Friday, December 30, 2005

On the Battlefront

My son just bought Star Wars BattleFront with some of his Christmas money. I guess since they are on BattleFront II, the price was pretty low.
He is still on Christmas break and basically played it all day long. After I have gotten home and finished dinner and the dishes, we have been taking turns playing.
I have forgotten how much fun a good video game is to play. Every night since he has gotten it, time has flown by and I have had to make a concerted effort to ensure I go to bed in time to be able to get up for work (the kids are on vacation, but alas not me).
I really like the game - the game play seems realistic, tactics seem to work and the interface is pretty nice.
It also seems like a good way to spend time with my son, playing games together! Talk about quality father-son time!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Broken Arrows - the Movie

Check this movie out. It turns out that it is partially funded by Google. Evidently, the producer and the Google guys are good friends. Looks like an alright movie.
Yeah, I am a big fan of Google and things Google related, but I also like movies about hitmen and it looks like there is enough love story that my wife would enjoy the movie too!
Here is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about it as well.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Long time, no posting

It has been a while since I posted last (bar some quick mo-blogging) and have some updating to do.
Work Stuff
I’ve written that work has been up and down - it has been like a roller coaster.  I’d fallen behind on some key projects.  It was the kind of “behind” that would make me think twice about sitting down and reading a book on the weekend.  My team started a new status reporting process.  It was great – it helped me focus on the right things.
With the new-found focus, I actually made some headway on the projects that I was behind on.  I felt really good about where I was with them.
As the week before Christmas was winding to a close, I was feeling really good about the few days off.  No work to think about, I knew what I had to do when I got back – I was ready to relax for several days.  I finished up solving a problem that one of the plants was seeing – they were seeing a difference between our financial plan volume and the field forecast volume.  Unfortunately, it was due to an error that I made.  Everything I planned on doing that last day slipped out the door.  It really sucked and I lost sleep over it this Christmas weekend.
Cooking
All of us, the kids included, like Indian food.  I read a quick recipe for something Indian inspired, had most of the ingredients for, including homemade Garam Masala, so I tried it out. The food turned out just the way I wanted to, the color was right, the taste was right, it was perfect!  Heather and the kids were really hungry when they got home and they loved it.  This also happened on the same day that I made the great headway on the two projects.  It was a great day and I wasn’t sure which was better, my great day at work or the reaction to my cooking.
I’ve tried all kinds of new things recently.  I really like things with mint and during the holiday season, Peppermint Bark is prevalent.  So, I tried to make some (no recipe) and it came out pretty good.
My mom sent me a recipe for Truffles, which I really like.  I’ve never made them before and I gave it ago. Chocolate and raspberry go well together, so I bought some Chambord at the state run liquor store.  I made Chambord truffles, Kahlua truffles, mint truffles and plain chocolate truffles.  I ended up with a bunch of them and we gave them to the neighbors.
Heather found a Prime Rib dinner recipe on Martha Stewart.com.  I’ve never cooked a prime rib before nor have I made Yorkshire puddings (something else I really like).  I bought the prime rib at a local butcher, Fischer Brothers Meats.  It was one of the coolest stores I’d been in.  As I walked in, I was enveloped in the smell of smoked meats.  They had smoked salmon and beef jerky – and that was just where the line ended.  The serving line followed the meat counter and every step along the way there was more excellent meat.  I had to wait while they cut me some short ribs and I saw breakfast sausage.  Heather like that more than bacon with a nice breakfast so I decided to buy bought that too.  Then I saw the slabs of bacon – they would cut it to order for you!  It was a dangerous place to be. Recognizing that, I left with what I came to buy (the prime rib and short ribs) and the impulse purchased breakfast sausage.
Christmas
The kids woke us up at 7 am Christmas morning and the power promptly went out.  I’d like to think that across the state, other kids were waking up their families and turning on all the Christmas lights, which caused a power drain.  We pulled out candles and drove on.  About 9 am, the lights came back on, so we finally got our Christmas morning coffee.
Monday was a company holiday and I played chess with Alec, Go Fish with all the kids and went for a walk again.  Even though I had to work some, it was a very nice couple of days.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Sushi, stress & sunglasses

Things are good!

My sushi leftovers didn't kill me!

The last few days in the Northwest have been clear and this morning I had wear my sunglasses, the sun was so bright.

I'm looking forward to this weekend as work has been stressful and I've fallen behind. We've reset some priorities and that has been helpful. It will be nice to relieve some stress this weekend.

*********

This was from a mobile posting at my kids' swim practice. I apologize if you read this in it's incomplete form.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Living on the edge

For lunch today, I had leftovers from yesterday's lunch. That in itself is not unusual. However, yesterday's lunch was sushi.
It was boxed up and refrigerated very quickly, but it is still raw fish, and now day old raw fish.
It was still tasty.
If this should be my last posting, learn from the error of my ways.
Good day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Turkey Sandwiches

I really like Turkey Sandwiches after Thanksgiving.  I think a lot of it has to do with the way I make them and the memories associated with that.  I make my Turkey Sandwiches the same way my Grandma did.
You start with one piece of Wonder Bread (and only Wonder Bread), with butter and another with mayonnaise.  The butter side gets cranberry sauce and the mayo side gets the Turkey and a piece of lettuce is placed between the two sides.
How do you like Turkey Sandwiches?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Opposable Thumbs

