Thursday, June 30, 2005

The King is Back

Long Live the King

"Past this point of no return, your only choice is freeze or burn!"

Dueling Dragons at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Meet Fire and Ice, the Dueling Dragons at Universal's Islands of Adventure.

You get to choose which coaster to ride - Fire or Ice. They're both similar, suspended roller coasters but Fire is a bit better in my opinion. It may have had something to do with the fact that when I rode Ice, it was starting to rain as we moved up the first incline. It felt like I was being blasted with ice pellets as we flew around the ride - which was fairly authentic as far as the theme of the ride went - but I could hardly even open my eyes.

Action shot of "The Incredible Hulk"

A great shot of The Hulk ride at Universal's Islands of Adventure

A screaming descent on The Incredible Hulk Coaster, at Islands of Adventure.

I think I rode this one about five times. The first time I sat down in the seat, I broke my cell phone clip. :(

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Statistify Me

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Ever Have One of Those, "Oh, Crap - I'm About To Be Eaten By A Dinosaur!!" Moments?

Barry about the be consumed by a T. Rex at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Me neither.

Virgins and Chickens and Dominatrixes - Oh My!

Now that I have your attention...:)

A few memorable people Gary and I met on our trip to Universal...
  • The Rafting Virgins - One of the rides at Islands of Adventure is "Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges", a "river raft" adventure ride where you and about seven other people are in a round raft that floats through a churning channel. Every so often your raft will float by something that's squirting water at you, or you'll hit the side of the walls ensuring someone (or everyone) is eventually going to get soaked.

    At one point on Friday afternoon, we changed into our trunks at the hotel and rode all the water rides back to back several times without worrying about getting our regular clothes soaked. So on one of our times around this raft ride, stepping on board are four teens - three girls and a boy. Each has on a yellow t-shirt with the name of a Baptist church in Indiana or somewhere so you can tell they're all in a youth group together. What was amusing is that each of the girls was perfectly coifed - hair perfect, makeup perfect, clothes wrinkle-free and bone dry. They had apparently been airlifted into the park because none of them were sweating in the 85+ degree heat. They all sat down near us and chatted with each other, wondering if they might get wet.

    Heh. Why yes, yes they did. They were...shall we say...intimately acquainted with gallons and gallons of falling, splashing, churning and squirting water when they stepped, aghast and shocked, back off the boat.

    I felt proud to have witnessed the occasion.

  • The Foreign Chicken - Another favorite ride was "Dr. Doom's Free Fall". This one seats 16 people in groups of four around a cylindrical tower and launches them into the air before plunging back down in a harrowing drop. Sitting next to us on this particular time was a father and his 15-yr-old son, who were apparently from....well, we were never sure where they were from because we couldn't exactly place their accents. I think we narrowed it down to England, Romania or possibly Morocco. Well, neither had ridden before but the dad was excited and ready. Smiling, he asked us - who were obviously seasoned riders - what the ride was like. The whole time however, we could tell his son was getting increasingly agitated. He had trouble locking his safety harness which I helped him with, but when the ride attendant came by for the final double-check the poor kid had turned white and stammered to be taken off. We and his dad tried our best to convince him to try it out, that it wasn't so was fun...he'll enjoy it - but no use. Trembling, he begged the attendant to let him out. Once freed of the restraints he scurried to the exit and disappeared. His father shook his head, laughed, and sat back to the enjoy the ride.

    I half expected to find the kid cowering under a table when we got back down.

  • The Dominatrix - Saturday evening we crossed enemy lines and ate dinner at Downtown Disney, which is Disney's "public" area of shops, restaurants and small attractions like the uber-arcade, "DisneyQuest". Gary and I ate at Planet Hollywood (and Tommy...looks like you guys missed out on the fun!) and were seated at a small table near the very front of the restaurant.

    One side note - if you've never been to a Planet Hollywood, you've missed a major experience because thousands (well, hundreds. Maybe dozens) of articles of movie memorabilia are strewn haphazardly throughout the restaurant. If you're a movie buff and want to see things like John Malkovich's wooden gun from "In the Line of Fire", Herbie the Love Bug - suspended from the ceiling - the bullet-riddled windshield from "Bonnie and Clyde" and other items, this is the place to be.

    Anyway, our waiter comes over (a guy, natch) and introduces himself. He then motions to a fairly tall lady standing near him - she has dark hair pulled back into a severe ponytail behind her and is dressed all in black, and he says he's training with this waitress. It's obvious he's the padawan learner here and not the master here - she watches him like a hawk and observes his actions with a piercing eye. "Hmmm..." we say.

    Hmm, indeed.

    Later we glance at the table next to us and the young padawan commits an agregious sin - he places the couple's check down next to the woman. Behind me, I hear someone say, "Mm mm mm....." I glance up and there's the Dark Jedi Waitress, shaking her head and tsking. She leans down and tells us softly, "Did you see what he did? He should never give the woman the check." She then follows the youngling off to, well, we could only assume he was about to be punished.

    That's when we determined this lovely dark-haired waitress was not only a Dark Jedi, she was a Dark Jedi Dominatrix.

    Oh my.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on his attitude) the young jedi didn't fare too well, forgetting two requests from me for just a glass of ice. Each time, his Master kept him under her watchful eye. I could imagine the screams of pain coming from the kitchen as she reminded him of his misdeeds...

    So, we're getting ready to leave. We pay the check (carefully) and stand. I glance over and see our Dark Jedi looking at me. She smiles crookedly and mouths to me, "Thank you..."

    I wasn't sure if she was being polite, flirting, or inviting me to join her and all her little padawan learners for a night of learning the Dark Jedi Arts.

    I blinked, chose the light path, and we escaped with our lives...

Monday, June 27, 2005

All Flights Lead to Atlanta (Part 2)

Gary and I have finished our great weekend - our feet are tired and legs are sore from all the walking around the parks - so it feels good to just sit and wait in the airport for our flights out, with nothing to do but read the paper.

His flight leaves before mine does, so he cut out early. We have been parked in the middle of a Food Court area in the Orlando airport, and I was comfortably ensconced on a couch for the next few hours before going through security.

Then she walks up.

Maybe mid-40's, with the face you can tell was used to the corporate world - but also the pitfalls and perils of mommy-hood. Tall, leggy, blond with a knee-length black skirt, she hustled up to my couch area and asked, breathlessly, "Do you mind if I leave my suitcase here while I get something to eat? Can you keep an eye on it?"

I know I was gawking - not because she's necessarily drop-dead gorgeous (I think she probably was at one time) - but because she just came up out of the blue and startled me. And me, being the perfect gentleman that I am ran her through my typical terrorist filter....Drooling savage? No. Ranting madman? No. Shifty ne'er-do-well? No, she looks clean. So I intelligently stutter out, "Sure..yeah, no problem."

She smiles gratefully, parks her rolling suitcase (carryon size) and a big maroon pillow on the couch next to me and hurries off. For the next several minutes I alternated reading my paper, looking around to see if she was on her way back, and glancing warily at the suitcase wondering how bad it's going to hurt when it explodes..

Finally, she returns - a little less breathless - with a plate of some noxious Chinese food (sorry, to me all Chinese food is noxious). She sees all is well with her luggage and that I'm not an itinerant thief. "Wow," she exclaims, "What a day. Can I---?"

I smiled and indicated for her to sit at the chair on the other side of the small coffee table in front of me, "Please, have a seat." She smiled again gratefully, and relaxed with the tray sitting on the table.

Ok, I have to know what's up with this so I attempt to engage in polite conversation. "So, where are you headed?"

In between bites she says, "Frankfort."

"Oh, Kentucky?"

"No, Germany."

Way to go, goofball...

Apparently in the confusion of leaving home in Orlando today and getting to the airport, she'd forgotten her passport, missed her flight to Germany and was now awaiting a late evening flight to Atlanta, an overnight stay and new flight from there in the morning.

We chatted about that for a few minutes, and I waited for her to ask where I was headed. She didn't. Ok, well, nice knowing you, too.

While I continued to read the paper she ate, talked on her cell phone and attempted to nap. Eventually it was time for me to head through security - she suddenly got a craving for Krispy Kremes and said goodbye.

Wow, two planes that pass in the night, and we weren't even in the same airspace. Have a nice trip, Frankfort Lady. What do you bet she ended up in Kentucky?

All Flights Lead to Atlanta (Part 1)

"This is the final boarding call for Delta Airlines flight to Atlanta..."

All the passengers had boarded, that I could see, as I continued to wait for my flight to Orlando.

But not everyone had boarded - the lady behind the gate counter motioned to somebody sitting off to my left. A man and a younger boy, probably 12 or 13, stood up and moved to the gate. The lady came out from behind the counter and smiled at the boy as she scanned his ticket. She spoke some soft words to the gentleman and stepped back as he reached down to hug the boy. The embrace lingered for a moment, then it was over as the boy followed the lady, alone, down the ramp to the plane.

I saw the man watch the boy disappear, and for a few seconds after he was gone from sight the dad continued to catch that one last glimpse. He hesitated a moment, then walked a few paces over to stand in front of the glass windows next to the gate. The waiting plane could be seen warming up for takeoff just outside, and I could imagine the man scanning each window for that last wave.

Whether he saw the boy through the plane windows was impossible to tell, but soon the man sat down at the far end of the glass in a rocking chair to watch the plane taxi away from the gate.

Next to the man was a small rocker, just the right size for a little boy. It remained conspicuously empty as the man continued to sit and watch. I didn't have any idea where the boy was going, why he was leaving, or why the man was staying behind. Today there are a million reasons why a father might have to separate from his son, ever briefly.

