Saturday, December 30, 2006

A sucker is born every minute

I am sitting in Starbucks in Kent, going over some invoices and updating my 2007 Moleskine Daily Planner and I am next to 2 people pitching some kind of nutritional supplement juice to a young guy. Yeah, I’m eavesdropping, but this is good.

It is ridiculous listening to them. There is a guy in an suit that is way too big, talking about how much money he makes and what kind of car he leases and all the rich people he knows. There is a pretty young girl, too, who I thought was another sucker until she started in on the other young guy.

In trying to rope this guy into their “distribution business” he give examples of how some licensed stock trader has to get approval from the SEC to join this business, how he is thinking of hiring a body guard and how “real estate isn’t the business to be in if you want to be rich” (real estate happens to be what the guy is in).

Ill fitting suit guy purports to have a house in Fiji and a bank account in Panama. Sounds fishy to me. He evidently keeps his first paycheck in his wallet, $734, because it has some significance, and he would show it to the mark, but he forgot his wallet today. Yeah, right.

They are trying to get him to join today, because that puts him in the bonus pool next month.

This has got to be some pyramid scheme, because he has to buy the juice up front and get other people to join! If he can get 4 people to join by February and they each get 4 people to join, he could go to somebody’s house in Las Vegas, worth 15 million.

It all sounds pretty sketch to me – pyramid schemes, pre-buying merchandise, weak examples of how rich the people he knows are. I don’t know, people that I think are successful don’t talk about what kind of car they have, don’t forget their wallet and don’t wear ill fitting suits.

It sounds like he is signing up – they are calling his information into the toll free add a distributor customer service line.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

PC Magazine's Most Useful Sites

It is the end of the year and all the Best of 2007 lists are coming. PC World Magazine just published their list- The Web's Most Useful Sites. I find these articles interesting because I often stumble upon interesting apps (Gliffy, Basecamp and Writely were all added to my repertoire this way). I am also really interested in Web 2.0 and I think it is changing the face of computing, business - disruptive technology at its best. But back to the article.

I am a big fan of Remember The Milk and the article rated RTM the winner in the to-do list category.
Winner: RememberTheMilk reinvents the to-do list in a snazzy interface that lets you make lists in configurable categories, all laid out on the front page as tabs. Adding to-dos is easy, though adding deadlines, notes, and time estimates is unintuitive.

You can add to-dos using natural language such as "Call Ted next Thursday," sync with your calendar via the widely supported iCalendar format, and set tasks such as "Pay credit card bill" to recur. RememberTheMilk sends reminders through instant message, e-mail, text message, or a combination of these. You can also upload tasks via a special e-mail address that the site gives you.

It's a tremendously well-rounded free product, with neither more nor less than you need to get and stay organized.

I take a little umbrage (if you can only take some) that they gave Gmail runner up status.
But its limitations--the inability to add new folders, to open multiple messages in one window, to filter e-mail, and to right-click on anything--will surely frustrate power users.
They fail to mention tags - that which power users will love the most. I've been thinking of totally dorking out and writing a post about the obvious superiority of tags in organization. But I'll save you from that for now.

In terms of the next, new interesting application, I'm going to check out Meebo, a web based, multi protocol IM client. I've been using IM more and more for work now that I am a remote worker and one of my large projects involves a team spread across the country, both in-house and consultants. I'll let you know what I think.

The article is a long read, but I recommend it. Check it out.

Dead Sea Sledding

Yesterday evening, we went to the Pacific Science Center to see the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit with our out of town guests.

We are members of the Pacific Science Center, so admission is free, but the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit was an additional fee and with scheduled admission times. We got there at 5pm, but were able to get tickets for the 8:15 admission. No big deal, we went to Center House, ate dinner, came back and spent some time in the museum and then went to the exhibit.

The kids had fun and a butterfly landed on my face in the Tropical Butterfly exhibit.

We went into the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit and in the first exhibit our youngest kid unscrewed one of the nuts holding the plexiglass displays on the wall. I guess we are breeding art thieves and heck, if they are going to start with religious relics - Indiana Jones anyone?

There were lots of exhibits about the settlement/ruins around the caves where the scrolls were found and we went through them slowly. The exhibit closes at 10 and after about 1:30, we hadn't made it to the scrolls yet. Parker got into the audio tour part of it and spent a bunch of time just punching the code into his player. At times, I swear he was talking back to the voices on the player.

We hustled into the scroll area and it was a little disappointing. All the scrolls are obviously in pieces, but they only had small chunks on display. All in all, it was a little of a let down. They are of great historical significance, so it was neat to see it from that standpoint. I think I was more interested in the exhibits about the nearby settlement.

Heather just shared with me the full price, had we not been members, and I don't think the exhibit would have been worth it...

As we returned home, it was starting to snow. Which bode well for our sledding plans.

So we got up early this morning and headed out to Snoqualamie Summit's tubing area. We arrived a little bit later than we anticipated, so we waited until the second session of the day. It was our first time there and tubing was fun - not quite as fun as sledding and Chase and Alec really got into it. Parker and I crashed (yes, on inner tubes) on our first run and he didn't want to do it much longer. Heather and I ended up taking turns for a while.

With the tow rope, it was definitely easier, but waiting in line for the tow rope made walking up the hill much faster. It lightly snowed all while we were up there.

The tubing area was fun, but I don't know if it was worth the admission price, especially when we had one kid that really didn't want to do it. Maybe next year...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas

Happy Day After Christmas to everyone.

I hope yours found you well.

Ours was enjoyable. We shared Christmas Day with family and friends and it was a lot of fun.

One of Heather's sisters and her husband and infant (two separate people, not a husband who acts like a child), came the on Christmas Eve, so that they could start the morning with us.

We started off Christmas day, by making Turkey Stock. We started at midnight and with stock making, stuffing making and general chit chat, we didn't go to bed until 3 am. On the good side, we kept the kids up until 11 or so, so they were inclined to sleep in later.

We had planned on having a brunch with her husband's parents, but they were delayed so we opened presents and had French Toast for breakfast. I had smoked two salmon filets that I was planning on eating with brunch, but I forgot about them, until we got the dessert course of dinner. But more on that later.

The kids were happy with the presents they received and have been playing with them since. Parker's Nintendo DS Lite has been already charged 3 times. I'm not sure if it has needed it or he just know he needs to keep it charged.

For dinner, several friends (who happen to be neighbors) came over for dinner. It was fun in the final stages of preparation and making appetizers, at which point I still forgot the smoked salmon. We had a turkey dinner with all the accouterments.

One of Alec's friends from swimming made an avocado egg roll kind of thing which was really, really good. And his sister made some caramel popcorn - I have problems making the microwave caramel popcorn! All in all, it was really fun.

Heather had some little napkin rings that had a spot for a photo, so we went all Martha Stewart on this dinner. As every guest came in, I accosted them with my camera, took a head shot and then printed out tiny photos of them for their placecard/napkin ring. They turned out really well. Heather was brandishing a knife, a teen ager was turning away, hiding her face and her mom gave me the anti-paparazzi hand!

Merry Christmas to everyone. It was really nice to spend the day with friends.

Argh. I'm having trouble including photos here. Check out the Christmas 2006 set on Flickr.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I'll take you to the candy shoppe...

I'll let you lick my - spatula.