I quite like my thumb and truly realize why we are better than monkeys and apes because we have an opposable thumb. In order to help my wife make the mushroom gravy, I was finely chopping 12 shallots. About mid-way though the 12, I chopped my left thumb, right across the thumbnail and side of my thumb. I yelled some expletives (some I didn't even remember saying, Heather has since informed me), applied direct pressure and went to bandage myself up.
A quick wrap with gauze and a secure taping (entirely covering it, which is hard to do with only one hand) and I was back to chopping shallots. Well, I did wash the knife first.
Having my thumb all wrapped up made it more challenging to continue chopping, pick things up and open containers. Imagine my chagrin when I realized how important my left thumb was to unbuttoning my pants when I had to go to the bathroom. I've also learned that my left thumb is important to the way I tie my shoe laces (I end up wrapping one of the loops around my left thumb in order to tie them tightly). I almost asked my 6 year old daughter to tie my shoes for me.
I've also wondered how many emergency room visits occur on these big cooking holidays for sliced fingers.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and keep your thumbs out from underneath your knives. Especially if they are recently sharpened!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Kids these days

I am writing this from the Fall City library and it is funny. The same reason that I am here brings several of the youth of Fall City - the internet connected computers. Today, I went on a MINI road trip and the end destination was Fall City to meet my family for an event at the library.

As I got here early and needed to do some work, I just went in to the library, logged in and went to work. But there were also a bunch of kids here, ostensibly doing homework.

But they too, were drawn to the computers. Instant messaging was providing them a great deal of entertainment and chatting about who had asked who out and who grabbed who's butt. They were fooling around, laughing, knocking each other's heads together.

As I was sitting here watching kids be kids, all I could think of was how this would drive my mom crazy.

You are a hero until you drop the F bomb at the dinner table

Today I went to lunch with a high school friend of mine, Captain Dave Carrico. He just returned from being deployed for a year in Iraq. It was great to catch up with him, hear about his experiences in Iraq and just get another person's out look on life in general. We just chatted for about a two hours over lunch at a pizza place south of Fort Lewis. It was really cool.
The military has changed so much since I have gotten out, but at the same time, so much has stayed the same. They are making such great use of technology to keep American son's and daughter's alive. But no matter what, it still requires soldiers on the ground in order to accomplish the mission.
It strange listening to him talk - his speech patterns were so military and he was ending his period of active duty to go back to a cubicle in some tech company. Things that are so commonplace in the military (ending phone calls with "Out", the F bomb as an adjective, the 24 hour clock) that aren't used in the civilian world were a now a part of Dave. In fact, the title of this posting comes from some briefing they got in order to help them come back to the civilian work place.
After lunch, I dropped him back off at his afternoon out processing station. One more day and he'll be back on his way to the Bay Area.
I'm glad that he made it back safely and that his unit didn't lose anyone when they were over there. Citizen-soldiers like him make the world a better place for all of us.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Colors of San Francisco

Two weekends ago, I was in San Francisco for a friend's wedding. Sunday morning I walked around North Beach, the Financial District and the Embarcadero and took some pictures.
The day was perfectly clear with a blue sky - impressive for the end of October. Everything was light so nicely and the colors just stood out.
I've just signed up for a flickr account, so check out some of my photos!

Installing a microwave


This weekend, I installed a microwave. Wow, you think, I took a microwave out of a box and slipped it into a cut out in a cabinet. Well, it was not a simple task. Firstly, I failed to measure the depth of the cabinet. The microwave we chose was about ¾” too deep. After a few calls, I got some guidance to cut the wall board in the back of the cabinet to make the cabinet deeper.
The wallboard was quick and easy to cut, so I slipped the microwave into the opening, drilled the pilot holes and screwed it in. There was a bracket that was supposed to go in, over the top of the microwave and across the opening. Well, again, a failure to measure, the opening was 1-1/4” too narrow. Now, it was wide enough to fit the microwave, but it needs more space for ventilation. That called for removing the microwave and some more trimming.
I carefully measured (and re-measured this time) because I would be cutting the cabinet facing. I marked it and drilled holes at the corners and started cutting. I haven’t mentioned yet that we have oak cabinets and I was cutting by hand. Each cut was only about 16” long, but cutting oak by hand isn’t exactly the most fun thing. I was also using my keyhole saw because of the small cut I was making.
I put the microwave in again and finished it all up.
What I didn’t share at the beginning was that a week ago, I discovered the fact that it was too deep for the cabinet. So, in the course of installing this microwave, I put it in the cabinet about 8 times.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

iTunes and Videos

Part II of Digital Living
I am on a trip this weekend; I’ve gone to San Francisco to go to a friend’s wedding. Because I was out of town so much recently, I haven’t caught up on watching the few TV shows that I am interested in. I remembered that I wanted to transfer the last episode of Lost from my Tivo just before I left.
Tivo To Go transfers are pretty slow; they take longer than the show to transfer and I didn’t start my Lost transfer in time, and at the quality we are recording them, an hour show takes 1.8 GB. I don’t have that much disk space on my laptop right now. So, when I got to my hotel, I purchased the particular episode from the new iTunes Music store. It only cost $1.99 and was only 143 MB.
While it easily fit on my disk, it wasn’t optimized for full screen viewing. When watching it in full screen, I would get that large pixilation effect and sometimes a stutter. When I watched it at double size (about 4x6), it ran very smoothly. Now, it wasn’t the greatest, but it balanced file size and picture size. I’m glad that I was able to watch that episode.
I continue to be amazed by the way that the digital world changes the way we live.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Buying groceries online

