Seriously? 2 years?

I’m not sure how I happened to look at this on exactly the correct date, but today is the 2 year anniversary of the We Love Larry blog. Crazy. I would have given you everything I had if you would have told me I was still posting my silliness here 2 years ago. That would have meant that I still had my dad. I still do have my dad and I’m thankful for that every time I write here and I’m reminded of what started this weirdly ever changing blog. I’m also reminded that I’m lucky to have so many other people in my life. I hope at some point in the last two years I might have nudged a person here and there to think about or pass along the same sentiments to someone they love. If you are reading this and haven’t done that yet, do it now. Life is short and you might have 2 years more to tell funny stories or travel around like a fool, but you might not. “Get busy living”. The second part of the quote sucks, just do the first part and you’ll be fine.

I love all of you…that ought to cover it.


Adventures in scootering (Part 3)

So I just returned home from one of the longest episodes of “Family Guy” ever. Apparently a side affect of being away from home for a while is basically, complete loss of brain function. Let me explain. I walked Jen to the car tonight as she was off to do some Jen type things. She waved goodbye to me FROM THE CAR and I waved back, so far so good. An hour or so later the kids and I decided on pizza from a local pizza joint. No problem…pick up the pizza in 20 minutes. Perfect. Have I mentioned that we only have ONE car? It seriously didn’t dawn on me that I couldn’t actually retrieve the pizza and I didn’t have a car until I was walking out the door. This is when I realized that due to a completely unrelated story of Christmas friendship and generosity, I had a working Vespa. Intriguing. Here’s how it was going to go down. It was dark, the temperature was a cool 55 degrees and I was about to traverse one of the busiest intersections in our area, next to the mall, a week or so from Xmas. I made it to the pizza joint no problem, paid for the pizza and then spent 15 minutes trying to determine how in the hell I was going to get a large pizza home on a scooter. Here’s what I worked out.

IMG00077-20101211-1817I’m sure my fellow Floridians had a good chuckle at the middle aged pizza delivery guy who got stuck delivering pizza in the 50 degree weather on Friday night. Eh, whatever. It was actually kind of adventurous. Sad, but true.

Black, green, purple Friday, you can keep it…

I get the whole “I’m going to go shopping” on the busiest shopping day of the year. For some it’s a curiosity, for others it’s a people watching event, for women it’s primal. What I don’t get is the camping out on the sidewalk hoping to save __% on whatever. There is no “item” that could make me take my time, my comfort and my hygiene to sit in front of some retail store for any length of time. Someone said to me, “Even if your child had an extra special gift that they asked for and you could only get it that way?” Yes…even then. The first problem with that argument is that there is always that extra special something for kids and it is a moving target. Let’s pretend this special thing was, say a….brick. You would always be watching the brick wondering if they are using it. You would ask them about the brick and obsess that they properly understood the type of sacrifice it took to obtain the brick and then they would release the Brick V2 and you would be all sorts of mad. The second argument is that I don’t want to raise a child that thinks this is a good idea either. Next thing you know a grandkid comes along and now you have two generations of idiots in front of the Best Buy and the species takes another downturn. Keep your Friday, I’ll be out there on December 24th with my own set of problems.

Central Perk this is not….

Funny thing. The other day I received one of those “A family member from Nigeria has left you millions” e-mails. I chuckled to myself, deleted it and posted on Facebook how lucky I was that this family member remembered me and left me millions of dollars. This is the point where you know who your real friends are and how well they know you.

- My real friends started right in on how I should also send my social security number and that it sounds like such a great deal that they would like to get in on it also. These are the people who know that: a – I’m not that stupid. b – I enjoy a good laugh about these things.

- The second group of friends commented that they weren’t sure if I was kidding, but if I got some money they would like some too…but be careful.

- The last group of friends told me I should call the cops, DON’T DO IT – IT’S A SCAM!! I really need to be careful and that this type of stuff never works out.

I really should take anyone from that last group and just remove them from the friends list. They obviously don’t know enough about me to be my actual friend. I am touched that they cared enough to respond and warn me, but I’m also worried that they think of me as their dumb friend from Florida. I’ll probably keep them around because it’s very traumatic to get dropped as a friend on Facebook. I don’t want any of them crying to me and begging me to let them back in “the circle”. For my friends that read this blog…that was sarcasm.

Long days night

You’re gonna love this one, especially when you get to the picture..Don’t look!

Where to start? I’ll save you the run up to this deal, but a couple of days ago Sara attended a concert in downtown Tampa. This was not just a concert mind you. For all of you music people out there, picture your most prized music moment. The chance to go see that single most favorite artist, IN CONCERT! What comes to mind? Beatles? Rolling Stones? Clapton? Ratt? This was it. Sara’s chance to live the dream. She actually had tears in her eyes when she realized that she was going to go to this concert. Now…picture how the typical relationship is portrayed between the music that kids love and how their parents view that music. Got that pictured in your head? Amplify it by a factor of 100 and this is how it works out in our house. I couldn’t wait to hear from Jen how this concert went and if she avoided listening to any of the earthy warbles of this artist. In fact, here, take a listen.

Fate has a strange ability, especially in our house. Since I was the one who could not stand this music the most, fate determined that I was the one to take her to the concert. I’ll try to make a long story short. The harpist / composer shown above is apparently well renowned and has played Carnegie hall and the Sydney Opera house. I really can’t imagine how that happened, but oh well. Sara spent a few hours listening to her favorite artist in life, had her picture taken with her (OMG! OMG!) and carries around various items that this girl autographed for her. Sara has listed this night as one of the “greatest nights of my life”. I think fate was also trying to tell me something here also. I didn’t complain once that night about the music or the endless hours of standing (some of the time in the rain), waiting for the concert to be over. I figured it was a rare chance for her to experience something that she loved. I found myself smiling and enjoying her experience along side of her. I think I would listen to this crazy harp music every day if I got to see my Sara that happy all the time.

