Garrett's first steps

Well, second steps, actually. Took a few steps earlier this evening, and Amy just caught him a few minutes ago taking another stab.

Will trying linking to the movie; if this doesn't work please let me know (through the comments section or email).

Try clicking here.


Some more pictures

Sure sign I spend too much time on the XBox...

Some views of Mount Rainier in the morning...

I really like this picture. Really epitomizes the area where we live... no matter where we go, what the weather, or time of day, there is always an amazing view of the mountains.

Some Christmas pictures

Some miscellaneous pictures from Sunday.

Christmas gets better and better

This year was Garrett's first Christmas, and while he doesn't quite understand what's going on (other than his brother goes a little crazy), it is loads of fun having a new addition to the family on Christmas Day. Fortunately for Amy and I Spencer didn't pull us out of bed until 9am; of course, that was due to him being up until 2am trying to stay up all night.

Garrett got his first taste of Weebles getting a few sets from a few different people including Santa Claus. When I was a kid, Weebles were little egg-looking things with stickers wrapped around... pull off the stickers and you would mistake them for hard-boiled eggs. Nowadays they have different shapes and forms, made out of plastic.

Spencer is into Robots, the movie, now, and got a bunch of stuff around that. He also added to his VSmile collection with an Art Studio (very cool toy that plugs into the VSmile and allows you to doodle on a doodle with the imagery showing up on the TV) and the VSmile pocket so he can take his games on the road. Good to see him enjoy VSmile still... keeps him off my XBox =)

Amy got me a way cool double-layered, reversible, waterproof, all-weather jacket. Typical Seattle/Northwest gear, and badly needed given my current jacket portfolio.

I got Amy an iRobot Roomba. Works better than I hadanticipated and glad I got it. It even has a programmable interface which I am going to try to use to map out our house and feed back into the Roomba to schedule cleanings. Will see how it goes.

The best part of the season was trying to get the boys to pick something out for mom. Took Spencer a little while to get into the mood but once he did he did a pretty good job.

No snow here... in fact it was about 50 degrees yesterday.

Looking forward to the new year, where I have a host of resolutions to get kicked off including blogging more!


Merry Christmas!

Need I say more? I hope not. =)


Putting a public face on our product

Amazon Instant Website - the clean wrapper around the chaotic world in which I work.

Nice to see the program I own develop and grow. Sometimes it seems slow and even downright painful, but each of these little steps (and successes of our merchant customers) brings a smile to my face and reinforce how huge the opportunity is in front of me.


More Gift Sites...

Importu - unique imported gifts
China Mist - unique teas and coffees
Nvie Designs
Wonderful BuysHodge Podge of this


Gifts for Guys

Some small business sites, powered by Amazon, that might have some unique gifts this holiday season:

RV Part
Sife Athletics
Altivo Timepieces
Mister Watch
The Foursome Clothing
Tool Nut
SK Hand Tools


If you're going to rob a bank...

why would you do it by phone? And more importantly, why would you do it with YOUR phone?

Not so bright


If you don't like Notre Dame...

and what law abiding citizen does like ND, then you'll like this nice article about Notre Dame getting an automatic BCS bid. Hilarious.


Some more pictures

Apparently not a lot of areas of Seattle got snow, let alone a couple of inches. Spencer went sledding for the first time (down a hill, anyway), and we got to build a snowman.


Snow in Snoqualmie

Got a couple of inches of snow today here in Snoqualmie. Not a big deal except I was looking forward to a winter of no snow (as I've been told by the locals, anyway).

A week since Thanksgiving...

and I'm finally getting around to blog about it. Flew with the family to Chicago and spent the next week driving around the midwest. It was nice to see Amy's friends (since I don't have any friends), spend too much time working, drive through lake effect snow, and watch the Lions embarass themselves on turkey day. I call it "tradition" =)

Seriously, it was great to see everyone, great to drive through Chicago, great to see snow, great to catch a Lions game, and great to have TWO turkey dinners (BOO YA!).

Some pictures...

Garrett was excellent on the plane.

Spencer was thrilled to play in snow.


All students face the flag

Tonight was Spencer's first Belt Test experience at Tae Kwon Do. The result? He broke a board with his palm and got his yellow belt after three months of class! He's very proud of it and he's well on his way to a red belt (his goal since red is his favorite color). Now that I think of it, what a great marketing scheme by the martial arts community =)


So, what do I do at Amazon?

I'm the Program Manager for an offering called "Instant Websites". Another blog picked up on what we are doing (I won't comment on it publicly): Amazon IWS. Granted, I never considered what I am doing "clandestine," but its interesting to see how quickly things can get picked up and the response it generates.


