# Tuesday, 28 August 2007

So there it was, all planned out...  I had two days off (and a weekend) between jobs, and everything in place for my son and I to do a 4-day, 40 mile backpacking trip.  My last day at Corillian was last Wednesday, so I staid up late into the night packing all our gear, putting dried food into little plastic bags, trying to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything.  Thursday morning, we got the whole family up way to early so that my wife could drop us off at Santiam pass for the 4 day trip to Ollalie Lake, heading North on the Pacific Crest Trail over Three Finger Jack, Jefferson Park, and finally down into the Ollalie Lake Scenic Area. 

Alas, 'twas not to be.  As we were heading up Hwy. 22 toward the pass, all set for an early start, about 5 miles this side of Detroit the alternator in my Durango went completely dead with no warning.  Very exciting.  The better voltage fell to exactly jack, the radio shut off, lights went out, etc.  Big fun.  Luckily we made it into Detroit, where there is both food and cell coverage, but once the car was off it was dead as a post. 

Apparently there just aren't that many tow trucks working Hwy. 22, especially ones that can take a 4WD vehicle and four passengers (plus a small dog).  Between that, and actually getting the car fixed in Mill City, we lost the entire day.  There's no way we could have made 15 miles a day to do it in 3 days, since 10 was a stretch as it was.  Crap.  We ended up just going home, and retooling for a new plan.

So, they 4 day hike became a three day hike, and we decided to focus on what would have been the end of the route, around Ollalie Lake.  We (re)set out Friday morning and started hiking South from Ollalie Butte around noon.  Many fine sights awaited us along the way.

 

We camped for the night at Upper Lake, just off the PCT, and got up the next morning to keep heading South. 

This was a great opportunity to try out some new gear, and it all worked fabulously.  My new pack, a ULA Catalyst, was a joy, as was the new tent, Tarptent Rainshadow 2.  Also a big success was my new quilt, a "No Sniveller" down quilt from Jacks'R'Better.  Between those upgrades, and some other careful choices, I think I got my total pack weight to under 35 lbs., which is soooo much nicer than the 60+ lbs. I used to carry.  I'm still in the "transition" to ultralight backpacking, so I've got plenty of room for improvement.  I also have to carry a fair amount of extra stuff for the kid(s) since they can't carry quite as much.  My son's new Golite Gust also worked very well. 

The one big problem was that I have apparently lost the ability to sleep on the ground.  Something to do with the aging process, no doubt.  We brought old fashioned closed-cell foam pads, and it was hell.  In fact, I slept so poorly (plenty warm enough though) that we decided to trim the 3 day hike down to a 2 day hike, and just truck on out the second day.  This went pretty well, although made for a few more miles than the boy appreciated.  :)

We went around the East side of Monon lake, then the West side of Ollalie lake to get back to the car. 

 

Not quite the trip I'd planned, but it worked out well none the less, and a good time was had by all (except possibly the frog, who was a bit harassed). 

Tuesday, 28 August 2007 22:03:21 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [2]  | 
# Monday, 09 July 2007

I haven't had a whole lot of time for either lately, but have squeezed in a few. 

Books

  • I'm in the midst of Scott's copy of Barry Eisler's Killing Rain.  Good fun, as always
  • I'm about half way through Herman Melville's Typee, about his jumping ship in the South Pacific.  Quite the adventure story, and much quicker pacing than the Melville I've read before (i.e. Moby Dick)
  • Sandor Ellix Katz's The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved.  A very informative read about the state of the "underground" American food revival.  There are a lot of people out there trying to reclaim traditional and sane eating practices.  Good to know.
  • I just finished Carl Hiaasen's Tourist Season.  He can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, and I've loved every hilarious thing I've read of his.

Movies

  • Less to tell here, I'm afraid.  Not too much has wowed lately
  • I finally saw 300, and it blew.  Totally.  Very sad.
  • My favorite of late has been Road to Perdition.  I never would have thought I'd believe Tom Hanks as a gangster, but it was a great film.  Fantastic camera angles, interesting cast, great script.  Well done.
Monday, 09 July 2007 14:30:30 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 11 June 2007

After the usual travel hassles (4 hour delay out of Dulles), I'm once again back at home in Hillsboro.  I'm looking forward to not going anywhere next weekend, as I think I've been out of town for the last 4-5 weekends in a row.  Going places is fun, but traveling sucks.

Lot's of exciting new stuff at TechEd, the highlights for me being Acropolis, the Entity Framework, SQL 2008, and Orcas stuff like LINQ and the new smart client features.  Of course, now it's back to the practical, so I'll be focusing once again on the details of WCF/WF, ADAM and AzMan.  I can worry about Orcas later.

Monday, 11 June 2007 14:04:56 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 05 June 2007

One more thing about TechEd today...

