End of a great season

August 30th, 2015

Last night was the Blazing Cannons’ end of the season party at Frank and Renee’s place. It was great to see my teammates, have a few beers, and get together one more time. There were even celebrities, check it out…

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It sounds like we’ve got most everyone returning next season, but there are rumblings that the younger guys may split off and form a new team. If that happens, that could be the best possible thing for Medford Lakes Softball. I’m hoping we work with the Colony to open the doors to more players. I’d also really like to see the dues lowered. At $100 for residents and $125 for non-residents, it’s pretty tough to attract any younger players to get the next generations started. For comparison sake, the Tabernacle League charges $300/team. Each team normally finds a sponsor, so it costs nothing per player. So for a roster of 15 players, your team will pay $1500 (if 100% Lakers) versus $300. From what I understand, the adult sports help pay for MLAA for kids. I’m going to try and get more involved because I think growing the league would net more income for our community and make it easier on our families too. Getting families together on Sundays is such a good time.

Movie Reviews…

Terminator Genisys – it wasn’t quite as good as the first two Terminator movies, but it didn’t suck like 3 and 4.

Southpaw – although this lacked originality and it followed the formula one would guess from seeing the previews of another boxing film about a boxer that loses everything and regains himself by going back to his roots, I still liked it. It slows down at parts, but Jake Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker were both very good.

Funny/Interesting Links…

CARS!

August 28th, 2015

For the first time in three years, you can see this in our driveway…

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Two cars. Thanks to TD Bank (for a modest car loan) and Mike Beal at Integrity Auto Group, I was able to buy the 2001 BMW 325i for Abbe and this 2005 Ford Explorer for myself. We kept it within our budget and came home with two reliable, safe cars that are better than we were hoping.

The BMW was owned by a mechanic and despite the age and mileage really runs well. This will be my third Explorer that I have owned. Mike actually mentioned it as an afterthought. I had test driven two cars and was lukewarm on one of them, and didn’t like the other. He had just purchased the Explorer the day before at a local car auction. The best thing about my new ride is it only has 32,000 miles on it… although, if you ask Van Jr he really likes the rims and stereo systems (once I get it repaired). We actually drove to the auction lot and got one of the longer test drives (about 45 minutes back to the dealership) with her.

Both cars need some minor repairs (BMW – remote key, driver side door; Explorer – brake pads, stereo, blendor actuator), but we feel great about the purchases. Van Jr and Viv are really happy to not have to worry about Daddy’s car overheating and us sitting on the side of the road.

And here is the best part…

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That’s Abbe sitting on the hood of her car, incredibly proud. She has worked so hard to regain her independence. I am so happy that she has gone seizure free this long. We know that we have to remain vigilant to keep her healthy. I am so grateful for her doctors. Even though she is still an epileptic, she is refusing to have epilepsy define her.

Funny/Interesting Links…

Thank you for the miles

August 27th, 2015

Today, I’m driving down to a friend’s used car dealership and hopefully coming home with a new (used car). Pie in the sky plan is to come home with two (one for Abbe too). Part of that plan involves trading in the Pathfinder. And although one would imagine that getting rid of a car 207,000 miles on it would be a welcome change – it’s tough.

This was my father’s car. Dad sold it to me for $1… and we found out at the DMV you don’t actually have to exchange money to gift someone a car. I turned around and asked Dad for my dollar back (we thought it was funny, the DMV lady sort of stopped scowling for a second, so I’m thinking she thought it was fucking hilarious too).

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As I was cleaning stuff out of the car last night, I started thinking of all of the places she has taken us…

training runs at Kelly Drive – my first date with Abbe – play rehearsal/auditions/performances – school – countless ice hockey practices/games/open hockey/semi-privates with Heinzy/stick times/clinicsPhillies, Eagles, Flyers, Union games – Longswamp! – camping at Knoebel’sfigure skating competitionssoccer practices/games – concerts – swims in Meemom’s poolpicking up TitanFlyers Wives Carnivals – down to LBI – when I made the greatest catch of my life – countless weddings – softball games – date nights – Steamtown Marathon – hospital visits/ER trips – taking Van Jr to meet The Fridge – driving to countless lunches and meetings – Daddy Daughter Dancesthe great drive to Lake Placid through the Adirondacks with Van Jr – driving to say goodbye to Cis – Beach Blast – picking up Viv when she decided she wanted to come home instead of sleeping over at a friend’s home – driving to the Atlantic City Half Marathon when I broke 2 hours – birthday parties – funerals – driving to work – driving to Cape May on a late summer evening to have dinner at the Lobster House (and listening to the Phillies game with the windows down on the way home) – driving home after breaking 5 hours at the Philly Marathondriving to North Carolina with Van Jr for his hockey tournamentdriving to the Sea Shell to marry Abbe (and back each year for our anniversary) – all of the talks we had while driving

She’s been good to us. Thanks for all the miles.

