Sunday, December 28, 2008

Home Safe

We made it.

We woke up early, had breakfast, and then out to Hamilton City to see John's new business: He has rehabbed an old warehouse and turned it into an auto repair shop (he specializes in electrical systems)... but he's not operating out of it yet - he's still running his shop out of the farm, because the city is not moving on a requirement that John pay for $40k in new sidewalks and curbs around the business, despite the fact there are no sidewalks for several blocks in any direction around the space. Ah, bureaucracy.

But as we walked through the space, he was showing me what he had done to the 70-80 year old warehouse space... "we dug out 4 feet of ground here, and leveled out this whole lot (then points to a mountain over there - "that's where we dumped the dirt!")" "we built this fence all the way around the space, from scrounged piping!" "I blew through the wall here, but then had to put in reinforced pillars...." My mind was just boggled - this guy runs a full time business AND a farm, and "found time" to build up a huge space too. It made me feel a bit like a slacker... ;->

Then it was back to Sac Intl Airport: Yep we used a full tank of gas on the trip (15 miles to and from the farm every day a few times... Plus Chico is 90 miles from Sac-to). The kids caught a short nap on the drive down, and then it was time for the flight....

Isaac was actually pretty well behaved on the plane - for a 3.5 hour flight, he was reasonably patient. We had no aisle promenades, and the laptop battery held out for shows for most of the flight... the only hitch was that after the "turn it all off" and before we landed, there was an extra 15 minutes of circling, so we had to sing some songs.

No, the casualty of the flight home was Pamela, who got good and airsick, and brought that woogieness home, and passed out on the couch while the kids were exploring what Santa had dropped off for them! And Santa brought Bella her Ukelele, which she played non-stop. Santa also brought them flashlights, so the house looked like an X-Files episode for a while with all of the lights-off investigations going on. Of course Isaac got some cars, Bella got more specimens...

I got the kids down to bed (close to their "real bedtime" as opposed to their "Pacific Time Zone bedtime"), then puttered around, enjoying a little taste of Laphroaig 15 to remind myself what home tastes like. Then I woke up Pamela to bring her upstairs. Our little Queen size bed felt positively lilliputian.

Everyone slept well and late - we all got up around 8 (which is near miraculous) and had a great lazy morning. Now Jenny is here showing off her new Nintendo DS, and bella has been making up songs with her Uke all morning too. She put on her eyeball hat and was singing "I got my eyes on you!!!" And daddo is working on keeping the Uke in tune so that his ears don't start to bleed.

It's great to be home.

Friday, December 26, 2008

And it's a wrap...

Today was another crisp and clear day here in Chico. We got up and out in time to open the shops... which led to the purchase of the correct wind up crab (a HERMIT crab, which is where I went wrong earlier), secure some coffee and pastries, play a little soccer in the town square, and then have Isaac completely melt down. Yes, the poor guy is really at the end of his rope - he needs to get back into a comfort zone ASAP.

Thinking maybe a little protein might help his mood, I tried to get him to taste some falafel, but the kindly shopkeeper short circuited my effort by giving him a big slice of coconut honeycake, which he devoured. At least I tried for healthy (sort of healthy at least). Got him back to the hotel and tossed him into the crib, and he zonked.

In the afternoon while Isaac napped, I took Bella out for a little date in town: We got a deck of cards and played Go Fish in Starbucks with a hot cocoa. It was some nice down time for us. Pamela had Sherry and Sherry's mom over for cookies, and when we returned, they took Bella back out to the farm for some more running around: Bella got to spend quality time with the sheep - two old rams, actually. The more agreeable one assented to be led around with a rope, and both decided to give Bella a show by gamboling (which a playful jumping around - typical of lambs, but not as common in old rams). We can only imagine how Bella must have looked, but that serene smile must have been present.

Pamela got us packed up this afternoon, and we'll be hitting the road around 8:30 Saturday AM for a noon flight homeward. James and Henry came over to watch Isaac and Bella while we went out for a final dinner with our hosts to a local hearty food place. Got back by 8 and spent an hour getting the thoroughly overwrought Isaac and Bella to bed... Bella shrieking about some plastic bag or something (exhaustion) and Isaac singing and muttering well past the hour...

