Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Iron Hill Maple Shade's Barrels Event

A couple of Saturdays ago I braved what passes for a storm this winter and headed over to the Maple Shade outpost of the Iron Hill empire for their annual Barrels event.  This year, brewemaster Chris LaPierre's theme was 'Bourbon and Bugs,' or beers aged in used bourbon barrels and beers brewed with wild yeasts.



For most, both sets of beers are a bit of a stretch. But you're a true beer aficionado if you enjoy the 'bugs' or beers brewed with the wild yeasts.  Generally tangy and often sour, these beers have an astringent mounthfeel and take some serious getting used to. With many qualities of good wines, these complex brews offer some amazing flavor profiles for those willing to stretch beyond the standard offerings of the local microbrew.


LaPierre had 5 wilds to choose from and I went with the tasting round of four ounce pours for $10.  The most interesting to me was the Heywood, a Belgian golden ale that was fermented in an oak barrel with a lambic yeast.  It was dry and sour and had a surprising blue cheese-like finish.  Fascinating!

While I thought all five of the wilds were excellent, the other real winner of the round was the Wine Barrel Wee Heavy, a souped-up version of Iron Hill's standard Scotch Ale.  Aged in a wet Pinot Noir barrel, with the same lambic yeast, this 11% ABV monster was all fruit up front and spice on the finish. If I had not been driving, I would have had a pint of this!

The Bourbons came next and were actually a bit disappointing.  While each had some good points, the bourbon characteristics of the barrel aging were pretty overwhelming.  I love LaPierre, and I had eagerly awaited this portion of the tasting, but these beers were generally a disappointment. 

I've been a fan of bourbon-aged versions of the Iron Hill Porter for years, since convincing the guys in Media it was OK to sell me growlers of it to take home back in the mid-90s. The Maple Shade Bourbon Porter was served on a nitrogen push and was the clear winner of the round, smooth and full with heavy vanilla notes from the whole beans in the aging barrel. I would have had a pint of this one as well. 

The other winner of the round was the Bourbon Bock, which tasted of marshmallow and biscuit and was reminiscent of a summertime s'more.  Sadly, the collaborative Bourbon Cherry Iron Fish I was really looking forward to was a real mess, tasting strongly of cherry cough syrup that overwhelmed the hops and the malt.

All in all this was a great afternoon of beer and conversation.  I had at least 10 different great conversations about the South Jersey beer scene with the folks I chatted with between sips.  There were plenty of knowledgeable home brewers in attendance as well, and  and learned a ton from them. I got to talk at length to the Iron Hill brewmaster Chris LaPierre as well as the owner, Kevin Finn.  I appreciated their insights into owning a main-stream craft brewpub and what it takes to compete in this market.

This was a once a year event at Iron Hill Maple Shade, but if you're looking for solid food and a great beer selection, they're open 7 days!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tax Time

I did my taxes yesterday and was left shaking my head at how screwed up the tax system is in the United States.  It takes a guy with a master's degree and 20 years of experience in finance 4 hours to do do a return, and it's now so hard to do a paper return that I paid $58 to file my state and federal returns electronically.  At least I didn't have to pay for the stamps and envelopes.

In the end, I paid about 15% of my income in Federal taxes, more than Mitt Romney.  That's insane, but the REALLY insane thing there is that if the roughly $18,000 I paid in rent had been a mortgage payment, I would have qualified for itemized deductions and paid about $2,000 less.  The system really is bent in favor of folks who have mortgages.  I know I benefited from that system when I had one, but now that I am a renter, it does seem to be rather unfair to give such a giant tax break to any one group.

I know the tax code is rife with other examples, from the capital gains tax rate being far lower than the rate on earned income to the solar tax credit to the hybrid cars credit to the investment costs credit.  After spending all afternoon entering all the stuff I gave away to charity last year only to be told that I don't qualify for that deduction, I've got to admit that I am a flat tax guy at this point. 

