Bring Your Parents To Work Day

There will be times as you raise your child you’ll be thinking homicide… justifiable homicide. Daughters can do that to you. And you’ll wonder, will there be a payoff to these years of blood, sweat and tears?

You’re waiting for days like today! We went to visit Stef at work. Yes, we’re proud… and relieved.

Dear Fathers of Daughters,

IMG_2523_4432There will be times as you raise your child you’ll be thinking homicide… justifiable homicide. Daughters can do that to you. And you’ll wonder, will there be a payoff to these years of blood, sweat and tears?

You’re waiting for days like today! We went to visit Stef at work. Yes, we’re proud… and relieved.

Stef is an associate producer on Family Game Night. It’s a kid oriented game show that runs on Hub, the cable network owned by Hasbro.

IMG_2381_4290FGN is produced at Delfino Studios in Sylmar.

“You go past the Adult Superstore,” Stef included, more to describe the neighborhood than provide landmarks for navigating.

Delfino is one of dozens of small studio complexes in the LA area. An impressive control room truck was parked alongside the sound stage. The studio itself was huge and fully staffed in the Hollywood tradition!

I have never been in a studio which looked bigger in person than on-air… until today. Big studio. Big set. Very impressive.

IMG_2657_4566Delfino may be off the-beaten-path but it’s a pro operation with a large pro crew. The show went smoothly&#185.

The host is Todd Newton who’s won national Emmys for this show. Deserved. He was effortless. More importantly, he exuded empathy for the contestants. There are hosts who don’t get that part of the job.

The games themselves are larger-than-life for-camera adaptions of classic kids games, like Monopoly, Connect4 and Jenga. We saw plenty of cash dispensed and (after we left) a few cars!

IMG_2592_4501We watched Stef carry her clipboard and walkie across the studio, checking on games and staff. She was in her element.

After we left Helaine and I discussed our 140 mile roundtrip journey.

“She’s like an adult,” Helaine said, “when did that happen?”

&#185 – People who work on shows see a more ‘backstage view.’ They know what’s supposed to happen. No show is ever 100% clean to them.

Two Thirds Of The Fox Family Felt The Quake

FireShot-Screen-Capture-#002---'Google-Maps'---www_google_com_maps_@34_134916,-118_48597,3a,75y,27_3h,90t_data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1smimYdJKZc1uXvgSr660hcg!2e0There was an earthquake this morning. It came at 6:25:36 AM PDT. Helaine felt it. Stef felt it. Geoff slept!

It’s the first time in my life I can look at an epicenter and say, “I know where that is.” The plots put it just off Sepulveda, on the Valley side of Mullholland, overlooking Sherman Oaks and Encino in a beautiful area of expensive homes.

Helaine was awake. She knew what it was immediately and noted the time.

“The bed shook and the before it stopped shaking stuff started shaking on your nightstand.”

That’s at a distance of 53 miles.

Up in Hollywood and 45 miles closer to the epicenter, Stef was answering Roxie’s call for food. As they sat on the bed her ci15476961_ciim_geobuilding started to sway like one of those air powered attention getters that sit outside stores&#185.

Buildings are supposed to sway. It’s sway or snap! All modern buildings here are designed that way. That’s why a 4.4 quake did virtually no damage.

In the ’94 Northridge quake there were reports of liquefaction, where the ground temporarily acts like a liquid. None today. No major landslides either. That’s a big worry in areas that have had recent fires.

Earthquakes are a way of life in California. We live over a subduction zone. There is a constant buildup of pressure as the Earth’s crust bends, then breaks. The mythical “big one” will unleash hundreds, maybe thousands, of times the energy this little shake produced.

There are limits to our preparation.

&#185 – The closest I can find to their actual name is “wacky inflatable flailing arm advertising men.”

Good Service From Time Warner Cable. No, Really

Time Warner Cable Beverly Connection

When people talk about Time Warner Cable it’s usually not to praise them. Here’s a typical TWC story from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Time Warner Cable had the lowest customer satisfaction score in an industry-wide quarterly cable TV survey released Tuesday.

The quarterly American Customer Satisfaction Index report released Tuesday suggests consumers are generally becoming more satisfied with their cable TV companies, in particular the picture quality.

But Time Warner Cable’s scores declined 5%, the most of any provider. That gave Time Warner a 60 satisfaction rating on a scale of 100 in the first quarter of 2013 compared with a score of 63 in 2012, according to the report.

That’s not always the case. I speak from personal experience in fixing a problem with Stef’s cable.

The story starts a few weeks ago when Stef’s LG TV went from picture to blank! She tried all the things you’d normally do–cables, plugs, buttons, praying. Nothing worked.

What Stef didn’t know at the time was she was suffering one of the most vexing problems in tech–a failure hidden behind a feature.

I didn’t know either when I drove up yesterday to troubleshoot the problem.

