Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Just about time for Christmas Eve dinner

For the first time in our 8-year marriage, we hosted Christmas. Esther's sister moved down to Atlanta last year and her parents moved down last month, so instead of packing up and traveling somewhere for the holidays, we stayed in the ATL. And since we stayed in town, why not host Christmas Eve dinner? Turkey, mashed potatoes, wine, pomegranate and pine nut salad, more wine, roasted red pepper hummus, and I also added some foods from my family's traditions - steamed mussels and stuffed calamari. Oh, and there was wine involved.

What did you do for Christmas? Was it a good one?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

Gabriel's school had a special "Donuts with Dad" morning... I got to see his school, he got a donut.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Getting Sucked In

Getting sucked in is strictly a guy thing, right? You might be asking, "Whatever do you mean by 'getting sucked in'?" I'm talking about the odd phenomenon whereby I can flip on a movie and, about 30 seconds later, be so engrossed with the show that I've tuned out the rest of life. It's almost instantly. "Honey, did you order the new comp - " ZZZZZZZZZZ.

This happens on a regular basis in our house, to the point where Gabriel already knows, "Mommy, Daddy's sucked in!" It doesn't matter how many times I've seen the movie, or the last time I saw it, or even if I freaking own it. Case in point? Tonight's showing of The Hunt for Red October on AMC.

Others include...
The Negotiator
The Matrix
Patriot Games
Clear and Present Danger
The Last Samurai
The Thomas Crown Affair
Any of the Lethal Weapons

Do you have any "sucked in" flicks of choice?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

This time he wanted to switch over to his French numbers... He stumbled a bit, but counted from one (un) all the way through thirty (trente).

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

I continue to work on Gabriel's French... Although he rambles through parts of it, he knows the whole French alphabet.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

Gabriel learned a new word today...

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Photoshop was the Devil's Creation

I'm gonna be honest with you - I hate Photoshop.  I don't believe it was developed by Adobe, but but Satan's minions working in a dot com-style loft in the Depths of Hell.  CNN said Photoshop is an "industry standard for graphics professional."

Bull.  It's really an industry standard for those wishing to manipulate decent images of co-workers.  Two case in points, our Scrum teams at work needed to come up with logos.  Nobody had the individual creativity to come up with original works.  Instead, they had to bastardize photos of others, including yours truly.

It's just rude and disrespectful, people.  Next thing you know people will be pasting images of wholesome female public servants onto bodies of bikini models or taking well known celebrities and Photoshopping them into porn.

Damn Photoshop.  I hope you're happy with what you created, Satan.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

When I arrived home from work tonight Gabriel informed me that (a) "When will Daddy update Daddy's blog?" and (b) "Gabriel wants to do Word of the Day!" So tonight we did both, using the phrase Gabriel came up with while at dinner.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Eight years and counting...

Yesterday Esther and I celebrated our 8th anniversary... Eight years already!  Time flies when you're moving 4 times, changing jobs and having a child!  In honor of the anniversary we decided on our "new" annual tradition (i.e. this was the 2nd year in a row) of dinner at Sage in Alpharetta followed by a new-release movie.  Last year it was Transformers.  Yes, I realize that Transformers doesn't scream, "Happy Anniversary, honey!" but she enjoyed it... Honestly!  This year we debated between Wall-E and Hancock; since Wall-E was playing at the not-as-desirable UA theatre we chose Hancock at AMC.  Will Smith certainly "owns" July 4th flicks; Hancock was a laugh-out-loud funny movie, especially when you factor in the hilariousness of Jason Bateman.  Finally, we wrapped the night with a sundae and some coffee at Steak n' Shake, reliving some memories from early in our relationship.

Happy Anniversary, Esther - I love the life we've built for ourselves and Gabriel.

(Sage took great care of us... They asked if we were celebrating anything, so when we told them it was our 8th anniversary they decorated the oil plate and also gave us a delicious and complimentary crème brûlée, flight of champagne and a nice painted plate.) 

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My new ride has Fahrvergnügen!

I don't care that that Fahrvergnügen is an old term... My new car has it!  After several protracted months of research and test drives, I walked into Gossett VW late this morning and walked out, several hours later, with a new 2009 Jetta SportWagen!

