|Here are the previous journal entries from my home page
Read the previous archive.
Mid Summer is here and the Saratoga hills glow green - well all except for that big scrape you can see from my back deck. Who allowed the peeling off of such a big slice of the mountain side? Yikes!
Work keeps going well. One competitor out of business. Several deals in the works. This should be a fantastic year. You may have seen the announcement with MeasureCast. They seem like excellent people.
At long last we got up to Debbie's place. It was a new baby party for the family. Everyone in the area showed up. As always happens with our family we had a non-stop talk fest for the day. Lots of transitions in the works for people, which makes for lots of news. The new baby is cuuuute, as expected. They live so close to Grandma Schrempp that we stopped by to take her to a Sizzler first. Fran is back from her trip to Germany. She has lots of photos of the family. They were delightful hosts, taking Fran all over the place. She has a few photos from a schnapps distillery, but they are a bit out of focus - hmmm. Of particular interest was a picture of my grandfather's brother's wife. I've only seen the name on family trees. Pictures bring these people to life.
Angela had a great cross country road trip. As her cousin moved from Ohio to San Diego, they drove the last load themselves. The tripped across the country looking for budget motels. They say they didn't stay at the $9.95 motel they found, but I wonder how they could resist such a deal. Just across the California border the car conked out. Angela pulled over to the side of the road, put it in park, took her hands off the wheel. Looking over at her cousin she smiles and says, "ok, all yours!" Luckily their AAA card got them towed into Palm Springs, where Alan and Dale were prepared to host them for the night. These guys wined and dined the women until Angela didn't want to leave. The pictures of her relaxing in the pool with a cold drink tell quite a story. (Alan tells me that the next weekend the outside day time temperature reached 120 degrees - yee gods.)
While the cats away... I found the time to get my PC upgraded in bits. Those bits of course costing way more than just buying a new PC and cutting it up. I'll never learn. Also got a NetGear wireless LAN installed. That went in like a champ and I'm surfing the net from all over the house. I didn't really believe the Fry's claim in their ad of a 1650' radius - no fooling, those guys are crazy - but the unit works well. Hip, hip, hooray for 802.11b! (BTW, never buy an add on docking station from Dell computer. I did and it turns out that installing the docking station software required a complete re-install of my operating system - four times!!!&%^$#@. The docking station documentation doesn't tell you this. The support guys, always helpful, sent out a nicely printed set of instructions for the install that turned out to be wrong. BUT, you don't know they're wrong until you've done the complete reinstall, then install the docking station software, then find out - blue screen! Jesus! At long last another Dell guy had a different set of instructions that had the software pieces being installed in a slightly different order. We held him on the phone while we did the last install just so that Dell has to bear some of the cost of this. My laptop, my primary way of earning a living, was out of service for 4 days. AND it took four days of our only IT guy's time to get it working again. I repeat, never buy an add on docking station from Dell.)
We managed to see Ricky Lee Jones at Montalvo. Great location, bad show. RLJ was a bit, shall we say, "smashed out of her gourd"? About half the audience left in the middle of the performance. We stayed because it was entertaining. Not what we came to see, but a show anyway. Oh well.
Summer is a great time for parties. Jen's birthday open house was fun. Her backyard garden is way big. She introduced me to stevia. I bought a couple over the internet as a home curiosity. Few of my friends have heard of it. We split the 4th between Bob and Carolyn's for a fun time sitting in the yard. Bob had a hunk of salmon that would have fed all of Israel. BBQ'd, it was fantastic. Hal & Carolyn's kids are getting too big for comfort. Is it true I remember when they were born? Wow. We finished up at Rob & Julie's for -another- BBQ and the DeAnza fireworks display. What a great view over the tops of the houses to see the flashes up close. We caught up with a lot of the old CSSO gang that night.
Tom was up this quarter and we brought the college gang over to visit. We've been together so often, that this time required some new work. I'm happy to say that the blind wine tasting was a hit. I went out to the local warehouse store and bought eight bottles of different Merlot. I blindly bought bottles from different vintners and covered a range of prices. Each bottle was blindfolded and lettered for reference. While the chard pasta and mushroom soup were cooking everyone filled out their score card. After dinner - and all the bottles gone - the scores were tallied and the labels revealed. The surprise is that the winning Merlot's were the cheapest. Columbia Crest and Fetzer took top honors, with the Clos du Bois a close third. Most people did not care for the Sterling Vineyards or the Robert Mondavi. There was universal distaste for the Chilean entry. Next time I'll buy from a wine shop that has Spectator ratings - that would add an interesting twist - and I'll open only one bottle at a time. With all the bottles open for tasting the conversation was not as cohesive as it could have been.
