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Current Music:Free Me -- Foo Fighters
Current Location:United States, Pennsylvania, Canonsburg
Subject:Free Me
Time:09:40 am
Current Mood:determineddetermined
All the titles of my LJ posts are Foo Fighter songs. For our anniversary, Sara got us tickets to see Dave and the boys at the Consol on September, 24th (I believe, I don't have the date in front of me). So, until the 24th, or there around, I am going to use Foo Fighter songs as my title. Using songs is not unusual for me, just go back and look in the beginning.
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Tags:, , ,
Subject:Learn to Fly
Time:10:11 pm
Well, I'm back. It's been 11 months since I last posted. A lot is going on, or well, isn't going on, depending on how you look at it. As of Friday, July 29th, I am Unemployed. I lost my job. Part of me posting again is that when I started on Livejournal, it became a sort of therapy. I was graduated from college and ready to start in a world that, frankly, didn't give a shit about me. Over time I have found great jobs and garbage jobs, but I keep coming back to LJ as a way of processing all of it. I have used this as a sounding board for myself and I would like to think a few folks out there read what I say and enjoy what I say. I always think it is funny when some foreign person replies to one of my posts. They say something that means almost nothing to me. At least they replied, right?

A ton has changed in my life since last August. I went to Alaska and was blown away. I really can't imagine a more amazing place in this entire world. We paid 7 million dollars for it. the Indy Colts will pay Peyton Manning more than that this year for something a lot less useful. I think one day I would like to go back and climb Denali. Seven people have died on "The Great One" this year and that presents a pretty cool challenge for me. I'd like to do it before my 20 year high school reunion. Why? Just to say I did it.

If you have followed my LJ in the past, sometimes I bitch about my weight here. I'm currently sitting at 217.6 which is about 10 lbs. heavier then I was this time last year and about 5 heavier than when I started this thing. I know my problem is my diet and my metabolism. My fuel burner just doesn't burn the fuel. If my body were a TV show, it would be "Hoarders". It can't get rid of the fat, or it won't. I think I am going to try some pretty radical things since I am not working. One might be to drop down to 1200 calories and watch everything I eat for 2 weeks. Maybe I go vegetarian for a month. I'll probably do both. I just want to see what works. Obesity is the current epidemic facing Americans right now. My BMI says I am Obese. Well, Ray Lewis and most Linebackers in the NFL are obese as well, take it for what it is worth. I think I am still at a point where I want to see if I can get down to 190# and have washboard abs. I am young enough to do weird things in my diet without putting myself in the hospital and at any rate I should at least be able to get my cardio up to climb McKinley. Can't be lugging a fat gut up 20,320 feet, can we?

So, over the next few weeks, I'll post about looking for a new job and my workouts and what I did around the house. Being Unemployed sucks, but it was for the best. I was doing nothing in my current job, it was a dead-end. The Lord was telling me to get going, and now I am gone. Listen, if you are a Facebook friend, don't post anything about my job status on Facebook, I'll have a new job in a few weeks, then you can congratulate me. Until then, just hold tight, because I am going to be doing a lot of great stuff in the next few months!
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Current Location:United States, Pennsylvania, Canonsburg
Subject:For my long awaited return...
Time:09:40 pm
I did one of these 7 years ago on this very day, so I am going to do one again in celebration of me returning to Livejournal!

1. Who did you last get angry with? All the Philadelphia Sports teams, except the 76ers.
2. What is your weapon of choice? My fan
3. Would you hit a member of the opposite sex? Only if Sifu said it was ok
4. How about of the same sex? That's what Sanshou is for, right?
5. Who was the last person who got really angry at you? Sara, perk of being married
6. What is your pet peeve? Paying too much for professional athletes
7. Do you keep grudges, or can you let them go easily? I hate to say it, but I can really hold a grudge

1. What is one thing you're supposed to do daily that you haven't done in a long time? I donno, I'm pretty good at doing the dailies
2. What is the latest you've ever woken up? Nowadays it's 830
3. Name a person you've been meaning to contact, but haven't: Grandma Joan
4. What is the last lame excuse you made? I really can't remember, my life is one lame excuse after another
5. Have you ever watched an infomercial all the way through? Sad to say, yes
6. When was the last time you got a good workout in? Friday, Wah Lum Dai Yei Low.
7. How many times did you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock today? Usually three

1. What is your overpriced yuppie beverage of choice? Yuppie bevs are so passe
2. Meat eaters: white meat or dark meat?: Why choose
3. What is the greatest amount of alcohol you've had in one sitting? If you can remember, you didn't drink nearly enough
4. Have you ever used a professional diet company? I do Kung Fu
5. Do you have an issue with your weight? Losing... It's become an obsession
6. Do you prefer sweets, salty foods, or spicy foods? I like food in general
7. Have you ever looked at a small housepet or child and thought, "LUNCH"? No, but one cycloptic cat in my house things I do...

1. How many people have you seen naked (not counting movies/family)? Wow, this question lost some scandal over the years...
2. How many people have seen YOU naked (not counting physicians/family)? Well, they probably didn't see afterward...
3. Have you ever caught yourself staring at the chest/crotch of a member of your gender of choice during a normal conversation? Yeah, probably
4. Have you "done it"? I'm married now.
5. What is your favorite body part on a person of your gender of choice? Hair, I like hair
6. Have you ever been propositioned by a prostitute? No, I usually avoid Beaver Falls, PA
7. Have you ever had to get tested for an STD or pregnancy? Only herpies...

