Monday, December 31, 2007

More Nesting!?

Just when I thought we couldn't nest anymore, we did.

Who knew we had files of crap going back as far as 1989? Who knew that they needed to be purged RIGHT NOW?

After a review of all of our personal files, Steph managed to pile up a stack at least 4 feet tall of old paperwork. Since it all needed to be shredded I set to work. Hours later — the shredder would only run 20 - 30 minutes at a time before overheating and needing an hour to cool down — with less than a 4" stack of papers left in the queue for the shredder the shredder coughed and wheezed and stripped its gears. The shredder will shred no more. So much for my recently new but just out of warranty, 12-sheet, diamond cut, king of all SOHO shredders. I'm now left with a pile of stuff to shred and one more piece of junk to throw out this week.

What else was accomplished? Since Steph was reorganizing files and taking ownership of all of our household paperwork, something I am horrible at dealing with, I decided it was time to reorganize my office again. Add a new bookcase here, organize this pile over here, patch and paint holes in the wall, hang up the art that's been on my floor for months, etc. Of course, I'm still not done, I've got a stack of National Geographic maps that I have no idea what I'm going to do with and I still have to rearrange the books, camera equipment and CDs of various operating systems and software I have collected over the years.

Somehow I have a feeling what we'll be doing on New Years Day! Shredding! Anyone need confetti for a parade?

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Today marks Steph's 27th week and we're both in full-on nesting mode. (OK, more her than me, but I get roped into it!) Over the past few weeks, we've been busily cleaning the nursery, choosing paint colors, hanging ceiling fans and a lot of pre-spring cleaning around the house.

Since we've lived here for almost 4 years now and never had much of a need for the extra bedroom that is now the nursery, there was a lot of extra "junk" that just seemed to pile up in there. All of our mostly-disused CDs, books we'd read, magazines we'd flipped through, the "bag of bags" which provided convenient bags for any and every occasion, empty boxes, files, hiking gear, etc. You name it, that room had it! Much of the junk was thrown out or recycled, however, a significant amount of stuff needed to find a new home. By no means are we cramped in this house, but that meant a lot of reorganizing in the basement. Which means more junk to give away, throw out or recycle!

Collectively we've spent a few days working through our crap. Who knew two people could accumulate so much junk in such a short period of time!?

Now we're down to the fun part. The nursery is getting painted next week and the furniture should arrive sometime in February. We're often asked about the Jewish taboo regarding decorating a baby's room or having a baby shower before the baby arrives. Being that it is just superstition, neither Steph or I feel the need to stop being rational. However, we have agreed to limit what we do in the nursery until after the baby is born. So, we're going for the convenience route. The baby furniture will be delivered and set up in the nursery, the walls will be painted and it will be move-in ready! However, all of the baby clothing, pictures, toys, sheets, etc. are remaining tucked away in the basement until after the baby is born.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My 2007 Travel

This year I decided to track my travel and map out many of the places I have been. While I have been obsessive at times, tracking every restaurant and hotel, I have been lax at others. But this map should give a good overview of the traveling I did this year.

Highlights include:
  • 2 continents (North and South America)
  • The Hawaiian Islands
  • 2 foreign countries (Argentina & Uruguay)
  • 19 states (including OR, MI, WY and MN which I had never visited before)
  • ~60,000 miles on Delta Airlines (still not enough for Platinum Medallion again... damn!)
And since we're closing the boarding door on the last trip of the year... I'm out!

The strangest things...

Last night Steph and I went to the Piercing Experience in Candler Park to get her some new jewelry for her nose. While there, another couple was buying some jewelry too. They didn't fit the usual clientele, being a bit older and pretty "vanilla" looking. So we thought nothing of it... until the following exchange:

Woman (to the piercer): "He's always losing the jewelry in his PA..." (NSFW! Prince Albert)

Me: "That's gotta be hard to do..."

Woman: "He can't keep his hands off his dick. He's always playing with it. So much so that he rubbed the color off of his jewelry! Its a 00 [double-zero gauge] and expensive to replace. The balls are $45/each!"

Me: "I think you'd notice that falling down your pant leg..."

Pierced Man: "No, I have lost them at work, in the grass, everywhere. I never feel it, but I feel naked without it!"

A few things to note...
  • Don't play with your cock so much, you might lose your expensive jewelry. Or rub the color off.
  • People who play with their cock at work deserve to lose their jewelry. And their job.
  • People who have a penchant for playing with their cock (ring), might want to try Loctite to ensure that they don't lose their jewelery. I'd hate to find a stray piece of body jewelry and have to find out where it came from.
  • Even when in a piercing studio, I don't want to know about your cock ring. Keep it between you, your wife/girlfriend/SO and the piercer. Please. If I wanted to know, I'd have asked.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Pix from BA

I found this cool new Web2.0 site called Flickr....

Actually, I've played around with it before, but decided it was time to actually start using it... so here you are.

Pictures from South America

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ultrasound — 22 weeks

Wow, I can't believe we're at 22 weeks already. We couldn't manage to fit in the ultrasound at the usual 20 weeks, that is, before vacation. So we had it today, instead. It was an absolutely crazy experience, especially watching the heart beating and being able to see the four chambers of it clearly, along with fingers and toes.

We did not find out the gender, we're leaving it as a surprise that we'll get sometime in March.

Here's a few images from the ultrasound...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thoughts from Buenos Aires

Random thoughts for the day...

Dead people smell funny. Going to Recoleta Cemetary was interesting, but the freshly dead do have a funny smell in the heat of the day. Yuck.

Uruguay was very cool and we'll need to go back and spend more time there. We'll also be back to BsAs someday, this is one of our favorite places we've ever visited... but we still have a lot of the world to see.

I found some craft beers here in BsAs, I'll be bringing back a few for a tasting sometime in the near future. But for the most part beer in BsAs sucks. Salta Negra was the one exception, though its a bit sweet. Uruguayan beer also sucks.

We're headed to the airport in a few hours and will be back in the ATL tomorrow AM. I'll put together a slide show and a full trip report over the next few days...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Buenas Noches de Buenos Aires, Argentina


Steph and I are in Buenos Aires, Argentina (BsAs to locals) for a week during the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays back in the states. We arrived this morning and spent the day getting acquainted with the city while walking around Puerto Madero, Microcento and Recoleta neighborhoods. So what's caught my attention so far?


Yeah, I'm obsessed with food and drink and this city is great for foodies. The food is good, plentiful and CHEAP! We just had dinner in one of the more upscale restaurants in Puerto Madero, La Caballeriza Puerto (yes, its almost midnight and we just finished dinner... that's typical here!). For the grand total of 120 ARS (slightly less than $40USD) we had a huge meal with more beef than two people should be allowed to eat, potatoes, salad and a bottle of Argentine malbec wine. I really am enamored with BsAs! And a bit tipsy too, since the bottle was mine to consume given Steph's current state.

More pictures and travel notes to come as the week goes on... look forward to stories about dulce de leche, dead people, side trips to Uruguay and yet more Argentinian beef! Just wait until I get a bit of mate in me for that extra caffeine boost before my next trip report!

Off to bed for now, a long day of shopping, sightseeing and eating is yet to come!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Congratulations Lucy!

Lucy passed her Canine Good Citizen test last night! While my wife had no faith in our daughter (well, OK, neither did I!) because she's been acting like a canine bad citizen lately, she managed to put on a good show last night and actually passed her test. Now both of the dogs have CGC certificates.

Yay Lucy!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Leopard & Stacks

Stacks are a cool new feature of Leopard when used in the dock. However, the implementation leaves something to be desired, since it isn't clear which directory the stacks belong to. Until now! These neat little icons serve as an overlay to give a container like appearance in the dock, making the stacks more visually appealing and a bit more intuitive.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Foundstone Blogging

It's back! Some of the FS gang have started blogging again through official McAfee channels. Check it out here (or better yet, see the Foundstone-only archive here).

It may be a few days before this sees any action, so be patient!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Compact Power Strip

My buddy Cameron has recently moved back to Atlanta and started doing quite a bit of travel for work. He tipped me off to a very compact power strip, ideal for airports like Newark where there are plugs, but they are always occupied. Now with mini-power strip in hand I'll be able to convince folks to share their electron stealing with me when I'm in need of a bit of juice in the laptop.

Thanks Cam!

Friday, October 12, 2007

To the rude SOB in seat 35F on DL1561...

When you walked past me sitting in seat 34C, you were chewing a mint. As it came flying out of your open mouth landing on me — didn't anybody teach you to chew with your mouth closed? — perhaps you could have said "Excuse me" or some other pleasantry, instead of "Oops" and ignoring the fact that I'm now stained by your saliva and half-chewed mint.

