Checkout by Amazon is alive and well

Nice to see CBA see the light of day. It was the super-secret (or not so secret depending on where in the blogosphere you look) product that I incubated way, way back and spent almost a couple years on. An excellent feature set for this space, and I love what the Amazon Payments team did with the payments portal.

Didn't see any PR around it so this looks like a soft launch. And yes I already registered for it...


Microsoft Company Picnic

Actually there are three Microsoft Company Picnics, spread out over three days and two weekends in July, to support all the employees and their families. Interesting enough, it is held at the same location that Amazon held their company picnic - Mountain Meadows at the base of Mount Si in North Bend. Only there are like 10 times as many people at just one of the Microsoft outings, which, if you know me, I hate.

Apparently Microsoft employees have trouble watching their kids (which actually doesn't surprise me having worked there now a couple of months), as we had to put wristbands on Spencer and Garrett with my name and cell phone number on it. I mean, why go through the trouble of doing that for every kid if they hadn't had lots of problems with it in the past? They certainly didn't do it for Amazon.

Nonetheless, we were treated to good weather, good food, and lots of fun for the kids. Although the crowd was daunting enough for even Spencer, and he ended up asking to leave. Fine by me, three hours in a crowd of strangers is my fill for the year.

Yes that's crazy Garrett biting into a BBQ rib. He liked it.

Spencer told me this was a training car for learning how to drive.

Garrett playing hockey, which was hard to pull him away from.

Definitely the coolest thing for kids, the water balloon battles.

The boys coming out of the obstacle course.


Introducing Adesh and Sugandi

One Sunday last October the brother of the founder/pastor of our church gave an impassioned talk about his work with orphans (most orphaned by the 2004 Tsunami) in Sri Lanka. By the time he finished, everyone in the congregation was beating down his door to sponsor kids in his orphanage. Amy and I decided to sponsor two kids (in addition to donations to Adam Salmon's organization, Asiana Education Development which help keep the sponsored donations going 100% to the kids), about Spencer and Garrett's ages, and used the opportunity to teach Spencer and Garrett about others that aren't as fortunate as we are in the United States. Spencer's sensitive side, while not conducive to playing sports, definitely comes to the surface when it comes to helping others.

Our pastor went to Sri Lanka with his daughter a couple months back, and in going over we were able to send a couple care packages with them (which I proudly say that I did the shopping for and Amy says I did a decent job). Lots of pictures were taken, and Friday night we had Charlie (our pastor) and his wife over for dinner, and they bought their laptop and showed us pictures of their visit and specifically the two kids we are sponsoring. Their precious pictures follow...

This is Adesh, who attends the Kalpuwa Sri Leadership Academy, getting his care package from us. He is four years old, and we get cards from him every Christian holiday.

This is Sugandi, who lives at the Samudra Sri Children's home, with a look of "what am I supposed to do with this?" She is six or seven.

This is just a great picture. We sent family photos of ourselves with the care packages.

There are a ton of pictures of the campus here.

A big thank you to Charlie and his wonderful wife for giving us a personal presentation.


So I've heard of Whirlyball, but have never done it before. Our Director took us there Friday as a team-building exercise. Rented a bus (apparently everyone rents buses for every outing there) and headed across Lake Washington to Edmunds. There were 20 of us (we're just the program management team), which made it easy to break up into four teams.

Whirlyball is played in a bumper car, on a court a little smaller than a basketball court, with the player wielding a contraption that I'm sure is called something but I'll call it a wiffle-ball-catcher-and-thrower. The idea is to throw a wiffle ball against your team's vertical net about 2 feet by 2 feet, 10 feet off the ground, with nets on both ends of the court. Not too bad if you are close to it, but hitting that damn net from far away is darn near impossible.

Sounds like a weird game, and it is, but its also fun. Really want to know who had too much Jack Daniels one night and came up with this game. The strategy is pretty simple (take your time on possession, wait for an open person, break to the net, and on defense simply block the lanes to the net). That said very few people on my team were interested in the strategy :) So we had a pathetic 1-5 record for the day.


Spencer's Bo Staff Form

As part of the belt test last night the Black Belt Club did a demonstration of their latest form, using their Bo Staffs. Pretty cool. Spencer definitely focuses and learns more when he has a weapon in his hands...

Spencer gets his brown belt

Spencer continues his quest for a black belt at DMW Martial Arts in Snoqualmie, testing last night and getting his brown belt. He's proud of his Axe Kick and breaking a board on his first try.