Living on-line has gone one step further for my family. This week, I purchased groceries on-line from Safeway.com. I have wanted to do it for a while, but this week the conditions were just right for it.
Work has been pretty hectic, the previous weeks were pretty rough and they culminated with a week long meeting at the company headquarters. I got back from this meeting and all I wanted to do was catch up on sleep, but we had things that we had to do. And there wasn’t time for shopping for groceries.
It was pretty cool. I was able to type in my shopping list, in my terms and it did a pre-search and returned results for each of my items. I could then refine those results and pick the item I was looking for.
Most of the items had pictures, so I could validate that they were the right one with what I would pick off the shelf. I was able to find everything I was looking for and it didn’t take too long (only about 20 minutes). Now, if you were just browsing, it would take a while – it works best if you know what you are looking for.
I selected a delivery time and waited. It was kind of exciting waiting for my delivery. I had ordered some frosting for some really good pumpkin muffins that my wife made and that helped build the excitement.
The delivery was a little late, because the maps of my neighborhood show a road that doesn’t go through as connecting. There were 3 items that they were out of stock on and my frozen things were still frozen (much more frozen than had I driven them home). I only got 3 produce items (1 orange, a bunch of cilantro and some shallots – none which really require “picking”).
I only have two complaints, both of which are really my fault. The first was the cilantro was bagged and tied shut. Four days later, still closed up, it started to get slimy. My fault for not taking it out of the bag. There was another item that I just picked the wrong size on. Again, my fault for not reading better.
Buying groceries on line will probably be something we do more of with all the activities that we are involved in. I really enjoy cooking, I find it very relaxing, and not having to get groceries will free up more time for cooking, among other things!
Your first delivery is free and they have a tiered pricing plan. Delivery for purchases over $150 is free, a four hour delivery window is $5.99 and a two hour delivery window is $9.99. Check it out!

Chip

I'm a little bummed. On the way to the airport today I got a chip in my MINI's windshield. I guess that it is bound to happen. Bummer.

--

Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer http://www.cingular.com

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Seattle Times: Local News: Crash victim's insurer should have a heart

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/2002560033_danny14.html

After reading this article, there are a few things that come to mind:
1. I thought that occurrences like this were why we have insurance.
2. I do agree that her insurance company should pay out.
3. I hope that my insurance coverage isn't like this.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Why we need wi-fi

I lead a training session at work last week. What a tangled mess of wires. See why wi-fi is such a great technology ? More and more collaboration is key in the workplace and wi-fi can help!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Too much fun for one day

This morning, the whole family ran in the Issaquah Rotary Run at the Salmon Days Fair. Parker wanted to run in the 5K, but was then too tired to run in the Kids 1K.

Later in the day, the Alec and Chase went across the street to play and he wanted to do something. Parker and I went to Krispy Kreme and got a donut. By the time we got home...


Friday, September 30, 2005

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tonight was alright

Tonight was alright.  I came home and made dinner for my family.  We enjoyed Crab Quesadillas and chips and Garlic Salsa from Trader Joes. After dinner, I found a MINI owners club, Puget Sound Mini Motoring Club.
They have a large website, with MINI forums and it looks like they do a monthly drive.  Hopefully, I can make time to participate.
After that, I had some Scotch.  My bottle of Glenlivet is running low.

Monday, September 26, 2005

My weekend trip

This weekend, my family and I took our first trip - back to the Bay Area! Our trip went pretty well, with a few mishaps.
The Seattle airport's parking garage is posted that vehicles over 6-1/2 feet won't fit and my wife's Expedition is pretty close to that. So, just to be on the safe side, we chose to park in the Overhieght Parking area. For some reason, we had to drive all the way around the terminal and parking garage to get there. And when we started our tour, we were right by the parking area, but all of the signs pointed us away from it. Evidently we had to drive all the way around to make sure the area was secure!
We finally got to the airport and still had plenty of time to spare and on the way into the terminal, we saw several unattached SmarteCarts. I recalled that they offered a reward to return them and when I mentioned that to my small capitalist kids. they collected all they could find. It was crazy - between the three kids (each with a small rolling case) they must have had 8 carts. Parker couldn't even see over the back of the cart, but he insisted upon pushing too!

