Friday, December 30, 2011

iPAD Case by Portenzo

I got an iPad2 for my birthday/Christmas present this year, and plan to use it for business (it's a GREAT tool for salespeople) as well as fun. Then I began the search for a case to wrap around it. I am, by nature, a person who researches things to find exactly what I want before I buy it. I read multiple online reviews of just about pretty much every case you could buy for the iPAD until I found the Portenzo, the reviews of which were very nearly unanimously positive.

So, I decided to investigate a little deeper. I had several questions so I contacted Darin, the guy who runs Portenzo. Yes, the owner of the company answers his own e-mail. His responses were quick and thorough, and I felt I could proceed with confidence. Let me tell you why I decided to buy from Darin.

In comparisons, the Portenzo was a little more expensive than the mass-produced Made in China models I saw everywhere, but not by much, honestly. The Portenzo case is hand made, to order, and you can choose the outside cover color and material as well as the inside colors and materials. It's also made in America. Seriously. When was the last time you were even ABLE to buy something handmade in America?

Second, there is something artistic about Portenzo cases. The case is made in the style of a Moleskine notebook (Dodo Cases are similar, but reviews were sketchy on how well they hold up), which I have always found to be classy and elegant, and also serves to disguise the computer to help prevent theft. Quite simply, it is beautiful. The leather is luxurious, the inside fabric is vibrant (I ordered the blue) and it is unique in its iPad presentation.

Last, the details are just a little more thought out (a stylus holder) and the attention to detail is almost perfect. The strap on my case covers the camera on the back, providing one more level of protection). The only quibble I have, and it's a small one, is that the volume controls are hard to adjust.

Like I said, you may pay a little more for a Portenzo case. But what you will receive is a well designed, well thought out, well constructed, Made in America work of beauty. Check it at

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Feeding the Homeless - Not What I Expected

Mrs. Fish and I went out on Friday night last week to feed the homeless. There is a local Mission in Harrisburg, where young men and women can stay to get back on their feet. They have a van to reach those people who don't want to stay at the Mission and it carries hot food out to the homeless throughout the city. They need volunteers to help man the van so we signed up with another woman from our church.

I honestly didn't know what to expect. The van leaves at about 8pm drives to places where the homeless congregate, with about 10 stops throughout the night, across the city. At each stop, Mrs. Fish and another volunteer passed out blankets and clothes, including gloves, socks, underwear and sweaters. There was sometimes a rush, and sometimes scuffling, but they did well to keep things going smoothly. It was cold out, but not frigid/freezing, but that weather is surely coming and the warm supplies will be more and more important.

When we stopped, I jumped in the back of the van and grabbed the soup crates and set up a mini mobile serving area. I then started passing out toiletries including razors, shaving cream, soap, wash cloths. Then, I got on the soup ladle to pass out hot soup and pour hot coffee. On a night like that, it was very much appreciated. All of this set up and activity also gave me a chance to talk to the people as they came up, to hear their stories. It was humbling.

Carl, the Mobile Mission leader, has a rapport with the people of the city and a knowledge of where they are. It's weird, I have worked in the city for 15 years and never really saw the places he took us to. I mean, I had been past them, but I didn't see them as places where people lived, as homeless communities. I've never been one to turn away from the homeless, but I know I never sought them out, either.

I thought this trip would be depressing, but it wasn't so. I talked with the men and women and heard their stories. There is a camaraderie and community among the people, a sense of looking out for their common welfare. I'm not saying it was easy, just that it wasn't sad, like I think I was expecting it to be. In the end, I came to recognize a quiet, simple dignity that I wasn't expecting, and their kindness and generosity to me and to one another was uplifting.

We got home to our warm house about 1am and I was so grateful for what I have - family,, friends, clothing, a warm house. I definitely think I will do this trip more often.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Happy Anniversary - 18 Years

Today Mrs. Fish and I celebrate 18 years. I honestly couldn't imagine doing this crazy trip with anyone else. We are raising an amazing daughter, continuing to grow and learn together, and we are still friends after all these years. I am a blessed man, to be certain.

What I've learned:
1) Be friends - We've had ups and they're AWESOME. When things get tough, we needed something to fall back on. I fall back on the fact that we were friends first, and that friendship was based on mutual respect.

2) Be lovers - Kids, jobs, family, bills, all have a way of draining the love from a marriage. If we don't fill that bucket, things go south. It doesn't have to be big extravagant over-the-top declarations or acts of love, but if we don't set aside that time, look out. And, when we do, even when we think we're too tired, too distracted, too ___________, our marriage gets better.

3) Talk about money - even when we didn't have any, we still talked about it. I think there is very little that will rip a marriage apart as quickly as being on different pages about money. I'm still learning how to do it, but some of the best conversations and best moments of closeness I have had with Mrs. Fish have been over conversations around money.

4) Grow. I have grown with my wife and without her. I want to keep on learning new things, and I think that has made me a better husband. I am learning about my health, writing and art. She learns about music (something I know hopelessly little about), books (she reads a TON of books), and fashion.

5) Know your purpose. I have a strong faith and it's been deepened over the years. It hasn't always been easy, and God has called me to some challenging places. Mrs. Fish wasn't always as faith-focused as I, but she has supported me through that walk, even when she didn't understand or necessarily agree with it. God continues to work on us, and also through us, because I have trusted that He has a purpose for me. Mrs. Fish's faith has deepened and expanded because I have stayed true to that focus over the years, and God is rewarding it with new challenges and opportunities. That grounding, that sense of purpose, has been my rudder through marriage, raising a now 13 year-old daughter in today's society, cancer, conflict, friendships and the challenges we have faced together.

I'm not saying we have it figured out, just my observations of what has worked for us over the past 18 years.