I guess this is now the quarterly update. Boy, time flies. We've had some good times in the last few months. I guess the biggest blast was our short cruise from LA with the family for Bob's 40th. Not much chance of surprising the youngest - he knew something would be up - so we took up his invitation to join a little 4-day cruise. The trip started out right when Angela and I received a room change. I hate that feeling of powerlessness when at the gate they just hand us a room card with a different room number. I shook my head and was getting into that "make the best of it" attitude when Katie says, "Wow, this is a big upgrade!" "Huh?" Who knows why, but we were upgraded. We had moved up several levels from the standard room, but this was a *really* big room; one with a private balcony! Unbelievable. So we spent our five days with plenty of private space and our own little deck at the stern overlooking the prop wash. It was a great place.
The rest of the trip was very nice. As our first cruise I have to say that the food was ok, but not that kind of knock-your-socks-off fantastic food other's have told me about. The food was fine. Nice selection, fresh, well prepared. Other cruisers had described incredible gourmet type meals; this was just solid-good food. (Don't make me comment on ship's coffee.)
We cruised to San Diego and spent the day in the zoo with Angela's aunt Alison and her granddaughter. She was a delight to be around. We also spent a day in Ensenada where we didn't need to leave the boat. Ah, but the day in Avalon was very nice. Warm sunny skies and a cute little town welcomed us to Catalina Island. Local java houses took care of my needs for caffeine and quiet. We made the 2 mile walk to the Wrigley botanical gardens. A beautiful place. The guy at the gate told us that this was the only place you would find growing Catalina Ironwoods; "Except in my backyard," Angela replied brightly. "Hmm. You might want to check it out - a lot of fakes are out there." Needless to say we closely examined their specimens, only to find out on our return home that the San Carlos tree has vastly different leaf structure. Oh no. Angela was getting testy and planning revenge on the Yerba Buena Native Tree nursery when I spotted *another* Catalina Ironwood in her tree book. Turns out there are two species. One is only on Catalina island. The other is on several of the Channel islands, and this is the one Angela planted. Whew. We'll go back to Avalon some day for a vacation.
Jon administered his yearly bass tutorial at Pine Mountain Lake in May. Angela was off at the California Historic Preservation society in San Diego (San Carlos Heritage Association was getting an award for their work on saving Hacienda Gardens) so I snuck off for the lake. To make a long story shorter, Jon caught his normal five, Jeff caught two, and I caught two. Highlights include the time Jon said, "I wonder if a Rapalla skitter poppin' frog will work?" We hadn't had a bite for two hours. Jon casts to the weeds and BANG - hook up. We all switch to top water and for the next three hours none of us sees a single damn fish. Earlier in the day we had fished up into the inlet to PML and saw loads of good size bass on patrol, yet they wouldn't take any of our stuff. Late Saturday Jon had three nice fish in the live well, one of them at 3.2lbs. Jeff hooked up a blue gill and while he had the well open big boy decides to get the hell out of town. That big bass jumped up out of the live well and shot a measured four feet across the floor of the pontoon boat. Yikes! With our hands full and Jon politely but firmly saying from his seat in the bow, "GET THAT GUY. GRAB HIM." I finally put my foot on him until order could be restored. If he'd jumped the beam instead he would have left us looking dumbly at each other. We laughed a good one over that. I'm glad I left my line in the water to troll back to the dock because that's when I hooked up with the second fish and at last had one to take home. At 2lbs he wasn't a monster but he made for good eating. Jon reports that his trip this last weekend netted plenty of trout - all on the poppin' top frog. I gotta' get me one of them.
Creedence Clearwater Revisited played at the Mountain Winery last week and we used that as a chance to play a little joke on the regular crowd. Ray and Margaret have bought the place next to me, but none of the crowd knew. I invited everyone to stop at my place on the way to the concert for drinks and cheese. I mentioned in the email that the new guy next door was going too and wanted to join us for a drink. The plan was to send the guests next door as they showed up, "he insisted on doing the party at his place" and let everyone be surprised when Ray answered the door. It didn't quite work that way.
As guests trundled next door they each accepted that Ray had just gotten there first. I went over and found the team standing somewhat nervously in the kitchen wondering where the owner was. "Upstairs on a phone call" I say. "Let's just party." And we did. The guests delicately pawed through drawers, "can we use this knife?" "Sure" I say. Every once in a while I yell up the stairs, "Hey, are you coming down?" The party moved into the living room and generally started to take over the place. Caroline and I are looking over the book shelves when she spies this picture of Ray and Margaret up at the cabin. Caroline gives me the eye and I return it. "Oh." Yes, with a wink I confirm it and Caroline is now part of the fun.