I made truffles again this winter. Chase, Parker and I melted 5 pounds of chocolate and made Chambord, Kahlua, Peppermint and plain (if you can use that word in reference to truffles) truffles. I also made a sheet of peppermint bark. That was really good.

I took a bunch back to my team mates in Oakland and Heather started giving them out to the neighbors today and yesterday.

I really enjoy cooking stuff for other people. Heck, I just enjoy cooking.

Sweet mead

Saw this in the grocery store. Had to snap a pic.

Friday, December 22, 2006

What kind of place do I live?

Editors note: The Northwest was subject to a pretty large windstorm last week and the Seattle metropolitan area bore the brunt of it. Because there are so many trees (part of what makes the Northwest such a nice area), there were widespread power outages. Where I live in Sammamish was out of power for almost 3 days, but as I write this, there are still places that don't have power.
During the power outage, I kept my offline blog in my Moleskine journal. I've finally transcribed it. While it misses out on the immediacy of the blogosphere, it helps keep the continuity of my blog.

December 15th, 9:55 am

They have been forecasting really bad weather here in the Northwest. Last night, it arrived. No rain, no snow, just wind. Lots of fast wind - forecasted to be in the 60 - 70 mile per hour range.

Assuming the power would go out, I made sure to charge my cell phone (last time, the cellular networks stayed up). I made sure my laptop was fully charged so I could work on some offline things.

As we went to bed, Parker decided that he was scared of the windstorm and slept with me.

At some point in the night, the power went out. It was no surprise, it was really windy and really loud. I wondered if this was what a hurricane was like. Shortly after the power went out, Alec came into our room and his shuffling feet woke me up.

Alec: "It's too dark to see." I wasn't sure where he was going with this.
Me: "It's night time, you don't need to see. Go back to bed."
Alec: "Can I sleep at the bottom of your bed?"
By this time, Heather had come to bed, so there was no room.
Me: "There isn't any room."
Alec: "Can I sleep on the floor?"
Me: "Okay."

I woke up as the sun was beginning to rise. It was a beautiful sunrise, quite a pretty red sky. Knowing the sailor's ditty, it might portend bad things. Ed. - I really did write that. Am I good or what?

Slowly the neighbor's generators started to kick in, but still no power. And on top of all that, I had no signal for my mobile phone. I realized I had a conference call at 8 am, a phone interview at 8:30 and then a national inventory call at 10. I decided I would try to drive to the local shopping center to see if I could get a signal someplace along the way.

I headed out and saw several trees down on the side of the road and trees broken off midway up. Branches and broken greenery littered the streets. I drove out of our development onto the main road, but I didn't get far. Several trees were down across the road. Sheriffs were directing traffic and work crews were already at work and the road was closed. The only way out now was a 12 mile detour along even more rural, more wooded roads - if they were still open.

I turned around and headed home.

We have no phone service (all cordless) and no electricity. No means to communicate in or out. Alec has a small battery operated radio, so we can get some news, but I can't call my office mates in Oakland to let them know my predicament.

We make the assumption that school is canceled - the radio reports, "Most schools are closed today. A few in Snohomish county are opening late." They must be tougher up there.

I break out the camp stove to make Heather coffee and breakfast for all. Cream of wheat and oatmeal turn out okay, but we only buy whole bean coffee. We have a few gifts of ground coffee, but the one I opened and made with the french press didn't turn out so good.

I hope the power comes back on soon. I was really counting on this being a productive work day, because I would like to take some time off at Christmas...

1:30 pm

Just washed dishes after a lunch of Ramen. I'm glad to have the camp stove, because it is now 60 degrees in our kitchen. Hot water is nice.

We went for a walk to survey the damage and yes, we saw lots of downed trees. I talked to a King County Sheriff and Sammamish Police Officer and they just advised to stay off the road. They didn't have much information on what roads were open or closed.

I was able to garner that, where it was closed this morning, it was passable, but only to be closed further down. There is a fire access road to our development, but the police officer told me they had no plans to open the gate.

Reportedly, it is supposed to get cold and I can see dark clouds rolling in. So, we'll stay home, drink cocoa, cook on the camp stove and stay warm as best we can.

3:30 pm

I finished reading December's Esquire, so I check my phone again. As soon as I turn it on, I get two voice mail messages and three text messages. One is from Myla - "Are you OK?" is all it says. So, with one bar of signal strength, I call my boss.

I can tell by the way he answers his cell phone, he is in a meeting. He suggests that I save my battery, so we keep it short. I tell him we are okay and get just a smidgen of news from the rest of the world. I learn the local office is closed because few made it in.

It's a little funny. I can see blue sky in one part and dark clouds in another...

It'll be time to make dinner soon. I think eggs and bacon before the fridge gets too warm. It'll be dark too.

5:20 pm

The sunset about an hour ago, as I was making dinner. Eggs and bacon, since the fridge was warming up. We had ice cream for dessert and boy was it soft.

Candles light (or as best they can), the family room, as I write by their feeble light. This is where the "early to bed, early to rise" phrase came from. It just gets too dark to do anything else.

Day 2 December 16th, 2:40 pm

We went out today, just to see how far we could go. There were power lines down in multiple spots. Some where just cables and they let us drive over and around them. We got down to the shopping area and Home Depot was out of generators and Fred Meyers appeared to be open. We stopped in Fred's and bought Alec a flashlight, some pancake mix and some ground Starbucks coffee.

We ran into some friends at the store and they had watched some satellite TV (somebody has excess kilowatts on their generator) and there were reports of 7 - 10 days with no power in remote areas. Goody for us in the suburbs - estimates of only 2 - 3 more days.

After we ate lunch, a neighbor came over and asked if the kids wanted to watch a movie - if we had some gas. We did, from the ill fated swim meet morning, so the kids went over.

While the kids were out, Heather and I played our own version of darts on a magnetic dart board she had stumbled across. She won, by 21 points.

If we've got 3 more days of this, I'll figure out how to beat her.

8:30 pm

After a delectable dinner of chicken quesadillas and an enjoyable game of Whoonu, we are calling it a night.

The sound of the neighbor's generators will lull me to sleep with the hopes that my slumber is interrupted by all the lights we left on, coming back on.

Still warm, still well fed.

Day 3, December 17th, 9 am

Still no power, although, we do have hot water in our water heater. Evidently (and the credit goes to Heather) our gas water heater needs no electricity to function (as opposed to Heather, who needs coffee to function) and I took a hot shower this morning.

I think Heather is in there now. I should go take a look.

11:45 am

Almost 60 hours with no power. I've ran out of clean socks and I have no more cargo pants (to hold my flashlight, journal, pen, multi-tool and phone). My toes have been cold for a while, I think it has more to do with no clean socks and I've added my down vest as an insulatory layer.

I've been able to get a good enough signal on my cell phone to get weather from Google SMS. They're forecasting rain tomorrow and highs in the low 40s. At least it isn't snow.

I was not able to get a good data connection. I would like to check my email to see what the news is reporting on this situation and maybe find out where there is power. I'd like to get everyone out of the house for a sense of normalcy for a while (heat, light and something to occupy us other than our glowing personalities).

2:40 pm

We took another expedition to see how far we could go. What was passable before is impassable now, but because work crews are cleaning things up.

So, we headed the back way to Redmond (where they reportedly already have power), but based upon the backup, it was closed. We took some back roads and ended up in downtown Sammamish.

