Monday, January 23, 2012

My First 10K

As I sit here today deciding whether or not to renew my gym membership, you know there’s no way I actually ran a 10K, right? Over the weekend my blog passed 10,000 page views since I launched it last summer. At the time, I was just trying to put some thoughts on paper for the first time in years.  Well, not actual paper. Virtual paper, I guess.  As the folks at Dunder Mifflin know, no one really needs real paper anymore.  

Why I do everything I do.
On July 4th 2011, it all started with: "Independence Day means I'm free to work on this!".  I felt a rush of inspiration, like Angelina Jolie watching Slumdog Millionaire.  Since I have two wonderful subjects to write about: my wife and son, I sat down and started writing. It felt great to be creative again.  I figured that I could write whatever I wanted, assuming that no one would ever see it. And I’m glad I was wrong about the latter. 

I’ve met some great bloggers who’ve guided me along the way.  And I’ve been fortunate to find some loyal readers for my little page. Or I guess you’ve found me. How did you discover me anyway?  

As my life has evolved so have my posts.  I know they aren’t all great, but then again neither is every episode of The Simpsons and that’s been on TV for 20 years.  I put everything I have into each post and am thrilled to receive your comments and feedback.

My posts seem to strike a nerve every so often. My recent post “The Last First” became my all-time 2nd most viewed post within two weeks of publishing. That’s pretty great. It also helped me win my first award. Check it out:  

If you have any ideas for future blog posts, or anything else you want to talk about please feel free to leave a comment below.  One of my favorite posts:  "What is a Dude?" spawned from a conversation with one of my readers.

To those of you who Like and Follow me on Facebook and Twitter: Thank you for wasting your time at work with me. I can’t think of anything better for you to do between 9 and 5. I'm sure your boss can’t either.   (If you don’t Like/Follow me, what are you waiting for? Here’s a personal invitation.)

When I started this blog I had absolutely no expectations of anyone even finding it on the web.  And now, I’m thrilled that you have -- over TEN THOUSAND times --  and hope you’ll hang out for a while.  And if you want to bring a few friends to the party, I’ll buy the next round. 

Thanks for helping me hit 10,000!

-- Jay aka The Dude of the House

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Not My Fantasy

Much better to look at than
angry Browns fans.
As the football season winds down, I quietly wish to myself that the players’ strike would have continued and canceled the season. No, I don’t hate football. But maybe then my poor Cleveland Browns might have been spared another embarrassing season where there best chance for a victory might have been playing against a Lingerie Football League team. It’s been so long since they were good that when they last made the playoffs I couldn’t even brag about it on Facebook, because Facebook wouldn’t be invented until a few years later.

Like most Clevelanders, I’m a die-hard Browns fan. But that’s pretty much where my football interest ends. Other than a few former Ohio State players, I don’t follow the NFL too closely. Living on the west coast and having a 2 year old whose patience lasts almost as long as the play clock means I rarely get the chance to watch the Browns anymore so I keep up via the internet.  And given how terrible they usually are, that’s generally more than sufficient.

But over the last 4 months, I’ve been exposed to a never ending barrage of football information. No, I don’t lurk on or  This dearth of info is all over Facebook and Twitter from friends who are a part of the billion dollar Fantasy Football world.

Personally, I don’t fantasize about 6’6” 300 pound sweaty dudes.  Never have. So I’ve never played Fantasy Football. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it, though, either. I did play Fantasy Baseball for a few years and retired as league champion a few years ago.  (Side note: Fantasy Baseball is much more difficult since there are more than 10 times as many games in an MLB season versus an NFL season.)

What shape is this thing anyway?
A lot of people think that Fantasy Football is just a bunch of guys sitting around, drinking beer and gambling. I’m sure that describes the majority of  leagues, but many are non-traditional as well. I know a group of guys who have had a competitive FF league for many years. Their wives and girlfriends got fed up of having to hear them yapping about it and several years ago formed their own competing league.  These women were like the Susan B. Anthonys of Fantasy Football. Except their fantasy winnings are worth much more than old Susie’s awkwardly shaped coins. 

That being said, I did enjoy Fantasy Football this season in an unusual way.  I started noticing a trend of interesting Facebook posts each Sunday throughout the season. I started keeping a log of the best ones and they seemed to get better as the season progressed.

Some were as innocuous as: 
Thank you Drew Brees!”  after a big Saints win.

Some were filled with a tremendous lack of confidence: 
According to my fantasy football league predictions, I should win tomorrow's game by 5 pts. That usually means I'm gonna lose by 30.”
(Written by a fellow Browns fan, so the football pessimism is inherent.)

