Thursday, May 30, 2013

My Top 5 Roller Coasters

My daughter and I are getting ready for our Summer of Roller Coasters.  We have plans to visit not one, not two, but six amusement parks this summer, including Kings Dominion, Cedar Point, Kennywood, Idlewild, Hershey Park, and Busch Gardens, and one more possibility that remains a secret for now.  Thinking about all of these parks, all of which I've visited, made me think about some of my favorite roller coasters.  There are so many great ones at so many parks, but I do have a few that are awesome rides.  Honorable Mention goes to Cheetah Chase, Busch Gardens, Tampa, FL, The Incredible Hulk, Universal, Orlando, FL, and the long-lost Drachen Fire, Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA.  Here are my top 5...

#5 - The Cyclone, Coney Island, NY.  This roller coaster is the only wooden one in my top 5.  My daughter and I visited Coney Island over Spring Break last month and it overwhelmed me.  It was much more fun than I had anticipated, and much longer.  It was typically rickety, but that's what makes the wooden roller coasters as scary as they are.  Other great wooden roller coasters I've been on include the Thunderbolt at Kennywood in Pittsburgh, the Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion near Richmond, VA, and the Hurler, also at Kings Dominion.  But the Cyclone was pretty special.

#4 - Manta, SeaWorld, Orlando, FL.  Manta is very unique, in that you actually ride this roller coaster on your stomach.  I had never been on anything like it.  It was just wild enough that the unique position made it really enjoyable, with a nice mix of hills and turns.  We only rode it once, unfortunately, but it was certainly memorable enough to make my top 5.  I hope to return to SeaWorld to try it again.

#3 - Apollo's Chariot, Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA.  Apollo's Chariot was the first of the so-called hyper coasters that I had ever been on.  These coasters seem designed more for speed than the fast turns and loops associated with too many steel coasters nowadays.  I prefer the speed coasters, with many high hills and plenty of Gs.  This one is one of the best.  I may be a bit biased since I believe Busch Gardens is the best amusement park in the USA.

#2 - The Loch Ness Monster, Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA.  Nessie has long been my favorite roller coaster.  It was the first steel coaster I ever rode, and the first that took me upside down, as well.  I know I've ridden this coaster more than any other, and I still get a thrill from that first drop.  It is a classic roller coaster, with interlocking loops and a gorgeous design, using the topography of the park to good use.  This would be my #1 coaster if I hadn't been to Cedar Point a few years ago...

#1 - Millennium Force, Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH.  I have already established that I love the hyper coasters, ones that reach incredible speeds.  Apollo's Chariot was the first I had ever ridden.  About ten years ago, my brother and I decided to make a trip to Cedar Point to check out the dozen or so roller coasters there, and we had a blast.  But Millennium Force blew everything else away.  It was easily the best ride at the park, and after riding it a few times, it was unlike anything I had ever been on.  It was similar to Apollo, but so much higher and so much faster!  It was just an incredible ride.  I'm looking forward to returning to Cedar Point later this summer so my daughter can experience it, too.

Have a great evening, everybody!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Bunch Of Stuff

I woke up this morning at around 3 a.m. sick as a dog.  My apologies to all of the dogs out there, since I don't know where that saying comes from, but I was sick even if Faithful Pup Scout, the family dog, was not.  As a result, I ended up staying home from work. I didn't get out of bed until almost noon.  I was pretty miserable up until then.  I really don't know what caused it, except that our meal out at Houlihan's may have been a little too rich for my apparently delicate constitution.  Being a diabetic has its downside.

Once I was up and around, I watched TV.  I hated wasting the day away, but that's essentially what I did.


Our air conditioning is not working.  With a string of 90 degree days hitting us this week, this is a major problem.  We have plenty of fans, and they do make a difference, but it is hardly comfortable.  The repair company who I have an extended warranty with will be here sometime on Friday, which is anytime between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.  It's good they can narrow it down a little.  I have a great father, though, who is willing to come over on Friday, suffer through the heat, and wait around until they show up so I don't have to miss another day of work this week.  It's going to be a rough couple of nights, though.


The NHL Stanley Cup playoffs finally move to the next round with my Pittsburgh Penguins taking on the Boston Bruins beginning Saturday night at 8, followed by games next Monday, 6/3, then 6/5, 6/7, 6/9, 6/11, and 6/12.  It has been a long time since the Pens last played, and I have to laugh at the schedulers for stretching the break between rounds, then rushing through the last two scheduled games on back-to-back days.

One thing about the Pens that I can't figure out is why they changed their color scheme a few years back.  They had matching colors with the Steelers and Pirates, with black and gold (more of a yellow) primary colors.  The Pens had those colors, too, but then changed to a bronze gold, more like the New Orleans Saints.  I only bring it up since the Bruins have the same black and yellow colors.

Anyway, the Pens should be well-rested for the series verses the Bruins, so I'm hopeful they'll be able to quickly get take the series and move to the finals.


If the weather stays tolerable, we may make our first trip to a roller coaster park of the season!  I haven't been to Kings Dominion in over a decade, and this would be Melody's first.  They have about a dozen coasters, several of them being wooden roller coasters, so, should the weather cooperate, we'll head down to Virginia in the next week.


For anyone wondering, the Grace Adventures Day Camp Flapjack Fundraiser pulled in almost $1500 for their scholarship program, so it was a huge success.  Many thanks to those that attended, and particularly to those campers and counselors who pulled it off.  Personally, I enjoyed the pancakes and sausage, and I even completely forgot to ask for sugar-free syrup, so despite a blood-sugar level far higher than what should be normal, I never once fell into a diabetic coma.  And my wonderful daughter has now decided her career track will included being a waitress.  So there's that.

Have a great night, everyone!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Teresa's Birthday

I had a wonderful evening with my daughter tonight.  On the spur of the moment, during a trip to the local Wegman's, I decided we needed to go out to dinner to celebrate.  Today would have been my wife's, Teresa's, 41st birthday.  So we ended up at Houlihan's, one of our favorite restaurants, to celebrate her life.  It was a delicious meal.  We had the Disco Fries as an appetizer, Melody had Mac & Cheese with carrots and apple sauce, and I had the fish tacos.  Then Melody had the s'mores for dessert.  The strawberries were ripe.

I'm glad we ended the day on a high note, since I was feeling a bit melancholy for most of the day.  Yeah, it has been nine years, and today was just another day, but the significance of the date still hits me.  It took on greater significance after a good friend of mine lost his wife on this date several years ago.  It just makes me sad.

I was thinking about things earlier this morning... My in-laws and my parents both are coming up on their 50-year anniversaries, and, even if I were to meet someone tomorrow, the odds of me getting to celebrate a 50-year anniversary are not very high, and really unlikely.  Yeah, it's just a number, but it is significant.  You only get one chance at this life.  I'm glad our next life is spent with our Savior.  I know that will be so much better.

Happy 41st birthday, Teresa, my wonderful wife.  Enjoy your birthday with our Savior.

Monday, May 27, 2013

First Cars

I was looking through some old pictures and I found a few of the cars that I owned shortly after I started driving.  The pics brought back a lot of great memories.

