Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Benjamin's 18 Months Old!

Today Benjamin turned 18 months old. Today was also Benjamin's 18 month appointment with his pediatrician.

The stats:
Height: 34 inches
Weight: 26 pounds, 10 ounces
Head size: 18 inches

Some of the topics discussed were:
Teeth: Benjamin likes to bite Mommy and Daddy occasionally. His molars are coming in and he's just experiencing discomfort (so is my arm). He'll probably have his first dentist appointment before his third birthday. He's been getting his teeth brushed at night and he doesn't seem to mind this.

Bottle and Pacifier: We have been trying to wean Benjamin away from bottles and his pacifier. This has been a slow process and once we begin to give him his milk in a sippy cup, we were told he may refuse it for a day or two. That's normal. He drinks his water and juice in a sippy cup, but milk is a different story. We would continue to use the bottle in the evening as this is a form of security before he goes to sleep. We keep the pacifier in his crib as there are times in the early morning when he wakes up crying. This is there to calm him down and get him back to sleep quickly.

Vocabulary and Skills: Benjamin can throw a ball overhand, can climb into an adult chair, identifies pictures in books, knows what and where his nose, ears, fingers, toes are. He knows a lot of words thanks to the numerous books he has, the music we listen to and the various lessons he's received at day care. He can even say "baseball" when I turn on the Orioles or Nats game and can say "bat" and "ball". Hopefully he will be scoring games by August.

18 Months! For Weena and I, we are constantly looking out for Benjamin and what he gets into and where he goes. He's experiencing independence and he loves to walk ahead of us and check out the surroundings when outside. We are always aware of our surroundings and are very cautious and watchful. As I said earlier, we are like Secret Service agents on the lookout and protecting Benjamin. "Ben, get down from there", "Ben, no put that down" or "Ben, don't touch". For all the hard work raising him so far, we are rewarded with a healthy and happy child and are very proud parents. He's developing nicely and we love seeing how happy he is when he is playing. He's even learning to share at day care.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Street Cars

One day I was driving home from work and while passing Glen Echo Park, I caught sight of a trolley or street car as they were also called. So the next day on the way to work, I pulled over and took some pictures (As always, click to enlarge).

I jotted some notes down from the display as well. A little history:

The first electric trolley cars were introduced to the US in 1888 in Richmond VA. They became the dominant mode of transportation throughout the first part of the 20th century. They ran more effectively than horse carriages and with these trolley cars, people’s perception of distance and speed changed. Just about every major city built trolley lines. They carried people to work, to stores and to their homes and helped increase suburban developments. During World War I, trolleys were the fifth largest industry in the US.

Many trolley companies built amusement or trolley parks at the end of their lines. Glen Echo was one such park. This was done to increase off peak rider ship. Glen Echo Park was an amusement park built in 1898. The land was later purchased by the Washington Railway and Electric Company (WRECO) in 1903 and as a result, their number 20 line ran from Union Station in downtown DC, running west along Pennsylvania Avenue, to M Street and Georgetown to Glen Echo. The line ended at the one lane bridge at Cabin John.

In the late 1920’s, the Presidents Conference Committee (Presidents from various trolley companies across the US) voted to develop the PCC Trolley, which would provide greater acceleration, more comfort and a smoother ride. PCC trolleys were very successful and still in use today in some cities.

The trolley pictured here, #2732 is a PCC trolley that was built in 1937 by the St. Louis Car Company. It was operated by the Philadelphia Transportation Company. This is identical to the one that ran through Glen Echo Park and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority donated this recently to Glen Echo Park where it will undergo restoration and be displayed for the public.

I never did get to ride a street car as I was born in December 1961 and the final street cars in DC ran in January 1962. Labor strife, the popularity of the automobile and pressure to replace the streetcars with buses led to their demise. Today there are various roads in the city with street car rail trails.

Wisconsin and M Streets, 1958

A streetcar and bus from the Capitol Transit Company, 1945

Streetcar map, circa 1958
Click on a flag for a picture and description.

National Capital Trolley Museum

Baltimore Streetcar Museum

Please feel free to share your street car stories in the comments section. I never got to ride a street car here in DC but I've always enjoyed riding the bus. When I was living in the city, I found riding the bus a great way to relax, people watch or just watch the scenes of daily life go by as you look out the window while riding from one place to the next. The subway, while very convenient and clean, just doesn't offer the same excitement a bus ride did.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thoughts from the 7-11 Parking Lot

I may make this a regular feature because it's really the only time in my day when my head is clear and I'm constantly looking for fresh ideas to make this blog interesting. Part of my daily routine is stopping by the 7-11 every morning around 6:15 to get my coffee and newspaper. On the radio is XM142, The First Team on Fox with Steve Czaban and Scott Linn. I like this show because it's a nice mix of sports, pop culture and both these guys are parents of young kids, which I can relate to since I'm a parent.

