Thursday, February 11, 2016

Death of a Grill


We lost George Foreman in a horribly unfortunate tragic accident last evening.  "He" was preparing to cook dinner for my daughter and me, but a short time before that occurred, he was sitting precariously on his perch on top of our Refrigerator.  My daughter had just helped herself to a snack from the Fridge, and closing the door caused it to vibrate just enough that poor George slipped off and came crashing down onto the kitchen floor, shattering his protective shell and breaking his spine, exposing his innards, and effectively killing him.  We're now in a period of mourning.  We're also hungry.

Mr. Foreman joined our family about six weeks ago, on Christmas morning.  He was a welcome addition and quickly enamored himself to the other kitchen appliances with his quick-cooking ability mixed with quality results, bringing rarely seen juiciness and flavor to both hamburgers and poultry.  The Range, in particular, took him under his oven door wing, much like a father guiding his son.  While the Microwave exhibited jealousy, the Dishwasher was pleased that fewer pots and pans needed to be washed due to George's efficiency.  George was accepted with honor by the small appliance gang, joining the Crock Pots and the Toaster Oven on top of the Refrigerator.  Following George's death, the Fridge fell into deep mourning, blaming himself for George's accident.

Mr. Foreman is survived by the Range, the Microwave, the Refrigerator, the Dishwasher, the Crock Pot, the larger Crock Pot, the Toaster, the Toaster Oven (no relation), the Blender, the Keurig, the Hot Dog Toaster, the Iced Tea Maker, Faithful Pup Scout, daughter Melody, and me.

Services were held minutes after the accident, and burial in the kitchen trashcan followed immediately.  Donations in lieu of flowers may be given to the Small Appliance Fund, c/o The Blog.

Have a great evening, everyone.  Rest In Pieces, George Foreman Grill.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Technology


I found myself teleworking again today due to the snow that hit the area late last night and much of today.  I'm not really a big fan of telework. I feel like I get more work done when I'm in the office than sitting at home, and I guess I kind of miss the camaraderie despite my introverted nature.  That said, teleworking does have some advantages, such as not having to grab a shower, wearing sweats all day, and avoiding rush hour traffic.  There's so much technology that allows us to connect to the office, through email, phone bridges, and the cloud, among other things.  At one point, I had my work laptop, iPad, Blackberry, personal laptop, iPhone, and TV all tuned in and connected in some way, and I had to laugh.  Has it really come to this?  Do we really need so many devices in our lives?

Anyway, my daughter, whose school was cancelled due to the weather, and who had her own devices all turned on (her laptop, iPhone, Kindle, TV, and Wii), took the picture above from her perch at the table she uses as her desk, behind me. I found it amusing.

I hope we're all back to normal tomorrow.   Being home on a snow day is too much work!  

Have a great evening, everyone!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Super Bowl For The Dogs


What a lousy Super Bowl! At least Faithful Pup Scout is enjoying it.  Though I think we're all going to have nightmares about "puppy monkey baby..."

Have a super Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Snow Tubing and Gettysburg

Sweet Daughter Melody and I went on another road trip and blah blah blah blah blah...  Now we're home.  We had a blast.

Snow tubing at Whitetail Resort...


Visiting the Gettysburg National Military Park...


Me and the 16th President (I'm on the right)...


Lunch at the Dobbin House Tavern (built in 1776) in Gettysburg, PA...


This really cool portrait of Abraham Lincoln, our greatest President...


The extraordinary Frederick Douglass...


And Mister Ed's Elephant Museum...


Have a wonderful evening, everyone!





Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Six-Word Memoirs


I found this great book at my favorite discount book store, Daedalus Books, in Columbia, MD.  It is hilarious!  Here are a few quotes:

"Magnetic attraction fused two polar opposites."

"What once were two, are one."

"Offered my heart. She embraced it."

"Not always perfect, but so worthwhile."

"Married by Elvis. Divorced by Friday."

"Longed for opportunity...then you knocked."

Good stuff!

