My Two Sons

We had our ultrasound last night, and it looks like Owen will be getting a little brother for Christmas. The little guy looked very healthy and moved a lot – probably one of the more active ultrasounds I have ever seen.

To be honest, I’m glad it’s going to be a boy, because little girls scare me. Actually, it’s not little girls as much as teenage girls. And it’s not so much teenage girls as teenage boys, which I will have, but not around my teenage girls. Does that make sense? I mean, I’m not opposed to having a girl, and I’m sure I would absolutely love one if I did, but I just felt a slight bit of relief that it’ll be somewhat familiar territory. I’ve heard so much that the second child is usually very different than the first, so throwing a whole new gender into the mix could really be a challenge.

I took my digital video camera along with us with the intention of hooking it up to record the video from the ultrasound machine. The guy has a VCR and will let you bring a VHS tape to record it, but since we don’t have a VCR or a TV I thought it would be much better if I could get it on digital video so I could copy it to the computer and send it to people. The camera hooked up fine and I could see the video on the little screen, but I could not figure out how to make it record! I had done this before, but it was over a year ago and I just couldn’t seem to remember the button combinations to get it to tape the video coming in. It was so frustrating. I was thinking “this is not supposed to happen to me – I’m a technology guy, not one of those old people who can’t figure out how to make their equipment work…”.

I finally gave up and we recorded it on a VHS tape, which means I’ll have to borrow a VCR to use to copy it to the camera so I can put it on the computer, and the quality will never be as good as if I’d captured it digitally to begin with. When I got home, I dug out the manual and found the page immediately and read that you have to use the remote to record from an outside source. Arrggg. I had the remote in the bag with us, and I even thought about trying that at one point, but then something happened and I was distracted and forgot. That would have been so much easier to deal with than a VHS tape.

I guess I’m getting old. I’m sure it won’t be long before my sons are showing me how to use my electronics.

Business Objects Insight 2005

For the fourth year in a row, I have been asked to speak at the Business Objects International User Conference. This year, it’s being held at the Gaylord Palms resort in Florida, so I’ll probably get to visit some family and friends while I’m down there. I’ll be giving the same presentation I earlier gave to the Mid-South Business Objects User Group, so I don’t really have a lot of preparation to do other than tweaking the presentation a little and making it fit the template for the international conference. I really enjoy giving these types of presentations, and I think I would even like to do something like that full-time if I could find such a job.

Since it’s not far from my parents’ house, we’ll probably try to arrange for Mary and Owen to go down as well and stay with them for a few days, but I don’t know how that will all work with the travel schedule and Mary being almost 8 months pregnant by then. Normally, I would fly to a buisness event like this, but I may elect to drive down with them if time permits. Flying would be more expensive because Owen will be over 2 years old and require his own ticket, and if we drive, I can get reimbursed for the mileage. I just don’t know if my boss will want me to spend two days driving for a three-day conference (of course, by then my company will have been acquired and I could be working for someone entirely different).

The Saga of the Sleep Number Bed – Part 2

Believe it or not, we slept on the bed last night.

After two days in the garage, the smoke smell is completely gone, but there is still a smell from the Odornix that I used to remove the smoke smell… doh! I was going to let it sit in the garage another day, but then we realized that we have things going on just about every evening this week, and if I didn’t spend the time to put it together last night, I would probably have to wait until next weekend. Not wanting to lose the use of our garage and our new bed for nearly a week, we decided to go ahead and put it together last night and give it a try. Hopefully, the smell (which is much less offensive than cigaret smoke) will fade in a week or so and we’ll have a normal, neutral-smelling bed.

In retrospect, I think I probably should have just put it all out in the garage to let it air out without any sort of treatment. Who knows if that would have really worked, though, or how long it would have taken.

You’re probably wondering how it slept, right? Well, actually – pretty good. I’ve heard it takes a few nights to get used to this kind of bed and really get a feel for what your “sleep number” is, but I think it was at least better than our old bed on the very first night. I woke up feeling pretty well-rested.

The one “feature” that is missing from this bed is the pillowtop. I was originally hoping to get a pillowtop version, but since this one was available locally I was willing to compromise on that point. After putting it together, though, it looks like the pillowtop option is something we could easily add (the top of the bed zips on and off), so I may look into that.

