Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Catchup

Man, its been a long time since I've blogged. Almost a month and a half, which is pretty long, even by my standards (if you can call them that).

School, work and life have been keeping me pretty busy. Just this morning, I finished my Finance exam (Real Options), so I'm one presentation and a take-home final away from finishing the quarter.

My daughter's computer had a power supply failure and she's switched to Ubuntu. I learned that cron doesn't set the USER environment variable, but it does set the LOGNAME variable, which is pretty important when making scripts. To those of you that this last sentence was all pops and clicks, I apologize.

I went snowshoeing with the Seattle Outdoors Adventurers on the day after the first big snowfall of the season. It was great to get out there in the fresh powder and break trail. Once school is done for this quarter, I hope I can get out some more. I posted some pictures on Flickr from our daytrip.

We had an enjoyable Thanksgiving with the five of us. We made a great spread and even though we tried to cut back, we still have a lot of leftovers. I'm really looking forward to a turkey sandwich, following my Grandma's recipe.
  1. Butter one piece of white bread and put cranberry sauce on it.
  2. Lay some slices of turkey (I prefer the breast) and lettuce.
  3. Finally, top with another slice of white bread with mayonnaise.
I think that this is the best way to make a leftover turkey sandwich and I like the memories of my Grandma.

That's all for now. Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Memories of Grendel

When you lose someone close, you are left with a space in your heart. However, we're lucky to have something to fill that space with: our memories.


On Friday, October 16, 2009, Grendel died. She was our dog of 14 years, longer than my wife and I had been married, older than any of our kids. She had been struggling with cancer for a while and was not doing well. She no longer has those pains and struggles and is now at peace.

Here are some of the memories that I have that fill her space in my heart.
  • When we first got her, Grendel would chew shoes, only Heather's shoes and only one of the pair.
  • When she was young, Grendel would also do this leg humping thing, which was ironic as she was a spayed female. It probably wasn't the best of things for a dog owner to let their dog do, but we all thought it was funny. She even clawed a hole in my jeans more than once with her dew claws.
  • At a Christmas party in Missouri, Sam Robinson shared some Kahlua with her. She liked it. A lot. And then she peed in his lap.
  • She was always a small, compact dog. Ron Gouvaia would call her Santa's Little Helper, more so I think because he was a fan of the Simpsons, than she beared resemblence to the Simpson's dog.
  • Grendel sometimes peed in our apartment above Peoples' Park in Berkeley. I'd clean/cover it with vinegar. This resulted in the statement, "Dog's don't belong in apartments," from my college room mate and friend Erik Muller. I'm glad you let her anyways, thank you.
  • Grendel was afraid of water, regardless of the size of the body of water. When ever we'd go to the beach, she'd stand with her back to the ocean. She'd never look at the ocean. Whenever I go to the beach and don't keep a watchful eye on the ocean, I'd get smashed by a wave. She never got close enough to be smashed.
  • When we moved to Washington from the Bay Area, I drove with Grendel and Sebbie. I was prepared to drive all the way to Portland without stopping, where I was meeting a friend for dinner. The dogs, however, were not ready to that far and I had to stop twice to let them pee. Then, because I still made great time, when we got to the Seattle metropolitan area, we didn't really have a place to stay. Heather called all kinds of hotels to find some place we could stay with the dogs. We ended up in an extended stay hotel in Sea-tac. I was glad the dogs were with me for safety; the cops all had AR-15's, it was that kind of a neighborhood.
  • When we were in California, Grendel would always lay outside in the sun. Maybe it was her downfall, but she always looked so peaceful sleeping in the sunny spots.
  • We got Grendel at the Safeway on College Avenue in Oakland. It was a last chance adoption push, because the dogs were going to be put to sleep the next day. Later, when we returned to the Bay Area, I worked right down the street from this Safeway and it was always a nice memory.
  • After dinner, when I was loading the dishwasher, Grendel would always come and see what scraps she could find there. Though I'd never feed her people food from the table, I always looked the other way when she did that. Then when I was emptying the cleaned dishes, she'd always come to check if there was anything left for her to snack on.
  • As she grew older, she'd hang out with me. I work from home, so she'd always be around. Grendel would sleep in the office, on the couch or under the desk. I've gotten into the habit of keeping my legs very still while I sit, because I learned to not suddenly stretch because I'd kick her under the desk.
  • She'd follow me around. When I wrapped up for the day and would come out of my home office, she would to. When I'd come home from school at night, she'd follow me around, waiting for me to go upstairs to bed. Many times, when I had several things to do when I got home, she'd even follow me back and forth as I'd go from the office to the kitchen to the family room and back again. But then, when I'd go upstairs to bed, so would she.

Some of my friends have shared a few memories and I'll put them here, too:

David Hickman, another friend from college wrote: "I fondly remember Grendel from Berkeley. I recall she used to always bark at cops."

Orit Aizenman Daly, also from college, remembers, "her as a puppy being walked by Heather pregnant with Alec."

Thanks for sharing those memories, because they help fill the space in my heart too.

