Friday, June 29, 2007

Day 128 - 06/28/2007

I had lunch with my dad today. We went to Euro Bistro over in Herndon (it's near Teocalli Tamale). We've been there once before, but it's been a while and, since work is pretty slow, I suggested we head out there.

As always (always being the two other times I've been there), I started off with the goulash. Yum.

I then had the ripchen (a smoked pork chop), which came with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and red cabbage. I was turned onto this in Oklahoma City at Keller in the Castle. We'd have a couple of Franzizkhaner to wash down the meal and were always satisfied. I wish this was as good as the meal in OKC, but it was not to be. The pork was smoked so much it tasted like a thick slice of ham. (Not that it was bad, mind you, the meal was delicious, it's just that it wasn't what I was expecting.)

The red cabbage was on the sweet side, as well as a little soupy. You could taste the apples in it, although there was nothing to indicate there were apples in the meal (I'm guessing they used apple juice). It wasn't anywhere near as good as the cabbage I make; I would not opt for it again.

My dad got the sausage platter. I was thinking about that, but went with the ripchen instead. Hmmmmm...I'm beginning to see a pattern here: First I'm disappointed with my second choice at M&S last weekend and now I'm disappointed with my meal at Euro Bistro.

Lesson learned: Stick with the first choice and get on with it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Day 127 - 06/27/2007

So I was watching a show tonight on really big things. One of them was the largest binoculars in the world (telescopic binoculars, natch). In the soundbite, the scientist said that the lenses were capable of pulling in a million times more light than the human eye. Pretty cool, eh? Yes. But then he said "the light that we're seeing is over five billion years old so that we're, in essence, looking into the past."

I thought back to yesterday's post on whether time exists and snickered.

Is it really the past? I mean, it could be argued that even at the smallest intervals, it takes some time for the light to travel from its source (or reflected surface) to our eyes (or a telescope's lens) and therefore, everything we witness (in terms of light and sound) is in the past.

Or is it the present? The light is here. Now. What we're witnessing is what the light looks like at this moment. That being said, we're looking at where the light came from five billion years ago.

So, which is it?

(We know it's not the future, as that never arrives.)

Alright, enough with the big questions; let's get on with the mundane.

I rode to work (and home as well!). It was hot. We went to Chuck E. Cheese's for dinner (M's official "birthday dinner"). I read two chapters in The Princess Bride (the second of which was only a page long and the kids begged for more).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Day 126 - 06/26/2007

I recently read an interesting article in Discover about time that prompted me to think further about the concept of time (that and a conversation I had recently about how old we are physically vs. how old we are mentally).

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Does time exist as a physical entity or is it merely a figment of our imagination and something that we (mankind) have developed as a means to measure the past, present and future? Or is it something in between? I mean, it's not something tangible that you can put in a box on the shelf to use later or anything. Once it's gone, you can't replace it. To go one step further, is time something we use to measure our passage or is it something that measures us? We often speak of how old we are, where we have to be in 15 minutes, that we're running late, etc., but in the end, we're always in the here and now, the present.

It's like the old riddle that asks: What's always coming, but never arrives?

(In case you didn't know, the answer is tomorrow.)

Unlike the present (which is gone before you know it), the future is always out of our reach. We plan for it and when it arrives, it's no longer the same; it's different. It's the here-and-now vs. the soon-to-be-released. Our plans don't always pan out like we had hoped (whether that be good or bad).

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

If time is a measurement tool, when did it begin? Will it ever end? The answer to both questions (IMHO) is never. Time (the concept, not the measurement itself) is infinite. It was always here and will always be here. Our lives will come to an end eventually (both yours, mine and the Earth's itself), but there will keep on being a past, present and future.

Time machines do exist. Except there's no reverse. And no steering wheel. We move forward at what we believe to be a constant rate as we travel through time. We can't turn around if we forgot to unplug the iron as we head out west for summer vacation. We can physically go home and unplug the iron, but we can't go back to the moment we forgot to unplug it. We need to take advantage of the time we have. What are you going to do today? What did you do yesterday with the time you had? Did you forget to unplug the iron before leaving on your trip?

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Time is sometimes depicted as an arrow pointing to the future. It hardly ever points to the past. The arrowhead is the unknown; the flights are the past. The shaft is the here-and-now, the present. Whoops, there it went. Did you see that? We will never share this space again. We are changing with every breath, every heartbeat, every movement.

The question that remains (and that only you can answer for yourself) is: What will you do with the time you have been granted? Remember, the memories of an old man are made from the actions of his youth. What will your memories be?

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time has gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day 125 - 06/25/2007

Happy Birthday, M!

Nine years ago you graced us with your presence. I hope you enjoy your day as much as I enjoy having you as a daughter. Yes, there are days when we don't see eye-to-eye on things and you don't understand that "because I said so" is enough of a reason for you to do something (or not do something) or that when I tell you not to do something (or to do something), it's because I've done that before and know how it will turn out (or not turn out) and am trying to save you from having to experience it for yourself.

But then I remember that learning is sometimes best accomplished by doing something and experiencing the outcome first hand.

There are more days when I just look at you and can't help but think how smart you are and how, deep down in your heart, you're a caring, wonderful person.

I've enjoyed watching you grow up into the young lady you're becoming. From the days when you used to get baths in the kitchen sink to the days when you no longer need (or want) our help in getting ready for bed. (Not only that, but you're also willing to help N get ready for bed as well.) From when you would stop and smell the flowers as a toddler to the days when you want to help plant the flowers. From when you would ride in your stroller as we went for walks to the days as you would ride your bike as we go for bike rides as a family. From when you could wowed the doctor at your 18-month checkup when you identified all sorts of colors to your penchant to honing your artistic skills for hours on end as a budding artist.

You've come a long way since you were a little peanut wrapped up in your blanket. But some things haven't changed at all. You still love your blankets and you're still our little peanut.

Today is yours. Grab it and make the most of it. Enjoy yourself.

And, most importantly, know that your parents love you very much.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Day 124 - 06/24/2007

As I stated in a previous post, six tickets to today's Nats game (vs. Cleveland) were provided to my team at work, but only one other person was interested in going, so we split them. Mike took his son and D, M, N and I took the other four. Mike met us at the house so we could carpool (we were also provided a parking pass, saving $15 in parking).

We left the house about 1130a (30 minutes behind schedule) and arrived at RFK just about noon. The place was empty; there was no traffic at all heading down 395 and only a single car in front of us at the entrance and the prime (e.g., shady) spots were still available, so we took one. We had the table and chairs setup within minutes and we were soon enjoying assorted foodstuffs. After quenching our thirst and filling our bellies, we headed into the stadium about 1p (it was a 135p start).

After waiting in a short line, I got turned away due to the contraband in my bag. Apparently we're allowed to bring in water (or flavored water), but not sodas or Gatorade. I stepped out of line, traded the Gatorade that was in my bag for the water that was in my pocket and got in another line. I held the bag so that it was in front of the bulging pocket and was allowed in (although she did ask to see the contents of the pocket that she could see -- it was simply my phone, wallet and keys).

The seats were pretty good, although there was no chance in getting a fly ball as we were directly behind home, but underneath the upper deck. The ball would have to bounce at an odd angle if it was to get back to our seats. On the bright side, however, we were sitting in the shade and didn't have to worry about overheating or getting sunburned.

As soon as we sat down, the kids started in on getting their Dipping Dots. I finally relented during the 3rd inning. We walked up to the concourse and halfway around the stadium before heading down a level (where we bought them before). We happened upon the stand and went back to our seats. As it turned out, the stand was right outside the portal beside our section. Had we simply gone down to the portal (vs. up), we wouldn't have had to walk all that way. That's alright, the kids enjoyed it (and it got them out of their seats for some time as well).

