6.29.2008

An afternoon at Denny Creek

The Denny Creek Slippery Slab is just a really cool creation of nature. It's a natural waterslide accessible via a easy one mile hike from the trailhead. Given the weather above 90 degrees the last two days, we decided to head for Snoqualmie Pass and hit the slab.

Last year when we went in early June, we encountered a little snow halfway up. This year, we encountered snow at the trailhead. Wow. It was passable, and actually made a hike in 90+ degree weather much easier. The trail was covered in snow most of the way up, and we escaped with only a few cuts due to spills.

At the waterslide itself, there was way too much water flow to slide down it, so not much to do other than have a picnic lunch and dip our toes in the freezing water.







A couple times we got turned around and lost the trail!

Oooh, a thunderstorm!

First time I've seen one since moving to Seattle three years ago, and so far quite impressive. Tons of lightning, a little bit of thunder, but no rain yet... and that thunderstorm smell... ahhhh!

6.28.2008

Giving WordPress a Try

Going to start maintaining a new blog location soon, over at WordPress. It already imported all my blogger posts, I'd like to set up a custom domain, and hopefully it contains better customization than blogger. Will be posting in both places for a while.

6.27.2008

Thank you, Bill

You and Microsoft have done much to change the world, provide a great career path for me in the software industry, and finally a great company to work for. You are indebted by many, if not all, of us.

6.26.2008

Now that is some incentive

Russia is obviously a different beast than the US.

Well go figure

This morning's SCOTUS ruling surprised me. I would have bet good money this ruling was going the other way.

I've never fired a gun in my life (surprising given my mom's side of the family :) ), but damn I want the right to have one. Especially with Obama taking away our SUVs, HVACs, and food.

Now if we can get conceal carry moving forward :)

6.25.2008

More Supreme Court Lunacy

No death penalty for child rape.

The justices quotes from the article are simply mind-boggling in belittling child rape. I don't need to disect them here, you'll be outraged on your own.

The judge that talked about proportion... are you referring to an "eye-for-and-eye"? If so, I am all for that. Let's let these child rapists get raped in prison. Good idea.

So, if you're keeping score in this great country of ours:

1. We have two socialists squaring off for President that are better suited for the old Soviet Union than they are the United States (or at least the United States as envisioned by the founding fathers).
2. Congress, well, enough said about those idiots (Sen. Inhofe exempted). I have an email from Washington Senator Maria Cantwell trying to explain to me that drilling in ANWR and off the US coast won't actually decrease the price of gas. It takes real gall to insult my intelligence directly - at least it was a form letter and not a personal insult.
3. And now we have a Supreme Court that has proven how out of touch they are with the American people.

God help us with McCain or Obama get into the White House and start appointing socialist, soft-on-crime judges across the country.

Who'd have thought I'd see the day where moving to an Eastern European country would be a good move to raise my family.

6.24.2008

Kung Fu Panda Review

Ok, not a review, just a recommendation to go see it. Kung Fu Panda was the best movie for kids I've seen, well, ever. Short (90 minutes), simple plot, always moving (no boring side plots), straightforward moral, straightforward humor, engaging for kids, and didn't leave me checking my watch every five minutes to see how soon I could get out of there.

Spencer and Garrett were on the edge of their seats the entire time, laughing, and thoroughly enjoyed it. They never lost interest, and didn't even finish their popcorn.

Very surprising for a Dreamworks film. Not even any inappropriate language.

Go see it.

6.23.2008

My favorite George Carlin

Good ol' Youtube has all six parts.

This was the 1992 Live HBO Special, and I thought by far his best performance for 60 minutes. It was really his coming out from a political standpoint, a real risk for him at the time and he pulled it off masterfully.

Also the first Carlin concert I didn't have to sneak away from my mom and dad to watch... as I was in college :)

If you haven't seen it, enjoy...

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

What an amazing catch!

This you gotta see. Might be the best catch I have ever seen.

Women rule.

