Tuesday, August 31, 2004

2004 Back to School Night

Sharon and I went to Back to School Night at Jack's school. While Sharon dropped Jack at the Tim Frame's, I went to the Extended Day presentation. Both of us then went to listen to the school principal and the parish priest talk for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, we went to Jack's class and his teacher gave the first grade parents an outline of the kids day, the course material for the coming months and her teaching philsophy. Both Sharon and I are very pleased with the teacher from what we have seen so far.

Apple - iMac G5

iMac G5: An interesting piece of new hardware from Apple.

New iMac tries to play it cool: "One of Apple Computer's biggest challenges with the latest iMac was making sure the machine was cool."

Monday, August 30, 2004

David Tomasin

David Tomasin started at CSUS as a freshman today.

When I stop and think about it, it is hard for me to believe that all of these kids are starting college. It does not seem that long ago that I was in New Orleans with Tomasin, Nooter, Swedberg and Julie when David was three months old (October 1986). Nooter was talking about this girl that he had recently met.

Walking down memory lane, here are a couple of pictures of Drew and David taken during a trip to Tahoe with the Tomasin's in early 1993.

Jack's 6th Birthday

Today is Jack's sixth birthday!

Jack's Birthday Pictures

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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Yard Work

Sharon has a stretch where she is scheduled for five weeks in a row to serve as eucharistic minister for communion during Mass at Good Shepherd. She and Jack went to Mass.

I spent the morning trying to the yard back into shape. With the trips the Almanor and Florida and getting Jack started back to school, the yard is a little bit of a disaster. We are holding a kids birthday party for Jack on September 11 and I need to get thing whipped into shape.

Sharon spent the afternoon buying food for her parents, going over to their house and cutting her mom's hair.

More Safari Reports

Barb Nooter has posted Safari Report - Part 2 and Safari Report -Part 3 as well as some new pictures to their web site. Her third report talks extensively about their visit to a Masaai Boma (village).

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Soccer Jamboree

The West Lake Soccer Club held their Jamboree today at Bartholonew Park. We took Jack to get his individual and team photos and then wandered around.

In the afternoon, sharon met Brun at his house and then they did a 17 plus mile bike ride along on the American River Bike Trail. This is the first extended outing that Sharon has had on her new bike.

For Dinner, we went to C.J.'s Bar and Grill in Franklin. In spite of all the new housing that has been built between Franklin and Bruceville south of Elk Grove Boulevard, the place was empty at 7:00 p.m. on a Saturday night. Sharon rated the food as above average. We speculated that people drive by and don't consider it because of how it looks from the outside.

Friday, August 27, 2004

The Political Compass

I stumbled across an interesting web site called The Political Compass. The site includes a 3 to 5 minute questionnaire. Based on your answers, it characterizes your politics economically and socially on the following two dimensional graph:

My results were Economic Left/Right -0.02 and Social Libertarian/Authoritarian -2.10. This yields the following graph:

This site is based in the UK. I have found the supporting information on the site interesting, including one graph plotting the candidates in the 2004 presidential primaries, another looking at significant historical figures and a third examining current world leaders.

My political view of myself has changed over the last thirteen years, but more ramblings on that subject in a future post. I am interested in where other people fall on this scale! Post your results as a comment if you are so inclined...

Thursday, August 26, 2004

1,000 Places to See

For Christmas, Sharon bought me 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

Of the thirteen things in the book listed for Florida, we did seven of them on our trip, including swimming with manatees, Everglades National Park, Key West, South Beach, Villa Vizacaya, Walt Disney World Resort and The Breakers.

The things in Florida included in the book that we did not do were: Amelia Island; Kennedy Space Center; Little Palm Island; The Delano; Joe's Stone Crab, and; Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

Nooters in Africa

After almost two months of silence, Barb Nooter has posted Safari Report - Part 1 chronicling their recent adventures. There are also some updated pictures at http://nooter.textamerica.com, including this one of a elephants!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

More Everglades Pictures

More Everglades Pictures
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Cross Training

Sharon has been after me for years to do some cross training. I am in a mode where I run 5 to 6 days a week and she has expressed concern that some part of my body is eventually going to break down.