Have a great evening, everyone!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Beautiful Sunday


I had such a wonderful Sunday with my daughter, Melody!  It has been a long while since I've had a weekend that actually felt kind of normal.  While we both slept in later than normal, we got out at around mid-day and hit a few bookstores.  Melody had a few gift cards to Barnes & Noble that were burning a hole in her pocket, so we spent over an hour browsing through the store. While she had an agenda, I was having fun just perusing the shelves.  

After checking out, we went to the Double T Diner on US 40 in Ellicott City.  Melody had a piece of chocolate cake that I swear was bigger than her face, and I had some bread pudding and coffee. I'm not a huge coffee drinker, but there's something about diner coffee that makes me nostalgic for being out on the open road, traveling across this great country we live in.  God bless America.

We decided to make another stop at our favorite bookstore, Daedalus, just off of Snowden River Parkway in Columbia.  We found a few more books before deciding to head for home. We witnessed a beautiful sunset along the way.

God gives us such a wonderful life, and I'm so thankful for his blessings!

Tomorrow it's back to normal in many ways.  Have a great evening, everyone!




Friday, January 29, 2016

Dating For Idiots


I haven't dated in almost two years and I couldn't be happier.  I remember my last date, in early May of 2014. It was a second date. A second date is a rare thing for me. I generally know after one date if there's going to be a second one. In this case, there were no sparks, and while we ended the evening amicably, there was not enough interest by either of us to pursue a third date.  

I had a heart-to-heart conversation with my daughter, then 10 years old, shortly after that night and she flat out told me she didn't like it when I dated.  That was enough for me to give up on dating, and I've gotten very comfortable with the idea of going through life solo.  In fact, I've had several friends and colleagues ask if I'd be interested and I've declined before they could finish their question.

What changed?  My daughter, Melody, found the experience more uncomfortable than me.  I was in a very serious relationship about 6 years ago, and we were talking marriage. Melody was a key part of that relationship since I'm a package deal. But it became clear that they were not connecting very well, mostly since this lady had never been a parent and she didn't know how to relate to Melody. And Melody could sense it. And she was becoming resentful towards her.  While Melody had nothing to do with our resulting breakup, upon reflection it became obvious that it was a very good thing we didn't get together, for everyone's benefit.

So that brings us to today.  An acquaintance of mine sent me a message asking if I was interested in meeting a friend of hers, with the idea we might hit it off.  She went so far as to clear this with her friend, and included a link to the friend's Facebook page.  My first inclination was to say NO WAY! I don't think I could run away any faster.  I'm so appreciative that my friend wanted to do this (it's not the first time she has tried to set me up; its not even the second time she's wanted to do this).  But I'm just not interested. I'm reaching the age where I'm just a little too set in my ways, and I also saw how bothered Melody gets when these things come up. That's enough for me.

Will I ever date again? Or am I truly against even trying?  Well, I'm convinced that anything is possible.  I'm not shutting the door on dating again, someday.  More likely after I retire, or at least until Melody heads off to college or gets married herself.  I can wait.  God has a plan for my life, and I'm letting him have the wheel.

Have a great evening, everyone!




Thursday, January 28, 2016

Post-Blizzard Return To The Office


I finally headed back into the office today after almost a week of teleworking from home.  Telework didn't really agree with me.  While I've always been a bit of a loner, the solitude offered by telework, even despite emails, phone meetings, and lots and lots of instant messages, had me pining for human contact.  So, with school out until at least Monday, I shipped my daughter and Faithful Pup Scout over to my parent's place, and I returned to the office today. And it felt great! Sort of. I didn't enjoy battling traffic for the first time in a week, and the roads were in no shape for rush hour.  But once I got there, it felt like home. And I mean that in the figurative sense, because being at home means being able to sit around in my PJs all day.  I can't do that in the office.

Things are starting to get back to normal.

Have a nice, normal evening, everyone!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hoover Dam



I'm finally putting away my Christmas ornaments. I know I'm a little late getting around to it, but with the snow, and being a bit stir crazy with nothing better to do, this seemed like a good time to tackle it. I came across the ornament in the pic, above, and it brought back a whole slew of memories.

The ornament itself was purchased during one of my numerous trips to Las Vegas with my wonderful wife, Teresa.  We began collecting these types of ornaments on our many road trips, and we have a bunch of them. They're great reminders of the many places we visited during our way too short almost-five year marriage.