But today I could see, through one father's eyes - a final hug, a last look and an empty rocker. The little boy that was there no longer, but always would be.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Off We Go...

Tomorrow I wing it outta here to Orlando to meet up with my college roommate Gary and visit Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure through the weekend.

Three amusement parks in two weeks - not bad!

I hope to meet up with Tommy Blaze while we're down there, so it should be a good time. I likely won't have internet access till next Sunday night or Monday morning, so....behave :)

Oh yeah - we'll be staying onsite at the Royal Pacific Resort. Eating your heart out may now commence.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Synchronized Singing

This morning, driving the kids to their grandmother's house:

BrainyBoy (listening on headphones to his CD player and singing loudly) -
"Mr. Aladdin, sir,
What will your pleasure be?
Let me take your order, jot it down,
You ain't never had a friend like me..."
While simultaneously Tink has on her headphones to the other CD Player and is listening to, and singing loudly -
"I don't know,
I don't know,
I don't know where I'm a-gonna go,
When the volcano blows.."
Robin Williams and Jimmy Buffet, for your early morning listening pleasure ;)

Before We Leave Father's Day Behind...

My younger brother, Roger, is a musician living in Austin, Texas. He's been away for about ten years now, and has carved a fairly successful living for himself playing and singing around Austin, the Southwest, and even overseas.

Roger has written a very poignant and moving missive to our dad. If you read it, not only will you learn about him and our father, you might see a lot of who made me who I am today as well.

I wanted to write a Father's Day post to my dad, who is a visitor to my site, but couldn't find the words. Roger did.

There's No Need to Fear!

UNDERDOG is here!

BrainyBoy is totally into Underdog, and has never actually seen an episode. I even bought him an Underdog shirt the other day. It's based on three things: a) His dad's undying devotion to every scrap of cartoon fun from his childhood, b) the Underdog theme WAV file I found on the web, remixed, and played for them with the verses and chorus mixed around, and c) the Capitol One commercial with the superheroes who come to the rescue of the damsel in distress, and Underdog is the last to arrive.

I saw a DVD of several episodes of the old cartoon show at AdventureCon the other day, and almost bought it - but then I thought, "Why ruin whatever image he has built up in his head about this show? If he catches one of TV someday, fine, but until then let's see what he's made up on his own."

NOTE: I just checked Capital One's site to see if their commercials were online - you know the ones with the rampaging Mongolian Hordes and such - but I can't find them. A lot of companies will put their commercials online for you to view, especially if they're clever in some way, which C-1's are usually. That's a shame that they're not - it might drive some traffic their way.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Coming Clean

A decision that has weighed heavily on my mind for some time now has finally come to a head. It was a very difficult decision to make, but I feel that in these days of full disclosure I should make every effort to be honest and above-board with the fine folks that visit the Inn.

I decided early on not to disclose who I really am, for fear of putting my family and career in possible jeopardy. The free-thinking and somewhat radical opinions I've brought forth here could threaten their safety and my livelihood. But now, I feel it is counterproductive to try and hide behind the veil of anonymity that until now has protected me and my loved ones. The fear of fame or loss of identity does not affect me any longer.

Therefore, after long deliberation and heartache I tell you my real name.

Most of you know me as simply Barry. In fact, I am actually this Barry. Which, of course, explains this.

Wow, gee, I feel a lot better now. In fact, I feel like singing!
Clowns never laughed before,
Beanstalks never grew.
Ponies never ran before,
Till I met you....

Sunday, June 19, 2005

We're Talking...


After AdventureCon, we went with some other dads and sons to see the Tennessee Smokies play baseball. The Smokies are our minor league franchise, based in nearby Sevier County (after they could find no welcome here in Knoxville).

We won 2-1 on a bottom of the ninth base hit to left center by Marland Williams that drove in Jerry Gil from 2nd. A great finish to a great game.

BrainyBoy loved it, his friends loved it, and we all had a great time.

There is absolutely nothing like going to a baseball game with your son. Next time, we're going to bring his Grandad.

Hey dad, how bout a catch?

I love my life, sometimes... ;)

A Delicate Flower Re-Blooms

April's back!!!

After an indefinate hiatus in which time she graduated from college, April of the Delicate Flower Syndrome has returned. Welcome back!

...And the AdventureCon-tinues

Brainyboy and I visited AdventureCon 2005 today. We went last year and had a blast...

This year?


AdventureCon is an annual cards, comics and collectibles convention that's been going on for several years now. I don't usually go to these things anymore, but last year was fun and we thought we'd give it a try.

The guests were so-so. Adam "Batman" West, Lou "Incredible Hulk" Ferrigno, Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund, Jason "Shazam" Bostwick and John "Gimli" Rhys-Davies were there signing autographs. It was fun to actually see them in person - Ferrigno is still a Hulk - but unless you want to stand in line forever and actually have a reason to talk to them, that's pretty much all there is. Well, poor Jason Bostwick - there were hardly any folks there to see him... I guess not that many people were affected very profoundly by "Shazam". Kenny "R2-D2" Baker and Donna "Elly Mae" Douglas were supposed to be there, but were no-shows at the time we were there.

I find it difficult to imagine walking up to one of these people and striking up a conversation. What in the world could you talk about that they don't hear a hundred times anyway? I do hear they like it if you talk about seeing them in some obscure part they did somewhere, but...I mean, if you know that much about them, you should probably find more hobbies.

Star Wars toys were everywhere. I mean everywhere - and surprisingly, not a ton of "Revenge of the Sith" stuff. Mostly Episode I and II, with a lot of Original Trilogy things thrown in. Brainyboy racked up on a couple of things he'd been wanting that were in the $3-$4-$5 bargain boxes, so he was happy. But seriously, I like Star Wars as much as any fan ( much as any fan who actually has a life outside of this setting) but after the 10th consecutive booth offering the same old crap...well, you know, enough. There wasn't nearly enough Trek stuff, though. Guess there's a bit of a bias.

Those, and the fact we had to pay $8 each to get in were my only quibbles. BB had a great time, and that's all I can ask for :)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Friday's Feast

Feast Fifty-Two - Friday, June 17, 2005

Appetizer - What's one word or phrase that you use a lot?

I can't think of a phrase I use a whole lot - maybe one will come to me. But sometimes when I get in the car with BrainyBoy I say, "Atomic Batteries to power...turbines to speed."

Soup - Name something you always seem to put off until the last minute.

Two things - getting a haircut and getting gas for my car.

Salad - What was the last great bumper sticker you saw?

I can't recall any bumper stickers I've seen lately, but I did come to the realization that it's much more difficult to decipher vanity license plates when you're in another state, for some reason. Here in town, Laura and I sometimes try to see who can figure some of the more obscure ones out quickest, and very rarely do we come across one one of us can't figure out. But last week in Virginia...who knows what they were all talking about. Maybe some of the referencs are regional and you don't realize it when you're in town.

Main Course - If you could be invisible for one day, how would you spend your time?

Heh. I think I'd have two different answers if you asked me when I was in college and now ;) But today if I were invisible for a day I'd travel to Washington to sit in on some of those meetings and find out what's REALLY going on. Maybe go to North Korea and see what I can find out. Or Iran. Or Then I'd blog about it ;)

Dessert - Describe your hair.


I have a high forehead, thanks to my paternal ancestry... What that means simply is that I have nothing resembling bangs. Plus my hair thins back around the crown, though I can't see it except in photos so at least that doesn't depress me daily. It's sort of dark sandy brown and parted somewhat on the side. I try to keep it no longer than the back of my neck in the back but (see above) sometimes I let it get longer.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

New Faces, New Places...

Quite an interesting day yesterday.

Some of you follow both Becky and Michael's pages as well as mine... if you do, you know our fair Hawaiian beauty, who's been scoping out Nashville for future career (and other) opportunities came puttering through Knoxville yesterday, and was kind enough to have lunch with your humble innkeeper.

Becky's an interesting lady. She's continually impressed with our Southern hospitality and the fact that people actually converse with each other and strike up conversations with complete strangers in grocery store lines. Plus the fact we hold the doors open for each other... She's also boggled by all our greenery around the area, and I felt a little bad bursting the bubble by explaining the strange and exotic plant known as "kudzu" to her...

If you don't visit her site regularly, please do. You'll learn something from her posts almost every time.

Hers was the first New Face I met yesterday. I also met several new people who I will be working with as Musical Director for a show called, "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" at the Actors Co-op BlackBox Theatre. It's a cabaret-style show featuring a number of songs from French/Belgian composer Jacques Brel who wrote in the first half of the 20th century. His songs are poignant, political, witty and thoughtful and I'm looking forward to getting started. In fact, I only heard about it for the first time the night before last and attended the first rehearsal last night. I'll keep you abreast of how it's going as time goes on.

I've done shows at the Oak Ridge Playhouse for several years, though it's been a while since I worked out there, and I've wanted to get involved in the Actor's Co-op for a long time. I hope this will open more opportunities to direct, music direct and act there in the future as they seem like a very mature and talented group of folks.

Today's a day I'll be all over town with meetings, my final Sleep Study doctor follow-up, softball game and play rehearsal tonight. Please pray to the traffic gods to part the Red Interstate and let me through with a minimum of hassle...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

More on EPCOT Child Death

I can't get this tragedy out of my mind. So horrible.

John Frost at The Disney Blog has a lot of continuing coverage on it. If you're interested in this story, go and scroll...

