I am terrible at planning meals.  Awful.  I think about meals ahead of time quite often, as I do enjoy cooking and the satisfaction of a job well done, when you take that first bite and everything has come together perfectly, is wonderful.  Unfortunately the best way to achieve that result is to plan, to shop, to set time aside and prepare hours in advance; that’s not how I operate.  The other day we had a surprise pot roast for dinner thanks to the in-laws generous donation, however it wasn’t cooked with vegetables and potatoes (this ended up being a good thing).  Obviously a great portion of this went uneaten.  The next night we had boiled sausage and cabbage, and since our girls don’t eat cabbage, they had green beans for a veggie.  We never use all the cabbage, so I saved that, and the girls didn’t eat all the green beans (lightly seasoned with garlic salt).  I now had an idea.

Today is another winter day off, as close to personal days or vacation days as I get in my line of work.  As long as there aren’t too many of them and they don’t affect the bottom line too heavily, I try to take advantage of them.  Clearly this was a wide open window of opportunity to execute the beef stew I contemplated the other day.  Three of my ingredients were ready to go, I even saved all the juices and simple gravy from the roast.  What to fill it out with?  My wife and I have been trying to eat “clean”, or at least as clean as we can stand, so potatoes are  a no-no.  A-ha!  Sweet potatoes!  Carrots!  Onion!  Excellent!

I took a whole onion, chunked half of it and petaled the other, and browned it lightly in 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil.  In went the leftover pot roast, and two cups of water.  Then for the sweet potato, I took a monster one out of the bag (equivalent of two mediums probably), scrubbed it but didn’t peel, and made 1/2″ cubes.   In went the chopped carrot.  It was all brought to a slow boil, stirring occasionally, and left to simmer for about a half hour (I hate crunchy carrots in stew/soup).  In went the green beans, which was maybe 1 1/2 c, and the cabbage, which had filled a chinese food soup container, the tall one for won ton, yes that’s an official measurement.  Ground sea salt and pepper to taste, left to simmer a bit longer to warm the rest of the veggies.



Wow, I really impressed myself!  I was never great at sports, and always played on crappy teams which may have been my fault, but I think this is what winning tastes like.

I didn’t even make it one week.  Ten days ago I promised you, dear reader, a new post every week this winter.  A delayed resolution as it were.  Clearly I didn’t do this.  In my defense, my “slow season” has not arrived and I’m not complaining about it at all.  Lamenting, sure, complaining, no.  The winter months are the closest I get to having any sort of vacation time as I am self employed and cannot allow for such luxuries.

This is a double edged sword.  If there is no work, I have extra time.  Unfortunately this also means that I have zero income.  That’s a problem I’ve got to resolve.  I’m going to find a fix for it this year and I hope I’m working towards that goal.  One actual resolution I made for the new year was to take a vacation.  A real vacation.  I want to get on a plane or drive for hours and hours and end up at a great destination and stay in a hotel and have fun and relax.  Most of my “vacations” recently consist of driving for a few hours, sleeping, and driving back the following day.  This is unacceptable and quite honestly I feel my family deserves more.  I know my Dad wanted me to take this business and “do better” with it, and even though he didn’t know it this is something I consider better.  He never took enough time for himself, and conjointly, us.  We took many family vacations without him and I’ve already sent my wife and kids on short excursions without me (not over night… yet).

Friends and family have invited us to visit countless times over the years and have been rejected so many times I think most have stopped.  Watch out, maybe it’s your year.

Ideally, we in the blogging community hope to have inspiration to write great things every single day.  Unfortunately I’d guesstimate that 99.99% of us do not (we can’t all be Rachel).  I average a post a month without having to try to do so.  A great portion of we, the 99%, also are not educated in the ways of writing but that’s no excuse.  I find myself often thinking about things I’d like to write only to forget them by the day’s end.

Summer, suspended.

Summer, suspended.

Am I making a post about not making a post?  It seems so.  We’re in the midst of the 11tyth snow-blanketed Saturday here in Erie and I don’t really have much else to do.  No, Mom, I’m not going to clean the basement.  Winter is generally my spare time, my slow season at work.  I guess what I’m saying dear reader is that I’m going to pledge to write, at least, once a week.  If the aforementioned Rachel can write an entire freaking novel in a month I can tell you how my toast was.  If I ate toast.  Wordpress is possibly my last connection to being more than just an internet user.

All my previous sites, excluding the original LiveJournal which is still up and running somehow, I coded from scratch.  Frames, tables, backgrounds, design, layout.  That was followed by sycophant.ca, then sycophant.us because I got sick of people asking me if I was Canadian.  Both those went by the wayside, all hosted by my friend Scott.  Had I the gumption to do so I’d import all of my blogger.com posts to this site because I’m sure there’s a way to do it, but that era is so bygone that I don’t want to clutter this site with the nonsense of a 20-something wanna-be techie.  I don’t recall writing anything of worth (LIKE THIS POST IS AMAZING).  So, stay tuned, I promise to help you waste two to three minutes of your day.  Occasionally.





