Thursday, February 15, 2018

Intermission

I need to take a few days off from the blog due to other commitments.  I will resume writing in a few days.  Have a great weekend!  (In the meantime, enjoy a few pics of the Faithful Pup Scout...)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Another Day

Up before the alarm

Another Day

Pray

Shower, dress, get ready

Walk the dog

Feed the dog

Walk the dog

Breakfast

Valentines's Day


Chocolate, Flowers, Card for my daughter

Commute to work

Early rush hour

Work

Cupcakes for my employees

Meetings, meetings, meetings...

Emails, emails, emails...

Confrontation with unhappy employee

Public outburst by employee, private defusing of situation

Relief

Late Lunch

Brief my boss

Commute home

Beltway traffic

Home!

Walk the dog

Mop the floor because of the dog

Chat with daughter Melody

Laugh

Phone with Mom and Dad

Workout on the bike

Decompress

Watch Olympic Curling

News...School shooting

Pray

Nap

Nap too long...too late for Ash Wednesday Service at Church

Feed the dog

Walk the dog

Dinner - George Foreman Style

Olympic skiing

Read

Walk the dog

Pray

Rest, Relax, and Snooze

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Nineteen Years Ago, A Proposal

I originally wrote the following essay a few days after February 13, 1999, nineteen years ago, which describes my proposal to my then girlfriend, Teresa.  I'll save some of the suspense by saying she said, "Yes!"  It was a fun time, probably the happiest moment in my life up to that point.  Enjoy!


February 13, 1999, was a crisp and cool Saturday morning. I woke up suddenly, like a kid on Christmas morning. It was Engagement Day. I was nervous, excited, and anxious. Today I would find out if Teresa would be my wife! I had bought the ring two weeks before. It was a diamond solitaire ring with a gold band. I learned all about the “Four C’s” that day: cut, clarity, color, and carat. I purchased the ring, which, at the time, was the most money I had ever spent on anything other than a car. It was worth it, though, if Teresa said, “Yes.”

My brother, Darren, and I had gone out the weekend before searching for the perfect spot for the proposal, one that afforded him an opportunity to videotape the whole thing from a distance and not be seen by Teresa, and within view of a lighthouse. Teresa loved lighthouses! Sandy Point State Park, right next the Bay Bridge on the Chesapeake Bay, and with the Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse just off shore, was chosen.

Teresa got sick with a very bad cold about a week before the engagement. The poor girl missed several days of work, and we were not able to see each other for most of the week. Kristen, her roommate, took care of her while we were apart. I was anxious to see her, but she was feeling poorly and not at her best.

On Wednesday, I went to church and approached my future father-in-law, Jim, before the service that night, to ask for Teresa’s hand in marriage. He gave me his blessing and expressed his excitement about the whole thing. We had a wonderful conversation about what was to come. The Pastor walked by while we were talking and kidded us, since he had figured out why we were talking.

I picked up the ring on Thursday. It was beautiful, and would complement her perfectly. I stopped by Mom & Dad’s house to show them, and Mom and my sister, Angie, both loved it (and even tried it on)! That evening, I went to see Teresa for the first time all week. She still felt very weak, and was not 100%, but she wanted to see me. We had a nice Chinese dinner (lots of soup and hot tea) and watched a movie at her apartment in Laurel. I mentioned to her the birthday party for my friend’s year-old twins that we were going to on Saturday, and she assured me she was well enough to go. The ring was in my pocket when I kissed her goodnight, and as I drove home, I thought, “The next time I see her, I’ll be asking her to marry me!”

Saturday. I tried to stay calm and relaxed all morning, but I was so nervous. I talked to my friend, Darrell, and told him what was going on, and that we might be a little late arriving at his kid’s birthday party. He understood and was excited for us. I talked to my roommate and cousin, Dan, and told him about what I was planning. He was preparing for his own proposal to his girlfriend, which would take place the following week. He wished me luck and I headed out of our place in Montgomery Village to pick up Teresa.