All the loopholes and thresholds and schedules and credits and alternatives, I have to say there has to be a better way.  The tax code has created its own $9 billion sector of the economy.  Imagine what Americans could do with that money if they weren't spending it on TurboTax or H&R Block.  That's 1.5 million week-long vacations to Disney World's Animal Kingdom Lodge, including flights, character meals and Park Hopper passes.  Or, for my right wing, gun-nut readers, roughly 536,000 Colt M16-A1 machine guns for 'home protection.'

Anyway, to look a bit closer at the numbers, I paid about 26% of my total income in taxes last year when you look at federal, state, local and social security taxes.  That's more than I paid for shelter or transportation last year.  In fact, when viewed as a single budget item, it's the largest.

Granted, my kids got a good education of that money.  Private school would have been more expensive. I had the protection of my local police and fire departments and the military to make sure that I am safe. That's worth something too. I also got free roads to drive on to work every day.  Oh wait. No. I pay another $1,000 a year to cross the bridge. I don't get free health care or child care or anything like that for my taxes, like I might in Europe.  Those things cost me me another $6,000 a year or so.

And these were only the taxes that were taken out of my check.  I have not even begun to total up the taxes on gasoline, clothes, dining out, services and the like that I paid last year.  I would have to guess that would add another few thousand dollars to my tally.

When it comes to government size and accountability, I am a conservative.  The Commerce Department?  Really? Rick Perry was right, even if he couldn't remember all the departments he wanted to cut.  We need a more basic approach to government and a more fair way for Americans to pay for it.  That we tax children's clothing in many states is simple insanity. 

I think it's time that there was a basic flat tax that exempted some base income for a single person or family and then taxed all income above that number at a flat rate.  Your basic minimum expenses would be exempt from taxation, but above that everyone would pay a fair share.  No more special exemptions for herding llamas or investing in proton accelerator heating plants. 

If you risk some money to make money, then the gains on that risk should still be taxed, but some allowance should be made for the risk.  Not the roughly 50% reduction that folks see now, but something.

I know.  Pretty boring topic for a Monday.  Imagine how worked up I would have been if I had OWED money!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Midnight In Paris

Two weeks ago I was the fifth wheel at a little couples party where the night culminated with a little movie.  Apparently my brother in law Kevin is a man of many hidden interests and had read the reviews of likely Oscar nominees. His suggestion for the night was Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris,' which I am sure Allen would be furious to have called a 'little movie,' but surely fits the bill.

Despite the rather unlikely source for the selection, this little movie was indeed perfect for a night.  It's a great date flick or low-key way to spend an evening at home, but color me shocked that it was nominated for the three big Oscars for Picture, Directing and Screenplay. 

Written and directed by Woody Allen, 'Midnight in Paris' stars Owen Wilson as Gil Pender.  Pender is an American writer in Paris struggling in his career and his relationship with fiancee Inez, played by Rachel McAdams.  Wilson seems an odd choice as a traditional Woody Allen protagonist and you can sometimes hear Allen's nasally New York twang in the lines rather than Wilson's laid-back twang.  Ultimately the role works for him, it's the audience that needs to get used to him in the role rather than Wilson growing into it.

The story revolves around Gil Pender traveling back in time as he wanders the streets of Paris each night at midnight.  He is transported back to his favorite period, the Roaring '20s, where he meets an array of literary and social luminaries including Hemingway, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter and Picasso.  Every night Pender is taken on another adventure, meeting more of the celebrities of the day and eventually falling in love with Picasso's mistress Adriana. 

Their kiss transports them back to Adriana's favorite time, the Belle Epoque of the 1890's, where they meet Degas and other artists who feel the Renaissance was the height of civilization.  Pender reluctantly returns to the future, leaving time travel behind and deciding it is time to live life in the the present.

