Thursday, July 29, 2010

UPFC-The Will and the Skill

I am waiting anxiously as to where the first strike will come from. I have the advantage of positioning myself on a higher vantage point. I might see it coming, but that does not give me comfort, for my opponent is fast and powerful. I try not to leave any exposed areas of my body, stay low, I whisper to myself. Then I sense it, hear it, feel the movement of wind rushing in my direction and in an instant, the skirmish erupts. The first blow is delivered with a small, yet precise lightweight object, easy to deflect. What I did not realize was that the fluff was simply a decoy and before I can retool my thoughts, the monster 24 by 24 inch canvas pillow lands a direct hit! The classic bait and switch, the move diminishing my perched advantage as I spin over to take cover. I hear the footsteps of my adversary advance closer and I am ready to retaliate. I time my moment and then spin again, this time armed with twin bed pillows in both hands rocketing towards each other with the target between them. The pillows meet the target at the exact time and explode in a boom into the breadbasket of the enemy. Down goes the body, crashing to the floor, I feel victory is close and ready to take the "Ultimate Pillow Fight Championship". As I steady for the devastating "Mother of all pillow fight blows", I again discover that my opponent is strong willed and very skilled. As I adjust my grip, my opponent rolls out of range, reaches for the 24 by 24 bunker buster and in one swift movement, throws up a foot block and blasts the buster across the back of my head. I am stunned and somewhat blinded for a split second as the buster makes the return trip the "Blow heard around the World", knocking me up and backwards onto the bed. My eyes slowly open to my son jumping onto my chest, calling for a surrender. Slowly I slide the white pillowcase off the pillow and wave it in the air....

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Seth Davis - "Kim"

Seth Davis
Karma Road Records
director: Allyson Ferrara
Seth Davis

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Date Night - Chapter II

"Bye, we will see you in a couple of hours..." I close the door and lock it. It will take my wife and I just ten minutes to walk over to the local movie theater to see "The Kids are All Right". My son is at home with his babysitter, a teenage girl from upstairs who he once referred to as his "Big Sister". He has always been comfortable with all of his babysitters but this one is the closest in age to him and I think he likes that. They play games and look for cool stuff on the computer and the best part is he never gives her a problem about going to bed. 

We round the corner and I notice an unusual amount of people milling around on the sidewalk near the theater. We get to the front door and see it, those two little words every date night couple dreads hearing when paying a babysitter for an evening out, the words "Sold Out". Being from Manhattan and experienced movie goers, we immediately buy tickets for another movie just to get inside and maybe position ourselves to sneak into the sold out show. My plan is this, I will go into the bathroom while my wife will just walk in and if they stop her, she can just say that I am already inside and I have her ticket. Then I will stroll in and if I am asked, I will just say that my wife has my ticket. Brilliant plan that has worked in the past but we never tried that scheme here, in our neighborhood movie house. When I get out of the bathroom, my wife is sitting on a bench across from the concession stand. I look at her and she looks at me and we both look at the usher checking the tickets as the patrons enter the theater. We both sigh and my wife says, "Lets go get a drink." I second the motion, return the tricked tickets and we head to the bar. 
We get to the bar and park ourselves on a couple of stools with a soft bluish velvety feel. My wife wants to try something new, which the bartender replies that they do not have it, I ask for a certain tap beer and I get the same reply, "sorry, out of that also" Sensing that things are not going our way, we both order the usual. After we get our drinks sorted out, we relax, have a lovely conversation and simply enjoy ourselves and our date.

After doing a couple of errands in town, we head back to our apartment, coincidentally just about the time we would have gotten home if we saw the movie. We pay the babysitter for her time and find out she is free next Thursday! We quickly book her and say our goodnights. I walk into my son's room, he's not sleeping but is quietly reading in bed. He looks up, rubs his eyes and asks "How was the movie?" I tell him the bad news, how we were shut out and went to have a drink instead, which made him comment with a deep voice,  "Ooh, a drink...". 

Our date night did not go as planned, but the date still went on, we were able to spend time with each other and that is what matters. Until next week, when the babysitter knocks on the door, and we set out on another edition of Date Night, this time with tickets purchased in advance.
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Monday, July 26, 2010

The Road Back....

