Betty & Steven… Engage!

It is with the utmost pleasure and no small amount of pride that I am honored to announce the engagement of my son, Steven Schmidt to his fiance Elizabeth “Betty-Bits” Lavoie. She is a wonderful young lady who is bright, friendly, and a lot of fun to be around. I know that their lives together will be joyous and long lasting.

I had a small part in introducing them a few years back. Betty and her parents had come in to my store to purchase a vehicle to replace the one Betty had been in a bad accident with. Somehow, during the chatting that goes on during the sales process, the topic had gotten around to my kids, Steven and Marissa. I said “We should get you two together, I think you would be a good match!” It was said semi-humorously, and behind Betty’s back, her mother was nodding vigorously. The idea percolated for a while, and then I finally thought “what the heck, why not?” and told Steven about her. He resisted the idea of any sort of blind date for several months.

I finally pressured him into contacting her. The went out on a date and hit it off pretty quickly. Here we are several years later and it looks like its going to stick!

Congratulations Steven and Betty! My thoughts are with you both!

Valhalla Awaits!


The Halls of the Gods, or why children don’t go to Valhalla

So, I read this post from Katie on Facebook, and a blinding light went off in my head and I sighed, then growled, and then punched myself in the head a few dozen times!  This is a question that has bugged me for a really long time in my search for my own personal faith:  What happens when you die and are NOT a warrior?  Is Valhalla really denied you?  I like to think I am a warrior at heart.  I want to die in battle and go before Odin.  I want to feast and carouse and prepare myself anew each day to get ready for the final battle.  I want to meet Ragnarok on my feet, swinging a blade and screaming.  I know this is not to be.  I am not a warrior.  I struggle against the kinds of things we all do, stress, frustrations, our lives, but that is not “battle” in the meaning of Odin and the Halls of Valhalla.  Frankly, I worry about that a great deal.  How do you earn your way into the afterlife?  How do you avoid the “cold lands” and make a difference in Ragnarok?  I admit to some ignorance of the other Halls.   I never suspected that there were Halls for those who weren’t warriors and I despaired of earning a way into the afterlife unless I somehow was killed in a mugging, or fighting a bank robber or something.  Thank you Katie!  You have both educated me and opened my eyes to some other ways I might make it into the gloried afterlife of the Norse Gods!

So, without further ado, is Katie’s revelation: 

The thing with Valhalla, she says, is that it is specifically designed for warriors. ‘Fight all day and feast all night’ isn’t a euphemism, it is literally war and food, in training for Ragnarok. The sentiment of children and abuse victims and the sick being welcome there as fighters, while noble and well-meaning, is erasive both of the culture and the suffering that these people have gone though. Historical sources attest to many gods having halls, some of them having more than one. It makes sense that each of the gods have their own hall of residence, maybe more, and can welcome whoever would fit there. I write these in the spirit of the original post- that perhaps, if people don’t have their own clear path to an afterlife, a path finds them, and that path is the one that they need. —-

Many speak of Valhalla, of course, that blessed hall, where Odhinn takes his half of the slain. What they don’t speak of, however, is it’s counterpart, Folkvangr, where Freyja takes her half. If Valhalla will be the sword of Ragnarok, Folkvangr will be the shield, and it is here that the defenders of war train and make ready. Those that stood in the way of those seeking to harm the innocent, who took up arms to hold back aggressors and protect their homes, and died so that their people would be safe. If the soldiers of Valhalla are those that will do whatever it takes to win, whatever logically makes sense, no matter what their feelings say, their counterparts in Folkvangr listen to their instincts, and do what they feel will work within them, in spite of their logic. But then again, not everyone is made for warrior halls. There are as many gods as there are halls, and of both, there may be as many as stars in the sky, and it would be fair to say that each of those halls is for different deaths and needs of the soul.

