Monday, August 24, 2009

The Experiment

Oh,where do i begin...

This summer has been interesting without cable. Half of me liked not having T.V because our family has spent more time together. For instance, my dad and I are now going golfing together every Sunday(unless we cancel). On the other half, I miss T.V. I miss relaxing and watching the shows that are stupid but don't feel like changing the channel because it is kinda interesting. For the whole summer our friends go,"Have you seen the commercial where the animals are dancing? "And our answer is,"No, we don't have T.V. remember."

Overall, this summer was interesting I wouldn't say that i hated the idea, but i definitely wouldn't of said i loved the idea. Well, the T.V. is coming back on...hallelujah(:


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekly Status: Week 12

Well, I can't say that I'm all that happy about the results, but it would appear that the family vote on whether to stay TV-Free is in. It was a hard fought campaign, but I'm afraid it looks like our television is coming back.

I have to give the family credit though, for more than 12 weeks, we have managed to turn it off and leave it off. But the original deal was "...for the summer", and a deal's a deal. School starts on Tuesday.

There will likely be a few modifications to our new lifestyle, though.

I don't think that Momma's going to allow the old living room TV to live on. This will avoid the "background noise" television that always seemed to be on regardless if anyone was sitting in front of it or not.

I doubt that we go crawling back to Time Warner for the full digital viewing onslaught. I think everyone is fine with "basic cable". I, personally, can live with only the Weather Radar Loop channel, but I am sure Kate and Shortie are looking forward to Survivor and Momma won't go much longer without a LOST fix.

After spending a summer getting my news from RSS feeds and such, I won't be watching much CNN, FOX, or MSNBC -- and the newspaper is truly DEAD and buried. I like being able to manage subscriptions to dozens of publications all in my Google Reader. However, it might be nice to catch a Jon Stewart monologue on the 42" LCD in the family room every once in a while.

We've read more books, listened to more music, and discovered more new things on the Internet than we thought possible. And yes, we've even managed to talk to one another.

So here we sit at the end of the grand experiment. The days are getting shorter, and the cicadas are buzzing. Summer's winding down, and football season is just around the corner. Even if it was only for a short time, we tried to make a minor change in our world and we succeeded. That's pretty cool.

If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'
-Bob Dylan

Next summer? Vegetarianism! LOL!! :o)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weekly Status: Week 11

We had a big soccer weekend so this post is a little late. Nothing all that new to report except I once again floated the subject of not turning the cable back on at the end of the summer. Kate was concerned about missing Survivor. Sara was worried about the ever-present threat of a profound boredom setting in. The topic is still open for discussion.

For those that might be further interested in streaming internet to their televisions, the New York Times had an interesting article about some of the more useful gadgetry that is available.

August 17, 2009, 6:41 pm

Why Your PC May Be Your Best TV

By Sonia Zjawinski

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Camp L.E.E.D

For the past 3 weeks Sara and I have been attending a camp called L.E.E.D. I'm almost 100% sure a lot of you are wondering what L.E.E.D stands for, or what you do in the camp. Well this is my explanation in a nut shell:

What it stands for:
L - leadership
E - ethics
E - esteem
D - duty

What do you do?
First of all, you do A LOT of different activities. But mostly it has to do with volunteering in the community, at camps, and cleaning up the enviroment. But you also have a choice; you can volunteer or you can stay back. When you choose not to go volunteer you usually play in the gym, go outside, rent and watch a movie, or play card games all day.
Personally, I'd rather get out of "The Dublin Bubble" and see what's happening outside of it. But when you DO volunteer this is some of the things you can do.

Volunteering Opportunities:
- Help set up the Irish Festival
- Go to the Soup Kitchen
- Go to the Free Store
- Go to the Faith Mission Shelter for Men
- Go to the Ronald Mcdonald House
1. Make lunches for the families
2. Clean every nook and cranny of every floor(: <-- this was fun.
- Help at the Wyandot Camps, Kidzone, My first Camp, and Wee Folk.
- Go to Faith Mission on 8th Street and help serve lunch
- Help sort donations at Faith Mission on 8th
- Go to the Cozy Cat Cottage
- You also learn a bit about CPR and Bullying.
- Pick up trash at Hayden Run Falls

These are just some of the things you do!

L.E.E.D are for kids in the range of 6 - 8 grade and it's a lot of fun. It's such a great exprience too! I learned so much about what's going on in the world and how I can help. So check it out, and maybe even sign your kids up for it next summer.;)

- Katie

Weekly Status: Week 10

Week 10 and we're in the last few weeks of summer and our grand experiment. All continues to go well, and we've not broken our promises.

This week, fall sports start up again. We have our first Soccer tournament this weekend, and Cross Country practice begins tomorrow morning at 9am. So, the girls have been busying themselves and sorting out athletic equipment situation and such.

Kate needed some new runners, so we had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite old haunts -- The FrontRunner store on Lane Ave. If you're an experience Columbus runner, you already know about this place. If you're a beginner, you'd be doing yourself a favor to get down there and check them out. As per their norm, FrontRunner staff had us in and out with a great fitting pair in no time.

An Authentic Beach Vacation: Revisited

A friend of mine after reading my post on looking for authenticity in a beach vacation dropped this article on my desk. Based on the report, this is the place we're all looking for -- so get there quick, they are probably already running low on sponge cake.

A Florida Island, End to End, Table by Table via the New York Times.

Looks like fun.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Music: Stumbling onto Music

Stumbling onto Music

Having much more time to spend on the computer lately, I have visited about as many websites as I could remember, and have Google'd about as many subjects as I could think up. At some point, you're just out of ideas -- and start feeling like you've reach the proverbial end of the Internet. As I was spiffing up the site the other week for the social media folks, I re-stumbled upon StumbleUpon.

For those unfamiliar with StumbleUpon -- you sign up for free, specify which topics interest you, add a toolbar, and by clicking a button -- StumbleUpon shoots you to a website that you might find interesting -- presumably because other people with similar interests have identified the site as "interesting". It's great for casual browsing. I setup my account and selected "Music" as one of my interests.

AAannywho... this has dropped me into some great music sites, and pointed me to some interesting music-related content. It pointed to me to this video of Bobby McFerrin ("Don't Worry - Be Happy" - remember?) doing a demonstration using the pentatonic scale. What's the pentatonic scale? Umm..It really doesn't matter. Let's just say that in a lot of ways -- you already know what it is. Bobby proves it in this video. -- Enjoy.

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

Music: Pandora - Personalized Internet Radio

Internet Radio

I got a Blackberry a while back, and on my way back from Florida I was messing around with a new application that I downloaded. The goal was to use my Blackberry as a music player so I could ditch my iPod. So, scanning the new Blackberry apps one day, I came across the
Pandora application for Blackberry. On the way back from Florida, I tuned into the new App to see if I'd like it.