No matter what we did, the input button would not change the input! As we’d later learn, that was the feature. I’ll explain in a minute.

I called LG’s support line. The very polite, very non-native English speaking agent said this problem would need to be dealt with by a technician. In other words, the TV was broken.

It was around this time I had my Eureka moment.

We have a TV at home with loads of inputs. To make it easier on the consumer you can’t click an input unless it’s getting a signal. If Stef’s TV wasn’t getting a signal from her cable box the input button would be useless, exactly the symptom we were seeing.

I carried another set in from her bedroom and plugged it into the cable box. No HDMI output. Blank screen!

The problem wasn’t the TV, it was the cable box!

It was the TV’s consumer friendly feature that kept us from seeing the problem wasn’t in the set. Why LG’s rep didn’t know this is a subject for another day.

I called Time Warner Cable. After moving through the voice prompts a human picked up on the second ring. He asked me the standard questions and after around thirty seconds said,

“I think you’re right.”

He told me to go to a TWC store where there would be notes on the account indicating we were good to go.

I am used to the Comcast hovel in New Haven. This was the antithesis. The TWC store at the Beverly Connection was new, warm and well staffed. At Comcast the agents sat behind Plexiglas, making a trip to their office feel like visiting day at prison. Here I was offered a bottle of water and some candy.

Stef signed in on the tablet near the door. Five minutes later we were done!

Our wait was short, their staff was friendly. I can’t fault Time Warner for a box failing after three years. There is nothing I could have wanted in the service I didn’t receive.

After I got back to Irvine, I received a text from Stef.

“Thank you again for fixing my lightbox. You’re a good Greg.&#185”

That seems like fair pay for a day’s work. Thanks Time Warner Cable.

&#185 – No, my name isn’t Greg. There’s a story behind being call Greg. You can read it here.

The Second Worst Cold In The World

I have bad news for her. It’s not the worst cold in the world. That cold is reserved for her father!

Stef left work early yesterday. She stayed home today. She has a cold. I know my daughter is suffering because she hates missing work.

I have bad news for her. It’s not the worst cold in the world. That cold is reserved for her father!

Monday night she swigged Nyquil which helped her sleep. When she woke up she tried Dayquil. Sorry, her ‘quil’ success rate stands at 50%!

“You know it’s bad,” she said, “I went through a whole box of tissues today.”

Compelling evidence, but number one worst cold still belongs to me. That’s obvious from my outward suffering when I have one. I am a stoic. I’d never kvetch just to raise the level of drama. Honest Helaine, I wouldn’t.

Why can’t we cure this common cold? Shouldn’t there be a “Common Cold Research Bureau” working feverishly to help those working feverishly?

Last year Britain’s Independent said,

Scientists believe the first clinical trials of new drugs based on the findings could begin within two to five years.

I’ve got a dollar pound that says we’re still two to five years away!

Back when Stef was a baby and got the sniffles she was often a nose blow away from relief. Babies don’t know how to blow their noses. It hurt me to see her discomfort.

Your child is always your child. It hurts me to hear of her discomfort today.

Hopefully she’ll be on the mend tomorrow. If the normal cold schedule holds true she might feel nearly human by the weekend.

In the interim maybe Helaine can FedEx her some chicken soup?

You Never Stop Being A Parent

This doctor must be good. Parking near his office is $2.75 every fifteen minutes!

Before you become a parent people try and convince you poop and vomit are major problems. Pulllleeeze! No childborn bodily fluid scares me. It wasn’t until Stef began talking, reasoning and questioning that I got to deal with real problems.

As she got older, began to communicate better and realized her parents might not be as dumb as the ones on Disney Channel sitcoms the type of problems we dealt with changed.

Stef has passed her 21st birthday&#185. She is ostensibly responsible for her own well being. Unfortunately parenting has no off switch!

She’s living in SoCal. It’s especially tough to be a parent by remote control.

Late last week she started feeling under-the-weather. By Friday she was concerned enough to go to the local “Urgent Care” clinic. It’s located downstairs from the pot dispensary. Really.

She hadn’t improved through the weekend so I reached out to my friend Howard and asked him to arrange for Stef to see his physician.

I was the proverbial friend in need and Howard is my friend, indeed! By 10:00 AM PDT he had arranged an 11:00 AM appointment. That’s impressive. It’s tough to say thank you strongly enough to show my true appreciation.

This doctor must be good. Parking near his office is $2.75 every fifteen minutes!

Hopefully her new 72 year old physician (in true Beverly Hills fashion wearing True Religion corduroy pants and with “soft hands”) will get to the bottom of her problem. He took some tests and asked her to return in a few days. His confidence alone is good for her well being.

What children don’t always get is how parents feel your pain right along with you!