Remember that we paked in the Overheight Parking area? It is a parking area not a parking garage. Sea-Tac is built around a large parking garage and the airport terminal is on the fourth floor. So, all the carts went in elevators to get up to the terminal, where we were sure to find a return station.
Well, evidently they don't give that reward any more. Alec demanded that I pay him the money instead of getting the reward. I didn't.
We hadn't eaten dinner yet, and our plan was to eat in the food court in the airport. Here a certain comedy of errors (if you discount all the previous comedy) began. I waited in line at Pallino Pasteria with the kids and Heather went to Maki of Japan for some teriyaki. Evidently, we both got to the front of the line at the same time and tried to pay for our dinner's with the same credit card. Obviously, using the same card in two different places must be fraud, so my card was declined. The clerk almost told me to just sign the declined credit receipt. I could have gotten my food for free (which we did, but that is still coming). We ran the card again and this time it worked.
All this time spent running the credit card allowed the kids pizza to cook completely, so we didn't have to wait long. Heather came to us and Alec was carrying the pizza. He rested it on a divider cord and opened the pizza to show his Mom. She told him to close it and sure enough, I hope that Alec learned the lesson of why you don't open the pizza box when it isn't on a table - it all slid out on to the floor.
The pizza manager saw this happening and by the time Alec had picked it all up, he had brought out a new pizza.
So, the kids and Heather all have dinner. Maki of Japan sounded tempting - I like sushi. But the chance of food poisoning while trapped on a plane sounded risky. Live on the edge!
So, I waited in that line and got out my credit card (the same one as before) and it was declined. "Did you make a purchase here today, already," the cashier inquired. Well, evidently, buying sushi twice in one day is also credit fraud. So, my Check Card came in handy, becuase it never gets used. Good thing, this way my inactivity clock starts over. I'm probably good for another year of not using it. The sushi was as good as any pre-packaged sushi you can get at a grocey store and there were no stomach pains on the trip there.
On Southwest Airlines, you get pre-boarding priviledges with kids under 4. So we took advantage of that and were first on the plane. With a family of five, though, we had to sit in two rows. Not really a big deal, I sat with Parker and Heather sat with Alec and Chase. On a previous flight, Parker had big problems equalizing the pressure in his ears, so we had to make sure that everybody had gum to chew so that their "ears didn't get sick." It was really cute to watch the kids read the safety cards, which were pretty easy for them to read being in International-Picture-ese.
Parker decided that he wanted to sing on the airplane, so he sang for most of the way there. Most of the passengers thought it was cute, because he really isn't that loud - compared to an airplane.
While on the flight there, I came to the realization that I needed some kind of book to put the wedding ceremony in. I figured it out, I should get a Moleskin Journal at some place like Borders. Heather had the rental car, so I found the closest one and decided the boys and I would walk the 1.3 miles. Without being able to print out the map, I got a little misoriented and we walked about half a mile - the wrong way. We walked back, and by then, it was time for lunch. We ate at Arby's, something I haven't done in a long time and then set out again, this time in the right direction. Two hours after we started, we ended up at Borders. We found the journal, read some kids books, and called the bride for emergency evacuation back to our hotel.
The wedding went off without a hitch. It was the first wedding I officiated at, so now I am a professional.
The wedding reception was nice and there was lots of dancing with both my kids and my wife. It was a lot of fun.
We flew home with out event, humorous or otherwise. Unless you count all the people who looked at the two empty seat next to Chase and Alec and then passed it up. Finally, some lady chose to sit there. Chase chatted it up with her for awhile.
Chase had trouble finding our rental car (a crappy Ford Taurus) everytime we went out to it. Tonight, we rented a car so that Heather could get the Expedition repaired. We ended up with a bright red Dodge Neon. We hadn't picked up dinner yet, so we went to a Teriyaki take out place. As we walked out to go to the car, Chase went to the first red car she saw and pulled open the door. Well, it was a mini-van - not our rental! She closed the door and we walked away, embarrassed. Luckily, we live in a safe enough area where the people that don't lock their doors also don't have alarms.
Kids do the darndest things. It makes you smile.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dinner with Friends

On Friday night, we got a baby sitter and my wife and I went to dinner with some friends who were in Seattle selling a house. It had been almost 5 years since we had seen Erik and Kelly, so we had some catching up to do.

We went to Union on First Street in Seattle and it was quite an enjoyable dinner. While we were definitely there to eat dinner, we were really there to spend some time and catch up with Erik and Kelly. I was quite happy with the lack of presssure to keep dinner moving and how informative they were.

We got a five course sampler and each course, as it was presented to us, was described to each person. A very nice touch.
So, we had:
  • Steak Tartare with pumpernickle crostini
  • Sweet Corn Soup with a seared Sea Scallop
  • Duck Muscovit with roasted figs
  • Sea Bass with Chantarelle mushrooms
  • Huckleberry Crisp
All of it was excellent and I was pleased to find that they had 3 different Cabernet Francs to choose from. Cab Francs are hard to find, even in restaurants with large wine lists. We enjoyed one from Domaine des Corbillieres of the 2002 vintage.
Dinner was delicious, but the chatting was better. I got to show off pictures of our kids that, to my wife's surprise, I had on my phone and saw pictures of their baby, their dog Ronin (a totally bad ass name).

I also learned that I can fit four grown adults in my MINI - I gave them a ride to their hotel, instead of making them walk the six (or nine) blocks. I also learned something - all the people that have said that they think a MINI is cute, that is just their way of saying "badass."

I am still impressed with how quickly we can get from our house to downtown Seattle. On a Friday night, it took us less than 40 minutes to get all the way to the restaurant, including finding parking. There is no way we could have done that in the Bay Area.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

So close to Seattle!

Our new community is so cool; we are so close to Seattle.  In less than 30 minutes we can be in Seattle. That is such an improvement over where we lived in the Bay Area.  So, for breakfast this morning, we decided to go to the Hi Spot Café in Madrona.
Hi Spot is a really great place that my friend Roger took us to when we were house hunting.  There is a sign in list and the wait was almost an hour, but the breakfast was great.  The cinnamon rolls are huge – our kids couldn’t finish them.
Afterwards, we drove back to the Eastside and looked for Trader Joes.  That is another really cool place.  What was especially cool is that we found a Basil plant – for some reason fresh herbs are hard to find in grocery stores around here. We’ve planted 8 pots of herbs, so once they get started; we’ll have our own in-house.  I picked up some frozen quiches to take to work to have in the freezer for lunch and some wasabi cashews.  
I went for a run after we got home and then started dinner.  I made a pesto (not with the TJ’s basil, but some from our neighbor’s co-op farm) with shrimp and farfalle.  I found a recipe for pesto in one of our cookbooks, In Nonna’s Kitchen, that said that the best way, the authentic way, to make it was in a mortar and pestle.  So, I whipped out  my mortar and threw the garlic and toasted walnuts in.  Smashing them wasn’t so difficult, but once I was supposed to add the basil leaves, I started to run out of space and patience for mashing with a pestle.  I gave up on being authentic and busted out the food processor and was done in nary minutes.
Dinner was a great success and I followed it up with Root Beer Floats.  The kids really enjoyed them and now my tummy is pleasantly filled.  As I write this, I’ve got Miles Davis on my stereo and my wife is sitting across from me, doing something on Craigslist.  A full tummy, happy kids, great tunes, a beautiful wife; ahh, life is good.