Time for some pictures

Ok, Juergen, these are for you :-)

Been a while since I've posted, so some updated pics for everyone...

Everyone had Sox fever!

As usual Spencer had more fun handing out candy than he did going out. He did make it to eight houses this year, about four times his record.

Caught a peek of the new XBOX 360

All I can say is WOW-FRICKIN-WOW, whatever that means.

Was in a GameStop in Issaquah last night, and they had an Xbox 360 up and running with someone playing Call of Duty 2. Unbelievable graphics, although the gameplay looked a little suspect. I imagine like with all consoles it will take a little time to get the feel "right" (granted Halo was an exception with the original XBox).

My previous stance with the 360 was to wait until the price drops next Christmas and pick one up. Now I'm not so sure =)


Boilermaker collapse continues

Four in a row. Sheesh. And a blowout to Notre Dame that I haven't even blogged about.

It just seems that the other teams in the Big Ten have innovated around their offense and Purdue has been stagnant for 9 years. And the stallwart of Purdue, their defense, is nowhere to be found this year. Guess we picked a good year to end our season tickets =) At least I have the Sox to root for... although I'm not much of a baseball fan.

Amy, Spencer, and Garrett are back home after a two week hiatus for them to the midwest. Great to have them back, and Garrett is now chattering "ma-ma" and "da-da."

Can't wait until June when we will get to see the sun again...


Lions turn the offense around against Nobody

DETROIT (AP) - It took the offense almost three quarters to get rolling, but the Lions showed some spark in the second half and cruised to a 26-0 victory against Nobody this afternoon at Ford Field.

Not wanting to waste a bye week, Lions head coach Steve Mariucci set up a scrimmage against Nobody. Expecting the Lions to throw the ball around at will and run up the score, Mariucci was surprised that the Lions weren't able to punch it in the end zone in the first half.

"We did get the ball into the red zone a couple times in the first half. But very disappointed we couldn't punch it in with no defenders out there."

Tight end Marcus Pollard, one of the few bright spots for the Lions this season, lit into the Lions at halftime. "Do you guys realize there's NOBODY out there? Kevin Jones, why do you keep falling down after two yards? And Joey got sacked three times for christs sakes!" His tirade seemed to spark the Lions, who took the opening drive 80 yards on 12 plays and scored the first touchdown of the game on a 6 yard run from Kevin Jones. The key play on the drive was a 19 yard pass to Mike Williams on third-and-16.

"At first I didn't believe him; but he was right... there really wasn't anyone on the field," said an exhausted Kevin Jones after the game. "I was so used to diving to the ground rather than taking on a defender that I hadn't realized there was no defense on the field."

The offense was a little disappointed that they didn't get to line up against an opposing defense.

"We spent all work working on our hitting and tackling drills to be prepared when Joey throws all those interceptions. To not get to hit an opposing defensive back was a little disappointing," whined Lions' offensive tackle Jeff Backus.

"Good news is that Joey didn't give up any touchdowns this week, so that's a positive," said Mariucci. "We'll see whether he can carry that momentum next week against Tampa Bay. Probably not, but I'm stuck with him since Matt Millen wasn't bright enough to pick up a decent quarterback in the off-season."

On the down side, wide receiver Charles Rogers broke his left collarbone again after tripping over the 35 yard line in the fourth quarter. He'll be out the rest of the season.

In the meantime, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron used the opportunity to give his defensive unit a workout against the Southwest Detroit Under 14 All-Stars.

"While not in the same league as the NFL, clearly these 13 year olds give us a step up in competition from what we usually face during the week. We had a good workout and expect to be better prepared for Tampa Bay than if we had faced off against the Lions' offense."

The Lions face Tampa Bay next week where the Bucs are currently a 532 point favorite.

So I finally catch a Purdue game on TV...

and wow do they have some work to do. All that experience and no playmakers. Sheesh. And Brandon Kirsch, who I had high hopes for, did not do a good job reading the defense or hitting open receivers. And when he did, Dorien Bryant liked to make a habit out of dropping the ball. And don't get me started on our linebackers inability to fill the gaps against the run or cover the TE (gee if you're not going to defend the run at least cover against the pass!).

I made a prediction back in 1999 before the bucket game that Tiller would never see a 10 win season at Purdue based on their playcalling, game prep, and lack of team discipline. While Purdue will continue to enjoy winning seasons and bowl games under the Tiller regime, Tiller and his staff just don't seem to be able to build that elite program that has talent, leadership, a killer instinct, confidence, and a little swagger.

