Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 2010: A Family Day

I know this is only the 2nd post for this month and realize that it's more than likely the few readers I did have are no longer checking for new posts. However I'm going to try and get back to posting on a regular basis again. No guarantees just an attempt.

Today was Thanksgiving and I must admit I've had a difficult time feeling thankful this year. There are reasons for this but they have to do with personal internal conflicts (which are more appropriate for my personal journal than this blog) and failures rather than not being grateful to God for everything I have.

With all that I've been blessed with, the places I've been and the things I've experienced over these last 2 years or so I can be nothing but thankful to God for what he's given me and where he's taken me. I truly am grateful but don't feel like I've kept up my side of the bargain with God. But there again that's another subject for another place and time.

Now having said that let me tell you about my Thanksgiving day.

The Thanksgiving holiday actually started at our house on Wednesday. Paula had the day off from work. At about 3 o'clock her sister came over and they started cooking. In preparation for the family dinner the next day. They made dressing, hash brown and broccoli casseroles, baked the frozen pies I bought on Monday. They worked rather intently and for about 4 hours.

I had to work at Shop NBC but I did pick up some turkey gravy from the grocery store and some chicken tenders from Hardee's for dinner on my way home.

After the pre-turkey day cooking was finished Theresa went home and Paula and I got relaxed for a couple of hours. At 9:30 we left to go to the movies.We went and saw the new Disney movie "Tangled". I'll give you my opinion of this long anticipated Disney take on a classic fairytale in my next post.

Thanksgiving day began at 7AM when Paula prepared our 14 pound turkey and I lifted it from the counter to the oven. Four hours later it was succulent and juicy to the point of falling off the bone. It was probably the best Thanksgiving turkey we've ever had.

The rest of our family got here about 11:30. Michael and Heather were the first to arrive soon followed by James and Brandi. Once Theresa got to the house it was time to eat out Thanksgiving dinner.

Before I said the blessing we went around the table and everyone said one thing they were thankful for. Mentioned were the blessings of family, health and electronic devices (Michael was really thankful for his Kindle e-reader).

Everyone had plenty to eat and then some. James out did us all moving on to dessert when the rest of us were so full we could hardly move.

After dinner we moved into the living room and watched the movie "Gremlins". It was fun being together. I love every time our living room in the way it was designed to be used; for family gatherings.

Once the movie was over James wanted to play cards or some kind of game. We had a bit of difficulty trying to decide what to play. We ended up playing a game dice called "Farkel" (aka "Greed"). Of course like most of the time we play games on the holidays Michael won.

We all took a break and had some more of our thanksgiving goodies for supper. Then we played a rather long game of "Apples to Apples." It was a lot of fun and a battle to keep Michael from winning yet another family day game.

We started out with the goal of playing until someone won 10 rounds. But after about an hour everyone was getting a little tired. So we decided to stop after one last. At that point the one with the most cards would be the winner. Well the last round became yet another battle to keep Michael from winning. Luckily Brandi beat him 9 cards to 8. She using her phone she even posted on Facebook about beating him.

We put the game away and everyone was getting ready to go home. The mass exodus included dividing up the leftovers and sending them home with whoever wanted them. Both the boys took home a bounty of casseroles and desserts. It was a wonderful day and we had a great time together.

I went to bed around 10:30 because I had agreed to go to Sam's Club with my sister in law at 5AM on Black Friday to help her get a really good deal on a notebook computer. More on that later.

That was my Thanksgiving day and I had a wonderful time. I'm a real "family guy" and enjoy having my son and spouses over for any holiday. As they left I told them, "Let's do this again in about a month. Only we'll do it over at Theresa's house and everyone bring presents." I can't wait until Christmas.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Original Cast Album Aquired

One of my favorite TV shows when I was 10 years old was Sesame Street. Last November I wrote 2 posts (on the 10th & 18th) about how much I enjoyed the show and Jim Henson's Muppets.

A year ago I finally managed to get an Ernie puppet just like the one I got for Christmas in 1970. It's the one of two pieces of Sesame Street memorabilia I've always wanted to own again.

Now after watching Ebay for a little over a year I finally found the 2nd. I now have a copy of the Sesame Street Original Cast record album. It really captures the essence of the early days on Sesame Street over 40 years ago. Although it's only audio it effectively conveys the relationships between the human cast and the puppets in addition to teaching some of the early curriculum.

The album (which I can now convert into a digital form thanks to the turntable I bought earlier this year) has songs on it that I haven't been able to find anywhere else. Really good songs by Joe Raposo and Jeff Moss such as: Somebody Come and Play, Nearly Missed, What Kids Are Called, and A Face, as far as I have found, are only available on this album.

Of course there are some of the show's early signature songs such as the show's theme song by the kids, "Rubber Duckie" by Ernie, "Bein Green" by Kermit the Frog, "One of These Things Is Not Like The Others" by Bob & Susan, and "People In Your Neighborhood" sung by Bob and with the help of the "Anything People".

Just like "Mary Martin and the Do-Re-Me Children Choir's "Songs From Mary Poppins", Lawrence Welk's "Merry Christmas From Our House to Your House", and the Chipmunks' Christmas Albums this Sesame Street Original Cast album is part of my personal time machine. All of these recordings take me back to those hours I spent in my bedroom listening to them on my Show N' Tell record player (see February 19, 2010 post).

I know I'm 50 years old and should have started acting like a grown up long ago. But remembering and enjoying things I did as a kid helps me keep tapped into the perspective I need to be able to make a connection with children enabling me to minister to children from a genuine perspective.

It also helps me to realize the all the blessings God has given me over the span of my entire live and not just the last few years.

Anyway I now have my copy of the Sesame Street Original Cast Album. It's music I have loved and now will be able to enjoy for years to come.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Life Happens

This 2nd and final "Where Have You Been" posts. It's about the "normal" things that have been going on that have kept me from blogging on a regular basis. It also includes the things I should have been doing but haven't.

Throughout October things have gotten very busy at my job. The volume of calls has increased. (the amount of calls not the loudness). Since early in the month there has been a consistent queue. What that means is there are always calls waiting to be answered. Our queue has been as high as 125 at times. With just a week to go until the end of the month and the start of the Christmas gift buying season it only promises to get busier.

This means my job has become more demanding. Answering call after call almost non-stop for 8 hours is a lot more stressful and mentally draining than when you have a minute or two in between. Also this increase in business means that there are no longer any opportunities to leave early. This is a good thing because it means full pay checks. It also means having to do things in town, such as shopping or running errands, after work. That means less time at home at night to relax or work on projects or take care of "home stuff".

Another thing that's taken the place of doing things at home at night is my bowing league. Monday night has been bowling league night since the end of August and will be so until April. Now don't get me wrong I really enjoy bowling and spending time with James. But often on Mondays after work I stay in town and don't get home until after 9PM. By the time I relax and spend some time with Paula the day's over with.

Both of those are not things I can change. I am committed to both unconditionally. I have to work and I have a promise to James to be his bowling partner. But here are some habits I've gotten back into that only I can change.

As a result of the "break" I took from eating right while I was at Disney World I am trapped in my bad eating habits. It's been nearly 2 months and I'm still on "my Disney Diet break." I will confess right here. I am back up into the 230's with my weight and can't seem to stop eating sweets and carbs. I have increased my calorie intake drastically. I can't get away from it.

I'm back into the cycle of binging with things that are not good for me with the vow that it's the last time and the promise of "starting over" the next day. But the next day it doesn't happen. I've gone back to being the overeater I was before my surgery. The physical side effects of the return to bad habits are a lot more drastic but nevertheless I still do them.

The increased intake of carbs has led to higher blood sugar levels and less energy. I "dump" almost every day and that makes me exhausted. Because of that I don't have the drive or energy to walk or do other things that keep me active.