"I still remember going to the lake with my family during the summer, it was a really great time." I hear my wife say as I sit in the back of the red Jeep Wangler, circa 1990. We are rambling through the twisting two lane road through Haddam Connecticut, taking a scenic drive. We pass roadside fish shacks and opened gates leading to boat launches. We pass over a light blue steel swing bridge towards Goodspeed Airport and cruise through the river town it services. The red Wrangler labors up the hill and maneuvers a u-turn in front of a little cheese factory as my wife and our friend Jerry point at little shops and reminisce about growing up in small towns and summering in quaint New England vacation spots. These memories make up the classic weekend getaway, vacations that families have been taking for generations.  Not being able to conjure up my own version of the getaway, I close my eyes while soaking in the hot sun and feel the racing wind reshape my face as a result of the speeding topless Wangler.

Growing up in a financially challenged family, vacation homes and weekend trips were not an option for us. Not having a car limited us to whatever mass transit extended out to. That’s not to say my brother and sisters did not have fun, we just had our fun close to home. My city experiences are of the concrete style; stick ball games, school playgrounds and the occasional ices from the truck. For a few years my parents gathered up enough funds to send us to a local pool, where my memories include; sitting in the back of the bus as it bounces from the many pot holes, learning how to swim at age eleven, and running across the Van Wyck Expressway to have pizza. 

My wife and I like to travel and have taken our son on great trips across the US, Europe and Central America,. They remain all very memorable trips, my son fondly remembering some, others have slowly faded.  For the past few years, we too have been financially strapped, not having the extra funds to go on a grand vacation, recalling the struggles of my childhood. We are very fortunate to have friends and family to visit, and while hotels and sightseeing are part of the traveling experience, its hard to beat sitting around a table with loved ones, telling funny stories, watching the kids play on a tree swing, and stoking the perfect fire for s’mores. 

Summertime is filled with scrapbook memories, the classics, destined to be re-lived and to teach the next generation how to live. I want to make sure my son can experience getaway summers filled with those iconic images like lake front swims, friendship bracelets, and recalling the fresh flavors of the roadside ice cream shacks, while rumbling past in that topless Jeep Wangler.
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Practice Prepwork

My son is excited about the start of football season, but long before the first kickoff is practice. Football players practice in the summer heat and that in itself can be a problem. My son is starting practice August 2nd, and he is starting overweight. He will have to work hard and eat right to be able to play at the level he wants to, and I have been conflicted as to the right path he needs to achieve that goal. Nutrition is a big part of my task and it must be on the minds of other parents as well when is comes to seeking the right choices for their kids health. I have found some articles online that can help, some of the best being on the USA Football website. I am re-posting some of the articles pertaining to nutrition under their health and safety section. I learned a lot and I hope these postings will help the thousands of parents getting their kids prepared to not only play, but to enjoy their favorite sports.

Pre-Game and Halftime Meals

John Reynolds, ATC
October 26, 2007, revised October 19, 2009

What is the best food to eat on game day? Certified athletic trainer John Reynolds, ATC answers that exact question.
Sports nutrition is a “hot” topic these days and one that deserves a lot of attention from athletes, coaches and parents. Food provides the body with the fuel it needs to perform at its best, so what and when an athlete eats is an important consideration.Unfortunately, athletes of all ages have their own individual preferences and it can be difficult to find food items that will appeal to a mass audience. However, there are several suggestions that can help with pre-game and halftime meals.
The number one rule is EAT! I know it sounds simple, but the body needs fuel in order to perform. Your players should eat a good meal the night before a contest.Depending on game time the following day, they may also need to eat several small meals spaced out over 3-4 hour intervals to ensure their bodies have adequate energy. What to eat largely depends on a person’s likes and dislikes. In general, carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta, breads, rice, potatoes, fruits and vegetables should constitute the bulk of the pre-game meal. Protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and dairy should also be featured, but to a lesser extent that the carbohydrate-rich items. Choosing foods low in fat is always a good idea. Staying hydrated is also essential before practices or competitions. Maintaining optimal hydration is an around-the-clock job and should be a priority for every athlete. Encourage your players to drink often throughout the day, even if they don’t feel thirsty or aren’t playing football. Water and sports drinks are good choices. Please encourage your players to avoid sodas and juices due to the high sugar content.

