Monday, April 27, 2009

Mr. Geek's Wild Ride

AbFab and Mr. Geek are wild and rabid Amazing Race Fans. In fact maybe you remember their adventure on their private Amazing Race. When I read that Phil Keoghan, host of the Amazing Race was riding across America, I immediately began thinking of a way to intersect with his path. We live smack dab in the middle of the country, but Phil was taking a more northern route through Chicago (to be able to ride with the MS150 in Chicago).
The week that Phil would be the closest to where we live was the final week of classes for AbFab. Therefore it was decided, this was to be Mr. Geek's Adventure.

Using maps and the information on the official webpage, (we were not stalking, I swear) Mr. Geek was able to determine which Motel that the group would be staying at and made reservations there.

As soon as Phil arrived at the motel he got off his bike (even after riding over 100 miles) and posed with everyone for pictures and talked to everyone there.

The next day began the Amazing Adventure (yes I am using the wording amazing over and over, I am just that kind of dork.) After the send off in Rochelle, the group headed toward Chicago. Sometime around lunchtime, Mr. Geek called me. "Quick can you look on the website and see where everyone is?" You see on the official webpage there is a realtime GPS tracker and when it works, you can see down to the block where Phil and the group are riding (I am NOT a stalker, I told you that.)

Mr. Geek had fallen a bit behind the pace and before he knew it, the group was out of sight. We had planned for this possibility (we are engineers, that is what we do) and Mr. Geek had planned to circle back to his truck and come on home. However, that morning he had decided to let the Airstream carry his backpack for him. The Airstream trailer is pulled by Phil's Dad and is the support during the ride. Now it contained Mr. Geek's backpack, which contained everything he had brought with him, including the keys to his truck.

I was driving when he called and not next to my laptop so I wasn't able to immediately look on the webpage. I continued to my destination (I was going to get my haircut, thanks for asking) and asked if I could use the WiFi there. There was no WiFi, but they offered my use of the company laptop. (Thanks John!) At this time the GPS unit was not reading real time and I could only tell him it looked like they stayed on the same route. "You should keep going." I said.

After my hair cut, I went to the Bread Company to use their free WiFi. I decided I would send a facebook message with Mr. Geek's cell phone number, with the hopes that someone might be online and get the phone number to someone with the Airstream. After I sent the message, I tried one more time to see if the GPS tracker was working and it had been updated and it looked like they were stopped for lunch.

I called Mr. Geek again, "It looked like they are only two miles ahead of you. You are almost there." A bit later, I zoomed in on the map to look closer at the location. It looked like they were a few blocks off of the main road. I called Mr. Geek again, "Turn right at 5th street. They should be right there." And there they were and Mr. Geek was reunited with the group.

This is where the best part of the ride happened - in my opinion at least. Mr. Geek called me and handed the phone to Phil. Right there in the middle of the Bread Co. I sat on my cell phone and talked to Phil Koeghan. Seriously, how cool was that. I wish I could say I was witty, but mostly I sounded like a big dork, a big happy dork though. Thanks Phil, you made my day!

Here is Phil talking to me on the phone. (Mr. Geek was also a dork taking pictures.)

So the group began the final leg of the ride into Chicago. What? You say you want to see Mr. Geek and Phil riding together. Well you are in luck. Go to here and click on the daily blog. Watch Day27. About halfway through when Phil is talking about the potholes in the pavement, a bike rider in a blue jacket points to a hole in the road. That rider in the blue jacket is Mr. Geek.

When the group reached Chicago, the roads became more and more dangerous as rush hour was approaching. It was decided that the final few miles would be better covered by car- Don't worry Phil had logged in some extra miles earlier in the ride to keep the final miles covered honest. Mr. Geek asked someone nearby for directions to the nearest Metro train station. The plan, remember, was for him to catch an Amtrak train and ride it back to his truck. However he was offered a ride in the van with the gang. So Mr. Geek's wild ride ended seated in a van pulling an Airstream through downtown Chicago with the entire entourage. Yes, it was an amazing ride.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where is Mr. Geek?

This time it is Mr. Geek's turn for and adventure. Today he is riding with Phil Koeghan from The Amazing Race! Seriously! Go to then click on -Where is Phil Now - That is where Mr. Geek is!!

He met Phil last night and I will post pictures as soon as he gets back.

