Sunday, January 26, 2014


What can one do to cap off a great kayaking trip? Eat a great lunch....
After kayaking in La Jolla bay, we headed off to meet people for lunch at George's. It came highly recommended and since it was restaurant week, we hoped to be in for something special.
We were not disappointed. The view alone was worth the price of admission. The restaurant sits on a cliff overlooking the ocean. We had clear views of the coast for miles around. As a bonus we got to watch the the life guards use jet skis to drag swimmers out of the giant surf while sea lions danced in the water and laughed.
The food complimented the views. I had a chipotle dusted grilled chicken strips and fries. It sounds like a meal one could get at any joint, but it was at the next level. The chicken was moist and tasty in a way that I didn't know chicken could be. For desert, I had a maple cheesecake that rich, smooth, and just maply enough. The other deserts I tasted included a moist, almost too rich, chocolate cake and a toffee caramel sticky pudding.
Great food, great views, great day!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

With or With Out Whales

Business trips are grueling affairs. Lots of time in airplanes, airports, busses, hotel rooms, and conference rooms. The settings are not designed to promote well being; they are just functional spaces. The time in them are marathon sessions of power point and mediocre movies. The alcohol consumed is a required anesthetic.
The one free day you get has to count. Weeks before leaving I booked reservations for a kayak tour that promised whale watching. I needed something to mask the anticipatory dread of the trip. It sounded perfect. Sun, ocean, sea life and two hours of kayaking.
Yesterday morning, on what turned out to be the best weather day of the trip, I showed up a La Jolla Kayaking. They provided everything for the trip: sit on top kayak, paddle, pfd, guide, and a wetsuit. The equipment was in good shape. It was about what one expects from a tour company in a sunny climate.
There was a surf advisory for the area, but the beach where the tour launched was flat. Apparently, La Jolla cove has a deep water trench that flattens out big swells. To the south we could see big breakers along the shore.
We paddled off the beach and out to the deep water following the kelp beds to the south. The sky and water were clear and we had great views of the coast and the open ocean. We hoped to spot some grey whales. Our guide said that we had a good chance of seeing some. People have been seeing them regularly.
Early on we spotted two pods of dolphins chasing fish. They were small white striped dolphins and looked very cool. We tried to get close to them, but they sped along faster than we could.
After the dolphins, we spent a long time just enjoying being on the water. We kept our eyes open, but saw little save for the scenery. The ocean was providing some nice color as well. You could see the big swells rolling in and sliding past. The periods were long, so it felt like a gentle rocking.
On the return trip, we saw several seals playing in the water. A few times we thought they might be whales, but it was just seals. The seals looked like they were having as much fun as we were.
The trip ended without any whale sightings, but that didn't matter. Spending a few glorious hours on the water under the California sun was more than enough. And that was before lunch..

Thursday, January 23, 2014


2013 felt like a long year that flew past. I guess that is how time goes as you get older. It was a year with some big changes, but no big struggles.
Part of the reason, the year felt long was the constant balancing act between me time and family time. This year I probably weighted things to heavily on the family time side. It is not a complaint. I love family time. H and Bug are my two favorite people and being with them brings me joy. It is just that I also require time alone to kayak, bike, read, or just decompress. Often I feel like I need more alone time than most people and feel guilty about taking it. Then I fear that the guilt will ruin the alone time, so I don't take the alone time. Then I feel a little mad at myself for not taking the alone time and I don't get the regenerative effects. in 2014, I hope to find a better balance.
I had two big changes in 2013: a new job and Bug going to preschool.
The new job has been a generally positive change. I was miserable and bored at Red Hat. It was tough going from being senior and knowing where all the bodies are buried to being a new kid on the block. I had to learn how the new company functions, the politics, and the culture. That on top of doing the job I was hired to do. It is a good change overall. I did learn a few things about myself though. I like flexible work schedules more than I thought I did, I loathe commuting, and I do better working at home than I thought. I know these things because they are the only things I miss about Red Hat.
Bug heading off to preschool was more of a change than I anticipated. She was totally ready to go. I think she was a little bored with day care. For me the change was a reminder that with a child, things are always in flux. It seems like everyday she is a little more independent or has a new skill or is into some new thing. It is great and sad at the same time. She is doing great and that is what is most important.
Our summer was jam packed with travel. We went to Maine, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Florida. Bug is a great traveler and that is a boon for us. She really seems to enjoy camping and kayaking. We got her out a few more times this past summer. The downside of all the traveling is the lack of downtime.
As get older, I am coming to appreciate the value of downtime more and more. Sometimes it is important to have nothing planned and nowhere to go. H jokes that I cannot just sit around for a day and do nothing which is true. I do, however, appreciate the lack of a schedule. I also find that at work, I find it more important to be able to have short days and see my family than be in the thick of things. Relax, be happy.

Friday, January 03, 2014

The Airs

I recently entered the Air realm. In the fall I got a MacBook Air and then for my birthday I got an iPad Air. They are both light, fast, and pretty to look at.
The MacBook Air was, ostensibly, a work purchase. My previous job had spoiled me with a MacBook Pro as my primary computer and my current job insists that writers need an 8 core desktop PC to do their work. I disagreed and took matters into my owns hand. I got the entry level Air with beefed up storage. It is more than powerful enough for basic needs. I haven't tried any hardcore games or video editing, but everything else runs quickly and smoothly. I have played with iMovie and that is as smooth on the Air as it is on my wife's Pro.
The two most impressive things about the Air are the battery life and the speed at which it starts up. The weight is great, but with a name like Air it is expected.
I have run the thing for a full day without charging it and not gone bellow ten percent battery life. These runs didn't involve a lot of video watching or even too much use of iTunes, but the wireless was always on and e-mail, calendar, reminders, and Safari were constantly running.
The start up time is impossibly fast. It is easily less than a minute from shutdown to fully functional. At start up, my Air loads calendar, reminders, and e-mail. From asleep to ready is instantaneous. It wakes up as fast as my iPad or iPhone. That is impressive.
The only drawback to the Air is the limited storage. I am not sure I could use it as a primary computer without running out of space. I have a large iPhoto library and a mid-sized iTunes library. I could currently move everything from iMac to the air, but the air's disk would be over 90% full. I could get away without moving up the music since I have iTunes Match, but I would be uncomfortable.
The iPad Air was actually H's idea. She wanted an iPad, but didn't want to buy a new one. She encouraged me to upgrade so she could inherit my iPad 3. It has been a successful swap. She enjoys the iPad 3 and I got a new lighter and faster iPad. The iPad Air is a lot like my old iPad except that it is much faster. The speed is noticeable between the 3 and the Air. Things on the Air are just smoother. The Air is also much thinner and lighter. The cut in weight has been great. I never got tired holding the 3 for long periods of time, but it was definitely a two hand job. With the Air I can comfortably sit on the couch and read with one hand. It is not a easy to one hand as a mini, but, for me, the extra screen real estate is a good trade off. I'm not so convinced that the extra thinness is a great thing. At first the edges didn't feel great while I was holding it and typing in bed, but I've gotten used to it.
One thing that I have noticed that isn't great about the iPad Air is that the screen occasionally feels plasticy. The two older iPad, and Bug's mini, have more solid feeling screens. It is not that the Air's screen is bad, it just sometimes doesn't feel as lush to the touch.