That’s internet for hi.  The purpose for this post is so I can show off the pretty new theme that I found on wordpress.org.  Yes, I’m waaaay to lazy/dumb (let’s make a new word, lazydumb™) to make my own theme.  That’s part of the reason I love WordPress.  Back in the day, roughly 99 after LiveJournal to aught-six, I’d code my own layouts.  I knew HTML then, and kept up with it.  Somewhere along the way things passed me by, you can’t use tables any more, and flash is dead.  I can’t code any more and I don’t have the time or the want to learn it again.  Enter the wonderful world of WordPress.  I can depend on a very real army of very intelligent people who make very nice designs to make my very poor writing seem very nice.  Let me know what you think.

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. -Mahatma Gandhi

Once upon a time I began a fitness regimen unlike any I had ever attempted.  I’ve blogged about this before, and posted about it on Facebook a lot, so I’m not going to bore anyone with the details on that, you can go back and read about it yourself. When I started it I really didn’t have a problem changing my entire lifestyle, surprisingly, because I could see a finish line.  I had a goal that was plainly in front of me: to win a contest.  Since then I’ve faced a whole new set of challenges.  There was an entire summer of parties and barbecues, fall holidays and family weekends, and lately, a crushing workload that has consumed more of my time every day than ever before.

April me would be ashamed of November me when it comes to my diet and fitness routine.  A huge effect that getting in shape has had on me is the now incredible pace of my metabolism which allows for new levels of bingeing I had only previously dreamed of.  When I was an every day glutton I couldn’t exceed that level without becoming sick(er).  Now what I must control is now allowing that binge craving, or what the writer of “The Oatmeal” calls The Blerch, to take over my life and destroy my fitness goals.  Yes, I still have goals.  Yes, they’re even harder to achieve than my original goal.

Twoguns training seems to specialize in helping me fight this battle.  Danny and Dawn are always working at new programs and exercises to keep things interesting.  They’ve always been highly adaptive to my very odd schedule, even more so now that my wife is a Twoguns client and future success story.  Granted, any program is only as successful as your level of want, but Twoguns makes it easy to want it, and without that I’d be sitting here packing pounds back on and not worrying about making it to the gym in the morning before work.


Am I watching this?

Is this really happening?

A bit over three months ago, I got a call from Mojo McKay from Rocket 101. He was calling in response to a contest entry I had made back in December of 2012. I’ve won plenty of radio contests, tickets, beer, etc., but this one was different. This contest was called Rock your Rolls Off 2013, in partnership with Nautilus Fitness & Racquet Club. I had submitted my story about why I wanted to lose weight, get healthy and make a real lifestyle change. A quick summary of that is a lot of bad health in our family history, plenty of bad habits, and a lot of laziness. At the time the light at the end of my tunnel was a train and I didn’t know how to get out of the way. I was selected as one of four contestants, and I was to be paired with a personal trainer at Nautilus for an eight week challenge to lose weight and get healthy.


January 16th, I was paired up with Dan Jackowicz, a.k.a. “Danny Twoguns”.  We started working out the very next night.  For the next eight weeks I spent three nights a week at Nautilus doing things I’ve never even considered before, and this isn’t the first time I’ve worked out.  I learned terms like kettle bell swing, blast off push-up, TRX row, and was re-acquainted with an old nemesis from gym class, the burpie.  I sweat and worked like I never had.  I put in extra time, and I ate a totally different diet (and thought that I didn’t eat bad before; I was wrong).  Perhaps most importantly, after 17 years, I finally quit smoking.

I came in second in the contest, but statistically I felt like I won.  I decided to keep working until I really did win.  I might not be as strict on the diet as I was, but I’m still there three days a week plus one.  I’m seeing changes in myself that are remarkable.  I think I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, I’m more flexible, more stamina, overall I might be healthier than I’ve ever been.  Three months in to this new lifestyle now, I’ve lost 32 lbs and 5 inches off my waist.  I haven’t been checked since the end of the contest, but that weight is almost all fat.  I weigh less now than I did when I was 21 and I’m in better shape.

I couldn’t have done any of this without a whole crew of people.  Most importantly, my wife Danie, who took on even more time with the kids so I could work out in the evenings.  She recognized why I was doing this: for her and the kids.  I was on a path to an early end.  Second, Twoguns Training and everyone’s support at Nautlius.  Danny Twoguns is now a friend of mine, not just a trainer at the gym.  Everyone on the Twoguns team, Annette, Dawn, Maggie, Joe, everyone there has been so supportive and helpful.  I’m even ok with being known as “Jammin’ Jesse” there.