1. How many credit cards do you own? Two now
2. What's your guilty pleasure store? Amazon.com
3. If you had one million dollars, what would you do with it? Go back to Alaska
4. Would you rather be rich, or famous? Famous, or imfamous...
5. Would you accept a boring job if it meant you would make megabucks? Yeah, I'd sell out
6. Have you ever stolen anything? I pirates music when I was in college, and that is stealing...
7. How many MP3s are on your hard drive? Umm, yeah, little dated, we call them "iTunes" now...

1. What one thing have you done that you're most proud of? Purchased a house
2. What one thing have you done that your parents are most proud of? I haven't killed anyone...yet...
3. What thing would you like to accomplish in your life? I don't want my kids to think I'm a loser.
4. Do you get annoyed by coming in second place? Nope, because the winner is probably not good at something else that I am good at, at least I was able to get second.
5. Have you ever entered a contest of skill, knowing you were of much higher skill than all the other competitors? Who hasn't? It just makes you feel good.
6. Have you ever cheated on something to get a higher score? I used cheat codes on DOOM, the old video game. It is fun to slaughter the minions of Satan and know they can do nothing to stop you...
7. What did you do today that you're proud of? Walked two miles at Brady's Run Park with my lovily wife

1. What item (or person) of your friends' would you most want to have for your own? Nope, I'm too enlightend to want their crap...
2. Who would you want to go on "Trading Spaces" with? Is this show even on?
3. If you could be anyone else in the world, who would you be? Rush Limbaugh, so I could go shoot myself in the head...
4. Have you ever been cheated on? YES
5. Have you ever wished you had a physical feature different from your own? I wish I was a little bit taller...
6. What inborn trait do you see in others that you wish you had for yourself? Better knees and hips...
7. Do you wish you'd come up with this survey? nopper...

What is your favorite deadly sin? RAGE
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Time:04:55 pm
I realized when I got back from my adventures, that I had been really sloppy in my diet. Lucky for me, I didn't get too crazy and I floated around 209 lbs. So, I am going to pick back up on my diet and my dieting blog. I think I am going to make it a little more 'upbeat'? I mean, I can't feel like I am going to commit suicide if I don't lose pounds every day, right?

First off, I am not over weight, but I probably am fat. I admit it. I have a belly. It could be genetic, dad has a belly and Pap Brinley had one too. Pap Til was Type II for Pete's sake. We all sort of have a weight problem. Gramma Mary Jo has a funny weight problem, let's just call it "bionic". I'm starting to think that my desire to lose this belly is not for my health, but it is a challange to see if I can beat genetics. If you know me, which not many people do anymore because I have met so many new people in the past 3 years, but if you knew me better, then you know I love me a challange.

I started an account on Livestrong.com. I had one, I just need to keep up with it. I got moan-y today about having the bar set at 1800 calories and I was thinking that might kill me and I might be right, because if I stick at 1800 calories, I will probably be 170lbs. by Christmas. I want to be between 190 and 195. If I go by the scale last night, then that is about 19 lbs. By the way, I broke the old scale. We got home from vacation, I stepped on at like 210 and was pretty depressed/sleepy and I stepped through the screen... So, I had to bring "Terror Scale" upstairs. T.S. for short, was our scale in Columbus that believes I am perpetually 209lbs. One time in my life have I seen it place me at 198lbs. I had been working my ass off for weeks, eating nothing and wishing I could die when I stepped on. Needless to say my diet ended and about 2 years later I had balooned up to about 230#. It was rough. A 32# swing is tough to deal with. I blame it on Burger King and my new experiences with Beer. My liver and all my fat production areas were in HEAVEN. My body loves being fat. And it is not healthy. My posture suffers because of it. I think my gall bladder might have stones in it. I may look ok, but there is a mess under my skin.

So, how am I going to get back on track? Well, I changed my weight loss goals on Livestrong. I had it set to lose 3.3# a week, but I am sure 2 is a lot better right now. I am going to meticulously count my calories. Dr. Oz said on hhis show yesterday that you should have a buddy, so I enlisted Sara. I think she busts my balls to look like she kknows what she is talking about, but whatever. She can look however she wants.

I am going to get my body down to 195lbs for me. I am going to get rid of my belly in hope that my wife will think I am sexier for it. I am going to do this diet for everyone around me who thinks dieting is hard because, well... dieting is hard and if you are going to support people on their quest, you need to have gone on the quest yourself. I am going to do this because I want to do it. I'm already pretty physically fit. I have good cardio and I can hold my own in a fight. I just want to get rid of the weight that exists on my stomach that when I go to bed at night, it feels like a brick is on my stomach, keeping me from breathing right. I am going to do this, dammit! And I am going to give myself something to be proud about!
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Current Location:Virginia Beach, VA
Subject:Last Mango in Paris
Time:09:06 am
I didn't finish my Atlanta post from last weekend and here I am, getting ready to leave Va. Beach and I still haven't finished last weekend's post. This should be fun, so here we go.