The Plan was on. First, I called her to let her know that we needed to stop somewhere on the way to the party to pick up some shells. When trying to come up with a reason to get Teresa to Sandy Point, the only thing Darren and I could come up with was finding seashells. So I made up a story that Darrell was planning a game for the party involving shells, and had asked if we could pick some up on the way to the party. Teresa bought the story, so we were on our way.

I had the ring in my pants pocket, and during the drive to her place, it was burning a hole in my leg. When I arrived, she greeted me warmly. She was feeling a lot better, just a little bit of congestion, so I didn’t feel too guilty about taking her to the beach on a cold, windy February day. Our first stop was to my parent’s house in Bowie. I told Teresa that Darren, who worked at Lowe’s, might know where we could find some shells. (Mom & Dad had left that morning for a trip to visit family in PA.) Darren followed the script perfectly by telling us that Lowe’s didn’t have shells (they really do), but that we should go to Sandy Point beach and get some shells there. Teresa agreed that this sounded logical, so off we went. As soon as we walked out the door, Darren and his girlfriend hopped into her car (which Teresa had never seen), and raced to Sandy Point ahead of us, while Teresa and I stopped for lunch.

We went to Burger King in Annapolis for a quick lunch. I was getting more and more nervous as the day wore on, so eating was not high on my list of things to do. I struggled through the meal and tried to keep it down after a trip to the rest room. Teresa still had no idea what was in store for her. In fact, we began having a discussion about our future. I played along by telling her that I thought some of her friends were putting a lot of pressure on us to get engaged. She agreed, and promised she didn’t feel the same way as them. She said she was comfortable with where we were in our relationship, and I explained, trying to justify it, that we were still getting to know each other. We only started dating the previous May. She agreed. I was afraid I might be putting it on a bit too thick, but she seemed fine.

We hopped back into the car and rushed over to Sandy Point State Park. Because Darren and I had scouted out the place the week before, I knew exactly where to park. Darren and his girlfriend arrived about 30 minutes before us. We parked right next to their car, though neither of us knew it, and we got out. I suggested that we walk over to the beach area and look for the shells. We went over to a broad, sandy area right on the water. The lighthouse was straight ahead, just off shore in the Bay. I looked around for Darren, since I didn’t know exactly where he would be, to make sure he had arrived, but I didn’t see him. He later told me I looked directly at him several times, and he was afraid I would give him away. He was hiding behind a large tree at the edge of the beach, about 50 yards away (and there is a lot of video footage of just the tree).

It was very cold and windy, but I didn’t notice. I was sweating profusely. Poor Teresa was bundled up in her heavy jacket and mittens, trying to stay warm, and looking around in the sand for shells, not suspecting a thing. I directed her towards an area of large rocks, right on the water, and we spotted a large bottle hidden between two large rocks (a bottle Darren had placed there before we arrived). I pointed out that the bottle looked like it had a note inside of it, and I picked it up, much to Teresa’s surprise (she thought it was garbage). I pulled out the cork and slid out the rolled paper from inside it. On it was written a note. I had written the note to her a few weeks earlier (on recycled nautical chart paper, to make it look authentic) with the intent of placing it in the bottle for Teresa to find. In the note, I outlined our entire relationship to that point, and mentioned how much I loved her and wanted to spend my life with her. At the end, I had written, “Will you marry me?”

Teresa read the note while I stood next to her, holding it. She told me later that she recognized the handwriting as mine right away, but didn’t understand why it was there. It took her what seemed to me to be a long time (I had written too much, I think), and when she finished, she gave me a curious look, as if she was trying to figure out what was going on. I pulled the ring out of my pocket, which I had been fingering the entire time she was reading the note, and dropped onto one knee on the wet sand. She started to shake, and I don’t think it was because of the cold. I made a little speech, which I don’t remember at all, and asked her to marry me. The realization of what was happening began to hit her, and she took her mitten off and I slipped the ring on her finger. She started to cry and yelled, “YES!” And we hugged and kissed each other for the longest time. Then Darren jumped out from behind the tree whooping and hollering with the camera still running, perfectly capturing the moment with the lighthouse behind us. Teresa continued to cry tears of joy, and I got a bit misty-eyed. I was sincerely happy. Happy that I had surprised her, happy that my plan had worked so well, happy that she said yes, and happy that she was so happy.  I was greatly relieved that it was over!  And I was so happy that I was going to marry the sweetest, most wonderful young lady I had ever known!