I first visited Hoover Dam during a solo road trip I took in the Fall of 1997, about six months before I met Teresa.  I took another dam tour with Teresa during a return trip to Las Vegas in the Spring of 2000. We returned to Boulder City with friends for another dam tour in June 2002, when we purchased the ornament, and yet again, in October of the same year, with my parents.

You might think I could give the tour myself, given how often I saw the dam place (does that joke ever get old?). In fact, it really never got old. Hoover Dam is an iconic symbol of the Great Depression, and I find that time in our country's history to be really interesting.  I also have a fascination with the wide open areas of the "Wild West," and the southwest is just incredible.

When my daughter was old enough to appreciate it, I brought her to see Hoover Dam, during Spring Break 2014. Not much had changed on the dam tour in the 11 years since that previous visit, and daughter Melody enjoyed it. The dam tour guides keep things light, with a tongue-in-cheek approach to their humor.

Last month, I returned to the area for the leadership class I took, and one of our field trips was a tour of the dam.  It was my 6th tour, but it also was the best one. We were taken to places the public never sees, and it was very impressive.  Standing on the roof of the building at the bottom of the dam was incredible!

I'm not sure I'll ever need to return to Hoover Dam, but I'll always feel a connection to the place.  It's an amazing feat of engineering, and it's definitely worth seeing. But not six times.


Have a great evening, everyone!



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Freed The World


I started watching "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" on CNN recently.  I kind of like his nonchalant approach to food as he immerses himself into the culture of the area of the world he's visiting.  I don't have a strong desire to travel to other countries, preferring to see my own country, the US, through road trips.  I realize I'm missing out on other cultures, but I just can't justify traveling the world without seeing America first.

Anyway, Anthony Bourdain's show is now a must-watch for me, and I saw the episode about Libya recently.  It is incredible and scary what happened in that nation, but it is amazing, too, that the people believed that they would improve their lives by deposing the horrible dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.  In many ways, they have improved themselves, however the unrest in the country, as the show explored, is a bit unnerving.  There seems to be danger everywhere, and it really is chaotic.  I just can't imagine.  We, in the USA, are incredibly blessed to live in freedom.  The Libyan people had to fight for theirs.  At one point, the camera pointed through an alley and there was a young man standing against a graffiti-ed wall, a painted Libyan flag and the word, "FREED," next to him.  I snapped a picture of the screen shot, hoping to make a joke out of the use of my last name, but I imagine it really has a very strong meaning to the Libyan people.  Freedom has so much more meaning in the rest of the world.  I think we Americans take ours for granted.  We shouldn't.  What we should do is take responsibility of our freedoms and make the world a better place.  I know that sounds hokey, but every one of us can do more.  Make a difference.  If you don't know how, have a conversation with a neighbor you don't know and watch the doors that open, and opportunities that appear.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hide-and-Seek With Parked Cars


Finally got out of the neighborhood this evening after putting in a long day at the virtual office.  The good and the bad of teleworking is that it offers flexibility when you need it, but a snow day is no longer a snow day... You've gotta work regardless of whether the government is open or closed.

The roads looked good overall, but neighborhood streets are still a mess (see pic above).  I think I'm done shoveling. I pulled a muscle in my back after clearing off about 80% of the deck on Saturday, so I'm putting myself on injured reserve. What happened to money-starved kids willing to shovel snow? I'm willing to pay really well!

We decided to spur on the local economy by eating out at a local chain restaurant. It wasn't very crowded, and they were a little understaffed, so we were patient, but the service was absolutely awful. Without apologies.  And that was after they thanked us for stopping in.

We stopped for a few groceries at our local Weis.  They seemed to be well stocked, except for bread.  The shelves were bare!  But there was lots of milk and TP!

I'm hoping for another telework day tomorrow.  There's no school, so maybe there will be no work, too.

Have a great evening, everyone!


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dude, Where's My Car!?!


I'm sure we've all had those moments when we can't remember where we parked our car, but my car completely disappeared.  I'm guess I'm just a victim of the Blizzard of 2016, and my car is a casualty...

