Saturday, July 29, 2006

Learning About Fire Safety

I'm totally overloaded with soda, cake and ice cream. How come the kids never eat anything and it's the adults who are always coming back for thirds?

It's official: if you want to have a rockin' party for a 4 year old, throw a Firehouse party. The theme worked great from decorations to giveaways. We spent the first hour eating and drinking. The kids played with various trucks & toys and the adults introduced themselves while discussing which kids could hold their piss through the night. What did we all do for conversation prior to children?

The visit to the fire station was great, but Miss Julie, the local fire safety coordinator was totally inept at dealing with children under 8. She began talking about how fires begin and what to do when you have a fire. "We cook hotdogs," one boy said. Ignoring him, she continued her scripted talk and expained how you should call 9-1-1.

"How many of you know how to make phone calls? The neat part is the fire department can locate you on your home phone and they are developing systems to track you if you're on your cell phones." she went on.

We decided it best to stop her right there. "Umm, the kids are 3 and 4. They don't really have cell phones yet."

At that point, we decided Miss Julie needed to dump the talk and let the kids begin climbing on the fire truck. We were joined by three firemen who came out to help the kids through the trucks, disperse hats and show them the gear. The kids loved it. They got to sit in the seats, try on hats and walk around all the equipment.

The highlight of the tour was while the firefighters were talking about fire saftey, one of Corey's moms realized she left the grill on in the back yard for the past hour. Larry jumped in the car and drove to their house. I guess it would have been a complete bummer to see the firemen dispatched to your burning house.

The firemen were really nice guys. However, not at all like the movies.


Happy Birthday, Big Guy

Today Corey turns 4. It's hard to believe that 4 years ago, we brought a little boy into this world. Gone are the days of bottles, diapers, propping him up with pillows and baby monitors. There are no more car seats with those annoying 'rear view' mirros and we said goodbye to baby gates a long while back.

He is a little man. One with emotions, fears, hopes and dare I say, sarcasm.

Today we celebrate with his birthday party. Family and friends will join together for an afternoon of games and then a visit to the local firehouse. Corey loves fireman...he gets that from me, I guess. I've been told that I can bring my camera, but the rules are that
  1. Corey must be in all pictures with the fireman
  2. The fireman will remain fully dressed.
A tad disappointing, but somewhat appropriate for four year olds, I gather.

Corey also has a movie about fireman. Again, apples don't fall far from trees... though I'm betting our movies are quite different.

There are days I feel lucky, but on days like today, I'm the luckiest man alive. No greater gift has been bestowed on me than to be this little guy's dad. I hope I never take it for granted.

Enjoy some of my favorite pictures from the early days.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Method to my Madness

After four weeks of gracing the site, not one person representing Aveda products has contacted me for a more ringing endorsement. But fear not manufacturers, I believe in more than product.

We aren't the most 'green' family out there, but we do our best. We recycle...more than most, I'd say. I'm sort of a tyrant about that in our house. From Christmas cards to toilet paper rolls to the shredded receipts; it all goes into our bins by Monday morning.

And now that products are becoming green, we are trying our best to support those that are within a decent price range. The best so far has been Method cleaning products.

The two co-founders of Method believed that it was possible to make home care products without destroying the environment. They created things that were non-toxic, biodegradable, and as recycle-able as possible. And frankly, it's some of the best smelling and easy to use things we've ever tried.

The hand soaps and lotions are great. The laundry detergent gets the clothes smelling better than anything we've used. And they have coolest wipes on the planet. There are wipes for stainless steel appliances, leather furniture and for general cleaning. Honestly, the only thing that seems a big expensive for its delivery are the dishwashing cubes. But hey, it's fora great cause.

Pretty much everything is sold at Target and a few of the hand products are sold at local pharmacy stores. (CVS has them for us DC folks.)

Give the stuff a try. Hey, it's helping the environment... and potential this lowly blogger.