There were lights (both illumination and traffic lights) and we stopped for lunch. We ate at Acapulco Fresh (which was really good). They had heat. And we got gas.

We took a different route home and ended up on the other side of the closed road. Luckily for us, they have finally opened the fire access road, so there is a way into our neighborhood.

Our expedition was also fruitful in that we had good enough cell phone coverage to receive calls and check voice mail.

My messages were funny. One was from Myla, wondering why I wasn't on Friday's phone interview, obviously before her "Are you okay" text message. One was from another co-worker divvying up some work to be done - I couldn't really disagree could I? Number 3 was my mom wondering if we were okay.

5:30pm (final entry)

So, we decided that we had had enough. We are going to the movies. Hopefully, we will drive to where there is power. Fandango tells us that Casino Royale is showing in Bellevue. We'll go there, all bundled up like homeless people to wander amongst those finishing their Christmas shopping in the Bellevue boutiques.


While we were at the movies, the power was restored at our house. By the time we returned, the power had been on for four hours, so the house was warm again. We stayed up much later than we should have because the kids wanted a warm dinner. Who can blame them.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A lot elephant, some donkey

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Ethics: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

I saw this on my wife's blog. It will make it more clear for some of you. Although, I think that the survey was biased and didn't have enough choices.

How to get me to smile

I don't think I'm depressed. Really. I've read some other's posting about their feelings and I have nothing like that.

As I was heading out today to take Alec to swim practice, I grabbed a hooded, pull over sweatshirt. Since it was going to be a few minutes before I left and I was going to talk to Heather, I put the hood over my head so the sweatshirt was hanging down my back.

For some unknown reason, I took the sleeves and tied them around my chest. As I pulled them snug, I just smiled. It felt like I was being hugged.

I convinced Heather to try it out. She didn't get the same feelings of elation as I did.

Try it out, if you are feeling low. I remember reading an article about some engineering students designing a vest with inflatable bellows to simulate hugs for either depressed or autistic people.

I'm back, faithful readers

I'm back.

The Northwest was subject to a really bad windstorm (I still haven't caught up with the news) and Sammamish was subject to a power outage for almost 72 hours.

But all is not lost. I switched to my faithful Moleskine and kept on blogging - or maybe just logging. If it isn't on the web it can't really be a blog, can it?

I'll try to get it transcribed today, but I have a lot to catch up on!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Demonstration models needed

Not to brag, but I have some skills!

Heather says:
He also is becoming quite adept with unhooking my bra -- one handed -- before I realize he's snaked his hand up the back of my sweater. Damn! I can't even unhook my bra that fast!
I would be happy to demonstrate my skills!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dry cappuccino!

I have successfully made a dry cappuccino! That is my drink of choice and I usually don't get the proportions right.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

She excites me!

Tomorrow is trash day. Maybe there will be some rushing around in a short nighty.

Heather is a hot blogger!

Beau, your blogging is in need of improvement

Today, I stumbled upon a post I wrote back in July of 2005. This it was my second post, but somehow, it got into my drafts.

I made some iditorial notes and republished it. So, for those of you that won't go as far back in my archives as 2005 (why not!), here is a link.

What tarot card am I? Uh, oh.

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Thanks to Helen for this link.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Talk about tough love

Check out what this family did to help their son get back on the right path.

Tough-love remedy for an unruly teen: Two years. With monks. In Cambodia.

I don't know if I could do that to my kids. My kids suck the life out of me at times, but they really are good kids.

You know, this could be like compulsory military service in some countries. It serves as character development, although it doesn't build the national pride that I see in those countries. Compulsory military service won't fit in the United States or with the way the military is designed. So what about compulsory Buddhism?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Traveling with a carry on

As I've previously posted, I've been doing quite a bit of travel lately. In my efforts to streamline and minimize my airport time, a while back I purchased a rolling suitcase that I thought was carry on sized.

The thing is that I purchased it right before the ban on liquids and gels in carry on baggage. I didn't have any small size toiletries, so I just kept on checking my bag.

On my last trip, I left my razor and shaving cream (an almost new, full sized can) in the hotel. So, for this trip, I had to go buy new stuff. I took the time to find the under 3 ounce travel sized containers. I was so excited because I was able to find my brand and type of shaving cream in a small container.

I pre-packed it all in a quart sized ziploc bag and packed it in an easy to get to spot in my bag. I checked in online at home and was off to the airport (by way of a swim meet in Kitsap).

I arrived at the airport and I wasn't going to be one of those people who is trying to cram their gigantor bag into the overhead bin, so I checked with the carry on bag sizer. Yes, astute readers, you know where this is going already. It wouldn't fit. Incredulous, I waited in the check in line (unfortunately, I chose Horizon, where they can only check me in, not accept my bag) to ask if it would fit or not. And just like the sizer indicated, it wouldn't fit. Evidently, the MD-80 has the industries smallest overhead bins.

So much for saving time. I had to check the bag (at least I did it before I tried to get on the plane, saving myself some embarrassment). I had to claim by bag later - which in San Diego wasn't an issue, they were very quick. Going home will be another story. Alaska Airlines in Seattle is very slow to get bags out.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas time is here

This is the weekend when my street puts up Christmas lights. What makes it a notable occasion is that someone rents a cherry picker and the whole street puts up lights. It takes very little time to put lights on the upper reaches of your two story house when 3 guys are doing it.

I'll post some photos in a while - once the street gets all gussied up for Christmas.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Getting Things Done this week

This week has been a hectic one, mostly due to work. I was traveling for two days and had less than optimal internet access. I couldn't download my email to deal with it when I was offline from the office I was in. On the way home, I couldn't remember my T-Mobile wi-fi account, so I couldn't even catch up in the airport before I got on the plane.

Wednesday, I had an inbox with 2 days worth of high priority emails, some high priority tasks to do and a 3 hour conference call that ended up going 5 hours, plus some additional time rescheduled for Friday.

I was able to take advantage of the GTD practices and I accomplished a whole lot. One of the tenets of GTD is that if it can be done in less than 2 minutes, do it now, otherwise put in on your to-do list (mine is Remember the Milk). Taking advantage of priorities, I was able to tell people when I would get the things done and what things I should be doing right now.

It was great! Every day I worked hard, used the system and kept my head above water. I only had to postpone 1 task - I was amazed at how effective I was amidst all the emails and chaos.

GTD is a great system and I'm glad I discovered and implemented it. The next weeks portend to be just as busy and I'll need all the good technique to get through it.

Implementing GTD has been a life changing process and really made both my personal and professional life much more efficient and effective.

Ran out of gas

Saturday was going to be a one post day, but something happened today that warrants an extra one. You can read Heather's recounting on her blog.

As the title implies, we ran out of gas this morning. We had a swim meet in Kitsap and had to leave our house at 5:55 am in order to make the Fauntleroy-Southworth ferry.

The kids got up with out complaint just after 5 am and got ready. We were only a few minutes late leaving our house and I noticed that the fuel gauge was already on E. I wasn't worried about it, because I hadn't heard Heather talk about how low on fuel she was.

About a mile from our house, I felt the car stutter. Only after it happened the second time, did I realize what it was and put the car in neutral.

We coasted to a stop on the side of the two lane road. Because I was wearing shoes, pants and had a jacket (Heather was in a nice short skirt and sandals - going to a swim meet, rememeber), I walked home to get a gas can and to drive for gas.