Cooking for hours

Last night, I made an Empanada recipe from Cooking Light. It took forever to make, involving an extra trip to the grocery store, marinating, making dough and then baking.
I started at about 4:30, preparing the marinade. When I cut into the package of pork tenderloin, I was greeted by a funky smell. Upon further inspection the best by date was the seventh, so I asked Heather to take a whiff. Well, her nose isn't all that particular, but she went with the "when in doubt, throw it out." So out went the core of the dinner.
I dashed out the door, and hopped in my MINI for a quick trip to the grocery store. Now, we are still new and I haven't figured out where everything is at our QFC. I found all the marinated tenderloins in one corner of the pork section, but I couldn't find any plain ones. I had to ask and they were just on the other end of the pork section - like 2 and ahalf feet away. Duh.
I had to go over to the produce section and had to pass through the wine section. I was perusing the shelves and ran into an employee (figuratively speaking) - it was the Wine Steward. It is pretty cool that QFC has a wine steward; it will be a nice way to learn more about Washington wines. It is always enjoyable to talk to someone knowledgeable about wines. That doesn't mean that I am knowledgable, but to quote Jay-Z, "I know a little bit."
So, I came home and finished the marinade. It had to rest for two hours and I had to make some pastry dough for the crust. It, too, had to rest for about 30 minutes. Once the meat was done, I had to cook it for about 30 minutes and then fill the crust and bake it for 30 minutes more.
Empanadas are best eaten at room temperature, but we didn't wait for that. So at 9:05 PM we sat down for dinner. And after all that work, it wasn't so great.
Every once in a while, Cooking Light has some real stinkers, and they are always the recipes that take forever to prepare. I still really like Cooking Light as a source for recipes, though and I'll still faithfully subscribe to the magazine.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Boys Day

Today, my wife and daughter did a girls-day and went shopping for dresses for the upcoming wedding. So, the boys and I, we had a boys day. First, we went to Blockbuster and returned some of the movies we had rented.
While we were there, we asked the girl behind the counter where to go for a milk shake. She suggested a burger joint in the same shopping mall, so we went over there and ordered three shakes. Being in the ice cream industry, of course, I asked who made their ice cream. The guy behind the counter said, “It’s just soft serve,” pointing at the machine in the corner. Milkshakes are supposed to be made with real ice cream! It wasn’t like the milkshakes were bad, they just weren’t a great milk shake. Soft serve isn’t real ice cream, unless you are buying the stuff that my company makes. How is that for a shameless plug. The kids still had a good time. Boy thing number 1 – eating.
When we came back to my car, we found that my car had made a friend. We hopped in and did something else that boys do – we drove. We had to drop of a digital cable box in Redmond, so we took the back way – a winding road and had a blast driving. On our way there, a red MINI Cooper with the Union Jack roof graphics fell in behind us. It was an older couple and when they drove past, we waved at them and he honked and she waved at us. Owning a MINI gets you into a friendly club.
We got home and decided we would go for a walk and explore (boy thing number 3) some of the trails in the area. We walked for a long time and found two playgrounds, heard things in the woods, found something that appears to be bear scat. Our new neighborhood is cool and there are all kinds of trails to walk on. We were not far from people’s back yards, but it felt like we were deep in the woods.
After we got home again, boy thing number 4 – we played video games. After a while, we decided that my wife wasn’t going to be home any time soon, so we started setting up the stereo (boy thing number 5) and then ordered pizza (boy thing number 6). We drove to Fall City to Sahara Pizza to pick it up and then drove home. I’ll go there again, for both the pizza and the drive.
My wife finally did come home, but no dress for the wedding. I guess that means there’ll be more boys days in the future.

A life of the cloth

My wife’s sister is getting married at the end of the month.  This week, I was ordained as a minister of the Universal Life Church so that I could perform the ceremony.  I am pretty honored to be asked to do it, but at the same time, I am little worried about what to say.
If you’ve got any ideas for how a ceremony would be laid out, leave a comment.  I’d really appreciate it.
I think in the end, it will all work out okay.  I’ll talk with them and figure out what they would like and then help them out with their ceremony.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mini mileage

Can you believe this? 510 miles on one tank of gas! My mini cooper is so cool!