For instance, Freyja also rules over the hall of Vingolf, the ‘Friendly house’. Here are the warriors who are tired of fighting, not ready to go back to training, and just want to rest. A child coming there, with dark circles under his eyes and bones visible against the surface of his skin. Freyja shows him a room that is all for him, and then crouches down and tells him that unless he willingly consents to someone entering his room, they may not do so, not even her, and that the same can be said of anyone trying to make him enter their room. He doesn’t believe her, so she shows him, and for the first time in a long time, he feels safe. The hall is full of fierce but gentle men and women, who usually have a moment for him, and always have a smile or a nod. They remind him of the uncles and aunts that knew that something was wrong, but didn’t know how to do anything. Later, a newcomer speaks a little too sharply to him, and in a moment, they are surrounded by the aunts and uncles, speaking urgently, but in low voices. Freyja bustles him away, and they spend time making honey candy. He tells her about how he wants to defend people when he’s bigger, like he tried to defend his brothers and sister, and look after those that need him. Freyja smiles, and lets him lick the spoon. The next day, the newcomer apologises wholeheartedly, and promises to leave the boy alone until he is ready to speak to them, and the aunts and uncles promise to make sure that stays true. Thor also receives children. One day, a little girl comes to him, and without a moment’s hesitation he bundles her up and sets her down by the fire, bringing her a cup of goat’s milk and honey. He reminds her of the brother who couldn’t take her with him when he left, except this time he’s here, and everything is safe now, and no one can ever hurt them again. Thor’s men adore her, and regale her with stories about their chief’s shenanigans, each retelling becoming more and more wild. She laughs herself almost sick, and when she awakens in the morning, Thor’s goats are snuggling up beside her. One night, she calls Thor ‘dad’, and he smiles.

Njordr keeps his hall Nóatún, ‘ship cove’, where those of any burden are welcome. When they speak, Njordr listens, and the ocean and the sea-birds listen, and when they are ready, they walk into the sea, which washes away their burdens. Once they feel lighter, they float upwards and swim back to shore. Some must walk into the seas many times, but Njordr is as patient as the ocean that is his to rule. and bears no malice to those that come to his halls for help. At night, those that reside there sleep in the boat houses, inside the ships, or cover themselves in sand near the beacon fires for warmth, listening to the waves carry their life’s burdens further away, to eventually be devoured by Jormungandr.

There are many places for the sick. Sif’s halls are particularly welcome to those who had cancer and eating disorders. She places no expectations on them, but teaches them to grow things in the earth, and tells them stories of the lonely, frightening time when Loki stole her hair. She gives them all they need to be comfortable- clothes, headscarves, pillows and chairs as they should need- and tells them to be patient with themselves and others. Eventually, they are happy to eat the food they have grown with their own hands, and they grown and construct their own hair again, in all the colours of the rainbow. Only when they ask, and have shown that they are ready, does Sif return the mirrors that she has kept from them for their own sakes. More than beautiful, they have finally found their comfort.

Eir takes the sick ones who want to give back to those who are also ill. Her halls of healing are light and welcoming, and do not smell of sickness and death. She teaches those that come to heal birds and animals, and the folk of Valhalla who get too enthusiastic with each other. In time, her chosen learn how to tend their own sickness and close their own wounds- that which she cannot teach them, and they must learn it for themselves. From their own experiences, they are able to help others, and so the circle of healing widens. Tyr, however, takes those who do not need healing, those who are ready to work with their minds and their bodies that are not quite the way that others are. He helps them adjust as he can, showing his own wounds, and telling stories of Odhinn’s troubles on the road with one eye. He recites the old rune poems as they work, teaching them the ways that the disabled were honoured of old, and the guests of his halls are renewed, their worth reaffirmed, and ready to face whatever comes next.

Loki no longer resides in his hall, but as Sigyn attends him as he writhes below, Angrboda looks after those that seek him. His spirit, however, still comes there to care for those who would change the shapes of the bodies they were trapped in. He teaches them to slough off the scarred, bruised flesh that they remember, that was given cruelly, and was never really theirs at all, and shows them to take whatever form they feel is home. “None will judge you for how you look here,” he says, “So why not reflect what is inside?” He gives them time and space to become comfortable, and says that their shining faces are the only light where his body resides. If they decide to move on to other halls, his monstrous children escort them. If they decide to stay, they are welcome, and may pick whatever den they see fit. But sometimes, even in these halls, there are occasionally mistakes. Odhinn spies a warrior in his halls who shies from the fighting, and tries to seek a quiet corner every night as the others eat and drink. Odhinn seeks him out, and looks him in the eye. The warrior does not speak, but his eyes scream with pain and distance and memories of his life. Odhinn nods, and says “You do not belong here, soldier.” He takes the man to the Bifrost, where they find dozens of men, looking out over the worlds, and sharing mead in easy silence. Heimdall is among them, and takes the soldier to join the others. There, the god shows him the world through his sight, his wife and children laughing and healing together, his squadmates remembering him, and the world getting better for the work he had done. Heimdall says, “I have need of defenders and watchers, who will see for me when I must turn my eyes away, or visit my mothers, and who will help me lift the Gjallarhorn on the Last Day. There will be no war here until Ragnarok. Do you think you will be ready to fight by then?” The soldier’s eyes clear, and he nods. “Yes,” he says, the first words he has spoken since he died. “Yes, I will.” One day, Hela is surprised to receive Frigga as a visitor, who brings a quiet and strange girl with her. She says that even the soft hum of weaving and singing in her halls is too much for the child, and perhaps Helheim would be more suited to her. Hela carefully takes the girl’s hand, and asks what has happened to her. Haltingly, the girl tells her of her life, full of loud, loud sounds, and bright, bright colours, and people touching and pushing and never going away. One day, she started screaming and couldn’t stop, and they put her in a place where she never saw her parents, and the doctors that were supposed to help hurt her instead. And then one day she was here. Hela frowns, and says, “Girl-child, will you be happy here?” The girl smiles, looking at the grey sky and grey buildings, and the people living the echoes of their lives in all but silence, and nods. “You smell nice, like linen and clean bones. I like it here. It is quiet.” And then, there are those few who will not fit in a hall…

