Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ALS-MND News Digest

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Researcher Dies of Disease He Studied
Finding a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, was the life-long goal of Dr. Richard Olney. According to the Associated Press, Olney spent the last 18 years of his life studying the disease before succumbing to ...
See all stories on this topic »

The inspirational Colm Murray
Mayo News
IT was hard not to be moved by the excellent documentary on RTÉ's Colm Murray and his battle with Motor Neuron disease, which was aired on Monday night last. The 58-year-old is one of the most popular news or sports broadcasters on Irish television and ...
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Biogen profit up; 2012 forecast falls short
On Tuesday, Weston, Massachusetts-based biotech issued a 2012 earnings forecast that was lower than Wall Street expected after several clinical trials, including one for its drug to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, enrolled faster than ...
See all stories on this topic »

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fort Benning

A big, busy week ahead.

Richie and his clown shoes are taking me up to Hopkins for an appointment. It will mark the end of the pill-popping component of the drug trial, but I'll have a final appointment next week.

We'll need to turn around quickly in Baltimore and get back to Lexington. Amanda and I fly in to Atlanta on Wednesday night as we begin a visit to Ft. Benning. We're attending as guests of Colonel Dougherty and the 316th Cavalry Brigade.

Visual approximation of me at Ft. Benning
Ben Freakley, a friend of mine, noticed my list of things that I want to do, and decided he could help me, "Shoot the biggest gun I can get my hands on." Ben reached out and has been instrumental in making this dream come true.

Honestly, I'm giddy. My itinerary alone gets me excited! How could you not be excited when your day will be made up of events like, "Tank Orientation & Live Fire with the Master Gunner School," or, "Observe Live Fire Demonstration," and, "Opportunity to fire Sniper Rifles, Carbine, etc."?

Amanda and I can't wait to visit Benning, and are honored to have been extended an invitation by Col. Dougherty and the 316th. We're both looking forward to our visit.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Punching Out for the Weekend

It seems the trips to Johns Hopkins leave me even more anxious to finish work on a Friday. I'm definitely ready for some quality time with my three girls.

Amanda reminded me that I haven't posted a song in a few days, so here's something I've been listening to during my visits to Hopkins

or something a little faster

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stem Cell Developments

Via the MDA...

Preliminary data reported Jan. 17, 2012, by BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics demonstrate that the biotechnology company's experimental NurOwn stem cell technology has not caused any significant adverse side effects in a phase 1-2 clinical trial in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In addition, clinical follow-up of trial participants indicates that the treatment appears to have improved breathing, swallowing and muscle strength.

"I am very excited about the safety results, as well as these indications of efficacy we are seeing," the trial's principal investigator Dimitrios Karussis said in a BrainStorm press release. “This may represent the biggest hope in this field of degenerative diseases like ALS."

The ethical and safety committee at Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center (Israel), where the trial is taking place, has granted BrainStorm approval to advance its trial and begin treatment in the next group of participants.

Technology uses participants' own cells

The newly reported data are based on results from the first four trial participants, who were in the early stages of ALS. Investigators expect to test BrainStorm's NurOwn therapy in eight more people with early-stage ALS, and in 12 people with advanced ALS.

Treatment for the first 12 trial participants involves a single round of multiple injections to the biceps and triceps muscles. Those in the later groups, with more advanced ALS, will receive a single injection into the cerebrospinal fluid via lumbar (lower back) puncture.

The experimental treatment in BrainStorm's trial uses mesenchymal stem cells, taken from the bone marrow, which are capable of differentiating (maturing) into a number of different cell types. In this trial, mesenchymal stem cells are taken from trial participants’ bone marrow, cultured into healthy cells capable of delivering neurotrophic factors (molecules that support motor neurons, the nerve cells that die in ALS) and then readministered to the participants from whom they were taken.

BrainStorm, with operations in both New York and Petach Tikyah, Israel, was granted orphan drug status for its experimental therapy in February 2011 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Orphan drug status provides economic incentives for companies to develop drugs for rare diseases.)

BrainStorm plans to add US trial sites

BrainStorm is in early-stage planning to add U.S. trial sites to the ongoing NurOwn clinical trial. Prospective sites include Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass.

Neurologist Merit Cudkowicz will lead the Massachusetts General Hospital team. Cudkowicz has received MDA research funding and directs the MDA/ALS Center at Massachusetts General. The University of Massachusetts Medical School team will be led by Robert Brown, a neurologist and former MDA research grantee who preceded Cudkowicz as director of the MDA/ALS Center at Massachusetts General.

