Back In The Saddle

It has been another long period between blog posts.  It is that catch-22 of blogging, when you have a really exciting life and tons to write about, you’re too busy doing all of those fun things to find time to hunker down in front of a computer and write about it.  If I find myself sitting in front of a computer ready to blog, it usually means that there’s not much going on and there’s not much to write about.  Today’s an exception, I only have a couple minutes before I have to get busy with work.

On the weekend of March 20th, we made our way to Washington, DC.  I was tired and grumpy and made Jaclyn pull the car over in Philadelphia so I could drive.  She wasn’t doing anything wrong, I was just tired, hurried, and already late for my Friday night reception that I was headed for in DC.  She should have punched me in the mouth, but she shot me a look to say I needed to cool it.  I cooled it.

We made it to DC and I checked us in and Jac, Win, and Dal all headed to the hotel room while I ran to a conference room to mingle with some doctors for work.  I came back to the room, exhausted, the kids were both asleep, Winston was sleeping on two sofa chairs that have been pushed together to form a tiny bed, he was right in front of the window, soaking in DC. 

The next morning I slipped out of the room while everyone was still asleep, another meeting with the doctors.  Meeting ended around 3PM and I was finally off from work!  Jac, Win, Dal, and I all headed to the National Mall to enjoy a picnic with Jaclyn’s friends Krissy and Don.  As we started to eat, Winston stood up on the picnic blanket and pulled his pants down expressing the need to go to the bathroom.  A toddler that’s naked from the waist down right in front of the White House is probably not what the Secret Service and thousands of police around the area want to see.  I quickly yanked Winston’s pants up and tried to find a bathroom that was open to the public, everything was shut down, probably because of the deficit. 

On Sunday, we took the metro train to the zoo and the kids loved every second of it.  The zoo is enormous, gigantic, and home to every animal imaginable, the zoo was free.  Washington DC needs to start collected a couple bucks from the visitors at the zoo so they can have a bathroom open at the National Mall.  We narrowly missed having an ape poop on us at the zoo.  Apes (maybe they are gorillas, I have no idea how to tell apart) have these high tension wires that they walk around on, like tight rope walkers.  These wires are about 50 feet about the paved walkways where all the zoo visitors walk.  It was amazing to be directly under the apes as they walked back and forth on these wires, but the zoo workers advised to move back because they often poop and pee on people below, she was was right, we moved back just in time. 

Of course, Winston’s favorite memory of the trip was the metro ride.  Dalia loved the zoo, her favorite animal was the elephant shrew. 

Okay, I still have to tell you all about Spring Training in Clearwater and our first softball game, but this is getting too long.

Catching Up

I’m in a hotel room in Philadelphia tonight.  No, Jaclyn’s not made at me…I’m here for work because I had a meeting that runs late tonight and another meeting here that starts very early tomorrow morning.  I’m watching the NCAA basketball games and I’m a little depressed that I never filled out brackets this year, so I have very little rooting interest.  I will cheer on Temple. 

I got pre-approved for a mortgage today!  This is the first step of many, but it’s nice to hear that we can get a jump on the house search.  Life’s giant wheels are churning, the Deem train is picking up steam.  I had an old colleague from Johnson & Johnson call me the other day, he was let go and was looking for a job.  It is freaking scary, I know I’ve been laid off twice, but I consider myself lucky to have experienced it when I did, young and without a mortgage.  With the kids getting older and a house on the horizon, the weight of responsibility is something I feel all the time. 

Urinals are awesome.  I actually feel bad for women who have to sit down to use the bathroom.  For example, with urinals men can go in and out of the bathroom in 30 seconds.  Women have to sit down, close a door, and probably take closer to a minute on average.  If that ratio holds true, and a person goes to the bathroom 4 times a day, that’s an extra two minutes a day that a man has to be more productive.  Over the course of a year, that’s 730 extra minutes, which is over 12 hours!  If people live for roughly 75 years, that’s an extra 54,750 minutes, which is over 38 days!  Urinals, they are awesome.

Tomorrow night after the meeting, I am heading to another meeting in DC.  The cool thing is that my family is joining me for the trip!  I’ll be stuck in a meeting all day on Saturday, but Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday will be time to spend with my family.  We plan to hit up the Smithsonians and the zoo. 

Our softball season is just a little over a week away.  The new jerseys arrived (reminds me of a stupid joke, what did Delaware?  A New Jersey!), and they look awesome.  I’ll have to model one for the blog and show readers how to order one. 

Thanks for your patience during this busy month, I’ll right more in April, I promise!

Oakland Athletics – Spring Training

Yesterday I had the opportunity to experience baseball in early March.  It turns out that Phoenix is home to Spring Training baseball and we got the chance to see the Oakland A’s vs. the Chicago Whitesox.  The game was beautiful, there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said about baseball before, but I truly enjoyed every second of the game and it was bliss to be in the sun taking it all in.  At the game, I had a taste of ballpark food that I haven’t ever had at a ballgame before, roasted corn.  Good Lord, roasted corn was good, it didn’t hurt that they poured butter all over it. 

