June, June, June, June

I have been looking forward to June for a long time.

The beginning of June meant  a trip to Palm Beach with Jaclyn. It was a trip for work, but I had been begging her to come along as it is a very nice spot to be away from kids and dogs. Palm Beach is a lovely town, tropical, ocean, breezes, and lizards everywhere. The only problem with Palm Beach is that it is a fortune for anything, so we just sipped on strong drinks and snacked at the time melted all stress away. The lizards were very frightened of us at the beginning of the trip, but Jaclyn began establishing trust with them throughout the vacation and I consider myself lucky that we did not adopt a family of them to be new residents in our Pennsylvania home. We wanted to see an alligator and there was an Everglades park nearby, so we grabbed an Uber and had them drop us off at the swamp and we hiked along beautiful trails until we got stuck in a rain storm. Fortunately, there was a thatch hut with chairs underneath, I could have stayed in there watching the rain all day (video below).

Jaclyn looking beautiful at one of the less fancy Palm Beach establishments. A kid was sitting behind us with a helium balloon, a bird dive bombed the balloon and popped it, it scared the hell out of all of us.

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Later in June we head to the Outer Banks, without the dogs. We will be near the beach and have a little pool. I have created 3 playlists for the occasion: POP, Mellow Out, and Tiki. My daily routine will go something like this:

  1. Wake up early and hike far up the beach to try to find wildlife and cool shells
  2. Go back to pool and lay on float until I get unbearably hot, roll off float and submerge myself in pool water
  3. Mini golf
  4. Fishing at twilight
  5. Eat fresh seafood
  6. Rum
  7. Sleep
  8. Repeat

Rosie, Benny and I have been hiking when time permits, another neat location at Ohiopyle.

This weekend, the entire family went on a bike ride along a railroad track that has since been converted into a smooth flat trail for walking and bike riding. It is called the Great Allegheny Passage and it goes from Pittsburgh to Washington DC (189 miles), we just did 6 miles, 3 miles in each direction. It was extremely gratifying because it was something that the entire family enjoyed and the kids improved significantly throughout the day. In the beginning, Winston crashed his bike every 25 feet, but by the end of the day, he was passing people and showing off his marvelous dare devil skills of riding his bike with one hand. In most parts of Pittsburgh, the roads are incredibly steep and challenging for bike riding, this trail was perfect and I cannot wait to do it again. On our way back from the bike ride, we stopped at a hot dog shop and Winston started asking me all kinds of questions about blizzard in Arkansas, I had no idea what the heck he was talking about, he pointed at a newspaper on the wall and said it was in the newspaper…I doubt that was the article the hot dog shop owner wanted the customers to read about, but Winston filtered out everything else.

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Fancy Me, Not The Real Me

For Mother’s Day yesterday, the kid’s and I donned our nicest outfits, did our hair up nice, and took Jac to a fancy restaurant on Mount Washington overlooking Pittsburgh.

They made me proud by putting so much into making the day special for their Mom. They made special cards, picked up petit fours for her, helped her garden, and even behaved well in a fancy restaurant (which is tough for all of us!).

Winston wore a button down shirt, but underneath he was wearing a Pokemon shirt. He started to unbutton his shirt at the tail end of the meal and I told him to stop until we are outside the restaurant and across the street, then he can take off his fancy shirt. Winston replied, “Dad, the fancy me, is not the real me.” I am pretty sure that statement will always remain true for Winston, his appearance has never been much of a priority, he seems quite content in leisure wear. 97% of the time, Winston orders mac & cheese, chicken fingers, or pizza…fortunately, the fancy restaurant offered mac & cheese.

Dalia, on the other hand, wore a lovely dress and put her hair up nice and even applied her own makeup. I think she enjoys a little fancy now and then. Dalia is also much more adventurous from a culinary standpoint, over the weekend, I witnessed her try a free sushi sample at the grocery store, she tried some of Jaclyn’s Striped Bass at the fancy restaurant, and she ordered a frappuccino at Starbucks.

Jaclyn’s birthday is on Tuesday, if the weather cooperates, we will enjoy food from the grill on our back porch.

 

Baseball

I know you are tired of hearing it, but work has been busy lately. So when an opportunity came along to go to an offsite meeting in Pittsburgh, I enthusiastically volunteered to get some time out of the office. Unfortunately, my scheme backfired and I ended up being there from 8AM to 9PM. After a long day in a hotel ballroom, I got in my car and headed home. I tuned my radio to the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game and the game was very one-sided by the time I turned it on.

It is hard to explain, but I love listening to baseball broadcasters in games that are out of hand. You hear their attention drifting over to the clumsy mascot spilling popcorn into an unsuspecting fan, the prank involving a blown up bubble gum bubble being placed onto a fellow ball player’ s hat in the dugout, one of the most glorious events is when the losing team has used up all of their pitchers and has to rely on a non-pitcher to finish the game. Jose Canseco famously injured himself as a late inning blowout relief pitcher.