Here is the final “fate” moment. Something stepped in and erased any evidence of this concert from the marquee. The fat guy on the bench seems to notice something funny is going on also.


Oh…here’s the after concert, hang around the back of an old dilapidated building hoping to meet the great Jo New picture. 


A bird in the hand…

Today I had a pretty hilarious lunch. I took Sara to a new restaurant that has opened nearby, a chain restaurant called Red Robin (obligatory “Yummmmm”). Since they have only been open like 4 days the place is a disaster. Every Land O Laker and Wesleyan in the tri state are is pretending like they’ve never had a hamburger before and dropping by the Red Robin (Yummm). To top it off the management is trying to make a good impression and you basically get assigned a Red Robin gopher as you arrive. No sooner than my ass hit the seat I was brought up to speed on the “Tower of onion rings” appetizer, the Red Robin club, had my drink order taken and given the old “My name is Neville and I’ll be taking care of you today” From this point on it was a parade of “Is everything ok?” “Can I / we get you anything?” and “I’d like to welcome you to Red Robin, hope everything is good!” By the time the girl held the door open and gave me a “Come back soon” I was ready to burn the place down. It was probably the most un-relaxing lunch I have ever had. I didn’t even tell you that we sat between two bible salesmen and a couple who was likely on an inappropriate business date. At least this kept Sara busy. She’s a bit of a snoop.

I think they are going to think it was a bad idea to give me the “How did we do?” survey on the way out. Check back soon. I have a lot of other local eateries to review.



Rescue for the win!


Helmet, Schmelmet

The other day I mentioned the people who drive their kid to the bus stop. Today I will mention that I also drive my kid to the bus stop….on my bike. The problem is I have caught a bad case of the “Helmet shun”. I got caught up in a bad thought process while in Holland and people are giving me bad looks in the states. Essentially I hoist Sam onto the back of the bike and we ride up to the bus stop without wearing helmets. Two issues. 1. – I’m actually breaking the law, and 2. – I’m causing a traffic stir on the parking lot.

Here is a link to the Holland thought process I speak of: Nice helmet!

Here is a picture that basically shows how we get to the bus stop.


The #2 thing on my list drives me a bit nuts. There are rules to driving cars. When I’m on my bike I expect that people will follow the car driving rules and I will know exactly what to expect from them. Problem is that these people essentially suspend their knowledge of the driving rules when they encounter a person on a bike. They refuse to pass me, they drive really slow on my tail, the stop in places where I don’t expect them to stop, it’s a mess. People…please don’t treat a bike like it is a funeral or a parade of some sort. Drive like you normally would (Rhode Islanders – drive like others normally would) and then I won’t have to buy expensive helmets. 

Ok…still here.

Boy I haven’t typed anything in a while. Sorry. I really need to have a notebook around my neck or one of those voice recorders to take notes on my killer observations. I usually chuckle at something and think “That would be really funny to write about” and 10 minutes later it’s gone. I will either have to try a lot harder or give up.

I will share with you a Sam story. Sam is now in first grade. In first grade there is much academic pressure. Stay within the lines, form the letters correctly, Capitalization. Sam has decided that there is really no room for expanding on his work that much. He is pretty much a bare facts kind of guy. Here let me share with you some of his work.



Accurate. Simple. Sam.

I click, therefore, here I am…

I accidently clicked the “Write a blog post” link on my desktop, so in the spirit of “There is no such thing as an accident” I will write to you.

Some key events since my last post:

  • Sam joined Cub Scouts…pictures and “buy some popcorn” requests are on the way.
  • I changed jobs at work. Bigger, better job, but takes more of my time.
  • I have logged an additional 65 miles on my bike. Look out 500! – ok, more like look out 250!

The weather in Florida is finally cooperating and you don’t have to put on your asbestos suit to walk across the parking lot. I’m enjoying the chance to get out in the morning and bike or walk in the cooler weather.

Larry and Wilma will apparently be spending some time with us in December / January, so stay tuned for some possible “Larry wrestles an alligator” stories.

That’s all for now. Maybe this “accident” will get me going and I can get back into writing. It’s almost 2 years now of “We love Larry”. Yea!

If I could bike 500 miles…

So if you even read the title then you probably have deduced that I have reached a milestone of sorts. Today I watched the odometer on my bike roll past a pretty impressive number. No it wasn’t the 500 miles as referenced in the title. But now your thinking to yourself, “Self….this being the 269th day of 2010 and crazy Jon being a strapping lad such as he is, he must have rolled that bike somewhere even more than the 500 miles he’s yapping about.” I’m here to tell you folks that I have just put 100 big ones on that two wheeler. This is the point where you start thinking to yourself, “Self…this being the 269th day of the year simple math says that old crickety Jon has only managed about a third of a mile a day, what a bum.” When I did all of this advanced math and figurin I was even more disappointed than I’m sure you are. The thing that keeps me going is that I think that the 2010 total is roughly 100 miles ahead of the 2009 total and I’m picking up steam. Today I rolled up to mile number 110.

It’s some pretty rough terrain too. Here are some shots I took while fighting the elements

IMG_20100926_100953 IMG_20100926_102051


I’ll put it on “paper” now. My goal for 2010 is 501 miles.

Control freak

Ok. I’m almost at the end of my rope with something here. The remote control. No it isn’t missing, hidden in the bowels of the Lay-Z-boy or anything. No it doesn’t need batteries. It works just fine….for me. No one in this house can work the remote control. Here are the scenarios that are playing out nightly here:

Sam - “Dad!!! The TV is broken”

Jen – She just punches buttons over and over until I can’t take it anymore and change the channel for her.

Sara – Sara hands the remote to Sam and tells him to yell, “Dad, the TV is broken!!”

I think they might secretly be filming a reality TV show called “How long until he snaps!” They each probably get like $10,000 if they can get me to sign myself into a medical facility. Probably an extra 10k if I get taken against my will.