Several steps are necessary before NurOwn stem cells can be tested in the United States. These include:
  • development of a trial design;
  • identification of treatment production facilities;
  • completion of a formal collaborative agreement between BrainStorm and the participating institutions; and
  • FDA approval of the new trials.  

Learn more about the NurOwn trial

To find out more about the ongoing trial in Israel, view Autologous Cultured Mesenchymal Bone Marrow Stromal Cells Secreting Neurotrophic Factors (MSC-NTF) in ALS Patients (or enter NCT01051882 into the ClinicalTrials.gov search box).

You also may contact Dimitrios Karussis at karus@cc.huji.ac.il, or +972-2-6776939; or Adi Vaknin_Dembinsky at adembinsky@yahoo.com, or +972-2-6776939.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Crab Cakes

Clown for hire
Today is the last of my marathon sessions at Johns Hopkins.

After arriving at 9am, I'll be leaving at 1:45, as soon as they take one more blood sample.

Richie volunteered accompany me to Hopkins today. I really appreciate his support; not sure about his taste in shoes though.

As soon as 1:45 rolls around, we'll head over for some seafood before making the journey home...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Going Global

I took a peek at some stats for the site and was overwhelmed by the various countries that my visitors hail from...
  • Angola
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Czech Republic
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gabon
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Italy
  • Jersey
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Palau
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

List Development?

Monday, January 23, 2012

MND Boost

Via BW...

Phytopharm, the plant bioscience market leader based in Cambridge’s BioMedTech cluster, saw its share price rise almost 13 per cent to 8.95p after positive trial results.
The UK company released preliminary data indicating that its Cogane solution had demonstrated efficacy in a genetic preclinical model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – the most common form of motor neurone disease. World-renowned Cambridge academic Stephen Hawking, whose 70th birthday was feted globally last week, is a sufferer.
The study was performed in a model that has a mutation in the SOD1 gene (SOD1G93A); mutation of the SOD1 gene is a known cause of ALS in humans.
In this study Cogane was administered orally for 50 days, starting after ALS-type symptoms were manifest. This is therefore considered to be a model of severe, late-stage ALS.
Phytopharm says that administration of Cogane resulted in a 30-50 per cent improvement in muscle strength in one muscle type compared to both the untreated control group and a group treated with riluzole (currently the only product marketed for the treatment of ALS).
Treatment also resulted in an increase in the number of motor units (a measure of functional motor neurones) compared with both the untreated and riluzole treated control groups.
These are preliminary, headline results and the full results from the study, including histopathology data, will be published in due course. The results support those reported previously by Phytopharm in which Cogane showed benefit in an environmental (toxin-induced) model of ALS, in a progressive motor neuropathy model and in a nerve crush model.
Phytopharm said that collectively the results from these four different models of ALS provided strong support for the utility of Cogane in the treatment of the devastating condition.
Phytopharm has obtained orphan drug status in Europe and the US for Cogane in ALS.
The study was performed by the group of Professor Linda Greensmith, University College, London, with the financial support of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, a UK based charitable organisation.
Professor Greensmith said: “The data from this genetic model of ALS are very encouraging and, taken with the data from the other models of ALS in which it has been tested, indicate that Cogane has significant potential as a therapy for ALS and merits further evaluation.”
Tim Sharpington, Phytopharm’s CEO, added: “These results are very encouraging as we set a difficult challenge in this study by looking for efficacy in a severe, end-stage disease model.
“We have established an impressive set of data for Cogane in a broad range of neurodegenerative disease models, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease as well as ALS.
“There is a major unmet need and substantial commercial opportunity for new therapies which can delay or halt the progression of these diseases. We look forward to receiving more data on Cogane as we complete our ongoing clinical study in Parkinson’s disease.”

Friday, January 20, 2012


Reflecting on the past week or so, I came up with the following statistics...
  • Miles travelled: 9045

Collectively, the players I met on Saturday have the following medals and awards:
  • European Cup Winners: 3
  • UEFA Cup Runner Up: 1
  • Scottish League Titles: 42
  • Scottish Cup Winners: 40
  • Scottish League Cup Winners: 23
  • International Appearances: 345
  • Young Player of the Year: 1
  • Scottish Writers' Player of the Year: 1
  • Players' Player of the Year: 1
  • Football League Champions: 1
  • FA Cup Runner Up: 1
  • K-League Champions: 1
  • Scottish Player of the Year: 2

  • Smiles: Too many to count

Back In the Saddle

If it weren't for the signed shirts and box of drugs I brought in to work, I'm not sure I would believe where I've been in the past seven days.