Today the opening topic is the tragedy at Virginia Tech yesterday in which 32 people were killed and several more were injured. Steve is talking about how this is a parent's worst nightmare and he said being a parent is like being a secret service agent 24/7. "Don't go there, hey, get down from there and don't throw that"…When they reach a certain age, the secret service job stops and you are constantly worried about them when they aren't around. Whether they are driving around with friends, away at school, even being out on their own, they are always on your mind (Right Mom?). So I was thinking about this in the parking lot while sipping my coffee before I drove off. When I got to work I fired off an e-mail to the program, which was read on air at 8:15 this morning.

Normally I like to send you e-mails about the junk that goes on in sports, just to get a laugh or two. It's cool to contribute to the show when you ask for text messages and my co-worker and I laugh when ours are read. Today, you nailed it this AM with regards to your kids. I've got a son a year and a half old and there is not a moment in my day where I don't think about him at his day care. Easily the best part of my day is when I see him and he comes over to hug me. You feel secure, relieved and very happy. Then when you get home, the "secret service" begins as he's constantly exploring new things to do and places to go.

This tragedy at VA Tech scares the hell out of me because something like this can happen any time, any place. But you can't live in fear, you just keep on, keeping on.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pete Maravich

I just finished reading this excellent biography on Pete Maravich by Mark Kriegel. I'll give you a summary of Pete's career here but do check out this book if you like sports biographies.

"Pistol Pete" starred at Louisiana State University and for three NBA teams. Pete Maravich is still the all-time leading NCAA scorer, averaging an incredible 44.2 points per game in three varsity seasons. Two things I want to point out. One, this was without the benefit of a three-point line and two, freshman were not allowed to play on the varsity team.

Maravich was a basketball legend, a dazzling ball handler, incredible shooter and a creative passer. A lot of his NCAA records will never be broken simply because these days it is rare a college superstar stays in school longer than one or two years.

The book provided many facts of which I was unaware. For example, I had no idea that his father, Press Maravich, coached in the ACC. Press coached at Clemson and N.C. State, where he won an ACC championship. He got an offer to coach at LSU and Pete followed his Dad.

After graduating college, Maravich was the third pick in the first round of the NBA draft. He averaged 23.2 points per game his rookie season. After spending four seasons in Atlanta, Maravich was traded to the New Orleans Jazz for four number one draft picks, a couple second round picks and cash. Throughout his NBA career, despite putting up impressive numbers and making the all star team six times in ten seasons, Pete struggled to live up to the legend he created at LSU. He was injured a lot as his body took a huge toll thanks to the reckless style he played.

Basketball ultimately didn’t make it in New Orleans, and the Jazz moved to Utah. Maravich lasted part of the first season there and was later released. One goal he coveted was a championship, so he signed a free agent deal with the Boston Celtics, who had a rookie by the name of Larry Bird playing for them. At first it was a struggle for Pete to come off the bench, but he eventually fit in and the Celtics won the Atlantic Division title. They failed to reach the NBA finals that year and the following training camp, in the fall of 1980, Pete quit basketball for good due to injuries.

In his ten NBA seasons Maravich scored 15,948 points in 658 games for a 24.2 points per game average. He led the league in scoring with a 31.1 points per game average in 1976-1977. His NBA single game high was 68-points (At LSU it was 69, again, with no three point line) against the New York Knicks in February 1977.

On January 5, 1988, while warming up to play a pickup basketball game Pete collapsed and died of a heart attack at the age of 40. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be a rare congenital heart defect; he had been born with only one coronary artery instead of the normal two.

The reason I like Pistol Pete so much was one Christmas I got a book of sports heroes. In it there were several biographies and pictures of sports stars from the '60's and '70's and Pistol was one I liked. Maybe it was the droopy socks and the long hair, I don’t know. Playing hoops at Wood Acres as a little kid, I always pretended to be him.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Don Imus

I'm not going to break down what happened here with Don Imus. Everyone knows what happened and this story is all over various media outlets, web sites, etc. I do have a story I'd like to share though. I first started listening to Imus in 1992 when the bank I worked at said we could keep a radio at our desk if we kept it on low volume. I'm a fan of talk radio and The Imus in the Morning radio show was syndicated and the all-sports station here in the DC area had it, so I started to listen.

Imus, a recovering alcoholic and cocaine user for over twenty years, helped me at a critical time in my sobriety. How so? During that time I was wondering if I was really happy being sober. I was sober a little over three years at the time but I was struggling. For some reason I wasn't comfortable discussing it and I struggled at meetings to share thoughts. A lot of times I wouldn't say anything and would decline requests to speak. Listening to Imus and his crew kid him about his drinking days made me realize that it was ok to poke fun at yourself every now and then and take time to laugh once in awhile about some of the things that I did back in my drinking days.

One of the funnier stories Imus had involved relieving himself when he was drunk in a phone booth. I'm sure at the time, it wasn't funny but after getting help and rehabilitation, he later felt comfortable talking and joking about it before an audience of millions. One of my stories that get a lot of laughs now at meetings was when I had to stick a bumper sticker on my apartment door to make sure I was at the right place after a night of boozing on the town.

In listening to his radio show over some time, Imus did help me understand where I was in my sobriety when he would talk about his sobriety. The result was I got more comfortable with who I was becoming as my sobriety time increased and the years passed. So thanks I-Man.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Another Q and A

Dave got tagged again and since there isn't much going on here on this blog, I thought I'd toss in my answers to this Q & A.