The food has been much better than last year.  The breakfasts have been pretty lackluster, but the lunches and after hours snacks have been first rate.  Lots of veggies, including some nice pickles and raw veggies at the partner expo last night.  The snacks have also been quite diverse.  I particularly appreciated the afternoon carrot sticks and dip, and not the usual ding-dongs and twinkies to go with your cheetos.  I must say that the Buffalo wings were better in Boston last year, but that's the exception that proves the rule so far. 

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have slept a bit, and have something less trivial to report (although it seems important just now).

Tuesday, 05 June 2007 19:22:36 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Thanks to some comments from Keith, I not only have the online version of Rhapsody working on Windows 2003 Server, but the desktop version as well. Yay! 

I installed 2K3 sp 2, then reinstalled the Rhapsody desktop player.  That still didn't work, until I set the compatibility mode on the shortcut to the desktop player to XP, and now it's shiny.

As good as the online player is, the desktop one is still more feature rich, so I'm excited to have it working again.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007 12:43:53 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 13 April 2007

Once again, Rhapsody has failed me.  Just this morning, I was happily listening away.  I closed my browser for a while, and just now came back to start up Rhapsody Online, since the desktop player totally doesn't work on Windows 2003 Server (at least on my box).  Now the online player tells me I'm running an incompatible operating system.  It's been working fine for months, but now it's incompatible.  Curses!  I supposed I'm going to have to start using a different box to play Rhapsody than the one I usually work on. 

I'm a big fan of Rhapsody's service, and have been steadily subscribing for years.  Unfortunately, their software (again and again) proves to be crap.

Friday, 13 April 2007 12:43:15 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [4]  | 
# Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Rhapsody (my online music provider of choice) has continued to make improvements to their online, browser based version of their music player.  The most recent addition is support for the "My Library" feature that's long been present in their desktop player.  You can add albums or songs to your library for future recall, rather than having to search for them again, and just like in the desktop client, it's portable across machines.

Since I've had nothing but trouble with their desktop client lately, this makes the online version a lot more attractive.  It works in Firefox, and supposedly even under Linux, which is pretty sweet.  $25 bucks a quarter, zillions of albums, and works anywhere there's a 'net connection.  Can't beat that.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007 10:42:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 15 February 2007

I just finished a couple of pretty interesting books...

 


The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks

The Devil's Teeth is all about a journalist who gets involved with the biologists studying great white sharks in the Farallones, islands about 20 miles due West of San Francisco.  It's an interesting portrait, not only of the harsh reality of life for a shark, but of the harsh reality of the people who live to study them.  Not an easy job.  Unfortunately, the author's obsession with the sharks leads to her violation of the rules of the study, which ultimately result in the lead biologist losing his job.  I notice that part gets downplayed significantly.  Other than that, it's a very well written account.

 


Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea

 Adrift is about the truly remarkable adventure of Steven Callahan, who survived in an inflatable life raft for 76 days in the North Atlantic.  Only one other man is recorded as having survived at see that long solo.  Callahan's sailboat was sunk (he thinks by running into a whale) while only a few days out from the Canary Islands, headed for the Caribbean.  Using only the tools in his raft and survival kit, he manages to provide himself with enough food and water to make it all the way to Guadeloupe, where he was rescued by some fishermen.  Callahan showed some pretty amazing competence and ingenuity, which makes this a very interesting read.

Thursday, 15 February 2007 10:30:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 29 January 2007

Yesterday we had a party for the 10th Anniversary of the CERT program here in Hillsboro.  We had many more people than I had expected show up, to whom we provided free spiffs, literature on disaster preparedness, and lot's of nifty door prizes including tools, hats, etc.  Plus safety related games for the kids.  And there was cake.

A good time was had by all.  Here's to 10 more...

Monday, 29 January 2007 15:08:44 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 25 January 2007

Not so good. 

Update:  I did get WMP to work, after installing the "Media Services" for 2003 server from the "Add Windows Components" dialog.  Still no go with Rhapsody.  Interestingly enough, QuickTime doesn't work either...

I've recently had to upgrade my development box to Windows 2003 Server, because some of the work I'm doing with ADAM and AzMan requires 2003 or Vista (and I'm not quite ready to go there, not is our IT department).  I can't get the Rhapsody client to install at all on 2003 server.  I suspect it has something to do with the fact that there's no Windows Media Player installed.  There doesn't seem to be a Windows Media Player for 2003 Server, which probably isn't unreasonable.  The Rhapsody client install fails while trying to set up some DRM stuff, which is what makes me suspect WMP. 

Despite that, the new web based Rhapsody client works just fine in FireFox, so I'll have to limp along with that once again.

Sigh.

Thursday, 25 January 2007 10:04:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [6]  | 
# Monday, 18 December 2006

Late last week, Rhapsody finally released a new desktop client that doesn't crash in the presence of IE7.  Hurray!  I've been gimping along with the web-based client, which is cool, but not nearly as full-featured as the desktop version.  I've been running it for several days now, and not one crash, so I'm hopeful at this point.  Just in time to listen to all that Christmas music that I'd never shell out to buy full time...