Some were battles for family bragging rights: 
Any advice on who to start from my pool of crappy RB's? Need to pick two - hoping to beat my husband in fantasy. (Don't worry, my receivers are much better). I've got Barber, Tolbert, DeAngelo Williams, and Ingram. Thoughts?”    
(Sounds like there’s more than just family bragging rights at stake.)

And some were just so crazy that they sought help from above:
Dear Fantasy Football Gods - I need a favor. Can Dwayne Bowe please catch a 94 yard pass? He can't score, though. I need him to fumble so that the Raiders D can pick up the ball and then return it for a TD. Got it? Thanks.”                            
(Written by a friend who is a Detroit Lions fan, so it's not surprising he was looking for divine intervention given their shocking season.)

Brady Quinn was a bust before the
2nd round even began.
As for me, Fantasy Football will continue to be hoping that the Browns’ upcoming first round pick doesn’t break his leg while jumping for joy after his name is called at the draft. 

Are you a Fantasy nut? 
What's the craziest thing you've done 
for your league?

Thanks for reading The Dude of the House! 
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pain in the Neck

It started with a scream.  It was 6:00am on Tuesday and I was jolted out of a dream about whipping Alec Baldwin at Words With Friends. Believe me when I tell you that dream would have been a lot more fun than what was actually happening in my bed.

I immediately jumped to attention. Alert but very confused, I felt like a Kardashian at a spelling bee. Initially I assumed the scream was BC in his crib. But after a moment I realized that the scream was my wife, who had somehow tweaked her neck while sleeping and pinched a nerve.  I had a feeling a very long week was in my future. Maybe I should be a psychic. 

Over the last couple of years, I’ve become pretty good at taking care of the Little Dude. He’s pretty low maintenance, other than the diaper changing business. And the uber-picky eating. And his lack of an income. OK, maybe I should say he is generally very easygoing and adaptable.  What I’d forgotten about was taking care of my wife when she isn’t 100%. 

Unlike me, my wife is not a big complainer when she doesn’t feel well. In fact, I generally have to force her to take medicine or rest when she doesn’t feel well.  Me? If I sneeze three times in an hour, I’m getting a blanket and becoming one with my Tivo for two days. Or at least that’s how we used to be before the baby arrived.  BC BC, if you will.

A big part of parenting is being selfless. Even when you don’t feel well, you still have a job to do.  The problem arises when you just can’t do that job.  I could see it was going to be a difficult adjustment for my very active wife who suddenly couldn’t move her head, let alone lift our 35 pound bundle of kid. I know it’s not funny, because I’ve had that kind of injury and the pain is excruciating. But she did remind me a little of Joan Cusack in Sixteen Candles. Much cooler, however. 

So back to 6:00am, it became obvious that her pain was pretty severe, so I did the only thing I could think of at the moment. I Wikipedia’d “Pinched Nerve”.  Did you know that the medical term for a pinched nerve is Radiculopathy? Perhaps they named it that because it's a ridiculously annoying problem to have.  

Since Wikipedia was no help, I did the next best thing. I emailed a doctor friend to ask for advice.  Doc said to alternate heat & cold on the area and take Advil.  As I looked at my semi-immobile spouse I realized I was unexpectedly now on full-time BC duty for at least the next 24-72 hours.     I told you I should be a psychic. 

Our family has a unique arrangement. My wife usually takes care of the Little Dude in the mornings up until nap time.  I come home once he’s sleeping and she goes to work. Sometimes we even have time to say hello as we cross paths. Then I am on duty from the time he wakes up until bedtime. Hopefully he naps for 3 hours so I can continue working.  When he doesn’t, I unplug the monitor and hope for the best.

I’ve never been a great juggler, but this week I think I did OK. Each day I would take BC out for some exercise (which somehow always turns into a better workout for me than for him), make sure my wife had ample amounts of Advil & rest and keep up with my own emails at the same time.  Needless to say, I can’t remember ever being so tired.  After three days of this schedule, I felt like a post-Burning Man Charlie Sheen. 

Fortunately, each day she felt a little better.  By Friday she could lift BC again, so I could finally get back to my regularly scheduled programming.  I felt like a champ for having weathered the storm and was looking forward to a relaxing weekend with a (finally) healthy family. Until my wife called me that afternoon to tell me that BC woke up from his nap covered in hives. Maybe I'm not ready to take over for Miss Cleo just yet. 

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Last First

“The first days are the hardest days, don’t you worry anymore.” –Robert Hunter

Before it even began, I knew that today would be one of the most difficult days of my life.  One year ago today my mother lost her courageous battle against breast cancer.  She was way too young to go and truly undeserving of her cruel fate. 