6.21.2008

Some pictures from today

Took a short hike out by the North Fork of the Snoqualmie River. Nothing exciting out that way - some decent views, some decent hiking, but not nearly as exhilarating as the South Fork (along I-90). But we had fun, of course, including a picnic lunch on the tailgate of our car.



We caught a glimpse of a waterfall in the distance, one I'm pretty sure has no trail going to it (this is a couple miles north of Mount Si and don't know of any falls that have been marked in that area with a trail map). This fall is about a mile away and we could hear it.

Now THAT was cool...

So I'm chillin' on the back patio, enjoying a Black Pearl cigar, just put the kids to bed, its 9:30ish or so, a calm, breezy, cloudy evening in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. I am relaxed, kicked back in my favorite patio chair (the one Garrett always takes when we eat outside), feet up on the table, letting the stress leave my body a bit at a time.

It's basically twilight at this time of night, and slowly but surely the clouds start to open up. A wee bit here, a little bit there. A star peeks through overhead, another peeks through to the west. Ooh, the big dipper emerges.

Over the time span of an hour, the sky just opened up, one small bit at a time. It was amazing just to sit and watch it happen. And I got some long needed star gazing in, something I haven't been able to do since winter.

6.19.2008

Amy heading out of town for a few days

She's off to Phoenix with one of her friends from Indiana to spend a couple of days in the sun getting some R&R. Leaves me with the boys for three unsupervised days, which I predict will mean lots of donuts, pizza, late nights, video games, hiking, and general not-cleaning-up-what-we-should-be-cleaning-up.

My first month at Microsoft

So it's been a month since I started at the Big M. What has it been like?

I started Microsoft not even know what my group would be. There was a reorg between the time I accepted the offer and the time I started, my would-be manager moved to a different team, and I met with another manager and determined their group didn't really match my interests. Yeah, that's right, they actually considered what I wanted to do to determine what team I should be a part of. Novel concept.

So I ended up on the Live Product Search team, and I'm a Senior Program Manager in charge of Quality, which is a huge challenge given where Microsoft is in the search space vs. Google, Yahoo, and even Amazon from a commerce perspective.

The first day and a half was consumed by broad "New Employee Orientation," attended by 130+ new Microsoft employees that started that same day. They did have a number of things down pat, like getting your security badge and getting all your docs signed. Not a bad day and a half, but also didn't really learn much new, at least for spending 12 hours in a meeting room.

As for the job, so far I like my team, I like my role, and I really like the overall organization I'm part of. Co-workers have such great initiative that they initiate work on things before they are even fully defined, something I will have to get used to. They also do a great job with software architecture, so their productivity is much better than I am used to.

There are a lot of program managers at Microsoft, which means lots of meetings with lots and lots of people in the room. A little daunting, quite frankly, given there are so many people that need to be kept in the loop.

Given that I'm on the product search side of the business, they have a healthy respect for Amazon, which has helped me build credibility quickly. I also like that I

On the down side, they are not as data driven as I would like, nor do they have attention to detail and follow through when it comes to online products. This is a big deal. When you ship Office or Windows, you can have bugs, inefficient experiences, etc, and you don't lose customers. When you offer bugs or inefficient experiences in online search (or news or maps or content or whatever), the competition is a click away and they leave. Big difference, and it takes a big change in mindset. Microsoft pioneered the "V1.0" mentality - get something out the door, fix it later. That doesn't work in the online space, and my job is to convince them of that and get them to execute differently. Quite the challenge, wouldn't you say?

And I haven't even talked about benefits yet. Imagine choosing a health coverage plan, 100% coverage for everything, no co-pay, etc, and they PAY you $30 a month to boot. That's right, you can pick a health plan and make money. Suffice it to say it really is true that Microsoft has the best bennies in the world, including their 401k matching and their discounted stock purchase plan.

I've spent almost every day at the Pro Club, the amazing fitness club in Bellevue that Microsoft provides membership for. Even saw Steve Ballmer in there one morning. And a former colleague from Amazon and I are playing racquetball weekly. One of these days I might beat him.