Update: I may have spoken too soon.  It works fine on my desktop at work, but crashes constantly on my laptop at home.  Sigh.

Monday, 18 December 2006 12:41:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 15 December 2006

I just finished Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales, and would heartily recommend it to anyone who participates in any kind of outdoor or adventure activity, or anyone interested in the psychology of survial.  I was a little skeptical, since the book jacket made it sound like it was mostly case studies of survial situations.  While those certainly play a central role, the book is really more about the latest in brain science and psychology, and how that explains the way people behave when they get lost in the wilderness, or have to face other kinds of survival situations. 

Mr. Gonzales has definitely done his homework.  He's obviously spent a huge amount of time reading accident reports, and accounts by survivors, and picks out trends from both categories.  He then ties those trends back to the underlying brain science, which goes a long way toward explaining the (seemingly) irrational behavior often observed in people under stress. 

As someone who enjoys wilderness backpacking, as well as someone involved in disaster preparedness, I found this book completely fascinating. 

The book ends with a list of 12 tips for how to make it through a survival situation, which I found quite valuable.

Friday, 15 December 2006 15:50:15 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 05 December 2006

On Scott's recommendation, Vikki and I got Brick from Netflix and watched it a few days back.  Then watched it again. 

If you like film noir, Brick is a no-brainer. 

The basic vision of the film (and it won a Sundance prize for originality of vision) is that of a classic Hammet-esque noir film, but set in a Southern Californian High School.  No, really.  And it's brilliant.  The actors all obviously got it.  There's nothing farcical or comic about the performances.  They all believe in the vision.  Which isn't to say that there aren't funny moments (such as the hero meeting with the most dangerous drug dealer in town while his Mom serves them juice and cookies) but they are funny as part of the plot, not because of the aesthetic of the film. 

Solid performances all around, and some great dialog.  The dialog is heavily spiked with both gumshoe and pseudo-modern-teen argot, so turning on the subtitles helps follow the story the first time through. 

There's a lot of depth here, especially for a directorial debut, and I think this is a film I'll go back and watch over and over again.

Tuesday, 05 December 2006 16:13:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Over the weekend I took my kids for a hike up the Deschutes river from where it meets the Columbia, just east of the Dalles.  The weather was pretty nice, although it was overcast most of the day.  At least the rain held off until the middle of the night.  Check out pictures and a brief description at portlandhikers.com

This was the longest hike I’ve ever done with my kids, and as we’ve progressed toward longer hikes over the summer, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about hiking with children and how to make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.  I got a lot of great tips from Extreme Kids: How to Connect With Your Children Through Today's Extreme (and Not So Extreme) Outdoor Sports.  It’s a very well written book, that starts with some general tips about going outdoors with children, and then has some sport-specific information in the second half.  The tips I’ve gotten the most out of so far:

  • dress them for the part.  Hiking-specific gear like hydration packs, boots, and trekking poles make them feel like they are participating in something special, and really help get them out on the trail.
  • talk up the hike.  Take some time to talk up the hike.  Make it sound hard, question their ability to handle such a difficult task (not too seriously) and make it into a challenge.  This has made a huge difference.  My kids both boogied right up Little Belknap Crater after I played up the difficulty of “scaling a volcano”. 
  • keep them fed.  Keeping their blood sugar up is vital.  I’ve started packing not just granola/Clif bars, but some smaller snacks to keep them sugared up.  Generally we avoid giving them sugar, so this one took me a while to warm up to, but on last weekend’s 7.8 miler, it made a big difference.  They were tired, but the never crashed.  The new Jelly Belly “Sports Beans” work great for this.  They are basically jelly beans with electrolytes in them (like Gatorade) that come in 100 calorie packs.  The kids love them, and the feel like they are getting away with something. :-)  We also tried some Clif Shot Bloks, which proved popular.  They come in packs of 6, and were easy to dole out at key milestones.

These tips (and more from the book) have made our time together outside much more enjoyable.  I’m already looking forward to next season (and maybe some snowshoeing over the winter).

Tuesday, 17 October 2006 10:18:17 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 05 October 2006

I’m a relative newcomer to the world of alt country, so everybody but me probably already knew, but Neko Case #@*! ROCKS!  She’s got an amazing voice, and really captures that “torch and twang” aesthetic (which I love).  I’ve listened to Furnace Room Lullaby about 5 times in the last couple days, and I’m wowed each and every time.  I’d put it right up there with k.d. lang’s Absolute Torch and Twang.  This is what I love about Rhapsody.  I’d never hear all this great music otherwise. 

My other big faves right now are Blue Horse by the Be Good Tanyas, and Springtime Can Kill You by Jollie Holland.  Good stuff.

Thursday, 05 October 2006 09:55:18 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 18 September 2006

I'm pretty much a sucker for a good vampire novel.  I'd even go so far as to include the works of Ann Rice in that set, although perhaps in the guilty pleasure category.  I just finished The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and it's right up there at the top of the pack.  Maybe almost as good as Already Dead, the previous front runner. 