Also I believe that higher blood sugar levels makes me more depressed and keeps me from sleeping right. That effects my attitude toward everything, the desire to exercise and ability to fight against the temptation to overeat. It's a vicious cycle and I have to get out of it. I have to get back to eating and behaving like someone who has had gastric by pass. It's vital to my health, the quality of my life and more.

In addition the start of the new fall TV season and baseball playoffs have kept me on the couch. There are new episodes of my favorite shows that I like to watch with my wife. Also I have to watch all the Yankees games as well. As of this post the baseball part of my TV problem is over (See my post about the Yankees). Now I just have to chose not to sit and watch the DVR until after I've walked the dogs.

The final reason I've not been blogging lately is something I've not had to deal with in quite a while. In the middle of the month I caught an early Autumn cold. It started with losing my voice and a scratchy throat (like all my colds do) and then turned into congestion, a dry cough, and a headache and a fever. I ended up going to the doctor and getting some medicine. I felt so awful I stayed home from work for 2 days. I almost never do that. As of this post, I'm taking antibiotics and a daily Claritin tablet. I'm starting to feel better.

So there you have some of the everyday life happenings and habits that, in addition to the projects and other things I've listed in previous posts, have kept me from blogging. I know this has pretty much been a self-indulgent series of posts and probably very boring for you. I'm amazed that you've even read this far. But I promise this is the last one. I will go on from here back to my "normal" pattern of posting. So keep coming back and reading if you want to know what's going on in my life. It is my prayer that you found something useful in all my babble. God Bless.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I'll Have To Wait For #28

For all intents and purposes the baseball season ended for me last night. The New York Yankees lost the American League Championship Series to the Texas Rangers.

The Yankees played like baseball zombies in their final 8 weeks of the season. During the regular season they couldn't win the games they needed to win so they could capture the AL East Division title. They limped into the playoffs with their hitters in slumps and their starting pitcher's abilities questionable at best.

Still with the start of the playoffs came a chance for them to "get hot" and win their way through to their 28th World Championship. They had as good a chance as any of the other 7 playoff teams. Hey, they probably had a little more of a chance because of their experience. But it didn't happen.

They beat the Minnesota Twins on a psychological basis. The Twins were psyched out by the Yankees. They played worse than New York in the division series; which was nearly impossible but the Twins did it.

So the Yankees, as a team, went on to stink up the baseball world with their lackluster performance in American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers. When they lost game 6 and the series convincingly last night in Texas for me the baseball season ended.

The Yankees won't win their 28th championship. As a fan I'm very sad about that. You know from reading this blog how much I love baseball. The Yankees are my team and I get really disappointed, angry and then depressed when they don't win it all. It happens every October. I'm either very happy (like last year) or very depressed. What can I say? I'm a fan. That's short for "fanatic". I'm a Yankee fanatic.

But as the days go on I'll, for the most part, ignore the World Series because my team isn't in it. I probably won't totally ignore it but I'll only pay a small amount of attention to it. Then I'll wait for the exciting activity of the off season to begin and watch with interest the development and changes that occur on both the Yankees and all of major league baseball.

After the holidays, in early January, I'll start becoming anxious to see baseball again and begin to countdown the days until opening day. I'm already excited about the prospect of getting to go see the Yankees play the Reds in Cincinnati in June of next year.

Still for the next few days I'll lament the fact that the Yankees "let me down" this year. I mean as an organization they all but "guarantee" their fans a World Series win each year. They set the mark themselves and consider anything less a failure. As a fan so do I.

But there is one good thing about the Yankees being knocked out of the playoffs. A silver lining to the black cloud of baseball failure, if you will. The Yankees All-Star Mickey Mouse statue I have from this year's All-Star game is still relevant. It still has significance at least for another year. This is good because I've had it less than a month and it would be a sad thing (relatively speaking) if after only having it for such a short time it was "dated".

What I mean by that is the Yankees after being knocked out of the playoffs will still only (LOL "only") have 27 world championships. This fact is commemorated on the statue. Look at the picture of it I posted with October 21st's post. On Mickey's right shoe is a "27 world championships" logo. If they had won it all this year, it would be 28, and the logo would be obsolete. So now I'll have another year to enjoy a relevant Mickey Mouse Yankees statue. Of course I'll have to wait to see championship #28...but only until next year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Projects

The 2nd "Where Have You Been" post is going to focus on what I've been doing instead of posting. The answers will include both planned and unplanned things. I may have mentioned them before so I apologize if I'm repeating myself. There projects are connected to my personal interests and hobbies. I'll admit that they really don't benefit anyone but me, for the most part. But they do help me exercise my obsessive compulsive personality disorder in a positive way.Here are some of the project I've been up to.

Christmas Music Upload
Earlier this year I imported most of my music collection onto I-Tunes and then my Ipod. With the holiday season coming up it's time to complete the digital uploading process with the importing of all my Christmas music to I-Tunes as well. This means processing over 120 CDs, editing and organizing their titles (so they are separated from the rest of my music on I-Tunes) and cataloging the titles on a spreadsheet for future playlists or Rewind recordings. As of the writing of this post I'm about 50 CDs from completing the task. I work on it a little each day.

Rewind Recording
Major league baseball may be in it's playoff season but I'm still in mid season form when it comes to recording my return Rewind show. Yes I'm adding to the "programs" I spent most of last converting. I've written a script based on all things baseball in my music and comedy collection. I'm in the midst of recording it using the sound board at church. I'm making this show digital using songs from my I-Pod. I will also be editing, organizing and uploading the finished "Talkin Baseball" Rewind show onto I-Tunes. I'm about halfway finished at this juncture. I'll let you know when I'm finished and send copies to those of you who have asked for it.

Blog Post Printout
This blog reached a milestone a couple of day ago: 400 Posts. If you are reading this you've probably accessed it through the website address or have had it delivered to your email. For most of it's existence this blog has only been in electronic form. A few months ago I began to printout all my posts and put them in a 3-ringed binder by year. This is for people who may be interested in catching up on my blog but don't want to sit in front a computer and read 400+ posts. Of course I don't have any idea who that might be with the exception of my wife or a few of my family members. But nevertheless I'm printing them out. I try to print 5 each day. At this point I'm 93% done. To me it's an important project and doing just 5 each day is worth the few minutes it takes to complete.

Picture editing
With all the wonderful travel and experiences I've had this year taking pictures and videos has been one of the ways I've tried to preserve the memories. As of this posting I've taken over 2500 pictures so far this year. I have to edit, rename and organize all of them. This is going to take some time. But like all the other projects its a task that will be rewarding in the long run. By the way nearly 40% of the 2500 pictures I mentioned were taken on our Disney World trip. The final action in my picture editing process will be choosing the top 50 pictures of the year. Something that's going to be rather difficult to do given all the great memories preserved in all my pictures. Well I guess I'd better get busy.

Disney Trip Report
This last project I'm mentioning started out as a top priority but has settled back into one that's going to be "long term". I'm working on what's commonly called by a "trip report" about my Disney World Trip. I have already posted the first installment. Now I've decided to skip the posts and just work on writing it up to be used in my archive book about my2nd trip to Disney World.

I write this report mostly during my spare time at work. I'm writing it by hand on notebook paper. I have a special folder that I carry with me to and from my job each day. I am currently working or my recollections of our day at the Magic Kingdom; by far the best day of the vacation.

Anyway once I finish with the trip report I have to type it into the computer, edit it, do some research to enhance it and then add pictures. This will make up my 2nd Disney book. I anticipating this process to take about the next 6-8 months. It will help me prolong the memory of this great vacation as well as keep my creative skills sharp.