Have a great week, everyone! Stay safe out there!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Reminiscing About Road Trips With My Wife in 2001, Pt. 2

My wonderful wife and I went on a lot of road trips during our short almost-five years of marriage, and one of the things I made a point of doing was documenting those trips in a trip journal.  I recently ran across one of them and really enjoyed reminiscing.  Here is Part 2 of one of my favorite trips...

***

Day 6, 12/31/2001 - Still in Lakeland, FL.  Up at 8 or so.  Relaxing morning.  Got ready.  We took T2's (Teresa's) grandfather to the doctor to have his knee checked out.  First we went to the wrong place.  That one sent us to another place.  It was the wrong one, too.  The 3rd one was the correct one.  The appointment went well, with the doctor recommending knee replacement.  I had to go in the examining room with T2's grandfather because of his hearing difficulties, and I could answer any questions the doctor might have.  We went out to lunch at Jimbo's BBQ, then headed back to their house.  Rested and regrouped.  T2 and I back out later to Disney's Pleasure Island to celebrate the New Year!  It was still a little early, so we walked around Downtown Disney, first at the West End, then at the Marketplace.  We ate dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.  Very good food and neat atmosphere.  We went back to the car to get some warmer clothes.  It got cold after the sun went down!  On to Pleasure Island!  First we went to a comedy improv show, then we saw the Devonshires, and then Tone Loc with a bunch of rappers, all at different sites.  We got some dessert, then we saw Cyndi Lauper perform.  We went to the Adventurers Club, which was really cool, then we brought in the new year with Cyndi Lauper again.  Lots of excitement and fireworks.  Back to the Adventurers Club again for one last show, then we left Disney and went back to T2's grandparent's.  Went to bed at around 3 a.m.  Lord, thank you for a wonderful New Year!

Day 7, 1/1/2002 - We got up at 8.  Another relaxing morning with the grandparents.  Neighbor Les stopped by, then we were called by T2's parents and her Aunt Jody.  Then we got ready and packed up, said our goodbyes, and left at noon.  Stopped for some lunch at a Fazzoli's and gassed up at Citgo, and headed south out of Lakeland on US 98, then to US 17 (long, boring road) to I-75.  Stopped in Fort Myers for a short break, then continued east across Alligator Alley on I-75 to Miami.  We arrived at our "swanky" Crowne Plaza at around 6:15 p.m.  We refreshed, then over to the Dolphin Mall, but it closed at 7 (for New Years Day).  Dave & Buster's was open, though, so we ate and played games.  Then we went to Miami International Airport to pick up our friend, Elizabeth (who was flying in from Chicago for the Orange Bowl!).  All of us back to the hotel.  Whoo-hoo!  On to bed at 12:30 a.m.  Lord, thanks for blessing my wife and me!  Bless us and our family and friends with a prosperous New Year.

Day 8, 1/2/2002 - Up at 8:30.  Slow morning.  We got ready.  Elzi came by.  I called my Mom to check in at home.  We went out at 11 to drive to the Keys.  Raining, but not cold.  We got some gas, then drove south to Key Largo!  Weather lifted a little bit.  We went to the Visitor's Center, then ate lunch at the Bayside Grill, right on the water.  Very tasty!  Stopped at a gift shop, then saw the real African Queen!  It was getting late, so we headed north.  The skies got very dark.  We reached Florida City, and the skies opened up.  It was a terrible thunderstorm, one of the worst I've ever seen.  We stopped under an overpass to wait it out.  There was a lot of hail, too.  We continued on after it let up.  We had a local radio station on, and it reported that there was a Tornado Warning in the area we were just in.  We were convinced it must have just passed us.  We made it back to our hotel to regroup, then we drove to the Orange Bowl for the Maryland Terrapins versus Florida Gators!  It was being played at Pro Player Stadium at 6:30.  We wandered through a few tailgate parties, then int the stadium.  Sitting in Section 431, Row 4, Seats 18-20.  Game started out close and exciting, but soon became a rout.  Our Terps got clobbered 56-23.  It rained on us during the game.  We headed back to the hotel after the game a little bit bummed, and we went to bed at 1:30 a.m.  Lord, thanks for a great day!