Oh maybe I'm just over sensitive to being assaulted with someone's half-chewed food...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ziplining in Kaua'i

Here's a few movies from my camera (yeah, the quality is questionable... deal with it!) from ziplining in Kaua'i. All of these are QuickTime movies from ~15 - 25MB each:

Carrie ziplining #1

Carrie ziplining #2

Mike ziplining

Me ziplining. This on was taken from my perspective as I went down the line... not for those who may get motion sickness. That means you, Steph.

I can't wait to try this again. With a high-def video camera... ;-)

Applet Security

Alex has written one of the clearest explanations I have seen to date of the applet security model. I was previously mistaken in some of my thoughts on this issue. Alex set me straight yesterday during a (virtual) work conversation (mmmm, Skype) and blogged about it to make sure everyone else understands it too.

Read it here: A Brief History of Applet Security

Monday, October 08, 2007

Kaua'i Hike for Discovery Trip Report

Kaua'i Day 1

This was our first full day on Kaua'i. The phrase of the day was jet lag. Yuck. The animal of the day (week?) is the chicken. Wild chickens are everywhere on Kaua'i, ensuring that you can never go hungry if you are smart enough or fast enough to catch one of these birds.
Kayaking the Wailua River

We woke up early to drive to Kapa'a on the eastern shore of Kaua'i for a kayak tour up the Wailua River to Secret Falls. We met up with our guides at Wailua Kayak Adventures. Unfortunately, they give some seriously craptacular directions. Even though I asked numerous times for an address I was repeatedly told I couldn't have one. Instead, I got "We're at the north end of Kapa'a town behind Movie Tours." Well that's great and all, but I have no idea where that is either. So of course we got a bit lost on the way yesterday morning. I called them and told the owner where we were and got new directions. "We're just before the last building on the north side of Kapa'a." That's great and all, but I don't know if I am at the last building until I pass the building... argh. We did eventually find it, however.

We headed out to the river with our kayaks and guide, Cole. There were a few other couples on the trip for a total of 8. I was actually quite lucky not to have to share a kayak with another single guy on the trip, I had my own solo kayak, which was quite a lot of fun.
Carrie & Jerry
Kayaking the Wailua River
We hopped in the kayaks headed out up river toward the falls. Paddling upstream is pretty easy, the trade winds are at your back pushing you upstream making the upstream trip pretty low effort. I did have a bit of trouble getting used to the kayak and getting it to travel straight upstream. I guess I was padling harder on the right, my dominant side, than my left, ensuring the kayak tended to turn left as I paddled upstream.

After an hour of so of easy paddling we reached the landing point where we began our hike. We waded across a muddy part of the river and followed a trail for a mile along the river to the falls. The trail itself is an old aqueduct built to flood the taro fields that once occupied this part of the island. Along the way you could make out old stone walls and parts of an old community that has long since been abandoned and overgrown with trees bearing tropical fruit which littered the ground around us. Cole was full of information about the local area, plants and animals which made the hike enjoyable, even in soaking wet Keens! In about a mile we reached the (not so) Secret Falls where we stopped for a little bit to eat, pictures and swimming in the pool at the base of Secret Falls before hiking back to the kayaks.
Nice cock!
On the return trip down river, the wind and currents were not in our favor, making the downstream paddle much more difficult. Not to mention Jerry's antics trying to ram my kayak with his... After an hour or so of paddling we reached the marina and ended our trip. This part of the trip was exhausting, but fun anyway. I thought I might have a little soreness the next morning since I'm not used to using these muscles and I haven't been to the gym in a few weeks due to travel for work. Thankfully it wasn't too bad, just a a bit tight in the shoulders.
(Not So) Secret Falls

We then headed to the center of Kapa'a for lunch at Mermaid's Cafe. Mermaids Cafe is nothing more than a tiny little lunch window where we picked up some nice fresh food. I had a burrito in a spinach wrap with brown rice, seared ahi tuna and cilantro pesto. Along with a few local beers, it was a good meal. Yummmmmmmmy!

Back to the hotel for for a few drinks and a pretty early night...
Kaua'i Day 2

Jerry overlooking the
Pacific Ocean
Awa'awapuhi Trail

This was supposed to be the day to sleep in. I slept in until a very late 5 AM. Woot. Jet lag. The next three hours of so were spent catching up on email, making calls and a quick trip to the beach for views of the sunrise. Unfortunately, the cloud cover ruined that plan for me. Oh well...

Jerry and Carrie managed to get their slack asses out of bed at 8 AM, so we didn't even head out toward the trail until around 10 AM. We drove across the southern end of Kaua'i toward the Waimea Canyon before driving up Waimea Canyon Road to the head of the Awa'awapuhi Trail in Kokee State Park for a hike toward the coast.
Carrie & Jerry
Awa'awapuhi Trail
The trail itself descends 1600' from the trail head to the lookout point at the end of the trail over 3.25 miles, for a 6.5 mile round trip hike. At the lookout you are about 3000' above sea level, with cliffs quickly descending down into the valleys below and to the Pacific Ocean. The trail itself was very nice with spectacular views of the cliffs along the coast, beautiful foliage, including lantana, guava and java plum trees. We stopped and picked some guava on the way down for a nice fresh fruit treat before stopping for lunch at the end of the trail. I've never been on top of cliffs like these before. From the cliffs you can see the ocean and sea birds. But instead of looking up to see the birds, you had to look down and view them from above! Of course, there were chickens there on the cliffs which tried to share our lunch with us. The locals tell us the only place you don't find any of the chickens is in the KFC parking lot. ;-) There were also plenty of the state bird of Hawaii: helicopters. (Yes, every guide we met all week shared the same joke. So I have to share it with you, dear readers.) They buzzed up and down the coast and into the valleys in a constant stream disturbing what should have been a pleasant, quiet hike.
The end of the trail...
Awa'awapuhi Trail

Heading back up to the car, I bonked (i.e. ran out of energy) and struggled back up the 3+ miles to the car. A combination of jet lag and eating poorly over the previous days had finally caught up to me. Slowly but surely we ascended to the trailhead, just in time for a strong downpour. The cool rain sure did feel good after a warm, sunny hike!

After we hopped back in the car to drive back to Poipu beach, where we were staying, we caught sight of a rainbow over the canyon. This is now becoming a regular occurrence, we saw rainbows both days of the trip and more would come in the next few days. Tired and hungry we headed to Puka Dog in Poipu. Puka Dog is a local Hawaian-style hot dog stand. The menu is limited to dogs, chips and lemonade, but the food was great.
The end of the trail...
Awa'awapuhi Trail
Basically, you choose a hot dog, Polish or vegetarian, how hot you want the lemon & garlic sauce, mild, hot or volcano, and one of their island-style relishes such as mango, papaya and star-fruit. The grilled dog and sauces are stuffed into a large, fresh bun which has had a hole poked into the center to accomodate everything. To borrow a phrase from Rachel Ray, "yummo!". (Wow, I can't believe I just wrote that... or even *thought* to right that.) I have never seen three people shove hot dogs in their mouths so damn quickly... we knew we were hooked from the first bite. For the record, I had the Polish dog, volcano lemon & garlic sauce and mango relish. Hell yeah, that's some good shizzle... We then headed back to the hotel for some early evening drinks with some of our teammates and LLS staff before another early night to bed.

Kaua'i Day 3

Coming in for
a landing

Another bright and early morning, I'm up by 5:30 to meet Carrie and Mike for a drive to the north end of the island. We're going zip-lining in Princeville, about 90 minutes from our hotel. We meet our guides at Princeville Ranch Adventures, get suited up in a climbing harness and a stupid looking helmet before hopping in the Pinzgauer for a quick drive up the road to the zip line course. Over the course of 4+ hours we traversed 8 zip lines and a suspension bridge. The longest of the lines is well over 600' in length and 150'+ above the river valleys below. Even though it rained off and on through the day, it was a great time! Of course, there are some interesting tales to tell.

First, all participants must be under 280 lbs. There were two large women in our group who were probably pushing that limit. No big deal, right? WRONG. The tour states all participants should be in good physical condition. These ladies were anything but in good physical condition. If you are unable to walk up an uneven flight of stairs or stand up from a nearly seated position when landing, you probably shouldn't be on the tour.
Carrie taking off...

One of the ladies was particularly inept at the zip line. A mistake we all made the first time around was to jump before reaching the end of the platform and before the line caught and supported your weight. If not timed correctly, the line would dip enough that you could land on your ass on the platform before zipping down the line. I did this, once, but I didn't slam my ass on the platform. On the second line we were warned again. "Walk down the steps and on to the dirt at the bottom of the platform..." The goal is to walk down until the line catches you and supports your weight, suddenly you won't be able to touch the ground and you'll take off down the line. On this line we were warned the consequences of failing to walk down far enough were meeting "The Violator", a root sticking out of the ground which would violate your nether regions if you hit bottom...