Huge game this weekend against ND. A win, and that's three in a row over ND, and puts Tiller at 5-4 over the Irish. Not to mention kids (recruits) from the midwest continuing to regard Purdue as a better program. A loss? I think that's more than a damper on the season (Purdue would fall from the rankings)... I think it potentially leapfrogs ND past Purdue in the eyes of the media and perception of the program.


A quick trip out west

I've always perceived Seattle as being on, or very close to, the Pacific Ocean. In reality, Seattle is about 60 miles east of the ocean. And, since we've been here, we haven't wandered west of Seattle (I did play golf over in Port Orchard, but I was new to the area and didn't even know where we were headed until I got home and looked up the name of the town we were in).

Washington also has a large ferry system; when we lived in our apartment in Seattle we (especially Spencer) would watch the ferries go in and out of the docks all day long. Yet, to date, we hadn't been on one.

We killed both those stones this weekend with a ferry trip to Bremerton and a drive up to Port Townsend. One of the cool things of being new to the area is we really don't know what to expect in any of these towns, on any of these drives, so its somewhat of an adventure.

We took a night ferry ride from Seattle to Bremerton. Very nice hour-long trip on the water with some nice views and a relaxing ride.

Port Townsend we had heard was nice; Bremerton we had no clue what to expect other than it was our ferry destination. Turns out there wasn't much to see or do in Bremerton, although there was a naval shipyard there with a couple of aircraft carriers in dock. Way cool for those with high levels of testosterone. I kept finding excuses to drive past it! I wish I could say we stayed someewhere interesting, but not knowing the area we played it safe and stayed at a hotel. But it had a pool so Spencer was happy - it was also Garrett's first venture into a pool.

The drive up to Port Townsend, about an hour from Bremerton, was relaxing as well. That whole area reminded me of the thumb area of Michigan - not densely populated, but not boonies either. Found a state park in Port Townsend that had a "beach." Spencer had fun, and it was interesting seeing the crab shells on the beach.

Overall a nice quick weekend getaway that allowed us to get to know the area a little better. I've attached some pictures. Or at least I'm trying to attach some pictures.


Pretty cool utility for Mac OS X and Airport Express

Was stuck this evening with an Internet Broadcast of a Phoenix station carrying the Purdue game. Would like to stream that audio from my office to my Bose Wave radio sitting in the kitchen so I can work and listen to the game. Currently I can also stream iTunes content to it (no big deal for me since I manage all my MP3s through iTunes).

So, what's a Purdue geek to do? Download Airfoil from Rogue Amoeba. It allows you to stream any audio to Airport Express. Highly skeptical, I downloaded the demo, and voila! Just one click to select the app I want to stream (in this case Internet Explorer), and next thing you know the game is playing in the kitchen. Way cool. Chalk one up to innovation and ease-of-use.


So I'm a little slow

Microsoft and Amazon are sponsoring a Web Services developer contest. Glad to see Web Services progress to this state where both businesses and technology companies are supporting.


First place (for now)

How 'bout them Lions taking the Packers out behind the woodshed. Nice start to the season, and the defense played outstanding. Still need a decent QB, though (sigh).

I must say, this is going to take some getting used to on the left coast. Kickoffs at 10am; at noon, when games are supposed to be getting underway, we're in the second half. The "night" game is getting over at the time I'm used to it kicking off. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but for a long time fall Saturday and Sundays have been a consistent routine, and boy is it weird adjusting.

In rememberence of 9/11

Enough said.

Purdue gets a game under their belt

Hard to say Purdue is off to a "good start" as their opener was a tune-up against Akron; nonetheless it's good for them to get a game under their belt. A little concerned that a defense that returned 11 starters is giving up that kind of yardage to a MAC school, but that's what openers are for.

Very weird not attending the game in person. 12 years or so of season tickets and pre/post game tailgating puts one into a routine.

Another weird thing? Catching games at 9am here on the left coast. Sheesh, that is just too early. I liked 11am starts in Chicago; 9am is going to take some getting used to. Flip it around, though, and the 5pm starts for the night games is very nice. No more staying up past 11 to catch an east coast game.

Nonetheless, we were dressed in spirit of the Boilermakers, and Spencer found a video on the Internet of the "Jumbo Heroes" cartoon Purdue plays before each game.


Going to miss tailgating

As great as life is out here in the Northwest, there is definitely one pastime I am going to miss: tailgating on fall Saturdays with my college chums. There is nothing like a college football Saturday, and catching the games on ESPN Gameplan won't make up for it. Hopefully Purdue makes a trip out to Pasadena in a few months and we'll be able to catch them =) With Michigan and Ohio State off the schedule, this should be Purdue's year.


Rattlesnake Lake

Since it rained today, we looked to do something close to home... that something was a quick trip out to Rattlesnake Lake. It's a state park about 10 miles southeast of us.