I miss you, Grendel, but you'll always be in my heart.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Changing lightbulbs with Kid 3

Yesterday, I was outside with Kid 3, changing some lightbulbs (stay with me, the story gets cute). He was opening the lightbulb packs and I was actually putting the lightbulbs in. While we were outside, the girls across the street were out putting up a few Haloween decorations.

As we finished up, he suggested that it was time to put up decorations. Heather is big on seasonal decor and it really is her thing, so I said to him, "Mom'll get it soon."

But he decided that he should make ghosts to hang from the tree. He found some tennis balls then wrapped them in 3 paper towels.

It was quite cute. And today, Heather has decorated the house, i'm sure pics will be coming.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Making funny faces

My wife makes funny faces while she's at her computer. I think that its quite cute and over the years, I've learned to interpret her facial expression to let me know what she's doing. Sorry, there are no pictures of these faces, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Big cute grin
When my wife is blogging or, more importantly, responding to comments on her blog, she has a big cute smile. Its one of those smiles that just makes me happy when ever I see her with that face on. I like to ask her what she's doing when she's making this face, as its obvious that she is happy. Keep the comments coming over on her blog.

Concentrating face
When my wife is composing an email for swimteam car pool or PTSA volunteering or something like that, she is concentrating hard. Her lips are pressed together, thinning them to almost a line. She looks very stern - and knowing some of the car pool coordination problems she deals with, she should be. I'm learning to not disturb her when she's making this face. Its sort of like the headphones worn by cube workers to say Do Not Disturb.

Concerned face
This is a new face that I observed this morning (and which instigated this post). Her brow was furled, but she was intently watching her computer screen, only looking away when scooping more oatmeal from her bowl. I asked her what she was doing and it turns out she was watching Fringe on Hulu. The particular episode was about mutants and they were conducting an exhumation. She doesn't like shows about mutants in the same way that our daughter doesn't like zombies.

Writing this made me think of one other face she makes. She probably won't want me to write about this one (and get your head out of the gutter). Its her Focused Physical Concentration face. When she's doing something that requires a great deal of focus, like threading a needle or using a jewler's screwdriver, she sticks the tip of her tongue out of her mouth, just a little bit off center. This is another face that says Do Not Disturb lest I break her concentration.

This is not a strange phenomenon, as I do the same thing. Heather can tell when I'm in pain, as I have my pain face. I'm sure we all have faces that we make? What are yours?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The End of Summer is near

My summer vacation (from my MBA) is drawing to a close. Work is picking up pace again and classes start next week. While I was on vacation, I was able to do a few things which I enjoyed and are worth writing the "what I did on my summer vacation" post.

I wrote earlier that I had set up some Ubuntu servers and I have established them as backup servers for all of the computers at home. I replaced the 40 GB disk with a 1 TB disk and now can backup all of the data on my wife and kids' computers and have some room for future expansion. While it was quite easy to do, I had to swap disks, not add a new one, as the case only has space for one hard disk.

I've written some scripts for both linux and windows XP to backup user's data. I'm sure that there are a billion of these on the internet, but let me know if you are interested and I'll share them with you.

I'd really put in a plug for installing CygWin on a Windows machine as rsync is much more configurable and provides better feedback than the Windows backup tool. And it provides a little more flexibility in what you can do with the files once they are on the backup server.
Eunice Lake
I was also able to get two day hikes in, one with my family and one with a Meetup group. It was great to get into the outdoors, take some photos and just enjoy the views. We went on one day hike to Denny Creek and as a family then I went to Tolmie Peak at Mount Rainier National Park with the Meetup group.

I'm glad I was able to get those in, because its so hard to do stuff on the weekends during school with team meetings, homework and swim meets. I'm looking forward to the snow this winter and really want to get a snow camping trip in this winter. Don't get sick, Wade!

I'm on vacation today and Heather and I are figuring out what we're going to do for our upcoming anniversary. It'll be quite nice to have some relaxing alone time with her.

That's all for now!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Special" breakfast

For some reason, my wife has been thinking about Spam a lot. Not the musical, but thinking a lot about Spam. She had said that she wonders if it still takes like she remembers from when she was a kid.
The block of spam
So, while I was out picking up movies at Blockbuster, I stopped by the grocery store and picked up a can of Spam. I was surprised that I was able to find Spam at QFC, since they try to be a little more high fa-luting than other stores, but then sadden that I was only able to find Lite, Turkey and Classic, but no smoked.
As I thought about how to prepare it for her, I've always been intrigued by Spam in Raisin sauce, but she hates raisins. So, I thought I'd make a special breakfast. I thought about crumbling it into scrambled eggs, but that wouldn't showcase the Spam itself. So, I made egg Spam-wiches!
Mmm, tasty!
Butter milk biscuits, with a poached egg and a slice of fried Spam. Mmm, delicious.

Often, I under season the food. To make sure, I checked that box, I sprinkled pepper on the eggs before serving. There was plenty of salt from the Spam.
To maximize the effect, I didn't allow any one in the kitchen to ruin the surprise of Spam. I had them all sit at the table, eyes closed, and brought out the serving plate. The were pleasantly surprised alright.
Egg Spam-wiches

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Making Ice Cream... Bacon Ice cream.

