After little more than 12 hours back home (bewildering dog, and annoying cats) I was back on a plane to reconvene with the clan in Chicago. Thanks to the fact I'm no longer of Premier status on United (though they keep reminding me I can pay to get my status back...no thanks) I'm shoved to the arse end of the plane for the four hours of bumpiness and shitty service between San Francisco and Chicago. When I arrive, it's 38 degrees and raining in that way that it only rains in Chicago: as hard as it possibly can. On the way, I'd picked up a few more words of Español with My Spanish Coach on the DS, and caught up on Top Gear episodes on the iPod.
I grab the car from Avis, and try and find my way to the in-laws house using instinct alone. I find I can't do this, and resort to Google maps on the iPhone to help remind me how to untangle the transit spaghetti of the northwest suburbs. When I arrive, the kids are thrilled - but Jack has been excited all day (and reminding me every time we talk on the phone) because I found the Animal Genius cart for the Leapster that he forgot to pack. After 27 seconds of being giddy to see his dad, he gets even more jazzed about his game. C'est la vie.
After dinner (Borscht = farts) I set up a wireless network for the in-laws' newly acquired MacBook and high-speed connection. This kind of technology arriving in their home is a big deal, and plenty of time is spent explaining the magic of Wi-Fi to bewildered, blank German faces. "I can do this in the kitchen?" Yes. "How about the living room?" Yes. "The garden?" Yes, probably. "You don't plug in the wire?" No. "How about this wire?" No. My father-in-law, a retired electrician, is a pathological unplugger of power cables, and it takes several attempts to explain the importance of not pulling the plug on either the cable modem or the Airport Express.
After this we crash, and I check email from the bedroom (Wi-Fi works there too) to learn that our good pal Tom Kim (he of GDC Radio fame) is heading into hospital the following morning in Chicago for an operation, and we wish we'd got here a little sooner so we could go see him before his ordeal.