Monthly Archives: February 2013

Paying it Forward…. Schmidt’s and Mark’s Epic Fail Edition

 Try to take that attitude toward life, that you’re going to pay forward.  So seldom can we pay back because those who helped most–your parents and other people–will be gone, but you’ll find that you do want to pay.  Emerson had something to say about that: “You can pay back only seldom.”  But he said, “You can always pay forward, and you must pay line for line, deed for deed, and cent for cent.”  He said, “Beware of too much good accumulating in your palm or it will fast corrupt.”  That was Emerson’s attitude, and no one put it better than he did. – Woody Hayes

I have absolutely wonderful friends. Each year, I participate in the Citizens for Humane Action (CHA) Dog Jog 5k race. As part of this, I conduct fundraising for the local 501C(3)non-profit animal shelter. The support was been overwhelming. In the four years I’ve been doing fundraising, we’ve raised over $3000 for the animals of Columbus and the surrounding area.

5 Years of Dog Jogs

CHA, for their part, has been equally great. They put on a fun event and they are overly gracious with their recognition. They have great vendors and in some years they’ll have side competitions for the pups. One year Tobey finished second in the trick competition by teaching children fire safety (stop, drop and roll). In the 2012 event, as a thank you for finishing as the second place fundraiser, I was presented with a gift basket. Included were dog treats and toys for the pups and a certificate for a Picnic Pack that feeds 10 from the famous Schmidt’s Haus restaurant in Columbus. It was a very nice gesture by CHA as a token of their appreciation.

The original plan was to have a night of Schmidt’s and Wine at a friends house (his place is amazing for gatherings and he is a skilled vintner). Unfortunately, as it tends to, life started getting in the way of our plans. School started for his girls and I found myself traveling to see my fiance’ nearly every weekend. Weeks and months started to pass and the certificate had a firm February 28th, 2013 expiration date. I thought the next best thing to the wine event would be a lunch as a thank you to the great friends of my life and an easy way to ‘pay it forward’ to all those who have been so generous and supportive.

I scheduled lunch for a Thursday several weeks in advance so people could clear their schedules and reserved a conference room in the building where the majority worked. The week of the lunch, I called Schmidt’s and ordered the ‘Picnic Pack’ to be picked up Thursday at 11:15am. When I arrived, they were still in the back working on everything. The pack included 4 pounds of brats, sides, buns, sauerkraut, etc. Everything I would need to host a great ‘thank you’ lunch. After waiting a few minutes, the host summoned me with four bags full of Schmidt’s. He even mentioned the meat was in a separate bag and included a ton of silverware and napkins. I was set.

You can imagine my horror when I got to the conference room and started setting everything up to find that the brats and bahama mama’s were still raw.  I’m still confused how could the restaurant would think I’m going to grill the meat in 25 degree temperatures in the dead of winter…. Before panic could set in, my friends started arriving en mass. In my mind, my lunch had gone from a nice gesture to an epic fail.

As I mentioned previously, I have some of the most amazing friends. Everyone seemed more excited that the meat wasn’t cooked because this would give them a great ‘Mark Story’ for future use. In the end, we went to the cafeteria and grabbed sandwiches or salads and came back to the conference room and shared a nice lunch with friends, which was the plan all along. What I learned is to always double check the order… and next time…. I’m going with the six foot party sub from Subway :).

If you have any Epic Fails or any stories of my Epic Fails… feel free to leave a note in the comments.

Life Without Cable – February Recommendations

I haven’t posted an update in a while, but I’m still living without Cable Television. My grand experiment continues to go better than I ever could have hoped. Since I left Time Warner in July, I anticipate I’ve saved close to $400 (minimum savings of $55 a month).

Periodically on this blog, I post an update with how I’m doing without cable, so… without any further delay, here is what’s keeping me busy lately….


Traditionally, December and January are supposed to be slow months in information technology as budgets run out in early December, then take a few weeks to trickle down in January. This was definitely not the case for me. If my project was going to succeed, my portion would need to be completed in early February. This meant an aggressive timetable of November, December and January. My project team did an amazing job and we finished a calendar week ahead of our estimates. This meant a lot of working from home in the evenings so it was probably a good thing I had one less thing to distract me.


Game companies try to release their marquee games in the 4th Quarter of the year so they can maximize sales over the Holiday season. This year was no exception…. combine the amazing games with my Amazon addition, I was able to get some great deals on some great games. The games that I play the most are:

Borderlands 2 – This game is so fun it could get its own entry in the future.

NBA2k13 – This has quietly become the gold standard in sports video games. I attribute that mostly due to Electronic Arts having an exclusive licensing agreement with the NFL so they are the only company who can release a professional football game…. ever since they signed that agreement, the Madden series has gone so far downhill, I don’t even bother with it anymore.

XCom Enemy Unknown – I had reservations about this game, but I was able to buy it as part of an Amazon Gold Box deal. It is made by the same studio that created the Civilization series (The greatest games ever created) so I felt cautiously optimistic. After playing for a while, I highly recommend this game. It’s a fun and challenging turn-based strategy game. I’m looking forward to trying to beat the game on harder difficulties in the future.


As in the past, I’m using Netflix as my cable replacement. Below are some recommendations.

Archer – This cartoon is simply awesome and the cast is amazing. I’ve always loved Aisha Tyler and I’m a huge Jessica Walter fan from Arrested Development. As an added bonus, the show even has the actor who played Dr. Spaceman on 30 Rock (Chris Parnell).