They were over it by the 6th inning. However, since Mike came with us, I didn't want to leave early. I hatched a plan that, if things came to a head, I'd take the kids and explore the stadium and meet Mike back at the van. After the 7th inning stretch he said he was ready whenever, so we watched the rest of the inning and took off, listening to the rest of the game in the van on the way home. Apparently, Mike had grown tired of having his son ask for more cotton candy, so he did what every parent should do when faced with constant requests: He took away the desire for (more cotton candy) by changing the venue.

They eventually won the game by a score of 3-1.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Day 123 - 06/23/2007

Today's opening day for the 2007 NVSL season and is also the first year that M decided to join the swim team.

M and I left for the meet bright and early at 730a and headed over to Mantua for the meet. M swam in two events: 8&U 25 meter freestyle and the 8&U 100 meter freestyle relay. For someone who's never swam competitively (and has only been to a handful of practices), she did pretty well. I noticed a few things that she needs to work on with regard to her stroke (such as exhaling underwater), but, overall, she did great. My mom came to the meet and joined D and I cheering her on. N was there as well, but was more interested in playing in the sand vs. cheering on his sister. That's alright, he has to suffer through enough of his sister's events, he deserves to play in the sand every now and again.

Here she is after the meet. I got a few action shots as well, but I thought this was the best of the bunch. Yeah, she's happy.

Afterwards we went to McD's to celebrate her first swim meet. (Actually, we went through the drive-through and ate at home.) She and N both got a McFlurry to help with the celebration, as well as a prized happy meal (they're usually verboten, but on occasion, we'll give in to the pressure).

Mundane: mowed yard, practiced guitar, had a veggie burrito from Chipotle. Watched Cops for the first time in I don't know how long.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Day 122 - 06/22/2007

I rode to work again and again took 50 to work. I think I'll be going this way from now on as it actually seems safer than going Stonecroft. For the vast majority of the trip, I ride on sidewalks or paths whereas when I go via Stonecroft I'm on the road. It's definitely a more relaxing ride, that's for sure.

I chatted with Tammy at the gym about the vulture that was hanging out outside the door and it turns out that there's another one as well. It seems that they're nesting in the bushes, so they'll be a fixture until November (at the earliest) when the fledgling takes to the skies and leaves home. (Apparently vultures are protected and therefore can't be removed unless they're sick or something.)

This afternoon Mike came in and gave me four tickets to the Nats game, plus the parking pass. He was going to take the other two. I was the only person to respond to his message. Sounds good to me. I was looking forward to the game with whomever went, but now that I can bring D and the kids, I'm looking forward to it even more.

After work I rode home on 50 (vs. cutting down Lee Road like I did earlier in the week). Surprisingly enough, it actually not too bad. Traffic was moving slow enough along the most dangerous stretch (between Lee Road and Walney Road) that it wasn't a problem. The worst part of it was crossing the ramps to/from 28 (and even these were pretty easy as traffic was light). I'm thinking more and more about making this the preferred route vs. Stonecroft. Not only is it faster, it seems safer.

D and I met the Barnes, the Craigs and the Rynexes at McCormick and Schmicks in Reston. We had to park on top of the parking deck (al fresco, under the stars you could say) as the parking garage was packed. We met at the bar for a round of drinks before heading to our table. I switched to Mojitos (even though they weren't as good as Brian's) after the first Guinness as I didn't want to feel too full for dinner. We got the Big Chill as an appetizer and it was great. There was smoked salmon, ahi tuna, shrimps, crawfish, oysters, clams, smoked mussels, lump backfin crab meat and cocktail shrimp. We also got the kalamari and spinach artichoke dip (with crab meat) since the Big Chill just wasn't enough for the eight of us.

For my entree I ordered the Sockeye salmon from the Copper River. The water talked it up so much so I switched from the ahi tuna (which is what I had originally ordered). I should have stayed with the ahi tuna. Lesson learned.

For dessert we (as in the eight of us) shared a slice of white chocolate cheesecake. Charlie ordered it, but we joked to the waiter to bring out eight forks, so he did. I'm glad he did so as it was pretty darn good.

We finally got the hint that it was time to go as the staff was readying the tables for lunch the next day. When we got up from the table, the room was empty, save for the waitstaff. We finished our conversation on the sidewalk and we each went our separate ways.

It was a great evening of good friends and (for the most part) good food. I'm not sure where we're going next month, but I'm sure it will be just as fun.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Day 121 - 06/21/2007

I was going to ride in to work, but decided against it as I was planning on riding Friday and didn't want to push it (my knee is still tender a bit from Sunday's triathlon). Instead, I went out for a run. I did what has become my standard route (walk 0.4 miles to warm up, run 3.1 miles, walk 0.4 miles to cool down). However, I was feeling good, so I upped the total to 3.5 and only walked about 0.2 miles as my cool down.

But this post isn't about my run, it's about roadkill.

On the way out, I came across a bowl on the side of the trail.

Hmmmm...that's an odd place to find a bowl, I thought to myself. (Of course, all thoughts are to one's self, so why do writers add this piece of info? Just a thought.)

A few yards up the trail, I came across some more dishes. It turns out the bowl was part of a china place setting that appeared to be meant for a wedding present (based on the wrapping paper and Bed, Bath & Beyond Bridal Registry sticker).

I continued my run, mulling over why a couple of place settings would be left in the middle of the trail.

After passing by them on my way back home, it hit me: They were probably stolen from a wedding held at Cabell's Mill over the weekend. Well, that could be the reason, but why would they still be here 3-4 days after the wedding? Maybe a neighborhood kid stole them and stashed them in the woods and only now was able to get to them. Another option would be they were stolen from a car in a nearby neighborhood and were left there once the thieves found them to be useless (although they're currently going for $35 per place setting on e-Bay!).

After my run, I went back on my bike and brought them back home in hopes that I'd be able to return them to the bride and groom.

Later this afternoon I called Cabell's Mill and asked the ranger to have whomever had their wedding held there to give me a call. If they can identify the pattern, I'd make sure they got them back. If I don't hear from anyone by next week or so, I'll post a message on a neighborhood newsgroup to see if they were taken from someone's car or home. If that doesn't pan out, who knows, maybe we'll keep them (or sell them on e-Bay!).

On a completely unrelated note, tonight I started reading a new book to the kids. It's a story about love and devotion, with princesses, pirates, giants and a rapscallion from Sicily. It also contains a Spaniard seeking to avenge the murder of his father. But, in the end, it's about love.

Oh, the book? It's The Princess Bride. (After the suffering I went through watching the Narnia films, I had to pick something where the post-book movie would be enjoyable to the reader.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day 120 - 06/20/2007

Smokey got loose this morning. N accidentally let him out of the guest room when he went to check on him.

We've had him sequestered in the guest room since he left two piles of runny poop in the family room. We think it was due to his eating Butterfly's food during the time we let him roam the house.

A chase ensued and we finally got him cornered in the sitting room. N shut the door to the hallway and I shut the French doors to our bedroom. D was still in bed when she heard a thonk, followed by laughter. Another thonk and more laughter. A third thonk and still more laughter.

What in the world is going on in there? she wondered.

I'll tell you what was going on in there. We were trying to catch Smokey, but he was too fast. N was by the door (on the opposite side of the rocker) and I was near the chest. Smokey was under the chest, trying to seek refuge. When I reached under to pull him out, he ran around the room, saw N standing there and kept going until he saw his chance to escape through the hole in one of the French doors.

There are ten holes in each door.