I would say I'm looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning, but Celtic will be on at 7:30. Time to see if I can get the girls in all the Celtic gear I purchased!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Good Numbers

Hold it: grip testing
I should temper any over-eager anticipation with the drug trial: this isn't a cure, but the drug may return some strength to people suffering from ALS/MND.

There's also a 1-in-4 chance that I'm taking a placebo.

I'm doing this, regardless of the pill, because I simply wish to help with the research.

Protocol CY 4024
All that being said, my follow-up appointment at Hopkins this morning showed some small improvements in my test scores. My breathing capacity was the highest ever seen in the clinic. My grip, while not notably stronger, was more consistent over time. My upper body, which has weakened most, showed some small gains in strength.

Maybe it's adrenaline, or maybe it's the drug. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Today brings my first visit to Hopkins on the business end of a drug trial. My Mum and Dad came up to Baltimore with me.

The visit began with a quick barrage of tests (strength, breathing, EKG, and vitals) before we finally got to open the drug packaging. I have an equal chance of getting a placebo, low dosage, medium dosage, or high dosage of the drug.

Hotel Drugs

I remained in the hospital for six hours in order to draw blood at regular intervals, and repeat some tests. As boring as the wait was, at least the view was decent!


Goodbye Charlotte: turning on to the runway
Aside from our near miss with flight delays on the way out to Scotland, our flights were faultless.

I could describe the entire weekend as faultless, but that wouldn't do it any justice...

My Aunt Maureen was waiting for us at Glasgow airport. Smiles were followed by a few tears, and then more smiles. We made a brief pit stop in Bishopbriggs before heading over to our hotel, Menzies, in Glasgow. The stop in Bishopbriggs gave a chance to say a quick hello to Paul and Katy as they prepared to start their day.

We made our way to the hotel to grab a nap and meet two people.

Signed: a Celtic jersey autographed
by Peter Mullan
One of life's random moments gave rise to our first gathering at the hotel. My Mum and Dad were Christmas shopping in Charlotte, NC, when a someone passing my Dad in the aisle detected his Scottish accent. Recognizing that my Dad has a strong accent isn't difficult, but placing it as a Scottish accent is a rarity, particularly in the US. A quick chat ensued between my Dad and the lady that placed his accent, Leslie Walsh. As fate would have it, Leslie is related to the actor Peter Mullan, of Trainspotting, Braveheart, Harry Potter, and Warhorse fame. That chat in the aisle of a shop in the US gave rise to our meeting Peter's sister, Cath, in Glasgow. The meeting was all to see that Cath could deliver a hand signed Celtic shirt from Peter. Cath was an absolute delight to talk to, full of wonderful stories, and it was a shame we didn't have more time to talk. I'm very thankful to Leslie, Cath, and Peter for such a kind gift. Sadly, my exhaustion from the journey over cut things short.

CQN: Paul Brennan
A power nap preceded our next meeting, where we were joined by Paul Brennan. Paul runs an incredibly successful site called Celtic Quick News. As the name suggests, Paul's site features his own wonderful insights and stories about anything related to Celtic FC. Paul was very helpful in arranging some treats during our visit to Celtic Park -- "Mince" from Celtic Minded was also a big help -- and Paul also posted a lovely piece about me on his site titled, "The Motor Neurone fight 6 years after Jinky". We met Paul to buy him a drink and say thank you for his help. A short chat turned in to a two-hour conversation, and it was simply wonderful.

You won't be surprised to hear that a nap quickly followed, before a trip out to Bishopbriggs!

The first pleasant surprise of the evening came when my Aunt Mairead, herself journeying from Newcastle to Bishopbriggs, stopped at our hotel to take us to the Nicolson household.  I'm not sure I could tell you the last time I saw Mairead, but it was a wonderful surprise to be greeted by her at the hotel, and a real treat for her to make the journey up from Newcastle.

Upon arriving in Bishopbriggs, were greeted by the entire Nicolson family - my cousins Matthew and Stephen had made it out of bed by then, and Katy wasn't rushing to get out the door to school - my Uncle Peter and Aunt Sheila, Aunt Babs, my cousin Susan and her son Liam, my cousin Chris, Trudy Nicolson, and Jim McKenna.