Microsoft is definitely a late starter, late leaver mentality. I'm usually there by 7:30am, and only one car in the parking garage beats me. By 9am a few people show up, but if you call a 9am meeting you'll be lucky if half the people are there by 9:30. Flip side is everyone works to 6-7pm, which is too late for me to be in the office usually. So will have to figure out how to be efficient as a program manager when my schedule is counter to so many.

I also have a team in Beijing, and man they are talented. Proactive too. Now to figure out how to work with a team 15 hours ahead.

That's the other weird thing. At Amazon and Whirlpool, I was always fighting to figure out a way to get resources. At Microsoft, they keep falling in my lap. Maybe its perspective, but it seems like every other day I'm having a meeting with someone who is willing to help me out, take something off my plate and ownership of it, etc. Definitely a 180 from Amazon :)

Related to that, they really work hard to make sure that their "highly paid professionals" have support staff to help with the mundane. There's a real understanding that you pay knowledge a lot of money for their knowledge, not their ability to figure out how to create requests to get a white board added to their office. It's in the culture here as I've heard negative references to "people who make six figures" doing something not cost-effective.

And finally, I really like the people at Microsoft. That I suspected, having known so many people that work there, but nice to see it play out. They're professional, respectful, smart, and have a real drive to get things done.

In short, so far so good. I think I'm going to like it. And I think I made a good move. Then again, ask me in three years :)

Holy Cow, a new concoction

Invented by Garrett. Peanut Butter and Mustard. He really ate it. Wow.

But dipping potato chips in mustard is gross. Go figure.

6.15.2008

One last Father's Day Pic

Were out and about running errands this evening and ended up having dinner at Red Robin in Bellevue. Amy snapped a nice pic of me and the boys.

So I got through GTA IV

After a little over a month, and spending too much time on the XBox 360, I made it through the final mission in GTA IV. Best single person game I've ever played, surpassing my previous favorite, Goldeneye on the old Nintendo 64 (wow that is like 10 years ago).

Strangely enough the game reports that I only complete 70% of the missions. Not sure if I missed something along the way, or by not doing all the taxi missions for Roman I missed out on some characters, but this was a great game.

I liked the twists where you had to make choices that affect your destiny. Evil mission one or evil mission two, which is it? Pick your poison.

Some things I never accomplished but wanted to:

1. Blow up 10 cars within 10 seconds. Came close a couple of times, but never quite accomplished this even though I tried my damnedest.
2. Fly under all the bridges with the helicopter. Didn't spend as much time in the helicopter as I would have liked. And when I did I ended up in the drink. :(
3. Get six stars. Got four stars a couple of times. And got to five stars once but the cops took me out.
4. Complete all the races. At least I don't think I did. I can no longer get races from Brucie. That was the best part of the game, IMHO.

Plot was great, and the Liberty City graphics, and performance of them, were amazing. Truly a major accomplishment in the history of gaming. Oblivion had just as complete of a world, and just as good of graphics, but they didn't have to pull off the scrolling and reloading at the speed of GTA IV.

A couple things I would have liked to see:

1. More dialogue with more characters, a la Oblivion.
2. Ability to save game more often. Having to wait until the end of a mission is just not cool. I can understand not saving in the middle of a shootout or chase, but to not be able to save while I'm strolling the streets makes no sense.
3. Ability to have more than one game saved! I wanted to start over, but to do so will erase my existing game. Not cool.

Kudos to Rockstar for such a great overall game. Now to get more of our friends on it so we can play that Friday nights instead of CoD4. :)

Another Lake Chelan Animoto

Different music

Lake Chelan Animoto Video

Took me a while to create this, but here's my first pass.

Something you won't see in the MSM...

Three terrorists convicted in Toledo, Ohio.

Maybe the terrorists should be training in Oregon. Would probably get away with it there. Or just wait until Obama is President.

Father's Day Hike 2008

We went with our neighbor's family yesterday on our annual Family Father's Day Hike, or Father's Day Family Hike, or whatever. We chose the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River trail as our destination this year, which turned out being an excellent family-friendly hike on the first nice day in June (we've been having 40-50 degree weather with rain for the first two weeks of June). We had a good time with all, nobody got hurt, and enjoyed a nice leisurely lunch by one of the many streams a couple miles into the trail.