After watching the Tour de France, Sharon was motivated to buy a new bike and start riding more. Coming off vacation, I figured I would try to ride my bike once a week. I dusted off my bike, bought a helmet and went out early this morning. I rode a little more 19 miles in 68 1/2 minutes, a little less than 17 miles an hour. This is three laps around one of my running courses and has two little hills in the middle of each lap. While I do not feel that I worked as hard as if I had run for an hour, I definitely used some different muscles.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Sunday, August 22, 2004

2004 Back to School Ice Cream Social

A couple of times a month, Sharon will serve as eucharistic minister for communion during Mass at Good Shepherd; today was one of those days. Sharon, Jack and I went to Mass.

In the afternoon, we back to church and the parish school for a welcome back to school social. We got a pep talk from the principal and the president of the parent booster club. Afterwards, we met Jack's teacher for first grade, found his desk and visited with some of the other parents.

DC Flyby

DC Flyby: An interesting interactive map of downtown Washington D.C.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Kathy Frame's 40th Birthday

Saturday night, we went to a surprise 40th birthday party for Kathy Frame (Sharon's brother's wife) at Chevy's on Howe Ave. As Kathy walked up, everyone held their menus up in front of their faces. Kathy was literally standing at the table when people yelled surprise; she had not seen or expected a thing. After dinner, we went back to Tommy and Becky's house for cake and presents. The kids swam for a little bit in the pool.

Friday, August 20, 2004

IT All Hands on Deck

Sutter Health held its annual Information Technology All Hands on Deck (AHOD) meeting. The agenda included presentations by the CEO, CMO (Chief Medical Officer),a Regional CEO and the CIO. Debbie Sleigh and I organized the awards this year; I presented the MVPs, while she announced the CIO and Director awards.

I was a little disappointed in myself. I had to read about fourty people's names and was so focused on trying to make sure that I did not mispronouce their names that I stumbled a little in my opening remarks. I lost my place momentarily in front of 700 people.

The afternoon session included a team building session involving each table building a poster honoring one of the people at the table. The meeting ended with a sing-a-long!

IT All Hands on Deck Photos

Photos from IT All Hands on Deck Meeting

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Jack's first soccer practice

After starting to get unpacked and settled in, Jack and I took off to get him some soccer shoes, shin guards and a soccer ball. He is on an Under 6 soccer team in the West Lake Club which started practicing on August 2. In spite of missing more than two weeks of practice, he did great in his first practice; this was his introduction to organized soccer. It appears that he might be left footed... Additionally, unlike baseball where there were some enormous kids on the team, Jack is actually the tallest kid on the soccer team.

Florida Day 15

Up at 4:30 a.m. East Coast time (1:30 a.m. Pacific Time!), we caught a shuttle to the airport for a 7:40 a.m. flight on American Airlines. We flew from Orlando to Dallas to Sacramento; it was actually the same plane. It was very uneventful. We landed in Sacramento at 11:30 a.m. and were home by 12:30 p.m. only to find that the person feeding the cat had dead-bolted the garage door. We had to wait for a locksmith to come and let us in.

About the only notable thing was the water damage to the Orlando terminal. The carpet in the terminal where our gate was located was soaked and they were working feverishly to dry everything out. It looked like Hurricane Charlie had knocked part of the roof off and allowed the rain to pour in.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Florida Day 14

I got up at 6:30 a.m. to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic. While Sharon and Jack slept, I got a cup of coffee and a paper and sat on the sea wall in front of the hotel to watch the sunrise over the ocean. Sunrise was at 6:53 a.m. and was spectacular.

While I got back to the room, Sharon went down and ran. Afterwards, I ran 4.25 miles on the treadmill; I ran the last 1/4 mile at a 6:35 mile pace. We had breakfast at the Beach Club at the hotel and then Sharon took Jack back to the arcade.

