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.