If you watch enough daytime TV... you will get cramps

4996337256_39038dcae1.jpg

The boy is almost nine months old and since I've been back to work after paternity leave, I've been flying weekends. Although airport Chick-fil-A is closed on Sunday it is nice to work weekends and steal the Sunday NYTimes from sleepers in the airport. I play a game of whack-a-mole where I rotate newspapers. I'll take a Times and leave a Post or slip in an Us Weekly after finding a People. Working weekends means I'm a stay at home dad most of the week. I'm working trips that start late Friday night to return Monday which gives me four days of full time daddy duty. Essentially, Momma Stork and I split the week in half and tap out like wrestlers when one of us goes to work.

Sometimes you'll hear an air traffic controller briefing the replacement during a shift change. "This guy is slowed to 270 and I've got them on a heading while this one is holding for spacing into Chicago."

We offer up a similar briefing. "He ate at 8 and 12 and had two dirty diapers before lunch... he was last changed an hour ago. You're in!"

The boy and I have developed a pretty nice weekday routine. Well, I have... he plays along. In the morning we sit on the porch in our jammies and eat breakfast while the morning commuters honk at each other. Eight hours later we eat a snack outside and watch them return. Typically, we take a couple walks a day with one of the dogs and make sure the neighborhood is in check. We watch a little TV... "Two hours a day maximum, either educational or football. So as you don't ruin your appreciation of the finer things."

I imagine how the advertisements would differ if it was men who typically stayed home with the kids? It would be foot odor powder and beer commercials in between westerns and Seinfeld reruns.

A couple times a week we walk to the grocery store. I have to make several trips because I can only fit so much in the stroller and backpack I carry. I made the mistake once of putting the bread in the little storage bin under the stroller. A few bumps on the walk home and our bread had a little baby butt print in it. I thought about using it as a plaster mold and saving the resulting sculpture next to the failed baby foot project.

We typically go to the store at the crack of dawn when it's just us, a few other red-eyed moms with their kids and the store shelf stackers.

I try and hustle back for naptime. Nappy time is happy time because that's the time I play Xbox with the volume up really loud. I've got the house, as well as the neighborhood to myself. I spend a few hours online playing Call of Duty with kids skipping school, the unemployed and the occasional dad. I can always tell because we're the only ones who have no choice but to leave the game even if the round isn't over. You'll hear a baby cry over the headset in the background and then a "Well guys... gotta go."

Mornings in a Hotel: "Where am I? What Time is it?"

4884130728_1065ed91f5_m.jpg

A friend once told me that everyday he wakes up in a hotel it feels like waking up with a hangover. "I'm not sure where I am or how I got here but at least I have my pants on." Add in the fact that we stay in a variety of hotels with countless floor plans, alarm clock models and coffee makers, sometimes you'd think you were at a bachelor party the night before. Throw in a 4:30am wake up call and that bachelor served nothing but "Mind Eraser" shots followed by Jagermeister to chase is all down with.

I call it T.M.A. (Temporary Morning Amnesia) and typically it takes about a minute to clear. Sometimes there are clues in the room to help clear the mental fog. The Crowne Plazas we stay in advertise for their hotels inside the shower head. Since I'm often in the shower within the 60 second window before T.M.A. wears off this can be a huge breakthrough. The Eureka Moment! "Damn! I'm in Hartford! No free bagels downstairs but at least the coffee maker is the single pod type rather than the rarely washed pot used by many to make Ramen Noodles."

And old trick I've worked into my hotel routine to avoid the amnesia is to write the three letter airport code of the city I'm in on the room key envelope along with the van time and leave that propped next to the alarm clock. I've become so used to this being the default when on the road that if I don't see the cheat sheet when I wake up I can safely assume I'm at home.

In the era of smart phones though - the cheat sheet is old school. My morning mind has never been so clear since finding the "Good Morning!" app for my android phone!

Everyone has their own killer app. For some it may be Facebook or Evernote or their Twitter client of choice. Mine is an alarm clock that reads whatever text I type in the night before as well as the current time, temperature and forecast. Granted, the forecast is useless for me unless I'm returning to the same hotel later in the day but I like waking up to the lady computer voice and I get to her say as much as possible. I like waking up thinking that Rosie from "The Jetsons" is in bed with me and she's already made coffee.

Since finding this app, the only T.M.A. I suffer from on the road is when I wake up in the middle of the night after leaving the television on. Interestingly enough, the only standard thing in hotels is the remote control. I never seem to have trouble finding the off button. (Through the plastic ice bucket bag that I wrap the remote in. Those remotes are filthy!)

Holds and diverts and storms, oh my.

Bos - Mke - Ind This was our third leg for the day. We began in Omaha around 2Pm and flew Omaha to Milwaukee and then off to Boston. Boston to Milwaukee had us holding over Grand Rapids for 30 mins before we made the call to run to Indianapolis for more gas. You're holding over Michigan with fuel burning away and planes above and below you all doing the same - thinking about plan B. Chicago has been in and out of holding patterns for most of the day and airports are full of diversions already. This means a long wait for fuel and the potential for the Passenger Bill of Rights to be an issue. We've got a full flight and several infants on board that can be heard through the bullet proof cockpit door. To make things even more fun, our APU is inoperative which means we have no air conditioning on the ground and I am certain that if a dozen planes are waiting for fuel already, no one is going to be in too much of a hurry to get a ground air cart for us.

So looking around at where to land while the engines are chug chug chugging at our fuel. Dispatch and I decide Indianapolis is a good option and we have enough fuel to make it - if we leave "Right Now". And then Milwaukee calls to say the airport should re-open soon. But, if we wait and commit to it - no plan B if it closes again. It has opened and closed twice since we've been within earshot of them so the odds are pretty good that if it does open soon, it will close again before we get there. And then there is the "Right Now" line.