As we drove away from Sandy Point, I laughed at Teresa as she kept looking at her hand and giggling. I told her we had a lot of planning to do. Because she was a teacher, it made the most sense to have the wedding during the summer. It certainly helped that Teresa had spent several years as a wedding planner/organizer while working at the Chapel at the University of Maryland, overseeing hundreds of weddings. Then it hit us: we still had to go to the party. We rushed over to my friend’s house and celebrated with friends and family Sam and Caitlin's first birthday. Everyone helped us celebrate our engagement, too. We left the party early and went to Teresa’s parent’s house in Wheaton to give them the news (and catch the last few minutes of the Maryland vs. UNC basketball game - priorities, y'know). Oh, were they excited! We all went out to a nearby restaurant to celebrate. Mom & Dad called us from Pennsylvania to offer congratulations, too.

Our promise is to love each other as God loves us and live happily ever after…

Monday, February 12, 2018

Don't Step In It


Really?!?

Just when I thought toy makers couldn't be any more tasteless, here comes Don't Step In It!  Yeah, it's exactly what it looks like.  Apparently, scoops of several different color "play-doughs" are placed on a mat, and the object of the game is for each contestant to walk down the mat with a blindfold, trying not to step in "it."  Unfortunately, for me, the game hits just a little too close to home.

The Faithful Pup Scout, who is now 16 years old and showing every one of those years, occasionally struggles with bladder control, and less often has trouble with bowel control.  However, "it" does happen.  A few weeks ago, while getting ready for work, I needed to get something out of my room.  I had not turned on the light, and Scout had left me a gift on my carpet.  I was in my socks, and I stepped right in "it," tracking it across the floor before realizing I had stepped in something soft and warm.  It was a quite the mess, made even worse because I needed to leave for work immediately.

So, I guess you could say I already have this game.  Hasbro, you really picked a winner.  I can only imagine how much kids will want to play this game.

Have a great evening, everyone.
  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Adventure

Sometimes you just have to go on an adventure...

My daughter and I had an unusual Sunday. Our church, Grace Community in Fulton, MD, is very large, and several years ago, when they started having a Saturday evening service, we volunteered to switch from Sunday to Saturday.  It worked for us, and we've found that the Saturday service is very relaxing and not nearly as crowded. What it did, though, is give us "free" Sunday mornings, something that I wasn't used to after attending church on Sundays for most of my life.

Anyway, we had a change of plans this weekend that had us going to Grace on Sunday for the first time in several years.  Wow, it was packed!  But I sat up in the balcony for the first time, which was a bit of a treat, and we had a fantastic guest speaker.  Daughter Melody went to the Warehouse, which is the youth hangout, and she enjoyed a packed house, too.

After church (and a special breakfast for the 8th grade girls hosted by their adult leaders who are AWESOME!  Thanks, Corin, Kim, Sarah, and Stacia!), Melody didn't want to just go home.... she was looking for something else to do, since she got up so early on a Sunday morning.  We weighed a few ideas, then I decided to surprise her with lunch at a favorite restaurant in DC:  100 Montaditos!  This place is really cool.  They have a selection of 100 different mini-sandwiches, and they are all tasty and delicious (though we've only scratched the surface on the number we've tried).  The restaurant is near the Navy Yard and National's Ballpark.

When we arrived, after dodging raindrops, the restaurant was practically empty.  We quickly ordered our sandwiches (I had three sandwiches:  BBQ, Turkey, and Tuna;  Melody chose two:  Mozzarella, and Parmesan, Tomato, and Pesto).  They were great, as usual.  Then we trekked back to our Jeep, which was parked about five blocks away, in the rain without an umbrella.

Our next stop on our Sunday adventure was at IKEA, in College Park. It's so much fun just browsing their showroom and getting ideas, and that's what we did.  When we finished, after about an hour, we ended up getting a candle, a cordless battery-powered screwdriver, and a cactus for Melody, none of which one would associate with IKEA, I'm betting.

