Saved from 7,000 miles of air travel

Something came up at the last minute so my meeting on the west coast was cancelled, saving me from hours of air travel. I'm back on a plane tomorrow, but fortunately it's less than a two hour flight.


Home office

In preparing to introduce myself to my new team and coworkers next week, I cleaned up my office to take this picture to show that despite the perception, unfortunately home office does not = beach.

Go ahead and laugh... that's an HP Color LaserJet 5M circa 1974 that you see on my desk. It's about the same size and weight as my car, but it's cheap to operate and prints great color charts & graphs. Unfortunately it sucks at printing photos.


Jet lag in perspective

My new job unofficially starts next week, and it's going to be the travel week from hell. I'll rack up over 9,000 frequent flier miles as I leave this Sunday night and won't spend consecutive nights in the same bed (or city) until next Saturday. I'll also be flying my first red-eye in years.

I love working in the travel business... if only I didn't have to travel.

It's not much, but Monday-Friday I usually "manage" the girls from 6pm-7pm (bedtime is 7pm) to give my wife something of a break. That hour is a daily reminder that while being a full-time stay-at-home Mom may be rewarding, fulfilling, and any other adjective you'd like to insert, it's not a job I could ever do. I'm never more tired than after spending an hour fully-engaged with the girls.

So of course the person who really gets screwed when I'm traveling like this is my wife, whose day revolves around changing diapers and keeping our toddler from killing herself while trying to maintain her own sanity.


How to surprise Dad on Father's Day!

It wasn't quite Father's Day, but it was close enough. Last week I lucked out and got to see my Dad in person and wish him a happy Father's Day. On Friday I was in Dallas for meetings which could have lasted until late in the afternoon; instead they ended at 2:00pm, so I stopped by my brother's architecture office in Dallas to see him and the office he designed a year ago. Since I didn't anticipate having time for anything other than work, I didn't let my family know I was going to be in town. Needless to say, my brother was surprised to see me.

I'm going to be an uncle around Christmas, so I helped my brother with his last pre-kid vacation plans, and then we said our good bye. As I headed west to my parents' house, though, my brother called. He had just spoken with my Dad and found out that my Mom didn't go straight home after work, so she wasn't going to be at the house until later. I took the first major road south--Loop 12, and headed towards Grand Prairie to hang out with my brother and slightly-showing sister-in-law until my Mom got home.

We lost track of time, but my parents finally called to say they were both home. As I drove north towards my parents' house, I realized it was almost 6:30pm, and I had a 7:45pm flight. So I called them back to ask if they wouldn't mind following me to the airport to expedite the rental car dropoff. It's my parents, so of course they didn't mind. I also got my "I'm afraid I'm going to break the computer" Mom to check me into my flight online and print out my electronic boarding card to save me time. Her PC didn't break, she did everything perfect, and it saved me about 15 minutes at the airport, so hopefully her confidence in her PC-literacy is growing. Once at their house I got to see the newly-tiled hallway and remodeled guest bath, all of which they did themselves (no, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree).

After dropping off the rental car, a nice 2006 Subaru Outback--much improved over the 2005 model, my Dad chauffeured me to Terminal E as I tucked his Father's Day card into my Mom's purse for her to give him on Sunday. I called my Dad on Sunday to say that I forgot to let him know what his gift is: a trip to Atlanta this fall to see his granddaughters and then see a Sunday Falcons game of his choosing. It's my small way of saying, "Thanks for all of your help this year. I love you, Dad. You're my hero."


Maybe by 3:00am

My head hit the pillow when I began hearing a "ping... ping... ping..." sound. It sounded like a bb pellet hitting a metal shed, but it was too rhythmic to be that. Then it hit me--s#!t, water is leaking somewhere.

Sure enough, it was the usual suspect. I have a toilet that is possessed in my upstairs guest bathroom, and after replacing every f*#^ing gasket and part on the damned toilet, it still wants to piss me off. This time it's really done a number and leaked down to the ceiling on the first floor. The sound I heard was water dripping off of a light fixture (the light in the right of this pic) into the sink in the wet bar.

Add this to the honey-do list. And Mom & Dad, I promise this will be fixed permanently by the time you visit over the 4th of July holiday.


After last week's trip to San Francisco, where I slept between 4 and 5 hours each night, I'm finally caught up on my Z's. Last night I got 12 hours of sleep, which is probably the most I've had in over a year. I could have slept longer, but I have the cutest pajama-wearing alarm clock who gets in my face and says, "Daddy, go work!"

Tonight I won't be so lucky. I should be in bed by 2:00am, but I've got to be up by 5:00am to catch an 8:00am flight.

I did my first marathon-training run today and made it 1.2 miles without spraining an ankle or twisting a knee. My first couple of months of running will be devoted to building strength and making a habit of running with proper form. Next I'll focus on endurance followed by improving my speed. Right now my goal is to beat my former time and break the 4 hour mark. By December, the goal will probably be to simply finish!


Van Halen didn't ruin my hearing

In high school I was really into loud music, and Van Halen's 5150 was the cassette (yes, I'm dating myself) of choice. I read with amusement how kids are using a ringtone that uses a high frequency that most adults can't hear. Who says American kids aren't creative?

I was surprised that playing Van Halen on volume 11 hadn't damaged my hearing, and I could hear this annoying ringtone. Of course I can also hear when my TV is on even though the Comcast receiver is off, so maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised.

Listen to the ringtone here and see if you still have youthful ears.

