Old stale summer post

I just found this old blog post festering in my draft folder.
  • House hunting has gobbled up lots of our life cycles. We’ve got a ton of education to show for it, but no house. We’ve ridden through some intensely stressful weeks. The fact that I didn’t total melted down during our peek intensity moments is directly attributed to the personal growth I’ve had in the past year. It’s nice to have concrete metrics.
  • We had a miraculous crib -> bed transition. Jasper is about to start pre-school next week. In the future we’ll need to tackle potty training, and a moving to a new house. Then we get a special prize.
  • We were magically gifted free tickets to the circus, so we decided to see how Jasper would fare. It turned out pretty amazing. Jasper was spent the first half completely captivated, occasionally standing up to do some dancing. The lure of the elevator we found during intermission was strong during the 2nd half, so we split out time between the epic circus and a bemused arena elevator operator.
  • me: “can I eat some nectarine?”
    Jballs: “No. No nectarine.”
    me: *makes sad face*
    Jballs: “Are you sad?”
    me: “A little.”
    Jballs: “Shall we get blanket?”
  • right before eating spicy green salsa: “I’m going to eat this and then I will cry”. And then he totally did.
  • We had our first full ballz to wallz Krudden epic summer in a couple years. SCI, parents, Seattle, Boston, three weddings, cape code, fun the sierra mountains, and a cooking class to boot.
  • We pushed Jasper pretty hard at Jordan and Lisa’s ridiculously awesome farm wedding. We manged to stay until the funk band started up around 8:30, and then Jasper went ballistic on the dance floor. He was on fire. He had a circle of women around him, and his characteristically reserved manner was put on hold for some mad awesomeness. It was a best case scenario, and it was my happiest moment I’ve been lucky enough to share with him. He barely left the dance floor during the entire first set.
  • Jasper actively likes the dark. He’ll go around and turn off all the lights on the regular, and prefers to sleep in total darkness.


Visualize Raising the Anchor

  • In early May, our landlord dropped the “wanting to sell our house” bomb, and we are now expected to form an exit strategy. My initial strategy involved shitting my pants. Stina seems to have adopted a more constructive approach. The deadline for our departure hasn’t been set, nor have we been able to secure our next domicile, but we are expending a lot of energy on it. At the same time I’ve transitioned to a completely different job in my company. Needless to say, any illusions of life stability have been shat upon with great shittings of fuck. This is also may explain the dearth of quality pics and videos for the past three months.
  • We’ve been playing a lot of “Is it dog poop?”, which is inevitably followed by “Daddy I touch?”
  • Jasper often uses the word “something” which he uses conviction and urgency, granting us no clue to what he wants.
  • During a recent diaper change dance, he said “big penis” and pointed at his johnson. This is a very advanced 2 year old. On that note, after all the water has drained out of his bath, he likes to pee into a cup and then pour it on himself.
  • He keeps asking for different music until I put on the 80’s hair band station on Pandora. His absolute favorite song is “Love in an Elevator”, because he thinks its a song about loving elevators. Gates, elevators, and rail road crossings still have prime seating in his frontal lobe.
  • Jasper drew a dot using a crayon and said “Booger”. I then verified he really said what I thought he did.
  • Jasper: “I need spoon.” Me: “What do you need a spoon for?” Jasper: “For the internet”.
  • I’ve been cultivating new styles of patience in my life. Since my back has been hurting a lot as late, so I’ve had to  train myself from trying to pull or lift Jasper from point A to point B. I need to guide him, and if he isn’t interested in going the way I want him to go, I basically need to wait it out. I’m also working on restraining myself from stopping Jasper from doing things I know won’t work out (as long as there is no danger). Otherwise the consequences of pulling the fire alarm is only heresay.
  • When he discovers something in his vicinity, everyone nearby needs to know about it. He doesn’t get too discouraged when people don’t pay attention to him. Also, in this regard, Jasper has suddenly become assertive in ensuring other people, especially little ones, follow our arbitrary rules, even though he doesn’t necessarily subscribe to them himself.
  • Jasper requests a new song almost every night before going in the crib, and he gets to choose the subject matter. I enjoy developing a new improv skill.
  • I usually skim and discard most parenting blog posting that come my way. This article, even though I’ve heard some of it before, it really resonated with me, and changed the way I approach tantrums. I now lean into tantrums, imaging that as a blockage that needs to be cleared.
  • There was some recent Bostony goodness. Sucks to be near us on a plane, though really, it sucks to be us. We spend some time with our folks, the MA crew, some Obie’s, Jasper’s g-parents, and hit up Special K’s beautiful wedding in VT.