This isn't a post about work, I actually blog very little about work, but as disclosure, I do work for Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream. I enjoy cooking (and eating) very much and find it relaxing. And tasty. So, this summer, in a bit of my free time, I've made a few batches of ice cream.
The finished product
I've seen all kinds of crazy things online that people will do with bacon and decided that I would make some bacon ice cream. I figured that chocolate covered bacon would be a nice combination of salty and sweet and maybe I could even slip it past unsuspecting family members.
Mixing the base Bacon and Chocolate II
So my daughter and I fried up some bacon, melted some chocolate and made some ice cream a few weeks ago. It actually turned out quite well and not as weird as it sounds!
And for those that don't believe it, Heather said, "Mmmm. I like it. I like the bacony taste at the end" and Chase said, "It's sweet and smokey at the same time. "

My daughter and I took photos while we made the bacon ice cream, you can see the full set on Flickr.

Again, in full disclosure, I was asked to make some "more normal flavors" for my subsequent batches and I made some mint chip ice cream a few days later. The mint chip has been fully consumed, but there is still some bacon ice cream in our freezer. But its still good.

My most recent two batches were black raspberry ice cream. We had some neighbors that were moving away and our street was going to have a casual gathering to wish them well. My wife and I collaborated and she made a pound cake and I made ice cream to go on top and it was quite good!
Pound Cake, by Heather Photo from Heather
For those looking for recipes, I kinda broke out on my own for each of them, though they were loosely based on recipes from Williams-Sonoma Mint Chip and Ben and Jerry's Raspberry ice creams. I recommend both the Williams-Sonoma ice cream book and the Ben and Jerry's ice cream books, as they have lots of great recipes.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

I'm not dead...

My wife mentioned last night that my last blog entry was in May. I knew it had been a while, but I didn't realize that it had been that long. Sure, I make updates on twitter, but 140 characters a few times a day just isn't the same as a full blown blog posting.

So, this blog will be a summary of what I've done since the middle of May and hopefully, I can turn some of the entries here into more postings. I do wish I'd write more, as keeping a journal keeps the mind sharp.

For the first few weeks after my messenger bag was stolen, I had a loaner laptop from work. It was a beater - the screen frame was cracked on both sides and it ran hot. Sure, it was a laptop and got me by, but it just wasn't the same. Thank goodness for my backup and documents in the cloud, I was able to continue work and finish out the quarter for school.

When the school quarter ended, I was officially on summer break. Being in an Evening MBA program, that really means that I was back to just working as the draw on my time. I've been trying hard, and not often succeeding, to not replace my school time with work time and actually enjoy some of my free time.

With both the kids and me on vacation, we had house guests at the end of June. My wife's sister and brother and some portion of their families came to visit. We did some of the touristy things around Seattle. The weather was excellent for their visit and the day we were on Alki Beach, the Light House was open for tours. It's not open often, so we were lucky to be able to check it out. We went to Mount Rainier and had another beautiful day there - it was one of those perfect days when the skies are clear and you can see all around. The new visitor center was open and there was still snow on the ground at Paradise. The bad thing was that it was so bright: clear day, snow to reflect the sunlight and I'd not yet replaced my sunglasses. Thanks to Heather for the picture.

The kids' year round swimming season concluded and the summer recreational season occurred during the month of June and July. Again the kids did very well, both with swimming and just peforming at swim meet after swim meet. Kid 1 and 2 both qualified for Pacific Northwest Swimming Champs and Kid 1 had the highest cumulative points at all dual for the summer league and broke a club record! They're great swimmers and its a good thing considering how much time we spend at pools.

We've had a number of car related issues, number one being the break-in (after a swim meet). Someone let the air out of two of my tires (at a swim meet), which I did not realize until I was several miles away on the freeway with two totally thrashed tires. I'd decided to replace the MINI's runflats with non-runflat tires, for performance and cost reasons, and this was the worst case scenario with not having a spare. The tires wouldn't take air (I did have a compressor) and so it required a flatbed to carry the MINI to the tire shop. It took far longer than it needed to, as the insurance company's roadside assist couldn't find a flatbed they had contracted with. You can read what Heather had to say about it. The final car issue (note to Fate, I said it was the final one) was that my wife was crashed into in a parking lot (after a swim meet). We're still dealing with the damage caused by the uninsured driver, but we're finding (and has been the case n all of the dealings this summer) that our insurance company, USAA, is pretty good.

While my car was in the shop (new tires and some engine work), I worked from a few coffee shops in Seattle and had some great picnics with my family. We went to Greenlake Park one day for lunch and then dinner at the famed Dick's Drive In (Again, hanks to Heather for the picture.).

It was cool to go to Dick's because Sir Mix-A-Lot sang about it. It was cool to eat dinner at the park with my family and play tag and watch the hoola hoopers. But Dick's was not a good burger. Or fries.

To make things right, the next day, lunch was at Red Mill Burgers and was much better.

I'm still replacing my stolen things, but I'm getting there. As you can see by the photo credits, most of the photos here were taken by Heather. I've not yet replaced my camera and the iPhone, while a great phone, is only a mediocre camera.