What do you know, our large friend jumped from the step above the ground and landed ass first on the violator and the ground, covering her ample bootie in red Kauaian dirt. This pattern would continue, again and again, for all 8 lines. Her ass must have been in some serious pain from all of the abuse it took from the various platforms and stairs that she should have walked down, but bounced her ass down instead. Ouch.

Her landings weren't much better, either.

(Don't take this the wrong way, I know people are in various levels of physical condition and ability and some of these conditions are beyond their control. But you know your limits. If the event you are taking part in requires some basic level of physical fitness and this is outlined in the promotional materials, perhaps you should think twice before taking part next time...)

After a quick stop at Hilo Hattie's for some shopping and another stop at Puka Dog (Yay! Polish w/ volcano and papaya relish) we head back to Poipu for the HFD inspiration dinner. Due to weather, the dinner is moved inside to a ballroom. Good thing too! The rain was coming down in buckets as one of the speakers desciber her own fight with blood cancer years earlier before describig her brother's more recent fight against solitary melanoma which was found as it weakened his spine, crushing it and making him paraplegic. Her message was to spend the next day placing "one foot in front of another" and thinking about her brother who can no longer do that due to melanoma. I cried like a baby during her speech, it was extremely moving to me and the entire crowd of HFD participants. The next day, when the going got tough, I found myself reminding myself to put one foot in front of the other and repeat, while thinking how lucky I am to be able to do so while so many cannot.

Back to the room I packed my hike bag for the next day's adventure and went to bed with a 4:45 AM wake-up call.

Kaua'i Day 4
Kukui Trail

04:00 — Wake-up time! That must be Steph calling... hey, wait, its Delta Airlines?! I got an upgrade on a flight next week. Yay. Hey Delta, you flew my ass out here, shouldn't you know roughly what time zone I am in since you're flying me home, too? Bad Delta, no cookie. I tell Mike and we both fall asleep again.

04:13 — Wake-up time! Damnit, another upgrade call from Delta.

04:45 — Wake-up call/alarm/etc. Finally the right time to get up. 04:45. As Adrian Kronauer said, "What's the O stand for? Oh my God its early!" After a quick clean-up, I throw on my hike clothes, check the pack one last time to make sure I have all the water and food I'll need for the day along with two cameras (man, I'm a geek). I head down to the lobby to meet our guide, Bobby, and the hikers from the SF Bay Area and Silicon Valley for the drive up to the trailhead.
Waimea Canyon
Kukui Trail
We're hiking the Kukui Trail down from the canyon rim to WiliWili camp (2.5 miles, 2300' elevation change one way) before following the Waimea River northward on the west bank, crossing the river and folloiwng the east bank up Poomau Stream, one of two tributaries (the other is Waiahulu) which merge to form the Waimea River. The goal for the day is Lonomea camp on Poomau Stream.

We hit the trail just before 7 AM, following a red dirt path as it quickly descends through various levels of vegetation, including some larger trees like silk oak and silver oak, along with smaller brush, like lantana. We find some wild java plums on the trail and try a few. They are very tart and slightly astringent, but refreshing since they don't taste like water or any of the other items in my pack. The vegetation on the trail thins, providing less cover as we descend.
Kukui Trail

The trail is rough, much less maintained that the trails I have hiked in Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and around Georgia. Its clear that people try to maintain the trail, but the constant rain and erosion makes it difficult to be effective and forces rerouting of the trail. In parts, the trail is strewn with scree (loose rock) which slows down our progress as we carefully step through, trying not to twst an ankle. I slip a few times here, planting a hand in the red dirt while trying to tay upright and not take out my team like stacked dominoes. Slowly we make our way down the ridge line and switchbacks carved into the walls of the ridges until we come to a large wash where the effects of wind and rain are most obvious. A steeply descending part of the trail across red dirt with many large veins carved out by the water flowing downhill strewn with rocks large and small, and loose, large grained sand continues for perhaps .5 miles until we reach a large stand of trees and vegetation further down in the canyon.

We enter the tree cover and continue descending toward Wiliwili Camp surrounded by various oak trees and fruit trees bearing guava and passionfruit, which our guide picks and saves for later. We also begin to identify a number of sisal plants which look like oversized agave plants that came straight of out of Jurassic Park.
Waimea River
Kukui Trail
(JP was filmed on the island of Kaua'i, so its no doubt that there are some similarities.) Eventually we reached Wiliwili Camp. Users of this camp site have left it in deplorable condition with trash strewn everywhere. Beer cans, water bottles, food cans, random pieces of clothing, etc. were all over the camp site. It really pisses me off to see people abuse their environment like that and take away its natural beauty which others can no longer see. They need to learn the principles of Leave No Trace. We clear out of Wiliwili camp quickly and start heading up river where we meet our first challenge of the day: crossing the Waimea River.

I knew this was coming and wasn't particularly concerned, though it was the first time I had to cross an unknown stream. Our guide, Bobby, had done the crossing earlier in the week and reported the water to be waist deep, it was a bit higher on me since I'm quite a bit shorter than him! I threw my small camera and some other gear in the little dry bag I carry, place my large camera toward the top of the pack, kicked off my shoes and socks and tied them securely to my pack before stepping into the water. Bobby had already helped one of the smaller women on our team (she couldn't be more than 5' tall and 90# soaking wet) across.
Waimea River
Kukui Trail
I decided to ford the stream alone, using my trekking poles for support and to help me find footing on the river bottom. Three steps into the river and I trip on a rock, nearly falling into the river unceremoniously. I say nearly becuase my poles saved me from doing more than just dunking the bottom few inches of my pack into the water, everything important remained dry. *whew* Once on the other side I got a chance to take some pictures of the river and some of the people crossing after me, cheering them on. After getting back into my dry boots — but still in wet clothing — it was time to continue up river through the canyon forest toward Lonomea camp. We traveled a mile or so upriver before stopping at the Hipalau camp for lunch. Due to time we were forced to turn around here instead of continuing another mile or so upstream to the Lonomea camp which was the original goal for the day. Here we sat down, ate lunch and a few pieces of guava and passionfruit that we had collected along the trail during the inbound hike. There is nothing better than freshly picked fruit collected trail-side!

Back upstream, we do everything in reverse. The river has started moving a bit more swiftly at this point, making he river crossing a little more difficult, but we all manage to cross without incident. As we pass Wiliwili camp the trail begins the ascent to the top of the canyon. While normally I'd rather hike under tree cover because its cooler, in this case the hiking was hot and steamy. The on and off rains along with our soaking wet clothing made this section of the hike very, very steamy.
Mike & Bobby
Kukui Trail
I felt like I was hiking uphill in a large sauna, not the most pleasurable of circumstances. When we finally broke out into the sun I was a happy man. Finally my clothes could have a chance to dry off and there was a nice canyon breeze to keep us cool. Now we had to look for shade where we could find it along the trail, but the trade-off was well worth it! Slow and steady, one foot in front of the other we asended the walls of the canyon. Bands of rain showers came through the canyon, providing us with a cooling mist and brief respites from the hot tropical sun. As we ascend, I noticied significant changes in the look of the canyon in the early afternoon sun. In the moning, the light was strongly filtered through a low haze. Now, the light was strong and direct, bringing out the beauty of the canyon walls and making the colors, reds, greens, blue skies and more muted tones in the rock walls begin to pop visually. In just a few hours the entire canyon looks like a different place, just because of the position of the sun. Wild...

Further up the canyon, standing on a ridge line we get a good blast of rain and wind that feels wonderful, nice and cooling. Turn and look back into the canyon and we see a rainbow stretched out below us, running north to south in the lower parts of the canyon. By far, this was the best view of the day! We've been seeing rainbows daily, more often than not 3 or 4 a day, but this was one of the strongest I have seen all week long. One last big push forward and we work our way past the "Speedo and Crocs" crowd hiking down into the canyon (yes, seriously. Bannanna hammocks and Crocs are not really appropriate for hiking...) We all pop out of the canyon around 3:30 PM for a snack of fresh Hawaiian pineapple and some sports drinks, before heading to the car and back down to the coast. Round trip, we did ~9 miles &mdashl I'm still looking for better information on the length of the hike.
Me and a Hau Bush
Kukui Trail

On the return trip to the hotel we drop in on Jo-Jo's Shave Ice for a cold, sweet treat. Think sno-cones with pan-Pacific flavors. I had a shave ice with lychee and mango syrups and azuki beans (the base of red bean icecream). I figured I'd get a little protein with my sugar water. ;-) We get back to the hotel where I take a quick shower to get rid of the red dirt covering me from head to toe and then head down to the beach for a quick dip in the ocean. I've been in Hawaii since Tuesday, its now Staurday and I am just now making it to the beach. There is something seriously wrong with that!