Thonk. Laughter.

Each hole is filled with glass.

Around the room he went again.

Thonk. Laughter.

And again.

Thonk. Laughter.

By this time, he was a little dazed from running full tilt into the glass panes and I was able to catch him. He hissed at me a couple of times, but to no avail. He was headed back to isolation in the guest room.

M had her birthday party tonight. Although her birthday isn't until Monday (she's the Windows 98 baby as she and Windows 98 were born on the same day), she wanted to celebrate it beforehand (as she's always celebrated it afterwards). Sure, no problem.

The girls started arriving about 5p and were immediately shown to the kitchen table, where a Webkinz® for each girl was waiting, along with a carrying case and shoebox covered with paper for decorating. (The shoe box served as the bed; blankets of felt were also provided.) After decorating their boxes, each girl registered their Webkinz® before pizza was served on the deck. Once the party formalities were done (e.g., cake, ice cream, presents) they went back inside to play some games and then watch Sky High. At 9p the girls' parents picked them up and D and I finished cleaning up and put the kids to bed.

All in all, it was a great party. The girls had a great time, as did N, once he got out of his funk. (During one of the games, he was the first one called out and ran up to his room to pout. We think it was due to all the girls surrounding him and no attention being thrown his way. Ah, the joys of being a younger brother.)

After everyone was in bed, I relaxed by practicing my guitar. I couldn't go full force as I didn't want to keep D up (who wasn't feeling that well), but, as it turned out, did so anyway. I finally called it quits for the night after getting in about an hour of practicing. I'm seeing improvement, which encourages me to keep practicing -- a positive feedback loop at work!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Day 119 - 06/19/2007

Frank stopped by the office after a meeting and we shot the breeze before deciding to head over to Phô 98 for a bowl of soup and some spring rolls. He picked up the other Frank and I met "the Franks" (as I refer to them when they're together) at the restaurant. (I had guitar lessons at 1230p, so I had to drive separately). Not only was it hot outside (90°+), but it was hot inside as well. I'm not sure if their A/C was running on low or the fact that we were sitting in front of the window that was the root of the interior discomfort. Of course, the additional heat we added to the soup probably didn't do much for our body heat. I was sweating bullets by the time lunch was over. Of course, halfway through my soup I added a second squirt of lime, but it slipped out of my fingers and splashed in my soup. Said soup then splattered all over my shirt, forcing me to make a trip home for a new shirt.

After lunch, I headed across the parking lot for my guitar lesson. They're repaving the parking lot, so parking was at a premium, but I got a rock star spot. The bad thing was that I still had to walk across the lot to the store and the smell was enough to give you a headache. Fortunately it didn't permeate into the store, otherwise I don't think I could've handled it.

I learned a new chord (G7) and got a few more pages to practice (in addition to what I'm already doing). The only thing that was crossed off the list was Brother John (Are You Sleeping?). There were a few things I need to work on from last week (note identification, scales and chord changes), but overall Greg saw improvement. More importantly, so do I.

Now that M is moved up to the regular swim team, she's got to participate in the regular team events. Tonight was time trials so I took M to the pool and hung around while the team warmed up. (The 8&U kids didn't get but five minutes to warm up, whereas the rest got about 30 minutes....hmmmm....maybe it's so that the kids don't get too tired warming up too much.) I volunteered to be a timer and had a pretty good time of it. Even though she didn't win any of her events, M did pretty good...especially considering she's only been to two practices. I imagine that by the end of the season, she'll be in the top half of the better swimmers in her age group. Her strokes need some work, but again, after two practices, that's to be expected. I'm glad she decided to join the swim team (and even more proud of her for sticking with it after being moved up vs. quitting). I hope she has just as much fun (if not more) as I did.

After we got home, we decorated her cake. (We're celebrating her birthday tomorrow, even though her birthday isn't until Monday.) This year we didn't go whole hog with the cake (vs. last year with the swimming pool) and did a simple sleeping bag. Well, simple in the way that the Partridge Family bus is a school bus with a simple paint scheme.

Of course, after it was done, it just looked like a cake with modern art frosting (don't ya think?!?). All that's needed is black stripes separating the colors and it would look good in a frame. Or on a bus.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Day 118 - 06/18/2007

I tried a new route to work this morning. I usually cut through the neighborhood and then cross 28 by Westfields before heading north on Stonecroft to 50. I decided to go straight up Stringfellow to 50 instead, just to see what it's like. I think I may start going that route (at least in the morning). I'm only "on 50" for about 3/4 of a mile (the rest of the time I'm on a path or service road). The portion where I'm on 50 was pretty lightly traveled, as most traffic at that point is heading in the opposite direction. Surprisingly enough, it only took me 20 minutes to get to work. I don't why I was surprised, as it's only 5 miles (vs. 7 miles going the "back" way). What is surprising is that's just about what it takes me to get to work by car. Traffic sucks. I wish I could ride everyday, but I don't think my schedule (or my knees) will allow me to do so.

So far this summer, my knees haven't bothered me as much as last year. After running on Sunday -- and riding -- they were a bit sore. I'm not going to push it and overdo it though; I'll get back to normal when the time is right...and no sooner.

The way home was a different story. I will NOT ride on 50 eastbound in the evening. The interchange with 28 is just too dangerous, especially before Sullyfield Circle where there's no shoulder (and immediately beyond the curb is a concrete wall topped with a split rail fence). No thanks, that's not for me.

Instead, I went around my elbow to save my thumb (and the rest of me). I bypassed the interchange by heading south on Lee Road, turning onto Willard Road (where I crossed 28 with a light) and continued on up to Walney. Once on Walney, I cut behind Pohanka and came out on the service road. I took that until Lees Corner, where I got on the trail. I wasn't going to go this way home, but I had to stop by Blockbuster to pick up Sky High for M's birthday party on Wednesday. After stopping off and picking up the movie, I headed home.

Overall, the commute of 8 miles (on the nose) took me just about 40 minutes. It took me 10 minutes just to ride back from Greenbriar Shopping Center, but three of those were spent sitting at the light at Stringfellow.

We finally finished The Silver Chair. I am so glad that series of movies is done. It was getting too painful to watch the bad special effects at work. I guess I need to get the next book to read to the kids (hopefully they'll like it as much as I enjoyed the movie).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Day 117 - 06/17/2007

Today is my day in my household. It's not my birthday, but Father's Day. With that in mind, I'm going to do things my way. (Of course, I'll take suggestions from my family, for without them, I wouldn't be able to celebrate the day!)

I started off the day with a 40 minute run. (Well, technically only 28 minutes as the first and last six minutes were spent walking as a warmup/cooldown.) As much as I want to do more, I'm afraid of relapsing with my knees. After one run, they're fine, but after 2-3 over the course of the week, they start to bother me in my every day life (e.g., sitting at my desk at work). This is what I'm trying to avoid. I can deal with the pain during the run (which, fortunately, has been pretty much non-existent), but I'd rather not have pain when I'm just sitting around.

After my run, I kicked back on the deck and read the paper, sipping my coffee and noshing on my breakfast (consisting of an onion bagel, lox, cream cheese, tomato and onion). D was kind enough to pick up the breakfast fixin's for me, knowing how much I love bagels and lox. Yum

Since the kids slept in late (and I was being lazy), we decided to postpone Mass until 1230p and the kids and I went for a bike ride. 90+ minutes and ~5 miles later, we arrived back home, just in time to...miss Mass. Not to worry, there's always 530p.

We ate lunch and hit the pool, whee I played with the kids and got in 500 meters in the lap lane during breaks to finish my first ever Father's Day Triathlon (although it was in reverse order from they typical triathlon).