A Sad Day


Today, a part of the sync connector for my PDA broke the plastic support for the connector wires broke out. For the time being, my PDA will sync, but the connection is ginger – I mustn’t touch the PDA or sync cable or it will disconnect from my PC.
My PDA was a hand me down from a friend at work, he wasn’t using it and thought that I would. He was definitely right. For the last year and a half, or so, this PDA has served me well. The device is definitely approaching its three year mark, but it still works great. The processor and memory handle my needs very well (rudimentary spreadsheets, address and calendar management, electronic books), so I don’t want to replace it. Also, I just bought a house, so I don’t exactly have the funds to replace it.
I hopped on Dell and went the Axim forums and found several discussion threads about repairing broken Axim sync connectors. I thought that Dell would be my only option, but I also found a company that would repair it, PocketPC Techs. They offer the repair for a fair price. I might have to check them out.
I wonder if I could get my employer to buy a replacement PDA for me…

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My first posting on Craigslist

Drawer pulls / cabinet knobs

So, we've sold a car and bought a car on Craigslist (the big transactions) and I know that my wife has found other stuff on Craigslist. But tonight, I made my first listing. In our new kitchen (and all the bathrooms and built in cabinets), there were these white knobs. We changed all of them out with polished nickel ones and maybe we can make a buck or two on the left over parts!
We also swapped out our oven and as soon as I'm done here, I'm going to start disconnecting our dishwasher. Those will be on Craigslist, too!

I have a MINI Cooper

I am super-excited; yesterday morning I bought a 2002 MINI Cooper S, with the John Cooper Works. My super wife found it on Craigslist. The car is silver with a black top (I guess it pays homage to my Oak-town roots?). And boy does it drive.
Yesterday evening, I was so enjoying driving that I missed my freeway exit and had to quickly tour some of Renton.
There are enough windy roads around here that driving alternate routes will be a blast.
So, after 9 years of driving automatics, I’ve got a manual transmission (with 6 gears, no less) to get back into the swing of. I’ve had my share of embarrassing moments (I stalled during the test drive), but the best was at the metering light. It was just me, a long freeway entrance ramp and the metering light. I thought to myself, “Well, why not. When the light changes, I’ll just hit it.” And the light changed and I let the clutch up and stalled out. That was yesterday. Today, it is all coming back to me.
I’ve also noticed that Washington drivers drive slower than California drivers. Being a California driver, I have to make a conscious effort to drive not at what is natural for me, but with the flow of traffic here. Now having a stick, I have also come to the conclusion that on top of the better fuel efficiency, having to shift into a higher gear reminds me of how fast I am going – thus making me more aware of my speed.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Issaquah Park and Ride isn't Issaquah Highlands Park and Ride

So I tried out the Seattle area public transit system today. While a generally satisfactory experience, my work and home aren't quite public transit accessible. Seattle has done some really neat things with buses - like a bus alley and a tunnel under downtown. They also have a version of 511.org called Sound Transit. The interface isn't quite as nice as 511.org, but it works. It turns out that my house is too far away from the bus end points, so it took some work to find alternate end locations (doubly hard because I am so new here).
While waiting for the bus, I read a magazine and failed to prepare my money. Yes, I was that guy, fumbling with money (still in a money clip), dropping money, asking how much the fare was - holding up the flow of progress. The bus system covers so much distance that there are different fares depending upon how many zones you go through. So, when I asked the driver what the fare was, he told me the one zone fare, but I was really going two zones. After I had put my first quarter in, he asked how far I was going. All the way to Pioneer Square was $2 and I didn't have enough quarters to make a dollar, so that bus fare cost me $2.25.
What I didn't realize as I was getting on the bus, but quickly came to understand that I was going to go from Kent to Seattle to Sammamish - a pretty indirect route. But I got to see interesting parts of Seattle. Seattle has built a busway - an alley for buses so that they can make a straight shot through Seattle and not have to worry about traffic. It is pretty cool and makes the bus ride much shorter. As you get to downtown, they actually have built a 1.3 mile tunnel underground that has a few larger stops, "stations" they are called. That is pretty cool. The bus goes downtown, but avoids the downtown traffic.
Once I got to Pioneer Square, I had to walk a few blocks and wait for the 554 bus. Another bus , the 210, came and the sign said Issaquah Park and Ride. I stuck my head in and asked if she went to the Issaquah Highlands Park and Ride and she said "Yes."
Well, it turns out that it had been a long time since she had driven this route and I didn't really know where I was going, so I ended up driving through Renton and ended up at the Issaquah Park and Ride. It is on the wrong side of I-90 and several miles south. But luckily there was a bus I could transfer to that took me to the Issaquah Highlands Park and Ride.
I called my wife and she came to pick me up. My adventure started at 4:20 pm and ended at 7:15 pm. Almost three hours for a commute just doesn't work.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

We've moved in

Finally, after a long day of unloading the moving truck, we are moved in. Our house is full of boxes, but we have gotten all of our stuff back, new appliances delivered, cable TV and our home network is up. Did you notice that I didn't mention phone? I have figured out that there is phone in our house but it isn't the phone number we were supposed to get. Hopefully it is the old phone number - the phone guy was supposed to come today but didn't show up. I hope that isn't representative of Qwest's service.
The kids spent half of the afternoon watching just the video on the TV, because the audio in our old house ran through the stereo and the TV was set to use the auxillary sound. It took a long time before I could figure out how to change it with out the remote control.
Our neighbors are really friendly and I think we've met all of our immediate neighbors. The street is full of kids and each one of our kids has a corresponding grade/age kid so close by. This place will be all right.
We have no food in our house right now (though we do have beer that I bought when I was in the hotel - and it is in the new fridge and cold!), so we need to go find dinner.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Driving to Seattle

I did it. I drove to Seattle in one day. And I even stopped to walk the dogs (twice) and for dinner in Portland with a friend. The drive wasn’t bad – it was hot outside, but the air conditioner worked very well.