On Monday, I finally met up with the Leighly Family. Nickie Leighly, formerly Murphy, is one of my very oldest friends. We have know each other for about 25 years now. If you think about it, that is a huge chunk of my life considering I will be 30 in just a few days. Let's get off my age subject and back to the family. So, I have to admit going to Atlanta was maily to see her and Shaun and the kids. It had been 2 years to the week since I had seen them last. The kids had all grown. Elias is old enough to play football this fall, Reese will probably be doing Pre-K this fall. Blaine is old enough to talk now and I had never seen Solomon, so this was something I needed to do. Oh, did I mention Nickie is pregnant with little Yuka? (Yep, read it again, it will make sense.) Nick proposed we go to the World of Coca Cola and I'm glad she did. They have a bottling plant on site. It is small and it lets you see how they bottle Coke. There are all kinds of exhibits and movies. It's really cool. The real cool part is the drinks from around the world. Some are good, some are crap, and then there is Beverly... After WoCC, we went to CNN and ate lunch at Chick-Fil-A. For me, it was the 57th time to eat there in 3 days, but the kids love it and I really like it. I gave each of my darlings a present after dinner. To Elias, I gave a Troy Polamalu jersey which his 6 year old instincts told him was cloths and he wasn't very happy with me. This will be fodder for many years of joking with him. I can't wait until the Steelers get yet another great player and he calls his Uncle Joe, begging him to drive an hour to South Hills Village to get said jersey of said player. I am going to make sure that little boy never forgets... And we'll laugh about it for years to come. For little Reese, a pony with an English sattle. Blaine got some Iron Man and Solomon got some Cars cars. I'm sure Elias could have probably taken the boys' stuff by now. Toys as gifts are kind of lost on little kids...

I kissed my darlings good bye, hugged Nick and Shaun and made my way to Peachtree Station to catch MARTA to the Airport. I got my ticket with no problems and moved to security. I didn't check a bag and maybe this was a mistake because the free bottle of coke that you get at the museum... yeah, the TSA bastards took it. I don't want to get into details, but at least the guy at the gate was nice about it. The long and short about my time in the airport is that my plane was delayed over an hour because it needed to be cleaned. I got home around 10 and went right off to bed.

The days in between Atlanta and Va. Beach were regular days. Actually, I had work on my desk which is a nice change to normal. I went to Kung Fu on Wednesday night and again on Friday. I hadn't packed on Friday night so I stayed up most of the night to pack. Needless to say, the 6:30 alarm came really early on Saturday morning.

Saturday we drove from Pittsburgh to Charlottesville to visit Monticello. I had always wanted to go to the Jefferson estate and thankfully, my Father-in-Law shares my love of history. If you ever get a chance, the place is amazing. The tours are well done and the landscape is beautiful. Jefferson, being one of my favorite Presidents, was a very interesting guy. He started designing the house at 23 and penned the Declaration at 33, which is amazing. The grounds are beautiful and it is well worth the money to tour the grounds. After Monticello, we ate on campus at a Taphouse that was pretty average but had bison hambergers on the menu. We drove though UVa and then back to our utilitatian hotel. Saturday was a good day.

Sunday we finally made it to Virginia Beach. Let me say that I had been here 4 times previous to this week. When I was 4 I didn't make it the full two-weeks and mom and dad had to come get me. The next year, I came again and my Aunt Cyndi taught me how to read. She is a reading specialist in Waynesburg, or was before she retired, so reading is what she does. I came one more time with my Aunt and Uncle after they had adopted my first cousin, I believe I was 7. I next came with mom and dad when I was 15 and we spent a day on the beach after doing Williamsburg and all the other sights in this area. Needless to say, I know this area but wow, it really grew up!

The beach is a lot cleaner now. Upside, not as many jellyfish no real seaweed on the beach. The fauna has been scared to more private areas of the beach. Although, Dolphins do swim very close here on occasion. They swim just up to the breakers, just close enough to taunt stupid tourists. The downside is that there are no shells on the beach anymore. This used to be a real shelly beach, not anymore. You still get jets flying over which is really cool. We've had a lot of really good weather and have been fortunate. I'm actually a little burned. Probably the most noticable changes to the beach are the 'toll' you have to pay to go out on the pier now, which really sucks, and the Statue of Neptune which really doesn't suck. The statue is really quite awesome.

A nice change is the entertainment on every corner of their Atlantic Avenue. You have little booths on the street for musicians and facepainters and fortune-tellers. They rope off some of the main streets so jugglers can perform. A certain juggler names Hilby, the skinny German Juggle Boy was a big hit among my family. He interacts with the crowd and does some pretty good jokes. He has some pretty good one-liners like "I'm going to do this until everyone likes it." He was very good. If you have time, Youtube him, you won't regreat it.

The food here is still really good. After our failure on Sunday night of eating at Wendy's, we righted the ship on Monday night and ate at a local Pizza place here called 'Dough Boys' which is really good beach pizza. Tuesday night we ate barbecue at a place called 'Beach Bully's'. Wednesday night we took a suggestion form a family at our church and ate at a place called the 'Beach Pub' where I had crab cakes and it was really good. Sara had poached salmon that was good enough that Bob tried it. I know, Bob Hage TRIED salmon. He didn't like it, but he tried it, amazing enough. Thursday night we ate at 'Abbey Road' which is a Beatles Themed place that was just as good as I remembered. Bob, Sue and I had burgers, Sara had pasta. I almost regreat we didn't make it to Jewish Mothers this time because it is really good food, but thankfully there is always next time.

I am still amamzed by the level of junk stores here. Sunsation rules the streets. I took a pass on Taffy this time. I remember when it was 50 cents a box, now it is 1.29 a box. What a bummer. It's really cool the bikes that are still around as well.

The waves here have been on and off. At the beginning of the week the waves were brutally big but the warm water made them fun. As the week got on, the waves smoothed out and the water got cold. On Thursday the waves got rough again, but the water was still cool. On my last day it looks like we might finds some middle ground, I'll let you know.