While shot on location in Paris, the film lacks some visual panache as the photography features lots of golds and reds, and the effect, to me, somewhat limited the beauty of the setting. The dizzying array of characters from the past was also a challenge, as I sometimes felt like this was a quicky survey of literature and art history.

The length of the film was also a bit of a challenge.  At only 94 minutes, the last 20 minutes or so felt rushed.  The beginning of the movie and the relationship with his in-laws is far better developed than the conclusion and several other characters with far more ultimate significance to the film. I am not sure if Allen got bored with the script, ran out of ideas for the time travel sequences, or simply decided that the movie was good enough.

And it is good enough as a nice bit of light entertainment, a fun diversion from work and life and reality TV.  But it's the second of the nominated films I watched and was left thinking that the nomination was a gift rather than a serious award.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Fantastic Four - Iconic TV

This week's passing of Robert Hegyes, best known for his role as Epstein on the 1970s TV show 'Welcome Back Kotter,' got me to thinking about iconic TV this morning.  So much of what is on TV today is pretty formulaic, with the crime and court procedurals, the family comedies and all the reality TV crap.

Shows like Kotter, which you can still catch on local channels in syndication or can pick up at Amazon, still play well 25 years later.  Yeah the hair and clothes scream 1977, but the jokes are still funny, the stories are still interesting and you can still relate to the characters even in the social media age. It's probably not a top 4 iconic show, mostly because there was only so much you could do with a story line largely centered on a high school class, but it's still a show that broke some ground.

What are the four most iconic TV shows of your lifetime?

  1. The Simpsons - still fresh, funny and making a statement after all these years. I know not everyone is a Simpsons fan with the low brow and slapstick stuff that the show sometimes relies on.  But each episode is saying something in a way that is accessible across generations. proved a prime-time animated show could be a winner and inspired dozens of copy cats.
  2. The Rockford Files - Everyone probably already knows I am a big Rockford fan, but TRF really was a different kind of show for its day.  It made it ok to be a TV detective who wasn't a tough guy, made the careers of many of new faces (Tom Selleck and Sopranos creator David Chase among the most notable), and has the best opening sequence of any TV show ever.
  3. M*A*S*H - I think everyone watched the last episode, but if that's all you remember, then you missed how much this show changed TV.  It was anti-war, created the 'dramedy' genre, showed the blood and dirt of war right on your living room TV.  As the Vietnam era ended, M*A*S*H lost a bit of its edge, taking on other social issues before going out with the most watched TV episode ever.
  4. Seinfeld - The show about nothing that dominated TV in the 90s, Seinfeld was never really one of my favorites.  I do recognize how thoroughly it became part of the culture and  remains so today.  Like Friends, the 4 person cast was huge together, but never really had as much reach as individual actors.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Descendants

So to kick off my reviews of Oscar-nominated films, today we have the movie that I have been really interested in seeing since I heard the buzz a few months back.  In 'The Descendants,' George Clooney stars as Matt King, the emotionally distant husband of a woman in a coma and the father of two girls who is facing a series of life events.

There are three stories intertwined in the film.  First, a tragic accident has placed Clooney's wife in an irreversible coma.  In talking to his older daughter Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) about her mothers impending death, Clooney discovers his wife's infidelity.  And odd near-road film ensues as he seeks to learn more about his wife and her lover. 

As part of that road film experience, Clooney tries to learn more about his older daughter's wild ways and tries desperately to connect to his younger daughter Scottie (Amara Miller in her fist role) who he feels he cannot reach.  The fatherly journey shows Clooney vacillating between buddy and father figure, struggling to find a place in the 3 person family, which is augmented by interesting stoner boyfriend Sid played by Nick Krause

The third leg of the story is about a family land deal. Clooney is the leader of a family that owns thousands of acres of pristine wilderness on Kaua'i and is facing a decision of what to do with the family's birthright in the face of shrinking finances and rapacious developers.  A wide cast of cousins, anchored by Beau Bridges as Cousin Hugh pull Clooney back and forth on the horns of this dilemma.