I honestly wasn't planning to buy a car this weekend, especially since I was supposed to be at work all day today, and after yesterday's test of the Mazda 3 I was leaning towards buying one in a month or two.  However, after an aborted production deployment this morning, I had the rest of the day at my disposal, so we decided to head over to our local VW dealer just to see if they had a SportWagen to look at, which they obviously did.

At first I was a little aprehensive about getting a hatchback with anything other than a turbocharged engine, so Greg took me out for my first test drive of the day in a 2008 Jetta with their 2.5L 5-cylinder engine.  It had more horsepower than my 2000 Jetta, and was a great ride.  After some more deliberation, they moved the only SportWagen they had outside so we could test that as well, this time with Esther and Gabriel.  It was another great ride, great steering and suspension, as I expected, and unless I looked in the rearview I wouldn't have known I was in a wagon.  And it's an automatic :)

So, after close to 5 hours (thankfully my father-in-law swung by to look after Gabriel for a while!) and lots of deliberation, we signed the paperwork and I drove home in the new wheels.  It was a bit more than we were planning to pay, but the 2009 includes all service and standard maintenance for 3 years, and my 2000 was starting to get long in the tooth.  I've never leased before, so I'll be watching my mileage carefully, but I'm super excited about my new VW.

Friday, June 27, 2008

To stick or not to stick...

I mentioned earlier this month how, in the quest for a new vehicle, how I've been looking at three cars - the Mini Cooper (which is fundamentally out of consideration now), the VW Passat Wagon and the Mazda 3.  Ever since my trip to Blankets Creek over Father's Day weekend I've been pretty excited about the Mazda 3.   There was a fellow rider with a great looking 3 (I thought it was an A3 at first!), and he gave it a glowing recommendation.

So, my wife and I took a trip to Mazda of Roswell this afternoon to check one out and try a test drive.  What impresses me about the 3 is how much car you can get for the money, especially when you compare it to the Passat.  The Grand Touring trim level has every bell and whistle I could possibly want, at a price several thousand less than the Passat, and the interior is styled just as nicely as the exterior.  We took the 3 for a test drive, and while I really enjoyed the tight steering and comfortable feel to the car, the 2.3L 156hp engine didn't give the car as much "zoom-zoom" as I'm used to with my 1.8L turbocharged Jetta. 

And then we looked at the Mazdaspeed 3... still 2.3L, still with 4 cylinders, but turbocharged with 263hp.   It's a sweet ride, with solid torque and a tighter suspension.  Oh, but it also only comes with a 6-speed manual transmission.  That's right, no automatic option on this sucker.

I haven't driven a stick since... Um... Maybe the late '90's?  It's been a while, so I was a bit nervous of making a complete ass of myself in front of Jeff, our salesman.  (I wasn't as nervous about my wife being in the car, only since I make a complete ass of myself in her presence almost weekly daily.)  Jeff started us off up Alpharetta Hwy. just so we could feel the difference between the 3 and Speed 3; he pushed the car through the first 5 gears and up to around 70 really quickly.  Then I took over and proceeded to stall out about 5 times in the next 10 minutes on the drive back to the dealership.  And - I'm not gonna lie to you - there's nothing like the smell of burnt rubber up front while your wife is trying to keep her lunch down in the back.  On the flip side, once I got used to the clutch I was able to enjoy the drive, and it certainly was more fun than the 3.  More zoom-zoom.

So assuming I decide to pull the trigger on a Mazda, to stick or not to stick?  I'm pretty confident it'll only take me a few days to get used to driving a manual transmission... But do I really want one with Atlanta traffic the way it is?  Meanwhile, my wife has *never* driven a stick before.  I'm confident she'll pick it up as well, but I know she'd also rather not have to worry about it in the first place.  But if I decide not to go with the Speed 3, will I be disappointed with the ride in the 3?  Ah... decisions, decisions... 

Any ideas? Leave 'em here or email me at

Friday, June 20, 2008

According to Gabriel, I Bring Home the Pizza

I slept in a bit this morning and left after Gabriel was up... The exchange goes something like,

- "Bye bye, buddy! Be good for Mommy!"
- "No, Daddy, don't go to work."
- "I've gotta go to work buddy... I need to bring home the bacon."