In the kitchen Bob is calling, "Ray, this guy has a refrigerator magnet from that small town in Florida you went to". Really? Caroline comes in and tells me "Bob's got it." That appears to leave only Paul. As time passes we're sitting in the living room and no one else is catching on. Ray can't stand it and says, "I'm going up stairs to check on the owner." Well, we have to try something. Ray yells "Oh God, he's hurt. Jim get up here." Interesting plot turn. I run up stairs expecting the rest to follow, Paul in tow. But it doesn't happen that way. They're all laughing, thinking this is some big joke. Maybe Paul's already got it? No.
We return to find the three of them sitting on the couch drinking and eating. They don't know what's going on, but they're not concerned either. Bob points out the airplane clock on the shelf that looks like the plane Caroline's father owns. "Ray, that's just like the one you have" notes Caroline. Margaret is in stitches over Paul's cluelessness. Then suddenly Caroline jumps up, points at Margaret in the barrel back chair and exclaims, "That's YOUR chair." She jabs her finger at Ray, "YOU live here!"
What? Jokes on us, no one was in on the joke! I can't believe it. A lot of "what? what?" is going around on all sides. Caroline apparently thought the picture of Ray and Margaret was a plant as a joke, so she was "in" on that non-joke and didn't see the big one. We all laughed, and laughed. Congrats to Ray and Margaret and then off to a great Creedence concert.
We followed up the week with Memorial Day in Twain Harte. We relaxed, as always, on the deck and in the trees. Angela and I got up late on Saturday after her Filoli gig and my little bit of work for the Audible Magic crowd. This has been another great quarter.
Some of you may wonder if I've died... nope. I have, however, been buried. The new company is going great guns. We have our software out at several companies and it seems like more customers show up every day. Performance improved 20x last month and that's just the beginning. Anyway, I can't say more than that, but work has kept me really busy. Still have had time for a few fun things.
We had a big family get together around Thanksgiving in SLO. Bob and Katie put out a nice spread. Mike and ... flew in from the North. We sat around and ate and played. Angela and I managed to do some shopping and I picked up a very nice armoire for the Saratoga digs. Mission style and not too big. Still, it took Ray and I a butt load of muscle to drag, haul, and cajole that damn thing up three flights of stairs. We had a hand truck but the stairway is too narrow so we just heaved and ho-d. Plain good luck that we didn't wrench our backs over this.
Christmas was family time in Saratoga. The siblings were all at in-laws this year, but aunts, uncles and cousins showed up to a feast of yet another spiral cut Honey Baked ham. I had some plans to do a roast or some real cooking, but lord those hams are tasty. All the relatives are employed (or retired) and traveling and having fun. Dave's furniture shop is doing great - good news for getting family discounts!
Alan came out for his collaboration at Stanford. This time they unwrapped the data. Their process is to collect tons of data from the accelerator. Then they remove the data from the precise energies of interest. Everyone writes and debugs their data reduction software on the non-interesting data. That goes on for months as the teams argue about what to throw out, what to keep, time periods of interference, and who knows what else. Only when they all agree that the data reduction is working do they expose the data they are all interested in. This way no one can juggle their data reduction software to get the result they expected. Interesting approach. It's way out of my field so I can't say what they found. Alan seemed happy but I don't think they disproved the standard model.
Super Sunday was spent with the gang at a super house in Sea Ranch. The drive up was a long one late on a moonless Friday night. Those last 30 miles of winding road were a mental challenge for me. Without the moon we couldn't even enjoy the scenery. It was like a long tunnel. Paul made an excellent pumpkin pasta that came from the Food Channel. Bob had ribs one night that made us cry. Margaret brought up her friend from school and we had a fun time sinking our backsides into some large overstuffed chairs with a view of the second tee.
Last weekend Chris came out from Baltimore. We kicked around (mostly around Angela's work schedule) and ended out Sunday at Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in Miramar. What a great time. We got there late and had to sit on the covered patio for the show, but that turned out to be preferable to the folding chairs in the main room. We ate, walked around, and watched the sun go down. They all saw the green flash, and I heard others talking about it. I didn't see it despite staring at the sun. I wonder if I some light color blindness... Hmmmm. "Officer I didn't SEE the green light." Wait, that's not right, I need to not see the RED light. Oh shit.