I guess I would say that it appears the bed will be worth all the trouble, provided that the current smell actually does go away. I hope we don’t just get used to it and then become those people who don’t notice the funny smell in their house…

The Saga of the Sleep Number Bed

For a while, now, I’ve been wanting to get us a new bed. Our mattress and box-springs were purchased several years ago, at separate times, and at a deep discount (thanks, Travis!), and although they have served us well, the bed is starting to sag on each side and I’ve been having some poor sleep and back pain as a result.

I’ve heard a lot about the “Sleep Number Bed” from Select Comfort, and always thought it would be nice to have, but those things are expensive (king size starts around $1600 and goes up to $4500). But, this past Thursday, I thought I’d look on eBay to see if anyone was selling them used and what they might go for.

Lo and behold, there was someone just on the other side of town selling one, which would mean saving a bundle on shipping (most other auctions listed a shipping cost of $200). I sent the seller an e-mail and asked how old the bed was, and if there would be any incentive (i.e. discount) if I was willing to come pick it up.

Well, the lady replied that it was about a year and a half old, in very good shape, and that she was very excited about the idea of selling it locally. Apparently, they were having trouble finding a box large enough to hold it all (it comes apart, but is still a lot to pack), and she would really like to not have to worry about shipping it. She even offered to have her boyfriend, who drove a delivery truck, bring it to us for free.

So, we agreed on a price (a very good one, I might add), and a plan for me to bid on the auction and then her to close the auction immediately, assuring that I would not be outbid (she was willing to pass up the chance for more money in order to sell it to someone local). We took care of all that quickly, and she told us that it would be delivered the following afternoon (Friday).

The guy dropped it off and showed me a little about how to put it together. It’s not difficult, but could be a little confusing if you don’t pay close attention, so I was glad for the tips (although later I found a manual on-line). Everything seemed to have worked out great at this point. I got a great deal on a very expensive bed and had it delivered the next day.

However, after the guy left, I started to open up more of the boxes he had packed it in, and I noticed that everything had a slight smell of cigaret smoke. This was bad.

I’m probably more sensitive to cigaret smoke than most people – I don’t like to have it on my clothes or in my house at all. It bugs me that if I go to a restaurant and sit in the non-smoking section, I still come out smelling like cigarets, and that smell can stay with me all day long. I think most smokers don’t realize how much that smell permeates everything they own and use. I’ve heard people say things like “it’s ok, I never smoke in my car”, but their cars still stink. It’s probably the most difficult habit to hide from someone.

Anyway, as you can imagine, the thought of sleeping on a bed that smells like smoke was, well, unthinkable. I quickly called the woman that sold me the bed and asked her if the owner of it was a smoker. This woman was actually selling the bed for someone else (an elderly couple), and she assured me that the owners were not smokers, but it had been in her house for about a week while they listed it on eBay, and she did smoke (of course, she gave me the “but I never smoke in the room where we had it stored…” line).

Well, I was very torn. I recognized that I had gotten a great deal on this bed, and having only been in a smoker’s house for about a week, it had a slight smell, but probably wasn’t totally saturated with it. I told the woman that I would see how it went and let her know within a day or two if I would want to return it. She apologized several times and was very nice and understanding about the whole thing. I felt a little guilty myself, because I did not ask the question about smoking up-front, and I should have. If this bed had been owned by a smoker, it would probably be much worse and I would have to blame myself for not asking.

So, Mary and I got to work on seeing what we could do about the smell. The foundation of the bed is a very sturdy plastic structure, and that is easy enough to clean. Mary wiped it off with some Chlorox wipes, and there’s no noticeable smoke smell left there. As for the rest of the bed (foam, pads, covers, air chambers, etc.) – we laid it all out in our garage, sprayed an entire bottle of Febreze on it, and let it sit overnight.

This morning, the garage smelled like cigarets, with a hint of Febreze… However, we’ve not given up yet. I opened up the garage and put a fan in there, and Mary did some research and found some stuff called Odornix (which, by the way, you can get at Wal-Mart for about half of what they are asking on the website). I sprayed everything with Odornix, and have let it sit out there all day, and it seems to be working. I can stick my nose right down onto some of the stuff, and the smoke smell is very faint.

