Archive for the ‘Activities’ Category

Yes, there is a reason I’m linking this Dave Barry column

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

I just went through my second one yesterday. No problems, thank goodness.

In other health news, I’ve received a new CPAP that I’m calling “ET” because it phones home. I used it the night I got it, but the next night was the colonoscopy prep, and I didn’t really get any sleep then, so I had it unplugged. The next day, I received a phone call, a text, and an email saying that I needed to make sure it was turned on so it could upload my usage information.

Next week I’m getting a three-month updated set of blood tests done and scheduling a new sleep study. All of my medical procedures seem to be coming due at once.

Just got back

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

I’ve been on vacation for three weeks, and just got back yesterday. We were on a G Adventures tour – Highlights of New Zealand. Travel there and back was an absolute nightmare. Our trip there involved two flights – Denver to Los Angeles, then Los Angeles to Auckland. Our flight from Denver was delayed for over an hour prior to takeoff because President Obama was making campaign appearances in Los Angeles, so they put a “ground hold” on that airport, meaning that incoming flights (ours among others) were not allowed to take off.

That caused us to miss our connection to Auckland – there are only two flights per day on that route (both overnight), and we’d had seats on the second one. We ran (almost) from Terminal 7 (United) to the Tom Bradley International Terminal (we got there faster than the shuttle bus would have taken us), but the line for security was several hundred feet long (it snaked several times upstairs, then went the entire length of the terminal downstairs), and the Air New Zealand counter was already closed. Fortunately, we managed to find some ANZ people who were still available and who issued us some paperwork and sent us back to United (back to Terminal 7). United took the position that it wasn’t their fault we missed our flight connection, therefore we weren’t entitled to any compensation. At least they arranged for us to get on the next day’s flight. Some of the other people who missed the same connection didn’t get all the paperwork done by United, so when they showed up at the Air New Zealand counter the next day, they had to go all the way back to Terminal 7 again.

The hotel we ended up in overnight wasn’t bad – the rooms were nice enough, but the hallways had a distinct feel of decrepit sanitarium to them. The hotel restaurant was closed, and there were no restaurants in walking distance – well, there was one across the road and about a block down, sort of, but it involved walking more than a mile and a half to get there, and the only restaurant that delivered said they had a 1-hour-plus delivery time. As it was well past midnight by then, we decided to get some snacks from the vending machine and call it good.

For the return trip, there were three flights – Christchurch to Auckland, Auckland to Los Angeles, and Los Angeles to Denver. Our original flight out of Christchurch was scheduled for 7pm, but we were bumped to an earlier flight, which then was delayed. It eventually took off just before 7pm. The transpacific flight wasn’t really a problem, but we’d been awake about 15 hours by the time it took off, and only managed a couple of hours sleep each on the 12+ hour flight. We had a two-hour layover in Los Angeles before our flight to Denver, and that would have been barely enough if the last flight hadn’t been delayed. It took us over an hour to get through customs and immigration, and then we had to walk from the Tom Bradley International Terminal to Terminal 7 (United) and go through security screening again. There’s a shuttle bus, but walking beat it again. Apparently, they are planning a way to let you stay within the security-cleared area while moving between terminals, but they don’t have anything like that yet. We got to the security screening, and they sent us back to replace our boarding passes, because United can’t read the barcodes generated by Air New Zealand, or something like that. Then, Marion had an extended and frustrating experience finally going through security. If the last flight hadn’t been delayed, I’m not sure we’d have made it back to Denver last night.

In between, though, it was a very nice trip. New Zealand is a beautiful country. There’s always a bit of “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium” flavor to a G Adventures tour, and it seemed a little more evident on this tour. Still, we had a lot of fun, and I wouldn’t mind going back at all. I’ll have more to say (and photos) later.

So …

Friday, March 25th, 2016

We had a significant snowstorm earlier this week. My boss texted early Wednesday morning to let everyone know that she was closing the business for the day. Good thing. According to the traffic overlay on my iPad’s map app, the roads were not moving well most of the day. The city of Denver actually put the chain law into effect, which is something that seldom happens. It usually happens several times a year for the mountains – there’s a stretch of I-70 near work that’s a pull-off area for trucks to put chains on – but I’ve only seen snow heavy enough for Denver to require it a few times in the last 30 years. I-70 was closed all the way to the Kansas border, and I’m sure Kansas shut down some of the highway in their state.

