I’ve got friends in low places – Garth Brooks comes to Pittsburgh

Friday February 6th started like most days. I went to work, came home and played with the kids. Little did I know that by the end of the night I would have spent it with a music legend.

Garth Brooks in Pittsburgh

My first memories of Garth came from the Thunder Rolls video in the early 90’s but it was my college roommate during my freshman year who really introduced me to his music and the new form of country emerging.  However, I never got into the style as I was fully consumed by the grunge age. As I got older and drove around with kids in the car I’ve started to turn my dial back their way to drown out “The Wheels on the Bus”.

Garth’s 2015 “Man Against Machine” tour has set the record for most people to attend a concert series. 110,110 tickets sold – 6 shows – 4 days which included twice performing 2 shows in one day. After seeing up close how physically demanding the show is, I’m amazed and impressed that he pulled off back-to-back shows 2 days in a row. Heck, I respect the man.

So how did I end up going to a sold out show on short notice? Being at the right place at the right time.

Garth and some of his friends spent the afternoon playing basketball at a local university when he bumped into my brother. They chatted, shot some hoops, took a few pics and next thing my bro knows, he’s being offered tickets to the show that night. He gets a hold of me and I jump on the subway into town.

The tickets were for the 10:30pm show and when my bro first asked my thought was “10:30 on a Friday? I’m usually in bed by then.”. He added “Oh, BTW, they’re THIRD ROW SEATS!”. I don’t care who is performing, if you offer me 3rd row seats for any show I’ll most likely be there.

The view was absolutely amazing and the 4th time in my life I’ve been that close to the stage (Motley Crue 97, Pearl Jam/Rolling Stones 05, Pearl Jam 06. Pink Floyd 94 gets honorable mention) for a major show. I knew a few songs and figured I might recognize a few others. What I didn’t expect was that I knew more than half during his 3 hours of singing! The only explanation I can come up with is that I’ve subliminally picked them up.

The energy of Garth and his band were inspirational. The overall quality of music, stage presence, entertainment was off the charts and everyone knew all of the words to every song. It was like being at karaoke, drinking with your friends and talking about good times. The crowd spread across the spectrum of backwoods country coming in after hunting to lawyers and doctors. His music has no boundaries and brings people together. I am absolutely a fan now.

The show was recorded for a DVD but I wish there was a bootleg of the show. KISS does something I wish every band would. They record the first 1/2 of the show, make a CD and have it available by the time you leave. There is a code in the CD to download the ENTIRE show a week later. I gladly dumped $25 on that and I would for every show. Pearl Jam records their own bootlegs and sells them also.

Now I find myself going back through his collection and will more than likely buy them all. OK maybe not that Chris Gains period.

Here are some pics from the night. Not bad for a smartphone eh?

Full gallery on Flickr

This isn’t what I had in mind when I wanted DAS BOOT

The Derda BootI have never broken a bone in my life. I’ve played chicken with a MACK Truck. I’ve been drilled by baseballs and hockey pucks. I jumped BMX bikes as a kid and had my fair share of bumps, scratches and stitches but I’ve never broken anything… until now.

Fortunate? Maybe. Tempting fate? Absolutely!

Only a couple people knew I was privately training for The Great Race last summer. If you’ve known me only from Pittsburgh you might think this is a crazy idea. If you knew me in Erie you probably remember that I would run everywhere. I ran distance in high school and, while not a jet, posted good times and really enjoyed it. I ran the Pittsburgh Great Race a few times and even trained in Florida for a week. Getting back to running was something that I finally motivated myself for and I was doing great until IT happened.

After 6 weeks of running the streets and sidewalks of the South Hills I decided to switch it up and move to the local track. First few days everything went fantastic and my personal records were improving but as I was starting day 3 something went terribly wrong. I made it a quarter of a mile when a sharp pain ran through my foot; I thought it was a pulled muscle. I’ve had those before so I wasn’t concerned but something still felt off.

I visited my doctor who said my sneakers need pitched (I still haven’t done that BTW) since the tread was gone and all signs pointed to a pulled muscle. I took a couple of months off to rest it and recently went back to run again. I made it 15 seconds before the sound.


Oh yeah, that can’t be good.