The A’s (home team) lost, but the game came down to the last at bat and everyone left in a great mood.  The pic above is basically the view I had from my seat, I have decided that my family is going to Spring Training in a couple years when the kids are a little older.

Horrible Plane Experience

As I boarded my plane for Phoenix this morning, I waited in my aisle seat to see who would fill the vacant middle seat to my right.  After a series of undesirable candidates walked by (the Penn State Men’s Volleyball Team), a young 17 year old blond girl approached me and told me she was in the middle seat.  What a relief, a nice skinny girl with a teddy bear will be sitting next to me, this flight will be a piece of cake, until she said:

Teddy Bear Girl:  You need to trade seats with my mom.
Me:  Uhhhh, where’s your mom sitting?
Teddy Bear Girl:  Up in row 11.
Me:  Is that her in the middle seat?  I really do not want to sit in a middle seat, it is really uncomfortable, especially being a bigger guy. 
Teddy Bear Girl:  If you don’t trade seats, I’ll puke on you.
Me:  What are you talking about?
Teddy Bear Girl:  I’m horribly sick and will be throwing up the entire flight, I really want my mom to sit next to me. 
Me:  I’m sorry, but if you’re mom moves back here then I’ll be sitting with three guys and we’ll all be very uncomfortable.  I really think I am going to stay here.
Flight Attendant:  I’m sorry you two, you need to sit down, the flight is sold out and we need to take off.

I didn’t budge, I stayed in my aisle seat next to the sick girl with the teddy bear.  She threw up about 12 times on the plane, she went through several trash bags of vomit.  When she wasn’t vomiting, she was spitting. 

I made some small talk to assess the situation:
Me:  So, flying makes you sick?
TBG:  No, I’ve been really sick for the past couple of days, just throwing up all the itme.

I did not reply to this statement, but the woman in the window seat looked at me and we both realized that we were undoubtedly going to catch whatever rare infectious disease she had contracted. 

After about 4 hours and 45 minutes of having front row seats to a puke-a-thon, we landed in Phoenix.  In hindsight, I probably should have taken the middle seat, I guess it depends on how sick I get.

Garmin GPS

We were wrapping up an excellent weekend in Ithaca, New York, when we decided to grab a bite to eat before we hit the road.  The drive through restaurants are on the edge of town, so once I was done grabbing some Taco Bell, I suggested to Jaclyn that we ask Garmin, our GPS, if she knew a faster way home from the edge of town or if we needed to back track through town and get onto our normal exit.  We started up Garmin, watched her acquire the satellites, and we waited for direction like kids staring at a Magic 8 Ball.  

Garmin spoke!  We can go up this mountain around the bend and our arrival time back home is faster than expected!  No need for the safe havens of route 81, no need to go back through town, EUREKA, we’ve found a short cut! 

We sped along a tight mountain road where we quickly ascended above the entire town of Ithaca, it was a breath taking site, a little scary too, because you didn’t have much between you and a cliff that was a near vertical drop hundreds of feet below. 

The mountain road dumped us out onto a country road with a 35 mph speed limit.  Garmin calculates our arrival based on distance multiplied by speed limits, I accelerated well beyond the posted speed limit and saw our arrival time get closer and closer, this short cut was a stroke of brilliance!

After cruising at 60 mph for about 20 minutes on this little country road, I could tell Jaclyn was starting to become a little skeptical about this time saving short cut.  She would say, “I am not sure this is taking us to route 81” or “This road is just taking us to the middle of nowhere”.  I could tell she was a little nervous, but In Garmin We Trust and besides, it was saving us time. 

The country road soon turned into a gravel road.  Jaclyn looked at me again and began fumbling around with a map.  Yes, a map!  Come on people, who uses a map now days?!  Not me, I have Garmin!  She calmly explained that Garmin had no intentions of taking us to a major highway at all, this “short cut” was a series of backgrounds through central New York into Central Pennsylvania. 

The facts were stacking up against Garmin and I, we had to make a decision quickly.  We were approaching a crucial intersection where we could take 17 East towards 81 or continue down Garmin’s series of short cuts.  I sided with ADVENTURE!  And besides, we were saving time by taking this short cut.

About 10 minutes later, my gravel road turned into a dirt road.  Jaclyn gave me a look that I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen before.  It was a look that expressed two things: 1.  I’m an idiot  2.  She is very irritated

“Okay, okay, okay, I get it Jaclyn.  This dirt road is not ideal, but look Garmin says we’re still going to be home soon.  Listen, we won’t be on this dirt road long, we’ll be back in business in no time flat.”

Sure enough, a couple miles later, we were back on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere.  At this point, I am praying to the Garmin gods that we end up back on a major highway for fear that my wife is going to kill me.  Meanwhile, my only saving grace is that we’re still tracking to get home sooner than the safer route.  If at any point this back road short cut starts costing us extra time, I’ll have no leg to stand on and I’ll officially be an idiot, which judging by Jaclyn’s stare at me, she has already come to that conclusion.  To ensure that we stay on track and get home sooner, I am speeding along this dusty, dirty, hilly, back country roads like a rally car driver, we may have gotten air at one point.

