Sunday, December 20, 2009

13 down 1 to go...

I have not been updating this blog too regularly, because I finally gave in and joined Facebook. So I joined the dark side and update there pretty regularly. If you know my "real" name, friend me and you can read my updates and random thoughts there.

I finished my 13th graduate course last week. It was my last core course I was required to take. It was a great course. I really liked the professor. He is by far the most down to earth guy I have ever had and the amazing thing was he really respected the students' time and recognized we are working professionals going to school at night. We had lectures and I had to write a 6-10 page paper for my grade. The last class we went to a local watering hole for drinks and some food while we discussed our paper topics. It was a great end to a great course. I received my grade back today and I earned an "A" so he must have liked the research paper I did on the "Economics of Cloud Computing."

The Master's program I am in has a 6 course core requirement, 6 elective course requirement, 1 prerequisite programming class, and a capstone class to wrap everything up. I only have the capstone class remaining. That class starts in January and finishes the first week in March. Then I am done with my MIS degree! I am planning on putting the cap and gown on for the last time in May 2010. That should be it for me forever. That is unless my current employer wants me to get an MBA, then... well back to school I go...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gobble, Gobble, Turkey Day Poll

So as we approach the holiday, some questions popped into my head and I wondered what everyone's Turkey Day preferences are:

1. Turkey: white meat or dark meat?

2. Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes?

3. Pumpkin Pie or Other pie?

4. Homemade gravy or McCormick's packet gravy?

5. Bakery rolls or Pillsbury Crescent Rolls?

6. Cranberry sauce must have the can lines or you look for the crushed, ground, fresh stuff?

7. Dinner prayer or round the table, "I'm thankful for..."

8. After dinner, unbutton the top button or "I wore the elastic fat pants."

Friday, November 06, 2009

Second Chance

Three weeks ago a friend of mine called and asked if I'd meet him for a round of golf in NJ. I checked the weather and saw it was going to be 75 degrees and sunny, "WINNER!!! AWESOME!!!" I took the day off and went on my merry way leaving the house at 5:45am so I would make a 9:00am tee time at Neshanic Station, NJ. I was about three quarters from the course and nature suddenly came knocking. It was one of those, "Wow, I really need to stop and go" moments. Fortunately, I was near a shopping area and found a 24hr Shoprite to stop at and "figure things out." I bought a bottle of Gatorade and went to my car to continue my journey to the links. On my way out of my parking spot an older woman flagged me down. I stopped and she asked me if I could take her to "Golden Acres" or something close to that. I looked at my watch and it was 8:15am. There were other cars around, so I told her I wasn't going that way and apologized for not being able to give her a lift. I was not familiar with the area I was in, I didn't even know where she was talking about or how far away it was; I was worried about not making my tee time, and I figured with all the other people in the lot she would be OK. So I drove away, but when I pulled out of lot it bothered me. I felt like I passed up a chance to do "the right thing." It is almost like one of those situations where "if you do this for the least of my people you do it for me."

Last week I had another early tee time at 7:50am about 1/2 hour away from my house. I left at 6:00am to get something to eat along the way (McDonald's...ahem), fill the tank, and get to the course early to warm up and putt. Mind you this is my idea of a "perfect" day. I stopped and got my #1 extra value meal with a medium coffee, 2 cream/4 sugar and then stopped at Sunoco to fill up the car. When I was finishing the fill, a young guy came walking up to me from out of nowhere and asked if I would drive him to a local town about 3 miles away. I looked into his face and something "clicked" inside of me. There was a look of "lost" in his eyes and his disposition told me, "please help." So I told him to hop in and then took him to the next town. On the way I talked with him a bit. He did not have anywhere to go and was looking for a shelter. I asked where he had stayed and he told me he had slept outside of Walmart, but they had asked him to leave and go to the next town for a shelter. We got to the town and I drove through, but was not sure where the shelter was so I took him to the fire department, which was open, lit up like a beacon and manned. I was pretty sure they would be able to get him help. I dropped him there, gave him a little money and told him God bless and take care. He looked back and thanked me and the look on his face had changed to "relief." I went on my way to the golf course and I was thinking that this was my second chance. Now I know that reading this, you probably will point out that it is dangerous to pick up strangers and that I really took a risk in doing this. I agree. I also wouldn't want Sharkey doing what I did because of those same reasons, but that morning I found something genuine in this young guy's face and disposition that compelled me to act in this situation, where common sense dictated otherwise. I also felt because of my previous inaction a few weeks earlier, there were other things going on that morning that put another opportunity in front of me to do "the right thing." In a way, I felt this was a matter of faith. I said a prayer for him after dropping him off, hoping he would find his way and in some small way, my actions helped him a bit to know hope, kindness, and a little faith still exists in these difficult days.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Presentation Skills A Must

I have been in pursuit of a Master's degree for four years. I both love and hate it at the same time. I love learning new things, I love being able to grow professionally, I love to listen to my classmates relate professional experiences, and I really love my student discount! I hate group projects, cause let's face it, you always draw at least one "DUD" in your group that is either not a team player, totally does not do any work, (aka...SLACKER), or has an agenda that is the direct opposite of the other 90% of the group; and I am more of an individual effort person. I hate the professors that do not understand you are a working professional, and assign asinine 20 page papers, 10 page take home tests, and 300 pages of reading for class discussion. And I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hate student presentations; 80% of IT professionals cannot present in front of a group. It is true! It is a fact! They read every bullet point on a slide, take forever to get across their point (the presentation is 20 minutes people! Not 40, not 30, not 50 min!!) and in doing so lose the audience, and speak without any voice inflection whatsoever. Um, "knock, knock, hello people!!" That is not presenting. That is reading while feeding your audience Nyquil and Allergy Medicine (and it is not the non-drowsy kind either)!!