It rained too hard for us to do much, but we did get to venture out the lake a little and enjoy the great views of the mountains.

Mount Rainier

After three and a half months we finally took a trip to Mount Rainier National Park on Saturday. We didn't know what to expect; as such we just grabbed some sweatshirts and took a drive. It was very cloudy, so we never did see the top half of Mt. Rainier; however, the views on the way up to Sunrise (6400 ft) were amazing.

There are plenty of turnoffs, hiking paths, etc. on the way up, and we didn't even take the preferred/popular route. All in all it was about a two hour drive from our house to Sunrise Point, and 45 minutes of that was within the park.


You can put it on the boarrrrrrd, YES!

Amy's folks are in town and we caught a game at Safeco Field Friday night. Very nice ballpark - we sat in the "Family Friendly No Alcohol" section way out in the outfield. While we caught a good game, I don't think Spencer got into the game as much as he might have if he was closer. But he did enjoy the playground as noted in the pictures.

And of course a great ending watching the Good Guys win it in 12 innings.


Garrett is crawling

Could hardly believe my eyes tonight as I watched Garrett motor around the living room on his knees. The last couple of days he's perfected this cool move where he goes from laying on his stomach to sitting up by tucking a leg under himself and "flipping" himself upright. He does it with such speed and smoothness it would make Barishnakov proud.

Now he's crawling at almost 7 months. Now if I can only get him to say "da da"...


Is there really nothing to report?

Wow, only three months in Seattle and already I've fallen into my same ol' boring lifestyle of "nothing new going on in my life." Sheesh. I guess I'll chalk it up to getting settled in. And I'm not even reading or listening to AudioBooks like I once did. Guess I'm enjoying the scenery and the weather too much =)

Yesterday was Amy's Birthday. Had a nice day getting the "boys" pictures taken (I will scan and post later). Even tried a new restaurant in town; nothing to write home about although it was the first time I remember Spencer actually trying new food. It was a Teriyaki restaurant and he loved it.

I think we are done unpacking. Still have a few rooms to clean up and get settled, but the unpacking is done. Given that the house is only two years old there isn't any work to be done on it.

A few more weeks and football will be here. Both our next door neighbors are Notre Dame fans, as are a few other neighbors. Will make it enjoyable when Purdue opens up a can of whoop-ass on 'em in a couple of months =)


A while between posts

Finally getting some time to update my blog... sheesh, what a busy summer so far!

Today marks one month in our house. Wow. Lots done, but lots more to go. Hardly seems like we've been here a week.

We were lucky to have my folks and my sister come out last week and be here last weekend. They helped us (ok, Amy) around the house get things set up, cleaned up, unpacked, put together, etc. Really enjoyed seeing everyone again, and Spencer liked seeing everyone as well. And somehow Spencer wrangled an expensive toy from Grandma and Grandpa again.

On top of that, my uncle and his wife visited us from Spokane. And one of my colleagues from Whirlpool who moved out here stopped by as well. Great opportunity to fire up the new tri-burner, 45,000 BTU grill. Despite some burnt corn (Spencer called it "Purdue corn" because it was black and yellow), things turned out ok. Really enjoyed having everyone out here for the day.

Work is very busy. Not that I didn't expect it, but probably makes it that much tougher trying to get adjusted to a new town and a new house. Amy's already calling herself an "Amazon widow" which is probably not a good sign. I did order a leisure novel from Amazon so maybe I can find an excuse to get away from work a little.

Garrett is starting to prop himself up on his knees and rock. Not backward crawling yet, but that won't be long. He must be growing pretty fast as he's been getting up pretty early.

The Blue Angels are in town this weekend. Probably won't get a chance to see them, but they come to Seattle every year. We saw them a couple years ago in Muskegon, Michigan, and they were great.


Time for another picture upload

Yesterday was Amazon.com's annual picnic. Very nice, Spencer had loads of fun. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we forgot the camera. So here's some other pics. Spencer is taking Tae Kwon Do here in Snoqualmie Ridge. We're hoping he learns a little discipline as we have failed as parents to teach him =)


How interesting

Looks like the new Supreme Court Justice nominee grew up in Long Beach (a stone's throw from where we lived in Indiana). And La Lumiere was a school Amy and I would have likely sent Spencer and Garrett if we had stayed in the area (if we couldn't get moved to Granger). Interesting trivia for Amy and I, probably boring for everyone else =)


Looks like I better read that Washington Driver's Guide after all

The state of Washington has a new licensed driver today... my wife. Apparently I'm a danger to my fellow Washington residents and failed my driver's license test. Please enter your jokes in the comments section.


Oh damn I REALLY want one of these!