I took State Route 160 over the Antioch Bridge and into Sacramento. From there I took Interstate 5 the rest of the way. I delayed buying gas in Sacramento and started to get worried. Luckily, I found gas in Zamora, north of Sacramento, but paid through the nose for it. That set the tone for the gas costs the rest of the way.

I blazed through California. When I was planning (or not planning this trip), I was expecting that to take much longer. By one o’clock I was in Oregon. Oregon sped by, even faster. I think that it was due to the friendly drivers on the road. Once I left Oregon, the road seemed to drag. Mileage signs in Oregon were infrequent, but Washington has signs posted every ten miles or so. It seemed like the last 175 miles took forever.

I rolled into Seattle at about 9:30 pm with out a place to stay. I got a lot of help from my wife, checking online and calling places to see if they would take dogs. After quite a bit of calling, she found an extended stay hotel (read weekly rate, not hourly) in Kent. Unfortunately, by the time she found it, I had driven past it, but I was looking for a place to stay, so I turned around.

The dogs have been hanging out in the hotel room and I checked out Sammamish. Our new house and new neighborhood will be all right!

Friday, August 12, 2005

My last Bay Area posting

I am writing my final post in the Bay Area. We are moving to Seattle. Today (and yesterday) have been an interesting mish-mash of feelings. I am excited about our nice, new, larger home and I am sad about leaving my friends.
I'm glad I got to see so many of my friends from work and I'm sorry that I missed some, too.
Yesterday, as I was leaving work, I had forgotten to pack my keyboard. So, I strapped it to the back of my messenger bag and hopped on BART.
Our house is full of boxes (I've got a picture to post later) and my car is full of stuff. At the end of today, I'll be driving away from here, but also loaded with lots of great memories.
I'm rambling, so bear with me.
I've really enjoyed my time with everybody here and I am looking forward to seeing you all again when I come back. Those trips are already scheduled!
I'm going to miss the Bay Area and the people in it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I love my daughter and she likes Fugazi

Last night, as I was driving home, the DJ on the radio was introducing the next song as a one of those bands that influenced all emo and hardcore music. He went on and on about it and then played Fugazi's Waiting Room.

I went home, got on iTunes and bought 13 Songs.

Tonight, I was cleaning up after dinner and decided to listen to Fugazi. As I turned it on and the sougnds of Fugazi filled the house, she grabbed my hands and started to dance. How can I go wrong. My 5 year old and I danced away.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I am a renter!!

Today is an exciting day. After waiting all day, I have found out that the sale of our house has been recorded. For the next two weeks, my debt ratio has gone down significantly, my cash reserves will increase and I start paying rent again (this last one isn't cause for much excitement, though).

It also means that we are this much closer to moving to a new house in Seattle.

Exciting, yes. But sad, too as this chapter in the Bay Area draws to a close.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The ups and downs of buying a house

There is a house that my wife really likes, in fact, so much that it was called the perfect house. She saw the house online and really liked it. We planned a special trip to check it out.
On Wednesday, before we went, our agent told us that the house had an offer on it, but the seller was waiting for us to see it.
On Saturday, we saw it. We liked it. That evening we wrote an offer. We were excited.
On Sunday morning, we got the call from our agent that not only was there an offer, but the seller had counter offered and before our offer got in, the seller accepted their offer. Quite the downer.
We continued our house hunting trip, but never found the right house. We weren't ready to settle, so we found an apartment and made a backup offer on the house. A long shot, but we weren't going to be making any offers on any houses since we wouldn't be there, but it made us feel a little better. On the off chance that their deal fell through.
Yesterday, I got a call from our agent that their deal had fallen through. She had to switch calls and so I called my wife and told her the good news. She was quite excited.
Then, our agent called back. The deal had fallen through, but then the buyers wanted back in. It was probably ours, but there was some legal wrangling to be done. Downer.
I got called today at work, at about 4:30 with a "no-change" update. Lawyers were being consulted and they should know an answer soon, but no specifics.
By the time I got home at 7:50 (working late and stopping by Taco Bell for my dinner), my wife had gotten the call. The lawyers had reviewed it and the house was ours. Excitement again.

I recently read an article that outlined the stages that people go through when buying a house. They were right. It is an emotional roller coaster.

With the prices of houses in the Bay Area, buying and selling houses are huge transactions. A small house sale and step up purchase can easily become a million plus dollar project. When you really think about it, that is a large project and not every Tom, Dick and Harry are ready to take on that kind of a project. Dealing with deadlines, being professional, sound decision making and understanding timelines and inter-related tasks aren't quite as common skills as I would like believe they should be. Gosh!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I had a MINI


Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, the company which employs me, has launched a new product, Dibs. As part of the marketing support for the "Next little thing in ice cream," they decked out a MINI Cooper as a cool marketing propaganda too. I am proud to say that I drove it and spread the good word to the commuters in the Bay Area.

I had children chase me on the street. People I knew didn't recognize me because they were too busy staring at the car.

The next day, I took the long way to work and drove on some of the rural back roads. I took Marsh Creek from Antioch into Clayton and then Walnut Creek. It was a driving dream.

So this MINI is a 5 speed manual, so driving was actually fun! The way the car handles on the curvy roads and accelerates from a stop just made me happy. I so want a MINI.

Keeping the keys in my pocket was so natural, it was just like they belonged there.

I had a MINI, even if only for the day.

Thanks Cady for letting me take your Dibs car.