I've continued to use Ubuntu, and have added some computers to our network. Now my backups are more robust and I can actually backup or get my files from anywhere I'm connected to the Internet. I've been learning about nfs and running a server. There are a few more fun pictures of my computers and Ubuntu on my flickr account.

Rancid released another album at the beginning of July. I really like punk and really like the fact that Rancid sings so much about the East Bay and Berkeley where I did my undergrad studies. Kid 1 and I went to their concert when they came to Seattle and had a fun, though he fell asleep during the show (two long swim practices in the morning don't make a late night easy). It was fun to debate whether or not this was his first real concert - I still maintain that American Idol on tour just doesn't count.

I've not done a lot of cooking lately, but I did make two batches of ice cream recently. I made a sweet cream and chocolate covered bacon ice cream and a mint chip ice cream (I needed to make some thing more normal tasting) and they've both been quite refreshing with the weather we've been having lately.

Thats all for now, there are several things that I'd like to expound upon here and make full blown posts out of and I'll try to get to that later. I hope you are enjoying your summer too!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Are my kids as messed up as me?

A while ago, the kids had physical exams. One of the topics that evidently came up in that exam was my WPW and as a result, the kids all had orders for EKGs. Saturday morning, I took them to the hospital for the EKGs.

Like most Saturdays, there was swim practice, so my wife and I came up with a plan how we would get all three kids to the hospital and swim practice. When I woke up, I realized that it was a dumb plan and would require 3 separate trips to the hospital, during the other kids' practices. So, with less than 15 minutes before we needed to depart I woke up Kid 3 and then realized that I should bring Kid 2 as well. She only had 5 minutes between wake up and depart.

I rifled through my wife's purse and found the medical cards, got everybody and their swimbags in my MINI and we were off. Kid 1 was dropped at practice and we headed to the hospital for the quick EKG and then some breakfast (and coffee for me). We got to there and Diana in admitting asked if I had the Doctor's orders; which I didn't. I assumed that they had been faxed ahead of us.

Diana checked her computer and then called the EKG lab to see if there were orders; there were none. About the same time, Heather had woken up and called me because she couldn't find any of the kids. After letting her know that I had them all, she told me that the orders were on her clipboard on the kitchen island. Arggh. Foiled by a small blue piece of paper.

So, before getting dressed and coming, she used some free e-faxing service and sent 1 of the orders to Diana. It came through, but it was entirely unreadable. The small page was blown up to full page and with the blue background it was useless. Foiled by a little blue piece of paper again. Heather concluded that she would drive into the hospital - only about a 30 minute drive, but not one that she was expecting to have to make.

By this time, the EKG tech had come out and since the orders were on the way and EKGs are fast, she decided that they would just give us the EKGs now and we'd take care of the rest of it when the orders arrived.

The four of us, the tech, Kid 2 and 3 and me went to Echo Room Two for the test. The tech asks who wants to go first, and Kid 2 and 3 simultaneously point at the other one and offer up their sibling as the trial run. I tell them it is quick and easy and neither of them budge. I don't think that either of them were scared, but just being humorous about it.

The tech proposed that I go as a demo run which was okay by me. In about 3 minutes, I had a new EKG. As expected, my EKG showed abnomal results, but it reassured the kids that they wouldn't get electrocuted.

Kid 3 hopped up on the bed for his test and it was quick and easy. Kid 2 got up on the bed and while the tech was placing the leads, Kid 2 leaned forward and whispered in her ear. I overheard and he said, "It hurts." But he explained that he was referring to pulling the leftover adhesive off afterwards.

Later, Heather and I came back with Kid 1 after his swim practice. While the tech was hooking him up, Heather did make a zapping sound after two leads were connected. I was thinking it, with Kids 2 and 3, but she did it to Kid 1. Thats how we roll.

So, results...

Kid 1 and 3 were normal and Kid 2 was abnormal. Thats what the machine said. But it needs to be read by a professional and we'll see what they say.

Its pretty amazing, but even hearts are fixable these days. When I was first diagnosed, it was one of those conditions that you just lived with and changed your lifestyle as things went on.

So, thats what we do. Just keep going.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lessons learned

A few weeks ago, my messenger bag was stolen. I left it in the front seat of my wife's car, underneath my sweatshirt, when we stopped for lunch after a swim meet. When we returned to the car about 1 hour 45 minutes later, the messenger bag was gone and the sweatshirt was on the seat.

The thieves did the screwdriver in the lock trick and opened up the door. They even locked the doors behind them (the key lock is on the driver's side, my bag was on the passenger).

I don't want to sound materialistic, but everything was in that bag. I'd take it with me where ever we go for extended periods of time: it was my office on the go, it was my entertainment center on the go, it was my productivity on the go.

Timbuk2 Medium Messenger Bag and a lot of stuff

That's what I mean when I said everything. There was altogether too much personal information on my laptop. There were photos on the camera that I hadn't downloaded yet. The iPod was chalk full of music and movies. My property tax bill was in there.

