Saturday, June 29, 2013

Summer Camp Better Than Vacation

Last night, my daughter and I attended a big picnic at Grace Community Church that was hosted by the Grace Adventures Day Camp Staff.  It was a great time, despite some fairly intense thunderstorms that moved most of the festivities indoors.  The weather did not dampen the spirits or fun that all of the participants enjoyed, and I want to once again thank the wonderful Camp staff for the great job they do, not only with the picnic and cookout, but with the entire camp experience.  They are making such a positive impact on the kids they care for, and they exemplify the love of Jesus in what they do.

My daughter has attended Grace Adventures Day Camp for the past three years, and she is really looking forward to this year.  It is really amazing the difference the camp has made in my daughter's life.  She is just a bit of an introvert, which she gets from me (her mother was a big-time extrovert!), and she is reluctant to try new things.  So getting her to try summer camp was difficult.  But it was necessary, as well.  As a single dad, I need to find activities for her to do while I'm at work, since I can't take the entire summer off, and there's only so many weeks she can spend with her grandparents.  So the camp was an answered prayer.

It didn't take very long at all for her to become acclimated to the camp environment, and that has everything to do with the counselors.  These young men and women are filled with the spirit of the Lord and the way they interact with the kids shows it.  Personally, though, it does this Dad's heart good to see my daughter come away each day so happy, and she looks forward so much to each day that she goes back.  In fact, she was very disappointed when I told her she would miss one week of camp while we went on vacation.  It's awesome to see that.

So my hat is off to these wonderful people who run the camp, and for the great things they are doing in God's name.  I'm looking forward to another great summer of fun for my daughter.

Have a great night, everyone!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Crushing On Sandra

Having crushes on celebrities is a fun exercise, but nothing good comes of them.  There is zero chance of ever moving to a relationship of any kind with the object of your obsession, and if the celebrity knows you even exist, it is probably as a result of a restraining order of some kind prohibiting you from being within 1200 miles of the celebrity.  But it's certainly fun to fantasize about them!  And I've had my share of them.

I and several hundred thousand other guys can probably call Sandra Bullock their perfect celebrity fantasy woman.  I first discovered her in a movie called LOVE POTION NO. 9.  I thought, after she went through her transformation in the movie, she was gorgeous.  I hadn't seen her in anything else before then, but I started looking for her in other movies.

THE VANISHING was the next movie I saw her in, though I was very disappointed that she only appeared in a very small part.  But, again, she was gorgeous, and she quickly became my "ideal" in looks.  I was dating someone rather seriously at the time, though, and could easily separate reality from fantasy...Sandra was the one for me!

DEMOLITION MAN was the next movie I saw her in, and this one combined two of my loves:  Sandra and a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30!  Wow, she looked great.  Sandra did, too!

Sandra had become a leading lady, but super stardom came in her next big movie, SPEED.  Then came WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING, where I completely fell in love with her.  It didn't last long, though.

I entered into another serious relationship, which kind of ended my relationship with Sandra.  Oh, I still enthusiastically followed her career, but I realized that she was well out of my league by this time.  She was a superstar.  I was, alas, only a fan.

Soon I got married and enjoyed the best relationship with anyone I've ever had.  My hopes for the future were dashed several years later after my wife suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

It was several years before my crush was re-established, and I began to follow Sandra in earnest once again.  However, she became unreachable when she got married.  I was heartbroken, but happy for her.  She deserved her happiness, even if no one could understand her attraction to that guy.  It was to no one's surprise, though, that the marriage ended after he entered into an illicit affair.  Sandra was a single woman again!

And now, even though she was only a crush, the reality of a relationship with the gorgeous Sandra Bullock is within reach...! about it, Sandra?  Will you still be my crush?  I still think you're gorgeous!  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An Off Day

I did something that I'm not proud of.  I don't behoove others for doing this, but I've always thought I was above such things.  The only good thing is that it wasn't my boss actually suggested I do it.  Of course, now that I'm doing it, I feel guilty for having done it.  In fact, I don't know what to do now.