Maintaining hydration is also important during the game and your players should be encouraged to drink whenever they get the chance. Ask parents to provide a sports drink during halftime. These beverages taste good which may lead your players to drink more and they contain electrolytes which can help prevent cramping.
Snacks like bagels, fruit, granola or cereal bars are all good halftime choices.You may also find that some players are very picky about their snack or drink choices. Encourage parents to bring a couple of options if possible.
The evaluation of any athlete, whether as a part of health evaluations prior to activity or as a diagnosis of an injury as the consequence of sports activities, is specific to that individual and the history and current state of the individual presented. Advice, diagnosis and treatment is individualized according to numerous factors, including patient health and age information, medical history and symptoms. All athletes should be cleared by a physician or other appropriate medical professional before engaging in physical activities and, after injury, diagnosis and treatment, for return to play.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A day of rest? Not...

7:30-9:00 am- Bike Ride
9:15-9:40 am Enjoy a nice ice coffee and a mini bagel
9:40-9:45 am Check my Blackberry for any work issues
9:45-10:00 am Coax my son into a hike
10:00-11:00 am Trail run/walk at Saxon Woods (see last week's post)
11:30-12:00 noon Modells Sporting Goods for football cleats
12:20-12:30 pm Attempting to fix a minor car radio issue
12:30-1:00 pm Searching for the car tool required to fix minor issue
1:00-1:20 pm Find tool and fix minor car issue
1:20-1:25 pm Check Blackberry for messages
1:25-1:45 pm Eat lunch
2:00-2:15 pm Drive over to the pool to cool off
2:15-2:45 pm Wait until the pool reopens after a baby "accident"
2:45-2:50 pm Check Blackberry messages
2:50-3:30 pm Finally cool off in the now wildly crowded pool
4:00- 4:15 pm Drive home to pick up wife
4:50-5:50 pm Shopping at Target
5:50-5:55 pm Check Blackberry for messages
6:20-7:00 pm Shopping at Trader Joe's
7:00-8:00 pm Put away groceries and help with dinner
8:00-8:30 pm Eat dinner and clean up
8:30-8:45 pm Coach my son into the shower
8:50-9:20 pm Transition my son from fun time to bed time
9:30-9:40 pm  Put away some laundry (see Wife's Sunday list)
9:50-10:00 pm Coach myself into a shower
10:00-10:30 pm Read a little and write a little
10:30-11:00 pm Watch Entourage on HBO
11:00-11:05 pm Go through my Blackberry for any missed messages
11:05-11:15 pm Get into bed, turn on the radio, and close my eyes
11:15-11:20 pm Get out of bed and check to see if door is locked
11:20- pm Get back into bed and go to sleep

Monday- Full work day. Can't wait to relax...
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Bash Ball

I am sweating and my arms are sore. I feel like a beginner, uncomfortable and uneasy. My brain is trying to memorize the gestures as my arms generate no reaction time. My opponent on the other hand is relaxed and confident in his abilities and is taunting me at the same time. "What do I do here?", "Why is it doing that?" shrieks from my mouth as the opposing player is jumping and dancing as another run crosses the plate. I take my frustrations out on the next batter as I plunk him in the side. Man on first and second.  I get a warning from the Umpire. I wind up and make the pitch, Swack! The ball hits off the wall, as my outfielder is standing there admiring his shoes and I attempt to maneuver him to get the ball and throw it to third, safe!

Eventually, it's my turn at the plate. Strike! Strike! Strike! Out one. Strike! Strike! Grounder to the pitcher, out two. Strike! Strike! Strike! Out number three. I am pitching again and hit another batter. Ejected! In relief I give up three more runs on six hits until I record the three outs needed to leave the field. In a matter of ninety seconds, I am out on the field again, another hit batter and another ejection. After giving up another two runs, and after five innings, I record my first hit but get thrown out at second because I cannot stop myself from rounding the plate to advance. Pitching again I make progress and give up no runs. Top of the sixth, I get another hit, a triple on a ball to the wall. I think I am starting to get the timing down and register another hit, I will not be shut out as my runner scores from third. Now that I got one, I only need ten more to tie. My opponent is really enjoying this romp which causes me to target another batter, ejected again! 

My last at bat is futile, three batters, three outs, game over. Score for me, two, my son, thirteen. My son shouts out the stats as I remove the Wii-mote from my wrist. Sixteen strikeouts, offense records two home runs, two triples and five doubles. My stats, three strikeouts, I get a triple, two doubles and four pitcher ejections. I should have called the game due to showers, my son's shower...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice- from a kid's eye

- the story as told to me by my son...

