August 2004 Archives

Saturdays Rock; Evidence of a very small world..


I'm overdue on posting the rest of the Seattle trip. There's still a whole bunch of videos/pics from the hikes in the Olympics to post. Soon...

But first, today was terrific. Although I slept a little long, I got up and my friend Michael was game to get on the road and do a motorcycle ride with me. It was going to be my first ride that got me out of the neighborhood, and it turned out to be a great ride indeed. We basically wound up parallelling IH-35 north bound up to Chaz's family's house in Weir, Texas. Took FM roads and county roads through hills & cotton fields and suburbs. The ride up was good - about 45 minutes up there, and the bike handled awesome, especially on the curves. When we got north of Pflugerville/Hutto, we had the road to ourselves, and it made a world of difference. Chaz was of course a bit taken aback that we turned up out there: I had said I was going to the office. I changed my mind. :-) (As an aside, the pics of the remodel of his family's farmhouse are here.) We didn't stay too long as the weather was changing, and we wanted to try to avoid getting soaked. The ride back was even more fun, as on some of the straightaways that were now familiar, we could open up the bikes a bit more. Vrooom!

The cold front came through, I mowed, then went to Fry's to check out some things. After checking out, I thought I saw a face I recognized checking out at another position. I hung back to see if I could get a better angle; I thought it was Scott L. that worked with me at IBM and had moved on to Gateway in South Dakota. After he'd finished, I approached him with a questioning look on my face... "Scott??!!??" Sure as hell was him. Just back from Iowa for a week, new position at Dell, and just a few streets away down Braker, he's living in Austin again after 5 years of being up there. That's all just utterly cool, and its so like him to be seen at Fry's. Chaz & I had puppysit his dogs Barney & Wilman in the past, and we'll look forward to doing that again.

Photo Update!

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Like taking a Big Wheel out on I-35

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Seattle is well known for being filled with outdoors activities, and we jumped into them with both feet Wednesday.

We started off by doing a hike down behind Jeff & John's house on the City of Bellevue trail network. Easy hike from their house down to Coal Creek, where along the way we saw some disgusting slugs, tons of wild blackberries, some monster spiders, and ferns galore. One section was only .1 of a mile, and went quick downhill, but that same .1 took an eternity heading back up the hill. When we made it to the creek, Chaz took some time to look at the rocks around the bed. He's turned into quite a rock hound since taking geology at SWT; he found some cool ones, even a couple of pieces of coal. We've had great weather, so that's been nice, and the hiking wasn't all that bad.

Our other excursion was Chaz's idea: kayaking on Lake Washington over to the Arboretum. Sounds cool, eh? He found a place to rent the kayaks, Agua Verde paddle club, the weather in the afternoon cooperated, and it seemed pretty doable, even without experience on the water. I had my doubts, mostly because having no experience and seeing kayakers doing rolls in the water down rapids (on TV of course), I figured I was going to get soaked and drown. They got our boats unshelved and in the water, fitted us with spray skirts and life jackets, gave us the $2 lesson, and we were off on our aquatic adventure.

Getting of the dock was no big deal, the paddle was easy to work, and the rudder wasn't too bad at first, but after leaving the dock heading out into the channel between Lake Union and Lake Washington, panic began to set in. We were assigned to get across the channel before heading east, and to stay close to the shore, since we were the smallest craft on the water. No shit we were the smallest craft.. a third of the way across the channel, a 54 foot Argosy tourist boat starts heading right for where I'm at, albeit a long way off.

Oh crap. *PADDLE*PADDLE*PADDLE*PADDLE*PADDLE *PADDLE*PADDLE* I change course, and sure as hell, the boat changes course as well. AIGH! *PADDLE*PADDLE*PADDLE*PADDLE *PADDLE*PADDLE*PADDLE* Sure, this is my idea of fun.. taking out a tiny vehicle that I can barely control out in the middle of a lake, and having big rigs aiming right at me. As the boat came within 300 yards, it was closer to the coast than I was, and if I kept paddling, I'd be closing the gap more than he would, so I stopped paddling, and just stared as it went by. Fine, so you're not going to run over me, just get out of the way. The wake rocked me a bit but I survived. The ordeal was hardly over however: we had to navigate a narrow 'cut' to get over near the arboretum, and that had lots of chop from wind and other craft. It took us about 40 minutes to get to the arboretum, but once over there, things were a little easier. The kayak moved easier on the still water, and I had a bit more control with the rudder there. We paddled out among the lilly pads, the ducks and herons for a good while. It turned out to be pretty fun, and not too wet, but in the back of my mind I had to save energy to get back across the cut and down the channel to the paddle club.

Needless to say, we enjoyed the paddling about, and made it back relatively unscathed, with only numb butts & legs from the trip. Fortunately the paddle club's restaurant had margartias and a deck above the lake where we could recover in short order, at least emotionally... the sore arms from the paddling might take a little longer to recover.

Vacation in Seattle!

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We're on vacation in Seattle, Washington, and its off to a great start.

Click for photos!

The flight out was not especially difficult, although it was the farthest I've travelled and stayed within the US borders.

Arrival was Monday night late, and it was a cool 66 or so when we finally got to Jeff & John's house up in Bellvue. It was nice to be out of the transit system and unwinding in really seriouslly cool weather. The night was downright chilly for for me, as was getting up Tuesday morning.

