Monthly Archives: July 2010

Go with the Flow

I’m Nathan, and this is how I roll with it.

There was a time, not too long ago, that I hated when things didn’t go as planned, when something I was looking forward to didn’t happen. But I’m finally learning how to enjoy spontaneity. More on that in a bit.

My weekend started Saturday when a good friend and I headed out to Ohiopyle (a state park here in Pennsylvania). First we stopped by the gorgeous Cucumber Falls (a bit low, though, due to a recent lack of rain). Always nice to stop there and just take in the beauty. I’m not generally too fond of being out in nature, but places like this are an exception.

Then we moved on to the main plan of the weekend, touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. A brief history lesson: Fallingwater was built for the owners of Kaufmann’s Department Store in the 1930s by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s generally considered to be his greatest work, and it tops several lists of must-see places. It utilizes and incorporates the natural landscape (including a stream) into the house.

And it has no air-conditioning. The Kaufmanns and, more importantly, Wright felt that the air from the stream was natural air-conditioning. I think they were crazy and at some point over the years before it became a museum, I would definitely have installed real central air. Walking through splendid but rather tight-fitting home with a bunch of other people in 90-plus degree weather wasn’t the most pleasant (or pleasant-smelling) experience of my life. But it is a beautiful and interesting place and was well worth the visit. Read more about Fallingwater on Wikipedia.

Today, I was supposed to go to my company picnic at the Pittsburgh Zoo, which I enjoy visiting and haven’t seen in a couple years. I was quite looking forward to it, and my cousin, who hasn’t been to the zoo in over 25 years, was excited, as well.

It was the first time in the nearly six years I’ve worked there that the company picnic was held on a weekend offsite. It’s been in our parking lot during work hours since I’ve been there, though I understand in years past they did hold it in various places. Also in the years I’ve worked there, I don’t think it’s rained for our picnic.

Today, however, it rained. The weather forecasts I saw said the rain should start around noon and would last most of the afternoon for “most of the viewing area.” We hoped we’d get there and be able to walk the zoo before the rain hit, then go to the cover of pavilion and enjoy the picnic.

The rain started hardcore about 10 minutes into our hour-long drive. My mood fell. My cousin and I decided, based on the radar information on the weather.com app on my phone, that this wasn’t leaving anytime soon, and we rerouted and altered our plans.

This is the point where, not long ago, I would’ve freaked out. I didn’t used to be big on improvisation. I like schedules and order. I like knowing exactly what I’m going to be doing and when I’m going to do it. But I went with it, I let the day take me where it led, and it turned out to be rather enjoyable anyway. We wound up seeing “Predators,” which I enjoyed, though not enough to write an entire dedicated review. It was well-done, and I’d certainly watch it again, but that’s about all I can say.

And then I had fantastic chicken parmesan and possibly the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had at Bravo! Cucina Italiana. Yay for good food!

I understand the rain didn’t last too long at the zoo (apparently, the rain clouds just followed us, because it rained much of the day where we were) and those who went wound up enjoying it, so I’m glad that it wasn’t a total wash. I’m definitely really disappointed that I didn’t get there and hope no one was upset by my absence (though perhaps I give my presence, or lack thereof, too much credit), but I still enjoyed the day. And I consider that pretty significant progress in my attempt to relax in life.

That said, I really hope little “surprises” like that don’t happen too often. I’m relaxing, not changing completely.


Nathan
Follow me on Twitter @howirollblog
Like my blog? Share it!

<!–[if !mso]> <! st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } –>

I’m Nathan, and this is how I roll with it.

There was a time, not too long ago, that I hated when things didn’t go as planned, when something I was looking forward to didn’t happen. But I’m finally learning how to enjoy spontaneity. More on that in a bit.

My weekend started Saturday when a good friend and I headed out to Ohiopyle (a state park here in Pennsylvania). First we stopped by the gorgeous Cucumber Falls (a bit low, though, due to a recent lack of rain). Always nice to stop there and just take in the beauty. I’m not generally too fond of being out in nature, but places like this are an exception.

Then we moved on to the main plan of the weekend, touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. A brief history lesson: Fallingwater was built for the owners of Kaufmann’s Department Store in the 1930s by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s generally considered to be his greatest work, and it tops several lists of must-see places. It utilizes and incorporates the natural landscape (including a stream) into the house.

