Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I Will Sing... Sing a New Song...

Today is my birthday. It's one of the big ones and the title of this post is a hint. Leslie did a really cool gift thing this year in anticipation of our trip to Vegas. It was a "good karma" birthday where she bought my next year's carbon usage in advance and a gift certificate to Kiva.

The Carbon Counter site is nice, it estimates how much carbon you emit during the year based on your home, how much you drive and how much you travel. Then you can become carbon neutral by donating money to offset that carbon usage.

Kiva is even cooler. It is a micro-loan website where you create an account and loan that money to an entrepreneur in a third world country. It isn't big money but it makes a big difference to people's lives. They need money to expand their little shop, or buy more chickens, or buy a new taxi -- somewhere in the $500 to $1000 range. You loan then what you feel right about, maybe $25, and then when everyone has put in their part and it hits the total, they get the money and pay it back over time. Once the loan is paid back, you get your initial investment back to put into the next business. You don't get interest in the financial sense but I bet some nice karmic interest is even better :)

Thanks Leslie!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Watch out for flying fish!

Giant Jumping Sturgeon Stir Up Mystery in Florida River

Seriously. I never thought I would need to worry about this. 8 foot fish that jump out of the water and knock you off your boat. Now I'll want to wear a helmet!

But then this happened and now I'm thinking kevlar.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

100% Liquid Free Travel

Today was not your typical day to fly home from San Francisco. I saw the news of the broken up attempt to bomb airplanes from Britain this morning while exercising on the hotel and figured that this would be a very good day to get to the airport very early. It also looked like trying to carry my suitcase on the plane would not work either since I've got to carry my favorite liquids and gels somewhere.

I arrived at the airport about 2 1/2 hours early and at first everthing looked fine. The like at Alaska was short and I checked my bag with no problem. There were makeshift signs everywhere telling travelers that they could not carry liquids, gels or creams either through security or on to the plane. Then I went to get in the security line. It was HUGE! It stretched all the way down the concourse and when it could go no farther, it went outside. It took me about five minutes just to get to the end of the line and over an hour to get through it. Fortunately, everyone was in a pretty accomodating mood.

As I got close to the front, there were some TSA people coordinating the masses into efficient lines and periodically reminding people about the new limitations and showing each other some of the contraband they had collected. One woman mentioned to a coworker that they had to confiscate a big bottle of Chanel No. 5 and some other poor guy's really nice wine that he was just trying to get home. I asked the question that had been going through my mind.

"What about a really runny cheese?"

"Huh?" she asked

"What if I had a really runny cheese? Would that count as a liquid, gel or cream?", in my mind, there is not much of a line between runny cheese and cream -- don'tcha think?

At this point I was wondering how hard Leslie would laugh when I called her from jail for asking such questions.

"Hmmm...", she pondered. "I think you would be ok -- and if you have crackers, I've got some great wine!"


The rest of the trip was reasonably uneventful. We left a bit late but had a good tailwind. The one thing I did notice as I was getting my backpack from the overhead bin was that all of the bins were remarkably empty (and thus I remarked on it). I wonder if this "no carry on liquid" thing ends up lasting a long while if all of those people who try to bring everything on the plane so they can skip baggage claim will start having to check at least one bag and then perhaps the overheads will not be nearly as crowded as they have been in the past.

Sadly, though, it looks like something as simple as taking my own bottle of water on the airplane may be one of those little liberties - like carrying a little pocket knife everywhere - that just went away.

Monday, August 07, 2006

My Next PC

I am down at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference this week and this morning we went to the keynote. As expected, they announced the MacPro which is the new high end desktop Mac. A few weeks ago, I sold my dual G5 PowerMac so that I would be set to pick one of these puppies up. I sat with baited breath waiting for the announcement and it came fast this morning. Only 8 minutes into the presentation they announced the quad core Xeon machine with gobs of memory and 4 drive bays. Excellent! This will be an awesome MacOS and Vista machine.

I ordered mine this afternoon :)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Hey... I never noticed that Space Needle before...

I was just looking out my window at home and I could see the Blue Angels doing most of the high passes. I'd never watched them before from that distance and I just noticed something while I was waiting for them to start their show. Keep in mind that we've lived here for 6 years now, but it wasn't until today that I realized that I can see the Space Needle from my office! You need to look really closely and it could be mistaken for a branch on a tree but there it is. Who knew?!?

Blue Angels 2006

After last year's Blue Angels craziness I wasn't sure that I would go and take pictures again this year but then I realized I had a new camera and I didn't have any pictures of the Blue Angels in 5D Raw so Zach and I headed down to Lake Washington on Saturday to get some more shots. Rather than lug the big 600mm lens with us I stuck to my 100-400 and we decided to try to get closer to the water for a different view. In the end, we were a bit far north for the best shots but I got a few fun ones. Nothing captures the roar as they fly overhead so low that it feels like you can reach up and touch. Zach and I both did our little happy dance after each fly-by.

The Blue Angels coming in across the lake in formation.

There is something more ominous about a fighter coming in low over the trees.

I'll put the full web album up shortly.