Then we went home, watched the Olympics, napped, and did laundry, then we watched TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, a favorite movie based on Melody's and her mom's favorite novel.  After working around the house all day on Saturday, our Sunday adventure was just the kind of day we needed.

I hope you all had a great weekend.  Have a great evening!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Winter Olympics

We've been watching the Olympics over the past several days and we're enjoying them immensely.  I like the downhill skiing, though they've really only practiced so far.  I'm also excited about the bobsled racing, which is as close to a roller coaster ride as I can imagine.  My daughter, Melody, likes the snowboarding and the figure skating.

My absolute favorite event, though, is curling.  I love the strategy, and trying to figure out what the competitors are going to do before they do it.  The mixed doubles have been fascinating to watch.  The Canadians, in particular, have been very strong, and though I'd love to see the Americans win it, they've really struggled overall.

Ski Jumping is another event that I find fascinating, but it has more to do with how crazy I think the competitors must be to do it.  My fear of heights is a factor in my fascination, I'm sure, but these guys are either very brave or incredible thrill-seekers.  I couldn't be paid to do it.

We watched the opening ceremonies last night and they were spectacular.  The light displays, fireworks, use of drones, and the incredibly talented individuals who participated were wonderful to watch.  My favorite part of the opening, though, is the parade of athletes, as each country's competitors are introduced.  This is when the event overshadows politics.  While competition is prevalent, the bottom line is that these athletes don't allow their politics, or particularly their country's politics, to get in the way of the spirit of the Games, and everyone appears to be united as a community.  It makes you feel good about the world.

My only complaint so far is the amount of commercials NBC shows, most of which seem to be advertising their own programming.  Fortunately, NBCSN, a sister channel, also airing events, doesn't seem to have the same obligation.

If you're not watching, check out the games.  They're really awesome.

Have a great evening, everyone.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Guest Post: twenty one pilots, Part 1

Guest Post:  My daughter, Melody, wanted to share our trip to Charlottesville, VA, last year to see her favorite band, twenty one pilots.  Here's her story...   

January 22nd, 2017. What a day that was!

   I barely got any sleep the night before, I was so excited; I woke up at about 4:30am and couldn't fall back asleep because I was seeing my favorite band live! In 17 hours

   We don't really remember what we had for breakfast (we either ate at home or had Chick-Fil-A). In the car we were rocking out to songs ranging from Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes to Holding On To You by twenty one pilots, of course! We headed into the mountains of Virginia, hoping to get into Shenandoah National Park to get a stamp for our National Park passports. 

   We made a pit stop at Luray Caverns. After having a hot dog, a hamburger, and some fries for lunch, we went to have our tour through the caverns. The lady that took our pictures beforehand noticed my twenty one pilots shirt and we had a nice conversation about them before the tour began.

    We left Luray around 2pm and got to Charlottesville at about 3:30. I wanted to drive past the arena before we went to our hotel and there were already a ton of people in line. We took a few minutes trying to find the hotel, and within the first 5 minutes I managed to injure myself (whoops).

    Around 5, we left the hotel. I was dead set on being at the arena when the doors opened at 6 and we were running really late. We believed that we would have plenty of time to go get a nice big dinner, but that was not the case. We drove around for 20 minutes trying to find a place to eat. I started to panic after our second lap around town, so we decided to just stop at a McDonald's (as we were eating, it started raining, and two girls literally slipped into the restaurant, which was one of the funniest things I saw all night).

    I was so scared that we weren't going to make it by the time the doors opened, and it didn't help when we got stuck in rain/concert traffic. My dad found a back way in on our GPS that took us all around the Virginia University campus. We finally got parked at 5:59 (I'm using pictures on my phone as references) and began walking towards the venue. We had to go back to the car for something - I think we somehow managed to leave the tickets in the car! We got in line behind these really lovely people. One lady came up and decided that since her husband was already inside, she could cut everyone in line and squeeze in front. The lady in front of us had a good little chat with my dad about that. 