I think we’re going to leave it out there for a day or two, with the garage door open during the day (please don’t come by and steal anything). I’ll let you know how that goes. The original auction said they would refund my money within seven days, and since they are local, I guess I can wait until the last day to decide if I want to return it. I’m cautiously optimistic that this will work, though.

Off They Go

Keith & JudaWe’ve had a great visit with Keith & Juda. They arrived on schedule Saturday evening, and we had dinner and played a few games, but mostly just relaxed. We ended up doing a lot while they were here, but we had to limit ourselves in some ways due to the heat. So many of the things we would normally take visitors to see around town are outdoors, and it was just too hot to be outdoors for any length of time. It was even hot in the car with the A/C going. Fortunately, though, the A/C in our house works very well, and we’ve been able to keep it comfortable there (I don’t look forward to our next electric bill, though).

Owen absolutely loved having them here – especially Juda. He seems to love saying her name – “Juda Juda Juda!”, and he would always ask for her if she wasn’t around. He enjoyed playing with Keith, too, of course.

On Sunday, we went to church, and the service was great. Keith & Juda said they really enjoyed it, and they even got to visit my Sunday School class. Afterwards, we had lunch and then went to visit Michelle, John, and Gabe up at Ft. Campbell. It was my first time on a military base, and even though we really didn’t see much of it, it was interesting just going through the process of getting in the gate. Again, because of the heat, we didn’t get to do what we wanted, which would have been to go to the museum (which has a lot of outdoor exhibits) and tour more of the base, but we hope to go back when it’s cooler and do some of that. We had a nice time with them anyway, and the kids played out in a kiddie-pool in the back yard to keep cool. Unfortunately, we did not take our camera with us.

John works in communications and has done some work similar to what I do, and he gave me a couple of books on PHP, which I’ve just started learning (Thanks, John!). I doubt I’ll get to read the books completely, but I’m sure I will use them quite a bit as references. By the way, John is getting ready to be deployed to Iraq sometime in the coming weeks, so please keep him and their family in your prayers. They will definitely be in ours.

Happy Birthday Keith!Monday was Keith’s 20th birthday. We went to Opry Mills in the morning and then to Baja Burrito for lunch. Mmm… Baja Burrito……. Anyway, after that we went back to the house and Keith and I played a video game while Juda secretly baked him a birthday cake. Mary made a pizza for dinner and for dessert we unveiled the cake and sang and let him open a gift or two. I’m sure it was the most exciting birthday party he’s ever had!

Later that evening we went to the Opryland Hotel so that Juda could see it. There was some sort of party going on there and they had a band and some acrobatic performers, and after that we got to see the dancing water show. Owen really enjoyed the dancing water, and even danced a little himself, but he was getting tired so Mary and I left a little early to give Keith & Juda some time to themselves.

On Tuesday, we drove down to see Don & Brooke Kelso’s propery to the south. Their house is almost complete there, and it’s going to be very nice. The basement was huge and it looks like they could sleep dozens of people there if they had to. We had lunch at Genghis Grill in Cool Springs, where I learned that Juda likes her food very spicy (next time they are here, we’ll have to make sure to take them to Royal Thai). For dessert, we went to Maggie Moo’s, who now has floats made with Jones Soda! Mary had a Fufu Berry Soda with strawberry Maggie Moo’s ice cream, and it was very good. By the time we got home, we were all pretty beat. Keith spent rest of the afternoon playing with Owen and his Legos. I might have joined in just a little bit.

After dinner, we played a few games before turning in, and they headed out this morning on their way to Six Flags in Atlanta, and to visit some of Juda’s relatives down in that area. I think they are already planning to make another trip up here – next time in a cooler part of the year so that we have more options and they can experience some of the seasons they don’t get in Florida.

Friday

This week has been fairly easy-going. We haven’t had a lot of stuff on our schedule and I’ve been able to spend most evenings at home. I’ve spent some of the time working on a re-design of the Middle Tennessee Ultralight Group website, which has been given to me to manage (they get new members involved quickly, I guess). In the process I’ve been learning a little more PHP, and as programming languages go, I like it so far. It seems simpler than Java but very fast and flexible. I could go into more detail but who would read it?