Bloggers Bashing Bredesen

Supposedly the Tennessee blogosphere (would that be pronounced, "blawg-a-sfahr"?) is all "abuzz" about noted Nashville blogger and journalist Sharon Cobb's evidence that Governor Bredesen is a bad, bad boy... with regards to Tenncare.

I'll leave it to you to evaluate her evidence on your own time.

Mostly what she has, that I've seen so far, are copies of documents that seem to point to Bredesen intentionally misleading the public on the actions of the Tennessee Justice Center regarding TennCare cuts. Or something. It's not really clear to me...

I can't comment on the veracity of the documents and allegations - maybe they're real, maybe they aren't. But, similar to the CBS George Bush "memo" that surfaced before the election that turned out to be forged, the documents she has scanned and presented on her site.... well does it seem to anyone else that they're just papers, and could've been typed up by anyone? How "authentic" (especially in the this day and age) can any document be proven to be, really?

I could type up any official memo that I want that contains damning information on the actions of any public official, "age" them if necessary, add the requisite fax marks and whatnot, and say that they're evidence. How could I prove they are what I say they are?

Again, I'm not saying she's lying or not - just that everyone seems to believe they're 100% authentic, and I don't see how you can come to that conclusion...

For Instance...

Look at the document she presents in a graphic. How many people out there could type something similar up in Word, print it out, and say it came from the governor's office? I probably could. Course, I don't have the credentials she has, but still...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Genesis of a Book

Stephen White is one of my favorite authors - I've written about him before. In his monthly email newsletter, he explains how he came up with the idea for his next book, "Kill Me". It's fascinating from a technical writing perspective, and an absorbing story in its own right.
A Note From Stephen White About His Next Book

Image I can’t always identify the moment a book is born. With KILL ME, though, the moment was clear.

Every one of us has been there. Most of us, many times. Someone we know or love – a friend, a family member, a co-worker – suffers some terrible tragedy. Maybe an automobile accident, maybe a stroke. A simple illness spinning out of control, a surgical procedure gone badly, or the slow motion train-wreck of rapidly progressing dementia. We see or hear about the unfortunate person’s abysmal condition and his or her hopeless prognosis and we say, perhaps aloud, perhaps to ourselves, “If that ever happens to me, I wish somebody would just . . . kill me.”


In January 2003, two of my friends asked me to meet a friend of theirs, a man named Peter Barton who was dying of stomach cancer. His physicians had just told him he had about three months to live. It turned out that Peter, barely fifty – a recently retired, wildly-successful cable TV visionary – had been doing some writing and was eager to talk with someone with some publishing experience about how to get his prose into print. As a favor to my friends I said I would talk to him. Driving to meet Peter that first day, I was convinced that my role was to accomplish the unpleasant task of finding a palatable way of telling a dying man that his life wasn’t really that special, that his stuff wasn’t really publishable, and that he should put whatever time and energy he had left into organizing his musings as a lovely memoir for his children.

It turned out, of course, that I was wrong about everything. Not only was Peter’s life far from pedestrian, but his stories and essays were also enlightening, moving, and enchanting. And so was he. A short time later, I introduced Peter to a writer friend of mine named Larry Shames and together they worked magic, turning Peter’s words and thoughts into the lovely, inspiring, haunting book "Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived" (Harper Perennial; September 2004.)

The finish line of his life was in clear sight then – his time left on the planet was numbered in weeks, not months. While he and Larry worked, Peter and I became friends.

On days when he had the energy Peter would tell me stories. One spring morning we were sitting on his deck getting buzzed by dive-bombing wasps, and he told me about the sudden, tragic death of a man his mother was involved with long after Peter’s own father had died. I wasn’t too surprised by the story; death was very much on Peter’s mind those days. The man had died in the Crestones in Colorado’s southern mountains in a freak accident that involved some risky wilderness activity. Ice climbing, rock climbing, hang gliding – something. I don’t remember the details. While Peter described the circumstances of the man’s demise though, the psychologist in me thought I heard some wistfulness, maybe even some envy, in Peter’s voice. By then Peter was enduring severe pain from his cancer; his world was getting smaller as his tumor grew larger. I decided to ask him something that I suspected his old friends would never ask him. I said, “Do you ever think about it? On a good day, going up into the mountains, having an accident, going over a cliff? Ending it. Dying like he did?”

Without hesitation, Peter acknowledged the fantasy. I don’t recall what words he used. I do recall what he said next though. He said, “I could never do it. The kids would wonder.” He was talking about his three children, and his absolute insistence that his death, like his life, be a model for them.

Enough said.

I dropped the issue. Peter and I never spoke of it again. But driving home that day, I couldn’t get our conversation out of my head. As novelists do, I began to ponder something: What if someone in Peter’s peculiar circumstances could do it – end his life – in a way that the kids wouldn’t wonder, that his family would never know? Peter was a wealthy man. What if it turned out that a person like Peter had the prescience to hire somebody to end his life under circumstances that would make his death appear completely accidental?

That is how KILL ME was born. An unanswered question left over after a short conversation with a dying man.

What, I began to imagine in the days and weeks and months that followed, if there were a company that would agree, for a steep fee, to kill you should you ever become so sick or so disabled that you would choose not to continue living?

Would you sign on the dotted line?

Would you?

Well, get ready to meet the Death Angels.

Get ready for KILL ME.

For me, writing this book was different. I think reading it will be different, too.

Watch your back.

--Stephen White--

Disney World Tragedy

Child Dies After Riding Epcot Attraction
Investigators from the Orange County Sheriff's Office are looking into the death of a 4-year-old boy after riding an attraction at Walt Disney World's Epcot Monday.

The boy was riding Mission: Space with his mother and sister Monday afternoon, WESH 2 News reported.

When the ride ended, the mother reportedly carried the boy off the ride, and employees helped her place him on a bench, detectives said.

Rescue crews were called to the scene and performed CPR on the child before transporting him to Celebration Hospital. Doctors at the hospital pronounced him dead just before 5 p.m. Monday.
This is a horrible situation, and my heart goes out to the family. I can't imagine the horror of taking the kids to an amusement park for a great family outing, and coming back without one.

That said...

Height restrictions aside, doesn't it just fly in the face of common sense to take a 4-yr-old on what's billed as one of the most intense rides ever made?

It's either one of two things - the child had such a hold on his parents and kicked up such a fuss that they "had" to let him on...that or the parent pulled the kid on the rid, and the little boy had no idea what was going on, but the parent had some need to let the kid experience ultra-G-Forces.

Now, I've ridden MS - I have high blood pressure, but it's controlled just fine with my meds - and I'm fully aware of the limitations. I left enjoying it immensely, but wondering what the fuss was all about as I am hardly susceptible at all to motion sickness (not so my wife, unfortunately). So maybe...just maybe I can see someone like me riding it, being convinced there was nothing to it and turning around and taking a 4-yr-old on it.

But still...4 is 4, no matter the height.

Please parents, don't try stuff like this at home. Be cognizant of your children's ages. I remember going to see Return of the King - a most violent movie - and seeing little babies in carriers, and toddlers brought by their parents. Have you no sense???

The other day at Busch Gardens, some folks took a 3-yr-old on the Big Bad Wolf roller coaster. Apparently she met the height requirement... I have no idea how it turned out, but I would never do it.

Common sense, folks...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Busch Gardens Williamsburg Trip Report

"Feels like the first time...
Feels like the very first time" - Foreigner

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg

This is the second time we've visited Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA - we all went 3 years ago and loved it, so I was excited about coming back again.

I've become a Theme Park junkie, although I really haven't visited all that many. My summers as a kid were spent, each year, traveling to Atlanta to visit relatives and spending a day at Six Flags Over Georgia. That park will also be special, because I still have a very romanticized view of the experiences, experiences only a child can have. If anyone has visited that park, I'd love to hear some of your memories and can talk about mine here if anyone's interested.

But that's another post.

I also, of course, have a great affection for all the Walt Disney World parks. EPCOT is my favorite down there, and remember being bowled over by the scope of it all the first time I visited there when I was in college. Our family has visited there twice (read about our last trip here) and will probably go again in a couple of years.

Our family usually gets season passes to Dollywood, the theme park in nearby Pigeon Forge. Ok, ok, you in the back. Hush. It's a nice place - be quiet.

In two weeks, I'll be flying back to Orlando to visit Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure with my college roomate, Gary. I've never seen those parks before, so I'm anxious to give them a go - as well as see what kind of trouble Gary and I can get in as a couple of late 30's "Wild and Crazy Guys".

But that, in this case, is a future post.

Busch Gardens is a beautiful park - absolutely stunning. It has consistently won awards for excellence in decoration and beautifications, and it's well deserved. There are flowers everywhere, and the park is immaculate. True, it only opened recently for its summer season and school is not yet out in Virginia but it still is a pleasure to walk around and take in the sights and smells.

The park is themed to different countries, and each section has its own flavor, music, styles and attitude. The countries include England, Scotland, Ireland (my favorite), France, "New France" or Canada, Germany and Italy. The rides and attractions in each land reflect the nationality of its host country and each are distinct from one another.

It has four major roller coasters (and Michael, correct me if I get some facts wrong about these):

1) Loch Ness Monster (Scotland): BGW's first coaster was one of the country's first steel roller coasters. Painted a brilliant yellow, I've ridden this one twice so far. It's pretty good - a couple of interlocking loops make for a fairly intense experience in the middle of the ride. The rest of it is actually fairly pedestrian. Not great, not bad - kind of middle of the road.

