On Dasher, on Dancer, on… Rover?

My wife’s uncle Neil, who passed away very suddenly this summer, was a great guy. He loved people and parties. He loved his job and the people with whom he worked. He loved promoting Mt. Adams, the hillside neighborhood and business district in Cincinnati where his company is based. He loved dogs. And he loved Christmas.

For 30+ years, Neil dressed up as Santa and visited family members and friends on Christmas Eve.

Today, all those things that Neil loved will be on full display. In Mt. Adams, the 28th annual Reindog Parade will be held. Thanks to Neil’s company, Towne Properties, the event has been renamed in his honor.

You’d better believe that we’re throwing some antlers on our pooches and participating.

And I believe that Neil is upstairs grinning from ear to ear.

Welcome to adulthood. Be careful!

Our oldest kid, Gabriel, isn’t a kid anymore. He turns 18 today. It’s a Monday. It’s a school day. He has to work at the pizza parlor tonight. Yep, sounds like most adult birthdays – booorrrrrrinnnng!

Now that he’s officially an adult in the eyes of the law, there are a lot of risky things he can do, like bungee jumping or skydiving or buying lottery tickets. (Actually, that last one isn’t risky at all – the house always wins.)

He can buy cigarettes but I hope and pray he never does.

He can get a tattoo but I hope he realizes that everyone has a tattoo these days, and the rebellious thing to do is to NOT get one.

He can buy fireworks and go to jail… somehow those two are related in my head, in an if/then sort of way. If you are stupid enough to buy fireworks, you are probably going to wind up in jail.

He can vote, and I hope he does… can we fast-forward to 2020 please?

But most importantly of all, he can get his own credit card… but I don’t see that happening anytime soon, not when his old man’s credit card works just fine at the gas pump and fast food restaurants.

And here’s his song of the day, a dedication to his parents:

 

 

Baller status

My oldest son wrapped up his football career this past weekend, on Senior Day at his high school.

He had never played organized football before his sophomore year. His school is small to begin with, and the number of players trying out for football keeps shrinking (the specter of CTE looms large, plus lacrosse and club soccer are gaining in popularity), so during his sophomore year they couldn’t field a JV team. That meant he spent his entire first season busting his butt in practice with zero chance of ever being on the field. In his junior year, he played for the JV squad. It would be easy to get discouraged when you’re older than most of your teammates, but he kept working. Off-season lifting. Two-a-days. Practice virtually the entire year… in addition to holding down two jobs this summer.

This past season, he started at right tackle for the varsity, played every offensive snap, and wound up making 2nd team all-conference. I’ve always been a bit anti-football as a parent… I DO worry about concussions and other injuries. But I have to admit that his football experience will serve him well in the game of life… you have to be patient, you have put in the hard work before you can reap the rewards, and there will be setbacks along the way… the ol’ “nothing good comes easy” adage. And I’m sure some of the friendships he formed on the gridiron will last a lifetime.

I’m super-duper proud of him (but not proud of the fact that I just used “super-duper” in a sentence). And I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the kid who was #76 in the program, but #1 in our hearts.

An Uber-relaxing weekend

This past weekend was Uber-relaxing for me… except I don’t find being an Uber driver (and an unpaid one at that) very relaxing.

  1. Friday afternoon: Pick up Peter from his class field trip at Northern Kentucky University, drive him home.
  2. Take Leah to the thrift shop so she could look for Halloween costumes, then drive her back home, just in time to…
  3. Take Peter to his job at the pizza parlor, and get home just in time to…
  4. Take Andrew and his friend to the junior high dance at school.
  5. Bring home Andrew, his friend and another friend (guess that kid’s parents found out about our complimentary ride policy), as well as Leah, who was attending the football game. Drop each kid off at their respective home.
  6. Saturday afternoon: drive Leah to a friend’s house so she could get ready for a classmate’s Halloween party
  7. Saturday evening: pick up Leah and 3 friends at the party, and drive them all back to their homes.

7 trips, a total of 14 different stops… $0 earned. I need more hustle in my side hustle.

Good thing these kids don’t know that I failed my taxi driver test:

 

DO Blink or you’ll miss it

This weekend, Cincinnati is hosting BLINK. What’s BLINK, you ask? Well, according to the “About” page on the BLINK website:

BLINK, October 12th to the 15th 2017, is expected to be one of the largest light, art and projection mapping events in the nation. The four-day event will feature large-scale projection mapping installations, murals, urban artscapes, media light and interactive art in Cincinnati, OH. BLINK will span 20 city blocks, from Cincinnati’s Banks to Findlay Market. Food and beverages will also be available. BLINK is free and open to the public – no tickets are required. 

That description really doesn’t do it justice – it really is one of those “you have to see it for yourself” things. It basically uses the walls of downtown buildings as giant screens for all sorts of projections, like a mini-movie about the start of King Records:

And it “animates” dozens of murals celebrating Cincinnati’s history and famous citizens. Here’s one of Rosemary Clooney:

All the lighting magic is amazing, but the coolest part to me was the fact that BLINK brought thousands of folks from the ‘burbs to downtown Cincinnati and the area just north of downtown called Over the Rhine. All ages, races, creeds, colors… just enjoying an evening stroll around town with their fellow citizens, checking out the bands that were playing, meeting up with friends, riding the streetcar.