Vespa story – part 2

So I have put off writing the “Tale of the Vespa trip” for a whole bunch of reasons. At first I thought I could make up a really good story and keep everyone on the edge of their seats with a story of adventure and intrigue. I realized soon after this thought that I don’t have a good enough imagination and I could not lie to such a vast legion of fans. I did not want to become the James Fry of the blogosphere. Truth be told? I was the recipient of a last second offer of a truck ride back from Clearwater which probably saved my a couple of hours of love bug encrusted boredom. The Vespa is safely quartered here in Wesley Chapel and I’m sure there will be more opportunities to tell Vespa stories since the thing still isn’t running right. I already imagine it…”It was a dark and stormy night…”

Road trip!!

Tomorrow is the great scooter adventure. I think I’ve posted some commentary about our Vespa scooter before, but here’s a bit of background. Just prior to moving to Florida we purchased a 2004 Vespa scooter like this one.

It’s a 50 cc monster capable of speeds up to 44 mph. For the most part this is ok for putting around the various subdivisions and a trip to the grocery store, but for anything more than a couple of miles you are risking life and limb on Florida roads. This is why I will be riding it for almost 45 miles tomorrow. We had a friend of ours cart the Vepsa to Clearwater a week ago because I broke the choke housing trying to start the thing. It also apparently needed a rebuilt carburetor and some various other tunings. The problem became…How do you get it back? I have decided that asking the neighbor to cart a non-working Vespa 45 miles was not out of line, but asking him to go pick it up when it runs perfectly fine is not. I have mapped out a 45 mile trail back to our place that keeps me off the interstate and main roads for the most part. I’m calling it an adventure. No one else is of the same opinion.

Check out my route.

imageYou might want to turn off CNN for tomorrow. Who knows what trouble I might get into and I’d rather you find out here first. 

You did what to your toe?

Get a load of this. Jen, a woman of many ideas and plans, has been crafting special lunches for Sam lately. I have almost no idea where the idea originated, but she has a fascination with all things “mini”. Go ahead…I’ll wait.

Here are a few of the lunch surprises that Sam has been feasting on at school. She’s becoming a master.

IMAG0233 IMAG0237


He says he loves them, but I’m not sure what grade you are in when this gets you beaten up on the playground. Even if there is a playground scuffle out of this I’m pretty sure the thing he will remember is how great a mom he has and how much love she put into making him lunch. I’ll stop her if she starts adding little notes though.

Don’t make me get out the belt!

Why do they make the seatbelts in airplanes different than the car ones? I think that airlines have all conspired to make one big joke on first time flyers. Watch next time you fly and see if the flight attendants are snickering and pointing at people who can’t operate a seat belt. Something they think they had mastered before getting on a plane. If people are flying Southwest it’s even funnier. “If you hold a ticket with B31, wait until the A1-30’s have boarded, the take their place while the A31-60 people have processed.” Ugh. I know I have flown too much when I’m holding a “How to board a Southwest flight” class while waiting in line. Think about it and you’ll come up with more than I have mentioned, not to mention all the flying etiquette rules. I’ll save those for later…as soon as I think of them.

Really? A thousand words?

So we are doing some decorating right? Jen wants a picture wall and I’m super nit picky about doing stuff like that. I have a weird thing about not wanting to put holes in walls. I’m not sure what that’s about. Maybe I don’t like fixing holes in walls and inevitably I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing that if I make the holes. The idea of putting 500 pictures on a single wall almost put me over the edge. It took Jen like 2 weeks to get me to even think about it.

The plan I came up with was to get all the pictures together and lay them out. I thought this would prove that it was a bad idea and Jen would decide we didn’t have enough pictures or something. Didn’t work. Once we argued over the layout of the pictures for a couple of hours my plan B was that maybe she would decide she didn’t like me anymore and we wouldn’t have to do it. Didn’t work. She likes me less now, but I still had to hang the pictures. Once we had the layout I decided that it would be a great idea to take a picture of the pictures as we agreed on them. Two reasons for this. One it would serve as a template to work off of once we picked the pictures off the floor and two it would provide evidence to the court should anything happen to me during this project. I’m just sayin’.

Here is the agreed upon layout. From high atop a barstool, which is curiously where I might end up after this is over, picture number 1.


Here is the finished product.

pictures2Now for anyone with a really keen eye you might notice something that almost was really funny…if you aren’t me. AFTER I had taken the “This is what we agree upon” picture what do you think happens? Jen decided that she didn’t like some of the pictures in their frames and swapped them out. This made putting the puzzle back together slightly more fun.

Final note. I gave Jen a hard time in this post, but it was a good idea and she chose some great shots of our family. For those of you that notice your pictures aren’t included? I’m still pondering if you are worth another hole in a perfectly good wall.


Here we are again. A day with so many memories. I can’t even quantify the bad memories since I keep hoping that they will fade and be overshadowed by the, let’s call them “better” memories.
I will add a story that will hopefully be a good memory as time goes on and link to my entry from last year so the story can have even more context.
I’d like to say I was the first recipient, but I’m not sure that’s true. I think another deserving recipient received the award a quarter before I received mine. I hope that the recipients of the award to this day realize the significance of what they are receiving, and I hope that I never forget. Nine years ago a colleague of mine set out on an adventure with his girlfriend and never came back. He was a team leader at APC, like me, but not. He was jamming through his career at the time and I was just starting. New to my job, but not. We weren’t friends, but we were. I had an opportunity to build a short, quick buddy story with him and then he was gone. You can read that story below, but for right now I will share with you a reminder that sits on my desk everyday and reminds me to be a leader, it makes no difference what I’m doing. Thanks Shawn. Even though I knew you only briefly, you are still a reminder of what there is to accomplish and what is important in life. I don’t need the award shown below to remember, but it can’t hurt.