Mary has been busy painting the kitchen during the day (it looks good, by the way) but that’s finished now and she’s probably cleaning the house in preparation for a visit from my youngest brother, Keith, and his fiance, Juda. They’re driving up tomorrow and will stay with us until Wednesday morning.

Since we’ll have company, I’m taking a couple of days off work (which I’ve had a lot of lately, but I won’t complain about that). We’re planning to go visit our cousin Michelle who lives on the military base at Ft. Campbell, and I’m sure we’ll take Juda to see the sites around Nashville and of course, visit some of our favorite restaurants. There are way too many good places to eat around here to fit them all into one visit, so I guess we’ll give them some options and see what they are in the mood for. I have a feeling the 3-day visit is going to go by very fast, though.

Lawiki Airfield

AirbikeYesterday was the July meeting of the MTUG, this time a fly-in event at Lawiki Airfield. It was a very nice place – better than I expected. I’ve been told so many times that T-Top Airfield (where we usually meet) is one of the nicer fields in this area, that I don’t expect any other facility to even come close, but this one did. The runway is not quite as long, and not quite as smooth, but the hangar and grounds were very nice, and the area was beautiful.

Unfortunately, the weather was somewhat uncertain, and no one ended up flying in to the “fly-in”. Pleanty of people drove in, though, and a few of the pilots took turns with the planes that were already there. They had a few competitions, such as dropping small bean bags on a target that was painted on the runway and throwing softballs down to hit wooden ships (as if they were torpedos). I’m sure it would have been a lot more fun if more people had brought their planes, but I can understand not wanting to fly somewhere and get stuck there because of the storms and stuff. It ended up being a pretty nice day, though, aside from the heat and an occasional, very brief shower.

I drove out there by myself pretty early in the morning, but around 11 o’clock, I was sitting in a chair and all of the sudden Owen came over and climbed in my lap! Mary and her friend Amber drove out to watch some of the competitions and let Owen and Madison (Amber’s daughter) see the airplanes. Owen was very intrigued by it all. He sat by the runway and watched them take off and land and drop things, etc. He was very good dispite the heat and lack of nap.

Lawiki AirfieldI was able to get another ride in a Quicksilver, but unfortunately, it wasn’t until later in the afternoon, and Mary and Owen had already left. It was the same Quicksilver I rode in last month, which is owned (and piloted) by the owner of this particular airfield, so he knew the area really well. It’s a beautiful part of Tennessee, with a combination of some rolling hills and large, flat farm areas. You can see the speedway from there, but we didn’t fly close to it because there was an event going on and you can’t fly near it when there’s a lot of people there.

More importantly, though, is that I got to talk to some more people and get to know some of the experienced pilots better. I’ve realized that it’s going to be some time before I can get my own plane or even be able to fly by myself, and there is a lot that I need to learn between now and then. Some of these guys waited until they were retired to even get into aviation. It may be that long before I can devote a great deal of time to it, but I can at least get started learning and get a little experience before then.

We Are Home

We are finally back in Nashville after a great vacation. We did end up staying with my parents for two extra days to avoid the hurricane, and then continued our trip as planned from there. Here’s a recap of the last few days:

SunsetSaturday and Sunday, we had a lot of scattered and sometimes severe thunderstorms from the hurricane. We mostly hung out around the house, played some games, and watched a movie or two. Between the bands of rain, we would occasionally go out by the lake to look at the wildlife. There are a lot of interesting birds that flock along the lake, and of course, being in Florda, there are alligators. I had an interesting realization not too long ago – in all my years of living in Florida, I don’t ever remember seeing an alligator in the wild. Maybe it’s just my memory, or that I’ve never tried very hard to spot one, but I can’t remember seeing one that wasn’t at some sort of zoo or alligator farm or something.

AlligatorThis week, though, I did see a couple in the lake by my parents’ house. I tried to get some good photos, but they never came very close to the dock, so I couldn’t get much more than a distant shot of the head sticking out of the water. The alligator wasn’t even looking at me. They aren’t very cooperative.

Owen enjoying a Blackberry SlurpeeWe also introduced Owen to something else you don’t see in Tennessee – a Slurpee. For some reason, there are no 7-11’s in Nashville, and consequently we don’t have access to a favorite old treat. This one was a blackberry slurpee, and I had a wild cherry one as well. Mmmm….