Indianapolis it is. Fly fast and burn more gas or fly slow and save some in case we need it for something else? There is weather in Indiana as well. Fly slow. "Folks, I know I told you it will be 40 mins until we land but it's going to be an hour."

Luckily for us, no one has landed in Indianapolis yet and we're first in line for fuel - but our crews have gone home for the night and Airtran is there to help. "How do you turn the light on in your baggage bin? Where does the aircart connect to the airplane? How many people does this palne seat?"

And I'm arranging for fuel and paperwork to release us to Milwaukee and the crying baby and the people that have connections and there is a cancelled flight next door so can we put more people on your plane and wow - it really is getting hot back there. What happened to the aircart?

Lets spin an engine to cool things off. Oh, we can't spin an engine. They are bringing more bags over now because of the cancelled flight and the cargo door is near the engine so it can't be spun until we load the bags.

"How do you turn that cargo door light on again?" They ask.

I tell the passengers the story, again. I ask them if they want to join me in the jetway, it is much cooler and it shouldn't be too much longer. A man is off to see his daughter give birth. She is in the hospital waiting for him. I tell him my last name is Stork and draw up the obvious connections. He laughs. So do others. Buys me some time.

The puzzle is coming together now. We've got the fuel and the paperwork and the extra bags and people now. Lets go to Milwaukee. The weather is still there and there is no good way to go around it... Time to pick our way through some storms.

Ind - Mke

The amazing thing about thunderstorms at night is that the moisture in the air carries the light from the lightning for miles after a strike. Even though we're not in any thunderstorms, with each strike the cockpit lights up so bright you're blinded for a moment. "I've asked our flight attendants to remain seated for their safety."

Air traffic controllers are talking to us but we've got this cell we're trying to fly around and we'll have to get back to you. And dispatch sends a message, "Ha! I did such a great job filling you around the weather and you decided to go right up the middle of it!"

No choice... the line has some breaks in it. And it does... aside from a great light show and few sizable bumps, we make it to Milwaukee to drop off a few, pick up a few and head to Minneapolis for the night.

What makes or breaks a night like this is the crew your assigned to. As the Captain, I have to be able to trust my team will do their jobs and allow me to delegate where need be. The great crews are the ones who know what needs to be done without hesitation and do so with a positive attitude. My crew easily handled all of our issues and even though we were tired and hungry - did so without hesitation and with a smile. This kept our passengers happy but more importantly - me happy!

Nana, Ms. Pac-Man and the One Armed Bandit

Nana in Virginia City While in Lake Tahoe, we took a trip to Virginia City where the ladies in the group were happy to find MORE slot machines. I followed my Nana waiting for it "to hit."

"No Christopher, this one is about to hit." She'd say.

Back at one of the casinos in Tahoe, while the others were gambling upstairs, I spent an hour and a few dollars in the gameroom trying to break the high score on Ms. Pac-Man. While there were many kids down there with me, none shared in my excitement as I came within a few thousand of EEE's score. Soon after I gave up on the record I got served by a little kid on Dance Dance Revolution. I thought I was a better dancer after a few beers?

Bike Parkinglot

bike parkinglot

Originally uploaded by stork123

Headlights and mudflaps and trunks oh my. We've spent days riding around town. When peddling with groceries in hand it's a challenge to decide which hand to keep free. One is good for the brake - the other - the ringer! Do I let people know I'm about to hit em since I can't brake or brake and aviod hitting them? Quite the dilemma,

Dutch appliances puzzle us

So after a few weeks I think we've finally figured out how to use the appliances on the houseboat. We downloaded a few manuals, asked around a bit but ultimately it was trial and error that came through. The clothes do finally come out smelling clean but still incredibly wet and while we still haven't figured out the dryer, this may be the reason it takes a few cycles to dry. As you can see, most of the numbers seem to correspond with times but it's the sequence in which you push buttons that hasn't come easy. Most of the panel buttons give you an 'ERR' if pushed at the wrong time. And two "start" buttons? For a few tries, I thought CENTRIFUGEN was a spin cycle, but - still wet.

Since Snelfoto signs hang near 1 hour photo booths, Snelwas naturally means quick wash. Granted - all this would be easy with Babelfish (yes - from HGTTG), but I prefer to speculate while on vacation. I've been on a digital diet.

 

And look at the DRYER!.  Dryer

There is a display that isn't photo'd that gives a series of icons to correspond with the letters. A few shaded water drops versus a few unshaded water drops? Several shaded suns rather than a few unshaded ones? And you don't have the option for a bit of both.

"I'd like three dark water drops next to a solid white sun?"

We've come up with "A" a few times seems to do the trick.

Interesting feature - you have to drain the water pan every couple of cycles. Rather than spit the water out into drainage - it collects in a pan under the machine. Pure spent water from a days activities!

And it does spin

Originally uploaded by stork123

This windmill is down the road from the houseboat. It's spins in the evening and is on the tourmap for travelers. There is a bar below the windmill and next to it is a eetcafe that we stop by most everynight for a drink before heading home. With our bikes locked up a few feet away and guidebooks safely stashed in our bag, we mock tourists who get off the bus for the "windmill photo." I've taken at least twenty. What's been nice about this landmark is it's pretty easy to see while bike riding to help point us in the direction of home. Also on the "hey we live near that" list is the Artis. If we can find the artis, we can find home. But, since we've been peddling around for the past few days, we've become damn near carrier pigeons when it comes to our directional sense. The first week we took public transit (which is exceptional) since it was a bit rainy but the last week the weather has been great and everywhere we go is via bike.