"OK, it starts off a long, long time ago, a man had these powers and he was the best one with powers but then something happens to him, then now this guy Balthazar, who is also good with magic had this necklace who he wanted to give to a girl but then he can't find it, then the bad guy kinds of finds it and Balthazar says "Hey give that back to me, that is for the girl" and the bad guy says no. The bad guy then puts the girl inside one of these Russian doll toys and if she is trapped inside, the world would belong to him. Then Balthazar finds out there is a bigger magic guy and he does not know what to do. Oh and all this time they are in Manhattan and there is this young guy who is with Balthazar and he wants to help and Balthazar does not want him to, then he starts to train him to have magic because he needs help in saving the world. Then the bad guy starts making the dead people come alive with this black dust stuff he got from the sky and Balthazar say that was not right.  The bad guy says "I don't care, I want to be master of the world" They have this big battle to save the girl and that will save the world. That is how it starts...."

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Review and Tickets
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

States With the Highest Cost of Living - CNBC

This list covers the most expensive state to live in. Note that one of key indicators is the cost of Lipitor! How things have evolved...

With the launch of CNBC's fourth annual edition of " America's Top States For Business ," we decided to take a look at the cost of a variety of items in the nation's ten most expensive states. In the CNBC study, states are ranked using a 25-point scale—the lower the score, the higher the cost of living , and vice versa.

Interestingly enough, some of these states also had some of the highest scores in the quality-of-life category , so maybe you do get what you pay for. That said, only one of the ten states in the slides ahead managed to rank among the top 10 overall in the CNBC study. Cost of living may not be among the top criteria for a business, but it can be a big consideration for workers.

To cover as much ground as possible, we included one item each related to housing, transportation, health, food and entertainment. Here's the average cost of a single-family home, the best-selling cholesterol drug Lipitor, a movie theatre-ticket, a dozen eggs and a gallon of gasoline in the largest metropolitan areas of each of the ten states using data from the ACCRA Cost of Living Index . (Though there is a high correlation with this basket of goods and the study's cost-of-living rankings, the items and prices listed are not the same as those used in the index.)

Take a look and see which states have the highest cost of living.

Source: ACCRA Cost of Living Index/

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In through the outdoors- Trailways

“Great! We will pick you up at around 1:00pm” My son hangs up the phone and is all smiles. He just invited two friends to the pool on Sunday afternoon. It is still awkward for my son to call up friends on the telephone. He has a lot of friends but needs a push to get into the calling mode and once he is in the flow, becomes increasingly relaxed. The last time we went to the pool, he sat with us and only went in the pool with me. He is much happier playing with kids his age, and although we are best buddies, hanging with me does not foster social growth. It is a huge give and take when it comes to your kid’s social life, parents need to juggle when to push your kids away, at the same time keeping them close. I want to play with my kid forever, but in reality that is a selfish act.

Our afternoon plans are shaping up to be fun, but what about the morning? Keeping all things healthy, we drive over to Saxon Woods for a little hike / trail run. We park the car under a shady spot and find the trail head. We analyze the vague map posted on the post, trying to figure out the best route for our mildly novice group (my son wanted to wear flip flops) when we spot a man standing next to his car sweating profusely. "Do you know these trails?" my wife says like she is asking for directions at a highway rest stop.  The sweaty man is happy to oblige as he whips out his detailed trail map protected within a sweat-proof plastic holder. After a few suggestions and a couple of hand gestures to go left and right, we hit the trail literally running. The trail was wide and has a nice mixture of dirt, rocks and hills to make it a nice workout. My son kept up the pace as we ran, walked, and ran the trail loop covering 2.5 miles. We made it back to our car huffing and puffing, a little dirty and sweaty, but happy we did the trail and plan on doing it regularly. We had packed a picnic lunch and found a nice spot to stretch, clean up a bit and chow down on a few sandwiches and refreshing fruit. 

After the trail we drove back to town to pick up my son's two friends and went over to the pool. We found a semi shady spot to drop our pool gear, while my son and friends secure a spot high up on the hill behind us. They hit the pool immediately, spending the few hours swimming, hanging and munching on their towels, then hitting the p as they heated up. My wife and I took advantage of the childless time to relax and catch up on some reading. I looked up from my book to scan the pool for the boys, eyeing them by the three sets of feet sticking out of the water, each leg wavering as they attempt to see who can do a hand stand under the water the longest, slowly a set of legs topples over, starting a chain reaction causing a tangle of legs splashing down. I felt like joining them in the fun, but quickly thought otherwise, my son is with his friends and we both are is doing just fine.