I went back to my doc and he said there is a good chance it’s a fracture and I needed to get to a specialist soon. This morning was that visit and as I’m looking at the x-ray the specialist says “You see those 2 bones? They’re supposed to be one!”. 20 minutes later I’m walking out sporting new hardware and one crazy limp.

Hopefully I’ll be healed by the time St Pat’s Day gets here so I don’t have to hobble downtown but the possibility of me doing the Great Race is up in the air. I never took my feet serious because I saw the custom shoes and a lot of the conditioning were foolish plus I always thought I knew what was best. With everything else going on with me as I close in on another birthday, I need to seriously come to terms with the fact I’m not 20 anymore and really, that’s OK.


This is how we do Super Bowl Sunday

Teaspoon and Daddy

I’m kicked back in my favorite watching Pearl Jam and TWiT videos on Chromecast.

Teaspoon is next to me playing his WiiU and screaming at people running him off the road on Mario Kart 8.

Close to us is my youngest, Cheeseburger (a.k.a Little Thor, a.k.a Pickle Sandwich). Red t-shirt, blue shorts on backwards, little kid chucks without shoelaces and on the wrong feet, hands and face coated with Doritos cheese.

My wife is laying on the couch watching Gossip Girl on her phone.

In the oven is a rack of St. Louis style ribs, homemade mac n cheese and 2.5 pounds of chicken wings.

SuperBowl 49 Dinner

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!


Snow Day

Teaspoon Snowball“Pittsburgh may get between 2 and 8 inches of snow”

And then it happened… *bloop* *bloop*  *bloop* *bloop**bloop**bloop* *bloop**bloop* *bloop**bloop**bloop**bloop**bloop* *bloop**bloop**bloop**bloop**bloop*


The force had awoken in Teaspoon and he shot out of bed at 11:30pm. He knew what I was about to say but wanted confirmation. “Yes son, you have a snow day!”

As a “historic” winter storm slams into the east coast and dumps close to 2-3 FEET OF SNOW on NYC, Philly and Boston, we were blanketed with 6 inches of snow. Now this isn’t a “uhhh that’s not a lot of snow.” post or a rant about the annual Pittsburgh freak out inflated by local media making a flurry seem like the end of the world. No, this is about how times have changed when it comes to dealing with these interruptions into the flow of the family circus.

I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can work remotely if needed. In fact, if your employer provides you with a laptop there should be no reason why more places don’t do this. It takes the pressure off of parents trying to juggle an alternate schedule. Those stuck in bad situations don’t have to risk anything to make it in for one of Paul’s boring slide shows (Hello Google Hangouts) and employees have better morale knowing that they’re taken care of.

Today was my first time working at home with the kids here. I shoveled snow, made breakfast, took a shower and jumped online to start my work day. I guess this is what it’s like for people to go to the gym before starting their day. The kids watched TV, did some homework and played outside while trying not to kill each other. I fixed lunch and shipped them outside once again so I could get back to my reports and get my master plan in place. When they finally came back in there was one thing on their mind… A NAP. Could this day get any more perfect?

I put my headphones in and zone out while beautiful sounds of snoring came from the living room.

I admit, I miss being a stay-at-home-dad and having moments like this every day but I also appreciate them a heck of a lot more.

Losing your first tooth

Teaspoon No Tooth

When Teaspoon came home from school last night we knew the time was near.

“DADDY LOOK AT MAH TOOF! IT WIGGLES!” he says with fingers jammed in his mouth.


Kids are dirty. Boys are gross. It happens and if you’re a parent saying “not my child”, you’re either in a bubble or lying to yourself.

Shortly after dinner he went sprinting up to the bathroom and it happened. The tooth which wiggle and jiggled for over a week was finally gone and once the reality of the moment sank in, he screamed. He had a quick freak out because there was a decent amount of blood coming from his mouth and really had no idea what was going on. I cleaned his mouth out and promptly started calling/texting/tweeting/Facebooking images of that wonderful smile. Proud daddy moment when your oldest child hits a milestone.

What he said next almost made me pass out and turn white.

“Daddy, my friend at school said that for your first tooth you get $100 because that’s what he got!” Yeah, that was SO not happening here. Instead he woke up to a crisp $5 on his nightstand resting under the Dixie Cup holding his precious tooth.

I know there will be plenty knocked out from hockey, being a boy and fighting with his little brother but until then our insurance is wiping its brow at this part of life.