I have to say I've had a wonderful vacation, but it's been a LOT of work: Those kids have not been easy to wrangle, and Isaac's defiance (he is VERY two) has been a bit of a drag... but then there have also been so many wonderful moments, and so many great cuddles, that... non, je ne regrette rien. C'est la vie. They'll be old enough soon enough, and I'll take this exhaustion as evidence of fighting the good fight, and take my sleep as the rest of the just.

That said, if you hear in the news about a Northwest flight from Sacramento to Minneapolis diverted due to an insane two year old...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Here's the sun!

The sun favored us today with an appearance - it was a bright and clear Christmas, though still on the cool side with a brisk wind. We got up early (as usual), had breakfast, and headed over to Sherry's for Xmas Morning: Santa had got the memo that we were out of town, and decided to fill some stockings for Isaac and Bella at Sherry's house, while leaving the other presents for us back in Edina. Santa is sure flexible.

Bella's stocking had some great stones and glass marbles that looked like planets. Nature girl was thrilled. Isaac was fixated on his candy cane and made a horrible mess. The boys (James and Henry) got their main Xmas, with loads of great books and tools. We got them matching "Cyber Surfers" which are remote controlled helicopters in the shape of a surfing robot. They spent the morning crashing them in the house, and the afternoon learning how to fly them for real... by the evening they were actually good at flying them! Ah, perseverance.

Henry showed us a very cool thing about chickens: When you hold them, they want to keep their heads in place in 3 dimensional space. So if you move the body up or down or back and forth, they'll stretch or scrunch their neck to keep the head in the EXACT same XYZ coordinates. If you pull it too far, they'll snap the head to a new location and try to hold it there. This could explain how they walk too: They move forward, moving under their head, until it's uncomfortable, and then they snap the head forward into a new holding position... I was amazed - wonder what sort of little GPS in in that head?

In the afternoon, us MEN went with a WW2 era forklift and pulled some dead trees out of a ravine near the farm, dragging them with a chain to a bonfire location. 6 feet of shipping pallets formed the core, with 7-9 foot lengths of wood stacked around in a teepee shape. When we lit that sucker, it was probably visible from space. Oddly, the family didn't congregate around the flame - I think it was just borderline too dangerous to risk Isaac wandering toward. They stayed inside and worked off their food comas with some Spongebob. Sherry has been whipping up some wonderful meals for us out here - we're very lucky to have her hospitality.

Hoping the weather holds for tomorrow - we'd love to walk around Chico a bit (maybe get the RIGHT walking crab). And apparently there's a VERY good sushi restaurant right around the corner from me... Maybe Isaac would like some sushi? (I know - kids get the cooked stuff.) If nothing else, I might like to visit El Patio one more time too... See if Isaac will eat another bowl of Pico de Gallo? ;-> Little mister sweet tooth hasn't been quite as agreeable with subsequent meals - he's zeroing in on where the candy and cookies are in any room and demanding them. Along with any wine, Diet Coke, or whiskey he can see... which is just strange.

Final note: Bella and I went shopping on Xmas Eve and she demanded the silliest hat I've ever seen: A black cap with black spikes, and on the ends of the spikes, eyeballs on strings. Here it is if you're curious. She's been wearing it pretty much non-stop for 2 days now, and it's definitely her "Christmas Look". She just looks... happy... when she's wearing it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rainy Day

Today the sun has decided to boycott Chico CA. It's in the 40s and rainy... Fortunately Pamela thought ahead and booked a suite for us this trip, so we have elbow room to help fight the cabin fever. The farm is big, but the house is small, so we're better off cooling our heels here in town until tonight, when we have a nice Xmas Eve feast out there. We had a great evening there last night too: A neighbor had made a big batch of venison stew, which was rich and delicious. Isaac totally lost it around 7pm PT (9pm CST, which he is still clinging to), throwing lincoln logs and punching people... Boy needs a bit more rest.

Funny thing about a King Size Bed: It is like a million times larger than a Queen Size. You wouldn't think the difference would be that big, but we are able to get all 4 of us into the king here comfortably... at least until Bella decided she wanted NO covers, and that meant I got no covers, and that meant that one of us needed to hit the couch (I was voting for Bella, since she was being the midnight stinker about it... but it wound up being me). But even with just two in a King, it's like there's a whole area code between you, which is really nice when one of the two of you is a snorer. It does make cuddling something you need to plan for a bit more. Got to get the GPS fired up and all to find the other side.