Monday, July 12, 2010

In through the outdoors- Back to Earth

This past weekend was all about the outdoors. My son has been in a lull since school ended and misses the classmate stimuli. The school days are not only filled with learning, they cover my son's social graph. Being in the house on the weekends, its easy to gravitate to the TV and the internet, so we planned to spend most of the two days in the open air.

Saturday covered "Back to earth" activities. First stop was the Science Barge. The barge is docked in the Hudson River in Yonkers. We learned about renewable energy sources and how to harness that energy into powering a home, a city or even the world. We also learned about hydroponic farming and how you can grow food anywhere using water. It was amazing stuff and my son learned a lot, he even saw vines of tomatoes and cantaloupe hanging from the ceiling.

Next stop on Saturday was Wave Hill in Riverdale. Wave Hill is a public garden and cultural center. It is a serene place filled with rolling hills, beautiful flowers and fantastic plant life. We packed a lunch and since my son was complaining it was past his lunchtime, we found the picnic area and had a tasty spread courtesy of Mom. We then walked the grounds, discovering paths leading to hidden arraignments and grand ponds. The greenhouses inhabited some of the weirdest and Dr. Seuss-like plants and cacti, which reminded us all of side-show attractions at a roving carnival. We imagined people entering and the plants coming to life, surrounding and turning them into plants, rooted in the greenhouse forever. After frightening ourselves, we quickly exited the greenhouse of horrors and settled into some geometrically shaped wooden chairs sprawled throughout the grounds. Then we just hung out, listening to the bugs play in the grass, the bees complaining about working weekends, and the wind dance through the majestic trees above. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quality Time With Dad on the Edge of a Cliff

Shawangunk Ridge visible from Skytop cliff tow...Image via Wikipedia
A Great Story about Fathers and Daughters doing outdoor activities that does not involve a ball...
Quality Time With Dad on the Edge of a Cliff
NY Times/ Region
Published: July 8, 2010
Three friends, all 47, and their teenage daughters go for a day of rock climbing at the Shawangunk Ridge.

SURROUNDED by three teenage girls and their fathers, a rock climbing guide calls out the ABC’s of the sport: A is for anchor; B is for buckle; C, carabiner; and so on, until she gets to G and H.

“God help me,” Michael Suscello, one of the fathers, declares, as the group erupts in laughter.
The right answer — “Got helmet” — sparks even more jabs and jokes. As Mr. Suscello awkwardly puts his on, his 12-year-old daughter, Nicole, proclaims, “Dad looks really funny!”
Quality time With Dad on the Edge of a Cliff
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

NYC Firefighter Robert Lagnese Part II

Balancing a demanding career and family responsibilities is always a struggle for fathers. More than in the past, fatherhood encompasses not just a paycheck, but a desire to be involved with the family, from wake up time to good night time. 
Here is Part II of my interview with Robert Lagnese, decorated NYC Firefighter:

TDTWhat are your daily routines in your home that you do no matter what is going on at work? Is there something you enjoy so much you wish you can do with them every day?
RLOur daily routine right now involves playground time almost everyday. When mom is working there is always time at the playground. Watching the two of them run and play together is the best.

TDTHow does the "code" of a firefighter effect your parenting decisions? 
RLI try to teach them to do their best and take responsibility for whatever they do be it right or wrong. Treat others as they wish to be treated, and always do the right thing. I am not sure if this is the code you are talking about but these things are the basis of everything that goes on in the firehouse. I would hope this is the universal "code" of parenting.

TDTWhat career advise would you give your kids if they asked you?
RLThe only career advice I would have for my children is to find what truly makes them happy and try to make that a satisfying career. Work doesn't seem like work when it is something you enjoy. Once you choose your career be sure to be passionate and committed to being the best they can be at whatever it may be.

TDTWhat do you do in your recreational time with your kids?
RL: Recreational time with the kids is basically everyday. Playing with their toys, as well as teaching them to play sports is an event which I wouldn't trade for anything. I have the advantage of spending almost everyday with my boys, and I plan on doing that right up until they don't want to spend time with me anymore. Then I will happily force them to spend time with me!