We have been planning this adventure for awhile. We are both huge Amazing Race fans and when we saw that Phil was planning this ride, well you can imagine the excitement. (Well try to imagine it anyway.) I mean meeting Phil and his dad combined with bike riding, well that is a Perfect Storm for Mr. Geek (in a good way of course).

I was unable to join him because I have my last class this evening. So we worked for days on now to get Mr. Geek to Phil and also how to get him back home. The goal was to be able to ride with Phil for one entire leg - about 100 miles. So when he ends his ride he will be 100 miles from the start and his truck. So we began matching Phil's route to Amtrack, hoping to ride the train back to the beginning. This was not as easy as you might think, or maybe this was not as impossible as you might think depending on your view of Amtrack.

So yesterday, Mr. Geek drove to an Amtrack station in the middle of Illinois. He then rode his bike to the next stop on Phil's route. He stayed overnight in a motel - THE SAME ONE AS PHIL AND CREW!! And today, he is on his was to Chicago.

I really hope he can get through Chicago to the train station and back. But that is why it is called an adventure, right?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Geek Family takes a Family Portrait

First we start out with AbFab and Mr. Geek, aren't they an adorable couple?

Right before the snap, College Geek jumps in!

The Littlest Geek jumps in next!
Well at this rate we might as well take a family portrait. Where is the Middle Geek? "Come on get in the picture!"

Now we remember why we don't have many family pictures. "He touched me!" "I don't wanna stand next to him!"

"Everybody just stand still and smile!!!"

And this is the closest we are going to get to a Geek family portrait.

Thanks to my niece Cheri, who kept snapping pictures.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

An Interview with the Littlest Geek

1. What is something mom always says to you? Please listen to me.

2. What makes mom happy? When I do the things she wants me to do or when I do something for her.

3. What makes mom sad? When I don't do stuff for her

4. How does your mom make you laugh? When I tell her a joke or do something really funny, like the joke about the bees wax

5. What was your mom like as a child? Pretty, funny

6. How old is your mom? like 45

7. How tall is your mom? taller than I am

8. What is her favorite thing to do? Read

9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Maybe have a party and invite friends over.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Cooking

11. What is your mom really good at? Cooking and reading and engineering.

12. What is your mom not very good at? Nothing

13. What does your mom do for her job? Engineer, helps people make their houses bigger

14. What is your mom's favorite food? Chicken?

15. What makes you proud of your mom? When she does something awesome or wonderful, like making a score in the game if she played sports or saving someone.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Jeremy's mom in the Zits Comic Strip.

17. What do you and your mom do together? Shop for groceries, watch Extreme Home Makeover

18. How are you and your mom the same? Both like to watch Extreme Home Makeover, we both like flowers.

19. How are you and your mom different? I was adopted and she wasn't. I like to play video games and she doesn't.

20. How do you know your mom loves you? She always treats me nicely and never ignores me.

21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? Health Food Store because everyone is nice there.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Desserts

Easter treats are not just for the kids or for the Easter Baskets.

My niece Cheri and I were in charge of desserts this Easter.

I made brownies in the shape of a bunny. Isn't he cute. The kids had eaten so much candy by then, they weren't even hungry for more sweets. We took most of it home for school lunches.

I LOVE cheesecake, but I have a rule, I can only make cheesecake if there will be a large enough crowd to eat it mostly gone. Cheesecake leftovers are DEADLY, because I will eat a piece of cheesecake every time I enter the kitchen.

Cheri decided to compete with my awesome desserts by bringing the following trifle.

As if that wasn't enough, she topped it with Chocolate Covered Strawberries!!!

Some contests are just not fair.

I will leave you with some eggs decorated by the Middle Geek. The first is a bribe and the second is his biggest wish!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

How I met Mr. Geek

I thought I would take a trip in the Way-Back machine. Elizabeth started it a while back, when she decided to write a series of how she and her husband met and challenged me to do the same. (Okay, it was less of a challenge and more of a polite, Of course I would LOVE to hear how you and Mr. Geek met, but here it is anyway.) Mr. Geek's and my meeting was not very romantic, but the story amuses us so maybe you will enjoy it also.