The Historian is a (dare I say) lavish twist on the Dracula myth, filled with exacting detail.  The author supposedly did 10 years of research while writing this book, and it certainly shows.  Lots of work went into this novel, which demonstrates a detailed understanding of the history of the Ottoman empire, Byzantium, and other aspects of Balkan/Near East history, so it might appeal to history buffs regardless of the vampire content. 

I actually listened to the Audible audio version, which was very long (something like 24 hours) and was read by two different actors who portrayed a set of 3-4 different characters, so it was very engaging to listen to.

There is a great twist towards the end that I totally didn't see coming.  It made the book that much more enjoyable.  Well worth checking out if you're into vampires, history, or both.

Monday, 18 September 2006 10:51:07 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 11 September 2006
Yesterday my daughter and I hiked from Timberline lodge out to Zig Zag Canyon.  What a nice hike!  Just about the right length, and the weather up there was perfect yesterday.  Check out the pictures.

Definitely a good hike for even medium-sized kids, and the views are fantastic.

Monday, 11 September 2006 14:07:05 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 21 August 2006

We just got back from a week's vacation in sunny Marin County CA (just across the Golden Gate from San Francisco, for those not up on Californian geography).  We were visiting family and checking out goings on in "the City", which we haven't done in 4-5 years. 

I was quite surprised to discover that the California Academy of Sciences, which was one of my favorite destinations as a kid, is being rebuilt.  We showed up in Golden Gate Park, (finally) found parking, and were all set to go to the aquarium and visit the stuffed lions when we came around the bend to find a big hole in the ground, surrounded by cranes.  So we went to the recently renovated Deyoung art museum instead, and hit the temporary location of the Academy (near Moscone Center) the next day. 

We also squeezed in a visit to the new Asian Art Museum, much of which used to be the Brundage (sp?) Collection at the Deyoung.  The new building is beautiful, and very well laid out.  It's designed to be viewed as a progression over time and distance, starting with India and South Asia, through SE Asia, and then East Asia (China, Korea, Japan).  The new Deyoung is also very well laid out.  Don't be put off by the exterior.  It'll grow on you as you get closer, and the inside is fantastic. 

Our tour ended with a day in Sonoma, where we checked out the historical sights, like Valejo's house, the Sonoma Mission, and Jack London State Park, which has a very nice museum, and where you can see the ruins of London's "Wolf House" which burned down a month before he could move in. 

The weather turned out to be very pleasant, and in fact it was hotter here in Portland when we got home yesterday.  Go figure.  Hotter in Portland than in Redding?  Who'd have thunk it. :-)

Monday, 21 August 2006 13:18:16 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 07 August 2006
There’s a great (relatively new) site for hikers around the Portland area called (aptly enough) PortlandHikers.com.  There are forums for trip reports (many of which come with beautiful photos), gear reviews, and other topics related to hiking our part of the Great NW.  You can check out the pictures I posted of our hike to the Indian Heaven wilderness last weekend, which turned out to be a great trip.  Nice weather, good company, and a very pretty lake to camp next to.
Monday, 07 August 2006 23:10:39 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 02 August 2006

Yes, it’s happened again.  Yet another technology/trend which appeared in Neal Stephenson’s seminal novel Snow Crash has come to (almost) fruition.  I think he called it “sintergel” or some such.  This new technology joins the burbclave and a host of other trends that Stephenson predicted back in the day. 

Liquid Body Armor By End Of 2007

The company Armor Holdings is developing a liquid-type of body armor to either replace or enhance the current tough fiber and polymer armor that's in use today. The liquid can be smeared on a person, or a person's clothing, and stiffens when hit by an object. [Gizmodo]

Wednesday, 02 August 2006 09:54:15 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [2]  | 
# Tuesday, 11 July 2006

I’m a big fan of watching TV shows after they come out on DVD.  You don’t have to deal with the commercials, and you can be assured of not missing anything.  Plus, I don’t have cable, so it’s about the only way I ever see TV.  Anyway, Vikki and I just finished season 1 of Veronica Mars.  What a fantastic show.  I can see why Joss Whedon calls it the best show that noone is watching.  Great dialogue, good acting (mostly), great story arc, and I totally didn’t see the ending coming. 

While each episode explores a subplot about the rigors of high school, etc. the overarching story line is about a murder mystery, and the season ends with the murderer revealed (it’s not who you think).  They pulled off some very interesting plot twists throughout.  I’m breathlessly anticipating season 2 next month.  There are still a number of open questions which I’m hoping they’ll pursue in the second season. 

If you like the Whedonverse (BtVS/Angel/Firefly) you’ll probably like Veronica Mars.  Best dialogue this side of Joss himself.

