I like to fix things. If you’ve known me for any length of time I’ve probably tried to tell you how to use your computer better, fix your Internet connection, or give you some productivity tips to get through the workday with a little less stress.

The harder the problem is, the more reward I get out of solving it, it’s just in my blood. This is also why when there’s a problem that has no solution arises, it bothers me. I think this is one of the reasons I’m so damn depressed still about the passing of my cousin Sean. I put off being closer with him and the rest of my family for quite a few years due to some bullshit problems I had with my father. I let time pass on without measure because of a grudge I held and applied to everyone in a given direction.

I know Sean didn’t hold that against me, and I’m pretty sure he understood why I was doing it, but the problem is I can’t tell him. I can’t say I’m sorry for being a jerk to someone who did nothing wrong for so long, now all I can do is remember him and see pictures that I wasn’t in and hear stories that I wasn’t a part of.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that Sean was by far a better man than I’ll ever be, and I’m ok with that. He did things I’ll never be able to do and instead of being jealous, that has always made me so damn proud to call him family.

I feel like a poser being sad now and talking to my family because I didn’t want to when everything was going well, but now that there’s sadness, I’m talking to people again, and taking the tragedy to heart. I feel like my sadness is fake, no matter how real it seems, because I wasn’t there for years welcoming him home and sending him care packages overseas.

I did keep track of when he was deployed in dangerous places, and I welcomed his emails when he sent them, but thanks to holding a grudge with my father over something, I let that time slip away.

I’m trying my best to make up for that time now, to spend time with family and to talk with his friends about how great he was, and while I feel like they’re probably judging me for being so sad while I was never around, I just don’t care. I feel guilty and above that, I’m so very sad that this is a problem that I can’t fix.

Half of my sadness comes from knowing I’ll never talk to Sean again, and from seeing what his passing has done to his friends and to our family, but the other half comes from a place much deeper; guilt. I feel guilty that I didn’t take advantage of the time I had, and that it took such a huge awakening to get me seeing things straight.

I was stupid, and I’m pretty sure I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to make up for this mistake and that I’ll never truly feel like I have. I feel guilty because I let an ancillary issue cloud my judgement and above all, I just miss my cousin. The world was a better place with him in it, and I feel like it’s up to everyone that knew him to pick up that slack and make the world a little better without him, and I don’t know if I can pick up my share of the slack or not.

This is the first real slump I’ve ever found myself in and I don’t believe I see the light at the end of it. Believe me, I am VERY far from truly depressed or otherwise afflicted with any mental issues, I just feel guilty and really want some time back to make things better. I want the chance to fix my mistake but I know that’s impossible to achieve.

I know there’s no afterlife, and I know that when I talk to Sean that he can’t hear me since he’s not there, but it makes me feel better. So Sean, this part’s for you, even though I know you’ll never hear it:

I’m sorry. I let bullshit get in the way that I shouldn’t have. I took the easy way out and let things go for too long and now I can’t fix them. Instead of Skyping with you every weekend I get to read what others have to say about you. Instead of hearing about your 100+ confirmed rescues from you, I heard about it from your friends, which by the way are doing a damn fine job keeping your name fresh in everyone’s minds.

Instead of hearing from you what your favorite song to play in marching band was, I heard it on the field at the first Montour game of the season, where they dedicated it to you. Overall, I just miss you man, and I wish I had more time. I wish I could fix this problem, but it’s not fixable. I did start talking to the family again, which is a great thing. In the end it ended up being your last gift to me, helping me talk to the family that can so easily be taken away. Thanks man, love ya.

On to Better Times

April 14, 2014 — Leave a comment

The most recent post I wrote for this site was a tribute to my cousin Sean who died while serving the US Air Force. While I’m very proud of this post, I haven’t written anything after it because every time I came back here I was hit in the face with it.

I would get depressed and decide that anything else I wrote after it wouldn’t be up to snuff and I would rather just do it another day.

Today I finally decided that it’s time to move past that feeling and embrace the good that’s going on. First, Dana and I each got significant raises at our 9-5 jobs, making it actually possible that we can get out from under all of our debt in a fairly short time and best of all, it doesn’t seem like there is a huge increase in workload. Our company is just now choosing to pay us a reasonable salary for the job we do. So kudos for them.

Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week is moving forward full steam ahead and while it’s a TON of work, I am really excited to get into and and have some fun. I’m planning a few days off that week to get to events throughout the city and surrounding area, and I’m hoping to possibly even have a good time!

Finally, the Pittsburgh Marathon is approaching very quickly. Earlier in the year I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish it and even contemplated selling my bib. With a lot of hard work and sore legs, I really feel like I am ready to do it. As of this weekend I finished my 20-mile run that precedes the marathon and while it hurt, I did it in a reasonable time and I really think I can get this thing done.