    It was so crowded inside. There was barely any walking room, so we decided to check our seats before braving the merch line. They were pretty decent; we had a side view of the stage on the second level with no one in front of us. 

    There were about four different merch lines. I got in one and my dad got in another and we texted each other to see whose line moved the fastest. I overheard someone saying that there were more lines downstairs, so we decided to risk it. We spent about 5 minutes trying to find the other line. We finally got in one that I don't think even was a real line. We got our shirts and, because I was living off of a hot dog and some chicken nuggets, went to get some drinks and a bag of Cheetos. We got back to our seats at 6:57; the show started at 7.

    Judah & the Lion was first; I had listened to a few of their songs prior, and they were really good. Jon Bellion went next, and I'd only heard one of his songs before. He was good. Twenty one pilots was next, at 9.

    The concert was absolutely amazing. Hearing those songs live and hearing other people sing those lyrics was something I won't be forgetting in a hurry. Tyler and Josh sure do put on one heck of a show.

    The concert ended with Trees, as it has for the past 8 years. We got back to the hotel at about 11:30. I stayed up watching my videos and being sad that it was over.

    The next day it was storming. We went to a small diner just off the main road, where I continued to watch my videos and be sad. We drove by the arena one more time and decided to stop at Barnes & Noble on our way out. I got a magazine with Josh's face on the cover and had another good conversation with the lady behind the register. She said that she had no idea that they were there the night before and was sad that she missed the show.

    The drive home was fun but sad. We stopped for lunch at Mellow Mushroom and got enough pizza for dinner when we got home. I saw quite a few people with twenty one pilots shirts on the drive home, which was pretty neat. 

    We got home at around 6pm. And that's where it ends :)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

My Wife's Jeep


My father sent me the above picture this morning, and it brought with it a bunch of memories.  It's a picture of our old Jeep Cherokee, with my darling wife, Teresa, in the passenger seat, and my brother in the back.  I think it was taken around 2002.

We bought the Jeep in 2000 after Teresa fell in love with a Cherokee we rented for a trip earlier that winter.  Once she got behind the wheel, she knew she wanted one.  We bought this one used, and it proceeded to be our road trip vehicle, taking us all around the country.

A few months after we got it, we took our first major cross-country trip, taking us through 21 states and more than 5000 miles.  It was memorable for so many reasons, but spending that many miles with my wonderful wife was tops, seeing and sharing so many sites.  I ended up taking my daughter on a similar trip in 2016.

One of the coolest experiences was in South Dakota.  Teresa and I had just exited Custer State Park, and we were headed south to Wind Cave National Park.  We came around a bend in the road, and saw a huge herd of bison coming at us, running right down the middle of the road.  I hit the brakes, and the herd parted like Moses parting the Red Sea, passing by on either side of our Jeep.  If only we had thought to get out the camera.  We just kind of looked at each other and laughed.  It was so incredible.

We took the Cherokee on many more trips, including our first visit to Great Smoky National Park, a tour of New England (and Canada!  We went to Campobello Island, FDR's family summer home), and a trip to Florida.  All told, we put well over 100,000 miles on the Jeep.

After Teresa passed away in 2004, I sold it.  I replaced it with a brand new Jeep Liberty, which I never loved like I loved the Cherokee.  I kept the Liberty for 10 years, but it only had 60,000 miles on it in that time.  The Cherokee gave me a love and appreciation for Jeeps, and I was thrilled to get a Wrangler four years ago.  It's our new road trip vehicle.

That picture was a blast from the past, though, and it provided some really nice memories.  It will always remind me of our incredible road trips, and, most of all, it will always remind me of my wonderful wife.  That was her Jeep.  And she loved it.

Have a great evening, everyone.



Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Excuses, Excuses...

Please excuse Eric from writing a blog post tonight.  He is so tired, he can't focus his thoughts into coherent words.  Also....