Skadhi receives a girl- no, a young woman, who trembles and will not meet her eyes. The goddess checks her over, eyes and hands (gentle, for once) noting the black eyes, the bruised fingerprints at her shoulders and wrists, the thickened bones where they have been broken more than once. After a while, she lifts the woman’s head to meet her eyes, firmly, but without violence, and they regard each other in silence for a long time. It is the woman who finally breaks it. “Am I going to be afraid forever?” she asks, her voice cracking. Skadhi laughs. It is not a pleasant laugh. “Not once we’re done with them, my student. Come. There is much to do.” For all who come to the halls of my Gods, there is a place, one that they will be safe, and given the tools they need to make themselves anew. Valhalla does not need to reshaped to fit them, or they reshaped to fit Valhalla, when there are Gods who will welcome them as they are, should they come to their doors.


Thank you so much Katie!

Valhalla awaits, and so do so many other Halls!

I’m trying to give feedback… but nuttin’ happens!

Welp, I have tried and tried to find a spot on K-Mart Pharmacy’s website to leave a complement about one of their Pharmacists. They are, evidently, not interested in getting feedback.

So, for the lack of any other avenue, I will post this far and wide on my blog and Facebook: Lyndsay Toth is an amazing employee and an asset to your company, K-Mart! She has gone above and beyond on many occasions for my wife, Mary and I with respect to our prescriptions. Little touches like finding a way past our ruinous insurance deductibles, and spotting us some meds until the renewal comes through from the Dr.’s office, to remembering our names and giving her condolences on the passing of my Father- in- Law, Al (also a customer.) Nowadays, like so many other things, medical care has become all about numbers. Your plan number, your customer number, you and your medical needs are just a number. Not so with Lyndsay. She is a human being and a nice one. We are not numbers to her and it shows!

Thank you Lyndsay for all that you do for us! I will continue to search for a way to let your management know what an asset you are to the company!

Valhalla Awaits!

My Father- In- Law has passed away.

It has been 4 days now, and I am still no closer to writing coherent thoughts about my Father- In- Law. He passed away Tuesday night at about 6:45 PM. Up until about 1 ½ – 2 years ago, Al was as hearty and hale as a 70+ year old man could be. Even the past few years, he was physically fine, he just began to be a little more forgetful and a little more “vague.” A month ago, at 78, he Mary and I took Lydia, his great granddaughter to the Great Escape amusement park. He rode every ride he wanted to, including the looping roller coasters and the one that drops you straight down at high speed. He walked Mary and I into the ground that day, never complaining at all except about the high prices of food and souvenirs!

Two weeks ago, he began getting some back and leg pain; turns out he was starting to get some arthritis. Last Monday, the 25th, he had a trip over to Burlington to get a consult on some issues with his gall bladder. On the way home, he began to get nauseous. We had he and Lydia stay over with us to keep an eye on things that night. The next morning, he began vomiting blood. We called the ambulance and got him down to CVPH Medical Center. After a long day of fluids, transfusions and trying to stop his internal bleeding, his strong, strong heart gave up. Per his prior instructions, he was not resuscitated.

I met Ellsworth “Al’ Lashway back in 1981 when I began dating his daughter, Mary. I don’t think he was too impressed with me at first (what father is?). But over the years, both he and his wife grew to love me as I loved them and their daughter. He never failed to help us when we needed it. No matter if it was helping us move in 90 degree heat, trying to fix a car, building a deck, or helping to unfreeze water or fuel pipes in 20 degree below weather, he was there for us. Just over a month ago, he mowed the lawn for Mary and I, unasked, because it was “something to do.”