Day 9, 1/3/2002 - Up at 9 or so.  Slowly getting ready, but felt well-rested.  Said our goodbyes to Elzi, and we headed out of our fantastic hotel.  Got stuck in traffic due to an accident, so it was well after noon before we got our of Miami.  Decided to stop for lunch near Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach at a Cracker Barrel.  Poor T2 got really sick a short while later.  We continued up I-95 after gassing up at a Mobil, and we stopped again at around 4:30 at the Kennedy Space Center.  We went in and walked around to see some pretty cool stuff, but it was so cold and we were freezing.  We left at 6 with some souvenirs.  Stopped for dinner in Daytona at a Steak & Shake, then continued north.  Got tired after going around Jacksonville, so we found a Holiday Inn Express in little Yulee, FL.  What a dump!  Our room needed a new battery in the smoke detector, so they moved us into a new room instead of just giving us a battery.  After moving, we soon discovered that the 2nd room didn't have a working shower.  Instead of moving us again, they gave us a key to a third room and said we could shower there.  With outdoor corridors, this was not a great option given how cold it was outside, so we just moved into the third room.  Unfortunately, it only had a double bed (the other two rooms had king beds!), but we finally went to sleep at 11:30.  Lord, thanks for keeping us safe!

Day 10, 1/4/2002 - We got up at 7 and got ready (our shower smelled like rotten eggs!).  Gladly left one of the worst hotels I've ever stayed at.  Stopped for breakfast and snacks at a Stuckey's just across the Georgia line.  I wasn't feeling well this time.  Continued up I-95 into South Carolina, and soon stopped at a rest area.  Still not feeling well.  Saw some snow on the ground.  Continued on, but needed another rest area.  Really feeling sick.  We stopped for lunch at a Shoney's, but I didn't eat.  Continued on into North Carolina, and we needed to stop again at a rest area.  I finally started feeling better by then.  We got off of I-95 near Fayetteville, and we tried calling T2's aunt, figuring we would have dinner with them.  The phone wouldn't work and we thought maybe cell service was out due to the severe weather they were having in the area.  We found a pay phone and called from there.  They invited us to stay with them for the night.  We headed down Route 24 to Jacksonville, NC, and arrived at T2's aunt & uncle's place at 6:30.  They had dinner ready.  Their granddaughter was staying with them, and her parents came by to join us for dinner, too.  We had a nice visit and talked well into the evening.  They had 6 inches of snow on the ground!  Finally went to bed at around 11.

Day 11, 1/5/2002 - Up at 9.  We got ready, and had a nice breakfast.  They wanted to take us on a quick tour of Jacksonville, so we headed over to see T2's cousin, Jenny, and her two kids.  Continued on and passed by T2's grandmother's old house, then to another cousin's house, Rob & Pam, who we had dinner with the previous evening.  They have a neat home, with a cool boat house.  We all went to lunch at a nearby restaurant, the Fisherman's Wharf.  Good food and nice time.  We went back to the aunt and uncle's place where we packed up and said our goodbyes.  We thought about heading up along the Outer Banks, but it would make for a much longer trip.  It was already 2 p.m.  We gassed up at a Citgo, and found one more Sonic for a last cream pie shake, then headed up US 258 towards Rocky Mount, NC.  Stopped at a Walmart for a break.  T2 drove us from there to US 64, then to I-95, and we headed north for home.  Stopped for dinner outside of Petersburg, VA, at a Golden Corral.  Good, filling meal.  We decided we were dieting beginning tomorrow!  Stopped for gas in Stafford, VA, at a Texaco.  Called our parents to check in, then headed home.  Made one last stop, at our local Weis grocery store for a few necessities, and then home!  Arrived at 10:30 p.m.  Lord, thank you for a wonderful, safe adventure!

***

One-Picture-Every-Day Project:  Pics from today's Blizzard...

View from our front door

Hour 30 of the Blizzard of 2016
Have a great evening, everyone!  Stay safe out there!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Reminiscing About Road Trips With My Wife in 2001, Pt. 1

My wonderful wife and I went on a lot of road trips during our short almost-five years of marriage, and one of the things I made a point of doing was documenting those trips in a trip journal.  I recently ran across one of them and really enjoyed reminiscing.  Here is one of my favorite trips...