Clooney is a superstar and this is a tough role for him.  Cuckolded husband of a dying wife trying desperately to connect to his daughters while protecting a family legacy is pretty tough to pull off for anybody.  For Clooney, best known for shallow, slick roles like Danny Ocean and Dr. Doug Ross, this is a real stretch.  I know movies are not generally shot in sequence, this feels like a role Clooney grows into throughout the film. While nominated for an Oscar, the nomination seems like more a of a nod for Clooney's best work yet rather than for the best work by anyone this year.

The story is really the star of the film, and I was happy to see it nominated for best adapted screenplay.  It's a look into some pretty ordinary lives, people facing problems we can all relate to.  The writing though makes these problems interesting and compelling, sometimes even funny, rather than maudlin and dreary.  My favorite lines come when Clooney finds and confronts his wife's lover, Brian Speer, played ably by Matthew Lillard.

Brian Speer: 'It just happened.'

Matt King: 'Nothing just happens.'

Brian Speer: 'EVERYTHING just happens.'

Pretty simple stuff, right? Yes, but written and delivered in just the right context that lets us know these are people like us, caught in a situation we can recognize, even if we have not lived it precisely. THAT'S great writing.

While set on the the islands of Hawaii, the photography is gray and misty and not really as visually stunning as I expected.  There are some amazing vistas now and then, but for the most part, the whole thing feels like it was filmed during the rainy season.  That may be by design, but it feels a little haphazard. The native Hawaiian music, costumes and accents are pitch-perfect, if a little hard to get used to at first.

This was a very good, if flawed film.  Clooney is friendly and affable, but ultimately at sea in a difficult role.  The supporting cast is all very good, but there are some really uneven moments as each of them basically has a scene-stealing moment only to fade into the set again.  The story stands out on its own though and ultimately won my great praise.

Go see 'The Descendants.'  It's a great way to spend two hours, even if it isn't one of the top films of the year.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

WordFUL Wednesday

Screw Worldless Wednesday for this week.  I am in a rut.  I seem to write a lot of the same things on here and i need to break out of that  cycle.  Sure, I write about my great kids and we all love that, but hearing how great my kid are gets boring even to me after a while. 

I write about how things have changed in my life and how it's hard but I am coping with it. Yeah, everyone's life is hard, they just don't all have blogs where they whine about it every day.  Seriously, some of the stuff I have written makes we want to listen to James Taylor, grab a bottle of Jack and stare morosely into space for a few days.

A lot of the stuff I have written since starting the blog back up in June have been the basic updates about life.  Seriously, reading back, I can't believe several dozen people actually stop by to read this crap every day.  I'm bored out of my skull reading it and it's my friggin' life!

Back in the day, I was way more wide-ranging.  I did some news analysis, social commentary, sports discussion and reviews of books, restaurants and the like.  Semi-interesting stuff that assumed that people cared what I thought.  

You're all on notice.  I'm going back that way.  Yeah there will still be family updates and the like, but there's going to be a more concerted effort to actually write about stuff that matters outside my small circle of family and friends.  Not really for more readers, either, but really because I am feeling the need to expand what I am thinking and writing about. 

So read the blog if you want to, if not, you've got Facebook for the updates.

Monday, January 23, 2012

And That's The Ballgame - Andy Musser Passes

The three voices that I most associate with my youth have all left us now.  First 'His Whiteness,' Richie Ashburn stepped out of the announcer's booth in New York City and passed into the night after calling a Phillies - Mets game in the Phils' dreadful 1997 last-place season.

Fresh off calling the 2008 World Series win for the Phils, Harry Kalas died preparing for a game in Washington, DC.  I cried that day, and again a few days later when thousands welcomed Harry home to Philly one last time.  While we still get to hear him sing 'High Hopes' every time the Phillies win at CBP, I still tune in sometimes and expect to hear him calling the game.