Tuesday, 11 July 2006 10:42:52 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 26 June 2006

Aboutt 4 months ago I moved into a brand new (town)house.  It’s been great, particularly since our last house was generating more maintenance opportunities that we could handle.  The new place is 3 stories, and there’s a deck off the back of the second floor over the driveway.  Staining/finishing said deck is left as an excercise for the homeowner, and yesterday I finally got around to it.  At first I didn’t want to tackle it due to the everpresent rain, and lately it’s just been a matter of finding the time.  And I really hate ladders. 

Anyway, I had the time, the materials, and no rain.  Unfortunately, it was around 100° yesterday.  It’s a small deck, but nonetheless 4 hours of huffing paint fumes on my hands and knees left me a bit nackered.  And today I’m finding out how unbendy I’ve become (i.e. crippled today). 

This whole getting older thing really blows. 

Monday, 26 June 2006 13:14:20 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [2]  | 
# Monday, 08 May 2006

We had a great time on the Diabetes Walk this weekend with Scott, Mo, Zenzo, and the whole extended Hanselman family, as well as the other members of the team.  We had a lovely 5K walk through the Pearl district.  Vikki, the kids and I, and even our ridiculous dog Carter took the MAX downtown for the walk, strolled through Portland, and headed back home.  The dog lay around in a heap all day yesterday.  I guess 5K is a lot longer when you’re only 10” tall.  :-)

Congratulations to Scott and the team for raising such a mighty some for such a good cause.  If you are feeling extra athletic and want to raise money for diabetes care and research, the ADA also sponsors the Summit to Surf bike race, from Government Camp up to Timberline and down to Hood River.  I volunteered for it last year, and was glad I was driving one of the chase cars and not biking up that hill.  The downhill part looked like a lot of fun though.

Monday, 08 May 2006 13:17:38 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 24 April 2006

Vikki and I took the kids to see an “Indian Dance Ballet” downtown yesterday called Krishna Bhakti.  It was great!  Groovy costumes, great music, and some very impressive dancing.  The ballet focuses around the lives of two female saints and poetesses who were proponents of Krishna Bhakti, or love of the divine in the form of Lord Krishna.  Their stories reminded me a lot of that of Hildegaard von Bingen, a medieval German nun and abbess who was also a poetess, and whose work has become popular of late. 

The lead dancer and choreographer, Jayanthi Raman, also runs a school for Indian dance here in Portland, and many of the dancers yesterday were her students.  I’ll be looking out for future productions sponsored by Rasika, an Indian Arts and Cultural Council in Portland. 

Monday, 24 April 2006 14:12:52 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 10 April 2006

The second I win the lottery, I’m so getting one of these.  They are wood-covered, spherical rooms that you hang from trees.  What a great place to hang out in (literally). 

 

Treehouse sphere
Monday, 10 April 2006 11:03:06 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 03 April 2006

This weekend Vikki and I were in Seattle for an anniversary party (that turned out to be a wedding… long story) and part of the festivities was a performance by Circus Contraption.  They were completely fantastic.  What an awesome show!  They are a group of musicians who also happen to be circus-style performers.  They played some very cool music, highly reminiscent of 30’s bistro music, a la Paris Combo or similar bands.  Along with the music (which would have been cool enough by itself) there was juggling, tap dancing, ballet, several varieties of trapeze art, a strong man, stilt walking, and more. 

I was really impressed not only with the breadth and depth of their talent, but how consistent they were with the retro-circus style.  The costumes, music, instruments, everything fit very well together.  I think it’s cool that people would choose to preserve this particular style of music and performance and do it with such obvious dedication. 

Enough raving… if you ever get a chance, check them out.  They are playing a week-long engagement in Seattle in mid-July (details on their site) and I’m hoping to make it up for a show.  It’d be worth the drive.

Monday, 03 April 2006 14:42:37 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 27 September 2005

Since our beloved husky-German Shephard Saffy passed away in July we’ve been casually shopping for a new dog.  Vikki and I both decided we wanted something smaller, and mellower.  In short, something that will be content to just hang out, and doesn’t take up too much room. 

Last week we found what we were looking for in the form of Carter.  He’s a Chihuahua/terrier mix that we got from the animal shelter.  About a year and a half old, had his shots, neutered, some puppy school.  All is good.  He’s a bit of an escape artist, but when he’s not escaping, he pretty much just wants to hang out with us, and he’s about the same size as our cat.  Perfect. :-)

Pictures to follow.