And then his reply...

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Maybe I'm not as bad at mountain biking as I thought?

It was an excellent weekend all around - One of our busiest, but also a lot of fun.

On Sunday I had the chance to go riding with my friend Mike and Maaike. We hadn't had a chance to meet up in several months, so when Mike mentioned they were going to come in from Birmingham this weekend for some biking, I told him to surprise me with either their road or mountain bikes. Really, though, I was hoping they'd bring their road bikes, since I haven't had much confidence in mountain biking since Sope Creek and the Greenway.

So when they pulled into our driveway Saturday night with their mountain bikes loaded on their Passat, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. No road riding? "Suck it up!" I thought, and just to stay injury-free. Mike initially brought up the idea of trying Sope Creek again, but I suggested going to Blankets Creek, a mountain biking park about 25 minutes from Alpharetta that several people at work have raved about. I had no idea what to expect but knew they had multiple trails for all levels of riding.

We arrived, mounted up and took off to Dwellings, their beginner-to-intermediate level trail, and it was *awesome*. Blankets was the best mountain biking I've ever done! The trails are very well designed for a nice combination of fun with a workout. Apparently none of them are too technical, but they all have good hills and fun switchbacks. We did one loop of the 3.7-mile trail, then decided to hit it again instead of going to brunch. I've never done 10 miles of pure mountain biking before. Here are a few shots...

See you out there!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gabriel's Nightly Prayers

Every night before bed, we read stories, then do the Lord's Prayer... He has it down pretty well these days!

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The Joys of the Job Interview

I came across this article on CNN the other day and it prompted me to want to write a quick post about the joys of the job interview. Specifically, since the article itself talks about what *not* to do during an interview, I thought I'd lay out some of my personal suggestions on what to do (and not to do) if you want to land the job. For example...

  • When I ask you why you want to work at this company, don't say, "I visited your website and it looks interesting.” That’s the answer I get from 95% of the candidates; you want to be in the group of 5% that get invited back. Do some research on the industry! Read a white paper! Download our demo!
  • When you come in for an in-office interview, dress appropriately. Yes, we’re casual, but I like to see a candidate make the effort to wear a suit. If you can’t go the extra mile for the interview, would you really go the extra mile once if I hire you? Doubtful.
  • When I ask you why you're interested in the specific position, the following answers are the Kiss of Death: "It seems like it would be a stable paycheck." "I live close to your office, so it's a great location for me." "It's a full time position." "I'm not necessarily interested in one position vs. another, I just want a good role."
  • Finally, when I ask you for your questions, put some thought into it! Show me you've done your homework and seal the deal. Questions that make me cringe, however... "Do you have a work-from-home policy?" "How are your benefits?" "How did I do during this interview?"
Good luck on your job search!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Time for a new car?

I'm surprisingly in a good mood for how my morning started off!

After several weeks of talking about it, last night I played tennis with a friend from work at some courts near the office. It was a good time, although we only played for about an hour. I just didn't have the energy to keep going after 7. Anyway, in the middle of playing I took of my sunglasses and set them next to the court, telling myself, "Michael, *don't* forget your sunglasses when you leave!" Of course, I forgot my sunglasses, realizing it only when I got home an hour later.

Onto this morning... I left the house early to head back to the courts to see if, by some miracle, my Oakleys were there. No miracle. Who plays tennis after 7:00 at night in the rain? Apparently people in Vinings do. And those Vinings bastards took the sunglasses I've had since my wife bought them for me for Valentine's Day 4 years ago. Maybe the property management company has them... Doubtful, but I'll call.

Dejectedly I got back into my car to head to the office... Except the Jetta wouldn't start. Massive FAIL. It turns over once - chachunk! - and nothing else. I called a guy from work who usually comes in early and, thankfully, he was able to swing by and pick me up. As I was sitting in my car contemplating how expensive the fix would be, especially factoring in a tow truck, I started to think if the problem was electrical. So when my office mate arrived, we tried jumping the VW. Success! I drove the car to the VW deal up the street from the office, he followed, and we went to the office together.