I was born in a small town…

Had  a recent and quick visit to Orion Sam and I took a couple of days to head out and see the sights of the Quad Cities. Most important to Sam was that he got to play battleship. Kids are weird. Here are some photos.


We visited the Andover park after breakfast. Larry couldn’t resist.

IMAG0181 IMAG0179

A visit to the Quad Cities isn’t complete without a trip to the John Deere Pavilion. A trip to the John Deere pavilion isn’t complete without the obligatory picture of “People in a tractor bucket”

IMAG0192Sam wasn’t sure what to think about the ducks that attacked our Channel Cat taxi on the Mississippi.


This picture has an interesting story. The playground equipment Sam is riding on I rode on as a kid. I repaired it as an adult working for the Village of Orion, and now Sam is playing on it. How many kids have been flung off this thing over the years?

Service with a stick

I have found the definitive clue that our economy is in full rebound. I’ve written about this topic before, but today I have two new entries in the  “Why things are getting better” series. Number one. I pulled into a Shell gas station and was immediately pounced on by a teen with a stick. I fought him bravely trying to defend my family and was about to finish him off when he yelled, “I was just going to clean your windows!!” Ok…the part about him attacking me was made up, but it appears that this particular Shell station has hired two attendants to pump gas and clean windshields. To anyone not from New Jersey and under 40 years old this is unheard of. I told the guy he missed a spot on my windshield and went inside to ask what was going on. Apparently this gas station has decided that customer service is going to be their way out of the economic downturn. These guys were getting paid a wage and declining tips. I think Shell is on to something. This is my new favorite gas station.

Second. I ordered some checks from the bank the other day and about 4 hours later I get a call from the bank telling me that I could get the checks free if I changed to another type of account and since I get direct deposit it wouldn’t cost me anything. Also…they could take care of my fees on my savings account if I swapped some money around every month. So to recap, since it will sound more incredible this way.

My gas station has assigned a guy to pump my gas and wash my windows and my personal banker calls me to give me money back every once in a while.

You watch…this is the start of a new prosperity.

Mad Men

I have to have a talk with the Mennonites. As I sat in the airport yesterday I observed a large party of Mennonites hanging around also, seemingly, waiting for a flight. I get it that the Mennonites aren’t Amish and don’t shun modern conveniences, but here’s my confusion. As I watched this group of people dressed like a bad episode of Mayberry RFD, I also noticed that they all had cell phones, the kids were listening to iPods and the adults had gathered around sipping some Starbucks. What’s the point in dressing like it’s still 1890 if that’s your only concession? I also noticed that the women were not wearing any makeup, but if you have to wear a potato sack what’s the point? I respect different beliefs and ways of life, but it’s all or nothing people.

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is boring.

Last Saturday I decided to treat myself to a Starbucks coffee, a bike ride to get me there, and some Kindle time reading a new book. Everything was going great until Rain man dropped by. I took me only a  minute to realize that I had met this guy about a year prior (during my last quiet vacation to Starbucks). Like most people of his…ummm…type, he didn’t really care that I was reading a book or that the other two guys he decided to regale with his abilities were conversing. His shtick was the following:

- He could tell you the number of counties in any state of the union

- What day of the week any date that you gave him fell on.

- Year that each state joined the Union.

He proceeded to ask me and these other two guys a million questions simply so he could answer them and theoretically amaze everyone. The problem is that I didn’t want to be amazed and I’m also a skeptic. I theorized that all of this guys “knowledge” could be had by most people if they decided to waste a lot of time memorizing useless facts. What day of the week was March 13th, 1967? Monday. You know how I know? Google. I didn’t have to spend the better part of a portion of my life figuring out how the calendar works and factoring in leap years.

I kind of felt sorry for the guy and especially sorry for the other two guys as I clicked the power off on my book and said goodbye. I realized on the bike ride home that these “Rain men” are not so cool anymore since the proliferation of the internet and instant answers to everything. Like me, others are not as impressed that off the top of his head he knew that there were 102 counties in Illinois. Oh well…chalk it up to another lost art form humbled by the internet.

Larry update

I just realized that I haven’t done a Larry update in quite a while, but I guess that’s a good thing. My mom doesn’t list me off a bunch of appointments or test results, so I don’t ask. I talked to him on the phone a bit ago and he seems quite Larry’ish. We talked baseball and pianos, which brings me to the subject of pianos. My mom and dad bought a piano about a thousand years ago when I was forced into excruciating lessons that forced my fingers into ungodly and un-musical positions. I quit taking piano lessons about 30 years ago, yet they still have this piano. The funny part is that my dads favorite joke is that he is sending me this piano. Do me a favor…can someone buy this thing off of them? They don’t actually know that I’m offering some of their “stuff” for sale, but make me an offer.

Since I’m posting a Larry update I might as well attach a picture.


A visit to Kansas City last month. Must have been a sale on Yankee hats.

Armadillo by morning

Check out what I spied on my morning walk today.

Add this to the list of creatures that creep me out. I’m starting to think that anything short of a dog or cat and you can keep it. Do people start not liking things as they get older? (There are about 50 jokes there if anyone is inclined)


I don’t think in all my time here in Florida I have seen one of these alive. Usually they are something that Dr. G would have to explain to me from the middle of the road. (In my best Cliff Clavin voice: Interestingly these little guys get run over a lot because when you startle them they jump to bumper height.)

365 degrees

Well…one year ago today we were making our way to London as the final stop off on our way back to the states. You might not believe this but not a day goes by where someone in the family doesn’t mention some aspect of our trip. I have no doubt that this family will be up for another adventure as soon as life settles down just a little bit more.

Here are some references / memories that stay with us.