The entire night was great fun. Great company, and a great spirit.

Yum! (Yes, I took a photo of
my breakfast!)
The event that epitomizes how much fun the night was came in the form of a family portrait. My Uncle Peter, a career photographer, arranged furniture and subjects before snapping a series of great images. Then things got interesting. There was a "Rocking Out" picture taken around the piano, and several more casual poses to follow. A lot of great images, and lots of laughs. It meant a lot to see everyone.

We returned to our hotel and got a decent nights sleep.

On the curb: Martin, me, and my Dad
stop for a snap in front of the main stand
Waking on Saturday morning, one of our first thoughts was about breakfast. Martin volunteered to go down and retrieve whatever breakfast offering the hotel had, but he returned quickly. Expecting the standard American offering of bagels or muffins, we were delighted to find that Menzies offered a buffet of traditional British breakfast items: eggs, sausages, beans, mushrooms, fried tomatoes, good bacon, and - since we were in Scotland - black pudding and haggis! Bonus!

'67: iniside the Boardroom, standing
before the European Cup
We returned to our room and got ready to head over to Celtic Park. Again, the Nicolsons came to our rescue, as Paul transported us over to the stadium. It was wonderful to be back at Celtic Park. And they were probably glad to see us...

...then we paid a visit to the club shop, and spent enough money to make a noticeable improvement in Celtic's profit forecast for the financial year!
Old: The Scottish Cup, the oldest trophy
in football, and current property of Celtic
We then entered the stadium to have a quick tour. We spent fifteen minutes in the Boardroom/Trophy Room looking over a collection of the finest trophies won by the club. I was most impressed by the Scottish Cup - the oldest physical trophy in football - and the European Cup - accompanied by original shirts worn in the game in 1967. We paused in the hallway behind the boardroom to observe display cases showing famous individual awards and shirts worn in famous games, before heading to the tunnel. We stopped for enough time in the tunnel to take a few pictures. My two favorites are below:

Inspired: one of many great quotes
by Jock Stein, and the source of this
blog's name. The quote hangs in the
tunnel that leads players out to the pitch
Pitch-side: Dad, me, and Martin
pose between the dugouts at the
foot of the tunnel
Meet: Finally meeting James, and
being joined by Celtic legend
Billy "Cesar" McNeill
We cut our tour short to head outside Celtic Park and meet James Johnstone. James is the son of Celtic great Jimmy Johnstone, and had been kind enough to reach out to me after my diagnosis. As I mentioned in an earlier post, conversing with James was particularly poignant and heartwarming given that his father passed away from the same disease that I now have. Given James' kindness, inviting him to join us at the game was only natural, and we were thrilled when he accepted. It only took a few moments to find James; hardly surprising since we were meeting beneath his father's statue. It was wonderful to finally meet. As if the moment couldn't become any more precious, none other than Celtic legend and teammate of James's father, Billy McNeill, happened to be walking past and stopped for a good chat. Billy had some words of encouragement for me, and enjoyed some friendly banter with my Dad.

Yum: Another fine meal, this time
at Celtic Park
After chatting with Billy, we made our way up to the Walfrid Restaurant in Celtic's main stand. The white-glove service was outstanding from beginning to end. No sooner had we sat down before champagne was poured, and menu selections were made. We finally had some time to enjoy James's company, and it didn't take long for a wonderful, enjoyable conversation to kick in to gear. It was great to have James with us, and I'm sincerely appreciative to have had his company on such a memorable day.

Speaking of memorable: we were soon asked if we had time to visit the team downstairs, as they arrived for the game. I have to pass on my thanks to Peter Lawell, Tony Hamilton, Iain Jamieson, Eileen, and everyone at the club that made this possible.

Emilio, James, dad, Martin, Scott Brown, and me!
Meeting Neil Lennon, the Celtic Manager
I think the pictures say more than I ever could, but I'll still thank everyone for sparing some time on a match day. And for signing my shirt (with James's help)!

More legends!
We returned upstairs to finish our meal, and, wouldn't you know it, we met more Celtic legends. Bobby Lennox, George McCluskey, an Tommy Callaghan caught James's eye as they passed by, and yet another wonderful 10 minute chat ensued. If we include passing Bertie Auld in the hall, that would make five Celtic legends in a single day!

To recap; wonderful company, wonderful hospitality, wonderful atmosphere, and some privileged access to the team. And yes, you've guessed it, great seats for the game (James went down a few rows to say hello to Rod Stewart!). In fact, the image below was taken as Victor Wanyama headed in Celtic's second goal (that's James jumping out of his seat on my left)!