After the pool, we finally got to Mass. I called in an order to Tony's for a couple of pies (cheese for the kids, pepperoni, mushrooms and sausage for the grownups) that I picked up after dropping D and the kids off at home. (Tony's is the only restaurant I have in my cell's phone book. Try them if you're in the area. You will NOT be disappointed!) Since it's Father's Day, it's my choice and that's what I chose for dinner!

I've never been one for celebrating Father's Day as I didn't see the need. Not sure whether this is a result of my upbringing or just because I don't think there needs to be a reason to celebrate fatherhood anymore than there needs to be a reason to celebrate motherhood. My outlook has changed over the past few months though. No longer do I look at things from my point of view; I have learned to try and look at things from my kids point of view. This has helped me see a bigger, more important picture. Again, even though today is Father's Day, a day to celebrate fathers, the family shouldn't be ignored. They're the reason we (fathers) are being honored. The least we can do is remember them on this (and every other) day as well.

D, M and N -- thank you for the great day today and for everything you bring me on a daily basis. I love you all very much.

Day 116 - 06/16/2007

Today was N's last game of the season. Again, he played great, both in the field and at bat. He still needs to work on catching and throwing, but he's getting the basics down and is no longer running all over the field to get the ball (a few of his teammates still move into others' positions to make the play). His hitting has come a long way since starting a few months ago. He's pretty much hitting the ball on the first attempt and getting to first base pretty quickly.

Overall, the season has been a rewarding one. The kids have grown a lot in terms of skill and friendship. Some of them should return for another season of t-ball next year, but others should move up to coach-pitch. And then there are those who should give it up and try something else. Like soccer. Or video games. You get the idea.

After the game we had the end-of-season party at the picnic area adjacent to the fields. There were donuts, bagels and muffins for all to enjoy, as well as sodas, juice and water. (There was supposed to be coffee, but the organizer felt that not many people would want hot coffee in hot weather.

Uh, hello, it's morning and you're serving donuts, bagels and muffins, but no coffee?!? If I had known that, I would've brewed myself a pot before leaving home! Arrgh! Caffeine withdrawal...must...have...caffeine!

After the kids got chocolate all over their hands and faces from the donuts, they were given their trophies. N was so excited about getting it that he couldn't contain himself. I could continue to describe his joy, but I think the below picture pretty much sums it up. (Note the chocolate about his mouth, as well as the spots on his shirt.)

After the party, he went over to the playground and then came back for his trophy so that he could show it off to the kids that were there.

For the record, I'm of the ilk that kids shouldn't get rewards for participation, but for winning. However, seeing as this is a developmental league, there is no winning or losing, just skills building. As part of the registration fee, each player receives a medal, indicating they participated in the season. For an extra fee, the teams can purchase their own trophies. Seeing as this was N's first experience in organized sports, I supported the trophy route and, after seeing how much it means to him, am glad I did. Not only did he want to take it to the pool with us, he also wanted to take down the shelves in his room and build a trophy case. Or in his words "one of those things with shelves on it with doors made of glass and lights in it to shine on my trophies." Of course, his hands were moving the entire time.

Uh, no N, not yet. The shelves you already have are more than adequate for storing your one trophy. But thanks for making me smile.

Since it's been almost two weeks since I mowed the yard last, I decided it needed to be done, so I took advantage of D and M being at a shower for Stacey and mowed the yard. N played in his room (driving his trophy around the room in the back of a pickup truck) before he got bored and went outside to play with Jimmy (who he was sure to show his trophy to).

After finishing up the yard, as well as various other outdoor chores, N and I went to the pool to relax. I was able to get in 10 laps again and felt pretty good about it. N didn't go down the slide this time, but he did take a ride around the pool on my back, which is progress. Hopefully by the end of the summer he'll be swimming on his own (as in, you know, actually swimming).

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night we went to the Knox's to enjoy the company of friends around the Tiki Bar. There were about 30 kids there (representing the 10 or so families that were there) and all of them had a great time. At one point I looked out from the deck and saw what reminded me of a swarm of ants, moving this way and that, but never bumping into each other. It was pure joy.

Speaking of pure joy (well, not really, but I had to segue somehow), I made a batch of Coco Locos for the party. I haven't nailed the recipe yet, but am getting a better handle of what's required. The last time I made them, I used the following:
  • 1/2 gallon Sunkist Orange-Pineapple-Banana Juice
  • 13.5 oz coconut milk (Grace)
  • 13.5 oz Bacardi (silver)
  • 6 oz Creme de Banana
That was pretty good, but it wasn't coconuty enough. This time, I decided on:
  • 1/2 gallon Sunkist Orange-Pineapple Juice
  • 13.5 oz coconut milk w/ pulp (not Grace, but a Thai brand)
  • 13.5 oz Bacardi (silver)
  • 6 oz Creme de Banana
This time the pulp was distracting, but it was better in terms of its coconutiness. I think the next time I make it, I'll try using Coco Ribe vs. Bacardi. Maybe that will be the ticket needed.

Day 115 - 06/15/2007

I left early today as D had a doctor's appointment. She and the kids were down at Molly's when I got home, so I met her there before heading home for lunch. I had planned on getting the kids after I ate lunch, but before I could finish, they came up (as did Kendall, Charlie and Betsy) to see if we could go to the pool. Seeing as work wasn't pressing (I just needed to monitor e-mail), I agreed and, after changing into our suits, we headed to the pool.

The weather wasn't all that conducive to being in the water, but that didn't stop us (although it did stop most other people -- we were the only ones there!). While the kids played in the shallow end, I swam some laps (10 in all). It isn't much, but it's better than nothing (especially as I blew off going to the gym today since I knew I'd be leaving early). I'm not training for anything; I'm just doing it for exercise. Hopefully by the end of the summer I'll be up to 20 laps at a time. (I'm sure I could do that amount now. It's not about the distance, but the time I have during breaks.)

After returning from the pool, I got to work on iTriTracker. I had a customer report an issue with importing multisport events (e.g., she couldn't), so I've been working on trying to figure out the problem. Fortunately she sent me the file she was using so I was able to replicate the issue and code a fix. Now I just need to update the help file and website before releasing the upgrade. She's been amenable to the delay in getting her data into iTriTracker, which is nice, especially since she encountered an error shortly after purchasing her license.

Speaking of iTriTracker, it's been three years now since I came up with the idea to create it. Hopefully the next three years will see many more customers heading my way, I'm getting tired of supporting this venture with Cabell's Mill website administration money. (Of course, seeing as I'm not really doing much to earn the $50 monthly retainer, I guess I shouldn't complain too much.)

Day 114 - 06/14/2007

Who'd have thunk there was a good happy hour spot in Chantilly? I certainly didn't. (Of course, being a happily married man, the only time I go to happy hour is when my colleagues put something together. It's not like I need to head out on a daily basis like some of the regulars at Fat Tuesday's back in the day.)

Well, today I found out differently. We typically go to The Bungalow for happy hour, but that's fallen out of favor as, unless you're playing pool, there's not a lot of room for a large group (unless the Monkey Room is opened, which it usually isn't as it's typically booked up with private parties).

Anyway, today I discovered something new. In downtown Chantilly, amidst the strip malls, auto parks and traffic laden roads, there's a place where happy hour exists. The only specials that exist are $1.25 domestic bottles (of the BudMilCo variety). (Of course, seeing as I shy away from cold piss, Guinness is on tap, although the price was anything but special.) Even though it was threatening to rain and the temps were in the 60s, there were tons of people on the outside patio. At first, most of the clientele was of the suit variety, coming from work for a few cold ones, but as the afternoon wore on and turned into early evening, the business crowd thinned out, only to be replaced with twenty-somethings on the prowl.

