Sunday, February 29, 2004

Sharon is a fantastic cook!

I continued my efforts to clean out the den with a scoop shovel.

Sharon served as eucharistic minister for communion during Mass.

We did grocery shopping for Sharon's parents. In the afternoon, we went took the food over to her parent's house and Sharon made a great dinner of spareribs and sauerkraut. Over the last nine years, I have become very spoiled by Sharon's cooking; she is a fantastic cook who is always looking for and trying new recipes.

Drew appeared today in a musical theater review of Steven Sondheim songs that is being lead by the director of the musical theater program. His mother and Morgan flew down for the day to see the show.

After getting first Jack and then Sharon to bed, I took off for the Hilton Garden Inn in Milpitas. We have a meeting with Cisco in San Jose at 8:00 a.m. on Monday.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Cleaning out the den...

The project for this weekend is to clean up the downstairs den. If you have ever looked closely at the webcam shoot of the den in the past, it is clear that the room has become the dumping room for anything that does not have anywhere else to live. Combined with my tendency to collect books, software boxes and CDs, piles of paper, cables and other hardware, the room has become a disaster over the last six months. Since we set up an office for Sharon upstairs in the fall of 2002, she has largely avoided the room.

After lunch, I took Jack to watch the first graders at SEAS take on St. Mels. At the Murphy's last weekend, I talked to Kevin Ralph who is coaching the first graders and thought that Jack would like to see the "game." Jack will be able to play next year.

While we were making dinner, Sharon and I listened to Versos en Cielo by Issac Delgado. This is one of the CD in the box that Sharon got from Bayside.

Portofino link

After getting Jack to bed, we watched Under the Tuscan Sun on DVD. I recommending avoiding this movie if at all possible. It is very slow in parts (even Sharon thought so!). About the only redeeming feature are some cool shoots of Portofino, Italy.

Friday, February 27, 2004

As part of her work at T0wer, Sharon has been working with one of their subsidiaries that acts as a publisher. In January, she worked on an agreement with Peter Frampton's attorney.

Yesterday, they gave her a box of 25 CDs, including the Peter Frampton Album, Now. She liked the album and pointed out tonight that she played a small part in bringing the album to market!

Sorting through the box of CDs, we both laughed at how out of touch we are with current music trends. We recognized very few of the artists in the box. We both realized that we have no idea who are today's hot artists.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

John Wallen finally caught up with me today. He and I have been swapping phone calls since last Wednesday. His sister-in-law, Jill's sister, was killed in a automobile accident on Kona (where she lived) last Monday. John, Jill and most of Jill's family went to the islands for the service over the weekend.

I first met Kris in 1981 when she, John, Jill and I went to a Jimmy Buffett concert at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento. I have some fond memories of Kris and Jill engaging in a food fight in a restaurant after the concert.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Pictures of Dar es Salaam

With Rob and Barb Nooter in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I have been casting around on the web to find some pictures of what the city looks like. There is a representative sample of the pictures that I found using Google's Image search. Dar es Salaam's harbor is a massive deep-water lagoon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Kings and Rugby

Sharon and her brother Tim went to the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks game. The Kings beat the Knicks by a score of 107 to 99. We have been giving Tim a hard time. The Kings have a home record of 25 wins and 4 losses. Tim has been to all four of the losses, including Portland and Minnesota in overtime, Dallas on Christmas day and San Antonio at the beginning of February. We told Tim if they lost last tonight he would not be allowed to go the rest of the season!

Brun sent me a link to a Rugby League article titled the most vile act ever! As I was getting into the car at lunch today, I heard Jim Rome talking about the same story on KHTK1140.

For the uninitiated, I want to point out that Rugby League is a difference game from the Rugby Union that I have played for more than thirty years. Rugby League is a variant of rugby, with different rules from Rugby Union.

The last time I played Rugby Union was in a tournament in Aspen with the California Bald Eagles in September of 2002. There are some pictures from that tournament in the blog entry for September 19, 2002.

Monday, February 23, 2004

I have previously written about our problems with Dell support on December 21, December 22 and January 26. It appears that I am not the only person having problems.

Two new reports that rate the satisfaction of PC buyers show that Dell's customer service scores have declined in recent months.

In a related article on the site, an industry veteran details his experiences with Dell customer support in an Open letter to Michael Dell.

