# Rubik’s Cube…Solved

Most people have touched a Rubik’s Cube at some point or another and most probably tossed it aside after awhile, the blocks approximately as disordered as when they received the cube.  Of course, plenty of people know an algorithm to solve the cube and some can even do it behind their backs in a matter of seconds.  I am not either of those…I can usually solve one side and part of another, but I have never solved one out-right…I don’t know the algorithm.

I remember when I went to the Knoxville World’s Fair in 1982…the Hungary Pavilion had a large Rubik’s cube as a major focal point of its display.  I think 1982 was probably at the height of the Rubik’s cube craze, and it’s inventor, Ernő Rubik is Hungarian.  I am pretty sure that’s about the time that I got my first cube.  Some people knew the tricks to solve it, but I was 10 or so and without the Internet, there were no real shortcuts.  Many of my friends had Rubik’s Cubes and none of us, as far as I know, ever solved them on our own when we were in school.  A few people peeled the stickers to solve their cubes and a few people threw them in the river I suppose.  Mrs. Donato, one of our elementary lunch ladies knew how to solve the cube so some kids let her solve them during lunch.  I am sure my old cube is at my parents’ house somewhere, still unsolved.

Anyhow, back to now…Isaac and some of his buddies are into cool stuff…ciphering and figuring and, of course, puzzles and games and stuff like that.  The other night, Isaac brought a Rubik’s Cube home to solve.  One of his buddies learned one of the algorithms to solve it and Isaac was busy learning as well.  Of course, being into things like that, he dedicated a fair amount of brain time to learning the tricks that night and can solve it on his own now.  Honestly, as a kid stuck in 1982 (apparently), I was amazed that someone in my own house could solve the Rubik’s cube!

# Bye bye beardie

I can’t sing worth a nickel…maybe I could, at some point, sing better, but I have never been much of a singer.  For some reason, though, I was in chorus in school.  I was even in show choir.  For me, I guess it was to be around more females.  You see, in my little school, males didn’t really do chorus.  I figured my odds were better that way.  Not being worth anything as a singer, all I can figure is that the director just needed warmish male bodies to move the risers and the piano.

I’m in both pics…I look a little different now…these pics are not mine but I appreciate using them

So, in addition to chorus, I participated in a production of Bye Bye Birdie, the musical.  I’ll leave it to you to find the story, but it was a fun musical in which I had a small bit-role.  I honestly don’t even remember what the role was, but I am sure I was brilliant in it!  It’s funny, but that production, or rather it’s music has really stuck with me.  Whenever I hear someone say “bye bye”, I always sing in my head, “…birdie, good bye…bye bye birdie, don’t cry…”.  I try it on the kids, but they always look at me like I am crazy.

Ok, so to the real point of this…I shaved off my offering for No-Shave-November at the end of last month.  It really had gotten to be a nuisance and I was happy to see it go…bye bye beardie, good-bye…bye bye beardie, don’t cry.  Gee whiz I was happy to see it go.  God bless people who have beards and who like beards, but it just isn’t for me!  I always felt like I had things crawling on my face…strike 1.  Emily called it No-Kiss-November…strike 2.  Many people said I looked older and with all of the gray that has apparently developed, I am out with strike 3!

Anyhow, I always like to shave it off in bits to see just how ridiculous I can look.  It doesn’t last long…maybe a few days…just long enough to irritate Emily and embarrass the kids!

# I had a birthday awhile back

I guess it’s been over a week now, but I had another birthday!  I like having birthdays…the more the better of course!  Like most December birthdays, mine runs the risk of getting lost in the Christmas hubbub.  My family is really good, though, about making sure that both Isaac and I get birthdays apart from Christmas.

So, this year we went to my favorite Japanese steak place…you know, where they cook out in front of the guests.  We had 15 or so people come and have a fun time eating way too much food.  I got some cool gifts too!  I got some gift cards and money and a new piece of cast iron cookware.  I cook breakfast for the family every morning and I love using cast iron to cook.  Maybe it’s the trendy thing or something…maybe it is so heavy it just cooks better…anyhow, more cast iron is always better!