I’m not sure how Stef slept over the weekend, but I can assure you she couldn’t have had worse nights than Helaine and Geoff. Stef was uncomfortable. Us too. We all tossed and turned.

What a feeling of powerlessness when your child is 2,600 miles away!

I remember when Stef was an infant with a stuffed nose. She didn’t know how to use a tissue–how to blow her nose. I would have done anything to make her feel better. That same feeling was back with Helaine and me this weekend.

I trust she’ll be feeling better soon, but this is a cautionary tale. Your child might grow up and move out, but you never stop being a parent. Never.

&#185 – From the time she was 18 until now (and probably as long as she can get away with it) Stef has claimed she’s 21. Livin’ the dream… literally.

How Not To Win Friends And Influence People Daughter Style

This is like rubbing salt (water) on a fresh wound, isn’t it?

Stef gave me a light cross-country poke in the ribs today. She was wondering why I hadn’t yet posted the pictures she’d sent me of her and Roxie. They were cruising through Marina del Ray. The pictures were taken the day we got blasted from Hurricane Irene!

This is like rubbing salt (water) on a fresh wound, isn’t it?

Roxie looks adorable, but be glad you’re an only child so I can’t pick another as my favorite!

She’s Helaine’s Child

When she lived here Stef needed a map to find the kitchen. It’s been established beyond a reasonable doubt she didn’t know where the sink or dishwasher were nor the purpose of either.

My phone rang as I was leaving the station tonight. It was Stef with cookies baking in the oven. Roxie was supervising.

When she lived here Stef needed a map to find the kitchen. It’s been established beyond a reasonable doubt she didn’t know where the sink or dishwasher were nor the purpose of either.

That was then, this is now.

She’s seeing people tomorrow night. Tonight it’s bake to impress.

Butter cookies with raspberry jam centers were rising in her kitchen at the base of the Hollywood Hills. She will impress! Even I was tempted to drive to Hollywood Blvd. for a taste!

It’s interesting to see how as Stef gets older traits from Helaine and me (mostly Helaine), well hidden during the tumult of her teen years, are beginning to show.

Sorry Stef, you’re powerless to stop this. They’re in full bloom now. Baking cookies is something you do because it was something Helaine did. You’re Helaine’s child! Nothing wrong with that.

At one point the timer on her oven began to beep. This is intense work performed with surgical precision. The cookies needed her attention. Stef removed the baking tin. The clock continued to wail.

“Hey, MacGyver, defuse the bomb,” I begged hoping she’d silence this ‘successfully designed to annoy’ noise.

We spent most of my ride home chatting as she baked batch-after-batch and Roxie looked on.

“Roxie’s not sure what’s going on,” Stef said.

No, Roxie knows. I’d be attentive around that scent too!

It’s a good night to be a dad. It’s a good night to be Geoff.

Whomever gets those cookies had better appreciate them.

Who Knew? The Child Cooks!

When she lived here it was rumored she didn’t know where the kitchen was. She definitely didn’t know where the dishwasher was nor how to rinse a glass or bowl. I will swear to that in any court of law.


Stef called tonight. “Did you get the picture?”

She was asking as I sped down I-91? I didn’t see it until I got home.

Oh my God–Stefanie is cooking! Holy crap.

When she lived here it was rumored she didn’t know where the kitchen was. She definitely didn’t know where the dishwasher was nor how to rinse a glass or bowl. I will swear to that in any court of law.

Tonight’s meal was pinwheel chicken with a pasta side. I am impressed.

The Cutest Dog Photo You’ll See Today Featuring Roxie

It was only after a major search she found Roxie cuddled with her childhood stuffed bear, Yogi.

I don’t get to post as many photos with Roxie now that she and Stef are California girls. We’re visiting next week, but until that time I”ll have to depend on my daughter and the camera in her cellphone.

Stef woke today and couldn’t find Roxie. It was only after a major search she found Roxie cuddled with Stef’s childhood stuffed bear, Yogi. Obviously Roxie understands what’s going on because she has treated Yogi with reverence and not with her normal ‘aggressive chewer’ behavior.

(Thanks for Bob Maxon who noticed I have Roxie showing reverence for herself. It has been fixed.)

IM Is Dead… Isn’t It?

At one point people were complaining there were limits to how many IM accounts you could follow. No more. IM has been hit hard.

Any time I’m on the computer I’ve got IM running. It used to be a great way to chat quickly and briefly with friends. Nowadays there are fewer than a handful of people I IM with!

At one point people were complaining there were limits to how many IM accounts you could follow. No more. IM has been hit hard.

On the phone with Stef a few nights ago I mentioned I’d downloaded the MEEBO messaging app on my iPhone. She wasn’t impressed. She said Helaine and I were the only people she gets instant messages from.

Mostly she chats with her friends via BlackBerry BBM and SMS. Even when she IMs with me it’s often just to pass a link while we’re talking on the phone.

