Sunday, September 25, 2011

Temperature Change

DSC_8046I was copying pictures off the camera today for the first time in quite a while and discovered this picture from less than a month ago. Besides Elijah's hilariously suspicious expression, I thought it was interesting that just a month ago the weather was such that playing in the kiddie pool on the deck in shorts and a t-shirt was still appropriate.

Today, on the other hand, was nice for a bit while the sun was out but definitely felt like fall. I suppose the fact that I was in Nice two weeks ago and Atlanta last week didn't help make the transition from summer to fall less shocking.

For reference, the weather in Nice was as amazing as advertised despite mid-September being 'after' the peak summer holiday season. I could definitely get used to 75 and sunny every day. I have no idea what the weather was like in Atlanta because I literally did not go outside from the time I arrived on Monday to when I left on Thursday, which I am pretty sure is not healthy. Unfortunately since the summit took place in convention facilities attached to the hotel and the schedule went from 7am till about 12:30am every day, that left no free time.

Next week I'll continue to ensure that my body has no idea what season it is, with a trip to San Francisco. All things considered, it could be far, far worse.

Read the whole post.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Future Career

DSC_7670My rediscovery of a camouflage hat in a basement box of paintball supplies, coupled with my vast experience in watching Swamp People episodes, has reassured me that if my career in middle management doesn't work out I can always take up gator hunting.

Treeshaker! It's a treeshaker!

Read the whole post.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brazilian Beef

My trip to Brazil that was supposed to happen this week and next was canceled at the last minute, last Thursday. While I'm disappointed to not experience South America/Brazil and to not be able to help with the problem which necessitated the trip, I'm certainly not missing being gone from home for two weeks.

I was, however, looking forward to trying the cuisine in Brazil, which is rumored to be quite good. On Friday, this was highlighted when an e-mail chain was started by some co-workers that I was going to meet for dinner while in Sao Paulo discussing just what high-end restaurant we should go to. The decision was for Brazilian Barbecue. Something that was awesome in it's Minnesota imitation, so I can only imagine what the real deal is like. Alas that experience has been postponed, potentially indefinitely.

Read the whole post.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Over the weekend the popular activity seems to have been attempting to buy Twins tickets. Instead of using some sort of sensible system, such as letting you pick games and buy tickets, instead the Twins used a useless and ineffective virtual line system and a website built out of chewing gum and bailing wire.

My parents spent hours waiting in the virtual line, only to eventually get to the site and still be unable to buy tickets due to high volumes (isn't that what the line was supposed to prevent?). Linzy and I also waited in line, but never moved, until eventually going out and back in got us right into the site around the same time my parent's four hours of waiting got them in.

But then once you got the the actual site I was never able to actually buy tickets. My parents were able to after trying again and again, but my patience ran out after an hour of trying different games and sections over and over, always getting an error message saying that the request couldn't be processed due to high volumes.

Eventually I was so frustrated at the wasted time that I just went and bought the tickets (which were a gift) at Stubhub in about 10 minutes. Sure I paid a gross mark up over tickets that I likely could have just purchased directly from the Twins on the same day, but Stubhub had a website that worked, the Twins did not. And at the end of the day my time was worth that premium.

What is so hard about making a website to buy tickets? Let people pick them, give them a time limit to buy them, and then either complete the sale or put them back in the pool. There is no need for a virtual line, and you certainly should expect when you only allow single game sales on a specific day that there is going to be a flood of people buying tickets. It was sort of like Best Buy being shocked that on Black Friday there were lots of people looking to buy cheap laptops. Seriously, a virtual waiting line?

Read the whole post.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nap Time

DSC_7153It's nap time at the Eck household, with Elijah,Linzy, and Pippen all laying down for a rest. Pippen of course, is always eager for a nap, while Elijah is usually only interested for the first 20 minutes but after that it's time for action.

Meanwhile, instead of doing something productive with my free time, I'm using the quiet period to transcode videos for next weekend's work trip to Brazil. And blog. In retrospect, perhaps not the best use of my time.

The trip to Brazil will be my first business trip since October, and the first since Elijah was born. Unfortunately it appears those five travel-free months are coming to a rapid and emphatic end. Interestingly, Linzy says that she is less worried about how her and Elijah will get along without me (Linzy's dad is coming down to help out), as she is about me being in Brazil for two weeks. I think sharing the stories of co-worker's experiences in Venezuela might have been a mistake.

Elijah is a little over three months old now and continues to get more interactive every day. He was also diagnosed with torticollis a few weeks ago, which is basically a neck problem where he prefers to hold his head to one side and tilt his head to opposite side. He's able to move his head with the proper motivation but if left to his own devices will always look to the right. So now he has weekly physical therapy, stretching exercises to complete with each diaper change, and four-times-a-day tummy time sessions. The stretches involve some crying, but the tummy time sessions are when Elijah really gets to exercise his lungs.

Fortunately, despite the heartbreaking crying, we've persevered and there's already been a noticeable improvement. And it doesn't seem to affect his otherwise generally happy mood.

And with that, it sounds like Elijah's had enough nap time, and now it is time for attention.

Read the whole post.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Check Your E-mail

When we bought the new car a few weekends ago, we decided to buy and bought the same day. To help that process along, I decided to try out a feature on where you can e-mail local dealers to get an online quote. You select your car and options, and the local dealers you want to e-mail for a quote. Conveniently the site accommodated spur-of-the-moment purchasers like us by allowing you to select when you want to purchase and giving a 'next 24 hours' option.