The place?

Backyard Grill.

P.S. You know what's funny? When I spellchecked this post, BudMilCo was highlighted as incorrectly spelled. The first word offered as a replacement was Buttermilk.


Day 113 - 06/13/2007

I love summer as it allows me to get in free exercise while heading to and from work on my bike. The ride home, however, was another matter altogether.

The thing about riding in the summertime is that you run the risk of getting caught in a thunderstorm on the way home. Today was no exception. The forecast was for the thunder boomers to come through around 530p, but at 330p, the sky darkened and it became very threatening looking out my window. Curse words were flying about the sky.

That's it, I'm out of here I said to myself and quickly changed for the ride home. Heading outside, though, the sky to the West was a different story. There were rows of clouds heading East like waves heading towards the beach, but between the rows, the sky was blue. Maybe I had overreacted. I had pulled the trigger, though, so I headed home as planned.

As I headed down Stonecroft, I noticed the sky to the East become even more ominous. Instead of continuing in an easterly direction, the clouds shifted back to the southwest, coming directly into my path. By the time I crossed over 28, lightning began flashing in the distance. This only forced me to pedal harder. I had 12-15 minutes before I was home and if I dawdled, I wasn't going to make it before the rain began falling.

By the time I passed St. Tim's, the lightning had become more frequent. I turned back at Poplar Parc and sought refuge in the church while the storm passed. Just as I made it inside, the clouds opened up: the rain came down in buckets, thunder crashed and lightning flashed. I made the right decision in turning back. (I found out the next day that one of my colleagues had seen a tornado out his office window. Fortunately, no damage was done and it dissipated in less than a minute.)

After waiting out the storm (and getting some prayers in since I was there), I got back on my bike 20 minutes later and finished my ride home without further difficulties.

That was the first of a few fronts to come through the area. The second one came right at the end of N's t-ball game. We were rushing the kids to get through the game as the sky again turned ominous. There's a strict rule on ending the game when thunder or lightning is heard or seen, but that never happened. Instead, the rain held off until the end of the game when it started sprinkling, turning into a full down-pour as most of the players were getting in their cars. (As for N's play, I used the same trick as last week and it worked for a second time in a row. He played well in the field and got three good hits.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Day 112 - 06/12/2007

I had my first official guitar lesson. The instructor seems to be knowledgeable and we seemed to mesh. He asked me what my background was with regard to playing (and music in general) and then asked me to play for him. Seeing as Bare Necessities is a pretty catchy tune (and hopefully known by most), I decided on that one (vs. murdering Killing Me Softly). I messed up at first, but after restarting and calming down, I sailed through it. He was impressed that I was using the right fingers for the notes being played (I should hope so, I didn't study Mel Bay's Guitar for Beginners all those years ago for nothing!) and was also surprised when I told him how I learned it (from the sheet music). This back and forth laid the foundation for where he wants to take me and he quickly started me on a regimen for getting me to where I want to go.

Where do I want to go with this? I'm 39 years old and am taking my first guitar lesson? What am I thinking? I'm thinking I should have done this years ago. I got my guitar about 20 years ago as a Christmas present and immediately plunged into teaching myself from a book. Over the years, I've gone through the cycle of not playing for months to playing for weeks at a time. While my fingering skills improved (e.g., I can play individual notes when reading the music), I never got to a point where I would feel comfortable playing in public.

Heck, I never even got to the point where my family enjoyed my playing!


As I said, I never got to the point where I wanted to focus on chords. I'd start here and there, but never put the effort into committing them to memory. It takes a while to get the muscle memory down, not only for the chord itself, but also for the transition from one to another. As I sit here and type this, I'm thinking back to when I learned touch-typing in high school. Had I not taken typing all those years ago, would I be as proficient as I am now? Maybe. But then again, I work with a guy who types everyday with his two index fingers and is always looking down at the keyboard. Would he do better if he took typing lessons now? I would imagine so, but look at all the time he's been plodding along hunting and pecking. That's the way I feel about playing. I'm tired of doing the same songs over and over. I'm tired of not being able to play songs that I'd also want to sing along with. I'm tired of watching M progress through her piano playing while I sit there and pluck the same tunes over and over again. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that she plays piano and is progressing through the ranks, but as I watch her improve, I realize that in the time she's been taking piano lessons, I've been wasting it by not moving forward with my guitar interest. I've always had an interest in playing music and have attempted to learn several instruments over the course of the years (recorder, violin, trumpet, fife and guitar), but never had the focus to keep at it and master any of them. Hopefully this time it will stick.

So there you have it. As I said, I had my first official guitar lesson today. I'm on my way, the copy of Mel Bay Children's Guitar Method (Book 1) sitting in my case at home says so.


The kids and I watched Prince Caspian, started The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The effects are much better than the first movie and Lucy is getting more palatable. She seems to have grown up a bit and her dramatic interjections have been toned down a bit (either that or the actress has honed her craft since filming The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Day 111 - 06/11/2007

With the kids out of school for the summer, this morning was the first opportunity I had to ride my bike to work. As with most other mornings, everything went fine until the lawn care parking lot on Stonecroft. As usual, right as I'm approaching the lot, a couple of trucks pull out belching filth into my path. As usual, I slow down from 18-20 to 11-13 to lessen the depth the fumes will reach within my lungs. Fortunately, this didn't cause me to miss the light at 50 as it's butt-long to begin with.

I hit the gym, had a good workout and showered (they fixed the water, I can shower!) before heading across the parking lot to the office for a long day of sitting at my desk. (Actually, it won't be that long as I have to leave by 430p to get home in time to get ready for M's softball team party.

I broke up the day by heading out with some colleagues for lunch at the South Riding Inn. I must not be feeling well as this is two lunches in a row with colleagues. I wasn't planning on going but 1) there were no paper towels in the kitchen, so I couldn't cover my soup bowl and prevent it from splattering all over the microwave; and 2) $5 burgers all day long on Mondays! Now, I'm not one to tout the health benefits of burgers and fries, but for $5, I figure I'd give it a shot. As it turns out, I wasn't disappointed. Both the burger (topped with cheddar, provolone, bacon and jalapeños) and the fries were very satisfying. This might become a regular Monday destination (well, maybe every other Monday).

As planned, I left work about 430p. We had to leave for M's softball party by 530p and I needed to wash up once I got home. I just missed the light at 50 as it turned red right as I got to it. Oh well, nothing like huffing the fumes of the afternoon rush hour chugging along 50 for three minutes waiting for the light to cycle through to green. This was an omen, though, as I was stopped at the majority of the lights I hit on the way home (except for the one at Point Pleasant that turned green right as I approached it and I smoked the Jaguar off the line).

We picked up Heather, Ryan and Riley on the way to the party (Burke was coming from work) and made our way to the party. Even with a detour due to construction on Centreville Road, we still arrived right on time. Of course, in doing so, we proved to be the first one there. Drinks were ready for us, as were chips and the pizza arrived after a while. The girls got their medals and after some more chit-chat, we headed home...

