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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Lesser Man Project: Week 3-4

This is just a quick update about this week and last week’s progress. With the holiday falling near the middle of the week I was swamped with other work in preparation for being off for a few days and had to miss posting. Apologies to all of you who are hanging on my every word concerning my quest to lose weight. Sarcasm is intended there.

This is going to be the toughest part of the experiment. We are heading into the winter which means lessened outdoor activity, unless you count putting up Christmas lights which should be considered an Olympic Sport at my house. It also means that we are heading full force into the holidays which means lots of bad influences like carbs from Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, cookies and leftover Halloween candy, and Egg Nog. Egg Nog, alone, could negate any progress I’ve made over the last couple of weeks.

I will say it has become so much easier to pass up the snacks. Because we are heading into December, people are bringing more and more goodies to work. I’ve passed up a few things but I hate to insult someone by not accepting their offer of food. One of my biggest problems is that I am, like my namesake, Mikey from the LIFE cereal ads. When I first met my wife back in 1998 I went to dinner at her house and met her parents. They like to cook and they don’t skimp on portions. Whenever I would finish my plate they would continually say, “Have some more.” Soon, one serving of pasta became two large plates. Trust me, I like food and I like to eat but I have to begin turning down such hospitality if I plan on losing the extra weight I’ve gained in the last ten years. So, here’s the progress report.

Here’s the good news.
I did not gain any weight after the Thanksgiving weekend, in fact, as of today, I'm down an additional pound. My wife made her first Thanksgiving dinner with a 14 pound fresh turkey, sweet potato casserole, homemade stuffing, corn casserole, and Pillsbury iced cinnamon rolls. All in all, I had two helpings of stuffing, turkey, sweet potatoes and rolls and managed to come back to work on Monday with no extra weight. And, it’s not like I did a damn thing but veg out on the couch watching movies and playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Free-For-All Deathmatch. That is a new addiction of mine and I really suck at it, which makes for a lot of frustration and continual attempts to get better. Let’s just say that I cannot wait until I unlock the perk of dropping a grenade when I get killed because I die more from grenade drops than I do from anything else.

Here’s the bad news.
I might be reaching that first plateau. I was kind of hoping I could get back to my earlier weight of 255-265 before having to add additional steps. I can explain the additional 20 pounds very easily. My mother-in-law passed away in April and that’s when I started gaining the extra weight. It would be normal for us to eat at my in-laws, maybe three to four times a week. Sure, the extra portions are a problem but at least the food is home cooked and not full of bad stuff. Since April, we have been going out more and eating quicker, more carb heavy and fatty foods. While my wife is becoming an awesome cook, especially with that turkey that I am still eating sandwiches from for lunch, she teaches piano almost every afternoon into the evening and doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare a meal.

Next Steps
Hopefully, with the brief lull in festive eating, I can knock off a few more pounds the way I have been. Last night I caught myself, after work, wanting to break into the sweet rolls before they have to be pitched. Luckily, they looked kind of nasty and we pitched them. The apple on my way home from work is still enough to hold me until dinner. Although, after the New Year, I am sure I will have to ramp up my efforts. Don’t expect any resolutions from me because they are trap and a great way to fail. In fact, I advise any of you, looking to lose weight, to follow my example. Don’t make a New Year’s Resolution because you are betting against yourself. Resolutions tend to be unrealistic, pie in the sky goals. Instead just start taking those small steps that create results and stick to them.

Breakfasts for the last week
Weekdays – 1 cup Lucky Charms and skim milk
Holiday weekend – no breakfast or Pillsbury cinnamon roll

Lunches for the last week
Leftover turkey sandwich
Light Yogurt
Diet Pepsi

Snacks for the last week
Pumpkin pie with Cool Whip (Late at night – VERY BAD)

Dinners for last week
Thanksgiving dinner
Leftover Thanksgiving dinner
More Leftover Thanksgiving dinner
McDonald’s club sandwich meal with Diet Coke, small
Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, small fry, small Diet Coke, no Frosty

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Childhood Movie Madness

I blame Ginny, over at That’s Church, for this post. She opened up the floodgates by mentioning Pete’s Dragon in a recent post.

In my 35 years of being on this Earth, I have seen a lot of movies. I mean a lot of movies. And even though there are movies I have not seen, I could probably hold a conversation about or figure out what movie you were talking about if you were all staring up at the ceiling, waiting for the answers to fall from the sky into your head. My own sister regularly uses me to settle arguments or jog her memory about movies, even if I haven’t seen them. It’s just something I pay attention to.

So, when Ginny went on for a few paragraphs about tattoos and Pittsburgh and being old, the one thing I latched onto and ran with was the comment about having the song, “We Got a Bill of Sale Right Here” from Pete’s Dragon, stuck in her head. That immediately sent me reeling into my subconscious iPod playlist to retrieve “Every Little Piece.” Now, I’ve been going, “Money, Money, Money by the pound” every few minutes until my brain explodes in a pop culture mess all over my cube.

That mess sent me on another hunt, this one went further into my brain, past the cobwebs and skeletons and thoughts of Susanna Hoffs in the “Walk Like An Egyptian” costume and the poster of Alyssa Milano in a New Jersey Devils’ sweater on my bedroom wall when I was a kid.  Um… excuse me for a minute.

Ok, where was I?

Oh yeah, going past all that I return to my early childhood, in grade school. It’s just about this time of year and with the impending holiday season the lack of structured instruction taking place, we’d all assemble in the cafeteria/gymnasium/auditorium in my school and watch movies. They were usually Disney flicks or other kid friendly fare. One of those movies was, in fact, Pete’s Dragon. That conjured the list of other movies I had seen during these days.

Pete’s Dragon
Hot Lead, Cold Feet
The Apple Dumpling Gang
The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again
No Deposit, No Return
Any number of Herbie movies, minus Lindsay Lohan
The Black Hole
Freaky Friday (Again, minus Lindsay Lohan.  This was the Jodie Foster version)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (Kurt Russell version)
The World’s Greatest Athlete
Escape To Witch Mountain
Return To Witch Mountain
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines

The only other movie I can recall being shown at our school was that super secret sixth grade film that was shown to all the girls. They taped paper on the windows so that we couldn’t see what was going on in there. Conspiracy, I tell ya! It’s all a plot to take down Y chromosome!

That’s all I got folks. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be somewhere in the recesses of my mind with Alyssa Milano, Susanna Hoffs, and a Disney movie marathon.