Tuesday was good and slow, with a leisurely coffee & muffin, enjoying the cool weather, and watching the birds out on the feeder. They've got a small but really incredible backyard that reminds me of California - bedding plants and ferns just grow on the own, filling their yard with color. Charles took a walk in the morning, eyeing wild blackberries & blueberries along the way. When we got moving out of the house, Jeff took us on a quick tour into the town, seeing the Mariners & Seahawk's stadiums, going through Pioneer Square, and landing at Pike Market for some shopping and some lunch. After the Market, we headed off to Ballard to see the locks and the boats, and much to our surprise we got to see some salmon heading up from Puget sound into the creeks. I had been told that the season was finished for the spawning, but evidently there's some stragglers out there! Check out the movie of the salmon - dinner in motion!

Can I get a witness for a cold front!

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An August day, 2:20 pm, the temperature is below 85, and there's no humidity. I had to take a picture, because its not going to last long.


Reminds me of going out to California when I was with Calico. It positively makes me want to bounce around inside and outside. A dog to walk would be great as well.

Matter of fact, there's lots of options.. the motorcycle, the hammock, heck, I'd rather even be outside mowing the yard. Both mine & the duplex's need mowing at this point.

Two Wheeled Terror

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Look what found a new home in the garage!

(Click for photos)

I've been looking, and had my heart set on a blue Honda Shadow Aero, mostly for the styling, the chrome, and the shaft drive. But this Saturday this 2002 Shadow Ace came up in the Statesman classifieds. Low mileage, right color, definately better price.. so we placed the call to see about seeing the bike.

Turns out it was owned by a woman in far South Austin, and it hadn't been sold yet. When the time came, we took the truck & some riding clothes just in case.
Arriving at the house, the gardens were a bit overgrown, and the doormat said "A word of advice, suck up to the dog."

Lets see, dogs, woman, bike. When a woman opened the door, I said "Nice to meet you 'A'", and she said, "No, I'm 'B'. I'll go get 'A'". The math I did in my head checked out: this bike comes from a good family.

They opened the garage, and it was pretty much a done deal. Looked great, good shape, right size. Chaz and I both took a ride on it around the block. It was significantly heavier than the bikes we did class with, so it took some getting used to. OK, it wasn't a shaft drive, but hell, $2300 less that I was willing to pay for the Aero means I've got some money to put into getting helmets & gear. :-) I tried to negotiate a lower price, but she stood firm, and I was willing to pay it given the fact that it was the right color and it had probably been in the contingent of 'dykes on bikes' at some point!

The women worked as nurses on the night shift at Seton, so we didn't get to come back and pick it up. Instead we arranged to have it picked up Sunday. I tracked down a colleague from work that owns a Shadow and he was more than happy to be the driver.

Sunday came and everything pretty much clicked. Our driver got it up here in short order and undamaged, and gave us a report on how it handled. He approved it without hesitation. Chaz & I spent a few hours toodling around the neighborhood, probably annoying the neighbors as we missed turn signals and hit the horn a few times too many. We didn't take it far or fast, given that we don't have gear yet. That will come and we'll get some good practice in. I did learn how to stall it really easily by letting the clutch out when I had the brakes on. Whoops.

We'll go this week to get helmets & a jacket & engine bars, but not till Tuesday. Cycle places all take Sunday & Monday off.

Road Trip report

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For the first time in about 4 months, I drew the straw to get on a roadtrip with a couple of our Sales Engineers. We've spent some time putting together a demo client for this prospective customer, and since I did the work, I got to go demo it. Just a quick trip out and back to Los Angeles. The outbound trip was a no-brainer - everything clicked and I got there by 8:20am pacific time with only the effort to drag my ass out of the bed before 6am. When I got to LA, the plan was to chill at the Continental President's club, but I didn't realize that to get to Continental from American that I'd have to leave the air-side. My fear was unfounded though - when I got to the Continental screening and handed them the American boarding pass to LAX, there was a momentary look of puzzlement, but they let me through when I mentioned the club. Good policy.

I settled in, had some coffee & worked on Bell for a while. The SE in charge of the visit showed not too long after I did; we worked for a while and then headed out to Hertz & to pick up the other SE. Turned out we were stylin' in LA with the '04 Kia Optima. Whoa. Feel the power. I attribute it to the company going public; saving some $$ on sales calls with the rent cars now. Driving from LAX to Pasedena didn't disappoint: plenty of smog and haze, lots of traffic, but sunshine from horizon to horizon, and as we headed north I could see the Hollywood sign on the hills in the distance. We made it to the meeting 30 minutes early, so we ran to find something to eat prior. There were a few moments of scarfing down the rest of the sandwich in the parking lot, but the deed was done, and we were ready for the meeting.

It really did go pretty good; got all the questions answered in short order, and the demo went very smooth. There were a few moments where I got to kick butt in the meeting; at one point the customer had asked something about our ability to monitor an installation, and the sales guy started to respond with how our product gets installed, but I helped him get back on track. After the demos, some code walk-through, and more Q&A, the meeting wrapped up in short order. My colleagues called it a "high-five" meeting, and I'll concur. We've got something to bring to the table that they can use. The drive back through LA rush hour was easier than I expected, and the three of us parted ways.

My overnight near the airport wasn't anything special, and I made it to the airport with an hour before my board time. Good, right? Hardly. 4 minutes after I call Chaz & tell him that it looks like I'll be home in time, My return flight on American started getting pushed out. It turned out to have a 3hr delay all told, as they pushed it out 1 hr, then 2 and 3 right behind one another. I left the air-side again and headed down to Continental's lounge for some work, some free wireless, and a Heineken. Okay, 2 Heinekens.

I supposed I should have never placed that call saying I'd be on time. Curses!

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