Friday, July 21, 2006

I'm smarter than you think

We were driving home tonight through Rock Creek Park. As we approached the Kennedy Center, Corey noticed the volleyball field set up for the random pickup games that occur each evening.

"Look, it's a big sandbox," he said.

I looked in the rearview mirror and responded, "Well, kind of, yeah. Everyone comes here to play volleyball. That's a sport where you hit the ball with your hands."

"Oh," he replied.

Always trying to turn everything into a lesson, I asked, "Can you say volleyball?"

He thought for a moment and firmly said, "Yes."

The conversation changed to a movie he'd recently been watching. "Do you like the barn movie? I do."

I hadn't seen it. "Is that a good movie?"

"It's funny and I like Oswald." I smiled until he caught his next breath...

"Daddy, can you say Oswald?"


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Home Sweet (but not such great views) Home

Yep, we're home. Back to a sweltering 99 degrees here in DC. Seriously the weather person has it so easy in Hawaii. "76 degrees and breezy for the next ten years."

I'm going to complain just a moment and say how much I hate red-eye flights. No matter how much sleep you think you can get on those flights, it just never happens. Once we arrived home, exhausted and hungry for real food, we settled into laundry, read through two weeks of mail and tried to water as many plants that were dying in the heat. Kudos goes out to Erik our house sitter, who kept the dogs, the birds and 99% of the plants in great shape. The poor kid spent almost an hour each night watering.

The last two days of Hawaii were spent doing near nothing. We relaxed, napped and ate; a perfect ending to a great trip. On Monday, we checked out our condo and bought a day pass at the Sheraton, which was the best idea we could have ever done. The seven hour pass included a hotel room, pool & beach access for the day and Internet access. (No more lurking outside people's homes.)

Not many more pics from the trip, so I'll highlight a few of the things we loved in case you're planning a trip to Kauai.

Coastline Cottages - (our condo) Great views and ammenities, but not the nicest people to deal with. We were woken up at 7 am twice by workers. Calls and emails ellicited a "well, we're working on the place" type of response. Plenty of other fine rentals to choose from besides them, but the condo route is definately the way to go.

Captain Andy's
- Catamaran tour of the Na Pali coast. Awesome crew and experience. We saw a ton of wildlife and had a blast with everyone aboard (expect the woman who vomited; she wasn't that friendly.)

Princeville Ranch Adventures
- You may not have a man who comes on the zip line tour who looks like Mr. Clean, but these folks know how to have fun. Well worth your time and money, and just a unique experience.

Keoki's Paradise - Our favorite place to eat. Inexpensive (especially on the bar side) and the best fish & chips on the Island.

Joe's on the Green
- Our favorite breakfast (though they do lunch too) place. Located on the edge of some golf course (I don't golf so whatever), this place had a great wait staff and an awesome breakfast.

The Beach House Restaurant
- The high-end restaurant and well worth the price. I had the most amazing wasabi crusted (encrusted?) snapper and the views can't be beat anywhere.

Casa di Amici Restaurant - Nasty. We went there for dinner unexpectedly and figured we'd wait a bit for a table. They acted as if we had caused them an inconvenience by coming to their restaurant. "You do know we take reservations," the host said. "Dude, most restaurants take reservations. We already told you we'd wait if we need to." (Dickhead.) We ordered our dinner at 8:30 and the food took almost an hour to arrive. One dish wasn't even done and the pasta wa so spicy, we couldn't even eat it. Almost as expensive as the beach house and no where near the service or quality.

So back to reality and hot weather. With luck, we'll make out to Hawaii again someday.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Zippity Doo Da

We drove up to the north side of the island yesterday. It takes a little over an hour to make the drive, passing through a number of small towns that probably once had a purpose and now have slowly lost the ability to appeal to tourism.

Princeville, the largest town in the north, seems to command the needs of the wealthy. We parked illegally to take pictures at the Princeville Hotel, took a dump in the prestigious bathrooms of the Hanalei Bay Resort and drove over seven one-car bridges to make it to Ke’e beach, the farthest most point on the northwest side of the island. We even found some Banyon trees (??) where Larry pretended to be on LOST. All we were missing was the polar bears.