Now, here is some great news…


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Yep, I did it. That’s 30 pounds. Since May 19th. Hell yes, I did!

Movie Reviews…

Tomorrowland – boy, this looked good… but it was so sluggish and boring.

Funny/Interesting Links…

the balance and the blur

August 26th, 2015

I had a great meeting this morning with one of my mentors at work. He started a story about when he was in his 20s, fresh out of an annulled marriage, meeting with his own mentor. His mentor spoke to him about true personal development. Development that includes every part of his life. He asked him, “Do you want to get married someday?”

“Sure”

“OK, write down the qualities of that perfect woman on a piece of paper and let’s meet for dinner next week.”

The rules were nothing physical, only personality traits of that perfect woman. He thought about it all week and got it all together. Things like honesty, funny, easy to talk to, a good listener, supportive during bad times, etc.

One week passed and it was dinner time. He was excited to share this. Oddly enough, the mentor sort of brushed off the topic, and then somewhat reluctantly looked at the list. He spun the piece of paper back to him and tapped it, “See all of this? To realize meeting this woman, you need to be all of these things. This is a list of the perfect version of yourself.”

And there it was, he had his to-do list. My mentor has been happily married since finding that perfect lady, but he had to get himself right first.

Interestingly enough, I am working towards focusing on multiple places to plan and work goals, myself. It is based on this illustration from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I added one area, Financial (but that could almost be lumped under one of these four). I had already written out my financial goals out for the next 5-10 years (with incremental goals one week, one month, this year, etc). Now I am going to write out goals for these 4 areas as well. This is about balance…

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I’m really looking forward to make next session with my mentor.

I got a great book recommendation today too – Now, Discover Your Strengths.

I got a follow notification from Twitter today. It was the Twitter account for the Shawnee High School JV Ice Hockey account, and although the header image is a little blurry, you can clearly see #13… that’s Van Jr!

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Movie Reviews…

Love & Mercy – Brian Wilson is most likely included on my own personal musical Mount Rushmore, so I was really happy to see that this film had been made. It was good. I appreciated that it didn’t shy away from how damaged and fragile Brian truly was. The musical geek in me was really hoping for more about the making of Pet Sounds, but this was decent.

Funny/Interesting Links…

The lineage of my guitars, and the realization that I spent a lot of my 20s in pirate/Prince shirts on stage

August 25th, 2015

The lineage of my guitars… while discussing guitar stuff with a couple of fellow guitar playing buddies on Facebook this past weekend, I realized… I’ve owned a shitload of guitars. And while looking for pictures of said guitars, I realized… I spent a lot of my 20s in pirate/Prince shirts on stage…

Cort bass – Greg Ippolito gave or sold this to me. I think this guitar was thrown more often than actually played. Featured an unhealthy amount of black electrical tape around the input jack.

Black Takamine acoustic electric – the first guitar I bought, and I still own it. I played a lot of open mic nights with this, and tried to convince young women in the Atlanta area in the 90s that I was sensitive as all get out.

Red Rickenbacker – this was a cheap Rick, but I still felt like Peter Buck when I wasn’t fucking up playing I am Superman with the fraternity house band… when we were sober enough to remember we had practice. I probably should have gotten a vest with that guitar. That’s what Peter Buck would have done.

Black Charvel w/ a reverse headstock – I had to own one. I listened to waaaaaay too much hair metal in the 80s to not indulge in this ridiculousness. The irony of playing Indigo Girls covers on this guitar was pretty fucking spectacular.

Red American Fender Strat – one of the best guitars I ever purchased. Was sadly stolen out of my rehearsal space by some fucking heroin addict that was for some reason being allowed to sleep on a couch covered with a blanket of empty cough syrup bottles in the attic of the rehearsal space. Oddly enough, the burglar broke in through the drop ceiling. Shocker.

Guild Starfire – decent guitar, but I wasn’t really sure how to play a hollow body guitar without blowing out the PA system at the only bar that would book us in Atlanta. This made me feedbackasaurus rex.

