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Joel and I paid a visit to Albany to see little Shoham and Advah (who just turned 3 - where is the time going)? We went to see "Annie Jr," a truncated version of "Annie" that runs for barely an hour and features a cast of 6 - 8 year olds. Adorable.


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My Great Uncle Ray passed away today, and with this day, a part of my childhood. Uncle Ray worked in Florida for NASA for almost the entirety of their manned space program. It was a point of pride for me when Uncle Ray would come to my elementary school with space paraphernalia and put on a presentation for my fellow students. It was because of Uncle Ray that I developed an interest in science and boyhood dream of becoming an astronaut. He was and always will be my hero.
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Joel and I attended services for my Great Uncle John Gallagher Saturday. Uncle John was a WWII hero who lost his hand at the Battle Of Normandy. He was buried with a full honor gaurd. A fitting tribute to a man who always inspired those around him.
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Joel and I took the humble Prius to Albany this past weekend for granddaughter Shoham's seventh birthday. My little baby is growing up so fast! We took her (and her sister, 2 year old Advah) birthday presents consisting mainly of the stuff we picked up at Disneyworld. Seems they're at the age where it is all about the Princesses and Tinkerbell, so the gifts were immediate hits.

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We had to be responsible grandparents and be certain that each youngster got at least one gift each (although the birthday girl came out ahead). Then there was the party. Imagine 17 six and 7 year olds hopped up on frozen yogurt, cake and a giant screen Wii system. I considered it close to the 7th circle of Hell, but the children were heard to exclaim things like "This is the best party in the world!





One of the other things that fascinated me was that, when they got too wound up, the mere act of getting out the I-Pad out and tuning it to a Netflix Cartoon could calm them down. It makes for a great pacifier, although I was a bit taken aback to realize my 2 and 7 year old grand kids have an I-Pad and I don't! Where is the justice in the world?



I wouldn't trade it for the smiles these two children give me and Joel on our infrequent visits. Despite being (as Tone The Bone has joked about on some of his posts) "A Guy Without an I-Pad," where else can I see a child get ecstatic joy from a simple red balloon?



Perhaps I would not mind a little more technical enhancement in my little corner of the world, but sometimes the little things more than make up for that.
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After all the work Joel and I did in the aftermath of his father's passing, we made a decision to take a break for a week. Thanks to a week in a time share courtesy of one of my Aunts and AAA, we settled on Orlando and Disneyworld, with a side trip to Universal Studios.




The weather was very cooperative, with highs in the mid-70's and not to chilly at night. I was able to take my fill of roller coasters (Joel doesn't like thrill rides), with the exception of the Harry Potter rides at Universal. Seems they have size restrictions on these rides and I have a bit too much in the waist to fit the chairs. But the Aerosmith Rock and Roller Coaster (Disney) was a wild trip (one of the indoor - in the dark rides that really whips you around), and the Incredible Hulk (Universal) with some wild corkscrews and open air loopers.




I was also seriously impressed by the new 3-D technology. The Disney feature "Mickey's PhilharMagic" and Universal's Amazing Spiderman ride put the images right in front of you, along with effects like waterspray and heat blasts to add to the experience. Along with the new animatronics (the Aerosmith Coaster had the full band performing a skit before you boarded the cars) made the fantasy all the more realistic. It was a week to make my feet ache and give us many smiles. It was a real bummer to have to come back to snow and sub-freezing temperatures!





More pictures and amusing stuff here.

Thank you

Oct. 23rd, 2012 02:01 am
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Senior

A big thank you to everyone who sent me and Joel good wishes on behalf of Syd, Joel's Dad. We're in he process of emptying out a condo In the DC area that he lived in and it will take a long time. 91 year old men accumulate a lot of things.

I had to give up my part time record store job in order to keep up with the estate clean-up and tear down. It's going to make things pretty damn tight for me for a few months before I can concentrate on getting back to work. My anxiety/depression has been kicking me senseless this past week. Going to the NJ Leather Weekend on Saturday was a much needed mental health break. Joel needs a few for himself.
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Hello All

Joel's father Syd passed away at about 6:20 this morning. Joel was not with him as he was anticipating having to do his weekly services Friday night, but had been there the night before. We had house gests as well, so Joel is down there now while I will be there Sunday.

Syd would have been 91 in 6 more days. As you may recall, we had a big 90th birthday party for him last year.
This was the video I'd prepared for him then.





He's in a better place now. Thank you for all your love and thoughts.

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We had to let Sophie Go today. The cancer finally got her. I'm devastated and heartbroken.

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The Hurricane passed The Yellow Brock House in Springfield by with little trauma. We were fortunate in that - for a change - there was no power outages other than random flickerings. And for a change, no basement water!

However, several tree branches dropped from the trees alongside the house. They did not do any phone or powerline damage, so all I had to do was handsaw them into bits for the garbage men. Pretty hefty pile of wood when I was done. Miss Kitty was fine, but stayed close for most of the evening. The wind wnd rain was making a pretty good racket. There was a Tornado warning for the area around 11PM. but we were fortuinate enough to be spared. Areas in Delaware (Lewes, where I once lived) that got direct hits.