Friday, November 19, 2010 Makes My Afternoon Disappear

I have been spending an ungodly amount of time surfing through this site. One of the folks I follow on Twitter made reference to their effervescent bacon tablets and that just got me spiraling into a wasted day of wishful thinking. appears to be a site that advertises products for men… who have exorbitant amounts of disposable cash. But I love it. It ranks up there with

Here are some highlights of products I would definitely want. Note, I can probably afford the cereal marshmallows and that’s it. LOL.

Mint Robo Cleaner

1959 Land Rover Series II Model 109

HP Slate 500

Cereal Marshmallows

Mac Book Air 2

Where was I?  What's work?  What's my pin number? 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Lesser Man Project: Week 2

Here it is, week two. I topped out at six pounds by Saturday morning and I couldn’t believe that. I’ve seem to either reached a plateau or just negated the work I did because I’ve been hovering there since then.

I’m actually lucky to have not gained it all back this past weekend. It was a pretty bad one. It’s always hard to do the right thing when you don’t have the time to do it. Friday night, my father-in-law’s band played a set at the American Legion in Scottdale, PA. That meant rushing around to get things done in order to be there for an 8PM start. I was good for lunch, having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with my usual light yogurt and Diet Pepsi. On the way home from work I had my usual snack, a gala apple. Then nothing else until dinner.

I was the designated driver so I had to drive us all there, including my father-in-law and his friend. We had one of my wife’s piano students watch our daughter for the evening which would last well past midnight. After picking up her dinner, a pizza from Fox’s, I found myself desperately craving a piece, but I was good. However, after dropping off my father-in-law and unloading the equipment, my wife and I headed to McDonald’s for a quick bite. It was nearby and would be quick. So, I made up for that craving. I wasn’t too bad. I had a small diet coke, small fry, and a grilled chicken sandwich. In fact, I only had one beer in the first hour and drank a couple of Diet Cokes the rest of the night.

Saturday was a different story. We needed a small but, quick lunch in order to get some stuff done. I opted for some breakfast sandwiches at Sheetz. Usually, I’ll get extra cheese on it, but as part of the new plan, did without. For dinner, one of my wife’s friends wanted to go out with us and suggested a place we’ve never been to. We drove everyone to Indiana, PA, to visit Fire Mountain. It’s a buffet like Ponderosa or Old Country Buffet. It wasn’t bad. They had carving stations and salads and desserts. Figures, I’m trying to change the way I eat and we go to an all you can eat buffet. I had a piece of chicken, not breaded, some regular salad and seafood salad, breaded shrimp and a couple of other items. For dessert I had a scoop of cookies and cream ice cream and a small piece of chocolate cake. I could have been much worse, believe me.

Sunday, we had a late dinner that was more snack-like in nature. The Steelers played New England on Sunday night… and lost. We decided to have taco dip, Tostino’s Pizza Rolls, and a plate of cheese and crackers. I couldn’t help but have a two servings of the taco dip and pizza rolls. It’s amazing how good bad food can taste when you are cutting back. And I mean “bad” as in “bad for you.”

Monday, I had the leftover pizza from Friday night. Two pieces of pizza never tasted so good but since I’m used to eating four or maybe five, it was a short lived decadence. You know the rest of my lunch, yogurt and diet pop, and an apple for the ride home. That night was another night out.

I never really looked at how bad we’ve eaten until I started documenting it. I mean, we eat out a lot. I can count on one hand the times I’ve eaten dinner at home in a week. I’d still be able to give you a Boy Scout salute along with that. There’s no excuse other than we don’t cook a lot and with my wife teaching lessons until almost 7pm there isn’t a lot of desire to do it afterwards. I’m going to start looking into some crock pot stuff that I can do.

Monday would have also been my mother-in-law’s birthday. We would normally have eaten in on a Monday, but seeing as how we would have definitely taken her out to dinner we decided to continue that tradition. Persichetti’s in Jeannette was one of her favorite places but they are closed on Monday’s. Our normal Tuesday night stop is Zackel’s in Claridge so we opted for that Monday and Persichetti’s on Tuesday. In honor of my late mother-in-law, I had a Reuben. It was pretty good and light on the Thousand Island dressing. I had about four or five fries from my daughter’s plate and my diet drink.

Tuesday’s lunch consisted of my wife’s leftover Italian sub, which was half of a half with no dressing. The usual additions were present, light yogurt, Diet Pepsi and gala apple. At Persichetti’s that night, I had a house salad with house vinaigrette, a small piece of bread with butter and a turkey club. Normally, I would ask for extra Miracle Whip, but didn’t. It came with a small soufflĂ© cup full and that was it. I also had a half of a piece of garlic toast at my wife’s insistence.

Today should an overload as I will be eating my wife’s left over spaghetti. She had the sampler, last night, which consisted of a piece of small portions of lasagna, gnocchi and spaghetti. She left half of the spaghetti and lasagna and I’m making that into two days worth of lunch. Today, the spaghetti and tomorrow, the lasagna.

Along with the observation about how bad I’ve been with eating out, here is what I’ve also noticed.

  • Cereal is lasting me a lot longer but milk is going out of date before I can drink it.
  • I’m not as hungry as I used to be. There are moments I feel really hungry before dinner but they are almost forgettable.
  • I found a particular pair of pants that I stopped wearing because I assumed they wouldn’t fit. They are smaller in the waist than my normal ones and they don’t have any give, whatsoever. They fit now. They may have always fit, but they fit better than I thought they would and they were falling down, too.
  • I’m having to throw a lot of food because I’m not eating it. Leftovers are taking forever to get rid of and I’m stretching them into one or two days worth of lunch.
  • I feel satisfied and not hungry, even after a little bit of food.
  • Food that I haven’t been eating taste really good, especially the stuff I shouldn’t be eating.
  • I’m enjoying food more, mostly because I’m not feeling overfull after a meal. There were times I almost dreaded eating, because of how I would feel afterwards, but that’s not the case, now.
You can do this, too. I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor, so you have to figure out what is best for you.  I would also consult one of those people before you go crazy.  But these kinds of changes are small and aren’t really impacting your diet as much. I’m just thinking logically about how to approach this experiment. I’m cutting back on the amount of food, not the quality. I am recognizing where I need to have the give and take.

I’ll eventually plateau and have to take new steps to lose more weight, but I’m not suffering and I’m getting some desired results. This wasn’t hard to do. It was actually very easy. I know that for a lot of people out there, being overweight and actually doing something about losing it is hard, for whatever reason. Remember, I’m doing this with the intent of not making any drastic changes and not starving myself or becoming some fitness nut or health guru.