The kids decided to climb on my car before heading out.






6.13.2008

John Coleman's (founder of TWC) latest transcript on global warming

John Coleman has debunked the global warming myth from day one. Here's his latest, a transcript from his talk in front of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce.

I think a single quote summarizes what is at stake (emphasis mine):


I think stamping out the global warming scam is vital to saving our wonderful way of life.

6.11.2008

Quote of the Day

From PowerLine Blog...

"Instead, with McCain's miserable energy policies, the presidential race is starting to resemble a nightmare contest between Jimmy Carter and Michael Dukakis--only a Dukakis who knows what he's doing in a tank."


Ain't that the truth. Since this election is a lost cause, is it too early to start thinking about the 2012 election? Heck, in two years candidates will start campaigning.

6.10.2008

Yet another reason gov't needs to be hands off

They can't even run restaurants right. And we expect them to help with healthcare, energy, and something as complex as cap-and-trade? What are we American citizens thinking?

A quote from Sen. Diane Feinstein (D) from the article...

"Candidly, I don't think the taxpayers should be subsidizing something that doesn't need to be. There are parts of government that can be run like a business and should be run like businesses."

Ya think? Would that logic apply to, say, something like retirement savings aka Social Security? I mean, private 401ks seem to be working pretty well, don't ya think? How about transportation? Agriculture (stop subsidizing farmers)? Education?

By the way, you better be careful there Diane, crazy talk like that will get you kicked out of the party. Especially one led by Barry O.

Funny Garrett quote of the day

G-man is talking quite a bit these days, and he's really funny. Yesterday we were reading "Brain Quest" with him, and he correctly identified the letter G. So I asked him "hey Gare how do you spell Garrett?"

He thought for a second and said, in a very confident voice, "poop!"

And Spencer busted out laughing like it was nobody's business. I just hope Spence doesn't get any ideas for school.

6.08.2008

An amazing article on John McCain

I have a great deal of respect for John McCain, especially knowing the story that he could have been released as a POW in Vietnam due to his father, but he chose to stay. Real character.

Read this article, a reprint from 1973, and you'll have even more respect for this man.

It'll be a cold day in hell before I vote for John McCain, or so I've told myself, due to his leftist political views (except for Iraq and McCain not willing to befriend our enemies, what's the difference between McCain and Obama?). But at least he is a man of character.

We'll see how much character counts for in this election. It certainly didn't count for anything in 1992 and 1996...

6.07.2008

Finally some good pizza

I was recommended Delfino's Chicago Style Pizza a couple years back by my Reverend. No, not Jeremiah Wright, my other reverend. But its taken that long for me to get close enough to the University District at a convenient time to give it a whirl. Today turned out to be the day.

One reason I haven't been in a hurry is we tried a place in North Bend that billed itself to be Chicago Style pizza, and the place had Chicago decor in it. However, the pizza was anything but Chicago style (looked like it came out of the grocery store freezer), and tasted worst that grocery pizza. Pretty rare that I don't take leftover food home, but no thanks to this place.

So we get to University Village, and after wandering around looking for a parking spot and waiting on pedestrians that love to walk in the middle of the lanes, we wandered in and was surprised to get a seat. After all, a good pizza place on a Saturday evening should be busy, no?

After ordering some cheap cheese pizza for the kids, Amy and I settled on a couple pizzas. One was a deep dish "Greek something or other", which is an olive oil base with spinach, mozzarella, and feta cheese. The other was a stuffed pepperoni and sausage.

Both were outstanding, and in true Chicago style, too thick to eat with your hands. I would say Giordano's and Edwardo's are safe from losing their top spot atop the Chicago Pizza Rankings, but this was excellent pizza, good enough that we will be back. Thanks for the recommendation, AJD.

Pacific Northwest Profiles

Pemco Insurance runs some very cute commercials in the area about people of the Pacific Northwest. Some are really hilarious ("... just when you thought nothing more could be piled on top of a Subaru, northwest male action figure proves you wrong...") and definitely have the PacNW types down.

