Sunday, April 24, 2011

Watching Muppets From Space with my girls

One of my all-time favorite movies, perfect for a rainy Sunday.

"I'm not a shrimp, I'm a king prawn!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Flowers

Took a hike up Dimple Hill yesterday. It was pretty eventful. I misplaced Hazel's leash and the keys (while taking off my outer shirt), saw 6 deer, found the keys and leash (whew!), and took some photos of flowers that were starting to show.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Critters on parade

In the paper: Critters on parade

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Earth Day | Procession of the Species

Today was the Procession of the Species, which meant a parade! I've never done one before, and Simone was super stoked to do it. So we threw on the Halloween costume, hopped in the Burley, and walked downtown to check it out.

We got to the farmer's market and really didn't see anyone dressed up - much to our disappointment. But we held out and figured the others would show. Sure enough, over the next half hour we saw more and more costumes. We also saw a bunch of friends from preschool - which excited Simone.

In the Burley with Clifford* (note the purple ears, odd for a Clifford)

After the parade, Simone wanted her face painted like Gracie's, so we did that.
Checking out the handiwork.

We had a great time, and on the walk back it started to rain - three cheers for the Burley! And a train rolled through town, so we stopped to watch that for a while.

A very successful parade, we'll have to do it again next year.

F#@&! U.S. Cellular Companies

A friend gave me his old iPhone, which was great. I'd been thinking about a smart phone for a while, the big thing holding me back was the forced data plan for the 2 year contract. You see, 99% of the time I live in a wi-fi enabled area (either work or home, or most places in Corvallis have free wi-fi) - so why pay $30/month for something I'm not going to use?!

Here was my chance, a free phone (many thanks) that works on my carrier (AT&T), I'm good to go.

I start asking friends for their must-have apps and a couple of them mention that I might want to check with AT&T because they think I might get a data plan added because I'm using a smart phone. So I call up and get a service person who says all the wrong things to me (like, "you need one to use a smart phone" "you can't use a smart phone w/out a data plan" etc. (which are all technically wrong)). I get very frustrated quickly, but have a work meeting in 5 minutes, so I don't have time to go postal on the guy.

I wait a few days and finally call up AT&T again today and I get this calm-voiced woman who says more or less the same thing, but she's a lot smoother about it. The kicker for me (in terms of whether I wanted to try to argue up the management chain or not) was when she said, "I can transfer you to the technical department, but they'll say the same thing. And, you can quote me on this, you will be charged for a data plan on any cellular provider if you're using a smart phone."

Hm.... that kinda took the wind out of my sails. I stay on the phone for a minute or two longer, but the fight is gone. I sit down and google things, and yup, everyone is charging data plans for smart phone users. Some forums have people saying that if your phone is unlocked, somehow, magically you won't be charged, but they don't seem to be able to back it up.

Sigh... looks like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place here. Is it worth it to me to get the minimum plan ($15/month) to only carry around one device? Or do I carry around two?

And I kinda really want/need two pieces of functionality the phone can provide. The first is a calorie tracker that enables me to keep track of food w/out having to dash off to the computer every time I look at a snack. The second is access to my work calendar. For a few years I've been able to get by without running MS Outlook, but work just switched to the latest Outlook, which means the meeting notices are no longer in a reasonable format for my scripts to add to my calendar, and I've gotten several meet times mixed up. The iPhone seamlessly integrates my work calendar and my personal one.

So, I'm kinda hooked (after a whole 5 days).

I'm still pissed off at the situation in the U.S. where the customers have very little power (as opposed to Japan/Europe), but I've come to accept there are some battles that really aren't worth the effort, and I think this is one of them.

The other thing that ticks me off are the rates.

We pay about $80 for 1400 minutes. Ignoring the free weekend and evening calls, that works out to about 12.5 cents per MB of data (assuming skype-like data usage, 60kpbs).

The two data plans offered are $15 for 200MB, which is 7 cents/MB, almost half the cost of the regular phone service. And the $25 for 2GB, which is just over 1 cent/MB. And you know they're making money on the $25 plan...

It just further convinces me that they're charging way more than it costs for the regular phone service, and the data plans charge way too much, but progressively less.

Just think, if they're making money on the $25/2GB plan, then they'd be making money charging me $9/month for the phone plan (that's the same rate).

For years we've had certain aspects of life get cheaper and cheaper. Moore's law has made it possible for us to have hand-held computers storing 100's of gigabytes of data, touch screen displays, etc. etc. Yet the phone service we get still costs the same as always, cable TV still costs the same.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wise Words From Seth Godin

I just read the post Insist on the coin flip, and I think it's completely true. The hardest part will be convincing people (and remembering it myself) to let go of their (my) attachment to knowing there's a "best" decision, even when the differences between the top runners are smaller than they (I) can detect.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fantasy writing

I've been reading a little more in the last year than I have in the 3-4 years before then. Some SciFi and some Fantasy - I did enjoy the fantasy books The Dwarves and Orcs, and have enjoyed the SF books by alastair reynolds.