And today we lost Andy Musser, the third member of the Phillies broadcasting crew of my youth.  He was always the quietest of the three, the most generally reserved, but I really think he only paled in comparison because of the two Hall of Famers he worked with.  His double play calls were as smooth as Bowa, Trillo and Rose were on the field.

Some would argue Musser's voice went silent years ago when the Phillies management pushed him aside to give Chris Wheeler a larger role.  I still heard a bit of a bit of it in my mind though until Harry passed a few years ago. Wheeler and Tim McCarver were a part of those broadcasting teams as well, but never really seemed to be as big a part.  McCarver went on to make it big in broadcasting.  Against all odds, Wheels is still here, over-analyzing every pitch.

I grew up lisetening to the Phils on the radio on my grandfather's porch, and on TV on Sunday afternoons at my other grandfather's in Essington.  The silences were as important as the things that were said.

Today, we lost my last link to the soundtrack of my summer afternoons and evenings. I'm sad, but I remember seeing Musser a few years ago at a beer event he was working.  Someone inevitably asked him if he missed the games.  He looked wistful for just a moment and said something like, 'I'd be crazy if I didn't, but I've got a good life.'

Andy, thanks for all the great memories and say hello to Whitey and Harry for me.  I'll have an Anchor Steam for you!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow in Medford!

I slept in a bit today and woke to the sound of ice pebbles on the window glass. The snow here in Medford has begun to change over to icy rain. I'd say we ended up with a bit less than two inches.

Not much, but just enough to coat the ground and make everything look petty!


Friday, January 20, 2012

The Fragility of Health

My mom is in Atlanta this week helping attend her youngest sister, who is hospitalized with some significant health issues.  Her brother and sister are also down there, which signals how difficult things are there right now.  It's been a long series of travails for my aunt and I am so very happy we got to spend some extended time with her in Cape May Point this past summer.

Death in my family has (save the sad exception of my cousin) always been the wasting, suffering kind.  Cancer, heart disease, post operative issues.  Never particularly sudden.  Always an ordeal for every one involved.  The patient, the kids, the spouse, the grandkids, the friends, all with equal measures of sadness long before the funeral.

A few years ago, with my father in the hospital for a heart procedure, I worried in this space that my life was headed into that zone where adult kids spend more and more time at hospitals talking to doctors about their parents then they do at their own doctor's office.  Happily, that has not turned out to be the case and the hospital visits have been notably few in the intervening four plus years.

I had a pretty significant health scare last year that I dealt with and ultimately turned out to be more of a reminder of my mortality than an emergency. As I sat in the doctor's office the day of the procedure, heart racing and not sure what would come next, I reflected on how few times I had been the patient myself and that It was all so de-humanizing and difficult for someone who prefers to be the guy in control.

So now, up here in Philadelphia, where I can't control a single thing about the situation, my thoughts are drawn to my aunt and her care-givers. How much there is to worry about for them. How difficult it must be to relax and let things happen.  things are a lot better then they were a week ago in Atlanta, she's in a better hospital, surrounded by family who can take shifts to be at her side.  The care much more coordinated and the care-givers are able to give each other a break here and there.

We're all going to die eventually, I get that, but we also want it to be on our own terms. Like the athlete who gets to retire amidst the cheers of victory rather than the silence of the off-season, we want to fight valiantly to the end, to do the things on our 'Bucket List,' to see our children become successes and to hold our grandchildren until they are too old for all that. I know we all don't get that chance, and that's a good reminder to leave work a little early to get to the game or to spend a little extra time reading that last book before bed.

I am hopeful for my aunt that she will weather this latest storm and enjoy the company of her grandson and the rest of the family at home very soon. And I thank you all for your thoughts and notes of support.  It's really appreciated!