 

Tough times are behind us, and while I am sure they are on the horizon again, for now I am happy. Dana and I are happy, and damn it, I actually feel like I deserve to be happy, too.

My Last Words For Sean

March 8, 2014 — 1 Comment

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I wrote this two days after learning of the passing of my cousin Sean Ruane. I’ve thought about publishing it quite a few times and haven’t had the nerve to, and to be honest, I’m not sure I really have it now, but with a memorial for Sean being held in a few days, I thought it was time to make the jump and put my thoughts out there. I’m not sure anyone will even see this but it feels good to get it out.

I’ve reconnected with my family, especially my father, since initially saving the draft of this, which is a good thing. No matter what though, I just can’t shake that bad feeling. Being with friends and family helps, but it’s still hanging out there, like an unwelcome guest that doesn’t want you to do anything but feel sad and hide at home. The tears are less now, but they still come at odd times; hearing a helicopter flying over, or hearing about a disaster on the news.

Well, enough of that. Here’s the initial thoughts I wrote on January 9th, 2014:

 

I’m still completely broken up by my cousin Sean’s passing. In searching for my last communication with him I remembered something that hurts me even more now. My last interaction with Sean was via him liking a Facebook status update in which I made a joke. When i saw him like it I actually thought:

“Ya know what, I really need to get back in touch with him. It’s been too long and there’s no reason we shouldn’t talk at least once a week.”

That was on January 1st of this year. If only I had not put this off I could have at least talked to him one last time. Sean was a better man than I could ever hope to be. Not a bad bone in his body nor ever a reason to be cynical. Maybe a little smart-ass from time to time, but that’s just a family trait.

Sean dreamt of serving in the Air Force for longer than I can remember. He graduated top of his class at Embry Riddle and went right off to Air Force training. He chose one of the most dangerous assignments in the Air Force when he decided he wanted to not only fly helicopters, but to fly rescue helicopters so he could save people and help people in need. So basically he’d be flying into a place that is more likely than not very dangerous just to rescue someone else who was stuck or crashed themselves.

In other words, he got to help people on what was easily the worst day of their life.

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Sean survived three tours of duty in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. His final station was at RAF Lakenheath in England as part of the 48th Fighter Wing, also known as the Liberty Wing. This is where he served his final tour.

He left behind his wife of less than 3 years Rachel, and his son Liam, who is only 14 months old.

Sean was easily my favorite member of my father’s half of the family. Most families can be somewhat judgmental or trying, and when relations became strained between my father and myself, Sean made sure to tell me that he totally understood and our relationship would stand unchanged.

Sean loved the Steelers, good beer, and was even starting to home brew, something I was looking forward to talking to him about the next time he came home. Above those, he loved his family and flying. Hell, he even had the USAF mustache!

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When I was younger, I loved him like a brother and did more than my share of playing army with him when we were way too young to know what that actually meant. As he grew older it was obvious that the military was perfect for Sean, and it was no surprise when we went into the one place where he could not only fly helicopters, but help people as well.

I’ve never had even the slightest urge to say something bad to Sean or even have a bad thought about him. He radiated love, compassion, and understanding. I think the world would be a better place if we all strived to be a little bit more like Sean Ruane.

I let issues with other family members and my father get in the way of a relationship I should have had with Sean, Rachel, and Liam, and now that will never be. This hurts me the most.

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Coming back to the random Facebook status like from the 1st, this is the lesson I’m taking away from Sean’s passing. Time is too short to mess around. If you want to talk to someone just go do it. If you want to start your business go make the first call or email today. Right now.

I could have experienced a little more of the awesome aura that surrounded Sean and I missed that chance. If you’re reading this and you’ve gotten this far, stop now and go say hi to someone you’ve been meaning to. You might think that seven days doesn’t matter, and that you can do it next week but for me, those seven days were the last.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-25649464

 

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/01/08/kennedy-township-man-killed-in-england-military-helicopter-crash/

 

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Today, Apple released yet another small security update for OSX. Apple actually doesn’t list what this update is for, so it could be anything from protecting against a JAVA vulnerability to stopping the Llama king from invading. Until I hear otherwise, I’m going with Llama king.

Anyway, it’s a restart-worthy update and like any security update, you should do it. At the time of writing this, there is another available camera RAW update that I need to do, so I might as well do that one, too. The RAW update adds Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G6 and GF6 as well as the Sony Alpha SLT-A58 cameras to Aperture 3 and iPhoto 11.

Updates can be done via the OSX AppStore, and more information is available here for the security update and here for the RAW.

“Update like a champion today.” -Rudy, the IT support manager

tank

I have a pretty awesome Harley for sale, and you should totally buy it. Check it out.

It’s been almost exactly one month since the Pittsburgh Marathon. This was my first marathon and I have to say, it really kicked my butt. I learned a lot from this race, and I plan on making a nice short post about each of those.

