By now I’m sure you have heard the old adage “only the good die young”. It’s a random statement with no proof behind it but the coincidence of the idea can be overwhelming when you look at premature deaths in our history. I often reflect on my own life, questioning my goodness as I get older. My passing is inevitable, but I’m not ready yet.
Robert Benchley once said “Death ends a life, not a relationship”. There are have been many in my life that passed for varying reasons that in my heart I still maintain a relationship with. Some were older and lived out their days; I think of my Grandpa Mills frequently and my family & I are entertained at the memory of his cheerful grumpiness. Some were taken tragically young by unfortunate circumstance; Abel Silva was a brilliant friend who brightened so many lives.
One such man, Staff Sgt. Chad Simon, was taken amidst chaos, corruption and turmoil. Through our lives, many of us have known men & women who fought bravely during war times in this great country. Sadly, we’ve also experienced the heart wrenching pain that comes with losing someone in that fight. It’s a harsh reality – one that I struggle with, holding back tears, even as I write this. Those soldiers represent more than a war, more than a life lost. They represent a decision. Free will could very well be the greatest gift we have on this earth. Rules are rules, laws are laws, but the only definition of your life, is that you must die. You have the free will to live and to live boldly! My friend, my brother in Christ, Staff Sgt. Chad Simon, signed and pledged his name to the United States of America because he believed in something greater than himself. He believed that a war worth waging, was a war with dying in. He believed in the valiant effort of a man trudging into battle with an 80lb pack on his back, carrying his weapon knowing full well that today his life may be taken so that YOU could continue to have freedom!
On November 8, 2004, while serving in a combat mission in the Babil province of Iraq, Chad’s vehicle was hit by an IED. He suffered major head trauma and spent the next 9 months fighting for his life while in a coma. On August 4, 2005, with family in Madison, WI, Chad met his maker at the gates of heaven. Today, I’m celebrating Chad’s 40th birthday. While the concept of time may be absent in heaven, here on this rock, we live and die by it. It is one of my most sincere hopes that Chad’s son would grow to be a man of honor, much like his father and to relish in the freedom he fought so bravely for.
I think of you often Chad and all that you have done for me. I think of your family and the memories we will always have in our hearts until we meet again in the life ever lasting. Your decision has not gone in vain and shall not pass in the winds of the past, but forever will remain a cornerstone for generations to come. Happy 40th Birthday Chad. I love and miss you.
As most of you in the St. Louis area know, Mr. Todd Jordan (@tojosan) has been connecting people in the metro area for several years now, every Friday between Memorial Day and Labor Day by organizing a lunch called Bring A Tweep To Lunch (or affectionately hashtagged on Twitter, #BATTL). It’s hosted at a new restaurant every week. Sometimes you might have 2 people show up, other times you might have a dozen.
Today was a special day because on Monday, it is Todd’s birthday. Many people must love him as much as we do, because we had quite the turnout today at The Atomic Cowboy in ManGrove. Toward the end of the lunch, we all sang him happy birthday. So to you Mr. Jordan, we all wish you a happy birthday from the bottom of our hearts.
About a month ago, I heard about this new restaurant/bar/pub opening up in St. Charles where the old Wilikers use to be. I had heard of Tilted Kilt before after one opened up in Arnold, MO, but never made the venture south to visit it. From their website the faire looked to be standard for a sports bar and the collection of beautiful ladies in scantily clad kilts and mid-rif bearing busty shirts caught my eye. Being of Scottish heritage, I was at the very least interested in finding out if there was indeed any celtic aura in the establishment or if the 6″ kilt was just a gimmick.
Today was opening day. I posted on Twitter that I wanted to go for dinner and asked for volunteers to suffer through the experience with me. My good buddy @kickassmktg (Dustin) answered the call and we met up around 6pm. As I walked up to the entrance, there was a father & son ahead of me. The father opened the door, took a quick glance and turned right around telling his son, “This isn’t our kind of place.” Clearly he didn’t check out the website first.