Joel called, as he is up with the grandkids. They had heavy rains and some basement water, but were OK otherwise. All is well. Now begins the countdown to Delta.
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Click through for more pictures
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A friend of Joel's went to the Blueberry farms of New Jersey for what is an annual trek for him. He goes over with a truck and returns with over 100 pounds of blueberries. These are sold in 10 pound boxes. Joel bought two of these from him and we spent some time washing, de-stemming and bagging them for the freezer.




We weighed out a pound per bag, then tried to squeeze the air out before sealing up the bags. That also meant trying to get the berries as dry as possible before bagging.



These are really tasty, fresh fruits. Joel loves to bake blueberries into pancakes and other bakery delights. Sophie was more interested in waiting for one of these little round blue things to fall on the kitchen floor so she could bat it around or chase it.



But for the moment, we have plenty of berries to carry us through the coming months.
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Because she's always happy when she's napping.



Oops...busted!

Updates

Jun. 29th, 2011 05:33 pm
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I am remiss. It has been about three months since my last letter to you and I apologize for that. It isn’t like there’s nothing to talk about, but I have a very difficult time getting motivated to communicate with anyone. So it’s not just you I’ve been laying low from, it’s everybody. It’s been almost six months since I’ve been laid off and I am finally getting my first job interview this week. To sell cars at the local Ford Dealership. Sheeesh.

While I have been doing my best to fend off the depression of sitting home all day and playing with the cat (when she wants to, anyway), I have been trying to find ways out of the current dilemma. Pennsylvania offers older unemployed types the opportunity to apply for grants towards retraining. They courses must be approved by Career Link (the division of PA Unemployment that offers the program) and you have to take multiple tests to qualify.

The tests are NOT easy. I felt like I was retaking my college SAT’s from Senior High School. It’s alarming how much you forget in 30 years of non-use. There were geometry problems that I was dumbstruck by. Fortunately, you’re given take-home sample tests to give you an inkling of what you’re in for when the official tests are given. Let’s face it; it’s been a long time since I even thought about how one determines the volume of a sphere (which was one of the questions).

From what my advisor tells me, I’ve passed the tests. Next up is being interviewed by the State Official who gives out the ultimate money. This is also a tricky thing, because this grant program is a one-time-only deal. If you get the grant, take the course but don’t pass, you don’t get a second shot at the money. While I am looking at taking a Computer Network Administration course, I have to be prepared to study hard, because I won’t get a second bite at this particular apple. Joel tries to be helpful, but he is beginning to fray at the edges. It’s difficult for him to be patient, and he has a tendency to argue loudly if he thinks circumstances are not what he believes they should be.

In other news, we took another jaunt to California. (Earlier Picture Here.) Joel has decided that, since I have no schedule conflicts, he can just plan trips whenever he wants. The trip was to Northern CA to a camp out run by the 15 Association, a group similar to Delta or Inferno. While there, I started one of my long-wished for projects; a biography of a former NYC Motorcycle Cop and Leatherman. It’s been a dream project of mine ever since having met the man a few years ago at IML.

In other family news: My Dad is still recovering nicely. However, a cousin on his side of the family has been stricken with MRSA, and nearly lost his life to it. As it is, he lost his leg and has been in a variety of hospitals, moving from facility to facility since late April. A slight benefit of being out of work has been that I’ve taken time to drive to wherever his current treatment location is for visits. It takes over 90 minutes to the nearest of the hospitals he’s been in, so these are trips I plan the day around. He obviously appreciates the visits, as we tend to talk for hours on each occasion. And I don't think I've ever posted a shot of the old man here before, so here's my Father.

 

PS – I figured it’s been awhile since I sent a Sophie Cat Picture

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Marriage Equality Passes.....

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Joel's Youngest daughter received her Master's Degree from Penn on Sunday. She was the highest GPA in her class and was chosen as one of three students to speak at the ceremonies.

This also meant visits from the rest of the Manon family and - best of all - the grandkids!

More pictures can be seen Here.





Easter Day

Apr. 25th, 2011 12:53 am
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Joel and I decided to head for the local Borders Bookstore, which is having a going out of business sale. I bought a few CD's, Joel got some books and music. It was a warm and sunny walk in the city. I picked up Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies' lead singer gone solo), Pernice Brothers, Elliott Smith, Sting, Violent Femmes, The Kooks and (no sniggering) a Toto CD.
 
Later, I had dinner with some friends, but Joel decided to stay home and avoid the temptation of non-Passover food (Passover ends Tuesday). Had some VERY tasty vegetarian Chinese in Philly's Chinatown. I had some non-chicken General Tao's Chicken with Brown Rice and soup, with Fried bananas for desert. It was probably good Joel skipped this, as there was way too much wheat in the non-meat.

We also watched some movies over the weekend, including "Inside Job" (Oscar winner deserved, but maddening), "Charlie Wilson's War" (Tom Hanks, terrific), "28 Weeks Later" (nihilistic and stupid) and "Triage," a very good war drama.
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Joel and I hit the highway and drove to the Boston area for his cousin Jenna's Bat Mitzvah. I seem to have been designated the Manon Family's favorite photographer after taking so many pictures in February at a different event, so I was ready with the camera this time. We also hit some of the local spots, including Fenway Park for some Red Sox goodies.




More pictures HERE.

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