So what did I do?  I took off from work for a mental health day.  I'm had a rough couple of months, both at work and at home, and I haven't been at my best as a result.  It had started to become noticeable.  A colleague of mine first suggested that I take a whole week, or two, to myself, away from home, away from work, and away from family, my daughter included.  I haven't done anything like that since before I entered management, about five months after the death of my wife.  So I had a meeting with my new boss yesterday, and she suggested I take a day to myself.  As a compromise, I agreed, reluctantly, to take one day as soon as I could clear my schedule.  And today ended up being the best day for me.

I came home after work yesterday and began to relax.  My new air conditioner/heat pump was delivered earlier in the day, so I'm very happy to have a comfortable home once again.  After some dinner and a little TV watching, I fell asleep.  I woke up at around 10 just as a big thunderstorm rumbled through.  Faithful Pup Scout, who was also home, doesn't like the sound of thunder, and she started to worry and shake.  I decided that the best thing would be to just go to bed, and hope the t-storm would pass and Scout would relax.

I awoke to a phone call at around 8 a.m.  I know I could've slept another couple of hours.  Instead, I laid in the bed wondering how I should enjoy my day.  I thought about a day at the spa.  Maybe get my first massage...but apparently it's difficult to get a same-day appointment.  I thought about a drive, maybe go north, or west....but it's just so doggone HOT outside!  A drive isn't the same if it's too hot to even put the top down.  I thought about going downtown, see a museum...but there are just too many tourists in town.  Maybe I'll do something later.  For  now, I'm watching GROSSE POINTE BLANK, which is surprisingly NOT on Eric's Top 50 Movie List, but should be.  I've decided that, if there should ever be a movie made about my life, John Cusack is my choice to play me.  Scout is very content to have me sitting on the couch with her, doing a whole lot of nothing.

My goal in taking the day off was to just shut down for a while and not deal with anything.  I have to be "on" all the time, at work (as THE BOSS), at home (as THE DAD)....I really don't take the time to shut myself "off".  Even now, I don't feel like I'm totally shut down.  I'm too busy trying to figure out how to spend my day and, as the minutes tick away, I find myself stressing about it.  What a mess...

So if YOU, my reader, could do anything at all for a single day, anything you wanted, without any responsibilities, what would you do?  It's too late for me.

Enjoy your day, everyone!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Vacationing Without Me

Every year, the two weeks between the end of the school year and the start of Grace Adventures Day Camp are my loneliest couple of weeks of the year for me.  As a single dad who has to work, I have to send my daughter off to her grandparent's for a vacation of her own, without me.  Last week, she spent whole week with my parents.  It was a little different this year since I spent a lot of time at their place, too, with our air conditioner not working.  But she still went on a couple of day trips, including a day in Lancaster at Sight and Sound to see Noah, which she told me was very exciting.

This week, she's with my in-laws, and they left this morning for Ocean City, MD.  OC in the Summer is a lot of fun.  My family used to spend a week at OC every year when I was a teen, and I have lots of fond memories of walking the Boardwalk, riding the amusement rides at the pier, eating Thrasher's fries, eating burgers at the Atlantic Stand, ice cream at Dumser's, Fisher's caramel corn, breakfast at English's, and lunch at the Dough Roller.

I get lonely when my little girl is away, so this will be a long week.  I'm trying to keep myself busy just so that my mind stays occupied.  I worked a bit late today, which is rare.  I also tend to go out to eat more often when I'm by myself, which is what I did today.  More on that in a minute.  It's not good for me, but I get a little bit lazy when I don't have to cook for anyone else.

So I tried some new pizza tonight.  I've been eating too much pizza lately, but I happened to pass a place I've wanted to try for a while now:  New York J & P Italian Restaurant.  Apparently it's a chain, with locations in Damascus, Eldersburg, Finksburg, Frederick, Mt. Airy, and Scaggsville, which is the one I stopped at.  I got a pie with pepperoni, mushrooms, and sliced tomatoes.  It was GREAT!  The sauce was kind of sweet, the pepperoni was sliced very thin and was a touch spicy, and the mushrooms and tomatoes were fresh, with a healthy amount of mozzarella.  The crust was a little thicker than I like, but it was moderately crispy.  I really enjoyed it, and I would have to place this one in my top ten.  It was well worth the stop....and the clogged arteries and indigestion....