Upon entering the front doors, we were immediately greeted by a pack of beautiful young women eager to ensure that our dining needs were met. The place was busy. Very busy. Not surprising though for the first night of a highly anticipated restaurant like this. It took a few minutes for the server to find us a table but not long enough for me to get irritated. There was a small hightop bar table against the glass and we had a good view of the joint. We scoped out the amount of TVs (a lot) and noticed all of the decorations (flags, banners, etc). There was a hint of celtic flair but definitely Americanized. It may go without saying but all of the servers were female while the managers and bussers were male. There may have been female leadership around but I only noticed the males.
Our server (Courtney) approached us and was very happy to offer a TK Lager to get us started. I opted for the Sam Adams Seasonal if it was the Alpine Spring, but she had no idea and had to find out from the bartender. A moment later, a different server (Brittany) approached us and offered to get us drinks. Confused, I told her that Courtney was already helping us. She told us this was her table. When Courtney returned, they squabbled a little but figured out that it was indeed Brittany’s table. I didn’t give the situation much attention; I figured since it was the first night they were open, there was bound to be some uncertainty on the numbering of tables so a learning curve was in order.
I ordered the Chicken Fried Chicken. It came with steamed vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes, and garlic bread. It didn’t knock my socks off, but it was definitely delicious. The steamed vegetables included yellow carrots, which I had never had before, but they were…eh, ok. The garlic bread was over cooked and hard. I cleaned the plate of everything else. As it turns out, the Sam Adams Seasonal was in fact the Alpine Spring…that didn’t take long to go down. Dustin had some kind of chicken wrap and his only comment was, “Eh, it was ok.” The rest of the dining experience was filled with giggles and flirting from Brittany which I can only assume is the default character training for the chain restaurant. I wouldn’t say she worked overly hard for her tip, but she made us comfortable with her friendly and inviting conversation. Her final deed for the evening (and often times the most important) was the retrieval of the bill. From the time we asked for it to the time she brought back the receipt after running the credit card…maybe 4-5 minutes…it was quick. I’ve seen faster, but for standard bill retrieval timing, that’s pretty dang good, especially with a busy crowd.
The bottom line, I was intrigued and entertained enough to go back for another visit. With the shear number of TVs and the amount of usable square footage, that alone is enough to meet a group of buddies to watch the big game (of any sport). The beer selection was on par with any other local bar carrying all of the favorites. The beautiful women was just icing on the cake, but not the only reason I’ll go back.
I think this is the part where I give out some kind of rating. I don’t have a rating system. In my mind, if I’m willing to go back, they must have done something right.
The potential to turn into a long drawn out novel is pretty big here. I could go in several directions and end up 100 miles away from the point of all this. I make no promises about my ability to steer straight and stay on point.
Last year when Dylen turned 6, she asked for a phone. Yes, a cell phone. Rhyen was 6 when she got her first phone, so it was difficult for me to say no and tell Dylen she couldn’t have one. When I told her that’s what she was getting, the deal was that she could go to Best Buy and pick it out herself. Initially I had no plans to get her a smartphone since Rhyen started off with just a flip phone (basic calling and texting). The problem was, you could get a smartphone for the same price as a flip phone, and in some cases for free. Sure, you have to have data, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a small cost in the development of her technological experience. Dylen walked out of there that day with an HTC Inspire. Android. I was afraid this would happen. I wasn’t about to spend $200 on an iPhone for a 6 year old. She got the lowest data plan through AT&T and everything else was included on the family plan (minutes, text, mobile to mobile).
It took all of about 24 hours for me to realize what happened. Dylen was the unlucky inheritor of a phone number that belonged to “Heather Everett”. You may be asking “Who is Heather Everett?” Well…after 6 months of having her old phone number, we know what bills she hasn’t paid, she owes taxes from last year (I’m assuming), I know what school her kids go to, I know that her daughter is in counseling, I know that she’s a democrat and I know that she’s clearly disorganized for not having told most of her friends that she changed her number.
For awhile, Dylen dealt with the random calls. Then she started handing the phone to me. I told the bill collectors and the friends and telemarketers that this was not Heather Everett. I thought that by having a little girl say her own voice mail greeting, people would get the hint. I told others that they were to delete this number. I told telemarketers to remove the phone number. I told debt collecting mongrols that this was NOT HEATHER EVERETT. The calls continued to come.