I could easily go home, grab a bowl of candy and go to town. It would be nothing for me to stop and get a pack of Klondike bars or something else that could derail my progress. You just have to get your mind in the direction you want to go and the body WILL follow. Start small, be realistic and just keep at it. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself for doing a good job but remember that the treat should still fall in line with the style of plan you are doing. For me, it might be dessert at a restaurant but share it or take some to go. You don’t have to give up on something good like Tiramisu, which I love, but perhaps just a little bit is enough to satisfy whatever urge you might have and still not be a detriment to your progress.

The mind first, then the body. That is what is important. If you cannot get your mind to accept that there needs to be a change, you will never stick to a plan. You cannot trick yourself, you cannot cheat yourself and you cannot beat something you don’t believe in beating.

Keep going. It will work.

Monday, November 15, 2010

November 15, 1944

There should be an email saying Happy Birthday. There should be an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. There should be a brand new tea cup or some gadget she would love. There should be a card signed from a little girl. There should be a dinner at Persichetti’s or the Olive Garden. There should be a lot of things, other than sadness.

I’ve avoided talking about what happened back in April because it’s still rough. I’m having difficulty sketching out this post just because of the lump in my throat. But, it’s time.

On April 11, 2010 my wife’s mother died. She lived life the way most of us wish we had. She didn’t go jumping out of planes or pushing the speedometer to 106 mph just to feel the rush of flying on the highways. But, she lived life without fear. Fear of what another person might think about her clothes or opinions never entered her mind. When you get a 12 year extension on a death sentence you stop sweating the small stuff.

I first met my future mother-in-law on November 8th, 1998. That weekend had been the first official date I had been on with her daughter, my future wife. It was the kind of date that makes you wonder why she called me the next day. After all, I totally embarrassed her at the movie theater, laughing and literally slapping my knee at the comedy of The Waterboy. The fact that her daughter had punched me in the leg as I dropped her off was probably my only saving grace. She must have felt bad and called me up, asking me over. I didn’t know I would be having dinner with her parents as well. After all, I had never met them and was totally unprepared.

I remember meeting this little white haired lady with these bright red rimmed glasses. She had this spiky hair and round face, full of rosy cheeks. My first initial thoughts was that she was the offspring of Elton John and Sally Jessie Raphael, if that were possible. She puttered around the kitchen getting dinner ready while I took on the task of dealing with the aspect of meeting my future father-in-law. “Now, he’s probably going to want to show you his guns. It’s a scare tactic. He’s a farm boy.” My wife informed me before descending into the finished basement of her house, decked out with a living room, game room and full kitchen. Being the smart ass that I was, I needed to break the ice and diffuse any tensions that might take hold of my first official meeting with the parents. After introducing myself to her father, I took the initiative to say, “So, I hear you’d like to show me your guns.” The laughter alone made me feel 100% safer and dinner was a breeze.

As we became closer, I felt as if her parents were an extension of my own family, years before I had even asked my wife to marry me. That was five years later. But, over that time, I learned a lot about my future in-laws, including my wife’s mother.

I almost didn’t get to meet her. Just that last year she was fighting for her life. She was diagnosed with stage IV renal cell carcinoma. That would have been a death sentence for nearly everyone. Her only saving grace was that she had been giving that diagnosis while already opened up on the table. The doctors knew there was a tumor, but they had no idea what else was there. They proceeded and she was put into a study where a high dosage of a drug was given to her. She was literally taken to death’s door with her immune system, only to ring the bell and run away. She came back from the brink and you could never tell she had been sick.

I got my first real glimpse of the real character my mother-in-law was that first Christmas. The whole house decorated as if the North Pole exploded in their home. It was amazing. She would literally take off most of the month of December to enjoy the holidays and enjoy them she did. The day after Thanksgiving her husband would go to hunting camp for the next week while she’d decorate. I could only imagine the electric bill. Scattered around the house were reindeer, snowmen, elves, animatronic Mr. and Mrs. Claus, wreaths, bows, and the lights, oh the lights. It was like a shopping mall with no stores.

Come Christmas Eve, they would throw out a spread that would make you want to take a long winter’s nap. She took such great pride in presentation and everyone took home a party favor. She reminded you if you didn’t, too. Along with the food was a sing along of Christmas Carols. She loved a good party and loved the holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas.

Oh, we had our differences. There’s no doubt. But it was never anything that didn't get resolved quickly.  We'd argue over stupid things and sometimes I felt she but into stuff that didn't need adressed.    In fact, at first she even told my wife not to hang her hopes on me. “He’s not going to stick around. He wants to go to California.” Had I actually done that, I would have went alone. After the cancer in 97, there’s no way my wife would have moved away from her parents. We all try to deny the existence of our own mortality, as well as the mortality of our parents, but after going through what this family went through, my wife wanted every minute with her. But, I didn’t quite understand it. I couldn’t. My family was always there. It never mattered how far away I moved or how long it was between phone calls or visits. I accepted that my parents would be there when I did call. I took them for granted. But, I never took offense to the statement about the longevity of our relationship.  It probably made me a more mature person.

I stayed and I became a part of that family. My wife would tell you that her parents loved me more than they loved her.  I just think it was different.  We got along on a different level.  I understood her.  Of course, it was always easier buying her mom Christmas presents. I could spot a good gadget or tea cup that she would love. I mean, how many grandmothers did you know nearing retirement age that had a Sirius satellite radio in their car along with a docking station for her iPod? She loved little things that lit up or whirred. A Dollar Store pen that lit up and had a Santa or Black Cat on it tickled the hell out of her. She would go shopping for Christmas all year long and each Christmas morning the house was wall to wall, floor to ceiling presents. They could be little things that she picked up along the way or they could be the big purchases. She never disappointed.

Neither did the cancer. It put up a good fight. In 2006, she had to have more surgery and this was the one we thought was going to get her. She lost her spleen and some of her pancreas. She spent a week in recovery alone, though that was because of a administrative snafu. Still, I had confidence that she would be back. She didn’t disappoint me. She was now my mom, too. I was damned if I was ready to let her go. She just looked death in the eye, flipped him the bird, and told him to, “Eff off!”

Even after that bout, she never seemed to slow down. She could out and beat the best of the holiday shoppers. You could just see her shuffling around the mall with those dangly snowflake earrings, snapping her gum in frequent crackles. She’d come home with a sleigh full of purchases to wrap later, on the pool table. She’d fire up the Christmas music or put and put on a pot of tea.