I am coming to the end of the road though. I have 2 more classes to take and I am "D-U-N" done! Then I can yell the battle cry of every educated student, "NO MORE SCHOOL, NO MORE BOOKS, NO MORE TEACHER'S DIRTY LOOKS!!!" And then, I can do what the average middle age man does. Come home from work, sit on the couch, have Sharkey fetch me my slippers and newspaper, present me with a hot dinner, while smiling at me wearing her freshly pressed flower print dress.... Cause, you know all us middle aged men got it like that....and my friends if you think I really do have it like that, then well, you are reading my blog for the first time, and really do not know me at all!!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

40, 1/2 Life

40 came & went. I feel no different than 39. Yesterday was a great day. We went to Disney Hollywood Studios. I signed up for the free admission for my b-day, but since we have admission included in our vacation package I was able to exchange the certificate for 6 FastPasses. We went on Tower of Terror, Rock'N Rollercoaster, Toy Story 2x. The birthday FastPass is awesome because you can get all 6 at once. See regular FastPasses require you to wait 60-90 minutes between each one. For dinner we ate at the 50's Prime Time Cafe. It is a great place if you have never been. They will insult you, ask you to set the table, keep your elbows off the table, and finish your vegetables. If you do not, this is what happens:

Sharkey finishing veggies

If you want to see more of our escapades, hop over to my Flickr page.

The first forty years have been wonderful. I think the next forty will be equally good, but different. I have learned a lot, experienced a lot, graduated from college, fell for the perfect woman, got married, moved to PA, changed jobs 2x, lost my father, helped my wife get through breast cancer, served on church council, and shaved 15 strokes off my golfing. So what is next? It seems that the first part of my life shaped me and put me in a place to share my experiences with another. So to that end Sharkey & I completed our application to adopt a child from China. So Lord willing we will get a referral to travel 1/2 way around the world to pick up a daughter. It has been a long process & looks to be a long wait with the international laws changing and the applications numerous, but we hope we will get our referral in time. Sharkey has not been quick to share because of the wait, but I feel some of my coworkers know and those of you who read my blog know me as well if not better than they do, so I made the call to put it out there! Praying for the change to come in good time!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vacay Day 1

I know I have not posted in a while. The evil demon "Golf-or" possessed me & I have made little time for everything else. But here I am one day shy of my 40th b-day and I am posting from Disneyworld. Sharkey & I just checked in & we are sitting at this cute little table having snacks & coffee. When we checked in, we went to the desk & the girl behind the counter said, "oooooh!! For your birthday you have been upgraded to concierge level!l". So we are on the top floor, looking down on all the other resort guests eating our complimentary snacks & sipping our free drinks. It is almost a bit surreal, but things like this nice touch make it like reason #5098 why I love the house of the mouse!!!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Cereal Poll

Take yourself back to when you were a kid food shopping with Mom. When you hit the cereal aisle, what did you try to sneak into the cart hoping she did not notice?



Count Chocula....


Boo Berry....


Extra points to the person who can tell me the name of the cereal with the werewolf character, which was also a General Mills cereal. Finally, estimate the number of boxes of stale, nasty, sugary cereal that sat in the cupboard because you only wanted the toy at the bottom of the box!! Come on, we all did it, you know you did and you know what I am talking about!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Random Things

4 Hour Woody, Seek Medical Attention

So you know those erectile dysfunction commercials on the tube? Am I the only one who finds....."For erections lasting more than 4 hours please contact a physician..." hysterically funny???? I mean don't you think you would be concerned after say....1 hour, possibly 2 hours.... "Uh, oh something's over man....not good....not good..." I guess they have to give guys a time limit, so they do not over look the happenings south of the border, with the tent pitching and all.

Why Are Bad Things So Darn Tasty...

Sharkey was gone for a photo seminar in Utah over the weekend, so again I played the bachelor card. I played golf Thursday and decided to stop at Wegman's to get an apple Kuchen for breakfast Friday. The Kuchen is essentially a 6"x14" apple danish:

Apple Kuchen

Sure 1/8 of this thing is 180 calories, but it is just to die for.

Turning 40!?!

29 more days until the big "four-ooooooohhhhh" Unreal that I have been on this big blue marble for that many years. In a lot of ways it is very surreal. Sharkey and I will be heading to Orlando to celebrate, barring any natural singularly named weather disturbances forming in the Caribbean or Gulf, but even if that should happen I purchased "vacay" insurance so all is not lost. We are staying at the house of the Mouse. I was wondering if their recent acquiring of Marvel means they'll really put the screws to Universal Studio Parks telling them that Spiderman, the Hulk, Fantastic 4, Iron Man, and X Men are all Disney owned and they'll need to cease using their likenesses on their rides. Hey it could happen. It also begs the question how those characters will be used in the future by M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E.