Another quick shower to get rid of the sand I have collected and then we're off to the Mission Celebration dinner. Some numbers for you:
  • This weekend 70 hikers in Kaua'i have raised a total of over $400,000!
  • This season, HFD participants from around the US have raised to date over $2,500,000!
  • In the past 2.5 years/5 seasons of HFD (I've now participated in 3 of the 5 seasons!) over $12,500,000 has been raised!

These are amazing numbers which make a difference in the life of patients dealing with blood cancers evey day.
Waimea River
Hipalau Camp

On a sadder note, this will be my final season with Hike for Discovery for a while. With our first child arriving in March, I'm not going to be able to participate again next year. I'll certainly be around and helping out on occassional hikes with the team, but I won't be able to dedicate the amount of time I have in the past 18 months to the HFD program and LLS. Once Steph and I get into a rhythm with the baby I'll be back.

For those who continue with HFD in the future: HIKE ON!
Heading back up...
Kukui Trail

Kukui Trail

Waimea Canyon rainbow
Kukui Trail

Sunday, October 07, 2007

On the way home...

We're sitting in the airport in Lihue waiting for the long flight home... the hikes were great and Hawaii was tons of fun. Pictures and a full trip report coming soon...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Random thoughts from the road...

I'm in Salt Lake City right now, sitting in the Wasatch Brewing Co. bar drinking a Polygamy Porter. You can't have just one. ;-)

I'm on the way to Hawaii for a few days of vacation without the crazy pregnant one. OK, so she's not crazy, but pregnancy does strange things to a woman. And she was the one who decided not to join me in Hawaii...

I'm really on the way to Hawaii for the Hike for Discovery fall season. We have a small team going to Kaua'i this week for Saturday's hikes around the island. I'm meeting Jerry (HFD team coach) and his wife this afternoon in Kaua'i for a few days of fun before the big HFD weekend. I'll be hiking the Kukui trail down into Waimea Canyon, more details on that soon.

I've been on the road a lot lately for both work and pleasure which always results in some humorous experiences. The best one of note recently was in NJ. Jeremy and I were staying in Harrison, NJ for the week doing consulting for one of our clients in the Jersey City area. Unfortunately all of the hotels in and around Jersey City were booked, so we were scraping the bottom of the barrel for a decent hotel. The Hampton Inn in Harrison, NJ qualifies as the bottom of the barrel due to its location and the fact that its inconvenient to everything. So we took the hotel shuttle a lot to get to the train station, dinner, etc. On our last night in NJ, we called the shuttle to pick us up from dinner in the Ironbound district in Newark. After being picked up, the driver picked up a guy in a suit from Penn Station. Let the fun begin.

Jeremy engaged the guy in a conversation. Lo and behold, he's a security consultant! (Gee, I sure am glad *I* don't have to wear a suit!) So we start chatting and ask him about his work. While I don't remember the exact conversation, it went something like this:

Us: What kind of work do you do?
Suit: Security consulting. Penetration testing, SDLC (software development lifecycle) work, software security, policy work, etc.
Us: Interesting, we also do SDLC work... Are you a developer?
Suit: Oh no. Accountant.

(At this point, Jeremy and I shoot each other looks of WTF??)

Us: So, uh, when you say software security, do do do code reviews? Threat modeling?
Suit: Threat modeling? No, I don't get down to the packet layer.
Us: What about your SDLC work?
Suit: Oh, well we tell people how to push code to production environments...

The conversation went on like that for a few more minutes before we got back to the hotel. When we were in the clear, Jeremy and I had a good laugh at Mr. Suit and his "packet layer" comments. Threat modeling is a method of analyzing a software system as an attacker thinks about it, outlining his goals and enumerating the manner in which he can achieve his goals. Specifically, we look for threats against the system, mitigating strategies, and vulnerabilities exist where threats don't have mitigating strategies in place. I've never had to "get down to the packet layer" when dealing with threat modeling on most software systems, so I'm not sure what he thinks we were talking about. (Yes, I can see where this would be useful if threat modeling a network protocol, but most of my TM work is at a higher level using standard network protocols like HTTP, for instance.)

I'm not sure who you work for, Mr. Suit, but this is why accountants don't make good software security consultants. If you don't understand developing code, and you don't understand working in a development environment, its a pretty good bet that you're not going to be too successful at doing SDLC consulting... unless you're only writing policy about who gets to push code to production...

Buyer beware... not all consultants and consulting firms are equally capable of doing software security work. Especially if their consultants are accountants!

Monday, October 01, 2007


I guess it is a bit odd that I never really learned how to type. Oh I am fast. And accurate (sorta). But I only use 3 fingers with any regularity.

I need to learn to touch-type QWERTY. Yeah, Dvorak is cool, but the reality is most keyboards I encounter will be QWERTY, not Dvorak. So how does a geek go about finding a good way to relearn how to type like a normal human?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Favorite Software: Keyword Manager

Like most people, I have a pretty large cache of photos in iPhoto. 7000 and counting. I need a way to organize them and the iPhoto keywords always left me feeling as if something was lacking.

Along comes Keyword Manager. This is tagging for iPhoto at its best. Slowly but surely I am making it through my old photo libraries adding tags for easier searching. The tags are hierarchical, meaning when I assign a picture a tag for me, it also inherits the tags of My Family, Family and People, allowing for later searching by different scopes, if you will.

West Coast Trip - Part II

Whew, finally got around to finishing this...

June 19, 2007

A lazy day walking around San Francisco following the Barbary Coast Trail. We did manage to get over the Haight-Ashbury (what do you mean there is a Gap in the Haight Ashbury!?). Drinks at the Tornado with some amazing sausages from next door. We're tired and head back to Jen & Howard's early to watch TV and pass out.

June 20, 2007

We spent the morning driving to the Tenaya Lodge, just south of Yosemite National Park. Nothing exciting to report. After dinner with the HFD teams from around the US and a meeting with our trail guides, we head to bed. Early.

June 21, 2007

3:00 AM — Yes, that's a wake up call. Oh hell its early. I have to meet the team in the lobby for a departure at 3:30 AM to head into the park. Its an hour long drive to the trail head. A few more hours of sleep would be quite welcome.

Steph's first view of Half Dome from the Panorama Trail
We're on the trailhead at dawn's first light. For this trip we're hiking up the Mist Trail past Vernal Falls and Nevada falls and then meeting the Half Dome trail for the remainder of the outbound leg. The Mist Trail is a steeper ascent than the John Muir Trail, but it shaves off more than a mile of hiking. The first major climb of the day is at Vernal Falls where we ascend a few hundred stone steps to the top of the falls. The trail is pretty steep and one of my teammates was having trouble on this first climb. I handed her a Hammer Gel (energy gel) which she promptly slurped down and kicked her butt back into gear for the rest of the day.

Climbing Nevada Falls

After Vernal Falls the trail continues along the river toward Nevada Falls. More. Stone. Steps. Yuck. The morning is uneventful as we reach the top of the falls, stop a short break at the restrooms and a bit to eat. So far, the views have beeb incredible. As the sun rises higher in the sky and the clouds burn off it turns into a really nice morning. For the next 2 miles or so the trail is on pretty level ground, but it has become quite sandy, making the hiking a little more challenging. We stop at the final "bathroom" of the hike outbound, its little more than some eco-friendly portapotties built in the woods. I'm feeling great and ready to tackle the rest of the hike up to Half Dome.
Or maybe not. 20 minutes more hiking and I'm sick. Wanting to puke on the side of the trail sick. After an extended rest out in the woods, a few hundred feet off the trail I get my shit together and start hiking again. Slowly. John, one of my teammates, and Sam, our guide, walk with me as I slowly get myself back together. I'm not sure why I'm having issues today, but its definitely not making this section of the hike pleasant. As we approach mid-day, the elevation increases and we become more exposed to the sun as the trees thin and we start to get a good view of Half Dome. Holy crap, I can't believe I am about to climb this thing.

Quarter Dome (forground)
Half Dome (background)
Note the people walking up the switchbacks on Quarter Dome

When people discuss hiking Half Dome there are really two things that stand out: The switchbacks up to the top of Quarter Dome and the cables up to the top of Half Dome. The cables were nerve wracking, this is before I even saw them up close. Switchbacks are just something to climb. But I've never seen switchbacks like these. Carved into the side of Quarter Dome, the switchbacks cling to the side of the rock, snaking up above most of the trees, covered in small pieces of granite that has come off Quarter Dome. These little pebbles are like ball bearings under foot. Be careful...

John, coming up the switchbacks
I'm afraid of heights, but I usually manage to keep it under control. Not today. Just climbing the switchbacks, crowded with people in both directions, I was getting nervous. I kept thinking, "How in the hell am I going to manage to climb DOWN this stupid thing?!" Every time I looked back down the stairs toward my teammates I realized how quickly we were ascending. My heart was racing, a combination of altitude — I was at sea level ~24 hours ago and we're hiking at over 8000' MSL — and my own fears being tweaked. Hard. I don't think I'd have been so concerned if I knew and trusted everyone in my general vicinity. But all these strangers moving around me made me nervous... I couldn't wait to get to the top for a quick lunch break before tackling the final climb...