Tuesday, 27 September 2005 16:08:42 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
# Thursday, 11 August 2005
My sister Erica delivered my first nephew yesterday afternoon.  Connor James Mullen, 7 lb. 15 oz.  Woo hoo!  Everyone is doing beautifully.
Thursday, 11 August 2005 11:02:43 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 22 February 2005

I know things have been a bit quiet here lately.  Suffice it to say it’s been a weird winter so far.  I’m hoping to get some more technical content soon, but in the mean time…

I just got back from vacation in Phoenix, where it rained almost the entire time we were there, while here at home in (usually not so) sunny Portland it’s been sunny and in the 50’s and 60’s.  Good thing that whole global climate change is just a myth propagated by eco-freaks.  :-)

Tuesday, 22 February 2005 09:52:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [3]  | 
# Tuesday, 08 February 2005
Bruce Sterling wrote a great review of the Voltaic Solar Backpack.  Pretty neat gizmo.  It’s a backpack with solar panels on the back that charge an internal battery, that in turn can be used to charge your cell phone/iPod/camera, etc.  I don’t know how well it would work here in the land where the sun is dim, but it’s a cool idea.  Energy self-sufficiency for one’s gizmos is a noble goal.
Tuesday, 08 February 2005 09:51:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 24 January 2005

I have a hobbyist level interest in linguistics, and one of the things I find most fascinating about language is the way it changes.  Modern English provides us with some pretty stunning examples.  I think they tend to fall into two categories.  There are abuses that are just plain wrong and should be severely dealt with, many of which can be found in our media (and political speeches).  These stem mainly from a lack of proper education, or just plain lack of attention.  I was a bit shocked to here Dr. Rice, in her confirmation hearings, talk about the “dismantlement” of our nuclear missiles.  This would be abuse. 

On the other hand, there are innovative uses of language that, IMHO, grow our language in interesting ways.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and one of the biggest reasons I love the show is for it’s innovative use of language.  There’s a cool page over at PBS right now about “Slayer Slang” and some of the innovative linguistic tidbits to come out of BtVS.  As but one small example, when told that something was “pointless”, Buffy responds “it’s totally pointy!”  That’s innovative use of language, and I think it should be applauded.

Given that, I was happy to see Wil Wheaton start a post today with the word “Embiggened”. :-)  Is it a word?  No.  Should it be?  Maybe.  Is it evocative and interesting?  Most definitely. 

Monday, 24 January 2005 10:23:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 13 January 2005

I finally feel as if I’m starting to recover from the weekend…

My wife received a big award in the SCA (she’s now a Laurel for anyone who knows what that means) and the run up to the event was pretty hectic.  And the party that followed was epic in proportion.  I’m just not as young as I used to be.  I should have some pictures up after this weekend.

Anyway, hopefully things will pick up here a bit now that it’s over. 

Thursday, 13 January 2005 13:12:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 27 October 2004

So, one the things we do in CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training is simulated disaster exercises.  One of the things you need for simulated disasters is simulated victims.  What you want from a good simulated victim is something that looks realistic, and preferably really gross.  If you get used to dealing with simulated grossness, the theory is it will be easier to deal with actually grossness when it shows up. 

Enter "moulage".  (I'd never heard that word either.)

"Moulage" is the art of making people up to look like they have horrible disfiguring wounds that will be noticed by people in medical training, and dealt with accordingly.  Last night I went to a moulage class put on for our local CERT team, and it was really a lot of fun, in a gross, messy kind of way.  I hope to have pictures later. 

We spent over an hour looking at a combination of moulaged volunteers and actual accident victims to get a feel for what we were trying to achieve.  Yuck.  People can get hurt in really messy ways.  Then we set about making each other look gross, which was much more fun. :-)

My favorite ones were the burns.  It turns out to be really easy to make some really nasty and convincing looking third degree burns (using common household items).  I had a harder time with the "impaled objects" and compound fractures.  Mostly because I was trying to work on myself.  It's way easier to get a chicken bone to stick out of someone else's arm than your own.  And it takes a lot more artistic skill than the burns to get the colors right.  Ah, well.  Now I have an excuse to dress my kids up as accident victims for Halloween.  I need to practice.

Wednesday, 27 October 2004 15:16:34 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 07 September 2004

Many who know me know that I'm a long-time member of the SCA.  For the rest of you, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, 'cause I'm just that big a dork.  Anyway, we just found out this weekend that my wife Vikki (or Svava as she's known in SCA circles) will be getting her Laurel in January (assuming she doesn't blow it between now and then :-) ).  For you non-SCA types, that's equivalent to Knighthood, only for Arts & Sciences.  In other words, a big deal.  She pretty much rocks.  Actually, she totally rocks.  You go honey!

I realize 99% of you reading this probably neither know nor care what I'm talking about, but I couldn't resist the opportunity for the shout-out.

Tuesday, 07 September 2004 12:43:34 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 09 August 2004

We had my son's 9th birthday party this weekend, and decided to try something different, so we had it at a local climbing gym in Beaverton.  It was awesome!  The guys at Stoneworks were great, and fabulous at working with kids.  For a very reasonable price we got private use of the gym before it opened to the public, shoe and harness rentals for everyone, and two expert belayers to make sure we didn't kill ourselves. :-)

The guys were very encouraging with the kids, and I think they all had a great time.  We didn't get quite as many kids as we'd planned for, so 4-5 of us adults got into the act too, which was a blast.  I haven't been climbing since I was probably 8-9, and had a great time.  I made it up to the top of the high wall, which was a good way up there.  The gym itself was amazing, with probably a good dozen different faces, plus a little cave for bouldering practice, etc.  The faces themselves were really cool, with all kinds of handholds, shaped both like actual rocks and like just about anything else you can imagine.  I saw several skulls, a fish, turkey, owl, and a couple little grinning homunculi.  Ivan had a great time, and his little sister Gwyn climbs like a little monkey girl.  She just turned 6 yesterday, and I think she was up and down the wall more than anyone else.  I shot a bunch of video, which I may get around to editing into something interesting one of these days. 