TDTWhat strategies are you following to save for your children's future?
RL: Saving for their future involves putting money into a 529 and hoping for the best. Keeping them on track in school and possibly on the field (in some form) will hopefully help pay for college.

I want to thank Firefighter Robert Lagnese for doing this interview and for his outstanding duty to The City of New York.

For more on the NYFD, visit web site at

Again, visit to find out about this little girl going through a terrible ordeal and how you can help.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Interview with NYC Firefighter Robert Lagnese

"I want to be a astronaut when I grow up!" "I want to be a doctor." "When I grow up I want to be a baseball player!" As parents we hear these types of proclamations ring out from the mouths of children on a daily basis. It is rare though that a person actually fulfills their childhood dream. I do know one man who not only professed his dream, but is living it everyday. Here is my interview with decorated firefighter Robert Lagnese, a young but seasoned member of the NYC Fire Department. 

In Part I of the interview, we discuss The Job:
TDT: I usually start off with the same question, How many kids do you have
RL: I have 2 boys ages 2 and 4.

TDTWhat do your kids think of their dad being a firefighter?
RLSince they are both young, they think its cool that dad gets to slide the fire pole and get on a firetruck for work. I don't think it gets deeper than that at their age. However, those are the coolest parts of my job.

TDTWhy did you become a NYC firefighter? What is the family background?
RLI wanted to become a firefighter from as early as I can remember. Most of my friends growing up all became firefighters or cops. I am the first in my family to become a firefighter as a career. Many people are involved in the volunteer Fire Departments throughout Long Island. That's where Robert got his first taste of the dedication needed to be a firefighter.

TDT: Did your approach or drive in regards to your profession as a firefighter change once your kids were born?
RLMy approach towards my job had taken on a more professional demeanor than before my kids were born. It has become more important to think of the future of my career and how it will effect the lives of my children. They also made me realize how fortunate I am to have a job that allows me to spend as much time as I do with them. When not on shift, its nice being one of only 3 dads at the park during the day (the other dads include another fireman, and a cop).

TDTWhat are the biggest rewards? Struggles?
RLThe biggest rewards comes when we are able to help people in real need of assistance. Help can be in the form of a safety issue such as correcting a leaky gas stove or something more urgent like a medical emergency. When people are in dire need because of a fire or severe accident is when the work of firefighter is truly tested and rewarded. Biggest struggles are mostly financial. 

Robert also wants to let you know about a little girl that needs our help. She was diagnosed with eye cancer at about 18 months old. She has already lost one eye and is going through chemo at Sloan Kettering. Robert is not sure about how the medical bills are being covered, but he knows the family has had other bills having to do with not working due to hospital stays and such. You can read more about it at

Part II tomorrow where we discuss down time and the future.

Pictures by Joe the Picture Guy at

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Weighted Stress

"OK now step on the scale." I say cautiously. My son picks up his right, then left foot. I watch the numbers jump around as he shifts his weight, and the scale settles in on a figure. I am staring at the number in a bit of disbelief. In a week of sports camp, smarter eating and exercise, my son's weight went up. I just don't get it and I have to say I am frustrated and confused. 

My son at ten years old is tall for his age. He is also very strong with wide shoulders and powerful legs. He plays a lot of sports and is usually one of the most athletic kids on the team. My son also has a weight problem and he cannot seem to shake it. His pattern since he was a toddler, is that he gains weight during the winter, sprouts up in the spring, then burns it off in the summer. This summer seems tougher and my concern is making weight for football. He has to weigh in on Sept 9th for the first game. That is two months away and it is stressing me out and in turn stressing him out. 

I am not sure what the next step is, but we will keep working at it, because he needs it, and he needs me. Stress tonight, action tomorrow.
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Monday, July 5, 2010

Stone, Wood, and Wonder

"Please have ID ready and I need to see your shoes." The security guard repeats as we wait in line at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met as it likes to be called, is showing a very unique exhibit, The Big Bambu by Doug and Mike Starn, twin brothers from New Jersey. As we left the house at 8:45AM my son slipped on his sliders and hurried to the car. They only sell tickets at certain times and we wanted to get there in time to get tickets on the early side. It was not until we were half way there that my wife asked if everyone had sneakers on, and this is where we ran into our problem. I inventoried the activity basket in the back of the car in my head: basketball, football, frisbee, flip flops, and soccer cleats. "Maybe the soccer cleats will be OK?" We arrive at The Met and I drop my wife and son off at the front and I go park the car. After parking, I rummage around the back of the car and see something better than the cleats, I have a plan. I run back to the museum and my wife and son are next in line, I quickly pull my son over to the side and I implement my plan. The guard is now checking our ID and inspects our shoes, My wife is wearing deck shoes, I am wearing my running shoes and my son is wearing my size ten water shoes with thick black socks, the guard looks at his oversized feet and takes a quick double take, and waves us through. Plan worked, tickets in hand.