On Sunday, we went to church with my parents, and it was a good service. Our original plans had us driving on Sunday morning, and it was bugging me that we were going to miss church, so I’m glad we ended up getting to go.

On Monday, we had a very busy day. My parents had to go back to work, so we decided to take advantage of the extra day in our schedule by going to visit some people. First we went to see some friends of Mary’s who live about an hour north of my parents. We had a great visit with them for a couple of hours, and then headed back to meet my mom for lunch. After that we stopped in to my brother’s office to say goodbye to him, and then went down to meet Shane & Angie, who had been on vacation the previous week, and who we would not have gotten to see if we hadn’t been delayed by the storm.

Owen and his Great Grandpa picking blueberriesTuesday, we said goodbye to my parents and drove to Tallahassee, where we visited my grandparents, an aunt, and some cousins. Owen did not sleep much in the car, so he was very tired most of the day, but he still had a good time with his great grandparents, including picking blueberries with my grandfather out in his garden. Grandpa has always had stuff growing around his house as long as I can remember. They moved into a newer house a few years ago, and don’t have more than half an acre of land, but he’s got all kinds of stuff planted around the house, from interesting flowers to figs and all sorts of vegetables. Grandma made some cobbler with the blueberries, and she cooked us a great dinner to go along with it.

Flowers in Grandpa's yardWe spent the night with them, and went out to breakfast in the morning before continuing our journey north.

Chloe Button with OwenWe had a pretty good drive home. The weather was good aside from an occasional torrential downpour. Those usually only lasted about 5 minutes, though, so they didn’t slow us down too much. We stopped for lunch near Birmingham, and had a great visit with our friends the Buttons. We ate and looked in a few little stores and then settled in a coffee shop for an hour or so. Owen and Chloe got to run around and play tag, and they were sad to be separated when it was time to leave. It was really nice to break the trip up like that, too, so that Owen didn’t feel quite so tortured being strapped in his seat all day.

We arrived at our house around 8 PM, very tired, but happy to have had a good trip. It was a great vacation overall – just the right amount of time, not too rushed, we got to visit lots of people, and plenty of rest. I think it was just what I needed.

Change of Plans

Dennis Projected PathHurricane Dennis has forced us to adjust our schedule a bit. If we were to leave on Sunday morning, like we planned, we would be driving right through the storm in the Florida panhandle and up through Alabama. Even if it follows the western edge of the projected path, the storm is big enough to cover the area we’ll be traveling. That would not be fun at all, and could even be very dangerous.

We really didn’t want to have to cut our vacatin short and leave early (we probably would have needed to leave early yesterday to avoid all the heavy rain), so we were able to re-schedule a couple of events on Monday and Tuesday of next week, so that we can stay here a little longer and wait out the storm. We’re not in any real danger where we are – the storm is moving up through the gulf to the west of us. We’ll just get a lot of rain and some wind.

It looks like the storm has actually sped up a little, which will help. If it slowed down or stalled, we coculd be here a long time. At this point, I think we will leave on Monday or Tuesday morning. We will still stop for the night in Tallahassee as planned, and we’ll probably still drive up through Alabama, but I don’t know if we’ll get to visit with the Buttons because of the schedule change. I’ll have to check with them once we know for sure when we’ll be going through there.

Owen at the poolWe’ve had a great visit with my parents so far. Wendesday, we went to the beach and let Owen play in the sand. He was aprehensive about the waves, but he really enjoyed running around on the open beach. On Thursday we visited some friends and ran a few errands. On Friday morning, we went swimming at my grandmother’s condominium pool. Owen was a little nervous about the pool at first, but he had a good time after a while. Then we had dinner with my cousin and her husband.

Today we’re planning to spend some time with my brother, who has the day off, but I don’t think we have made any specific plans for what to do yet. We’ll be getting some rain on and off from the hurricane, but at the moment it’s very calm outside.

We did have to deal with a little car trouble this week. Our air conditioning has not been cooling as well as it should, so we decided to take it to my dad’s mechanic, who he trusts very much. It turned out to be some sort of switch in the A/C system that was leaking freon. It wasn’t cheap, but it was taken care of quickly and I know we were not cheated.