2) Alpengeist (France): This is a suspended coaster, themed to simulate a ghost haunting a European mountain ski resort. It's painted blue and white, and is so close to Nessie they almost seem to intersect. I rode this one last visit and almost blacked out - I didn't ride it again this time.

3) Big Bad Wolf (Germany): Another suspended coaster, this one is very, very red and black. It takes you through a recreated Bavarian forest and village and at some parts is very pleasant and pastoral. But then, the turns and dips come hot and heavy - culminating in a plunge and near miss on the Rhine River that runs through the middle of the park. I rode this one three times - I loved it ;) Swinging side to side while hanging underneath the track was a kick. This is my 2nd favorite coaster.

4) Apollo's Chariot (Italy): One of the first Hypercoasters - it lives up to its name. In brilliant purple and gold, it's more of a traditional coaster that climbs to dizzying heights and falls to staggering depths. There's a double helix near the middle and the final plunge will literally lift you off your feet and catch your breath. This is a brilliant ride, and my favorite coaster ever. It's amazing.

BGW has a brand new ride that just opened - a dark ride called "Curse of DarKastle". It's based on the Spiderman ride-type technology that starts off in an extremely detailed recreation of a Slavic forest castle that's been abandoned and haunted for years. The ride vehicles are shaped like sleighs, and the inside is stunning. 3-D glasses enhance the projections of ghosts, wolves and other entities that haunt the castle as your sleigh makes its way throughout the interior and grounds. Crossbows fly at you, the Evil Baron Ludwig hurls dinner knives, skulls and other haunts swoop about in one of the best 3-D projections I've ever seen. All the while the sleighs roll and bump and swirl around. Eventually, the floor drops out beneath you and you plunge down through the floors of the castle and escape through a haunted forest. This is one slick ride, and BrainyBoy ate it up once we finally got him on it. Luckily we caught it at the end of the day on Thursday, and were able to ride it once and walk right back on a ride it again...

A special honor goes to the Irish shows "Castle O'Sullivan" - a live action show with a catchy score, supposedly you are participating in the auction of the contents of an old Irish castle that turns out to contain all manner of beasties...a leprechaun named Clancey and some other folks that are not so nice.

Other attractions include "Escape from Pompeii," an oh-so-brief water ride that travels through the ruins of Pompeii before plunging down a soaking waterfall; "Roman Rapids," a river rampage-type ride that's been done to death in various parks but was still fun and soaking when we really needed some heat relief; "Corkscrew Hill," similar to the DarKastle, this was another 3-D movie but you sit in a moving theatre that rocks and rolls along with your ride across the Irish countryside on the back of a horse or flying in the talons of a griffon.

The food was decent, but very expensive. The four of us ate at a Smokehouse restaurant in New France that smelled heavenly but cost about twice as much as a normal lunch might've cost. We had funnel cake the next time :)

Finally, for the kids is "Land of the Dragons," a play area for kids and near-kids themed to friendly dragons that had a lot of playground space, kiddie rides and a ton of water.

My one real complaint was that several of the rides were not functional - especially some of the children rides, which put a limit of the number of rides Tink could go on. Especially galling was the SkyBuckets which crisscrossed the park on our first visit - they were down this time, and that was disappointing because not only do you get a great view of the park from above, it makes it a lot easier to get from one side of the park to the other.

So if you're even in the area, DO NOT MISS a chance to see Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It's a great place to spend a couple of early summer days, and you'll love it.

Listen to Yoda, You Should...

"...once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you it will.."


Questions for Becky

Becky asked to be interviewed, so here it goes:

1) You're trapped in a movie theatre for eternity. Which movie would you hope is trapped in there with you? Which person? Which snack?

2) Describe an incident when you were sorely tempted to do something, and later you were glad you didn't.

3) One of the best movie quotes is "We'll always have Paris" from Casablanca. What place/event/time will you always have?

4) Talk about an event from when you were a little girl that always makes you smile to remember it...

5) Would you rather: a) Travel the European countryside with only a backpack, b) sail around the Caribbean, or c) explore the hidden ruins of the Mayan civilization? Why? Is there another romantic, exotic trip you'd rather take?

Leave word when you have you answers up!

(if anyone else wants to be interviewed, let me know)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

It's All About Me..

Fill in the blanks:

I ______ Barry.
Barry is _______.
Barry thinks a lot about _______.
When I think of ______, I think of Barry.
If I were alone in a room with Barry, I would _______.
I think Barry should _______.
Barry needs _______.
I want to ________ Barry.
If I could describe Barry in a word: ________.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Back Home

Well, we're back.

And I'm convinced that if Cracker Barrel didn't exist, we would have long ago starved...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Shirtless in Washington (Part II)

Part II: "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave" - The Eagles


We arrive back at our original METRO stop, with our car safely out in the garage. Now, earlier I mentioned DC's METRO has this peculiar parking exit system where you have to have a "SmartTrip" card which a) Requires you to purchase the card for $10.00, and b) allows you to add value to it every time you use it. Which is great for commuters, I suppose, but lousy for tourists. Because although it only costs $3.75 to actually park, you have to pay $10.00 to buy the card, and effectively use it only once.

But we thought we had it beat.

On our initial trip in, we spoke for a few minutes to another family of tourists - from Montana! of all places - that had a little girl Tink's age. We traded a few notes on what we planned to do that day, and went our separate ways. As Great Providence would have it, when we were back at the little kiosks ranting and raving at the great injustice of having to spend $10.00 on a $3.75 parking tab, who should show up but the dad again, of the Montanans. He generously offered to let us share, or actually purchase, half of the their SmartTrips card - a card which, theoretically, mind you, after being used once should still have $6.25 left on it. Which means it should be able to be used twice for getting out of the garage. So we tried it. They went through first, used the card, then Mr. Montana ran back and gave the card to us. Did it work?



Damn. Try again..


Once more, with feeling.


Ok, this sucks.

SO...apparently once you buy the card, you're screwed from using it more than once unless you specifically put more balance on it. Or wave a big stick with gourds tied to it which simultaneously singing the Congo-ese Magic Chant. Or something. Regardless, Mr. Montana cheerfully came over to see what was wrong, and gave us back our money. Actually, he gave us back a little more than what we gave him, which I thought was very nice of him. We waved goodbye to he, Mrs. Montana and all the little Montanta as they drove back to...I'm guessing possibly Billings.

But that left us stuck. So I went back to the gate station and tried to add more credit to the (now worthess) SmartTrips card so we could get the crap outta Dodge and back home. There was no way that I could see to actually put credit on the card, so I ended up shelling out $10.00 myself to get a new one.

SmartTrips Blows.

So we're finally out of the garage and mobile again. But we're hungry, and due to the fact that the drive in on I-95 from Richmond has about as rich a set of food options as Death Valley, we found a nearby Ruby Tuesday and had a nice dinner.

On to home!



We pull out of Ruby Tuesday, headed for I-95 - a 2+ hour trip ahead of us. Now, our Windstar has one of those "Tire Imbalance" indicators that lights up when it detects one of the tires is not quite inflated to the same amount as the others.

Uh oh.

We pull off at a convenient gas station and get out to check. Ok, they all look all right...wait, what's that thing sticking out of the our right rear tire? And why is there this hissing sound coming from around it?

Double Uh Oh.

Yes, looks like we picked a nail. Or rather a large undustrial sized bolt of some kind. Maybe we just ran over it in the restaurant parking lot, but since we saw another person changing their own tire let's just say I have my suspicions...

So, what do you do when you need to change a tire 500 miles from home, at 8:30 at night, when you conveniently never remembered to buy a jack for the van...


Yes, AAA is our friend. After my little incident in my car last year (which I'll link to later, when I find the post. Yes, I'm sure you're just dying to read it) we signed up with AAA. And one of the perks of being a member is you can get emergency road service whereever you are in the US. And parts of Hawaii, and possibly Guam.

So Laura calls them up, and they assure us that someone will be there as soon as possible. "How soon?" she asks. "No later that 10:00..." comes the answer, to our jaw-dropping astonishment. "But we have two small kids in the car, and have a 2 hour drive in front of us...."

To no avail. Virginia may be for Lovers, but it ain't for Helpers.

So we sit. And wait. The kids pop in "Ice Age", Laura reads a book and I gaze at the intersection watching for the tow truck.


Nothing. Some folks have pulled in beside us at the Air Pumps, and are either negotiating on purchasing a car from the other or are planning a drug deal. Or are possibly planning our kidnapping and horrendous demise.




Nada. Another interested participant has joined the party and wide-scale haggling seems to occur. I am convinced they are actually plotting to overthrow the government. Of Guam.


Zero. "Ice Age" ends and they kids drift off to sleep. Laura passes where I was in the book.


Laura calls AAA back for a status report. We are assured only another 15 minutes. I believe I see some wolves outside...


The wolves leave, because they've been chased off by bears. Bears with guns. Laser guns. Oh wait, I nodded off.... still no tow truck.


We're hopping mad, now. Another call to AAA. ANOTHER 20 Q&#%^$%#%@% MINUTES!??!?!? My wife gives them, as Mammy Yokum might affectionately say, the "what fo what fo!!". They oh-so-kindly assure her that all their wreckers are assisting other disabled tourists, but will get to us as soon as they can. Yes, all those other disabled tourists with overheated engines, apparently, at 10:30 at night. She tells the operator that we're going to file a complaint and hangs up.


The actual tow truck operator calls us directly, and says he knows the area and will be there in 5-10 minutes. Apparently she touched a nerve. Which she has been known to do to me from time to time, but that's another story...