Monday, January 16, 2012


I work about 20 miles from my home.  The kids' schools are about 7-8 miles each way.  In any other place but New Jersey or Southern California this drive would probably take 45 minutes.  Some nights, if I work late, and don't have to pick the kids up, it can actually be done in the time Google Maps says.  But most times when I am driving it, it's between 60 and 75 minutes.

Varying the drive helps.  Several of the alternate routes add 10 miles or so, but the traffic flows a bit more nicely and the time still ends up being the same. I thend to prefer the longer distances and fewer tail lights in front of me.  The stress of having to get from one place to another by a given time is plenty without having to worry about if you are going to have some idiot on his cell phone not notice that you have stopped and plow into the back of you.

Every now and then I take the PATCO train into town just to shake things up.  It's not the most convenient thing to do, since I have to drive about 30 minutes to the train station and then the train takes another 30, but it's an interesting change on days when I don't have to pick the kids up.  The views are a bit more stimulating than the back of the Honda Pilot or Chevy Tahoe that I would otherwise be looking at on Route 70 in Cherry Hill.

No matter how I do it, I still spend about 20 full days a year in the car on the way to or from work.  That's an awful lot of time spent listening to NPR, Audible books, with the occasional top 40, country or sports talk station mixed in.  You'd think that for all that time spent doing something that I would have more to show for it than just returning to the same place as I started the day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Good Time For A Long Weekend


Have you ever had a weekend where you felt like you needed another weekend to recover?

This was one of those - thank goodness I have tomorrow off!

After a pretty cool Friday night with the boys dancing and me hanging out with Emma and the Duff girls, the slow Saturday morning was a welcome few moments of quiet.While I wish I could have done the coaching clinic in Cherry Hill, I had other priorities this weekend.

We rolled over to Delco for a cousins afternoon. Spunky helped me make dessert and we all got back to our roots with some Sloppy Joes!  Add in some Ransons, Wii, red wine, a kitten and Midnight in Paris and you've got a great night for kids and adults alike. 

Today started with some tough new from the South, but we friends and family pulled together.  After about a million emails, texts messages and phone calls, all the bothers and sisters are together in Atlanta, and we are hopeful that things are improving tonight.  Thanks to everyone who made this weekend wonderful instead of difficult.

I wrapped up the night feeding my Food Network addiction and being really REALLY happy I am off tomorrow.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Little Helper

I turned my back for a second and Spunky is right there to help out!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Fantastic Four - Friday the 13th

The observance of Friday the 13th is a classic superstition here in the US.  In Greece and some Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is seen as a day of bad luck.  While some people have a stress-inducing phobia of Friday the 13th, the folks at the Grey Lodge Pub see it as a cause for celebration!

What superstitions do you honor?

  1. I still wish on my birthday candles!
  2. I always put a little money in a wallet or purse I give as a gift to give good luck.
  3. I believe in 4 leafed clovers and used to find them all the time in the yard in Moorestown!
  4. When I coached, I had a lucky pair of underwear I always made sure I wore for big games.

Do you have any silly superstitions?

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Wrapping Up Christmas

Today has been one of those days we all have to do but no one really wants to.  The Christmas presents have been worn and played with and maybe broken.  New Year's resolutions are already being broken. Epiphany has come and gone.  Playoff football is on TV.

image from www.flickr.comWhich all means it is time to take down the Christmas tree, outside lights and generally de-decorate. As a kid, we usually did it the weekend following Epiphany, and it was one of the saddest days of the year for me. I was fully prepared for sadness today, but the day ended up being pretty good, if a little solitary.

The kids wanted no part of now that the tree is down, preferring to return from their mom's tomorrow with only the little trees in their rooms to remind them of the recently-enjoyed holidays.  So now the ornaments are wrapped, the lights are bagged up, the tree is down and the house has returned to normal.