Two for two

Our little sperm egg happy meal turned two years old. Crazy pants.

I’ve heard several parents say: “the days are long but the years are short”. They were all wrong. These have been the longest two years of my life. For that, I am both grateful and exhausted. Older folks keep reminding me that it will all go by so fast. I’m old enough to know that this is true. Therefore, I try to make choices that maximize the time I have with my buttermilk pancakes. Onward with the bullet points.

  • Jasper finally seems age appropriate for the zoo. He can name animals, and sometimes describe what they are doing. Though to be fair, there’s not a huge range of activities that these animals can engage in. If you ask Jasper about the zoo, he will tell you about the gates on the train tracks, because that’s all that matters anymore. As you can see, gates are the new doors.
  • On that note, I find myself grading automatic doors on their sensistivy, responsiveness, and hazardness potential. Whole foods is where its at. I’ve started using this system to rate people too
  • Jasper’s surprisingly good at evaluating what he is capibile of doing, and pushing himself to the limits of his physical abilities. Jumping is on the rise, though that is always going to be the case.
  • He literally has no inner voice. He verbalizes his entire thought process. It’s fun to follow his train of thoughts, and then say something like “elevators” and watch him kareen off his path.
  • J-balls regularly lights up when he sees me, which is seriously rewarding. Stina stopped doing that about 8 years ago.
  • I’ve been amazed by his generosity with other children, his attention span, and his obvious enjoyment of music. He has initiated some really tender moments where I split open and melt.
  • He can also incarnate the whiny tantrum devil on a whim, and then it’s all about management and a special kind of patience that I generally lack. I’m working on not getting so wrapped up in his bursts of unhappyness, which are growing in intensity and fortitude.
  • Sometimes he says things that we interpret as things he wants right now – but what he is really doing is reliving a moment from the recent past. He doesn’t know how to modify words or inflection to describe past events, so everything is in current tense.
  • We went to see the Alphabet Rockers at the Freight and Salvage. One of the Alphabet crew is a high school class mate. I ended up talking with a guitar player from New Monsoon, who was in the audience with his two small children. I reveled in how many different segments of my life collided.
  • I streamed five nights of Soulive from NYC to my living room. I love a good east coast couch tour. Stina summarized it well: “a really good keyboard player is amazing – its like watching a guitar player go nuts on keyboard”
  • Finding moments of peace in my life is still a high level goal. I’m really getting good at zoning out. Another important aspect of being peaceful is patience. The more I practice being peaceful, the more patience I have overall, which is a really critical skill set. It allows Jasper to explore his world at his own pace. The flip side is that I way over indulge him. So much for having him bend to my will. I rarely take a hard line with his desires unless its a Daffy no-no.
  • Jasper has several times taken his socks off and picked at his toe cheese for a couple minutes. Stina’s genes are starting to flex their muscles. They can not be stopped. I’ve gleefully learned this the hard way. In this case, you have no idea what I mean. Might as well just go about your business. Your salty, sexy business.


A few of my favorite things

A few of my favorite things about J-Balls right now:
  • His over use of “TADA!”
  • Ice is a delicious treat.
  • Watching his face while works something through in his noggin. You can actually see the gears tunring.
  • He regularly congratulates himself with a “good job!” – like when he peels a clemetnine.
  • A couple times we’ve walked to the BART station to ride the elevators and escalators for a long hour. Maybe we’ll hit the auto-door at Trader Joes afterwards. He’ll talk about the experience for the next few days. Yesterday we spent an hour and half at the downtown Hyatt enjoying their up / down / auto-door facilities.
  • We have our first pretend game. We now play “elevator” at home.
  • We also play drop, which is a beloved game from my childhood.
  • When we change his diaper on the changing table, he often says “don’t pee!”
  • The placid expression on his face when he’s experiencing something he wants to do (like ride escalators and elevators). The only indication that he enjoyed the experience is that he immediately asks for more whenever it ends.
  • When he spots our neighbors cat, Zoe, he gets right up in her face and enthusiastically yells “hello! hello cat!”. Zoe takes it very well, but doesn’t say “hello” back, much to Jasper’s disappointment. He thinks it hilarious when Zoe eats food.
  • I was manipulated into being obsessed with parrots when I was growing up by my grandmother. Now, with Jasper being almost 2, I get live out my not-really-my-fantasy of living with a parrot, since he repeats most things that come out of your mouth. Also, since he hasn’t mastered a lot of syllables yet, it’s awesome when he says “chalk”.
  • Anytime I fart, he says “Daddy’s pooping!”
  • We stood and watched the traffic light down the block change colors for over 20 minutes.
  • He makes funny faces at himself in the mirror and then cracks up
  • He laughs loudly a little bit after everyone else laughs.
  • My absolute favorite thing is the naked dance.