I had thought about spending this birthday in some other place that Sharkey and I had never been to together (like...Scottsdale/AZ, Bend/OR, Napa Valley/CA) but it came back to Disney. Not sure, but I think the Asian gene kicks in for the special place. There are a few reasons I think for choosing the destination. Disney is one of those companies I do not mind giving money to. I think you really do get what you pay for. But I think what clenched it was what was going on at EPCOT the week of my birthday. The Food and Wine festival is kicking off during that week, so you can sip different wines all around the world showcase and sample different foods. And one of the cooler things (well I think it is cool anyway) is that Richard Marx and Starship will be performing concerts while we are there. We are children of the 80's after all:

I was telling Sharkey one of my great ideas is that we should have an 80's party at our house. I'm thinking we have enough friends our age that we could pull it off. I think I could maybe dig up some period clothing and spike the hair for a night. Lord knows I have all the 80's music to partaaaayyyy.....

itunes 80 music

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Login and Second Chances


I just returned from a trip out to the Midwest. It was nice to see Sharkey's family and spend some time with Character Builder's kids. The nieces like to play with my MacBook while we are there because they like the Photo Booth application. Photo Booth allows you to take and distort your picture with the Macbook's built in webcam. It is pretty good fun too! For Sharkey's 5 year cancer free party we setup the MacBook at the party and let the attendees take their pictures. It is pretty hysterical. So I arrived home and booted up my MacBook the other night. I have password protection set, so I need to enter the almighty password in order to start up my MacBook. Much to my surprise, my administrator icon was changed. See my administrator icon was set to Maggie:


Now when I log in, this is what I see:


Now I am not sure if Catherine (AKA Cath-O-Winn) did this on purpose or by accident somehow. But I thought it was funny that her distorted mug greets me when I boot up. I think I'll probably keep it for now, sorry Mags!

Second Chances...

The Philadelphia Eagles just gave me another reason to not be a fan, they signed Michael Vick. This is somewhat controversial in Philly. I know people for his playing think he paid his debt to society, he shows remorse, and can be a positive role model to show how someone can comeback from the brink and succeed. I do not totally agree with all of that. I do agree he paid for breaking the law and served his time, so he owes nothing there. But I do not agree with his reinstatement to the NFL. I would argue that if he did not get caught, he would still be running a dog fighting ring. But beyond the "what if's" my main reasons for him to not be reinstated by the NFL are because of what he contributed to and what his reinstatement says to the public and other players. Vick took part in twisting and destroying innocent life. People may disagree with me on this point, because it depends on how you view dogs, but to me dogs are innocent, just like human babies, and their temperament and disposition are totally influenced by man; and the twisting and training of these animals to fight each other to the death is despicable. Additionally, the way Vick inhumanely ended their lives is BEYOND reproach. I feel very strongly about this point. Even if you made the philosophical argument that dogs have no souls, and therefore do not matter in the big picture, no sentient form of life deserves the end Vick determined for eight of the canines. I would argue this act alone disqualifies him to be on the center stage and an example of professional sports excellence. Secondly, the NFL reinstating him sends the message to everyone (i.e. adults, kids, other pro athletes) that you can take part in violent, cruel, and inhumane acts and still play professional sports and still make millions of dollars. I think the NFL would have been better served by maintaining the ban on him playing and making his case the example of what the consequences are for abusing your rewards for playing in the NFL. Just like punitive damages are awarded in legal cases to deter illegal behavior, the NFL could have done the same and sent that message. NFL players are compared to warriors battling on the field for the win. Warriors battle with honor. There is absolutely no honor in any of this.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summer Update

Been away from the "Blog-isphere" for a while! Not sure why, but I have not felt the desire to post anything. So let's see what's new?

I have been taking a graduate law class. It has been interesting and a bit depressing at the same time. Let me explain. I like the foundations of what our society is built on. The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights with all the other foundational ideals the USA is dependent on for the civilized and good life which we all enjoy is fundamental to everything, but this class is making me question where we are today. My fear is that we have become a society of as long as the laws do not affect us directly, it does not matter. We go along happy and content, because ignorance is bliss. But I think it does matter. Each of us has the responsibility to voice our views, stand up for what is right, and not take the side lines on issues or be afraid of what others think of us because of those views. Our responsibility to society does not end at the ballot box. Because if you knew all the crazy laws that get passed on both the State and Federal levels and why, it would make your head turn! Thomas Jefferson once said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance," and I do not think he meant vigilance to apply to only outside countries, but to also inside the USA itself.

Quite a bit to chew on is it not? So let me digress to things more JP worthy...

Sharkey has been traveling quite a bit. It's been just me and the Mags, who lately I have labeled "Mooch-opotamus." I have been the bachelor, watching all the DVD's as loud as I want, whenever I want, playing Guitar Hero (VERY LOUD!), golfing and doing all those things I cannot do when Sharkey is home. I am such the rebel! All I need to do is put on my white dress shirt w/ no pants, white socks and slide across the wood floor w/ my sunglasses on. =)

We are headed West soon to visit Sharkey's family and do another road trip. Maggie will be with us too. It's the quintessential family trip.

My 40th B-Day is fast approaching and my 30's are quickly coming to an end, so I have made preparations to head to the place where all life changes must take place. You know where I am talking about. It's Magical after all... More to come on that. That's about all for now. JP out...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sweden's Contribution to the World, The Hex Screw

The hex screw. If you ever have purchased furniture from Ikea, you have intimate knowledge of this fastener, and the Alan wrench that you get with each furniture purchase. Sure the hex screw is trendy, neat, and somewhat European, but you get over that after using that small, ridiculous Alan wrench after 2 screws. On our last trip to Ikea, I bought a utility tool that included the two standard sizes of hex heads. And looking back at that $5.95 impulse purchase, it is one of the best things I've ever bought:


See, my Sharkey had her heart set on new deck furniture this year. She wanted the wicker stuff with the all weather cushions (which I'm waiting to see if the cushions really are all weather). She purchased it, and the honking box came last week with the furniture ready to assemble. As luck would have it, it came with one of those nice little Alan wrench things for 32 hex screws. The locations of some of the holes were a little tricky, but my Ikea impulse purchase came in handy. It was way faster than using that cheap ass little wrench that came with the furniture. Two hours and a few colorful metaphors later, Sharkey's furniture (sans cushions, I'll let her do that) was finished!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Quick Poll...