The main reason for being on this side of the island was our zip lining adventure. Yeah, I know hate heights, but I think it’s important to face some of your fears. That’s why we still have every other Christmas with my mom! (I think they finally stopped reading the blog so she’s fair game again.)

The tour was about 5 hours and consisted of 8 zip lines and one really high rope bridge, the thought of which terrified me most. We had 13 participants and 2 guides. They took us a ‘bunny hill’ version of the zips to get us accustomed to the feeling and taught us how to steer so we wouldn’t get all turned around.

By zip #2, we began riding over the valleys and getting incredible views of northern Kauai. We met another gay guy from CA who happened to have attended my conference in Honolulu. We became fast friends as we promised to collect photos and trade them via email once we returned home.

The bridge was after the fourth zip and precariously perched over this river. I was the last to go and watched each person bounce their way across. Fuck it, I decided, I’m totally doing this. (Truth be told, I didn’t have a choice since we were a few miles into the tour.) But I got on and had the ride of my life. The guide followed me and bounced the bridge a couple times to give it some movement. It was amazing and felt so great to face my fear of plunging to my death. (Drama is never wasted with me.)

After three more zips, we made it to the watering hole and all stripped to our suits and floated on inner tubes while the guides set out lunch. It was so relaxing after an afternoon of cooking in the sun. We rested about an hour and headed back to do our last zip for the day. The rains began as if to indicate the day was ending.

I highly recommend zip lining if you get the chance. And if you come to Kauai, no one does it better (and safer) than Princeville Ranch Adventures. It truly was one of the best parts of my trip.

WARNING: straight men, you may want to the end the story here.

The other best part of the tour of was the scenery we took with us. This hot daddy joined us for the five hours and made the entire trip for me. I told Larry that I was taking the pictures so that my friend Richard could see, but truthfully, they’ve already become the wallpaper of my laptop. (Richard, totally your type with the exception of the wife and kids.) Seriously, this man had the most amazing muscles and washboard stomach.

My friends, this is paradise.

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Pirates of Hawaii

The DSL at the cottage seems to fade in and out. I’m sure we’re piggybacking onto someone’s unsecured connection, but the bastards keep turning it off. Last night, I was two blog posts behind so I made Larry drive around different neighborhoods until we ‘borrowed’ someone’s connection for a few minutes. He thinks I’m a total idiot and have lost the meaning of vacation.

Oh well, bear with the infrequency of posts and forgive the formatting/misspellings until I have a longer period of time to ensure they are correct.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Other White Meat

OK, my favorite joke here so far has been:
Wi-a-pee? Well, my bladder’s full.
Yeah I totally made that up but it makes me laugh all the time.

Today we went on Captain Andy’s snorkeling adventure to the Na Pali coast. Crap, was this fun. The boat took off at 7:00 am and we headed out on the catamaran holding about twenty people. We were joined by my co-workers Jessica and Christine (and Christine’s hubby). They are also visiting Kauai and our paths crossed as we eventually expected they would.

The waves were enough to generate a good size spray, but we were able to get up close to sea turtles and dolphins. It was incredible to see them in their native environment. We motored around the island for a good two hours until we arrived at the middle of western side of the island. The coast is unreachable in places with the exception of by sea kayak. Coves and inlets provided a one time home for ancient fishing villages.

Since the rain was coming from the north, we turned the boat around and headed back. After about 45 minutes, we moved to clearer water and set out the gear for snorkeling. The fish weren’t terribly plentiful, but it was pretty magical out there. Enjoy the pictures of the best nature has to offer instead of our pasty white bodies. The crew set out lunch for us afterwards and we slowly began our ride back to the shore.

The boat bounced through the waves and the group, with the exception of the newlyweds who had drunk too much the night before and had now each taken their turn at providing personalized chum for the fish below, hung on as each wave came over the edge. It was fantastic and the ride of a lifetime.