Don't ask me how I ran across this (working late the mind comes up with strange web queries)...

The Robo Lawnmower


Gee, I wonder what else I can find in robotic gear...


Adding pictures

Normally I use a tool called "Hello" to upload - that's what I did with the other pictures today. I'm going to try Blogger's integrated solution and see what happens. Look for a picture in this post... not sure where it will end up.

Downtown Seattle as seen from West Seattle

making do


6624 Silent Creek

g-man at fireworks

dumping legos


Home Sweet Home

Wow, after an interesting three months, it's great to say the family is moved in ("settled" is a little too strong a word at this point!) to our new home and neighborhood in Snoqualmie, WA. BOO YA!

Neighborhood is great already. Have met tons of neighbors (many of which work for Microsoft, interestingly enough), all of each have at least two kids under 10, most near Spencer's age and some even near Garrett's age. It's a great, family-friendly community with beautiful views of the mountains. Amy and I are going to like it here for a while. So many kids in the area that a new elementary school is being built. And Amy and I have sampled the local fare... best burgers and pizza we've had since moving to Seattle!

Finally got broadband access today - amazing how many things we have that depend on it, and how dependent I've gotten on it to find information on just about anything. Geez, I can't even go to Home Depot to pick up stuff for the house without searching on the web to see if they are going to have what I want, what the price is, and what are alternatives. And of course now that we have Vonage we need the Internet to have phone service. Interesting that so many places assume that phone service is still landline based. I could not look up whether DSL is available in this area because I do not have a phone number corresponding to the area!

The house is starting to look a little normal after having our stuff moved Tuesday. Most of our upstairs (bedrooms, bathrooms) are unpacked. Spencer and Garrett get a playroom up there and other than the legos Spencer dumps out every 12 seconds it's still boxed. Maybe it will be that way for a while =)

Still need to find my XBox wireless adapter to get on live... hopefully can get that done by Friday and hook up with the old guard after being out of the loop for so long.

Do not have a basement, so it's good that I screwed up a few months ago and grabbed a Gladiator Freezerator (as opposed to the refrigerator) to serve as a freezer. Out here the water heater, furnace, etc is in the garage, anchored to the floor and walls in case of earthquake.

Backyard is not much of a backyard, but bigger than all the other houses. Way smaller than what we moved from (and that was only a quarter of an acre!) but are happy given the price of dirt out here. To put it in perspective, people here do not talk about yards in terms of "acres" but rather "square feet." At least mowing will be easy =)

And it finally actually "rained" out here Friday. "Rain" defined as needing a jacket or umbrella. The weather here is just fantastic. No air conditioning in the house - don't need it. Gets up to 80 max, and is usually in the high 60s during the day. Will be interesting to see how the winter goes - apparently no snow.

So, mid-July, and it hardly seems possible we've been out here two months. The last four weeks have gone by very fast. For the Fourth of July we caught the fireworks at Bellevue with some new friends. Had a great time and I look forward to playing some golf with Steve soon... as soon as I can find my clubs =)

One of my superstars that worked for me at Whirlpool has accepted a job at Amazon.com. If I was smart enough to have recruited him I would have raked in a nice referral fee; as it is he found the job on his own which I am damn impressed with. Looking forward to having you out here, Aaron!

Pictures to follow later.


Today is Moving Day

Didn't want to jinx it by announcing it ahead of time, but the moving van is at our new house and gear is getting unloaded. Will not have Internet access until this weekend, which also means no phone service (at least broadband phone... I'm assuming our cell phones will work in Snoqualmie).

Heading out to the house now... have not been there yet today and am anxious to see what it looks like "empty."


The Second Coming of Steve Jobs

Over the last ten years or so, I've gotten hooked on audiobooks due to my long commutes. When I finally got my iPod (my first MP3 player) a year or so ago, I was able to burn my audio CDs to the iPod and listen there. As it turns out, I've used my iPod more for audiobooks than I do for music. Hence my constant plugs for Audible.com - MUCH cheaper at $10 a book vs. the $20-$30 I had been used to paying... not to mention the convenience of having an entire library at my fingertips (no more boxes of CDs in the back seat of my car). Of course I'm still frustrated that "Blink" by Malcom Gladwell is not available at audible.com yet. Argh.

Since moving to Seattle, I walk 20 minutes each way to work. Not bad for getting some listening in, but not nearly as fruitful as the 45 or 75 minute commutes (or 2.5 hours for my ventures down to Indy clients) I've had the "pleasure" of enjoying the past 10 years or so.

