Thursday, August 30, 2012

Going to Las Vegas

Just found out that I won a contest on Southwest Airlines’ Spirit Magazine.

Here’s the official post from them and the video below.

Ok, I’m not really going since flight wasn’t included, but when I do, at least I have a place to stay.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Day of School

I remember always being nervous on the night before the first day of school. Now, I’m just a bit sad.

It’s funny in a way.

During the summer when the kids are home, there are times when I think “wow, I would really like some quiet time so I can focus and not get interrupted every 3 minutes.”

On the other hand, I love being able to go upstairs and see them pretty much whenever I wanted. They are my “water cooler” break and we had a great time.

Today, however, was the first day of school. My kids didn’t seem nervous (a good thing), but after they left, I realized that I missed them already. And it had been 20 minutes.

Made me realize how fleeting the time is.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Parental (and kid) Roller Coaster

After a visit to historic Philadelphia, we took the kids to Hershey Park, PA.

Now, I’m not a big fan of Amusement Parks. I think there’s way too much time wasted waiting in lines. I suppose if I had the “express pass,” I might feel differently, but there’s a part of me that views it as a sad commentary on modern American life.

That being said, I do love the most intense roller coasters.

Unfortunately-at least in this respect-that wasn’t on the agenda as Paco, Tonka, and Nadia didn’t meet the height requirements for a lot of the things that I would have chosen for myself.

However, this wasn’t about me…or what I wanted to do. It was about them and I can honestly say that one of the great experiences of fatherhood was taking them on their first roller coasters and seeing the pure joy (and a bit of nerves) in going through it.

Barely scraping by in terms of height, we got Nadia on a massive log flume (I don’t think she really knew what she was in for) and I’ll admit, there was a moment where I said to myself, “I’m not sure this is a great idea,” but we persevered.

At the bottom, I heard a girl crying and I was concerned. Then I saw that it was the 7 year old NEXT to Nadia (4.5) and my little girl was all smiles (and soaked).

Paco was super excited after doing “the Comet” and all he could says was “That so INTENSE!!” (wonder where he got that from?)

The thing about it was that it was such pure joy to see their pure joy and to be there for that moment of maturation and life experience.

I was excited to share it with them and be there with them…just in case…and thrilled to see how they came through with the attitude that I would want them to have.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Liberty Bell and the Chinese


A short family vacation found us in the City of Brotherly Love and in 1 super strong day, we were able to see Independence Hall and the room where the Declaration was signed, the Liberty Bell (which has a great exhibit telling the story of how the world views and appreciates its symbolism), and the US Mint, where they make over 30 million coins per day (if they want to).

The NFO and I have certainly put our kids on the path to being full fledged history buffs and I think they really do get the sense of history from the places we visit, so in that respect, a total victory.

I hadn’t been to this part of Philadelphia in maybe 30 years or so and I thought it was really well done. The tour guide in the Hall probably could have benefitted from a microphone, but it was time appropriate and very informative.

One thing I’ve noticed about family vacations these days is just how difficult it is to truly “check out.” Emails come in (and even though I have my auto-responder on), I still feel the urge to check/respond. I mean, either I do it in a multi-task way or I pay for it when I “get back,” right?

One moment of irony that I know my friend, Dave Sloan, a Philly native no less, will appreciate.

There was a HUGE group of Chinese teenagers on a tour (I impressed them because when they told me where they were from, they said “North east part of China,” and I said, “Oh, near Harbin?” but I digress Smile)

I guess I was just aware of the fact that here were all of these Chinese students, visiting the cradle of American (heck, world) Democracy and many of the values that are core to the experience are either forbidden or foreign (for now), in their homeland.

Wonder how rising wealth in China and international travel will play out in the years to come.

All in all, a great day. One in which we truly “left it all on the field,” and (we hope) were able to continue to instill our kids a sense of curiosity.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Mind of the Early Adopter…

I sat there for 5 minutes, staring at the screen.

My computer was working fine, optimized after 1.5 years of refinement. I should just leave well enough alone, right?

Yet, here I was, staring at the “Next” button…the one that would being the installation of Windows 8 over my Windows 7 OS, hurtling me into the unknown world of a new technology and about to commit to crossing the chasm from which there was turning back…but one that could involve hours of digging out and recovery.

I had been down this road before.

I had been to the abyss of data loss and non-working machines. Yet, each time, I had come back…stronger and better, feeling empowered that I had developed a stronger understanding of the underlying technology.

And, further, I was committed to forcing the creation of new neural pathways, getting me out of my “comfort zone,” convinced, like a junkie of technology, that the next thing would give me a bigger rush, reason enough to push forward.

And, so I did…

I pushed the button and didn’t look back, off on the next adventure.

How did it go?

