Monday, November 19, 2018

Linked In

See what I'm doing here? (I think) I'm being clever by having a posted titled "Linked In" while I share links about interesting articles I've recently read. So here are some links to check out when taking a break from figuring out where and when to buy your turkey and pumpkin pie!

* Where did the phrase "Kennywood's open" originate? The Post-Gazette did some research though we probably will never know. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

* Josh went to Nashville. I went to Nashville for my annual(-ish) hockey road trip about two years ago, but I still haven't written a blog post about that portion of the trip. I should do that sometime especially since I really enjoyed the city. [Josh's World]

* A friend posted this "Homestead & Survival Alarm Clock" picture on Facebook. [Facebook]

Who's parents? Um, I've had this exact alarm clock for at least 20 years. I know that I took it with me to England in 2000, so I probably had it when I was in college in the 90s. What a solid alarm clock!

* An English soccer referee was banned for using rock, paper, scissors instead of coin flip before kickoff. The problem is that he should have played the pick a number between 1-10 and whoever is closest wins game. [CBS Sports]

* Apparently, in solidary with this referee, hundreds of refs did rock, paper, scissors to start games over the weekend. Although I was an assistant referee and not the center referee for two games Sunday, we did a coin toss since that's the way you start a game! [ESPN]

* Ron launched a new website, Steelers Takeaways. Please support him and the site. [Steelers Takeaways]

* Heinz offered Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes free ketchup for life. I think he should do it and not just because it's Heinz ketchup. Actually, yes, it's because it's Heinz ketchup. [ESPN]

* Finally, credit where it's due. Congratulations to Emory's women's volleyball team on winning the NCAA Division III championship. Emory dominated by losing only one set during the entire tournament run. Of course, that set was against Ithaca College in the quarterfinals and Emory won two other sets against the Bombers 25-23, but Emory deserves and earned the title. [Emory Athletics]

Photo from Emory University's athletics website.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Moose's American Ninja Warrior Junior Audition

One of my kids’ favorite shows right now is American Ninja Warrior Junior on Universal Kids. I’ve only watched a few American Ninja Warrior (Senior?) episodes, but it seems like a similar concept. Kids 14 and under are broken into three divisions based on age and compete in an obstacle course that I could definitely not complete.

My two older boys have started making their own obstacles in the house which somehow ends with them jumping on a couch (which is not okay) or trying to climb on their bunk bed (which is super not okay). The final challenge on American Ninja Warrior Junior is to climb a 13-foot wall. There are "hand holds" for the younger divisions, but even then, they still have to reach them at I believe 10 or 11.5 feet to then climb to the top. Again, while I can’t do any of this, my seven year old The Moose thinks he can.

We recently met some friends at a trampoline place that happened to have a giant wall. All The Moose wanted to do was the wall. Here’s the result:

The Moose is about 4’ 1” and stayed really determined attempt after attempt even though he wasn’t all that close to getting to the top. I really appreciate his willingness to not give up. Basically, he was Chumbawamba as he took a whisky drink, vodka drink, lager drink, and cider drink.

Or maybe it's that getting knocked down, but getting up again part of the song. Close enough.

It looks like they have ninja-style gyms in the area, and I think my kids (well at least The Moose) would really enjoy it. Add that to my winter to do list! (The other two are probably too small for it, though if there's a speed-crawling and drooling challenge, Luigi would dominate.)

Oh, if I ever made it to American Ninja Warrior, I'd call myself The Blogging Ninja!

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Travel Voucher

This blog has been pretty heavy lately, so here's something a bit lighter. A lot lighter.

For years, I have hoped to have the opportunity to help the airlines. Let me rephrase this. You know how airlines sometimes oversell flights? I don’t understand the reason behind this, but they do. Anyway, when this occurs, airlines will ask for volunteers to give up their seat to go on a later flight in exchange for some type of travel voucher. Every time this has happened to me in the past, either I had to be on that flight (for something work or family related), it would be frowned upon if I took the later flight but let my young kids fly alone, or the airline already had enough volunteers.

Traveling to Charleston earlier this month, United Airlies asked for volunteers to get put on a later flight as well as a $700 travel voucher. I was apprehensive since I didn’t think I could do this, but two people I was with encouraged me to go for it. One even used the “you waited in line for burritos” argument and said I was the king of getting free things, so why wouldn’t I do this? It was a very persuasive.

By the time I approached the desk, the voucher was up to $800. I was sold. The flight boarded, and I waited at the gate to make sure it was full. It was. I had to wait at the gate for another 20 minutes after the flight departed from the gate, but at the end, United gave me a $1000 voucher. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

The next step was the airline giving me a voucher to take a shuttle from Dulles to National for a flight on American Airlines. I'm not sure how United got me on an American flight, but I wasn't going to complain. I took the shuttle with another woman who also took United's offer for the voucher and later flight. We talked about our families and how the voucher would help us visit family living in other areas. Oh, I also received a $10 food voucher. It didn’t cover my entire Five Guys meal, but it was close.

Of course, it turned out that the woman who shared the shuttle had the seat next to me on the plane. At that point, we had nothing else to say to each other. Hooray for books and headphones! I made it in Charleston in plenty of time and now I have a $1000 to spend on United! With three kids, that might (might!) cover one family flight next summer.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Shabbat In Charleston

When I knew that I was going to be in Charleston, South Carolina, I decided that I wanted to attend Shabbat services at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, one of the oldest synagogues in the United States. The congregation was founded in 1749 with the current sanctuary built in 1840. After the tragic shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, I definitely wanted to attend Friday night Shabbat services. The unique sanctuary is unlike any I've ever seen, so I've included some pictures here.

In the immediacy after the shooting, I was sad and angry. I shared my frustration about the shooting and the state of our country. I still feel terrible for the family members of the victims, and I still have no confidence in our government to do something to prevent mass shootings by making sure that people who shouldn't have guns, don't have guns. Just on Friday, two people were killed and five others were wounded at a yoga studio in Tallahassee.

With all of that written, there is some good in the world. Seeing how the Pittsburgh community has come together has been incredible. I always knew that Pittsburgh was a special place, but I've been amazed by the city's unity and support for one another. Back to Charleston, there were easily 200 people for Friday night services. I don't know how many people typically attend Shabbat services, but my guess is that this is significantly more than usual. I went to services by myself, and while I tend to keep to myself in unfamiliar situations, the congregation was particularly welcoming. I sat next to a pastor of a local church and his wife, both at the synagogue with their son to support Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim ("KKBE") and the Jewish community. Naturally, I met another couple that spent about a decade in Pittsburgh in the 80s. It turned out that we both attended Tree of Life at the same time (I didn't know them) and actually lived less than a mile apart for several years. Because Pittsburgh.

Overhearing several conversations, there were definitely people of multiple faiths attending services in solidarity with the Jewish community. It sounds like this happened throughout the United States. And this is why in the wake of last week's shooting, I do have some faith in humanity. It seems like there are so many divisions in this country, particularly politically, but attending services with so many people really was heartening. Oh, every synagogue should serve root beer floats during the oneg (the post-service social gathering) like KKBE! Root beer floats can certainly bring the country together!

(The first and third photos are courtesy of the Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim website. The second is my own picture, clearly not of the same quality of the others.)