Paul Brennan has a good recap of the game here. While it had its ups and downs, the result went our way, and it was a memorable game. I don't think there's anything like the atmosphere at Celtic Park; people shouting and singing from the stands, a slight cold bite to the Glasgow air, the faintest smell of the grass wafting up, and that electric sense of anticipation in the stadium. It was wonderful. And my hat is off to the Green Brigade; we were all a little jealous of the noise you were making and the fun you were having!

Stadium noise:

Full time brought a final round of hospitality. My Dad and my brother shortly excused themselves to retrieve our purchases from the club shop. It gave James and I a while to ourselves. James, that final conversation really helped to put some kick back in my stride. Thank you.

We retreated to Bishopbriggs one last time. Dad treated us all to a curry, before Paul got us back to the hotel.

Sleeping that night felt like I closed my eyes one second, and then woke the next. As quickly as I woke, it felt like we were in Maureen's car and back at the airport in an equally brief amount of time. And our farewell wasn't dissimilar from our welcome on Friday morning.

Home: Louise knows what to do!
It was a bittersweet moment. I was sad to leave Glasgow after such an amazing time, but I missed my girls.

Thankfully, our flights home were on time, and half-empty! It wasn't long before we were back in Charlotte, tired, on Sunday evening.

A welcome overnight stay at my Mum and Dad's house followed on Sunday night, before making the journey back home to Lexington.

My deepest thanks to my Mum and Dad, my brother, all our family and friends; those that supported Amanda in my absence, and those that helped to turn the weekend in to such a memorable event.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012


My thoughts, prayers, and heartfelt sympathy go to Stuart Stone and his family. Thinking of you, mate.

Loading Up for Hopkins

I'm just getting ready to leave for Johns Hopkins with my parents.

The business end of the drug trial begins at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Taking the mystery medication will be followed by six hours of sitting around to ensure there are no adverse reactions.

Thursday will bring for hours of testing before I'm able to leave.

Still working on my post about our trip to Scotland...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Home Leg

On the road home to Lexington from Charlotte.

Very excited to see my girls, and eagerly await the visit to Hopkins tomorrow night for my two-day stay.

Monster blog about the weekend to come soon...

Friday, January 13, 2012


Apparently, I'm traveling at 550mph, at an altitude of 36000 feet, and it's -50 outside. The geek in me is intrigued by numbers like those. Then again, if I were able to sleep on this flight, I doubt I'd care.

But sleep doesn't seem likely on this leg, and the numbers really don't distract me for long.

You see, I'm in a state of confusion.

Barely a moment has gone by where I haven't thought how lucky I am to be experiencing this trip. Thinking of everything that lays ahead in the next two days renders me excited to a degree - as my brother aptly described it - akin to a child on Christmas eve.

But there are fleeting moments where I experience emotions at the opposite end of the spectrum. The first time it happened today was when Darla at the United Airlines counter said our flights may be delayed by a day. In response, I confided in Darla, "You see, I have a terminal illness, and this is the beginning of a dream trip I'm taking with my Dad and brother...we've got to make our journey on time."

I think that was the first time I've looked a stranger in the eye and played my card; the card. It wasn't easy.

It's strange how bringing the good in close contrast with the bad can amplify your emotions. Im a lucky person in so many ways, and then I have ALS. The fine emotional line between those two states is a confusing, almost disheartening place to be. I think a remedy may be in order.

I'll see if I can't daydream my way up out...daydream about the days ahead, my entire family, laughing with Dad and Martin, and recounting this trip to anyone that'll listen and the smiles it will bring. But if we're daydreaming about smiles, then I may just need to focus on my favorites; those belonging to Amanda , Cora, and Louise.

Darla, thanks for shipping us out on time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Paul just happened to write about my story on Celtic Quick News as I was on the road to Johns Hopkins. (http://www.celticquicknews.co.uk/?p=7484)
I've been trying to document my visits to Hopkins, but after visiting CQN, this picture feels appropriate...excuse the backdrop, but today's story simply made me smile.
Hail Hail to all

D-7 and D-1

Off first thing to John Hopkins hospital. While this is technically the first appointment of the drug trial, I won't receive my first dose of the drug until one week from today (D-7).
Looming much nearer on the horizon is what promises to be the trip of a lifetime to Celtic Park (D-1).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Excitable Bhoy

Some late breaking news: I'm flying in and out of Glasgow this weekend to watch Celtic play Dundee Utd...and I'm thoroughly giddy at the thought.