The dog ate his homework. 
His car ran out of gas. 
He had jury duty. 
He had to get groceries. 
He had to do laundry. 
He had to wash his hair. 
He had to shovel the snow off the sidewalk. 
He had to write a letter to his congressman. 
He was doing his taxes. 
He had to make dinner. 
He had to take down his Christmas decorations. 
He had to wash the car. 
The grass needed to be mowed. 
He hit his head on the glass ceiling. 
His boss made him work late. 
He had to shave. 
The dog needed a bath. 
The Terps were on TV. 
He was late for his nap.
He tried to save on his car insurance.
He had a hangnail. 
He has no clean underwear.
He lost his keys.
His hard drive was full after a big dinner.
There was no milk in the refrigerator.
The batteries needed replacing.
He fell asleep.
He ran out of excuses.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Christmas Expiration Date?

I received the following letter today, which had me wondering if Christmas has an expiration date:

Dear Homeowner,
As an owner of a home in our community, we know you appreciate the need for all residents to comply with the association's rules and regulations.  Maintaining homes helps to maintain property values and excellent curb appeal of the community.  During a community visit on February 1, it was noted that you still have holiday lights/decor up on your home and/or yard.  The holiday season is well over and we would appreciate your help and cooperation in seeing that the lights/decor are removed by February 16.  Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.
The Board of Directors

Sigh.  I get it.  I do.  I had a single strand of Christmas lights looped around the archway over my front door, and extended into the bushes on either side.  I turned on the lights each day at dusk until New Years Day, then I stopped turning them on, but I didn't take them down.  They are barely noticeable, really.  And, sure, I got a little lazy about not taking them down.  It requires a step ladder, and my step ladder is in the back room of my basement and I just didn't feel like getting it out.  So I'm totally guilty.

That said, never in my wildest thoughts did I ever expect to receive a letter like that.  I've had my share of run-ins with our neighborhood's association for various little violations, like needing to clean our siding under our next door neighbor's gutters, or painting the rake board at the peak of our roof, or trimming my bushes.  But leaving our Christmas lights out one month and one day after New Years seems a little extreme.  But I also know that I'm just making excuses.  I'm guilty.

So the letter made their point, and I immediately took down the lights.  And using a broom to reach the peak of the arch, I was able to remove the lights easily in about 3 minutes, without the step ladder.  However, the Association's lack of Christmas Spirit, and the feeling that I live in a police state rather than a neighborhood, leaves the taste of expired eggnog in my mouth.

It makes one wonder why you can't get eggnog year round....

Merry Christmas, everyone....and have a great evening.

Monday, February 5, 2018

This Is Really Us

There is a TV show on NBC called THIS IS US.  Perhaps you've seen it.  It's a very well-written, well-acted drama about the Pearson family, featuring Milo Ventimiglia (Jack), Mandy Moore (Rebecca), Justin Hartley (Kevin), Chrissy Metz (Kate), and Sterling K. Brown (Randall).  The show is unique in that it plays with the timeline, showing the parents, Jack and Rebecca, early on in their role as parents of infants Kevin, Kate, and adopted Randall, then fast-forwards to when the kids are teens, and then as adults themselves.

The show's storylines tend to illicit joy and sadness, as the family experiences life in all its myriad forms, from happy times to tragedies.  The show lets on fairly early that the father, Jack, dies when the kids are in their teens, but it has been a mystery as to how he passes on.  Until now.  Last night's episode following the Super Bowl showed what happened to Jack, and it was absolutely tragic.

I won't spoil the show for anyone who hasn't seen it, but it was a major topic of conversation at my office today.  Apparently, many people either watch the show, or happened to catch last night's episode, and there was a lot of shock and sadness over the fate of poor Jack.  And it bothered me that so many people were upset over the death of a fictional character.

I realize the show is an escape from the realities of life, but for too many people, events such as the ones depicted on the show ARE life.  You likely know someone who is hurting, and they are likely going through experiences much worse than the characters on that show.  Maybe they lost a spouse, or a sibling, or a child, parent, or friend.  Maybe you are the one who experienced it.  And maybe it happened last week, or last year, or maybe a dozen years ago.  But it still hurts, and the grief is as strong now as when it happened.  Maybe you suffer from depression as a result of what happened.