I started listening to The Second Coming of Steve Jobs a couple months ago, but found the first couple chapters difficult to get through. Finally, after several weeks, including a few times accidentally rewinding to the beginning (a rant on that is in the queue), I finally got through it. I must say, the middle few chapters are pretty fascinating in the life of Steve Jobs, as he roles between Apple, Next, Pixar, and Apple again play out.

The book starts out with Steve Jobs on top of the world and leaving Apple. First couple chapters go into much of his personal life, which I found dug too deep and spending too much time in. Without covering the whole book, here's some nuggets I found interesting:

NeXT: not a lot of insight here, just a rehash of much of what was already public: obsession with detail, trying to out do Apple/Macs, market failure, lost hundreds of millions of $, etc.

Pixar: did not realize George Lucas owned Pixar at one point. As a result Lucas' divorce, he had to raise some cash, and sold Pixar to Jobs for a song ($10M if I remember right... asking price was three times that).

Also, the technology behind Pixar was born in the early 70s. The early developers of the technology got the technology to the point where it could make motion pictures by the late 70s. However, the hardware to do so was too expensive: about $1B. Using Moore's theorem, they calculated that they would need about 10 years before studios could actually consider using technology. That was around the time frame Lucas scooped up the braintrust behind Pixar.

A Bug's Life actually outsold Toy Story at the box office. Would never have guessed that.

Pixar's original goal was to sell software and systems to studios; they never meant to be a studio. John Lasseter happened to showcase his talents in building a demo (Luxo Jr) to showcase the capabilities of the software. Eventually, he won enough short film awards to give credence to the idea that Pixar itself could develop a motion picture.

Perhaps most interesting: Jobs is damn lucky he still had Pixar when the deal with Disney came around in 1991. Jobs was trying to sell Pixar, but wanted to recover his $50M investment in it to make himself whole. No buyers. Imagine if Jobs had succeeded in selling?

Jobs had very little to do with Pixar's development and Toy Story. His first contribution was to rework the arrangement with Disney to give Pixar billing on promotional materials, credits, etc. Disney gave in, and the Pixar brand was born. (If you've seen an original Toy Story movie poster the word "Pixar" does not appear in it). Jobs next goal? Become the next Disney.

Apple, take two: not a lot of insight here either. Jobs did a lot of house cleaning, brought in NeXT's people and technology, and turned Apple into a software powerhouse. This book (2002) predated the iPod.

Long listen (eight hours), but I enjoyed it in the end. The relationship between Pixar and Disney has been interesting to me as I've taken Spencer to two Pixar films (Finding Nemo and The Incredibles) not to mention the amount of $ we've spent on Buzz Lightyear and Zurg stuff. I think older generations resonate with Disney as they grew up with Mickey, Donald, et al. My generation really didn't have a Disney character and thus Disney loyalty. Spencer's generation is Buzz Lightyear, Nemo, etc. Hence Pixar walking away from Disney recently. And a trip to Disneyworld will clearly point out the generation gap. You'll see the kids flocking to the Toy Story attractions and the adults huddled around the original Disney characters. Interesting lesson in building and maintaining loyalty.


iRobot API?

Check this out - pretty soon you'll be able to program your Roomba (not that I have one yet, but hey this seems like a great reason to get one!).

Finally picked up a book

Wow, I'm almost embarassed to say I haven't touched a book in the last five weeks since we've moved to Seattle. Not for a shortage of books (I brought a few for the apartment), but simply a shortage of time. To get back in the habit of reading, I picked up my copy of Tao of Leadership. a book given to me by my previous boss at Whirlpool after a Leadership Workshop. As a student of Tao Te Ching and Taoism, I am interested in this particular adaptation. I've always found Tao a natural guide to Leadership.

So I open up the book, and in Chapter 2 I break out a smile as some of my core beliefs are imprinted:

  • ...the wise leader does not push to make things happen, but allows process to unfold on its own

  • The leader knows that constant interventions will block the group's progress

  • The leader does not insist that things comeout a certain way

Which brings me to my own personal paradox: do I like books, articles, philosophies because of their content and merit? Or, do I like those things which happen to align and resonate with my beliefs? I really wish I could say I am open minded and judge ideas on their merit; alas, I believe I simply resonate with those ideas that I happen to already believe. I look back at my favorite books (Good to Great, How Customers Think, Re-Imagine!, First Break All the Rules) and find that I held those beliefs prior to engaging such texts.

And even Chapter 2 of Tao of Leadership: there it is, staring me in the face... my own personal beliefs. Do I hold those beliefs due to my studying Taoism the past three years? Perhaps. More likely, I hold those beliefs because of what I've seen successful in my personal experience. To be sure, successful paths can be paved counter to the Tao (Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, among others).

PS. Thanks Jay for the book, and I wish you and Sara the best of luck with your European adventures.