Pandora starts you off by having you name an artist you like, and then it plays that artist and other similar artists thus presenting a "personalized" radio station for you. I was skeptical. I figured sure, you put in "The Beatles" and it also plays the "Rolling Stones" -- even though everyone who knows anything about music knows that there are "Beatles people" and "Stones people" -- and they're very different groups.

I put in Ani DiFranco because while she's one of a dozen female singer/songwriter that came out of the late 90's -- she's has a unique style in what she does. Simply put, she's got a bit of an angry streak, and she flat tears up the guitar. I especially like that about her.

In short, almost 3 hours of listening later, I was sold. Pandora uses a database from their Music Genome Project to categorize the songs it plays for you. It then asks you to rate each song and analyzes your picks to fine tune the songs it selects for you. This, then, creates a personalized radio station that plays songs that you've already said you liked and adds similar songs to see if you like those. Very cool. It'll even explain to you why it picked the songs it picked. It says stuff like this:
Based on what you've told us this far, we're playing this song because it features folk roots, a subtle use of vocal harmony, mild rhythmic syncopation, acoustic sonority, and extensive vamping.
Funny.. I thought I liked Ani because she can flat tear up a guitar.. but yeah, all that stuff is good, too.

Pandora is one of several similar internet-based radio sources that you can try. Here's a big run-down of the service on Tradevibes. It has a list of competitors on the site, too, so if Pandora doesn't do it for you -- look around.

TV-Free Alternative: Music

The Dublin Irish Festival always brings with it some of the best musical entertainment to be found in the summer. It always re-energizes my appreciation for music of all types.

As I sat listening to some of my favorite Irish jigs and reels yesterday, I realized how large of a part music has been playing in our lives lately.
The reason is that because we have much more time to listen to music -- we listen to more and varied music. Because we listen to more music -- we have found more music sources. All of this grows into a greater music appreciation and a richer experience when listening. That's been a nice TV-Free win!

This week I'll be posting a couple more posts dealing specifically with music. Here's a quick run-down on some of the local live music we've enjoyed lately.

Support your Local Musicians

During the Dublin Irish Festival, the wife and I enjoyed many of the bands, but especially enjoyed Slide and Scythian. Slide plays those great irish reels that get you banging on the table, and Scythian plays the more raucous flavor with an eastern European spice.

In prior posts, we've called out local live music at The Columbus Arts Festival and the Park Street Festival. We also went up to the Dam Jam in Shawnee Hills, Ohio and saw
Conspiracy play. Covering some great old R&B songs, you can't beat this band for its vocalists and that horn section just gets you up on your feet.

Benny's Pizza in Marysville has been supporting the local live music scene this summer -- and a few weeks back we saw the Menus. What a great fun band those guys are even after 26 years!

This is just the stuff that the family and I have covered. This is probably less than 1% of 1% of the live music opportunities that abound in Columbus. Pick something you'd like, shut off the TV, and go see them. Support your local musicians.

Weekly Status: Week #9

All things are going well this week.

We visited the always interesting and fun Dublin Irish Festival both Friday Night and Saturday Night. The girls spent time with their friends roaming around the 27 acres of festival grounds. Once again, as large as the grounds seem to be -- it always seems that there are plenty of people there.

I met a couple there on Friday night while I was enjoying some fish and chips who had just moved into town from New Jersey. They'd lived in Dublin all of 2 days, and happened to arrive on this weekend. They were treated to a nice welcome from the city, and seemed happy to have found an unexpected treat in their new hometown.

Welcome to Dublin, folks.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

TV-Free Family Fun: The Dublin Irish Festival

This weekend is the Dublin Irish Festival. Great Family Fun. Great Entertainment. Opportunities to Volunteer and (more importantly) introduce your kids to volunteerism. And... there won't be a television anywhere near it.

Weekly Status: Week #8

Weekly Status

Eight weeks in and we're still going strong. I'm now more convinced than ever that this was the right thing for us, and this week I raised a question to the TV-Free family that they probably knew was coming all along.
After the summer is over, do we want to go back?
The question was answered with some thoughtful looks and some non-committal shrugs. We'll let that one stew awhile, and come back to it.

An Interesting Poll Result

Since there's not much else going on, I'd like to share this with you. It is the results of a Time Online Poll. The question was asked:
Now that Walter Cronkite has passed on, who is America's most trusted newscaster?
The winner was Jon Stewart...

Our most TRUSTED NEWSCASTER is Jon Stewart from the Daily Show on the Comedy Central Network. Umm...that's CCN, not CNN.

Sure, it's a unscientific, online poll, and the demographic of respondents is probably skewed to the young, liberal, and tech-savvy, but still... It makes me wonder whether CNN and the rest of the mainstream media types are really paying attention. They should be.

The Complete Results

Friday, July 24, 2009

You absolutely CAN go TV-Free, too.

"Are you frakkin' CRAZY?!"

This was the reaction of a good friend of mine after I explained to him our family's TV free experiment. His prediction, if I remember correctly, was "I'll give you until the first rainy day."

Well, we've managed to persist through the first, and several more, rainy days, and it hasn't been nearly as difficult as he might have expected. In fact, it has even been easier than I expected. A quick poll of the TV-Free family is unanimous -- "Easier than we expected."

At Momma and I's golf league this week, a quick conversation broke out after I once again explained the experiment. It's inevitable really. It happens every time. One side of the marriage looks at the other and asks slyly, "So..could you do it?" The answers are generally a boastful, "Absolutely! No sweat!" -- and then "... for about 4 hours." is added. Then, we all laugh.

But here's the thing, you CAN do it. You absolutely can DO it.

Talk it over with the family. Just talk about giving it a shot. It'll be fun. It'll be interesting. It'll be something different. It'll be temporary... for a week.. or a couple days.. or just a few hours. Get together as a family... toss your hands in the huddle. Work together as a team. Go Team!

Then, just go down in the basement and disconnect the cable. You'll be surprised how easy it really can be. Good luck and shoot us a message to let us know how it's going.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Subscribe, Share, and Tweet

With the help of a few "How To" articles found on other folk's blogs, I've added some features to the TV-Free blog that some might find useful.
Over there right... you should see some new subscription links so that you can have new posts pushed out to you instead of coming to us.

Down below thatlower right... you'll find the, always fun, reader poll. Asking the question, were we cheating (as one commenter suggested) when we streamed Tour de France coverage over the net?

And.. down therebelow.. for all you social media, Web 2.0 types, there are links to Digg, Stumble, and Tweet, etc., as desired.

It was an interesting diversion to learn how these little sniglets work. I hope they come in handy for you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Can you believe it...

Can you believe it.......As so stated by Sara, I too haven't been on to post a blog lately. I've been on to read what the rest have blogged and frankly, I think they have done well...

Like those noted before me, our summer vacation was perfect (once we got the car situation worked out - borrowed a vehicle that ended up needing repairs that prevented us from using so had to reach out and find another vehicle - very grateful for the help !).