While I dealt with the police, Heather canceled credit cards. There were a few cards that we didn't know the phone number to, and by the time we got home, the thieves had tried to make 5 purchases on my American Express card.

The creepiest thing, though, happened a few days later. I received an anonymous package which contained my moleskine notebook, the expired credit cards, my hotel frequent-stay membership card, the property tax bill and a stack of low-value BART tickets. It was addressed in one handwriting, but on the back, in that perfect Grandmotherly cursive, "If unable to deliver, please deliver to police."

That doesn't cry out Good Samaritan to me. All of the things that are useless to anyone else were in the package. There was no note saying the stuff was found in a garbage can, no way to even give a reward, if it actually was an act of goodness.

This act of thievery really indicates the weakness of locks. If I'm going to keep all those critical things in one place, that place should be with me, even if I'm at a restaurant. Its been quite a PITA dealing with the insurance - not that the insurance is unpleasant - but it takes a great deal of effort to find replacement costs and when things were originally purchased. I'm still working on collecting the information.

Heather has said that I can't start to replace the purloined items, until we've been paid by the insurance. It's part of my penance. I had to do some homework by hand last week and needed a pencil. I found one of the kids' Lightning McQueen mechanical pencil and used that. Its a far cry from my Pentel P205 mechanical pencil.

Another important point that his highlighted was the importance of a good backup of data. Other than the fact that my data was in the hands of ne'er do wells, I had daily backups of my computer. Or so I thought. Unfortunately, the backups had failed about a month prior, so there was some loss of data. Somethings were on flickr, some were in email and some are just gone.

However, and this will be the topic of another blog posting, with the data that I did have, it was quite easy to reinstall Ubuntu and be back up and running.

So, as the final note: don't let your stuff get stolen; it sucks.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A script to check network status

A few weeks ago, my ISP was having some issues. Every afternoon at about 3pm, their connection would die. It was quite annoying and their typical issue resolution is to recommend that I power cycle my router and cable modem.

To speed through the issue logging, I wrote a small script to ping my router, Comcast's gateway and their Domain Name Server. It's nothing big, but I thought I'd share it. I meant to do this a few weeks ago, but neglected to. I lost many files (more on that later) and I needed to reconstruct the script, as I find it to be useful.

My wife recently got a new Vista laptop and I modified it for her. Windows batch scripting has some differences, so it wasn't a 1 for 1 conversion.

Here is the shell script - copy it to your favorite text editor and make it executable. You can change the ROUTER, GATEWAY and DNS variables to which ever ones you would like to use to check.


## Network status checking script

### configuration



### Starting Checks

echo "Starting Network Checks"

echo ".....Checking Router for $TIMEOUT seconds"
ping -c $COUNT -W $TIMEOUT $ROUTER > /dev/null

echo ".....Checking Gateway for $TIMEOUT seconds"
ping -c $COUNT -W $TIMEOUT $GATEWAY > /dev/null

echo ".....Checking DNS for $TIMEOUT seconds"
ping -c $COUNT -W $TIMEOUT $DNS > /dev/null

echo "Network checks finshied"

### Reporting output

if [ $ROUTERCHK -ne 0 ]
echo "The router needs to be reset. Unplug it the power, wait 30 seconds and plug it back in."
echo "Router responds okay"

if [ $GATECHK -ne 0 ]
echo "There is a problem with Comcast. Power cycle the Cable Modem and try again."
echo "If you are seeing this message again, call Comcast for a credit 800 COMCAST."
echo "Gateway responds okay"

if [ $DNSCHK -ne 0 ]
echo "There is a problem with Comcast. Call Comcast for a credit 800 COMCAST."
echo "DNS repsonds okay"

exit 0

For those of you using Windows Vista (Vista seems to have different ping arguments than XP does), here is a similar script. Again, copy it to your favorite text editor and make it executable. You can change the ROUTER, GATEWAY and DNS variables to which ever ones you would like to use to check.

@echo off

echo Starting Network Checks


echo .....Checking Router for %COUNT% responses
ping -n %COUNT% %ROUTER% | find "TTL" > nul
ECHO You have %CONNECT% active connection to the Router

echo .....Checking DNS for %COUNT% responses
ping -n %COUNT% %GATEWAY% | find "TTL" > nul
ECHO You have %CONNECT% active connection to Comcast's Gateway

echo .....Checking DNS for %COUNT% responses
ping -n %COUNT% %DNS% | find "TTL" > nul
ECHO You have %CONNECT% active connection to the Domain Name Server

ECHO If the Router is not connected, check your wifi connection, then power cycle the router
ECHO If the connection to the Gateway or Domain Name Server is down, power cycle the cable modem
ECHO and repeat the test.
ECHO If it is still down, call Comcast to report the problem and request a credit at 800 COMCAST
ECHO Power cycle = unplug the device for 30 seconds from AC power, plug it back in and then
ECHO wait 1 minute for it to reconnect.
ECHO I love you Murph


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pirates versus Ninjas

I'm officially changing my alignment. In the past, I've aligned myself with the pirates in the pirates versus ninja debate. I'm officially putting my support in the Ninja.