I finished reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book in the Harry Potter series. As Randy Davis [the SHSS IT CFO] noted to me before I started reading the books, the author has done an amazing job of creating a whole different world. I am enjoying the books, but they make me yearn for something written above the 9 to 12 year old level of the books.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

lazy day... Jack and I took a long nap in the afternoon in the oversized chair in the bonus room while watching the Spurs squeak a win out over the Timberwolves.

While I was running on the treadmill on Friday, CNN actually showed David Letterman's Top Ten Signs Bush Is Considering Dumping Cheney.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

2004 SEAs Dinner and Auctions

Sharon spent the morning serving as a wedding coordinator for another wedding at Good Shepherd. The wedding started at 9:30 a.m. in the morning! This is the fourth wedding that she has done. Sharon did her first wedding in June of 2003, the second in September of 2003 and the third in October of 2003.

Saturday night, we attended the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School Dinner and auctions. On the way to the dinner, we joined a group of parents from the school at Kathleen and Tim Murphy's house for drinks and appetizers. This is another six degrees of separation story; Kathleen's brother [Pat Foy] is married to Kristie Foy, a good friend of Sharon's.

Sharon bid on a number of items at the silent auction before dinner and had the winning bid on a couple of items. At dinner, we sat with an interesting group including the CFO for the Diocese of Sacramento and his wife who have a kid in the afternoon kindergarten, a helicopter pilot for the Sacramento County Sheriffs and his wife who is also a sheriff and a supply chain consultant from Deloitte who had recently worked for Disney. I made a couple of attempts to bid in the live auction, but the prices got out of our spending limits pretty quickly!

Friday, February 20, 2004

I worked for 3 1/2 hours setting up for the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School dinner and silent and live auctions. This is part of the ongoing effort to fulfill our parent hours for Jack's school. I actually get double credit for this work so we get credit for seven hours towards the requirement of 30 hours per year.

Friday night, Sharon and I went to the Sacramento Valley Farm Credit Annual Meeting at the Hilton. At Dinner, we sat with Jeana Hultquist and some association borrowers from Brownsville.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

As someone with no musical ability, I am amazed at Morgan and Drew abilities. Morgan is an accomplished pianist, while Drew is a great guitar player.

Drew has been working on getting some of his music recorded in a studio. He has clips from a couple of his songs on the web at:

The site's availability seems to be a little inconsistent so you may have to try back later!

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I got a long letter from Barb Nooter in Tanzania. Thier kids were out of the school during the first week of February and they went on safari. Excerpts from the letter include:

Today Rob and I saw a huge Baboon walking down the side of the road about 1/2 kilometer from our house. He was enormous, much bigger than the ones we saw on our safari. People were waiting for the bus, and they were all looking at him. The baboon was more interested in a dog inside the gate. Amazing! He had to go through a really heavily populated area to get where he was...

We had a fun safari with the kids... We saw some baboons on the way in and then Madeline spotted the first lion - right by the side of the road again... Also, on the first day out into the preserve, we came upon a group of elephants that were crossing the road. There were some on either side of us. We drove in fairly close so we could film them. One of the younger ones took offense and held his ears out and shook his head and trumpeted at us. It was very exciting! I still don't understand the sign by the little knee high iron fence: "Exercise Extreme Care with Elephants" What exactly is extreme care? Otherwise, we saw the usual animals; giraffe, impala, zebra, wildebeast, baboons, a warthog or two, jackals, only a couple of buffalo, lions every day, and a crocodile.

The lions were hunting zebra. One lioness was lying at the side of the road. We'd heard that there were 3 hunting in the area, so we wondered where the others were. We were sitting on a little place in the road where the park had boosted the road over a little ravine by installing cement pipes for the water to flow without washing out the road. While the kids were filming the lioness I looked on the other side of the road and directly under us,literally, sticking her head out of the cement pipe, was the other lioness. She was concentrating on the zebra so hard she hardly noticed us. We watched them for a little while, and the zebra watched us and sort of drifted out of the area. The lioness in the pipe eventually came out, and right behind her came her cub. He was obviously this years' baby, and he was really sweet. They act just like housecats with each other.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

2004 Kings versus Celtics

Larkin and I went to the Sacramento Kings versus Boston Celtics game. The Kings beat the Celtics 127 to 111. It was an interesting game from a number of angles, including:

  • Divac had a triple double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

  • Rookie Darius Songaila -- traded by the Celtics to Sacramento last summer -- scored a career-high 17 points in his first NBA start.

  • The Kings matched a franchise record with 16 3-pointers.