Headed out of town early and decided to stop in Cool Springs, Tennessee on the way down to Destin, Florida and spend the night. It was about 6 hours from Dublin and we weren't going to check into condo in Destin until the next day so had plenty of time. Mike found a famous breakfast joint that we all wanted to go to so we got up early and headed out to the Loveless Cafe & Motel. They are known in the area for the biscuits, and boy were they good. We all got souvenir t-shirts and headed back out of town....we could hear the water and waves calling our names....

Our condo rocked...... 3rd floor with 3 separate balconies (each bedroom and family room) and view of the ocean.....The Mediterranea was the perfect place for our family, close to the ocean, had a pool, restaurant close by, what more could you ask for.

We rented scooters, and took them all over the area. We went to Henderson State Park and hung out on the beach and played a little in the water, then back off to check out the area and see all the beautiful huge houses and scenery. All so pretty. We had the scooters for 2 hours that went by really fast.

Spent a lot of time on the beach and in the pool. Something about the salt water in the eyes and mouth that none of us could get used to....we'd run up to the pool and swim awhile then go back to the ocean and enjoy the huge, huge waves.

Mike snorkeled late one evening and I was very uncomfortable as I didn't want him to end up as Shark bait, luckily the sun went down pretty quick and he headed back to the shore...

We ate at some cool restaurants (Hard Rock Cafe, Pompano Joe's, Kenny D's, Fud Pucker's) and did some awesome outlet shopping (Silver Sands Outlet Mall, Destin Commons). It did rain a few times, but, doesn't it always.....and then the sun would come back out... I love Florida and it was hard to pack things up and head home, but like everything else in life, you gotta do it....

It was nice to have the following week off for vacation too, just we were at home. We were able to visit my parents in St. Mary's and do some boating while there, went to the movies, played some golf, watched a live band at Benny's in Marysville and also one at the Dam Jam in Dublin.

All in all, it was a great time for our family and great memories were had by all... Only one question though, where is the warm weather ?



Okay, so I know I haven't wrote a blog in a while. I'm sorry for that and lets move on.

When my parents told us we were going to Florida I was really excited. Warm, 24/7 sunshine, warm water,white sand, and beaches...What every girl wants! It was the perfect vacation. Unfortunately, the flag (which I will explain later in the blog) was waving red 6 out of 7 days. Literally, I was knocked off my feet from the waves. Which, was great if you wanted huge waves for surfing, boogie boarding, or even skim boarding. By the end of the day I was sick of the salt taste always in my mouth! But, I got over it and had a blast the rest of the week.

The Flag Key:
Green: No worries
Yellow: Caution
Red: Dangerous
2 red flags: Ocean is closed
Purple: Marine life

Luckily, we had the yellow flag waving on the last day which was really nice.

Wednesday, we decided to rent motor scooters which was a blast, if i do say myself. We rode our scooters down from Destin to Henderson State Park. The park had beautiful beaches, white as could be. We didn't stay there for long because we didn't have towels.

Overall, it was a really fun vacation and I would totally recommend it to any family.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, July 17, 2009

Family Fun: An Authentic Beach Vacation

We just completed a nice, long summer vacation. This year we spent a week on the beach in Destin, FL. I was very much looking forward to nibblin' on sponge cake and steppin' on pop-tops, etc., etc.

Destin FL, in the panhandle, is a very well-established and beautiful beach town with all of the typical beach town adornments. You could rent scooters, wave runners, and boats. You can parasail or surf. You can fill your belly with fresh grouper and boiled shrimp.

We went to Pompano Joe's beachside restaurant. We went to AJ's on the wharf. We went to the Back Porch restaurant. All highly recommended by recent travelers. And, all pretty good -- but just pretty good. The food was pretty good, the service was pretty good, the price was pretty good (although there must be some sort of city ordinance that prohibits the sale of a long neck bottles of beer for under $4). The location of all of these places was incredible. You can't just sit there and eat. You have to sit there and eat and look over the beautiful emerald coast. The views were truly gorgeous.

But something was still missing. While at the Back Porch, I discovered what it was. I checked the very bottom of their menu and found that Pompano Joe's and Back Porch were both owned by a company called the Southern Restaurant Group. They're corporate. Then, I started to inspect all of the menus and information on the places we were going. They were all corporate.

Maybe I'm naive, or maybe I'm just getting old. But when I stop into a little sun-drenched, beach side restaurant called "Pineapple Willy's" or "Pompano Joe's" or "Seaside Sally's" --- I'd like to think that Willy, Joe, and Sally are back in the kitchen sweating over the grill and making sure all the food is just like it was when their momma used to work in the kitchen.

This authenticity is vanishing I'm afraid. Willy, Joe, and Sally are no longer real people, just caricatures that fit nicely on a t-shirt available for $24 in the gift shop (apparently there's an ordinance on minimum pricing for souvenir t-shirts, too.) These restaurants are all stamped out like cookies using age old formulas.

It was a really nice time in Destin, but I'm still on the look out for the truly authentic, truly American beach town vacation. I'm afraid, though, that in order to find it -- I'll have too look outside of America. If you know where Margaritaville went -- please drop me a comment let me know.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Weekly Status: Week 7

"Lance Time" is back!

I've wandered through the knee-deep internet information forums to come up with a way to be able to allow the family to watch live or re-broadcasted, or summarized video reports of the Tour de France.

Actually, this was fairly simple, and I'm sure all of my tech-brothers are saying "Well, yeah - you knucklehead." The cheapest way to connect a TV to the internet is just to connect the TV to a PC or laptop. This cost me about $20 for a VGA cable and a audio cable. The quality of the picture isn't great, but that's more a function of the source than the method.

This gives the family its nightly dose of "Lance Time" just in time to watch Lance destroy the field in the Alps. Shortie has also become a Mark Cavendish fan. I have, too.

For those interested in various aspects of the internet video to TV connections... Here are some fairly good resources...

A discussion of resources that offer video streams of mainstream television programming:

Some detailed information on scan rates, resolutions, and the like:

A comparisons of different methods and available products:

YouTube video showing all the necessary connections:


Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekly Status: Week 6

This week, the TV-Free Family was on vacation in lovely Destin, Florida. We watched some TV. The condo we rented was well appointed, and well...

The programming choice is my current rationalization. We watched the coverage of the Tour de France on the Versus channel. Normally, I would have slapped the remote and turned it off, but Lance Armstong's story is such a shining example, I considered the broadcast a rare gem. (By the way, the commercials for "Fanarchy" then went forward to reinforce my TV-Free views - what dreck!.)

Annnywho... we're back from vacation, and now there's no "Lance Time". So I started to consider how I might still follow the Tour without the aid of the demon box. Watching it on the Internet is the obvious choice, but each family member watching it individually from the small screen really shorts the appeal. Lance time was actually family time.

So, I'm off on a journey to discover how truly feasible it is for the average Joe to hook up his bright new shiny LCD Flat screen to a computer for delivery of content. Hmm.. I'm probably going to need some type of cable...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Reader's Digest asks the question "Which would you give up?"

Well, there ya go. You see our little experiment might just have become a "movement". Imagine that! We're trendsetters!