Right now, Isaac is having a good long nap, which he'll need to get us through a little later tonight, and I'm watching the fort. I had a little too much caffeine to nap properly. The girls are out getting henna on their hands, the boys are seeing a movie, so I watched a show or two and have finished my book as well.

Yesterday Bella saw a wind-up toy crab in a toy store around the corner, and had a fit when it wasn't bought for her. I was up here with Isaac so I didn't see it in person but I heard about it. And apparently it was the LAST ONE. So when I went out for coffee today I stopped in, looked in the wind-up area, and found a single windup toy crab... decided to get it I mean, I had the parameters - red wind up crab, only one left. I proudly walked in, and showed it to Pamela, who shook her head. No, there was ANOTHER ONE that she had her heart set on. So that crab is staying in the pocket for now... No need to cause a scene.

I'm hoping everyone is having a good few days - I know I am. I might just be RELAXING a little.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Not food related

So yes, I was totally fixated on the food in the last post - mostly because my kids were being total aliens and eating like they NEVER do at home. But there have been other things to report....

1) At Sherry's house they have chickens, including a crested polish they've named Woitec (sp?). Isaac loved the chickens, hollering out "HEY CHICKENS!!!!" Then they brought out some stale bread for Isaac and Bella to feed to the chickens, and he was hollering "COME AND GET IT! GOT SOME TOAST HERE CHICKENS!!!!" Despite his enthusiasm, the chickens were not spooked by him, and did in fact come and get it.

2) Sherry's husband John is a mechanic and tinkerer extraordinaire, and the property is littered with innovations - half built electric carts, salvaged metal outbuildings, former restaurant stoves and vent hoods, a half-restored 1956 Caddy (with no interior at all, except a child's chair, which John sits in to drive it)...

3) The almonds have all been harvested and it's winter on the farm, but the orchard is still a beautiful thing to behold. I loved the optical illusion of driving past all of the orchards and watching them resolve into rows at 45 degrees, 90 degrees, ad 135 degrees as you passed... Sherry also has other fruit trees, and some orange, grapefruit, and mandarin trees that are improbably still fruiting. The idea of having fresh fruit growing outside has got me contemplating a move out here... ;->

4) TODAY we went and visited a friend of John's who is a neon artist, who gave us all a tour of his workshop AND a full demonstration of the creation of a sign from straight glass to a round blue circle, fully lit. Bella and James were rapt, but as you can imagine, Isaac was not only NOT interested much, but also proved to be a challenge in a workshop with open blue flames and stacks of glass tubing.... We all took turns with him outside running around... but ultimately I had to take him back to the hotel for his nap before the final neon was complete... sigh... But at least it got me an opportunity to update you!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Very Quick

Escaped Minneapolis this morning - it was 9 below. Piled the family onto a flight to Sacramento - Isaac's first flight ever, and he was barely containable throughout, leading to stress and worry... but he charmed his way through.

Landed, enjoyed an In-n-Out burger (Bella ate fries dipped into chocolate shake) and drove to Chico. It's in the upper 40s here, which is brisk but comparatively heavenly.

In Chico, cavorted with Sherry and family - Bella seems to have a bit of a crush on the young (11 year old) Henry. Isaac is having trouble with the names - calling Henry "James", and James (13) "Tyler". James introduced me to buttered popcorn drizzled with Cholula habanero sauce. Delicious.

Had dinner at "El Patio" (which is I believe Spanish for "The Patio") - a dive in Harrison City which was flat out delicious and will be visited again this trip. Isaac ate an entire bowl of Pico de Gallo (with chips, and the just picking up the bowl and drinking the juice), handfuls of pinto beans, and SOME taco. Bella impressed by downing three cups of veggie soup, one taco (with shredded beef, not ground!), a few bites of my Chili Verde pork, and almost all of my flan. The kids had some WACKY appetites!

