I’ve added a Flickr Album for our Kauai trip.
Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category
I titled the last post “Aloha” because I’m in Kauai with Sammy and Sophie, flying back to California tomorrow. It’s been a great trip:
- We flew in and landed late Friday night, and basically just crashed in our condo in Poipu since it was around 11pm (2am our time).
- Saturday we had breakfast at the Grand Hyatt next door, shopped for groceries, and visited the pool and beach.
- Sunday we used the pool, made reservations, and had a luau.
- Monday was a raft ride up the Na Pali coast.
- Tuesday was a kayak and zipline adventure.
- Wednesday we hiked the Waimea Canyon.
- Thursday was a pool and beach day, at Salt Pond Beach Park.
- Today was a helicopter tour, followed by waterfall visits.
- Tomorrow we’ll visit Poipu one more time, then pack and drive up to Kilauea Lighthouse before red eye home.
Kauai is an amazing island: Laid back, verdant, friendly, and charming. I can’t wait to return here.
The four of us spent a week in Maui with Georgia, Nathan and Penny. It was a wonderful trip, with highlights that included rainbows, a trip to the aquarium, a luau, a glass-bottom boat ride, some amazing meals, poke tasting, and (on our last full day) a surf lesson. Kimi arranged for a sitter for Sammy and Sophie, and Georgia dropped us off at Lahaina at the Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy to meet Josh, our instructor for two hours. After reviewing the basics on the sand, we took our 11-foot longboards out to the water, in a gentle, shallow spot right behind King Kamemeha’s elementary school — the bunny slope of Hawaiian surfing.
Perhaps it was the gentle waves, or the length of the longboard, or Josh’s prowess as an instructor, but both Kimi and I managed to get to our feet on the first attempt. It looked a little something like this.
(All photographs by Ric Larsen — full set is up on Flickr. Music by Slang, “Field Guide To Snapping,” off their album The Bellwether Project. This is my first time using Microsoft Movie Maker, so there are five or six effects and transitions that I should have passed on…)
Hello to everyone! Happy New Year 2012! We just got back from our annual trip to Seattle, and, man, I have to tell you, we had a great time in Tacoma and seeing the relatives, but the one thing that sticks out is that the new travel rules are a bit inconvenient.
Look, I want our flights to be safe just like everyone, and I know the TSA is just doing its job, but having to check all clothing and personal items is a genuine hardship when traveling with kids. First of all, we had picked up the kid-sized robes for them from Long’s, and at first Sammy and Sophie seemed to like wearing the paper, but it was pretty cold at SJC and even colder in Washington. The cardboard slippers are really flimsy and didn’t stay on. Both kids really complained and were shivering. I swear Sophie’s knees were actually knocking. Meanwhile, Kimi and I showed up starkers as required, with just the transparent lanyard for my ID, and the modesty towels that we had to ditch in the bin upon boarding. (It was a tough juggling act to wheel two suitcases through the checkin area while keeping the towel on.) The security line cavity search was fine, finished in about three hours, but then at the gate, the new rules require you go through that cube to put on the TSA-supplied pasties. Well the cube is waaaay too small, and we were all being rushed to board. Then, afterwards, I was pretty self-conscious about having to wear basically a thong. They say they wash them between flights, but honestly it didn’t seem that sanitary to me.
Second, even for a short flight like the two hours from San Jose to Seatac, having to sit so still with no reading material or gadgets is honestly a hardship. The kids were bored after about ten minutes, and I wasn’t much better. The least they could do is put some reading material back on the planes. I know the last attempted terrorist attack involved paper cuts, but I don’t think it was really very dangerous for the flight crew. Maybe they could compromise and put on some magazines printed on tissue paper or something? At least they were playing holiday tunes. We passed the time by telling stories and by about the second hour I got used to not trying to turn my neck to look at my family while talking. And the restraint cuffs weren’t really that bad, although one ankle was a bit chafed by the end.
If you’d asked me three years ago if I thought we’d be required to sit literally stock still in an airplane with 300 other random naked people in order to get anywhere, I’d have told you you were crazy. But these are the times we live in. And to object seems like such pre-2011 thinking.
But next time, we’re just driving, I swear.
Burning Man started today.