Which would you give up? TV? Cellphone? or Web? Around the World!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Kids are Fine! They're watching "The Disney Channel"

During a conversation with a friend of mine about his young children watching the Disney Channel -- he articulated well some of my concerns about this channel's programming. This is just one more chip on the stack of things that made me want to go TV-Free this summer.

In my, admittedly, middle-aged mind when I hear "The Disney Channel" -- I think Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Chip and Dale. But, in today's Disney Channel these have been replaced with Hannah Montana, Zach and Cody, and the Jonas Brothers. Hey! Kudos to the marketing machine that keeps churning out fresh faces using a tried and true formula. But -- remember parents -- this is not the Mickey Mouse Club that we remember.

Today, this channel seems obsessed with the teenage dating exploits of high-school aged children -- who's cute? who's kissing whom? How to handle a date with two girls at one time?

What's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. Admittedly it's pretty tame by today's standards. I'm OK with it as long as the kids that are watching it are high-school aged or at least close to that. I'll even accept the 12 and 13 year-olds. But, what about 8, 9, or 10 year-olds? Back it up there Steamboat Willie, that's too young for this stuff..

Think I'm over-reacting? Maybe. But before you decide, go to the Disney Channel home page, and read the ticker messages and the age of the kids who are entering them. I'll wait.

All I'm saying is that if your kids are watching the Disney Channel -- have a seat next to them on the couch -- and judge for yourself whether the content is age-appropriate for your little Chip or Dale.

Weekly Status: Week #5

All's well in the TV-Free household. It's week 5 and we still haven't caved although I have to admit that I did watch some Michael Jackson videos on YouTube this week (as I'm sure many of us have). Two things came to mind. First, Michael Jackson was, at one time, an incredible entertainer. Second thing, YouTube really sucks lately -- I did nothing but wait for it to stream. So here's a couple of other video links I found: 1995 MTV Music Awards Performance and the Thriller Video.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


okay so in my last blog I had made hyperlinks to all of the ride information....well they didn't work very well so you can go to to find them there or you can just go to one of my dad's posts and look at a few of the rides he put down...

sorry about the confusion,


I fixed your links for you, Shortie!! -- Dad.

Kings Island

Kings island....what a blast!

So over last weekend we went to Kings Island. I had said to myself on the way there that I will go on EVERY single ride. When we pulled in I second guessed myself "maybe not every ride."

So over the 13 hours we were there I made a list:

Top 10 rides at Kings Island,
4.Flight of Fear
5.Son of beast
8.drop Tower
11.Crypt(this ride sucks...don't take the time to ride it!)

I didn't go on drop tower , delirium or firehawk . They are put in the list because of everyone else says they are really good rides.

Overall, Kings island was a great trip and if you haven't ever been there,you should because it is a lot of fun.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Irish Attitude : A great little blog for fellow Dubliners

Hey, I just found this blog with some great Dublin area information. Some great Family Fun ideas here within a bike ride of my house. Enjoy...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

TV Free Family Fun: King's Island Amusement Park

I first visited King's Island when I was maybe eleven. That would have been 1974. In 1974, The Racer roller coaster was the big attraction. These days, my wife's company, Wendy's International, has a company day where we get heavily discounted tickets and take the family down for a day. The Racer's not quite as popular as it once was. There's really not much of a line for it these days. In fact, I think if you asked nicely, they'd let you actually operate this ride.

Yesterday, the TV-Free Family visited King's Island some 35 years after my first visit. We all had a great time. In some configuration or another, the family attempted just about every ride there was there. Our few favorites, were the DiamondBack, a new coaster this year. Every one of us agreed this coaster is by far our favorite, hands down. Even Momma (not a great fan of swirling, looping coasters) was impressed by its mix of fear, speed, and smoothness.

We also like the Drop Tower. I'll state this: Courage on the ground turns cold when your feet dangle at 264 feet high. I was good at 264 feet. I appreciated, though, that it did not go to 265 feet. I was plenty high enough when the bottom dropped out and the air left my lungs. The absence of air prevented me from screaming like a little girl -- and for that I'm thankful. Nothing can water down the "Courageous Dad" aura quite like a heart-felt squeal of primal fear.

My own father rode many of the rides back in 1974 and even later. But, when asked to ride some of the more adventurous rides, he imparted what I still consider to be good fatherly wisdom. I'm sure dad gave me lots of fatherly advice, -- "Buy low, sell high", "Spend less than you earn", "Early to bed.. Early to rise...", blah blah blah -- but it was many of the little, less common jewels that I remember most. On one of these occasions, he told me --

"At some point in your life, you'll reach an age where it's not a great idea to have your ass above your head."

Well, I have to admit that yesterday, several times, I found myself in this orientation, and while they were bearable, I'm not sure that I'd call them all that pleasurable. By my math, dad was 50 years old in 1974. I'm 46 this year. I haven't quite reached that point in my life where the "Ass Above Head" position becomes an issue, but I'm pretty sure that it's not all that far away.

When I hit that age, I'm sure that my two kids and their friends will coax and cajole me to ride with them on the latest corkscrew and loopy-loop thing that the park has to offer -- and I'll remember my dad's advice -- and I'll be reminded, again, of how smart my father was. Then, I'll ride it anyway, because I'm not nearly as smart as him.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there,


Weekly Status: Week #4

All systems normal again this week.

I will admit that Sunday afternoons, if you aren't prepared can get a little boring. There's a whole lot of "What to do?" type questions and the inevitable "I'm bored!" coming from the kids.

Today, we had to think a bit before we came up with something to do. We visited Darby Creek Nursery looking for a few bargain-priced perennials to fill in some spots. The blonde read a book all day -- and we had a little cookout for Father's Day.

Nothing big.. just normal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hello blogging people. :)

I haven't blogged in a while. So the other day I said to myself, "What the heck? Let's blog!"
Okay, here we go.

The other day as my father had stated in one of his blogs, I was not able to go to (yet another) festival. This was because I had a birthday party to go to and it was a sleepover. I was very excited to go to this party because....IT WAS SURVIVOR THEMED! OH YEAH!

So if you have no idea what survivor is, it's this reality show where, i think, they pick 18 contestants to compete against each other. The contestants are left "alone" to make a camp, find water, and food. The game lasts about 39 days. The last one standing gets ONE million dollars.

ANYWAYS, at the party there were 2 teams. When I got there we set up our tents in the back yard and then made are team flags. The we went straight into the challenges.

Our first challenge was dogdeball. My team one all but 1 out of 4 games. yay!

Our next challenge was a scavenger hunt where we we forced to decode the codes (The person who made all the clues and hid them all was on our team. She told us what the clue was when we were stuck on it. We cheated. Sorry.) Again, my team won.