...where we finished watching The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (but not until the kids showered, where N slipped on the soap and whacked his eye against something and now he looks like he got in a barroom brawl). As it has all along, it stayed true to the book. Now we only need to suffer through three more movies. I'm not sure if I'll be able to handle it if the special effects are the same. They remind me of those used in Dr. Who back in the '80s. I will, however, rent the recent remake to see what modern-day CGI can do for it. I'm sure it will be much easier on the eyes.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Day 110 - 06/10/2007

Another lazy Sunday. We all slept in due to the late night out at Mike's house. We missed 1045a Mass, attending 1230p instead. Fr. Carr announced the new priest assignments and we'll be getting a new priest. From his name, it sounds like another Irishman. Hopefully he'll be in the same vein as Fr. Carrol or Fr. Carr. Since we're getting a new priest, that also means we're losing a priest. Unfortunately, it's Fr. Carr. I was hoping it'd be Fr. Beres as he's been here longer (and I enjoy Fr. Carr's homilies and reverence more than I do Fr. Beres), but it looks like he'll be here at least another year.

After Mass, we ate lunch and (finally) at 230p, we left for the Fairfax Fair. We parked across from Galyan's (I will not call it Dick's) and took the shuttle bus over to the Fair itself. The kids enjoy the ride and it's so much easier than trying to find a spot near the Government Center. Once we got to the Fair, we met up with Burke and Heather and wandered around the booths.

Riley is on M's softball team and they've been friends since we lived in the old 'hood, so they paired up for the better part of the day and N and Ryan paired up. Even though Ryan has a few years on N, it looked like he enjoyed the attention N was giving him and led him around like a big brother. This made it much easier on all of us as the kids wanted to be around each other and watched out for each other.

With that in mind, we all went over to the beer tent and spent the afternoon quaffing cold ones.


I didn't know about the hand-stamp ($18 for a hand-stamp giving all-day access to all rides vs. $20 for 20 tickets), so I spent $20 on tickets before going back and getting a hand-stamp for M and N. Once that was out of the way, they were in and out of the rides, fun-houses, slides, whatever, all afternoon. The fun ended at 6p, however, when the stamps expired. (Although the Fair closed at 6p, the rides stayed open until 730p, but required tickets.) We had enough of that, so we said our goodbyes and took the shuttle back to our car.

After we got home, D made a Boboli (which I snubbed when I saw her prepping it, but after it was done I was siced for it) and afterwards we continued watching The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. We still haven't finished it. Maybe on Monday.

Day 109 - 06/09/2007

N had a T-ball game this morning. We rode our bikes to the game and on the way I found a quarter. I told N he could have it if he didn't goof off during the game. It apparently worked as he ran hard every time he got a hit and was much better in the field. He still has a way to go (especially with fielding), but at least he was paying attention vs. playing in the dirt. Actually, all the kids seem to be coming along. Maybe it's because one of the kids with an attention deficit wasn't there. Things go so much easier when he's not around. Is it bad that I'm glad when he doesn't show up? Or maybe it's because they're just so much better at games on Saturdays vs. during the week after they've been out playing all day. I guess we'll find out next week.

M had her last softball game of the season. She's also come a long way over the course of the season. I'm really glad she enjoys softball as much as she does. I'm not sure whether she'll ever try soccer again, but I'd be surprised if she didn't stick with softball. Her hitting is vastly improved, as is her fielding (well, some of it, there were a few plays where she completely blew her assignment, but what she did was exactly what her coach told her to do). I hoped to be able to work with both of them more than I did over the course of the season, but wasn't able to as they weren't always receptive to practicing their skills on non-practice days. That's alright. I've learned my lesson with N's training wheels and if they don't want to do something, I'm not going to force the issue just because I think they should do it. (Well, not for everything, I will continue to push on those things I deem to be important or once-in-a-while type opportunities.)

We headed to one of N's coaches house for a coach party this afternoon. D took M over to Fair Oaks for a birthday party at Build-A-Bear and came back. (Of course, I put the wrong address into the GPS and it took her half-way across the county in trying to get to the mall, which is no more than five minutes from Mike's house. Arrgh.)

The big revelation came soon after N and I arrived. Mike told me that the other Mike also went to LBSS. I asked him when he graduated and when he said '82, I asked him if he knew CL.


What about CF.

"Sure did. Both from HS as well as from delivering her paper."

It turns out he lived in my neighborhood growing up and was the guy who dropped off CF and my papers for us to deliver. We reminisced about Mr. Schaefer (our distributor) and about the time our stacks of paper were lit on fire by a disgruntled customer of CFs (well, we thought it was him; she rejected his advances when she was asked out on a date).

I know this isn't really a big question (although I'll label it as such), but more of a six degrees of separation at work again type of thing, but in this area, it seems there are more and more folks running into people who know people (or who they know from their past) in an environment that is totally unexpected.

This new-found revelation turned the topic of conversation to other types of relationships and it turns out the wife of one of the other coaches grew up a mile from me (but in the WS school district) and worked at the pool that Mike went to. Another one turned out that a few of them knew a neighbor of ours across from the school. After a few minutes of this, I tossed out the trump card in that she (the neighbor) used to work for my mom way back in the early '80s.

Again, it's amazing how these connections are identified so many years later. I guess the adage that the DC area is so transient is no longer valid.

Day 108 - 06/08/2007

I went to Sweetwater Tavern for lunch with some colleagues. I normally don't eat with my co-workers (save for 1-2 times per month) as they tend to go to the chain restaurants. I was hoping to talk them into the new pho place across the street, but they talked me into Sweetwater instead. Now, it could be argued that Sweetwater is a chain restaurant (seeing as there are three of them in the area), but I would say they're not. Sure, they're not a mom-and-pop shop, as they're owned by Great American Restaurants, but they are local and they provide great food along with great service (and, if you're going for the beer, that's great too!).

Anyway, I wasn't disappointed. I had the pulled-pork sandwich, which came with their fries. Now, normally I wouldn't be too gung-ho about french fries, but theirs are some of the best around. Nice and crispy on the outside, nice and soft on the inside, yet without the overcooked flavor (or color) that comes with getting the crispy outside. Topped with a dash of salt and pepper, they're perfect by themselves (although that didn't stop me from requesting a second bullet of ketchup).

After lunch, I took off early to drop off the DVDs to M's class. I was hoping to get there before they moved up, but was unable to do so, so I had to interrupt the 4th grade classes to hand them out. M's teacher wasn't too bothered by the intrusion, but the other one made me feel as if I was interrupting a meeting of some secret society. Finally, after waiting 30 minutes, she let me in to pass them out. If this is what she's like the rest of the year as well, I'm glad she's not M's teacher.

After school, we all went out to McDonald's for our end of the year lunch. (Well, usually it's lunch, but for some reason they had a full day of school vs. a half-day as in previous years). I would rather have gone elsewhere, but this was M's choice (for the second year in a row), so I dealt with it. Just like last year, we sat at the "bar" (but, unlike last year, D and N were included).

After lunch, D and the kids went to the pool while I worked on ScratchPad. I added spell checking functionality in hopes that that is what's holding people back from buying it. Sales have been trickling lately, but, out of the three products I offer, ScratchPad has the most customers (with 22). (I know, nothing to retire on, but it's 22 more customers than I'd have had I not done anything.) After getting most of the work done, I joined them at the pool as well. I got in my laps during break (while D and the kids were at the playground) and afterwards played w/ M and Mary in the deep end while D kept an eye on N.

We started The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but were unable to finish it due to the time. (It's almost three hours long.) Right off the bat I became annoyed with the actress they cast as Lucy. Peter, Susan and Edmund are pretty good, but Lucy...not so much. If she could act, I could overlook her physical features, but since she can't, neither can I. Oh well, hopefully they'll cast someone else for the rest of the series.

Once the kids were in bed, I tried to watch The Phantom Menace, but N gave it the boot as it was too loud. D and I ended up watching Planet Earth: Deep Ocean, which was pretty interesting. I'd love to see this series in high-def and, even though I'll have already seen it, I think I'll get the DVDs when they come out. (Even though we have satellite, the picture is somewhat pixelated, giving he impression of graininess when watching shows. I'm not sure if this is due to the closeness of the couch to the set or the picture quality coming from the satellite.)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Day 107 - 06/07/2007

I picked up the ball that I dropped yesterday.