My first car was one my parents purchased just before I started driving, in 1985.  It was the first time our family had three vehicles at the same time (other than a motor home), and it was bought in anticipation of us needing a third car for me to drive, as well as saving some mileage on the family conversion van.  I remember when we found it on the used car lot.  It jumped out at us.  We were at Ritter Nissan in Waldorf, MD, and the car we found was an Oldsmobile.  We always bought Oldsmobiles.  This one was a 1981 Olds Omega.  It was painted 2-tone white on gray, with a pair of bright red & orange stripes down each side, along with "sportOmega" in big white letters on both doors.  In hindsight, the car really was kind of an eyesore, but it stood out that day and we bought it after a quick test drive.  It ended up being the car that I used to learn how to drive, and I drove it until the summer after I graduated from high school.  I loved it, not just because it stood out of the crowd, but it was fun to drive, too.  It had a V6 engine, a sunroof, and was loaded with power windows & locks and a cassette player.  The car had its issues, though, and was in the repair shop a lot.  It wasn't very reliable.  In fact, when I had a flat tire, I discovered that the wheel was rusted to the car.  My SportOmega began to be a liability, and it became clear, with college starting in the Fall and my needing reliable transportation to commute to the University of Maryland in College Park, it was time to find a new car.

My second car was not nearly as exciting, but it was more refined than what I was used to.  And a lot bigger!  It was a pretty 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.  It had beautiful burgundy paint, cloth velour seats, wire wheels, and screamed middle age.  The Cutlass was a nice car, don't get me wrong.  I have always loved the Cutlass's.  But with the set-up this car had, it was more like what an older family man would be driving, not what a college student should have.  Dad finally agreed that we could fix it up a little, which meant getting chrome mag wheels with lettered tires.  The engine was a V6, which was good for gas mileage, but it didn't have a lot of get-up-and-go.  But it looked great with the new wheels and tires.  I drove it all through college, and when I started my government career, we decided I needed to get something a little nicer.  And a nice car it was!

Dad and I saw an ad in the newspaper for a 1987 Olds 442.  The 442s were the same as the Cutlass, but with a much more powerful engine, a V8 307, fancy 2-tone paint job and chrome wheels, dual exhaust with an aggressive throaty roar, removable glass-panel T-tops, and definitely a step up from the Cutlass that I had.  We bought it on the spot, trading in the '85 Cutlass, and I excitedly drove home in my first muscle car.  It was a great car...for a few weeks.  Then I started having problems with it.  It was just one issue after another, including a bad electrical problem that took over a year to fix.  As much as I loved that car, and it was a nice looking car, I sold it just over 2 years later because it had so many problems.   A lady bought it from me for her teenage daughter, who promptly wrecked it several months later.

I don't think you ever forget your first car(s), and I sure loved mine.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Apparently we've been invaded.... by giant moths.  I found this behemoth next to the back door, and now I'm fairly certain we've been invaded.  Or maybe I've just been watching too many science fiction movies lately...

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Thing From Another World

When I was a kid, I loved staying up late on Saturday night to watch Creature Feature with Count Gore De Vol on Channel 20 here in DC.  I saw a lot of classic movies, but also some really bizarre movies, as well.  Between these late night viewings and the weekly Saturday afternoon sci-fi classics, I quickly became a big fan of these movies.  THEM! is a favorite, as well as WAR OF THE WORLDS (which led me to read the H.G. Wells, what a book!), THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, INVADERS FROM MARS, THIS ISLAND EARTH, FORBIDDEN PLANET, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS,  CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THE BLOB, and, of course, GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS, which started my love affair with Japanese giant monster movies.

My absolute favorite movie from the era, though, is THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, from 1951.  The movie, directed by Christian Nyby and produced by the great Howard Hawks, starred James Arness, who is best known for playing Marshal Matt Dillon on the TV show Gunsmoke, as the alien title creature.  The acting is very crisp with great, fast dialogue, a trademark of Hawks' films.  The movie is based on the book "Who Goes There?" by James W. Campbell, though it only loosely follows that story, and was remade twice, including another classic movie by John Carpenter, THE THING, in 1982, which actually followed the book much more closely, and is known for it's incredible special effects and make-up.

THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD is so atmospheric and eerie, set at a military outpost in the Arctic.  The remoteness of the facility and the cold, snowy weather make the actors appear to be secluded and even captive to their environment.  The base is used primarily for scientific research, so there is a mix of scientists and military types, along with one lone female who assists one of the scientists and provides a romantic interest for the military leader of the base.  The script provides a nice contrast of seriousness and concern with some comedic relief at the appropriate times, and this provides the movie with a good amount of charm.

Early on in the movie, an object is discovered stuck in the ice some distance from the base.  After measuring its size and shape, the scientists conclude it can only be a UFO.  While attempting to free the ship from the ice, it accidentally explodes, but then they discover a humanoid shape also trapped in the ice.  They cut out the block of ice containing the creature and take it with them back to the base.  You can probably guess what happens next.  The creature thaws out and goes on a rampage.  For the remainder of the movie, it becomes a game of cat and mouse, with the creature repeatedly attacking the base from outside, proving also that it is quite intelligent.  It is also discovered that the creature is part vegetable, though it feeds on blood, which is why it keeps attacking them.  A group of the scientists of course wants to protect and capture the alien creature for study, and they debate with the military types who want to protect everyone by destroying the creature, if necessary.  The alien seems to solve this dilemma by his continuous attacks, and the climax of the movie is epic.

The special effects for the time are very good, but it is the atmosphere of the setting, and the feeling of terror as the creature hides then attacks which makes for an intense thriller.  Watching the movie as a kid caused a few horrific nightmares, I'm sure, but it never diminished my love of this movie.  I can still watch it whenever it's on and not get bored with it.

The movie has been on my mind this week since I discovered it was playing at the AFI's Silver Theater in downtown Silver Spring last weekend.  I only found out after the fact, however, and I'm kicking myself for missing an opportunity to see it on the big screen.  My daughter recently discovered the movie during a recent trip after coming across it on my Kindle Fire.  I'm curious to see if she'll hold the movie in the same regard as her Daddy.

Anyway, if you're a fan of these types of movies, then check it out.  It's a classic!

Good night, everybody!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wanderlust - On the Road With God

One of my favorite moments in my roller coaster life was in November 2004.  It was just over six months after my wife passed away, and I had just received a promotion into my first management position at work.  Before I started that job, I had planned a get-away vacation to Southern California so that I could drive the last bit of Route 66 that I hadn't driven yet and basically clear my head of all of the grief that had flooded my life since Teresa's death.  I was by myself, and I had rented a convertible for the drive across the Mojave Desert.  Following that, I had planned to spend a night in Las Vegas, see a show, then head right back to Los Angeles the next day before flying home.