Since I filled this out about 45 minutes before we left the house to go buy the car, speed in reply was of the essence. All the dealerships had the auto-reply 'we will be contacting you shortly' down, but Inver Grove Honda took things to the next level, actually calling me back within about 15-20 minutes and giving me a quote on the phone and setting up an appointment for us to come look at the car (with it waiting at the door when we pulled up). Richfield Honda was the only dealership brave enough to offer up a quote without calling me first. Unfortunately for them, their quote came in several hours later and a couple hundred dollars more expensive. Next.

Burnsville Honda's response was an even bigger disappointment. They never did e-mail a quote, and didn't even return the inquiry by phone until about 7-8 hours later. On the way to Inver Grove we actually called to try to get the quote proactively. After waiting on hold for a while, and hearing how 'everyone was busy' eventually the general manager gave us a quote for $75 less than Inver Grove. At that point despite Burnsville Honda being much more conveniently located, after all the rigmarole and the only slightly lower negotiating starting point, we just went ahead and did the test drive and purchase with Inver Grove.

So basically Burnsville Honda's slow response to web inquiries lost them a sale. When your only differentiation amongst the other dozen dealers in the same metro area selling identical merchandise is customer service, perhaps you might want to take any inquiry seriously. Even if it does come from a mass-submital form on the web.

Read the whole post.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Car

Back in June I posted about the Eck car quandary, where our cars were steadily getting older and older but since thanks to their stellar reliability I was having a tough time justifying replacing either of them, much to Linzy's dismay. After months (years?) of trying to figure out exactly what the right plan was, last Saturday I woke up and decided enough was enough and I needed to start solving the problem.

A few hours of research later and I had figured out what I wanted to do, and started convincing Linzy. And by convincing Linzy I mean I said "I think we should get a new car", and her eyes said "Yeah!" even if she pretended to debate it with me for a bit.

From there it was a whirlwind afternoon of arranging for my parents to watch the boy, heading to a dealership, taking our first and only test drive in many years, and then negotiating a deal. By 3 in the afternoon of the same day, it was all over, in rather anticlimactic fashion as there was little drama in the negotiations. I actually took some uncharacteristic pleasure in the negotiations as the dealer used such cliched negotiation tactics it was funny (and ineffective as far as my bottom line was concerned).

Interestingly, in terms of deciding which car to trade in, we ended up going with the gamble option and replaced the 8 year old but relatively speaking new Altima and kept the 10 year old Pathfinder. The theory is that the Pathfinder is plenty reliable for driving me a couple miles a day to the bus stop, and since we actually like that car and dislike the Altima, it didn't make sense to keep a car we don't like. On the other hand, if the Pathfinder starts breaking down regularly in a few months, I'll have made a very, very expensive mistake as I have no tolerance for unreliable cars.

Regardless, Linzy will now be cruising around town in her shiny new CR-V.

Read the whole post.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Be Vewy Vewy Quiet

DSC_6776A rare sighting of a quiet sleeping baby.

It's been a whirlwind several months here, and despite the fact that I haven't really done anything for quite a while it feels like we have been super busy. Three weeks back we reached the breaking point for lack of sleep and Linzy's dad was nice enough to come down and help out with things for the past two weeks. That's helped tremendously and hopefully over the next few weeks Elijah will start sleeping longer during the night.

Otherwise we haven't been up to too much. With the cold weather we've made many, many more trips to the Mall of America than I ever have in my life, just to get out of the house and walk around a bit. Plus the boy likes to sleep in his stroller after a nice car ride, so if he's particularly fussy walking around the mall with no particular purpose starts to sound pretty good. Of course that's backfired at least once, when we went to the mall for a stroll and came home with an Apple TV and a new video game.

Mainly though, the focus has been on taking care of the boy, work, and sleeping, and not much else. All in all, that's not all bad. Especially when Elijah gives you his big smile and a couple coos.

Read the whole post.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Only in Minnesota

On Sunday Linzy's parents gave us an afternoon off from Elijah-duty. Among other things we went for a nice lunch and then ended up stopping by Ikea to pick up a few things. While pregnant, Linzy was on a self-imposed soft-serve ice cream ban and so on the way out we decided an ice cream cone sounded good.

We had left our coats in the car, because we didn't want to carry them through the whole store, and being January it was pretty cold out (single digits I believe). As we were walking out to the car with our cones, we both stopped and laughed at ourselves realizing that only in Minnesota would two people be eating ice cream cones outside in January, without coats on.

The cones (which I guess were frozen yogurt), were quite good though.

Read the whole post.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sleep Deprivation

DSC_6768It's been weeks since I posted here, and those weeks have passed in a blur of sleep deprived adjustment to a new baby. Elijah turned six weeks old on Friday, hopefully marking the peak of his refusal to go more then 3 hours between feedings. Three hours probably sounds pretty good until you subtract out the time actually spent feeding him, changing him, soothing him, and getting him back in his crib. That makes it more like 1.5-2 hours between feedings assuming there is not an extra wet diaper or just some disgruntlement on his part over being left all alone in his crib.

And so we've fallen into a survival-mode pattern that allows no time for superfluous activities like blogging, reading, exercising, or even leaving the house some days. But on the plus side in the past week there have been two occasions where Elijah went four hours between feedings at night, which makes a huge difference. And both of our parents have been helping out: my mom takes the boy on Wednesdays during the day to give Linzy a break, and Linzy's parents came down and spent this weekend with us and helped out immensely. So there is light at the end of the no-sleep tunnel.

Elijah is growing at a crazy rate. Already we're looking at having to retire some of his newborn outfits. And he's getting more responsive every day, so all in all it is pretty cool, if tiring.

Read the whole post.