I flipped the collar on my pea coat up and headed out into the dark, foggy and cold morning. As I started up the main street into our development, the fog was settling on the sidewalks and getting icy. I had to walk on the grass, because I could get better traction there.

It took a while, but I found a gas can and took my MINI to the gas station.

In my rush, I filled the gas can too quickly and it splashed out. I wiped it off as best I could, but I already smelled like a gas station attendant. I didn't want my car to smell that way, so I unrolled all the windows. At 45 mph and 28 degrees, there is quite a wind chill.

I got back to Heather and the the kids and started pouring the gas in. I must have chosen the slowest gas can we had at home - it had no air inlet. So, I stood in the lane of traffic for about 3 minutes while filling the car.

After taking my car back and filling up Heather's Expedition, we ended up missing the ferry. We drove the long was around (across the Tacoma Narrows) and ended up about 40 minutes late.

We didn't miss all of the warmups and I got some exercise this morning. All's well that ends well. Hopefully we take the ferry home. That will be enjoyable.

Friday, December 01, 2006

My kids are well trained

I was working and my youngest came running into my office a few minutes ago. "Daddy, Daddy, come here. We need to show you something." I could hear excited voices coming from the family room.

I go over there and they have paused the Tivo on a screen from Ben 10, a show they watch on Cartoon Network.

Yes, that is MINI Coopers on the screen! How is that for a sighting!

When we go for a drive, they always call out the MINIs that they see. They are no longer faked out by the new Volkswagon Beetle, either.

What great kids I have.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Now that Sarbanes-Oxley is under control, where will the accountants go?

Amsterdam! To the Red Light District, no less. No, this isn't a bunch of bean counting suits going to brothels and strip clubs to celebrate the end of a big project. The brothels in Amsterdam seem to have their own accounting difficulties.

In an article titled Amsterdam Curbs Prostitution 'Windows', the Guardian Unlimted writes "City officials ... are shutting down nearly a third of the 350 prostitution "windows'' in Amsterdam's famed Red Light District as part of a crackdown on crime."

Evidently, the less than stellar accounting practices in the brothels makes it hard to find "reputable accountants are often unwilling to work with them, making it difficult to keep correct books" which opens them up to illegal practices like "money-laundering, or other illegal financial activity."

So, all this is where the accountants need to go! They've got to have great work place benefits and when they have company parties - dude, they must be ragers! And I bet if the accountants got laid more, we wouldn't have policies like Sarbanes-Oxley forced down our throats.

Snow day 3 in the Issaquah School District

We are having our third snow day in a row! It looks like it is warming up outside, but there is still snow on the ground and ice on the street (at least in front on our house). However the snow days appear to be coming to an end, so says the Issaquah School District.


Issaquah Schools and all school-related activities are once again cancelled today, Thursday, November 30.

Although roads in some areas of the District are ice free, many roads remain treacherous to navigate. While we want students to return to classrooms as soon as possible, we put their safety first.

We expect school to resume on a normal schedule tomorrow. Thank you for your flexibility during the storm.
Sorry kiddos! Enjoy the last day!

Opera MINI browser on a phone

As a MINI owner, anything mini catches my eye. As a tech geek, anything techie catches my eye.

Opera (the alternative browser people) have a version for mobile devices, Nintendo devices and now a Java based one that will run on my phone. How cool is that! Plus, I also like coffee, so java catches my eye too.

So, this browser is supposed to pre-process web pages in order to optimize them for viewing on the small screen. It also folds long lists, again to make them better to view on the small screen.

My phone already has a browser, but it doesn't really connect to the Internet, just some dumbed down and cleaned of any formatting version that Cingular provides. That browser doesn't really get me anything other than headline news and weather. So, I've been looking for something like this.

The browser seems a little slow to load initially, but then responds pretty well. I'm not looking for the greatest internet experience, but one that fits in my pocket anywhere I go. I know there are limitations on the cellular network and such a small screen.

I tried it out and went to the mobile version of Remember the Milk (my phone browser won't take me there). It worked! I was able to view my tasks and everything. It didn't do so well with the full featured AJAX version of the page, but hey, I'm on the phone.

It is great that this kind of processing power (and research too - preloaded with Wikipedia search box) can be packaged in such a small device. This is one step closer to ubiquitous Internet access. Now I need a better data plan on my phone!

The Opera Mini browser is available as a free download and a link can be sent to your mobile phone.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

How do you read my blog?

My wife has been playing with Feedburner RSS feeds on her blog and I was wondering:

How do you read my blog?
Directly read posts in a web browser

Feed aggregator (bloglines, google reader, etc)


Current results

Coming home to the snow in Seattle

My trip home wasn't uneventful, but I got home and that made me happy. The office in Glendale is pretty close to the Burbank (aka Bob Hope International) Airport, so I was able to get there quickly. I had some time to spare, but I couldn't remember my T-Mobile wi-fi hotspot account user name, so I responded to emails off-line.

About thirty minutes before the flight's departure time, people started lining up. Normal practice on South West, but I was flying Alaska. It was weird. And then, in another display of strangeness, they announced that they would load the aircraft from the rear to the front. It makes perfect sense. I was sitting towards the back of the plane, so I got to get on quickly - all those people in line had to step aside.

The airline also announced that our "non-stop flight to Seattle would make an intermittent stop in Sacramento to refuel." Evidently, the winds were high and we needed to take off on a short runway. With the plane as full and heavy as it was, we wouldn't have made it with a full tank of gas. It delayed our flight by about an hour. It sucked, but there were some advantages. Fewer crazies on the streets when we got here.

Listening to the news, I expected it to be a real challenge driving home. It was 19 degrees outside and my MINI needed snow brushed off and the windows scraped. The driver side door handle had frozen shut, so I had to crawl in through the passenger seat. I was happy because I found a watch cap in my trunk and the seat heaters were warm!

The interstates were all clear, but wet - obviously salted or some thing done to keep the ice from forming. As I got closer to Bellevue on 405, there was sometimes a build up of ice between the lanes, but people drove appropriately. It was no big deal.

Once I left the interstate, it was a different story entirely. I don't think the roads in Issaquah or Sammamish were salted, plowed or otherwise. There really were cars just stopped in lanes, abandoned. I even saw a car with tire chains abandoned on the side of the road. I had no issues driving, stopping or turning - my MINI is front wheel drive and that makes a world of difference.

The roads were icy but not undriveable. I can see that school buses would have difficulty and school was canceled again (text message received while I was on the airplane letting me know school was canceled today).

It is supposed to snow more tonight and record lows are supposed to be broken. Ah, this is really winter! I like looking out my window and seeing snow covered bushes, lawn furniture and mountains. I like this.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snow day!!!

At 4:10 am my phone started ringing, receiving a text message. School is canceled! But darn it, I'm not there!

I understand it was pretty nasty at home yesterday - it took over 2 hours to get home from swim practice last night. I hear that there is over 8" of snow at my house!

I hope they stay warm and enjoy the snow.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Post holiday travel

This was written in my Moleskine while waiting for my flight to Burbank to take off.

Since we moved to Seattle (and kept my job in Oakland), I have started to travel quite a bit. Today, I begin a series of trips. For the next three weeks, Monday, Tuesday and sometimes Wednesday, I'll be somewhere else.

But with all this traveling, I've begun to notice some things about my fellow travelers.

