Things I whish I’d known at 13

Recently a friend of mine asked me to contribute to a list of things we wished we’d known at 13 for a boy who is about to turn 13.

Here’s what I came up with:

Things I wish I’d known at 13

  • For every person who breaks your heart, there is likely someone who you’ve heart-broken.
  • Shined shoes are one way potential employers judge whether you’d be the right person for the job.
  • Everyone is delicate on the inside. Treat everyone you meet with the respect you’d expect them to show you.
  • Life is not fair, don’t expect it to be.
  • Don’t expect that people will do what you expect of them. Very often they won’t meet your expectations. Accept that they are doing as best they can, and you don’t know what’s going on in their lives that may be impacting them.
  • You won’t meet others expectations all the time either.
  • Some days you won’t have it in you to do your best, that’s okay too. Pick up where you left off and give it your best the next day.
  • Nothing fixes a bad day like laughing. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh.
  • Eat breakfast every day.
  • Don’t smoke. Anything. Ever. It will kill you.
  • Some things you won’t understand until you are much older. Some things you may never understand. That’s okay, too.
  • That girl (or boy) you want to kiss but are afraid to…Just give them a kiss. You might be surprised. (Or embarrassed, but embarrassment fades quickly and you’ll never know until you try.)
  • When you find the person who is the love of your life, you will know it. There may be people you think are “The One”. There may be people you convince yourself are “The One.” These people may not be “The One.” But when you meet the person who you love and can live with forever, you will know it. It may take years to find that person.
  • There are many paths to “success,” your job is to find the one that suits you the best.
  • “Success” does not = $
  • “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish”

Back on the Bike

Ever feel like your legs are made of lead? That’s how I felt today. I went for the first ride of 2014, a full 147 days after my last ride of 2013. I struggled with 8.1 miles. Minor bumps in the landscape felt like impossible ascents. It is clear that the last few months of not biking have taken a toll on my stamina.

But, it was the first day back on the bike. It was the first step of the journey. If I keep it up, by April these pains and frustrations will begin to fade. By May, I’ll be back in reasonable form. And by June, I’ll be riding effortlessly.

That’s the plan. I’m sticking to it.

Winter Update

I promised myself, this winter would be different. I wouldn’t fall behind on all my normal activities and hibernate. I’d keep riding my bike. I’d keep in touch with friends. I wouldn’t let the cold keep be indoors. I would write in my journal. I’d write on this blog.

Pretty much none of that happened. It’s March 1st and the last time I wrote for was in November, around Thanksgiving. I haven’t been on my bike since October. What the fuck have I been doing?

Predictably, the month of December was a mad house. One thing about being in a pre-sales engineering role for work is that the end of the year matters. Work was busy. The days were shorter. The darkness crept in and blamo, it was full on winter blues even if I didn’t recognize it.

Then there was Christmas, and Mr. Grey’s birthday is two days after Christmas. So pretty much that week was shot. Next came our company sales kick off meetings, and an unusually active January and February as far as work goes. Suddenly, it’s March 1st and I don’t really know where the time went.

On the positive side, I have started using a Jawbone UP24 and now know a bit more about myself. For example, if I have an appointment that’s an hour away from my home and I don’t deliberately walk, I may only get 2000 steps in that day. And if I am left to my own, I’ll sleep 8.5 hours a night or even longer.

Today, as I was walking my 3 mile walk to get some steps in, I passed a biker on the B&A trail and it dawned on me that I should have gone out for a ride. It’s not going to happen today, but maybe I can get myself to get up and move toward the bike in the morning. If I don’t, it will be at least another week as we’re about to get pummeled with 8–12 inches of snow here in Maryland.

Thanksgiving 2013

Past Thanksgivings

Past Thanksgivings

Thanksgiving is probably my most favorite holiday of the year. It’s about giving thanks, being with family and most definitely food!

When I was a child, my mother hosted most of the Thanksgiving meals. I have fond memories of Mom and Dad putting together the stuffing early in the morning and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in my pajamas. Later, the family would start to arrive and the house would fill with people. Mom-mom and Pop-pop. Uncle Danny and Aunt Sue. Uncle David and Aunt Debbie. Grandma Jennie and Grandpa Tony. Later, cousins Pat and Brennie. On rare occasions we might get the Germans — Uncle Michael, Aunt Kerstin, Cousins Gabby, Marc and Evan as well as Uncle Arthur, Aunt Gailee and cousin Christopher — if not there was the phone call.  Many of those people are no longer with us, but I remember them fondly and while there’s a twinge of sadness, it’s mostly happy memories that come back to my mind.