There is something to be said for getting away from it all, especially if you have the luxury to get away from not only "the things of man", but man (all people), himself, too.  I had taken similar trips before I ever got married, and found them to be some of the most profound times of my life, and, at least for me, it provided the opportunity to spend some time just with God.  I found that I could actually have conversations with Him while I was driving down the road, and that feeling of just the two of us, cruising down a ribbon of road in the middle of Nowhere, USA, had quite an effect on me.  Whenever I want to have that feeling, which comes over me at obnoxious, sometimes stressful, times in my life, I just want to be out there again, and I start planning a trip.  I call this feeling The Wanderlust.  It's a longing to be out on the road, heading to somewhere possibly unfamiliar, and enjoying the stress-free moments of getting away.

Though the sun was beating down on me that day, there was still a slight chill in the air.  I had the top down, anyway.  I had paid a little more for renting the convertible, so I was going to use it, as long as it wasn't raining.  I had just left the town of Barstow, which is kind of a crossroads at the western end of the Mojave, and I headed east on old Route 66.  The first chunk of the old road paralleled the interstate, so the sounds of the 18-wheelers were fairly prominent.  Also, the road itself had a bit of a patchwork surface to it, and the car, a beat up Chrysler, didn't seem to like the bumps very much.  The shocks were very springy, and it felt like I was actually bouncing down the road.

Things eventually smoothed out as the road began to drift southeasterly away from I-40, just outside of the village of Ludlow.  I was really out in the desert at this point, and there were no other cars on the road.  There were train tracks that roughly paralleled the old road, and I saw the occasional train pass by, horn roaring its approach.  But as I drove further down the road, the familiar feeling of God's presence came over me, and while I was all by myself out there in the middle of the desert, and at times I knew I must be the only living person for miles around, I never felt like I was truly alone.  God brought such a peace to me, and I actually felt a tear or two as I looked around at the beauty of the desert, mountains way off in the distance, the blare of a train echoing across the valley in front of me....  It was truly one of those God-moments.  I stopped the car right in the middle of the road, got out and stood on the useless double yellow line separating the opposing lanes, since there were no other cars in either direction.  I could see for several miles in every direction.  I turned in a circle to take in the moment, experiencing the beauty of the American West, God's creation, inhaling the fresh air and embracing my aloneness (not loneliness).  I took several pictures, hoping to somehow capture this profound moment, knowing a picture could never capture what I was feeling just then.  I sat back down in the car and thanked God for that moment, for my family, for my friends, for my career, for my health, for my wonderful little daughter who was about to turn 1 year old just a week later....for my life.

I headed back down the road again, continuing to my turn off, just past the little town of Goffs, CA.  I had completed all of Route 66 at this intersection.  The same intersection I had reached from the opposite direction with my wife only 4 years prior.  Then I headed north on US 95 towards my next destination, Las Vegas, a thing of man.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Exploring Stress-Free Home Remedies

I haven't decided whether it was a good or bad idea to have told my boss about the anxiety attacks I had been experiencing over the past few months.  The bad thing is I'm afraid it might appear that I can't handle the job I was promoted into last month.  The good thing is the exchange I had with her during a staff meeting this morning, when she proclaimed that I should not be shouldering all of the responsibility for the work associated with a chart we publish, and that she would take on some of it herself.  That's great, and it does keep me somewhat less stressed about it than I could be, but this is pretty minor stress compared to some of the other things I've been dealing with.

It hasn't all been dread, though.  The weekend, as full as it is, should be a lot of fun, especially our first trip to the drive-in this season (an all-night show with ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH, STAR TREK, and 42 being notable).  It's also my mother-in-laws birthday on Saturday, and we'll get a chance to celebrate with her and about 40 of her friends on Sunday.  There's the exciting Grace Adventures Camp Flapjack Fundraiser at Applebee's in Columbia on Saturday morning.  The weather looks to be pretty good, too.

I was talking to Kay, my wonderful Office Administrator, and who seems to be able to sense when I get a bit stressed out, and she suggested I needed to go to a spa for a manicure, pedicure, and massage.  Now, I've never experienced any of these, and I don't know that I'm really comfortable discussing these things for myself.  I occasionally treated my wife to a day at the spa, but never myself.  Kay said they're great!  It's relaxing, feels great, and it's good for your fingernails and toenails.  Plus, the massages are incredible.  I just can't talk myself into doing it.

So I'm trying to think of some other things that could help me relax.  Maybe I can get one of those wooden beads seat cushions like what taxi drivers always use.  Faithful Pup Scout loves to lick things, so maybe she'll lick my toes for me.  If I can keep from being ticklish, that might relax my feet.  Cruising around in my 2-seater with the top down is a good way to relax, as well.  And reading a good book just before going to bed is enough to put me to sleep in about 5 minutes, so that's restful, as well.

I think I've convinced myself that there are any number of ways that I can find to relax myself.  I don't need a spa, or someone else picking at my toenails, or even some stranger rubbing alcohol all over my back.  Home remedies are the way to go!  Right?

Have a great evening, everyone!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


What happened in Oklahoma over the past few days is a tragedy.  It's a natural disaster of incredible proportions.  The deaths of so many, especially the kids, is hard to comprehend.  My daughter took it hard, the news of children dying.  This one is harder to explain compared to the tragedy in Connecticut, which was caused by an individual; an evil bad man.  This time it was Mother Nature.  Some may even say that, since God created the world, and He made the tornadoes, then He killed all those people.  As a Christ-follower, I know better, but kids find it hard to understand.  It's more black and white.

I passed through Moore, OK, several times over the past 6 years or so.  I remember it just as a bunch of exits off the interstate between Oklahoma City and Norman, the location of many car dealerships, restaurants, and a really cool movie theater.  I never stopped there, though.  My business was in OK City and in Norman.  Then I would fly home.  But I have colleagues and employees who live in Moore.  Some have had their lives altered forever.  One died, a contractor in our organization.  Another broke both legs.  Four others lost their homes and everything they owned.  Those are just the ones I have a connection to.  So many others, especially those poor parents who lost their children in the school, also experienced loss.

I used to date a young lady who lived in Oklahoma City.  Our relationship was quite serious.  Romantic.  Passionate.  We were truly in love.  Both of us had a personal relationship with Christ, and we felt He was directing us towards marriage.  Except.... I told her early on that I could not live in Oklahoma.  There are a myriad of reasons why, most importantly because I didn't want to take my daughter away from all or our family, but also because it was so far from everything I knew.  I grew up on the East Coast.  I had no desire to live in the middle of the whole country.  Besides all that, it was in the middle of Tornado Alley.  I had always been fascinated by tornadoes as a force of nature, and that fascination led to a bit of fear, as well.  Tornadoes are dangerous.  I just couldn't move there.  The only way our relationship would work is if she moved to Maryland.  She agreed.  She was originally from Nebraska and though Oklahoma felt like home to her, she told me she would move.  I wish she had been honest with me.  Seven months later, we had a nasty breakup due in part because she lied to me about moving here to Maryland.  Oklahoma was her home, she said, and she just couldn't understand why I didn't want to live there.