When I support the pirates, I'm thinking of the rum drinking, corset wearing Keira Knightly, buried treasure kind of pirates. Maybe a peg-leg, a parrot and a pint o' rum. And some letters that get removed from regularrr speech and a few that be added. And the ability to not conjugate to be. Oh yeah, and traveling in the tropics.

With the recent resurgance of piracy to the seven seas, though primarily of the eastern coast of Africa, I'm not so sure that I can support the general concepts of piratitude any longer.

I don't think Ninja say much, so there won't be any new patterns of speech to take on. You probably won't even notice that I'll start acting more like a Ninja. That's how they do it - so you don't notice.

As long as the Ninja, stay mythical and cool, and the real ones don't involve themselves in terrorism, I'm with the Ninja.

Plus, wearing all black is better than losing an eye.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I love Headless Roosters

It was bound to happen eventually and that day is upon us. Kid 2, female age 9, has discovered boys. She's not boy-crazy, but now her doodles include hearts and a particular boys name (to minimize the parental embarrasment that I cause her, no names will be used in this post, however intials will be).

At first, listening to her talk, it seemed like this boy was the school crush - he's in the next grade up. But as Kid 2 talked to her friends, she was able to find out his email address from a common friend. What made it obvious that it wasn't just a crush was that she wrote to him. Since, they've traded a few emails and some IM's. He even asked if he could add her to his contact list, which incidentally I didn't realize that was the proper protocol.

Last week, Kid 2 and I were talking about some things (we were talking about the aforementioned emails) and I realized that spring break was coming up for her. I had the following internal dialog with myself (monologue or soliloqouy, I'm not sure):
Spring break is coming up. Maybe she'd like to do something with this boy? Maybe they could go to the movies together. WTF! What am I thinking? This is my little girl!
It's not that I'm worried that this kid has any nefarious intentions, in fact I ended up being the "judge" (really just asking questions of the kids) for his science project. He seems like a good kid. It's more about do I really want to start my daughter on dating, even if it is just going to the movies.

Which brings us to the title of the post. I'm not suggesting beheading the young man, though I did intentionally break down and clean my rifle when my sister brought some boy home, much older than she was. We went out to dinner early this week and Kid 2 was doodling on her kids menu and wrote, "I heart Pink Markers."

She wasn't writing about her favorite color, but using the boy's initials. In response to this, my wife wrote, "I heart Bitter Roots," which with a touch of irony also happens to be my initials. Not to be out-done, I scratched my head for a second and came up with a way to use my wife's initials in, "I heart Headless Roosters."

I guess it was bound to happen and its cute; I'm just not sure if I'm really ready for this part.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hiking to Poo Poo Point for Spring Break

It's between quarters at UW and the project I've been supporting went live last weekend - its time for a break!

Today, Heather and I went hiking to Poo Poo Point, a local launching point for paragliders. It was a great day in the Northwest, no rain, it was clear out. Since we're still having winter, it was cool, but not too cold.

We got the kids off to school and then set off for the trailhead. Its conveniently located not-too-far from our house (more information available here). We took the shorter Chirico trail from the paraglider landing zone and headed on our way.


The well-maintained trail first parallels the hillside, through mossy deciduous trees. Even though it is the end of winter and there weren't many leaves, it was still quite green because of the moss growing everywhere.

After about 1/2 a mile or so, the trail starts to head up, following a ridgeline and then up some switchbacks. The trails not super-steep, but it stays steady up hill almost the entire way to the top.

We knew we were getting to the top when there were no more trees above us and the split and split again, and re-joined and split again, in a criss-cross of trails all leading to the same launching point. We laughed a bit when we realized that the choice to go left or right at the Y didn't make a difference.

We made it to the top and were rewarded with panoramic views of Mount Rainier, the Olympics, Lake Sammamish and Bellevue. It was breezy (duh, they launch paragliders) but it was a great view.

CIMG7883 CIMG7880

On top of the great view, we were lucky enough to see a paraglider head into flight! We enjoyed some Cliff Bars, Zoe bars and some coffee and watched this guy get his gear ready.
It was a great hike, not too strenuous, close to home and had great views. All along the way, Mount Rainier would peek through the trees, giving glimpses of the views to come.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A letter to Gina

Dear Gina,

I tried today. I tried three times. I ended up with about a line for a new post. And it was worthless. I tried to write a blog entry and all I can come up with is this letter to you.

I worked a lot this weekend and got a lot of stuff done. The idea of just sitting in front of my computer, not getting any utility out of it, is almost offensive to me.

I've got an idea to write about collaboration and Google documents, but some people find that stuff boring. Heather had Stumbled a few of my older posts and by mid-day, the traffic was 5x normal. I figured I didn't want to bore all my new visitors with geekiness and productivity.

So, I figured, I'd write this letter to you instead. Letters don't have to be long, they just have to have the message.

Since you are looking for a new post, you got one! Special for you.



Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Conspiracy of Closed

Re-read the title, I'm not writing about when my wife goes shopping, but this about things being closed.