My prayers for a major highway went unanswered, our next turn was not on a dirt road, but a mud/puddle road.  This road was a deep sloshy mud that my Honda never would have made it through, fortunately, we were in our 4 wheel drive Hyundai Santa Fe.  We slowly trudged through the muddy road, Garmin said we needed to stay on this road for 9 miles longer.  Occasionally, I’d have to swerve around a giant hole filled with water, a huge rock, deer, or in some cases, wild turkeys.  We passed old campers that appeared to be vacant for decades except they had a single light on, we passed school burnt out old school buses randomly placed in the middle of large fields, dilapidated trailer homes, and the sun was starting to set.  

At this point, we’re going really slow.  I see that we’re starting to gain back all the time I was able to trim off earlier.  Jaclyn officially is scared and I’m starting to think we need to rethink our strategy.  We intersect with a paved road and plot a new course on Garmin.  30 minutes later, we arrive in Clarks Summit, PA and hop onto 476 South.  

The good news is, we got home right on time and I think it is a trip that my wife will never forget!   

Still Busy

For all of you who take time to visit my blog, I’m sorry that I’ve been so bad at posting lately. Tomorrow morning my family and I are heading up to Ithaca, NY for Iona’s birthday party. Next week I’m headed to Phoenix.. Following week I have meetings in Philly and DC. Then at the end of March I’ll be heading to Phillies Spring Training in Clearwater, FL.

Okay, I gotta run and pick up dinner for the family! This is the busiest month of my life.

Tale of Two Cities

It has been 14 days since I last posted, that may be a new record for the longest I’ve ever gone between posts.  All I can say is that I’ve been on the road and extremely busy, here’s a quick summary.

Arrived in Miami on Feb. 19 for a work function.  This is the second time in a couple months that I had to travel to Miami for work and my first impressions of the city were overall negative.  My wife was still intrigued by the warm weather, beaches, and potential for salsa dancing in a glamorous night club, so she decided to tag along and join me as a stowaway on my business trip. 

One of my favorite moments was when the business meeting adjourned for lunch, we all went to eat outside.  As we walked by the pool area to find our reserved lunch accommodations (there was over a 100 people so we had a big part of the outdoor area reserved), I saw Jaclyn in a beautiful sun dress by the pool eating fish tacos while reading a magazine at a big table all to herself.  She looked so relaxed, in the moment, completely enjoying herself…plus she looked gorgeous. 

Otherwise, I still hate Miami.  After my work meeting concluded, Jac and I headed to South Beach and it was just too crowded with too many creepy people.  Maybe I’m just becoming a boring old person, but it seems so sleazy and trashy, and ultimately lacks something that is distinctive to Miami.  In fact, I would argue that Miami has a secure hold of owning pretentious shallow flare.

With all that being said, I still loved my time there because I was with Jaclyn and we have fun whenever we’re together.  We stuck our foot in the ocean, walked along the beach, and I made her walk all over town.  I love to explore, when I get to a new place, I’ll walk miles to check it out, Jac prefers to soak it in. 

We got back on Sunday, Feb. 21.

Monday, Feb. 22 I had orientation for my new job~

Tuesday, Feb. 23 I had to cram in tons of work for my meeting in New Orleans.

Wednesday, Feb. 24 I caught a flight to New Orleans.  I’ve been to New Orleans before, I spent a week here years ago before Katrina hit.  All the things that made New Orleans one of my favorite cities are still intact.  I love this place even more than the last time I visited. 

On a random night on any day of the week, you can walk by Jackson Square and hear 5 street musicians playing 5 completely different types of music and each of them would be better than any musician you’d hear in any other city.  Here’s a pic of Jackson Square, which is pretty close to the French Market.

Speaking of the French Market, walk through there to grab a taste of heaven.  I mean it, if you want to taste the most amazing little treat you’ve ever tasted, go to the French Market and find Cafe Du Monde and spend the $2 to get some beignets.  Here’s a picture of the little fried doughy confection sugar topped beignets that come out piping hot and delicious.

We stayed near the convention center where the hotels are tall and the malls exist, but walk 5 minutes towards the French Quarter and you’ll see yourself slipping into a dream where you’re sleepwalking through streets from centuries ago and the same bars, same music, same recipes, still lure in passer byers.  The cajun food, the jazz music, the thick textured art that juxtaposes deep shades of blue against yellow, the Mississippi River, the thick accent, and old French architecture makes this city truly unique and no other city can claim to have any of it or repeat it with the success of New Orleans. 

Goodness, I could waste days in this town and someday I’ll come back on vacation to do just that. 

I’m actually still in New Orleans now, but I catch a flight in a couple hours.  The purpose of this trip was around business and I was responsible for running a couple large profile meetings that turned out really well.  In addition, I’ve been in meetings with affiliations and associations all around the clock, it’s been a crazy couple weeks and I just can’t wait to go home.

I have two more trips coming up in March and then things should finally slow down again. 

Phoenix from the 9th to the 12th and Clearwater, FL from the 24th to the 26th.  Clearwater is for fun though, I’m going to watch the Phils in Spring Training!

Okay, I gotta pack.  Jac said she’d kill me if I missed this flight!