I've been trying to stay positive today in the face of this tragedy.  It's a lot easier to say, "Look at all of the lives that were saved."  Yeah, it could've been a lot worse.  But that doesn't make anyone who experienced loss on any level feel any better. It was a tragedy, plain and simple.  I will be praying for all of the families and colleagues in Oklahoma impacted by this disaster.  May God's blessings be on them all.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Grace Camp Flapjack Fundraiser

If you live in Central Maryland, come on out to the Grace Adventures Day Camp fundraiser this Saturday, May 25!  Here's all the info:

Each year Grace Adventures Day Camp is able to bless several families in our community with scholarships to attend camp. This year, over 30 campers have requested scholarship assistance. We would love to have your assistance in bringing them to GADC for an amazing summer camp experience!
On May 25th from 8am-10am GADC will be hosting our annual Flapjack Fundraiser at Applebee’s in Columbia. In previous years, camp was able to raise over $1,000 to go towards the scholarship fund. Join our directors, counselors and Impact Team members as we serve an all you can eat pancake and sausage breakfast. See your previous counselors, meet new counselors and have a whole lot of fun with us while supporting a great cause.
Please reserve your tickets in advance by emailing A limited amount will be sold at the door. Adults $7.00, Children 12 & under $4.50
Location: Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar – 8335 Benson Drive, Columbia, MD
When: Saturday, May 25th 8 am – 10 am
If you are unable to make it to the Flapjack Fundraiser and would still like to donate to the GADC Scholarship Fund, please visit and select the Camp Scholarship Fund option.
We can’t wait to see you there!

Come on out and support a wonderful cause!

Have a great evening everybody!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

In Search of Great Pizza

I consider myself a bit of a pizza connoisseur, and I'm always looking to find good pizza.  I tend to prefer the New York style, with thin crust, slightly sweet sauce, and good mozzarella cheese, with ample toppings (veggies preferred over meats).  That said, I have yet to meet a pizza I didn't like, and will eat all types, and all toppings.

My favorite pizza is something I made for myself and my family when I was a kid:  Chef Boyardee's homemade pizza kits.  I learned early on how to make the crust (something that I don't have the patience for anymore), and the sauce was almost perfect.  I then added lots of cheese (usually a combination of mozzarella and provolone), and mushrooms were the favorite topping.  I think that the pizza one has as a kid is what becomes one's standard pizza as they get older, and all pizzas are judged to that standard.

My favorite pizza that I didn't make was from the Dino Restaurant in Suitland, MD.  It was a square pizza, thin flaky crust, sweet sauce, and ample cheese.  Sooooo good!  Unfortunately, the Dino was in a very bad neighborhood, and disappeared by the time I reached my teens.  By that time, I had also discovered the Ledo Restaurant (thanks to my mom), over near the University of Maryland in Langley Park/Adelphi.  This pizza became famous on a national level, and was eventually franchised.  Now there are Ledo's restaurants all over the area, but they are not quite as good as the original (or its twin, T.J. Elliott's in Bowie).  The original Ledo recently moved to a busier and much safer College Park location.  Ledo's pizza is much like the Dino's, square with a thin flaky crust, sweet sauce, and lots of provolone cheese.  It truly is unique.

But I really want to find a great pizza in Howard County.  I've tried quite a few, but I'm still searching.  All are good, but not great.  I try to stay away from the chains (Ledo's notwithstanding), since I've learned that the holes-in-the-wall tend to be the best.  I've tried Coal Fire in Ellicott City, and it was okay.  I've tried Facci in Fulton, which didn't impress me.  Three Brothers, a local DC area chain, is pretty good, a nice thin-crust, NY style pizza.  But I still can't find a great pizza.

Tonight, my daughter and I tried out Pub Dog in Columbia after reading a recommendation for it.  Pub Dog is basically a bar, which takes away a few points since it doesn't have a family-feel at all.  Service was good, though I couldn't help noticing that the three servers were all cute young ladies with blond hair who looked barely legal age, which bothers me only because it tells me that the folks doing the hiring are looking for a particular look.  I may be wrong, but I think that's wrong.  The pizzas are all 10-inch personal pizzas, and we were told we could customize them, if desired.  My daughter had a basic cheese pizza (called the Cheese Dog).  I had a Veggie Dog, which had mushrooms, spinach, red onions, and green peppers.  Ample toppings and the pizzas were good (though I didn't get to taste the Cheese Dog), but the size didn't appear to be enough to fill up either one of us.  I finished mine fairly quickly, and my daughter, who almost always saves a slice of hers for me, finished off hers in record time.  That was disappointing.  Overall, it was good pizza.  But not great.

So I'm looking for recommendations, though I'm guessing the size of my audience isn't going to help me much.  If you care to comment, though, please do.  Thanks!

Have a great evening, everyone!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Gosh Darn It, #%@&!!!

I just read about a study on profanity and found out that Maryland ranks 2nd in the nation in cursing, behind only Ohio.  Personally, I don't like cursing, and I have never cursed on purpose in my life, believe it or not.  My parents never cursed around us kids as we were growing up, and most of the adults we were around didn't, either, and in the days before cable TV and VCRs, there really wasn't anywhere else where you might hear curse words.  So, as I grew up, I just didn't pick it up, though many of my friends did.

I don't have a problem with cursing, necessarily, and am actually around it quite a bit in my daily office setting.  There are a few colleagues who seem to recognize that I do not curse, and they purposely keep it clean around me.  Most, if not all, of my colleagues and employees know that I'm a Christ-Follower (which I guess means to them that I don't like profanity), and respect my preference not to curse.  But there are others, even some who know me well, who can make a sailor blush and really could care less what I think.  And I have never even discussed it with anyone at work (or anywhere else, actually, except with my daughter), so their actions really have to do with their perception of me, which I find interesting.

I don't think cursing is a big deal, if used in moderation and at suitable times or situations, but certainly not around children of any age.  My daughter has heard pretty much all of the "standard" curse words, and understands that she should never say them, and always points out situations when she hears them.  She is mature enough to handle seeing some (not all!) PG-13 movies, which seem to always contain some profanity.

What does the Bible say about cursing? There are a few verses, and two in particular, that I think are relevant:

  • James 3:10 - "From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My Brothers, these things ought not to be so." (ESV)
  • Ephesians 4:29 - "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." (ESV)
I do not believe Christ ever cursed.  I believe he heard profanity fairly often, and he didn't judge others for doing so, but I also think that he probably didn't care for it.  That's enough for me to not use it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Home, Sweet.... Somewhere Else

I've lived in my current home for over ten years, which is the second longest of any place I've ever lived.  And it feels like home.  I've had the itch to move, though, for a couple of years now, but it's hard to imagine living somewhere else.  It's a nice community, kind of a United Nations, as there are many people who speak languages other than English.  My daughter has close friends who are Indian, Pakistani, Hispanic, Korean, African, Hungarian, and Filipino, and that's just on our street.  And we're all Americans, and love our country and our freedoms.

My home is starting to not feel like much of a home, though, as there are things going on around the community that have not been seen much before.  Like murder.  Armed robbery.  Theft.  Violence.  Vandalism.  Howard County is a great place to live, overall, but we live near the extreme southern part of the county, very close to Prince George's County (which, ironically, is where I grew up), and these types of crimes are actually more prevalent there than here.  But these things are happening more and more in our area, and I'm not very happy about it.