I first attended Burning Man ten years ago, in 1999. (The posi-web essay I wrote about that experience is still up on my old site.) I was blown away. I went again in 2000, the year the photo above was taken, and had a comparatively miserable time, in part due to the weather, in part due to some circumstances related to my traveling companion. I almost didn’t go in 2001, but how different my life would have been, since that was the year I met Kimi, camping next to her at 2:30 and Lover. We attended together in 2002 and 2004. In 2005 Kimi and I were wed, and later that year Sammy was born; we haven’t been back to Black Rock City since.
While many children of all ages do attend Burning Man, I’m not eager to take our kids there, because I think it would be too much for them, and I’m not interested in attending without going along with Kimi. We’re also not keen to leave our kids with anyone else for a week, so it’ll probably be at least ten years before we go back.
This year is the first year I’ve really really missed it.
Look, it’s certainly not easy to go there. It’s expensive. (The ticket price of $240 – $360 is the least of it.) Packing is a lot of work. Unpacking is even more work. It’s dusty. The weather is extreme. You get no sleep. It’s dirty. It’s loud. Every single second of every single day you’re within earshot of music you hate, probably at eardrum-shattering volume. You’re surrounded by drunken altered naked yahoos.
But it’s also home to the best live music, the best DJs, the greatest art, the most creative projects, thousands of warm and welcoming people, the most incredible sunsets and starscapes and sunrises. It’s home. And this year I’m homesick.
Tell your boss you’re not coming in today. If you’re already at work, go home.
Today is blue moon day, the national holiday where you should stay home and catch up on television on your TiVo.
(It’s really Blue Moon 11, if you count the first one, but Blue Moon X sounds better as a title, so I’m leaving it at that.)
Ten years ago, the world’s first DVR shipped. To celebrate and to thank TiVo employees for their hard work in the final push to ship in Q1 of 1999, TiVo Inc. co-founder and then-CEO Mike Ramsay declared that the last Friday in March would henceforth be a national holiday.
Well, we may not have made much progress in making it a national holiday, but today none of us are at work. (Although as I say that, I’m running a query and checking e-mail and answering a support escalation, but at least I’m not wearing pants in the office.)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an episode of Survivor to watch, and then probably some Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles or maybe the new season of Heroes. Plus that new Nathan Fillion show, Castle. And CSI has been so good since Laurence Fishburne joined the cast; they’ve really stepped up the writing, I think. And and and
Today is 10/10 which is a very computery date, so I hereby declare it to be International Talk Like A Robot Day. (You know, along the lines of Talk-Like-A-Pirate day.)
Some things you can do to celebrate this auspicious day:
- Use a robotic droning voice. Perfect for completing robotic droning tasks at work.
- Watch this video for inspiration, then say “Affirmative” instead of “yes” and do a binary solo or two.
- Mutter “brain the size of a planet” a lot and answer questions with 42.
- DANGER WILL ROBINSON as your ring tone
- Someone cuts in front of you in line? Scream “Exterminate” at them.
- Pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew.
Affirmative? Acknowledged. End of line.
Saturday afternoon, there’s an explosion up the street (although we didn’t hear it), and the power goes out. A transformer has blown out a block away from us.
No harm done, or so I thought (other than interrupting the Olympics I was watching; now I’ll never see that handball match between Sweden and Denmark). I took the kids up to the tot lot to play in the sand, and later Kimi picked us up to go out for sushi boats. A power cut is certainly one way to get me out of the house.
But Sunday, when I called home, the phone just kept on ringing. Turned out our home phone system (a Uniden three-handset system I had picked up several years ago at Costco) got fried when the power came back on Saturday evening, and was stuck in a permanent reboot loop.
This morning when I called Uniden for support, they walked me through a hard reset, but no luck. They had no alternatives for me — they don’t even have a repair facility at all. It was out of warranty, so toss it and buy a new one. What a waste.
Time to go back to Costco and buy a new one, right?
Well, hold on a second. The nationwide trend is towards ditching home phone service. The National Center for Health Statistics has a very interesting article and graph showing the wireless-only trend (totally random federal agency research for the win): Wireless-only households went up from 12.6% during the first six months of 2007 to 14.5% in the last six months. So, about one out of seven U.S. homes no longer have a landline.
Meanwhile, AT&T lost a million landline subscribers in their last quarter (per gigaom).
I was all set to cancel my home phone number today (despite my geeky attachment to the phone number, which ends in 8486 — spelling out TIVO as a mnemonic).
There are certainly some advantages to a home phone:
- Unlimited local minutes. Unless you’re paying a huge amount for an unlimited cell phone plan, chances are you’re paying attention to how many minutes you spend on your cell. Families with gabby teenagers need the cost convenience of a home phone with unlimited usage.
