In Green Bay, WI

Green Bay folks are quite proud of this place. I gather other people like it too. Apparently the Packers are quite popular — although I looked them up on Google, and they’ve only won one Super Bowl since like 1912 or something, so they can’t be that great. Nonetheless, I went there with the gang from work and ate lunch. No football was being played, but it was impressive anyway.
I’ve also played Wii with SuperJason and ObiShawn, gotten mad at the Albany people, ate numerous meals paid for by someone else, gone swimming pretty much every day, followed by a soak in the hot tub, and purposefully gotten lost in the rental car, just to see if the GPS could get me back to the hotel…
Some parts of the trip haven’t been as productive as I would have liked, other parts have been more useful than I expected. One more day, and then another day of traveling. I miss my family!

Calm Down. Release Your Cares. The Stale Taste of Recycled Air.

It starts pretty mundane: you and a hundred other people shuffle down a hallway and load onto a cramped metal tube, jamming your possessions into tiny bins and taking your seat next to two strangers who are no more comfortable than you. After a seemingly pointless wait the tube begins to move — like a rickety old city bus, except on only 3 sets of tiny wheels. You roll along quietly for a few minutes while a bored voice drones some instructions that no one listens to…
But then things change.
Suddenly the metal tube jumps to life. Like a race horse jumping free from the gate at the sound of a gunshot, giant engines spin until you can feel the vibrations in your chest. The whole machine surges unstoppably forward, mechanical gears whir as flaps extend and the docile ‘bus’ adapts itself for a totally different purpose.
Then, just when you think the vehicle won’t be able to sustain its own incredible power, something magical happens. You and your travelling companions leap into the air… and you don’t come down. In fact, you keep climbing higher. The whole world begins to shrink as you watch. You are flying!

Sure there are annoying parts of the experience. As I tap this out on my iPhone’s poor excuse for a keyboard, my legs are longing to stretch out straight, and I can’t get to the bathroom without squeezing my butt past the face of two strangers who probably don’t deserve such a close-up. But those things are inconsequential, because I’m in the air! In under 2 hours I’ll have traveled from New York to Chicago.
And despite the draconian security in this country, and the horror stories you hear of violated rights by airport security, I’ve always found that a genuine smile and a polite and pleasant demeanor have made the process of getting on the plane very simple. And its easy for me to come up with a genuine smile, because this is fun! I’m soaring through the air in a jet plane, sipping a tomato juice (with ice) while my iPhone reads me a book… This is a much nicer morning than one spent in my cubicle!

Leaving on a jet plane

I’m just realising that its SO much hard to go away on a business trip now that we have a baby boy at home! Not that it’s not hard to leave Nic, but I know she’s not going to change much while I’m gone. Benjamin, on the other hand, seems to learn something new every day.
Oh well, hopefully he doesn’t say his first word or something while I’m gone… Green Bay here I come!
Also, Aunt Pammy was here to visit this weekend. We had a picnic and went pumpkin picking. Pictures coming in the sidebar shortly…

The Social Stages of Young Adult Humans

I’ve observed the following steps in social development among myself, my peers and our younger friends…
Stage 1 – Bar Hopping
In this stage most of the social circle is single. By some tortured logic, they somehow believe that they’ll find a mate in a bar, so they spend their weekends going from bar to club, hoping for a random encounter that will provide a long-term relationship. This rarely works, but they convince themselves that they’re having fun, so they do it every weekend.
Stage 2 – Board Games
Eventually members of the circle begin to pair off. They find a relationship (probably somewhere other than a bar) and the bar scene looses its appeal. Suddenly sitting around at home with one or two other couples playing board games sounds inexplicably enjoyable. Its at this stage that they begin to understand how distasteful bar hopping really is, and those in the circle who are still clubbing, hoping to find a mate, are considered pathetic. However, the self-delusion continues, cause everyone knows board games aren’t really that fun either.
Stage 3 – Exhaustion
After being paired off for a few years, mates within the social circle will begin to reproduce. Children arrive, and when couples get together, its only to entertain their kids until they fall asleep. Social activity then consists of collapsing on the couch and staring blankly at whatever’s on TV. This is social only because no one has the energy to get up and go home.

"Because all the names and places I have taken from real life…"

Friends, family, ladies and gentlemen of the Internets… Wave hello back to Abigail Joan Wise, our daughter — who will arrive in March, or so.
Abi is 8oz, healthy and definitely not a boy. We can’t wait to meet her!
Those of you who guessed it would be a girl. Congratulations! There are no prizes, but you’re welcome to come visit her once she’s born 😉
We’re both very happy to have one of each. They’ll each present their own unique challenges, to be sure. I know full well that little girls grow up and break their daddy’s hearts. But I figure I’ll get at least 16 years or so with two beautiful kids — one of whom will probably look like a little Nicole — so its gonna be worth it.