He worked as a pipe fitter and maintenance man for Georgia Pacific for over 30 years, and served in the Navy before that, as a boiler man on the USS Saratoga. I have never known a more hard working man. He had a number of hobbies over the years that I knew him, including raising and racing homing pigeons, going ice fishing, and riding his beloved motorcycles. He loved swimming and he got such a dark tan each summer, I was sure the man’s skin was going to turn into leather.

Eight years ago, his granddaughter got pregnant and was practically abandoned by her family. Al and his wife Mary, took her in and helped her get prenatal care and tried to help her with her addictions. Once Lydia was born, Al & Mary, from day one, raised her as if she were their own child. Doctor’s appts, food, clothes, haircuts, toys, all taken care of by Mary and Al. 3 Years ago, Mary passed away and left Al to care for Lydia alone. He never hesitated. Since the courts awarded him custody, he unfailingly and with great love, raised Lydia into a beautiful and intelligent little girl. Ellsworth said many times that were it not for Lydia, he would have just “hung it up.”

Although Al and I differed politically, I respected the man a great deal and I am proud to call him my friend as well as my Father- In- Law. Mary and I are trying for custody of young Lydia and we hope to step into Al’s mighty hard to fill shoes and raise Lydia as one of our own the way he did.

Rest easy, Mr. Lashway. Your burdens are now ours. Your family will miss you, but we know you are reunited with the love of your life, Mary. You two are “Together Again Forever.”

“Carried gently on the wings of the Valkyrie,
Borne happily over the Bifrost,
Seated at Odin’s right hand in the Halls of Valhalla,
Know that you have battled long enough,
Know that you are home now, and forever,
Know that we will all see you again,
and feast, drink and laugh for all time,
until the end of all.”

Love you Pop!

Ellsworth “Al” Charles Lashway

May 26th 1939 – September 26th 2017

The Ring Saga

This is the story of a Ring. Not the One Ring. No Sauron involved here. This is a story about one of my most prized possessions; my Star Fleet Academy class ring. Nerd alert! Also, Emotion Alert!

A long time ago, actually more than 20 years ago, I saw an advertisement for a novelty ring from Star Trek. It captured my attention as I tend to like to collect memorabilia that could actually be in the show or movie vs stuff that says “Star Trek” on it. I like tech manuals that are presented as “in universe,” for example. It is just what I like to collect. If I collect a replica of a phaser, it shouldn’t say “Star Trek” on it, it should just look like a phaser. So I saw this ad:one-ring
I wanted this ring so badly, that I made a fool of myself to my loving wife, Mary. I begged, I pleaded, I offered to sell one of the kids! Alas, we could not afford it as it was more than I made in about a month back then. I fully understood that this ring would never be mine. Fast forward to Christmas, 1994. Scattered around the Yule tree were 17 little boxes. Inside of the first box was a pewter Star Trek keychain. Inside the next box was… a pewter Star Trek keychain. Inside the next… you get the idea. Turns out there was a matching set of 16 pewter keychains from Rawcliff that showed up in a local mall and Mary had gotten each one for me. Each one in a small silver box. Like these:keychains

Did I say 17 boxes on the tree? I did. In the last box, perched at the pinnacle of the tree, was the Academy Ring! My wife stretched, scrimped, saved and twisted our finances and got the ring for me. She had gotten the mall guy to give her an extra box so that they would all match. I was stunned. I must admit that the tears flowed. That was, by far, the best Star Trek gift I had ever gotten. I wore the ring from that point forward.

I rarely removed it and it became a permanent fixture on my hand, and in my conversations with other Trek fans. I always showed it off. It got mistaken over the years for a Masonic ring (I am not a Mason,) a military ring (I have never served,) and once, some sort of satanic symbol (not a Christian or a Satanist.) It was always a point of contact with my love of Trek, my nerd-dom, and the love of my wife. I wore that ring, continuously, day and night, for over 20 years.