There's a website for all these types, and I don't know if I should be embarassed or proud that I actually fit the description of a couple of them (would be three if I had a ponytail).

And no I'm not "50 degree Shirt's Off Guy". At least not yet.

Now this is creative

Much has been made of Obama's associations and his lack of judgement in those he chooses to associates with. Here's a funny spoof of it. Play the video.

6.06.2008

Gotta have faith

Maybe it was me writing to my two state Senators that did it :) but the biggest single move to socialism since the Great Society has been blocked... for now.

The GOP takes the kid gloves off

Going after Obama right away. Maybe they aren't the wussbags I had pegged them for.

Wonder if that site will call out Obama's supporters... Hamas, FARC, Castro, Ayers, et al. Nice company.

Favorite Pixar Movies

Sitting at lunch, not wanting to open up a spreadsheet, thinking of a simple blog post to throw out there... here it is, my favorite Pixar movies.

5. Toy Story 2. Zurg is cool.
4. Monsters, Inc. The funniest, IMHO, but the plot was not that well put together. Pixar movies have great stories, and this one didn't reach me.
3. Toy Story. I'm inclined to rate this #1 since it broke the mold, but if I were picking out a movie to watch right now it falls to #3.
2. The Incredibles. If I wasn't married and didn't have kids and haven't put on so much weight since college, I probably would not appreciate the humor as much. As it were, this is hilarious.
1. Cars. When I first saw the previews for this, I thought it would be a dud. John Lassiter is amazing.

There. I'm sure you're wishing you had the minute that you spent reading this back.

6.04.2008

What a run

Seventeen straight playoffs, and 22 out of the last 24 seasons (missed in 1990, 1986)

Four Cups since 1997.

Another finals visit in 1995.

Conference finals in 2007, 1996, 1987, 1988.

So basically half the time in the last 20 seasons the Wings have gone to the conference finals, and 20% of the time they win the Cup. Not too shabby.

Thank you Jimmy Delevano for building such a great organization.

Congrats to Dallas Drake and getting a Cup in Hockeytown. Dallas was a favorite of mine in the early 90s.

Congrats to Ozzie for winning his second Cup as a starter.

Congrats to Zetterberg on the Conn Smythe. I figured Sidney "Someone get me a Kleenex I think I'm gonna cry" Crosby would win it given how far NBC has had their collective nose up his ass.

Nuclear explosion caused Chinese Earthquake?

Maybe.

6.02.2008

What a great game

Great games are always to be cherished, no matter whether your team wins or now. The Wings put together a great effort tonight (still tonight on the west coast... hell, it's still early and its an hour after the pens sealed it) only to come up short.

While nobody will put this with the Carolina OT win in 2002 or the March 26, 1997 game against the Avs, this was a great game in a lot of great games in Wings lore. Glad I was able to see it and glad I stayed up through 5.5 periods. The Wings had their chances and never sealed the deal. Oh well, makes the series more interesting I suppose.

The law of averages tells me the wings will win the cup, just a matter of time. If not Wednesday then Saturday.

This game reminded Amy and I of the 1995 game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. Late in the second OT of that game, and just after midnight, Vladimir Konstantinov flicked a puck from the blue line into the Hawk zone, only to have Eddie Balfour mishandle it and the puck dribbled into the net. Our seats were in the club level on the end and right above that goal, and I remember being tired, watching the play, not expecting a shot on goal, happening to look down and see the puck sitting in the net, and thinking "hey, the puck is in the net." And then after a couple of seconds reacting to it along with the several thousand wings fans in attendance.

And by the way, officials, if you're going to swallow the whistle in OT, swallow the whistle. 8 power play minutes for the Pens to 2 for the Wings is utter bullshit. Call it both ways.

And a big F U to KING 5 Seattle who decided to put the game on their sister/same-sex-domestic-partner station KONG in non-ND. We are close to Vancouver, no? Show the damn game on the primary NBC station, would ya?

Looking forward to game 6 Wednesday night.