And it has no air-conditioning. The Kaufmanns and, more importantly, Wright felt that the air from the stream was natural air-conditioning. I think they were crazy and at some point over the years before it became a museum, I would definitely have installed real central air. Walking through splendid but rather tight-fitting home with a bunch of other people in 90-plus degree weather wasn’t the most pleasant (or pleasant-smelling) experience of my life. But it is a beautiful and interesting place and was well worth the visit. Read more about Fallingwater on Wikipedia.

Today, I was supposed to go to my company picnic at the Pittsburgh Zoo, which I enjoy visiting and haven’t seen in a couple years. I was quite looking forward to it, and my cousin, who hasn’t been to the zoo in over 25 years, was excited, as well.

It was the first time in the nearly six years I’ve worked there that the company picnic was held on a weekend offsite. It’s been in our parking lot during work hours since I’ve been there, though I understand in years past they did hold it in various places. Also in the years I’ve worked there, I don’t think it’s rained.

Today, it rained. The weather forecasts I saw said the rain should start around noon and would last most of the afternoon. We hoped we’d get there and be able to walk the zoo before the rain hit, then go to the cover of pavilion and enjoy the picnic.

The rain started hardcore about 10 minutes into our hour-long drive. My mood fell. My cousin and I decided, based on the radar information on the weather.com app on my phone, that this wasn’t leaving anytime soon, and we rerouted and altered our plans.

This is the point where I would’ve freaked out, not too long ago. I didn’t used to be big on improvisation. I like schedules and order. I like knowing exactly what I’m going to be doing and when I’m going to do it. But I went with it, I let the day take me where it led, and it turned out to be rather enjoyable anyway. We wound up seeing “Predators,” which I enjoyed, though not enough to write an entire dedicated review. It was well-done, and I’d certainly watch it again, but that’s about all I can say.

And then I had fantastic chicken parmesan and possibly the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had at Bravo! Cucina Italiana. Yay for good food!

I understand the rain didn’t last too long at the zoo (apparently, the rain clouds just followed us, because it rained much of the day where we were) and those who went wound up enjoying it, so I’m glad about that. I’m definitely really disappointed that I didn’t get there and hope no one was upset by my absence, but I still enjoyed the day. And I consider that pretty significant progress in my attempt to relax in life.

That said, I really hope little “surprises” like that don’t happen too often. I’m relaxing, not changing completely.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Advertisements

My first poll

I’ve thought about changing the theme/layout of this blog, mainly because I’m dissatisfied with the large font size of this one. So, I created my first poll on this very subject. Answer it, please!


Bird vs. Squirrel

This bird wasn’t particularly thrilled about the squirrel eating. I thought it was too funny not to share. By the time I had my camera, I had missed some of the best stuff. There were two birds attacking it at one point. Sometimes it’s really nice living in the country.


Nathan

Follow me on Twitter @howirollblog
Like my blog? Share it!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


An Evolution of Literary Preference

I’m Nathan, and this is how I read. Or, more technically, what I read.

My tastes have evolved considerably in my life. When I was young, I read children’s mysteries. “The Boxcar Children,” for example, was incredible. I devoured every book in that series. They still hold a special place in my heart. When I was still fairly young, I actually wrote a series of books that paid homage to them, which I called “The Treehouse Gang.” I also loved “Goosebumps,” but I think most ‘90s kids did. I also, of course, read Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. (Side note: Though I have no desire to see it, the trailers for “Ramona and Beezus” make my heart a little warmer.)

Then I started getting into sci-fi. I remember reading “I Spent My Summer Vacation Kidnapped Into Space” and the “My Teacher is an Alien” series. In case you haven’t realized by now, I was a Scholastic child. Holla if you remember Scholastic Book Club fondly. I read a ton of “Star Trek” novels.

When I was 10 or 11, I read “Jurassic Park” for the first time, and soon after started into other Michael Crichton technothrillers, like “Sphere” and “Congo.” I remained a fan of his for quite some time afterward, with “Timeline” being my favorite of his later books. I still re-read “Jurassic Park” and “The Lost World” every few years, and they never get old. Nowadays, I still enjoy an occasional technothriller. Lincoln Child wrote one called “Utopia” a few years back, about the most advanced theme park in the world. I love it.

But in my mid-teens, I started getting into fantasy (prior to this, the only fantasy books I’d read was “The Chronicles of Narnia”). This was fueled by my love of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and my foray into fantasy literature started with novels based on that TV series.

