The countdown is on.

A mere 43 days remain until our long-awaited vacation, and yes, we are counting.  As you can tell from the picture, we're headed north to the snow.  Preparations have been ongoing for months now with everything from booking (and then changing, and changing again) our cabin, dealing with the airlines that seem to want to change our flights every time we decide where we want to sit, and clothing the masses.  By the way, here's where we're going.

So this trip is exciting on so many levels.  First, it is our first family vacation, (an ex-roommate and his girlfriend count as family, right?), myself, my daughter and my boyfriend.  I'm so stoked that everyone gets along and we can go on this trip.  Second, it's my boyfriend's first time to see real live snow!  I'm glad that I get to share this first with him.  Third, it is the first time for everyone on the trip, excluding myself, to go skiing or snowboarding.  I'm no pro, don't worry, I won't get too far ahead of them, but I like to think that I have a clue.  Fourth, it's VACATION!!  One entire week of sleeping in, staying up late, and in general relaxation.

All of our ducks are in a row and they are waiting to glide down the mountain.  Is it the end of December yet?!?!

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QotD: My Dream Career

What's your dream career? 
Submitted by Something.

If I had the funds readily available, I would be a professional student.  There are so many things that I want to learn, that I could make a career out of it!  Subjects to study include:

  • Landscape architecture
  • Archtiectural engineering
  • Interior design
  • Journalism

There are more, but I won't bore you. 🙂

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QotD: My Dream Address

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?  Why? 
Submitted by abcdefg81.

Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, circa 1970-1990.

I grew up in this wonderful place.  By today's real estate standards, it's still a gem and has much to offer.

  • Location, location, location – only 20 minutes from downtown Pittsbugh, within a 30 minute drive of 5 major malls, a small hometown grocery story within 2 miles (where they know you by name and will charge it if you don't have enough), and not a long drive to several major universities (Pitt, IUP, WVU, Penn State branch campuses).
  • Crime rate – back in the day, it was pretty much nil.  We left our cars unlocked with the keys in them and the doors unlocked overnight.  It was safe to trick-or-treat, go caroling, and just let your kids run around and play hide-and-go-freeze at night.
  • School district – one of the best around.  My graduating class had a bunch of damn near geniuses in it (myself NOT included) as well as athletes.  Several went to the NFL and many now have prosperous careers.  Wonderful buildings housing our educators and students as well as the most kick-ass football stadium around.  Superb faculty and great opportunities for the students.
  • Weather – yes, it rains, often.  But you take the good with the bad.  The first day warm enough to wear shorts (and after a long winter, that's the first day that breaks 50 degrees), summer days hot enough to go to the waterpark, SWEATER WEATHER!, the beauty of untouched snow in the back yard, changing of the leaves, crickets chirping at night, beautiful starry skies with no light pollution.
  • People – everyone knows everyone, but they still kept their nose out of your business.  I knew I could always count on any of our neighbors if I needed a hand.

If you're passing through Pittsburgh, take a drive straight down Route 51 and check it out.

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Sites of Miami

South Beach and Miami in general has a ton of homeless people.  Some of them are war vets, some drug addicts or alcoholics, and some are literally flat out crazy.  I often wonder how one gets to this point and then I feel so blessed to not have gotten anywhere near that point.  I don't typically give homeless folks money, simply because I know it isn't going to go to good use, but I never hesitate to buy anyone that's hungry some food, providing I have the capability. 

(I know I jump around a lot and I'm working to make that better.)

A couple of days ago, when driving home from work, I broke my personal rule about not handing out money.  On the corner of NW 12th and the off ramp, there's a traffic light.  And with that traffic light, comes a variety of homeless men (and on occasion a woman) with their signs asking for money.  Typically, I keep my windows up on that corner, because, let's face it, I'm not a big girl and someone who's strung out has the capability to possess super-human strength.  This day, I had my window open and some cash on me (which I also don't usually do since I have a tendency to lose money) and there was a gentleman coming towards my car.  His sign wasn't anything out of the ordinary: Homeless, hungry, veteran, please help.  But what got me is "Freedom isn't free".  With so much going on in the world, that really struck me.  That's not what got me reaching in my purse though. 

Quite often, I see homeless people that I just don't believe are homeless.  I think they're scam artists.  I don't say that to be mean and I understand that there are shelters where people can get clean and get clean clothes, but sometimes, they're just dressed a little too well with sneakers that are too nice.  Not this man though.  He wasn't overly dirty or overly clean, but he was genuine, that much I felt.  He also had his veteran badge on from the VA hospital and it had his picture, so I know at least that part was the real deal.

As he came by the car, he almost didn't make eye contact with me, as if he was thinking that I was just another young person that didn't care, but I surprised him.  I got him over to the car and gave him a 5, it was all I had, but more importantly, I thanked him for serving our country.  I think he wanted to hug me, not for the money, but for the thanks, and if it were in a different situation, maybe I would have, but the light turned, and it's Miami, and if you don't move your car within a half second of the light turning, you might get killed. 

I kept on with my drive home and I felt good.  Good that my little bit might help, good that my words were probably more valuable to that man than my money, and good that my little part of the world is safe and sound with a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and love in my heart.



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