Fun notable events:

  • The Ruddens came for two weeks. He got really excited on christmas, and kept bring presents over to mommy saying “open! open!”
  • We saw the new Muppet movie, had drinks, then a ridiculous dinner, caught a TLG show, stayed in a  hotel, followed by a leisurely brunch during a single 16 hr MEGA-DATE.
  • My mom came for week. It took approximately 30 seconds for Jasper to warm up to Grandma this time.


Now THAT was a year

2011 takes the prize for the most intense year of my life. It completely caught me by surprise. Dizzying highs and lows with a smattering of creamy middles. I learned more about myself then I ever thought I would. One of the big monsters in my closet is anxiety, and this year we’ve made a formal introduction.

For a long while there was not much change or growth in my life. I knew I wasn’t reaching my full potential for happiness, but didn’t know the first steps to take. I’ve built a fair number of barriers from my emotions for a long while now. Now I’m starting to peek over the walls I’ve built. Its frightening and exciting. The whole process is very delicate. If I start observing myself opening up, then the moment wanes.

My long bouts with insomnia in 2011 have been crippling, and my relationship with sleep has fundamentally changed. I’ve learned to function on far less sleep then I imagined I could. A useful lifelong skill.

I now see myself full of contrasting identities. I’m both frail and strong. Selfish and generous. Spontaneous and rigid. An adult and a child. My role as a father has become more and more part of my identity as Jasper transforms into a toddler. He’s popping up in my dreams for the first time.

I need to fill my waking moments either actively engaged (working, playing with Jasper, coding, music, yoga) or being passively engaged (reading, tv, etc). I am very uncomfortable with time when I am not engaged. What I thought of previously as boredom smells a lot more like anxiety now. Therefore, I’m attempting to spend more time being present and peaceful. I’ve always admired people who can be peaceful. I am taking steps toward having more moments of peace in my life, and its been rewarding. A followup revelation was recognizing that being contemplative is an important aspect of being peaceful. So I’m consciously doing more reviewing of my recent past, and I now find that I’m looking at my past more overall. Its a like a muscle that I need to exercise.

I’ve been pouring myself into new general fuzz tracks lately. I’ve been slaving away at them, and only recently have I realized that I was doing this to distance myself from my latest release. I’ve been going through a period of shame and negativity towards “miles tones”, a sharp contrast to how I was feeling when I was finishing it and putting it out there. No one ever claimed being an artist was easy.

I’m working on 3 major personal projects right now, which is incredibly fulfilling to me. I’m a little obsessive about these projects though. The balance is tipping so that I’m more motivated by the destination then the journey. It might just be when there’s enough momentum, I want to run free with it. When I can see the checkpoint ahead of me, I really want to get there. I already know that reaching the checkpoint itself can be a letdown, but maybe a relief as well.

I lost my friend Graham at the beginning of 2011. I still haven’t recovered from that. My inability to process that event was the catalyst for everything that followed this year, but I only know that in retrospect. He lived far away, I only saw him once to twice a year, and yet I miss him a lot. There are a few things I would like to ask him, and those questions will stand unanswered. I really would have like to talked him about my current coding project.

All in all, I’m pretty optimistic about 2012. There’s a lot to look forward to. I’m got a lot fires cooking. I’m just hoping the intensity level will dial back a bit.