  • Kings also set a record with their 28th straight home victory against Eastern Conference teams. No East team has won in Sacramento since Indiana on March 3, 2002.

  • A leak in the roof briefly delayed the game in the third quarter when water began to collect in a spot near midcourt. A ball boy sat near the spot with a towel for the rest of the game.

  • One of our vendors called Larkin in the late afternoon and invited us to attend a dinner and chalk talk at the game. I did not make it in time, but Joe did. He attended a 45 minute chalk talk and question and answer period with King's assistant coach Elston Turner on the 4th floor of Arco Arena.

    Monday, February 16, 2004

    Do you believe in miracles? Yes!Sharon, Jack and I went to an early showing of Miracle. This movie is the true story of Herb Brooks taking a squad of college kids up against the legendary juggernaut from the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympic Games. Team USA beat the Soviet Union in the semi-finals and the Cezhs in the finals to win the goal medal. One of the interesting things that they did in the movie was that they used Al Michaels' actual play by play of the game against the Soviet Union for about 20 minutes in the movie.

    Afterwards, I finished the fence in the rain.

    Sharon actually said that Saturday was her best Valentine's Day ever...

    Sunday, February 15, 2004

    One or twice a month, Sharon will serve as eucharistic minister for communion during Mass. Today was one of those days. Jack went to kinderchurch, while Sharon and I attended Mass.

    I spent the afternoon working on the rebuilding the wing fence that blew down last month.

    For anyone who does not know, Jack is a huge basketball fan. He has been literally counting down the days and then the hours until the NBA All-Star Game. Jack and I watched the All-Star Game on TNT in high definition. TNT has announced plans to launch a high definition channel, TNT-HD, in May 2004. The launch of TNT-HD will come during the network's coverage of the NBA Western Conference Finals. I stumbled across their TNT coverage of the NBA All-Star Game in high definition while channel surfing before the game started.

    Saturday, February 14, 2004

    Valentine's Day 2004

    Sharon and I had a very leisurely Valentine's Day morning. We had stayed overnight in Room 1 of the Goodman House. The room was comfortable and the breakfast and the hospitality were great. It is probably one of the best breakfasts that I have had at a bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, the room was very noisy. The front of the house overlooks the Esplanade which is a major North South street in Chico. The traffic noise was very loud, including some cars that sounded like they were street racing after midnight.

    After breakfast, we took our bikes to Bidwell Park. We covered about seven or eight miles starting in the lower park and going as far as we could in the upper park without mountain bikes and helmets. We talked about coming back later in the Spring with Jack. There is an interesting swimming pool in the creek in the lower park, a golf course in the upper park and lots of interesting trails in the canyon.

    After the bike ride, we had lunch in downtown Chico at the Rawbar.

    After picking up Jack and getting him to bed, Sharon and I watched Lost in Translation Saturday night on DVD. While I liked the movie, I am puzzled by the amount of accolades it has gotten. The movie does make me want to visit Tokyo someday.

    Friday, February 13, 2004

    Pam Coleman's Retirement Party

    Sharon and I left Jack with her brother Tim and went to Pam Coleman's retirement party at the Masonic Family Center in Chico. Pam has worked for the various farm credit entities for more than 32 years. Sharon and I have both worked with Pam over the years.

    I worked for Farm Credit for almost 18 years, from October of 1980 to June of 1998. During this time, I worked for the Federal Intermediate Credit Bank of Sacramento, the Sacramento Bank for Cooperatives, the Federal Land Bank of Sacramento, Western Farm Credit Bank and AgAmerica. Sharon worked for the Western Farm Credit Bank and AgAmerica for more than thirteen years from December of 1988 to April of 2002.

    There was a good sized group of people at the retirement party, including Sandy Mansfield, Randy Patane, Jerry Jackson, Phil Downing, Jack Montgomery, Gary Olson (he and I went to high school together) and his wife Linda, Ernie Hodges, and Bruce Strickler.

    We spent the night in Chico at a bed and breakfast called the Goodman House.

    Thursday, February 12, 2004

    I spent the day in San Francisco for the kick-off meeting for Sutter's West Bay eICU implementation.

    After initially settling into Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania pretty well, the Nooter's have been facing some infrastructure and cost issues. Some excerpts from Rob's recent e-mails include:

    I have been having a lot of systems failure issues. The electricity goes out regularly, and we have to start up the generator... our water pump is having problems. Our area does not have central water through main lines. So we buy it a tanker truck load at a time. It is stored in an
    underground tank, and then run through a sand filter and pumped up to a roof tank (1,000 liters) and then another pump provides it to the house. Every one of those parts of the chain has had some problem.