I’ve ran twice since the race, first time was about a week after, which was a poor decision. I hurt all over and was just generally unhappy. The second run was yesterday. I did 3.11 miles at 9:31/mile. I’m happy with this, but I still feel the pain from that run today.

I’m back in the swing of things, and looking for a 10k to train for. I recently read an article that suggested doing a 10k in the early summer and a half-marathon in the end of summer/early fall to keep training up and to keep motivated. I like this idea and plan on following through with it. Now to find that 10k….

 

“This seemed like a good idea about 16 miles ago.”

That was the thought I had at about mile 21 in the 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon. Along with being the first marathon I’d ever run, this was also the farthest distance I had ever run at one time. Up until Sunday, 20 miles was the farthest I had ever run at one time, and even that was done 2 weeks prior.

 

 

Uncharted Territory

When I crossed the mile marker for mile number 20, I thought “alright Brian, it’s all uncharted territory from now on.” Every step I took over 20 miles was a venture into the unknown. At about mile 21 my phone died, so I had no idea what pace I was doing, or how much time had passed, not that I would have paid attention to it anyway. I had one singular goal at that point, and that was to finish, no matter what.

Let’s back up a little here and look at the start of the marathon. About 20 minutes after the race started, my corral (Corral E, AKA the caboose) got moving. Another 5 or so minutes after that and I had officially crossed the starting line. It was so crowded at the beginning that the best pace I could muster was a light run/walk. Once we moved away from the starting line, everyone spread out a little bit more, and I could start passing people. I tried my best to not run too fast at the beginning, but since I was aiming for a 10:30/mile pace, I wanted to save some time for walking on the many hills that I knew were coming.

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In The Beginning…

The beginning of the race was nice and flat. It really was a good start to the race, getting everyone comfortable with running before tossing too much at us. We crossed two bridges within the first 5 miles, first going over the Rachel Carson bridge, making a turn and going back across the Andy Warhol bridge. The next bridge came at about 6.5 miles; the West End Bridge. This was the first somewhat sloped bridge that was a little tough. This took us through the west end and over to Station Square and Carson St. This is where the second relay exchange takes place, and where my marathon experience in 2012 began with my running of the 3rd leg of the relay. I felt a little more comfortable at this point since I was familiar with this leg of the race. I cruised through the South Side and the best cheering of the entire race.

 

Past South Side, the race took me into Oakland, down N. Craig Street, and up to Shadyside. This part of the race is one of the hilliest, with some massive hills. Moving on past where I finished my leg of the relay last year at Mellon Park, I continued on to Homewood. This is a more…urban…part of the race. Even with this, the people who live in Homewood were overjoyed to see us running through their neighborhood. African drum bands, extra water stations, and a lot of cheering got us through this part pretty easily. It was about here that my feet really started to hurt. Stepping on a small pebble almost put me on the ground. I powered through and it got slightly better.

Next up was East Liberty. This took us through Friendship and into Bloomfield. I crossed mile 20 at Bryant St., which connected N. Highland Ave. and N. Negley Ave. Around mile 22 is the last handoff for the relay. IT was about here that I came up on the Church Brew Works and the old Iron City Brewery. This is also where I got my first and only beer of the course. Obviously not a whole beer, but a few ounces to say I had one during the marathon.

Getting Near The End

The last part of the race was definitely the longest for me. During the race before this I walked only during water stations or parts of very big hills. I was taking a lot more walking breaks at this point. I was losing steam pretty quickly.

Passing mile marker 25 I started to feel a little better, but nervous as well. I was starting to feel a little woozy. The last 24 miles really took a toll on me. I knew if I didn’t keep my focus here, I might not make it. Backing up a little bit, ever since about mile 20, I had to focus my brain on the idea of running. I couldn’t leave it up to my legs anymore to do the work. I had to constantly think about what I was doing to keep moving.

I can honestly say that it was 50% physical and 50% mental power that got me through this race.

Through the strip district we went, finally passing the last water station and making the last turn towards the finish line. People were cheering me on, saying my bib number and my “Beer Me” tag on my bib. Once I crossed mile 26, I don’t remember too much. I remember seeing the finish line crest over the last hill of the race and I said out loud “that looks beautiful,” not so much talking about HOW it looked, but that I saw the end.

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The Finish

 

I crossed the finish line 4 hours, 23 minutes and 36 seconds from when I crossed the starting line. That gave me an average of 10:04 per mile. A solid 26 seconds per mile UNDER my goal. I was 2,547 out of 4,833. Damn near in the exact middle of the pack. For my age group, I finished 1,750 out of 2,911.

After the finish, I collected my massive medal, and moved on to find anyone I knew. As soon as I crossed the line to get out of the finisher area, I saw my friends and went to relax with them for a few. I hurt all over. Everywhere. Sitting, standing, laying..they all hurt. After about an hour or so, I made my way across the bridge to my car and made my way home.