Usually, the first flight of the day is primarily business travelers. Sure, try to carry as much in a carry on as possible, but they are ready or laptop screening or already have their gels, liquids and toothpaste in a ziploc bag. They move through security quickly. They get on the plane and pull out the Wall Street Journal or Fortune magazine.

This trip is right after Thanksgiving weekend. These travelers are different. I'm on the first flight to Burbank, Monday morning and this plane is full of college students going back to school. College students have the same gadgets as business travelers, but the security lines are slower. Instead of business publications, it is text books: Introduction to Neuro Science, Italian Songs and Arias. Instead of leather briefcases, it is nylon backpacks and messenger bags.

This trip was oversold - something I haven't seen in a while (since my last ill fated trip right before the Fourth of July). Unlike what I've seen on Airplane, the guy who was bumped was polite and understanding as he was moved to standby on another oversold flight. Considering that he was at the end of the jetway, almost on the play, his behavior was pretty exemplary.

As we wait for de-icing, the plane has a certain quietude to it, sort of like a library: the rustle of papers, an occasional quiet whisper. Which decays as we roll into 15 minutes late for departure.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Remember the Milk integrated with Google Calendar

Remember the Milk has been my to-do list manager of choice for a while now. It has some really great features:
  • Reminders by Instant Message, email, text message
  • Multiple lists with priorities
  • Create to-dos via email or text message
  • Share or send tasks to others
  • Publish your task list via RSS or iCal
  • Supports the use of tags on tasks
  • Tasks can be associated with URLs or locations and laid on top of a Google Map
It easily integrates with Getting Things Done and I use this service on a daily basis. On top of all that, it is free. On a daily basis, I live and die by my RTM task lists.

But they have taken it one step further. Google Calendar has some functionality to display web content. Google has created some calendars that show the weather for your location or the phase of the moon. Emily, Omar and Bob T Monkey at RTM have just released RTM for Google Calendar. It uses one of these web content calendars to show your tasks that are due on a particular day.

It gets even better than that! You can add and complete tasks as well! From the looks of it, it is based upon their recently released Google Gadget for the Google personal homepage or Google Desktop sidebar.

Remember the Milk is an excellent Web 2.0 task list. Though still in beta, it performs excellently and the team keeps adding new functionality and is quick to provide support! I can claim identifying at least one bug.

I recommend this service. You should use it. Google should buy it and integrate it into their services.

Thanksgiving day re-re-visited

We had a free turkey from!
So we did it again tonight; turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing. It was an abbreviated Thanksgiving day.

It is still snowing!

So, it has been snowing since about 4:30pm. The snow flakes are pretty big and it doesn't look like it is going to let up. I'm going to the airport tomorrow morning, so we'll have to see how it is then (maybe I'll get a mo-blog off).

But the kids are enjoying it!

Here is a longer one! And for those of you privacy minded (paranoid) this one isn't in the public search! How about that!

Keeping the reflexes honed

Chase: Dad, I want to show you something upstairs.
Me: Okay, let me grab my coffee.

Chase leads me upstairs. Up the stairs strewn with stuff they have thrown about.

Me: I hope you don't want to show me the dirty stairs.
Chase: Lets out small laugh

As we reach the top of the stairs, the boys leap out from the either side of the landing, armed with light sabers. Only then, I realize the thing that she was carrying was a samurai sword.

Quickly, I put my coffee down and grab the arm of the littlest one. I can use him to block their attacks, while I disarm him, so that I can begin the best defense - an offense.

My skills as a swordsman allow me to drive off the three attackers and give them the admonition, "It is okay to ambush me. Just don't let me bring my coffee and make sure I am armed."

Yes, this is my house.

Postscript: As we walked back from the after Thanksgiving games, our kids ran ahead and turned down our street before my wife and I made it. I noticed the littlest one, darting from bush to cars in driveway, using cover and concealment and 3 to 5 second dashes to get to our house. I'm not sure who he was maneuvering on or if he was moving tactically to remain hidden from us, but he is practicing good techniques. Start young!

We've had snow!

For the last two days, when I wake up, there has been snow on the ground at our house. Not a measurable amount, but only collecting on the colder parts of the ground (no grass, on top of the shed, etc.).

This is interesting, for our second winter, because this time around it is all happening earlier.

But in true Seattle fashion, it is here one minute and gone the next. The snow will have melted by 10 am and most likely the sun will come out.

Yesterday, I left the house at 7:45 to take Alec to swim practice in Kent. By the time I was half way there, the roads were dry and I wished I had brought my sunglasses. Such is life in the Northwest!

Today, it is quite windy. Hopefully, trees stay upright, the roads stay open and the power stays on!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Help defend me from false claims of libel

My wife has made public claims that I have libeled her, by writing that her Sweet Potatoes were actually Sweet Potato Casserole.

The Free Dictionary has the following definition:
cas·se·role Pronunciation (ks-rl)n.
a. A dish, usually of earthenware, glass, or cast iron, in which food is both baked and served.
b. Food prepared and served in such a dish.
Is this blue dish a casserole?
We're putting this one to the people of the internet! Help defend me! Feel free to comment here or on the accuser's blog.

Zagat guide for Seattle

I am a big fan of the Zagat's surveys. No, it isn't about listening to the voice of the people; I think that the Zagat's survey's are good honest reviews. My opinions are similar to the that of the combined reviewer, so I must have something in common with the Zagat demographic.

One of the many things that excited me about moving to Seattle was that it had its own Zagat guidebook. I'm pretty good about reviewing restaurants that I've been too. And I'm not ashamed to admit it, I like the fact that participants in their surveys get a free copy of the guide for the area that they reviewed.

Over the years, I've gotten the San Francisco and Seattle editions. This year, they didn't publish a Seattle guide. In one way, that makes me sad, sad that there aren't enough participants or restaurants reviewed to make a full guide book. But on the other hand, they sent America's Top Restaurants instead. I'm okay with that. I've been doing some more traveling lately, so having a more encompassing guide book is attractive.

But get out there residents of the Northwest! Review restaurants on Even if you do it for the free book! There is such great food here in the Northwest.


We had a very nice Thanksgiving Day, shared with lots of friends. And when I say lots, I mean on the scale of what our family gatherings were when we were in California.

We were invited to some friends' (made by way of kids in the same class) house, then to the movies (warning: movie spoilers included) and then to another family's house for dessert and games.

We shared the dinner preparations; Heather and I brought Risotto with Butternut Squash Pancetta and Jack Cheese, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole and Pumpkin pies. The rest of the nice dinner was prepared by the Sansings.

It was never my family's tradition to go to the movies after Thanksgiving dinner, but it was Heather's and evidently the Sansing's as well. I now understand why it makes a good tradition - two dessert courses.

Usually, I would eat a gigantor dinner and then a gigantor dessert and then I would just want to roll into a corner and take a nap. This time, I ate a gigantor dinner, followed by a moderate dessert and then a break for the movie. Then, I was able to come back for a second dessert after the break. Twice as much dessert!

We went to see Happy Feet as our break movie. The first half of the movie was pretty cute, about Mumbles the penguin was different (he couldn't sing and couldn't find his heartsong, but boy could he dance). Then it started to get dark and environmental and political as Mumbles went on his quest to find the aliens who were taking all the fish. Mumbles even ends up in a zoo after floating up on the beach in front of an oil refinery. It got dark enough that I was really wondering how they were going to get back to the cute penguins and finish the kid story.