I sent D an e-mail outlining what could be done to salvage her plan and requested that I be allowed to pick up the ball. I was glad to be given the second chance and took the afternoon off from work to work on the project. (Work is slow lately, so it's not like I was missing anything.) On the bright side, we were able to include pictures from the end of the year party on the DVD, as well as pictures from another family as well.

In the end, the slideshow turned out great. We had 99 pictures and had Fat Boy Slim's "Praise You" as the background music. It lasted about five minutes and was a nice way to sum up the school year. I finished burning the DVDs and applying the labels around 1030p and tomorrow I'll get the jewel-cases for them so they don't break on the way home from school.

After burning a few copies (and determining that I could burn them in 1:30 vs. 8:30 using different software), I took the kids to the pool for a few hours in the water. M loves the pool, but always wants to play in the deep end with me. This would be fine if it were only her and I, but with N, I have to be close to him in the shallow end, which causes M to get upset. Fortunately, one of the boys from her class was there so they played together while I watched N.

(Yes, there are lifeguards at the pool, but c'mon, do you really think they're paying 100% attention to all the kids all of the time?)

During break I was able to get in 10 laps, alternating between freestyle and breast stroke. I'm hoping to work my way up to 20 laps by the end of the summer, but am not training for anything specific. I love swimming and see the lap lane as a great way to get in some extra exercise while the kids are enjoying themselves. Like bike riding, I hope them seeing me swim laps gets them to want to emulate me. So far M is open to swimming strokes, but N is more into being a crazy kid. To wit, I overheard the following exchange between N and another kid in the shallow end:

N: I'm cuckoo.

Other kid: Blank stare.

N: You can call me cuckoo.

Other kid: Blank stare.

N: My real name is N, but I'm really a cuckoo bird.

Other kid swims away.

Great, my son's going to get a reputation as the crazy kid. Not to worry, though, he has a few more years yet before he grows into the age of reason. I think I'll just sit back and enjoy his mannerisms before they're all gone.

We finished the last two chapters of Narnia tonight. It's been a long slog, but an enjoyable one. Tonight the Christian theme really came to a head with the realization that Narnia was heaven and that Aslan and Tash were God and the Devil. Looking back over the book, I'm sure I could find even more specifics (some obvious, others not so obvious). If I ever read this book again, I'll have to research the thematic elements a little closer to see if I can recognize the different story lines. Regardless, it's a great series of books and, even without the underlying Christian themes, the kids and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Day 106 - 06/06/2007

N had another game tonight. When will this season be over? I've come to the conclusion that weeknight games and 5-6 year old kids don't mix. Yet again the kids were goofing off, not playing like they should and walking (or skipping) on the basepaths. The saving grace was that there were only seven players on the opposing team, which made the game go by pretty quickly. After getting home, I had the remaining coco loco mix from the weekend to soothe the jagged edges. It's pretty bad when a T-ball game drives you to drink.

Once the kids were in bed, I settled into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup. Down 3-1, the Senators needed a great game to mount their comeback, but the Ducks wouldn't let them. Every time they got some momentum going, the Ducks came back with more of their own. At the end of the game, both sides shook hands (which is one of my favorite scenes in all of sport) and the Ducks raised Lord Stanley's Cup in celebration. All in all, this year's playoffs were pretty good. I didn't watch nearly as many games as I usually do. I'm not sure if that's due to my new-found mental state or whether it's just the realization that, whether I watch it or not, the outcome will be the same, so why not do something that's more worthwhile (like work on iTriTracker or read a book or something else productive). Maybe the Caps will provide me with more of a reason to watch next year. I'm getting tired of rooting for good hockey vs. my home team.

During intermission, I put some time into adding a few links to One was to a triathlon training course that sent me a linkback request. I checked out their site and thought it would benefit me as well, so I honored their request. I also added one to one of the running forums I participate in. Working on it reminded me that I have some work to do with regard to analytics and search engine optimization in order to (hopefully) up the page rank and make it more visible to search engines and (theoretically) increase sales.

Back in April, D asked me to put together a slideshow with pictures of M's class over the course of the year.

"Sure," I told her, "not a problem. When did you want it done?"

"June 6th so I can hand them out at their end of the year party on June 7th," she replied.

"Not a problem."

Uh, yeah, apparently it was a problem as when she asked me about it after I had settled into watching hockey, I had completely forgotten about it. (To her credit, she had reminded me about it a few times after her initial request.) I tried to offer alternatives or suggest that I could get it done, but it was too little, too late. I dropped the ball and now I had to find a way to pick it up. It wasn't going to happen tonight, though, as D had resigned herself to using plan B: Shutterfly.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Day 105 - 06/05/2007

I went to the gym today and got in a good workout. Well, not as good as I had wanted as I didn't want to get that great of a sweat going so I skipped the 40 minutes on the bike and instead did an easy 20. The reason being was that they were working on one of the water fountains, so they had to turn the water off for the entire gym. Therefore I couldn't shower and without the possibility of a shower, I couldn't sweat as much as I usually do. So, like I said, I took it light.

I got a call from D this afternoon indicating that N had left the basement door open and Smokey was hiding in the back basement somewhere. They looked high and low for him, but couldn't find him. When I got home, I went down and looked for him and, after searching for a few minutes in places I would hide if I was a cat (dark and out of the way), I found him hiding in one of the car seats we had in the yard-sale pile. I had just picked him up when both N and M erupted with joy for me having found him. Startled, he clawed his way out of my arms and went back into hiding. I found him behind the paint this time, but it was time for dinner, so I left him for later. After dinner, I found him back in the car seat. This time I was able to get him out and I put him back in the bathroom for the night.

D's cousin Aaron is in town for a class for his job so we invited him out for dinner. (He's a civil engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation in Springfield, IL.) D and the kids picked him up from Vienna and I took him back to his hotel after dinner. His class is a train-the-trainer type of class, where he's learning all sorts of newly-discovered techniques for managing various road-types. He'll then take his new found knowledge back to Illinois and relay what he's learned to whosoever is interested in learning it. D made barbecue chicken with the requisite sides (fruit salad -- a staple in our house from May until September) and corn on the cob, along with a green salad. We ate on the deck and enjoyed our visit with him. After dinner we played a quick game of Skipbo before N and I took him back to his hotel.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Day 104 - 06/04/2007

A colleague and I went to a customer site to install the latest version of our software. They're migrating from one product to another so they're running our migration utility (which I'm responsible for supporting). They were having problems with performance issues with a previous version; the version we were installing rectified them.

We got down there a little late due to traffic on 66. Who knew rush hour continued until almost 10a?!? We ended up jumping off and taking 50 in from the Beltway. I love taking that drive as it's like a trip down memory lane. When we moved back from Germany in '77, we continued to go to church in Falls Church and would take 50 from the Beltway. It's been neat to see it change over the years.

After a quick stop at Starbucks for coffee, we headed up to the customer's offices and installed the latest version. After logging in, we performance increases. Great. After an hour or so of troubleshooting, we kicked off the compute statistics operation and headed out to lunch.

We walked north on 14th Street up to O Street and ate lunch at Thai Tanic. The food was pretty good, as was the atmosphere. Much better than the last time we had Thai downtown, that's for sure. After lunch, we walked back to the office, with a quick detour to the Renwick Gallery to check out some culture. There's a piece there that I wanted to show my colleague as I was sure he'd appreciate it. As it turns out, he did, so the trip was worth it.