Out plan for today is to get a little more burned, then go to a Norfolk Tides baseball game, then leave in the morning. I tend to call this day "The Last Mango in Paris" after the Jimmy Buffet song. I don't want to leave, but I miss the boys. It was a GREAT vacation with Bob and Sue. This was the first vacation that Sara and I paid for on our own. Responsibility is a really cool thing. So, until my next trip into Neptune's Salty Domain:

"I ate the Last Mango in Paris,
I took the Last Plane out of Saigon
I took the first fast boat to China
And Jimmy, there's still so much to be done"
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Current Location:Holiday Inn -- World Congress, Atlanta, GA
Subject:Coming Away with a Different Point of View
Time:11:49 pm
I think the Rappers Ludacris and both members of Outkast are from Atlanta, right? I don't know why I thought of that, I just did. Well, it's my last night in Atlanta and I thought I would write about my weekend here. I know why they had the Olympics here in 1996, it's a big enough city. This was my second trip here and I can tell you that this trip left me with a much better impression of Atlanta than the trip we made down here in 2006. I can honestly say that I would love to come back here in the future, if the Lord permits. I'm sure there were things I didn't get to see. Dad has a conference here next year. Maybe Shara and I will fly down from Pittsburgh and spend a weekend with Mom and Dad. Maybe Sara can come too...

Anyhow, if you have never heard me tell the story, we came for the 2006 Sugar Bowl. If you don't remember, Katrina made it so that the Super Dome in New Orleans could not be used. WVU had the pleasure of playing the SEC Champion that year... the University of Georgia. Athens is about 70 miles away while Morgantown is nearly 13 hours away. Since we were in Columbus, it was more like 15 hours. We drove down and stayed at Aunt Maura's in Whinston-Salem which is always a good trip, then we drove the rest of the way to Atlanta on New Year's Day. The game was played on Jan. 2, then we would come back to Columbus on Jan.3 so I could go to work at Ladder Man on Jan. 4. We got to Atlanta in early evening. The Falcons played the Carolina Panthers in the last game of the season. All Mike Vick and the Falcons had to do was win and they were in the Playoffs. Instead, Carolina beats them 31-3 and they don't even get a Wild Card. So, we drive to our hotel and there are people milling all over; depressed fans who want to end their lives because of a huge blunder. Sara and I get lost and have to pull a chinese fire drill so she can find the number for the hotel and call them so we can find them. Finally, we find the dumpy Super 8 and pull in the garage to park but our rooms are not ready and we have to come back. So, we go off to find my frat brother Rich who said he had free tickets to the game for us, Sara and I had got tickets on eBay before he offfered us tickets, so we were going to scalp our tickets. We got to Rich, who was staying at the same Holiday Inn that I compose this post from. The place is packed to the roof with people. He leaves his parents to go with us and we set off across Atlanta. I didn't mention that it had been drizzling all day. Somehow we find the Atlanta Underground, have dinner, get on MARTA, find a fan party in the middle of Nowhere, then get back on MARTA, take Sara's friend Sara's friend Katie back to the Hilton, where the WVU band was staying. We decide that it is Midnight and we just want to get to our Hotel room, so we get a taxi and he charges us 20 BUCKS to go 3 BLOCKS!!! I know because I walked the route yesterday... We get to the "Not So" Super 8 and Sara goes to our room while I get our bags...

So, side story to this story. Bums in Atlanta are SUPER helpful. You can always find one. He is usually a 18-55 year old black male. He is eager to help you until you tell him you have no cash, then he will finish guiding you and give you directions to find your own way...

Back to the pre story. So, I get the bags and while I do, a drunk bum yells at me, YELLS at me "A man, u got some cas man? A, I say A (A= Hey) I know you ear me. Yo, dat cold man, dat cold." Listen, it's after midnight, he's probably drunk off whatever hooch he could find, I'm new in town, what would you do, I ignored him. Got to our room which was a spectacular mess and went right to sleep. I had to be at the ticket office at the Georgia Dome at 9 am to get my free ticket... Or so I thought. I did get to the GA Dome at 9 am but nobody was there. I call Rich, he says to be there at 5 pm now for a 7:30 kickoff. So I slump back to the hotel. I am cold, and wet and angry. I said, "God, please make this trip worth it." We skipped lunch and had a coffee at the Starbucks at the World Congress. We went inside the Congress to see the score of the Ohio State-Notre Dame game. A lot of the Gerogia fans were for Notre Dame which made me hate them even more. I love the Buckeyes, I hate Notre Dame and I hate Brady Quinn. I was glad when Ted Ginn scored the first Buckeye touchdown and they never looked back.

We did get our free ticket but at the cost of selling our eBay tickets for far under value. We got 90 bucks for our 300 dollar tickets. The management of tickets was aweful on Atlanta's part. Falcon season ticket holders got priority on ticket buying. I can't imagine too many Falcon fans that aren't UGA fans. Then UGA and WVU got to split 40,000 tickets. If you do the math, the stadium was about 75-25 on the fan side and you could see the tiny pockets of WVU fans. We got in and the game was electric!!! Steve Slaton had 204 yards rushing. DJ Shockley basically gave WVU the ball on three occasions yet, it is WVU and something always goes wrong. The score was 31-21 at the half. WVU would score a touchdown on a long run and Georgia would score again. With less than 2 minutes left in the game, Rich Rodriguez proved why he was a great coach at WVU when he faked a punt icing the game. I honestly cried at the end of the game. God had come through, and WVU was the Beast of the East. We owned Georgia. In the words of Brad Nessler, "He needed about 7 and he got 12" the trip was finally paying off.