On Sunday, I took Kid 3 to swim practice. Since I was half-way to the University, I decided I would turn in my completed Macro-economics final exam. I drove the rest of the way there and as I got there, I realized that there was an exhibit at the Burke Museum that I would enjoy seeing. I used my iPhone to check the hours of the museum and found that I had 15 minutes before it closed. I had an hour and 15 minutes before the MBA office was supposed to close, so I decided to check out the museum.

As I walk up, one of the museum employees steps outside to dump out her coffee cup. I try the door and it is locked. She says to me, "We're closed."

"Is it 5pm," I ask, sounding surprised and verifying the hours posted on the door.

"We close early to count money," she said. And she had to knock on the door to get back inside, too.

Oh, well. I have a few more quarters before my MBA is complete, so I'll have many opportunities to go back. On to the MBA office...

...where I learn that on Sundays that the building closes at 5pm. I can't even get in.

So, I go back to Mercer Island where my son is swimming. I'll go to the library, because there is free wi-fi there (I write this post from there now).

I get to the library (can you guess where this is going) and it closes at 5pm on Sunday! So, I just park in the parking lot, hoping I can pick up their wi-fi signal, which I am not able to do. So, for about 40 minutes I play on my iPhone and download useless applications until it is time to go pick up my son.

After his swim practice, I call my wife to ask if she'd like me to pick up something for dinner. Kid 2 (a girl) answers the phone and says I should stop at Taco Bell. I know enough to ask whether or not she said that or it was really what her mom said. I hear Heather in the background say, "Get pizza."

The voice on the phone says, "Oh, yeah, get Sahara Pizza," and at this point, I ask to speak to her mom.

The voice changes, altogether too quick, "Yes?" Wait, I recognize that voice. Its not my wife's voice, its the Kid 2 impression of mom voice.

The disguise seen through, she dutifully passes the phone on to my wife. She confirms that I should get Papa Murphy's pizza, as there are always coupons in my messenger bag.

My son and I drive up and go through my bag and find the coupons. Its raining and we wonder if we should just call it in and not leave the car. But we know we'll have to wait anyway, so I propose that we go hang out at Safeway because there is free wi-fi there.

Kid1 proposes that we go to the REI right next door, and I won't pass that up. We go order our pizza and guess what - REI was closed!

Luckily, Papa Murphy's didn't run out of crusts (that has happened to me before) and so we were able to get our pizza and go home.

It was just a giant conspiracy!

And if you are wondering, I did get my exam turned in. I made a special trip to the University, but had to adjust my plans because on Monday, I got an email that said the MBA office was closing an hour early because it was finals week! The conspiracy continues!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Killing ones selft through healthy eating

I am making a concerted effort to eat a little better. My cholesterol is bad, my good cholesterol is low and the bad is high. So, I've started to eat oatmeal for breakfast on a daily basis. I'm not talking the microwavable instant oatmeal, but the Wilferd Brimley stovetop, milk and oats kind of oatmeal.

So, everyday for breakfast, I get a pot out, turn on the stove to 4, add one cup of milk and wait for it to come to a simmer. Some days, I stir it more than others so that the milk scalds less on some days than others. I add 1/2 cup of oats and let is burble away until its the right thickness. I scoop it out into a bowl, add some cinnamon and sugar, or dried blueberries or cranberries and have a nice breakfast.

And then a little while later, and usually not me, someone turns the stove off. Pretty consistently, I've been leaving the stove on. Some days I find it and some days because I walk by the stove and notice how nice, warm and cozy it is in front of the stove. My hands are usually ice cold and I enjoy any contribution of warmth (over stoves, underneath sweaters and whatnot). Then I realize that it because I didn't turn it off!

It happened tonight again. Heather and Kids 2 and 3 had mostly eaten (a large snack) before they came home from swim practice. I cooked dinner for Kid 1 and myself (and some to share with the other kids) and as I was cleaning up afterwards, I thought to myself, "Boy, the stove sure cools off slowly."

Wouldn't you know it, I left the stove on. Again. Second time today.

So, if you happen to feel the warmth coming off our stove, please, please just turn it off. If you hear that some guy in Sammamish lowered his cholesterol and will live a few more years, but died because he left the stove on, warn your children on my behalf.

Be Safe. Turn your Stove off.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Passing of the Espresso Machine

My Jura-Capresso E9 espresso machine started acting up a while back. It told me that it required cleaning and I would dutifully clean it, only to be told that it still wanted to be cleaned. After running out of cleaning tablets, I started to call their customer support. After a few calls, the outcome was the the brew unit was clogged and the machine needed to be sent into them for repairs. However, I had purchased it as Williams-Sonoma, so had a lifetime warranty from them.

While doing some research on the topic online, my wife learned that Williams-Sonoma had changed their return policy and no longer sold nor accepted exchanges on the Jura machines. Luckily for us, I had purchased my machine just before their change in policy. With few difficulties, we were able to return the machine and purchase a new one.

I had returned my first machine to Williams-Sonoma too, because it had been recalled. Like before, everytime I exchange it, I spend a little more and upgrade.