  • The Kubb set that we are waiting to use on a fall day, or when the temperature gets below 37 degrees. (Another nod)
  • Sam still calls hot dogs “polse”
  • We still call some things Norwegian food…some in a good way, some in a different way.
  • We lament our ability to walk down to the ocean / fjord or into the hills depending on what we feel like.
  • When the TV breaks we remember that we only watched TV huddled behind the laptop to catch our favorite shows for free.
  • Sam saw a commercial or something about the London Olympics in 2012 and asked if we were going.


I know my blog posts are down about 50% over last year, but stay tuned. We are inevitably setting off on another adventure. We are going to spend a little more time figuring out what it is.


So get this. I have a fear of the phone. It’s not an actual fear of the physical phone, it’s a very specific fear of the phone ringing any time, lets say, past 11:00 pm. There have been few times in my life that a phone call past that time of night has resulted in anything positive. No one has ever called me at 2:00 am to tell me they won the lottery or that they just got engaged, nothing like that. Imagine my condition when last night the phone rings at 12:02 am. I run around the house looking for the phone and here is what I get when I finally get the phone:

(Slurred) “Hello? Hello?”

Me: (Slurred for different reasons) “Hello”

“Is this 503-9961?”

That’s really as far as I need to go with this. First, my number is 421-0355. I don’t think I’ve ever had a wrong number that didn’t at least contain part of my phone number. Second…I give the lady credit. She did two things that people who dial wrong numbers rarely do. She said she was sorry. She also said goodbye and also said she was sorry for waking me up.

Swim, Swam, ….Zzzzzz

This post is mostly for the grandparents, but I’m sure my vast network of readers will find it cute.

Sam takes one nap per week. Why? You might ask. Well he actually doesn’t take any naps, but he goes to swimming lessons on Tuesdays. Like clockwork this kid falls asleep 15 minutes before we arrive at swimming. He recently has decided he doesn’t like swimming lessons. I think it is because every time he experiences his lesson he is waking up from a slumber and isn’t quite sure where he is until about halfway through.

The whole point of this little entry was the picture. I could take this same picture every week.


I saw 3 ships come sailing in…

Ok, so I only saw them sitting there like lumps in the water, but I saw them nonetheless.

This past weekend a group of ships labeled as “Tall ships” visited the Port of Tampa for the first time. “The Eagle” – the Coast Guard training ship, the “Capitan Miranda” – from Uruguay, and the “Gloria” from Columbia. We stood in a couple of decent lines to be able to wander the decks of two of the ships. The third ship fell victim to child indifference and hot humid weather.

The cool observation of the day occurred as I was watching an older gentleman make his way up the gangplank of the Gloria. As he hit the top step to board the ship, both officers that were there to greet everyone snapped to attention and saluted him. He was wearing some sailor related garb and I was inspired by these two guys who had no idea who this man might be, but if by chance he was one of them they were damn sure going to pay him respect. It took the old man a while to return the salute, but these guys were not about to drop their hands until he did. I’m sure it made his day.

Anyhow…here are a couple of pictures.

DSCN4453 DSCN4459

Ok…I only had one on my computer. The other is the gang jacking around in front of the “”Home of the Tampa Bay Lightning”

Here’s a stock photo of “The Eagle”


It just keeps flashing “12:00 a.m.” !!!

I was just wondering aloud the other day…”Where the hell am I going to get a VCR to copy these ancient video tapes to my computer?” I filed that question away until WHAM…the answer hit me right between the eyes. Apparently Goodwill is where old VCRs go to die.

Who is buying these things?


Now all I have to do is scrape up the $5.06 that each of these is going for.

Goodwill hunting…or rejecting

As I was checking to see if my local Goodwill store accepted books for donation I ran across some other more interesting things that they don’t accept. The list seems to have been built off of bad experiences with people donating the wrong things rather than just common sense. Here are some things that you CANNOT give to Goodwill.

- Ping pong tables / slate pool tables

- Swords

- Animals

- Chairs

  • Barber
  • Beautician
  • Dental

- Snack or Soda machines

- Urinals

- Swimming pools

- Ammunition

Ok…a few questions / comments.

I guess swimming pools and urinals are pretty much the same thing to a kid.

Chairs – You think they would take an electric chair?

Why wouldn’t you take a ping pong table? or a pool table. Heck, I would set those bad boys up in the Goodwill itself to have a little fun.

Feed me Seymour!

I wish I had a picture of this…but the other day I took Sam to McDonalds to get his once a month Chicken McNugget fix and I overheard this lady, get this…

Ordering a pizza, while standing in line at McDonalds, WHILE her kid was tugging at her purse begging for a candy bar. For a minute I thought she was going to get to the front of the line while she was talking to the pizza joint. I was watching intently to see how that was going to go down, but Pizza Hut was just too damn efficient that day.

I guess I’ll head out to Wal-Mart and go people watching there. People of Wal-Mart

Try not to be patient…

Sorry if this is way off topic or seems out of place…but Jen and I talk quite a bit about patient care and the state of our medical system in the U.S. for many reasons. Here is a writing from the guy just appointed to head Medicare and Medicaid. Maybe he can reverse the slide that patient care has seen over the last (insert time period here). This article hits home from one line you will read if you keep going. Of the time I spent with my father in the hospital, it hit me that maybe people weren’t paying him enough attention or doing things for my dad simply because they all called him “Lawrence”. I do not remember a single person who stopped to ask him what he would like to be called…it certainly wasn’t Lawrence, although he would never say anything. He was just 8/16/1940.

From Dr. Berwick

I freely admit to extremism in my opinion of what patient-centered care ought to mean. I find the extremism in a specific location: my own heart. I fear to become a patient. Partly, that fear comes from what I know about technical hazards and lack of reliability in care. But errors and unreliability are not the main reasons that I fear that inevitable day on which I will become a patient. For, in fighting them, I am aligned with the good hearts and fine skills of my technical caregivers, and I can use my own wit to stand guard against them.