***

This is TRIP #13, our Christmas Trip to Florida, which includes a visit with Teresa's (T2's) grandparents in Lakeland, my cousin's, Greg & Tiffany's, wedding in DeLand, New Year's Eve at Disney World, and a trip to the Orange Bowl in Miami to see the Terps play the Gators.  It covers 12/26/01 to 1/5/2002.

Day 1, 12/26/01 - Packed and left our home in Laurel, MD, at 6:54 a.m.  We stopped at 7-11 for drinks, then continued on down I-95.  Stopped for breakfast near Chester, VA, at a Waffle House.  We continued on down the road, made a quick restroom stop in Emporia, VA, and continued into North Carolina.  We then found a Sonic in Wilson, NC.  (Sidenote - we discovered Sonic's Cream Pie shakes on a previous trip and became addicted to them.  There are no Sonics in Maryland.)  Unfortunately, their shake machine wasn't working.  On down I-95, and we stopped to eat a lunch that my mother gave us yesterday, and T2 packed for us to eat on the road.We found another Sonic that DID have a working shake machine, and we got a Chocolate Cream Pie Shake.  We stopped in South Of The Border, SC, but it doesn't seem like a very nice place.  In fact, it's kind of rundown and shady-looking.  Back on the road, we decided to stop for dinner at a Cracker Barrel near Walterboro, and filled up on gas at a Citgo for 97 cents per gallon.  We finished our day of driving in Brunswick, GA, and we're staying at a Ramada Inn for $46.  Drove approximately 700 miles.  Whoo-hoo!  On to bed by 11.  Lord, thank you for a good, safe trip so far.  Please bless my T2!

Day 2, 12/27/01 - Up at 6 or so.  T2 & I slowly got ready.  We had a free breakfast in the hotel dining area, then packed up and headed out at around 9, taking our time.  We entered Florida and stopped at the Welcome Center and got lots of brochures.  Headed towards Jacksonville, then took I-295 to I-10 West to US 301 South towards Ocala.  We passed a few Gators fans, and they gave us a few arm gestures (gators opening and closing their jaws), since we were flying our University of Maryland window flag.  We stopped for lunch at a McDonald's for a quick lunch and gassed up at a Mobil just outside of Ocala.  We saw a Disney Welcome Center, and decided to stop.  We purchased tickets for New Year's Eve at Pleasure Island.  On to Lakeland.  We arrived at T2's grandparent's place at 3 p.m.  Great to see everyone.  T2's parents were visiting, too.  We celebrated Christmas with everyone and exchanged LOTS of presents.  We all went into town for dinner and a little shopping.  At at the Roadhouse Grill, which was great.  Back to the homestead, and we watched TV and videos until late.  On to bed at 11:30.  Lord, thanks for a safe and enjoyable trip.  We pray You will continue to be with us and our family, and keep us all healthy and happy.

Day 3, 12/28/01 - Up at 8 or so.  Relaxing morning.  T2's grandmother had a hair appointment, then her father did the laundry at a local laundromat.  T2 & I went to Publix for a few groceries, to the Hallmark Store, and to a hardware store to get a few house keys made for T2 and me.  Then we had lunch at a local BBQ joint, Jimbo's, a family favorite.  We then hit a flea market for a few bargains, and drove thru a few parks on the drive back to "home."  T2's mother made a deee-licious spaghetti dinner.  Afterward, we took a trip out to Target for a few items.  Back home, and we watched TV and had some ice cream.  On to bed at 10 or so.