The next thing was a bug eating contest. There was a tin placed in front of you with crushed Oreo's in it. In the Oreo's were gummy bugs. We were to pick up the gummy bugs with our mouths and drop them outside of the tin. But of course, there was a catch. NO HANDS. When we started we had 45 seconds to get as many bugs as we could. The girl next to me got 15(she was on my team so it's all good.). I sadly only got 9 cause the gummy's kept getting stuck in my braces. My team won. Again.

Next was a basketball shooting games. everyone shot once. The team who had the most baskets won. My team lost.

Then we had a water balloon fight. Now this got completely out of hand. We all started out with dry clothes. We all grabbed 3 water balloons, and started throwing them at each other. But when someone was still dry, everyone decided to get a cup full of ice cold water and dump it on you. i was dry because I didn't want to get wet. I was smart and stood on the porch instead in all the chaos. I think I was the only one who didn't get soaking wet that night.

After cake, ice cream, presents and putting on PJ's, everyone went outside and we played capture the flag. My team lost sadly, but everyone decided that we were going to play Court after. Now I really don't feel like explaining how you play Court, plus, it's really confusing.

After that we all went to bed.

the next morning I woke up to see my friend shooting me with a nerf gun. What a loser. Haha. Just kidding.

I had a lot of fun that night. :D

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Honey, I shrunk the Honey-Do List!

There's always been about a dozen things on my "Honey-Do" list that never seem to get done.
  1. That nail has been sticking out of the rain spouting for no less than 3 years.
  2. I really need to blow up the tires on my bicycle.
  3. The bushes could stand a trimming.
  4. I've got some flowers to transplant.
  5. Catch up on those old magazines.
  6. Straighten up the garage.
  7. Read that book.
  8. Clean the grill
Funny thing is, without television, these things that used to be avoided are now embraced.

Now, let's make no mistake about it. I'm not a busy-body kind of guy. I can waste time with the best of them. If procrastination were an Olympic sport, I'd not only win the gold medal, you'd hear Bob Costas screaming "Oh, YES!! He stuck the landing!"

But, these days these little Honey-Do items just get checked off one after another. I'll be sitting on my back patio, and I'll remember something I've been meaning to do. Then, I do it. In the middle of completing that one, I might even start another one. In a couple of hours, I might even look back and see that I have been <gasp!> productive.

Today, at one point, I sat down on my back patio and couldn't think of a single thing that I had left on my Honey-Do list. I sat and I thought..., and I sat... and I thought... Almost Pooh-like, if you will.

After a few minutes, I just sat...and I sat... Hey.. this is alright... AAaaahhh...

TV Free Family Fun: Festivals and the Bubble

Last night, three-fourths of the TV Free Family (the blonde had a sleepover) went to the Park Street Festival. We got there pretty late and it looked like a good festival with good attendance, but it was crowded and pretty much the only thing left was the beer-drinking, music viewing crowd. We waited for Saving Jane to start playing, but it wasn't quite "Family Fun" and Shortie was looking a little hungry, so we walked down to Gordon Biersch for some food. By the way, if you go there... have the Blackened Mahi Fish Wrap. It was very good.

The festival got me thinking a bit, though. This was our second festival in 2 weeks, and it's been a while since we've gone to these. Last week the Arts Festival exposed the family to some great art, but much more interesting was the diversity of people there. The Park Street Festival also brought its own brand of diversity in festival goers. I think maybe a little bit more diversity in our experiences might be a good thing.

We live in what is often referred to (by fellow bubblers) as the "Dublin Bubble". Dublin is a fine community with good schools, shopping, and plenty of employment opportunities. Both the wife and I are employed nearby. This brings forth the Dublin bubble syndrome where you live almost entirely within the local community, and very soon you start to believe things like:

  • The only professional sport is Golf.
  • The automotive "Big 3" is Lexus, Porsche, and BMW.
  • Lobsters are grown in tanks at Kroger's.
  • A good dental plan (with orthodontia) is an entitlement.
oh yeah, and...
  • Dandelions (like Small Pox) have been eradicated in the modern world.

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that I can live where I do, but I'm starting to wonder whether we've become a little too comfortable. Maybe, we could use a little more exposure to a much more real world. In the coming weeks, I'm going to look for fun outside of "The Bubble".

Weekly Status: Week #3

Nothing much new to report on week 3. All systems normal.

Last year, we put in a nice big stone paver patio and pergola. We replaced an old deck that had seen better years. The patio probably doubles (or more) the square footage of the old deck.

The patio is great for sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine and breezes. We chat and watch the cats as they stalk (but can't quite catch) chipmunks, birds, and those little cottonwood fuzzy things that float by.

Kate mentioned that we might be in trouble if we didn't have a nice backyard room to sit in. Everyone else agreed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Resources for Managing your Family TV Time.

American Academy of Pediatrics Study:
Reducing Children's Television Viewing Time : A qualitative study of Parents and Their Children.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
WE CAN! "Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition"
Wean the Screen

A related website with some articles and eBooks:

Information about the TV Turnoff Week:
Wikipedia Article

Another Blog (much better than ours) about unplugging your kids...

All's quiet on the home front.

All's quiet on the home front. Got the AC fixed the other day. When the house hit an all time high of 80 deg. at 11 pm, I was done with the ceiling fans. As for the girls, they are dealing with the late afternoon blah's. Most of the time their ideas involve money on what they want to do. They've been asking me "What can I do to earn some money?" - mostly for the pool concessions (not like they couldn't pack their own food - it just doesn't taste the same evidently) or for the quick bike rides to some local establishments. Mike has had to explain to them (as noted in his blog) what is a payable chore. It's been nice having the van washed or the wheels cleaned (don't think I've done that in years). Could use the inside of the van swept too...wonder who will take that offer.

As for me, I've finished my 3rd book and getting ready to start the next. Trying to keep myself occupied in the evening and off to bed earlier than normal (still working on the latter). I'm glad that Mike created this blog site, we are finding out that he is such a great writer. I look forward to his entries and also the girls'.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Family Fun: Columbus Arts Festival and Soccer Tryouts

It was a slow weekend for the TV-Free Family. But, we still had the ability to squeeze some fun in...

Soccer Tryouts
For those that don't know us, we are a soccer family. Last week was tryouts, and this weekend was the annual madness that I like to call "The Cirque du Insanity" (sponsored by Verizon Wireless, no doubt). I have to imagine that at about 8am on this Saturday morning, the phone and text message networks are nearly brought to their knees by young soccer hopefuls and their crazy-ass parents trying to figure out who got offered what, who didn't get offered, who accepted, who declined, and who got offered, and declined, but should have accepted -- in short, who will play on our teams next year. Lest you think I'm criticizing, I am (sadly) one of the crazy-ass parents. And again, lest you think I'm criticizing, although the whole drama-filled process is horrible and no doubt scars all those involved for life, I cannot think of a way to improve it.

So what's fun about that? Nothing. I just had to get that off my chest.