She always tried new things, no matter what the consequences. She loved her cooking shows and would often make us guinea pigs to her culinary whims. It’s sad that I know who Paula Deen and Sandra Lee are. I could sit there and watch them with her simply because she enjoyed them.

She loved musicals, too. If it wasn’t Christmas music she would be enjoying a good soundtrack like the one from Chicago. I remember taking her to see the Phantom of the Opera when it came out a few years ago in movie theaters. Her taste in movies was a lot like mine, including taking her to see a James Bond movie, much to my wife’s chagrin.

And she was a good Grammy. I say that, not taking anything away from my own mother, but my mother-in-law had a style all her own. My daughter loved her and loved having her babysit her while my wife and I were at work. I had always hoped that she could retire exactly when she wanted to but unfortunately, after 15 years as in HR, her job was terminated due to redundancy. Also, the cancer had come back.

This was a new one. We had all gotten over having the stomach flu in February of 2009 and something about my mother-in-law seemed off. She would have trouble remembering things and would fight to find the right words. My wife knew something was up and told her to get checked out. She left work one day to go get a scan. Now, she had been through countless scans over the years because of her history, but not once had they thought to check her brain. There it was, a tumor, pressing on her brain, causing the confusion. It led her to stop the car at mailboxes and run through red lights. The doctor called before she had even got back to work, telling her to get to the ER in Shadyside. It wasn’t good. She called me and told me to pick her up and bring her straight to the house, so that her husband could take her while I made plans to get my wife and break the bad news.

The tumor was there and then it wasn’t. The week after St. Patrick’s Day, my mother-in-law went in for brain surgery and three days later, she was home. Afterwards, you couldn’t have known she even had a tumor. It was a piece of cake and she was home free, or so we thought.

Nearly ten years had gone by from the initial diagnosis to the second surgery in 2006. Now, it was just three years later for brain surgery. My wife was worried that her mom was running out of house money to play with at the table. Her mom had never seen the ocean and she’d make sure she’d see that. It wasn’t so much a bucket list for her mom, but for her. As we sat in the waiting room after surgery, we flipped through vacation guides. We didn’t know another obstacle would present itself before June.

Mother’s Day was spent in Shadyside hospital. My mother-in-law was riddled with pulmonary emboli. She had to be put on a high dose of blood thinner and we feared she wouldn’t be able to make the nearly 12 hour trek to the beach. We also found out that she had developed another tumor, in her only remaining ovary. But, since she was going to have to wait for a few weeks to have surgery, thanks to the clots, we decided that she should just go to the beach anyway, and we did.

I remember seeing her propped up in the back of the van, keeping her legs elevated. We’d make frequent stops for her to get up and move around. I wasn’t sure she was so keen on the logistics of planning and executing a trip like that. Yet, once she got there, she enjoyed the hell out of it. Vacationing in a nice big house, seeing the ocean for the first time, sleeping in, she loved it. Our last night there, after the car was packed and the house was checked, we noticed some leftover frozen custard that was just going to be tossed. So, the fondest memory I have of that trip was sitting in the kitchen, finishing off the last of the frozen custard with my mother-in-law. I asked her what she thought about this whole thing. She couldn’t understand why people went through all this trouble to go to the beach. The sand gets in everything. You deprive yourself of sleep. You fight over stupid things like maps and exits and directions. Then, I asked her if she would do it again, perhaps next year. She said she would. With that, we ate the last bites and called it a night.

Surgery to remove the tumor went like clockwork, like it always did. However, there was a new wrinkle. Her abdominal fluid showed signs of cells. It was determined that this was not renal cell cancer but ovarian. She would have to endure chemo. She went for six treatments over the next 18 weeks. The time over the year she should have enjoyed the most was nearly negated with vomiting and exhaustion and the loss of that spiky white hair. She began wearing a wig because she refused to not go out and do things, but the vibrancy that she had with walking around a mall or driving in her little car was diminished. She got tired more easily. She started to feel like fighting was pointless. She was tired. No more surgeries she said. I’m done.

Apparently, she wasn’t, just yet. 2009 was about as bad a year as you could tolerate. Brain surgery, pulmonary emboli, ovarian cancer and chemo would disgust anyone from wanting to see another year of the same. However, in March, after a full work up and scans, she was given a green light. She was, for all intents and purposes, cancer free. Another deal, another set of cards, and house money back on the table. We began planning another trip to the beach and there was general enthusiasm from her about going. We were looking to put the previous year behind us.

We had a lovely Easter dinner and enjoyed company. Then she started getting a headache. Now, this was a woman who could tolerate pain. On a scale of one to ten, it would have to be somewhere near 20 for her to complain but this was different. She went most of the week after Easter with the headache and finally went to see a doctor. They didn’t feel worried and sent her home. On Friday, April 9th, she enjoyed Chinese dinner at our usual restaurant and felt better. On Saturday, it was almost unbearable. My wife took her to the hospital. She said the pain was if someone had hit her in the back of the head with a baseball bat. She was totally cognizant at the hospital and rattling off all the medical information she had always had to recite when she went anywhere like that. Soon, everything worsened and they decided to life flight her to Pittsburgh. She went into a coma and they nearly lost her on the way.

This woman who had beaten cancer for 12 years. This woman who loved Christmas. This woman who loved her family and life with such a fervor was now gone. She was alive, but nowhere to be found inside. From what we can tell, she had an aneurysm. Her brain bled, filling up her skull, causing the flow of oxygen to cease. She could not breathe on her own and she would not wake up. They tried to remove the swelling, hoping to alleviate the pressure and give her a chance. It wasn’t enough, or it was too late. In any case, she was alive because she was on life support, until we said otherwise.

To actually hold the fate of someone in her hands, to make that decision is not something I would wish on anyone. I wanted her to fight. I wanted her to come back. She always had before. But not this time. We gave it the night and on Sunday, April 11th, we had to chose. There was no chance she would ever regain consciousness and even if she had, she would never be the same person we knew. I knew she would never accept that quality of life, not in a million years, but I didn’t want to accept the finality of it all.

On the way to the hospital, we had to explain the situation to our daughter. She was too smart to dumb down the issue and we didn’t want to use an analogy that would confuse or scare her about what was about to happen. We simply told her what happened and what was going to happen. My wife told her we were saying goodbye to grammy and that she was going to live with Jesus. My daughter asked if Jesus was a nice man. My wife said that he was and that he was the nicest man you would ever meet. My daughter said, point blank, “Well, good. Because I would kick him in the balls if he wasn’t.” You can only imagine the simultaneous laughing and crying that went on in that car. Somewhere, in the aether, I imagine a snort and a cackle, along with the snapping of gum.