One of the folks on the boat said she had done the helicopter ride to the coast the day before and nearly vomited. That solidified the decision that this would be our one and only visit to Na Pali coast. (Sorry CroutonBoy.) The rest of the day was spent trying to get my sea legs back as I kept stumbling into walls and grabbing onto chairs backs. But it was another day well spent.

Tomorrow… we go ziplining!


Friday, July 14, 2006

Canyon Fever

Day two in paradise was spent at Waimea Canyon. Kauai seems to have many different habitats from mountains to plains to beaches. It really is an amazing place to visit.

We woke up at 6:45 to the sounds of two guys talking right outside our window. Sadly, it was not Matt Lauer or Chris Meloni, but instead the two workers who it seems, weren’t told there were guests who had checked in. Since 6:45 is actually late for me, I started the coffee and got online to check the blogging world as the trade winds gently blew through the house.

We lounged around after a grueling evening of watching Project Runway. Three hours of eating blueberry muffins while planning the day’s events.

Larry and I drove to the canyon around 10 am. We wound through the narrow roads for about an hour before we had to stop and hike. With my love of heights, it was just perfect that I was on the side of the car with the 5000 foot drop. We pulled over several times for photo ops, usually ending up with very much the same photo shot that we had taken two miles back.

My favorite spot along the ride was the red clay falls. The contrast of the soil and the water was amazing. The canyon exists in the middle of this island paradise as if it were natural for every type of (type of location tropical, plains, beach) to be located on one island.

We eventually made it to the end of the road where we had to walk 1.5 miles to Kalalau lookout. After about 30 minutes (hey, they were tons of hills), we made it to the major viewpoint of the Na Pali coast. This is the location of such movies as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park.

The view was breathtaking with the sun shining on the water below and clouds covering the very tops of the peaks. We paused to take in the beauty. “Look how gorgeous it is up here. It’s like Gorillas in the Mist … but without the Gorillas.” Henry David Thoreau could not have said it better.

We continued down a clay path that eventually turned into a heavy duty trail with that created natural steps. After about 5 minutes we stopped and got our picture taken. It wasn’t until I turned the camera around to look at the photo that I realized we had both worn blue shirts and tan shorts. I pointed out this fashion faux px to Larry. He didn’t seem to think it was a problem.

My shirt has a collar and you’re wearing cargo shorts,” he says. Clearly I was mistaken that people would think we dressed alike.

Larry decided to stop and I went on for a few minutes and then stopped. The winds picked up and it finally started drizzling. There were a number of other hikers beginning to venture back as well so I turned around and shouted back “Time to go…I’m getting moist.” Let me say that the cliffs can really echo statements that sound funny in my head, but not so much as 40 hikers listen in.

We headed down and grabbed some lunch. Then we finished the day soaking at the beach. Dinner tonight will be supplied by our favorite two guys; Ben & Jerry. (Again, Matt and Chris seem to be missing the boat.)

***BTW, bear with the postings. The WiFi seems to be sporadic.


Thursday, July 13, 2006


Yeah, recycled from Nemo, so shoot me.

OK, I don't care what location a conference takes place in, it's exhausting and I'm so glad the thing is over. Sure being in Hawaii helped ease the pain a bit, but it's nice to be done. My first major meeting and I feel like I did well enough to make it past my probationary period.

We finished in Honolulu and left as soon as we could. Today is our first day in Kauai and holy crap is it beautiful. We couldn't check into our cottage until 3:00 PM so we hung out at Polihale Beach.

After grabbing a quick lunch, we drove to the west side of the island. My navigation skills kinda suck because I really can't speak Hawaiian to save my life, so everything ends or begins with "ali wanna hanna mali moe' or something stupid like that. 16 fucking letters and each word has to be like ten syllables.