Day 4, 12/29/01 - Up at 8 or so.  Another relaxing morning in Florida.  T2's parents packed up and headed for home at around 9:30 or so.  We noodled around for a while.  Les, a neighbor, came by for a short visit.  Then T2 and I got ready and packed up.  We headed out for lunch at the local Steak & Shake, then to a Dillard's for a wedding gift.  Headed East on I-4 thru Orlando and on to DeLand.  Checked in at the Comfort Inn and got ready for the wedding.  Found my Aunt Nancy & Uncle Jack, and cousins Jimmy and Nicole.  Uncle Jim & Aunt Nancy (my OTHER Aunt Nancy) had their motor home parked in the parking lot of the hotel.  Great to see everyone.  We rode with them all to the wedding.  Greg and Tiffany were wed at 5:30 in a very nice ceremony.  On the way to the reception, the directions and map were not very good, and we arrived late at the Yacht Club.  It was a really great time.  Back to the hotel, and we went to bed late.  Whoo-hoo!  Lord, thanks for a great day!

Day 5, 12/30/01 - Up at 8 or so.  We got ready, checked out, and headed over to the President's House at Stetson University for a brunch with Greg and Tiffany.  All of the relatives were there and we had a very nice time.  We called my Dad to wish him a happy 57th birthday, and most of the family spent some time talking to him.  Thank goodness for weekend rates on the phone call!  We said our goodbyes to everyone at around noon.  T2 and I made a stop at McDonald's for a quick lunch, then headed over to the Daytona Speedway.  Very cool!  We had fun taking a tour of the track.  We left Daytona at around 4:30 for the trip back to Lakeland.  We had dinner in Orlando at the Macaroni Grill, then to T2's grandparent's place.  Good to see them, and we talked until late. On to bed.  Lord, thanks for all that You do!  Please keep us and our loved ones safe, healthy, and happy.

To Be Continued...

***

Beginning a One-Picture-Everyday project, and will post a picture each day on this blog.  Here is today's picture(s), Hour 1 and Hour 5 of the Blizzard of 2016:




Saturday, January 16, 2016

Guest Post: Melody Likes STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

Given how busy I've been lately, and without the time to update this blog very often, I called in the reserves:  my beautiful daughter Melody.  She agreed to do a guest post about STAR WARS:  THE FORCE AWAKENS.  Here's her review:

**SPOILER ALERTS THROUGHOUT**

This was a movie.
 
I've seen it twice, and I caught a lot more when I watched it a second time. The first time, though, would always be the best because you don't know what to expect, and, to be honest, I cried for half the movie. I honestly didn't expect any of that. Literally the only thing I knew about this was that Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) were in it.
 
In my opinion, this was one of the best Star Wars movies. The only problem that I had was that it had basically the same outline as Episode 4, A New Hope. I was confused as to why Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) was wearing a helmet, though. He clearly didn't need it. But I guess it was to give you the feeling that he was like a new and improved Darth Vader, because that's what I got from it.
 
We've been watching the original Star Wars movies lately, and we've picked up that the sentence "I have a bad feeling about this" and the famous Wilhelm scream were used in every single movie. This was no exception for TFA, as in the beginning, in the Storm Troopers scene, where they're attacking the planet of Jakku at the beginning (I think), it can be heard in the background if you listen carefully, but we didn't notice it until the second time we watched it. Also, when Han, Rey, Finn, and Chewie are about to be arrested by the Storm Troopers in the battle at Takodana, Han casually mentions that he 'has a bad feeling about this'.
 
What really got to me was Han's death. I genuinely thought that Ren was going to turn back and go home with him, but clearly I should've not made assumptions about him. I cried when he fell over the edge, and I kept telling myself after that that he was going to be in the next movie, that he had landed on a ship or something, and that he had made it out of the planet alive before it exploded. But I guess you can't land on a ship and make it out of a planet before it explodes.
 
TFA left me with questions about Rey. I am confused as to who she is related to. It must be someone who was a Jedi, but it can't be Luke because as far as we know he never fell in love with anyone. Also, how did she know how to use the Force when she had been captured on Kylo's ship?
 
Mark Hamill's part at the end also got to me. It seemed really odd for him to have a 30 second part in a Star Wars movie.
 
My favorite part was when Han and Leia saw each other for the first time. I liked how Han's first words to her were "You changed your hair," because of course that would be the first thing he notices.
 
Overall, this was a really excellent movie. It is definitely now one of my favorites. I had no idea what to expect, and it came out better then I expected. I had my doubts at first, because I heard that people were saying that it was a bad movie, but watching it changed my mind completely. If you haven't seen it yet, you certainly should.