We still went to the beach this year.  It wasn't the best trip we have ever had, because we were missing someone.  She would have enjoyed the trip, it was much smoother this year.  She would have loved seeing the wild horses.  She would have loved the house we had this year, with a great view of the sound.  She would have enjoyed the dinner we had at Captain George's.  She would have loved seeing her family having fun.   She would have loved to see alot of things.  She would have loved to see her youngest granddaughter's first day of school and first peanut butter paint job on our living room.  She would have loved to see her new kitties growing up fat and sassy, just like she would have wanted.  Still, she got to 12 years she would have never had and in that time she got to see one daughter graduate college, both daughters get married, another grandchild be born, the beach and twelve more years of Easter and Fourth of July and Halloween and Christmas.  She got to see her husband learn how to play bass and play in a band.   And now, you could say, she sees everything with a great vantage point.

It’s been seven months since that day and every day a new challenge faces us. How do we cook that? How do I fix that? What does this benefits packet all mean? The things we would always ask her are discoveries we would have to make on our own. Still we laugh and still we cry over the memories. Still, my daughter says she misses grammy and wishes she could be here. Still, I do, too.

Today is her birthday. She would have been 66 years old. She would have outlived us all if she could. With all her maladies and missing parts, she could have run circles around me. And regardless of how bad it gets, I plan on making sure this holiday is as magical as any, for her sake. I want the party and I want the glitz. It’s not to take the place of what she did, but to honor it. She loved a good party and that’s what life is, a party.

Eat, drink, and be merry.

Don’t forget to take your favor.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Win 2 Tix To Steelers V. Patriot From

Happy Friday to you all.  Short and sweet today with a chance to win two tickets to Sunday nights Steelers game against the Patriots at Heinz Field.  This is from Chevrolet and    Take it away, Lindsay Patros!

The Giveaway: 2 tickets to Steelers vs. Patriots at Heinz Feild on Sunday, November 14, 2010 and 2 tickets to the Chevrolet Hospitality Village at Heinz field for food and beverage before the game.

Go to the post at and enter up to three times by…
  • 1 entry – leave a comment below with a photo or link to a photo with your favorite handmade Pittsburgh craft item – Steelers or Pittsburgh themed. Need some inspiration? Try searching Etsy for Pittsburgh or Steelers.
  • 1 entry – post a tweet linking to this page with the #IheartPGHtix
  • 1 entry – write a blog post about the contest and post the link in the comment below. (On the linked site.
Winner Notification: We will select one random winner from all of the entries and notify you on Friday afternoon – please make sure we can reach you by email on Friday so we can get your address to send you the tickets

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Lesser Man Project: Week 1

If you notice in the corner of the page, there is now a bar showing the progress I’ve made in my quest to become half the man I used to be… or am… still… whatever, it was a STP reference, deal with it. As of now, I’ve lost about two pounds and I just started last week, so that’s steady enough of a pace at the moment. After a few pounds, I’ll begin stepping up some activity. For now, my knees are the biggest reason for not going nuts with the exercising. I’ll explain in a bit. For now, here’s what I’ve done so far to help the process.

As I said, before, I’m not going crazy with exercise or counting calories or looking at labels and bargaining with the food Gods to allow me one Reese’s Cup, still sitting among the hundreds, left over from Halloween. Damn kids. They aren’t even trying anymore. While I’m not going to punish and starve myself, I’m simply moderating my intake. I cut down my breakfast to just a cup of cereal. This week, and probably the next few weeks, the choice for breakfast is LIFE. In the past, I was used to just pouring a bowl full and going to town. Now, I put in about a cup full and lightly douse with milk. I’ve been drinking skim milk now for about 17 years, so there’s not much more I can do there.

My lunches have gotten a little smaller, though I still take stuff like leftover Mac & Cheese or whatever we have had the night before. This week I had left over Velveeta Shells, twice, and Lo Mein, once. The portions are smaller than I am used to and the biggest change I’ve noticed is my alertness. I used to get real sleepy and unfocussed after lunch and lately, I’ve felt fine. I still accompany those dishes with a light yogurt and a Diet Pepsi. For the ride home, it’s a Gala apple.

I’ve cut out the afternoon snack. By the time I was getting home I was still hungry, even after my apple. Usually, I would get home and grab a glass of NesQuik made with 2% milk or a few handfuls of raisins/peanuts/choc. chips. Now, I skip the afternoon snack and I haven’t noticed a sense of hunger. I’m fine all the way until dinner.

Dinner is still my worst meal, but I’ve been cutting back on what I usually get. Yesterday, we went to Zackel’s in Claridge. I’m used to getting half of an Italian hoagie and onion rings. I switched to a chipotle BBQ grilled chicken wrap and no onion rings. I did munch on about five or six french fries from my daughter’s plate. She doesn’t eat them.

The worst part about my job is that I sit for eight hours. I drink around three cups of coffee, which is down from the six I used to drink last year. I only use three Splenda packets and a bit of the powdered Coffee Mate creamer which is only 0.5 grams of fat and 10 calories. However, the biggest change I’ve made involves the “Cake in the break room” snacks. I’ve been skipping those, although I had a handful of homemade chips and salsa today. I couldn’t resist. It comes from a group called Elegant Tents and they are awesome!

I still drink about eight cups of water a day or four bottles, I guess. Another change was the giving up of what little alcohol I drink. OK, I’m comfortable enough in my manliness to admit that I drink a wine cooler. Bartles & Jaymes makes a Strawberry Daiquiri that is pretty damn good and I will drink one, maybe three nights a week while my father-in-law are playing Call of Duty or any number of Cabela’s games. Well, those are definitely not good for you, so I stopped. Yes, I’ve taken off the skirt. Bite me.

This past weekend, I got out in the yard and worked on the leaves. That was the extent of the exercise. I used the mower/mulcher until the bag zipper broke and then switched to two different leaf blower/vacs. Several trips down over the hill to my compost pile, my knee was feeling it. I think I’m about to the point where there is no cartilage left in my knees because it always feels like my leg is just going to buckle. The extra 80 pounds cannot be helping that.

I remember, at my heaviest in college, I would get winded climbing the steps at Benedum Engineering Hall. If I recall, correctly, the amount of steps from Thackeray Avenue up to the entrances of the building was pretty good. After a few weeks of hiking those steps, my legs stopped hurting and I wasn’t so out of breath. Now, going up the stairs in my house is enough to get my knees hurting. That’s why I’m holding off on the real strenuous stuff until after I lose about ten pounds. I’ll still walk and do other stuff, but I’m not running on a treadmill until I lose some more weight.