We secure a 12 noon tour time so we have about 1 1/2 hours to kill inside and my son immediately suggests the Greek and Roman Galleries. My son has been reading a lot about the Greek Gods and wanted to see these story book figures in larger than life images. My wife and I cannot keep up with him while he scurries from statue to head piece to large display depicting the ancient myths. "That one is Athena, and over there is Hercules!" He checks off in his memory. We walk through the great hall, bright light shining through the glass ceiling, with the majestic bodies of gods, goddesses and other mythical extras overseeing us, peering down from Mt. Olympus. We read the short bio attached to each cast, and imagine our own reactions if we lived during their time. No narration ending happily.

The tour guide walk us up the one flight of stairs and to the rooftop door. Its 12:15PM, time for our first view of the Big Bambu. The hot bright sun hits our face like a freight train but the first glance at the Big Bambu transports you to an amazing place. You feel like you are walking into a living ecosystem as you step under the structure and stand at the minimal bamboo gate. When you first motion onto the bamboo steps you hear little snaps and creaks as the organism gauges your weight and accepts you in. We stop at the first landing, 15 feet above the roof, which is about 10 stories above the street below. The tour guide describes the two artists, a history of their past works and the origin of this on-going installation. The guide points out the small rope ties holding the exoskeleton and the bamboo acting like tendons, wrapping around and through, in a chaotic design of strength and balance. We make our way up to the next landing, a long ramp skyward another 10 feet and look out over Central Park like a bird sitting in a high rise nest. My son is cautions, but not reluctant as he advances upward like a mountain climber reaching the summit. The guide points out that the brother's vision is reminiscent of a ocean wave and as you look across from the highest point you see the bamboo rise and curl downward and rise again like a surfers wet dream. You sense the organic feel of the art as you descend inside of it towards the bottom. "It feels like an old wooden roller coaster car rumbling under the massive framework above." one man points out while someone else says the pathway reminds them of muscle fibers stretching around bone. My son is speechless as his size 10 water shoes step onto the rooftop once again. We spend another 1/2 hour taking pictures and just walking under the bamboo creature standing above, overseeing the visitors on the roof and the other life forms inhabiting Central Park.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Brick by Brick Fun

“Wow! They just opened a Lego Store in Manhattan, do you want to check it out?” I tell my son as I read the newspaper. I was a little surprised by the response I received…

For years I have been hoping for a Lego Store to open in Manhattan. My son loves Lego and I have to admit, I love it also. Since I was a child I have played with Lego. As a child, the kits were not as elaborate as they are today, they were basically blocks of colorful shapes with right angles and some circular ones. I remember getting a kit of a house and it came with three windows, a door and even a tree! It was easy to build, take apart and build again. The kits that have been released since my son was born are much more involved. Detailed space ships, sleek race cars, and fantastic creatures stock the shelves, capturing the imagination of the new generation. My son would rip open the box, spread out the pieces and pour over the 20-30 page instruction manual until all the pieces are used up and the completed project is ready for display. But what happens when you break it up into pieces again? I rarely see the project come to life again once it is dismantled, though have seen some very creative alterations and that is what sets Lego apart from any other toy on the market. Your mind will turn a box of plastic bricks into just about anything.  For years my son (and I) would plot and plan his birthday present list around what Star Wars set piece or City scene would make the top five. I think I was as excited as he was, taking me back to my childhood dreams of parlaying my building skills into being an engineer. 

... “Maybe.” My son replies, not the vibe I was expecting. He does still like to play Lego from time to time, but the fever of it has passed. Tonight, when he is showered and off his computer I will attempt to take the plastic bins out of the closet and entice some building, and maybe rekindle that fever, even if just for a short time. I wonder if I can restart my engineer training... 

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Thursday, July 1, 2010