Have a great evening, everyone!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I'll Take States For $1000, Alex

I recently read about a family who is attempting to take their children to all 50 American states before they finish school.  What a cool idea!  My daughter and I have been counting down the states as we travel to them.  I'm up to 41 states.  My daughter is up to 27.  50 is definitely within reach, for both of us.

I took advantage of a well-paying job and being unattached to take several big trips in my 20s.  This allowed me the opportunity to pad my state total.  The trip that had the most impact on me was my cross-country road trip that covered two weeks, most of old Route 66, and twenty states.  It was an awesome trip, and took me through places I had never seen before, which fostered a love for the American West that I just love seeing whenever I get the chance.  I started out by driving straight out to St. Louis, Missouri, and hopping on Route 66, which originates in Chicago, Illinois.  I headed southwest from there, stopping at my first Steak & Shake, and also Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, both in the St. Louis suburbs.  The next day, I continued down 66 through Missouri, skirted across the southeast Kansas corner, and continued into Oklahoma.  After stopping in Tulsa, I missed a big chunk of Oklahoma City after taking a wrong turn, but then I continued west through Clinton's Route 66 museum, into Texas and a stop at Amarillo's Big Texan Steak Ranch (home of the 72 Oz. steak), and a stop in Tucumcari, New Mexico.  Then I continued west to Santa Fe and Albuquerque and Gallup, across the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest in Northeastern Arizona, and to Flagstaff, then north to the Grand Canyon!  What a site that was!  I continued west across Arizona on 66 into California.  My original plan was to drive all the way to the west coast and see Los Angeles, which is where Route 66 officially ends.  Instead, I changed gears and headed north into Nevada and spent a few days in Las Vegas.  At that point, I decided to drive across Utah and into Colorado.  My original plan had been to cover this same area after going to LA, and start for home by continuing east from Colorado in Kansas.  Instead, I went north into Wyoming, then into South Dakota.  I fell in love with the Black Hills region while there.  There's so much to see!  Mt. Rushmore was a true highlight, as was the Crazy Horse Memorial.  I love Wall Drug Store, and the Badlands are fascinating.  I hated that I had to continue towards home, but I went east into Minnesota and Wisconsin, breezed through Chicago, and into Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania before arriving home in Maryland.  It was a grand and glorious trip, and I found myself wanting more.

After getting married to my wonderful wife, Teresa, I passed my love of road trips over to her (as if she needed any convincing!), and we incorporated many road trips into our vacation plans.  Our honeymoon included a fantastic trip down the West Coast, from Seattle to San Francisco.  Another trip was the reverse of my big trip outlined above.  We took a trip north through New England, and a couple of trips to Florida.

All of the trips enabled me to add to my state total, and after my daughter was born, I wanted her to experience all of the things I was able to do.  We took a big trip out west, covering Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.  Over this past Spring Break, we hit all of New England, including a great time in New York City.  I'm looking forward to taking her to so many more places!  I'm so glad she seems to share my love of road trips.

We're headed to Chicago next month, along with stops at many roller coaster amusement parks.  We can hardly wait!

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cool Runnings

Today I am $7500 poorer after buying a new heat pump/air conditioner.  After a month without cold air, I am finally feeling relief in my own home thanks to temporary portable window units that will tide me over until  my new unit is delivered, which will take about 2 and a half weeks.  But at least we're comfortable.


I spent a beautiful evening last night at Prince George's County Stadium in Bowie, MD, with my daughter and my dad, to see the Bowie Baysox (AA affiliate to the Baltimore Orioles) take on the Altoona Curve (AA affiliate to the Pittsburgh Pirates).  It turned into a pretty exciting game after starting out as a bit of a pitching battle early on, but the Baysox took the win.  We were rooting for the Curve (as Bucs fans), even though Bowie was the home team, and there were quite a few Curve fans in attendance.  The weather was just awesome, and, after the game, we were treated to a great fireworks display sponsored by Busch Gardens.


