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2005 (old posts, page 3)

Turkey day

With�a�crisp morning and a subtle fog that lingered until just before noon, today is a holiday. Over the last few years, the idea of Thanksgiving has quickly made its way to near the top of my favorite holiday list. I'm not sure whether birthdays count, but I'm not a huge fan of massive celebration about my own. Christmas has�a lot going for it with its spirit and general sense of warmth on cold days and New Year is always a good opportunity to look both ways.

But Thanksgiving is about taking stock and being thankful for all that we have. My list is my own�but as I give it some thought, it turns out to be rather long.

Oh, and there's turkey too. Lots of turkey. Today, tomorrow and for the rest of the week. Jenna has kindly invited me and Katie for dinner today which I'm certainly looking forward to and tomorrow we set off before dawn for Stehekin.

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Thousands words? Not with a cameraphone's resolution..

Looking back from the cameraphone pictures from the last few months is a great aid to memory. There's some stuff before this too like my parents' trip here in September but more on that later.

View from the Disney World Swan in Orlando in mid-October. The whole trip ended up being very last-minute, booking a flight a couple of days before and taking over the accomodation from a co-worker who sustained a back injury just before the conference and couldn't make the flight.
Doing the demo/details part of the VSLive! keynote suddenly became very real with the issue of speaker's permit and T-shirt. Still, we've been seeing some of the very best of these new technologies so there was certainly no shortage of material.
The first couple of days were spent preparing so I didn't get much opportunity to explore the Disney World. Thursday, Larry and I spent the day at the Epcot Center, taking in the sights, sounds and cuisine in a slightly-smaller-than-life rendition. The Mission to Mars ride was great but I wasn't as impressed with the Test Track.
Time to start hooking up the laptops. With your display up on two twenty-foot screens, mandatory Windows patches and reboots and well as random 'Hello Werthers' IMs (thanks Ed :)) are good reminders that laptops need a little prep before a presentation.
Conference done and a day to kill in Florida. The hotel had run out of rental cars so I headed back to the airport and rented one from there. It's about an hour's drive out to the Kennedy Space Center, complete with little alligators on the roadside. Even on a rainy (but hot!) day, I thoroughly enjoyed touring the history of the space program and the tour up to the launch sites. I had lunch underneath the booster section of the absolutely huge Saturn V that never left earth.
If you really squint at this one, you can make out the 'W' logo in the center of the stage at the Key Arena. Weezer and The Foo Fighters played a great concert; lots of the old favorites and some surprises to boot.
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Homeward bound

Just booked my flights back to the UK for Christmas.�For $800,�fairly reasonable for this time of year,�I'll be spending 30 hours in the delightful company of American Airlines with sightseeing stops at JFK and O'Hare.

Fri 12/16: early departure arriving in Heathrow at 6am Saturday
Tue 12/27: afternoon flight and back in Seattle before midnight

It's been a whole year since I was last home so I'm looking forward to this.

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Xbox 360 envy

The Xbox 360 started 'selling' in stores nationwide today. I took a stroll down to EB this morning to see about picking one up but came back empty handed. I knew the pre-orders were going to get the lion's share but suspected they might have a couple of spares for walk-ins. Indeed they did, but when the retailers force the sale of a $399 console into a $700+tax bundle, I just can't do it.

As a side note, I've found the cause of the splitting headache I've been harboring for the last couple of days. An�hour�after a triple-venti-mocha infusion courtesy of Starbucks after a three day abstinence vanquished any remaining doubt that my taste for coffee is purely casual.

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Snowshoeing at Stevens Pass

For several weeks now I've been itching to see some snow. Given last year's disasterous season (no snow until January!), the mountains have been graced with enough powder for November openings which bodes well for the season ahead. Stevens, Crystal and Baker are all open and I think Snoqualmie either is or will be this week.

Anwyay,�armed with a sale bargain pair of MSR Denali snowshoes, it was time to explore. Snowshoeing is really very simple. You strap the shoes onto some boots (waterproof hiking boots seem to work well) and start walking, placing your feet just slightly wider than you might otherwise. The teeth on the bottom make easy work of icy slopes and the rest is simply choice of destination.

Katie & I headed up to Stevens Pass on�Sunday and found a trail that goes from the parking lot away from the main ski slopes. It's a decent climb for a mile or so up to a repeater station with a great view out into the valleys of the Cascades. Apparently there's a lake to see on the trail too, but we didn't find it and that didn't really matter.

Pictures of Snowshoeing at Stevens Pass.

(Powered by a Virtual Earth super map-o-tron gadget�I wrote yesterday. Use the mouse wheel to zoom, click and drag to pan.)

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Back to the land of normality

"The more we do, the more we can do; the more busy we are, the more leisure we have." -- Dag Hammarskjold

The term 'death march' in software engineering has a number of definitions, depending on where you look. Almost all capture the notion that there's a lot of work to do and too little time, money, resources or all of the above. Not all end in disaster, but given the constraints it's understable to see why so many do. In those cases where success emerges, the satisfaction of the achievement is surpassed only be the knowledge that it is done. More work will surely follow, but the hope that it will do so in a measured fashion shines eternal.

Suffice it to say, the last few months for me have not been without challenges. But as the holiday season starts with Thanksgiving this Thursday, I'm already on vacation and plan to make the very most of this time off.

Plenty has happened over the last few months and here are some of my personal highlights:

Rock on.

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The most magical place in the world

I'm staying at the Dolphin in Disneyworld for a few days while attending VSLive! It's hot here in Orlando (91 degrees) and the humidity is unreal. Woke up early this morning to find condensation on the outside of the windows. I guess it should be no surprise but it was a new experience for me.

Time to work on the slides for Wednesday.

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Heading to the clouds

I've finally booked my 1-hour flying lesson that Katie gave me for my birthday last year. Saturday morning at 10am, I'll be leaving Boeing Field by plane. Can't wait.