Just about 4 months ago, I cracked the stone around the delta shield Star Trek emblem in the center stone. I attempted a repair by adding in CA glue and that seemed to make it solid again. The actual crack was almost microscopic and I thought I had dodged a bullet. I was wrong. Just before Christmas 2016, I lost the entire delta shield out of the ring, and most of the stone. I suspect that I somehow banged the ring against something and that crack let go, but if so, I didn’t realize it when it happened. I simply looked down at my ring one night, and saw the horrible damage. I was heart broken. I called out to Mary; “My ring is ruined!” I didn’t know what to do. Mary calmed me down, and suggested contacting Josten’s to find out if the ring could be repaired, and how much it might cost. I was sure that even if it could be repaired, it would cost something close to the original cost of the ring, given 20 years of inflation.

I went to the Josten’s site on the web and looked for a link for repairs. They do indeed have a system for repairing class rings and I contacted a friendly operator in person to see if they had any idea about the cost. She said to me; “send us the ring. It has a lifetime warranty.”

“But ‘I’ broke the ring,” I replied.

“Send it to us anyway, and we will see if it can be repaired, and if so, we will let you know the cost first, if it isn’t covered under the warranty.” said my Customer Service Valkyrie.

I sent the ring to them the week before Christmas. I was notified that “We have received your jewelry item for adjustment. It is scheduled to be completed and returned to you at the address above approximately the week of (14-JAN-17).” No mention of cost to repair.

A tense 2 weeks later and here we are:

Back where it belongs!

I want to give a big shout out and thank you to Josten’s! They went above and beyond and gave me back my prized possession. It is intact and beautiful! This is a prime example of the kind of customer service that has become very rare in today’s world. Josten’s, I salute you!

Valhalla Awaits!

Happy Name Day, Norman!

Happy Name Day to my Son-in- Law Norman P. Gates. He is a wonderful young man and I am proud of him in so many ways. He is a hard worker and provides very well for my daughter. He is extremely intelligent and works for a defense contractor in Syracuse. He also plays Super Smash Brothers competitively, and DMs our family D & D group. He was my son’s roommate at Clarkson University and Marissa, my daughter, met him there. They hit it off and have been married for 2 and a half years now. I am so very pleased that he is part of my family! Rock on, Norm!

2016- you SUCK!

2016 has been a terrible year. So many of the actors, musicians and other famous people from my formative years have passed. Today, Carrie Fisher passed.
Losing people like Prince or Alan Rickman is definitely bad, but losing Carrie is a huge blow to my childhood. I was entranced by Star Wars. I was already a Star Trek fan, of course, but Star Wars was a huge spectacle and I drank it up like a sponge. I was 10-11 in 1978 when the movie came out and I was in loooooove with Leia. By the time ROTJ came out and the infamous “slave leia” costume was shown, I was totally gone. Now the beautiful and talented actress who brought Leia, and so many other characters to life, has gone. I know she had her own personal battles with addiction and the “hollywood machine,” and I know that she had depression issues and other mental difficulties, but I will never stop loving Leia.

I will miss you Leia, and I know that Carrie is in Valhalla, partying with Odin and the others, preparing for the final battles of Ragnarok.

Valhalla awaits…

Some Libertarian musings…

While I certainly don’t agree with everything Ken White has ever said/ written, I do like this blogpost and think it deserves notice:


Libertarianism as Ten Questions Rather Than Ten Answers


Read it with an open mind, and please, share any thoughts…


Valhalla Awaits!

Storm Drain: What the HELL is under your street?

A good friend of mine, Pony Horton, is an amazing visual effects wizard. He began working with Star Trek New Voyages/ Phase 2 back around 2009 for our episode “Kitumba.” He played the part of the mentor to the Klingon Emperor. His K’Sia was inspired. He also does much hard work behind the scenes of our episodes. Correcting small flaws in the sets, fixing things like makeup flaws and even creating whole locations that didn’t exist in reality. He created the alien ruins behind and around our “Guardian of Forever” gate set, for example. So Pony is an independent film maker as well. He makes great “shorts,” and is making a new horror film called “Storm Drain.” He has gathered several talented actors and has begun pre- production of this classic “creature” horror short.

I must admit, when I first met Pony, I was struck by his humble attitude. He has been involved in the movie and film industry for literally decades, but he behaved almost like a novice, eagerly soaking up “tips and tricks” from the other actors and crew, and looking around like a star-struck “fan boy.” He seemed delighted to be there. I only talked to him briefly that first shoot, as I was busting my ass being Key Grip for the biggest crew we had ever had, and shooting on location at Fort Ticonderoga. I watched him demonstrate some real cool skills with a bullwhip. Fast forward to the next several shoots when he and I got to spend some time together between setups and scenes. We became very good friends and when he told me of this project, I had to give him all the publicity my meager skills can provide.