My daughter, after hearing about it from my parents, wants to watch the video I took back in 2003 of when my wife, Teresa, and I told my parents that we were expecting.  It's a fun video, especially since we took them completely by surprise.  My father, on the day we were married, told all of our wedding guests how excited he was that Teresa and I were married because it meant he was that much closer to being a grandfather.  In fact, he told us to get started that night.  Several weeks later, Teresa, in her inimitable style, told my dad that, if he wanted a grandchild, he would have to take us all to Hawaii.  He agreed.

Shortly after finding out we were expecting, we went to my parent's house with video camera running and handed my parents Hawaiian leis.  They didn't get it, at least at first.  Then the light went off.  There was much screaming, yelling, crying, hugging, etc.; they were really excited.  But we never did get our Hawaiian vacation.  I'm going to have to ask my dad about that.  Later, that November, we gave the whole family the first grandchild of her generation on both sides of the family, as Melody, my beautiful daughter, was born.


I just checked our bedrooms and they are plenty cool tonight!  I'm excited to sleep in cool comfort in my own bed after a month either without AC, in hotel rooms, or in my parent's guest room.  Just in time, too, as the summer temperatures really start to impact us with 90 degree days coming.  And while this has been anything but simple, I can't help but think that it's the simple things that make life so much more manageable.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Games

It's the first day of Summer and the weather is almost perfect. Humidity is relatively low, temps are in the upper 70s/low 80s range, and the sky has nary a cloud to be seen.  So, where am I? In my office having lunch while I type this post on my trusty iPhone, which is a veeeeeery slooooooow process.

I am very fortunate to have a nice, large office with a wonderful view of our unique wave pool, and I found myself watching several people enjoying the setting outside, while their children played. One was a young father sitting with his toddler daughter on his lap, and I found myself thinking about my and my daughter's activities when she was that age.

While watching a couple of slightly older kids running around, I began to reminisce about my summers growing up in our Upper Marlboro neighborhood in the late 70s.  There were a lot of kids our age, and we were always doing things together. Mom was one of the neighborhood sitters, and the family next door was another, and, combined, there were eleven of us between the ages of 3 and 9. Everyday was an adventure!

Besides myself (9), the gang consisted of my sister, Angie (7), and brother Darren (4); Jenifer (8), from down the street, who had a crush on me; Michelle (8), from around the corner, who I had a crush on; Kim B. (8), from across the street, was kind of a loner, but reluctantly joined us since she didn't have anything better to do; Kim P. (7), from next door, who we reluctantly allowed to join us since we had to; her sister, Gaylen (3), the youngest of the group; Milton (9), my best friend from around the corner, and his sister, Alicia (8), who was always my "girl next door"; and Krista (8), who lived a few blocks away.  In addition, we were sometimes joined by Carmellio (8), from across the street, especially when we were playing backyard basketball, whiffleball, tackle football, or murderball. He was a big kid and dominated most of our sports.

We had so much fun together, all summer long.  Milton and I had large matchbox car collections, so we always built well defined "cities" in our backyard, and we would play for hours, creating "car accidents" and chases and great stuff like that.  The girls were always playing things like "Charlie's Angels".  I usually got drafted into playing Bosley, which I didn't mind too much, since Michelle played Jill and we always seemed to get tied up together (literally, with rope and fact, we were always getting captured by the "bad guys"). My poor brother, who never wanted to be left out, and since there were no other guys from the show, had to play Sabrina, and was forced to don a skirt for the role.  Fun times, indeed!

I miss those innocent days.  It really was a great time, and the summers seemed like they lasted forever.  To be a kid again....

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Three Brothers and Bond

In my search for the perfect pizza, I sometimes forget to check out my tried & true favorites.  It has been a few years since I last tried Three Brother's pizza, so, since I have the evening to myself, I decided to order one at the Columbia location, just off of Snowden River Parkway.

When I walked in to pick up my pizza, a young lady observed my Pittsburgh Steelers t-shirt and proclaimed, "Nice team!"  We made small talk and I learned that she is going off to college in Pittsburgh this Fall.  I hope she enjoys it and does well.