Q'aplA! Mr. Tow Truck Guy arrives, and is very friendly and helpful. He changes the tire, checks all the pressure and we are on our way. Too bad the whole Virginia AAA system couldn't be like Mr. Tow Truck Guy, who couldn't have been kinder.

The trip back to the condo in Williamsburg was, thankfully, uneventful. Somewhere halfway through, Tink woke up and was complaining about being cold. We hadn't intended to be out so late and had no blankets to speak of. Nothing in the car, really, except...

I took off my t-shirt and gave it to her, which she immediately cuddled up in. I mused as I sat there, shirtless with the seat belt across my chest, that if we (with our Tennessee license plate) got stopped by the cops I would be fulfilling every Tennessee stereotype the trooper had ever heard.

Laura wisely refrained from being as generous with her shirt, which I thought quite prudent. It was one thing to be thought a hillbilly, another to be dragged off to jail for it.



We arrive home. Tink wakes up momentarily and asks, "What am I wearing???" To bed, to bed. A full day at Busch Gardens tomorrow.

God help us all.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Shirtless in Washington (Part I)

Part I: "These are the times to remember, for they will not last forever.." (Billy Joel)



The four of us pile in the car for the, 2+ hour trip from Williamsburg to Washington DC. I wasn't exactly sure how long it would take to get there, and I wasn't disappointed...we had to take about 3 Interstates to get to the first METRO stop where we parked and rode.


We're ready to ride the METRO, which is DC's subway-type thing. Now, I've only ridden a couple of subways in my life - DC's and New York's - and it seems like it would still be much more efficient just to use coins or something than require you to calculate where you're going and when you'll be coming back so you can "buy" enough cash onto your little magnetic card. But we estimated pretty well, I guess and got ready to get on.

One odd thing - the garage on site where we parked wouldn't let you out by just paying cash, you had to purchase something called a "SmartTrip" card. More on that later...


We climb up the steps from the Smithsonian METRO station up into the Mall. I had forgotten just how BIG the whole area is... we had our requisate OOH and AAH moments of looking to our left at the Washington Monument and w-a-a-a-y in the distance the Lincoln Memorial, behind us at the Smithsonian Castle building, and on into the middle of the mall area and to the right at the Capitol Building.

I just love the Capitol Building. Nothing says IMPORTANT to me like that building does... In fact, I have one of those 3-D Puzzles of it that BrainyBoy and I put together a couple of years ago on top of a bookcase near my computer at home. I remember being very nervous about its safety on 9/11 and the couple days after.. Sure, it's just a building and could be rebuilt, plus it's the lives inside that really matter - but as far as symbols go, it's almost irreplaceable.

As we got our bearings on the mall, we noticed there was a lot of work being done on the grassy area to prepare for a Folklife Festival this weekend. Lots of trucks, lots of banners and grandstands being constructed. This cut down visibility somewhat, but nothing major. Our first stop was the original Smithsonian Museum, the "Castle". I'd never been in there before - it was nice, but really all that was in there for the public was an information/orientation area. We decided to hit the nearby Air and Space Museum first.


I've visited this museum several times, but I always forget just how BIG the planes and rockets are that are on display. The Spirit of St Louis (and Laura and I had great fun trying to remember whether Lindbergh was the first to fly all the way around the world, or just the first to fly across the Atlantic by himself. So much for our great education experiment when the teachers don't remember the correct answers), the V2 Rocket, the Apollo 11 capsule... such power to be in the presence of history. They also had, which was possibly the coolest thing, the Wright Brothers' original 1903 flyer from Kitty Hawk. BrainyBoy and Tink both went crazy with their cameras, taking everything they could see. There was so little to do, and so much time to do it...

Wait. Strike that. Reverse it.

After a spin through the "How Things Fly" exhibit we had a quick lunch and saw the IMAX presentation of "SPACE STATION 3D"...shot by the Space Station astronauts in orbit, it was an amazing 3D presentation of what it's like to be in outer space and on the space station. After it was over, we walked from one end to the other on the second floor, went back down to the first and hit the middle again and moved back out onto the Mall. Tempus Fugit...


We take a great picture of the kids in front of the Capitol Building. Well, not right in front but it's directly behind him. I'll post it when I get the film back.


To me, nothing says "Smithsonian" like the big Bull Elephant in the middle of the Natural History Museum Rotunda. It's a monster, and was one of the things I most remember from my Safety Patrol trip here in 6th grade..

That reminds me. Did I mention this was apparently the week every single school system in the United States (and parts of Hawaii, and possibly Guam) sent their Safety Patrols to Washington? Everywhere you in matching colored shirts and their Safety Patrol belts on. Let's just say, while it's great American children are getting the opporunity to visit our Nation's Capital....did it have to be this week???


(Tell me - how many of you got to take a Safety Patrol trip to Washington when you were a kid? I'm curious...)

We saw the dinosaurs, the fossils, the mammals, the underwater life, the Life-in-Somalia exhibit, the minerals, the meteorites, the gems, the Hope Diamond (crap! I just remembered that I forgot to tell BB the story about the Curses. File that in my To Do list), the mummies, the animal skeletons, the bugs, and the half-finished South American room.


I love this museum ;) Can you tell?

ASIDE: You're probably wondering what all this has to do with the post title? Patience, young padawans. That part is coming....


Ok, did I mention it was really, really hot? I mean, not like July/August Washington DC hot, which I hear is legendary, but still quite warm. We left the Natural History Museum with the intent of heading down past the Washington Monument to see the Lincoln Memorial. But, the distance (especially with a 5 year old) was just too far and too hot, plus they were doing some kind of digging/construction at the base of the Monument and part of the street access was closed, so actually moving in that direction was difficult. So we settled for walking down Constitution Avenue to see the back (front?) of the White House. Very impressive. Course, I probably didn't contribute to the solemnity of the occasion by stating loudly enough for all to hear: pa-rrum pum pum parrrrum pum pum...."Previously, on THE WEST WING..."

We walked around the ellipse to get closer, and moved where Secret Service and Capital Police were clearing the area. As a matter of fact, they asked us all to move from eyeshot of the White House, and down to the corners of the street. We spotted snipers on the roof, and even took a picture (I'll post that too). Apparently someone important was leaving or arriving, and they wanted to make sure nobody had a clear shot at the building while the transfer was happening. Laura asked one guard, "Is it the President?", to which he immediately slammed her to the ground, cuffed her and led her away.

I'm sure gonna miss her..

(just kidding)

He actually said, "I can't say, ma'am", after which we all groveled appropriately and slowly backed away.

So, a little excitement there. When the all clear was given, we kept walking north around the site of the White House grounds next to the Treasury Dept Building. Eventually we came out on the other side, on Pennsylvania Avenue and got a good look at the other side of the building (the back? the front? Who can tell?). A few more blocks and we were at another subway stop. Time to head back to the car and make our way back to Williamsburg.

Or so we thought....

(To Be Continued)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

To Commenter Who Inquired on CPAP's

Yesterday, someone commented and asked me to explain more about the Sleep Study procedure, where it was determined I should use a CPAP machine to help me sleep better at night.

There was no email address attached to the comment so I can't reply directly - although if that person wants to email me, I certainly will reply. If not, I'll just make a blog entry about it when I get back.

Thank you, and now....our Feature Presentation!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

To The Capitol

Tomorrow (Wednesday) we go to Washington DC, especially to see the National Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum on the Mall. Also planned are visits to the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam and WWII Memorial, and at least to see the Capitol Building and the White House.

Not sure how much of this we'll get done, because a) we'll only have one day or so, b) we're on foot, and c) the kids are with us. But we'll try.

I think it's vitally important and incumbent on us parents to not only provide the best educational opportunities for our kids at school, but to also take every chance to supplement it at home and away from home. BrainyBoy is still a bit young to understand a lot about the Government and the history of the country (although he certainly knows more than most 3rd/4th graders) but just for he and Tink to see where things happen and where the people live and work that shape -- not only our world today but their world tomorrow -- is vital.

I am very much looking forward to seeing the looks on their faces as they stand underneath the statue of Abraham Lincoln in his chair. I want to see them stare up at the Bull Elephant in the Smithsonian, the same as I did so long ago. I want to see them standing by the Reflecting Pool with the Washington Monument behind them.

I want them to start to learn how important these things are to our country. Symbols, yes, but also words. "Four score and seven years ago". Not just words...ideas. Ideas that shaped men and our nation. Now and forever.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Greetings from sunny and hot Williamsburg, VA. We're currently on our 4th day of vacation, and have visited a number of places.

In a nutshell: Colonial Williamsburg and Presidents Park on Saturday, swimming at Virginia Beach and sailing on a tall ship on Sunday (more about that later), and the day at Busch Gardens all day today (Monday).

The Tall Ship we sailed on yesterday was called the American Rover, and full details can be found on their website. It was a nice, comfortable out and back cruise out of Norfolk Harbor past several naval repair yards and cargo loading/offloading facilities. We saw one Navy Destroyer in for repairs (I don't recall the name it was the USS Ross, a Guided Missle Destroyer with an AEGIS detection system. Way cool.).

When you go on a short, two-hour boat tour there are inevitably the same types of people that you see every time. Each of these types of people were on our trip, and are types I've seen before on other trips.

1) THE KNOW-IT-ALL: This is the guy, usually not particularly dressed for a boat voyage, who knows everything about the boat, the harbor, the sea, the relative humidity, every type of business along the shore, the history of the entire shipping industry on the Eastern Seaboard and the various orbital trajectories of all major communications satellites currently in orbit. Ours was wearing a prim Greek captain's hat, which made me wonder if we had gotten shipwrecked for some reason I would have to call him Skipper.