We got up the next morning, packed and ready to run. I carried our bags to the Focus while Sara checked us out. As I approached our car, I noticed stuff on it and when I got near it, I could tell what that stuff was. There was human feces on my car. It also looked like spit on the car. At first, I figured it was an angry Georgia Fan, then I remembered we had Ohio Tags. Yepper, that bum showed me. He shit on our car. Actually he probably took a dump somewhere, then put it on our car, then spat on it. I vowed right then that I hated Atlanta and that William Tecumsa Sherman was totally justified for burning this place and too bad that bomb in centennial park didn't get the guy that did this to our car... I was PISSED. We both were mortified as we drove out of Atalnta. I did get the stuff off the car, I scooped it into a paper cup, found the nicest car with GA tags and put the cup right in the middle of the hood. PISSED We got to Knoxville and finally washed the car. We got to Cincinnati before I had finally cooled off. I hated Atlanta.

Almost 4 years later, Sara and I decide to come to the AVMA Conference here in Atlanta. I have a friend here that I hope to see tomorrow morning before I fly out. We flew out of Pittsburgh Friday evening and the flight was really quick. In about 1h 12m we got here. Super quick, not 15 hours. We got a taxi from the Airport and he got us right here. We are staying at the Holiday Inn -- World Congress. If you come to Atlanta, I highly recommend this hotel, quick access to the World Congress and CNN. Very nice staff, pretty affordable, blah blah blah.

Saturday morning came early. I walked Sara to the World Congress to get my guest badge. I did get to see Jeff Corwin from Animal Planet and Disney. I think he is with CBS now? He's doing stuff in the Gulf and makes no bones about it. He did a show where he had a snake and a alligator and a big toad and an Asian Lizard. All very cool. I left Sara and she went to here classes and I walked on my won. Somewhere on my way to CNN I got acosted by my first bum. He was a nice guy, very knowledgable about the Steelers but I had no cash to give him and I apologized. I had 60 bucks with Sara because I knew I was a prime target to "Help" these guys. He was a nice guy, though. I did get into CNN and I found an Atlanta Braves Club house store. Their Sunday home hat is very cool. It is the logo "A" with a tomahawk that crosses the A. Very cool in my book, so I got one. Not a big Braves fan, but I think I have forgiven them for 1992. I explored Olympic park a little after that and considered tours of CNN and World of Coke. CNN is a 55 minute tour that costs 134 bucks and you MIGHT get to see Robin Meade. World of Coke is a 15 dollar tour that my liver wanted to do for the High Fructose Corn Syrup alone. Any way to make me fatter... I skipped both and had lunch with Sara at CNN. They have all kinds of places to eat so I decided to eat at Chick-Fil-A. I guess if you have to eat Wendy's in Columbus, then you have to eat Chick-Fil-a in Atlanta. They have a spicy chicken sandwich in Atlanta that is really good and I hope it tests well and comes to Pittsburgh. I can get fat off that and not really care...

After Lunch, Sara went to her back cracker lab and I walked to the Capitol. I got help from my second bum to get there. I still had no cash. I think this dude wanted to kick my ass after I told him. I could see me with dude in an Armbar in front of Gerogia State Univeristy but instead I told him my own sob story. I think he felt a little sorry for me. I said "You're homeless, but I have to deal with having a good education and my wofe taking care of me. Do you know how little that makes you feel?" I also told him "Do you think I'd walk if I had the money? There is a reason I am walking around Atlanta at 1:30 in the afternoon, in 98 degree temps with a 105 heat index..." Guy got me to the Capitol, no questions asked. After the Capitol, I walked back, stopping off at the Gerogia Underground. Do not ever waste your time here. They have a Johnny Rockets and that is about it. It is a tourist dive, plain and simple. So I came back to the hotel, took a nap and waited for Sara to call for dinner.

Dinner was a special treat. Taco Mac's at Philips Area is a special place. They have 130 beers ON TAP here. And all good stuff. Phin and Matt's, Left Hand Milk Stout, Yeungling, Magic Hat, some Tommyknocker stuff, stuff I've only heard about; they have the works. My burger was great as well. After a great dinner, Sara dragged me to a Drum Corp International competition in, of all places, the Georgia Dome! Getting back in was emotional for me. I could still feel in my gut the sensation that WVU could lose and I got choaked up remembering Phil Brady take that fake punt. I watched the highlight videos on Youtube. This is a good one. It was almost like going back to Mecca, almost.