Then I found – and this isn’t particularly shocking – Harry Potter. I had never devoured books so hungrily. Even now, I can’t burn through books like I did Harry Potter. I read the last in around six or seven hours. (Question: Did anyone else find that, after reading “Deathly Hallows,” it really brought closure to the series? I used to re-read every Potter book repeatedly, but after reading “Deathly Hallows,” I found myself so satisfied that I no longer go back to read any of them anymore.)

And after that discovery, I delved into other fantasy novels, eventually settling into the supernatural mystery genre (urban fantasy). Another of my favorites is the Harry Dresden series. I’ve always found it funny that another wizard named Harry just happened to make it into my must-reads. Jim Butcher struck gold with that character. Harry Dresden is perfectly developed – not a superhuman, just a reluctant (almost anti) hero who has learned to use magic. He’s strong, but he takes a beating on many an occasion.

I also love the Mercy Thompson series, about a Native American woman who has the ability to shapeshift into a coyote. And not just because of the fact that she’s depicted on the covers as being incredibly hot. Mercy generally solves murders or other mysteries, dealing with ghosts, vampires, and being in love with two werewolves at once.

I enjoyed the start of the Anita Blake series, before it became nothing more than glorified porn, and I also started reading Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series. Not sure where that one lost me, but I may one day return to it. And I still anxiously await each new book in Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series.

I really liked “Twilight,” but I wouldn’t put the series in my top five, for reasons I’ve discussed in earlier blogs.

At the beginning of this year, I found a book series that has quickly become my second favorite (after Harry Potter). The Mortal Instruments trilogy, written by Cassandra Clare, is pretty much perfect. The only thing stopping me from ranking it above Potter is, well, the fact that Potter was my first, so to speak. The story centers on a girl named Clary, who lives a rather ordinary life with her single mother, and then one day her mother is kidnapped, and she discovers that her parents were Shadowhunters – people who fight demons. As she starts to learn about this world, she falls in love with a boy named Jace. And then things get really complicated. I cannot stress enough how much I love this trilogy. And I can’t wait for first book in what is rumored to be another trilogy in this series. (Side note: This is one of only two books I’ve actually had dreams about. The other was Stephen King’s “Dreamcatcher,” but that dream freaked me the heck out.)

And I just finished another of my new favorites: “The Mortal Coils” by Eric Nylund, about 15-year-old twins, a brother and a sister, who’ve lived an incredibly sheltered life with the grandmother and great-grandmother, only to discover that they are the children of a goddess and a fallen angel. This leads into a series of trials that will ultimately determine if they live or die. Fast-paced and immersive, I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series, which just happened to be released today.

Anyway, that’s the evolution of my literary tastes. Hopefully you read one or two of my favorites and fall in love with them yourself. These are the books that inspire me, that transport me into an elsewhere. We all need that, and some of us have different means of getting there. I also use TV and movies. Some use alcohol or drugs. So I’m glad I have books.

If you share similar tastes, by all means, make some suggestions. I’m always looking for new books to lose myself in.

Also, I apologize for the randomness of this post. I started writing it at 12:30 in the morning, because it had been on my mind. I’m sure it by no means is my best work.


Nathan

Follow me on Twitter @howirollblog
Like my blog? Share it!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


Grandma, This One’s for You

I’m Nathan, and this is how I roll-minisce.

Thirteen years ago today, one of the most important people in my life passed away. She was kind, caring, compassionate. She was also iron-fisted, opinionated, and strong. She was the oldest kid I ever knew, but she was also one of the wisest adults.

She was supposed to live forever.

She was my grandmother.

I was 13 years old at the time. And she was my best friend. She lived next door, so I had the opportunity to see her almost every day. If I didn’t see her, I at least talked to her.

We drove each other crazy sometimes. I’ve heard stories about how, when I was quite young, I’d storm out of the house and walk towards my own…then return a few minutes later to play.

She loved board games, card games, blowing bubbles, sledding, playing with action figures, watching “Bananas in Pajamas” and “Escape to Witch Mountain,” hiding Easter eggs even if it had snowed. She let me pretend to cut her hair and build forts and play superheroes. She played a mean game of Go Fish, Monopoly Junior, and Sorry!

She never let me win, even though I was a horrible loser. She was never easy on me. She told everything exactly as it was. Often, she hurt my feelings. Sometimes, perhaps, she was too rough.

And I’d give anything to have her back.