Three years ago, my sister's car was parked in front of our house.  Shortly after she arrived at our house to watch my daughter, between 5:45 a.m. and when I left for work, at about 6:15 a.m., someone had shattered the driver's side window of her car and stole three CDs off of the front seat.  About a year later, my own car had the passenger side window shattered and my GPS was stolen.  To me, these are such stupid inconveniences, and it makes me angry that people feel the need to do these things.  You begin to feel violated, especially because you feel like you're safe, then, in a moment, you're not.

Just the other day, a liquor store about 3/4's of a mile from our home was robbed by armed and masked gunmen.  Fortunately no one was killed.  But over the past month, there have been other crimes committed that have me thinking twice about wanting to raise my daughter in this environment.

I know that where I live is probably one of the best places to live on the entire planet.  The Lord has blessed us so much.  But my faith in humanity is diminished every day as crime and violence hits closer and closer to home.  Where do you go to escape it?

I've decided my next move, which will be soon, probably within the next 2 years, will be my last move until I retire.  There are a few neighborhoods that I will explore, probably not too far from where we are now, but certainly much safer, I hope.  I know only too well that there are no guarantees in life, but I'm hopeful that God will protect us no matter where we live.  It's about quality of life, and I want so much for my daughter to have a quality life, and be happy.

And, when it's time for me to retire, which will be right around the time my daughter finishes college, I'm moving out of the area completely.

Have a great evening, everybody!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happy Days

My all-time favorite TV show is HAPPY DAYS.  It aired at just the right time to become a major influence on my life.  In fact, the setting of the show, which was during the mid-50s, convinced me that perhaps I grew up in the wrong generation, though I know now that the show had a very simplified and innocent version of the era.  However, it was the cast that really made an impact on me.  Ron Howard's lead character, Richie Cunningham, became quite an influence on my life.  He was a good kid who honored and respected his parents, was always the voice of reason and always did the right thing, and was looked at by his friends as a leader and role model, except when Arthur Fonzarelli - The Fonz (Henry Winkler) - was around.  The Fonz was the cool guy who had it all together, was respected for his toughness, and got all the girls who would do anything for him for a date, or even a kiss.  And all the guys, including Richie, would go to Fonzie for his advice.  The truth, though, is Richie was really the one who Fonzie respected, and their mutual respect led to a deep unlikely friendship between the two characters.  This dynamic made for a great show.

The supporting cast is what made the show awesome, though.  As much as Richie and Fonzie garnered all of the attention, it was their gang of friends and the Cunningham family that rounded out the show.  Potsie Webber (Anson Williams) and Ralph Malph (Donny Most) were Richie's friends.  I wish I had friends like them.  Richie's parents, played by Marion Ross and Tom Bosley, were the parents everyone wanted as their own, and were as involved in their kid's lives as they could be.  Erin Moran, as Richie's sister, Joannie, was the typically bratty kid sister who tried to live up to the example of her brother but never could, and looked up to him anyway.  HAPPY DAYS also had several adult characters who the kids respected overall, but enjoyed making fun of when they could, like Arnold (the hilarious Pat Morita) and Al (Al Molinaro), the proprietors of the main hangout, Arnold's Drive-in.

HAPPY DAYS also introduced a boatload of other characters who became stars in their own right, like Chachi Arcola (Scott Baio), Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeny (Cindy Williams), who went on to star in their own highly rated show, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY, and one of the funniest comedians of this era, Robin Williams, who played the alien from another planet, Mork from Ork, and who would star in another spin-off, MORK & MINDY.

HAPPY DAYS remained a highly rated show for most of its run, despite losing it's main character, Richie, about two-thirds of the way through it's 10 year run.  Ron Howard wanted to pursue film-making, and, in my opinion, HAPPY DAYS lost its main dynamic.  Fonzie had surpassed Richie in stardom and fan appeal sometime before this happened, but after Richie left, the show changed, and not for the better.  Fonzie had lost his best friend, the character he could bounce off of.  The show was fortunate that it had such a large following and such rich supporting characters, because it remained a hit until it ended.  But the episodes after Ron Howard (and Donny Most, who left at the same time as Howard) were not as good.

The show continues in syndication on a daily basis, so I get my HAPPY DAYS fix, and I love that my daughter, who I exposed to the show when she was two years old, will watch it with me.  We had the great honor of meeting Donny Most and Anson Williams in 2005 at a promotional appearance, and enjoyed the opportunity to talk to them about the show.  HAPPY DAYS remains such a sweet-hearted show.  There's nothing on TV nowadays like it.  And, as popular as Fonzie was with viewers, I didn't want to be like him.  I wanted to be like Richie.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Writing Is Contagious

I love it when the first game of an NHL playoff series ends in a win for my Pittsburgh Penguins, and that is just what has happened.  The Penguins have beaten the Ottawa Senators 4-1 in their first game, and it appears that the Sens will be a much easier opponent for the Pens than the New York Islanders were in the first round.  The Islanders were just so fast, and aside from game one of that series, I never really felt like the Pens had control of it until about halfway through game six, the clincher.  The Sens are nowhere near as fast, and once again the Pens power-play has been incredible and really the difference maker.  I am so much more calm than the first round.  That's a good thing for my heart and my stress-level.

In fact, today was stress-free in a lot of ways.  I had a close-out meeting with my former boss (our acting director for the past six months), and she was very complimentary.  I don't take compliments well, because I really feel like they are undeserved, but something she said really caught my attention.  She said that I was a good writer, something that she felt was missing with so many people in management.  I thanked her, but it was a take-away that stayed with me all afternoon.  I've never really thought about it much, but it's true.  There are so many people who just can't write very well, and in our increasingly mobile and short-hand culture, there is less and less incentive for people to know how to type and spell, let alone write.  And that's kind of sad.  But it also explains why a former girlfriend made fun of me for my long texts, finally telling me that they're "texts, not emails!"  I still can't intentionally misspell words, even in a text.

While I don't consider myself a great writer by any means, I do feel like I can put my thoughts into my writing and get ideas across to my audience, if that's what being a good writer is all about.  And I've tried to do that with this blog.  It has provided an outlet for me to write, much more and better than anything that I have to write in my job, and I believe it's a great way to exercise those creative muscles.  In fact, I made a conscious effort to update the blog on a(n) (almost) daily basis.  If anyone is actually reading these words, and there must be a few of you out there, thank you for your support.  I'd love to receive any feedback, if you'd care to comment.

Apparently this writing stuff is contagious, because my daughter has picked it up and is writing daily.  She is writing a couple of different fictional stories that are downright adorable, and I'm really impressed with her creativity.  I hope to foster this budding talent, because she definitely has that gift.  I think she gets it from her mother, who was a high school English teacher.  Maybe she'll be a teacher someday, too.

Have a great day, everybody!