Ten years later

Ten years ago next January, I ran in my first and only marathon. It was the Walt Disney World marathon. I was a young, only 27. I was unprepared but lucky--I only trained for 4 weeks, and yet I finished in just over 4 hours (and barely under a 10 minute mile).

I was also foolish. I wore a white cotton t-shirt, and by the end of the race it looked like someone had shot me twice in the chest because of the bloody red circles on the shirt made by my bleeding nipples that had been rubbed raw from the hours of friction. It was around mile 8 that I remember seeing volunteers holding buckets of petroleum jelly out for runners, and I recall thinking, "What in the heck is that for?" By mile 20 I knew its purpose, but it was already too late--the skin where my arms brushed against my sides and my thighs brushed against each other was already chafed and raw. I remember passing the mile 25 marker and thinking, "Thank God, only 1 more mile to go." When I saw mile marker 26 near Epcot's Spaceship Earth and no finish line, I asked a race official where in the heck it was? Yes, I was very unprepared. A marathon is 26.2 miles.

I've recently lost my "pregnancy weight" and am down to under 150#. What--guys don't gain sympathy weight? I do. I put on over 25 pounds during both of my wife's pregnancies with our daughters and then promptly lost it. So I'm not overweight and am in decent shape, but I really want to get into the habit of running. I know myself, though. If I don't set an end-goal, I'll continue my habit of semi-regularly going out for a run. This is something that has been on my mind for several weeks, and I've decided to make the jump: you'll find me at Walt Disney World on January 7, 2007, spending the morning running 26.2 miles. The last time I did this, I trained and ran with a coworker. This time I'll run alone. Training starts this week. Wish me luck!


I left my job in San Francisco

As I mentioned back in April, my job is going away. I was pretty certain that I'd be leaving the company and taking a severance package, but a position became available at the 11th hour in a different division which I accepted. I'll be joining two of my friends at work (and peers) who have also accepted positions within the same department, so at least some of the old team will remain together.

The entire team is out in San Francisco this week for our last company meeting, and there's a bit of melancholy mixed with the excitement of starting something new. It'll probably be a long while before I'm back out to this great city, and I'll really miss the perk of visiting SFO on an expense account.


It's 3:00am, and you want to do what?!

Parenting has officially become a pain in the ass, and I'm not bearing the brunt of the hassle with potty training our toddler--my wife is.

My rude awakening to potty training was maybe a year ago when my wife and I were watching a couple's 3-year old daughter who we'll call "M". My wife was somewhere else in the house when "M" told me she needed to use the potty. Thank goodness she's potty trained, I thought. "M" asked me to help her onto the toilet and then asked me to stay in the bathroom with her. I thought the paint was going to peel off the walls she was so foul, and then I got the shock of all shocks--"M" asked me to wipe her. WTF? "I thought you were potty trained," I asked the 3-year old. "I am," she replied. "So why do you want me to wipe your bottom?" I asked. "I can't," is all she would say. I did as she asked, and then promptly scrubbed down with a brillo pad. Upon exiting the bathroom, I went to the expert and learned that this is quote normal. "Great," I thought, "I wonder what else I don't know."

Back to the here-and-now. My daughter's normal bedtime is ~ 7:00pm, but for the last several days, she hasn't really gone to sleep until 9:00pm because every 10 minutes she gets out of bed feeling like she needs to go potty. My response would be to put her back into bed and tuck the sheets in really tight. I've been told that's not the way to handle this situation, and since I haven't read squat about this subject, I'll rely on my wife's comprehensive research. My wife has since warned me this may take a long time, and that it may be years before our daughter is able to "hold it" long enough to sleep through the night.

Last night didn't have near the mid-REM interruptions as Friday night when at 3:00am I found my daughter at our bedside telling us she needed to go potty.


I back an amendment banning stupid presidents

The title of an AP article out this morning reads, "Bush backs amendment banning gay marriage." Aside from holding this belief himself, the article attributes Bush's support for the amendment to appeasing his religious conservative base.

I personally like the position taken by Kinky Friedman, candidate for governor of Texas: Kinky supports gay marriage and equal rights for homosexuals. He believes that the constitution protects everyone. As he says, "I believe love is bigger than government. And besides, they have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us."

I know and am friends with many in the gay community, and of those in long-term relationships, not one has expressed a preference for entering into a "marriage" with their partner vs. entering into a "civil union"; what they are interested in is equal protection of the law as guaranteed in the 14th amendment. Today there are 1,138 benefits, rights and protections granted to married couples that do not apply to same-sex couples (because even long-term partners can't marry), and herein lies the problem since these obviously discriminate against same-sex couple who cannot marry today. Among these rights and benefits are:

  • Community property ownership protections
  • Eligibility for health benefits (without taxation) and COBRA benefits through an employer
  • Right to inherit a spouse's pension
  • Immunity from testifying against a spouse
  • Right to sue for wrongful death of a spouse
  • Child custody, visitation, and duties of financial support to children
  • The right to make medical decisions for a sick spouse
  • The right to make funeral arrangements for a deceased spouse

The basis in the argument against gay marriage boils down to one issue: discrimination. While the sight of a same-sex couple expressing their affection publicly is more awkward to me than seeing a heterosexual couple doing the same, I recognize and understand that this is my problem and prejudice--not theirs! And note that less than 40 years ago, interracial marriage was against the law in 16 states (interesting that all of these are "red" states with the exception of Delaware) when the Supreme Court struck down those laws in Loving v. Virginia.

Politically, I find it offensive that instead of working to extricate the United States from the quagmire of Iraq or spending time solving the problem of exploding government debt, that our president would rather focus on inane matters like banning gay marriage, because everyone knows that's what Jesus would do.