After the move we went to another house and there were easily 50 people and kids there. There were tons of desserts and I didn't see my kids from the moment they walked in until they were told dessert was going to be put away.

I met a whole lot of new and friendly people and even played adult games. No, not adult games, but games with adults! No Hi Ho Cherry O here!

One of the really nice things about the day was getting to see other people's houses. Our house is pretty plainly painted on the interior, all white walls, white carpet. It is nice to see what other people have done in terms of earthy reds, greens and yellows on the walls. I think that this has also helped us decide that we want to replace our kitchen counter tops with granite. Yep, that is quite an expensive project, but we are thinking about it seriously. I'm sure it will turn into a blogging series.

Happy Thanksgiving to every one!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tea and sweaters

I'm getting old! Or, if you ask my wife, I'm turning into my parents.

Since it has started to get cold, I've begun to wear sweaters. I have desires to drink tea instead of espresso.

I was bummed out at the last pre-school meeting because there was some Chai, but I didn't get to have any because we shortened the break time.

This morning, I had some espresso when I sat down to work, but promptly decided I wanted some chai tea. Strange.

Or maybe it is just winter time and I'm compensating for the cooler weather.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Confessions and coercion

I haven't ran in a week and a half. It started the previous weekend; we stayed up too late and didn't have Alec come to swim practice last Tuesday. I slept i and that was the breaking point. This morning, it was raining and I just didn't feel like it.

That is my problem. I like to run but sometimes I just lack the motivation to get out and do it. Then, I take advantage of the little things (like the rain or the lack of sleep) to get out of it.

That's my confession.

I know I won't be running on Thursday either. There are pies to be made and risotto and more. We'll be sharing Thanksgiving with some of our friends in the neighborhood, so I'll need to run afterwards...

On to the coercion part:

Last night, I went with Heather to the monthly co-op preschool meeting. I volunteered to go with her (maybe with the hope that we'd go out for coffee afterwards). During the meeting, the teacher leaned over to me and asked me, "How did you get coerced into coming here?"

Heather was at the meeting and sure, there were only Mom's there (the lone father who was attending the meeting came late).

No coercion here!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I must be careful

Now that Heather blogs, my every action and innuendo is available for public scrutiny. Btw, other than the boobie flash I didn't get lucky this morning.


Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's a record week!

Because I get up so early, I was able to get a jump on a blog review/comment of a new Google feature. This time, my blog posting actually linked to the Google Blog entry and it made it on the trackback list.

Having my posting there brought me record amounts of traffic. I had 69 pageviews, just on Thursday! If only I could get 69 every day!

So far, this week is topping out at 123 visitors and they didn't all read one page and leave! Four people actually read my post about Google and read other pages! I'm pretty excited about that. Maybe I can covert 1 of them into a regular reader... Well, I can hope.

On the other neat factoid, these visitors came from all over the world! The United States, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, Germany, Austria, Philippines, Malaysia and India all were represented in my visitors. That in it self is pretty neat.

To the early bird go the visits!

Civic processes

The city in which I live has been planning on building a Town Center for a while (in strategic plan from 2002) and is now in the public feedback portion of their development plan. Last night, I attended a public meeting to discuss... something - maybe the amount of retail space and the potential sales tax revenue. I dunno.

By the way, the Director of Community Development, Kamuron Gurol, is an excellent facilitator. I was impressed how he was able to respectfully answer people's questions even when he didn't have an answer or was walking back in the process many steps. I had a flash back to high school civics when he was explaining the length of the public feedback process to some woman.

But I digress. I really wasn't there for the Town Center project. My wife is somewhat interested and involved with it. I was there because we were planning on going out to coffee afterwards. Now that is a way to get people involved with civic processes - tempt them with hot dates with hot women!

It turns out that Sammamish rolls up the sidewalks at night. At 9:30 pm, most everything was closed! So, we'll try again for a date, but this time not one involving civic processes!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

She's gone and done it now!

My wife, Heather, finally did it! No, we didn't try out that freaky new position in the latest Cosmo, she started a blog!

I've been suggesting that she blog for a while, because she has an outlook, which is sometimes funny, sometimes inflammatory, and always all her own - all of which contribute to good blogging.

You can also tell we are related. On her first day of blogging, she talks about pooping, much like I spoke about being regular. And as you will read there, some of the things I have made comments about, she has commented on (or even planted the seed).

Welcome to the world of blogging, Heather! I love you.

Now, instead of watching TV together, we can blog together. Isn't that romantic?

Now if only I can get her into texting and IM....

Google's done it again - click to call

Google has introduced one more neat feature on Google Maps - Click to Call!
Read about it here. And try it out - it really works.

There are several services like this, JaJah is one that charges a small fee to connect your phone to somebody else's (but does it internationally). This is a great step in telephony and computing and just being connected.

Already, through VOIP, if you call my work phone, it gets forwarded to my home office and simultaneously rings on my cell phone. With instant messaging, VPN and wi-fi, any place with internet and cell phone connection is just the same as my office.

I don't use any soft-phone service like Skype, but I am tempted. I still like being able to walk away from my computer and through a smaller more portable device (like my cell phone) still be connected.

Google recently launched Java based Gmail client for phones and it works on my phone. They also just released Google Maps for mobile devices. They both work great, although I need a bigger data plan.

This is what Web 2.0 and 3.0 are going to turn into. Sweet.

Power is back!!!

Update: Heather just called me to say that the power is back.

Now it brings up an interesting question? Will they un-cancel school? They've communicated the closure via email newsletter and the school district website...

I think that they can't un-cancel it.

Power outage!!!

Yesterday, I spent the day at the MINI dealer (Northwest MINI) with my car in service. It wasn't bad (the day) because I was able to work at the dealership. Not working on cars, but they have wi-fi in their customer waiting area and several desks at which to work. They even drove me to a restaurant to pick up lunch. About 4 pm, I was out of there, my credit card debt a lot higher and my MINI all fixed up.

There were several things that needed some fixing, so it added up. But that's not what all this is about. That was just setting the stage.

Evidently, the power at my house went out at about 1:30 pm, yesterday. When I got home, after waiting at swim practice, the power was still out. This was at 8 pm. I had talked to Heather and she asked me to bring home something fast for dinnner. The main road in was also closed because trees were down, mingled with power lines.

We ate by candle light and shortly there after went to bed.

Because I was out all day, my cell phone had died and my laptop battery was low. Both of these, I was planning on charging at home! I have a watch, that I rarely wear, that had an alarm. I have never used the alarm on it before, so I'm a little wary of trusting it to wake up.

The power was still out when I woke up at 5 am. I heated some water for Heather and the kids on my backpacking stove so they could have hot oatmeal or coffee instead of just warm oatmeal or coffee. We headed out to swimming - where I knew the power to be on - 3 cities east of us. The road was still closed, but the power was on on Mercer Island.

I'm writing this post from here and charging my cell phone while I wait.

The power is out at my kid's school (it is right in our neighborhood, so on the same power lines). While poking around on the web, I found a really cool school emergency notification system. It is the Public Schools Emergency Communication System and seems to be somehow affiliated with They show emergency information for school districts and have email and pager/text message notification! Pretty cool! Our school is closed today!

I'm going to have to figure out how to work today (or if I really need to work today - I haven't checked my calendar yet). There is wi-fi at the library, some stores in Issaquah and yes, of course Starbucks.