After attending a Phillies game recently and the US Open, it left me with a few questions. Here they are:

1. On a hot dog, do you use mustard or ketchup?

2. If you had the choice, Coke or Pepsi?

3. At a ball game, Budweiser metallic bottles or Tap beer?

4. Would you root for Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson?

5. If you catch a foul ball and are sitting next to a 10 year old, do you keep the ball or give it to him?

6. If you had the choice, soft pretzel or Cracker Jacks?

7. Would you ever consider buying tickets from a scalper?

8. Cheesesteak or cheese fries?

9. If someone initiates the wave, do you participate or look around aimlessly like it never happened?

10. Would you use a Port-O-Potty 10 feet away or beat feet to a real bathroom 1000 yards away?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I Am Back!

It has been a very long time since I posted. Whew!!! My monster projects are C-O-M-P-L-E-T-E! It is hard to believe, but I can now say I am done. It feels good!


The official score is:

JP: 2

Godzilla & Rodan: 0

I have basically been living at the office. Sharkey called me at 10pm one night and told me I needed to come home. Yeah, definitely not good. But now that those two projects are behind me I can get back to some normal life. It is amazing how the 40 hour week seems like nothing after working on these projects. I can take a breather and enjoy the summer!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Exhaustion Battling The Monster

Have you ever battled a huge monster? You know what I'm talking about? The nasty, fierce kind of creature you look up at and shudder with fear in your inner most being? The campaign to battle the monster is long and full of sacrifice. You gain some ground some days and you lose some ground on other days. Then there are the evil people who sent the monster. They have their own agenda for unleashing this terror upon you.

I have been preparing for this campaign since November. And this past week was the showdown with the "monster." My monster is the project I have going on at work. It kicked off in November and it has been a nonstop roller coaster. It is without a doubt, the most complex thing I have ever worked on. I'm still wondering how I drew the short straw on this one. I admit I do have Superman syndrome, where I like to be the hero with the red cape flowing in the wind, but I have been pushing it all week long. I've been pulling 12 hour days for the past 4 days, I was in today, and I have to go in tomorrow. I keep thinking about that 5 For Fighting song, it's not easy...

And the other thing is the client. They are without a doubt the most difficult, demanding, inflexible, unreasonable, and finger pointing individuals I have ever worked with. I try to always stay professional, but I really do not like them at all. They want everything and they want to pay nothing and do nothing for it. Oh, did I also mention they want it to be 100% perfect. Most of my co-workers cave to them and are afraid of them. Sorry, I do not play that game. I believe in equality in business partnerships and that clients need to give a bit to get a bit. It makes it difficult, and I would rather not deal with them at all truth be told. But as with anything I give it everything I have. And this project has taken everything I've got. I just hope it is enough.

I have 2 more things to do and I can put this "monster" down. Unfortunately, "monster-2" is only three weeks away. Yes they have two monsters. If you want a rubber Japanese monster analogy, it's like fighting Rodan this week and Godzilla three weeks later. And the next one is worse than the current monster I am battling. But I have two weeks to recoup and regroup. I also have some "lessons learned" I can apply, so like every good hero I learn, adapt, and throw care to the wind and head into battle.

I will not be defeated. I will prevail. I will fight and I will win. Yeah, I need some sleep in the worst way...

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I played my first 18 hole round yesterday. Yes I "was" still in the western suburbs of Shanksville. But I did have some shots of brilliance, so I feel like I'm slowly moving out of Shanksville. It is a work in progress. That's just how golf is.

Yesterday was beautiful. It was a perfect day. One of the best things about playing golf is walking the course and just being outside. I think that's the most relaxing thing about it. So even though I was not at mid-season form, I was still having a great time, until...

We crossed the 8th hole and went to the 9th. It was at that time an "older" guy and his group on the #7 hole told my group we needed to pick it up and that we were holding everyone up on the course. My reaction was one of absolute surprise and disbelief. He totally caught me off guard. I said to him, "Are you serious?" He was. He kept saying "You are holding everyone up, and you need to speed up" and was saying it pretty angrily. Now, yesterday being the perfect day it was, meant the course was crowded more than usual. I was playing with my partner and we were practicing for our upcoming Thursday league. We were paired up with two other guys who do not play all that much and they were a bit slow, but they were in a golf cart and were keeping up OK. And we were always on the tee box when the group in front of us were on the green, so we were moving along just fine.

So after Mr. Crabbypants and his foursome yelled at us I just could not let it go. I was ticked off. I mean I was really angry. You need to realize that it takes a LOT for me to get to that point because I am pretty even keel all the time and I hardly ever lose it. I'm still a little hot thinking about it while I'm writing this post. I think I was/am mad because he treated us like we were all hacks who did not know what we were doing and was extremely rude. He and his ignorant friends talked down to us like they were better than us. I think I handled the situation fine by shaking my head, laughing at him, walking away and not saying anything else, but I am rethinking that I should have told him to shove his driver where the sun doesn't shine instead of silently dissenting (which is what my parents programmed into us growing up; you know, Japanese Americans are the strong/silent people). I also think I was miffed because it was a gorgeous day. It was one of those "great to be alive in God's world" days, and this hockey puck, jerkstore just ruined it for me.