This is by no means the end.  This was more than a contest, more than a few prizes and a free meal.  I’ve made a real lifestyle change and going to Nautilus is a part of that now.  I couldn’t imagine going back to what I was before.  In the words of my neighbor “Dude, you were getting HUGE.”  My next goals are these:  By the time I’m 33 in June I want to weigh what I did when I graduated high school, ~215-220.  Then, at our 15 year reunion, I want to be at what I proclaimed my original goal to be when I started this, I said I wanted to lose 60 lbs, getting down to 208.



I’m having a wine called ganache I think. I’m not sure, I didn’t order it.


My friend Natalie just produced a wedge device to fix the horrible table wobble like manna fallen from the heavens.


Kyoto something or other was great, if a bit heavy on the bacon.

I liked the sushi, it wasn’t strong or pungent at all. A simple tuna roll should be just that. The wasabi was spicy but flat, and came to life a bit when combined with the sauce.

I think I need a more thorough experience, but I’m definitely excited to come back for a dinner event.

Your 2013 Pittsburgh PiratesI’m apprehensive.  I’m excited.  I’m anxious.  I’m hopeful.  Clearly, I have mixed emotions about the 2013 Pirates.  Is this really the year that ends twenty years of heartbreak?

Baseball was my first love as a kid.  In my formative years in the 80’s the Steelers weren’t very good with Bubby Brister at the helm (and my friends who liked the Browns pointed that out a lot), and I hadn’t really been introduced to hockey yet because my Dad wasn’t much of a fan.  But baseball, glorious baseball, was all consuming.  My brother and I, along with the neighborhood kids played religiously.  The wide open adjoined back yards of our house and the Gaber’s, and even the tree lines on each side made a great field.  Sometimes we’d go to the end of the block and play at the Pelinski’s house on the corner.  If there were enough kids the games were over in the parking lot at Tech, and always ended up in an argument or just playing home run derby.

We went to Pirates games nearly as long as I can remember, literally.  I think I went to my first game when I wasn’t more than six or seven years old.  Our seats were in right field at Three Rivers.  We’d join the crowd in heckling Chris Sabo and Daryll Strawberry chanting their names.  My Dad and uncle would smoke there in the stands, and have a few beers.  I’m sure they were annoyed by our constant pestering for peanuts and what not, but I was sure oblivious to that.  The Pirates played winning baseball back then and it was all that mattered.

Fast forward twenty years.  What was the joy of my childhood has become something different.  For many of those years you assumed they’d lose.  Eventually, when those games would be a random win, the joy was gone.  A few years ago we went for my older brother’s birthday and it was an extra innings walk off win by the Pirates over the Dodgers; I felt nothing.  After that I didn’t go to any games for a few years (we had gone to at least one a year for a long time).

Now that you’ve read my unsolicited back story, I’ll actually cover something relevant: the opening game of the 2013 season.  I didn’t exactly have butterflies during the announcement of the starting lineup, but I was excited.  Then some bluegrass fiddle players did the National Anthem and it was terrible and I nearly had to turn it off.  I persevered.  Here’s what I learned:

aj-burnett_4201. AJ Burnett is old.  He’s a beast, but he’s old.  His ten strikeouts was more of a result from the Cubs being a terrible hitting team than the filthiness of his stuff.  On opening day, you should not be gassed before you get to the 6th inning.  His counterpart, Jeff Szmardja, Smurja, Smnotgonnaworkhereanymore, was the definition of filthy.  Really he’s like Burnett was as a young up and coming star.




andrew-mccutchen2. Help us Andrew McCutchen, you’re our only hope.  The Pirates don’t look like they’ve improved at the plate at all.  The atrocious hitting that led to the late season collapse last year continues, and if they’re going to be a contender in September that’s unacceptable.  As I said, Samardzja (how do you spell that anyway) was filthy, but they took terrible strikeouts and were not stellar on the basepaths, either.




Smilin' Clint Hurdle
3. DON’T PANIC!  In previous seasons, an opening day slap like that would have set the tone, the tempo, and everything else for the down-in-the-mouth Buccos.  Same ‘ol same ‘ol.  Not under Clint Hurdle.  I don’t think anyone in baseball is more optimistic and at the same time more driven to improve and succeed.  There’s hope with him at the helm still.  There has been marked improvement in both of his first two years.  It took him five years to get the Rockies to the World Series, and as hard and impossible as it seems, we as Pirates fans need to continue to be patient. But he has to give us a little bit.  We need a season over .500 and he’ll get a damn parade.

It’s a long season, and I love all of it.  After the initial glow wears off I’ll be paying attention to the Penguins and Knicks, and the Steelers draft, but some day this July or August you’ll see me and my family sitting somewhere in PNC Park chanting “LET’S GO BUCS!” no matter what the record is.  I can’t help it!


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