My Jetta is 8 years old, has 110K miles on it, and this is now 3 trips to the dealer since October. The first two trips cost $1500 each, and this one will cost around $200 for a new battery. We've been talking about getting a new car for me later this year, but I may want to accelerate those plans a few months. I've been leaning towards a few cars - a Mini Cooper, the Passat Wagon, and the Mazda 3. Any ideas or suggestions? I want something that's fun to drive and with decent gas mileage. Oh, and I want to be able to afford it. Maybe a Scion? Yaris? We'll see.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gabriel Shows Off George and Pony

Gabriel really wanted to do a Word of the Day, but we turned it into a full video instead... :)

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Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm no Bob Villa.

Mark, thanks for the gentle prodding to post something after a long absence! I suppose you can call this a pre-Father’s Day post.

I’d like to think I picked up some pretty valuable characteristics from my father, like my strong work ethic and dedication to family. I certainly did not, however, pick up Dad’s Fix-It gene; I’ve never really been a super-handy kinda guy. My father, on the other hand, can do just about anything around the house, including plumbing, electrical and woodwork. He even built two beautiful, heirloom-quality cradles for Gabriel and Gracyn when they were born. Me? Not so much. I helped him out with the occasional project, like building my parents’ screened patio over a decade ago, but that’s about where my handyman skills ended. Oh, and I put in a dimmer switch in Gabriel’s bedroom two years ago and only shocked myself once! doing it.

So, I was pretty stoked last weekend when I felt some initial stirrings, rumblings, if you will, of handyman capabilities. Sunday afternoon I replaced the float, valve and handle on our downstairs toilet. Then I immediately followed it up by sanding off and re-gluing our kitchen/family room threshold. I also scraped up my hands in the process, which only adds to my handyman street cred. I went to bed thinking Bob Villa and I could be best buds.

And then tonight happened.

Over the weekend the knob to our guest tub/shower stopped working, and we decided to call on our home warranty company to fix it. (Quick diversion – If you ever buy a house, I highly recommend getting a home warranty. It pays for itself every year.) About 20 minutes ago, Jason and George from our local Rescue Rooter stopped by to take a look.

2 minutes, $55 and one screw-tightening later our shower was repaired.

The next time my father sees me he will dig through my purse, take away my Guy Card and then hit me over the head with a pair of pliers.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

I'm trying to teach Gabriel some French... "Do French," he asks every night. So today's WOTD is for Mother's Day... "Je t'aime, Maman!"

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Apparently I suck at mountain biking.

What the hell is wrong with me?

So right now I'm sitting at the top of Alpharetta Greenway's small mountain bike trail after 1.5 loops, already battered and bruised. Usually I can do this sucker 4 or 5 times before I contemplate throwing in the towel, but the thought has already crossed my mind today.

After my last mountain biking debacle, and after a couple of weeks of licking my wounds and sticking to my road bike, I decided to get back to the trails. The Greenway is relatively easy - It's a nice singletrack with some good switchbacks, roots and a few hills, but not terribly technical.

You wouldn't know it if you were watching me right now. I can't seem to control my bike, and I've already fallen once. I NEVER here... This is MY trail.

I need to get over this mental block, get my ass back on the bike and keep riding.

See you out there.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

"Barack Obama!"

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

"Gabriel cooks like Bobby Flay!"

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Painful Mountain Biking

My mountain bike ride last night kicked the shit out of me.

Now I’ve been riding for a number of years, starting out with some really beginner mountain biking in Florida, then switching to road biking last year. After the last several month of road biking, doing 50-60+ miles a week and dropping almost 20 pounds since November, I was excited to get an invitation to ride with a bunch of people from work. We hit up Sope Creek, which is barely 5 minutes from our office. I wasn’t sure what to expect, knowing that some of the riders are pretty hard-core, but the reviews I read online said it was a challenging trail for beginners to intermediate riders.

chal-lengi-ng (adj) “Steep hills (12% grade) with large rocks and timber throughout designed to make you wish you’d never gotten on a mountain bike.”