- 911 ease of mind. Despite improvements, 911 calls from a cell are not as reliable: You’re usually calling a very remote emergency center, which has more limited ability to learn your location. Additionally, cell phones can more easily run out of battery or otherwise be unavailable for use.
- Disaster/power loss ease of mind. Assuming you have a handset that doesn’t require being plugged in, when there’s a local disaster such as an earthquake, the landline is more likely to work than the cell phone.
- Archaic requirements. Some companies that you do business with really want you to have a home phone, and don’t know how to deal with you if you don’t have one. I’ve heard that one contributor to your credit score is how long you’ve had the same landline phone number.
- Inconvenience of updating all your friends and database entries: What a pain to tell everyone you know that you no longer have a home phone.
- “Home” sense: My cell phone number is only for me, and it’s usually in my pocket. My wife’s cell phone number is hers, and it’s usually in her purse. But my kids don’t have cells (too young), and what if someone wants to reach any of us but only if we happen to be at home? (Not that my kids are old enough to answer the phone yet.) But that’s what a home phone number “means”: Anyone who’s home. A cell phone doesn’t mean the same thing — it’s for a specific person, and even today a cell phone call seems more “urgent” than a call to a home phone number.
The downside of a home phone is primarily the cost (and the cost of ownership of those power-spike-vulnerable handsets): I was paying over $30 a month for unlimited local and a certain amount of included long distance.
We certainly didn’t miss having a home phone during the four months of the remodel where we weren’t home anyway. So, like I said, I was all set to ditch the home phone number. But when I can called to cancel, not surprisingly, AT&T was very willing to make me a deal to keep me as a customer. So, sucker that I am, as an experiment, before ditching our home phone service completely, I have decided to give the home phone number an extension (hah!). I’ve reduced the cost to $6 a month (plus tax) by removing call waiting, switched to a measured rate, and removed long distance.
We can still receive unlimited calls, and we pay $0.02 per outgoing call. My estimate is we make very few outgoing calls, so that it’s not worth paying $4 a month more for unlimited local calling. If I’m wrong, I can switch back to unlimited, and still save $20 a month from what we were paying.
After several months, I’ll evaluate the bills and the usage. If we no longer need the home number, I’ll join those one out of seven households that have cut the cord.
In the meantime, I have three perfectly functioning Uniden handsets, but no base station and no answering machine. If I can find a cheap replacement for the busted base station, I may replace it. If not, well, now you know why our home phone number just rings and rings when we’re not home.
Today I attended Jack and Andy’s fifth birthday party at Hoover park, and watched Bob get pelted by water balloons and shaving-cream-filled sponges by ten ecstatic kids. (How I escaped that fate, given I’m a co-godparent? Dunno! But I am oh so grateful.) Aunt Beth made two cakes, one a race car, and the other a chocolate volcano with lava made from melted orange lifesavers. Amazingly beautiful cakes.
* * *
While I was feting twins, Kimi took Sammy and Sophie to the Hiller Airplane Museum, which never gets old for Sammy.
Me: Sammy, what did you see at the airplane museum today?
Me: What kind of airplanes?
Sammy: Old airplanes. With wings!
* * *
Yesterday was Sophie’s eight month birthday. She babbles incessantly now, has the tiniest of teeth buds coming in, gives a smile to everyone, likes to wave somewhat erratically at people, and can roll over, but seems to show no interest in crawling. We’ve started the ferberizing to break her of her 3 a.m. feedings, and so far so good; she slept through the night for the last two nights.
* * *
Yesterday was also photo day at Sammy and Sophie’s school, and in addition, teachers’ lunch out for Sophie’s class. This semi-annual event asks the parents to donate their time and a little money for the teachers to get an escape, while parents come in during the lunch hour to watch the kids. There are eight kids in Sophie’s class, ranging from four months to almost a year old. For the noon to 1 shift where I helped out, we had five parents. When we first started our shift, the teachers had left us well-fed, happy, clean-diapered kids. Within about, oh, ten minutes, half of the kids were bawling, and most had dirty diapers. We parents just looked at each other and laughed. What a profoundly difficult job. The two teachers handle four infants each, with aplomb. We parents were having difficulty with less than two each. Things soon settled down though, and the hour ended up flying by.