The J-Balls Adventures Resume

  • The verbal switch was unexpectedly thrown on sometime a few weeks back. All the sudden he starting asking for stuff by name and tossing out the odd verb. His mastery of consonants is a long way off , and he can get frustrated when his request gets lost in translation. We all need to level up on patience, but we are accumulating experience points. I’d say he learns a new word every day. For example, I was blissfully lost in my thoughts during my morning shower, when I hear “shower”. I look down to see a smiling Jasper in his PJs. He then pointed at my shlong, and said “wang!”. Or at least thought that while he pointed.

  • General cognition is on the rise, which is leading to all sorts of new activities. Back in the day (6 months ago), the highlight of our Fairyland visit was banging on a trash can with a stick. During our last visit, he was excited by just about everything, and the giant hugging bunny freaking blew his mind.
  • Contrasting sharply with last year, Halloween was a complete success. We ran across a skilled drum group in the madness that is Russell street, and Jasper went to town. He danced with them for over 20 minutes. His joy was very infectious (much like the rotovirus that hit us a week ago).

    The absolute highlight of Halloween was when we were walking home. I pointed up in the sky and asked Jasper what the big white thing was. I watched the comprehension sweep across his face, and he excitedly pointed and yelled “Moon”. It was the first time he knew what it was, and the moment was priceless.

  • We took our first family vacation – a long weekend in Santa Cruz. Baby steps.

  • He caught a plush ball for the first time. He didn’t inherit his Daddy’s lack of coordination. I saw him climb up a curvy slide today at 20 months old. This was shortly after he sat for almost 30 minutes during an orchestra concert for children. I totally rolled the dice with that one, but was super glad we went.
  • For all my posturing about how good I felt about my album, the crash eventually occurred. I had doubts about some songs. There were some smallish spikes of depression and anger. I attempted to allowed these feeling to occur, even somewhat expanding upon them, instead of immediately throwing up defensive emotional walls. These feelings were not overwhelming, and then after a week I felt better. Receiving a handful of emails and donations helped. Last week I learned that “miles tones” ranked #9 on echoes preliminary top 10 albums for 2011. Booyeah.
  • This seems like a very transitional time for a lot of people I know, myself inclusive. There’s a lot of changes going on at work, I have a number of large scale personal projects I’d like to tackle, my wife needs watering, there’s talking children at home, etc. My personal growth is on the rise, nicely balancing my lack of physical growth.

  • There’s been a few excellent extra curricular activities as of late. I saw an awesome house concert with Garren Benfield. I’m hoping to work with him for future general fuzz releases.
  • One of the added benifits of sending out a mass email about a new album is that I always reconnect with a few people whom I’ve lost touch with. An old acquaintance of mine realized my ultimate 10 year old fantasy and built a full arcade in his house. Occasionally he opens it up to his friends, so Zack (the actual original lego manaic) and I spent a blissful evening at the happiest place on earth.


miles tones reflections

I’ve never had such a positive experience finishing up an album as I did with this one. Not setting a hard deadline for finishing the album was an excellent decision. It eliminated the element of stress from the tedious and time consuming process of finishing up the tunes (final mixes and mastering). I made loose goals along the way so I had something to aim for, but didn’t feel bad if it took longer to achieve these goals. My free time has diminished greatly from my pre-fatherhood days, so I really wanted to make working on tunes a fun outlet as much as possible.

My drive to promote my music has greatly diminished. I used to spend a lot of time sending out cds and emails to outlets for consideration. I very rarely got any response. It can be fun to share my work with other people, but its also a labor intensive process with a lot of rejection along the way. At this point, a decade in, my music has found some of its audience. There are people who care about it, and that’s pretty sustaining to me. Of course I hope my audience continues to organically grow.

My favorite part of making music is when ideas are flowing well and starting to coming together. It’s not when I’ve finished a track / album. It took 6 or 7 years, but I did eventually learn that it’s really more about the journey then the destination.

I pour myself into these songs. It takes more time then I care to admit. The tracks on this album took many different directions before they were finished. There was a ton of content that was written and removed. Many times I had to remind myself  that trying things that don’t work out is not a waste of time.