That’s all I got this week. We’ll see how I’m doing next week. Hopefully that slider keeps going to the right.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Parking Lot Dickery Two: Pull Through Boogaloo

In this second segment on Parking Lot Dickery, I relate the frustration of shopping.  I also get a little help from my wife to complete the act of dickery.   Here we go.

Friday night, my wife and I decided to go out for Chinese food.  The restaurant is located in the same shopping plaza as the Giant Eagle I’ve had issues with in the past.   After dinner, we needed to grab some items at said Giant Eagle for dinner on Sunday.  We pulled into a parking lot space with three empty spaces facing us, with us in the middle.   This is great for a pull through exit strategy.

After shopping, we returned to the vehicle and my wife took care of getting our daughter buckled in while I loaded groceries. Once I emptied the cart, I returned it to the shopping cart return stall, two spaces over. I made it a point to hurry up as I wanted to do a pull through in the parking lot.

As soon as my hands left the cart and I turned to go back to the van I noticed a guy coming down the row. Immediately, I knew what was about to happen. Remember, there were three empty spaces facing us and I was in the middle of them. This guy pulls right into the empty space, facing us. I said, out loud, “You’ve got to be kidding me?”

After getting back into the car, my wife said she heard me outside. As I grumbled over the decision to back out, she said, “Just wait. Get your phone out and act like you’re taking a call.” I looked at her and saw the determination in her eyes. She knew this guy was waiting for us to leave so that he could pull across into our space, completing a pull through park. This is why I love my wife. She can be a bigger dick than me.

For those of you not familiar with any of these concepts I’ll briefly elaborate.
A Pull Through = The act of crossing from your parking space into the opposite facing empty space in a parking lot in order to leave without having to back up into your row, risking being hit by someone not paying attention as they drive.

A Pull Through Park = is the act of entering into a parking space and then immediately crossing over into the opposite facing empty space in a parking lot to use it as a parking place, allowing you to leave front first.

I usually do not do a Pull Through Park because I use the hatch or trunk for my groceries. I will only do it if I am running in for a couple of items.
Ok, back to the story.

Now, it’s the waiting game. Is this guy going to sit there and wait for me to leave so he can take my space or will I be able to outlast him, talking to my wife while holding my cell phone. I have groceries in the car, a three year old in the back, and Chinese food from dinner sitting in take out boxes slowly permeating the car with Chinese food smell.

Two minutes go by and this guy is still sitting there. I look at my wife, still talking into my cell phone. “Are you sure you want to do this?” “Oh yes, it’s on. It’s on like Donkey Kong. This guy screwed up my pull through. He only wanted our space, the bastard.” I laughed at her determination, her spirit. Then she began talking out loud in the car in the direction of the guy across from us. “That’s right pal. I’ve already done my shopping. I can sit her all night. Hell, I got leftover food in her if I get hungry. There’s a bathroom right inside and I got groceries if I run out of food. You ain’t outlasting me.”

Another couple minutes went by and the guy made a “Hmph” face, rolled his head and got out of his car. We had won. We backed out of our space and headed towards the end of the row, facing the store. As we drove, I told her I loved her and that what we did was a great form of dickery. She laughed and continued to go on about how that guy wasn’t getting our space. There were two empty spaces, including the one between us and the cart return stall. He could have parked there and pulled through, but he chose to face us and wait it out. He just wasted six minutes of his life on us. For us, it was a Friday night and we had no plans other than go home, give our daughter a bath and just relax.

The only downside to this entire operation was the unfortunate event that occurred as we passed the guy on his way into the store. As we passed him, the words “He was a dickhead,” came from inside the car. Now, because we have a very impressionable youngster who tends to repeat what she hears, we try to curb our language around her. The fact that I had used the word dickery and my wife had said bastard were minimal offenses but still not the greatest of efforts to censor ourselves. The fact that this phrase came out was purely unintentional on our part. Fortunately, the windows were up, shielding us from being heard. Unfortunately, it was neither my wife nor I that uttered the phrase, “He was a dickhead.” It was that impressionable three old in the back, proving, once again, that she is all together to smart for her own good and adept at using swear words in the proper context.   How can you punish that?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Anniversary Mix Tape Post

Today is my sixth anniversary.  My wife and I were married in 2004 and she's managed to put up with me for six years.  That should get her some kind of medal, to be sure.  So, as a schmaltzy token of my love,  I offer this post as a mix tape of sorts.   Here are a few music videos of our "songs."   Love ya, baby. 


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Hope You'll Be Seeing Less Of Me

I’ve never been the skinny kid. From an early age, probably around seven or eight, I was the pudgy one on the playground wearing Huskies. You know, the big boy jeans. But I never let it really get to me. My parents would tell me, “You don’t want to deal with the extra weight when you’re older because it’s tougher to lose it.” I just kind of shined it on.

I figured there would always be time. There would always be time. I’m going to live forever, right? OK, maybe a couple hundred years. In any case, I never worried about it the way I probably should have. I never played organized sports, never ran for any reason other than being chased, and I really didn’t have a concern over what I was eating. By high school, I was 186 pounds. I’m 5’ 9” / 5’ 10”, depending on which police report you read. By the usual standards, I was considered obese. I never felt it. In fact, for the most part, I felt completely healthy.

In my sophomore year of college, I had moved up to 214 pounds. Still didn’t feel “fat” but definitely noticed the difference. By the summer of 1996 I was working at Cedar Point and had come down with walking pneumonia. I came down with it in May and didn’t notice it until July. I also didn’t notice that I had dropped to 177. That was almost 40 pounds. Don’t ask me how that happened. I was 214 in February. That’s all I remember and it’s not like anything really changed between then and May, so I have no clue if I had already dropped some weight before I got sick. The point being, I wish I could do that, again. LOL. Actually, having walking pneumonia sucked. I had trouble doing anything strenuous and got tired very easily.

After college and around the end of the decade I was hovering at about 200 pounds. I was working for a hotel banquet department and oddly enough, the food did not contribute to any additional weight gain. I was constantly moving and it was probably the best job I could have had at the time to keep me active. It’s just too bad I was putting in 14 hour days on the weekends and had no energy to do anything but sleep and work.

