Recently in Keystone State Category

Reunion iMix

I mentioned in an earlier post that we couldn’t afford a DJ for our high school reunion’s main event. Instead, I loaded up the speakers from my living room into my car, grabbed my old Onkyo receiver from college out of storage, and hooked a laptop running iTunes up to the receiver with a mini-jack to RCA adapter cable.

I had asked for track suggestions via our reunion website, but only got one respondent. So the track list was a mixture of my tastes and one other person’s (with a bit of 80s nostalgia thrown in).

After the event, I created an iTunes Music Store iMix that listed most of the tracks (link will launch iTunes, if installed).

Back in Joizey

Well, I made the trek across the Keystone State once again, my little black Neon guzzling that $3.29 per gallon gasoline like it was free beer at a college party.

My belongings, unloaded from my car, lie in a pile behind my couch; I’ll deal with them tomorrow. I am just getting ready to plop in front of my TiVo to discover what mind-numbing entertainment it has waiting for me.

It’s always comforting to come back home, but there are, of course, a few things that I will miss.

When I gaze up at the night sky over Pennsylvania, I can easily make out the milky band of stars that inspired our galaxy’s name. Looking up at the celestial canopy over light-polluted central Jersey, I’m lucky if I can discern the circumpolar constellations.

In my parents’ home, it seems like someone is always talking or making some sort of noise. Back here in my apartment, the silence is sometimes deafening.

Back there I can forget about my responsibilities for a time and almost pretend I’m a kid. Here, though, it’s back to the old grind.

On the road again


I’m finally ready to head out (a bit later than I had planned). I have spent the past couple of days getting things ready for the reunion like signage and the iTunes playlist for the dance (we ended up not being able to afford a DJ).

Why, oh why, does the price of gas have to be rising faster than Bush’s approval rating is falling? I winced when I topped off my gas tank at $2.79 per gallon a day ago. Now my mom tells me that gas stations in western Pennsylvania are up to $3.19 for 87 octane. Crap.

Anyway, because I will only have dial-up access for a week, I’ll only be checking e-mail and blogs maybe once a day. As such, I set my SpamLookup filter to be overly aggressive (+4). Unless you are registered with TypeKey, most posted comments will sit in a holding area for a day or two until I manually approve them.

Time for the road to rise up to meet me.

Go west young man

My car is now packed, so it is time for me to head 250 miles west to my parents’ home in Pennsylvania. I will probably still blog while there, although I will have to do it over dial-up (broadband penetration in the United States is abysmal).

I get to go skiing this weekend. Cool. Actually, it will be more than cool, as I will be freezing my ass off, but it will be worth it.

Autumn in Pennsylvania

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Autumn leaves create some glorious vistas in western Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, my visit missed the season’s peak by a couple of weeks. Many of the trees are already naked, but there is still quite a bit of beauty to be found.

Woodland pond

The photo above is a small pond, a short distance up the road from my parents’ house.

Broken water wheel next to waterfall

This waterfall and once-functional water wheel sit at the edge of what used to be a trout fishing lake, where I worked a couple of summers during high school. The harsh elements have not been kind to the water wheel, though, splintering its rotten wood.

Look out, Travis Pastrana*


Below is a shot of me riding a Honda CR-250. It’s actually my brother who is a motocross racer and AMA member. I am just a poseur. Still, it was fun to tool around on the bike for a while, even if my right shin is now a bit bloodied and banged up. I guess riders wear boots for a reason.

Michael rides a Honda CR-250

*For the uninitiated, Travis Pastrana is a nationally-renowned professional motocross racer.

Time capsule

Visiting my parent’s home is always a surreal experience. I usually only get back there a couple of times per year.

As the only member of my family to have relocated, I always feel like somewhat of an outsider when I return. Everyone welcomes me with open arms, of course, but as I observe the inter-personal relationships of those around me, the feeling that “I just don’t belong there” always lingers in the back of my mind.

Some things have changed. My parents have finally cultivated a friendship (it only took them more than twenty-five years), and they publicly act like teenagers in love. There has been some minor remodeling in the house, new appliances, etc. The formerly sleepy road in front of the house now sees a considerably increase in vehicular traffic.

So much more, though, remains the same. Smells are the same. My younger brother still lives at home. My old bedroom remains a monument to my childhood, albeit with over a decade of additional accumulated clutter.

Rummaging through bedroom drawers, I came across a cache of love letters from when I was seventeen…scary stuff. The following 80s flashback is courtesy of “Chel,” who loved quoting song lyrics in her letters.

 If language were liquid
It would be rushing in
Instead here we are
In a silence more eloquent
Than any word could ever be
    “Language” — Suzanne Vega 

From Garden to Keystone

This evening I’m driving 250 miles west across central New Jersey and into Pennsylvania to attend a wedding. Hopefully, my plumbic foot doesn’t earn me another speeding ticket (unreasonably restrictive laws are meant to be challenged with a bit of civil disobedience).

I’m taking a digital camera, so I should have some photos to post of the place that spawned yours truly.

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