It will be an adventure.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm so proud

For two days in a row, when I've woken up my 4 year old (5 in January, for perspective), he has gotten out of bed and started to make his bed! He has also taken off his pajamas and put them in his laundry basket!

For the quality control people, yes, two days doesn't make a trend, but it starts one!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cascade Ridge Veterans Day Assembly

At my kid's elementary school, there was a Veteran's Day Assembly today. It was a nice assembly, the kids sang patriotic songs, read some writings about why they are proud to be Americans, and honored veterans by singing the service songs.

There were 8 veterans representing the Army, Air Force and Navy, and they all had some connection to the school, either parents or grand parents. As one of the parents/veterans, it was a nice display. The kids all performed very nicely.

It also made me think of a lot of things. Firstly, my wife had mentioned that this would never have happened in California. Sad, but I agree with her. Our schools never did, but I also think that the political climate is different in California. Secondly, whenever I hear the "patriotic" songs, it makes me think of all the people I know and I don't know who have served. Sure, I served, but I was in a peace time army, nestled between the Gulf War and current war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have an understanding, and maybe a better understanding of what our soldiers are doing, but I still don't know. But what I do know, is that it is tough, dirty and requires a lot of sacrifice, both on the personal front and for all of their loved ones.

I'm glad I live in a country where we are free. We have so many things, things that we see as everyday, that others don't have.

To those who have served, thank you.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Integration with other Google products

I wrote and tried to post this from with in Google Documents and Spreadsheets when I originally wrote it.

Today, after writing about some funny news article, blogger told me that they now support posting from Google Docs and Spreadsheets! So, this is the test of it. If you are reading this, it means it was successful. If it isn't succesful, I'm not going to re-write this (or copy and paste).

Gmail just added the feature to be able to open spreadsheet attachments with Google Docs and Spreadsheets! Nice feature, no need to download to my PC and then open them with Excel upload to Docs and Spreadsheets to view them.

I like how Google (and other Web 2.0 businesses) continue to add new features to their products. This is a good development in software evolution. Who wants to wait 4 or 5 years for the next version? Why not add features incrementally?

Now, they need a better name for Docs and Spreadsheets - I've written it too many times in this posting.

This is a way to collect taxes

Dancing eunuchs taxing red-faced shopkeepers

Check this out. This is some way to collect back taxes. It sounds like state sponsored sexual harassment. It is a strange world.

Now the thing that I find most interesting...
Eunuchs are still common in India, where they live in closed-knit communities. Some are castrated men but others are transsexuals and hermaphrodites who have been ostracized by their families.

Also known as hijras, they are widely feared and move around towns and cities in groups and demand money on occasions such as marriage or the birth of a child. They are believed to have occult powers.

So, in all actuality, the government hired a bunch of thugs (or at least people that inspire fear) to go out and induce people to pay up.

In the US - black helicopters, windowless vans, SWAT teams kicking down your door.
In India - bands of eunuchs.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Get your quivering beaver at Burger King!

This post is rated PG. Although, there is adult humor cleverly concealed in here.

Some times, when you go to a really fine restaurant, the food can be described as causing intense emotional excitement.

That same experience can be reached at Burger King. Yeah, that guy looks kind of creepy, but hey, he must do it for somebody.

This is the promotional toy for Open Season, some new animal themed movie. I want to know what the moose will do!

I have an innie

It took some coaxing. I have an innie belly button and it took some coaxing for it to want to make an internet appearance.

The belly button now works as it should!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Don't stick your finger in my belly button

Evidently there are sites where you can create your own buttons.
Here is my button and my belly button. Yes, this is really a link to my belly button. Every time you push it,. it makes me feel weird.The link goes to the site that helped me create it, but it is really all about how the cursor changes.

Edit: I posted this really quickly, because I had to rush my kid off to swim practice.
Here are some more links:

Button maker
Steal These Buttons!
Brilliant Button Maker

Thanks omninaif and Helen for turning me on to these sites!

Wishing it were the weekend

When my alarm went off this morning, I started to think through what I needed to do today and if I could afford to snooze the alarm (for 7 minutes). I thought about how I needed to wash the kids soccer uniforms for their games, how the soccer games didn't overlap and the games weren't until 11 o'clock or so.

No need for me to get up right away.

I went back to sleep for my 7 minutes and when the alarm went off the second time, I realized it was Friday, not Saturday morning.


And so, I'm up.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Yogurt and Granola

I enjoy granola with yogurt for breakfast. You may call it a little European, but there are quite a few other European things that I like too.

But granola does not go well with Pina Colada yogurt. Berry yogurt, yes. Peach, yes. Pina Colada, no. And I bet it doesn't go with lemon either. Or Strawberry Kiwi.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Special sandwiches

Yesterday, I met my wife and youngest at Pine Lake Park for a picnic lunch. She picked him up from pre-school and I made lunch. Not a great lunch, but I made special sandwiches.

Let's travel back a few more days, back to Saturday, the day of soccer games. Soccer games come with snacks. Snack on this day was a Smucker's Uncrustable, a strange, obviously crust-less, peanut butter and jelly sandwich sort of shaped like a ravioli. They were interesting in that neither the peanut butter nor the jelly squeezed out of them when you bit into them. My wife thought that they were strange, why not just make your own peanut butter sandwich. But after she had some of it, she said that they were special in that they had peanut butter on both sides of the bread-like substance.

Return to lunch yesterday with me.

Yes, there is peanut butter underneath the jelly. I did this on both sides of the bread, doesn't it look tasty? I don't think that the picture does it justice.

My apologies if this picture appear six times on my blog later this evening. I took the photo with my phone and tried to send it moblog style, but it didn't work. With just my luck all copies will eventually catch up, even the one I sent to my Remember The Milk to d0 list!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It's fall, no winter!!

This morning, as I headed to Mercer Island for my kid's swim practice and running (and this really won't be a running post, although I did run further this morning), I noticed that it was very fall like. Trees were turning colors and leaves were blowing in the morning breeze. It was quite beautiful. I was hoping to enjoy it more after the sun rose.
It was lightly sprinkling by the time I got back from running. By the time I pulled Alec out of practice, it was really raining. It rained for the rest of the morning (but it appears to have lightend up or stopped, as I look out the window right now).
So, I guess winter is here. In Alaska, fall would last about two weeks (which I never saw because I was always deployed someplace for those two weeks). Evidently in Seattle, it just barely lasts a day.
And thank goodness that I replaced my windshield wipers earlier this week!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dinner with Erik

Tonight, after the swim meet (both kids did very well again), we met Erik, one of my college room mates, for dinner. He was here at the beginning of his annual hockey road trip. We went to I Love Sushi in Bellevue and had an enjoyable dinner, but it was the company that made it enjoyable.
The food was surprisingly sub-par. The restaurant has excellent presentation (I really like the Caterpillar roll, it looks like a giant fuzzy caterpillar), but the food just didn't have that regular, good taste. The edamame just weren't fresh. The service was sub-par, our waitress would disappear for lengths of time. The kids were not on their best behavior. I still don't understand how they spilled the glass of ice... in Heather's shoe.
On the good side, it was great to catch up with Erik. It has been about a year since we've seen him and though I read his blog and he reads mine and we email and IM periodically, it is great to talk in person.