Arrested Development – Without question, the greatest show ever. I am on a continuous loop of watching the entire series and each time I watch, I always pick up on something I never noticed before. I’m thankful that Netflix has renewed the series and I’m more thankful they are releasing all episodes at one time on a Saturday. If it were on a weekday, I’m pretty sure there would be a vacation day from work being used.

Ballplayer: Pelotero – A fascinating look at the signing process and the entire baseball machine in the Dominican Republic. If you are a baseball fan, I highly recommend.

Up For Grabs – Admittedly, I’ve had this movie in my queue forever. I was intrigued, but not enough to watch. It is a documentary about what happened to Barry Bonds 73rd home run ball. After watching, this documentary was both appealing and scary because of how horrible people are. Similar to the 30 for 30 on Steve Bartman, this documentary will keep the watcher riveted for the entire 88 minutes.

Other things that keep me busy and probably should be listed in more detail…. Running, The Ricky Gervais Show (Thanks HBO App on XBOX), OSU Basketball (Thanks BTN App and ESPN App), Pandora, and finally, Weimaraner stuff.

If you have any recommendations or want to weigh in on anything from above, please feel free to drop a note in the comments section.

1966 Gottlieb Cross Town Pinball Machine (My Pride and Joy)

This is a random start to a blog post, but recently I switched home insurance providers. When I went into the office to sign the official paperwork, the agent recommended that I inventory everything in my house in the event of a catastrophe. In fact, the company even has an Android app that will help catalog everything. This got me thinking if the house did in fact burn down, what would I really miss?

This is one of the random events that I hope will never happen, but I’ve spent countless hours thinking about. If there ever was a catastrophe, I feel I’m overly prepared. I have all my computer files backed up with Carbonite so I won’t lose any music, documents or pictures.  Furniture and televisions can be replaced. About the only thing I own that I would miss is my 1966 Cross Town pinball machine manufactured by Gottlieb.


The pinball connection started sometime in the 70’s when my Old Man bought it secondhand. For some reason growing up, the pinball machine was kept at my grandparents house. This made visiting them all the more awesome (they also had an original Nintendo for my brother and I…. Grandparents are the best!). I remember going over there and how fun it would be to hear all the noises and put the coins in the slot, hear the noises and the unique smell. After a few years of playing, I would start to create challenges for myself. I still have a rule that if I don’t score 500 points, I quit for a playing for a while.

The pinball machine is absolutely amazing. It was originally built in 1966 and is the last Gottlieb machine to have the manual ball lift (where the player pushes a plunger to ‘push’ the ball up onto the playing surface). Gottlieb only manufactured 2765 units of this model. The machine is 100% electromechanical and, in my opinion, an engineering marvel. The pictures below don’t come close to doing justice on how many wires and switches there are. This machine comes from a time when people took an immense amount of pride in their work.


IMG_4183The guts of the Machine

Ever since I’ve been lucky enough to own my own house, I’ve been begging my dad to gift me the pinball machine (the pinball machine went back to my parents house when my Grandparents downsized). My justification was that he was doing a disservice by not playing it. Since it is electromechanical, it needs to be used frequently or it fall into a state of disrepair. When I was going through a rough time in my life, my dad knew the perfect thing to cheer me up. He drove down with the pinball machine in tow and personally delivered it. I had a friend over to help lift and set it up in the basement. When my dad was giving me an overview of the maintenance and how to access and maintain everything, he made special mention how he thought it was amazing that the machine still had the original glass. At that exact moment, he jinxed it because within a week, when I went to change out some burnt out bulbs, I managed to chip the glass. I felt horrible, but at the end of the day, the glass could be easily be replaced.

IMG_4335Chipped Glass

What I love most about Cross Town is that it is genuinely fun to play. It hasn’t been influenced by inflation as it is still costs a dime for one game or a quarter for three. I keep a small box full of change underneath for when anyone comes over. The machine is so old school, it only counts to 1999. Any score over that number isn’t official unless there is a witness to verify the numbers flipping over. I’m quite proud that I have the all-time Roehl high score of 2948 and also have the Ohio record of 2115. I sincerely hope I have the pinball machine long enough to pass on to my children and I’m grateful to own a piece of history and the closest thing I have to a family heirloom!

IMG_4333Free Game at 1200, 1600 & 1900

IMG_8757My niece getting her Pinball on

If you have any pinball stories or if there is any possession that you are particularly proud of, feel free to drop a comment below.


Today I had my first haircut since 1998 or 1999 with someone other than Emily (she’s currently out of the country for two months). Amazingly, Emily is my longest continuous female relationship.

The new lady did a great job but it was incredibly awkward when she asked me what I want done with my hair. I didn’t know what to say because I usually just sit down and Emily takes care of it. Before she left, she mentioned she uses a #2 blade…. that didn’t help the conversation. In the end, Laura (the replacement stylist) did a great job, but thankfully, Emily comes back at the end of the month!

Weimaraners in West Virginia

The weather was perfect on Sunday for a trip to a nearby field with the Weims. I was beating myself up for not bringing the real camera (Canon Powershot ELPH 300) because there were some great shots. Instead, I used my Samsung Galaxy S3 and was pleasantly surprised with the quality.

IMG_20130210_155551Tobey & Lili Scoping Everything Out

IMG_20130210_160034Tobey Enjoying the Outdoors

IMG_20130210_153854I can’t tell if he’s Happy?

IMG_20130210_153838Finally got him to sit long enough to take a picture

IMG_20130210_153632Lili in all her glory

IMG_20130210_153114Side Profile of Lillian

As always, feel free to leave comments below.