I took my pizza home, popped SKYFALL, the latest Bond movie, into my Blu-Ray player, and began to eat.  It was a Neapolitan style with pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, and pineapple.  It was delicious!  It's a fantastic example of a traditional New York style crust, the sauce is a little bit tangy, and the mix of toppings gave it an across the board flavor, from the slight spiciness of the pepperoni, to the sweet pineapple.  Three Brother's easily jumps into my top ten favorite pizzas.  I highly recommend it.

On a different note, SKYFALL is one of the best Bond movies I've seen.  I saw it in the theater when it came out, so it has been just long enough since then for me to forget quite a few of the plot points.  Daniel Craig is a credible James Bond, more no-nonsense compared to some of the others, and there is little of the tongue-in-cheek humor too prevalent in previous installments.  It has its share of action, especially the opening sequence.  Unfortunately, I'm the type that concerns himself with all of the damage that is being caused by the good guys chasing the bad guys through the crowded Turkish streets, wondering who ends up paying for it, but I know that in action movies, the damage is a part of the game.  Overall, it's quite a good movie, if you like shoot 'em up action movies, and it's top rate compared to most action movies.  One more note:  A beautiful woman doesn't need to smoke to be beautiful.  I'm of the opinion that showing characters smoking in movies is unnecessary, regardless of the setting.


On a side note, I am at home tonight, albeit without air conditioning.  Today was a glorious day weather-wise, with nice mid-70s temperatures and no humidity, so I decided to brave my warm house, that it might actually be tolerable tonight.  So far, so good.  I might actually get a good night of sleep in my own bed.

In the meantime, I'm finding myself being crushed more and more each day by the rampant depression that seems to be attacking me in recent days.  It gets worse when I'm by myself, as I am tonight, and will be for the most part for the next week and a half.  My wonderful daughter keeps me focused and sane, and without her, I actually seem lost.

I know God is the answer to all problems, and it is imperative that I give it to Him and not feel like I have to hold it in and figure it out all on my own.  Sometimes that's easier said than done, however, and I continue to worry about things I have no control over.  I hate this feeling.  It is overwhelming.  It's times like this that I go through my anger stage again and ask why did she have to die?  No good has come of it.  Teresa was my best friend.  I'm too introverted to be able to make new friends, let alone find a new relationship.  That's why I've failed at every one I've attempted since Teresa's death.

And I'm going to stop here because this is not the direction I wanted to take this post.  This is what happens when I spend too much time by myself.  I start feeling sorry for myself when there is no purpose for it.  My life is overwhelmingly good, God is in control, and I really have nothing to worry about.

With that, have a great night, everyone.  Thanks for reading the words of a crazy man.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wishing For Normal

I'm going a bit nuts as I am in Week 3 of living out of suitcase.  Thank God for wonderful parents who have allowed my daughter and I to stay with them until we get our new air conditioner/heat pump.  All I want is a little own TiVo, laptop, and bed.

I'm also a bit tired of my commute.  Driving to work from Bowie to Silver Spring adds about 15 minutes onto my morning drive, including one of the worst stretches of the Capital Beltway:  New Hampshire Avenue to Colesville Road.  My afternoon drive takes me from Silver Spring to Laurel via I-95, then from Laurel to Bowie via Route 197, and I'm not kidding, I catch every traffic light on that road!

With school out for the summer, my daughter is enjoying a vacation with my parents this week, and then with her other grandparents next week, giving me my own little vacation into bachelorhood. I only wish I had my bachelor pad to go with it.  

This would be a prime opportunity to jump back into the dating world, but my heart just isn't in it.  God usually provides me with an indication of some sort, a sign that I should give dating another try, but I'm not getting it.  There're just too many other things to focus on right now. Like getting my life back into some normalcy.  Possibly getting a new Jeep... A new a/c... Preparing for our "Coaster Summer" vacation... And sleeping in my own bed!

Have a great night, everyone!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Being a Happy Father

Being a dad is great!  But any guy can be a dad.  Being a father is even greater.  Being THIS little girl's father is the greatest!