Finally! We get to the top of Quarter Dome, just below the cables and the peak of Half Dome. Hell yeah! Time for food, at least whatever I can force myself to eat. Nothing in the pack is looking good right now, so I stick to a protein shake — I mixed up the powder into a spare Nalgene bottle — and some trail mix. The whole team is here, ready to make the final climb, so we head over to the cables.

HOLY SHIT! There is no way I am climbing up THAT!

The Cables

The line is 100+ people deep to even approach the cables. On the cables there are probably 30 - 40 people climbing up the ~600' to the top of Half Dome. And its taking them each ~1 hour to make the climb, due to the traffic moving up and down. While I previously swore I was going to go it without any safety harness, my fears win out. I strap a harness around my waist to give me a little extra confidence... Of course, the harness is nothing more than some stout rope looped around my waist with a carabiner used to clip on to the cables as I go up the rock.

Unfortunately, the pictures don't really show the cables too well, so let me describe the scene. As you approach the base of the cables you'll see a pair of cables anchored to the granite with ~1 yard between them. Every 10 feet or so there is a pair of poles mounted perpendicular to the rock which supports the cables, holding them ~1 yard off the rock. Spanning between the gap horizontally between the poles is a 2X4 which provides solid footing as you reach each pole. The cable itself is approximately 1/2" in diameter made of twisted steel, much like what you'll see anchoring a telephone pole to the ground. This will hurt your hands if you don't have gloves, so most people climbing Half Dome bring gloves for the final ascent. (Honestly, even with gloves it was a painful experience). Generally people climb up in between the cables, ascending on the right and descending on the left, however, some people choose to climb on the outside of the cables which is reported to have better footing, due to the rock surface not being smoothed as much by people's boots.

Climbing the cables

I've been standing around for an hour or so watching people climb the cables ahead of me. My heart is racing. I've watched too many water bottles, cameras and all kinds of other crap fall from people's packs and bounce down hundreds of feet before falling out of sight and heading into the valley below. Holy shit.

I walk up to the cables and clip my carabiner on the cable. I'll do this another 50+ times each direction. Sam, one of our guides, is directly behind me, urging me on. Did I mention I really don't like heights? The fall off the face of Half Dome is quite a long way down and people have died doing this. In fact, someone died the weekend before. Why do people keep mentioning that?

We start walking up. I'm grabbing the cable with all of my might and trying to find good footing. Standing on the face of this rock, hanging on and trying not to slide downward is actually quite difficult when you may not move for minutes at a time. Especially with people descending the cable directly to my left, brushing past me, bumping backpacks and scaring the crap out of me each time. About 50 feet up the cables I quit. Well, I tried to. I turn back to Sam and tell her that there is no way I can do this. She tells me I can. Damn, if she can do this, so can I. Right? RIGHT? I "nut up" and keep heading up the cables. Every pole that I pass I need to stop and rest. My heart is racing, my adrenaline is pumping and I am starting to feel that we're at almost 9000' abouve sea level, making breathing more difficult than I'm used to. After almost an hour we have climbed the cables and walk on to the top of Half Dome. WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO!

On Top!
I collapse on top of Half Dome, grab a drink and take a look around me. I don't want to talk to anyone. I just want to look at everything around me and put out of my mind the fact that in less than an hour I'm going to have to do it in reverse as I climb back down. Going up is optional. Going down is mandatory!

After lots of pictures we head down the cables and the switchbacks for the ~10 mile hike back to the trailhead. This par of the hike is uneventful, except for the searing pain in both of my big toes. Every step is painful for the last 4 of 5 miles, and I cannot wait to get back to the hotel. More than 12 hours after we began we return to the trailhead, hop on a bus and head back to Tenaya Lodge.

While I should be hungry, and I am certainly ready to drink to beers I picked up at Russian River a few days earlier, I find that my body refuses to allow me the pleasure of either. A few sips of beer. A few small bites of food. I can't put anything else in my body. Steph forces me to drink a protein shake — almost 20 miles of hiking and I've hardly eaten all day... this is not a good thing — and then we head to bed. Thankfully its over.

In retrospect, this was the dumbest thing I have ever done. Seriously crazy. Stupid. Possibly deadly, although not very likely. Exhausting. Painful.

I can't wait to do it again. When are we going back to Yosemite?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

States Visited

A quick update... I've been in 39 states now... 11 to go!

Random Pix

A few random pix for the day....

I sure do look happy to be entering Wyoming...

Possibly a bad sign when
found in the building where you'll be spending the whole week...

A bad picture of my new ergonomic office

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ergonomic Office

I've been dealing with tendonitis in my right arm on and off for 10+ years now, since I started programming full time and left my cushy grad school gig. ;-) I have tried to maintain some some of ergonomic office for the past 10+ years in order to prevent further aggravation of my right arm. And I happen to be working through a particularly bad bout right now with lots of visits to the chiropractor and ice. Lots of ice.

Long story short, I now have a pretty damn cool set up at home thanks to an acquaintance. I'm now sporting a whole lot of cool gear, including a chair, monitor arm and keyboard and mouse tray, from Humanscale. I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time in the updated home office!

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Rabbit Died

Well, it is time to come out of the quiet period. The rabbit died, Steph is knocked up and we're having a baby. Steph's almost 12 weeks and she's due on 3/29/2008.

Holy shit, what did I get myself into here?

So, if you were wondering about this, it was a reference to one of the Dixie Chick's difficulties in conceiving and having to go through IVF to have children. We too went through 2.5 years of trying to get pregnant, including various fertility treatments and 3 rounds of IVF. Turns out the IVF was completely unnecessary and that our doctor didn't know her ass from her elbow. Let's just say that evidence based medicine was not in her vocabulary. (More on this soon when I have time to write further on this topic and other reasons why the fertility clinic at Crawford Long Hospital isn't a place any man or woman should ever visit.)

After switching to RBA and meeting with Dr. Shapiro — he successfully helped friends get preggo through IVF — we learned that we wasted a lot of time and money. Three weeks of antibiotics was the remedy to our infertility problems. Six weeks later we got knocked up. Think of all the time and money we wasted. Yup, thousands of dollars down the drain and we could have resolve our problems with less than $100 worth of doxycycline. Yes, I am pissed, but there is not a damn thing I can do about it now. Besides, we're just ecstatic that a new phase of our life has begun!

More to come later with specifics and advice for those seeking fertility treatments.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Not so hard?

Maybe its not so hard after all?

(Get your mind out of the gutter, James.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hating Life at EWR

I'm sitting in EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport) hating life.

I had a 7:30 PM flight to Atlanta. Being the savvy traveler I managed to get on an earlier flight via a same-day confirmed seat on Delta. The flight was scheduled for 6:07 PM but due to delays was expected to leave by 6:30 PM.

Then 7:10 PM.

Then 8:40 PM.

Now it's estimated departure time is 9:35 PM.

My original flight left around 8:10 PM.

I screwed myself tonight...

Monday, July 16, 2007

West Coast Road Trip, Part I — Seattle to San Francisco

Friday 6/15/2007

We flew to Seattle on a late flight. *yawn* We check into the hotel across the street from SeaTac and pass out.

Saturday 6/16/2007

We woke up early and picked up a rental car for the trip down the coast. First we drove up to Alki Beach for a drive around the waterfront and spent some time looking around the neighborhoods of West Seattle. We stopped in for a quick breakfast at Eats Market Cafe in West Seattle. The huevos rancheros were good, but Steph's hot whole grain cereal was amazingly tasty with dried fruit, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and honey drizzled on top. Seriously, this was enough to feed a family of four! We'll definitely be back for breakfast sometime.

After breakfast we headed over to Ballard, a neighborhood in NW Seattle, to meet my cousin Cheryl, her fiance Andy and their dogs, Kozmo and Rosco, before heading to Fremont for the Fremont Fair parade. Whoa! There's naked people on bikes! Even though I had heard about it, seeing it live was definitely an interesting experience. Of course, all we could think is that there would be riots in Atlanta with the same display of body painted flesh riding down the street! Not to mention the uncomfortable chafing. And it was somewhat chilly... I'd have nipples that could cut glass if I were out there in the buff! Naked people were only the beginning, the parade itself was somewhat organized chaos with all sorts of political and social messages, jugglers, musicians, etc. We tried to hook up with Nick and Tiff, but unfortunately the crowds conspired against us during the parade. (We did run into each other briefly later in the day.) Of course the parade was not the only part of the Fremont Festival, there were plenty of food stalls, beer gardens and lots of shopping of arts, crafts and, well, crap! . Later that night we had dinner with family and crashed pretty early. Sunday is going to be a busy day.

