It’s the End of the World As We Know It

In a few short hours my daughter will officially turn 16 years old. As I have felt with increasing intensity for the past 15.9 years — time goes by so quickly!

Perhaps as nod to the compressed time I’m feeling, my daughter decided to have a time-travel-themed birthday party. It includes dinosaurs, space travel, swords, 50s-style diner baskets, and medieval goblets. Things you might encounter if you trapesed across time and space collecting random bits.

She and a group of friends have been stuffing themselves full of gummy dinosaurs, Star-shaped fruit, aged cheese and a classic dinner of baked descendant of dinosaur (aka chicken) with assorted side dishes. There’s astronaut ice cream. And banana split birthday cake! They’ll enjoy games and time-travel-themed movies as they discuss the thrills of starting their junior year of high school. And I overheard mention of the wonders and problems of thawing permafrost. Ancient viruses have been released. 

School began about two weeks ago. Like a broken record, I wonder where the time went? 

The summer flew by! 

I feel like it just began. I would like more! 

I grew peppers, tomatoes, and lots of basil in a balcony garden. I may have been visited by a ghost … at least twice. And I did a few things I haven’t done in years. 

This summer my daughter relaxed or studied instead of being carted to or from camps. We hung out, watched a few movies, played fun games including a great assortment of video games and pinball at ReplayFx in Pittsburgh. Talk about a blast from the past.

ReplayFx is a classic video game and pinball festival held at the David L. Lawrence convention center in the heart of Pittsburgh. I got to play hours and days of some of my favorite games, a few of which I haven’t played in forever (or in many cases since the last ReplyFx). And my daughter got to enjoy pinball and games like Centipede, Rampart, and Time Crisis that I played when I was her age or a little older. We even played a new board game. 

I stayed up late. Got up early. And basically ran myself ragged in the most enjoyable way possible. 

We ate Thai, assorted meatballs, fresh seafood, and some of the best tacos ever. We saw friends, family, and parts of Pittsburgh that were new to us like The Strip and Carnegie Mellon University. We stayed at a hotel that was once a federal reserve where we were offered complementary breakfast as well as evening drinks and dinner. There was a pool, a hot tub, and a rooftop terrace with a fantastic view of the sunset behind the city. Can I just stay there? Forever? Okay, no. 

Closer to home, we spent a weekend at the beach where we got to play in the sun, sand, and ocean. Zillions of baby jellyfish swam past us as we marveled at their clear bodies. Too young to sting, we caught a few of the strange critters in our hands and examined them close up. 

We spent time with friends and stuffed ourselves full of yummy food. I was especially happy to visit one of my favorite restaurants, the Hobbit, where we had delicious dip, exquisite entrees, and a dessert called Merry’s Delight. Next we scarfed down crispy Thrashers fries with vinegar — so yummy. Once again, can I just stay there? I would like to.

For all these reasons and more, there are most definitely days I would like a time machine. I could visit my favorite times and spots again and again. But now summer is winding down. High School is spinning up. And my little girl will be sweet 16. Happy birthday! 

We will have all-new good times ahead. 

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Summer 2017

In 2016, and all the years prior, the school year started the day after Labor Day. That would have been today if our county hadn’t changed the start date this year making it one week earlier. So today my daughter starts her second week of 10th grade.

I don’t know where the summer went. It was a good one! Just short. Really short. I really would have preferred longer.

We visited Pittsburgh twice — once for my cousin’s wedding and once for Pinburgh and ReplayFX.  Both were wonderful, amazing experiences (especially the wedding which was really a one-of-a-kind event). ReplayFX and Pinburgh, a pinball tournament, will be there again next year. But it was gobs of fun! Some people go to the beach, we go to Pittsburgh. (Okay, we like the beach too, we just didn’t fit that in quite yet. Hopefully it will still be there for a while.)

In August we visited South Carolina both to visit my dad and to witness the total solar eclipse.  My dad lives in an area that would have been about 99% eclipse but not quite total. We drove a little over an hour southwest landing us in a delightful town called Newberry, South Carolina. I am SO very glad we drove the extra distance to see the total eclipse. It is a different animal — the difference between a partial and total eclipse is literally like night and day. (Really literally.)

Partial eclipses aren’t that different from each other. Granted 99% is going to be more impressive than 85% but you still get a tremendous amount of light from a tiny sliver of the sun. We were impressed at how light it was even when the sun was almost entirely covered.

Moments before totality


During a partial eclipse, it still looks like daytime, but with a large enough occlusion it’s a dimmer daytime with sharper shadows. It looks strange, and it’s pretty wild!

Totality is like somebody hit a light switch and turned the world to night for a couple of minutes. The crickets chirp. The air cools. Some people can see stars and planets. We saw Venus! There is a glow around the entire horizon that looks like the last few glimmers of sunset before pitch blackness. But the sun itself is still overhead and covered by a black disk that is the moon.  The corona radiates from that sharp black disk. It is mind boggling! I want to do it again.

Totality – removing the eclipse glasses.


Between the fun out-of-town events, my daughter had several camps. Like many previous summers, this year I spent many a lunch hour driving her to or from camp and then drove back to the office. I love that she gets to do some fun and educational things like her orchestra camp and dance camp. But it makes for a busy, tiring day with less time than I’d like for things like eating or breathing. And there’s scant little time for blogging or even for visiting the pool. I want more summer! I guess it will be back next year.

So that’s about it for this update.

One more thing, I maybe had like 1.5 seconds of “fame.” Saturday, I went to a new eye doctor because I really needed new glasses (I haven’t gotten real, new glasses in YEARS), and I had some flex spending to use. When I gave the receptionist my email address she asked me if I blogged. Yes. So I asked if she’d just Googled me. She said, “no,” that her sister-in-law (or somebody like that) blogs, so she reads a lot of blogs and my email addy rang a bell (my email is similar to my blog name). So I guess that’s like a second and a half of fame, maybe, right? Though I’m still not convinced that she didn’t Google me or look me up on Yelp to see if I write reviews. Regardless, the eye doctor got me in that same day, I found frames I really liked and was able to get a reasonably okay deal after a little haggling. I’d have gladly gone to Walmart if their price was too high, so there’s that. Still waiting to get my new glasses… but I just had to share. It feels kind of weird, but maybe kind of good too.

The glow of the horizon during a total eclipse.