If you're ever in DC, stop at the Renwick and take a peek at the Ghost Clock. You won't be disappointed.

It was I who was disappointed after returning to the office and finding that the compute statistics operation didn't do anything for performance. We were still experiencing a delay in execution, so I continued my investigation. Minutes turned into hours and the next thing you know it was quitting time. We headed back to the office with a list of action items and a sense of frustration. Not only did we not get the job done, but the customer with whom we were supposed to meet blew us off. He knew we were coming down, yet was no where to be found.

I dropped my colleague off at the office and headed home. D's cousin Aaron is coming for dinner on Tuesday and I needed to mow the lawn. Halfway through the front yard, N came out and asked if he could help.

"Sorry, N, you're not old enough."

M then came out and told me to just have him walk with me. The light bulb went off and I stepped outside the box I had surrounded myself with.

"Sure, N," I told him, "you can help me once I get to the back."

He beamed with excitement and waited patiently while I finished up the front.

As it turned out, both N and M helped me. N held the handle while I walked beside him and, after doing the same with M for a few strips, she took complete control and mowed a dozen or so strips by herself. She grew tired of it though, so I finished up for them. Maybe she'll be able to mow the yard on her own this summer after all (vs. next summer like I was suspecting).

After eating dinner, showering and putting the kids to bed, I settled in for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Ottawa needs to win this one to avoid going down 3-1 against Anaheim. They were unable to get any momentum going and played lackluster hockey for the better part of two periods. It was only in the 3rd period when either team started showing signs of life, but it looks like Ottawa doesn't want it as bad as Anaheim, as they ended up in the position they don't want to be in: down 3-1.

Day 103 - 06/03/2007

We slept in due to the late night with the Barnes' over and didn't get dressed until after lunch. We were supposed to go to N's end-of-the-year party at Bull Run, but it was canceled due to rain. So, with that in mind, e had a lazy Sunday, staying in our pajamas until after lunch and not getting to Mass until 530p.

Actually, it was a nice and relaxing way to end the weekend. Sometimes you just have to do nothing all day long in order to recharge for the week ahead.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Day 102 - 06/02/2007

Both M and N had ball games this morning. N and I rode to his as it was up at Poplar Tree Park and by the time it was done (at 1030a), the temps were reaching the upper 90s. We rode home, expecting to find an empty house (thinking D and M were at M's game), but they were home. They stopped by the house after pictures as it didn't take as long as we thought it would.

The three of them drove to M's game, but I rode my bike to the field (Greenbriar East). The ride was a quick one and took me along Rocky Run trail in Greenbriar. It's a great trail that I often use when I run and is pretty much shaded the entire way.

The ball field, however, was not. D and Heather stood in the shade the entire time, but I sat in the sun, taking stats. Fortunately I slathered on suntan lotion (or, sun cream, as it's called in the UK) so I wouldn't get burned.

After the game, I headed up to the store for fixin's for dinner. Since we ordered pizza for Memorial Day, I wanted to have burgers and dogs for dinner. While shopping I got the idea that we should have friends over for dinner and bought a little extra in case we did.

While I was finishing up, I called D to get her choice of beverages and she told me that our neighbor had dropped off the kitten that she had for us. By the time I got home, he had crawled under the vanity in our bathroom and couldn't be coaxed out. He would stay that way until I took apart the vanity (e.g., sawed off the shoe molding w/ a hacksaw) later that night. He's a cute little guy, although he seems to be underfed. He's pretty much nothing but skin and bones and does not look like he's been eating properly. He's entirely grey from nose to tail (a dark grey, sort of like a thundercloud) and looks to be short-haired. It's hard to tell right now though, maybe his hair will turn out differently. We're still settling on what to name him. As with most pets, we need to figure out his personality and go with something that matches that. Right now we're not really calling him anything.

The Barnes family came for dinner and we ended up out on the deck until late. The kids didn't get to bed until 1030p and D and I were up until past midnight getting the kitten out from under the vanity. I just hope that Butterfly adjusts without too much difficulty. The last time we tried to bring in a new cat to the house, she started peeing on our bed (which she does when she's stressed out). Hopefully this won't be a repeat of that.

Day 101 - 06/01/2007

A colleague and I went to lunch today. We're heading down to a customer site on Monday and needed to plan out our day. That and we were in the mood for sushi. We headed to Sho Chiku in Centreville, which has become our sushi place of choice and, again, we were not disappointed.

I was disappointed when the topic of conversation turned to his marriage. Or should I say soon to be failed marriage. He and his wife have been married for a year (we share the same anniversary) and have a daughter. (She brought a daughter from a previous relationship into the marriage.) Apparently things haven't been going well and she moved out shortly after their first anniversary. I tried to get a sense of what went wrong, but was only provided with her sense of possessiveness. While it doesn't sound like they'll work it out, I'm still holding out hope. Maybe they'll both come to understand that relationships need time to grow and that they (as a couple) need to grow with it. From what's been shared over the course of the year, it seems that neither were committed to being a couple after the wedding. They took turns in a tit-for-tat fashion when it came to doing things (vs. letting it all come out in the wash or doing things together). Looking back, I've come to realize that compromising is a great way to grow a relationship (as is sharing the same interests and goals).

I also think that sharing some kind of faith-based ideology is a key to a successful relationship. Neither of the relationships that have soured over the past year contained any iota of this, which may well have added to their destruction. I'm not saying that those without a belief system will not be able to work it out, just that having one may provide a better foundation on which to grow as a couple.

There was no Narnia read to the kids. M had a friend (attempt to) spend the night. Things were going smoothly until it was time for lights out. After about 15-20 minutes in the dark, she realized she wanted to go home and I ended up taking her home. I tried contacting her parents to let them know I'd be bringing her home, but they didn't answer the phone. I knew her dad was home as she had just spoken with him 20 minutes earlier, so I decided to drive her home anyway. As we pulled into the driveway, I saw that the front door was open and lights were on, so I walked her up to the door. It was at this point when we found the house empty. We looked on the deck, in the basement and upstairs, but no one was home. I tried their cell phones, but got no answer. Since she was tired, I told her to head upstairs to bed and I'd try and locate them and that I'd wait for them to get home if I had to.

I killed time by playing guitar (which sounded much nicer and seemed easier to finger than mine) before giving up and going next door to see if they were there. Sure enough, all three were there and, after explaining the situation to her mom, I headed back home.

Oh well, maybe next time.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Day 100 - 05/31/2007

Damn those deer!

Remember those rose bushes we bought and planted on Sunday? The ones with the nice fat buds that were just waiting to bloom (well, I'm not sure if I added that, but they had nice fat buds, just waiting to bloom). Well, the deer got them.

I went out to the car yesterday morning and, as I've done thus far this week, I checked the roses to see how they were doing. I was looking forward to seeing the biggest one in full bloom, but instead I saw...nubbins. With the exception of one, ALL of them had been eaten.

Damn those deer.

Alright, calm down. It's not the end of the world. They'll grow back. So I walked down the front walk to the driveway and noticed the lilies I had transplanted. There were a few with flower heads coming on them and...they too were gone.

Damn them! Damn them! Damn them!

So, I spent the majority of the day researching deer-proofing techniques. Until I can find one that works (or kill all the deer that are hanging around the house, which probably won't occur anytime soon), I'll stick with what is rumored to be true: pissing on the roses. Apparently urine of male meat eating humans does the trick in deterring deer. In addition to friends mentioning this, I also heard it on NPR, so it must be true -- although a quick search online doesn't show anything to substantiate this claim. I just hope the neighbors don't mind it.