It showed our city at its best, and I hope we see more of it in the future – with or without the light show.

Hair of the dog(s)

Meet Bibo:

“I know the ‘sit’ command… now give me my treat!”

He’s a 4-month-old Golden Retriever/Yellow Lab mix and the latest addition to the dubbatrubba menagerie, which now numbers two dogs, two cats, three teenagers and one tween.

Bibo (pronounced “BEE-bow”), a.k.a. Justin Bibo, Bilbo, Bippo, Bibonator, Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo, et al. is a loaner. He came from a non-profit in Xenia, Ohio called 4 Paws For Ability, which provides service dogs for children with disabilities and military veterans. He’ll be with us for about five to seven months, then will go back for his official service training. So we just have to get him socialized and used to going to new places, along with the typical puppy training.

Yes, an excitable, chew-on-the-shoes, pee-on-the-floor, chase-the-cats ball of fur is the last thing we needed. But dogs like Bibo are exactly what a lot of kids and their families need.

Half a year of extra work* to help provide years of peace of mind for kids and their families? Yeah, we’re in. Welcome aboard, Bibo!

*Our daughter Leah is doing most of the work, she’s a future Dog Whisperer.

 

Good day, Sunshine

Yesterday felt a bit like Ferris Bueller’s Day off, except without the Ferrari.

In the morning, I biked nearly 30 miles in the local Cystic Fibrosis Cycle for Life event… and raised more than $800 for CF research (#humblebrag). Our route took us along the river on the Ohio side, and then across a bridge to Kentucky and along the river on that side. It was quite scenic, and other than the killer hill at mile 15, rather enjoyable.

Meanwhile my wife Tina took our youngest child Andrew to his soccer game, and his team avenged their only loss of the season with a 3-1 win.

In the afternoon, Tina and I hit an outdoor beer festival at a local brewery/restaurant. We hadn’t made advance plans to go, but since the weather was nice, we figured we’d check it out for a couple of hours. Dozens of local brewers were serving up some of their standard brews, as well as a few specialty beers, and there were bands playing on three stages. We ran into my friend Todd – a loyal and faithful listener to 97X back in the day when I was a radio dude — who had volunteered to serve beers at one of the booths. (He’s a giver, that Todd. Probably should mention that volunteers got to drink free.)

Todd took this artsy angled shot… must’ve learned that trick from his teenagers.

Then the missus and I needed some grub, so we decided to check out a neat little restaurant that recently opened up nearby.

We’re glad we tried it – the food was delicious and the atmosphere was really cool. (I brought down the hip factor several notches, of course.) While we were there, Tina saw a Facebook notice that her cousin Mike was playing acoustic tunes in the courtyard of another local restaurant/bar called POP. We had no other choice… we HAD to go. (Sidebar: what’s “Facebook”?)

Sometimes the best days happen when you just go with the flow.

 

Running on empty

I take the bus to work every day. When we run out of bread or milk, I usually ride my bike up to the Kroger that’s three blocks away. I also bike or walk to the library and church when the weather is nice. So I’m in a car a lot less than most folks. Yet somehow, someway, every time I get into one of our cars, here’s what I see:

I’m convinced that my wife and my 17-year-old son have no idea what that yellow light icon means, and couldn’t find the gas cap if you gave them a map. How they manage to stick me with the refueling chore (and bill) every time is a modern wonder, a sleight of hand called “now you see the wallet, now you don’t.”

I think they’re conspiring against me – when they know I have to take another kid to soccer or swim practice, they make sure they leave the “empty” car in the pole position in our driveway. My wife even jokes about it:

Then again, Tina could turn the tables and say that I have no idea what this means:

But that’s not true – I know exactly what a sink full of dirty dishes means… time to switch to paper plates!

 

I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s Farm no more

My daughter Leah wants to be a farmer – she thinks it’ll be fun. I could probably find dozens of local farmers who could disabuse her of that notion faster than you can say “sunk costs and unpredictable weather.” Actually, I could only find a handful of local farmers these days – there aren’t nearly as many of them as they used to be. To rework the old joke about the music business:

Q. How do you make a million dollars in farming? 

A. It’s easy – just start with two million dollars. 

But no, in this case, Dear Old Dad (emphasis on the “Old”) isn’t going to be the dreamcrusher.

After all, she already has her plans drawn up:

Looks a whole lot better than an office cubicle, doesn’t it? Perhaps I can join Leah on her farm… be the Eb to her Mr. Douglas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 17-year-old son has a sweet new alarm clock

Pretty cool, huh? It doesn’t consume any electricity, never needs any batteries, and it’s very easy to reset the alarm time on it.

Patent pending.

(And yes, I did wake him at 8 this morning. Then again at 8:15. And 8:25. Snooze option sold separately.)