So there you have the projects I've been working on in October. Those are only part of the answer to where I've been this month. They are things I've decided to do and have made as my goals to accomplish. In an upcoming post I'll let you in on the other elements of my everyday life that just part of ....well, everyday life. I know you're on the edge of your seat waiting for that one. Til Next Time....God Bless.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Today begins a series of "catch up" posts to bring my readers, friends, and family up to date on what's been happening in my life the last several weeks that I haven't been posting. I'm not sure how many of these posts there will be but I'll get y'all up to speed as quickly as I can.

I guess the first thing I should start with is where I left off...

Disney Saturation: For nearly 4 months now, ever since I got back from the I-Fest ventriloquist weekend in July, my life has been all about my trip to Disney World. Planning my birthday trip became my prime focus. It engulfed me. It was my passion. Some might say "obsession". I was preoccupied with planning and organizing the trip so it would be the best it could be. That was accomplished. It was a great trip.

But as I wrote the last time I posted with the Disney World trip in the rear view mirror of my life it's time to move forward. This has not been as easy as it sounds. As a matter of fact focusing on Disney and breaking some of the bad habits I have gotten into as a result of our trip has been and continues to be a major battle in my life. More on that in a future post.

Ever since I got back from Disney I've been in what I call a "Disney World after effect". It's just like the day after you have a great dream you can fully remember. It stays with you all day. I've been reliving the trip over and over as I try to write down all the memories for my 2nd Disney World Archives book. I've also started planning when our next trip is going to be and thinking about the details. I've even started saving money for it.

In addition I find myself looking around on places like Ebay for souvenirs that I regret not buying while I was actually in "The World". A couple of them I've gotten are a refrigerator magnet with the year "2010" on it and a Mickey Mouse All Star Baseball figure in the uniform of the New York Yankees. (pictured above)

I've also been drinking my soft drinks in a clear glass cup so I can use the plastic Mickey Mouse ice cubes I brought home with me. They glow and change color just like the ones you get in your drinks at the restaurants in Disney World. I continue to listen to my weekly pod casts about Disney World and have even added a couple. I've downloaded the next 2 audio books in the "Kingdom Keepers" series by Ridley Pearson to listen to as well. The books are about some teenagers who fight evil spirits trying to take over the magical world of The Magic Kingdom.

I purchased pictures from our trip on Disney's passporter website, had them reprinted, and sent them to my family members. I've been showing everyone a couple of pictures of Paula and me in front of Cinderella's castle (one from 2004 and one from this recent trip) to illustrate our weight loss. I am so thrilled that Disney World is the place where we were able to make this comparison.

But as the days of October have gone on I've found myself less enthusiastic about Disney World. I know that it's going to be over 2 years before we go again (the plan is for January 2013) so my interest is kind of fading into the background. I couldn't explain this because, like I said, for over 4 months it's been all about Disney.

But I read an article in one of the Disney Newsletters I get through email that may explain it. It's by Mike Scopa, one of the podcasters I listen to on the WDW Today podcast each week. He calls it the Disney Saturation point. It's where you've had so much Disney input in your life through experience at the parks or other means such as media or doing research that you get burned out on it. I think I've reached that point. I'll have more about this in a future post.

Right now I want to make my first point of "Where Have I Been?" series to be that I've continued to be caught up in the Disney experience but that is changing very quickly in my life. More about what else is going on in my life in the next post.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My 400th Post

With only 12 days left in October it's highly unusual that this is my first post of the month and my first since September 28th. I had planned on posting about what I've been up to all month and why I haven't written in 3 weeks. I'll to that in the next couple of posts but this post warrants a big announcement.

This is my 400th post. That's right I've posted 400 times. Where has the time gone? It's amazing all the life events that I've recorded here since April 2008. Thank you for reading and all your support. Keep reading Post 500 is on the horizon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life After 50 Begins

As the end of September, the month I turned 50 years old, comes around my time spent in Florida is transitioning from an event to a memory. I've begun the task of putting those memories into writing for preservation purposes. I will be creating a Disney Book for this trip just like the last one. Or at least similar to the last one.

I've downloaded all the pictures and will organize them. I've put up all the souvenirs to where I can see them. Disney World and the overall world of Disney now drops in priority for me. I will take my time with the creation of the book. The group of podcasts I listen to will, once again, become entertainment and not urgent trip planning resources. Returning to what I call my "regularly scheduled life" is the order of the day, everyday.

First and foremost this means a return to focusing on the growth of my relationship with Jesus Christ. I've been guilty of putting other things ahead of God for a while now. Ironically this happened during the time I was reading a book called "Counterfeit Gods" by Timothy Keller. It explains just how easy it is to make many things in this world idols in our lives ahead of the true God. It just goes to show why the first of the ten commandments about having "no other gods" before Jehovah God.

The book has kept me from drifting too far away and helped in pulling back toward the truth that God is the center of my life and I should be living for and serving Him.

Despite my spiritual wandering and willful sinning as loving and gracious as God is even in the time I've been openly abscessed with and serving other things as idols He's shown me the ways I've changed through His work in my life over the past 6 years. An example of this is in my September 12th blog post about the days following my return from my 2nd trip to Disney World compared to the first trip in 2004.

The 2nd most important "life thing" I've got to return to is my effort to lose weight. My decision to go off my diet and eat pretty much anything I wanted to while in Disney World has lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. Enjoying desserts (which Disney does VERY WELL by the way) and carbs while in "The World" put me on the path of bad habits again. Even more than 2 weeks after returning from Disney World, I've stopped most of my good eating habits and basically become the type of over eater I was back before my surgery. I've gotten addicted to carbs again. Even getting sick and feeling lousy from eating them (aka: "dumping") has not stopped me from eating too much of the wrong things.

In addition, much to the dismay of my dogs, I've stopped walking on a regular basis as well. I'm not doing the things that have resulted in my losing 180 pounds since March 08. In fact I've gained 10 pounds this month. I've got over 70 pounds to get to my goal weight. I've got to get back to the pursuit of that goal.

Paula has done just the opposite of me. She's come back from vacation on a weight loss "blue streak". She's gotten down to her lowest weight since surgery. She inspires me. We've done this together so far and I want to get back on the same path with her. It's part of doing what God wants me to do with my life.

The other area I need to return to is my ventriloquism and children's ministry. I've really neglected this area of my life since I've gone back to work. The reason for this (or is it an excuse?) is that I'm not motivated by anything but the opportunity to actually perform. The lack of my being available for parties and events on Saturdays and being able to minister at church on Sundays really has a negative effect on my motivation to work at being a vent.

But the return to start using ventriloquism to lead the music ministry once a month at AWANA nights at my church has reignited the spark to get back to work on ventriloquism. Also I've had a recurrence of encouraging encounters with the potential to learn and use the "distant voice" in my act (see blog post from 12/08/10 for a better explanation of this). I got a unique idea for a character for my new parrot puppet while I was at Disney World as well. More on that in a later post.

I've got a bunch of other personal projects I want to get done as well. The time for one of my goals for this year, the making of a new Rewind Christmas show, is growing short. That has to start with the importing all of my holiday music to I-Tunes. Then there's the writing of the script and the actual recording of the program. I want to send it as a gift to my family in Pennsylvania to feel a little closer to them during the holiday season again this year. I'm not sure I can get it done but I'm going to try.

Speaking of Christmas, even though it's only the end of September I've started buying Christmas presents already. I've gotten some good ideas and gift buying opportunities for some unique gifts for my sons and other Kentucky family members already. They're bought and stored away waiting for December 25th. I can't hardly wait the 2 1/2 months until they open them. I hope these gifts will make this Christmas a unique and memorable finish to a fantastic year.

