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Life is this digital age

No Skate Park for Old Men

A growing line of cars has taken up position behind me. I’m unconcerned by their presence. The cars wait patiently for a chance to slide by on their way to the pier or wherever it is they’re headed tonight. I guess they’re tourists because locals would simply zip past me without a second thought. Out-of-towners tend to be more cautious. I’m navigating the bike lane on Seacoast Boulevard whilst listening to The Kinks and in-general not paying much attention to traffic. I am an Ape Man and traffic does not concern me. I am too busy watching the Pacific burn under the heat of our setting Sun. If the world feels like it’s sliding by me on a track that’s because it is. I’m perched atop a skateboard, which just a few short weeks ago would have seemed highly unlikely. So, perhaps I should explain how I came to occupy the bike lane without a bike.

Fifteen-year old me would be happy

Skateboarding began it’s ubiquitous cultural journey more than sixty years ago in the surf towns of Southern California. Imperial Beach is one such surf town and living in here had me reminiscing about the Bones Brigade days of my youth. “Adult skateboarding” is not viable in the northeast US for a multitude of reasons, so it’s been a mere twenty-five plus years since I’ve ridden a board. Caught up in the magic that is IB, I asked myself a question: If you could be skateboarding, then why aren’t you skateboarding? Who would prefer to walk?!   I was developing an eye for the cushy long boards often ridden by happy looking people with a dog on a leash nearby. I wanted to count myself among them but picking up a skateboard after so long seemed like a non-adulty idea in my adulty-conditioned brain. That changed when Wyatt said he wanted to skate. Liz & I have always tried to encourage the kids with any sport they show an interest in learning. Skating with Wyatt would help get him out of the house and give us a chance to spend time together. I thought I was taking one for the team when I bought that sweet long board in the Surf Hut window (actually it was in a pile in the back room), but I was really doing myself the favor.

Picking up any sport after a long absence requires some amount of re-tuning. For me, this process was lengthy, painful and quite revealing. Wyatt knew that I skated when I was a kid so of course he expected me to step right back in to it with ease. I succumbed to the dad-pressure and began trying to find my balance again. This is a good time to point out the obvious: re-learning to skateboard at forty-two means being in constant fear you will end up explaining how you fell to an emergency room nurse who’s setting your broken arm. It turns out that 28 years was enough time for me to become terrified of falling down. That fear got in my head. Nevertheless, I was unwilling to accept that I could no longer do what I once was able to do many years ago. We have good health insurance and dad-pressure is real, so away we go.

In search of smooth pavement

My confidence was slowly coming back when Wyatt asked me to take him to the skate park one afternoon. The trip would involve a ten block ride across town. I crossed my fingers and we took to the streets. After a few early yips, I was quickly reminded of how great it feels to glide down a road on new bearings and smooth pavement. It was even better when I looked over to see Wyatt keeping pace while doing tricks on the curbs. Fifteen-year old me would be very happy seeing how things worked out.

I was hooked by the time we skated back from the park that afternoon. Lately I’ve been happy to get home from work with a sliver of daylight left so I can ride down to the beach and back. Doesn’t matter if the boy is with me or not. I set out for the pier on one such recent evening with a carefully curated playlist in my pocket. James Taylor, Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffet…really cliche skate music I know, but it was a sunset ride. I was stopped on my board about a block or two from the pier (playing Pokemon Go) when I noticed a sheriff’s vehicle stopped in the road. A sheriff emerged from the cruiser and asked me if I was “Greg”. (I am not) I responded accordingly and she reluctantly accepted my answer.

I can’t remember the last time I was approached by the local constabulary, so the exchange was a little weird for me. I skated another block towards the pier and then saw the sheriff pulling over. She stepped out and motioned for me to stop, which I didi. I’m starting to get a bit nervous when she tells me that I match the description of a person she’s looking for. She asked me for ID and in that moment I was provided with a good example of privilege. I wasn’t carrying ID, because why would I need ID to cruise up and down Seacoast in IB? I’m guessing if I wasn’t a middle-aged white guy, that alone might have been enough to put me in the cruiser. Instead, I tried to prove I wasn’t “Greg” by showing her my work email, because who would lie about working at a bank? She still insisted on confirming I didn’t physically match “Greg’s” description, which she revealed to me was, “white guy on a skateboard.” I’m thinking she’s going to have a busy night.