The game I was listening to featured a pitcher coming into the game in the seventh inning and his team was down by 8 runs. You could tell that there were very few fans left in the stadium as you could hear only like 4 or 5 people talking in the stands versus the normal chatter of thousands of spectators. The pitcher retired the first couple of batters, but then proceeded to throw 8 or 9 consecutive balls. Many of the pitches were so far off the plate the catcher couldn’t even catch it and the ball rolled all the way to the backstop. When the pitcher finally threw a strike, the 4 or 5 fans went berserk and obnoxiously celebrated the simple feat.

I am sure millions of people would switch places with that major league pitcher, but I am sure he wouldn’t have minded being someone else that night.

On a separate note, I said to Winston: great news, it is May! You know that April showers bring May flowers, it will be great to see those flowers!

Winston said: sure dad, but what do May flowers bring?

me: Dunno?!

Winston: pilgrims.

 

Inconsistent

IMG_0878Savannah was a charming city, but didn’t see, taste, or hear anything that required for me to go back. Maybe I missed something. The sign below was from a restaurant in Savannah that I did not go inside, but I love this big neon signs.  IMG_0881

We saw Dan TDM with Winston and Dalia over Easter weekend. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I loved hearing how excited the kids were, the audience of kids between 5-12 were absolutely insane for this show.

IMG_0893I recently had my 1 year check up at the University of Penn (post kidney donation). I got a hotel the night before so I did not need to drive into Philly and fight traffic right before my appointment. The room had a giant bathtub, I took this photo from the bathtub. The appointment went very well, all is good in the hood.IMG_0899

The day after my kidney appointment was record store day. I found a store in Philadelphia and waited in line for the store to open. I got Thelonious Monk, Bruce Springsteen, and Luna. IMG_0913

My man cave is shaping up nicely. I have been hanging on to all my hotel key cards since 2009 and have put them over an old table and applied varnish over it. A lot of good memories when I look at those cards. Try to find Yoda in the picture below.

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Winston asked if I wanted a brownie, this is what he gave me when I said “yes”. IMG_0918

My parents gave me an awesome growler that looks like a miniature keg. I got it filled with Jailbreak from Spoonwood Brewing Company. It is an Irish dark beer that was very smooth.IMG_0919

The Hot 8 Brass Band, my recording. Saw these guys in Philly on the same day as my kidney appointment.

Here is a much more polished video, what a group and what a concert, everybody was sweaty by the end!

Carl

Funko Pop! Disney Carl, Multi

I recently purchased the Carl figure (from the movie Up) and it sits on my desk at work.

After a couple of years unsuccessfully trying to get the kids to adopt the basement as their play area, I requested permission from Jaclyn to make it an official man cave. Permission was granted and now features a couple of powerful speakers, record player, xbox one, my bowling shuffle board game, and beer fridge (which currently holds more seltzer water than beer!).

There are 3 items that I wish to add for it to be “complete”. I will add these items throughout the remainder of the year.

  1. Bright colored shaggy carpet to be placed in front of the couch
  2. Popcorn cart that cooks it up in an old-timey fashion
  3. Would like to get a coffee table from salvation army, place old record covers on top of it and then coat it with varnish so it is nicely encased

Last couple of nights have featured Bob Dylan’s latest album, Triplicate.

I am leaving from work on Thursday to head to Philly, I’m staying at a hotel so I can roll out of bed and walk to my appointment. On Friday, I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and the Hot 8 Brass Band.

Had a wonderful Easter weekend seeing my family, feel very lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful people.

 

 

Scared by Coke

Forgot to mention something ridiculous that happened in Atlanta. There was a big formal event one night at the World of Coca Cola. Coca Cola got its start in Atlanta and this place is like a giant Coca Cola museum and store, similar to Hershey World in Pennsylvania.

The big reception was taking place in the lobby, but all the museum exhibits were still open at least they did not appear to be blocked off. While everyone else was enjoying wine and cocktails, mingling with hors d’oeuvres, I decided to explore the museum.

Since the museum was closed to the public and everyone else was in the lobby mingling, I was the only person walking through the museum. The exhibits were nice, I learned a lot about Coke’s origins, but nothing really pulled at me until I got to a giant safe.

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I am in this giant room and the only other thing in this room is this enormous shiny safe. From what I understand, the safe contains the original recipe for Coke.

To be completely honest, I could care less about the coke recipe, but I was fascinated about the biometric hand scanning method of entry for the safe. I have never seen a hand scanner like this before, so I wanted to take a closer look. I walked up to the metal rail, leaned my head over it, and put my face about 6 inches away from the hand scanner and then “BOOOONNNKKKK, BOOOOONNNNKKKKK!!!!” alarm noise came blasting through the loudspeaker, it scared the flipping pee out of me. I jumped back and looked around and then a voice came through the loud speaker and said, “Sir, back away from the safe and please proceed through the double doors to the right and rejoin the reception.” The voice was calm and courteous, but I was super embarrassed! I walked through the doors and tried my best to integrate myself into the civilized conversation like nothing had happened. The whole time I was thinking, there is some person in security who must be laughing hysterically seeing a grown man jump back 3 feet from the safe, I would have loved to have seen the footage.

This weekend, I needed to chill out. I visited several record stores hunting for Otis Redding records, but none were available, it was relaxing nonetheless.