I remember the evening she died very clearly. She’d been in the hospital, and perhaps to sugar-coat things, people told me she was getting a little better. I remember when the phone rang and Mom answered it. I remember her quoting my aunt as she told my father, “Mum is dying.” I ran my room, buried my head in my pillow, and cried.

My dad rushed off to be with her, hoping to make it to the hospital before she died. After I emerged from my room, I sat with my mother and watched “Home Improvement,” waiting for news. I even laughed at some of the jokes. But none of them were funny that night.

I was angry at myself for not going to see her in the hospital, angry at my parents for not asking me if I wanted to go, angry once more at myself because I probably would’ve said no. I was livid that no one had been honest with me about her condition. I was upset that it was her and not my grandfather, though I loved him, too, but he was miserable his entire life and pretty much just waiting to die, whereas she wanted to live for a hundred years and if she liked it, shoot for a hundred more.

I had nothing to do with the funeral. I didn’t want to see her that way. And I knew she’d wanted to be cremated, but Grandpap buried her anyway.

Even that night, when my rather large family gathered at their house, I refused to go over for a while. I stayed, watching them from a distance, steeling myself. Then I walked over.

I remember them telling stories about Grandma. I remember my aunt – with whom I am quite close now, but not so much at the time – giving me a hug and telling me she loved me.

And I remember how empty I felt for a long time afterwards. And how lonely. I hadn’t just lost my best friend. I’d lost one of my only friends.

I often wonder how different my life would’ve been if she had stuck around. And different it would indeed have been. She would’ve pushed me to be better than I was. She would’ve helped me survive the turmoil of my high-school years. She would’ve helped me feel comfortable being me.

And, in all likelihood, she would’ve made me cry on more than one occasion. Just like I am right now as I write this. But these are good tears.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her. And not a day goes by that she doesn’t make me smile, even now.

I love you, Grandma. Always have, always will. And though I hope the day we see each other again doesn’t come for a long time, I look forward to it nonetheless.


Nathan
Follow me on Twitter @howirollblog
Like my blog? Share it!

I’m Nathan, and this is how I roll-minisce.

Thirteen years ago today, one of the most important people in my life passed away. She was kind, caring, compassionate. She was also iron-fisted, opinionated, and strong. She was the oldest kid I ever knew, but she was also one of the wisest adults.

She was supposed to live forever.

She was my grandmother.

I was 13 years old at the time. And she was my best friend. She lived next door, so I had the opportunity to see her almost every day. If I didn’t see her, I at least talked to her.

We drove each other crazy sometimes. I’ve heard stories about how, when I was quite young, I’d storm out of the house and walk towards my own…then return a few minutes later to play.

She loved board games, card games, blowing bubbles, sledding, playing with action figures, watching “Bananas in Pajamas” and “Escape to Witch Mountain,” hiding Easter eggs even if it had snowed. She let me pretend to cut her hair and build forts and play superheroes. She played a mean game of Go Fish, Monopoly Junior, and Sorry!

She never let me win, even though I was a horrible loser. She was never easy on me. She told everything exactly as it was. Often, she hurt my feelings. Sometimes, perhaps, she was too rough.

And I’d give anything to have her back.

I remember the evening she died very clearly. She’d been in the hospital, and perhaps to sugar-coat things, people told me she was getting a little better. I remember when the phone rang and Mom answered it. I remember her quoting my aunt as she told my father, “Mum is dying.” I ran my room, buried my head in my pillow, and cried.

My dad rushed off to be with her, hoping to make it to the hospital before she died. After I emerged from my room, I sat with my mother and watched “Home Improvement,” waiting for news. I even laughed at some of the jokes. But none of them were funny that night.

I was angry at myself for not going to see her in the hospital, angry at my parents for not asking me if I wanted to go, angry once more at myself because I probably would’ve said no. I was livid that no one had been honest with me about her condition. I was upset that it was her and not my grandfather, though I loved him, too, but he was miserable his entire life and pretty much just waiting to die, whereas she wanted to live for a hundred years and if she liked it, shoot for a hundred more.

I had nothing to do with the funeral. I didn’t want to see her that way. And I knew she’d wanted to be cremated, but Grandpap buried her anyway.

Even that night, when my rather large family gathered at their house, I refused to go over for a while. I stayed, watching them from a distance, steeling myself. Then I walked over.