Good pics were hard to come by, but Amy did get in a good position for his board break.


Hiking Tiger Mountain

Decided on taking on Tiger Mountain this afternoon, and everyone was up to the challenge. We took the 3 mile, 2000 foot elevation gain summit in a scant 2 hours and 15 minutes (very good for Spencer). Too much haze around Seattle to get good views of the city or the Olympics, but we could see Mount Rainier and Snoqualmie Valley just fine.

We saw many a hang-glider.

Enjoying some berries at the Summit

Spencer and Garrett taking on the trail before it gets too steep.

Mount Rainier


Macy's Dad and Me with the Seahawks Day

Or something like that. For a Father's Day present, Spencer got me a ticket (a hat) to Dad-and-me-Seahawks-Day at Qwest Field. A four hour stint of on-the-field-activities, locker room tours, lunch, and autographs.

We had a good time, Spencer loved the obstacle course and the 40 yard dash, and meeting the Seagals (oh, wait, that was me that enjoyed that). Spencer was disappointed he didn't get to meet his favorite player, Matt Hasselbeck, and he never has been a fan of group lunches, so we ended up leaving a little early. Nonetheless he had fun while it lasted and he wants to go back next year.

Spencer with his best Johnny U impression.

Working the course.

Qwest Field has FieldTurf, and Spence was taken by the little rubber pieces in the fake grass.

Spence giving it his all in his 9.6 40-yd dash time. I think that beats Shaun Rogers.

so far as I know Craig Terrill is the only Boilermaker on the Seahawks, now that Niko Koutivides is gone.

While the thought of Bill Clay Ford Jr. about made me vomit, it was cool visiting the press room and seeing how it connects to the coaches' office.

The next best thing to meeting Matt Hasselbeck, sitting in his locker and wearing his helmet!

Somewhere along the way Spencer learned to equate smile to open wide.

Pics from Lake Chelan

As promised...full gallery here. I'll skip the pics of my family playing Wii...

Yes, indeed, the Dalai Lama paid a visit to Disruption Falls while we were there.

The boys on the first day at the beach.

Garrett helping me grill up some chicken.

Spencer in the pool.

Garrett doing a "Cannonball".

The boys at the playground.

Everyone enjoying a round of putt-putt golf.

The boys on the bow of the boat checking out Lake Chelan.

The boys taking in the Columbia River way below.

Pathetic but this is the best family picture we could muster.

My Amazon MP3 purchases (DRM-free)

Amazon has a cool new widget that automatically pumps in your MP3 purchases from Amazon. Hope I haven't purchased anything embarassing!

Free Overnight Shipping on Shoes and Handbags...

... from Endless.com. Looks like their -$5 shipping promo is done :)

A week in Lake Chelan

I took a week off work and spent a Sunday-through-Sunday in Manson, Washington, on the northern shore of Lake Chelan. Wapato Point was the name of the resort, and we rented a condo for 8 for the week, stuffing 9 and 10 people in it. My folks, my sister, my uncle (for a couple of days), and Amy's folks joined us. Definitely our favorite place to stay so far on our Lake Chelan trips - nice location, excellent views, away from "busy Chelan", all the amenities including indoor/outdoor pools, and a decent price. We're recommending it to our friends.

Didn't get out on the water as much as I would have thought, but spent more time in the pool with the kids than I expected. A fair trade-off. Also did more geocaching than I expected and we even took a little drive north of the area along the Columbia River checking out some smaller towns on the banks.

We couldn't have asked for better weather - I didn't see a cloud until Wednesday, and with the exception of some haze from the forest fires burning 20 miles to the south, the weather was perfect.

On the way to Chelan we stopped at "Disruption Falls." I knew it was a good omen when I caught a glimpse of the Dalai Lama! Even snapped a pic of his holiness.

Right now SmugMug is down, will post pics some other time this week.


Google to carry Obama's flip-flops side-by-side on Youtube

Well, not quite, but would be funny if they did, wouldn't it? :) Maybe too many for Google's servers...


Rest in Peace Tony Snow

Tony Snow was my second favorite talent out of FoxNews behind Neil Cavuto. I always enjoyed him on FNC; in fact, I rarely watch FNC anymore since his departure (coinciding with FNC's continual move to the left). And he was an impressive Press Secretary under Dubya - I always like Press Secretaries that put the arrogant press in their place, and Tony always did so while taking the high road.

He was truly a force for good and we will miss his influence.


Happy Brithday America!

Now let's set off some fireworks to celebrate :)