One question came to mind as I read the fantasy books...
Why don't fantasy books take place in warm climates? Like in jungles or deserts?
Anyway, Brin wrote a little post on The Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy?, which prompted me to ask the question.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Anti Joke

Hilarious web site: Anti Joke

Top "joke" on there is:

What's worse than finding a worm in your apple?

The Holocaust.

hee hee

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Artsy Shots

Some artsy shots from Oswald West.

Beach Party

The Bauerschmidt clan came to visit Oregon for a week, after all, what better place to go for spring break than Oregon! It kind of reminds me when Sam and I went to Cape Cod for spring break. It was cold and mostly shut down.

Luckily, the Oregon coast doesn't really shut down, and it certainly was warmer than Cape Cod.

We started off the 4 day extravaganza by both leaving Portland around the same time. I recommended they stop by Camp 18 for some decent food and a really neat Oregon experience. Mary then had the idea to surprise them there, so we did.

Then off to the beach house we went.

Everyone got along great. Paul and I had all the kids in the minivan, and Mary and Lauren took Hazel in the Subaru. Simone instantly decided she was going to be Elise's shadow - they were like long-lost sisters.

Two years ago we brought Hazel home, so we decided this weekend would be a good one to celebrate her birthday. Everyone made hats out of paper and decorated them. We decorated the house a little bit and wrapped up a present for her.

Mary and the girls whipped up a chocolate chocolate cake which was enjoyed by all, especially with a large bowl of whipped cream and some strawberries. We sang happy birthday, and everyone helped unwrap Hazel's gift.

It took Hazel 5 minutes to find and destroy the two squeakers, and another 3 minutes to rip it apart into what looked like a bunch of purple spaghetti. It was probably the flimsiest toy we've gotten for her.

When we weren't partying, we were reading books.

We did leave the house, it wasn't all parties and reading.

We hung out in the yard, coloring bricks with chalk, running around the house, collecting flower petals and pine cones to decorate the house.

I hadn't been to the cheese factory in ... 12+ years. You used to only be able to see the big vats where the milk turns into curds. That's now done somewhere else, but what you get to see is the 40+ pound blocks of curds wrapped for aging, and 40+ pound blocks of aged cheddar sliced, chopped, bagged and sealed. Very fun.

We also tried Hug Point, but unfortunately at high tide, which meant we couldn't get to the waterfall. Instead we let the kids climb high on slippery rocks. They had a blast.

We later checked out Oswald West, which was as cool as I remember. Huge trees, a suspension bridge (Hazel wasn't so crazy about that), and a pretty little beach.

We had a great time connecting with Lauren, Paul and the kids. We seem to see each other around every 5 years, though this was so much fun we might just have to do this again a little sooner.

When we left, Simone was sad and wanted to head back to the beach house. And, it turns out, Elise was missing Simone a lot, and Evan missed Hazel.

Happy Family

Everone loves hanging out on the sheepskin...

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Beaver Freezer 2011

I finished it, with a time around 1:25.

The swim felt pretty good, about 8m30sec, not too bad since I've only swum twice since my last triathlon (July of 2010). The men had the joy of swimming in Langton pool which has the benefits of a longer run to the transition area, and no lane marker at one end of the lane. Oh, and the side of the pool is a good 20" above the water (meaning you have to haul your tired body out). The two other guys in my lane were a bit faster than me, so I didn't get to draft at all - which means I really did swim the 8:30 on my own, and I felt pretty rested - not dizzy or exhausted.

I was one of the last out of the pool (I'd said I would swim an 8:00 500, oops), and definitely the last one out of the transition area. The temperature outside was a chilly 43 degrees, and a little breezy, but almost sunny - not too bad of conditions.

The ride went pretty well, I passed about a dozen people, most of whom were in my heat, and nobody passed me. There was a bit of a headwind from the west, so it felt like I was barely moving while headed out to Oak Creek, but the trip back into town went smoothly and the sun felt warm on my face.

The run started off fairly well, slow as usual, but not too painful. I was passed by a lot of people, and at one point the fast guys from the heat after me ran by in a blur. The third (and final) lap started off well, but then my left knee began bothering me. I walked for short sections and tried to shake it out. Another guy from my heat caught up to me and was encouraging me as we headed up the slight hill with 1/3 a mile to go. I said I'd see him at the finish line and I took off. The last 1/4 mile actually felt pretty good (though exhausting), and I heard someone catching up to me on the straightaway to the finish, so I picked up my pace and didn't let him pass - so the ending felt great.

On the walk back to the bike a grey cloud came overhead, the rain started coming down - sideways, and it even hailed for about 30 seconds. Luckily I didn't have to race in that.

Now just to wait for the official results...