Now off to bed for more adventures in the AM. The update is short, but I wanted it out there.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I'm in the Rose City of Portland OR today... and the city has screeched to a complete halt in the past few days: They got an inch of snow earlier in the week, and most employers told people to STAY HOME for GOD'S SAKE!!! Cars have chains on their tires. People are very concerned about the weather later today.... in which TWO INCHES of snow are expected.

As a midwesterner, I have to simply giggle madly at this. I met my team out for dinner last night and we were swapping "can you believe this" stories: My team is from Duluth, Madison, Denver, Lancaster PA, and Tampa. Well, the lady from Tampa was a bit spooked by the weather, but no-one else.

The dinner was at Papa Haydn, and it was delicious: Lots of organic and local-sourced ingredients, very hearty entrees, and most importantly, the most extensive dessert list I've ever seen. Two full pages of desserts, and two full pages of after-dinner drinks (which I did not partake in - even though I can drive with a little snow on the road, I wanted to be fully sharp since it seems everyone ELSE on the road was going to be freaking out). For dessert, I had a huge yet delicious panna cotta.

I was talking to my client up in Tacoma this AM (by phone, the 120 miles from Portland is a bit much for a quick discussion) and she's from California... and we were both laughing about the cautious temperment of drivers up here. Every time I drive around here (Portland OR Seattle), the prevailing traffic pattern is 2 mph below the posted limit. Lots of 53mph going on. So I just take a deep breath and downshift mentally. At least Oregon Public Radio is half decent: Seattle's Public Radio stations are just unlistenable.

Well, off to home this afternoon to conclude my last business trip of the year. I'm Platinum on NWA, Gold on Marriott and Hertz, and have grown addicted to the upgrade culture... ;->

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In the skating rink

Woke up this morning to find the world a bit warmer, with a gentle rain falling. That could mean only one thing of course: WICKED ICE AHEAD. By 2pm, the world was a huge skating rink, and even Mister Marshmallow the 4x4 had his share of slippage. But I get ahead of myself...

I'm very fortunate to have my dad's wife Karen in the picture: She has decided to make sure that Bella has a rich physical activity life: She was instrumental in getting Bella swimming, and still takes her every week. (side note - bella got a gold medal last week for swimming 32 laps straight, a mix of different strokes... she's a MACHINE). Now she's decided that Bella should learn to Skate as well. So Friday, Bella went to G+G's house for the night to help decorate the tree. I saw her at swimming (I brought Isaac, of course), and then she went off to learn to skate with a family friend. She spent over an hour on the ice, learning with a folding chair for support... and apparently took to the ice pretty well!

We got her back around 5, and she was nearly catatonic, but we went to a neighbors for a Punch Pizza party, and she played with George and Theo and watched Rudolph.

While Bella was out and Isaac was napping, we watched Wall-E in the afternoon and had pie (me) and icecream (Pamela): Pamela had never seen Wall-E, and I thought it was maybe important for her to see the cutest robot movie ever. Now she understands, I think. I say the 5th time is the charm. EVE's little laugh is an endless source of warmth for me.

You'd think that with such a busy weekend that people might sleep in a bit on a Sunday, but no. Isaac was up at 6. At 3 he was hollering, so we brought him into bed (when he hollers earlier, we try to keep him in bed, but in the 3-4 window, it just doesn't make sense. Plus he's cuddly). At 6 he was up asking where Mommy was... and indeed she was not in bed. Insomnia plagued dear Pamela and she was zonked on the couch downstairs (after reading, surfing the web, and eating at 4am).

In the late morning, we went to see Santa at Bachman's (our annual tradition). There were some minor changes this year - a new Santa, a different set, but it was still a great time, and even the new Santa was wonderful (a different vibe from "scatterbrain Santa they've had in the past, a bit more mellow and peaceful seeming)... and of course we got some pictures. No screaming, either!

Now the kids are asleep, and we're continuing our effort to clear out the crap from our house... operation "be able to use the basement" continues apace.

On a media note, now that I'm caught up on Terminator (and naysayers say that it'll probably be canceled soon), I needed another show, and looks like Fringe will do the trick. It's sort of like an X-Files, but with an ACTUAL, PLANNED conspiracy as opposed to "whatever Chris Carter thinks of this week". Sorry, I really felt burned by the inconsistencies in X-Files. I'm sure I've written about it before. Anyway, Fringe is totally gross and a bit intense, but also very funny - so it's great headphones stuff. I bet if I was watching it downstairs, I'd get a lot of "turn that DOWN" from upstairs.