Q. What is your salad dressing of choice?
A. Bleu Cheese
Q. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
A. Baja Fresh
Q. What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
A. Mortons, The Palm or Ruth Chris Steakhouse.
Q. On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant?
A. Probably about 15-20%
Q. What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick off of?
A. Crab cakes
Q. What is your favorite type of gum?
A. Any mint gum, Orbit gum is my favorite

Q. What is your wallpaper on your computer?
A. A picture of Benjamin
Q. How many televisions are in your house?
A. 4

Q. What’s your best feature?
A. My hair since I feel fortunate to still have it at age 45
Q. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
A. Tonsils, wisdom teeth and kidney stones
Q. Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?
A. Smell
Q. When was the last time you had a cavity?
A. 1988
Q. What is the heaviest item you lifted last?
A. Bag of rice from Costco
Q. Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
A. No

Q. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
A. No
Q. Is love for real?
A. Yes
Q. If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?
A. Wouldn't change it
Q. What color do you think looks best on you?
A. Blue or black
Q. Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
A. A dime when I was a wee lad.
Q. Have you ever saved someone’s life?
A. No
Q. Has someone ever saved yours?
A. Yeah, my buddy BC encouraged me to attend AA meetings when I stopped drinking.

Q. Would you walk naked for a half mile down a public street for $100,000?
A. Sure. I would need shoes though. After taxes and legal fees, I'd stick the remainder in the 529 College Fund that's been set up for Benjamin's education.
Q. Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?
A. Nope.
Q. Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000?
A. No way. How about the little toe, the one that goes wee wee wee all the way home for $ 100,000?
Q. Would you never blog again for $50,000?
A. Cut me a check and this thing disappears pronto. See my first Dareology answer.
Q. Would you pose nude in a magazine for $250,000?
A. No, the idea is to sell magazines….
Q. Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1,000?
A. Sure. I used to drink mass quantities of booze so a little hot sauce won't hurt
Q. Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for $1,000,000?
A. No, not this.
Q. Would you give up watching television for a year for $25,000?
A. Sure. I watch mostly sports on TV and if I can listen to the games on the radio, I'd be ok.
Q. Give up MySpace forever for $30,000?
A. I'd sign up just to give it up for $30.00

Q: What is in your left pocket?
A. Lint and a dime
Q: Is Napoleon Dynamite actually a good movie?
A. Haven’t seen it.
Q: Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house?
A. Both
Q: Do you sit or stand in the shower?
A. Stand
Q: Could you live with roommates?
A. Yeah. Once you live with in-laws, you can live with anyone :)
Q: How many pairs of flip-flops do you own?
A. None. I like sandals
Q: Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
A. October 2006 coming home from the Maryland-Florida State game around midnight on the Beltway. I forgot to fully turn on my headlights when I left the stadium. I'm actually glad I got stopped. No fine, just a warning by the way.
Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A. A Grandfather

Q: Friend you talked to?
A. Dave G.
Q: Last person you called?
A. Dave G.

Q: First place you went this morning?
A. In the home, Benjamin's room to check on him. 7-11 to get coffee
Q: What can you not wait to do?
A. Walk into Benjamin's day care room and give him a hug.
Q: What’s the last movie you saw?
A. The Departed
Q: Are you a friendly person?
A. Yeah

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

A few pics of Benjamin today as we celebrated Easter. It was too cold today to take pictures and play outside.

Man, this sermon is long....

Daddy, where are my chocolate Easter eggs?

Good lunch, now let's watch The Masters!

Aerial view of playtime

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Lack of Posts

Been awhile since I put something up and I promise to get pictures of Benjamin at Easter Services tomorrow.

Couple things:

1. The Masters has been awesome to watch. The average score today was 77. One player was under par today, Retief Goosen with a 70. Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood had the next lowest rounds today with 72's. The leaders are Stuart Appleby at +2, followed by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose at +3 followed by Padrag Harrington, Vaughn Taylor and Zach Johnson at +4. Twenty three players are within seven shots of Appleby. It's a must see Sunday event if you are a sports fan.

2. Went to RFK Stadium Friday night to see the Nationals take on the Diamondbacks. Not much of a game but I went with my friend John and we got seventh row seats behind the Nats dugout from a co-worker of mine. We spent most of the 7-1 Diamondbacks win talking about old RFK memories, obscure stuff we saw over the years there. We had been going there since we were six or seven years old and when the Nats move into their new ball park next year, the stadium's only full time tenant will be D.C. United. They are in the process of getting their own stadium and once they leave, RFK's next date will be with a wrecking ball. When that day does come, I'd have to see this in person as this place means a great deal to me.

3. My Father in Law has been ill the past month with a variety of ailments. Asthma, gout and other ailments have pretty much kept him in his room. Today he came downstairs and played with Benjamin for a little while before having his lunch. Benjamin definitely missed his "Lolo" or Grandfather and was happy to see him. He even remembered to lead him to his chair at the dining table.

4. Happy Easter everybody!