All I used to create these songs was my computer, a mixer, two MIDI controllers, a mic, and speakers at slightly uneven heights (and a LOT of software). My recording room is completely untreated, with a tile floor, glass windows, several bikes, and a couple large plastic baby toys that need to be passed along. The recordings always sounded good enough to me. Thank goodness there are tools like RX and Melodyne to clean up my recordings though. I did outsource the some of tricky instrument recording though – thanks very much to the internet + skype.

In the past three years I’ve become aware of what an amateur I am at producing, mixing, and mastering music. I’ve attended workshops with Carmen Rizzo and Rena Jones. I have learned that there is a huge amount of knowledge that I’m lacking. They all have very strong opinions over what gear and software you should use, how to treat your audio, and to never self master your music. If you listen to one my tracks and then of their tracks, you can hear the difference. I don’t think of this as a failure on my part – I just know that there is a lot more to learn, and that later in life I hope to learn more about my craft.

I’ve been making music as general fuzz for over a decade now. I no longer feel the burning need to prove to myself that I can make an album. I also have no intentions to stop creating music. General fuzz has become such an important part of my identity. I hope to create music for the rest of my life, and in theory, I have a lot of time left. I do need to try vary the course some though. I’ve got to try working in different styles and collaborating with different people, so that I can grow as a musician. I need to also take breaks from music, and allow some time for inspiration and motivation to brew.

Releasing an album is very exciting for a number of reasons. One aspect that I have only become aware of recently is that it acts as snapshot of my life. I can now listen to my previous releases and remember what was going on at that time. It’s also something concrete which represents a step forward in my path as a musician.

Most importantly, I’m proud of what I made. So far I have no regrets about the album, which was my ultimate goal. I felt that way after “soulful filling”, and I learned that it was worth aiming for.

Also, this moment brought everything into alignment.



“miles tones” released

miles tones cover art

With great pride and pleasure I’m releasing my sixth general fuzz album, “miles tones”. As always, it’s available as a free download off my website:

Its been over three years since my last release, and during that time I became a grown up. My 1.5 year old son now takes center stage in my life. There are many musical references in this album reflecting the anticipation, arrival, and development of my son during the past few years.

This album turned out to be sort of a companion album to “soulful filling”. It has that same mellow vibe and melodic sensibility. I’ve decided to attempt to release albums with a more consistent vibe, so all my latest mellow tracks ended up on this one. As a result, the next album will have significantly more bump to it.

I was lucky enough to work a whole mess of truly amazing musicians in past couple years. It was an absolute honor to have Audio Angel, Josh Clark (the guitarist Tea Leaf Green, a band I have seen 20+ times), Ryan Avery, Phoebe Jevtovic Alexander, Jesse Ivry, Emiel Stöpler, Shakiban, Peter Medland, and Ryan Hughes in my “studio”. I’m particularly grateful to Ryan Avery, a stellar violinist and electronic music composer, who generously came over to my studio many times to help flush out some tracks. If you dig my music, you should definitely check out his – its in a similar vein to mine.

I decided not to make any CDs for this release, since its wasteful, expensive, and, really, its sorta pointless in this day and age. I’m always very grateful for donations, and the money always goes directly back into my music. I’ve added 4 awesome new “locked” bonus tracks to my website. If you send me a donation, and I’ll send you all 7 locked tracks. It’s like a whole bonus general fuzz EP. I also built a “song unlocker” on my website to incentivize folks to spread my music on the internets. If you simply post my website anywhere on the internet (facebook, twitter, google+, blog, etc), let me know, and I’ll unlock a bunch of tracks for you.

Many thanks to Chris Brown, Nora Barrows-Friedman, Dave SG, and of course my incredible supportive wifey, Stiners “the pants” McGee.

The album art was a photo taken by Sophie Thouvenin.

I do very much hope you enjoy this release. Feedback of all kind is always welcome.

Thanks so much for listening.



Summer Whiplash

  • Summer manhandled me a little bit this year. You’d think my primary focus at this point would be my child, but this summer I had to focus a little more on me. My emotional baggage area was filled to overcapacity, and some of that baggage came tumbling out. It was both scary and enlightening. Working on yourself is a challenging endeavor, but it was overdue. I’m viewing my present behaviors through the lens of my past and its been a little illuminating.  Instead of just accepting my feelings and actions as they occur, I’m occasionally trying to step outside the moment and ask why I’m responding that way.
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  • Along with some heavy internal re calibration thats going on, this summer has been pretty bat shit crazy ever since we returned from Europe. We’ve had four sets of people come and visit with us, sadly said goodbye to the Kirkbutts, attended numerous small child related celebrations, went back east and to Colorado. We pretty much discarded the notion of downtime.
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Dave, Erin, and Mica


Josh and Jo and Dan, Abby, and Abra Fae visited as well.