What chills my bones is indignity. It is the loss of influence on what happens to me. It is the image of myself in a hospital gown, homogenized, anonymous, powerless, no longer myself. It is the sound of a young nurse calling me, "Donald," which is a name I never use—it’s "Don," or, for him or her, "Dr. Berwick." It is the voice of the doctor saying, "We think...," instead of, "I think...," and thereby placing that small verbal wedge between himself as a person and myself as a person. It is the clerk who tells my wife to leave my room, or me to leave hers, without asking if we want to be apart. Last month, a close friend called a clinic for her mammogram report and was told, "You have to come here; we don’t give that information out on the telephone." She said, "It’s OK, you can tell me." They said, "No, we can’t do that." Of course, they "can" do that. They choose not to, and their choice trumps hers: period. That’s what scares me: to be made helpless before my time, to be made ignorant when I want to know, to be made to sit when I wish to stand, to be alone when I need to hold my wife’s hand, to eat what I do not wish to eat, to be named what I do not wish to be named, to be told when I wish to be asked, to be awoken when I wish to sleep.

Call it patient-centeredness, but, I suggest, this is the core: it is that property of care that welcomes me to assert my humanity and my individuality. If we be healers, then I suggest that that is not a route to the point; it is the point.

- Dr. Donald Berwick

Happy 5th!!

Well another 4th of July is behind us and I have some observations to make. What other day of the year would we do the things we do on this holiday?

- Drink a lot of beer and then go handle explosives in the dark.

- Give the kids a lighter and some explosives and shoo them off into the road.

- Laugh when one of the fireworks bounces off a car or a neighbor.

those are the dumb things and I’m guilty of them also…

Why don’t we do the other things, other days of the year?

- Pull out the grills to the driveway and cook food for the neighbors.

- Grab our beach chairs and hang out while the kids play together.

- Block off the road and take back the streets!!! Ok…that one was just a random thought about my desire for world domination, or at least Hawk Hill Loop.

We had a good time on “the Loop” yesterday. Hope everyone had a good time in your world also.


Betwixt and betwine

I’ve been meaning to post this picture for a while now but keep forgetting. It might only be funny to our Swedish / Norwegian friends, but who knows? It’s quickly becoming one of my oldest and dumbest jokes when going to IKEA. So much so that I think I’ve said it and actually been overheard (which is my entire goal). I picture some guy telling his family that he learned a new Swedish word today.

So every time we go to IKEA I spy this box attached to the wall in the loading area and I pick out one of the family, nudge them and say, “Hey look…I guess that’s Swedish for “rope”…haha” At this point the designated family member will roll their eyes and I will have satisfied my urge to tell a bad joke. Anyhow, here’s the picture.


Nothing really…

So a buddy of mine got the new iPhone the other day and it got me thinking. I’ve seen hundred of people with iPhones and every one of them has been encased in plastic, silicone, titanium or other sorts of protection. I just think it’s funny that whenever they launch these phones they tout how thin and shiny the new phone is and the first thing people do is double the size with a case and cover up the new shiny phone with something. Why don’t they make it thicker and less breakable?

While I’m on the topic of how observant and smart I am, why can’t TV do SOME real life stuff that matches real life. Jen hates to watch television with me because I’m always pointing out something that doesn’t make sense and “ruining it for her”. Yeah, well maybe the people making these shows are the ones ruining it for her.


- It almost never rains in any television show. I know. I’m crazy. Who wants to watch a show where it’s raining?

- Kids rooms in shows drive me particularly nuts. Never anything on the floor. Clothes are always in the closet or put away. I never see a pile of paper, hair brushes, underwear (actual examples).

- Everyone picks up on the first ring, there is always cell coverage, and dropped calls never happen.

- People never get stuck in traffic or wait in lines.

- No one ever needs to hit the ATM, get gas, or go to the bathroom really.

Ok enough. I know why these things don’t happen in shows, and I know that this isn’t a 100% true, but fake like you mowed the lawn and were pissed when you ran out of gas halfway through the lawn like real life.

I’m weird.

Here are some things that I’ve done or seen the last few days and wonder who else does them.

- The power was out for about an hour. I must have flipped light switches a hundred times. I also tried to turn on the TV and thought I’d check my e-mail. I just finished reading a book that involves the loss of electricity (amongst other things)….we better hope that we don’t lose power long term. I think we might be surprised how dependent we are. 

One Second After

- I was hungry yesterday and not finding anything to eat I must have opened and closed the refrigerator about 5 or 6 times. Did I think that something different was somehow going to appear?

- I go walking every morning and I hate running into the other walkers / runners / dog walkers. I can never remember the proper greeting. There is one guy who never says hi back. I keep forgetting just to walk by him. There is the dog walking lady that always wants me to pet her dog. The Japanese couple who will only exchange nods. I have to bring a cheat sheet with me.

- I’ll throw Jen under the bus today too. If you have something in your cart that you no longer want what do you do? Take it back to where it belongs? or do what Jen does…put it on whatever shelf is nearby. I will walk the entire length of the store to take it back. I feel like if I put it on some random shelf someone is going to see me or catch me. I see things in the wrong place all the time in the store, so other people must do it too.

Ok. Enough of my goofiness today.



Fava beans and a nice chianti

I was sitting here at my desk after getting off a work call and I started feeling weird…like something was wrong. It took me about 10 seconds to realize that it was the silence. It’s NEVER quiet in my house. The first thing people ask me about working from home is, “How do you manage with having everyone else around?” My answer is: The only time I notice there are people around is when they are gone. Good thing huh?

I decided to update this blog and the only idea I had was to sift through the pictures on my phone. I forget that I snap pictures for the purposes of writing about them later. Here are a couple.


To me this doesn’t evoke the word “Butter”. To me this comes out as BUTT R Cream. Like an ointment you would put on your butt. I didn’t say they were good pictures now did I?