We swung by the store and picked up the essentials; pop tarts, Pringles, diet coke and gin. Then we checked into the place and chilled. The place has cable, a 48" inch flat screen TV and most important: WiFi. Larry looked in disgust as I plugged in again. "I thought we were going to just live in rural paradise while we were here," he said.

I looked up from the computer screen. "Ummm, five minutes ago you were excited over the fact we could watch tonight's premier of Project Runway."

"Oh yeah. Good point," and he turned up the speakers on the iPod so that he could better hear the Belinda Carlisle song.

Yep... paradise is crap without thirty pounds of electronics.

Check out the view from the patio.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

It's all in the presentation

So I'm Hawaii at our annual meeting. Yeah, I sympathies, but I am working my butt off; even if every one of my drinks has an umbrella in it.

Our conference this year is sponsored by three associations, so for each function we had three folks. That mean three Marketing Directors.

Let me say that having three Marketing Directors is a lot like having three Celine Dions in the the decision-making process. Luckily, Celine #1 & I got along really well and ganged up on the 'my-heart-will-go' Celine. We've been kicking her french canadian butt.

#1's associations is based in DC like mine, so she & I have met several times. The third association is based in Michigan, so our only contact has been through conference calls. I can't tell you how many times the mute button was pushed to ensure the expletives couldn't be heard.

So I met the third director yesterday. After avoiding her for two days, someone finally introduced us. She gave me a big hug. "I've been looking for you these past few days and haven't been able to locate you. I knew I was supposed to look for the silver haired guy."

HUH? When did I become Ernest Hemmingway?

"Silver Haired? Babe, this is blonde with gray highlights."

Obviously she was trying to become my best friend because she actually followed up on that statement. "Really? It looks really gray to me."

"I've often been mistaken for Anderson Cooper so it's a logical mistake, I guess."

As I walked away, I quoted my son's favorite saying, "To Infinity and Be-yoch!"

Silver Haired, my ass.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

LOST in the skies


I write to you from the beaches of Hawaii where I’m supposed to be helping my company run their annual convention. Thus far, I’ve scouted out the nearest Starbucks and walked along the beaches at 5:00 am. (This time zone change freaking sucks!) Rule to the wise, the nicer the place is for a convention, it exponentially decreases the chances of me being helpful.

I landed yesterday after 10 hours of recycled air hell. Connecting through Denver left me on the next plane for 7 hours straight. For those of you keeping score at home, I hate being cooped up for any period of time, let alone on a window seat when I have the bladder the size of a marble. The poor guy next to me would get his laptop all set up and then the Gods of urine would sing their chants. This dude heard ‘excuse me’ more times than I would have preferred.

The great part was that I upgraded myself to First class. Worth every mileage point I’ve ever earned. I was also thrilled to learn we’d be flying on a 777, which are known to have a TV in the back of each seat so that you could watch any of four movies you wanted. Not so with this plane and all of those in our section had to watch one pull-down screen of 16 Blocks with Bruce Willis. Truth be told, I was bored after about the first 3 blocks.

So to kill time and prevent my seat mate from having to get up every hour, I plugged into my iPod and began surfing through the music and videos I had downloaded.

Recently, we have gotten hooked on LOST. A while back, I downloaded the first two episodes, realized it was worth watching and we’ve since watched the entire first season from NetFlix. Luckily, the first two episodes we’re still on the iPod. Jackpot! Another 90 minutes I can distract myself. And since it’s filmed on Hawaii, I thought that would be an awesome tie-in with the trip

Did I forget to mention that the series is about a plane crash? Uh huh. The plane crashes over the Pacific on a strange island …AFTER dropping thousands of feet in the air and losing its tail section mid-air.

And the best part of the opening two episodes is that they recreate the crash scenes OVER AND OVER. People hitting the ceiling of plane; people being sucked out of the plane; luggage hitting people in the head and they die.

Seven different times I had to hit the pause button. Once I even contemplated taking a hit from my inhaler I was breathing so hard. As hot as Jack the doctor is, I had to make a decision.

16 Blocks still sucked, but at least no one fell out of the sky.