I suppose I could have kicked him in the throat, and then broken all his golf clubs and walked away. But I will let karma do its thing. Still, I hope he drove at least a dozen of his ProV1's into the lake or the woods and had the worst scoring day ever. Yeah, I know, I know, "vengeance is mine says the Lord"

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I entered the town of "Shanksville" recently. It is a very crappy, sucky town. It has no paved streets, no tall buildings, no lights, no bright colors, everyday is rainy with high winds, and everyday you spend there feels most unnatural. I think the population is large but I can only perceive my presence in the town, so it feels really like a population of one. Me. Or that's how it feels anyway. You do not enter "Shanksville" by choice. It is not a desirable destination to get to. And it is almost impossible to leave "Shanksville" no matter how much you want to.

The "shank" is one of those goofy things that happens totally out of the blue. There is no rhyme, no reason, it is tough to figure out. And it looks something like this:

Yes, this is another JP golf post.

I have a flaw in my swing. It causes the ball to shoot off to the right. No distance, totally off line, and it feels like my arms want to shake off my body when I hit the ball. And the most annoying part of it all is it is very, very repeatable. I cannot stop from doing it. It sucks rocks! I am just hoping I can figure something out so I can leave the awful town of "Shanksville"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted...

Sharkey and I recently returned from 10 days of "vacation-y" bliss. We did the old fashioned drive and see the country trip. We got in the car, I put on my iTunes Playlist entitled "70's Leaning on the Backseat" and we were off to the south serenaded by some retro driving music:

We made stops in Reston (Virginia), Raleigh (North Carolina), Hilton Head Island (South Carolina), Savannah (Georgia), and St. Augustine (Florida) before reaching our final destination, Clearwater (Florida).

Here are some photo snippets of some of the things we did and saw:

Hilton Head:

This is the first Original Pancake House I have seen since I lived in Bend, Oregon. They have super yummy food. So we went there for breakfast. If you never tried one and have one nearby, go for it. I highly recommend it.

The Original Pancake House

St. Augustine:

St. Augustine Cross


Our main destination was to see the Phillies play a preseason game in Clearwater. We watched them trounce the Houston Astros 13-3. It was awesome!




We had breakfast at the same place the Phillies get their food from the next morning, Lenny's:

Lenny's, Clearwater


For her birthday, Sharkey wanted to indoor skydive. I am typically up for anything, but I had to overcome a bit to get myself to do it. Especially after seeing the warning sign on the 2nd floor:


Riiight.... I have dislocated my right shoulder 3x and had a titanium/stainless steel screw inserted into it to keep it from going out. So this sign really did apply to me. But I felt like I'd regret it if I didn't try, and hey getting injured while indoor sky diving is "manly" high testosterone acceptable, so I did it. It was a blast...

I Believe I Can Fly

Afterward we went to Downtown Disney for a lovely dinner at McDonald's and had one of these babies for dessert at Girardelli's Ice Cream Shoppe:

Girardelli Hot Fudge Sundae

We went to Disney Hollywood studios the 2nd day we were in Orlando. We went there 45 minutes before the park opened so we could be the first in line for the new ride, Toy Story: Midway Mania.

Toy Story Mania

This is the reason for 6am wakeup!

We were able to ride it 3x for the day. It was great!!

JP vs. Sharkey

Hollywood Studios was very relaxing and we had an afternoon cupcake / rice krispy treat break, which produced this euphoric look on my wife's face:

Sharkey post Rice Krispy Treat

We both shared sort of the same look. And while we did a lot of driving and had a lot of stops, it was a great trip!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Monkeys In Oz

Remember watching the Wizard of Oz? Well unless you are my wife Sharkey, who has never seen the movie, you probably do. My two older brothers and I would always watch the movie when we were growing up. Mom & Dad really liked Judy Garland, so whenever it came on we'd all gather around the glowing console set and get transported to Oz. There was one part of the movie that I do not like still to this day, cause, well, it freaks me out. It's the part with those creepy flying monkeys. I hated those things. I'd have dreams when I was a kid I was being chased by those damn things.

So a week ago we were in a Hallmark store getting some birthday cards and came across this snow globe:


As soon as I saw it, the only thing I could think of was those scary ass monkeys from the Wizard of Oz.

Sweet dreams all!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Hate Thai Food

I eat almost everything. It is true. There are very few foods I will not eat. There is however one exception. Thai food. I hate it. It is not, "I prefer to not eat it." It is not, "I really do not care for it." It is not, "That just doesn't sound good to me." It is an absolute, unequivocal hatred of the food. I think it may have to do with my first job out of college.

When I graduated from college I wanted to see the world. I had always lived in Southern New Jersey my entire life. I wanted to see what was out there. I took a job with IBM and they sent me to Bend, Oregon for six months. It was weird and surreal in a way. One moment I was in farm town USA, and six hours later I was in a corporate apartment 3000 miles away.

I felt like I needed to push myself. Not be "safe" near family and friends. I wanted to experience a different geography and meet new people. I think all of my "life" in Bend is worth another post, so let me get back to the Thai food. When I was in Bend, I shared a car with another Big Blue employee for the first couple months. He was a unique individual from India. He loved Thai food. And as luck would have it, there was a Thai restaurant in town. At the time I was open minded, wanted to try new things, had the $50 per Diem, and so I would go to lunch there with him so he wouldn't have to eat alone. We went there so many times, and I went through everything on the menu. I came to my first realization. I really hate Thai food. I think it's the spices, the presentation, and flavors. I really do not like it. I mean I really hate it quite passionately.