Columbus Arts Festival
After the circus ended, the family took a leisurely, top-down drive down to the Columbus Arts Festival. Funny, apparently its been a few years since we've visited this annual favorite because we couldn't find it. The last time we were there, no doubt hauling wagons and umbrella strollers (yeah, it's been that long), it was down by the river. Well, apparently it was moved down to E. Broad Street. After meandering around the downtown area, Shortie spotted a big "A", and we found it. That girl has always had eagle eyes.

Here's my photojournal. For all you photogs out there -- the equipment I was using was my Blackberry Storm phone. No doubt, you're envious of my photography skill and creative use of lighting (the sun) and filters (over-priced festival draft beer).

The girls enjoyed some music and festival food...
The Ladies enjoying music and eats

There were people there..
Folks enjoying the Columbus Arts Festival 2009

There was a band stage, but even more fun were the sidewalk performers...
Sidewalk Entertainment 1Sidewalk Entertainment 1

And, we also saw a BMW Z4 that was being raffled. I've seen more than my share of great looking BMW cars (shameless plug), but this one was really sharp. Right when I was snapping the shot, a young lady step into the shot and partially obscured the car, but it's still a great shot...
A BMW Z4 obscured slightly by a passerby.

AAAAhhhhh... Art. You just can't find the words sometimes.

Weekly Status: Week #2

An interesting week at the TV-Free household. The following potpourri of thoughts is in no particular order (and may not be particularly interesting...but...).

Subconscious Remote Addiction
For the second time since this experiment started, this week I happily returned home from work, walked through the front door whistling, step over to the television and grabbed the remote, sat down on the couch and clicked it on. Only after the empty blue screen came up did it strike me that I was caught up in some subconscious, trance-like state. I've decided to track the occurrences of this anti-pattern in hopes that this data can be used to attain a government grant (hopefully in the 7-figure range) to study this malady.

Family-Fun Funding
The girls have begun to find that "fun" can sometimes be more pricey (depending on the type). We've enacted what I call the "Dad Subsidy" rules. The rules:
  • You need it? Dad Pays.
  • You want it? Girls Pay.
  • You want it, and dad wants it, too? Dad subsidizes the purchase with matching funds.
  • Mom wants it. Dad pays one way or the other.
At any rate, this has brought forth the need for what some people might call the prevailing wage. For basic, short chores around the house, the prevailing wage is the same one my father enacted: A roof. For bigger chores, I now pay $5/hour. Now before the cries of "CHEAP!" go up let me assure you that this $5/hour is tax-free, and by my calculations that comes to somewhere around a $28 per hour if it were a taxable wage... Pretty generous, I think.

Alternate Addictions
The kids computer is busy these days. One might suggest that the girls have replaced one addiction for another. Today, I developed a new strategy to deal with this alternate addiction. Remember those "basic, short chores" that I mentioned above. Well, there's always this discussion about "Whose turn is it?" around here. I have a new indicator that is always accurate as to which daughter should be assigned the chore. She's the one sitting in front of the computer. Cruel, yes...but fair, no?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tips with aiming practice!

Okay, so my dad and I went on a hiking trip to Zaleski to hike around the south trail. We were aiming for the campsite D, but along the way we found this like tucked away little campsite that we both really liked.

Tips on finding a new campsite:
  • Make sure you know that there is going to be NO thunderstoms, not even one coming.
  • Have some rain gear( just in case it rains )
  • When it rains make sure that you put your belongings in the tent so they don't get wet (we learned that the hard way).
  • And make sure the campsite isn't to high above ground.

So my mom packed this mix of fun stuff in a bag. Some things that were in it was raisins(eww), peanuts, m&m's, almonds and cashews. So my dad an i were sitting on this rock edge and we were really bored so we started throwing the raisins at a target. We both don't really like raisins so it wasn't a very great loss. When we were out of raisins we went onto cashews then peanuts etc... It was a fun trip except the rain which my dad explained in his blog.

Talk to you later


Monday, June 1, 2009

Family Fun: Episode IV, Zaleski Strikes Back

I almost titled this post "It wasn't supposed to rain."

I've been backpacking for a few years, and even in the bad weekends I felt like I was always prepared for bad weather, but this weekend was one of those where God says, "Yeah, you think you're all that, huh? Well..."

Kate and I went to Zaleski a few weeks ago, so it was Shortie's turn to go. I had checked the weather and there was like 20% chance of rain -- and even that 20% was waning throughout the week. So, I expected another great weekend hiker at Zaleski State Forest.

We got started early on Saturday and it was GORGEOUS. About 70 degrees, we took the South loop. I had a hot tip on a secluded, clandestine camping spot just perfect for Father/Daughter bonding. We actually found the campsite without much effort right where it was supposed to be, and given the number of Boy Scouts carrying coolers and folding chairs we past on the trail, I thought it would be a perfect spot for just us two.

As I surveyed the campsite, I remember thinking "This is great! Private and tucked away, it's absolutely perfect, except for it's on a high ridge and might be exposed to lightning." But, given the blue sky and the 3-day blue sky forecast. This was it! We set up camp.

  • At 9:30 pm, I was looking at a clear, evening sky with a bright half-moon shining brightly.
  • At 9:45 pm, It was dark, cloudy, and the sound of thunder was rolling in.
  • At 10:00pm, It was pitch black, and I spotted at least 4 cloud to ground lightning strikes in the distance.
  • At 10:05pm, Shortie and I left our campsite for lower ground in a hurry.
  • At 10:20pm, After 15 minutes of being drenched in the absolute darkness and weighing the odds of a lightning strike vs. a flashlight failure, we made our way back to the tent.
  • At 10:30pm, We buried ourselves in the tent and wished we were somewhere else. I found religion (again).
  • At 11:00pm, The storm started to wane. (And by wane I mean that the lightning flashed every 7 seconds, instead of every 3.)
This was a lesson learner. Lessons learned:
  1. Weather predictions are just that.
  2. If there's a "except for..." that follows your campsite assessment, heed it.
  3. Never leave your tent (if you've followed #2 -- you shouldn't want to leave it).
  4. "Water Resistant" means you can sweat on it -- and that's about it.
  5. Even if it means hiking half as far, take the gear that you need, and the gear that you may need.
  6. Raisins are more fun to throw than they are to eat. Maybe Sara will expand on this in her blog entry.
For the record, my young hiking buddy was very brave in the face of such scary circumstances. In the morning, I asked whether she had fun and she responded with a big "Yes! I love hiking. The storm wasn't very fun, though." That would be one of the first TV-Free Family Fun understatements of the summer. I wonder whether she'll ever want to go hiking with me again.

That storm sucked out loud! but, dang it! ... It wasn't supposed to rain.

Weekly Status: Week #1

Meh... So what? That's been about it. We haven't even really changed our pattern much. The lead up and slow reduction helped but for the most part, it's been without a whole lot of hoopla or drama.

There really isn't much to report this week. There's been some weather events, so I do miss the NOAA weather radar channel. Does anyone have a web source that's as good as the NOAA channel on TV? It seems a no brainer to me that the same feed that goes over cable would be available over the web, but I can't find it. has the best I've found, but any and all help is appreciated.