I got up Sunday morning and was sorely disappointed that I forgot that Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sunday, so I go breakfast at Wendy's... Whatever. I sat in CNN for a little while, hoping Fox News was a crap toilet hole compared to this place. I mean, CNN has the longest escelator in the world or something... I don't even know if I spelled escelator right, but it is real impressive, 8 stories. After I got tired of sitting inside I went back to Olympic Park and called Mom and Dad. Dad has a conference here next year, remember? So I think I might come. I was telling them how cool this place is and how wimpy the Capitol is (it's like a glorified court house with a big gold dome, really) and I was telling Mom about the Olympic Fountain and the mob of cuteness with all the little kinds running in the fountain. It was quite nice. At noon, I met Sara and we walked though the exhibit hall at the Georgia Congress. People peddling their wares. I guess the "Wave Neveau" in pet food is Probiotics. Iams had this cute leggy blond chick running their video on how useful prebiotics and probiotics are, whatever. I can't help but wonder how acient canines lived without probiotics for millions of years. I also wondered if my own diarrea machine would benefit from probiotics. Gilbert produces the most amazing shat that can ever be shat. It smells like if poo could get rotten, then a skunk could skunk it, then well, you get the point, it is aweful. But it wasn't all bad questions. We met a company that does all natural pet foods. When I say all natural, I mean ALL NATURAL. For example, look at a can of pet food. Usually the first ingredants are water and meat biproducts. These folks list their first as 'deboned chicken'. Water is not even on the list. They do not use corn meal, rather rice meal from Europe, not China. If you have a food alergy, these folks are the way to go. I think they are called "Wellness". My Cost Accountant genes shuttered at the price this stuff costs, while my inner smart-ass wondered if some of the bums would have eaten this stuff and been glad to because of the natural stuff in it. We got to meet a veterinary accupuncturist. I was a skeptic, but that actually sounds really cool to me now. The Chinese developed it and when it took off with people, they incorporated it with animals. Horses especially like it. In 2012 the lady is planning on doing classes in Atlanta, maybe by then Sara and I will have a little one and we can make another trip down here, just a thought. After the exhibits, I stopped again at CNN and had Gorin's deli. They have a sandwich with chicken and almonds... unbe-freakin-stounding. I then made it all the way back to the hotel and started "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", I got all of 10 pages read before Sara skipped her lectures and we took a nap the rest of the afternoon. We got up at 6 and got ready for the evening at the Georgia Aquarium.

If in Atlanta, go to the Aquarium. It is the largest in world and that is well aparent. The shark tank alone is designed to hold 6 whale sharks, it currently holds 4. They have 2 albino allegators, they have hundreds of fish. They have caribbean lobsters, they have rays, they have hammer head sharks, they have sea otters and harbor seals. They have Sidneys... I mean penguins. They even have a Kraken. Actually, the Kracken is a slide for the kids. They had a dinner there that was stellar. Ravioli stuffed with corn meal, wheels of spinach and cheese, and a desert table that put my wife in the mood... the mood to eat a ton of chocolate. All in all, it was an extreme highlight of my entire 'vacation period' that will include VA Beach next week.

Well, it's almost midnight and I should get some rest. I hope Nickie can call me and I can see the kids. One of the main reasons I came is because coming to Atlanta is not an easy trip to make and this was a good reason to come see them. I hope she calls me tomorrow and I have faith she will. I'll take MARTA to the Airport tomorrow and fly back to PBurgh at 7. I'll get home in time to get cloths in the washer for work on Tuesday. It has been a good trip. I even got to read the fourth "How to Train Your Dragon" book. That Series is real cute, I highly suggest it.

Well, stay tuned, this vacation is only reached its intermission!!!
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Subject:(Insert Title Here)
Time:11:36 am
It's been almost 2 weeks since I last posted which is kind of a bummer for me. I keep thinking I need to keep up with my life somehow. I somehow think I am just a scatterbrain and I don't keep up with stuff like this...

Life got back to normal after Uncle Gary's funeral. It always does. We've been doing our Kung Fu thing. We just started flute form last night. I know, flute form? Well, in China, the Masters say 'when the flute comes out, someone is going to die'. I'm for real when I say this, at least that is what Master Chan's book says. I can only imagine what happens when people are sitting around the fire in old China and someone like David Carradine breaks out the flute to play for entertainment. I am sure there is a riot and people are running away in a panic. But we are learning Flute form right now and it looks pretty cool. We just finished 16 Style Stick. Sara really liked the form, I could take it or leave it. It's nice, just not real fun. I think she liked it so much because she learned it before I did. A little encouragement goes a long way. On the Tai Chi end, we are learning how to use a strait sword. In Chinese it is called a 'Gim' and it is kind of fun to use.

If you follow me on Facebook, then you know my Kindle died yesterday. It was a HUGE bummer. We are going on vacation in 2 weeks and the damn thing just died?!?! The problem is pretty normal. I got a critical battery error which usually means plug the thing in and I did and it didn't charge. Actually, the little yellow light at the bottom would go out indicating that it wasn't charging. So, I called customer service and instantly I am talking to an Indian woman whose name I did not catch. I told her I had a critical battery error and she shipped me somewhere else. I doubt it was Lexington, Kentucky where Amazon.com is HQ'ed, but I could be wrong. I say this because I was transferred to Stefan who had the most wonderful Brittish accent. This guy made me feel stupid simply because I have a Hillbilly Appalachian accent. At least I didn't call him "Y'all". The fact that it would not hard reset was cause for concern but then a black bar magically appears on the right of my screen. He tells me to send it back and they will be sending me a new one. I called at 10:30 am yesterday and new Kindle was delivered at 8:30 this morning. It took them 22 hours to get me a new Kindle... The wonders of technology...

So, since I mentioned Vacay, I would like to talk about it because things tend to go really fast for me. Before I know it, I will be back in Beaver County realizing that vacation is over. Next Friday, we fly to Atlanta. I've been to Atlanta before. I was thinking of taking one of my WVU jerseys and having my picture taken in a tribute to the greatest beating I've ever seen. Folks, I am an MMA fan, I have seen more fights that you could imagine and the Sugar Bowl from 2004 was a beating. I really want to see some friends in Atlanta, if they would ever return my emails... I also think I was to get a Braves Sunday cap. I think I can get myself over hating Sid Brem for his part in the Braves winning the National League Pennant in 1992 enough to buy this cap. It will probably be one of the few things I bring back, mainly because I am not checking a bag.