Roads weren’t bad on Thursday – one of my coworkers reported the major road by his apartment was icy, but I only ran into trouble on the on-ramp from the major road near me to the highway. Today was no trouble, but we’re supposed to be getting more snow tonight into tomorrow. Probably go up to Frisco Sunday for some cross-country skiing.

We’ve been developing a new computer board at work – based on a Cortex M-3 processor. We got the first boards back from the assembler on Monday, and have been testing them all week. As is usual when bringing up a new board from scratch, not everything is working, but enough is working that we’re not too unhappy. Unfortunately, one thing that’s not yet working is affecting our ability to test some other parts of the system. Just the way things go, sometimes. Once we’re past this problem, odds are good that everything else will fall into place.

Busy weekend

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

My daughter came by yesterday to go through my LPs and grab what she wanted before I got rid of them all. She disappeared with most of my comedy LPs, some folk, some ballroom dance, and a few just for the cover art. She also left with a few books (two that I gave her, and two that she borrowed), and a couple of Ethernet cables.

Marion and I went cross-country skiing at the Frisco Nordic Center today. First loop was on Crown Point, then after eating a lunch-time snack, we did a loop of the front half of the Frisco Bay trail. They had signs posted along the trails warning that moose had been seen in the area, and to avoid them. We didn’t see any moose, not that I expected to. We did, however, see a snowshoe hare, which is the first wildlife other than birds and squirrels that I’ve seen while skiing at that area. I saw a fox a few years ago while skiing at the Steamboat Nordic Center. Just don’t see much wildlife while skiing.

I’d planned on getting a haircut and doing laundry this weekend, but it just didn’t work out. No big deal, though. The longer hair helped keep my ears warm while skiing, and the laundry can be put off for a few more days – it’s not as though I’m about to run out of clean clothing.

Happy New Year

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

I hope your holidays were good.

Mine were very enjoyable. Marion and I came home a few days ago from a holiday trip to New York to visit her friends and relatives. We had a good time there, and I can recommend the food at Osteria Laguna and the Miss Korea BBQ restaurant – we had quite a good lunch there. I was good on the trip – I only gained a pound or so. I did pick up a couple new cookbooks at Kinokuniya, though, and I’m looking forward to trying some of those recipes.

Arriving home was a slightly different matter. We got to the car park, and my car wouldn’t start. Dead battery. Marion didn’t know how to deal with push-starting a car with a standard transmission, so that ended up being a fair amount of effort (on my part) and stress (on hers). Eventually, we got it started and managed to get home.

I took it in to my mechanic yesterday. It was a bad battery, which is not nice, but better than the alternator or some other part of the electrical system. Still, that’s money that I hadn’t anticipated needing to spend. It’s the third battery for the car, so I’m doing a little better than average on battery life.

Been busy recently

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

At work, we’ve been trying to get a new product out. We’ve got the design and layout done, and are in the process of getting prototypes set up. We’re also working on an add-on board for it, and that’s still in the schematics stage. Even though I’m not a hardware engineer, I’ve been heavily involved in reviewing the schematics and suggesting changes. One of the reasons I’m useful at it is because I’m familiar with what we’ve done in the past, so I know what worked and what didn’t in our previous designs, so I have some ideas about what to watch out for.

For various reasons, I had to have my Christmas dinner yesterday. I fixed a rib roast, roasted root vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, and homemade bread. For dessert, I’d made mince pie and chocolate rum balls, and one of the guests brought a steamed chocolate pudding with hard sauce. I had a nice cabernet and some non-alcoholic sparkling cider available.