Sunday 6/17/2007

We start the day with brunch at Pete's Egg Nest. Man, these are the biggest plates of food ever. I swear the omelettes were at least 6 eggs each and the plate had pound of hash browns. Whoa! The food was very good, we'll have to come back here sometime. We headed down to the Pike Place Market for a little shopping adventure before going to the Space Needle so we could get our fill our touristy goodness. Mmmm touristy. The Space Needle would have been better on a clearer, warmer day, but it wasn't meant to be. Steph found it a helpful way to orient herself with the various neighborhoods we had been in over the past two days. We then headed over to the REI flagship store for some further shopping goodness. All thsi shoping and being tourist like made us feel pretty thirsty, so we headed to my absolute favorite German bar in Settle, Feierabend in South Lake Union. (OK, so its the only German bar I know in Seattle, but I like this place, its close to Nick's and REI and they serve the best soft pretzels ever. Wetzel's Pretzels, eat your salty heart out.) After a beer and a pretzel, Nick, Tiff and Yen-Ming joined us and we headed out to dinner at Jade Garden in the international district. We had gone here before when I was on a trip to Seattle for work and knew to let Yen-Ming order for us. Once again, more food than we could have possibly eaten, but everything was tasty, especially the Peking duck and the razor clams.

Monday 6/18/2007

Another early day for us, we pack up our stuff, say goodbye to Cheryl and Andy and hit the road for the drive to Portland. Its an easy drive, just over 3 hours, we arrived in Portland by 10:30 A.M. We stopped in to our hotel, The Kennedy School, briefly to get oriented and figure out the best way downtown. Turns out that we can drive to the light rail sation and take the train downtown for free. Free is my favorite flavor.

Like a fool, I leave my jacket in the car. The weather was supposed to be in the mid seventies, so I figured I'd be fine in a short sleeve shirt. No such luck, I was uncomfortably cold until at least 3 PM! As a warm-up stop, we dropped in on Henry's 12th Street Tavern for a bite to eat and a beer. The tomato soup was a great way to warm up while we planned our next few stops. After lunch, we wandered around the neighboring Pearl District. Going up and down the various streets, walking into shops and commenting on how cute everything is — and not buying anything! — is very tiring work. Quite nicely, there was a Rogue Ales Public House right nearby!

Rouge brews beer, distills gin and 3 different rums and has a creamery, to boot! The location we were in had a microdistillery and we were in time for the 2 P.M. tour. After tasting a few beers, including the Orange Honey Wheat and Chipotle Ale, we headed upstairs to join the "tour". While not much of a tour — it consisted of standing around two rooms on two different floors! — it was pretty interesting to see how they make the rums from the mash, through distillation and maturation in barrels. I've only been on one other distillery tour at Jack Daniel's in Tennessee, but that was on a greatly different scale! After the tour we got a chance to taste two of the rums and then gin. I should have bought a bottle of the gin when I had the chance, it's not available in Georgia.

We hit the streets again and spent a little more talking walking around the Pearl District before heading to Chinatown to see the Chinese Gardens. On the way Steph caught the Hung Far Low Building sign... hilarity ensued with lots of pictures being taken whilst I did my best charades about being overly well endowed.

After our entertainment we found the Portland Chinese Gardens which we wandered for at least an hour. The gardens are a replica of Chinese style gardens with imported plants and rocks. This is not a place that I can describe well, one really needs to experience sitting in the gardens on a sunny day, amidst blue skies to really appreciate the surroundings. This is definitely my favorite memory of Portland.

From calm & peaceful gardens to hot fat, good topings and a bit of Voodoo, we headed down the street to Voodoo Doughnuts. Whoa, this place is crazy. We had two donuts, a "Portland" Cream and a chocolate frosted covered in Cocoa Puffs and drizzled with peanut butter. Yummmmmmy. We were happily on a sugar high as we headed back to the hotel to relax for a while. The rest of the evening was low key and uneventful, we're exhausted and pass out early after planning tomorrow's route. Long day ahead...

Tuesday 6/19/2007

After breakfast at the Kenneday School, we check out and drive right into... Portland's rush hour. Oops. Today we head southwest from Portland toward the coast at Lincoln City and south down 101 to our B&B in Klamath, CA. It's a long day, 7+ hours of driving on mostly 2 lane roads, but it was worth the effort! As we headed through the Willamette Valley toward the coast, we stopped at a roadside stand for some fresh fruit and snacks for the road.

Best strawberries ever. I am ruined on supermarket strawberries forever. The fruit here is very good! I think we ate an entire pint by the time we reached the coast at Lincoln City, OR. We got out here to stretch our legs and check out the beach. Not a particularly nice beach, but not bad either, we walked around for a few minutes and took some pictures. I ventured down to the water and put my toes in. Damn, that's cold! Its not like the warm-as-piss Gulf of Mexico, that's for sure!

Back in the car, we drove down to Newport where we found the Rogue Brewery. We stopped in for lunch. A very good lunch, I might add! Its hard to screw up a burger and a fish sandwich, but it's easy to make a mediocre burger too. I guess their use of Kobe beef didn't hurt! I sampled the Rogue 10,000 brew and, like most of the folks on Beer Advocate! I was not impressed. Glad I didn't spend $20 on a bottle! (Plus, I have to save my beer money for the 2007 Sam Adams Utopias which will run ~$150 retail for a 750 mL bottle!). On the road again stuffed with food and beer we drive down to Sea Lion Caves which is just north of Florence, OR!. What an absolutely cheesy tourist trap. Glad we stopped in and saw the sea lions, but it really wasn't worth almost $20. Next!

We head further south down the coast and reach the Oregon dunes. Its crazy driving down the road and seeing a huge sand dune encroaching on a grocery store on the side of the road. Eventually we reached the trailhead for the Oregon Dunes Overlook Trail which leads to many miles of hiking trails. This is a great spot to get out, stretch your legs and go for a walk. We thought we might hike a few miles, but once we're on the dunes and realize the difficulty in walking in soft, shifting sands it became clear we weren't going to go too terribly far. From the boardwalk we wandered on to the dunes, the trail is marked by a series of wooden posts (blazes) that are placed in the sand every few hundred yards. We headed down the first dune following the trail that leads to the ocean. The trail itself is ~1 mile, but after the first quarter mile or so the Keens came off and we started walking barefoot. The sand felt great at first, but soon it became irritating to walk barefoot, so we sat down and enjoyed the warm, sunny day. Looking around we realize how disorienting it can be when you are surrounded by a sea of sand with some vegetation in the distance. Its getting later in the day, so we decide to head back to the car and drive the last 200 miles or so to our B&B in Klamath, CA.

The next few hours of drive time are some of the most beautiful parts of the Oregon coast and free of most of the travel trailers and motorhomes we ran into further north. The coast of Oregon is absolutely gorgeous, we stopped every so often just to get out of the car and take in the sights. For two people who have spent most of their lives on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, the cliffs along the coast are a novel sight. Eventually we cross into California and drive into one of the northernmost stands of redwood trees in the world. This is only a small sampling of what we're going to see tomorrow — and not nearly as impressive — but it tells us one very important thing: Our 8 hour drive is nearly complete.

We pull into our B&B, the Requa Inn in Klamath, CA, around 8:45 PM. After eating our sandwiches from Subway — I believe this is considered fine dining in Klamath! — we settle in with a bottle of wine and start downloading pictures to the laptop while we plan tomorrow's drive.

Wednesday 6/20/2007

Today is Steph's birthday and we're going to make it one to remember!

Originally, we had planned on hiking along the mouth of the Klamath River along the Pacific coast. Due to the low fog, this plan is quickly thrown out the window since we wouldn't be able to see anything.

Instead, we hop on the road, top off the gas tank and head to the Tour Thru Tree in Klamath, CA. This redwood has been carved out in order to allow cars to drive through the tree. Another cheesy tourist attraction, yes, but how can we resist? After squeezing our Chevy Impala through the tree and taking our requisite pictures we hit the road again. The plan is to follow 101 south to San Francisco with a few stops along the way. Our first detour is in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. This is our first chance to get an up close and personal view of some of the giant redwood trees. I can't describe the experience and our pictures don't do it justice either. This is a place one has to experience to understand how magnificent these trees are. Sadly, less than 10% of the original old growth giant redwoods remain, most have been lost to logging. At the end of the scenic parkway we get back on 101 South for a few miles before turning off into the Redwood National Park to hike the Trillium Falls Trail. The trail starts just off the road in an old logging camp. In the last 10 years the camp has been torn down and the land restored to a more natural state. After a short walk down a paved path running alongside the recently restored areas the trail heads uphill and into the forest. Suddenly I feel small. Very small. Everything around us appears to be supersized! We hike into the forest about 1 mile to the Trillium Falls where we stop to take a few pictures and marvel at the beauty of the forest and everthing that surounds us.