Go Sox!

Tough not being able to watch the Good Guys take on the Cubs in the cross-town series, but at least they're taking them out to the woodshed =)


I just love Father's Day

Not so much for what I do, but it is a time of year that I get to reflect on what it means to be a father and the tremendous responsibility, and satisfaction, that comes with it. Hmmm, maybe that was the source of my upset stomach all morning (and not the mexican food from last night)?

This year, Spencer was thoughtful enough to get me not just one, but two Star Wars lego kits: the Emperor's Shuttle and a Snowspeeder, with plenty of minifigs to boot (13 between the two kits). Spencer even got me out of bed Saturday morning at 7am to share his little secret and give me my presents.

Garrett must really understand my fanaticsm with my iPod, as he had the insight to get me the Bose SoundDock for my iPod mini. Great sound (had sampled it at the Apple Store over in Bellevue), and what a great way to play an entire music collection. Set up a playlist and enjoy. Way cool.

On a side note, we have a move date set: July 5th. Gives us a couple more weeks in this apartment. Not a bad place, and we like the location, but we are getting antsy to get into a home and get things going there. Dying to see the state of all the stuff we currently have stored in Tacoma. Hope most of it made it in one piece!


Some pictures

Haven't posted pictures in a while, so here's a hodge podge of pictures over the last week.

We'll take Spencer's sleep whenever, and wherever, we can get it.

Garrett is eating cereal now (started about three days ago).

Garrett is also starting to balance himself. Pretty tough for him given his size. Hey Bren, recognize the outfit? =)

We've become members of the Children's Museum (the Seattle Aquarium, too). The Children's Museum is part of Seattle Center; Spencer loves to take the Monorail there. The Monorail is within walking distance of our apartment.

Here's a weird thought: Garrett has spent 20% of his life in Seattle. Yeah, I'm a data guy.


A year without the NHL

So this is the time of year someone is hoisting Lord Stanley's trophy, and I think the NHL will find the same thing that MLB found back in 1994 - you can't not have a championship. Who knows, maybe NHL will figure out a way to use steroids to get the fans back as MLB did, but I think they have a steeper hill to climb. I don't think there are that many die hard fans, even the core base of Canada, the East Coast, and Chicago/Detroit have their share of bandwagoners. I'm guessing the southern teams will lose quite a bit of their following.

I definitely missed the playoffs this year, although I was surprised I didn't turn to the NBA to catch those playoffs to fill the gap.


A good pickup for the Lions

Lions added a little more depth in the secondary with the addition of R.W. McQuarters. Will put the pressure on Chris Cash, Andre Goodman, and Stanley Wilson to perform if they want to be in the nickel and dime packages.

Call me crazy, but I like the Lions' chances this year of breaking .500 and possibly the playoffs. A little weak on the offensive line, but a strong set of skilled position players should keep defenses on their toes. And of course a GAPING hole at Quarterback. Harrington is just about useless (personally I would trade him for a sleeve of Gatorade cups and consider that a big win). Jeff Garcia? We'll see. With a good crop of receivers and a strong running game, maybe he'll put up the numbers that he put up in San Francisco.

Ah, if we could only rewind to the Scott Mitchell days. At least the Lions were regulars in the playoffs then =)

Will be weird flipping on the tube and catching the Lions just after breakfast out here.


Our new humble abode

Modest home in Snoqualmie, at a premium price! Nice house, I like it, Amy likes it. Two years old, and a sizeable backyard for the area (no, I'm not kidding). And it looks like it has enough room to store all our crap (Move-in sale, anyone?).

Area is great for families. Reminds me of Granger, Indiana, in that regard (Granger is a good ol' typical suburban American community). Commute shouldn't be too bad - about a half hour drive into downtown Seattle.

Even better news, the walk-through on our home in Michigan City went ok, so tomorrow we close there. Looking forward to seeing some cash in our bank account, not to mention debt-free, if only for a month.


Congrats to AWS

Amazon.com Web Services has won an award from the Software & Information Industry Association for Best Web Services Solution. Congrats to my colleagues on the AWS team!

Heard back from the seller

And they accepted our offer. Just after the 4th of July we will hopefully take up residence at 6624 Silent Creek Ave SE in Snoqualmie. One more item off the stress list =)

Our second offer on a house

Interesting piece isn't that we're offering on a house (how boring), it's how FAST this market moves.

Amy saw the house on Friday, I saw it at 1:30 on Saturday, offer drafted at 6pm Saturday, presented by our realtor at 8pm, and the sellers have until noon today (two hours away) to accept. Wow. Less than 24 hours after I saw the house we'll have an answer.

We love the area, and the house is very nice albeit a wee bit outside our original target price range.