It was, by far, the hardest ride I’ve ever done. Even the tough ride I did in December in Alabama with a friend was cake compared with Sope Creek. Unfortunately I fell (hard) early and couldn’t get back into the mental state I needed to have a good ride. In hindsight, I’m glad I went out with the group and tried to keep up. If I’d known what I was getting myself into, I’d likely have talked myself out of it.

I’m looking forward to the next ride, as long as the next ride is far enough into the future to let my wounds heal first.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's not what you do, it's who you do it with.

This weekend was marked by my niece’s first visit to Atlanta. After not seeing us since Christmas (and by us I mean Gabriel), my parents decided to make the trip to Atlanta and brought Gracyn with them. (My single-parent sister just started a new job- yea! – and couldn’t take the time off.) So they packed up for a few days and took a “Rocket Ship!” to the ATL.

When we first heard about their plans to come for the weekend we started thinking about all of the places we could take them. Coca-Cola! The Georgia Aquarium! The Children’s Museum! They were only really staying the weekend, flying in Friday afternoon and flying back to Chicago Monday morning, so we were looking at filling 2 days with kid-friendly activities. (Gracyn is 10 days older than Gabriel.) After much deliberation we decided on going to Alpharetta’s “Touch a Truck” event on Saturday, and took the kids to the barn where Esther boards her horse on Sunday.

We found out that we didn’t need major plans to have a good time after all. The kids had a great time climbing up into a fire truck, big-rig and Yellow Bus at our local event. And at the barn, although they both had a good time getting up on Esther’s horse with her, they were also happy running through the fields and playing in the dirt. In fact, we might have been able to stay at the house the entire weekend, since they were also content playing in the backyard, or, as Gracyn calls it, “Gabriel’s Park.”

They had a blast. So did we. It was a great visit, and I’m bummed the kids don’t get to see more of each other.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Gabriel's Video Word of the Day

"Go Red Sox!"

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Gabriel's Video Word of the Day

"Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!"

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Boys Night Out!

After being out of town last week and spending most of my weekend on my bike, we decided Gabriel needed a Boys Night Out with Daddy. We had a very full agenda... The park, CPK for dinner, then storytime at Barnes and Noble. I think he had a good time... "Boys night makes Gabriel happy... Boys night is Gabriel's favorite!"

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day


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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

"Gabriel's a goof-bucket!"

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Friday, April 4, 2008

I Fell Off the Wagon

I have a confession to make - I fell off the wagon this week. It’s frustrating because I’ve been good for over a year now, and I simply shouldn’t be backsliding. The trigger was my business trip to Irvine, California, this week. I was away from home, so I wasn’t in my normal routine, and it was very accessible; I found 2 dealers just in the 3 miles between the hotel and the office.

Damn Starbucks.

Back during my consulting days, I was addicted to coffee, Starbucks in particular. When you’re working long hours, tired from not sleeping well in a hotel and on an expense account in a city like Boston with a Starbucks on every corner, it was very easy to wind up at one 3 or 4 times a day. Typically I would order an Americano, although I would occasionally throw in a nice vanilla latte from time to time. Regardless of the how I took it, I was consuming just too much caffeine.

Then, about 18 months ago, I realized that there was a Teavana at the Prudential Center, just a few quick steps from the Sheraton Boston where I stayed every week. So, I started drinking tea every morning and evening and cut out my Starbucks habit completely. There continues to be more and more research done on the health benefits of tea. It’s a natural appetite suppressant, so it’s great for dieting, it’s high in antioxidants, and it’s also a known cancer fighter. Now, instead of drinking coffee throughout the day, I drink a couple of pots (3-4 cups each) of my “during the day” tea, MateVana mixed with Almond Biscotti. It has a great nutty flavor, not unlike coffee, and because of the nature the caffeine in the tea, it provides the right amount of energy without the shakes I used to get with coffee. At night I’ll have a large cup of naturally caffeine-free Rooibos tea, either Peach Bloom or Blueberry Bliss. For my 30th my wife bought me a cast-iron tea pot and warmer that, with a tea light, keeps each pot hot for several hours.

Meanwhile, back in Irvine, although I had brought my tea with me, I didn’t have the “conveniences” I have in Atlanta, like my honey, soy milk, etc., so I fell back to Starbucks. Within the space of four days, I consumed a few lattes, a couple of macchiatos and even another Americano when I got back to Atlanta this morning. Shame on me.