My dad and brother will, reluctantly, serve as chaperons on the trip. Arm twisting was involved.

We'll arrive in G-town on Friday, catch the game on Saturday, and fly back on Sunday. Can you say "Jet lag"?

Highlights that I'm looking forward to include a family meet up in Bishopbriggs, making the most of Celtic's hospitality, the chance of meeting the Celtic team before the game, and taking in the game with James Johnstone.

Celtic parade the European Cup
James is the son of Celtic legend Jimmy Johnstone. For the uneducated among you; fans voted Jimmy - affectionately known as "Jinky" - Celtic's best ever player. Jimmy was a regular fixture in the Celtic team throughout a glorious era for the club, winning 18 trophies in Scotland, and winning the European Cup (the first British team to do so). Jimmy was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease late in 2001, and, sadly, passed away in 2006.

Jimmy Johnstone
Paul Brennan happened to be in touch with James at the same time he heard of my diagnosis, and put James and I in touch. I can't imagine how James must feel; it must surely be a brave step to connect with someone suffering from the same condition that your father suffered with. All I know for sure is that I feel very lucky to be joined by James at the game.

All that being said, I'm not going to lie, I hope the Hoops hump Dundee!

Hail, Hail!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy Friday

Let some Icelanders start your Friday. Hope it's a peaceful end to your week!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Busiest Yet

Trust me, I don't sit around watching visitor stats for the site for interesting statistics. Well, I don't do it often.

But yesterday was the busiest day the blog has had. 250 visits and over 2,000 page-views.

Now I'll indulge myself by inserting a random piece of music I particularly enjoy! :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


No word on its functionality from International numbers, but the gadget on the right will patch you through to my phone: enter your name and number and click "Connect". The gadget calls your number, and then connects you to mine!

It seemed like a good way to make myself available without plastering my contact details everywhere!

Service with a Bark

Amanda sent off an application for a service dog to St. Francis Service Dogs today.

The application process can take up to six months, so it seemed best to submit the paperwork sooner rather than later.

I'll need help - well, more help - in the future, and some folks at Johns Hopkins suggested looking in to service dogs.

While I don't need any major assistance right now, I don't find it hard to believe that the time will come when I do. Hopefully me and my canine helper will be fully trained when the time comes.

Fingers crossed while we wait to hear from the folks at St. Francis Service Dogs.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

List Revisited

I had previously written of my desire to:

  • Go faster than the speed of sound
  • Drive a Bugatti
  • Take the VMI team to watch the Bhoys
  • Fire the biggest weapon I can get my hands on (no penis jokes, please)
  • Take Amanda to Ring Figure
  • Take the Girls to Disney World
  • Take Amanda back to Hawaii
  • Make Cora and Louise laugh

time for an update...

  • One of those items has been achieved - Ring Figure.
  • Two are in the process of being set up - Big Gun and Disney
  • Making Cora and Louise laugh is an enjoyable work in progress
  • One item is off the cards: the NCAA has banned teams from travelling overseas on tours
  • Faster than the speed of sound, the Bugatti, and the Hawaii trip are in progress...though Amanda and I are thinking of a trip to the UK in place of Hawaii.

And some additions...

  • Go on a fun, short skiing trip
  • Do a parachute jump

...more to follow...

Love Actually

Watching Love Actually has become a Christmas tradition for Amanda and I. We've always loved watching it - beginning to end - and have many favorite lines.

We watched it over the holidays recently, and enjoyed it as usual. Then the damn Beach Boys fired up at the end; Amanda lost it, and then I lost it.

We laughed about the meltdown the next day, but I'll remember it because it resulted in one of those lovely long hugs. Those hugs where no-one wants to let go, where you forget where or how you're holding on to the other person, where you communicate without speaking or moving.

Monday, January 2, 2012


The Christmas break has been wonderful. Time relaxing, time with Amanda's family, time with my family; time with our families.

The days approaching the end of the holidays have been wonderful. Plenty of time playing with Cora, napping with Louise, and hanging out with Amanda.

I'll state the obvious; I'm not looking forward to going back to work.

Then again, after all the  food and drink over the past two weeks, it's a much needed detox!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Comments

I've heard more than one person say that they want to comment, but they aren't it's quite the right thing to say. Or maybe it isn't a welcome comment.

I'll clarify: all comments welcome.