Monday, May 13, 2013

GO ON is Cancelled, Mom's Day, Crimes, and Fifth Grade

Received some bad news this morning.... One of my favorite television shows from this past season was cancelled.  GO ON, a show I have hyped on in this blog, about a sports radio jockey who recently lost his wife in a car accident, and who is forced by his boss to seek counseling before he returns to the air.  Ryan, played by Matthew Perry, is a fast-talking, sarcastic jerk who shows his human side after joining group therapy to deal with his grief.  The rest of the therapy group is made up of a quirky bunch of people who are all struggling with loss of some kind, and are aided by a volunteer therapist/counselor (Laura Benanti) who struggles herself with trying to heal even one of her rag-tag group.

GO ON is unique in that it is able to take a very serious subject, grief, and make it funny without making fun of it.  Ryan honestly struggles with his grief, something that I can identify with (having lost my own wife), and the show explores his issues with returning to his normal, day-to-day life.  The show really struck a chord with me, and it saddens me that NBC decided that it wasn't worth picking up for another season.  My unrequited love for Laura Benanti's character, "Lauren", I guess will never come to be...


We had a really nice weekend celebrating Mother's Day with both my mother and mother-in-law.  On Saturday, we met my parents at Uno's in Bowie, and we had a nice meal with them.  Then we went back to their place and celebrated Mom's birthday, as well as Mom's Day.

On Sunday, we went out to First Baptist Church of Damascus, where my father-in-law is the pastor, to surprise my mother-in-law with flowers and lunch.  Mom-in-law delivered the message, too, and we enjoyed that.  Then we went to the Bugaboo Creek Steak House for a really nice lunch.  It wasn't crowded, and the food was great.  I hadn't been to Bugaboo in quite a few years, so it was nice to be back.

After lunch, we all went to the nursing home to visit with my daughter's great-grandmother, Pauline.  She is 92, and though she really doesn't recognize any of us, she seems happy when she isn't sleeping.  After a nice visit, I took my little girl to Sweet Frog for some delicious frozen yogurt.  Sweet Frog was giving free yogurt to all moms, which was a really nice gesture.

Mother's Day 2013 was in the books!


I heard on the news that Kermit Gosnell, a doctor in the Philadelphia area who performed late-term abortions, was found guilty of three counts of murdering infants.  It is sickening to me that this man could be so uncaring and apparently remorseless for what he did.  He routinely performed illegal abortions at his clinic, which was reportedly not sanitary.  Even more scary is that the state of Pennsylvania neglected to perform routine inspections which may have closed his clinic down much sooner.  The doctor's actions will surely bring about a severe judgement, and possibly even the death penalty.  I know God will judge his soul.


I received a message from my daughter's 3rd grade teacher informing me that my daughter was being promoted to 5th grade reading!  She is already in 5th grade math.  I'm so proud of her!  She really did get her mommy's genes!  I'm very pleased to have such a smart little girl.  She is awesome!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Daughter's Mom

Mother's Day is always a great day spent with my mom, or my mom-in-law, or sometimes both, but it never ends up being with the one mom who means the most to me:  my wonderful wife, Teresa.  Unfortunately, she passed away before she could enjoy her first Mother's Day, and Melody, my daughter, has never had the chance to celebrate with her own mom.  She is so fortunate to be able to have two "moms" in her grandmothers.  Grandma and Grammy have been such great role models for her, and they have really been as close to a mom as Melody has.  But it's not the same.  Grandma and Grammy want to be grandmothers, not mothers (again), and in some ways, I believe they feel cheated out of being grandmothers since they have had to play the mother role.

I've tried so hard to give Melody as much knowledge as I can about her mom, so she can know how great her mom really was.  This is especially important as Melody gets older, since she will inevitably have more questions about her as time goes on.  Most importantly, I've told Melody what a dedicated Christ-follower her mom was, and that her hope was that Melody would also come to know Christ and we will all be reunited in Heaven.  What a glorious reunion that will be.

Until then, I will continue to search for a new partner for myself, though one who will also be able to fill the mom role for Melody and give her a truly special female role model, something she has not experienced in her short life.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Health Hazards of Being a Sports Fantatic

I truly am not a hypochondriac, but share my numerous maladies on this blog for entertainment value.  That said, it's so ridiculous the abuse I've placed on my body due to depression alone as a result of my wife's death.  Depression has led to my high blood pressure and hypertension, type 2 diabetes, sleeplessness and excessive sleepiness, and a couple of new things:  anxiety attacks and restless legs syndrome.  What has happened to me?

I may have the answer:  passionate sports fanaticism.  Forgive me for making light of my ailments, but my sports teams may well be causing the vast majority of them.  The teams that I follow, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, and Maryland Terrapins, all seem to struggle in various degrees of success, and many times are victims of horrendous losses in extreme conditions.  My Steelers, who I am probably most passionate about, may be the most successful NFL football team in the Super Bowl era, but every season seems to be a struggle for them, even when it appears they may be dominating the teams they play.  They've won 6 Super Bowls, more than any other team, but not once, in all 6 of those victories, did they completely dominate the teams they played.  The games tend to go down to the wire, with extremely close scores, and the Steelers either hang on for the win, or have to fight for a last-second score to achieve victory.  Their losses have been horrible and have caused me to get very depressed for short periods of time.  My passion for the Steelers even causes me stress in my own neighborhood.  Living in the Baltimore-Washington area means having the fans of the dreaded Ravens, who number almost as many as Steeler Nation in this area, abuse me regularly for being a fan of my Steelers, even though I was born and raised here.  It's very frustrating.

Being a Pirates fan is about as bad as it gets.  The Bucs, as we affectionately call them, have been not only Major League Baseball's most recent losing-est team, but they are professional sport's losing-est team with 19 straight years without a winning season.  I was fortunate to have attended the last Pirate's playoff game in 1992, when the Bucs beat the Atlanta Braves to take a 3-2 lead in the National League Championship Series that season, before losing games 6 & 7 and beginning their long spiral into mediocrity.  Watching the Bucs every season since has caused me nothing but heartbreak, and I, along with all other Buccos fans, keep hoping not only a return to the playoffs, but a winning season.  Whether that ever happens remains to be seen.

My Penguins, one of the National Hockey Leagues best teams, seem to have some of the best talent in professional hockey, including arguably the best hockey player in the world in Sidney Crosby.  While the Pens did win a Stanley Cup championship a few years ago, every season becomes such a struggle, with injuries to their superstars, and early playoff exits despite all of the talent they have.  Right now, I'm watching them self destruct yet again against the bottom most seed in the eastern bracket of the playoffs, the New York Islanders.  There is no excuse for them allowing this series to continue to 6 (and probably 7, given how the current game is going) games.  The Pens are truly the better team, except when it counts, and right now they are on the ropes.  The only positive is that they will return to Pittsburgh for a Game 7, if it comes to it, where they are a much better team.  But they are struggling mightily and it's still the first round of the playoffs.  They have to play better.

My Alma mater, the University of Maryland Terrapins, have had limited success in football and basketball, but they are always the underdog and rarely finish on top, in either sport.  I love my Terps, and will always root for them, but I seem to always feel such disappointment in their losses.  I'm hoping for greater success when they switch from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), where they were a founding member, to the Big 10, but there are a lot of very good teams in the Big 10, especially in football, and the next few seasons could very well be hard to watch.