Checking out, we headed to the the The Norton Museum of Art. When we started to change our plans, this is one of the things that drew Sharon to Palm Beach. It has one of the largest collections in Florida. It was a little bit of dissappointment for two reasons. First, Jack has been on the road and more than two and a half weeks and I think that he reached his limit. While he was great in the last two museums, he was a struggle at the Norton. Second, one of the pieces that Sharon was particularly interested in seeing was on loan to a museum in Spain. I was impressed with a Dale Chihuly glass ceiling with 693 hand blown glass sculptures in aquatic blues, greens and touches of gold.

By 1:45 p.m., we started north towards Orlando. With two quick stops, it took us almost three hours. As we drove north towards Orlando, we saw more and more damage from Hurricane Charlie. This included houses without roofs, lots of freeway signs and billboards down and hundreds and hundreds of trees broken or bent. This included the area around the hotel. After I dropped off the rental car, I walked back to the hotel and near an area off about 40 acres where almost all of the pine trees had been broken in half. Some of the nearby hotels were had sliding missing and one large building building was missing the lobby.

We had made a reservation at the Sheraton Suites very near the airport and the rental car return. After checking in, we went to find a Walmart to buy an extra bag for all the stuff that we picked up along the way! We had room service and tried to get everyone down early.

Damage from Charlie

Storm Damage from Hurricane Charlie

Atlantic Sunrise!

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean

Monday, August 16, 2004

Florida Day 13

Originally, we planned to stay three nights in Key West (August 11, 12 and 13th) followed by three nights in Miami (August 14, 15 and 16). When we swapped the Miami and Key West stays, we created a dilemma. If we stayed three nights in Key West, we would have been faced with a 400 mile trip on Tuesday. Given the speed limits in the Keys, this might have translated into an eight or nine hour trip with stops.

We made a decision to change our plans slightly. We cut our stay in Key West to two nights and made a reservation in Palm Beach for Monday night. This was still almost 240 miles and even with only a quick 30 minute stop for lunch took us more than five hours.

Sharon made reservations at The Breakers. After having a breakfast, we left Key West about 9:30 a.m. and got to the hotel about 2:45 p.m. We stopped for lunch at The Fish House in Key Largo.

While Sharon did a yoga class, I took Jack to the their arcade. When we checked in, they gave Jack a card worth about $30 in tokens. He had a great time.

We had dinner at the The Seafood Bar in the hotel. This restaurant was right on the water with a great view of the Atlantic Ocean. Sharon and I both agreed that this was probably the second best meal that we had on the trip!

The Breakers

View from our room at The Breakers

More Key West

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Morgan's Senior Year

Today is the first day of Morgan's senior year in high school!

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Florida Day 12

Today was a long day of a lot of walking. After eating the continental breakfast at the hotel, we started walking down Duval Street. We made a stop at The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Sharon and Jack enjoyed walking among hundreds of living butterflies.

The next stop was the southernmost point in the continental United States for a few pictures. From here, we started back up Whitehead Street towards the Lighthouse and the Hemingway House through the Bahama Village. We did a guided tour of the Hemingway House. Although my sister Lee Ann was less than positive about her experience visiting the Hemingway House, Sharon and I enjoyed it. The guide did a good job of talking about the history of the house and the life of Hemingway.

We walked up Whitehead and back over to Duval Street. We stopped and had lunch at Sloppy Joe's. This is the namesake of the bar that Hemingway spent a lot of time in while he lived in Key West. After lunch, Sharon did some jewelry window shopping. At this point, we were close to the other end of Duval Street and could see a Disney Cruise Ship docked at Mallory Square.

Heading back to the hotel, I cooled off in the pool, while Sharon and Jack built a lego Hogwarts Train that Jack had gotten at Downtown Disney's huge Lego store.

While Sharon took a nap, Jack and I headed out to check out Fort Zachary Taylor. Fort Taylor was strategically one of the most important forts in the United States because it defended not only the waters around Key West, but also controlled the surrounding waterways of the Straits of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. When we got back from this, we all jumped back into the pool for a while to cool down.