I'll fly home Monday night, Sara will be back Tuesday night and we'll leave again on Saturday morning. I realize I haven't been to Va. Beach in almost 15 years. A ton has changed since then. The most key thing I can think of is, in most of all my pictures from my last trip there, I have on some sort of Michigan apparel. Today, I wouldn't be caught dead in Maize and Blue. Today, Joe is a Scarlet and Gray guy. I blame Tom Brady mostly for my conversion, but Dickey Rodriguez has his share of the blame as well. I am pretty familiar with Virginia Beach, it was the place my love affair with the ocean began. I realized how powerful that ocean could be because it also scared the living hell out of me. I was young and my cousin, Jeffery Allen drowned there. That story is for another day... So, I hold some fond memories of the place and I've also been a little afraid of it. It feels like it will be a good week. I need out of Beaver County anyhow. Our trip will start in Montecello which excites me to no end. I am a big Thomas Jefferson person, so seeing one of his three great accomplishments is a big deal to me. Sara wants to go to Busch Gardens one day while we are there. Personally, I don't want to give any money to that company. They make skuzzy, piss bear and I don't want to encourage them to make more... I'd rather sit and look off into the horizion and remember the times when one of my Uncles took me out on a blow-up raft, way out past the breakers and listened to me be scared... Great family...

So, that's what I got for today, I'll try to do some tomorrow as well...
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Subject:Psalm 118:24
Time:12:03 pm
So, Uncle Gary was really dead when I saw him last night. If you are family, you think that is funny; if you are not family, that kind of sounds morbid... Anyhow, we got to pay respects to a good man. I played wallflower a little bit as well. It's amazing how many people felt the same way about the guy. It was the Murphys that closed the place down. Everyone was gone and we still talked. I think Gary would have been happy to see that not many of us were crying. He would have called us all "Sissies" for crying. I'm sure there are some great stories to be told today. Again, the guy almost seemed larger than life.

After we all broke up, we took Estelle to Applebee's with us. Dr. Evans even graced us with his presence!!! It is a big deal to get Doc into Applebee's. It's been some rough time for him. It was a year ago that his best friend past away. He's coming to a time to where he should be slowing down and enjoying life. Instead, everyone is dying around him. The man is a really tough guy, what can you say...

While at Applebee's, Labron decided to go to Miami and play for the Heat. I can't blame him. If you are a guy and angry at Labron right now, do this. Go to he Miami Heat webpage, then go to the Cleveland Cavs website and look at the dance teams for both teams. The Cavs dance team is all in thier red sequined outfits while the Miami girls are in silver, sting bikinis. Imagine it being 70 degrees when you walk into the arena in January and not having to walk over 2 feet of snow blowing in off Lake Erie. Imagine playing with Chris Bosh and not having to deal with Anderson Varejao... Who can blame him for going to Miami???

So, I decided to miss Gary's funeral today. I am bad a funerals. If I had to pick two of my greatest weaknesses they would be break-ups and funerals. In both, somebody goes away. I hate when people have to go away. So, I didn't ask for this morning off. I just came to work. After all the pomp and circumstance, I'll go out to Uncle Chris and Aunt Becky's church for lunch then I'll follow the family out to Chris and Becky's house. It is a chance to spend time with this family and reflect. I wish mom and dad didn't live so far away because they would really fit well into this group. As the song by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones goes... Someday, I Suppose.

Tomorrow is a new day. A new day that is SATURDAY!!! Though I need to remember that This is the Day That the Lord has Made, I Will Rejoice and Be Glad in It!!!
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Subject:There's nothing like a funeral...
Time:11:09 am
I can't remember if I ever posted about buying Nikki Sixx's Album "The Heroine Diaries". Actually, it was a book first, then he did a CD, not a movie.... Whatever, anyhow, a lot of you are familiar with the first single from the album "Life is Beautiful" and I think the song speaks volumes. The most prolific line in the entire song is "There's nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive". I hate to admit it, but it's the absolute truth. As I worked on the elyptical this morning, I found myself pushing harder. Last night at Kung Fu, we were working on Tai Chi Mantis line drills and I felt myself pushing harder. I pushed harder in my stretches. I guess through all the sadness, sometimes we can find that extra gear.

So "The Heroin Diaries", it's a pretty amazing CD. It is my firm opinion that some of the best music ever written is done while struggling with Heroine addiction. Some of the most interesting people in this world were addicted to something at one point in their lives. I am addicted to junk food, and that is why I am trying to convice my liver to stop making fat every day. So, back to Nikki Sixx, if you don't know who he is, he was the bass player for Motley Crue. Partying with Slash and Tommy Lee in L.A. during the 80's, I'm sure, would take a lot out of a person. I guess who better to give advice on death and almost dying than a guy who actively tried to kill himself?

In case you're curious, Kung Fu and Tai Chi are going really well. I need to clarify, Tai Chi Mantis is not the same as the Tai Chi that Sara and I do. Tai Chi Mantis is another system of Kung Fu. We practice a style called "Seeking Leg". In the end, most of it is the same. When you are getting your face smashed, it helps to know how to keep your face from getting smashed. Not that I am looking to get my face smashed, but you know... It is weird how Sara and I gravitated to different ends of our martial arts training. Sara loves Kung Fu. Sara will go into school on a Friday afternoon and not fight just so she can work out. Me, I prefer the Tai Chi aspect of our class. I like the slow movements and I like the stretching. I'm already leading the class which is pretty cool and I know a couple more forms than Sara does. Then again, when it comes to forms, my Sifu says "Too many forms are like too much debt..." and I agree.