On the Jewish holiday Passover the youngest person present is supposed to ask his older and wiser dining companions “Why is this night different from all other nights?”  The answer, though seemingly obvious, is explained so that all those present can understand.  It’s not just any day, but a day with significance and history behind it and we must remember it as such and keep telling the tale year after year lest we forget it.  

As I’ve been watching the calendar inch closer and closer I knew that I was anxiously awaiting today but didn’t know exactly why, again besides the obvious reason, this day would be different from all other days.  So I sat down to speak to my older and wiser friend Steve, who had unfortunately lost his father many years ago.  Steve’s father passed away years before we ever met, but over the course of our friendship I feel as though I’ve come to know his father through the stories, anecdotes and lessons that Steve has shared with me.  Those words of wisdom will live on, as will Steve’s father’s legacy, to be passed down from generation to generation in his family.

One thing that some of my friends who had lost parents told me over the past year is that “the first everything will be the hardest”.  Meaning the first Mother’s Day, birthday, Thanksgiving and every other occasion that we normally commemorate would be extra difficult emotionally.  And my friends were 100% right. Those days were all terribly difficult without my mother to share them with for the first time. Even though we lived across the country from each other and didn’t always celebrate in person, we still had ways to share these events across the miles.

Just as I had my firsts, there were several firsts that my mother missed over the last year. As she passed away just a couple days before my son turned 14 months, she missed his first haircut. And his first steps. And his first words. She also missed reading my blog, which she had encouraged me to write.  I started writing again a few months after her passing.  Even though she was gone, she continued to inspire me to try to better myself.

In talking to Steve about what this day means and why I’m feeling the way I do, he summed it up perfectly.  Now that I’ve made it past the first July 4th, Labor Day and, of course, Passover without my mother, the one year anniversary of her death is the “last first”.  It is the culmination of a year of waiting for the phone to ring with her at the other end of the line, knowing that it unfortunately never will.  

Now that this year is over, my mission is to not only continue to remember my mother and her legacy, but also to make sure it lives on for future generations.  Sadly, my son likely won’t remember his Grammy and her infectious laugh, penchant for black pants and affinity for the TV show “Cash Cab”. But he will see pictures & videos and hear myriad stories about her from his parents, aunts & uncles, cousins, Papa and all those who cared about this wonderful woman who was taken from us way too soon.   

My Mother, Me & BC - January 2010

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year & Six Months

As the beginning of the last year of civilization begins (at least according to the Mayans. And my friend Maya), I guess we have a lot to get through in these next 11+ months. I still haven't even seen Moneyball.

2011 was a very up and down year for me personally, but I guess that's how they all go for most people who aren't George Clooney. As the calendar turns, though, I'd be remiss if I didn't reflect on the last 6 months writing this blog.  What started as a suggestion from my friend Karen has turned into something way beyond anything I ever imagined when I sat down at the computer on July 4th while my son napped. 

I had some random ideas bouncing around the right side of my brain, which I hadn't used much in the last few years. I am thankful for each and every one of you who has taken the time to read my posts, comment on them or share them with friends. I appreciate the emails you send me and Tweets you RT.  Without you, this site would just be me talking to myself. And I already do enough of that as it is. So thank you. 

As many people do this time of year, I've been reflecting on the year that passed. As I've been reviewing Dude of the House, I wanted to spotlight a few of my favorite blog moments from the last 6 months. If you've read these before, check them out again. They get better with age, like a fine wine or Betty White. 

My Favorite Post:    Poo On You  I just think it's pretty funny. Several of you have said the same. 

Most Autobiographical Post:  What a Long Strange Trip It's Been How I got to be where I am today. Wherever that is.

Most Popular Post:  From Deadhead to Elmo Addict Growing up is hard to do. 

Most Commented On Post:   Your Name is What??  People are dumb. 

Most Egoecentric Post: My Mini-me It's true, he looks like me. Check the picture. 

Most Educational Post:  What is a Dude?  If you think you know, you probably don't.

Most Serious Post:  9/11: A New Hope  A shiny silver lining. 

Scariest Post:  Lost at the Zoo  It was a freaky experience and it wasn't even my kid. 

First Post: Independence Day Means I'm Free to Work on This First, but certainly not my best.

Most Disney filled Post: Small World? Yeah Right I'm glad the tickets were free.

I love all of my posts. Even a few lame ones I've ignored since posting. But check them out and leave a comment if you feel like it. And click the ads on the right. Google just might send me a nickel if you do and that will really help pay for pre-school. When the Little Dude turns 34. 

Thank you again for your support. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!

Me & the Little Dude