind of think of it, I did some questionable things in San Antonio, notably, touched a live armadillo and then ate bar-b-q without washing my hands.

Before I left for San Antonio, I took the family to the University of Pittsburgh’s men’s basketball team’s game against Boston College. We stopped at a popular college dive restaurant famous for their hot dogs and fries, it is known as The O. Their food was great, but hygiene is not their sweet spot.

The O

At the game, the kids enjoyed ice cream. It was only surpassed by the halftime entertainment which was a jump rope crew from Doylestown, PA who put on an insanely great performance. The student section gave them a standing ovation.

In hindsight, it is a miracle of the human body that I am not in a constant state of food poisoning. From Sunday morning to Sunday night, I slept more than half the day and all the night. On Monday, I felt better, but like I had been kicked by a donkey. I went to work and gradually returned to full health. All the sleep made it impossible to go to bed at a reasonable time on Monday, I stayed up to 1AM reading all about the Johnstown flood. I also subjected Jaclyn to a two hour documentary on Lawrence of Arabia.

WW1 is something that gets little attention in our generation, really critical historical period to understand some of the complexities in the middle east. I have a couple more books in my queue on the topic…after Johnston!

I have a new goal to weigh 199lbs, I am about 20lbs away. I hope to be there by June.


Got Tanked


Jac and I went on a date Saturday. First stop, the Heinz History Center, which is somehow affiliated with the Smithsonian. The building was fascinating and there were a couple outstanding items, including a limited time World War 2 exhibit. There is a lot of room for improvement though, many spaces remain under utilized or just housing a random collection of stuff, but the experience was worth the price of admission.

After the museum, we decided to enjoy a fancy lunch at the Grand Concourse. It is an old train station in Station Square, it was beautiful, historic, and created a fun dining experience. Fortunately, the food was above average and we loved our waiter Herbert from Germany.

Herbert had an excellent method of upselling customers from tap water to bottled Perrier, he would say, “Hello, my name is Herbert and I will be your waiter today. Would you like Pittsburgh water or fine sparkling water with your meal today?” I did not hear many customers select the Pittsburgh water.

Here is an image from within the Grand Concourse:


On Friday night, we hosted 20 nine year old children. While they enjoyed their movie, The Minions, things were holding together and we kept a semblance of order. Then the movie concluded and Jaclyn tried to assemble the group for a photo, it is at this point that the collection of cute children exploded into complete chaos and anarchy. It started with a little friendly bumping and goofing around, then the pushees retaliated with healthier shoves, and someone did a flying body slam off the couch, pillows were flying, yells and screams erupted from the scrum, Jaclyn was shouting and clapping her hands, “STOP – clap, clap – STOP – clap, clap, clap” I started yelling and pulling kids apart, it was all in good fun, no one intended injury or harm, it was just a bunch of puppies horsing around.

Jac snapped a picture, we ate the cake, opened presents and then the party concluded. After the last child departed, we agreed that future kid parties will take place outside the home and I made myself an absinthe concoction.



Here’s an example of the random signs that appear in the Heinz museum. It was cool enough.

Turning a Corner

2015 concluded with a nice hike in Moraine State Park, I think we hiked into a deep basin called Hell’s Hollow. It is a two mile hike each way and the kids were troopers, hustling over many elevation changes and trying our best to keep up with Benny. We past 4 or 5 other hikers on New Years Eve, it was getting cloudy and by 3:30PM, I was nervous that we may be finishing our hike in darkness. Fortunately, we got back to the car with a dull light seeping through the clouds. Benny went swimming in a dozen spots, including the stream right next to where we parked the car, he hopped in soaking wet and was a very happy camper. He got to ride in front to minimize his contact with fellow passengers. Rosie joined us on the hike and insisted on running the path herself, she was the star of the day as she did a tremendous job keeping up, despite any small obstacle requiring significant effort to overcome with her small misshapen body.


Here is an image of two happy campers on Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve, Jaclyn gave the following guidance to the kids:

“You can wake up as early as you want and go downstairs and look inside your stocking, but you cannot touch or open any presents around the tree.”

At 4:30AM, I hear Winston scurrying out of his bed and run downstairs. Then he called for Dalia, “Santa came! Santa came! Dalia wake up!”

I jumped out of bed and added an amendment to Jaclyn’s direction, you cannot go downstairs until 6:30AM, back to bed Winston.


After opening presents, we drove back to the suburbs of Philly on Christmas day and spent time with relatives. Starting with Thanksgiving and right through Christmas, I was eating and drinking a little more than I should have been, but it was all worth it. I figured that once the holidays pass, I could get myself back on my boring routine and lose the excess weight (I was still below my goal weight, so no one worry! I just was heading in the wrong direction.)

On New Year’s Eve, we enjoyed a great Mexican meal and that was it for me, I was satisfied and ready to get back on the straight and narrow. After a couple days, I’m just about back to where I was and my goal is to be at a new record low weight by Valentine’s Day.

Oh, I have one more big New Year’s goal. A friend bought me a box of hot sauces for Christmas, it includes 7 bottles. In addition, I have two unopened bottles that I had purchased earlier and a half of bottle of Sriracha. It is my goal to finish the 9 and a half bottles of hot sauce by the end of August. Which means I need to go through slightly more than one bottle a month. Jaclyn watched me pour hot sauce all over chicken in alfredo sauce last night and was not in support of the goal.

We went to see the lights at Phipps Conservatory. The place is worth a visit, even when the lights are not out. Here are a couple pics (which represent less than 1% of their displays)