Enough nature, we have a few hundred miles to cover still if we're to make it to San Francisco in time for dinner! We hop back in the car and continue driving southward on 101. We did make a short detour on to the Avenue of the Giants through another large stand of redwoods. I didn't find this to be as nice or exciting as the aras we had traversed earlier. So we cut the drive down the Avenue of the Giants short and hopped back on 101. The remainder of the drive to SF was uneventful and included a brief stop in Santa Rosa, CA to hit the Russian River Brewing Company where I picked up a pair of growlers filled with Pliny the Elder and an ESB. These will be enjoyed on Saturday night after the hike. Or so I think...

After more than 7 hours on the road we finally arrive in San Francisco. We meet our friends Jen & Howard at their condo before heading out for a birthday dinner at The Slanted Door on the Embarcadero. After a great meal we head back to Jen & Howard's for a well deserved rest. Its been another long day on the road...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Back to normal...

My digital life is back to normal. I did lose most of my vacation photos, but I found some advice on various sites which indicates that I may be able to recover some of my data by fscking the disk... This is something to work on in my spare time.

My west coast trip report is forthcoming... I recovered the vast majority of the writing I have already done for the blog post, now I just have to finish writing. I hope to do that over the next few days...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Backing up is important

I have for many years maintained regular backups of my systems. Minimally I keep a copy of my user directory on either a network share (which ended with the demise of my G4 tower) or USB based hard disks.

Before going to the west coast I backed up my MacBook. I always make a backup before a road trip.

When we came home, laden with gigs of pictures, I made a backup. It filled the drive and never completed. I finally got around to making a backup yesterday.

"Hey, what's making that funny noise?"

Oh. Crap. That funny noise is coming from the hard drive in my MacBook. Everything got very slow on my Mac and it finally hung. I had to reboot.

No dice. The drive is dead. Nothing has been able to rescue it (Disk First Aid, Disk Warrior). "Invalid sibling link" errors. Note the part where it says "This is an error you definitely don't want. It indicates that parts of your directory, and therefore some of your files and folders, are inaccessible." Yay!

So, the question now is, how far did my backup get? Did I really lose 800+ pictures from 10 days on the road?

Sadly, the answer looks to be yes. Everything that hasn't been uploaded somewhere or possibly saved in an email looks to be lost. Once I replace the drive and get my digital life back in order I will explore other options to retrieve my data. So far it looks like I may have only lost those photos, other directories containing important data that has changed recently (remember the older, incomplete backup). Thankfully I didn't lose my 7000+ photos that happened before the road trip or hundreds of albums that I have in my iTunes library. Ripping disks to MP3s is a PITA!

I bought a new Western Digital 160GB SATA drive which is being delivered tomorrow. The old drive, a Hitachi 160GB SATA drive, is still under warranty, so I should get a replacement eventually. And I'll be using it to make more regular backups. The plan is to have a 160GB drive that I use a tool like SuperDuper
to make a bootable image of my laptop drive on a regular basis. (Oh crap, I have a lot of software to reinstall...) I'll make incremental backups of my home directory and application directories using Carbon Copy Cloner.

Next time, I won't procrastinate on making a backup of something as important as vacation photos, either.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

West Coast Road Trip in Pictures!

I'm still not done writing about our trip, but I do have some pictures to share finally...

Sunday, June 24, 2007


It was a hell of a hike, but I completed ~20 miles of hiking to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite. That was the scariest and most exhilarating thing I have ever done. Pictures coming soon...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

iPhone == iP0wn

I think Brian Chess and I are sharing the same thoughts about Apple's SDK for the iPhone. I'm happy developers can write apps for the iPhone, but this is a craptacular mechanism for writing apps, since they depend on connectivity to the network to function. And using security as the excuse? I guess Steve Jobs has never seen an insecure web app...

In other news, I am still lusting after the iPhone...

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Rich Web Experience & No Fluff, Just Stuff

Thanks to my good friend and coworker Roman Hustad I have been hooked up with the guys from No Fluff, Just Stuff where I will be presenting a few talks.

The first group of talks will be in London at a No Fluff, Just Stuff seminar series. You can find the list of presentations I am making here.

The following week I'll be talking at the Rich Web Experience in San Jose, CA... details on this conference coming soon.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hike for Discovery - Sweetwater Creek State Park

Steph & Lucy

On Saturday we hiked at Sweetwater Creek State Park just west of Atlanta. Steph and I had hiked here once before, so I knew it wasn't a challenging hike with relatively flat terrain. But it is pretty technical with lots of scrambling over rocks and roots. Since I'm a masochist I added an extra 5 pounds of weight (two 1 liter Nalgene bottles) to my pack in an effort to slow my pace and still get a good workout.

This was the first hike of the season that Steph joined me on. When we arrived at Sweetwater at 7:30 AM it was already extremely muggy due to the previous night's rain. Yuck!

As a team, we decided to hike the red trail to the white trail for 6 miles with an optional 3 mile extension on the yellow trail. Off we go!

The first part of the trail is pretty flat with a lot of rock outcroppings and roots littering the trail. Its a nice hike that follows along the river past the New Manchester Manufacturing Company textile factory ruins. The factory itself was destroyed during the civil war by Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign. Al that remains is part of the shell of the original building.
New Manchester Manufacturing
Company Ruins

The rain on Friday night made it a bit more difficult on this part of the trail, especially on the rocks that you hike over. Being the incredible klutz that I am I slipped on some of the rocks and fell. The trail is ~15' above the river at this point. When I fell and slid down the rocks I managed to grab hold of the rocks to prevent myself from sliding all the way into the river. Unfortunately, my right leg was hung up on a tree, so I had no leverage to life myself out of the predicament I was in! Steph and another hiker grabbed my hands and pack to lift me slightly, free my leg and get me back on the trail.

The rest of the hike was nice and uneventful, thankfully. Steph and Lucy enjoyed themselves greatly and tired themselves out. After the hike we came home and the ladies, Lucy and Steph, passed out. I don't think I have ever seen Lucy pass out so hard! Clearly she enjoyed herself, but I believe I wore her out. I'll have to keep this in mind for the next time I want Lucy to relax!
Sweetwater Creek Rapids

Next week we're headed to Vogel State Park for the Coosa Backcountry Trail. This is the toughest hike of the HFD season and one I did not complete last year. I'm looking forward to tackling this trail again and completing the entire trail without bailing out at the road crossing. I'm sure I'll have plenty of pictures to post from Coosa this time around!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fuck the TSA

I'm not sure what kind of a police state we currently live in, but the TSA appears to believe that they can confiscate anything they want. Per the poorly enforced rules about carry-on liquids and gels, I had three bottles, each 2 oz., which I put my shampoo, conditioner and other styling products in. These are not the original containers, but nowhere do the rules state that as a requirement.

Flying from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Newark last week I checked my bag. It was overstuffed and I didn't feel like dragging it through the airport. Upon arriving in NYC I see that my bag was searched and the bastards stole my bottles of hair products from my bag. When I called the TSA they offered to help me file a report, but claimed that there was really nothing more they can do.

All I have to say to that is "WHAT THE FUCK!?!"

I bought 3 more bottles... we'll see how long until these get confiscated under some other unpublished rules.

Happy Birthday Java!

Ice Cream, Yum!
Happy birthday old man!

We celebrated Java's 11th birthday in the traditional manner by getting the dogs ice cream at Bruster's. Java loved it. Lucy, as usual, was a total pussy and was scared of her ice cream cup. *sigh*

Still no official word on Java's foot, but it does not appear to be cancerous. However, we still don't know what it is and how it will affect him moving forward...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Friday night I flew to Newark where I met Steph to celebrate out fourth anniversary. Of course, I was a day late to the celebration, due to Cf.Objective() and work. I figured a trip to NYC would be a good way to say "I'm sorry" for having to be away.
Times Square

We got in to midtown Manhattan around 9:30 and searched around for someplace to eat dinner. You know how when you're so hungry that you can't seem to make a decision on where to eat? Combine that with being in a city that neither of us are really familiar with and you have a serious issue! We decided on an Indian place on West 52nd, but when we walked up to check out the menu, we saw the Indian place was empty... but the Greek Restaurant next door was quite busy! So Greek it is!
Katz's Deli

We sat down at Anthos and proceeded to wait for a menu. And wait. And wait. Finally we got some menus. And we waited some more. Finally I grabbed a waitress and explained to her that we were feeling ignored and would really like to order. Turns out I just ratted out our crappy waitress to our waitress! Oops! After this she got much better.