Last Friday the guy I sit next to at work wanted to go to lunch. So I said I'd go with him where ever he wanted to go. And what did he pick? You guessed it. Thai food. I went there and I figured enough time had passed and maybe I really didn't give Thai food a chance....

On Saturday, after having a really "difficult" sleepless night "gastronomically" I was working things out and then went to sit through a movie I had planned on seeing in a little bit of distress. And the one thought I had 1/2 through Watchmen when my lower intestine started announcing its displeasure in my food choice from the previous day was..."I HATE THAI FOOD...."

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen? I do...

Sharkey had a photo shoot this morning. Last night I decided to make my Saturday plans, so I went to and purchased a ticket for Watchmen in iMax.

The movie was A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!! Watchmen is based off of a comic book series that ran in 1987. Those were the years I fondly referred to a few posts back. So for years, fans of the series waited for it to be turned into a movie. The wait is over.

I arrived at the iMax for the 9am show this morning. The place was packed. But the crowd was very mixed. Sure there were some kids with their parents there, but there were a lot of people my age in the theater. They were former comic book junkies like I used to be I guess. The movie did not disappoint. It had the essential story line, the characters were spot on (unlike that 3rd X-Men piece of crap that was produced), and it was a good ride.

I give Watchmen the JP two thumbs up. It has a great 80's soundtrack. You know you are in for a good time when the beginning of the movie has 99 Luftballons and the first major fight scene is to Nat King Cole's Unforgettable. One tip, if you are going to see it is definitely go to the bathroom prior to the movie, because it is a whopping 2 hours and 43 minutes long. And watch how much you drink during the movie. You don't want to miss anything by having to go to the restroom. The entire movie is one wild ride from start to finish. One thing I was very surprised at was people even at 9am buy the popcorn, pretzel bites, huge bucket sized sodas, and candy. I mean come on people, chips, candy, pretzels at 9am!?!?! What are you thinking?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

March Madness...

Guitar Hero....

Not sure why, but the guitar from our Guitar Hero World Tour was messed up. Maybe Sharkey and I used star power too much. If we were playing, we wouldn't even strum and the thing would register a bad note. I opened up a return with (the makers of Guitar Hero) and sent back the guitar. They turned around the return pretty quick and this showed up the other day....

New Guitar

So now it's time to rock it out again!

Phillies in Clearwater....

Gearing up for preseason with the Fightin' Phils! My spring training duds should arrive shortly:

Top Chef....

Stephan lost!!! You go Hosea!!!! The universe balances itself once again!

Monday, March 02, 2009


I sing. I am a church cantor. Sharkey also sings and plays the clarinet. We are a musical family. Maggie also sings...

I was kicking around YouTube tonight and found this video. It is "give you a cavity sweet..."

Sunday, March 01, 2009

It Is Coming...

March is here. God is teasing us with the warm weather we've been having in South East Pennsylvania (I say tease because we are supposed to get like 3-5 inches of snow tonight). My adrenaline is pumping. I can feel it coming. I can smell it when I walk outside. Golf season is approaching. From around mid March until October I play, practice, and I am in my "zone" my "happy place." I have been getting the golf catalogs in the mail, I have bought a couple of new shirts for the season and I have a new thunderstick to put into play this year,

All I want for Christmas is an FTi.JPG

and I have been contemplating an on course GPS (cause Sharkey peaked my interest in them the other day):

One of my life goals is to one day have country club membership somewhere. I want to be able to play whenever I want. That would be awesome. It would be nice to also have my own wooden locker with my name engraved on it to store my clubs, shoes, some clothes, etc. I realize it is a dream. It probably won't happen until I am retired if ever, cause, well club membership is what my Sharkey calls, "chaaaa---ching!"

I have been watching the first PGA tournaments of the year on TV. Looking at the guys in short sleeves playing on the beautiful greens and fairways. I was glued to the set watching Tiger Woods return this week, but he was knocked out in the 2nd round,

as well as Phil Mickelson,

and my current favorite player Camillo Villegas:

So I lost a lot of interest in the main tournament after the above three were eliminated, but here I am on a Sunday afternoon still watching to see who wins.

Yesterday I went to the driving range to get some "hitting" in. That's my code word for driving range practice. Before I leave the house, I kiss Sharkey goodbye, and tell her "I'm going to go hit, be back in an hour." It was pretty crowded yesterday too. I guess a bunch of guys have the same addiction as me. Only the guys there yesterday were beginners. Balls and clubs were flying all over the place and they were giving each other armchair golf pro tips. "Keep your head down, don't twist so much, grip your club like a live bird, hit down on the ball like an axe..." The one guy I was next to was way scary. The stalls at the range have 3 foot high walls that separate them. Good thing too. This guy was hitting the side walls (thank God those walls were there or he'd have hit me a few times), the ceiling (which I'm not sure how he was able to do) and was burning balls to about 100 yards. He asked me how to tell how far his balls were going (the ones that actually did leave the stall anyway), so I showed him the sign in his stall that listed the yardages of the different range targets. And I was hitting pretty well yesterday, so he was trying to get some tips from me. I think my best tip was, "If you are going to take the game up for real, take lessons as soon as you can." =)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Remember the 80s?

At work today I went a couple aisles down from my cube to my old cube. My old cube is located where my old team sits. Even though I am not on their team anymore, I still feel like I am still one of them so I go for a visit now and then. One of the women brought in her old CD's she was cleaning out of her house. So everyone was talking about what they used to listen to back in the day when they were in high school. One of the girls said she listened to Debbie Gibson. The rest of my team said, "Who's that? I've never heard of her. What did she sing?" I was like, are you kidding? She was awesome! She sang "Only in My Dreams" and "Shake Your Love." I saw her in concert. OK, I just totally dated and outed myself as a former teen pop star fan... But still, Debbie Gibson brings back great memories... The 80's!