2) THE ENGINEER: Tall and lanky, with a hat that doesn't match the surroundings this gentleman is obviously completely out of place on a boat. He doesn't look comfortable, while he will engage in conversation on occasion he still appears to wish he were anywhere else. I call this fellow the Engineer, because he looks like he'd be more at home back at the lab, construction aerothermal heat sinks for the new series of commercial avionics packages.

3) THE GRANDMA: She's jolly, gregarious and just plain HAPPY TO BE HERE! Especially when the grandkids are here because they are JUST SO PRECIOUS!! Interestingly the lady I'd pegged as the grandma on this trip liked cruise ship cruising like I do, and we struck up a nice conversation about our favorite destinations. Later, the little kids Tink was playing with turned out to be, natch, her grandkids.

4) THE DISAFFECTED YOUNG COUPLE: The folks on this cruise actually also fulfilled a second archetype (BONUS!), THE FOREIGNER. A nice looking couple in their 20's were late arrivals, planted themselves near the starboard bow side of the boat (near where I was sitting) and stayed right there the entire trip. While occasionally they looked at and spoke softly to one another, they didn't interact with anyone the entire time we were at sea. Both my wife and I eventually discovered they were speaking another language, but they didn't reacty positively or negatively to anything they saw. They might as well have been sitting together on the couch at home watching "Everybody Loves Raymond." And coming back it was worse, as each moved apart from each other and the girl cast her eyes downward the entire trip. They looked incredibly sad and out of place, and probably would have been more at home in a small French cafe discussing their problems. I kind of felt sorry for them because they looked so alone and out of place.

5) THE ROWDY: Someone inevitably gets a bet too big for his/her britches - this person wasn't really well represented on this particular trip because the passengers skewed a bit older, but there were a trio of interlopers that could've caused trouble. Yes, I'm talking about the pirates... Apparently this weekend was the Blackbeard Pirate Festival in Norfolk, and there seems to be a subculture of "pirates" out there that like to meet and great, wear costumes, and go rumming and wenching all over town. It seems to be a cross between your local members of the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Klingon Defense Force. Three such participants decided to join us, 2 gentlemen and one lady, and they were in full pirate regalia. And suffice to say, the lady's pirate costume was just busting out all over with Buccanalia, let me tell you... They were all actually fairly well behaved and intermingled here and there with the passengers - in fact, I thought they were hired "atmosphere" players for the boat until I found out different. Well, hey, if people can dress up as Stormtroopers for AdventureCon, I suppose we can have pirates as well. I'm just waiting to hear about ACCOUNTCON 2005.

So there are a few of the "archetypes" on trips. Surely, you have some more...


Friday, June 03, 2005

Gone Now. Back Later.

We've gone to Williamsburg, VA and Washington DC for the week. I'm not so important that I need a guest blogger to keep the seat warm - I think you can get by without me for a while...

See you around the 13th. May the Force Be With You.

Friday's Feast

Feast Fifty
Friday, June 03, 2005

Appetizer - What comes to mind when you hear the word bizarre?

The continuing fascination with reality shows. Not only the fascination, but the ability to discuss them for hours on end ;)

Soup - Using just a few words, describe your childhood.

My childhood was one of great fun - I loved to learn, I loved to read, I loved to play, I loved to pretend. I loved to ride my bike, I loved to live. I was loved, and learned how to love. I was respected, and learned how to respect. I was trusted and learned how to trust. I was shown compassion and learned to show compassion.

Salad - Name one thing you do each day that you feel improves your appearance.

How 'bout one thing that I don't do? Smoke. Well, one thing I do every day is wash my hair.

Main Course - On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how would you rate your self-confidence?

Truth or dare time, I see. My confidence in myself, overall, factoring in all aspects would be about a 5.

Dessert - Where did you last find a bargain?

Season One of "24" for $15 on, purchased last fall. Also 5 days at the Universal Theme Parks are $99, and I'm going with my old college roommate in 3 weeks.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

BusyMom Interviews Me

BusyMom has hit me with some interview we go:

1. WWSD (What would Scooby Doo?)


Shaggy and Velma enter, flashlights in hand. Velma is confident, Shaggy is quaking in fear.

Velma: C'mon Shaggy! Just a little further and we'll be at the old abandoned mausoleum!

Shaggy: Like, Vel-vel-vel-velma... do we have to come in here? It's like, uuuuber-creepy in here!!

Velma: C'mon,'s not so bad. The place where Old Man Jones told us he hid the treasure is just up ahead, inside those crypts..

Shaggy: Oh, man...Scooby Doo....WHERE ARE YOU???

Velma: You know he's with Daphne and Fred at the soda shop... Shaggy, you can't keep relying on Scooby to protect you, you know? Listen, when you're in a tough spot and he's not around, just ask yourself this: "WHAT WOULD SCOOBY DOO?"

Shaggy: (looking at Velma with a strange, terrified expression on his face) Urkk.....!

Velma: (Looks down at the ground underneath Shaggy's feet as a dripping noise is heard. She turns and walks away) Oh, Shaggy, that's just gross...


2. You've been hired to replace Katie Couric on the Today Show. What interview would you want to do for your debut? What would you ask?

I would like to interview George Lucas and ask him a lot of serious questions....

3. You have recently revealed your identity as a Jedi Knight. What is your Jedi name?

Master Bari Lasthomus. However, my Sith Lord name would be Darth Procrastinus.

4. Disney Land or Disney World?

I've never been to Disneyland so it's hardly fair, but I really can't imagine it holding a candle to Walt Disney World. Especially if we're talking about the whole four-park experience. Sure, Disneyland has the history, and a few rides WDW doesn't have but still....

5. Tell us about (and link to) one of your favorite blogs, perhaps someone who is "undiscovered". Why do you like them? What kinds of things would I read about there?

Everyone should visit Becky at April Fool because she makes me think.

Official Rules:

1. If you want to participate, leave a comment saying "interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person's will be different.
3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions. I will post your answers on my blog.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Target: 2050 (Roughly)

Calculate Your Life Expectancy

Your calculated health span is 84.3 years. Below, please find the reasoning behind the questions, which you answered that made your score less than it should be:

Healthspan Calculator: Feedback and Reasoning


1. What is your gender:

As a guy, you have your work cut out for you. Women have about a ten-year advantage over men. To catch up, you need to be extra-diligent about healthy habits.

Facts: Women have a head start in the longevity marathon. Many scientists speculate that estrogen plays a role. After menopause (average age 51 years), this advantage seems to diminish. Another theory holds that chronic iron deficiency (due to menstruation) gives a woman her advantage. Iron is critical to our cells' ability to produce age-accelerating free radicals that also predispose to heart disease, stroke and cancer.

3. What is your marital status:

New England Centenarian Study data suggests that in the case of men, being married provides a survival advantage.

Facts: Interestingly, New England Centenarian Study data suggests that marriage or having a partner in your life has different effects upon your life expectancy depending upon whether you are a man or woman. An unusual proportion of the female centenarians never married (about 15%). Perhaps personality features that lead to perseverance, independence, and assertiveness provide a survival advantage. Such women may also be particularly good at managing stress. On the other hand, nearly 100% of the male centenarians are married or were only recently widowed.

4. Close distance to family members:

Excellent, having family or friends who are like family to you can be an important feature of your ability to manage stress well and is probably a life expectancy extender.

Facts: Extended family cohesiveness and frequent contact is a notable feature of centenarian families. Researchers have noted that people who do not belong to cohesive families have fewer coping resources and increased levels of social and psychological stress. Psychological stress is associated with heart disease, various cancers and increased mortality risk.

5 (a and b). Stress Level/ Coping with stress

Keep up the good work. Doing your best to better manage your stress will positively impact many different aspects of your emotional and physical health. Consider numerous options in better managing your stress. Take a deep breath next time you are stressed and step back for a moment knowing that shedding the stress will be a much better immediate way of dealing with the matter and in the long term it will help you delay or even avoid illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. Try to learn methods (Tai Chi, breathing techniques, meditation) or activities (physical exercise, prayer) that help with shedding stress instead of internalizing it.

Facts: Centenarians shed emotional stress exceptionally well. Their stress-shedding personalities and the familial support, which they receive and contribute to are important stress-reducing mechanisms. Refer to the Mind Body Institute for more information []

6b. Sleep

Not getting enough sleep or experiencing ineffective sleep is common. There are many causes of sleep-related disorders and of not getting enough effective sleep.

Facts: Not getting enough sleep or experiencing ineffective sleep is common. There are many causes of sleep-related disorders and not getting enough effective sleep. There are also numerous good approaches and treatments to reverse these problems. Unfortunately, there are ineffective and even harmful ways of attempting to cure sleep problems. Two helpful sites are the Stanford University Center for the Center of Excellence for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Sleep Disorders [] and [].

B. Lifestyle Habits/ Environment

1. Air quality

The good news is that cities are cleaner now than they were even ten years ago. The bad news is that you are still exposed to air pollution. If you are experiencing new respiratory symptoms and you don't smoke, consider air pollution as a potential cause and discuss this with your physician or a specialist. Don't go out exerting yourself when smog alerts are in effect.

Facts: Numerous air pollutants are potent causes of cancer and contain oxidants, which accelerate aging.

2. Seatbelt usage

You obviously know the statistics about survival from a car crash with a seatbelt versus without one. Continue to be diligent in wearing your seatbelt.

Facts: Wearing a seatbelt, even in the presence of an airbag, dramatically increases your chances of minimizing injury or surviving a serious car accident.