This morning, while Rhyen sat in the car, Dylen and I went into the AT&T store to finally change the number. When the Glenn (the AT&T representative) asked me which number I wanted to change, I gave them the -8880 number. Dylen picked out her new number, he restarted the phone and at the moment when I saw a known bill collector number come across the screen, my face immediately frowned. I realized my mistake. I gave him Rhyen’s phone number. A rush of scenarios played through my mind as to how I could spin this, but the reality was…I messed up. At this point, there was literally nothing you could do to get that number back (or at least the guy told me).
As Glenn and Dylen worked out changing HER number, I took the walk of shame out to the car to deliver the bad news. Rhyen looked at me with disgust, snarling her lip. I could tell she was not happy. She simply said “There are so many things I want to say, but I’m going to just keep my mouth shut.” What I’d like to believe is that while in her mind, this was an inconvenience, the truth is, she’s not paying for the phone (yet) and really has no right to be upset about it. Still…I felt bad that she’d have to have all of her friends change her number in their phones.
We’ll all laugh about it tomorrow.
Just running a quick poll this morning to see what my friends are rolling with on their smartphone. Recently I’ve been considering ditching the case on the iPhone 4 because I’d like to appreciate the beauty of the product more. I am typically careful with my equipment (except for that one coffee incident).
So let me know, are you rollin’ naked on the smartphone or do you protect it with a case of some kind?
In recent years, we’ve almost all seen the cinematic favorites filled with the pitter patter of dancing webbed feet and ice sliding bellies. The exuberant little creatures filled with so much character have waddled their way into our lives via Hollywood. My oldest daughter has at least 5 plush penguins on her bed (and I’m guessing another handful that I don’t know about). My youngest daughter’s favorite book in the world to read before is about Pip the Penguin.
It’s no surprise then that the Penguin and Puffin Coast exhibit at the St. Louis Zoo is among the most popular. Since 2003, the barely drenched black & white birds squawk and honk at visitors 7 days a week. The environment is so real and life like that you’ll actually believe you’re on an Antarctic ice reef. Their flightless wings whisk themselves through the water only inches from your nose and you’ll likely get a splash as they frolic around.
When I heard there would be a “Penguin March” over the Mardi Gras weekend, I was elated at the thought of taking my girls. I reserved extreme enthusiasm however. How much more up close and personal could we really get with these penguins? I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I would like to personally thank the City of St. Louis and all the investors that make the St. Louis Zoo one of the best in the country. The experiences are top notch for being in my backyard. The next time you want to complain about the upcoming price change to $15 for parking, please remember that it is a very small price to pay for one of the most up close and personal experiences you’ll get with the animal kingdom.
If you’d like to support the St. Louis Zoo, you can become a member by signing up online. There are many different levels with varying costs but the benefits are incredible.
One of my most favorite drinks in the whole wide world is Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur. I discovered it about 10 years ago while at a family event. I was immediately hooked on it and coffee has never been the same since. Soon however I realized that this not-so-frequent obsession would cost me $20/bottle. Yeeeesh!! So I set out on a quest to find a less expensive alternative. What I came up with (after finding several recipes) was a concoction that I thought was pretty dang good. Not exactly the same as Bailey’s but just as good if not better – I’m bias.
Let’s quit wasting time with pillow talk and dive right in:
- Sweetened condensed milk – 14oz
- Evaporated milk – 12oz
- Egg – 1
- Hershey’s Syrup – variable
- Evan Williams – use the 12oz can from the evaporated milk
Go ahead and crack open that egg in your mixing bowl and get it nice and whipped up (correct way to say that?) like you were gonna make scrambled eggs. Now get that condensed milk and evaporated milk opened and dump that in with the egg. No…really, I mean it. Here’s where it gets weird…take the evaporated milk can and fill it up sort of to the top with the Evan Williams whiskey and then dump that into the mixing bowl.
Now comes the fun part. Grab the Hershey’s syrup. This is the “variable” of the recipe…ok, let’s be honest, the whole thing is variable. Anyways, I usually squeeze the bottle for about 3 seconds, give or take. Too much chocolate can be a bad thing in this case. Once you’ve done this, grab your favorite whipper and take care of the mixture. Be careful not to go too fast or whip too much…we’re dealing with milk afterall…you’re not looking for curdled liqueur are you? You should end up with a nice smooth, creamy mixture at this point.