The big surprise came from my lovely wife.  You may remember, I recently bought a record player.  She bought me a new record…the soundtrack to Footloose, one of my all-time favorite movies!  As a purist, I only recognize the existence of the original Kevin Bacon movie release in 1984.  The 2011 “movie” doesn’t really count.  Anyhow, I was thrilled with the original soundtrack on LP.  To top off my 80s music-filled birthday, she got us tickets to hear John Mellencamp in the spring!  Everyone knows Jack and Dianne and a few of John Mellencamp’s songs, but my all-time favorite is “Rain on the Scarecrow”.  I hope I’ll get to hear it live!  I am so excited!!!  We have seen a few bands from when we were kids and it is just absolutely some of the most fun ever!  We heard Billy Joel and Elton John for our anniversary in 2009 and Bryan Adams last year…and now we add John Mellencamp (gosh I want to call him John Cougar Mellencamp)!

So, getting older is just fine and we still have a lot of 80s bands yet to see!  Let’s just hope we all continue to be able to R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.!

# As Thanksgiving should be

As always, I am late to the party as Thanksgiving was nearly a week ago.  I had Black Friday shopping to ignore…and of course, we had to ignore Cyber-Monday as well.  I had a lot of shopping not to do between Thanksgiving and now.  Actually, we did absolutely all of our Christmas shopping in one night…on-line.  We basically had wishlists set up on Amazon and just bought out of the lists…slick and easy and done!  That sounds like I am only giving gifts out of obligation, but that’s not how we feel about it.  I just prefer the actual giving rather than the shopping.

Anyhow, even though we didn’t do any real shopping, we have been busy.  We worked on the executive deer stand a few days and I had to manage my killer beard as well!  But the real event was Thanksgiving day…we gathered 20-some people together and ate a lot of food.  I guess it was probably too much food, but we have never been ones to go too hog-wild.  I like a nice serving of turkey and taters and gravy…maybe a few slices of pie, but not too far overboard.

I am not sure I can say the same for Isaac.  He was pulling sugar straight from the can…truly it was a thing of beauty!

We took a bunch of group pics, but not everyone wants to be seen with me online so I will only show Abigail prepping for the family to sit around the bench…I think she was staking out a napping location, honestly.  So, we had a pretty nice Thanksgiving and a busy but nice mini-break from school and work.  I think that Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite holidays (after Groundhog Day of course), because it is mostly a relaxing time with family…and pie!

# Kids these days

Kids these days…You know, kids these days are different than when I was a kid. I had good pals and best friends and we did a lot together and had a lot of fun and all that. Something about kids these days seems different though. I have noticed that these kids share more and better than I remember doing. Sure, we took turns drinking from the garden hose and maybe we traded cookies from our lunch boxes, but Isaac and many of his pals give things to each other freely…and not just little things. They share what’s important to them among each other. I have seen them share money and clothes and electronics and all sorts of things without hesitation. I don’t mean, “here, you can borrow my shirt” kind of stuff, but “here, you can have my shirt.”

I wonder if it comes down to economics of it or if it is a true change in how kids are these days. I grew up in an economically disadvantaged region of PA. Most people there worked very hard to get by and few had a life of plenty. Of course, I had plenty of love and support, but we didn’t have stuff in plenty. I am and was perfectly content with that life, but maybe my growing up was different because of that.  Maybe I didn’t share as freely because I didn’t have as much to share or what I did have was a little more precious to me.  Maybe it was the time and the world and all that.  I don’t have any idea.

Last weekend, Abigail ran in a cross-country meet.  She ran well and came in among the middle of the pack.  I was very happy for her, especially considering she is a new runner and a 6th grader competing among 8th graders.  As the last of the pack was coming in for one of the other races, one boy was obviously struggling to complete the race.  I was so proud to see a number of other runners who had finished their race return back to the lone runner and encourage and support him.  They ran beside him, encouraging him to keep going, that they were there to keep cheering him and that they were proud to run with him.  I don’t know that everyone got a ribbon, but in my eyes, I saw a team of kids that, rather than teasing or bullying, or even just being indifferent, proved that they were champions and that they shared the joy together.

I hear people complain about how kids these days feel entitled because everyone gets a ribbon and everyone gets constant praise.  Maybe that can be taken too far and maybe it is taken too far, too often, but honestly, I do not know that I have seen that problem.  If that sort of thing breeds the kind of sharing and concern that I have seen among my kids’ friends, I am all for giving every kid I see a ribbon.