Then, in 2001, I got hired in an office and it’s been downhill ever since. Over the last nine years, I’ve gained 80 pounds. I still claim I haven’t lost all the weight from my daughter being born but for some reason, no one wants to believe me. I know exactly what the problem is. I SIT ON MY DEAD ASS ALL DAY LONG! The only exercise I get is going to get another cup of coffee. On the weekends I would do yard work but that was just a pain. And, it’s not exactly a consistent workout as there are weekends the yard doesn’t need cut, although those leaves are mocking me, right now. With my wife working on the weekends, I haven’t been outside. I could take our daughter out but multitasking yard work while watching her is hard for me and I don’t want even think about what could happen.

My knees hurt, my back hurts, my stomach hurts from having my belt buckle dig into it all day. I’ve stopped wearing a belt and hope to God my pants don’t decide to test the laws of gravity. I suffer from the “Too much gut, not enough butt” syndrome where the pants won’t sit at my waist because of the slope downward and my butt isn’t round enough to hold them up. If I hike them up around my navel I look like Tweedledum.

I’ve got asthma and have developed OSA in the last six years. I wear a mask at night that pretty much just blows air into my throat to keep it open so that I don’t stop breathing. That’s ironic if you knew me and where I worked. However, those are the worst problems I’ve faced with my health.

Yes, there are times when I get a little shaky and scattered if I don’t eat lunch. And sometimes when I do eat my lunch, I’m struggling to stay awake. Sounds like diabetes, huh? According to a multiphasic blood test I took a few months back, I’m fine. All my numbers are good. I don’t even have high cholesterol. My blood pressure is normal and has been practically the same the last three years I’ve had it taken. For all intents and purposes, I’m healthy, just fat.

It’s my own fault. I sit at my desk all day long. I eat my lunch there. When I go home, I sit in a recliner and watch television or work on my laptop. I don’t have a lot of activity. Because of the shirt gig, I devote a lot of time to being online and designing or blogging or whatever. If I could do it all while walking, I would.

Diet is semi good, semi bad. I usually eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast around 6:15 AM. My lunch, around noon, consists of leftovers that fit into a small container or a sandwich, a Diet Pepsi, and a Lite Yogurt. My ride home at 4pm consists of an apple. Dinner is where I get into trouble. We usually eat around 7pm because daughter usually naps and my wife is teaching piano until then. We will either eat at home a couple nights a week or will go out. She doesn’t like to cook. Now, when her mom was alive, we’d eat at their house probably four nights a week. The problem with that was always portion. They were always making sure we had plenty to fill us up and it takes a lot to fill me up. When we do go out, I’m usually eating half of whatever I order, saving half for lunch. If I do snack, it’s usually at five. Sometimes I’d make myself a cup of raisins, peanuts, and chocolate chips. Maybe I’d have a cookie or a glass of chocolate milk. Besides all that, I drink about eight glasses of water a day, maybe three cups of coffee with Splenda and Powdered Creamer, and Diet Soda at meals.

What sucks is that 10 years ago I would go to The Olive Garden and eat an entire plate of pasta. Now, I’ll take half home and I’m 80 pounds heavier. That’s cruel. I eat less than I did a decade ago and weigh almost 50% more.

I’ve had it. I’m tired of it. I’m sick of knocking shit over as I walk past it and I’m tired of clothes not fitting, in a good way. Being fat is more expensive because the bigger size clothes cost more. So, this morning, when I got up, I weighed myself. 280. That’s where we go from here. I’m not going to start dieting because I don’t believe in it. Dieting implies that at some point you go back to eating like you did before. Well, I can’t do that. I’m just going to change.

I’m not going to go crazy and eat bread and water. I’m still going to eat the foods I like. I’m just going to eat less of them, for a start. Last night, I skipped my usual 5pm snack. At dinner, I skipped the fries and/or onion rings I would usually get with my Italian Hoagie and just had a couple from my daughter’s plate. She won’t eat them. I also had one Diet Pepsi, not two or three like I usually do. This morning I had one measured cup of Life cereal. We had a meeting at work and there was Quakers Oats Bars and Special K Bars and I chips. I skipped them and grabbed a small plate with some grapes, pineapple, and watermelon. I had my left over quarter of Italian Sub, without Italian dressing and a Lite Yogurt. And you know what? I’ve felt pretty good today.

I figure on trying to drop a few pounds just by changing how much I eat and then start working on being more active.  I don't plan on being some health guru or fitness nut because I'll just have to take the bridge.   And don't plan on me entering a marathon.  I'm not doing any intensive training, because like a diet, you have to keep it up.  I don't want a shock to my system.  I just want to lose weight and get my life back inside a pair of size 36 jeans.    I'm not going on Biggest Loser or joining a gym.  This has to be normal, routine kind of stuff or I won't stick to it.   I'll walk, I'll play with my kid, I'll do more physical labor, but if I have to start a regimen to lose the weight it will be pointless because I'll just gain it back.  And I'm not trying pharmaceuticals, either.  Too many other problems can be caused by that.   I take a multi-vitamin, fiber supplement, B Complex and Gingko Biloba.  Besides allergy medicine and Advair, that's all I want to take.

Of course, if I start becoming more active, it might mean less time devoted to my online presence, you'd be better for it, too. LOL.   I'm not going away that easy, though.  I would like to start chronicling how I’m doing. If for no other reason than to maybe help somebody out there. I’m biggest lazy bastard I know and if I can pull this off, than anyone can. I’m going to start figuring out how to put a widget up on the blog to track this kind of stuff. This is going to be an experiment and I hope I can drop the weight. Ultimately, I’d love to be back down to, at most, 200 pounds. The pie in the sky hope is I can get back to what I weighed in high school. Although, if I pull that off, I’ll probably look like a sharpie and that’s really unattractive.

Stay tuned. I’m hoping you see less of me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pulling Out The Daddy Voice

I try to live my life in a peaceful way. I know that goes against the very nature of the adjective directly preceding my moniker, but as it turns out I am a pretty easy going guy. However, the world around me sometimes decides to trip over itself in getting in my way forcing me to use my big scary voice. And believe me, I was an actor and can project to the back row when needed. This weekend, it was needed.

It started out a good weekend. My wife and I went to a Halloween party, while my little one camped out at my parents’ house, giving us a chance to do something other than watch Sprout or clean up toys on a Friday night. My wife was not amused at dressing up like Thing 2 but she went along with it. We returned home after midnight, fully intent on catching up on scary movies and shows that we don’t get to watch with a three year old around, and then crashed. My DVR is hating me right now. It’s hovering around 98% capacity.