How sad for IM. At one time AOL had such a stranglehold on keyboard-to-keyboard comms. Is there any business AOL is still doing well at?

I Swear I Didn’t Know Katie Morgan’s Name

Before we could start talking about the movie I said, “And the woman who’s got the sex show on HBO is in it.”

This upset my child.

“I don’t want to know you know that,” she said.

Sometimes… not all the time… but sometimes I have the world’s greatest relationship with my daughter. Tonight was such a night. I just got off the phone after a 40 minute conversation.

OK, granted it’s the middle of the night and even out there she had no one to call. I’m willing to accept my roll as the phone call of last resort.

Stef was bored.

“I tried watching some Seth Rogan movie,” she said. The movie dragged.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” I asked? I’d had it on earlier but had also lost interest.

Before we could start talking about the movie I said, “And the woman who’s got the sex show on HBO is in it.”

This upset my child.

“I don’t want to know you know that,” she said.

I was trying to remember the actresses name when Stef threw out, “She’s Katie Morgan.”

I don’t want to know she knew that either. Touché!

Conversations with a nearly 23 year old daughter are always surprising. It was a great call.

Roxie Leaves The Fractions!

“She’s tiny and little,” Stef will say, “and freakishly long.”

“She’s in the digits. She’s not in the fractions anymore.” The words are from Stef. She is speaking about Roxie who turns one today.

Whatever you’ve heard about the impact of dogs on humans, they are that meaningful and then some. I’m not sure how Stef would have survived moving across the country without Roxie’s company.

Over the last twelve months Roxie has grown. She is a maxi mini dachshund. We were told she’d get as heavy as 11 pounds. She’s closer to 14.

We call her Roodle and Roo and Poosun and Roosun and Poodle. She answers to them all. It’s the doggie equivalent of being multilingual!

“She’s tiny and little,” Stef will say, “and freakishly long.”

Happy birthday Roxie. Many happy returns.

Sneaking A Dog Coast-To-Coast

When I last spoke to Stef this afternoon she was waiting at Bradley. Roxie was acting as if she’d just downed a gallon of espresso.

Stef and Roxie are back in California. They flew BDL-LAS-LAX on Southwest this afternoon/evening. The plan was to sedate Roxie for the flights. Right. That trick never works!

When I last spoke to Stef this afternoon she was waiting at Bradley. Roxie was acting as if she’d just downed a gallon of espresso.

As it turned out that’s when Stef met Linda.

I don’t know much about Linda except she was on her way to Vegas, saw Roxie in the terminal and began to talk with Stef. When Stef explained how Roxie had flown west-to-east in her lap Linda said she and her friend would love to share a row with them. They loved dogs!

And so, contrary to every rule ever published, Roxie was out of the bag and on Stef’s lap all the way to McCarren!

Things went just as well from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Stef took the window seat and a man wearing (what’s been described to me as a) turban sat on the aisle. He too loved dogs which is how we come to the attached photo of Roxie in the middle seat! That’s probably his hand (because it’s definitely not Stef’s)

I’m not going to attribute this one to Southwest’s friendliness, because I’m sure Stef hid Roxie under a blanket when the flight attendant approached. This was 100% through the friendliness of her seatmates.

It could have been the trip from hell. After all it was Roxie who ate her way out of a travel bag while flying this same route in January!

And they all lived happily ever after.

Is The Swine Flu Kosher?

Any list of symptoms that includes “her skin hurts” seems reasonably debilitating to me.

Stef and Roxie came home last week to spend a few days with us. They were supposed to be on a plane this afternoon winging their way to SoCal.

“I canceled the reservation,” Helaine said when I sauntered out of bed this afternoon. “They’re rebooked for Wednesday.”

She then described why Stefanie wouldn’t be on an airplane today. Any list of symptoms that includes “her skin hurts” seems reasonably debilitating to me.

Stef parked it on the couch in the family room. She had already shifted into slo-mo mode.

Helaine called this evening while I was at work. Stef’s fever was just over 100&#176, but she was feeling worse than earlier and having some trouble breathing. By the time Helaine touched base with Dr. Steve the die was cast. He said she’d be better off at the 24-hour walk-in facility in Guilford than the hospital’s E.R.

It didn’t take long for Stef to be seen and a verdict rendered. Swine flu, aka: H1N1!

Actually, as I understand it, there’s no simple way to know for sure what she has. Anyway, by the time tests came back you’d already want to be treating it.

Wednesday’s flight is out. Another cancellation.

“Imagine if she would have gotten on that flight,” Helaine pondered. You don’t want to think about that.

On Facebook Stef was making the best of it:

Yup…I have the piggy flu. Teeny tiny piggies running around my tummy… You always knew I liked to be trendy.

Luckily she didn’t get on the plane and she’s in a place where pre-existing conditions don’t matter. No one takes better care of you than mom!