The second thing that I've noticed is that I'm out of the loop with the NEWS. What airliner crash? What a bomb in Pakistan? Really? I haven't heard. But then again...

Aaaaannnywho.... Week #1 complete.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just what I didn't expect from Time Warner

Well, it's off. I called TWC today and had them disconnect my cable TV. I was all tingly with anticipation of some run-around phone call with multiple "supervisors" offering new promotions, and do you know what I got?

Really Good Customer Service.

DAMN!!! Are you frikkin' kidding me?!?! I wanted the shenanigans. I wanted the antics. I wanted the hard sell, the soft sell, the up-sell. The seashells. I wanted all of that stuff so I'd have this unbelievable funny blog entry. And what did I get?

Really Good Customer Service.

A pleasant-mannered customer service agent named "Kitty" helped me discontinue my service, gave me my new broadband only monthly charges, and helped me arrange a time for the TW techs to come to pick up my cable box.

PPshht! Where was the fun in that? Stupid Time Warner with there stupid good customer service agent...

So anyway the TV's off. Nyah!

By the way, I also called Tivo and asked them to cancel my Tivo contract. And guess what I got there? Yeah.. Yeah.. it was really good customer service, again. But, you kind of expect that from Tivo. They just understand. BUT! A customer service agent there named "Scott" suggested that rather than cancel my contract - he'd recommend that I just "suspend" my service for a period of time. He suspended my billing for a few months, and said it'd automatically restart at the end of September. He also let me know that even though my service was suspended, I still had access to many of the broadband features like Amazon's download service and the Live365 music channels.

Thank you, Tivo, for getting it right (again).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sorry i haven't blogged in a while but i have had a long week.

So to start, i had a soccer tournament in Carmel, Indiana this weekend. I rode up with my best friend and her mom, which was fun. we won our first game 4-0 and our second game 1-0. to make it to the semis we had to win. we ended up losing which was a bummer...but overall it was really a great tournament for our whole team.

we end our season this week with 2 games...then(ugh!) soccer tryouts the following week. soccer tryouts are interesting when you are watching all the players that think they are the best when my cat could fake them out trying to win the ball...teehee(:

On the other side of my life...(school) things are going great. I cant believe there is only 8 more days of school left.

i will try to keep you posted more.

p.s. im trying to change up the whole color thing(:


this past weekend.

So, over memorial weekend i had a soccer tournament in dayton. It was a longgggggggggggggg weekend. my team was 1-1-1. My grandma came to watch a few of my games. But after all my games were done and we got that sad news that we failed to get into the finals, we decided to go to the dayton air force museum. (which, if i do say so myself, WAS FREAKING AWESOME!) We saw a whole bunch of planes obviously. But my favorite one i saw was the something something peacemaker. Dad was telling me all about it. This is what i asked him:

Katie:"why do they call it the (something i forget) peacemaker?
Katie: "it's more of the 'blow everyone up with a bomb forcing them to make peace with you maker'."
Dad: haha

Over all the weekend was fun. except for the almost unbearable heat and uncontrollable hiccups in the museum(very embarassing). haha.

Family Fun: National Museum of the US Air Force

If your kids are into planes or if you are a big kid that used to be (and secretly still is) into planes, you simply have to visit the US Air Force Museum near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton Ohio.

Kate and I spent the weekend in Dayton at the Adidas Warrior Classic Soccer tournament. A large, well-run soccer tournament, the Warrior Classic was a great tourney to wrap up our spring season. Coincidentally, my mother lives reasonably close to Dayton, so it was a great chance to bring Grandma out to the soccer park to watch Kate's team.

Our tourney ended after the Sunday morning game, and we were only a few blocks away from the USAF museum. I suggested that since it was still early, a quick jaunt through the exhibits might be fun. Grandma was up for it, so we dropped in.

It's been a few years since I'd gone through the museum, but I remembered leaving the last time thinking how unbelievable the place was. Here's a quick list of the displays that are there now.

  1. The Early Years -- From the Wright Brothers first flight up to the early WW I planes, this hangar has your head on a swivel trying to take in all of the different restorations.
  2. The WW II Era -- Flying Tigers, Spitfires, and a Messerschmidt 262 were among the planes displayed in this hanger.
  3. Modern Flight (Asia Pacific Wars) -- Walk inside a B-29, or just stand back and look up at the B52 with your jaw hanging open like bomb bay doors. They also have an F22 Raptor and one of those "Predators" we hear so much about lately.
  4. Cold War Exhibit -- This was one of the more interesting exhibits for both Kate and I as I tried (clumsily) to explain the Cold War to her. She wrote a blog entry about the conversation. The plane she is referring to is the CONVAIR B-36J PEACEMAKER -- but, no matter, as you can see, she got the gist of it.
  5. Missile & Space Gallery -- Frankly, after 3 very large hangars FULL of planes, we ran out of steam before getting to the Missile & Space gallery. It opened with the Apollo 15 command capsule (and that was amazing enough!) We'll start in this area next time.
  6. In addition, the museum had a nice section remembering Bob Hope's contributions to the military which was unexpected but after some consideration seemed very appropriate for this weekend.

Folks seriously, in a few hours we maybe saw 25% of these exhibits and skipped an entire hangar full as well as all the exhibits outside. It was just overwhelming, and upon leaving I repeated the same endorsement that I give every time I go there. This is absolutely the best family museum day trip in Ohio, possibly the nation. By the way, if the economy has you watching your pennies -- no worries -- admission is FREE. No seriously, it is FREE. So pack up your young aviators, and get there this summer.

One last thing,

After a long weekend of soccer in high heat, Grandma, Kate and I wandered back to the entrance. The museum was busy and I'd parked a fair distance away so I had them find a seat in the shade while I made the long hike to the car. I found a sidewalk that made it's way through a shady lawn area as it headed out to the car. I soon realized that this area was, in fact, the museum's Memorial Park where there were many, many markers and commemorative displays dedicated to all of those men and women who chose to serve and gave all they had. As I passed these markers, it struck me that what started as a little bit of family fun had turned into one of the best celebrations of Memorial Day that I could have imagined.

Happy Memorial Day,

Weekly Status: Go Time!

As Rafiki once said to Simba who upon being reunited with Nala had to look within himself to discover the meaning of his heritage as the true Lion King and inheritor of Mufasa's throne, "Eet eez time."

Funny though, how the original family shoulder shrugs and dismissive agreements turned into stammering "but...but..but..s" this week at the suggestion of calling my friends at Time Warner and having them pull the plug.

But.. nevertheless.. a deal is a deal. Tomorrow it goes off.

I've been considering for a few days how this call might go. Will Time Warner sigh and regretfully say "So long." to me, their long time loyal customer? Will they offer me such jeweled gifts as a free, barely functional, sad excuse for a digital video recorder? Or perhaps, 50% off my next overpriced pay-per-view purchase? Will they nervously laugh and tell me the $87 was just a joke, and that they actually meant $57 dollars? Will they try to convince me that broadband internet REQUIRES digital cable television service? It's really anyone's guess.