What is this? There was no way I was going to be spotted (haha) holding this can reviewing the contents. I was embarrassed enough just taking the picture. I’m not even going to google it in case a medical journal plops a big old picture of the possible affliction. I don’t need that in my computer history either. Hard to explain.


This is just a cute one of Sam. He likes it when he finds someone shorter than him, even if it is a fake maître d'

Father’s day 2010

You know what I’m really lousy with? Greeting cards. At some point today, when the mail gets to Orion, my Dad is going to realize this also. Ask my mom. I get all proud and excited when I can get a card to coincide with the event that it is for. I don’t know why this is. Sorry dad.

I AM lucky that I have established this blog over time now and it can convey my Father’s day message better than a card. First? Last years message still stands.

Father's Day 2009 post

As I walked my 5,000 steps this morning I was trying to think what I could write today, that my mom would read to Larry, and have it take the place of a well written, witty, or sappy Hallmark card. I figured it out…nothing. I’m lucky in so many ways, but one of the luckiest things is that I’ve had almost 44 years of being with my dad. We have played softball together, water skied together, fished, done crosswords, mowed the lawn, built Pinewood derby cars, the list goes on. There are plenty of people in the world that would give everything they had to have more time to spend with their dad. I’m lucky. I may not get to hang out with Larry today or tomorrow, but I WILL get to talk to him, wish him happy Father’s day, and tell him I love him. Thanks for being a great Dad. Sorry about the card. August 16th is right around the corner isn’t it?

Radio star? That’s nuthin’

While I’m sitting around pondering the meaning of things this morning I’ll let you in on another of my profound philosophies.

It’s not their fault.

I was wandering around Best Buy on Friday and like most middle aged men I was enthralled with just about everything there was in that place. I also noticed that I had to pull Sam away from just about every display and model of phone, TV, MP3 player, video game console, heck even the fans. Yeah, this one.


After doing this for what seemed like the 500th time it occurred to me that a complaint I had about “today’s kids” wasn’t really that valid. I think we’ve screwed up. The reason why I played outside with my friends, flew kites, built forts and rode my bike all the time is that if I didn’t it was boring. I didn’t have 400 channels of cartoons, internet, and 3 different consoles of video games. Oh wait…we had video games here is what baseball looked like.


I don’t blame them. I would rather play a racing game on a 50” television screen wile the latest tunes blasted from the connected stereo. That sounds like fun and it would have kept me off my bike for hours. Seriously…here is what a driving game on your TV looks like now.


The Cub scouts have a “gaming badge” now. Maybe they should just teleconference the next campout, and everyone can pull up a screen with a camp fire on it and tell scary stories like “The time the power went off!!” and about “Old Crazy Dial up Joe”. Ok…I’m done. I’ll fix it and let you know how it works. Don’t hold your breath.

Shuffle off to Buffalo

Yesterday I noticed something as I trudged through the local Home Goods store. I was doing the “husband shuffle”. I only really noticed I was doing it when I observed another poor soul engaged in it himself. Husbands, you know how it goes. You have absolutely zero interest in being in a store and yet there you are. Your feet start to simply slide along the linoleum like you are about 90 years old. Your hearing starts to suffer since there is absolutely no items to have a real conversation about. If you don’t notice those things here is the one thing you will understand. You know exactly where the exit door to this place is and every time you start to get close to it your symptoms start to fade. There are times in these stores when you get soooo close to the exit only to be thwarted by the “cute little salt and pepper shakers”. I am not posting this because I have an answer to it, but simply as a reminder that we are in a common struggle. Maybe some of my female readers will read this and take pity on one guy and it will all be worth it. Ladies…here is a list of stores that no husband should ever be made to shuffle through.

- Duh..Home Goods

- Michaels Fabric / Craft store

- Payless shoes or any shoe store for that matter

- Sephora

- Claires / Icing / Any accessory store

Good rule of thumb? If there are chairs in the store for the sole reason of allowing a stricken husband to sit while his significant other shops? This is not store he should be in.

My local hangout

Seems I’m going to have to re-name this blog. “Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned at the grocery store” or “101 Observations from aisle 10”? I either spend too much time at Publix or it’s the only time my mind is free of other encumbrances.

Today’s observations from aisle 10.

1. I saw the funniest cell phone disaster ever tonight. Lady comes out of Publix, fumbles for her phone…proceeds to drop it. This wasn’t all that funny until she kicked it. The topper? She kicked it into the parking lot and it got run over by a car. I had to leave the scene. I had no idea if I could contain my laughter. Last I saw she was just standing there. Staring at the parking lot.

2. The postal service is mean. I saw a perfectly good looking, middle aged, fit looking guy standing in the checkout lane. They made him wear this.

Sorry if it is hard to see


3. **DISCLAIMER – For single guys only. I do not condone or consider this for myself.** – The grocery store has got to be the perfect place to meet women. Let’s think about it.

ALL women have to eat. By choosing the grocery store you are not limiting your pool of candidates.

Don’t have to pay a cover charge for the grocery store.

You can tell by their cart some very telling clues. Pay special attention to the time they spend at the pharmacy.

If you REALLY hit it off with someone from the produce section you are only steps away from flowers and candy if you want to speed things up a bit.

There are no bouncers at the grocery store. If things get out of hand it takes a lot to get kicked out of the store. BONUS – Not likely to get a drink thrown in your face.

I seriously have not tired any of the above, but since I’m sure I have a vast following of single men, 18-49, I thought I would offer this public service message.

I WILL have a nice day thank you

I figured I should write about a good customer service day since I complain a lot when I don’t like something. It started at my least favorite place…the cell phone company. Verizon has become so big that I think they are now offering oil changes at their stores. To get your cell phone switched you have to go to the “special” store, make it through the gauntlet of “special offers” from the sales people, and the get on the, you guessed it, “special list”. I happened to catch them looking the other way and escaped the first two steps, the first person I talked to put me on the list, and within 15 minutes they actually agreed with me and gave me a new phone. No signatures, no new contract. Nothing. I do suspect that they are setting me up for some future whammy. I’ll let you know. After that I was encouraged by my success and visited one of my actual favorite places, Publix. They didn’t happen to have the one thing I was looking for on the shelf and I did something I never do…I asked if there was any “in the back”. Here is how the “Is there any in the back?” question gets handled usually.