Mr Fix It (or I hate dry rot)

I have previously mentioned that I had a bathroom floor with some dry rot.
Well, not any more. I got up at 3:30 this morning and finished it up. Today was the day of our re-inspection (we are selling our house) and it all had to be done.
On Monday, the contractor who was doing some other work for us, told me what I had to do to fix it all up. His information was a great help and he pointed me towards Fix It All. With out his help, I wouldn't have known what to do. Monday night, I used the Fix It All and then Tuesday night was the finish it all stretch.
But, because I had so much floor to replace, I had to use some floor levelling stuff. But it needed 10 hours to cure. So, while it was curing, I was sleeping. Then the work began at 3;30. I had to replace the stylish black and white tile and then a toilet. I don't like replacing toilets. I have had bad luck with them in the past and they leak and have a lot of water. They suck.
But this time, the construction project gods were with me and it went in with out a hitch. No leaks and a shiny new floor.

We passed our inspection and are one step closer to selling our house!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Fix It All

Fix It All is the neatest stuff.

I have a section of bathroom floor (it was the kid's bathroom) that had some dry rot. After getting some guidance from a contractor, I've just about got it all fixed up. Chiseling out the dry rot was easy, no need for a mallet, just a firm hand on the chisel and the rotten would would come out! It would fall apart like a crumbly oatmeal cookie.

But then, I needed to fill all the wood I removed.

Fix It All is the answer. It is a powder that you mix into a paste and then put into the gaps like plaster. It is sandable, drillable, sawable and acts pretty much like wood.

In order to do this, I even had to get a new tool - a trowel! I always say, "New project equals new tool!"

I'll try to add some pictures later.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

No BART Strike!

So the BART unions didn't strike! Hooray. I hope that BART didn't have to make concessions that will cause fares to rise. It will only push away more riders.

It sucked waking up just after midnight to check on the status of the negotiations.

I was doubly fortunate as I had to go to work, because of our project work today, I didn't have the option of telecommuting.

Public transit is really vital to the Bay Area - there are so many people and so many cities and so many cars. I don't want to see a union drag down BART, which would only drag down the whole Bay Area.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

BART Strike???

The Bay Area Rapid Transit is undergoing negotiations with a few of its unions. After long negotiations, there is the potential of a strike, starting at midnight. I think it is baloney.

It seems that the disagreement is about pay raises and incentives, like medical benefits. The BART operators are already very well paid. While I think that everyone should have medical insurance, but people should pay their share. Medical costs are rising in the US these days and workers everywhere are being asked to bear a little more of the costs for their own health care. To pay an increasing portion of health care would make them just like everybody else in America.

It would really suck if companys decided not to offer health care as a benefit. I think that this kind of union thinking will really drive the price of business up in the United States and companies will go elsewhere in this global economy to do the same things and we'll eventually not be able to afford anything. Our empire will crumble.

Back on the strike, if BART strikes, traffic will drag the Bay Area to a halt.

Right now, BART does save me time on my commute, but it costs a bunch. I think I pay 7 bucks a day and it BART wouldn't have to raise te prices too much for the balance to tip back to driving. If only I had a car that I liked. But that is a subject of another posting.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Digital Music

Editor's (or Idiot's) Note: I found this posting in the drafts list. This was originally written in July of 2005 and my second post. I thought I had published this and thought I got comments on it. With the release of the Zune, it is an interesting view point on my first month with an iPod and the evolution of digital music.

Idiot's Note, part two. Obviously, I had published this already. There is one comment. I've got no idea what happened.

For Father's Day, I got a 60GB iPod Photo. It is pretty cool. It was quite a step up from my RCA 128 MB MP3 player. I am really impressed by the user interface on the iPod. I guess you have to have a good interface when you have that many songs.

In the evolution of digital music, I started in the "who would want to listen to music on their computer" camp. That was when my computer and stereo were in the same room (college days). Then, my computer was at my work and I needed to listen to music, so I'd rip a CD or two.

Then I became a commuter.

Having music on my hour and forty-five minute drive was important. I'd drive out of range of the stations that I'd start on and through areas with no broadcast radio at all.

So more and more of my music ended up on my computer.

I got the flash memory based MP3 player and it was pretty cool. I could take what ever music I wanted with me. But I had to keep changing it, because after a day or two of my commute (it had gotten shorter), I'd be repeating the music.

Now, I have a digital music player that tells me I have 7.2 days of music!

But I have also gone through many software MP3 players. I started out as a real fan (no pun intended) of RealPlayer, but my work blocked access to their CD lookup database. I then moved to the Windows Media player because the CD lookup wasn't blocked. Other than that, the two were pretty similar.

But since I got my iPod, I've since moved to iTunes. I don't get it, the iPod has a great UI but I just can't get the UI in iTunes. It isn't as intuitive to look for individual songs. The UI just isn't as great. How can they make such a great piece of hardware but a not so great software to go with it? It isn't bad, just not as great as the iPod.

I love my iPod - there is so much thought and innovation in it. Even in the packaging. I was really impressed by the box. The box!

I am king dork when a box impresses me.

I have been a non-fan of Apple computers. The iPod might be the device that turns me. I don't know.

My first posting...

I have been thinking about writing a blog for a while. A few things have kept me on the side lines, primarily, wondering if I have anything to say. As I have thought about it, I do have opinions, wild thoughts and neat experiences to share.

So, here goes. I can’t promise that I’ll be regular, cognizant or write anything of importance.

Well, I am pretty regular.

I guess that sets the tone. Inside I am ten.