Thank you, Melody, for making me happy to be a Father.  You're awesome!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Moore Damage

After a week in Oklahoma City, I was happy to come home.  Today was the last day of school for my daughter, and, as predicted, she was very sad.  Not even her daddy's return could shake her sadness.  To make matters worse, her teach, Ms. Carter, announced that she will not return to the school next year.  My daughter gets very attached to her teachers, so this was not good news.  Her mood got better as the day went along, though, and she seemed  back to her normal self by evening.

Sadly, I also came home to a very warm house.  My air conditioner is not working (again), due to a Freon leak that I had hoped would be slow enough to survive a few months, not less than a week.  Temperatures weren't too bad today, but it's summer and it is sure to get warmer.

While in OKC, a few of my colleagues drove through Moore, OK, on our way to dinner in Norman, and saw the tornado devastation with our own eyes.  It is so much worse than I could ever imagine.  The destruction goes on for miles, with nothing remaining of so many people's homes except for the foundation.  It is just incredible, and so sad.  I took a few pictures, which I've posted below, but that they don't come close to showing just how awful this is.  It is absolutely humbling what Mother Nature is capable of doing.  The people of Moore have my prayers.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Last Week of School Blues

I am currently in Oklahoma City on business and am happy to report there are no tornadoes or even any bad storms to report.  It's a bit ironic that I'm here in the middle of Tornado Alley, yet the weather at home recently has been fairly bad, including the tornado that hit Woodbine, MD, the other day!

Anyway, I'm here and home is there and I'm a bit homesick.  I have to make these trips several times a year and I never seem to enjoy them.  Of course, it IS work, so I guess they're supposed to be painful.  I'll be glad to come home, very soon for my daughter's sake.  These trips are as hard on her as they are on me, especially with this being the last week of school. My girl is one of THOSE kids that loves school so much she starts getting sad after Memorial Day weekend because school is almost over,  and she cries daily up thru the last day.  I wish I could be more sensitive, but I LOVED summer vacation when I was a kid... I have to wonder if she actually has my DNA!

With no keyboard and sloooooow typing thumbs, I'm keeping this post short.  Have a great day, everybody!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Accidents, Tornadoes, and Anniversaries

This has been a DAY.

Things started out on a wet and soggy note.  It had rained all night, so everything was soaked.  And green.  It was very green.  I drove my Jeep to work since it sounded like it was going to be wet all day.  I arrived at work and dealt with a new crisis, one involving an employee.  Once that was done, I had to sort through a few meetings involving some high profile projects.  All in all, it ended up being a very full day, as most of them tend to be.

I started the drive home in a monsoon.  The rain was coming down very hard, and traffic was typically slow. Things didn't improve when I hit the Beltway, and I was surrounded by bumper-to-bumper traffic.  After crossing the Northwest Branch near White Oak, the guy in front of me slammed on his brakes as traffic suddenly stopped ahead of him.  I hit my brakes and began to hydroplane.  I plowed right into his Honda Accord at about 20 MPH.  I was sick!  I don't get into accidents, and I certainly don't cause them.  This was a first for me; I was totally at fault.  I motioned to the guy to move onto the shoulder and followed him over.  Fortunately, both vehicles seemed undamaged.  There was only issues were cosmetic.  The guy was understanding, and we exchanged information, then we headed our separate ways.  I was very late to pick up my daughter, but the school, as always, was understanding.  The we went home.  That's when the weather went freaky.

I have a new tornado app on my iPhone that apparently sounds a pretty intense sounding siren when there's a tornado warning for your area or areas you designate.  That's what happened.  My daughter, who hates tornadoes and all other adverse weather, started to get upset.  For the rest of the evening, my phone went off every hour as new warnings sounded.  We ended up having two tornadoes in the area, one in the upper part of Howard County, and another in southern Prince George's County.  I find it ironic that I'll soon be headed to Oklahoma on business, where tornadoes are a way of life, and I'm experiencing tornadoes here in Maryland.