So there you go.... I 'm going to continue to have health problems as long as I feel such passion for my teams.  I never figured that being a sports fan could be so hazardous to my health.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Movie Night

It's Friday, so that means it's Date Night!  Teresa & I always went on dates on Fridays after we were married, and many times that meant going to see a movie.  My daughter, Melody, and I went to the movies tonight.  We thought about going to the Bengie's Drive-In, but the movie selections weren't very kid-friendly. Instead we went to Columbia Mall and had a nice dinner in the food court (a rare McDonald's dinner for her, Chipotle for me).  Then we went to see IRON MAN 3 at the IMAX Theater.  It was awesome!  I intend to write up a detailed review tomorrow, if I can get around to it.  It's late now and we need to get some sleep.  Turns out it was a bad night for the was pouring down rain when we came out of the theater.  The drive-in in the rain is no fun.

Good night, everybody!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Must-See TV

Tonight we're watching a little must-see TV on a sleepy, storm Thursday evening in suburbia!  First up is Game 5 of the Pittsburgh Penguins-New York Islanders NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs series.  The Penguins are currently up 2 games to 2, so tonight's game is key to possibly taking charge of the series.  The game is being played in the Burgh, and the fans are going crazy, with the Pens up 2-0 in the 1st period.  Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who got plenty beat-up in Game 4, has been replaced by Tomas Vokoun, and he may be the difference maker tonight.

Unfortunately, I'm just a bit sleepy this evening and I fell asleep just after the puck dropped, but not before catching last week's Swamp People.  In this truly exciting episode, Troy Landry and his sons race to get the gators that they may have already caught on 16 lines that are within an area where a massive sinkhole has been discovered overnight.  The King of the Swamp ends up catching almost a dozen big gators for a huge payday.  In the meantime, Liz and her daughter catch the biggest gator of the season so far, a 13 foot Goliath that becomes almost impossible to get into the boat.  Liz recently had gall bladder surgery and can't lift anything greater than 20 pounds, and she didn't bring the boat with the winch, so her 100 pound daughter is forced to lift the 900 pound gator into the boat.  However, just to add to the drama, there's a storm brewing and lightning strikes getting closer, and with them sitting in an aluminum boat in the middle of a treeless swamp, they're about to get French Fried.  The episode has a happy ending, though, as they get the gator and race back to shore, dodging raindrops all the way home.  Whew!

Next up, while I've been napping and not able to guard the remote, Miss Daughter has come in from playing outside and changes the channel to the exciting season premiere of WIPEOUT!  And guess who's back?!?  It's gorgeously lovely and beautiful Jill Wagner!  Not sure if it was the sound of the really and truly not very smart contestants smacking into the big balls, or the wonderfully fit and awesome Jill cheering them on in her tank top with zipper (zipper?!?), but I am now wide awake.  I can't help but wonder if Jill ran into money trouble and had to come back, or she really enjoys co-hosting this show, but she may be the only thing worth watching, since the contestants really aren't very smart.  What a show.

Back to the game, it is now deep into the game with the Pens up 3-0!  I really hope that's enough of a lead for the Pens to hang on for the win.  And now it's 4-0!!!  The Penguins win and take the 3-2 series lead!  Looks like a great night of TV!  Good night, everybody!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Being The Boss

It's not easy being the boss.  Everyone expects you to act a certain way, you become responsible for a lot of people and the business of the office, and you have to wear a tie.  Well, most of the time I have to wear a tie.  The hardest thing is how it changes your relationships with your co-workers.  They become your employees, instead.  And they act differently around you.  I used to be I would go out to lunch regularly with my co-workers.  Now I can't even get them to eat with me.

Our new director wants us, the managers of our directorate, to put our focus on the employees.  One way of doing that, I thought, was to invite employees to join me for lunch in my office and just chew the fat, as well as talk about whatever they want to discuss.  I sent out an email to all of my employees (about 65 total) to invite them to lunch each Wednesday.  I really thought this would be a good idea.  I started to wonder just how many employees I could fit into my office (about 7), and whether I would have to take appointments, or perhaps even move to our much larger conference room, given how popular my idea was going to be.  My Office Administrator (OA), who actually came up with the idea, was very excited that I took her suggestion, and she said she would help me organize it.

Last week was the first Wednesday for the big "Lunch Day With The Boss".  At the given hour, I expected dozens of employees to start knocking on my door.  But no one showed up.  I stood outside of my office and looked around.  I didn't hear anyone.  It was almost as if the entire office decided to go out for lunch.  I went back to my desk and started to munch on my sandwich and work on a few documents.  All of a sudden, two of my employees, Larry and Karen, knocked on my door and asked if I was still having my open lunch.  I invited them in and we had a really nice time.  We discussed a lot of different stuff, work related and non, and enjoyed our 30 minutes together.  Afterwards, I said they should spread the word about our lunch and see if others wanted to join me.  They said they would.  I walked out of my office feeling pretty proud of myself, and my OA, Kay, said, "Well.....I guess I should tell you that I told Larry & Karen that they should come in and join you."  D'oh!

After yelling at her and saying I wanted this idea to live or die on its own merits, I started walking around the office and visiting various employees, inviting them to join me next Wednesday.  Many said they would.  So today is "next Wednesday".  And nobody showed up.

I've decided that it's really not me, necessarily, that is keeping the employees from joining me for lunch.  In fact, I still think it's a good idea.  However, the problem is my position.  Unfortunately, I think people are just intimidated by the boss, no matter who it is.  I can be the nicest or meanest guy around, and it wouldn't make a difference.  At least, that's what I think, and I'm sticking with my story.

Maybe if I buy everyone pizzas... Or donuts!  Or all-you-can-eat spaghetti....!!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Intermission - Babies & Puppies

Tonight's blog post is postponed due to the Stanley Cup playoffs.  The Pittsburgh Penguins are having a rough time with the Islanders and I just can't concentrate on the game.  In the meantime, for your enjoyment, please take a look at the following pictures of a cute baby and puppy...

Monday, May 6, 2013

I Smell Another Set-Up

Last week I found myself talking to my office administrator (OA) at work, Kay, and one of the contractors from upstairs, Bill.  They had been conspiring, as it turns out, to set me up with a friend of theirs, another OA who works in downtown DC.  My initial reaction was the usual... I don't do set-ups.  I hate them.  They never work out.  Forget it.  Leave me out of this.  Sorry, Charlie, but I'm out.

This didn't sit well with Kay.  In fact, she reasoned, the whole thing was Bill's idea, and since he's gay, you KNOW it's going to work out. I quit arguing, but I told them it wasn't in the cards.  Kay followed me into my office and said that I needed to have an open mind, that the woman they want to set me up with, Ellen, was really nice, really cute, and lots of fun.  She was divorced with no kids, and she had no desire to have more kids.  Kay had already told Ellen all about me, and Ellen was already excited about the fact that my daughter and I were already a little family that she could just join into.  Kay was already trying to come up with a reason for Ellen to come to our office to meet me.