This is to be a crowd funded film, and so far, has some pretty cool stars on board, including Tim Russ (who played Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager) and Larry Thomas (who was the “Soup Nazi” on Seinfeld,) and a personal favorite: Anthony De Longis, (who has been in everything!)

Please give the website a look at : and when the fundraisers start, please consider donating to this talented friend’s movie!

Valhalla Awaits!

Aviking in NYC!

I went aviking in NYC…

I traveled across waters, I strode upon the strange, foreign shores of Manhattan and I did acquire loot… The very definition of “Aviking.” I recently took my first real trip into NYC to visit friends and to see Iron Maiden in concert. I traveled down after work on Tuesday, March 29th and stayed with my good friend Rob on Long Island. It was a 5 ½ hour drive and I was pretty whipped when I got there at about midnight. Rob and another friend Ryan and I met up and went to a local diner for some really good food. My head hit the pillow at just short of 3 AM and I slept like a stone, something I don’t usually do on an air mattress.

Up and at ’em in the morning, we rode the Long Island Rail Road into Penn Station in Manhattan. Steve, Rob and I met up with Ryan and then Alex McDonald and his son, Phil. We wandered around lower Manhattan and saw many places that I had only seen in movies: Madison Square Garden, Battery Park, Herald Square, Broadway, The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, The Empire State Building, and most importantly, Ground Zero and the new Freedom Tower.

The impact of the place is staggering. I consider my self pretty sensitive to emotions and “vibes” if you will and that place screams with sorrow. I stood, mute, and felt myself tearing up. The thought of the horror that those people went through before the collapse of the twin towers is very sobering. The “footprints” of the towers have been replaced with reflecting pools that have a waterfall on each side that drains into a central square. Surrounding the pools are carved marble “railings” with the names of the people who died carved into them. Looking along the rails, seeing the names, drives into your brain the loss of that fateful morning. When the wind blew a certain direction, the water from the fountains was wafted over me. I felt each drop. They mixed with the tears on my cheeks and carried with them some atoms of the victims and my sorrow. I did not get to stay as long as I wanted and I probably would have shot pictures of every single name if I had time, but I got to see it and feel it and, until I return, that will have to do…

At one point, while standing at the memorial, I was startled to see a low-flying air liner fly overhead. When I looked up, it was low enough to read the logo of the airline and it flew out of view past a tall building. The sound was exactly the same as the audio when the second plane hit the tower… I shuddered. I understand that the massive air traffic into and out of the airports around the city mean that sometimes the planes must descend that way, but it surely must be a stress trigger for anyone who was there that morning. I was not, and I really felt a shot of adrenaline when that plane flew over.

We walked all around Battery Park and then walked out onto the Brooklyn Bridge. I shot the obligatory shots of the bridge structure and appreciated the view very much. I also shot the front of a big square block of a building that was the “secret MiB headquarters” in the movie Men in Black. I like architectural photos and shot some amazing cornices and sculptures, over 200 shots in all. I wanted to just hold down the shutter button on my Canon and let it just go and go…

I had a waffle from a street vendor at Herald Square and it was fabulous. I now know what Speculoos is. I also got some Gyros at a shop right across from Madison Square Garden. Too much to eat actually. My little niece, Lydia sent with me a tiny little stuffed bear so that I “wouldn’t be lonely” on my trip. I took him all around with me and shot photos of him to show Lydia where I went. I also shot the little bear at the Iron Maiden concert, so she will get to see him there, as well.

Denise, and Dave & Theresa, some friends who live in New Jersey came into the city for the Iron Maiden concert and we met at the Gyros place. About the Maiden concert, I will just say this: I hope to be even HALF as active as those guys are when I am 60! Bruce Dickinson, in particular, was leaping around the stage for all of the 2 hour long show and never even looked like he wanted to slow down. Jumping 6 or 8 feet into the air from the top of a speaker stack and running from one side of the stage to the other to make sure everyone was able to see him!

The “loot” I mentioned? I bought some neat keychains from a street vendor at a great price! It felt like I stole them!

I had a tremendous day, thanks to my friends acting as “native guides.” Once again Steve, Rob, Ryan, Denise, Theresa & Dave, Alex and Phil; thanks so much for taking a naive, tourist and showing me around! I have visited cities plenty of times in my life, and like Chicago a great deal, but to visit the “Big Apple” has given me a new definition of “big city.” Cannot wait for another trip and more sight seeing!

Valhalla Awaits!