I am now the proud owner of a Gaggia Titanium super-automatic espresso machine. It was delivered last night and I found it on my doorstep when I was heading out to the store. I returned home with fresh (from tthe store) beans and started to setup my machine. The machine was packed inside three boxes, but in short order, I had a shiny new espresso machine on my counter. At 6:45pm I made the first shot and dumped it in a cup so I could walk to an event at the kids' school.

This machine is cool. On top of having a stainless case, which Heather really likes, the top of the machine is actually a cup warmer, which I think is really neat.

This morning, before taking the kids to swim practice, I was got one shot out it. I'm back in business, fueled by espresso.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Yesterday, Valentine's Day 2009, I woke up at 5:10 am. Nope, I wasn't doing anything special for my valentine; we were getting ready to go to a swim meet.

My wife and I had decided that because of the swim meet, we would have a low-key Valentine's Day. We planned on just taking it easy after the swim meet and cooking dinner together. Heather really likes lamb (which I really don't) and I found a lamb recipe that seemed okay - shallot crusted rack of lamb sounds not too bad, and I'd cook lamb for my sweetheart. For sides, we had mushroom risotto, asparagus and braised leeks. We also decided to make red velvet cupcakes, which really look cool.

The dinner came together nicely, with just about everything coming to the table at the same time. We got a little later start than intended, as we watched a movie after we got home, so we ate a little later, too. But the dinner was enjoyable, I found the lamb to be acceptable, though Heather's lamb preference is the shank, I've now learned (or at least am cognizant of).

After dinner, Heather said that it was a classic Beau dinner. Balsamic reduction (on the crust), red meat and asparagus. She might be on to something here. But it was nice, a low key dinner with my family whom I love very much. It was a good way to spend Valentine's Day.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Computer Free Weekends

The last two weekends have been computer free weekends. During both weekends, I've done some fun things and not used my computer at all! This weekend is not one of them, I've been cleaning out my inbox and doing some school work - but most importantly, not working!

The first weekend, MLK weekend, I had a workshop at school to make up for a lost quarter of Managerial Accounting and then a swim meet. This was the first ever, computer free weekend, so I avoided my computer on the Monday holiday. Thank goodness for my phone with a data connection, I was able to post a blog by email and kept Twitter updated.

Last weekend, I spent Saturday snowshoeing in the Steven's Pass back country on an avalanche awareness field trip and the Sunday I went skiing with my family.

The second weekend was definitely the better weekend! On top of just getting out in the snow, I learned how to use avalanche beacons, do snow pack evaluations and avalanche rescues. I've got one more field trip in a few weeks to go in more depth. I hope to spend more time in the mountains this winter (Wade, we need to schedule a camping trip) and having an avalanche certification will make my wife feel more comfortable when I'm out there.

Even better was that on Sunday I ran into a buddy from the Army. It was pretty crazy, I was picking up Kid 2 from ski lessons and another parent was there picking up his daughter and he looks at me and says, "Were you in the Army?" Lo and behold, we had been stationed together in Alaska and our units had deployed to Egypt.

It was a great, crazy coincidence to run into him, as he was one of the officers I had a great deal of respect for. We'll link up at some point in the near future and catch up on old times.

This weekend, alas, has not been a computer free weekend, but I'm catching up on email, bills, homework and more. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Interesting social networking lessons

Earlier this week, I made the following twitter update just befor an
"operations announcement" that had been arranged the previous work

It was nothing, just the exact statement of what I was doing at that
moment. And through the magic of technology, it was my status update
on Facebook, Plaxo and my blog.

Human nature is what it is. My statement caused others to be curious
about my meeting. And that's what social networks are for - to
connect you to other people.

When I learned what was beng anounced, that one of our plants was to
be closed, I wished I had been a little less open. It had yet to be
public information and even other organizations in the company had yet
to learn about it.

In response to my friend's queries, I just quouted The Go-Gos, vuia, "my lips are sealed." That response even got one friend to
call me, because that kind of 80's pop isn't my kind of music.

Eventually, our announcement made the newswire (thank you Google
Alerts) and I was able to share my info. It was kind of sad as we had
closed the plant that I used to work in a few years previously.

These social networks are a great way to keep in touch with your
friends, but one has to be mindful of what you say.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I have the best Facebook Friend, ever....

Don't be jealous.

I have the best friend on Facebook.

Heh. (that part is for you Murph)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My first post for the New Year

When I logged in to blogger this morning, it reminded me that my last post was November 16th, 2008.

Since November 16th, I've:
  • enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family
  • completed the first half of my MBA
  • celebrated a nice Christmas with my family
  • cross-country skied out my front door
  • gone sledding
  • become our company's expert on AIX system administration (and I don't know very much)
  • had two ski days snowed out (the pass was closed and we couldn't get to the ski area)
  • started the second half of my MBA (and taking 10 units this quarter)
  • and am getting Avalanche certified so I can enjoy my snowshoe Christmas gift in the Cascade back country
I've also really gotten into Twitter and Facebook.

Thats what I've been up to and not been blogging about. I'll get back into blogging - I like it and it keeps my writing skills up. I won't be a post a day like my hot wife, but I'll post frequently enough that your RSS reader won't recommend unsubscribing to this dead feed.

Happy New Year to you and your family!