Maybe it’s a different time or maybe I was just a bad friend, but many kids these days simply make me proud and give me hope that it’s all going to be ok…

# Who is right?

Emily and I are having problems.  We’ve been married for 20 years now, and this problem has festered beneath the surface for as long as we have been together.  She thinks that she is right and I know I am right.  I just don’t know that we can ever come to an agreement on this.

You see, she likes bananas when they are obscenely green.  Truly, it is a crime against nature.  I prefer bananas as God intended them…yellow with slight hints of brown.  Although we have not yet sought out counseling for this problem, we may have come across a solution.  I am not sure why it didn’t occur to us until this week, but Emily and I are planning to start buying two bunches of bananas at a time…one that she will (incorrectly) eat immediately, and one that I will let age (like fine wine) for a few days and then eat.  We should be able to manage our troubles this way.  It appears she will not open her eyes to what is good and right, so I think our best shot is to accommodate her imperfections as best we can!

# Ab Challenge

Back in May, a friend of mine posted a “30 day ab challenge” event on her facebook.  Isaac and I decided to give it a go.  After losing a bunch of weight, I decided it was time to get back into guided activity, just to see what would happen.  Here is the schedule we tackled:

It started off pretty easy and neither Isaac nor I had any trouble keeping up with the program…we pretty easily sailed through the routine until somewhere around Day 22 or so.  It got to the point where just sheer number of movements got tiring…I know that sort of makes sense…it is exercise after all.  But it was more in our heads than anything.  On the last day, we did 200 crunches.  What gets in your head is when we hit 100, we are only half way done.  It’s hard physically too of course but working our way into it made it doable.  Since we completed the challenge, we have decided to just keep doing it.  Three days a week, we just do Day 30 again.  It’s not easy, but it is definitely easier than when we first got to day 30.  We added push-ups to it too, just to add a little something outside of the ab part.  It’s been a really cool workout for us and only takes a little time each week to get it done.  I know you may be wondering…did it work?  The answer is yes, it definitely did.  I think it is probably best that I do not post pics of my abs on here, but you’ll have to try it for yourself and see!

It’s a little late for this year, but start now and get ready for Beach 2015!

# The surfer look?

We’ve been back from the beach for a few days, but my head is sort of still halfway between home and the ocean.  I was looking back over the pics I took and there are far too many of the pier.  The other trend I think I found were of the four of us looking like wannabe surfers.

Really, it is more of a matter of wearing rashguard shirts so we don’t get sunburned, but that’s not too sexy so we will go with the surfer look.

Abigail in particular, is the water-dog when it comes to body-surfing.  We had several days of pretty rough waves and she didn’t seem to even notice.  I was getting beat to death, but she kept going out into the surf.  Of course, she, too, was getting beat up, but it just didn’t seem to bother her.  And heck, scars and scabs on my little girl’s knees and feet are kind of cool.

Well, beach time is over I guess so I will have to get back into real life mode I suppose.  Really though, I suppose I will have enough sand it my delicate parts to be reminded of the beach for some time to come!

# Beach 2014

We go to the beach every other year or so and this is our year.  This is weird I know, especially since I never went to the beach as a kid, but it truly doesn’t feel like Summer to me on beach years, until we actually go to the beach.  Of course, this year we have had screwed up weather so it really hasn’t felt like Summer until now anyhow.

I am not sure why I need to go to the beach to feel Summery but I am definitely on holiday and enjoying my most favoritest season – Summer!  We have been to Topsail Island, NC the last few beach trips and I think it has become our new favorite place.  When we do the beach, we do the beach and nothing else.  Topsail is mostly houses on the beach and not much touristy stuff to do.  It’s mostly not crowded and suits perfectly my need to lay on the sand in earshot of waves crashing so I can sleep properly.  It’s perfect!

As the kids get older, I think that we have found that it is as much fun to watch them at the beach as any other thing.  They like to people watch and body surf and read and all the stuff we do.  It’s just total fun!  It is contagious and we all just relax and kick back.  We are here this year with Emily’s family and it’s a great opportunity to spend time with cousins and stay up late and eat too much rich food.  I used to be able to add “get sunburned” to that list but we have taken that out of the mix…we are very diligent about keeping everyone slathered in sunblock…funny how times change and we get smarter.

Anyhow, I love the beach and need to re-charge every couple of years.  And like they say, even a bad day at the beach beats a great day at work!