Anyway, I'll be caught up on Fringe this week: One more business trip for the year - Portland OR for one more night to see my team out there... and welcome one more - an emergency request came through at 5pm Friday, which led to crazy email and cellphone wrangling well into the evening, but we got the right person, and would have even got her there by start of business Monday if not for this crazy snowstorm... (She's in Duluth which got whited out today). And we're back to the ice rink. GOOD NIGHT!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Out in the world...

I'm back home again, and got to have a date with Bella. We went to the Cheesecake Factory, where she wolfed down a full slice of plain cheesecake and a handful of fries (this AFTER she had a burrito for dinner!) I had half of one of their absurdly large burgers. We got a booth and sat on the same side of the table and cuddled a lot. I think she was maybe a little happy to have me home.

And I'm glad to be safe and sound: Last night on the way from Tacoma to Kirkland, I was stuck in traffic due to an accident on the road ahead. On the way home from Kirkland to Tacoma, another accident. On the way from Tacoma to SeaTac this AM, another accident. On the way home from the airport tonight, 4 separate accidents - 1 left lane on 494, 1 right lane on 494, and two going the other direction on 100 (one of which happened just before I passed - an SUV rollover across multiple lanes of traffic). Plus a sign indicated that the crosstown was fully closed due to a crash on the eastbound lane.

You bet I was driving pretty defensively. Fortunately no incidents with Bella in the car... but I'll take the hint from the world and keep my head screwed on while driving.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Impressions from Seattle

1) As I watched Heroes last night, an ad for Kay Jewelers came on advertising 25-50% off original prices, with the unbelievable disclaimer across the bottom of the screen:

"Original prices may not have resulted in actual sales"

What this means is they're admitting that their retail price was a sham all along, and that the 25% "discount" is actually just normal price. I thought it was a very surreal advertising confession.

That aside, another great episode of Heroes. Cake?

2) I had an incredible sushi feed with Paul and Caesar tonight in Kirkland at Izumi. We asked for omakase, which means "feed us your best". The chef is very big on custom marinades, so we got some strange fishes I can't name with strange flavors I can't identify, and yet it was all delicious. My first sushi feed in years where no form of Tuna was involved. And in the end after more than dozen pieces of exotic sushi each, it came to around $33 per - though Paul and Caesar refused to let me pay. Silly geese, I have an expense account!

3) As I drove back to Tacoma (35 miles from the restaurant in Kirkland, but such is life) I passed a red neon sign with one letter missing.... TACOMA ELF STORAGE Likely a busy place this time of year.

4) I'm now current with Terminator - the Sarah Connor Chronicles. I love the show, but especially the cyborgs: From Cameron to Cromartie to the lead singer of Garbage. They're all so cool and alien. My deepest hope is that the writers have a huge whiteboard and are keeping every time paradox looped in and tracked: I cannot endure another X-Files like situation where they make it up week to week: I need arcs, continuity, and consistency. If they let me down, I'll sic a T888 on them PRONTO.

5) I had to stop watching a 30-Rock because Nathan Lane was on it. I think I don't like Nathan Lane all that much right now for some reason. That's not related to anything, but I think I just needed to put that out there. I just don't like Nathan Lane. I'm sorry Nathan. I really am.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Room Service

This morning Bella has decided to spoil Mommy, bringing her food, coffee, and the paper in bed. I came upstairs to find Pamela's hair festooned with barrettes, and Bella with lotion on her hands rubbing Pamela's feet.

Bella said "I'm your room service today Mommy! I'll do anything for you... anything except throw myself out the window."

This will be an interesting day.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


My final day in LA was interesting: We met with a client in West Hollywood and had an amazing lunch at a very SoCal place filled with beautiful people, and their beautiful cars were on the streets - Astons, Bentleys, and Teslas (the electric sports car). It was a very perfect experience. We even saw ladies with miniature dogs in purses.