Next up is the transformation of our house from what it is now to what Paula and I want it to be. I know it's been our goal for a few years now turn our house into a place we can really use as a base for ministry and a haven (no pun intended) to rest and grow both individually and together. It will take some work to get it to a state that's fitting for entertaining friends and family as well as a place to relax, enjoy and pursue our hobbies and interests. There's cleaning, decluttering, rearranging, organizing and more to be done to get it to that point.

Paula wants a place to start making jewelry again. I want a place write and pursue all my hobbies as well as display my personal memorabilia, Disney and baseball collectibles. Both of the rooms at the back of the house need to be cleaned out and repurposed (that's a term I've learned from Disney over the last few years) so we use them the way we want.

So there you have a list of what has to become my priorities as my life goes forward. There's so much ahead of me; so much I am supposed to and want to do. God has things for me that are so great I can't even imagine. I'm sure of that. I've got to to continue to grow in Him by reading and learning from His word. I've got to let the changes He works in me prepare me to the point where I'm willing and able to do those things.

I'm excited about all I've got to do and will work at getting it done. My goal for each day is to accomplish, grow and move forward each and every day. That' the theme for me as life after 50 begins.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Disney @ 50 Trip Review: Travel & Arrival Day

The following events took place on Monday September 6, 2010:

After an extensive packing effort the night before Paula and I left our house and headed south on interstate 65 about 4AM central time.

The first couple hundred miles we'd traveled together before. Most recently when we went to see James graduate from basic training in the army.

Once we passed Atlanta we were driving a portion of I-75 we had never been on before. We drove south through the heart of Georgia; a long 300 mile stretch until we finally reached the Florida state line.
Heave rain we greeted us as we drove down the Florida turnpike. From what I was to learn this type of afternoon storm is typical in the Sunshine state. The spray in the air and the glare on the windshield made driving a bit slow. The concentration required to drive safely wasn't the way I would have wanted 750 mile road trip to end but it turned out okay.

We kept going and soon our GPS guided us toward our Disney hotel, Pop Century. It's a resort based on pop culture of the 20th century decades: the 50's through the 90's.

We pulled up to the guard shack and gave our names and showed our driver's licenses to the security guard. He lifted the gate for us to enter the resort area.

The rain had slowed a bit but hadn't stopped as we parked in the parking lot near the resort's main building called "Everything Pop". It's a combination check-in area, resort store, food court and arcade under one roof.

We stood in line to check in less than 5 minutes. A young female cast member (aka: employee)named Melissa, who was "earning her ears (Disney term for being "in training") helped us. We ordered refrigerator to be brought to our room (no it doesn't come with a value resort room) for the length of our stay ($10 a night extra thank you very much!). We were given our card keys and a map directing us to room 1453 on the 4th floor of the 1950's building. We drove to the 50's parking area, got out and found our room.

Upon opening that door and entering that room I was no longer tired from the long drive. I was energized with excitement. I couldn't believe I was actually back at Disney World again. It was so surreal. I was very emotional but did my best to hold back the tears of joy.

After a couple of trips to the car, going up and down the elevator (it needed air conditioning or at least a fan) we had the car unloaded. People watching us must have thought we planning on staying for a month or longer.

We unpacked our suitcases and stocked the fridge, which arrived shortly after we did. It was filled with breakfast foods and drinks we brought with us. Paula took the time to review the information about the room and the resort that we were given at check-in. This included some info on just how our free quick-service dinning plan worked.

Because we were tired from the long drive we decided to go to the resort food court for dinner rather than try to do to Downtown Disney for dinner as we had planned. We rode down the elevator and instead of walking toward the parking lot side of the buildings we took the inside path toward Everything Pop. That's when I experienced my first really real magical "I'm in Disney World" moment.

It was almost like an orchestra played "When You Wish Upon A Star" in my mind when we stepped out into the common area between our building and the 60's building where the bowling pin shaped pool was. After just a few steps off the elevator we were standing next to a statue of the "Lady" the female dog from "Lady & The Tramp". The Tramp statue, just as tall, was on the other side of the common area next to the other building.

At the far end of the bowling pin pool was a 4-story tall jukebox. Right there in the night under the lights we were fully emerged in the World of Disney. It was awesome...but it was just the beginning.
In "Everything Pop" we got ourselves something to eat. The food court had 4 stations with different menus to choose from. We used our dining plan to get an entree, a dessert and a drink. We also got our refillable drink mugs. We could use them to get as much coffee, tea, or soft drinks as we wanted from the food court area during our stay.

We finished our dinner which was not bad for what it was (I don't remember what we had) and then looked around Everything Pop. We browsed in the gift shop/store to see what souvenirs initially caught our eye. We also scouted out things that were on our "must buy" list so we could purchase them any time during our stay. We found water balls (aka: snow globes), picture frames, mouse ear hats, shirts and more. I was excited because I had planned on buying mouse ears and wearing them in the Magic Kingdom. I ended up deciding not to though.

We checked out the arcade and were happy when we found pinball machines there. We planned on going in and playing one night but never got the time. While Paula sat in the check-in lobby area and rested I took pictures of all the pop culture memorabilia hanging on the walls.

There was all kinds of stuff from the 5 decades that themed Pop Century. The range of things included just about everything from the Howdy Doody TV show to the first home computers. I took lots of pictures.
Tired from our long day we walked back to our room taking pictures of the buildings and icons along the way.
We had been given a handicap room which means there was a handheld shower head with lots of different settings. That might not sound like it's even worth mentioning but that night and every day during our stay it helped relax and rejuvenate. This worked well to get us ready to go back to the parks for our evening tours and to help us unwind enough to fall asleep fast at night. It was so relaxing to feel that hot water on the massage setting hit my tired aching muscles after a day in one of the theme parks.

I reviewed our plans for going to Universal Studios the next day before turning down the bed covers and crawling in for a much anticipated good night's sleep. We were going to start off our vacation by going to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. That was a belated birthday present to Paula from me.

While our visits to the Disney theme parks wouldn't start until Wednesday; Monday night we fell asleep on a very comfortable mattress nestled in the atmosphere and reality of Walt Disney World. I knew from what had happened just since our arrival that this was going to be a great vacation.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim T-Shirt Suprise

I know I promised to start writing about Disney World but before I do I wanted to post this picture. It shows me wearing a surprise I got in the mail the other day.

As many of you know I am currently in the on-going process of collecting a T-shirt from each of the major league baseball teams. The ultimate plan would be to purchase a shirt when I visit the ballpark or at least the city where the team plays.

This summer I bought both Washington Nationals and a Milwaukee Brewer shirts when I went there. I tried to find a Tampa Rays shirt in the Orlando area but didn't.

As I stayed in my August 8th post, I like to have a story that goes with each shirt. Doing my best to keep one foot in reality I realize that I won't be able to buy all my t-shirts while visiting the team's market. The west coast teams are the ones I'll most likely never get to. With that in mind, this summer I asked my good online friend, Mary, who lives in Southern Calfornia (2 hours from Disneyland the lucky stiff) to find me an LA Angels shirt and send it to me. She said she'd do her best.

With all the excitement about going to Disney World I had totally forgotten about it. Well this past Tuesday I came home from work and found a package from Mary in the mailbox. I was surprised because I wasn't expecting anything from her. As a matter of fact I have something to send her still sitting on the counter waiting to be mailed.

I was really overjoyed when I opened the envelope and found the shirt you see me wearing in the picture. I quickly added it to my collection and wore it to work on Wednesday. I wanted to post this entry to say "thanks" to Mary.

I don't know if I'll ever get to California to visit with Mary and her family but even if I don't she's been one of my best friends for a long time. Thanks for the t-shirt, Mary.