We also got word that my aunt was involved in a serious car accident.  As it turned out, she was fine, but she totaled her SUV after another car ran her off the road and she landed on the edge of a small ravine.  She had to crawl out of the rear window when she smelled smoke and feared that it might catch fire.  My father was able to get to the scene and help her out, since the accident happened near where they live.  I'm just glad she was okay.

What a DAY!

It was also my parent's 46th wedding anniversary, and I'm sure we will celebrate a little later.  My parents are so wonderful and do so much for me.  Despite all the crazy stuff today, I hope God blesses them with a wonderful day.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you have to do something you REALLY don't want to do?  Kinda feels like you ate just one too many slices of pizza?  Or that feeling of dread during a really scary movie, like the first time you watched THE EXORCIST?  Or you have to stand up in front of a large group of people to do a presentation on a subject that you really don't know that well?  ....yeah, THAT feeling....?  I have that.

I have to go to Oklahoma City.  With apologies to anyone from that part of the country, I really hate OKC.  This is one of those trips I have to make multiple times every year for work reasons.  Unfortunately, given the recent weather situations, it isn't really a place I want to visit, even for a few days.  This will not be a fun trip.  I have a lot of meetings to sit through, and the weather actually looks like it's going to incredibly hot.  I don't know yet whether that translates into t-storms or tornadoes, but that threat scares me.  In addition, there's always that chance I may run into an old flame.  I've blogged about her before, but she's the one who got so angry at me for not wanting to move to OKC for her.  This despite the fact that I was born and raised in Maryland, have lived here my entire life, just about everyone I know lives here, including my family, and my daughter's grandparents are here.  And the former girlfriend didn't even live in OKC until she went off to college.  She's originally from Nebraska!  Running into her would not be pleasant, given how we broke up.

The flip side to all of the bad news is the fact that my home has AC!  I actually had to use a blanket last night while sleeping in my own bed, and it was rather cool walking around the house this morning.  I could get used to this.  The downside is that I will need to get a new unit.  Soon.  I have a significant Freon leak.  That wasn't on my radar this year.  Looks like I may have to rethink going on a Disney vacation in the Fall.

A good night's sleep led to a boatload of dreams last night.  One in particular that I can actually remember has me considering a return to my musical roots.  I dreamed about being in a band, and it included a number of my friends and former bandmates from high school.  I was in my high school's jazz band, where I played alto sax, and in my dream, I was playing tenor along with my friends Kirk (guitar), Andre (keyboards), Wakene (also on sax), along with a few other guys who I didn't recognize on bass & drums.  It was a fun dream.  We were actually pretty good.  I sure wish I knew what sets off these kinds of dreams.  It was kind of cool.

I received a very generous birthday gift of a $125 gift card at Bass Pro Shops.  I'm not a huge outdoors person, and am having a hard time trying to decide what I might purchase at the Outdoor Store.  I don't fish. I don't hunt.  I don't camp.  I don't know anything about taxidermy.  What kind of things should I consider buying?  That's my challenge.  And that's where my daughter and I are heading out to later this afternoon.

Have a great afternoon, everyone!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Rating Kings Dominion's Coasters

What a week!  We're finally home and we have cool air!!!  Our air conditioner is working fine (for now), so after a week away from our own beds, including a trip to Kings Dominion last weekend and camping out at my parent's house all of this week, we are relaxing at home, on our own couch, watching our own TV, eating our own food, using our own computers, and using our own bathrooms.  There's no place like home!

My daughter and I had a great time at Kings Dominion, an amusement park near Richmond, VA, that I hadn't been to in over ten years.  There are thirteen roller coasters at the park, and Melody and I rode eleven of them.  The only reason we didn't get around to the last two was because we ran out of time, but we also wore ourselves out.  Some of them were pretty intense.  The following list is followed by my daughter's impressions of each of them (in italics).

1.  Rebel Yell - Rebel Yell was OK... it made me kind of sick, though.  It was a little rough, too.

2.  The Hurler - This one was fun!  It is the only wooden roller coaster at the park that goes sideways.

3.  Woodstock Express (used to be the Scooby Doo Roller Coaster) - It was tight, but fun!  We had some trouble getting into the cars, but not as much trouble as some people did. 