Earlier in the day, we wandered through the neighborhood we were staying in, avoiding the grubby "characters" in front of Grauman's Chinese (we saw a spiderman in a faded suit with a spider fanny pack... and a lot of Captain Jack Sparrows). These people all were hustling for pictures, and even if there was no money in it, it felt cheap and awful. On the other side of the coin (and other side of the street) we saw Ms Cate Blanchett appearing for her Star on the Walk of Fame. Alas, she didn't have time to join us for coffee.

Finally, I made another visit to Beard Papa and ate a Green Tea Cream Puff. It was not entirely unpleasant, but it was completely unsweetened - a purely green tea flavor that was at odds with the creaminess of the filling, which put me right back into Shinjuku, eating odd muffins that weren't flavored "right" for my western taste buds.

In summary, LA is a very strange place, and there is much to enjoy and avoid. As I visit in the months to come I hope to get more of a grip on this fairyland.

At the airport, my conservative companion attempted to engage another coworker (a consultant who was on the same flight as us) in political discussion. He floated a few trial balloons, to which the coworker replied "Gee, it sounds like you've got some strong opinions on that, don't you?", and left it at that. That was masterful.

On the ride home I was trapped in Coach, but fortunately had legroom thanks to an open middle seat and considerate front neighbors who declined to recline. They were spanish speaking and spent the flight with a huge buffet of foodstuff laid out in front of them - fruits, meats, breads... I read an ebook and watched a few episodes of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles (which is my new addiction). There was a scene in the season 2 opener where a robot (who minutes later has been trying to kill our hero) is trapped and about to be deactivated and it pleads for mercy which was absolutely haunting. Especially for a lover of the robots like myself. Amazing television.

The flight had its own drama: As we approached Minneapolis, we were stuck in a holding pattern for over a half hour, then came in for landing. I watched the familiar sights out the window, getting closer and closer, and suddenly the plane pulled up sharply with high acceleration and we were all slammed back into our seats. The pilot said the runway had been closed and we needed to do a second approach... but we circled for another 20 min before finally landing. I do wonder what really happened, because it was pretty dramatic feeling.

Today was back to family-time: We swam in the AM, I went out on a date with my dad for some shopping and sushi.

Tonight was Taco Night, and Bella amused and horrified us by eating 8 loaded tacos. Eight. And she was munching into them with such abandon that shards of taco shell were flying across the table. After the eight, she kept going with chips to scoop up any meat and cheese that had fallen to the plate. I think she'll put on a half foot tonight.

Bella will be learning to Ice Skate with grandma, and she got new skates today. She's got these big feet (sidetrack: In the hospital the day after her birth, when birthmom Kaitie handed Bella to us, she apologized, saying "sorry, she got my big feet!") These big paddles don't fit into dainty figure skates, so Bella got hockey skates, which she said "look way cooler anyway". And tonight she put the blade guards on, strapped the skates on, and walked around the living room saying "Look, I can already skate!" She's going to be a real terror on the ice, I can already tell.

The evening beyond the kids bedtime was just Pamela and I enjoying being in the same room as one another - she reading a book, me watching another Sarah Connor, both in front of the fire and just happy to be near.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Walking in LA

Only a nobody walks in LA. (here's a video to refresh your memory...)

Alas, my time in LA did NOT afford me a visit to the Dresden Room: We got in a bit too late, and met our team at the hotel bar instead. I'm staying right around the corner from the Kodak Theater, Grauman's Chinese Theater, and Scientology Ground Zero. There's a Beard Papa a half block away which I've visited... so delicious.

Yesterday was an odd day: Trapped in a car with a co-worker who is QUITE CONSERVATIVE who likes to toss out little "questions" like "do you think that America should be STRONG or WEAK economically?" These black and white things, which it only makes sense to answer with "it depends on how you define it..." He was telling me that he listens to conservative radio because he listened to some Air America last year and they were so shrill and unbalanced... yet admits he hasn't listened to NPR for 8 years.

Basically he's a guy who needs to be assured that there is right and wrong in the world, and that his side is right. So it was a very long hour drive to the conference... and an even longer 2 hour drive BACK from the conference (love that LA traffic).

Fortunately it was possible to divert to work talk, movie talk, TV talk, high school and college shenanigans talk, band geek talk, and kid talk, so I didn't have to murder anyone. Actually some of that background info was very helpful: I pretty much know the kid he was and how he got to this point... not that it helps when he decides to grind the ideological axe, but I at least have more dimensions to work with.