It is my belief that those loved ones who had a relationship with our Lord and Savior will spend eternity with Him, and that knowledge is enough to provide comfort.  But the loss is still severe, and may continue to significantly impact them in many ways.  They may seem fine, and show no signs of suffering, but sometimes all it takes is a specific memory or trigger to set them off, and the grief may be as strong now as when they experienced their loss.

Please remember those who are suffering.  A kind word can go a long way.  If you know of someone who suffered a significant loss, please pray for them, or reach out and let them know you're thinking about them.  They may not respond at first, or perhaps they never will, but they will know you care.  And that may be just what they need.

Death does not discriminate.  It can come at any time.  It may be sudden, or it may come after a long illness.  But all of us will be touched by it.  Don't hesitate to hug and tell your loved ones how much you love them.  You can't say it enough.

Have a great evening, everyone.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Planning the Next Road Trip

It seems that I'm never happier than when I'm planning a trip, particularly a road trip.  I have a wealth of resources that allow me to explore where to go, and what to see and do, from the Roadtrippers website, to Google Maps.  I can plug in the name of a city and begin exploring the sites.  And the wanderlust takes over.  It sure doesn't take much to get my blood pumping with the excitement of a trip.

I found myself doing this very thing yesterday morning.  I began looking at places my daughter and I might go for our annual summer vacation.  And while many of the places we've already seen and want to visit again pop up, there are always new things to do.  There are National Parks to see, and roller coasters to ride, and those always seem to be the first things that I focus on.

I always have about ten to twelve trips in the works.  They're just basic outlines of trips, with destinations that have something in common, usually because of their locations.  That's what's fun about the planning aspect.  The sky's the limit, really.

I started doing this type of planning almost twenty-five years ago.  I took my first big road trip in 1995, a trip that took me to Atlantic Canada.  It was, for me, an eye-opening experience, and I learned so much in that solo adventure, not just about how to travel, but how I travel.  There were specific sites that I had planned to see, but having a sense of "looseness" with that planning allows for more chances to make changes as you go, to check out things that maybe you didn't expect to see or find.

An example of this was during my first cross-country trip, in 1995.  I had received a guidebook for Route 66, and I planned to follow the route across the southwest, all the way to the west coast.  I made a detour to Las Vegas, and that opened up the possibly of altering my plans.  Instead of continuing west, I instead began heading back east, through Colorado, which was my original plan, but instead of continuing due west through Kansas, I veered north into Wyoming, then to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  This change in my route caused an almost life-changing experience, as my eyes were opened to the beauty and excitement to be found in that region of the country.  From Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore to the Badlands and Wall Drug, these sites and more became a magnet to me, and I have returned several times because of this sense of adventure and belonging that I felt from that first trip.  I loved it, and I'm so thankful that I decided to alter my trip.

When my wife and I began taking these kinds of trips, she let me determine the general route for our destinations, but she was in charge of finding things to see and do at these destinations, and this worked brilliantly.  We each used our strengths and interests to determine how we planned these trips.  And we created some wonderful memories.  My daughter and I have continued these types of trips, and because she gets to vote on the things we see and do, she is invested in the trip, which is absolutely important when traveling with a teenager.  Of course, if she didn't like to travel in the first place, this wouldn't work.  But I'm thankful that she does.

So I will continue with my planning, which satisfies to some degree that sense of wanderlust that hits me so often, and we can be excited about what's to come.

Have a Super Sunday, everyone.  Go Eagles!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Daedalus Books Warehouse Store Closing

I received some devastating news yesterday when a friend posted the above image on Facebook:  Daedalus Books Warehouse Outlet Store is going out of business.

It's still sinking in, and it's still hard to believe.  Businesses close all the time, and we constantly deal with the loss of a favorite restaurant, or corner market, or major chain that we shop at all the time.  It happens.

Daedalus Books is special, though.  I was aware of it when we moved to the area, back in 2001.  I passed it on Route 32 all the time, but I never stopped in to check it out.  However, it was in 2004, shortly after my wonderful wife, Teresa, a bibliophile herself, passed away that I finally stopped in.  I was in the depths of a stressful, depressed low, and I had left work early.  It was hard then to make it through a full day of work, and I was constantly looking for distractions.  So I drove over to Daedalus and was immediately swallowed up by the immense selection of books.