After that little conversation I went back to my desk, took out my iPhone and queued up Pandora. Pandora is a sweet little application that streams music based on an artist you key in (Oh, BTW apps for the iPhone like Pandora makes reason #1369 for getting one). It selects genres of songs based on who you pick. So I keyed in "Debbie Gibson" and I spent the rest of my work day with background music of some old friends:

Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
Richard Marx
The Bangles
Belinda Carlisle
Naked Eyes
The Motels

It is pretty amazing how listening to all of that just takes you back to another time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wasabi, A Little Goes a Long Way

I went out to lunch with my team today. We were celebrating a woman's birthday on my team. She initially wanted Thai food, but fortunately the Thai restaurant was closed for a private party today. Yeah, I really do not like Thai food. I have never craved Thai food or even thought, "Hey you know what sounds good, a nice Pad Thai!" Nah, no, not... Fortunately for me, my favorite Japanese restaurant is right next to the Thai restaurant, and everyone (yes, I used the Jedi mind trick on all of them) thought Japanese sounded good.

We went in, I said a big "Hi!" to the owner and received the warm, happy greeting (favorite restaurant means JP frequents the place quite a bit). We all ordered lunch. I sat next to the Birthday girl who ordered sushi for the first time ever. Brave girl. Of course, she was sitting next to the master... I was explaining all the in's and out's of the different types of sushi you can get. She went with a raw, spicy salmon roll and the "standard" California roll. I went with my standard selection of spicy tuna roll and an Alaskan roll. The sushi came, and she asked me what the green stuff was. I told her it was the "heat," the stuff of legends, and the main reason why a lot of people eat sushi -- WASABI!! I told her some people mix it with soy sauce, while purists like myself take it straight up on the sushi. She picked a little wasabi with her chopsticks and before I could warn her, stuck it in her mouth...

So after the paramedics left after having revived her, and her normal facial color returned, she said she could not believe how hot it was. I told her she should be one of the soy mixing people to start her sushi eating adventures. That worked out pretty well and she was lovin' the raw fish and was looking forward to trying it again. She said she really liked the colors of the food and was almost disappointed to eat it, because it was so pretty. Another satisfied customer.

Today's incident reminded me of $10 I spent in high school. My friend and I were at a sushi bar and he kept saying that the wasabi wasn't that hot. I bet him $10 he couldn't take the 1x1 inch of wasabi and down it all at once. He took the bet. He just about died. He turned bright, bright red, his eyes shot out of his head and he pounded his fists on the table and afterwards chased after his sinuses which unmercifully shot out of his head and went screaming away into the night. It was the best $10 I had ever spent!!! Yeah, that's right. That's how JP ROLLS!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Clearwater Here We Come

and I are putting together our vacation plans for the end of March. We determined we are headed south. We are going to road trip it. We were batting around the ideas of Las Vegas, the Caribbean, a cruise, and Florida for vacation and to celebrate Sharkey's:


Well, with all the planes going down all over the world and more frequently in the North East, the statistics of safely flying is becoming a bit troubling. And even though the "spendulous" package passed through congress this week and is going to give us a whopping $15 more dollars a week, we thought we'd try to conserve a bit, while still having fun. So here's what we are looking at:

Day 1: Reston, VA

There's a restaurant there called Big Bowl.

Sharkey and I used to frequent Big Bowl in Minneapolis, and this is the closest one and on the way south to our final destination.

Day 2: The Carolina's

Lunch in Raleigh, NC to meet with friends, possibly a nephew and then on to Charleston, SC.

Day 3: Florida Land of Oranges and Mickey

On to Florida. Cross the border, drink some fresh orange juice and then explore some coastal towns. We could use some help with this leg of the trip. I wonder if someone who lived in Florida has any ideas (cough, William, cough, cough) for us?

Days 4-6 : Clearwater, Phillies vs. Astros, beach / umbrella drink time

Clearwater, Florida. We are taking in a preseason game for the 2008 World Series Champions, Philadelphia Phillies:

We also thought we could hang out in Clearwater for a few nights and do some days at the beach and just relax.

Day 7: On the road again

Back up the coast to the Carolina's

Day 8: The Keystone State

Home sweet home in PA

Day 9: Recuperation, it's not just for breakfast anymore...

Crash out at home from the trip

We are hoping to see more of the things you would typically miss when you fly over them in an airplane. I'm sure Sharkey will take lots and lots of pictures and I'm hoping we can find some off the path places and little food places. This trip reminds us both when we were kids on vacation with our families in the car on the road. Do you remember? Let me take you there. It was the time when the cars on the road were all metal, no one wore seat belts, and you would hang on the front seat from the back, cause front seats were not separate, but were like couches. And you'd hear some familiar tunes on the AM/FM radio while Dad drove all over the place with the window down and his left arm out the window.

Yeah, those times. Great times...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Mac N' Cheese

I have been on a quest for the past two days. I have been trying to make homemade Mac N' Cheese. And I am trying to find a "great" recipe. I am talking about something better than the Kraft box kind. I am talking something like S'MAC in NYC:


I was driving home from work the other night and it was cold, blustery and overcast. It was one of those nights you want to curl up by the fire and have some "comfort" type food. You know what I mean? Something like a great soup with some crusty bread, or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, or some really good mac n' cheese. That's when something inside my head clicked. Mind you this is a different type of clicking from when JP has a revelation. There's less smoke, bells, and lights flashing...