  • I went to LA for 48 hrs to visit with Dave, Keri, and Juila. And since I was already there, Dave and I meandered over to the hollywood bowl to see Phish. The parking lot antics set a new bar for behavior awesomeness. We managed to cobble together the tagline our new company: “We stream shit to your business”. Our first product is “vacusuck”.

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  • I’ve also been rather preoccupied trying to finish up album numero 6. Finishing an album is never that fun, and takes a lot of time, which I seem to have less of then I used to. Its finally all starting to come together, which is quite a relief. I’m ready to move on to other musical pastures. I’ve also invested far too much time into my website, making it twice as spiffy, and forcing it dump oodles of useless data in my database. Now I know where all 14 of you live. Reading blogs has consequences.
  • I love this kid too much. I like him most of the time. Spending long stretches of time alone with him, something that happens with some regularity,  has become much more enjoyable. Behavioral firsts are popping up with a little more frequency these days, and the occasional new word sneaks into his incomprehensible babbling. He fucking knows things, man. When I read books, Jballs now points out the things that he recognizes. We’re regularly attempting to introduce sharing into his repertoire. He’s really generous with the high fives and hugs though.

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  • Stina and I have different strategies for dealing with behavior that violates the principals of our cookbook for awesome living. Unfortunately, she is unable to accept that I am right all the time, so I’m resorting to smiling patronizingly at her every time Jasper hits me with a stick. This kid has quite an arm, and might be getting mixed messages. I blame mommy.
  • Jasper has found his 3rd gear. His favorite things right now are bubbles and balloons. He loves to be chased, so were are considering adopting a tiger cub.
  • His ability to comprehend what we are saying is increasing rapidly. Unfortunately, that skill set seems come with some fairly sharp “No!”s and the occasional tantrum. We are in the pre-2 zone, and trouble is on the horizon. We are aware this is a sweet spot, and are treasuring it when we remember to.
  • Stina and I used to argue nature (me) vs. nurture (stina) when we were teenagers. It’s amusing to catch 1.5 year old Jasper compulsively put things back in their “place”. One point for Stina.
  • We caught the first day of Outside Lands, since Phish was headlining. Grandma flew in for the weekend, and good times were granted. I saw an AMAZING show of Zappa plays Zappa opening up for Return to Forever. Blew my mind. Definitely the top show for 2011.




We were invited to the Tuteur family reunion (my mom’s side) in Germany. There was no way we were going to go. The Ruddens, on their own volition, offered to fly out to CA and take care of Jasper if we went. All of the sudden, the family reunion sounded like a good idea, especially if we used it as a jumping off point for a European adventure. So Stiners and I headed east for 2.5 weeks sans Jasper. I went through the emotional wringer prior to leaving, but settled into our vacation as the days slipped by.

We kicked it off in Germany (Bad Kreuznach), with an amazing tour through the places where my ancestors roamed 100 years ago, drinking tasty beer at every meal. We then departed from our extended family members, and headed our way down to the Swiss Alps. We toured through Switzerland for almost 2 weeks. Getting around in Switzerland was thick savory pie. Trains ran often, and where the epitome of comfort. I love trains. Jasper will soon.

There’s nothing quite as awe inspiring as the Swiss alps. And who doesn’t love a gondola ride? Nobody.

Why go to France, when you can go to the french part of switzerland and be equally as confused? Same with Italy. People were stylish and beautiful, but I wouldn’t call them friendly.

Mostly I’ll the let the pictures do the talking. It was quite a experience. Good times were had.

We connect with my old co-worker Joerg while we were in Zurich. That was fun.

We are deeply indepted to Lolo and Lola for taking such awesome care of our son.

Thanks for cleaning the shit out of our house as well.

We were apprehensive about how Jasper would react to our return. To our delight he was crazy happy to see us, and laughed for an hour. We missed him terribly. Arriving home to him was a terrific reward for staying up for 20 hours straight.