I remember them telling stories about Grandma. I remember my aunt – with whom I am quite close now, but not so much at the time – giving me a hug and telling me she loved me.

And I remember how empty I felt for a long time afterwards. And how lonely. I hadn’t just lost my best friend. I’d lost one of my only friends.

I often wonder how different my life would’ve been if she had stuck around. And different it would indeed have been. She would’ve pushed me to be better than I was. She would’ve helped me survive the turmoil of my high-school years. She would’ve helped me feel comfortable being me.

And, in all likelihood, she would’ve made me cry on more than one occasion. Just like I am right now as I write this. But these are good tears.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her. And not a day goes by that she doesn’t make me smile, even now.

I love you, Grandma. Always have, always will. And though I hope the day we see each other again doesn’t come for a long time, I look forward to it nonetheless.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


Show Some Class

I’m Nathan, and this is how I roll…respectfully.

I like a lot of celebrities, and I admit it. There are quite a few I’d like to meet, but thus far, I haven’t met any. (Though I do have an autographed picture of beautiful stage actress Megan Hilty displayed proudly on my wall.) More importantly, I’ve wanted to watch a movie be filmed my entire life.

A few have been filmed here in Pittsburgh. I was too young for some – “Silence of the Lambs,” “Robocop.” I was uninterested in the cast of others – “Mothman Prophecies.” But it’s still always been a dream of mine.

That said, there’s a movie filming in the area right now called “Abduction.” Its cast consists of a few people I really like – Alfred Molina, for starters, a.k.a. Dr. Octopus in “Spider-man 2.” And, more importantly, the lead is Taylor Lautner, most famous for playing Jacob Black the werewolf in the “Twilight” series. It also stars Lily Collins from “The Blind Side” and Jason Isaacs, whom I love as Lucius Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” series.

This would be an incredibly cool thing to watch, and I would absolutely love to meet some of these actors and get pictures and autographs.

But they are still people. They deserve respect. Which is why I can’t for the life of me understand the mobs of girls and women who all but attack these people, Taylor Lautner specifically. I mean, to the point where police turn people away. I get that they think he’s “incredibly hot” and all, but when you’re screaming in his face and trying to tear his shirt off (assuming he’s wearing one – I mean, I have seen the “Twilight” movies), you’re not going to endear yourself to him. And if he can’t come talk to you while you’re there, chill out. He doesn’t owe it to you. He’s here working, not here to socialize.

I, myself, would like to actually have a brief conversation with these people. Their craft fascinates me. Working in the post-production end of things, I still haven’t really gotten to see (aside from DVD bonus features) the production end. I admire their work (both the cast and the crew).

Now, I have no idea if I’ll actually get to. I intend to try. The way my luck goes, I probably won’t. But it’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. And if I do, I won’t be mobbing them. Won’t be fighting and clawing my way through a crowd so that I can scream in someone’s face and not actually be able to hear anything. Whether you’re 12, 20, 50, or 100, you’re still capable of respecting people.

After all, we want people to enjoy Pittsburgh, not avoid it at all costs. And if we act like we’re crazy, they won’t come back. Doesn’t mean we’re not crazy, mind you. But we don’t have to act like it.


Nathan
Follow me on Twitter @howirollblog
Like my blog? Share it!

4th of July

I’m Nathan, and this is how my family rolls on the 4th of July.

Every year, family and friends head over to my uncle’s house for my cousin Chad’s 4th of July celebration. After several years, I can honestly say it hasn’t gotten old. Good food, good company, and the ever-entertaining wiffle-ball game. And Chad always puts on a fireworks show. Below is a slideshow of the photos I took, as well as a video. I’d intended to add music to the video, but, well, I got lazy. Anyway, enjoy! Happy 4th, everyone!

//

//


Nathan

Follow me on Twitter @howirollblog
Like my blog? Share it!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


4th of July

I’m Nathan, and this is how my family rolls on the 4th of July.

Every year, family and friends head over to my uncle’s house for my cousin Chad’s 4th of July celebration. After several years, I can honestly say it hasn’t gotten old. Good food, good company, and the ever-entertaining wiffle-ball game. And Chad always puts on a fireworks show. Below is a slideshow of the photos I took, as well as a video. I’d intended to add music to the video, but, well, I got lazy. Anyway, enjoy! Happy 4th, everyone!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Nathan

Follow me on Twitter @howirollblog
Like my blog? Share it!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


%d bloggers like this: