Sunday, December 30, 2007

Winter Sports Extravaganza

I've been on vacation for a whole week now - and to Heather's pleasant surprise, not worked very much. Maybe it has to do with a hard disk crash that I was subject too (but that is the subject of another, much geekier posting), but it has been nice not working too much. And on the good side, few other people are at work, so things aren't piling up too much.

We have had a beautiful winter here in Seattle. What that means is when it is raining at our house, it is snowing in the mountains and they are only 45 minutes away. This winter, we've been taking advantage of it.

So far this winter, we've been ice skating, down hill skiing, snow shoeing and my son has gone sledding with some friends and snow boarding. And we are only at the very beginning of winter.

My youngest son went to an ice skating rink with a playgroup and he really liked skating. It was really cool to see him come home and all he would talk about for the next day was taking skating lessons.

We went to the Summit at Snoqualmie and put the kids in ski and snowboard lessons for the day and they all had a blast. They picked it up quite quickly and they want to go back. I took a short lesson and it reminded me of a lot of the finer points I learned at the Northern Warfare Training Center.

I posted earlier about snowshoeing and this afternoon I am going out with a friend, his sons and my oldest. I'm looking forward to it.

This winter has been a winter sports extravaganza! We'll have to come up with some more winter activities - curling any one?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Greetings

Merry Christmas, all.

No, this isn't a blog giving greetings to you, this is about the email cards I've gotten at work. I've been on vacation, so I've been going through old emails and this one really struck me as funny and maybe inappropriate, because I don't see how it fits into Christmas.

Like most greeting cards it came with a nice greeting:

Sending warm thoughts your way this holiday season and wishing you a happy, healthy and fit New Year.

Nothing wrong with this, at all. Nice sincere thoughts that fit in a professional environment.

But it was the picture that got me.

Now, I'm all for women in short shorts, don't get me wrong. But getting hot pants pictures just doesn't fit in with the Christmas spirit for me, especially for work greetings. Maybe if it was Santa's Sexy Helper, it might be more Christmas-y, but even less work appropriate.

If you look closely, the Santa hat was actually photo-edited in!

I hope that you and yours had an enjoyable Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever holiday you celebrate in the winter and that your New Year starts off with a bang!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Measuring my blog's success

I'm a numbers guy and I really like the fact that with Google Analytics, I can measure how many people read my blog.

If you squint, you can see I don't get large number of pageviews. But I'm really not into that. I've got a small group of readers and thats why I blog. It helps keep my writing skills sharp and is fun and keeps me connected with people.

But the way I measure succes is through the comments I get. And sometimes this really flummoxes me.

I recently posted three pictures of my head, taken with the camera on my phone. It took no effort to make these posts, probably 30 seconds each at most. But between these three posts, there were 10 comments.

I don't quite understand it, but is my head really that interesting? Just keep the comments coming.

And thanks for commenting.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Long time, no blogging

So, I apologize for the long break between postings. It has been a few hectic weeks in our house, but things are beginning to wind down for the end of the year.

I have started a few posts and saved them in draft. Since they aren't really time sensitive, I'll finish them and post them later. But really, I haven't forgotten about my blog.

Nor have my friends forgotten about my wife's blog! I've had more than one person ask when is Heather going to post again. They tell me that my writing is good, but hers really makes them laugh! Come on, I'm funny too, aren't I?

CIMG6647Finals are done (last week) and my last work trip of the year is done (last week), Heather did some last minute traveling (last week) resulting in a change to my work trip, our oldest swam at the PNS sectionals (all last weekend) and then we took some well deserved time and relaxed in Seattle (photos) and went snowshoeing (this weekend).

I'm just glad it is winding down. I'm even going to take some time off! Yes, I'll really try to not work.

This weekend, I mentioned that we went snowshoeing. It was great. I just wanted to try it out, to see how it went for our family and everybody picked it up right away. I hadn't snow shoed (is that a word) since I was in the Army in Alaska and we used gigantic snowshoes. We rented some new modern ones from REI and they worked great. I caught the bug again - I want snow shoes.

We went up to the Nordic center at the Snoqualmie Summit and since the power was out, they weren't charging for the trail pass. It took a while to get everybody's snow shoes on (yes, I put on 4 and half pairs of snowshoes and I got warmed up just with that activity). We wandered off into the woods for about a mile in and turned around at a bridge? that was too narrow for me to be comfortable with my kids crossing it. It was just hiking in the snow. Serene, calm, in the outdoors.

I enjoyed it so much that I was trying to find someone who wasn't working on Monday, so I could take the day off and go again before I returned the snow shoes. I called quite a few friends, but alas, I couldn't find anyone, but it was better that way -things at work blew up, so I'm glad I didn't go.

I've now spent a great deal of time pining after snow shoes, which model, how much gear would I carry (and as a result would the snowshoes have to hold up). I'll be going again this winter. It would be a great way to experience Mount Rainier too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Why I need a hat to stay warm

How about without the hat? I'm not really an angry guy. I'm just intense.

Serial killer or just cold?

This one is for you, Helen.

Trying to not get sick

All of a sudden this afternoon I got a headache. Heather brought me an advil and I shortly there after I started to feel realy cold.

I put on my knit cap and I'm beginning to feel much better. I'm turning into my dad!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

This whore got paid!

Free stuff! We persevered and got free stuff. So, we ended up at REI 1 and half hours before the store opened, but the kids were prepared with Nintendo DSes and we stopped for coffee and scones while we stood in line.

The line didn't stretch as far as it did yesterday and some quick counts confirmed that we were well positioned to get free water bottles.

View Larger Map

Native was the breakfast sponsor for the day and we won a pair of sunglasses too! Unfortunately, the kids didn't get water bottles - they were evidently only giving them to kids over some threshold that mine hadn't crossed yet. They did get a key chain carabiner though.

Total collection:
1 1 liter Grand Opening Issaquah store water bottle
1 $5 gift card
2 Sunglasses cases
Some baked goods
Native sunglasses
2 Keychain carabiners

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Free stuff whores

A new REI opened close to my home and the grand opening is this weekend. They are giving away limited edition water bottles with gift cards, ranging from $5 to $200. You've got to admit, free REI stuff is great.

I am not alone in my desire for free stuff from REI. Thirty minutes before store opening, the line wrapped almost all the way out of the shopping center. There were far more people than the 200 free water bottles. I wasn't going to stand in the giant line with my kids for no free stuff.

View Larger Map

We decided to go to breakfast at Denny's instead. It was fun, we sat at the bar, which we usually can't do. My daughter tried to order a diet coke for breakfast. I'm a cool dad, but that was nipped in the bud.

After breakfast, we walked through the new REI. It is a nice store, but was crowded. I think that it is cool that there is an REI close to home, but at the same time, I think that it could have a dangerous effect on my bank account.

I'm a free stuff whore. I'll be there tomorrow, even earlier, kids in tow. We're getting water bottles and some gift cards. With two kids, I've got at least a 3 in 200 chance for a big gift card...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A new look for Remember the Milk

When I woke up this morning, Remember the Milk had a whole new look and feel! Better usage of screen space, display of tags and a nice keyboard interface, too.

You can read more about it on their blog, which includes screen shots. Its a much slicker user interface.

If you haven't checked out RTM yet, you should. And if you passed it up before, you should give it another look. The interface continues to get better and better and it is still free! Combined with Jott, you can rule the world!

In my opinion, I think they have Google-ified their interface some. I still maintain that they are building a great product and waiting to get bought by Google.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dinner is ready and waiting with a slow cooker

I have really started to get into cooking with the slow cooker recently. Between work, school, study sessions and swimming practices, my whole family is always on the go. Slow cooking has been a nice way to have dinner ready and waiting while we are out and come home after a hectic day.

I think that slow cooking is pretty cool and a great time saving method. It's just great that I can wake up in the morning and start making dinner (maybe even before eating breakfast). Then throughout the whole day, the house smells so good.

I've been learning and have had some good experiences and some not so good experiences. I used a tikka masala sauce from Costco and it dried out over the course of the day (it is meant to be poured over chicken and warmed up) and the slow cooking sauce from Williams-Sonoma was excellent. I've had problems where the slow cooker gets unplugged or I started it late (3 hours late on a 6 hour preparation is not a good thing).

The best one so far was from Food Network, Slow Cooker Chipotle-Lime Chicken Thighs Jamaican Rice and Peas. It was a hit with the kids and easy to make. I've got to figure out when is the right time to eat meals on the days I go to class so that I can eat dinner when I get home late and enjoy the good meal.

If you've got any good slow cooker recipes, post them or link to them here! I'm looking for ideas.

I'm sure I'll conti

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Jott Link to Remember the Milk

Today is like Christmas!

Jott, the neatest voice to text message or email service just made a link to Remember the Milk.

Jott Blog » You asked for it, you got it!

Basically, with my voice, I can add stuff to my web based to do list. When ever I think of something, I can just pick up my cell phone and Ka-pow, it will be there.

This is great. With school and work and always being on the go, I always have quick and easy access to my todo list now.

I'm so excited!

Ironically, I got called a "big-ass geek" today by a co-worker, in a very kind way.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wikipedia and education

Tonight as I was working on my Economics homework, I needed to look up a definition. As I've gotten back into the academic thought process, I decided I would look it up in the index of my text book. Before I was able to do that, I started IM'ing a friend of mine and while I was at my computer, I looked it up on Wikipedia.

Not surprisingly, Wikipedia had a page devoted to my topic. Surprisingly, it was a very simple definition and told me exactly what I needed to know - in an easier to understand way than my text book.

I'm not sure what this means for the future of my homework. I can find things faster online than in my text book and, in this case, a better, more applicable answer. This is my first time using Wikipedia for real research - sure I've poked around on there and read interesting pages, but this time I was looking for real and applicable information. And I found it.

I'm impressed, but at the same time new questions come up. How do I know that the article is accurate? I guess that is when I compare with my text book. And in the end that is even slower over all.

The web is having an impact on everything we do and this is just one way that web technology is disrupting education, an institution that goes back to the beginning of time.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Playground Day

Today was the first Dad's Play Day at my daughter's school (no recess for middle schoolers and not invited to half-day kindergarten recess). I hadn't eaten lunch, so lucky today was popcorn day and she shared with me. Yep, I hate popcorn, but it was better than the alternative of being hungry.

Plus, they run around and play! It takes energy to keep up with them. I have confirmed that I am not all that good at jumping rope, surprisingly worse at skipping rope and I cannot jump rope backwards.

After jumping rope, she found some of her other friends and we played Pac Man tag. This is not a game I played when I was young, but PacMan was in its heyday. You play it on a 4 square court and are constrained to stay on the lines. But you can pass another player if they are in front of you, so you can't trap them. Bummer.

I did a lot of running there. The little ones are quick and nimble! I don't corner as well as they do.

The recess bell rang and it was the end. I asked my daughter where she was going to line up for her teacher to pick them up. They lined up not by her classroom, but the gym! After all that playing, they have gym class.

There is a reason I'm no longer in elementary school. I just wouldn't be able to keep up!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Grow your own Metal Militia

I am a sucker for anything free. So, instead of reloading my Starbucks card, I got a new one, the one that comes with two free iTunes downloads.

As I was poking around on iTunes, my youngest (age 5) comes in and asks me if I have Master of Puppets on my iPod. The answer is no, but it is such an amazing question! I will download it shortly!

I ran upstairs to tell Heather what he just asked me and she tells me that he was asking her about it just a few days ago, too! I've got my own Metal Militia right here at home! My kids are so cool!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Energized by making a list

After thinking about breasts for my last few posts, it is time to get back to the serious content that I know you all love.

As I have previously written, I recently started Business school and some changes at work have given me a great deal of responsibility. As I add activities, I subtract sleep. I have been exhausted for a long time, and I can't seem to keep up with the rate that things are being added to my to do list.

Friday morning, I took a different approach. Before I even had coffee (see I'm not an addict), I sat down and went over the things I had to do. In the process, I came up with even more things to do, too. On the good side there were some tasks I could delegate and defer until much later. But at the end of it, I had a very long, prioritized list of things to do.

I felt energized after it all. I knew what I had to do on this day and even in what order. It was important because I didn't have any extra time as I had to prep for a weekend outing.

And just to draw the day to a close, I got everything done and I was ready to leave on time!

Now, I'm sure that this technique isn't news to those in the productivity world. But it was great to have such clarity of purpose and the right energy level to attack a busy day.

It worked wonders for me and I'll be repeating this strategy in the future. Mid-terms are right around the corner and I'm facilitating a 6 hour breakout session at an annual comapny meeting (and I'm flying in and out the day of the presentation); my plate is gonna be full for a while.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Breasts and Hooke's Law

My wife brought up Hooke's Law in a comment on Amelia's blog about her breasts.

After thinking about Amelia's boobs and Hooke's law, I realized that she made errors in her explanation of Hooke's Law. I did post a comment, the text of which I have pasted below and I can assure you that I will explain and demonstrate Hooke's law to my wife and how it applies to her breasts at my earliest convenience.

Scout's Honor [ed: my wife's pen name], while Hooke's law does apply to boobs, I think you misunderstood which forces where being discussed.

Hooke's law is applicable to springs and what force F is required to make them stretch a certain distance x. There is a material property of the spring k, called the elastic coefficient, which drives that ratio.

So, how does Hooke's law apply to breasts, in particular Amelia's? As she so astutely noticed, probably along with the other men in her town, her breasts are getting bigger. As her boobs (need to bring this comment back down to the level that it deserves) increase in size, they also increase in mass.

This increase in mass increases the force due to gravity on her breasts, which could cause some, but not all of the problems you identified in your comment. Obviously a force applied to the boob will actually pass back to where the boob meets the chest (not that great lower breast part), but that which is visible when showing off cleavage. I can not imagine that boobs will get so large as to actually cause a rupture, or explosion as Scout brought up, but if the current rate at which your breasts are increasing in size continues, they are going to be ginormous!

However, this is where the science gets fun! Amelia, we need you to collect some more information. Maybe this is better information for your husband to collect, to mitigate any anger issues that might arise from how much thought I've put into your breasts lately. We need to measure the change in the elastic coefficient of your boobs.

While there are many good scientific methods we can use, a good approximation would be to measure their firmness, which is where your husband comes in. Another method would be to actually apply weights to your nipples and measure the amount of stretch, but I don't know if you are that kind of girl or not. Which ever method you and your husband choose to measure the elastic coefficient of your boobs is up to you! Make it fun, science is fun!

So, Hooke's law dictates that the larger your boobs get, the more they could, for lack of a better term, sag. But I maintain, especially amongst preggers, that as your boobs increase in size, they will also get firmer (sweet). This increase in firmness, or the elastic coefficient, should mitigate any additional sagging. From my experiences with Scout's boobs during and shortly after pregnancy, the firmness will change during the course of the day, based upon feedings and other external influences.

Amelia, in the name of science, keep collecting and reporting the details!

If there is anyone from the NSF reading this, I would greatly appreciate some grant money so that I can study the effects of increasing breast size, both in preggers and non-preggers, on the elastic coefficient of the female breast.

[ed: I wish I had the right pictures to put on this post; a picture is worth a thousand words]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Baby Island: Boobs - A Visual Aid

Baby Island is a blog my wife reads and the authoress, Amelia, comments frequently on my wife's blog.

Amelia wrote this post, Baby Island: Boobs - A Visual Aid, and of course, I read it. How could I pass it up with a title like that. And I just feel the need to pass it on.

But it is a great read and all about math and science! Read it for the articles.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Toilet paper failure

My first "I'm blogging this moment."

My wife just came into the office and plopped this note on my desk.
Yes, she just returned from blogging in the bathroom. I'm not really sure that I needed to know this or if any of you really did either, but that is what makes it so much more blog worthy.

Not enough coffee

Last night, I didn't drink anything with dinner. A beer would have been nice with the take out burrito from Chipotle, but we didn't have any at home and I didn't pick up any on the way home. But I didn't drink any soda, water, lemonade, wine or cocktail either.

This morning, I woke up with a splitting headache which I attributed to dehydration. My lips aren't as soft as they used to be, either. So, I decided that I wouldn't drink my usual quantities of espresso and I would substitute water.

I had been drinking cup after cup of water, which is a rarity for me, but the headache was still there. Figuring that I had made a good effort to counter the dehydration, I had an espresso con panna. One shot with a little whipped cream and kapow - no more headache.

Before you go and suggest that this was a lack of caffeine induced headache, I maintain that the water finally took effect. And there is water in espresso, too!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Late nights = exhaustion

I'm beat. But it is worth it.

Unfortunately, this isn't a post about my late night parties with Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan. If I'm not at school late at night, I'm doing homework. It's not going to make Page 4.

Tuesday night, I was working on an accounting case study that kicked my butt. I was crunching numbers, trying to complete several financial statements, emailing team mates and even talking on the phone with them at 10:45 pm. Finally at about 11:30 I finished up and felt really good about it.

Wednesday morning, I had an early meeting that I had to drive to, so I was beat. The work meeting went well, but I was worried about how I would stay awake during class that night.

It turns out that staying awake wasn't a problem - I got all the financial statements completed properly, did my analysis fairly well (my reasoning was off, but the answer was right) and even contributed to class discussion. Knowing that I have no financial background adds to the amazingness of that contribution.

I'm still beat on Sunday morning and have another case study to write up, but I pretty excited about it. Hopefully, this one doesn't take all night long.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Drinking and homework

My wife just brought me a shot of vodka. She is alright.

It's a good thing all I have left on my homework is to format it nicely!

I always say that working on the weekends is better with a cocktail, I guess that homework is better with shots!

8 Random Facts

Helen once again tagged me, this time for eight random facts about myself. So here goes.
  1. I like a lot of espresso. I do also like espresso a lot. I drink about 6 shots a day. Ten on the bad days. I will try just about anything with espresso in it - I even made an espresso creme brulee twice (I forgot how bad it was the first time around).
  2. My favorite dessert is creme brulee. Not any of the fancy flavored ones (no green tea or chocolate), just a pure and simple creme brulee. And I think that it is snobby to refer to is as "the burnt cream," as they called it at the Chena River Lodge in Fairbanks, Alaska.
  3. I lived for 4 years in Fairbanks, Alaska and have slept outside in just my sleeping bag at -26 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. I love the outdoors, camping and hiking and wish I could spend more time with those pursuits.
  5. I really like haiku. The formal structure appeals to the engineer in me.
  6. Since I was ten, I haven't lived anywhere longer than 5 years. I hope to change that here in Washington.
  7. I haven't gotten any taller since I was a freshman in high school. I was pretty tall then. Most people have caught up with me now.
  8. I love new technologies and being on the leading edge. However, I am cheap (my friends tell me I am frugal) and that keeps me from being an early adopter of things that cost money. No iPhone here.
Wow. That was easier than I expected. Pretty random stuff. Enjoy.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The cost of education

Within the last 7 days, I have purchased over $400 worth of text books and readers. I sure to some, that isn't a large textbook spend, but I am only taking two classes! And I don't think I get to use the same text book next quarter.

What really drove me to rant about this was the $47 custom printed reader. Not a lot for a reader, but it wasn't even bound!

I hope that the text books for next quarter cost less.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The wrong car

Today is mobile blogging day. I just got dropped off at the passenger pick up area at Oakland International.

I am waiting again to be picked up by Ray in the correct silver Lincoln towncar. At least Ali and I got a laugh out of it. Hopefully his fare, Edgar, sees the humor in it too.

Ali, the wrong driver, says this happens about once a year.

Ahh, travel trials.

The benefits of ultra-light traveling

This morning when I left to catch my 6 o'clock flight, I missed a spot when I was shaving. Luckily, I had my razor and other toiletries in my carry on bag, so I just stood up went to the bathroom on the plane. I shaved the spot I missed, and didn't cut my throat in the turbulence.

How great is that? Shaving on a plane, just like blogging from your phone.
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Weird Al at the Puyallup fair

I've been awfully busy of late, but I really do have 3 posts that I want to write. Just so that I can at least get it written about with in 7 days of the occurrence, we went to the Puyallup Fair last Wednesday.

It was early release day at the schools, so we picked up the kids and headed to Puyallup. I even took vacation that day - real vacation - I didn't work!

We saw cows, sheep, pigs and horses (the photos are still on my camera) and were amazed at how clean the barns were. In fact, the whole fair was very clean and pleasant. I'll get the photos posted this week...

The concert that evening was Weird Al Yankovich and the grand stands were packed! A sold out show, for Weird Al... It was entertaining. But I'm not sure how we've set up our kids. My first concert was Metallica, Heather's was New Order and our kids, Weird Al. Not quite the same caliber...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

You make me smile

Helen recently awarded me a You Make Me Smile Award over at I forgot where I was going with this. Evidently my comments make her grin from ear to ear." I can't take all the credit, most comedy acts come in pairs, but she sets the foundation for me to build some pretty funny stuff upon. Watermelon.

So, when awarded this, I am supposed to pass it on to 10 others. So, without further ado, the 10 others that make me smile in alphabetical order. And yes, I mean that I make the letters of the alphabet when I smile.

  1. Agaetis Blojun
  2. David's Big Adventure
  3. Eugemar Strikes Back
  4. Laura's flickr photostream
  5. The Life and Times of a Broken Sith Lord
  6. LifeHacker
  7. Nullspace
  8. The United States of Motherhood
  9. Yomma Probably Wasn't Here
  10. Zen Habits
I guess tag-backs don't count, but new Helen's new posts make me smile too.

There are a lot of other things that make me smile, too. I written about hugs from my littlest - he seems to just know when I need them. He has also taken to leaving me gifts - stuffed animals and drawings seem to be the leading ones. Watching my kids grow up and become more and more little people than little kids. Sunrises over the cascades.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Trip to the dentist

Yesterday, I went to the dentist and good news - no cavities. In fact, the dentist said I had the best teeth in the neighborhood. On the other hand, the Hygienist said, I really needed to work on my gums. What good is having good teeth if they fall out of your gums. So, now I have set the goal of flossing at least once a week.

Hey, it is better than I was doing before.

[Post Jott editing and additional content]
In fact, they said, if peoples' gums get so bad, they need to schedule cleaning in two appointments, one half of the mouth at a time. They numb your mouth (I guess just the side that they are working on) and then have you come in more frequently.

Part of it could just be threats - but I don't want my teeth to fall out. With gum stimulation, I can strengthen my gums and make them healthy again! On with the flossing

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Back to normal

So, our lives are returning to something more normal. Summer has drawn to a close and the kids are back in school. The visiting in-laws have gone home. Work has slowed down to a fast pace. The control that I have over my life is slowly returning. And I'll be able to return to blogging, too.

First day of kindergarten

The visit with the in-laws went well. We visited places in Seattle we had already been to and places we hadn't. We really pushed them in their visit - we got back home from Friday Harbor at 2:30 am! Having our new HD TV was also nice, because they did enjoy just watching Comcast On Demand movies (although the choices weren't always the best for watching with your grand kids).


My work slowed down some and I was able to make dinner almost every night. That was really relaxing. I hate to prepare green beans and so I "involved" Heather's Mom in the bean stringing and she helped me skin beets later in the week. I was also able to finish up the pre-requisite statistics and accounting assessments for b-school.

We went back to Mount Rainier again, and her parent's spent the afternoon at the visitor center while we hiked up to Glacier Vista and up Pebble Creek until we ran out of time. The kids played in a snow patch at 6,225' and we turned around at 6,852' feet. I was the packhorse and carried everybody's jackets - I was beat that evening. I think I have to get in better shape for my backpacking trip to Camp Muir.

Family Portrait

Jott Blog Post

So Jott has released a whole new set of features. They have new Jott links. Now Heather and I can drive around say "How much do you think that house is?", and send it to Zillow. I'll get a text message right on my phone with the Zestimate! There are also several blog links; I am writing this blog, by way of Jott! How cool is that?
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Edit: This post required some editing to make it presentable. Some of it was fixing the lack of pre-thought that came out of my mouth and some was in the transcription. Listen to the audio and compare.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

House guests

The in laws are visiting.

I have to remember to close the bathroom door when I pee.

When can we get rid of those wires or Wi-Fi to supersede wired Ethernet

The Wired and Wireless blog on ZDNet has an article entitled, Wi-Fi to supersede wired Ethernet. The article focuses on how some people feel that 802.11n is going to replace wired ethernet.

It's doubly ironic for two reasons (and that is redundant - both fun words to say). Firstly, I am in the process of upgrading my home wi-fi network to 802.11g. Sorry to dash your visions of me, I'm a gadget lover, but not always an early adapter. Secondly, I spent hours yesterday rewiring our home AV equipment for our new HDTV (notice how I slipped that one in there). With a Tivo, a DVD and now a cable box, there are so many cables to connect everything. While I was doing that, Heather asked me when it was all going to be wireless?

That day might be coming. Right now, you can't get a clean enough, fast enough wireless connection to move the amount and quality of data for a good audio-video experience. When it comes to speakers, we can't move enough power over the air to drive the speaker.

The article mentions "pervasive mobility" and that is a significant benefit to faster wireless technologies. Right now, we have that mobility with voice communications, because we accept lower quality audio for voice communications. However, a home theater setup isn't mobile, so until the costs come down significantly and the quality goes up, those wires are here to stay.

Plus setting up those wires is your Red Badge of Home Electronics.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Camping at Mount Rainier

We left our house Friday afternoon and drove to the South West corner of Mount Rainier National Park. Along the way, it came out that Parker only brought a pair of Crocs and that he didn't go get a pair of shoes when I inpsected his gear. We got to visit a Super Wal-Mart to buy him some shoes. As we got back in the car, Alec pointed out that he had shoes on the floor. Ugh. So, we were back on the road and finally got to the park after dark (there are hardly any times recorded during this adventure; I really did unplug). We stayed at the Cougar Rock campground, a few miles up the hill from Longmire.

Cougar Rock was an alright campground. It was a little close to the road (lots of big trucks with the construction at Paradise and Park reconstruction going on) and the sites were located close to each other, but it was still a nice place. The ampitheater has programs Friday night, which we just missed and firewood is available for purchase there. The rules of Supply and Demand push the cost up; outside the park firewood costs 2 - 4 dollars, inside, where no gathering is allowed, $6.25!

It was great for several reasons. First, I enjoy camping, hiking and being in the outdoors. Second, I really love the high country, when you get up close to the tree line. Third, there was no cell phone coverage, and as much as I live the digital lifestyle, it was great to unplug. Finally, and most importantly, I got to spend time with my family and enjoy some of our summer vacation.

Saturday morning, I got up, made hot water for shaving and coffee and didn't have to wait long for everyone to wake up. Heather stuck her head out of the tent and asked what time it was. I looked up, saw some daylight and said, "Daytime." I think deep down inside, she didn't mind my sarcasm because I was so unplugged. I have been working a lot lately (in fact I had to make some coverage plans so that I could go camping on the weekend). We had bacon (1 1b) and eggs (7) and a double batch of buttermilk pancakes for breakfast and then got ready to hike.

Heather made lunch and with the kids, she mixed trail mix. I bought lots of different dried fruits (craisins, apricots, mixed fruits, golden raisins) and nuts (smoked almonds, mixed nuts) and large M&Ms (not the large bag, but large M&Ms - which haunted me later). While the trail mix was really good, I didn't buy enough chocolate.

CIMG6105Heather wanted to see waterfalls to take advantage of her new camera, so we decided to hike the Wonderland trail from our campground, along the Nisqually and Paradise rivers to see Carter, Madcat and Naruda Falls, and then push to Paradise and take the shuttle back down to Cougar Rock. The views along the way were beautiful, although we couldn't see the mountain for the forest (and clouds). We had to cross several streams where they had repaired bridges and at lunch on a bridge abutement that was under construction. We were able to see lots of the flood damage, especially as we crossed the Nisqually River.

Carter and Naruda Falls were beautiful, but we missed Madcat Falls, as did a group of hikers that came up on us while we were eating lunch. It was a really nice trail and a really nice hike. The total hike was about 5 miles, with about a 2000 foot elevation gain. I would characterize it as a medium intensity hike, primarily because of the elevation gain. We only saw 4 or 5 other parties, except at Naruda Falls, which can also be accessed off Paradise Road. We then finished off with the mile or so up to the Paradise visitors center. The hike from Naruda to Paradise moved into mountain meadows with lots of wild flowers. We were lucky to still see them blooming. In early spring, I bet it would be beautiful.

We spent some time at the visitor center and just before we caught the shuttle, the clouds broke and we were able to see Mount Rainier. It was beautiful. The glacial ice was so blue, it was just a great sight. I'm glad we were able to see the mountain. Then the clouds closed back up, the bus departed for our campground and it started to rain lightly.

Mount Rainier

We returned to our campsite and prepared dinner. Dinner was supposed to be spicy chicken skewers, but our fire didn't get hot enough. I did have a contingency plan and we just stir fried the pieces on the griddle. The people at the next campsite asked if I was a chef, because they had never seen anyone stirfry while camping. As cases of mistaken identity go, this one falls in the most cool in my book. We made s'mores for dessert and then went to check out a night ranger program (not the band, but a ranger program, at night). They had park rangers acting as key people from the park's history (John Muir, the Longmires, the first Park Superintendent, Fay Fuller, the first woman to climb the mountain, etc). It was interesting, but if you paid attention in the visitor center, you learned all the same things.

The rain continued through the night, but I don't think anybody noticed, because everyone was tuckered out. We stayed dry (the puddle went underneath my sleeping mat) but Heather's clean clothes got dripped on and wet.

Sunday was our last day, so we made breakfast and went up to Paradise to hike the Skyline trail to the Glacier Vista. The kids didn't want to hike anymore and I don't think Heather's heart was in it, so we headed down the mountain to go home.

I think it is really cool that we have such a nice National Park so close to home. The farside of the park is only 2 hours from our house! I really would like to spend more time there. As I said before, I really like the high country and I think that Mount Rainier was nicer than the Yosemite valley. It is so close, we can go for day hikes and I hope to do some light backpacking in the near future. Heather even suggested a guy trip - so guys lets start planning something!

I was a little concerned about the campground, as the National Parks are often over-crowded but it was a nice campground. It wasn't the middle of nowhere, but it wasn't elbow to elbow either. I would stay at this campground again, but I want to stay at a back country campsite next time.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Nice enough weather, nice company, beautiful scenery. You can see more photos in my Flickr photo stream.

Monday, August 20, 2007

My first Craigslist listing

I just made my first Craigslist listing. Nope, I'm not posting to missed connections or looking for more women, I'm selling my old router/wireless access point and wireless cards. I'm upgrading to the faster, but not latest in technology, 802.11g.

For the week that Seattle Craigslist keeps ads up, you can see my ad here.

I used a disposable phone numbr, which seems pretty cool but Heather suggested that I don't use PayPal for the financial transaction.

So, we'll see how it goes and if I can make 50 bucks and turn it into one 802.11g wireless adapter. I've got to get our Wii or Tivos online faster too!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

New wifi access point, new KMFDM album

I didn't think I'd be writing a post like this tonight, but it fits.

I was out picking up pizza and I heard that KMFDM would be on the C89.5 Worldwide and so I called up Heather to see if they were having a show tonight in Seattle. No dice, just a radio thing. So when I got home, I kept the radio in my MINI on and ran to the entertainment center.

Heather asked me why the music was on in the car and I responded, "so I can have a seamless audio experience."

She didn't want to listen to the radio show, because she "doesn't like my music." So Parker and I sat in the garage in the car listening, while the pizza cooked.

Once the pizza was ready, I decided I would sit in my home office and stream the music. And that is were I am right now. Eating pizza, listening to KMFDM streaming online, downloading some very large work files and using my new wifi access point.

I finally upgraded to 802.11g and I am doing all this via wifi, without any latency! It is incredible. Just like the new KMFDM. The album is really good, lots of self-sampling (a KMFDM trademark), but the radio show is hilarious. They are having all kinds of technological issues with the phones (dropping callers) and quite funny conversations with the callers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tonic water is no club soda

I made some italian sodas today for lunch, but we were out of club soda. I substituted tonic water. It doesn't work. The quinine was too bitter.

Save your tonic water for Gin and Tonics.

Club soda is for mojitos and italian sodas.

Learn from my mistakes.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Chain Saw Safety PSA

There are a lot of things that I don't want to touch. I don't want my finger to poke through the bag, when I am picking up dog poo. I am sure Courtney Love has some disease (or two). Moving chain saw blades.

I have the unfortunate pleasure (if that is the right word), to have done two of these already in my life. No, there was no bachelor party hookup with Courtney Love. Yes, I have stuck my hand in dog poo, kid poo and vomit. And yes, I touched the chain saw this weekend.

Luckily, I am still typing this with all ten fingers (it would be much more alarming if I weren't a touch typist - "I'm only typing this with two fingers"). I was trimming some trees and as I cut the branches, I would pull some of them away to get better access for the next cut. Stupidly, I held the chainsaw in my left hand, reached across with my right and pulled on the branch.

I actually felt the moving chain saw blade with the pad on my index finger and realized that I had nicked my middle finger knuckle! I'm not sure how I didn't seriously cut either of the fingers - a small band aid was all that was required.

Lessons learned
Wear proper protective equipment when you are using a chainsaw.
Put the chainsaw down if you need to pull on stuff.
Don't touch the chainsaw blade when it is moving.

I was lucky to keep my fingers.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

And I was worried about spilling coffee on my pants

As I write this, I should be driving into my neighborhood, returning from a two day trip to Oakland. But because we are working on our financial plan for 2008, I got asked to stay an extra day, which makes this all the more ironic/humorous/sardonic/insert your own adjective.

I've been reading a lot about minimalist packing and travel, some with ideas on how to pack, others on what to pack, yet others with the suggestion to buy most of your stuff on the road. I have a coworker who says he can pack for a week long trip in a backpack (and his back pack isn't that big). I decided that an overnight trip would be a safe way to try it out.

So, I gathered my toiletries, which is two quart sized ziploc bags, separated for the TSA screeners and the rest of the stuff and my clothes. I decided that I would re-wear my pants, so I packed a fresh t-shirt, pair of socks and shirt. It all fit nicely into a quart ziploc bag and then the three bags were able to fit into my messenger bag, even with all this stuff in it. So far, so good.

What I took with me for an overnight trip

I fly on the first flight of the day, so that I can be in Oakland before 9 am (yes, I get there before some marketers) and not have to spend the night away from my family. Since I've been really tired of late (the subject of another blog I have yet to write), I decided to let myself sleep in to 3:30am. It turns out the shuttle was a little delayed and security lines were really long and I ended up running through Sea-Tac International, all the way to gate B14, at the very end of the B concourse. I got to the gate as they were calling my name to board and I was 3rd to the last to board.

But, what made running through the airport easier was that I didn't have a second bag. My messenger bag was slung over my shoulder, my toiletries were in one hand and my laptop in the other. No rolling bag clipping my heels, flipping over, or slowing me down. On the plane, I didn't have to struggle finding space in the overhead bin. My messenger bag fit underneath the seat like always. Traveling light has its benefits!

Heather and I had been joking that with my plan to re-wear the pants, I must be careful not to spill coffee on myself. Little did I know that I should really try to avoid vomit splatter. Yes, I just went there. I got sick to my stomach Tuesday afternoon. In the middle of a conversation with someone, I burped up a little vomit and made a beeline for the bathroom. It was a really, really long way away. I ended up vomiting a little more and trying to avoid splashing on my self, wondering how sick was I really going to get.

Nobody wants to get sick 800 miles from home, with no spare clothes. Our Director of Procurement happened to visit the bathroom for his own needs and asked how I was, I think more so as a polite gesture. I responded, "I'm still trying to figure that out." On his way out he asked if I needed anything and I asked for a cup. He dashed out and promptly returned with a cup. I was grateful, that helped me with the final stages of cleanup - gargling out the leftover vomit from the back of my throat.

I wiped myself off with wet paper towels, just to cool off and get back to normal and went back to my conversation. I maintained a much larger standoff distance, just in case I had a repeat.

Day two was a better day for my stomach. No issues at all. Sure I avoided the Tabasco at breakfast, re-thinking my move as I reached for it, but it went okay.

Until I was asked to stay a day later. This, of course, has an impact on my family, makes scheduling plane flights and new hotel reservations a mess and I was traveling light! I had no spares. Luckily, my wife was flexible, our Admin skilled and Old Navy was close to my hotel. It was me, not our Admin, who bought me new boxers and a shirt so that I can look fresh in the morning.

All in all, this traveling light experiment was successful. I was able to pack just the minimum, I could compensate for the unexpected through purchasing additional clothes and I saw a lot of stuff at Old Navy that is really cool! I still have to figure out how I'm getting it all home again; I think that the USPS stuff-as-much-as-you-can-in priority envelope will be a key player, but we'll see. And I'll have to decide whether or not I do this again.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Life before Simple Syrup?

I'm not sure how I lived before I knew how to make simple syrup. Now, this isn't to say that I just learned how, it was about 2 years ago that I did. But now, I wonder how did I live without it?

I use it all the time; I'm glad it only takes a few minutes to make it, too. It really is simple to make.

I make Mojitos for Heather and other cocktails. I've used it to make candy and I love it in iced coffees (if it ever warms up again in the North West). I've used it in fruit toppings for crepes. It is just so versatile.

What I really want to do is use different sugars to make it. I would have done this today, but I was almost out of sugar in the raw (or better yet, I didn't have a cup and a half - that's not really almost out, is it?).

On a related note, they sell it at Starbucks, but the bottle is labeled "Classic Syrup." I guess they wouldn't want you to know how simple it is to make, would they.

And for those that don't already, here is the recipe.

1 cup water
1 - 2 cups sugar, depending upon how sweet and thick of a syrup you want (I use 1.5 cups)

Heat to boiling, stir til all sugar is dissolved, let cool.

Nothing to it. Hence the name, simple syrup.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

PC repair

My daughter's PC broke sometime in the last few days. And she broke down, too.

Something was amiss with her computer and it would take 5 minutes for IE to load a web page. So, I tried with Mozilla, same thing. Figuring that there was something with the networking hardware, I swapped out the wired NIC for a wireless one. No dice. If it wasn't a hardware problem, it was a software problem.

I checked for spyware (had to download the installs on another PC and do the sneaker network thing) and surprisingly, her computer was clean. No viruses, either. I even shut off the firewall (both Windows and McAfee), with no luck. I then took the other route and turned the firewall to the almost tightest setting, where it would ask before it let any connection in or out. Still no luck.

For grins, I tried to FTP to another one of the PCs on our home network and it worked, and blazingly fast, too. Hmm, the mystery deepens.

Finally, I just shutdown all of the Windows services. Some of them, I needed to turn back on so that networking and other things would work, but I got http transfers to work! So, then I started turning things back on.

And wouldn't you know it, it was the something from the McAfee secuirty suite. I uninstalled it entirely and her computer still worked!

Since it's a free download from Comcast for customers, I installed the freshest version and what do you know? It still works!

My mad computer skillz aren't gone and now my daughter is happy again (and there is less fighting about who is using whose computer).

Saturday, August 04, 2007

KFC ran out of chicken

Last night I went to the local Taco Bell Express/KFC to buy a bucket of chicken for dinner. My daughter and I stood in line and waited our turn. While waiting, I overheard the counter-people offering Empanadas because they were out of biscuits.

Undeterred, I still ordered the bucket of chicken we wanted. Evidently my wife has been craving fried chicken after Brittney Spears did something (non-leg spreading) with some fried chicken greasy fingers. We were warned, "We are out of extra crispy and it will be 15 minutes before it is ready."

"So, you are out of chicken right now," I inquire?

The kid at the counter said, "No. It will be 15 minutes." Not wanting to debate the finer points of out of stocks and having the product when the customer wants it, I called home to see if burritos would suffice as an alternative. While I was calling I was overheard and questioned by two people about KFC being out of chicken.

This was also the same Taco Bell that ran out of tortillas for Crunch Wraps (seriously) and asked me to buy 50 Chicken snackers (in jest).

You've got to wonder if there is an opportunity for a suuply chain professional there? Good food, good humor...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Underwear models in my inbox!

I got this email from Amazon today. Look closely... At the words, silly. Look past the scantily clad ladies and you'll see that I was the lucky recipient of this email because of my "past purchases in intimate apparel."

Come on, I'm a guy! I can't remember my Dad's birthday, but I can remember every "intimate apparel" purchase I've made. And I haven't made any on Amazon. I even spent the time and reviewed my lifetime purchase history on Amazon (geek point, my first purchase was in 2001). No panties, stockings, garter belts, bras, bustiers, corsets or anything else vaguely intimate. It's all music, books, electronics and software.

Did Amazon's ad miss the mark? I don't think so. Who am I to complain about scantily clad women showing up in my in box? Amazon, keep them coming!

It's illegal to WHAT officer? from Guardian Unlimited: Travelog

The Guardian has an entertaining article on traveling, different cultures and how you can break the law through misunderstanding local traditions.

It's illegal to WHAT officer? from Guardian Unlimited: Travelog

The same as when we make these lists of weird laws in the US, there are some that just don't make sense (flushing the toilet after 10pm in Switzerland) or some penalties that are pretty severe (death for bringing pork into Yemen) or just weird (illegal to kiss on the railways in France - I'd weigh in that a train in France would be pretty romantic).

But I just love how the Brits use snog: " And don't snog that hottie till you finally reach the Gare du Nord."

I'm a big fan of snog.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Fun stuff from the weekend

This weekend was a really fun one! It's been a long time since we had a free weekend and with Alec's broken arm, we ended up not swimming at the champs swim meet.

So, we decided that we would try to take in the Rat City Roller Girls semi-finals, but tickets were sold out. Who would have thunk that grrls in short skirts and skates would sell out. Yeah, umm, never mind, grrls in short skirts can sell anything out in my book. So we missed out on that, but since we were in Seattle, we spent the rest of the day there.

We went to Blue C Sushi - not because we love sushi and our kids eat it, but because I had heard that they are using RFID to track the freshness and ensure billing accuracy in their restaurant. I am working with our RFID pilot at work, so I thought I would check it out. My thoughts were that the restaurant was stylish and cool, but the selection was lacking. But it was cool.

We wandered around University Village and killed the day. We ended up at the Apple Store over there and got our fill of iPhones and what not.

On Sunday, we went to South 47 Farm and picked lavender, raspberries and flowers. It was a ton of fun, especially since Heather had never been to a u-pick farm. I had been wanting to go here for a while, because I wanted to make lavender ice cream and didn't want to make a big dent in our decorative lavender in the backyard. The day was a little cool, but it was still a lot of fun and I took bunches of photos.

We stopped at Red Hook Brewery for lunch, which was yummy and the source of some more photos. Our timing was all wrong to go on a tour, so maybe next time.

Finally, when we got home, Chase and I started making ice cream. I steeped the lavender in the cream and let it cool over night. We made lavender brittle (a couple batches, because it wasn't coming out right) and the next morning I froze out the ice cream.

It is really cool that I used fresh herbs to make an ice cream dessert, but it didn't achieve the delicate taste profile I was looking for. Heather describes it as:
"It's like my mom washing my mouth out with soap, except for that there's not that burn on my gums."

Yes, I had her repeat that so I could record it and make sure I got the quote right. Now, it isn't that bad, but it isn't the dessert I was trying to make either.

This pattern of fun weekends will continue - we've got some camping trips to the Olympics and Mount Rainer coming up. That will be nice since I am burning the candle on both ends at work right now. I'm waiting for another candle burning at both ends to finish some work this evening so that I can do somethings with it before she gets to the office tomorrow morning. But it keeps food on the table and a roof over my head (as well as some other cool things).

That's all for now!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Gallon Ziploc bags

After reading this post, you will probably think I'm a geek. I don't think I would argue with you too much.

We needed some more gallon ziploc bags and Heather picked up a 3 pack at Costco the other day.

Why are these bags blog worthy?

Because they fit an unfolded 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, thats why!

It's a quick and easy way to provide water-proof protection for papers. Living in the Northwest, it's important to have that ability in order to protect papers the kids are taking to school (yep, I make them walk in the rain - more character building - see my comments) or to protect maps when hiking.

Yes, I am a geek. But a dry one!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Netflix drops prices? Huh?

When does this ever happen? Netflix is reducing the price on my rental plan.

Your price is lower!Netflix
NetflixDear Beau,

Great news! We're lowering the price of your 1 DVD out at-a-time plan to $8.99 a month plus applicable taxes. Now you can enjoy Netflix for less!

You don't need to do a thing - except pay less. Your membership will automatically move to the lower price and be reflected in your Membership Terms and Details. The lower price will take effect beginning with your statement on or after July 23, 2007.

Your $8.99 plan not only gives you 1 DVD out at-a-time but you can also watch 9 hours of movies and TV episodes instantly on your PC each month - for no additional charge.

Your friends at Netflix
Can you believe it?

Why use a phone book when you can use an online directory?

Recently, we received two new phone books.

As I put them away, I pulled three phone books out of the drawer and threw them in the recycling bin. I don't think phone books see much use in our house.

I know I haven't used a phone book since we moved here almost two years ago. Why do I need to, when I have great online sources like and Google maps?

Do you use a phone book any more?

Monday, July 23, 2007

One number to rule them all

A few weeks ago, Google bought Grand Central, and being one of the Google believers, I signed up to be an invitation-only beta tester right away.

For those that don't know, Grand Central is a web based service that gives you a phone number that will ring what ever phones you set it to. The idea is that the phone number is associated with the person, not the location (home, work, mobile, etc.). So you can give everybody one number and their call goes through to whatever phone you are sitting by.

This isn't about making yourself infinitely more reachable, it is about giving people control, both the caller and the callee. The caller knows that the call will reach me, whether I am at work, at home or on the road. As the callee, I get great functionality like call screening (caller's get announced, plus I can listen in on the voice mail - like with an old answering machine). All my voice mail comes to one place, which is accessible by phone or by the web and my contact details are easily managed (although there are some contact manager applications that do it better) and integrated with the phone.

As a remote worker, being able to be reached is important to me. It is just as important to me that I can find out who was trying to reach me, when I choose to be unreachable. Having the address book and voice mail web accessible just makes it all of the better.

But something I think is even neater is the talk of the Google Phone. With a service like Grand Central, the phone doesn't need to have lots of memory or features - it can be just a simple phone with a good web browser. It doesn't need an address book, it can use Grand Central and keep the on-phone memory requirements low. With an integral web browser, you could get at your email (Gmail) and your calendar (Google Calendar mobile). You could take the dumbest phone out there and have the same functionality as a smart phone.

I think that it is really neat, because it could take so much of the costs out of the gadget and give so many more people, in the US and the world, digitial, mobile communication and computing.

I think an idea like this goes hand in hand with Google's planned bid on the upcoming FCC bandwidth auction. They have the applications, which are in most cases, pretty well optimized for mobile browsing. They'll have the spectrum, if they spend their 4.5 billion USD. Then all they would need is a device. And users. I'd be the first to raise my hand...

But back to Grand Central. I never need to tell anyone another phone number, even if I change them, because I change cellular providers, jobs, or VOIP phone provider. That kind of convenience is the greatest. So far, after using the service for about a week, I love it. I've given them some feedback about features I would want or things to tweak, but it is a great concept and a great execution.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dessert for dinner!

I feel a little bad. I think I lied to my neighbor, Diane. She brought me a catalog of Penzey's spices around 7pm yesterday. I had just decided to stop working and think about dinner.

I was really hungry, but didn't have anything planned - nor did we really have anything to make for dinner. And I told her that we didn't have anything.

But I did have dessert planned.

Chocolate Fettuccine in Raspberry Sauce.

Alas the raspberries were bad. Luckily, the Trader Joes Raspberry Jam has lots and lots of raspberries in it and the sauce was still quite good.

Mmmm. It was good too.

Sorry, Diane.

ps. You would have liked it too.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

He's got something up his sleeve

You know we are in trouble when your 5-year-old comes inside and says, "Would you be freaked out if there were snails in the house?"

My wife quickly says "Yes," but I say, "No, snails just don't belong in the house."

Thankfully the snails stayed outside.

Even the baby ones.

Friday, July 13, 2007

They are going to think we beat our kids!

Today, Alec came home from his swim meet, not with a gold medal, but a cast.

Evidently, he fell on his heely's (those skates with wheels in the heels) and potentially broke some small bones in the wrist. They aggressively treat this type of a potential break, because the wrist bones don't have good circulation. The break might not show up on the initial x-rays, but it could in 10 days and if you haven't been treating it, bad things could result. So, he now has a cast of his own.

Two kids, two broken arms... Parker better be on the lookout.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Issaquah Farmer's Market

Yesterday, Parker and I got to spend a big chunk of the day together while Heather and the other kids went to a swim clinic.

We took a walk and watched the expansion of our neighborhood, but afterwards, we went to the Issaquah Farmer's Market. Every Saturday, from 9 - 2, there is a farmer's market down by the Costco Headquarters.

It was a lot of fun. First we walked through, just to see what there was: food (prepared) vendors, crafts and then fresh vegetable stands and then we got lunch. Eating and walking doesn't do so well with a 5 year old, so we sat down at a picnic table and ate. We ended up getting cherries (he didn't like the Rainier cherries so much, so we got sweet red ones) and fresh Rival Apricots (we snacked on those while we walked around). I bought some cilantro and then Parker picked out a bunch of sweet peas for Heather.

I ended up not having enough cash for raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, but the pasta booth took credit cards. I bought Chipotle Linguine and a recipe for a sea scallop and tomato sauce. The noodles were really good and inventive, but the sauce was only so-so, but we ate on our patio al fresco, so it was still an enjoyable meal.

Parker and I also made ice cream with the cherries. We followed the Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia recipe from the cook book Heather got me for Christmas. It was really good and quite simple. Heather even said so and she doesn't really like cherries.

Overall, Parker and I had a really nice day together - we got a lot done and we got to spend some really nice time with each other.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

More houses in our neighborhood

I'll start this post off with a disclaimer. I am not one of those NIMBY people and I'm not totally against cutting down trees (I have cut down my fair share already). I don't want this post taken out of context and if I see that it is, I will be rather upset with the out-of-context-taker.

The sub-division in which I live, has one last set of houses to be built. In the last few weeks, they have started to clear the woods to build the final release of houses. They have been subtle, not sneaky or underhanded, but they have left a border of trees and you can hear them working in there. Chain saws and trees falling, construction equipment rumbling. You can't see them unless you explicitly look, but they are there.

On one hand, I can understand why this is happening - living in the suburbs where there is still "developable" land, it is inevitable. My neighbor John says that he doesn't have enough money to buy up the land and just sit on it, and probably neither does the owner. It was part of the long term plan for this neighborhood, so we knew it was coming.

But at the same time, there is a feeling of sadness that accompanies it. There were bears supposedly that lived in that section of land. In places where you could once see nothing but trees, you can now see the sky. I have this feeling that the view of the sky will be replaced with views of houses.

On a related topic, there is also a new cellular tower. It was built right off the sidewalk on the other side of the street. It seems out of place and I can see the top of it from my home office. On the good side, hopefully it was put there by my carrier and I'll get an improvement in coverage and signal strength.

I think what I hear in the background is progress, the inevitable, unstoppable change which accompanies progress. I'm not totally sure how I feel about that at this point, but I know it is coming.

There are some more photos in my Flickr account.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

An American Hero?

Joey Chestnut just won the 2007 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship with a 3 hot dog win over the reigning champ. Good job, Joey.

But WTF ESPN announcers? He isn't a national hero. Just because it is the 4th of July, people who do great things (if eating hot dogs counts) automatically become heros.

The real heros are people who are making sacrifices, doing something for their country. It is that Private First Class in a foxhole in Iraq, making sure his buddies are safe inside the wire. Its the firemen, who aren't going to be able to BBQ with their families, because they are out stopping a fire started by some dumbass who blew off his fingers.

Patriotism and National Pride are great things and today is the day to celebrate them.

But hot dogs. WTF?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

When you are having a rough day...

... it is nice to get:
  • hugs from your wife
  • IM's from college buddies
  • voicemails from friends
  • to play with your kids
  • cookies for donating blood
  • out in the sunshine
Thank goodness for all of those things that happened to me today. They help me get through the rough days.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Clean is happy!

Um, so there were these ads that caught my attention. Usually I am pretty immune to them, but hey, I was drawn in by happy faces on tushies.

You've got to check out this site!

Toto | Washlet - Flash Player Installation

Basically, the Washlet is a mod for your toilet - that comes with a remote control.

They have several sections, Washlet 101, Why it is Better and Happiness.

I won't spoil it, so you have to go check it out, but a few sound bites from the site:

"Don't we all deserve a little pampering?"
"The Washlet will even neutralize the air around the bowl."
"Hands liberated from their usual chores. Nice."
"...Washlets patented wonder wave."
"You can select from several modes... that will put you into happiness mode."

Don't think about it any more - just go look.

Note to readers: I don't own one of these and I'm not getting any kickbacks from Toto, the ads sucked me in.
Note to Toto: If I make a difference in your traffic, a freebie would be nice!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Summertime in Seattle?

My calendar tells me that it is summer time - it is after the 21st of June.

Yesterday, I wore shorts and a t-shirt to a swim meet and I got sunburned on my legs. Today, I wore pants, a sweatshirt and a Gore-tex parka because it was cold and rainy.

Only in Seattle could summer be like this.

I learned an old Northwestern adage today.

If you can't see Mount Rainer, it is raining.
If you can see Mount Rainier, it will be raining soon.

Ain't that the truth.

Friday, June 22, 2007

It's been three weeks

Three weeks since I've been to the gym and I broke that stretch this morning. I'd been meaning to go all week and just didn't feel like getting up.

It wasn't really my motivation that got me going this morning - it was the fact that my neighbor across the street said that he had been working out in the morning and it really started his day right. I knew what he was talking about and wasn't going to let broken arms, early morning work calls or travel stop me anymore.

I'm back on the bandwagon. You can find me now, Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at the Pine Lake Club!

On another gym related note, some lady tried to steal my MINI this morning. Well, try and steal are probably slight exaggerations, but she took my keys! The gym is repainting and all the things on the walls have been removed. This includes the key hanger, so everybody put their keys on the counter below the wall. And evidently in a pumped up state, MINI keys look similar to Lexus keys.

The funny thing is I was starting a set on a machine over by the keys and I noticed that mine weren't there. As I walked downstairs, she came back in and said, "It would help if I got my own keys." I found my culprit.

We laughed about it and I didn't really want to trade her for her Lexus.

Friday, June 15, 2007

today's music

This week has been a little rough so I made an effort to listen to mellow music this morning.
I started off with Ladytron, then Lilly Allen and some old No Doubt. No Doubt got me onto ska and I listened to the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones.
From trying to relax standpoint, tha probably wasn't a good idea. I turned to NIN and listened to Broken and Fixed for the rest of the day.
Now that is stress relieving music.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I made it!

I got this email today from the University of Washington! I'm excited and it came much earlier than they had originally told us.

Congratulations! You have been admitted to the University of Washington’s Evening MBA Program for Autumn 2007. We invite you to join our community of faculty, staff, students and alumni, and become a part of one of the most prestigious academic programs in the Northwest. At the University of Washington, a highly selective admissions process and a smaller program size permit us to select students who excel in many dimensions. This insures that you are among a small, talented group of peers. Our Admissions Committee believes you will make a significant contribution to the entering class.
Just as my kids are thinking of getting out of school for the summer, I am thinking of getting back in. How ironic.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My most embarrassing moment in a long time

I really like Taco Bell.

When I was in high school, I would eat there because it was cheap. I'm still "frugal" so I like Taco Bell for that reason. Heather isn't a real big fan of Taco Bell, so I take the kids to Taco Bell occasionally.

Tonight, Heather was at a PTA meeting and I picked up Alec at swim practice, so we stopped at Taco Bell on the way home.

We went in and started our order. As each of the three kids finished their order, they took their cup and started filling it up. I made my order and reached into my pocket. My empty pocket.

No drivers license, no cash, no credit cards. No pocket lint either.

My kids had drinks and I had no money and an order placed. I was getting red in the face. I had no money in my car, either. I had to tell the lady at the counter that I couldn't pay - even for the sodas we already had.

I told the lady I would be back in 20 minutes to pay and I told the kids we had to leave. They didn't quite understand why we weren't eating dinner. It only took a few explanations that I had no money.

So, I returned home and turned around and went back to Taco Bell to pay and still buy dinner. They had already changed shifts, so I had to explain to the next girl at the counter why I wanted to pay for drinks, but she didn't need to give me any.

In the end, they were pretty cool about it. They ended up not charging me for any drinks, maybe to help me with my shame. It was quite embarrassing, but in the end we got dinner.

My Skype Experiment

A while back, I wrote about that I was playing with Skype . For me, this isn't going to be one of those check it out and drop it things - Skype is pretty cool.

Skype is cheap
With the Skype Unlimited Plan for less than $30 a year, you can make calls to Canada and the US. I pay that much for my local (long distance not included) phone each month!

Skype to Skype calls are free
My Dad was in Finland and I wanted to talk to him about some Excel functionality. He doesn't have Skype (yet), but the people he was staying with were Skype users. So, we arranged a time that we would both be around (the 11 hour time difference can be a stumbling block) and we got connected and had a 30 minute phone call for free!

Skype calls that you have to pay for are pretty cheap
Skype's rates are very good. You can check out their own rate pages, but the rates are measured in pennies, not dimes, almost no matter where you call to.

Skype calls have pretty good quality
On the call to my Dad in Finland, we had a great connection. On many calls, when both parties are silent, the line is so free of static that I actually wonder if I was disconnected. I've even made calls with a friend over the satellite connection at remote scientific monitoring stations. After I called my Dad in Finland, I called my Mom on her cell phone (mobile to mobile calling is free with Cingular). The international, Voice Over IP call had a better connection that the domestic cell phone call.

Skype can do conference calls
As one of the included features, you can use Skype to make conference calls. And there is no complicated flashing of the phone (who hasn't held it down too long and hung up on the other people). And as an added benefit, the specific person talking is highlighted in the conference call list on the Skype application.

Skype is portable
Where ever I have a wi-fi connection, I have Skype. It will also run off a USB drive, either one that is U3 or PortableApps enabled. I had a conference call scheduled right after my flight arrived in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. I know that wi-fi is free there, so I made the call from the Las Vegas airport. Sure, I could have used my cell phone, but that would have used 60 minutes. This call used no minutes that I had to pay anthing for.

Learnings from my first few weeks with Skype
1. Not many of my friends use Skype.
2. The headset makes a world of difference
3. Skype is a good IM client

Check out Skype. Try it out (they even give you about 5 minutes of free calls). I'm still trying to figure out how it fits in from a business standpoint. If you are a web-worker, it is most definitely applicable!

I'm beau.raines on Skype so, if you are one of my faithful readers, drop me a line!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

It's been a helluva week

This week has been a rough one. I'm no longer feeling exhausted, but we'll see how the weekend fares with 3 swimmeet sessions.

On Monday, I had a training event that I needed to attend at the local office, an infrequent occurance for a remote worker. As I left the meeting, I saw there were 8 missed calls on my phone. Something was up. It turns out that my daughter broke her arm on the playground at school. My wife had scheduled last minute doctor's appointments for her and was quickly directed to the Emergency Room at Seattle Children's Hospital. I was in Kent, she was on her way to Seattle and our oldest was at swim practice on Mercer Island. I waited for swim practice to end and rounded up our oldest and met Heather in the ER.

Chase's elbow (well, the upper arm right at the elbow) was broken and she was going to need surgery and some hardware to hold it all together. There were more pressing (emergent, in medical-ese) surgery cases, so they put her in a splint, scheduled an appointment for Tuesday afternoon and sent us home for the night.

We left the hospital late and once we got home and Chase mostly comfortable in bed, I worked late into the night to catch up from being out of the office all afternoon.

I was too tired to go to the gym Tuesday morning, so I didn't. I spent the morning re-arranging my day, moving my afternoon appointments to Wednesday. Tuesday was one of those days that I had planned to spend most of on the phone making follow up calls. Heather was at a PTA luncheon and the hospital called to see if we could come in a few hours early. We jumped at that opportunity, with the hopes that we would get her surgery done earlier. We arranged for a friend to take our youngest and pick up our oldest after school and we were off to the hospital.

We were admitted and promptly taken back to a waiting area. And we waited. There was no cell phone coverage either. Finally at about 4:30 pm (pretty much our original schedule), Chase went under the knife. Her procedure only lasted an hour, during which Heather and I ate at the hospital cafeteria. We were paged to come back to the waiting area and we did and waited. Evidently, Chase was sleeping off her anesthesia and after a few hours, they took her to her recovery room, where she and Heather would stay overnight.

I ended up leaving the hospital at about 8:45pm to go take our kids off our friend's hands. Once I got the boys in bed, I worked late into the night to try to keep my head above water at work.

Chase had asked me to come back to the hospital in the morning, so I had it all planned out. I would go drop our youngest at pre-school and then go to the hospital, stay for a few hours until I had to leave to pick up at pre-school. Seconds before I was going to shut off my computer and start executing that plan, Heather IM's me and says that they will be leaving soon.

Chase and Heather returned home and we quickly turned around to go to literacy day, so she could show off a book she had made in class and a neat PowerPoint presentation about the desert.

As I was returning from the pre-school pickup, my MINI lurched and had a loss of power. The check engine light came on and we limped home. I was able to schedule an appointment, unfortunately for next Tuesday. What was truly problematic was that I had a 6 am flight Thursday morning to go to Oakland. I arranged for a shuttle to take me to the airport and was set for the next day.

My shuttle arrived promptly at 2:50am Thursday morning. It was really quite early and we made 5 other stops on the way to the airport. I got to the airport on time, in fact early, but I was already exhausted and this didn't help any. Usually, when I travel, I stop at Starbucks (the first one on the B concourse) and buy coffee and a scone. I got there before they opened. So, I took a nap and waited for them to open.

I had a full day in Oakland and got a lot accomplished. I didn't get too much email, so on Friday there wasn't much catching up that I had to do either.

My shuttle back home only had me, so it was much faster and I only got home a few minutes later than had I been driving.

Friday I was still too beat to go to the gym. Even though it was only two days ago, I can't remember what I did. There was a swim meet and I do remember that there were lots of calls to our consultants that resulted in, "Can I call you about this on Saturday."

Saturday was another early morning, because we had a swim meet. I only got two loads of laundry done, some work and some reading. I think the best part of the afternoon was giving Heather a nice full body massage. She thought I had been practicing!

So, here I am on a Sunday, again at a swim meet (yep, 3rd time in a weekend). I've been catching up on blogs (pre-writing a few and staging them as drafts, so they are ready to publish during the week). I am about half way through Freakonomics and looking forward to dinner with one of my college room mates who is in town for a conference.

I'm definitely not caught up on rest, but I'm getting there.