    In addition, the satellite TV system we got started on Tuesday also went out, some problem with the programming of the decoder box...

    One of the facts of life here is that the cost of energy and telephone time is extremely expensive...Our monthly electricity could easily run in the $300 to $500 range if we do not limit things...Gasoline is also about 70 cents a liter or $2.80 a gallon...Cell phone time runs from 36 cents a minute to 50 cents a minute. Land lines also charge similar fees, and every call is a toll call.
    Reflecting on Rob's e-mails, it is amazing how many things American's take for granted. We don't spend any time thinking about the availability of electricity, water, gasoline and telephone or television service, let alone working to make sure that we have those things. We get very bent out of shape whenever any of things don't work for any length of time.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2004

    I had lunch with Sharon at the The Cellar Cafe & Wine Shop in the Nimbus Winery Center.

    Tuesday was Jack's 100th day of Kindergarten!

    KXTV-HDTVHave I said how much I like my HDTV receiver? Tuesday and Wednesday night, Jack and I watched the Kings game on the digital transmission from KXTV off the antenna. While not a HD transmission, the quality is much better than regular broadcast on the satellite. After the Kings game on Wednesday night, we watched a little of the Lakers and Houston basketball game on ESPNHD off the satellite. This is the first chance I have had to watch a basketball game in HD and the quality is astounding.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    Angels & Demons

    I finished reading Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. While his other book The Da Vinci Code has been more popular (it is #2 on the Amazon top seller list today), I enjoyed this book more. I think that the pacing of the book is better and that it is more suspenseful. Additionally, Angels and Demons was set in Rome; Sharon and I spent five days in Rome in October of 1996. The Da Vinci Code was set in Paris and I have not been to Paris yet. I have been to a number of the places in Rome used as settings for Angels and Demons and could visualize the scenes.

    I spent 40 minutes this evening tracing Abe Lincoln hats on construction paper for the kindergarteners to cut out as part of my parent hours for the school.

    Drew spent about 4 hours on Sunday working 50 to 60 feet above the ground on a metal rail. He said that you could see all the way down through the rails. They were handling 30 pound bricks. He was helping tear down the counterweighted fly system that was used for Romeo and Juliet.

    Monday, February 09, 2004

    Morgan has mentioned two out-of-state colleges that she is interested in attending: the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Reed College in Portland, Oregon. The University of Illinois is one of the leading creative writing schools in the country, while Reed is one of the top ten national liberal arts colleges.

    I bought Morgan a digital camera for Christmas. She definitely has some of my sister Lee Ann's eye for taking pictures. Morgan has an on-line photo album at:

    Sunday, February 08, 2004

    I had gotten tickets for Sharon, Jack and I to go to the Kings game Sunday afternoon. Sharon dropped out at the last minute because she did not feel well. Jack and I went to the Sacramento Kings versus Denver Nuggets basketball game. The Kings won by a score of 115 to 92.

    Saturday, February 07, 2004

    Saturday morning, we had coffee and danish with the Hoods before wandering down to the ocean to walk on the beach. We headed back to Sacramento making a stop for lunch at Casa de Fruita on highway 156. Jack had a great riding on their two mile long narrow gauge railroad.

    Friday, February 06, 2004

    2004 Pebble Beach Pro-Am

    Sharon and I had our first date nine years ago on February 6, 1995.

    Friday morning, Sharon, Jack and I took off for Monterey to go to the Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament. We went first to the Pebble Beach course and walked along the second and third fairways. I checked-in at the corporate hospitality village and picked up a program.

    Sharon was interested in seeing a number of the celebrities so we headed over to the Spyglass Hill course. We most of our time around the 8th and 9th greens. We got to see a number of celebrities playing, including: George Lopez, Andy Gracia, Michael Bolton, Peter Ueberroth, Tom Brady, Lynn Swann, Joe Pesci, Glenn Frey, Kenny G and Kevin Costner.

    Sharon is a big Kevin Costner fan and wanted to see him. As Costner was leaving the eighth green, he was joined by his new wife and Sharon was a little put off by how young she was.

    I wanted to see the foursome with Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson. After they putted out, we walked with them from the eighth green to the ninth tee. I was walking with Jack, but had lost track of Sharon.