We talked for a long time, probably part of what pushed the kids over the edge. It even got so far that Chase ate the eyeballs off the tempura shrimp heads so that we would leave. She ate three eyeballs!
This is where it goes downhill. If you are sensitive of stomach, please stop reading here.
Through out dinner, my tummy was getting rumbly. By the time I got home, I needed to get to the bathroom. Badly. Evidently, I could be heard through the wall.
I finished up and came to my computer to start this entry and my daughter came and grabbed me by the hand and dragged me upstairs to my crying youngest son. He, too, had a similar upset stomach, except he didn't get seated in time.
I don't know if this was due to Quizno's at lunch or not so fresh sushi for dinner. I guess we'll find out, based upon whether our lunch mates or dinner mate has similar results. As I go to bed, my wife is telling me her stomach is beginning to feel burbly. Not good.
Good night!

How to tamp for espresso

I really enjoy espresso and if I had a little cash, just laying around, I would have more MINI mods and a new espresso maker. But I digress, as I am oft to do.

I periodically read CoffeeGeek, a website targetted at lovers of all things coffee. They target both the professional barista, home consumer and that in-between pro-sumer categories.

With some of the project work I've been doing, I've been going into the office a lot recently, where there is a lovely, little used manual espresso maker. When I first moved to Seattle, I downloaded the manual and learned how to use the machine. I was never successful at making good coffee. It was drinkable, sometimes. I mastered the mechanics of making espresso, but not the art. With my trips into the office and working with new people on my team, I was able to get an education on the art points.

We have a new demand planning diretor, Chris, who is a pretty good guy (good taste in music, enjoys coffee and has a tech geek leaning in him). It turns out that he too enjoys coffee and has a manual machine at home. I took advantage of his presence and got him to show me how to tamp - something I knew to be my weakness.

My shots had a dramtic improvement just from his lessons (it turns out that I was seriously over-tamping).

The ironic thing is that CoffeeGeek had recently published an article on tamping. And many of the points that Chris offered up are in this same article.

I like irony.

Boy did I feel dumb

On Saturday's in the fall, we have soccer games. As you might recall, I am the coach for both my oldest son's and daughter's soccer teams. But swimming season has also begun, which they both participate in as well. And as you can guess, there was a conflict this weekend. It wasn't really tough to overcome, but I screwed it up.

Warm ups for swim meets usually start at 8 am. Back that up for finding parking, getting to the pool, getting the stuff you need to entertain yourself and your non swimming kids, eating breakfast, and dragging kids out of bed that means that a swim meet day starts just about as early as a work day.

The boys soccer game was in the middle of the first day of the swim meet (I forgot to mention that, didn't I - some are two days), so we took two cars and I would go to the soccer game with out my son, since he was swimming. No problems here, I left the pool right on time and got to the field on time for soccer warm ups.

The soccer game was a great game. The boys really worked on playing their positions and it payed off. We were playing on a dirt field and I don't think they like it very much, but maybe this game will help them overcome that. I called my wife after the game and found out that the swim meet was done and she was going shopping to find a birthday present for a party our youngest was going to.

We were supposed to be at the girls' field at 1:30 for a 2 pm game. Heather didn't think that there was enough time to buy birthday stuff and eat lunch at home before we had to leave, so we decided to meet at Chipotle. I was supposed to go home and get my daughter her soccer gear and meet them there. This is where things started to go down hill.

I get home without incident and took off my soccer cleats before going inside. With this being fall soccer in the rainy North West, cleats get muddy or help pick up the cut grass, depending if you are playing on dirt or grass. My wife frowns (rightly so) on either of those substances in the house. My daughter's soccer stuff was right where she told me it would be and I zipped back out to Chipotle. It turns out, I left my cleats at home. Mess up #1.

I went to Chipotle and they weren't there yet. I found them shopping still and finished out the trip with them. I took the booster seat so that I could take my daughter to soccer and asked if she wanted to change in the bathroom in the restaurant. She wanted to change in the car. Mess up #2, but I didn't realize it at the time.

We had a nice lunch and I though I needed to leave at 1:20 to get to the field, which was pretty close. Everything went smoothly and we got the field just before 1:30. My daughter changed in the car and we walked out to the field. I walked up to the other coach and he said he wasn't the one we were playing and asked if we were at the right field. I thought I would wait for people to show up, but by now it was 1:35 but the kids and parents are timely.

I checked my Google Calendar reminder and learned that I was at the wrong field! Mess up #3. And there was only a slight chance that I would make it to the other field before 2pm. We run back to my MINI and as I'm driving, calling the team parents. Unfortunately, the roster I carry around with me only has home numbers (mess up #4). Luckily, one of the families also list their mobile number on their home answering machine. I called her, but she had dropped off her husband (without mobile phone) and daughter at the game. She was closer to the field than I and offered to return to let them know that I really was on my way.

We got to the game at about 1:56 and sprinted to the field. The parent's told me they were all warmed up and ready to go. I assigned positions and put the girls on the field and the ref came to me and asked if I had a pinnie for the goalie. I did, but they were in the car. Mess up #5. I sprinted back to the car and grabbed a jersey. On the good side, I don't really think that the game started late (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

The girls game was great and the ref was really good (It is nice to have a ref that cares at the younger kid's games). The ref was probably also a good role model because she was a teenage girl still playing soccer.

So, amidst my mess ups, which count 5, there were some good points. My son's swim meet went very well and both soccer games went well. In the end, all's well, that ends well, right?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Before and After

Before, originally uploaded by beau.raines.

Today, we changed out the chandelier in our dining room. The one that came with the house just wasn't our style. I'm no design expert, but I think it falls into the Rococo style and that just isn't our thing.
It was quick to take the chandelier down and assemble the new one, but the chain was a pain in the neck. Heather wanted to do the chain links and they were tough. I think that is what happens when we go from a brass chain to a nickel chain.

After, originally uploaded by beau.raines.

I wired it quickly (without shockng myself, either) and we were back in business. I think that the new one looks much nicer than the old one.

Running on Sunday!

It was sprinkling and overcast at 7 o'clock this morning, but I went anyways. There weren't as many people out as last Sunday. I ran 2.7 miles today.
It is almost ingrained into my schedule - run on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Running, day 3

Today, I ran 3.455 miles (thank you again, Gmaps Pedometer).
I found a better route on Mercer Island, where I can run most of the way on a trail with some lighting and no cars. I only have to run about a third of a mile on unlighted streets in the shoulder. What an improvement.

Buh bye, Writely

Google recently acquired Writely (if I were a true journalist, I would specify the date and the amount of the purchase) and under the cover of darkness two nights ago, released a new service Documents and Spreadsheets. This new service combines Google Spreadsheets and Writely documents all into one portal.

I really like Google's venture into the web based applications with Spreadsheets and Writely. I think that they provide some great opportunities for collaboration - I've used them to publish soccer team rosters and some required documents for games. It makes it easy for the other coaches to have the same set of documents that I do, with out having to email them back and forth. Think of disk space savings, when we all look at the same document online.

Some changes
  1. Consolidated user interface - all in the Google blue and white scheme
  2. One web portal for all documents
  3. The ability to tag documents has been added to Spreadsheets. I really like tagging and find it to be superior to folders. I bet I could write a whole blog posting on that. Maybe...

This is cutting edge, the web based Office 2.0 applications and I think that this evolution of the Internet will be pretty neat. There have been several articles on ZDNet about the ubiquity of Internet access, offline access to web based apps, and more. This is the future.