Cleaning up, we headed back to Duval Street and dinner. Jack got a shark painted on his arm. We ended up having dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. We finished the night buying a few t-shirts before ending back to the hotel.

Southernmost Point

Southernmost Point of the Continental USA

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Florida Day 11

I got up early and when to run on the treadmill, while Jack and Sharon were still asleep. After I got back Sharon went down to the health club. We checked out of the Biltmore and headed back to back to Cocowalk for breakfast at the Green Street Cafe.

After breakfast, we did a driving tour of Coral Gables. Coral Gables is a planned community developed by George Merrick in the 1920's. The tour included two of the four original four grand entrances and six of Merrick's Disneyesque international villages. It is a very nice residential area and only reinforces some of our dissatisfaction with our current neighborhood.

By 12:45 p.m., we started the 160 mile drive to Key West. I really liked the drive down the Keys; it was a very unique experience. We got to our hotel in Key West a little after 4 p.m.

We got a great two story room with a pool right outside our door at the Ambrosia House in Key West. This is on Fleming Street two blocks off Duval Street.

Jack and I swam for a while in the pool right outside our door. We then headed down Duval Street. We ended up having dinner at A&B Oyster House on the broadwalk in the old port. (Sharon had Hogfish! I had Dolphin.)

We then headed back to Mallory Square to watch the performance artists and the sunset and browse the street vendors. Jack's favorite was a show that featured trained house cats jumping through hoops and doing tricks.

We wandered back up Duval Street. Sharon was looking for a Key West Italian Charm which she finally found. We got back to the room a little after 10 p.m.

Ambrosia House

Our room at the Ambrosia House, Key West

Friday, August 13, 2004

Florida Day 10

Sharon got up and ran on the treadmill and lifted weights, while I tried to order room service. One of the struggles that we have had on this trip is getting Jack to order something to eat. I spent 10 minutes going over the room service menu with Jack trying to order something for him. He finally decided on something, but when it got to the room it was not what he thought it was going to be.

After watching the weather for a while, we headed out for South Beach.
The South Beach area is very cool; it includes hundreds of buildings restored to their early 20th-century art deco appearance. We walked along Ocean Drive, while Sharon wandered in and out of a few shops. We ended up having lunch at the Fox Cafe, the restaurant in the Casa Grande Suite Hotel.

Although I have tried to avoid thinking about work, I did a 15 minute conference call about the data center migration at Mill-Peninsula.

After lunch, we walked back up the beach. There are some interesting art deco lifeguard huts on the beach.

We then headed to Litte Havana. We stopped at the El Credito Cigar Factory. We watched them making cigars for a while and then bought a few to bring home.

Although I brought enough clothes for the whole two weeks, Sharon had planned on doing laundry. We had scouted a Laundromat near the hotel earlier and we dropped Sharon there while Jack and I went back to the hotel.

After picking Sharon up, the three of us headed to the hotel pool for a an hour. For dinner, we headed to the CocoWalk and ended up having dinner at Cafe Tu Tu Tango. This was also an interesting dining experience. They claim that the restaurant is modeled after a Barcelona Cafe. There were artist painting in the middle, original artwork hanging around the restaurant and a large high definition display showing a rotating set of masterpieces. Sharon had fun identifying and talking about the masterpieces as they were displayed. When we finished with dinner, Sharon did some shopping. She lamented that she had not found this area of Coral Gables earlier!

South Beach plus Little Havana

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

2004 Florida - Day 9

This is the first time in more than a hundred years that two major tropical storms have hit Florida at the same time. Bonnie is coming ashore in the panhandle, while Charlie is threatening the Florida Keys and then the west coast including Tampa and St. Petersburg. We spent some time in the morning watching all of the weather reports to try and figure out what is going to happen over the next couple of days. All in all, it appears that we are in the best possible spot to ride out the weather.

I ran a quick 3 plus miles on the treadmill. Afterwards, we had breakfast at the hotel.

After breakfast, we headed to Vizcaya. Described as Florida's grandest residence, it was completed in 1916 as the winter retreat for millionaire industrialist James Deering. We toured the house and gardens. Jack had a great time leading us using the self-guided tour map.