* * *
While the photographers set up outside the school and we lined the kids up to have their individual and class photos taken, smoke and haze filled the sky from the nearby Santa Cruz mountains fire. Yesterday morning over 3,400 acres had burned, dozens of homes were destroyed, and the fire was less than 1% contained. Even though we were fifty miles away, kids rubbed their eyes and coughed; and the strange air reminded me of a smell from my childhood, in London: walking down the street in winter evenings, with seemingly every house having a fireplace with a blazing wood fire, smoke pouring out of chimneys, getting on your clothes.
Chim chimminee, chim chiminee, chim chim cheroo.
I was very glad to see the unexpected and unseasonable light rain today, giving the firefighters the break they needed to control the mountain blaze. The dull weather was not so much fun for five-year-olds attending a birthday party, but everything in life is a trade-off.
* * *
Earlier in the week, I caught Speed Racer and then snuck in to a showing of Prince Caspian. It took me about thirty minutes to catch on to Speed Racer’s vibe, but once I did, I loved it. I think this is a vastly underrated movie. The critical smackdown is somewhat intense; I guess most of the critics never watched the original cartoon, because I think the movie catches the goofy tone of the movie pretty much perfectly. And the visuals do not disappoint, exceeding even the hype.
Prince Caspian, on the other hand, is a dreadful bore, missing all spark of charm and whimsy of the first Narnia movie, laying the religious theme on over-thick, and really missing the point of the book (which I read probably twenty times before I was 12).
Speed Racer is over two hours but feels like 60 minutes. Prince Caspian is over two hours but feels like three or four.
* * *
Rob and I have been playing a new card game, Race for the Galaxy (which Steve and Larry introduced me to when they visited a couple of months ago). We play whenever we get a chance. I love this game. It’s a bit fiddly to learn, and the fact that you’re not directly interacting with your opponents takes a few plays before you understand how you can actually have a huge effect on your opponents’ play — but it’s such a short and intense game, I find myself even dreaming about it. Get this game!
* * *
Kimi gave me the new Flight of the Conchords CD for my birthday (among a lot of other CDs, thanks sweetie!). Although I loved the first season of the HBO show, I had thought some of the songs were hit or miss. But I was able to really listen to the lyrics (thanks to the iPhone making it easier for me to carry around music), and now I love all the songs. Buy this CD. Please mister, you won’t regret it.
* * *
There’s a friends-and-family deal at TiVo right now for a TiVo HD. If you’re a friend or family and want a new HD DVR, drop me an e-mail.
* * *
While I do aim to generate content, rather than pass along content from elsewhere, here’s a link. I have to say I applaud these two for their convictions and avocation.
* * *
Kimi: “Your blog is so random. No one likes all the content. No one!”
Guilty — variegated miscellany is what this is. I do tend to be all over the place. Everything’s connected, somehow. Just think though — there are half of the categories listed on the right not even touched by this post. But comments are what I like best, so let me know what you’d like to see more of, and less of.
From now on: The window for saying “Happy new year” to someone closes on January 7th.
We’re officially old fuddy-duddies. Kimi (still not feeling well) went to bed at 11. I stayed up, working a bit, and only knew it was midnight because of the sudden clanging of pots and pans from the neighbors, plus the car horns and fireworks.
Wait, fireworks? Yeah, people were setting them off in the middle of the road. Pretty good show for a suburban side street. Too bad it’s so cold outside. Brr.
Fortunately Sammy and Sophie have managed to sleep through it all. The M80s are still going off even now. Which is why I’m still awake.
So. Resolutions? More frequent posts to this blog (my target is 6 posts a week). Hiking with the family every weekend when the weather gets nice, biking in the summer if we can get safe contraptions for the kids to ride in that don’t terrify them. Writing more short stories and setting up a blog for creative writing and criticism.
Sammy now likes to rhyme things as he says them. “Yes mess” and “nope pope” are favorites, along with “book look” and “nose hose.”
When I put him to bed at night and tell him “no more talking,” he responds with “no more walking.”
Let’s see, what else is going on? We’re currently taking it easy after pretty much everyone except me got sick for Christmas. Sammy’s nose is running like a faucet, and Kimi’s been run down and fighting a fever for over a week. Despite that, we managed to make it up to my parents’ place in Elk Grove on Christmas Day, and while it was a bit rough at night at the hotel (I apparently have started to snore really loudly) we made it through okay, and were able to celebrate my mom’s birthday on Boxing Day. The next morning, Sammy and I went with Phil, Erin and Sarah to the Train Museum in Sacramento, which was pretty much Sammy’s favorite thing ever, especially all the Thomas bits.