Should have some news by this afternoon =)


Snoqualmie Ridge

Amy and I have settled in on Snoqualmie Ridge, a Master Planned Community about 25 miles east of downtown Seattle. Very nice area, homes that we can afford, parks and schools closeby, and a rapidly improving school district (due to growth in the area we expect the schools to continue to improve).

Actually, we will settle for anything in Snoqualmie, but Snoqualmie Ridge is very nice.

Internet coming of age

These aren't new services, but I am new to them. I'm getting impressed with the services available around broadband and the convenience it's driving to my life.

First, let's start with MLB TV - Major League Baseball TV delivered over the Internet. Last weekend wanted to catch the Sox/Cubs series (go Sox baybee), but do not get WGN on cable here. So, was following the stats on the internet, and followed a link to MLB TV to learn more about it. Turns out they have a two week free trial available, so we tried it out. So far, very impressive. You can catch any game live you want, restricted by local broadcast contracts. Streams it right to Windows Media Player, and can watch the game full screen. It's the live TV broadcast feed, and the audio/video quality is excellent. Regular services is $15/mo or $80 for the season; I expect to sign up (probably monthly) in a week or so.

This would be a cool NFL Sunday Ticket option. Better yet if you could watch multiple games at once... assuming broadband can handle that bandwidth.

Second, we have given Vonage a try. So far, so good, although the jury is out. Vonage provides a broadband router with two phone jacks, allowing you to plug regular phones into it to get Voice-over-IP capabilities. We signed up for the $14.99/month plan, which gives us 500 minutes a month.

Phone quality is very good, latency is good, and no technical problems setting the phone up with the VoIP router - it's a simple plug and play.

Some nice Vonage features:
1. We will be able to talk our phone number with us, even if we move out of Seattle.
2. We can register alias numbers and link them to our account; so, someone could make a local call to us. This option costs $5/month with a $10 setup fee, so we're hoping others sign up for Vonage.
3. Account information, call details, and voicemail available over the web.

The one annoyance is all the setup/change fees. I would think with the level of automation they should have changing options should be zero-cost to Vonage and free to the customer; however, they charge to make a change in anything. Want to sign up for a more expensive plan? They charge you a setup fee for that.

By the way, you can get a free month of Vonage if you get invited from a Vonage customer; just ask them for an invitation and you they'll send you one.


Challenge Vader

Being the loser I am, I often spend a weekend night googling for random stuff, just to clear my mind and recharge. Tonight, I ran across this site. Pretty funny. I'm guessing it's based off 20q.net (a site we ran across at Whirlpool during our ventures into the world of AI). Quite a clever adaptation.

And yes, Lord Vader DID guess Spencer was thinking of a light-saber.


Wow, what a housing market

So I get a call at work Thursday from Amy suggesting she found a house that I need to see. I try to get it pushed back to Friday or Saturday, but she insists we need to see it that night.

It's been on the market three days. At the time Amy called (3pm) there were no offers on the house. So, we arrange to go see it at 6ish. By the time we get there, two offers are on the house. By the time we're done viewing it, four offers are in on the house. So, five minutes into the car ride home we decide we'll put an offer in. We do the paperwork this morning, and the total number of offers at that point is 7 (including ours). We offer 5% above asking price. Found out at 6pm tonight that we did not get the house, apparently to someone waiving an inspection (the house had had some water damage... no way we weren't getting an inspection).

And that's the way the market is these days. Microsoft, Amazon, Adobe, and Google are all hiring like crazy in the Seattle area, and that's just the companies I know about.

Supposedly houses in our parameters come onto the market with regularity. Our realtor knows what we're looking for, so hopefully she keeps us in the loop as soon as something comes onto the market.


The sun will come out...

today! Boo ya! Got to see the sun after being here 10 days =) Ok, I'm exaggerating, but not by much. First blue sky day since we've been here. Beautiful views all the way around.

A couple pictures of Mt. Rainier as taken from our apartment balcony.


The whole tourist thing

Decided to do a couple tourist things while we were here and take a break from our transition. We live a couple blocks from Pike Place Market, so we hit there this morning. Loved the bite-sized donuts. Interesting marketplace; not to busy, quite a variety, not too big. Can see ourselves stopping by quite often to pick up our dinner.

The Seattle Art Museum is right across the street from our apartment; Spencer loves "The Hammer Guy"

Pike Place Market

After an hour of being pushed around Garrett was pooped!

In the afternoon, we headed down to the Space Needle. Probably a mile and a half from where we live, the Space Needle is part of the Seattle Center, which also includes KeyArena, the Science Center, and a bunch of other attractions.

Atop the Space Needle