Summer reading list is still going good. I am at book 23 or so now. The "How to Train Your Dragon" series is for kids, but it is really good. I'm not a big fart joke guy, but they seem to fit a book that is about being dumb vikings that "don spel to gud". The Southern Vampire Mysteries are also dotted on my list. I am angry that the latest download to my Kindle is not "Text-to-Speech" able, but I'll get over it. I am currently plugging through Terry Goodkind's first book "Wizard's First Rule". Sadly, "Legend of the Seeker", the TV show that the book is based on is nowhere near the same story as the book. What a bummer.
I should knock out 50 books by Christmas, easy. Don't forget, I have a trip to Atlanta and a trip to VA Beach in a couple weeks that are probably good for fostering reading. If only I can get through the last Harry Potter book...

Finally, Labron James is going to make his decision to go to Miami final tonight. I don't think Dwayne Wade is that good of a player, yet Chris Bosh and Labron are going to follow him to Miami. They'll win 2 or 3 title, but I think this is going to hurt Labron in the end. If the Cavs could have gotten someone to take "Sideshow Bob" Anderson Varijo, then I think they might have had something to work with. We'll see tomorrow if I am wrong...

Until then...
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Subject:Gary Hilton
Time:10:33 am
If you've been following some of my Facebook posts, then you'll be familiar with most of what this post is about. First off, Gary Hilton passed away yesterday. Gary was Sara's Uncle. I'll get to Gary in a moment, I want to give him is proper due. If you've been following Facebook, then you know my family life isn't so great. I love all the members of my family, I am just GREATLY disappointed in our interactions. Let's just say that it was very easy to start calling Sara's Aunts and Uncle by that title. What I really mean, and I am really trying to avoid rambling, is that I have been disappointed by my lack of Aunts and Uncles. There, I said it. I have one Uncle who I love dearly. Abey is the one thing I have that keeps Aunt Barbie separate from Gramma and Mom. Abey is a good Uncle. My other two Uncles I will respect by not naming them, but I really don't feel the same love for them that I do Abey...

Sara and I were officially married nearly two years ago, but I felt like God had given me a new family long before that. You should understand that Sara's Mom's Clan (I think that is what Irish people call their families) will take in just about anybody. They took me in. The main Murphy Family consisting of Gary and Karen Hilton, Chris and Becky Murphy, and Dean and Maura McCoy and all their children were a family dichotomy the likes I had never seen. They cared about each other, they laughed with and at each other, and there was a general good vibe around them. I joke to myself that the greatest dowry that my wife could have offered was her family.

Hopefully, you can see what an amazing impression these people made on my life. I knew they would always be there for me. Sara's dad is still rooted in this family, despite her parents no longer being married. I am always a little taken when Samantha or Kimberly ask about "Uncle Bob".

Well, I had to tell you all that stuff so I could tell this story. I am pretty sure that the best way to keep someone alive is to tell good stories about them. I'm sure there are better stories about Gary Hilton out there, but the first thing that came to my mind yesterday morning was the first time I met "Old Hilton". Ok, one more prequel before I tell the main story. For months after Sara and I became 'official' in the dating scene, I had been hearing about "Uncle Gary". The guy was the Paul Bunyan of this family. Well, an onrier version of Paul Bunyan without a Blue Ox. This guy was a legend machine. I heard of how members were scared of Gary, especially when there was a large pool of open water near by. I heard about bathing suit tops coming off near Gary. I heard about hitting Easter Bunnies with large trucks. I heard about passing out in a car and a knuckled wedding ring bouncing off the road as Gary got home. I heard stories that would make you blush. I am quite sure that I didn't hear a fraction of the stories, but one thing was for sure, EVERYONE had a Gary story. I remember the Christmas party I met this guy. We were at the house in Industry. I wholly expected to see a pirate or a bandit walk through the door, but what I got blew my expectations out of the water...

When I got a chance to finally speak with Gary, and Aunt Karen, they were the most 'Down-to-Earth' people I have ever met. Gary knew how to cut-up, but he knew how to be strait-laced and this ogre that I expected was really a classy guy. We talked about everything and nothing. He told me he was a Navy man and had sailed around the world, then he told me he drove truck and saw most of America. He talked politics the way I like to hear politics. We both believed that they are all crooks. What impressed me most is how he held the conversation. This would always be the case with Gary. I enjoyed my time with him and always came away feeling that he respected what I had to say. He'd talk about his remote controlled planes or his Grandkids or how Kimberly never stopped talking. Fascinating doesn't describe this guy well enough.

I'm my heart, I feel like he would say that I am 'Kissing his ass' at this point. So what if I am? I never did see the "Terror of the Murphy Clan", but I'm sure he was there. In the end, the Doctors are going to tell you it was a combination of the tumor in his lungs, the cigarettes he smoked, the pneumonia that was lurking and the kemo and radiation that ultimately did Gary in. Really, what they should tell you is that the man lead a full life. He had a beautiful wife and two great kids. You should see the stable of Grandkids this man had. I can only hope that I leave behind such good looking kids...

To close, I know that losing a larger than life member of the family hurts, but do we ever really lose them? I think keeping their stories alive is an amazing way of keeping them alive, and trust me, there are still plenty of stories to be told about Uncle Gary...
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[icon] Stranger in a Strange Land, Phase II
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