Over the years you've been a real friend. You've litterally stuck with me through thick and thin. Even though the shirt you sent me represents a major league team with the name you're a real life angel. to me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Been Writing Just Not Posting

It's been over a week since I've returned from my 50th birthday trip to Disney World and I've only written one post about it. Even that one didn't have very many details about the trip. Well if the truth be told I have been writing but not on this blog.

I've started putting my recollections and memories about our Florida days together for what I call a "Disney Trip Book". I created one the last time we went to see Mickey and it took me the better part of a year. It won't take me that long this time.

In addition, I know that my faithful blog readers are anxiously waiting for details of fireworks and ride experiences. I will begin a series of posts recapping Disney World 2010 for Paula and me with my next post.

Keep checking back for new posts. I don't know how many there will be but I promise to try and keep them short and to the point. That's just a promise not a guarantee. Once I get started writing I will probably get very involved in writing about what I will always consider one of the best weeks of my life.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Comparing Returns

I have just had one of the BEST week's of my life!. What a great time we had at Walt Disney World! I'm going to be posting my trip report here over the next couple of weeks. But that's not what this post is about. The purpose of this post is a comparison of 2 specific times in my life: the days following each of my vacations to Walt Disney World.

First let's go back to January 2004 and the days after my first trip. We had a very good time as a family on our first trip. There were so many great moments that I spent the rest of 2004 writing and preserving memories of our trip in a Disney version of the Yearbooks I was creating at the time.

However I was so focused on the Disney trip for more than a year before and had planned and anticipated it with such aspirations that the trip itself could not have possibly ever lived up to my expectations. I saw it as an end. It was the total focus point of my life for over a year. After it was over I had nothing to move on to. In the days after what I thought at the time was a once in a lifetime vacation was over I actually felt empty. Don't get me wrong I still had my wife and sons to build a life with. But for the most part on a personal basis I had nothing to look forward to. I had no life goals beyond getting to Disney World.

Also for 3 months before and shortly after my first Disney trip I worked at the AFNI call center as a trainer. About a month before my trip I was told that I was being replaced in my job due to a "restructuring" of the training department. I was so proud of getting the job as a trainer the previous September. I even used my obsession with the world of Disney as part of my interview for the job.

I was told in December that when I returned from my vacation in January I would no longer be a trainer. Just exactly what my job was going to be was not yet determined. I felt completely humiliated in my job. Turns out when I got back that management had nothing for me to do. I spent most of my day sitting at my desk writing personal stuff about my Disney trip on the computer and I got in trouble for doing that.

I also had to deal with the reality of my physical condition (aka being so over weight) which was really amplified by the difficulty I had getting around on our Disney World vacation and exhaustion I felt afterward. I got really depression about it . My weight had made the accomplishment of one of my life's goals (yes going to Disney World was a life goal for me at the time) extremely hard to do and severely diminished the satisfaction of doing it. That combined with the inability to permanently lose weight and keep it off sent me into an on-going depression that lasted for years.

Although initially, I tried to use the experience (Paula called it the "Disney Death March") as motivation to start eating right, losing weight and exercising the effort was short lived. I tried but couldn't be consistent. Our new dog, Dory, helped me with the motivation to walk. I estimated that I walked about 200 miles in '04. Unfortunately by the end of the year I had gained weight not lost.

I ended up leaving AFNI in May of 2004 and getting a new job at Perot Systems. That job started out okay but I had difficulties there which simply enhanced my on going depressed state.

In the days following the 2004 Disney World vacation I felt hopeless in regard to my personal future. Therefore I was obsessed with the remembering and preserving the memory of that week in Orlando. It was the only thing that gave me a purpose.

As a result of the post Disney blues and the installation of a new pastor, in March 2004 Paula and I were led to go back to Oakland Baptist Church. At church I got involved in the children's ministry. Eventually that helped me with the depression. But that didn't happen until 5 to 6 months after our Disney World trip.

I wanted to go back to Disney World from the moment I left; but I never ever thought I'd be able to afford to go again. That made me feel even worse.

To sum it all up in the days after my first trip to Walt Disney World I was pretty depressed and felt hopeless in my life.

Now let's look at the days which are ahead of me now after my 50th birthday trip.

Let's start with the fact that despite the long 13 hour plus drive and that we were pretty much "on the go" most of the time we were there the physical effects of the 2010 Disney experience wasn't a "death march" but similar to having run a marathon. We are both tired and will need time to recover both physically and mentally. I'm certian we will recover and it will have a positive effect on our lives.

We will also look back on it as a physical accomplishment. It was difficult but it didn't "kill" us. The fact that we were a combined 290 + pounds lighter this trip is the biggest factor in that difference. We also learned our lesson and took an afternoon break (aka nap) back at our hotel two of the four days we were in the parks. This made the biggest difference in the world. The 2 evening visits to Magic Kingdom on Wednesday and Epcot on Friday were probably the most enjoyable times we had in the parks.

So our memories, both Paula and mine, of this trip will be 90% pleasant ones. That's a big factor in our decision to visit Disney World again someday. The good experience and the possibility of going back also cuts down on the "blues" of the ending of such a landmark experience in my life. I will, for the most part, not experience any depression about the fact that the trip is over this time. I'm sure I'll wish from time to time that I could be back there but with a very positive emotion spin to it.

Secondly, my job at ShopNBC is going rather well. I have really performed beyond management's expectations since returning the 3rd week of July. My days don't seem so long and I am actually enjoying being good at my job. The 40 hour week is not that bad. I am motivated to get even better and have set my sights on getting at least Sundays off sometime in the near future.

Also on a personal basis I have a lot of projects and goals that I'd like to accomplish. Some of them would probably seem rather unimportant to anyone but me. These include organizing our household a bit better, completing the conversion of my Christmas music to I-Tunes, writing and recording a few new Rewind programs as well as others.

Then there are those goals that are on very high importance level. The highest of course is returning my continuing desire to grow as a Christian and becoming closer in my relationship with God as well as doing His will for my life. This, of course, would include advancing my ventriloquism ministry. I will now, once again, focus on being a ventriloquist and getting to share the gospel with children through my puppets.

I also have the task of finally reaching my weight loss goal. As I come back from vacation I still have about 60 pounds to lose. At the rate I've been losing this will still take probably the better part of a year. But I know how to do it and am confident that by my 51st birthday I will have reached my goal and will be in the "maintenance" part of my weight control. This is the one thing I'm most excited about and determined to accomplish. I won't be rubber stamping the word "Accomplished" on the mission I started on July 6, 2009 until I reach 170 pounds. That's what I'm working toward.

I guess if I had to sum it up in one sentence I would say that the difference between returning from the Disney World vacation in 2004 and coming back from this one is a matter of having hope and purpose versus not.

This comparison between my return in '04 and 2010 shows what a great work God has done in my life in the last 6 years. It just goes to show you what changes can happen if you study the Bible for what it really is and apply it to your life with God's grace and the Holy Spirit's guidance.

So now it's now "back to my regularly scheduled life". The Disney World trip will be on my mind for a long time; especially as I write down my recollection for the purpose of yet another Disney Trip book. But I'm not going to be clinging to the time in Florida as my only means of surviving from day to day. I've got too much to do in my life to live in the past. No depression just optimism here. It's 2010, I'm 50 years old with a lot of livin' to do. The future's bright and I'm wearing sunglasses. Time to move forward.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gone To Mickey's House

Well I was wrong in my last post. I do have time to write one more post before my birthday vacation.
Back in January if anyone had told me that I'd be in Walt Disney World on my 50th birthday I'd have given them a very sarcastic "yeah right" and told them it would happen when pigs fly.

Well in the future when I talk about this up coming week I'll have to tell everyone how swine flew.
With the blessings of circumstances and the wonderful generosity of my wife I'm heading south in about 6 hours destination Disney World.