3. Coffee

Whatever your reason for not drinking coffee, it definitely has you on the right track. Don't start because it is much harder to stop the habit once you pick it up.

Facts: Excessive coffee can be a sign of increased stress. Stress can lead to a hormonal imbalance, which can physically stress and age numerous organs. In addition, coffee predisposes the stomach to chronic inflammation of the stomach and ulcers. Such chronic inflammation leads to the release of substances that raise the risk of heart disease. Tea, and especially green tea, on the other hand, has been noted for its significant antioxidant content, and tea drinkers in general appear to be healthier.

4. Tea

You are a tea connoisseur! This is a very healthy habit and because of the antioxidants in tea, it may well be life extending as well.

Facts: Tea contains a powerful class of antioxidants known as polyphenols. It is controversial whether green tea has more bioavailable polyphenols than black tea. Either way however, you can't go wrong.

5b. Smoking/ Tobacco exposure

Facts: Cigarette smoke contains toxins, which directly damage DNA and subsequently cause cancer. Cigarettes are the biggest direct source of nitroamines humans are exposed to. These substances along with other constituents of cigarette smoke are potent oxidants and carcinogens that lead to accelerated aging, and diseases associated with aging. Each day, nearly 5,000 adolescents (aged 11-17) smoke their first cigarette. Almost two million teens annually, and approximately one-third of those that become smokers will eventually die of smoking-related illnesses. Helpful internet sites: Quitnet [] and the American Lung Association []

5c. Second hand smoke

Avoiding second hand smoke is a very important habit. Because second hand smoke is even more toxic than the filtered smoke that smokers inhale, it takes less of a "dose" or exposure to be toxic to your lungs and your body in general. Thus, keep avoiding the secondhand smoke as you have been doing.

Facts: Second hand smoke is more toxic than what the smoker gets because it is unfiltered. Such exposure is clearly a substantial cause of cancer, heart disease, asthma and other lung diseases.

6. Alcohol consumption per week/day

A moderate amount of alcohol consumption as you have indicated is healthy for you and probably reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Facts: Excessive alcohol is a toxin, which damages the liver and the mitochondria within most cells of the body. This leads to acceleration of aging and increased susceptibility to many diseases associated with aging. Moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with decreased heart disease risk. This may be one explanation for the "French paradox", in which the French are known for their love of high saturated fat foods, and yet their heart disease risks may be lower (except in the case of those who smoke cigarettes), perhaps because of the higher consumption of wine in that country. Refer to Alcoholics Anonymous [].

7. Aspirin

Perhaps you cannot tolerate an aspirin a day because it hurts your stomach or you have a propensity for bleeding. On the other hand, if you really don't have a reason to not take an aspirin a day, consider taking one daily.

Facts: 81 mg of Aspirin per day has been noted to significantly decrease heart disease risk. This benefit may be due to the anti-blood clotting effects of aspirin. Chronic inflammation may also play a role in heart disease (see 11, below) and therefore, aspirin's effect on inflammation may also be helpful. For more information go to: American Heart Association's findings []

8. Sun exposure & Sunscreen

You are doing an ok job of protecting yourself from the sun and therefore from accelerated aging of your skin as well as from deadly skin cancers such as melanoma. But you could do better. The payoff could be big! Especially when you are not as diligent as you should be in protecting your skin, you should have a regular skin (dermatology) check up and perform a monthly self-examination of your skin.

Facts: The association between sun exposure and accelerated skin aging is clear. The ultraviolet rays in sunlight directly damages DNA. More sun means more wrinkles sooner. It also means a higher risk of deadly skin cancer. Excessive sun exposure may also have toxic consequences for the body in general. For guidance on a self-exam, see []

9. Sexuality & Drugs

You are exercising good judgment.

Facts: Viruses such as HIV and others, which are transmitted by risky behavior, not only cause AIDS but also various cancers including lymphoma. These viruses change DNA and probably also, as a result, influence aging as well. For more information, go to: Centers for Disease Control and Advocates for Youth and Prevention Online

10. Flossing

You need to floss your teeth. There are benefits that go far beyond better breath, but don't underestimate the benefits of good breath! Diligent and regular flossing means keeping your teeth and very possibly reducing your risk of heart attack.

Facts: Recent scientific evidence reveals that chronic gum disease leads to the release of inflammatory, toxic substances and certain bacteria into the blood stream which potentiate plaque formation in arteries and ultimately lead to heart disease. This process probably also increases the risk of stroke and accelerated aging. For more information, go to: American Dental Association's findings [].

C. Nutrition & Exercise

1. Preserved meats & fast food

Fast food, generally fried foods and hamburgers, are high in calories and saturated fats. These will make you gain weight and they increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and perhaps cancer. Another potential risk factor for cancer is preserved meats.

Facts: Fast food, generally fried foods and hamburgers, are high in calories and saturated fats. These will make you gain weight and they increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and perhaps cancer. Some studies suggest that 90% of all human cancers are environmentally induced, 30-40% of these by diet. Preserved and cured meats (bacon, sausage, lunch meats, etc.) are the largest source of nitrites in our diet. Nitrites lead to the formation in our bodies of nitrosamines, which are important environmental oxidants and probable carcinogens. For instance, there is a suggestive association between nitrosamines and stomach cancer.

2. Fish, poultry, Meat preparation

Not barbecuing your food helps you avoid the carcinogens that can develop as a result of cooking meat and fish at very high heat. If you would like to barbecue, using a sheet of aluminum foil on the grill will help decrease the food's exposure to such protein-altering high heat.

Facts: Broiling (high heat) can change proteins and amino acids into substances called heterocyclic amines, which are potent mutagens or substances, which can alter your DNA.

3. Calcium Intake

Continue to do your best to insure that you are getting plenty of calcium from your diet and if needed, from a vitamin or calcium supplement. The recommended calcium intake is generally about 1,000 - 1,500 mg per day. In addition, be sure that you have enough vitamin D in your diet (fortified in milk, often added to calcium supplements, made by our bodies with 15-20 minutes of exposure to the sun}.

Facts: Adequate calcium intake in later life can slow the bone loss associated with aging. In addition to dairy products, calcium-fortified juices, breads and cereals are also excellent sources, as are calcium supplements like TUMS and over the counter calcium supplements. Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb the calcium we get in our diets. Milk is fortified with vitamin D and our bodies also make it when our skin is exposed to 15 to 20 minutes a day of sunlight. People who rarely go outside are prone to vitamin D deficiency. Large quantities of salty foods and meat can significantly increase the amount of calcium lost in the urine. Adequate calcium intake may not prevent the accelerated bone loss in women during and for several years after menopause, caused by estrogen deficiency. Some foods high in calcium also contain oxalic acid, which interferes with calcium absorption. Spinach is such a food.

4b. Snacks

Good job… some of the snacks you are eating are at least healthy. Be careful that you don't eat too much though, leading to weight gain. Be mindful of the number of calories in the foods you eat and try to not go above a healthy number of calories per day.

Watch out! Snacks are a common cause of excess calories that lead to being overweight or even obese. Add on top of that the poor nutritional value of the snacks that you are eating and you could really be doing yourself some harm. Do your best to change this habit. At least change the type of snacks you eat. Try fruit, vegetables like carrot sticks, popcorn, healthy fruit drinks etc. Even with some of these healthy foods, such as fruits and fruit drinks, you can take in significant calories so be aware of not only what you are eating but how much.

Facts: Nutrition experts vary on the benefits of snacking. Some say that 6 small meals a day is better than three big meals. Others indicate the opposite. You should choose a dietary habit that works best for you with the goal of not being overweight. Certainly if you do snack, be sure they are healthy snacks. Most sweets have little if any nutritional value and in the end, because they are so calorie rich from fats, they will certainly predispose you to being overweight or even heavier. Switch from those unhealthy snacks to healthy ones. Then, consider if the snacks are helping you maintain a lean body mass or not.

5. Meat

You are eating too much meat. Those who eat meat as often as you do are more at risk of heart disease and stroke than those who eat it less often. You are also missing out on alternatives to meat that actually can protect you from these and other diseases. For example, polyphenols present in certain vegetables and fruits, and the omega-3 fatty acids in fish that help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol contribute to a more healthy cardiovascular system.

Facts: When weighing meat against vegetables and fish or skinless poultry, meat definitely loses out when it comes to your health. The American Heart Association recommends a diet that minimizes meat in the diet and emphasizes these alternatives. Vegetarian dishes, in addition to being an alterative to meat, also have antioxidants that protect the heart and brain. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help a person raise their good cholesterol (HDL) and lower their bad cholesterol (LDL) thus decreasing their risk for heart attack and stroke.

6. Desserts

Wow, such restraint! You should be proud of yourself and keep it up. Certainly, it is understandable if you have diabetes or significant heart or cerebrovascular disease (stroke and dementia) that you are staying away from sweets. By staying away from these foods that have little in the way of nutritional value and yet significantly increase propensity for obesity and therefore heart attack, stroke, cancer and diabetes, anyone will make great gains in their life expectancy and the proportion of their lives spent in good health.

Facts: Most desserts and certainly candy bars are high in saturated fats and calories. Both are terrible for you predisposing for weight gain, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. By helping you become obese, they increase your risk of various cancers.

7. Carbohydrate consumption

Facts: Not only is the number of calories you eat important, but the type of calories are important as well. Grains, pastas, fruits, and starchy vegetables like potatoes are the most common carbohydrate foods. Simple carbohydrates like white bread, potatoes (especially French fries), pasta, white rice and sugar as well, cause the body to produce insulin in response to elevated levels of glucose in the blood. The insulin in turn induces the storage, instead of burning, of fat. Other foods like fats, protein, and more complex carbohydrates like whole grain foods and fiber are less prone to turn on the production of insulin.