In any case, I expect the call to go about the same as many of my other interactions with the Time Warner folks - flat goofy. The truth will reveal itself tomorrow.

I'll let you know.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Well, panic hit the girls and I last night when Mike said to us "Is Idol over?" The three of us looked at each other and started naming other shows we watch, panicing to come up with one that wasn't already done with the season finale...Of course Mike was standing in the doorway with a smile on his face. We must have looked defeated as we blurted out names of TV shows...

What now, well, got a sick cat that needs some extra care and an upcoming soccer tournament that will keep all of us busy, but come Monday, who knows.... Hopefully the cat will be better and the girls tired from soccer tournament. But then what ? I can think of a million things to do, maybe not all fun, but things to keep from getting bored. We'll have to see how the girls respond, but I think in time, it will be just fine.

Myself, I've got about 6 books started in the last year that I haven't had time to finish. Now I just got to find where I placed them ?! I also have this cross stitch project I started about 20 years ago that I was going to give Mike for his 30th birthday and maybe if I.....oh, I may have to pay someone to finish that one.....

I'm looking forward to this.....

P.S. Moved the chair in the family room infront of the TV.....cats like the new's the small changes that count too..

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weekly Status: Week T-1

So, LOST wrapped up this week. I'm glad I have it on Tivo, because in the immortal words of John Locke, "We're going to have to watch that, again." Various other season finales are scheduled for this week, so the cut-off time is quickly approaching.

I expect the final throwing of the switch to be somewhat anti-climactic since we've already cut off all but the family room set, and that room is rarely visited anyway. We're already settling into the new approach.

Soccer season is wrapping up which gives us a little more time on our hands. This weekend was the first in a few weeks where we weren't wall-to-wall with soccer games. Kate had a 4:00pm Saturday game (a brilliant win if we do say so ourselves), and that was it.

So, given that we've had a little taste of the future, I'll tell you already when I miss it the most. It's the little quiet times after the day has run it's course just prior to sacking in for the night. Those 30 or so minutes between finishing that last task and slipping into bed when you check tomorrow's weather or watch the monologue for The Daily Show. That little time frame is when I found myself asking "Well,.. now what?" What daily ritual will need to replace that unwinding time?

I've got it! It's something I've always wanted to do. I can use this time to treat my soul to some quiet, inward-looking meditation. You know? I could really get in touch with my inner, peaceful self.

HA! HA! Ha! Ha!... I almost managed to say that with a straight face...

Monday, May 11, 2009

camping in zaleski...

some info you may want to know if you are going to go camping in Zaleski State Park:

1. pack a sleeping bag that "fits" you, or the right size.

i got lost in my sleeping bag, while daddy had trouble getting into his.

2. don't turn your back on the jetboil.

dad went to get silverware and the water started boiling over like crrrraaaaazzzzzyyyy.

3. back 2 large bottles of water

so you don't have to drink your own urine. HAHA (we never had to. we are just kidding around)

4. don't look into one of those lights that people wear when they go into caves.

dad about blinded me. not funny.

5. tie a belt around a tree and then hook your bag to it.

(it's an old indian trick an old guy taught me. ;) haha , dad.)

6. watch out for turkey hunters.

we passed one and the guy scared the crap out of me. NO JOKE.


Family Fun: Zaleski State Forest Backpack Overnight

If you're going to kill your TV - you'd better find something else to do. So, in addition to the status updates, we'll try to include family fun stuff that filled those hours that we've previously spent slack-jawed and drooling in front of the idiot box.

This weekend Kate and I went for a walk in the woods in Zaleski State Forest. On Friday night, I packed up our two-man tent, two sleeping bags, the JetBoil, and some other bare essentials, and off we went for a overnight backpacking adventure.

We left the trail head bound for the campsite that was 4.8 miles away according to the trail map (6.0 miles according to my quadriceps-o-meter). There was a point in the trail that we could have chosen to go to a closer camp, but I convinced Kate that we should "Go big, or stay home!" She reminded me of this moment later when we were about 4 miles into the journey heading up a very steep grade. I was breathing a little too much like Darth Vader after Luke took his helmet off, and she was looking a little worried about the prospects of her college funding. In any event, we arrived at camp only a little worse for the wear.

We made some grade-A camp food (I cooked, she did dishes), an ill-fated attempt to get a campfire going (the recent rain had dampened the kindling), and some less than tasteful jokes about the need to possibly drink our own urine (which elicited simultaneous "EEeewww"s from us both).

The next morning the sun was up early, and we plodded back from whence we came confident in the knowledge that we had faced mother nature's ( late-spring, calm, clear, and dominated by high pressure) worst. On the way home, I introduced my daughter to a fine old backpacking tradition; "The Celebratory Milkshake".

The Good:
  • Zaleski is a great out-of-the-way park for overnight trips or longer day hikes.
  • No mosquitoes and only a handful of other winged insects at this time of the year.
  • JetBoil - if you backpack, get one; even if you already have a stove.
  • Zaleski's primitive campsites have trucked-in water available.

The Bad:
  • Some of the trails have standing water - waterproof over-the-ankle boots are required.
  • The campsite had more folks (10-20) in it than I would have liked. I think the word is getting around.

The Ugly:
  • After duly convincing my daughter that I might have a little "backwoods game", I plunged my left boot into about 18 inches of sucking mud/quick sand while attempting to cross the last creek on the way to the car. This elicited yet another set of simultaneous "EEEeeewwww"s.

Weekly Status: Week T-2(?) Wait.. What?

Okay.. Okay.. Okay...

So last week I said we were ON!. But there's been some last minute negotiations. Momma and I want to wait for the "LOST" season finale (May 13th). Kate wants to outlast the end of "Survivor" (May 17th), and Shortie would be crushed if her "American Idol" dreams go unfulfilled (May 20th). So, let's say that we're going through a little pilot period here, but we are still in agreement that once some of these loose ends are tied - we are a GO!.

I unplugged the cable from our living room television. This seemed to go almost without notice. Even I was surprised at how little we missed it. A few times the set was unconsciously clicked on, but the empty blue screen shook us out of TV zombie mode and it was clicked off and forgotten. We still have bedroom TV and family room TV connected. This will be the week that bedroom TV goes away.

Other loose ends:
A few folks have asked for explanations of rules.
Is the TIVO going, too? What about DVDs? Video Games? What about the Internet? All of these are good questions. Answers:

TIVO: - Time-shifted TV is still TV in my mind. I can't see the difference. [OUT!]
DVDs: - Movie watching in the theatres or in the family room seems OK to me. [IN!]
Video Games: It's hard for me to distinguish a family-oriented Monopoly-fest from a good "Mario Cart" and popcorn night. [IN!]
Internet: - Hmmm... That's a tough one. Is watching video on considered television? How about episodes of Heroes? What about weather broadcasts? [Undecided!] We'll have to play that one by ear. Any suggestions?