    As I was looking around for her, I hear someone saying "Sir, Sir, you with the little boy." I looked over and we were walking along side Phil Mickelson. Mickelson tossed his golf ball to Jack as a souvenir; it was very cool.

    Sharon was walking in front of us and heard the interchange and the crowd go "aaahhh," but could not see what happened. She said she was thinking that she wanted a ball for her little boy and then realized that Jack had gotten the ball. Phil Mickelson is now Sharon's favorite player!

    Our original plan was to go to Santa Cruz Friday night to stay with Sharon's friend Noel Murray. As we were leaving 17 mile drive, we called Mark Hood. He and his wife, Jeanie, live in downtown Pacific Grove. We ended up stopping there, getting take-out Mexican food and spending the night.

    Thursday, February 05, 2004

    Quest Event

    Sharon chided me recently that I am always driving around in the car whenever she calls me on the cell phone. Today was one of those days. I dropped Jack off at school at 7:30. I met Donna Gainsley at one of the Elk Grove Fire Stations. We drove to the Sutter Amador Hospital in Jackson to meet with the new CFO and the Lab Manager. We drove back to the IT building at Mather for a brief stop and then headed to Glen Cove. Sutter has a conference center at Glen Cove in Vallejo where we attended an e-HR Committee Meeting. We headed back to Elk Grove to drop Donna off at her car. I finished up picking up Jack at school about 5:00 p.m.

    Thursday night, Lew Gasper, Rudy Jugoz, Steve Wike and I were invited to a vendor dinner at Morton's Steakhouse that included an appearance by Kings guard Doug Christie. I got a signed poster for Jack and got my picture taken with Doug and Jackie Christie.

    Doug and Jackie Christie Picture
    Doug Christie and his wife Jackie

    Wednesday, February 04, 2004

    It has been a very hectic month. Sharon billed more hours in January than she did in her two busiest months last year combined.

    Drew has been working on the lighting crew for UCI's production of Romeo and Juliet. He has also gotten cast in a musical theater review of Steven Sondheim songs that is being lead by the director of the musical theater program. Performances are Sunday, February 29.

    Drew gets class credit for participating in all of these productions. He indicated today that he is going to end up with 29 units this quarter. The normal load to graduate in four years in 15 units...

    Tuesday, February 03, 2004

    I spent all day at the Sutter Health Support Services River Plaza building in Natomas. I attended the SOMA Committee Meeting in the morning; this is the steering committee for Sutter Health's in-patient electronic medical record. In the afternoon, I went to a meeting to discuss the development of a web portal for executives.

    Jack and I watched most of the Super Bowl on Sunday. For parts of the first quarter and all of the halftime, I was running around working on hanging the satellite dish and trying to do some recabling without impacting our ability to see the game. As a result, I missed Janet Jackson. Here's a link to a picture from half-time!

    Monday, February 02, 2004

    I spent another hour and a half after dinner recabling satellite connections in the house; I left things in a bit of dissarray on Sunday night. Using the multiplexer, the signal from the old satellite receiver is now distributed to all the rooms in the house. This receiver has an RF remote so you can change the channel on any television in the house. The HD satellite receiver is running in the bonus room on the big screen.

    I finally got a chance to sit and watch HD for a little bit. I stopped on KVIE's PBS HD (from the antenna, not from the satellite) and watched the end of a tour of the Kartchner Caverns and the beginning of a look at John Singer Sargent's work. ALL I CAN SAY IS WOW! My initial impression is that the picture is close to DVD quality.

    Sunday, February 01, 2004

    Questions about HDTV?One of my projects for the weekend was to install a three LNB satellite dish and an HDTV receiver.

    Sharon convinced it is a part of conspiracy to make her crazy. The current set-up is not particularly easy to use. The old set-up included a single LNB satellite dish and receiver that she bought for me for Christmas of 1996; a Tivo digital video recorder, a DVD player, a VCR, a rear projection big screen TV, a multiplexer that redistributes the satellite signal to other rooms in the house and four different remote controllers. It takes a 2 hour lecture and a 2 hour lab into order to be qualified to operate the equipment.

    As the first step of my project, I hung a new satellite dish. Next, I tore apart all of the equipment and added in the HDTV receiver. Although I did not get much of a chance to check it out last night, everything is running and looks pretty good. My next step for a future weekend will be to add an AV receiver and surround sound speakers in the ceiling. I had the bonus room prewired for speakers when we had the house built.

    The bad news is that everything will end up being even more complicated to operate...