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Snowshoeing at Cabin Creek

Despite rain in town, flood warnings for most of the state and heavy snow in the passes, today seemed like a good day to go snowshoeing. Still rising early from the jetlag, I was on the road by nine and although visibility was rather poor on I-90, crossing Snoqualmie Pass was easy enough with a bare roadway and very light snow at the summit. Cabin Creek lies about 10 miles beyond the ski area, at exit 63. There's a convenient parking lot just off the freeway on the other side from the trail head.

My 'stretch goal' was easily defined: hike the 12 km to the top of Amabilis Mountain. Even setting off, I wasn't committed to making the top - it was cloudy and I was feeling lazy. The trail is neatly groomed for a good 3-4 miles for cross country skiing and, if I had the equipment, that would have been a great way to come down. The snowshoes did offer some off-piste action although wading through 18 inches of snow�soon becomes tiring.�According to the GPS, I made it to about 6 km up the trail before turning around, heading back down and home for a rather late lunch.

Pictures of Snowshoeing at Cabin Creek

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Back in Seattle

And like that, ten days have just flown by. It was good to catch up with the family over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and feast to excess, twice. Time at home is always a great way to wind down, do little and generally regain that energy that seems so fleeting during normal life.

My flight back was easy enough despite feeling absolutely exhausted in O'Hare. The jetlag proved useful for once and early rising makes it easy to head off to work just hours after touching down. Redmond is deserted, Seattle is pretty quiet and it's a good time to catch up on (some obscenely) long overdue e-mails.

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Back home proper

I was very impressed with the new Euston-Stoke train. Ignoring the cost (�44 does seem a list excessive for a 90 minute experience), the floating/banking motion does allow the train to move much more quickly (probably 80-90mph) and get from A to B more quickly. And I'm glad to be at B right now.

Home has seen some remodeling over the last year and is looking great. Some things have changed, others remain the same and I suppose that's the beauty of coming back after a long absence.

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More sightseeing in London

More fun with sightseeing at the palace, the Houses or Parliament and�Westminster yesterday. I'll try and post some photos once I get a real connection outside of an internet cafe. (I'm not sure that �1 for 30 minutes is a good deal, but with no connectivity otherwise, it's well worth it).

It was great to meet up with Garan and Sara for dinner and to catch up.

Dave and I are headed back to Stoke together this afternoon on the fancy new high-speed train that only takes an hour and a half. It'll be good�to get home.

Update: Sightseeing in London

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Seeing the sights in London

Arrived safely in Heathrow after a zero-hours-of-sleep flight and met up with brother Dave in Leicester Square for some coffee. The Starbucks juices had their desired effect and after being awake for twenty hours, there was a day of sightseeing to be had.

A quick stop at Dave's place in Clapham and we headed back into the city. Our general goal of finding the London Eye seemed sound but the geography proved a little challenging. Apparently, despite having lived here for a few months already, Dave has yet to stray from his commute to anything elsewhere in this huge city. With my 'vast' experience, some education was in order. From London Bridge we went to have lunch in All Bar One on the Thames followed by walk right the way up past the Tate Modern and over to the London Eye. Given the really cold weather (just above freezing) and no precipitation, the sky was perfectly clear for some great views. With energy starting to fade (plus hours of fresh air), we headed back for a chicken curry and I faded completely after only the first final round of The X Factor on TV.

A few hours was enough. By four am (local) I was wide awake and ridiculously hungry. A stroll down Clapham High Street brought a Sainsburys Local stocked with real bacon, real sausages, real beans and real bread that all made for a fabulous breakfast.

After this quick stop in an internet cafe, we're off to the palace and do some more exploring before we head off to Stoke tomorrow afternoon.

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The trip begins

Off to Seatac for the first leg of my flight home. It's early and cold.

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MSDN Japanese library (MSDN ?????)

Today was the RTM (release to manufacturing) of the Japanese version of Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005. Following the English launches in late October, today represented our second big content push of the year with over 250,000 Japanese documents being published onto msdn2. Lots of hard work, a few close calls and we're well positioned to be rolling out German, Italian, Chinese and several other languages over the next four weeks.

Japanese MSDN2 Library

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Securing the cargo

Yesterday I drove the 20,000th mile in my truck. It's about 18 months old now and I still feel that my pre-purchase research has paid off well. No complaints - I've taken it through snow, sand, dirt, rocks and plenty of miles on the highway and barring one case of engine pinging, there have been no problems. The great service at Ford of Kirkland has to be commended too and maintenance really has been rather simple because of that.

It has to be said, automobiles have changed. While disassembling my first Mini while trying to troubleshoot the loss of power, I certainly learned a lot about the internal combustion engine and its implementation. Apparently, these days it's all quite different - the knocking was fixed with a simple update to the on-board timing computer. I can understand it, I just can't quite believe it. Technology is starting to get away from me.

Anyway, all this to say that I got a new Retrax bed cover installed yesterday. It's low profile and seems to fit really well as well as being�lockable, weatherproof and easy to adjust. Looks good so far.

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A(n improvised) Christmas Carol

Great Unexpected Productions show at the Market Theater tonight: A(n improved) Christmas Carol.

I don't remember the leaky fawcets, nail-biting, hugging, halitosis, putting up Christmas trees in the nude, bike shop ownership or offers to buy peoples babies in Dickens' story, but can be fully confident that tonight's rendition was decidedly unique. Improv is one of the most remarkable performance arts and the Market Theater has been putting on productions every weekend for almost twenty years.

Very funny and highly recommended.