My magic carpet ride

Eventually the sheriff, who was quite nice I should mention, let me go on my way. Apparently I didn’t match the description and I was sent along with a sincere, “Thank you.” My insistence that I was just a boring, middle-aged guy acting like a fifteen year old on a skateboard may have helped my case. “Greg” remains at-large.

What started out as semi-selfish attempt on my part to spend more time with my kids became something that reminded me of something I had forgotten. Wyatt & I skate together every week, usually back and forth to the skate park so he can engage in the tribal rituals with his friends. That frees me up to cruise around town in search of those choice side streets where the pavement is as smooth as glass. (I’m talking about you Elm *smug look*) I’m still living in a persistent state of fear that I’m one pebble away from a faceplant, but I’m glad I’m not letting that stop me. Even with the police breathing down my neck, I’m still out there getting it done and repping middle-aged guys everywhere.

MPH Podcast Season 2 – Changes in Latitude

After a six month hiatus, the MPH crew is returning with season 2 of the Mousepad Heroes Podcast.  We took a break at the end of 2017 because we needed a breather and an opportunity to recharge our energy.  The break also gave us a chance to focus on a very personal challenge for our family.   In January we knew we would be embarking on a quest, which would have to remain confidential for an indefinite period of time.  This quest would monopolize our time and we knew it would be nigh impossible to podcast without talking about what we were experiencing.  If we couldn’t talk about what was most important in our lives, then we knew we couldn’t be ourselves on the show.

We can now reveal that the hiatus and the associated cloak & dagger routine was all because the MPH crew is on the move again.  After a year & a half in the majestic hills of northeastern Pennsylvania, we’re thrilled to be heading back to the sun-soaked beaches of southern California.  We gave PA a chance but knew we had to go back to Cali.  So, we spent the last six months preparing to uproot our lives and now we can finally talk about that decision.  Season 2, Changes in Latitude, will follow our adventures as we relocate across the country for the third time in three years.  We hope you’ll join us on this zany adventure and that one of you will finally claim the damn soap dispenser.

Season 2, episode 1 will be dropping within a week of this post.  In the meantime get caught up on season 1 right here, on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast fix.

Iron Horse Adds a Nice Touch to Downtown Scranton

A good trip to the movies is about what you see and the experience around you.  The new Iron Horse Movie Bistro in Scranton provides a great experience and a nice upgrade for downtown. We’ve lived in the area for less than a year but we’ve observed a steady stream of new businesses opening.  An upscale movie theater with some personality is a welcome addition and it’s located near some pretty great restaurants.  For the ultimate in loafish class, you can do the whole dinner & a movie thing in the theater with the Iron Horse’s PTX Auditorium.   If you can manage to show up at least 30 min early, they’ll serve you in your pre-reserved seats.  All theater types feature electric-powered reclining seats w/cup holders and a tray table.  It’s a great, all-around experience that is distinctly better than the typical strip mall theater.  The city or property owner should touch up the paint in the Electric City parking garage to make it a little less like the set from an episode of Law & Order: SVU.

Credit: ironhorsemoviebistro.com/

We saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 this weekend and that probably helped with the whole experience. The movie has great action and a hefty dose of relationship driven tension, the signature ingredient for a great comic book movie.  Dave Bautista once again out-performs the rest of the cast in a no longer surprising and hilarious way.  It’s worth the trip to see it in a theater and if you’re in #NEPA, do it at the Iron Horse.

 

We Need More of This Chicken

The divisiveness unfolding across the US and on social media is threatening to touch off the next American civil war.  It’s almost inescapable.  Comedians, streamers and other usually reliable sources for yuks and daily diversion are mired in the fray as well.  Where I used to find Rick Astley and Patrick Stewart, I’m now finding Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer.  (In fairness, the Conway and Spicer memes have been pretty funny)  These are truly extraordinary times we’re living in, and in all seriousness the gravity of that situation is not lost on me.  That being, I need a break and I’m not finding in the places I normally turn to.

And this chicken happened to me on Facebook.

And my faith in the Internet was restored.  We need more of this chicken and less of that other guy in a big way.