So last night I tried to reproduce the S'MAC gooey goodness. I tried to make their Napoletana dish. It was pretty good, but it fell short of what I had in mind. Sharkey liked it too, but said I needed to tweak it a bit.

Tonight was round 2. I felt that the mozzarella cheese really wasn't a good cheese for mac n' cheese, so I went to the traditional sharp cheddar. I have used recipes of Alton Brown before, so I figured I would give another one of his creations a try. So I made the Stove top Mac & Cheese. This dish was picture perfect. I thought it had the right texture and it looked yummy. Unfortunately, the dry mustard gave it a weird taste and Sharkey thought it was a bit salty. GGGGGGGGRRRRRRR... Alton you let me down brother!!!! I also felt really unsatisfied after eating it, so I filed it under "T."

My next attempt with be to modify the S'MAC recipe and replace the mozzarella and muenster with other cheeses. Maybe American/Cheddar? Or perhaps a Gruyere? I will get it right. I need to get it right. Anyone have a good recipe I can try?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

Last night a wonderful winter storm went through. We received about 3" of snow, followed by sleet, followed by ice. I woke up, looked out the window, then picked up the phone and left a message for my manager that I wouldn't be in. See, I don't mind the snow and we do have an all wheel drive Subaru that I'd take, but the ice is an issue. On TV and the radio I saw/heard the accidents this morning and after processing that information, I was like, "Um, I don't think so."

So I had a wonderfully productive day. Well sort of... I used the snow blower to clear out my driveway and the neighbor's. I caught up on some movies, I watched 21 followed by Ocean's 11. It made me want to go to Las Vegas. "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!" Plus the goat / car problem in 21 is classic mathematics:

Also, I like the last line Clooney says to Brad Pitt in Ocean's 11, "Ted Nugent called, he wants his shirt back..."

Friday, January 16, 2009

One Ball

I went to NJ today to help my Mom shop for a new refrigerator. Her current one is a byproduct of the 80's. It was definitely time for it to go. It is on its last leg. It is also a wonderful color, like a brown mustard (whoever thought that was a good color, I dunno...). She found a nice, white Frigidaire which will be delivered tomorrow. I had lunch with her, took her back home and then headed back to PA. Whenever I go see my Mom in NJ, I also try to go visit my Dad's spot at the cemetery.

I go to say "Hi" and to tell him what's new with me, Sharkey, and Maggie. It is funny, but I'm not exactly sure why I even talk at the place. I mean, it is not like I really believe he is really there to talk to and that place is the only place where I think he can hear me. See I know his ashes are there, but I know his spirit is elsewhere. He is somewhere better, somewhere perfect, and somewhere where I will be someday as well. But still, maybe it is because I am still flesh and blood that makes me need a physical "place" to talk with my Dad.

When I was there, I told him that I couldn't wait for the weather to warm up so I could golf again. Then that made me think a bit and reflect for a few minutes. I took up golf just to spend time with my Dad and get him out for some physical activity. Now golf is a huge part of my life. It is definitely something he passed on to me and I may have mentioned this before, but when I am playing out on the greens and on the fairways I feel like he's there with me watching and smiling.

I went to my car, unzipped my golf bag and took out a ball. I then went over to his stone and placed it into a spot in front. I suppose it is my way to thank him for passing on his love of the game to me and giving me a way to always be close to him. One ball with three red dots to symbolize so much...


Now I just need to wait for my Mom to call so I can explain to her where the golf ball came from by Dad's stone.... =)

Monday, January 05, 2009

New Years Activities

New Year's Eve...

Came home from work around 4:30. The head cold finally was subsiding a bit and my voice was starting to come back as well. One of my female co-workers had commented I sounded less manly and like my old self. (Come to think of it, that could be kind of insulting taken the wrong way, so it is a good thing I am very manly and do many masculine, testosterone filled activities...) Anyway, Sharkey and I didn't have any set plans because she knew I was under the weather and we had just come back from the frozen Midwest, but it's New Years Eve, so we just couldn't stay home. I went to and was able to get a table at the Cedar Hollow Inn for 7:00pm. If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done right?

Watched the ball drop on ABC. Always watch the ball drop and I do admire Dick Clark for doing the show post stroke, but um...I totally did not need to see him lock lips with his wife with the Judy Jetson hairdo. Yeah, totally did not need that image going into 2009!

New Year's Day...

Cooked Japanese food most of the day. New Year is a big deal for Asians. Trust me, it even applies to us bananas (banana=yellow on the outside, white on the inside). So I made some Japanese Lo Mein. It is sort of a misnomer, because as everyone knows, Lo Mein is a Chinese and not Japanese dish. But this dish is a family dish which is only made at certain times of the year and my Mom was kind enough to pass the recipe to me, so I have taken up the mantle. It's pretty good. It requires lots and lots of prep work (mainly chopping) and relatively short cooking time, and it is always better the next day. Since Sharkey and I were in MN for Christmas, we had not gotten together with my family, so I was making the food for Friday.

First Monday Thoughts for the New Year...

Back to work...

When's the next holiday?

Crap, graduate school starts up next week again. Man I cannot wait to finish that Master's degree

Where should Sharkey and I try to get away to for a vacation during the winter?

Oh Memphis Belle is on. That's one of my all time favorite movies.

Golf league starts in 3 months, whooo hooo!!

Watching "Diner's Drive In's and Dives." Geeze Guy, this show is going to kill you. How can you eat all that fat and grease all the time?