4.  Volcano - Since we had Fast Lane (it gets you to the front of the line), we were able to enjoy the ride a lot faster then we would if we had stood in that line!  It's one of those rides where your feet dangle.  I really enjoyed this ride. 

5.  Avalanche - It was a little too smooth for a roller coaster.  It had no track, just rode around on a tube-like thing.  I had to sit on my dad's lap!  That was NOT comfortable!! 

6.  The Grizzly -  Like Rebel Yell, it made me kind of sick again.  It was still fun, but just a little rough.  

7.  Ricochet - This ride was the first Wild Mouse ride I've ever ridden.  We got in line for one once, but the line was too long.  It had lots of twists and turns that made you feel like you are about to fall off the edge, but it was still really fun! 

8.  Back Lot Stunt Coaster - Like Verbolten (Busch Gardens Williamsburg, VA), the coasters looked like cars.  Except these cars were like Mini Coopers.  I love Verbolten, and since this ride is similar, I loved this ride, as well.  

9.  Anaconda - Anaconda might have been in the same place as King Cobra, but I don't know that for sure.  It was a little wild.  It even went underwater once! 

10.  Intimidator 305 - This, I thought, was going to be the last ride of the day, but then we rode Shockwave.  They strapped you in good!  It goes up really high, and goes really fast!  It is NASCAR themed, and if you know NASCAR, you know that the cars go really fast.  So did this one.  It had these twists and turns that happened one after another, knocking you into your harness.  It was so rough!  I didn't really like this one.    

11.  Shockwave - Shockwave is a stand up roller coaster.  To ride it, you have to be able to have your feet flat on the floor and be able to stand above this stool-like thing.  This was my first stand up roller coaster, so it was really fun. One of the ride attendants helped me have a more comfortable ride by lowering the stool-like thing. It was a fun ride. 

I'm sad that we couldn't ride Flight of Fear or Dominator, but we rode some other rides that I really liked. We rode Blue Ridge Turnpike, three times, and a ride called Boo Blasters At Boo Hill, three times. Boo Blasters is where the ride that once had characters like Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Wally Gator, etc. etc. was, in Planet Snoopy. I look forward to going back to Kings Dominion soon!  

Numbers 12 and 13 are the Dominator and Flight of Fear.  Dominator, a steel, multi-looping coaster, was located near the entrance to the park, and for some reason, we never made it back to that area.  Flight of Fear, which I have ridden before, is entirely indoors, in a large, enclosed, building in complete darkness, and you have no idea what is happening until it happens.  It is located next to Intimidator 305, and we were too breathless from that one to be able to ride Flight of Fear.

Kings Dominion is a fairly nice park, better than I remembered, and my daughter and I plan to come back.

Have a great evening, everybody!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Technical Difficulties At 44 Years

This has truly been a blessed year! I am so thankful for 44 years of life. I hope the coming year is just as good! I'm so thankful for my great friends, my family, my wonderful daughter and traveling companion, Melody, and I'm so thankful for a wonderfully gracious God. I will also be happy to have my laptop back with a full keyboard so I can type again. Have a great evening, everybody!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Coaster Summer Begins...

My daughter and I spent the weekend at Kings Dominion, just north of Richmond, VA, to begin our Summer of Coasters.  What a blast!  Kings Dominion is an amusement park that has been around for over 35 years. In fact, I remember my family visiting the park when I was a kid.  So it was really neat to be able to take Melody.

Kings Dominion has 13 roller coasters and we were anxious to ride them all.  Several are relatively new, and since it has been over 10 years since my last visit, many were new to me.  But there were some classic coasters that I remembered very well, particularly the quartet of wooden roller coasters.

We arrived at home this afternoon hoping our air conditioner had been fixed, but 87 degree temperatures greeted us when we opened the front door.  Fortunately, my parents invited us to crash at their place for a few days until we get a part that will fix the AC.  I will update our trip more fully once I get access to my laptop... I don't type as well with my thumbs. I need a full keyboard.

Have a cool evening everybody!