At the conference, it was one of those boondoggles where there are 200 people there, 170 of them are vendors and only 30 are civilian "targets" that we're all trying to get casual conversations started with. Plus I had to/got to disappear for 2 hours for conference calls with... wait for it... people in Minneapolis.

But as I did my conference calls, I was strolling up and down Sepulveda Blvd, noticing that EVERYTHING is very far from everything else, and that this is really not a pedestrian city in any way... and that Missing Persons song just kept playing in my head.

I'll be in LA a bit more frequently as I take over the accounts from my conservative colleague, and am trying to understand the rhythm of it: There's nothing happening early AM - the city wakes around 9 or 10am, but stores and restaurants are ghost towns by 8-9pm. Apparently in Hollywood, things go to sleep from 8-11, and then wakes up from Midnight - 4am, which I would have missed since I'm a human who needs sleep. I'll get the hang of it, however.

Have some meetings soon, and then a late flight home - I'll sneak in around 10pm, and gaze lovingly at my sleeping children (and most likely sleeping wife...)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Where were we?

Oh yes, we were in Chicago, on our way up to a water park in Wisconsin. Well, nothing too much to report on the park: It was adequate but not stunning - the pool was a touch too cold for extended swimming (Isaac was shivering), the hot tubs were a bit too small (especially since the main pool was a bit chilly, the hot tubs were THE place to be). There was a pair of waterslides - one tube, one body. The tube slide was (T/L)ame but the bodyslide was hellfire fast and fully dark. The only issue was that after 10 times through, my back grew to know every last seam in the tube, which grew to feel like I was being run through a mandoline. Add to this a potential mild case of food poisoning from the restaurant and I think we'll pass on this particular site in the future (though I am not against all waterparks - they can be quite fun).

For the drive home, we took turns with the Marshmallow (with screaming tired kids) and the Jag (with blissful peace).

We are now in recovery mode with the kids getting them back into their routines. They're just getting back from their frazzled overtired state and are starting to act a bit normal.

With Marshmallow in the driveway and leases up on both the Mini and the Jag in the next few months, a decision needed to be made. And I made it. The Jag is MINE again. MINE. And the Mini, though I love it, is going back to the dealership. My butt has decided it likes the comfort, and as I've written before, I actually get VERY good mileage on the Jag, and it's BETTER on road trips than the Mini mileage-wise. So I went to the dealership and sealed the deal today.

I have a first floor full of nattering ladies tonight - Pamela is hosting a Silpada party: This is a jewelry party where the product is actually REALLY nice, and quite affordable. I put the kids down after having a basement pizza party (Isaac downed two large slices of pepperoni pizza, Bella did three). Isaac fell asleep immediately to the cacophony, but Bella took a bit longer.

My scotch recommending superpowers have been called on twice in the past 4 days: Once for a coworker (her dad - went for the Lagavulin 1991 Distillers), and once for my Best Man (Erik - went for the Balvenie Doublewood). I celebrated with a taste of my Glendronach 33 - so rich and smooth.

Had a horrible bit of the day today: At my fitness club, an instructor was let go for directly disobeying club rules - and it was in a class I attended. So I was asked to be a witness in his challenge to the Unemployment ruling. I felt sort of like a rat because I did like the guy, but then he started saying things that were actual lies and exaggerations (not against me, but about the situation), and my sympathy evaporated. The judge ruled with an iron fist, so nobody got to editorialize or accuse, which was a godsend... but it was still an uncomfortable situation. The lesson here for any employer: If you have a strange pain in the ass employee, DOCUMENT THE HELL out of everything. Because crazy people are crazy.

I'm off to LA Wed Eve through Fri Eve: I'm taking over that territory, and there are a few active clients so I get to meet some people, shake some hands, have some drinks. It should be a good time... but I don't think I'll make it to the Dresden to see Marty and Elayne this time. I know, how 1990 of me to care about the Dresden. Carrie actually introduced me to the phenomenon long before Swingers came out, so I feel like I'm a "real guy". If you don't know what I'm talking about:

Ok - sounds like things are winding down a little so I may need to go start cleaning up (yes, I'm a helpful husband).