Let me set the stage. I was a sophomore in college. My college was a relatively small, highly technical college, and most of the students majored in engineering, computer science or something similar. So now you are probably picturing a place full of geeks and very few women, you are? Good. Well if you have read my profile you know that in this environment, even I can look somewhat cool. And folks let me tell you, my sophomore year I was the coolest I might ever be, and I can say for sure that I was at the top of my most obnoxiousness. In short, my friends and I were having FUN and no one or nothing was getting in our way, unless we decided to use them for our amusement. (Pause while I savor that moment.)

So it was Friday afternoon and getting an engineering degree is hard, hard I tell you, so at the end of the week, it was time for these geeks to relax. And our favorite place for relaxing was a seedy dive called 209. 209 was a bar in a basement of an ancient building, they had cheap draft beer, awesome (and cheap) cheeseburgers, a big jar of pickled eggs on the bar and the best beer drinking music on the Jukebox - Drop Kick me Jesus Through the GoalPosts of Life, and of course , I Like Beer (it makes me a jolly good fellow).

By late afternoon, the place was jam packed and beer and conversations were spilling everywhere. (No this isn't where AbFab and Mr. Geek met- wait for it.) This afternoon another geek (we will call him Unnamed Boy for his own protection) spotted a possible female conquest and moved in with his line, "Would you like to come to my fraternity for dinner tonight?" It was not terribly original, but in college an offer of free food is always difficult to turn down. However the female geek (no, not me) was not terribly impressed by the guy, so she blew him off saying, "No thanks, I am here with my friends." To which the guy overcome with too much beer or maybe the thought of finding more that one girl on campus spoke the now famous words, "Well, why don't you bring them."

I am not terribly proud of this, but we gleefully started passing the word that Unnamed Boy had invited all of us to his fraternity for dinner. A free meal! So all of us paraded to the fraternity house, another good thing about this campus is that everything is within walking distance. And we walked into the kitchen much to the surprise of the rest of the fraternity there. We announced, "Unnamed Boy invited us for dinner and said we should mark up on him." (Mark up is a process where you put a tick mark next to your name for extra incidental charges and then they are added to your house bill at the end of the month.) Yum, we had spaghetti and garlic bread and when the guys asked want if we wanted koolaid or milk to drink, we called out, "BEER, we want beer." We were drunk on, ummmm, power.

After dinner we continued the party. The music was loud and I was talking to one cute boy. I hollered, "What's your name?" To which he replied, " unintelligible unintelligible blah blah, but they call me Shep." I was horrified, "Seriously? I had a dog named Shep! Maybe I don't really want to know how you got that nickname." My school was big on nicknames and most of them had stories behind them, I wasn't sure I wanted to hear about an adventure with a dog, acting like a dog, eating like a dog, etc. "No," he assured me, there was really no story, "It's just short for my name." I was skeptical and finally he had to find a piece of his homework to prove it to me.

And so kids, that is how AbFab and Mr. Geek met.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Fridays

In the Christian church, Good Friday is a somber occasion. It is the remembrance of a time long ago, when people good and bad participated in an inhumane act that resulted in the death of a very good man.

Good Friday in my life also holds memories for me that are not particularly good.

It happened on Good Friday about fourteen years ago. The sun was shining and appeared to be an average spring day. My father had been in the hospital for about three weeks. He had entered into the hospital completely healthy walking and talking. Well, he was completely healthy except for an aneurysm in his abdomen. An aneurysm is a weak spot in the blood artery that becomes like a balloon and expands. It is also like a balloon in that it can suddenly pop, in that case the person loses blood very quickly and can very possibly die. But we had no worries in this case because my dad's aneurysm had been discovered and had been monitored and now he was scheduled to have it repaired. Sure it was major surgery, but how many people did I know that (practically routinely) had five, six, even seven bypasses and recovered and lived long lives. I am ashamed to say that I did not take this surgery seriously as I should have and as seriously as I would today.

The day of the surgery seemed to go as expected. Then that night, unexpected things started to happen and he was rushed back into surgery. Days later, his body seemed to settle down and recover. Soon he was on a regular floor. Wow, that was close and it seemed we had dodged a near death experience.

After a few days on the floor where it seemed recovery was going as expected, during the time I deeply regret I did not cherish those conversations with my father. In fact he was expectedly crabby, hated the food and just wanted to go home. Then one day as I stopped in, I knew something was wrong. The nurse said he had gotten up during the night and had fallen. He was visibly sick and asked for my mom. If I could go back I would have spoken so much more, but I wanted him to be quiet so he could rest, I wanted him to be quiet so he could heal, I wanted him to be quiet so he could get better and leave the hospital so that we could just go home and then we could talk.