Excuse me while I go brew a cup of Blueberry Bliss and climb back on my wagon.

Gabriel's Word of the Day


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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day


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Monday, March 31, 2008

The Tale of Two Easters

If you're a churchgoer (frequent or otherwise), or just like to go for Sunday brunch, you probably know that last Sunday was Easter. Although I received ashes on my forehead over 40 days ago, however, my Lent marches on; my family and I won't be celebrating Easter until April 27, per the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar.

I was raised Pentecostal, in an Assembly of God church. Pentecostals, for those unfamiliar with this Christian denomination, are the "baptized in the Spirit," fire-and-brimstone breathing "crazy" Christians typically depicted as caricatures in popular media. My Sundays were spent in a 3-hour worship service, complete with men speaking in tongues, women dancing in the aisles and weekly "altar calls" to be saved. I went to Tuesday night youth group, Friday bible study, and spent one Saturday each month traveling for Bible quiz competitions. I don't think I fully bought into Pentecostalism, however, since shortly after going off to college I started going to a Catholic church and converted during my sophomore year. My grandparents were thrilled, since I was the first grandchild to join Catholicism. The morning of my wedding, for example, the three of us celebrated mass together at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis; it's a memory that will stay with me forever.

My wife, on the other hand, is Greek Orthodox, as is Gabriel. Like Catholicism, Orthodoxy is a very traditional faith and can trace its roots all the way back to the infancy of Christianity. It also doesn't carry the political history or stigma of the Catholic church. Since getting married in 2000, we have celebrated Easter with the Orthodox church, and I have participated in the Orthodox Lenten fast (no meat, although fish is allowed) for the last several years. However, I like starting Lent with a Catholic Ash Wednesday mass; the Orthodox Lent starts with little "fanfare" on Great Monday, 40 days before Easter. (For a week after Ash Wednesday, Gabriel kept pointing to my forehead asking where Daddy's black mark was.)

What this all means is that when we showed up at J. Christopher's for our weekly Sunday brunch last weekend, we were part of the minority dressed in jeans, not our fresh-from-Macy’s Easter clothes. Fundamentally, I'm in a religious limbo. I still consider myself Catholic, since that was the conscious choice I made over 10 years ago. Nevertheless, I only attend Catholic mass once or twice a year and, instead, am a member of the Greek Orthodox community in Cumming, GA. At the same time, however, I'm not allowed to take communion or vote in church meetings since I'm not actually Orthodox. Limbo.

Do I consider converting to Orthodoxy? Yes - it's important to have family unity at church - but there are a few things holding me back. For one, I know it will upset my grandparents. I know they should just be happy that we're raising their great-grandson in any Christian faith, but they'll be upset nonetheless. I also don't want my conversion to be a "big deal," which I'm worried it will be for my in-laws. Finally, at a more dogmatic level, the Catholic church is very clear about what it believes. It's all written down in the catechisms of the church, where you can find stances on everything from the meaning of communion to birth control. The teachings of the Orthodox church, on the other hand, are much harder to find. What I *am* excited about is our priest; he was raised Baptist before making the choice to convert to Orthodoxy and joining the priesthood. If anyone can relate to my religious history, he can.

So, for all those who celebrated Easter a week ago, Happy Easter. In three weeks you can wish me the same while I eat bowls of avgolemono soup in between bites of lamb.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

"Daddy on the Internet!"

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

"See you later, alligator!"

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

"Bookstore makes Gabriel happy!"

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I’m back in the saddle!

Although I started ramping up my cycling a little last week, today I decided to leave work around 4 and hit up the Silver Comet Trail. I realize I left somewhat early, but it’s not too early if you consider that usually get to the office around 6:45. I digress.

Although the SCT isn’t the same as riding actual roads, it’s a fantastic trail. For one, it’s paved with asphalt, so you’re not hitting a cement seam every 5 feet. It’s also not clogged with pedestrians; very few people use the SCT for leisure walks. When I ride the Alpharetta Greenway, in comparison, I usually have 1 or 2 near accidents with people not paying attention to their surroundings. Note to Alpharetta Greenway users – I’m not trying to be a dick here, but stay to the right! I have zero desire to slam into you at 18 mph just because you’re a dumbass. I digress again.