1. – Employee laughs out loud and says no.

2. – Employee realizes that this is a chance to take a 20 minute break and “goes to check”.

3. – Employee asks the manager who does one of the above for them.

4. – Employee goes into the mysterious “back” and comes back with something completely different that they have determined “might work”

I happened to ask a person who not only knew what I was looking for, but actually said “I think that truck came in yesterday, let me check”. She came back with the exact thing I asked for. I almost hugged her. I managed to hold back because I didn’t want to be the “crazy dish wash detergent guy” every time I went there. I hate to be a pessimist, but I believe in karma going both directions. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

My new job

I have found the perfect job for me. It occurred to me tonight as I strolled through the Barnes and Noble down the road. I want to be a book reader. That’s right. A book reader. I just want to read the books. I don’t want to discuss them, edit them, correct them or anything else. I know this seems like a relatively useless job, but I’ve seen other jobs that seem just as silly. Wal-Mart greeter for instance. I’m not sure what kind of secret corporate deal that was struck to make that a job, but more power to them. The next trick is to find the proper company to pay me. For such a unique job I feel like I should also be paid pretty well. I’ll get back to you.

A proper title ruins the ending…

So the other day me and Sam were out and about and stopped at a local store to get a treat. While we were seated I noticed a young girl about 11 or 12 approach the clerk. She asked how much something was and counted her coins. She then asked how much the next smallest size was and got one of those disappointed looks on her face when she knew she didn’t have enough. The clerk suggested the smallest size that they had and the young girl smiled meekly and although disappointed, she said yes. I knew the clerk had underpriced the small version of her order so she could afford it and not walk away upset. By now you are thinking to yourself…”Hey Jon. Why not reach into your pocket and help a little kid out?” You want to know why? While I was watching this unfold with fascination I was thinking to myself, “Why is that little girl ordering a latte with an extra shot of espresso?” For those of you that instantly think that she was probably getting it for her mother or father, she proceeded to sit next to me and complain to her friend about the prices at Starbucks these days.

Band-Aids needed

So for Sam’s 6th birthday the collective geniuses that = me and Jen decided to buy Rock Band for our Wii. This may eventually go down as one of the biggest mistakes ever. Interestingly PLAYING Rock Band is quite similar to being IN a Rock Band. Here’s why:

1. – All of the band members think they are better players than they really are.

2. – The latest gig ended up with the drummer freaking out and kicking the other members out of the band. (That was me)

3. – The guitarist / bass player is moody and can’t get along with the lead singer.

4. – Don’t even get me started on the manager…she is strung out on all sorts of medication.

Here are some promo shots of our band – Lorax


This photo is staged. No way would I look like that unless I was trying to look goofy.

DSCN4388 DSCN4379


Since the economy needs all the jobs it can get these days I won’t take my latest observation to the CEO’s of Target, Wal-MArt, or (insert favorite grocery store here). Why do we have an army of people dedicated to the collection, organizing and returning of shopping carts? I was at a large Wal-MArt the other day and there were carts everywhere. Up on curbs, piled high in the parking spaces…everywhere. This may be becoming an overused phrase in this blog, but I wonder why we don’t do things the way they do in Europe? Maybe there are places that do things differently in the states somewhere, but I’ve never seen it.

The concept is simple. All the carts require a coin to use and you get the coin back when you return the cart to the line of other carts. Here is a picture:


The only downfall I see to this here is that our coin of choice would probably be a quarter. In most places in Europe it was a Euro. (Dollar’ish) I think a lot of Americans would decide to leave the quarter behind for the laziness of not taking the cart back. I also think that a clever person would know this and make a pretty good chunk of change in a large parking lot chasing those lazy Americans quarters for them. I guess it would achieve the same goal. Some of the grocery stores even would give you a slug coin with their logo on it to carry around with you so you would always have “the coin” Just trying to help America.

Taking the plunge

As mentioned, Sam wanted everyone to jump in the pool with their clothes on for his birthday. Why? Who knows. This kid is the product of some very goofy genetic code. We will likely be repeating this next year. Better to preserve a relatively tame tradition than to leave it open to his creative imagination to come up with something that might be more daunting. As promised, here is the video.

Will you still need me?, will you still feed me?...

Today is Sam’s birthday. Grandma and Grandpa Carroll are here. The weather is great. I think Sam picked a perfect day to join us 6 years ago. This is also the 1 year anniversary of my dad finishing his chemotherapy. It’s already been “one of those weeks”, but as I type this I know that things are ok.



Stay tuned because one of Sam’s wishes for his birthday is that everyone is to jump in the pool with their clothes on. I’m not kidding. I think this is best served by video.

All aboard!!

I only have myself to blame. “What does Sam want for Christmas?” they asked, all innocent and grandparenty. “He says he wants a train set” I replied ignorantly and without foresight. It even seemed ok Christmas morning when he excitedly opened the train set and rejoiced that someone was actually paying attention to him when he asked for a train.


So now here it is May and I’ve discovered that you can’t really have a train set without a proper place to set up the train. Grandma and Grandpa #2 (You know who you are) complicated matters by chipping in for some train “accessories” and lo and behold we are now about $4,159.23 into this hobby of mine. Yes…my hobby. Sam just wants to turn the dial and watch the train roll around for 5 minutes and then it’s on to the next thing. I’m about 80 man hours into building Sam a table to run OUR train on and I thought I would share this adventure with you. Here is some early construction photos.

DSCN4361 DSCN4359

Okay, so they are both the same picture really. You get the point. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how the lake turns out. Yes. Lake.