If ingested, contact Poison Control immediately

Now that Benjamin can get around on his own, the requirements for our jobs as parents has gone up a notch. He’s been crawling for awhile, and its still his primary mode of transportation. But when he combines his crawling skills with his standing skills, he can suddenly get into a lot more trouble.
The other day I witnessed him adding another skill: the pull-up.
We have two sets of bookshelves in our living room. The bottom shelves have long since been cleared of their contents — we discovered quickly that he was fascinated by them — but the upper shelves haven’t been a problem. Even standing up at full height, and stretching his arms as high as they go, he still gets barely more than his fingers on the shelf. Turns out that’s all he needed.
As I watched, he crawled over to the first bookcase, and clambered to a standing position on the bottom shelf. Then he reached up with his hands, firmly grabbed hold of the next shelf up, and began to pull himself up into the air.
Fortunately his weight (which I believe is mostly in his giant head) was too much for him, and he was only able to get his feet about 2 inches off the ground, but I was still amazed as he dangled there, grunting and trying with all his might to get the fascinating books and baubles on the shelf just out-of-reach.
I digress though, because this is a story about Poison Control.
I’ve observed about women, that many of them have copious amounts of moisturizing lotions, skin creams, and other slimy substances that they lather themselves with regularly. When you’re pregnant, you also add “stretch mark” cream to your repertoire. Nic has a whole night stand full of these creams, which Benjamin previously had been unable to reach.
The other day we were in our room, looking over our finances on the computer, while Ben played happily on the floor. We took turns checking over our shoulder with enough frequency to be confident that he was alright. I saw him, on one of my turns, clambering toward the night stand, but I didn’t really think too much about it — until I heard a sucking sound.
I walked over to examine what he’d found (he sucks on everything, so this isn’t unusual) and realised he’d grabbed a tube of “Vaseline Intensive Care Skin Soothing Lotion” or something like it, twisted off the top, and started sucking out the contents.
I immediately grabbed it from him — noted to my relief that it was pretty much empty — and turned it over to read the warnings on the back.
If ingested, contact Poison Control immediately
While Nic looked up the number, I actually put the tube in my mouth and tried sucking on it. Sounds weird, but I wanted to know if he would have been able to suck out any of the tiny amount left in there. I got nearly nothing, except a slightly more moisturized mouth.
Poison Control turns out to be an incredibly friendly and soothing service. I explained very quickly that our 9 month old son had been sucking on a tube of Vaseline, and asked if we should take him to the hospital (Nic was already packing a bag, just in case.) The lady on the phone was very re-assuring, and knew exactly how to handle the situation. The worst case scenario might be some coughing and gagging, if he’d gotten any in his lungs, and if it got bad, we could take him to the hospital. But since it was empty, and he showed no signs of congestion, she assured us that there was no reason to worry.
We now have the Poison Control phone number saved in our cell phones — something tells me this won’t be the last time we need their services — and our night stands are clear of anything even remotely interesting!
I guess this only gets more fun as he gets taller and more mobile…

A good night's work

Yesterday there were three different warning lights on my dashboard, and my speakers kept cutting out at random whenever I hit a bump.
Today there are no lights, and my stereo sounds (and looks) great.

There’s just something satisfying about taking care of your own car — maybe its the money you save by not taking it to a dealer!

The Monotony Train…

…with stops at Routine, Repetitiveness and Cabin Fever, is now out of service!
It’s taken nearly 2 months, but we’re finally back in charge of our lives and making things happen again. Routine, as boring as it can be, is always a useful tool in establishing a baseline. Its from a foundation of effective routine that you can start building new and more exciting things into your life.
Our routine got thrown out, and we realised we’d surrendered control to outside influences. So we started again, defining a new routine: adjusting to it, adapting it, and disciplining ourselves on it. And now we’re ready to step out again.
Thursday we go for the ultrasound that will hopefully tell us what the sex of Baby #2 is. Nicole actually wants to know this time, so I won’t have to keep it a secret for the next 7 months!
Last time, when Nic didn’t want to know, everyone had a guess — and almost everyone guessed right. If you’ve got an idea this time, head on over to the poll on the sidebar, and let us know what you think. If the ultrasound can see the necessary details, we’ll let you know on Friday.
Thursday night, Nic’s sister Pam is also arriving, for a long-weekend visit. Nic and Pam sorta look alike, but they have very different personalities. I love them both dearly, but I suspect that by the end of the weekend, I’ll have had enough girl-talk to last me until Christmas.
Monday I board a plane to head to Green Bay. I’m very much looking forward to this trip — to understanding our product’s history better, planning for its future, and getting to know the people who brought it to life. Plus I get a rental car with a GPS in it, and a hotel with a pool…
I’ll get back on Friday, and then Saturday load Benjamin into the car for a day-long road trip back to Canada. I’ve got the iPhone loaded up with 4 audio books (as well as a 20 CDs, a dozen NES games, and 2 full-length movies) for the road, and I’m hoping Ben sleeps most of the way.
When I get there I’m gonna help my Dad-in-law load up Boot Camp on his new iMac, and get in a quick visit with an old friend Sunday morning before I drive back to NY, leaving Ben behind with his grandparents.
The day after I get back, Nic and I fly out for Florida. We’re staying at a 4-star hotel, on the beach, and we’ve rented a convertible for our stay there. Its about a 2 hour drive to Universal Studios, where we’ll spend the time we’re not laying out on the sand.
Again, a huge thank you to everyone who helped out with our vacation fund. We appreciate you!!
When we get back from that, Nic will head to Ontario to visit her fam for a few days and pick up Ben, and I’ll be helping my employer recruit some fresh new college students who can do our grunt work join our team.
That’ll get us through to November, a month with two long weekends, and hopefully, some new opportunities to serve in ministry — with a little less commitment of time than our previous efforts.
After weeks of having a pretty bleak calendar, I am relishing the thought of having some action in life again. I have no intention of blogging while on vacation, but we’ll be sure to post lots of pictures when we get back.

Changing Meta Types in iTunes Files

So I’m off on a road trip next week, and I’ve downloaded a number of “spoken word” MP3s to listen to while I drive (it’s an 8 hour trip). The only problem is that now they’re mixed into my iTunes library, and when I hit shuffle on my iPod, every 3rd or 4th song will be a chapter of a book. It would be useful if iTunes would let you identify any MP3 as an “Audiobook” but they’d rather you buy your books through them, so they don’t expose that functionality directly. Here’s instructions on how to re-type your MP3s as Audiobooks for iTunes…

Also, if you want to re-type video, or other MP4 files — say to turn a downloaded video into a “TV Show” check out Lostify for Mac. It won’t work with AVIs though.