Gretsch Silverjet – Dammit, I miss this one. This one could be the nicest looking guitar I’ve owned. Ridiculous meaty tone. Also stolen by the ceiling infiltrating smackhead. Speaking of that rehearsal space, the owner one time told us about the guy in the room next to us that we never saw. He told me he was such a good songwriter that, “man, that guy can write lyrics that will just knock your dick in the dirt.” I am to this day, disappointed that I have yet to hear a dick-dirtying song lyric.

Red Epiphone LP Special – piece of shit, but I needed something after the robbery.

Black Mexican Telecaster – I really liked this cheap teley, but I didn’t own it long. The other guitarist in the band played this more than I did.

Black PRS CE Bolt-on – when I bought this guitar, things started to change for me as a guitar player. I finally stopped worrying about my parts and heard the entire songs. I got a lot better with this guitar. I concentrated on the space between the notes instead of the notes themselves. Also, I started buying a lot of vinyl pants and velvet shirts… not sure which one made me play better.

me playing the black PRS onstage in Las Vegas, NV... I have a piece of hair in my mouth

me playing the black PRS onstage in Las Vegas, NV… I have a piece of hair in my mouth

Red PRS CE Bolt-on – my hands down favorite guitar ever. You know how some people won’t shut up about their kids? This is basically my kid.

The back of the guitar has an enormous buckle wear. The headstock is missing a chunk, the body has a crack down the middle, and when I bought her, the lacquer finish on the fretboard had aged so dark, that I couldn’t read the abalone fret dots. So the guitar tech at Midtown drilled out some of the abalone dots and packed it with ebony dust. He also pulled the small brass fret dots on the top of the neck and replaced them with black plastic ones I could read it on stage.

look at how fucking happy I am right here? That's the red PRS, in the background is the Honey flame PRS. And on my head, a hat.

look at how fucking happy I am right here? That’s the red PRS, in the background is the Honey flame PRS. And on my head, a hat.

The back of the neck was sanded down to remove the lacquer. Higher action on the strings than what would seem to be an easy guitar to play, but you’d have to play it to understand. Like. Butter.

Oh, another interesting thing about this guitar… see my blog theme? That’s her.

Red Randy Rhoads V – I had no excuse to buy this guitar at the time, other than I wanted the pointiest guitar I could find. Actually had decent tone, but I think I put the fear of god in my bandmates walking around the stage with this decapitation waiting to happen.

Gretsch Brian Setzer – gorgeous guitar, very expensive, and also never stayed in tune. I sold this one pretty fast. This guitar was like a really, really, really hot but dumb, dumb, dumb date.

Black Parker Nightfly – such a cool guitar. I really should have held onto this one, but I had more PRS’ to buy. I didn’t own it very long, but it did give me the idea of setting up one of my favorite amp configurations: A/B stereo splitter into my Boss GT-5 on one side, and a Roland VG-8 guitar synth on the other. The GT-5 went into my Riveria R55 combo and then into a ’78 Marshall half stack cab. The VG-8 went into a really, really nice Fender Twin. This is probably the period of my guitar playing that I created a lot of lower back problems carrying all this gear. It took me longer to get setup than our drummer.

Red Flame PRS Custom 22 – moon inlays, and had a weird toggle switch. I liked this one a lot, but without the tremolo, I didn’t play it much. I’d appreciate this guitar more if I owned it today. This guitar was sold for the downpayment to buy my house in Loganville, Ga.

Honey Flame PRS Custom 24 – the prettiest guitar I ever owned. This was the PRS that everyone dreams about (I mean besides a Dragon, but don’t be ridiculous). It had the rotary pick-up knob, beautiful flame top, bird inlays. Completely perfect. I sold this guitar for the downpayment to buy my current home.

With the honey flame PRS onstage at Smith's Old Bar in Atlanta. I'm probably either adjusting a pedal or picking up a stripper's phone number here.

With the honey flame PRS onstage at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta. I’m probably either adjusting a pedal or picking up a stripper’s phone number here.

Vista Acoustic – a recent gift from Uncle Les. For a non-big name brand guitar, it holds it’s tune pretty well. I play this one every now and again. It’s nice to have a second acoustic in the home in case another guitar player stops by that meets the always important tuning vs. trying to remember Roundabout by Yes time ratio.

Over the weekend, Van Jr’s beginner guitar starter kit went to a new home. Although guitar didn’t work out for my son (yet), I love seeing another family give it a go.

Funny/Interesting Links…


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