And I feel pretty good about it all.  It gave me a chance to clean up a bit, to really look at all the great ornaments we have and to think about all of the happiness the represent.  So here I am resting on the couch, with shiny floors, vacuumed carpets, the sharp smell of vinegar mixing with the fading aroma of cinnamon-scented pine cones. It's a quiet moment before the week roars to a start and we only have stray pine needles and some pictures to remind us of Christmases Past.

Have a great week!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Friday Fantastic Four - Favorite Tools

Hello everyone and welcome to the first Fantastic Four of the New Year.  I am helping some friends and relatives around the house this weekend. Last night I had to gather up my tools for the projects which got me thinking about all the tools I have and what my favorites are.  For your list, feel free to liberally define tool as anything that helps you complete a task.

What are your favorite tools?

  1. My Makita LCT200W Drill/Driver set.  When I first used Bopper's version of this tool a few years back, I knew I had to have one.  Super-light, plenty of power and easy to use all day long.  At just more that $200, every serious handyman should have one.
  2. My Stanley knife - One of my oldest tools.  Used for so long most of the paint is gone.  Easy to load blades, feels perfect in my hand.  I have bought a few knives over the years to see if they would feel better and I keep coming back to the old standard.
  3. My HTC Thunderbolt - It surfs the web at blazing 4G speed, takes super 8mp photos, replaced my GPS, entertains the kids with Angry Birds, reads me my Audible books, has super traffic and weather apps and oh yeah it works pretty darn well as a phone too!  It's the Swiss Army Knife of smart phones!
  4. My Wusthof chef's knife - A birthday gift from my brother and his bride afew years back, this knife is perfectly balanced, keeps a great edge and is a super all-around performer in the kitchen.  While my knife skills are not Food Network worthy, this baby gets it done for me!  It came in a set with a great bread knife and paring knife as well.

So what are your favorite little helpers?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Holy Cow! It Snowed!

We've got an unexpected coating of snow here in Medford! Be careful and take your time on the way to work!


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Back To The Real World

For the first time in over two weeks I had to go to work today.  I know.  Most of you are not sympathetic.  I get it. 

Today really started last night with the making of lunches, selection of outfits and review of what was needed for the week. It took me a little while to wind down last night and everyone was a bit drowsy this morning.  Even after needing to spend a few extra minutes getting Emma moving, we still all made it to school and work on time. (I was even early!)

I'm amazed at how quickly it all gets right back up to speed.  Dance class started back up last night.  We have doctor and other appointments this week.  Baseball workouts also get started this week, which means that we are scant weeks away from actual outdoor practices. 

We've still got de-decorating to do. John and Emma don't want any parts of that, so I guess I will have to do it solo this weekend. I love having the lights and decorations up, but I saw more than a few trees out at the curb this morning on the way into work. 

I made a few mid-year resolutions in 2011 that are pretty big and have been doing fairly well on them.  I have two for 2012 - I want to begin eating healthier.  I started with a healthy breakfast, but I suspect the 2 cans of Coke and the ham sandwich for lunch are not the best way to get through the day.  The second is to do more writing away from the blog.  I have a few projects that I have put on the back burner, but I want to get them moving again.  I like writing and it makes me feel better about the world, but I get sidetracked too easily.  Hopefully this is the year one or more of those projects comes to fruition.

On the sports front, my kids and I really enjoyed watching The Winter Classic yesterday.  I can honestly say that if every game were played with that intensity, I would watch a lot more hockey.  While I don't think that there will be anything to it, I am eagerly anticipating at least the possibility that Jeff Lurie will end our long local nightmare and can Andy this afternoon. 

On the weather front, it's 28 degrees today, we already saw our high temperature out there and tonight it will be dropping into the teens.  If you have been using your back step as an auxillary holiday beer cooler, bring the stuff in our you will be cleaning up quite a mess when temps jump back up to the 50s this weekend.

Anyway, welcome to the 2013!  I'm looking forward ot the year and all that it brings.  Hopefully I will do a little less daddy blogging and get back to restaurant reviews and opinion pieces, but who knows.  Enjoy!