Sammy and Sophie both got some wonderful gifts from their aunts and uncles and other relatives and friends; our house is a bit of a shambles; pine needles everywhere — nearly time for the tree to go.
Well, I just left out the cookies and milk and Santa’s note, the stockings are out (poor Sophie doesn’t get one this year, too young…), and I’m about to head to bed. But before I do, wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas, assuming you celebrate that sort of thing.
We had Tom, Jennifer and Miranda over for Kimi’s clam chowder and lasagna, followed by a gift exchange — and already Sammy’s rolling in the gift loot, earning a new Cars shirts and another toy airplane. (That’s on top of the airplane I got him from the Hiller Aviation museum which we visited this morning.)
Sophie gave us a wonderful present last night: I took her with me to drop John and Yvonne off at the airport at 10pm (their flight was delayed 3 hours, yeowtch), and she slept from then until around 7am. Nine hours is her longest stretch of sleep by a huge margin. She’s not quite ready to sleep through the night regularly (she just woke up a bit ago, for example, and needed a bottle). But man, I am very pleased she’s starting to be able to sleep for so long.
Kimi pointed out to me that Sammy had started a new game with her, his way of telling a joke: He’ll rhyme a word with another word when answering a question, and laugh uproariously. “Sammy, ready for bed?” “Yes mess!”
At bedtime, when we’re done with the stories and I turn out the light, I always tell him, “Time for sleeping. Head on the pillow. No more talking.” (That’s in addition to the gushy stuff about who loves him.) Tonight, it was “No more talking, no more walking” and he thought that was hilarious.
Okay, I’m rambling now. Night! Merry Christmas!
We had a brief one with Nancy, Kyrie, Jack, Andy, George, Nick, and Tommy tonight to do a gift exchange before Kyrie and her boys head off for Boston.
This morning Kimi went to Sophie’s upcoming classroom’s Christmas party. (Sophie will be joining the “Butterfly” room at the Children’s Preschool Center in Palo Alto starting mid January.)
Yesterday, Kimi went to Sammy’s CPSC classroom’s Christmas party (he’s in the “Hummingbird” room).
Last week Kimi and I went to TiVo’s Christmas party.
I think that’s it for parties until Christmas itself.
Kimi dressed Sophie for the occasion and I have to say, as biased as I am, I think she looks adorable. She’s starting to smile a lot more, although not reliably enough that I’ve been able to catch it well in a picture.
You can’t really tell in the picture, but Sophie has some infant skin conditions. There’s her “cradle cap,” which is a euphemism for all kinds of crusty gunk on her scalp. There are her “angel kisses,” which is a euphemism for blotchy red skin on her face. There’s her “stork bite” which is a euphemism for a bunch of red bruising around her left eye (birth trauma, a side effect of her rapid delivery). All of it should fade in a few months. She’s definitely filling out, much like Sammy did at the same age — she’s really pudgy! Almost 12 pounds now.
At 12 pounds, an infant can start possibly sleeping through the night. Sophie’s not to that point yet regularly, but she is starting to sleep in 5 hour blocks now. She’s had 1 or 2 nights where she slept for 8 hours. Not consistent yet, though. Sleep glorious sleep, how I miss you.
We had our friend Howard over on Sunday for a quick visit; he brought his son Ethan and his twins Brian and Katie with him. Sammy had a great time. Howard, who works for Pixar, was impressed by Sammy’s Cars paraphernalia: Sammy was wearing his Cars shirt, Cars shoes, and had his Cars jacket nearby, and was playing with his Cars speedway. (“Speed? I am speed!” “You’re one gutsy racer!” Repeat ad infinitum.)
Good thing we didn’t show Howard the Cars towel, Cars socks, and all the other Cars toys. But anyway, Howard was telling me about the first year after his twins were born, and how crushing the exhaustion and sleep deprivation was for that entire first year. I have to say as hard as it is having a 2 year old and a 2 month old, at least we’re not dealing with twins. I am in awe just thinking of it.
It’s International Talk Like a Pirate day.
At work, Michaela showed me a bug that had been filed today by Shannon N. (compare the menu titles to this):
I noticed this morning that TiVo Central does not conform to International TLAPD standards. I recommend this be fixed as soon as possible, but I do need guidance on appropriate naming.
TiVo Central Ahoy!
Aaargh, Ye Guide
ON DEMAND, Matey
Find Me Some Programs
Settings & Parrot Controls
Is this suitable or do we need to revise the menu titles?