We had a few cocktails along with appetizers. Grilled octopus, a contemporary Greek salad with beets, radishes, endive, ramps, feta and fresh garbanzo beans and a raw meze platter with five different kinds of fish were brought out. The food was well prepared, nicely presented and rocked our world. Kyma, eat your heart out.
Katz's Deli

After dinner our waitress, who had previously enquired as to why we were in NYC, brought us out two different desserts on the house to help us celebrate. The first was some kind of round donut. filled with an orange blossom cream and served with burnt honey ice cream. I thought I would have a food orgasm! The second was a trio of three kinds of baklava. While they were all good, the donuts were the winner of the evening. We'll definitely be heading back to Anthos next time we're in NYC. After a quick drink at P.J. Clarke's it was time for bed.
Lips and Assholes

Saturday morning we woke up early and headed for the only scheduled task of the day: shopping for clothes! Of course we were too early to actually shop, so instead we wandered around midtown and into Times Square where we ran into a run/walk for breast cancer research. Having participated in a number of the Susan B. Komen Walk for the Cure events (a.k.a. "Walk for Boobs!"), it was pretty cool to see the absolutely huge crowd as they walked and ran north from Times Square. We continued to wander around Midtown until around 10 AM when we finally got in a bit of shopping.
Pommes Frites

After a quick stop back at the hotel to drop off our newly acquired schwag we headed to the Lower East Side for lunch at Katz's Deli. Somehow our cabbie didn't understand East Houston at Ludlow and wound up taking us to Chelsea before we ditched cab #1 and hailed a second cab with a driver that understood my broken English. *smirk* After a corned beef on rye, potato knish, pickles (old, new and sour tomatoes) and a Dr. Brown's cream soda, we were fat and happy. We waddled out of Katz's and wandered around the Lower East Side and East Village for quite a while. Walking through the village we decided it was time for a drink and someplace to rest our feet. I thought I knew where we were, so I suggested we hit up McSorley's Old Ale House, the oldest continuously operating bar in NYC.

Unfortunately, we were a block too far north when we hit 2nd at St. Marks Place. But what a fortuitous mistake! As I tried Googling an address I spied Pommes Frites, a Belgian style pommes frites (French fries) shop. Being big fans of pommes frites ever since our first trip to Europe in 2001, we had to stop in for a bite. Yummmmmm. This also put us a half block from McSorley's where we stopped in for a few beers. (Definitely get the dark. The light was, well, too light.)
Drinking at McSorley's

With a nice beer buzz going we hopped back into a cab and headed up to the TKTS booth in Times Square. We picked up a pair of seats to Spring Awakening for that evening. I headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit — I was still exhausted from my previous 6 days on the road — while Steph did a bit more shopping.

Before the show we headed out for dinner at Dervish, a Turkish restaurant in the theater district recommended by our New Yorker friends, Annette & Jed. After another great dinner we sauntered over to the theater for the show. I'm not a huge fan of the theater, but the show was quite enjoyable. If you're in NYC, I highly recommend getting tickets.

After the show we headed back to the hotel and made it a pretty early night. The next morning we woke up early (again!) and headed to Park Slope to visit some friends. After brunch at n Austrian restaurant and a great walking tour of the neighborhood, it was time to head to the airport.

While it was a short trip, we had a great time in NYC celebrating our anniversary. Where will we go next year? Perhaps if Steph is lucky I'll take here to Bumblefuck, WI! Nah, probably not.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Whew, what a week. After a few days in Bumblefuck, WI I drove to Minneapolis yesterday for Cf.Objective() where I gave my talk this morning. Had a pretty packed room, I'd guess 40+ folks were there. I'm glad its over and I am on my way to NYC for a fun weekend and a chance to play with my new toy, a Canon Powershot SD800 IS camera. w00t!

Want the presentation? Email me and I can send you a PDF. When I get back from NYC that is. 80+ hour weeks suck... I'm going to be drinking many Manhattans in Manhattan this weekend.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Cf.Objective() Preview Talk

My preview talk for Cf.Objective(), Security and the SDLC: Threat Modeling, i online at Charlie Areharts User Group TV. Check it out here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


A few weeks ago, Steph and I went away to North Carolina for the weekend. As usual, the dogs went to Wag-A-Lot for the weekend where they spent time in doggy daycare and cursed us for leaving them for the weekend. Upon our return, Steph though Java was limping, but I dismissed her concern since I didn't observe it myself.
Java at the Braves game

A few hours later I was standing at the butcher block in our kitchen. I turned quickly and my foot hit Java's right front paw. He flinched, pulled his paw back and made a noise. At this point I knew something was up, so I bent down for a closer look. What I saw worried me: Java's "pinkie toe" was swollen and had a sore on it. The toe itself was really tender and he wouldn't allow me the opportunity to look at it.

The next day I left on a work trip and Steph took Java to the vet. They couldn't find any obvious issues and gave us some antibiotics and instructions to watch his toe to see if anything changed over the next few days. Unfortunately, the swelling didn't go down, so late in the week Java had another vet appointment where they took some x-rays and a biopsy of his toe. That was April 13. When I called the vet that afternoon she indicated that the x-rays didn't show anything abnormal — we had hoped that he had a piece of glass or some other foreign object stuck in his toe. The x-ray also showed that its not cancer of the bone, apparently a common affliction of dogs. The biopsy was sent off to the University of GA for review...

Its now 2.5 weeks later and the biopsy is still not back from the University of Georgia. The swelling in Java's toe hasn't gone down, though the tenderness has improved. Is it an infection of some sort? Cancer? Something else? We have no idea and neither does the vet! I am anxious as can be about the results and what this means for Java. Of course, my thoughts are turning negative and I am thinking about amputation of his foot or leg due to cancer. I have no reason to think this is the case, but I don't have any hope that it's not, either. I'm scared to death and want an answer. Now!

Java is celebrating his 11th birthday this Saturday. Unfortunately, I won't be around to celebrate with him. Thankfully, he can't tell time, so he won't know that he gets his annual ice cream from Bruster's — I'm a cheap mofo and get him their doggie bowl of vanilla ice cream with a dog bone — but I'm sure he'll enjoy it just as much when I get home next week. My only hope is that his birthday gift is good news from the vet.

Whatever happens, we're going to do whatever is necessary to ensure he is happy, healthy and comfortable. I know the day will come some day in the future when we need to make tough decisions about Java's care. It won't be easy when that day comes. Let's hope we don't have to make those decisions anytime soon.

Thumb War?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bumblefuck, WI

One of the perks of being a consultant is traveling to great places. Buenos Aires, NYC, Chicago, Boston, etc. Of course, we also travel to some pretty out of the way locations now and again. This week I'm stuck in Bumblefuck, WI.

Now Bumblefuck wouldn't be so bad. Wisconsin is known for its cheese and beer (yay, beer!). But Bumblefuck has little of either from what I can see so far. I found a few chain restaurants as I drove around looking for a place to grab a meal. I also found a few local places, so I decided to drop in on one of them. The first warning sign that I made a bad choice was that there was no beer served here. Well, that's the only warning sign, but the food was decent and cheap. But no beer? I feel like I'm back in the South, standing in the wine & beer isle at Publix on a Sunday where signs everywhere remind me that someone else's religious beliefs are being pushed upon the rest of us and therefore I can't buy alcohol on "God's" day. Feh.

On another note, I went to Stone Mountain yesterday for some hiking. 3 times up and down for ~7.5 miles (including the walk in/out of the park, since we're all too cheap to pay for admission). Sandy mentioned hiking Kilimanjaro... perhaps when we're done with the fall season we can plan an expedition for a handful of folks... I'm having some serious wanderlust these days. Vacation can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Preview of my Cf.Objective() Talk

Thanks to Charlie Arehart and the guys behind Cf.Objective(), I'll be presenting a 30 minute mini-talk on Friday entitled "Security and the SDLC: Threat Modeling". This will be the first online user group presentation I'll be doing and I'm pretty excited!

"In this 30 minute preview of his CFObjective seminar, Dean will examine how threat modeling can be used as a baseline activity to ensure the security of web applications. Threat modeling is a structured approach for identifying, evaluating and mitigating risks to system security. By modeling a system as an attacker would, development organizations can prioritize the usage of a development/security budget, manage risks to system security and find vulnerabilities earlier than technical testing or code reviews. Applied early in the development lifecycle, threat modeling can be used to drive further secure SDLC activities, such as code reviews and penetration testing to ensure the security of your software throughout its lifetime."

While this is billed as a preview of my Cf.Objective() talk, its more of a parallel track. In this talk I'll be hitting on one of the three high ROI activities that can be added to the SDLC in order to begin addressing the problem of software insecurity. Of course at Cf.Objective() I'll be spending more time on the baseline activities, including code reviews and penetration testing, and how they fit into the overall development lifecycle.

I hope people will RSVP for this online meet-up and then come see me in Minneapolis next week!