After marrying Mrs. TKD in 2004 I started hosting Thanksgiving. We’ve had it more often than not and somehow this feels right to me. I’m carrying on the traditions from when I was a child and giving them to Mr. Grey. We’re also creating new traditions.  Somethings are the same but some are different. He’d rather watch Iron Man than the parade, and that’s okay. Unlike Mom, I only have one brother so the house sometimes didn’t always seem as full as it was when I was younger, but that’s changed as more small mouths have shown up at the table. At times, we’ve had friends as well as family over for Thanksgiving and that’s always been wonderful.  Even if folks don’t make the main meal there have been times when extended family and friends have stopped in for desert.  So the house generally feels fuller now than it once did.

This year, it looks like it will be family – though you friends who have the invitation are still welcome – Mom, Frank and Guinness and the kids, and Papa will be in attendance. The house will be crazy with representation from a wide range of ages (3 – 73) – the open floor-plan ensures that noise will carry from one room to another. And in the midst of the whirlwind, I’ll be cooking. I truly can’t wait, I thrive on it.

So, here’s the menu:

Roast Turkey — basted with white wine & butter
Grandpa Gibbons Stuffing – the secret is bacon fat
Mashed Potatoes
Collard Greens Gratin
Mr. Swanson’s Green Beans – sautéed in bacon fat (again)
Sauerkraut and Kielbasa – it’s a Baltimore thing
Roasted Beets
Cranberry Orange Slaw – Mrs. TKD’s annual contribution.  Who knew orange rinds were edible?
Nantucket Cranberry Pie
Pecan Pie

It’s only Tuesday — can we skip to Thursday now?

Is this the New Normal?


I’m struggling to understand what’s happened to our collective conscious. Last Friday, arguably the a most severe typhoon in recorded history hit the Philippines and caused massive destruction with wind-speeds of 200 mph upon landfall. On Monday there were reports of as many as 10,000 dead in a single city. Images of dead floating in the streets were widespread on-line. It was clear that the typhoon had devastated the area and that people needed help.

And it’s as if the world stood still.

I saw virtually nothing in my social media streams. With the exceptions of some NGOs like the Red Cross and Environmental organizations, it was as if nothing happened. In the past, social media has exploded with appeals for ways to help. I think back over the last two years about some of the major disasters including Fukashima, Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon attacks. All of them seemed to stir my social media streams with concern. But not this time.

Is it because we are too busy? I don’t think so. We’re no more busy than we were a last year when Sandy hit the East Coast.

Is it because this happened in a far off land? Again, I don’t think so, we responded to the disasters in Fukashima and to the Tsunami in 2004.

Is it because we have grown callous as a society? I certainly doubt it.

Is it because we’ve come to accept these things as the new normal? I hope that I get proven wrong, but I have a growing sense that it is exactly that we are starting to accept huge storms and their inevitable consequences as purely a fact of life.

Please, Donate to the Red Cross or to another charity that supports international relief efforts. And while you’re at it, lobby your congressman to address climate change in a meaningful way. Nothing will change unless we make it change.

48 Hours (in Maine)

A Warm Welcome

A Warm Welcome

At around 6:30 AM Friday morning, Mr. Grey came into my room as I got out of the shower and demanded to know, “WHY IS EVERYONE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?” He could be forgiven for yelling as it was still pitch black outside and I was sure he’d forgotten that we were going to Maine.

“It’s only a little bit before we usually get up, buddy, but we’ve got to get moving so we can catch our flight”

“YEAAAA, we get to go on an AIRPLANE?”

We flew up to Manchester, NH from BWI with plans to drive up to Oakland, ME to visit our friends who moved away from Annapolis in July. The drive from MHT to Oakland is an easy one, even if it is a bit long – 2 hours 45 minutes – but it was worth it to save nearly $700 over flying into Portland, ME.

Within 10 minutes of our arrival, Mr. Grey had managed to hit Andy with a large rock, right smack on his head. Andy took it in stride – shock – but we felt awful about it. Luckily, the bleeding stopped and we didn’t need to go to the emergency room.

Fishing Camp

Fishing Camp

Andy treated us to two soups, a fall harvest soup (using up the CSA) and seafood chowder for dinner on Friday night. Both were awesome and just right as the temperature started to dip down into the 40’s. After dinner (and getting the kids to bed) we enjoyed some beers by the wood stove.

Saturday was jam-packed, with a morning hike led by Shawn, a trip to the Post Office Cafe in Mt. Vernon, a stop at Day’s General Store in Belgrade, and a trip out in the boat for a bit of fishing. As usual, the 5 and 6 year olds were more interested in the boat ride and playing with the lures than actually fishing, but that didn’t stop Andy and me from casting a few lines. (Shawn and Mrs. TKD snuck off to town and did a little shopping while we attempted to fish.)

Again, dinner was fantastic – steamed Maine lobsters – and we had a great time talking about everything from fishing to the merits of the current educational system to whether or not the US economy is off the rails.

Sunday came too quickly and the regret of not staying an extra night sunk. We packed up the rental car and drove down the driveway. By 5:30 we were back in our house in MD. Two things struck me: We live a lot closer to our neighbors, and the trees were all still green.

The Cove

The Cove