This leads me to the morning I started talking about. It was a beautiful spring day. I had had a relatively good night's sleep and I was optimistic. As my dad had gotten progressively worse I had only dared to mention only twice outloud that I was frightened that my dad might not recover. I prayed and I prayed. My most desperate prayer was, please God do not let anything happen to him while I am not there. For some reason I needed to know that nothing bad could happen while I was not at the hospital. (We of course were spending hours and hours there.) And to be honest, I thought that prayer would keep him safe, because I knew that when I was there, I just knew, that nothing bad could happen to him-- it just couldn't!

So I entered the Intensive Care Unit that day naive and hopeful, and I ran smack into a wall of reality. My sister and mom were in with my dad and his breathing sounded funny. I took his hand said hello. Almost immediately, things started happening. The nurse came in listened to his chest and asked us to step out. Then she began yelling his name and sternum rubbing. We were quickly escorted out of the Unit into the hallway.

We were standing there in the hallway, right outside the door, when the announcement came over the hospital intercom - "Code Blue". My mom screamed. That scream still echos in my head. And I began to grow numb.

We were quickly placed in a little room off the hallway. I had spent almost every waking hour for the past three weeks in this area and I had never seen this room. This little room. To this day I HATE little rooms in hospitals. HATE them.

The hospital chaplain came immediately. She was a Catholic nun and I am still grateful to this day for her kindness and compassion.

I became RoboDaughter, I knew things had to happen and I could not process what might be going on in the Intensive Care Unit. I quickly called our pastor. I asked him to please pray, just pray. He came to the hospital immediately.

Then we began to try to assemble the rest of the family. This was before cell phones so everyone brought out their address/phone books and we started looking up work numbers and asking for those people who answered the phone to start tracking down where they might be. My brother drives a delivery truck and they called each store on his route to find him. My brother-in-law was on a flight home, I think his secretary may have called the airport. Soon we had a crowd in that little room -- that awful little room.

A doctor came out to give us his status. The doctor seemed so young, that is really my only memory of him. That, and that his voice was very kind. There were three more code blues called that afternoon and more screams. Then it was over.

My dad died on Good Friday.

And that is what I remember on Good Friday.


When I started writing a blog over a year ago, my one intent was to just start writing again. It seemed that since high school I had not written much besides technical specifications, ugh! After I started writing I found that this blog was a great way to chronicle my family's experiences and has enabled me to meet so many wonderful and interesting people around the world and keep in touch with family near and far.

I have a post drafted about a particularly bad Good Friday. It is either maudlin or deeply emotional, depending I suppose on the quality on my writing. What I need is Simon Cowell to tell me if the story is "emotional brilliant" or "self-indulgent dribble".

So rather than post it I would like to ask anyone and everyone out there -- When is a story just sad and self-serving and when does a story become so real that it emotionally involves the reader? And how the heck can you tell the difference?

And while I am asking questions (and quoting Simon Cowell) - What about developing a personal and unique style, is it important and how do you know when you have achieved it? Wouldn't it be great if at any time in our lives we could assemble a panel of three, then sing, write, or give a presentation and hear the feedback. (Maybe not on national television...)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Other News

This spring the Littlest Geek became a Boy Scout - after earning the Arrow of Light as a Cub Scout! Next year he starts middle school, I can't believe how fast my boys are growing up.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Middle Geek Update

The Geek Household has been so busy that I have not had time to post about some major mile stones in the life of the Middle Geek.

First - the Middle Geek is now officially Teen Geek!

We celebrated by going to his favorite restaurant - Buffalo Wild Wings. He ordered 12 Wings with Medium sauce and 6 wings Blazin'. I looked over and he had actually tears running down his face. You can tell from the picture that the tears were a good thing!

Later we had a big family party complete with cake. I found the bunny cake pan at the store with the Easter stuff and I made it pink because that is the Middle Geek's favorite color.

But wait, that was not all that occurred in the Middle Geek's life this month. He was also confirmed in our church, that means he moved from accepting faith because his parents tell him to believe to developing believe from within himself. While it isn't the end of a faith journey it really is a big step towards becoming an adult and I can't help but get misty eyed when I think of it.

Of course that meant two cakes!

We are so proud of our Middle Geek!!!