A post for another day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Like Wearing Fur…

I’m looking forward to the day when…

  • driving a Hummer (or even a stretch limo)
  • drinking bottled water
  • eating takeout in styrofoam containers

make people a pariah as much as wearing fur does today.

Just not sustainable.

What others to add to the list?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Driving Connecticut Ave. with my son

Washington Monument, Washington D.C., United S...

Washington Monument, Washington D.C., United States as viewed at twilight/dusk. Taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. Español: El Monumento a Washington al atardecer Magyar: A Washington emlékmű Polski: Pomnik Waszyngtona o zmierzchu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For Paco’s 7th birthday, he asked if we could drive the length of Connecticut Ave.

As you may know, DC has streets named after every state and Jokinen is fascinated by streets and geography.

His wish is to drive one state street each year on his birthday.

What’s more, he wanted to drive at night, because, in his words, “it’s more exciting!”

So, we went out on Sat. night and drove to the end (we’re towards the end) and circled back to head downtown to reach the beginning of the street.

His joy was palpable. I guess being on the road at 10:30pm is a new experience at some point, right?

He made great observations about how the types of buildings changed and how the parking became more premium/difficult.

When we finished, we debated for a moment if we should return and do “all of Georgia Ave.” (not a simple task-it’s long).

It was late and I was tired, but Paco wasn’t. He was fully of energy and was egging me on.

“We can do it! We have to do it! It’s my birthday. Come on!”

And, in those exhortations, I heard a bit (more actually) of myself as I realized that my son was in the process of out-“me-ing” me in terms of “go for it” gusto.

Any idea we had—and we had a lot of them—”Let’s call Aunt Kiki and have her wave to us!” or “Let’s stop by Aunt Dina’s house” was fair game for him.

The boy was on a pure adrenaline rush.

All I could think of—aside from how much fun it will be to go out with him when he’s 23 Winking smile is…”man, this boy knows how to LIVE it up!”

The best part was the 2.5 hours of father-son bonding we had as we discussed the City, the Washington Monument and White House (we passed them both), the Battle of Marathon (once we hit the 26 mile mark on our drive) and every other question he asked-and there were a lot of them.

I couldn’t have thought of or wished for a better birthday for him…or for me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Running (or not) in a Storm…and a great friend

As you may know, I’m in training for a Tough Mudder race (less than a month away) and I’ve really gotten into running (again).

Rediscovered the fun of it.

The other night, I went out and about 1.2 miles into my loop, I noticed the skies darkening…

Then, a thunder crack…and off in the distance, a flash of lightning.

From the way things were progressing, I wouldn’t make it home in time and while in my youth, I would have made a run for it, playing the odds, fatherhood changes you.

The trade off of an extra 3.8 miles (to finish the run) or even to go back just wasn’t worth the cost of getting hit by lightning (even though the odds are slim).

Factor in that I would be somewhat exposed and near trees (flying limbs or whatever), and it just seemed like the right idea was to find shelter.

Problem was…I had no cell phone and no money (lesson learned).

On the corner, however, was a Police station. Just as I was entering, it started to come down hard.

And by hard, I mean, torrential.

I was debating whether I would share the fact that just at this moment, the song “It’s Raining Men” was playing on my playlist. What can I say? I like the beat and it pumps me up while I’m running.

Laugh away.

I asked the Police Officer if I could have a ride home—my tax dollars at work, right?

Alas, no.

She pointed me to a room where I could make a free local call.

Now, the NFO was out with the kids at an event. Too far away for a pickup, so I had a judgment call to make

Wait out the storm or call someone.

The problem with waiting out the storm was the fact that I had to meet said NFO at a precise time in the future. So I had to be at home to change and get back out.

I went through my mental rolodex, thinking, “who would both pick me up and like to laugh at me at the same time?”

Answer was obvious…I called David Price.

His wife, Daphne answered and I proceeded to explain my predicament.

“Where do you need me to pick you up?” (Mind you, she didn’t even ask “where’s the NFO?”)

She just came and got me (good thing she did because it started hailing.)

What a friend.

When I got in the car, I said, “yes, this will be on the blog.”

And so it is…a testament to a bit of wisdom (not running through a thunderstorm) and a great friend (no questions asked).

ON the way back, we had another wise move…electing to take an alternate route when we saw this massive flood in front of her car.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A little bit out of the nest…

Not sure why I feel the compulsion to blog this one, but I suppose it’s just one of those moments.

For most of their short lives, the kids have gone to camp with people they already know from school.

Yesterday, however, I took them to a new camp (focused on technology-surprise, I know) and it was a sea of multiple cultures/religions/ethnicities, which is great.

Understandably, not knowing anyone, they were a bit apprehensive, but as the Orientation went on, I could see them becoming more comfortable with it and forging ahead with bravery.

It just made me feel proud that they were able to overcome this (small) obstacle and plow ahead. After all, I kind of view that as a primary role of the father.

Just got a bit emotional about that one.