That’s OK. I can still get up early on Saturday and enjoy the morning without fear of waking up our child and being forced to watch Green Eggs and Ham for three hours. I slept until ten. We had plenty to do before the evening which included going to the farmers’ market, where my wife works during the fall, getting pumpkins, riding ponies, riding hay wagons, riding each other’s last nerve. You know, the usual. But first, I had to pick up my daughter and my wife’s niece, on the way back from my parents. I told my mom I’d be there around noon and that’s when the world conspired against me.

First off, everyone must have decided to go shopping because I was out and about. My first stop was to the local Target to get a Starbucks for the trip. I rarely treat myself to Starbucks and I decided to go against the grain and order something different. Instead of my usual Caramel Macchiato I got the Toffee Mocha. Blech. That’s what I get for being different. There were just hordes of people in my way and some clueless girl making the drinks. Maybe it was her fault. Not sure. In any case, I remained cool.

Then, off to the turnpike. Traffic was a bear and no matter which direction I took out of the shopping plaza, I ran into a line of cars playing idiot tag at the stop signs and tried to take alternate routes resulting in more traffic at different signs playing dumbass tag. For the life of me, I cannot understand what makes people disregard traffic rules. When you come to a stop sign, you take turns unless someone waves you on first. In both places, I had people totally disregard the stop sign thinking that because they were stopped behind the lead car, that meant that they stopped at the sign as well and tried to sneak out with the leader. But I remained cool.

Out on the turnpike, I cranked it up to just over the speed limit and kept with other cars that were going the same speed. Shhh. Don’t tell the Popo. It was a relatively pain free trip, although I love people that make it a point to pass you, only to slow up when they get in front of you. In any case, I remained cool.

On the main highway towards Connellsville, I realized that I was going to have to get some gas and figured in town would be cheaper. Apparently, everyone left Target and came to this gas station just to try and beat me to the pumps. First off, there was a tanker truck up against the road side of the parking lot, restricting the available room to drive around the pumps. Against the building, every space was full creating a bottle neck on the front of the pumps. And, of course, every pump was being used. I drove around the pumps and came to the tanker side where a guy was nice enough to flag me down. “I’m done. I just have to pay and then you can have this one.” I was thankful and then he went into pay.

Now, common sense would have me think. “There are a lot of people here and not much room to maneuver. Maybe I better pull my car into a parking space and let this guy get his minivan out of the road.”

Apparently, this guy was thinking, “Wow, it’s really busy. I better go and try to quickly pay, even though I can see a line of people inside the store. But leaving my car here should be OK.” He went in and after two minutes he was still not out yet. In any case, I remained… tepid.

As I sat and waited for Mr. Nice Guy to come back, another person came out and moved their car at the neighboring pump. I was able to easily slide in and get my gas on. At this point, I noticed an elderly lady at the entrance of the parking lot, looking around. I knew Nice Guy was eventually coming back and I could see her gas cap on the driver’s side and wanted to do my karmic deed for the day. I tried to wave her over to get in line behind Nice Guy, so that she could get out of the fray and more importantly get out the entrance to the parking lot. Apart from shooting off a flare gun, there was no indication that my flapping arms were getting through to her. I was done pumping now and someone else had made a move into getting in line next to me. Hey, I tried.

After I finished up and was back in my car, Mr. Nice Guy finally came out of the store. Wow. I’m glad I didn’t wait. By now, it was after 12:30 and I was really late. I pulled out of the space and headed for the exit. At this point, a gruesomely huge truck screamed around the front of the pumps and stopped dead. A pretty big bald guy jumped out looking irate. He then proceeded to get into a verbal altercation with the guy at the first pump who I passed on my way in, which means he was there the entire time I was waiting and pumping. Apparently, Truck Guy was pissed at how long it was taking this other guy to pump his gas and move on. Apparently, Truck Guy was equally as brainless as everyone else this day, because he parked his car in the middle of the road between the cars parked in the spaces along the store and the pumps, blocking everyone from getting through, including me. In any case, I remained… a bit perturbed.

As he began his jawing at the other guy, it was increasingly aware that they were going to be awhile. In fact, if they were arguing over the fact that the other guy took so long, causing a back up of cars waiting to get gas, Truck Guy was equally of a douche bag for blocking people from leaving, causing a backup of cars waiting to get out. So, being a bit perturbed, I laid on my horn, hoping that Truck Guy would get a clue. He didn’t. In any case, I didn’t remain… in my car.

Now, pissed, I got of my car and yelled over, “Hey! You guys wanna fight? Fine. Move you damn truck first!” Nothing. They were bumping chests and screaming at each other more. At this point, the Daddy voice came flying out of me. “HEY, ASSHOLE! MOVE! YOUR! TRUCK!”

Somewhere, in a small wooded glen, the echoes of my voice reverberated across the hills. Many peaceful deer, drinking from a brook, suddenly became spooked and started to run away from the sound. The ensuing stampede caused a small, but significant change in atmospheric pressure and which swept across the world, causing wild dogs to cry out in the night, growing restless, longing for some solitary company. A storm ensued, crops flourished and hunger ended. I saved humanity by shouting the word, “ASSHOLE” at the top of my lungs in a gas station parking lot to a guy that easily could snap my neck and toss me aside. I remained… near my car, with the door open.

Truck Guy finally broke his gaze from the other guy and headed back to his truck, throwing up a hand and saying, “You know what, just get back in your car.”

But the Daddy voice has been invoked. The Daddy voice is unable to be turned off once started. I yelled back, “GET BACK IN YOUR TRUCK!” Unfortunately, all of the good in this world that I caused with the word “ASSHOLE” was now undone by the second exchange. Mountains crumbled, waterways spilled over into villages, laying waste to crops. I apologize to those affected by it. We’ll send help.

I got back in my minivan and as Truck Guy passed me looking down into my minivan with his bald scowl he mouthed something. I was just happy to be able to be on my way. Of course, the next ten minutes was filled with reenactments of what happened with additional line readings of what I said with some changes. We all do it. We have a moment of heated exchange and then proceed to replay the events adding things we should have said or done, escalating our side of the exchange to being totally dominant in the event. Meanwhile, that self preserving, coward of an ego, that resides just near my gut and other vital organs was saying, “You idiot, he could have ended you right there.” To which my pride said, “Yeah, but we totally pulled out the Daddy voice and it worked.” Oddly enough, had that been my three year old I had yelled at. I would have caused wide world destruction from continually yelling. For some reason, she is impervious to the Daddy voice.

In any case, I remained… in one piece. A little hoarse but in one piece. Once again, I apologize to the residents of a small unnamed country across the world who will not have crops this year. It was an acceptable risk. Sean Penn is bringing help.

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