My goal today was a solid 20 miles – Nothing too heavy, but I haven’t done a 20-mile ride since October. I suited up, prepped my bike but decided to leave my iPod behind; I wanted to focus on the ride, not the music. Plus, I had just listened to Ultra.10 and had the song Raindrops playing in my head. This should not be confused with Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head… Two very different songs.

About 4 miles into the ride I noticed someone coming up behind me, probably to pass. Instead, he decided to draft. I figured my weak 16 mph pace would prove too easy for him and he’d leave me soon enough. Nope. Rather, he stuck with me for several miles until we hit the first light. We exchanged hellos, and he thanked me for letting him draft. Absolutely, I said. The light turned green and he continued to stick with me. I had found myself a drafting buddy… I’ve never had a drafting buddy! He drafted with me the rest of my 10 miles out, then we swapped and I drafted off him for the 10 miles back.

It was a great workout… I pushed us pretty hard (for me, anyway) on the way out, keeping up 17-19 mph on the uphill grade with a pretty solid cadence, and I really felt it. My lungs burned, my legs ached, it was wonderful.

At the end of the ride, Kevin and I introduced ourselves and exchanged business cards. Apparently he works in the building across from mine and gets out to the SCT several days a week. A workout is always best with a buddy, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to meet up again in the future.

I also decided to block my Outlook calendar from 4-6 twice a week so I can get out and go riding.

Gabriel's Word of the Day

"Cozy up!" Gabriel's way of saying "let's cuddle" before bed.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

"Squeezy, tappy, rubby" as in the types of hugs Gabriel gives... Big "squeezy" ones, ones where he taps you on the back, and one where he rubs your back.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gabriel's Word of the Day

"Awesome time!"

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Monday, March 24, 2008

I have thoughts... And I hope you want to hear them.

Dear Diary,
Dear Interwebz,


I have thoughts (apparently!). For sometime now I’ve been thinking about joining this general community of bloggers. It’s not that I have complex thoughts, necessarily, but just enough random musings that I’d like to get them on paper. I considered getting a journal, one of those nice leather-bound Hemingway jobs, but it’s not like I’m planning to write the next great novel. I’m no Dostoyevsky, as you'll soon realize. Plus, I’ve been reading lately that we’re becoming an increasingly paperless society.

(Note to self – Switch to online banking, start using e-tickets when I travel, and cancel my subscription to the NY Times.)

Thus, a blog.

I actually finalized my decision to start a blog while on a bike ride this past weekend. Until recently, my rides consisted of a few miles on the Alpharetta Greenway, which is about 10 miles of paved trails for jogging, walking and biking. For whatever reason, I couldn’t bring myself to start riding on actual roads. However, one of my goals this year is to get more active in my cycling, and there’s no way I can do that and also constrain myself to the easiest 10 miles I can find. If I decide to try a half-century ride later this year, I can’t go from a 10-mile trail to attempting 50 miles of real road, complete with uneven surfacing and (gasp!) hills.

Plus, now that I’ve decided to start cycling on the “mean streets of Alpharetta,” I find myself with more thoughts floating around since I don’t think it’s wise to play my iPod when (1) cars are zipping past me at 50 mph and (b) the road simply requires more concentration than the trails. (As an aside, did you know that even paved roads are sometimes bumpy?)

What struck me during my ride this week was how much of Alpharetta I’ve been missing in my car. For example, I honestly didn’t realize there was a pretty large park only 2 miles north of my house. I’ve been living in Alpharetta now for three years and never noticed the giant park staring me in the face! What a shame. I also didn’t realize how hilly our landscape is; it’s much more noticeable when you’re on a bike going 32 mph downhill and trying to bike up the subsequently steep incline. It was a “forest for the trees” kind of ride, and I’m looking forward to exploring more of Alpharetta on bike. If you’re a cyclist, chances are you’ve had similar thoughts; if you’re not, I challenge you to think more like a rider when you’re on your next Sunday drive wherever you live. And don’t forget to share the road.