The glycemic index of food is a ranking of foods based on their immediate effect on blood glucose (blood sugar) levels and thus the production of insulin. Carbohydrate foods that break down quickly during digestion have the highest glycemic indexes causing blood sugar and insulin to rise fast and high. Carbohydrates that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have low glycemic indexes. The lower the glycemic index, the less likely that food is going to contribute to the production of fat. There are numerous books and websites that provide the glycemic indices for foods and drinks. However the general food groups noted above are a good start in your education.

9. Calorie consumption

Good for you! You are doing better or at least aiming for a goal better than more than 60% of the country who are at least overweight. Being overweight is a significant risk factor for many age-related diseases as well as various cancers. Keep up the good work. Stay lean!

Facts: Obesity is associated with inefficient energy production and an increased production of oxygen radicals within cells, therefore leading to increased risk of various cancers, heart disease and accelerated aging. It may also lead to diabetes. For more information, go to: ShapeUp America! and NIH: Nutrition and Obesity

11. Exercise and physical activity

Good job. You are already making a great effort at getting that exercise into your daily routine. If you can increase the frequency even one day to three times a week, the added benefits to your physical and mental health could be substantial. Don't forget to be balanced in how much aerobic exercise you do versus strength training. Both are very important. Also, if you are doing a lot of high impact workouts, gauge how much wear and tear you are putting on your weight-bearing joints so that you don't set yourself up for premature osteoarthritis.

Facts: Exercise leads to more efficient energy production by your cells and less oxygen radical formation (which speeds up aging and increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and cancer). Muscle is a tremendously efficient burner of fat and maintaining muscle mass has many benefits. Therefore, strength training is important. Depending upon how much one weighs, we generally lose a third of a pound of muscle every year after age 30, which is replaced by fat. Muscle loss can be completely reversed no matter what your age, by regular strengthening exercises.

D. Medical Check-up

1. Bowel movement

Having a bowel movement at least once every two days may be at least associated with decreased risk of colon cancer.

Facts: Keeping gut transit time under 20 hours seems to decrease the incidence of colon cancer, probably by decreasing the contact time between the gut lining and cancer-potentiating substances in the diet. These substances influence DNA damage and repair and therefore probably also influence the rate of aging as well. Epidemiological studies in humans and animal studies suggest that increasing dietary fiber will reduce the risk of certain cancers perhaps by increasing the frequency of bowel movements. On the other hand, recent reports indicate that the association may not be as clear as once believed. In addition to increased transit time and therefore less contact between carcinogens and the bowel wall, perhaps other factors that increase transit time such as regular exercise might be the real reason for decreased cancer risk.

2. Male: Self- examinations for cancer

Self-examination is critical in detecting this cancer before it is too late. What's the big deal to check yourself while you are in the shower? In about 90% of cases, men have a painless or an uncomfortable lump on a testicle, or they may notice testicular enlargement or swelling. Men with testicular cancer often report a sensation of heaviness or aching in the lower abdomen or scrotum.

Facts: Most testicular cancers occur between the ages of 15 and 40. But, this cancer can affect males of any age, including infants and elderly men. Self-examination is critical in detecting this cancer before it is too late. In about 90% of cases, men have a painless or an uncomfortable lump on a testicle, or they may notice testicular enlargement or swelling. Men with testicular cancer often report a sensation of heaviness or aching in the lower abdomen or scrotum. For more information, go to the American Cancer Society's Testicular Cancer resource Center:

3. Cholesterol & Triglyceride level

The first thing to do is congratulate you on knowing what your HDL level is. And second, it is good to know now, rather than later that your HDL level is too low. The sooner you can correct the situation the better. There are a number of steps that you can take to lower your LDL level, including diet, exercise, not smoking, weight loss and certain medications.

Facts: HDL cholesterol is known as the "good" cholesterol because a high level of HDL cholesterol appears to protect against heart attack. Medical experts think that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is processed, dumped in the intestine and then passed from the body. Some experts believe that excess cholesterol is removed from atherosclerotic plaque by HDL, thus slowing the build-up. However, low HDL cholesterol levels (lower than 35 mg/dL) may result in a greater risk for heart disease and stroke. For more information about cholesterol, other risk factors and treatment, go to the American Heart Association's website at:


Good job on knowing what your level is! And, congratulations on having a level that places you at lower risk for developing atherosclerosis or plaque in the arteries. However, there are other risk factors as well.

Facts: A high level (higher than 130 mg/dL) of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, reflects an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. That's why LDL cholesterol is often called "bad" cholesterol. When too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can lead to the formation of plaque in the blood vessels that feed the heart and the brain. When enough of this blockage occurs, a heart attack or stroke can occur. To learn more about risk factors you can modify, go to the American Heart Association's website at:


Good job on knowing what your level is! And, congratulations on having a level that places you at lower risk for developing atherosclerosis or plaque in the arteries. However, there are other risk factors as well.

Facts: Triglycerides are the form in which fat exists in meats, cheese, fish, nuts, vegetable oils, and the greasy layer on the surface of soup stocks or in a pan in which bacon has been fried. A recent Danish study found that men with the highest levels of triglycerides were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack when compared to those with the lowest triglyceride levels. In a healthy person, triglycerides and other fatty substances are normally moved into the liver and into storage cells to provide energy for later use. People with less than 200 milligrams of triglycerides per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood are considered to have normal triglyceride levels. However, the Danish study indicated that levels even as low as 145 mg/dL could indicate increased risk. Between 200 and 400 mg/dL is borderline high; between 400 and 1,000 mg/dL is a high triglyceride level; and greater than 1,000 mg/dL is considered very high triglycerides. For more information about triglycerides go to the American Heart Association's Website at:

4. Blood pressure

a. Systolic

You have a normal systolic blood pressure. Exercise, stress management and, if you are overweight, getting your weight down will probably lower it… the closer to 100-110 the better.

Facts: Blood pressure results from two forces. The first force is created as your heart pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system and this is the systolic pressure. The second is created as the arteries resist the blood flow and this is the diastolic pressure. A systolic blood pressure greater than 140 is considered high, meaning that the person is at increased risk for heart attack and stroke. The risk climbs thereafter in proportion to the pressure.

b. Diastolic

You have a normal diastolic blood pressure. Exercise, stress management and, if you are overweight, getting your weight down will probably lower it… the closer to the 70-80 range the better.

Facts: Blood pressure results from two forces. The first force is created as your heart pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system and this is the systolic pressure. The second is created as the arteries resist the blood flow and this is the diastolic pressure. A systolic blood pressure greater than 140 is considered high, meaning that the person is at increased risk for heart attack and stroke. The risk climbs thereafter in proportion to the pressure.

5. Diabetes/ Blood Sugar Level

Of course, it is great that you don't have diabetes. Lower your risk by losing weight if you are overweight. Get your blood sugar checked at least every three years and watch for some of the more common symptoms of diabetes including excessive and persistent thirst, voiding large amounts of urine frequently with normal amounts of fluid intake, unexplained weight loss.

Facts: Diabetes occurs because a person's body does not make enough insulin and/or because the cells and tissues in their body are relatively resistant to the insulin they produce (and so the insulin is less effective). As a result, diabetics can have large amounts of glucose in their circulation. By far and away, the more common form of diabetes is Adult Onset Diabetes and this is often associated with obesity. This form is often well controlled (meaning the blood glucose level is kept normal) with weight loss, diet and/or oral medication. Sometimes insulin injections are necessary. The other form of diabetes is called juvenile diabetes, which more often occurs in children and requires insulin injections. Good control has been shown to decrease risk of heart and kidney disease and diabetic eye problems, all unfortunate problems associated with diabetes. Like high blood pressure, a person can have diabetes for a long time and not know it, thus it is very important that children and adults are regularly screened for it. The good news is that people are living long, productive and basically otherwise normal lives given the excellent treatments available. Watch for some of the more common symptoms of diabetes including excessive and persistent thirst, voiding large amounts of urine frequently with normal amounts of fluid intake, unexplained weight loss. Take a diabetes risk test: American Diabetes Association:

6. Last medical check-up


1. Diabetes in Family

You are lucky to not have diabetes running in your family. Now do a good job of taking advantage of those genes and don't do things that could predispose you to the disease nonetheless, such as being obese.

Facts: Diabetes causes excessive exposure to glucose and therefore debilitating cross-linking of proteins. This results in age-related problems such as cataracts, impaired nerve function, eye disease, heart disease and other vascular problems. Take a diabetes risk test: American Diabetes Association:

2. Cancer in Family

You are lucky to apparently not have cancer running in your family. Now do a good job of taking advantage of those genes and don't do things that could predispose you to cancer nonetheless, such as being obese, smoking, etc.

3. How old and how healthy are/were your parents?


It is great that your mom is healthy. Given that she is less than 80, it is still a bit hard to predict her longevity and therefore form some idea of the longevity in your family.

b. Father

It is great that your dad is healthy. Given that he is less than 80, it is still a bit hard to predict his longevity and therefore form some idea of the longevity in your family.

Facts: Genetics plays a significant role in the ability to achieve extreme old age. If both sides of your family contract diseases associated with aging significantly before average life expectancy, then it behooves you to do all you can to maximize your health status. If you have significant extreme longevity in your family, this will help significantly in your own ability to achieve old age in good health.

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