Livonia, MI is on the outskirts of Detroit. If it has a charming historic downtown area, or a pleasant meandering suburban residential district, I don’t know where they are. Livonia appears to be a vast grid of hotels, motels, chain restaurants, and really big stores. I’ve spotted a Target, a Meijer’s, a Walmart, and _two_ Costcos within a couple miles of the Holiday Inn which I’m calling home for a couple of days.

No doubt you wonder, dear reader, how I might find myself in such a hellish situation. ‘Tis one of the burdens of the stay-at-home father. Suanna has a meeting here for work; she doesn’t want to be away from Ella for that long; therefore, I don the nanny apron and come along.

It is in my nature to hate places like Livonia; it is in the nature of parenthood to need them. A classic example: when we got in last night we realized we hand’t packed enough baby wipes. In many places, addressing this problems would have taken considerable time and effort, but ’round these parts you can’t throw a spear without hitting some sort of sprawling superstore with several aisles of infant-related products.

But there’s a ray of hope in all of this: one that I only knew to look for thanks to “Ed’s”: searches for wi-fi hotspots in Grand Rapids. “Panera Bread”: is the jewel shining brightly in the middle of the sloburbs. Decent food, good soup, and free, reliable wireless Internet. Having carefully timed my arrival to coincide with Ella’s nap, I’m afforded a chunk of time to jack in and catch up.

And while there’s no wetware or sensory overlay involved, it really is jacking in, isn’t it? I’m seven hundred miles from home but I’m accessing the Internet with the same machine in the same way and going to the same places. Physical location is irrelevant except, in my case, whether or not the men’s bathroom has a changing table.

So, all hail Panera! With its help, I think I just may survive Livonia.