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The Aftermath

I am writing this 2 days after the marathon. I honestly feel like I have an epic hangover that won’t go away. I can’t walk down stairs like a normalm person, and I still hurt pretty damn much everywhere.

Would I do it again? Yes. I feel the pain I have now is due to a few things. First, I was in a car wreck that put my training on hold for nearly 3 weeks. This killed off a lot of conditioning I needed. Second, I knew I could finish the race with a decent time, so I made sure I kept my pace, no matter what. I could have gone slower and hurt less, but where’s the fun in that? Third, I went in with no hydration or nutrition plan. This was a HUGE mistake. I will definitely have a plan for both nutrition and hydration for my next marathon.

 

You can half ass your way through everything up to a half-marathon. That ends with the full, however. If you don’t train, plan, and prepare, the marathon will bite you in the ass. It got me, but luckily I finished before it got me.

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I like to pride myself on the fact that I really enjoy every season. I find the uniqueness of each season interesting and fun. Winter doubly so. I like the snow and the chill and the complete 180 turn it is from the summer. It gives me something to look forward to. While summer is great and fun, every day of it is one less day of summer for that year, while each day of Winter is one less cold day to deal with for the year. It’s the anticipation of nice weather that keeps me going.

Keeping this in mind, you should understand why I am done with Winter. It had it’s turn. Spring is officially here, now it needs to physically be here. It looks like it’s mid-January outside and feels like it too. Spring is the season that turns the corner from cold, wet, nasty weather to sun, higher temperatures, and vacations.

Winter, you had your turn. It’s closing time and you’ve had one too many drinks. Pack it in and make a better showing next year.

So Dana and I love to cook at home. We’ve actually become pretty proficient at it. Along with saving money and calories by not eating out, we just like to cook. It’s fun crafting a meal yourself and enjoying the spoils of your labor.

One of our favorite recipes is a very modified one for Thai Curry Chili. Over the course of about a dozen batches we have fine tuned this recipe to be exactly what we want it to be.

I feel the need to share it with the world, so here we are. As long as you really dig spicy things this is for you. I’ll do my best to explain this and if something doesn’t jive, shoot me a message and I’ll check it out. Thanks!

Kick-Ass Thai Curry Chili

Woah there. Before you get to making it, you need to buy the goods. Some are easy to find, some are specialty. We get the specialty ones in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Any good grocers should have them too.

The Ingredients

  • 2 standard cans dark red kidney beans (rinsed)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 sweet onion – diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper – diced in large pieces
  • 1 medium sweet potato – peeled, cubed
  • 3/4 cup quinoa (rinsed)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves – minced
  • 3 habenero peppers, minced

The Directions

1. In a stock pot, whisk the following ingredients together over low heat:

  • 2 cups stock
  • chili powder
  • curry paste
  • cumin

2. Once these are mixed together and smooth, add the following:

  • onion
  • green pepper
  • garlic
  • habeneros
  • sweet potato

Cook these over medium heat for 7 minutes. This is to tenderize the veggies before the rest of the process.

3. After 7 minutes, add the remaining items. They are:

  • 2 cups broth
  • beans
  • quinoa
  • coconut milk
  • tomatoes
  • salt and pepper

Stir until everything is all nice and blended. Once it’s all stirred in, it’s time to boil.

4. Turn on full heat until the chili starts to boil. Make sure to stir during this every now and then. The quinoa has a tendency to stick to the bottom and burn. Once it boils, turn the heat down until it’s just barely simmering.

5. Set a timer for 45 minutes and let it simmer. You still need to stir every 5 minutes or so to keep the quinoa happy. Failure to keep the quinoa happy will result in burned chili and an unhappy you.

6. After 45 minutes, pull a piece of sweet potato out and try it. If it’s nice and tender, you’re all done! If it’s not so tender, talk to it nicely and say positive things to it. This, along with cooking for another ~10 minutes will help make it very tender and nice.

You’re good to go! I like mine with some hot sauce and a dollop of greek yogurt on top, but that’s totally up to you and your preference. I totally won’t hold it against you if you skip the yogurt. I might talk about you behind you back for it, but that’s it.

Servings

This should make about 4-7 servings, depending on how big your servings are. Dana and I usually eat this for dinner, then put 2 servings in the fridge for lunch and freeze the rest for later.

I hope you dig this recipe. Let me know if you like it or think I’m crazy. It’s pretty damn spicy, so try at your own risk. You can sub the habeneros for other peppers if you’re a wuss.

Cheers!

I recently had to edit the hosts file on my mac to test out a website I had set up. I honestly never had to do this on a Mac before, so I had zero clue how it was done. After some Internet searching, however, I found what I needed to get it done. Here are the steps to editing your hosts file in OSX.

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