We will be spending a day at Universal Studios, having dinner with some friends who used go to our church, and then do all 4 Disney theme parks in 3 days. It will be my 2nd trip of a lifetime. My sister in law will be watching over the house and our pets while we're gone. Thanks Theresa.

I'm sure you're probably already tired of hearing about my trip but you ain't read nothing yet. Once I get back I will write a long and full trip report here on this blog. I plan on taking plenty of notes and lots of pictures. We have over 16 GB of storage for our cameras so there's plenty of room for snapping memories.

Now it's time to finish this post, do some last minute packing and head to bed for a few hours of rest before we hit the open road in search of Walt's World. Although I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep. It's like Christmas eve when I was a kid.

My first after vacation post may be a comparison of this trip to the last and the difference in my life then and now as well. But writing that will take care of itself when I get back.
As Tigger would say "Ta Ta For Now".

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yet Another "Catch Up" Post

I've been very busy over the last week getting ready for vacation and doing other things that I haven't had time to finish a post. I've written them on paper while at work but have never posted them.

I'm off for my birthday getaway early on Monday morning so this will be my last post until I get back. Here are some of the things that have happened in the last 9 days.

Hurricane Hassle
The series of tropical storms and hurricanes that I was worried about having an effect on our vacation are all out of the picture now. This includes hurricanes Danielle, Earl, and tropical storm Fiona. Ironically the only one that may have a remote chance of effecting us is a storm called "Gaston". It was named as a storm but then fell apart. It's now starting to reorganize but it's path shouldn't effect the trip.

1st Magnitude
This past Monday Night (8/30) James and I started our 32 week "Fall" bowling league. I'm the team's captain and gave us the name "The 1st Magnitude". It's an astrological term meaning the brightest star.

Each team in the league has 4 bowlers. We have 2 young ladies as our teammates. Karen is the niece of one of the people I go to church with. Trica is 25 years old and has only lived in Bowling Green for a year. She moved here because of her job. They are both high average bowlers (about 180 or so).

James and I felt pretty much like "fish out of water" when we started bowling. As the night went on we got a bit better in our game and James was GIVEN a bowling ball by one of the guys on the other team. He was extremely happy about that.

We don't bowl again until I get back from vacation but I'm looking forward to a good season.

Last Game Of The Season
On Tuesday (8/31) I went to the last home game for the Bowling Green Hot Rods baseball team. It was one of those nights I'd been waiting for for a while. I was excited and sentimental at the same time. I was sad that the season was over but grateful for all the fun times Ive had there this summer.
One last time I ate a small bag of popcorn but I shouldn't have. It made me really sick to my stomach. I felt awful the entire night.

I spent the game talking to all the people I knew; there was about a dozen from church. Laura Rogers, a local morning TV news anchor was there too. She looked really different in person. Not anywhere near as pretty as on TV. I also walked around the park and watched the game from different sections. Came within 10 feet of having a foul ball come to me.

Finally about the 8th inning with the Hot Rods losing 13-5 I felt badly enough to decide to leave. While listening to the game on the radio I discovered that I had missed the first and only grand slam homer run by a Hot Rods player at their home park this season. Oh well, there's always next year.

August Weight Loss
Finally I want to report that I lost 5.6 pounds in the month of August. I am now in the mid 220's and am looking forward to breaking the 200 pound mark by the end of the year. The weight loss is now slower more of an effort. My small pouch and eating plan are now just important tools in helping me lose than they are a cause of my weight loss. To lose I have to make a concentrated effort to eat right and exercise. That's not just a temporary thing that's the way it's going to be the rest of my life.

So as far as I can see this will be the last post before I turn 50 on Thursday. I'm really excited about going to Disney World for my birthday. I'm sure I will have plenty to catch up with you about when I return. See you then.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Storms Out In Atlantic Have Me Worried

It's 11 days until we leave for my birthday trip to Disney and I'm a bit concerned with the weather conditions. Not those in Orlando but those out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

It seems a parade of tropical depressions longing to turn into storms and or hurricanes out there. One of them is already a category 2 hurricane named Danielle and another is a tropical depression named "Earl". They are giving me "agida" (that's pronounced "Odd-gi-da" and is Italian slang for heartburn).

As mentioned in a previous post I've created touring plans for our days at the Disney Parks but I don't know where to put "ride out the hurricane" within those plans. I know worrying won't make any difference and We'll have to deal with what happens.

I know I'm turning 50 but now I feel like I'm going to have to become one of those old guys who are obsessed with watching the weather channel. I have to keep up to date on what's going on with the storms.

I'm praying that all of them follow similar paths. Right now Danielle is forecast to stay east of Bermuda and have little effect on the continental US. Perhaps she'll set an example and the others that form before our vacation will follow in her footsteps.

I'm trying my best to stay calm and just have a "what will be will be" attitude but I really don't want to have to deal with a hurricane while I'm celebrating my birthday in Disney World. I'm just gonna have to wait and hope for the best.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Disney Plans Aren't "Perfect"

In exactly 2 weeks from today, thanks to the generosity of my wonderful wife, we will be making our way to Orlando Florida for what promises to be a wonderful four day 50th birthday celebration in Walt Disney World. As I've written many times on this blog I'm extremely excited.

As of a couple of days ago I finished our touring plans. A touring plan is a step by step guide for minimizing the time you wait in line at each attraction or for a show. This week in the mail we received our "Magic Your Way" package which includes our hotel reservation documents. (A big "thank you" to Stephanie from MEI/Mouse Fan Travel for all her helAdd Imagep. If anyone is planning a Disney vacation of any kind go to for assistance. They can get you a the best deal there is and they do all the work for you with no agent fee). So except for the packing and last minute updates we are ready to go visit the happiest place in Florida.

Along the way as I was making my plans I realized that there are some things about my birthday trip that will be disappointing. Actually the disappointments aren't in the things we'll be doing but things I won't be able to do for one reason or another.

For instance, last time we were in "The World" in 2004 I didn't get the chance to ride "It's A Small World". We were with our sons on that trip and since it was a family trip it was a family decision to skip that attraction.

But this time it was going to be at or near the top of my "to do" list for Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. But I found out that it will be closed for "rehab" while we are there. Another attraction I'll be missing in the Magic Kingdom is the Main Street Electrical Parade.

This past summer the Disney podcast and online communities were all buzzing with the excitement over this parade returning to Magic Kingdom after decades of being in Disneyland. Unfortunately the parade is scheduled to run the day before we get there and not again until after we leave.

In Disney Hollywood Studios the "Walt Disney: One Man's Dream" walk through exhibit that has lots and lots of memorabilia and historic documents that tell the story of Walt and link directly back to him will be closed during our trip.

The one quick service restaurant in Animal Kingdom that's highly rated and recommended, Flame Tree Barbecue, will be closed as well.

So you see while I am excited about my trip there are some things I want to do but won't be able to while I'm there that I wanted to do. When I expressed my disappointment about these things to my wife she very sweetly replied "that gives you a reason to go back again".

I guess she's right but I really wanted this to be the perfect trip. But nothing's ever really perfect is it? But you know what? In 2 weeks I'M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD". I can't wait.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Today for the first time in about 25 years I rode a bicycle. I didn't ride it very long or very far but I did ride it.

My sister in law bought a bike a couple of month ago with the intention of riding it for exercise. However the problems she's had with her knees and the excessive heat of the summer has prevented her from doing so.

I have been considering bike riding as a potential form of exercise for a while now. But with everything else that's been going on I haven't the funds to purchase one right now. So I asked my sister in law if I could borrow her bike. She said "anytime".

This afternoon with the weather being a bit cooler (only in the lower 80's) and less humid I decided to try out the bike. I got on it and headed down the road between our town and the church I go to. I made the walk there a few months ago so I figured a round trip on the bike would be a nice first ride.