After a few days of Kay trying to convince me this was a good idea, the subject of religion came up.  Kay asked, "How important is religion to you?"  My response was a question.  "Is Ellen a church-goer?"  Kay said no, but she was sure Ellen could be talked into going with me to my church.  I told Kay that my faith was VERY important.  Kay's reply was, "Eric, don't mess this up!"

I really have no desire to pursue this woman, especially after finding out that we may not be a good match from a religious standpoint, but this situation has kind of put me in a quandary.  I don't want Ellen's opinion of Christ-followers to be a poor one, that I would reject her just because she isn't one.  Isn't the right thing to do to bring her to Christ?  Should that come before I start dating her?  What if she doesn't like me and we don't hit it off?  So many questions, so many issues.

Unfortunately, Kay has already placed the cart before the horse.  Ellen is aware of me and is in favor of meeting me.  I asked Kay what she told Ellen about me?  I don't necessarily feel like I would be Ellen's type (older, grayer, out-of-shape, etc.).  Kay told me I needed to stop thinking so negatively.

So, Reader, what should I do?  Do I follow up and just say yes?  Do I stay firm and just say no?  How do I get myself into these situations?  Again, I'm very frustrated.  There should be an easier way to meet women!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Summer Camp

Many years ago, when I was involved with youth ministry, I was fortunate to be a part of the cast of a fun play called "Camp W".  Written by prolific author and playwright Paul McCusker (who is actually my cousin), the play is about a run down camp for kids that is about to be shut down by the health inspector.  The main characters are the camp counselors who basically run the camp, and the trials, tribulations, and relationship problems they have to deal with.  There is a core message about the camp being a place for the kids, and how important it is to them and to the camp staff.  It is written as a comedy, and it contains lots of laughs, and I was very fortunate to be a part of three different casts over a 5-year span, along with an assistant director credit on each.  I bring it up because of how much it reminds me of the wonderful camp my daughter has attended for the past several years each summer, Grace Adventures Day Camp.

Grace is actually nothing like the camp in Camp W.  It isn't the type of camp that has cabins for the campers and counselors, and it isn't a run down dive that the health inspector is threatening to close because of poor plumbing.  Grace Adventures Day Camp is a bright, shining light for kids to experience fun and Christ's love in a comfortable atmosphere geared to them, and is led by some of the best and brightest young men & women I've come across.  There's something special happening at Grace Community Church, and that something special is really exemplified by the staff of Grace Adventures Day Camp.

I've been a part of the Grace Community for almost ten years, and I've seen how the youth and children's leaders have created an environment that has led to the kids and youth of the church to be so different and positive compared to what you might see portrayed in the media.  And when I see them doing these unexpected things, it makes me feel good about the future of not only our country, but our world.  As a father myself, I am so happy that my daughter has a place to go that she looks forward to, and that she is being taught things in a way that I want to see her being taught.  I know she is in good hands when we're not together.

Grace Adventures Day Camp is providing that same level of teaching.  When I first heard about the camp several years ago, I was excited for my daughter's sake that we had found a place where she might feel comfortable enough to come out of her introverted shell.  Little did I know...  She did come out of her shell, and she found the type of female role models that she never had before.  After my wife passed away, when my daughter was 5 months old, the only women in her life were her grandmothers and a couple of aunts.  The camp provided something entirely different.  Here were many young women that were not only showing her the proper way to behave and carry herself, but were also teaching her about Christ and exhibiting Christ's love in an environment that she could have fun in.  For a single Dad, the camp is a Godsend.  My daughter has made relationships with some of these young women that I am sure will carry forward through her teenage years and beyond.

One of the things that really impressed my girl is that her counselors were writing and sending her postcards through the mail after each week of camp.  They also were always so positive and excited to see her each day.  My daughter just ate this stuff up.

This year is going to be her fourth year at Grace Camp.  She's really looking forward to it.  She's taking a week of dance specialty, outdoor exploration, and a few other fun things.  But the biggest deal is the relationships she's building.  It's awesome to see.

So thank you to Ms. Michelle, Ms. Amy, Miss Grace, Miss Cree, Miss Sarah, Miss Erin, Miss Deanna, Miss Kristen, Miss Caitlin, and so many others who have made a major impact on my little girl over the last several years.  You're all awesome in our book!

For anyone in the Howard County area of Maryland, or areas in northern Montgomery or Prince George's Counties, or Western Anne Arundel County, please consider Grace Adventures Day Camp for your children this summer.  For more information, please see the following website:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Some MORE Little Known Facts

· A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.
· The "save" icon on Microsoft Word shows a floppy disk, with the shutter on backwards.
· The combination "ough" can be pronounced in nine different ways. The following sentence contains them all:
"A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."
· The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
· Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.
· The word "Checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means, "the king is dead".
· Pinocchio is Italian for "pine head."
· In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere.
· The United States has never lost a war in which mules were used.
· All porcupines float in water.
· The airplane Buddy Holly died in was called "American Pie." (Thus the name of the Don McLean song.)
· The only nation whose name begins with an "A", but doesn't end in an "A" is Afghanistan.
· If you toss a penny 10,000 times, it will not be heads 5,000 times, but more like 4,950. The heads picture weighs more, so it ends up on the bottom.
· The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. The only other word with the same amount of letters is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses, its plural.
· An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
· Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.
· Wilma Flintstone's maiden name was Wilma Slaghoopal, and Betty Rubble's Maiden name was Betty Jean Mcbricker.
· Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.
· The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra's "Its A Wonderful Life."
· The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
· "Stewardesses" is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.
· A group of unicorns is called a blessing.
· Twelve or more cows are known as a "flink."
· A group of frogs is called an army.
· A group of rhinos is called a crash.
· A group of kangaroos is called a mob.
· A group of whales is called a pod.
· A group of ravens is called a murder.
· A group of officers is called a mess.
· A group of larks is called an exaltation.
· A group of owls is called a parliament.
· Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10 of a calorie.
· The phrase "sleep tight" derives from the fact that early mattresses were filled with straw and held up with rope stretched across the bedframe. A tight sleep was a comfortable sleep.
· Studies show that if a cat falls off the seventh floor of a building it has about thirty percent less chance of surviving than a cat that falls off the twentieth floor. It supposedly takes about eight floors for the cat to realize what is occurring, relax and correct itself.
· 111,111,111 x 111,111,111=12,345,678,987,654,321
· If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle; if the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle; if the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes. (note: if the rider's head is up the horse's rear, the rider died a politician.)
· No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple.
· Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down - hence the expression "to get fired."
· There are two credit cards for every person in the United States.
· A snail can sleep for 3 years.
· If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"? -- One thousand
· What do bullet proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers all have in common?-- All were invented by women.
· Married men revealed that they change their underwear twice as often as single men.
· 40% of all people who come to a party in your home snoop in your medicine cabinet.
· The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time television were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
· Coca-Cola was originally green.
· Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury.
· It is possible to lead a cow upstairs but not downstairs.