Monday, 09 August 2004 10:35:18 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
# Monday, 19 July 2004

Just in case I wasn't a big enough geek before, I'm now officially KE7BJG.  That's right.  A licensed amateur radio operator (Technician class). 

I got interested in the idea of amateur radio through the emergency responder training I had last year.  I'd previously had no idea, but it turns out that in times of disaster/emergency, hams are instrumental in providing emergency communications through programs such as ARES and RACES.  That's a pretty important service, and I decided I'd like to be able to help out. 

In the process of studying for the licensing exam, I found out that the whole art and science of radio wave propagation is pretty darned fascinating. 

Ah well, it's not like anyone didn't know I was a nerd before :-).  My wife just shakes her head and sighs.  She says if I ever put up a tower in the backyard for antennas it's all over between us. 

Monday, 19 July 2004 11:33:16 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
# Tuesday, 29 June 2004
I took my son backpacking this past weekend with some friends of mine and some of their boys.  It was the first time my son had been backpacking (he's 8) and it's the first time I've been in probably 12-13 years.  It was a great time.  We were up on the Southern slopes of Mt. Hood, on Timothy Lake.  The weather was nice, not too hot.  Far enough from parking lots to cut down on the crowds, but not so far that you felt like you had to struggle to get there and back. There are some images of the spot here.   
Tuesday, 29 June 2004 14:10:45 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 16 April 2004

OK, I realize this is apropos of nothing, but I'm most of the way through The Clash's Clash On Broadway, and I've got to say it just doesn't get any better than this.   

What a great, groundbreaking band they were. 

Friday, 16 April 2004 16:09:14 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 09 April 2004

I wasn't sure I'd pull that one out...  it's been a while.  I actually just had a grammar nazi episode with my son last night (who didn't appreciate it, being 8).

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

[Via Steve [Via Stuart]]

Friday, 09 April 2004 11:07:44 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 17 March 2004

I found this site via Omar Shahine, and I just couldn't help myself.  There are so many more places to visit.

 


create your own personalized map of the USA or write about it on the open travel guide

By comparison this one looks less impressive :-)

 


create your own visited country map or write about it on the open travel guide
Wednesday, 17 March 2004 13:46:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 13 March 2004

I just survived my very first Taekwondo tournament!  Yea me!

Better than that, I actually won one of my sparring matches, which I hadn't really expected to do, and the guy I lost to was WAY better than me and totally deserved it. 

I call that a good day.  Now on the the USTU state trials in May. :-)

Saturday, 13 March 2004 19:52:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 19 January 2004

To spare those who aren't interested, I've set up a new blog all about food, wherein I'll be posting all kinds of stuff on food, nutrition, and recreating recipes from historical sources.

Monday, 19 January 2004 12:01:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 30 December 2003

If you’ve never seen Firefly, it’s a show well worth checking out on DVD.  I don’t get cable (or actually any channels besides our local PBS station, OPB) so I never saw the show when it first ran.  I think I’m glad.  Apparently, Fox did everything they could to screw it up, including playing the episodes out of order, not promoting it, putting it on at a bad time, etc.  On DVD, you can watch the whole first (and only) season in its entirety, in order, with three episodes that never aired.    

All I can say is that if further convinces me of the outstanding genius of Joss Whedon.  It’s amazing what you can do if you start from the premise that your viewers are not only reasonably well educated, but that they actually pay attention.  My wife thinks Firefly is even better than the better known Joss Whedon work, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I haven’t finished the whole series yet, so I’m not sure if I’d go that far yet, but I love what I’ve seen so far. 

Firefly is the classic space-western.  It takes place 500 years in the future, but it’s not a clean, pretty Buck Rogers kind of future, it’s a lot more like the Wild West.  Most of the places they visit are wild little border planets full of immigrants and indentured servants doing hard labor, just trying to get by.  At the same time, the “Alliance” (read, the Empire) is breathing down everybody’s necks trying to maintain (fascist) order.  Good premise to start with. 

They also got some really great (though relatively unknown) actors who really do a great job.  It’s not often that you see a pilot that actually establishes characters that you care about in less than two hours.  Joss Whedon’s direction focuses around subtlety and dialog, with great care given to facial expressions and dialog inflection.  It’s so nice to watch TV designed for smart people, instead of the absolute dreck that inhabits most or the airwaves these days, designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. 