Well as I got about 1/4 mile down the road the bike's handle bars came loose. I don't know if I leaned on them too hard or what but the were extremely loose. This made riding and controlling the bike extremely difficulty. So about halfway into my journey I decided that I needed to go back to the house.

Now all in all I really enjoyed the time I did get to ride. I think cycling is going to be another potential exercise outlet for me in the future. Despite my sister in law's generosity in offering to use her bike whenever I want to I'm going to look toward getting a bike of my own. I just have to wait until I can afford it. That will probably won't be until next spring.

But I can't wait to get out on the back roads of South Central Kentucky and explore the country side while getting my exercise doing something I've always enjoyed: riding a bike.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"The Balcony Is Closed" For Good

Not many people have ever heard of Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott or know what they do. Perhaps I should say "did". I'll explain what I mean later in this post.

It doesn't take much time to compile a list of television shows that have been on the air for 35 years or longer. NBC's Meet The Press, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, and Sesame Street are the first that come to my mind. Wikipedia lists 35 of them. Ironically the syndicated program I'm posting about isn't on that list.

These first 2 paragraphs refer and bring me to the movie review program, "At The Movies". The syndicated 30 minute show aired it's last program this weekend ending it's 35 year run. Michael Phillips the film critic of Chicago Tribune, and New York Times film critic, A.O. Scott had the privilege of hosting the final episode.

Now the fact that "At The Movies" was even still on the air until this weekend is probably a surprise to 99% of television viewers. Until earlier this year even I wasn't aware that it was still on.

But nevertheless this show is one of television's greatest survivors. It started out as the public television program, "Sneak Previews", in 1975, with it's original hosts, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert (pictured above), sitting across the aisle from each other in a fake movie theater set debating and presenting their opinions of Hollywood's latest offerings. It then moved from PBS to syndication with Buena Vista television. The title was changed to "Siskel & Ebert & The movies; later the "& The Movies" part changed to "At The Movies."

When Siskel left the program in February 1999 to undergo treatment for a brain tumor (he died due to complications from surgery less than 3 weeks after announcing his "temporary" departure) Ebert continued the show with co-host Richard Roper. In 2006 Ebert too had to leave the show due to a diagnosis and treament of cancer. It's a battle he's still fighting today.

Richard Roper hosted the show with a rotating series of guest co-hosts until 2008. In '09 critics Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicsz hosted for 2 years before the previously mentioned Phillips and Scott took over and completed the run of the program.

In March 2010 Buena Vista television, the show's long time distributor, announced the cancellation of the show. I first heard about it on one of the Disney Podcasts I listen to.

As I stated earlier I hadn't watched the show in years until the beginning of this year. "At The Movies" or any of the show's incarnations, will always mean Siskel and Ebert to me. They were the iconic hosts of the movie review program, which they originated.

Gene & Roger took the "thankless" job of being a movie critic from the pages of newspaper and or the last 10 minutes of a news broadcast in a big market city and brought it into people's homes. They reclaimed the old Roman custom of "Thumbs up or Thumbs down" and made it their trade mark and part of American pop culture.

In this day and age where there are hundreds or even thousands of websites that review and rate movies it's hard to remember when nationally known movie critics were rare. Siskel & Ebert were pioneers in that television genre. If it weren't for them there may not be a place like "Rotten Tomatoes" to go online to read what's good and not so good at the movies.

So I would like say "goodbye" to "At the movies" with a very respectable "thank you" to Roger Ebert & Gene Siskel (who I agreed with more often than I did his partner) for their hours and hours of entertaining debate, commentary, and recommendations.

It's only fitting that I end this post with the tag line uttered at the end of every episode either by Gene or by Roger. "The Balcony Is Closed". This time permanently.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Doing a "180"

Even though I've been winning the battle of the bulge overall during these past 18 months or so; since June I've been at a stand off. The 2 months of June and July included 2 vacations and several events that facilitated eating more carbs and calories than I have in a long time. To be honest I used the vacations as excuses to go on eating binges. One night while In Chicago I binged to the point that I made myself sick.

As a result of not eating the way I should I've gained and lost the same 8-10 pounds several times since the end of May. My weight has been stuck in the 230's since April. But that changed today. This morning I discovered that I've done a "180". I mean that in 2 ways.

When I got on the scale this morning I saw evidence that over the last couple of weeks I've effectively changed my behavior. I've once again had to make a concentrated effort to pull myself back from the habit of compulsive overeating.

Because I had done some binge eating on mostly high calorie foods loaded with carbs I had become addicted to them again. I don't know if there's any scientific or medical evidence for it but take it from me, carbs are like a drug. The more I eat the more I want. My hunger has increased over the course of a couple of months and so has my consumption. I also allowed myself to be controlled once again by my desire for food.

I treated it like a "crying baby" that needed to be appeased immediately. As soon as I felt any pangs or even felt like I was starting to get hungry I ate something to appease the feeling or the belief that I was hungry. Yes, there was true hunger but most of it was "head hunger" aka the addiction to carbs.

Last week I got tired of "yo-yoing" in the 230's. My weight loss stall was frustrating. Inspired by the habits and consistent efforts of my wife, I began tracking my caloric and carb intake. My daily goal was to take in less than 1000 calories and 20 carbs. I also got back to exercising more often. I had skipped quite a few days mostly due to the hot weather, other commitments, and lack of motivation. I got back to my regular walking routine. I have made a 180 degree turnaround from the undisciplined sinful behavior to which I'd returned.

The other "180" I would like to mention is the total amount of weight I've lost. That's right I'm 180 pounds less than I was on March 20, 2009 the day. That was the day I had my first consultation with my gastric bypass surgeon. I now weigh 226 pounds. That means I'm only 56 pounds from my goal weight.

I have been so blessed with a wonderful support system. God has been my biggest and most powerful help. Paula, my wife and partner throughout this whole "weight loss" thing and my life is a priceless treasure and blessing in my life. My sisters who live in Pennsylvania have been a big encourgement as well. I don't get to see them much but our phone conversations to check in with each other (they've both had weight loss surgery too) is a great help in keeping me motivated.

I know this may sound funny to some but my dogs are also an important part of my success. They are my walking partners. My commitment to walking them for exercise has helped me get out there and move at times when I really didn't want to. They have also enjoyed the benifits of walking. Both of them have lost between 10 & 20 pounds since my surgery. They are much healthier now than they were 18 months ago.

Yes, I've done a "180" and there's more hard work and blessing to come. But even if I don't lose another pound; my life is so much better now than I'd ever expected. I feel like I could live to be 180. What a turn around. Thank You Lord.!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Royal Shirt & Dinner With Family

To the left you see a picture of my latest baseball team shirt. It's for the Kansas City Royals. It was given to my by my sister-in-law, Gaile. She's a sweet lady and is married to Paula's brother.

On her recent trip to Kansas City to visit her daughter I asked her to pick me up a Royals shirt. Now usually I try to go to the city and buy baseball team shirt while I'm there. and there's a reason for that. I did that with Washington DC and Milwaukee this summer. But I'm not too sure when I'll get to Kansas City.

I fully intended to pay Gaile for the shirt but she said she didn't want anything for it. She gave it to me as we were waiting for a table last night at a local restaurant.

We met Paula's brother, Woody; and Gaile, at the restaurant for dinner. Paula's cousin, Connie, and her husband would join the 4 of us for dessert as well.

Although we had a long wait for a table (which turned out to be a booth) and our service wasn't all that great. In spite of that the six of us had a wonderful time talking and visiting with each other for a couple of hours. It was a very nice evening with people I don't get to see often enough.

The reason I like to try and go to each city and buy a baseball shirt for that area's team is so that I can have a memory and or story about the shirt attached to it. Without a little history it's just another shirt.