I browsed for almost 2 hours.  The History section had so many titles I had never heard of.  The Travel section had topics I had never considered.  The selection of DVDs, and CDs, and even kid's books (for my baby girl), were incredible, and I eagerly devoured everything I saw.  I had to get a basket to carry them all.  And the prices!  The books were all extremely discounted, and I easily found almost $100 worth of books, which would've cost more than twice that at any other retail book store.

I made almost weekly stops at Daedalus after that, and I told everyone who crossed my path to go and check them out.  My mother became a regular, too, and while we liked checking out their website, it was always so much more fun to browse the selections at the store.  My daughter and I made Daedalus a regular Saturday morning stop, and we never walked out without a book or ten.  I found so many Christmas presents for family and friends over the years, and I picked up more books this past December than any other.

The news that they are closing knocked me sideways.  I still can't believe it.  And while it appears that the warehouse and online presence will continue, the fact that I will no longer have the store to escape to just depresses me to no end.  When I shared the news with my family, my mother texted, "OH NO! OH NO! I am crying! A lot of the fun was strolling the store!"  My daughter said, "What?!? No!!! I'm so sad!"

We intend on visiting often over the next month, and perhaps we, everyone who considers themselves a fan, a regular, a book person, a neighbor, a friend, can persuade them to change their minds.  I just hate that this place, which has brought so much joy to me and my family, will no longer be a part of our lives.

Have a great weekend, everyone.  And go check out https://www.daedalusbooks.com/!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Riding Around on the Pike


We found ourselves over in Rockville last evening, a place I hadn't been to in several years.  I met my wife, Teresa, in Rockville, back in the late 90s.  The church we attended, Montrose Baptist, was located there, and we spent many a Sunday afternoon running around on Rockville Pike.  We eventually settled in Howard County and very rarely ever returned to that part of Montgomery County.

My daughter, who is a voracious reader, wanted to visit the Barnes & Noble on the Pike, and that is a really nice one, containing two stories of books.  After shopping for over an hour, we decided to get dinner, and we made our way over to the Mellow Mushroom, a favorite pizza joint.  I'm just amazed at how built up it is in Rockville.  It was always congested, and it seems even worse than it ever was.

The whole evening was a classic weeknight adventure for my daughter and me.  We love doing these types of things on the spur of the moment, and we had a lot of fun this time.  We didn't find any books, but we had some pretty good pizza, and we created a memory.

Have a great evening, everyone.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Intelligent People Make Better Partners

I read a blog post this morning entitled "Why Smart Men Make Better Partners" (http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/why-smart-men-make-better-partners).  If you're interested to find out what it's all about, I'll wait while you read it.  Go ahead.

So, the bottom line is that, according to this Finnish study, intelligent people make better partners.  My experience tells me that there may be some truth to this, but I also think there are many factors that contribute to it, not just intelligence.  Besides, there are other ways to interpret intelligence, as well, including wisdom, common sense, and specialized knowledge.

My wife and are/were intelligent people.  We both took an IQ test a number of years ago, the widely accepted way of measuring intelligence, and both of us came out well above average.  Whether that was a, or the, contributing factor for wooing my wife is only something she could tell me, and she's no longer with us so I can't ask her.  But I imagine physical looks were a factor, as was personality, common interests, and the fact we both are Christ-followers.  I'm sure my car wasn't a factor, and neither was my income, both of which were entirely ordinary at the time we met, and were not things that would have interested her.  I think we were both just thankful we had found and rescued each other away from the dating world.

I believe that every relationship is unique.  There are any number of factors involved in creating attraction between two people, including chemistry, so intelligence all by itself is hardly a convincing attribute.  But if it helps, and it's something that can be gleaned through meeting someone on a date, then more power to it.  But my hope is that someone will see something even deeper, perhaps down into my heart and soul, that will allow them to see the real me, and they can make their decision on whether they like me based on the complete me, rather than relying on my four-door sedan to tell them I'm a Gemini and I like long walks on the beach.

Have a great evening, everyone.