A good time was had by all. Particularly my daughter, when we passed presents around during the lull between the main meal and dessert. I gave her two presents. The first was a cookbook. I recently bought a copy of the cookbook for myself, and I knew she’d enjoy it. The second, though, had her gasping in excitement – it was my set of Samurai Cat art prints, which I had bought at the 1984 Worldcon from Mark E. Rogers at his booth. They’re in good shape, but I had never framed and hung any of them, so, since she’d been threatening to kill me for them since she was 7, I figured it was time to let her have them.

Tonight, as the second part of her present to me, we watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was a good movie, and I enjoyed the sly references to earlier movies that I caught (my daughter caught more, but she’s seen the animated series and I haven’t), but there were a few things that offended me. As they’re spoilers involving physics, engineering, and common sense, I won’t say anything (yet), because it’s just past opening weekend. Maybe later.

A good time was had by all

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

It was my daughter’s birthday recently, and she got her present last night: I took her to dinner, following which we went to see the Mythbusters farewell tour Denver show: Jamie & Adam Unleashed! We had pretty good seats, about half-way back and just left of center. Photography and recording during the show weren’t allowed (although this was widely ignored). The only photo I took was this one to show our view of the stage.

Mythbusters Stage

We’d not seen them on any prior tours, so I had looked up the show reviews a couple of days earlier. I only saw one negative review, from someone who felt they showed too many videos. I disagree, personally. I had no problem with the number of videos shown, especially because several of them were provided with running commentary by Adam. One of them (a supercut of explosions with enhanced audio so that you could feel the explosions) was my daughter’s favorite part of the show.

Personally, I thought the question and answer sessions (they each did one) were interesting, particularly finding out that Jamie has a degree in Russian linguistics with a minor in library science, and that Adam is a high school graduate. If I’d had the opportunity to ask a question (we were too far back to be chosen), I’d have asked one of two things: either what proportion of their research they did on their own compared to bringing in experts, or, given that Adam noted that he had been hired by Jamie a few years before the Mythbusters shows started, how he ended up as Jamie’s business partner.

In any case, it was a very informative and enjoyable show. I’m glad we went.

Not what I was expecting to find

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

I was running around the web last night, while looking for lyrics and chord to a few songs, and went to Joe Bethancourt’s website.

I didn’t really know Joe, and I doubt he’d have remembered me. I met him at the 1997 Worldcon in San Antonio. Five minutes after we met, we were seated in one of the hotel hallways, and he was playing my banjo and giving me an impromptu lesson in how to play clawhammer-style banjo, as well as expounding on its advantages over 3-finger bluegrass picking. During his concert set, I saw several professional musicians amazed at watching him sing in 3/4 time while playing guitar in 4/4 time (or vice-versa, I don’t exactly remember).

Several of his CDs are available. I have a few of them as cassette tapes. I like his performances, and I like the songs he wrote. Like Mel Tillis, he had a stutter when speaking that disappeared when he sang.

I didn’t find the specific information I was looking for on his site. I did find out that he died just over a year ago. I’m sorry to know that, and sorry that I didn’t know it sooner than this. I hope his family members are doing well, and if there’s an afterlife, I hope he’s enjoying his.

I Voted!

Friday, July 31st, 2015

The exclamation point is a little much, I’ll admit, but I submitted my ballot for this year’s Hugo awards tonight. I didn’t vote in all categories, because I wasn’t familiar with all of the nominees. As an example, the only nominee in the category “Long Form Dramatic Presentation” that I saw was Guardians of the Galaxy. Then again, that’s not unusual for me.

I won’t vote in a category where I haven’t seen/read all the nominees. As a result, I voted in eight categories, and didn’t vote in ten. I’ll be interested in learning the results when they’re announced next month.

Running late

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Last Tuesday, as a late Father’s Day/early birthday present, my daughter took me to a class in making and cooking with bacon. We had a lovely meal, which we had helped prepare, I learned a few new things about cooking (especially with respect to running dough through a pasta machine), and we each took home some raw pork belly that was marinating.

Mine is still marinating in the fridge. Technically, I should have roasted it for pork belly or smoked it for bacon on Friday or Saturday, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet – I was under the weather over the weekend. Oh, well. I’ll get to it tomorrow or the next day. I just have to decide how I’m going to prepare it, and what I’m going to pair it with.