Although I had someone else buy it for me the nice evening we had with Paula's family will always be the thing I remember when I wear my Kansas City Royals shirt. Thanks Gaile.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Digital Conversion Project Finished

Yesterday I finished downloading the majority of the music I own on CD to I-Tunes. It took me several months to do this. I now have 850 albums, just over 6700 songs, which is equal to 18.6 days of continuous listening. The entire download took up 51 gbs of space on my hard drive.

Once I charge my Ipod and sync it up with my I-Tunes I will have my music in a "permanent" digitally mobile state. I will also have plenty of room on the Ipod for downloading other forms of digital media including podcasts and sermons I like to listen to when I'm driving or exercising. I can also download audio books.

Included in the digital conversion is the 3rd generation of my Rewind shows. The programs, which I wrote a few posts about last year, have gone from cassette tape to CD and now to digital.

The only music I have left to import from CD are is my Christmas music. I will do that later in the fall after I get back from Disney World. Right now I want to get the Ipod loaded with the music I have converted so I can enjoy it on the trip to and from Florida.

So now it's onto learning about the Ipod. I have the book "Ipods for Dummies" that I got Paula and I for Christmas last year. I have to read some of it before I start using the Ipod. That's the next step in the process of coming up to speed with the world of digital music. Sorry it took me so long to catch up.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Baseball, "The King" & Karaoke

This post is going to be about some terrific things that happened to me over this past weekend. I know I've been writing about all the things I've been doing and places I've been going all year long, including these past couple of months. I don't want it to seem like I'm constantly bragging about the places I go and the things I do. It's just that some times they are so surreal to me. I can't believe I'm there or I'm doing what I'm doing especially in 2010. I just want to let it be known that I appreciate the blessings God has given me; including the ability to do things I never ever dreamed I'd get to do. That's enough of the "I'm not being a narcissist" disclaimer; on to the post.

This weekend was one of those I'll remember for awhile. It started on Friday evening right after I worked my first birthday party dressed as a pirate (see July 31 post). At the invitation of my sister-in-law I went to a small restaurant about 1/2 a mile from my house for dinner and karaoke. "Mama Helen's" has been advertising karaoke on Fridays from 5-8PM for a couple of months. I really enjoy singing karaoke and have intended to go but never had.

The restaurant is very small only comfortably seating about 2 dozen or so customers at a time. Most of the people I know who have gone there, including my sister-in-law, like the place and are repeat customers.

The Karaoke DJ was not the most impressive one I've ever seen or heard. He was an older man with whose singing voice and musical timing was not the greatest. He had a standard karaoke PA set up with speakers, microphones, and a monitor. His music was stored on a notebook computer and a portable hard drive. He told me he had 90,000 songs in his library. Despite his voice lacking the sophistication or talent to be very entertaining or enjoyable he was there and so was I.

I was there to be a participant not be an spectator. There were only about a dozen people there but no one was even attempting to sing. So I got up and sang. My voice was a little strained from talking like a pirate for an hour earlier in the day so my singing was not very good at first either.

We ordered our dinner and it took a while to get there. By the time the spare ribs were brought to our table I had done 4 songs.

Dinner was pretty good and the mac & cheese I ordered with the intentions of "just nibbling" turned up half gone by the time I was finished. With the pies & cakes displayed in the dessert case calling my name I knew it was time to leave.

I had already sang songs like "Daddy Money", "Check Yes or No", and "Mountain of Love". I finished up by singing "Mack The Knife". That's been my signature song ever since I started going to karaoke nights back in the mid 90's. I sang it with confidence and familiarity. I got a bit of reaction from the crowd while I was singing and when I finished. It was a satisfying finish to a return to Karaoke. It was only the 2nd time I'd been to a "karaoke night" since I have lived in Kentucky.

The next memorable event of the weekend happened the next night, Saturday, at a local theater that has live performances. The Capitol Arts theater hosted an Elvis Presley tribute starring Ronnie McDowell.

He's the singer who had a hit with the tribute song "The King Is Gone" back in 1977 shortly after Presley died. Also on the was a few people who had worked with Elvis in both the recording studio and his Vegas night club act. There was the bass singer from the Jordaniers, the woman who sang really high back round vocals on songs like Blue Christmas and a couple other Elvis songs. Both of them were very entertaining and could still sing despite being well into their 80's.

The guest performer I was most impressed by was the Rock & Roll hall of fame drummer DJ Fontana. He's played on hundreds of million selling hits. He only played on a couple of songs but it was cool. Mcdowell's oldest son played the drums on most of the songs they performed.

The 90 minute plus show consisted of McDowell singing some of his favorite Elvis hits accompanied by his guests. They also told stories about their experience with "The King". There was also a bit of audience participation when McDowell had a local state senator sing "Are You Lonesome Tonight" to his wife. I really enjoyed the show but left a bit disappointed.

Ronnie McDowell did not sing "The King Is Gone". That's why he's famous. It's his mainstream claim to fame. It's like going to see Chubby Checker in concert and he doesn't sing "The Twist.". Nevertheless the show was a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing some rock & roll's pioneers in person.

The 3rd and best activity of the weekend happened on Sunday. About a week ago I was given some free tickets to the August 1st Cincinnati Reds vs. Atlanta Braves game in Cincinnati. I was so excited to get "free" tickets that I took the day off from work to go. I asked a couple of friends to go with me but both of them had other commitments and couldn't go. So I decided to go by myself.

On Sunday morning I took my time getting ready and planned to leave at about 8:30. The 4 hour drive to the ballpark would get me there about 12:30 just in time to be in my seat by game time, 1:10PM. I forgot one thing. Cincinnati is on eastern time and is an hour ahead. I knew that but just forgot about it. I remembered about 7:56AM just before going to take my shower.

So when I left the house I was running a bit late. Well I put the pedal to the metal and made only a couple of necessary stops on the way. I arrived at the gate of Great American Ballpark at 12:30 eastern time. That was the quickest trip I've ever made to Cincinnati.

I parked in a lot next to the Bengals stadium and made the 1/2 mile walk to the ballpark. It was a lot of fun seeing the people walking from various avenues toward the front gates. The reason I parked so far away was because I knew I could walk a little and save some money on parking. I remember a time when I couldn't walk anywhere near that distance. I try to take advantage of the pleasure of the journey whenever I can.

My seat was in section 521 in the upper deck behind home plate in the middle of row "I". This meant a little hike up the stairs and ramps inside the stadium. But, once again, I wasn't taking the elevator. I can walk now.

The view farther away than when I was there in April. But it was also an entirely different area of the stadium and there were lots of things I hadn't seen before.

Once again for the 2nd time in a month, I found myself sitting at a baseball game in the sun on a very hot sunny summer's day. Before the game I got something to eat and later bought a couple of drinks from the walk around stadium vendors.

The place was crowded. There were 40, 870 people and me there to see the last game of the 3 game series. I enjoyed the game (a 2-1 Reds victory) and my view of nearly the entire field helped me see all the action of the play that scored the tying and wining runs for the Reds.

I left right after the game despite there being a free gospel music concert by the group, Mercy Me. I was tired, sweaty, a bit sunburned, and thirsty. I wanted to get back to the car and go buy a drink that cost less than $5. I did some souvenir shopping, walked to my car, and drove home.

I took my time on the drive back but still got home before it was dark. It was a wonderful afternoon and a great weekend. The 3 events that helped make it what it was will be something I'll be thinking about for a long time. It was a great way to transition from July to August.

This weekend just adds to the adventures I've had so far this summer. With all the places I've gone and things I've done I have decided to dub 2010 the year of the road trip. Now I've got a little more than a month before our trek to Disney World for my birthday trip. Those 6 days will bring a wonderful ending to a terrific year of adventurous journeys.