Anyway, if you like Sci-Fi and or BtVS, check out Firefly.  Rumor has it that there’s a movie version in the offing, and my hope is that it might spark a return of support for the series.  There are several open questions that you can tell where meant to be revealed in the second season that never was. 

Tuesday, 30 December 2003 09:49:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 24 December 2003

For my birthday today I got a fabulous new SCOTTeVEST Three.0 (thanks Dad!).  The perfect geek wear.  It’s got 30 pockets of all different shapes and sizes for holding my phone, my iPod, and just about anything else I can manage to stash in it.  Plus it has a ball cap tether (I’ve lost several by setting them down somewhere strange).  Best of all, it has wiring channels all through it, so I can run my noise cancelling earbuds through the inside of the jacket.  A raincoat with cable management.  Bliss. 

I realize it pretty much labels me as a complete a total nerd, but I’m down with that. :-)  My wife says she’s glad I’m enjoying it so much.  I can tell she’s captivated.  No, really…

Now I just need the matching hat

Wednesday, 24 December 2003 16:13:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 13 November 2003

OK, I thought ’97 Bonnie & Clyde was an incredibly disturbing song when Eminem sang it on the Slim Shady LP.  However, I didn’t appreciate how disturbing it really was until I heard Tori Amos’ version from Strange Little Girls.  Although her rendition is done beautifully, YUCK!!  I think I’m going to have to floss my brain and hope I never hear it again. 

Update: I realize I probably should have explained for those not familiar with the works of Eminem and/or Tori Amos but I just can't bring myself to do it.  Too disturbing.  Sorry.

Thursday, 13 November 2003 10:34:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 20 October 2003

I was over at my family’s place at Black Butte Ranch this weekend, and Central Oregon is in its full glory right now.  The birch (aspen?) trees are that truly amazing shade of yellow, and the vine maples are anywhere from bright yellow through orange to deep crimson.  Set against the dark pines, the colors are really remarkable.  No snow on the passes still, so this is a great time of year to head that way.

If you’ve never been out to Black Butte, it’s also well worth the trip.  Good restaraunt, beautiful views, miles of bike paths, tennis, golf, swimming etc.  A great place for family vacations, since there’s a little something for everyone.

Monday, 20 October 2003 09:55:15 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 27 August 2003

It’s a bit off topic, and not strictly speaking technical, but I’ve got to say I’m totally digging Rhapsody.  For a very reasonable fee ($25 a quarter) I can now listen to something like 20,000+ albums from anywhere I’m online.  Much easier than trying to haul around 10 or 20 Gb worth of MP3s, and I can play music from anywhere there’s a broadband connection.  There’s no activation or other association with a given machine, so as long as I remember my credentials I can listen from anywhere (one place at a time, of course).  So if I really want to listen to Rob Zombie, Fatboy Slim and the Rolling Stones in the space of 20 minutes ( I hadn’t realized what a Rob Zombie fan I really am ) it’s all there.  There are a few noticeable holes in their collection, but they’re adding new albums all the time, so I have high hopes.  And best of all, it’s legal and guilt free.  And if I really must listen to something when I’m not online (which doesn’t seem to be all that often) then I can burn most of their tracks to CD for $.79, which is comparable to Apple of Buy.com’s offerings. 

Groovy

Now if only Rhapsody supported the blogging plug-in… (Right now it’s Mad Flava by Fatboy Slim)

Wednesday, 27 August 2003 15:10:18 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 27 June 2003

 The government is testing an airport scanner that reveals, well, pretty much everything. The image that screeners see is basically you, naked, under your clothes. Along with whatever weapons of mass destruction you happen to be concealing.
[Wired News]

Everybody remember to start doing your sit-ups before you travel…

[Listening to: John Barleycorn - Steeleye Span - Spanning the Years(04:49)]
Friday, 27 June 2003 16:49:13 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 12 June 2003

What a great book! Samurai William: the Englishman who opened the East by Giles Milton is all about the Englishman (William Adams) who was the real-life model for the main character in Clavell's Shogun.

Not only is it a very interesting subject (I had no idea that Europeans were so active in Japan so early) but Milton is a very readable author who knows how to combine hard core historical research with the kind of entertaining anecdotal history that makes it fun to read. I've had a long-standing interest in Japan, having spent a total of about 7 months there since highschool, and I've read a lot of early Japanese history, but most of those tend to overlook the European influence during that period. Milton has compiled a great deal of information about not only Adam's life in Japan, but what was going on with Europeans in the rest of Asia at the time. It ties in with his earlier work "Nathaniel's Nutmeg" (also a great read about the spice trade) in several places.

I also have a copy of Milton's "Big Chief Elizabeth" about the early English settlers of North America, but haven't had a chance to read it yet.

[Listening to: What Are Ya' At? - Great Big Sea - Great Big Sea (03:12)]
Thursday, 12 June 2003 17:02:05 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  |