Voila…you’re done. Bottle and distribute as necessary. Keep in mind, THIS HAS TO BE KEPT REFRIGERATED. Don’t say I didn’t warn you or tell you later when you get sick because you didn’t listen. THIS HAS TO BE KEPT REFRIGERATED. Have a great holiday everyone and enjoy your beverages.
On July 27th, 2011 I decided to take a jog. It was exactly .52 of a mile before I nearly passed out. It’s chronicled on Run Keeper. Since then, I have pushed past that mileage and strived to be better. In the beginning it was hard because the temperature was unbearable some days. This summer in St. Louis, we saw temps surpassing 110°. To get around that, you’d have to run very early or very late. I wouldn’t recommend anyone starting an endeavor like this during such hellacious weather, however, when the motivation strikes, you can’t turn away. If you wait until the perfect time, you’ll never do it.
For several years now, my friend and coworker Michelle (@love2run8 on Twitter) has tried to get me running. Other friends like @jenn_if_er and @meggartland and @meghoulihan have also tried to encourage me…but I’m stubborn. In the end, no one person got me to start. I was tired of being fat I guess. I had no energy and I couldn’t even play with my kids w/o getting tired. That needed to change. For those of you who read my prior post entitled My First Fitness Blog Post, you might remember that I spoke of a Nike+ GPS watch that I thought was really cool (because of the geek factor). I ended up getting that watch and love it! In discussing that watch, it lead me to have a discussion with Maddie Marshall (@maddie_em on Twitter). At this point, I was already committed to running, but she encouraged me and pushed me to do more. I won’t say I wouldn’t be where I’m at without her, but…she pushed me pretty hard and encouraged the crap out of me. I will forever be thankful to her.
On September 18th, I completed my first 5K race. I didn’t come in 1st Place, but I won for me. Maddie was there, along with @therobertprice and @hannahviolin. They didn’t wait for me (but as I’ve found out, no one really waits for anyone) but I pushed through just fine without them – it rained most of that race too. Once I crossed the finish line, I was hooked.
On October 16th, I completed my first 10K race. It was the go! St. Louis Halloween 10K. Again, I didn’t come in 1st Place (or anywhere close) but it was a win for me. I conquered something I had never done before. In fact, I had even gone to a winery the day before so really wasn’t feeling up for it and went anyways. I knew if I didn’t…I’d likely be chastised by my friends for not showing up.
I was perfectly content with being done at this point (at least for the rest of the year). I felt like I accomplished a lot in just 2.5 short months. About a month prior to that, many of my friends were preparing for their full or half marathon in the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series in St. Louis on October 23rd. In my mind, I told myself I could be ready and sort of wanted to do this. However, the cost was $105 at this point (because of registering so late). That factor helped me make my decision not to do it because in reality, I wasn’t ready. The most I had ever run at that point was 5.5 miles. Even the 10K on the 16th…that was the furthest distance I had ever run. On Thursday, October 20th, Jennifer tweeted that she had a friend that couldn’t use her bib for the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon. She purposely included me on that tweet…within 5 minutes I was committing to taking the bib and running a half marathon. WAS I NUTS!!?? But then I thought back to the story of Maddie’s brother, David, who on a whim, drove to Iowa to do a full marathon one weekend, without EVER training. This was it…no guts, no glory. Suck it up Dave. Rub some dirt on it. BE A MAN!!
And so, today, I completed my first half marathon ever. I finished in an amazing 2:41:41, which for me, again, is a win! I’m proud of myself. Somewhere around mile 11 (when I felt like I was gonna throw up and literally started to tear up and cry a little), I saw a girl holding a sign that said “Pain is temporary, Pride is permanent”. That little girl will probably never know what that sign meant to me. I had to walk quite a bit those last 2 miles, but I made it across the finish line, and once again, beat all odds.
If you ever wanted to know if you could run a marathon, the answer is simple. Yes. You can. I’m not a coach. I’m not a trainer. But if you need someone to run with you for your long runs, then you let me know and I’ll do whatever I can to accomodate schedules to make it happen.
Chase your dreams and don’t be afraid to go through a little bit of pain. The rewards are permanent.