When we were done with the tour, we headed to the Miracle Mile section of Coral Gables. We had lunch at an interesting place called the Atlanta Bread Company.

From here, we headed to check out the Coral Gables Historic Venetian Pool. Formed from a coral rock quarry in 1923, Venetian Pool is included in the National Register of Historic Places. Originally, we had been considering spending the afternoon swimming there, but decided just to head back to the hotel pool. Jack and I spent an hour and a half in the pool, while Sharon went to the hotel Spa.

For dinner, we headed to Texas de Brazil. Sharon had found this in a local dining guide. The hotel tried to steer us away from going there because it was pretty far away, but both Sharon and I were intrigued by the description. The restaurant features a very large seasonal salad bar. Once you have had your salad, roaming carvers serving beef, lamb, chicken, pork and Brazilian sausage come to the table. It was probably one of the most unique dining experiences that either Sharon or I have had.


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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Florida Day 8

Part of the reason that Sharon wanted to stay in Key Largo was John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This is part of North America's only live coral reef system. It extends 200 miles along the length of the Keys, from Miami to the Dry Tortugas.

We made arrangements to go snorkeling with Caribbean Watersports. The boat left at 9:00 a.m. and actually took us to the two spots in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The first spots was called Hen and Chicks, while the second spot was The Rocks. Jack got in the water for about 10 minutes at the spot. Long enough to put his face down in the water and take a picture or two with the waterproof camera. Once he got his first mouth full of salt water, he decided to head back to the boat. Jack was also a little concerned because there were a number of purple jellyfish in the water around the boat that people were working to avoid. Nevertheless, I was pretty proud of the fact that we would get in the ocean a couple miles out to sea!

While the water was not super clear, I felt like both spots were pretty good snorkeling locations. There were lots of fish and the coral formations very close to the surface. Sharon and I are both divers, but did not feel comfortable trying to arrange to leave him for most of the day while we went out on a dive trip.

By the time, we got back to the room, packed up and checked out it was almost 1:30 p.m. At this point, we were faced with a problem. We had reservations for the next three nights in Key West. Unfortunately, with Hurricane Charlies approaching, tourist were kicked out of the Keys below mile marker 72. We started driving south and making some phone calls. Our original plan had three nights in Key West followed by three nights in Miami. Sharon called the hotel in Miami and they had rooms so we swapped our reservations to the next three days. I called the hotel in Key West and moved our reservations to Saturday, Sunday and Monday. With any luck, Hurricane Charlie will be through Florida by Saturday and we can start back down the Keys. If not, we will have a couple of days to improvise.

We turned around and started north to Miami. After a quick stop for mexico food in Key Largo, we got to The Biltmore Hotel-Coral Gables about 4:30 p.m.

Over the last three days, we have changed hotels every day. Each night when we got to the hotel, we would spend a couple of hours in the pool. The pool at the Biltmore was at one time the largest hotel pool in the United States. Jack and I spent an hour playing catch while Sharon did a water aerobics class.

We had dinner outside in the courtyard at the 1200 Restaurant.

Biltmore Pool

The Pool at the Biltmore

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Florida Day 7

Although it was after midnight by the time Sharon and i finished dinner, walked on the beach and got back to the room, I got up early and ran a slow 5 miles on the treadmill. Aferwards, Sharon did a spin class. We packed up and had brunch at the Terrace at the hotel. This is really the first place on the trip that we left reluctantly; we could have spent three or four days.

We headed south into the Everglades. We had looked at a number of different things that we could do in the everglades and decided that we would take an airboat tour. The hotel had recommended Speedy Johnsons Florida Everglades Airboat Tours in Everglades City. It was very cool. We took an hour plus tour through the mangrove forest and the grass plains. We came across a number of alligators. As we were walking away from the airboat, Jack said "can we go again!"

From Everglades City, we drove east across the Everglades and down into the Florida Keys. We had a reservation at the Sheraton Beach Resort in Key Largo. This was our longest day of driving and we did not get there until after 5:30 p.m. After checking in, we spent two hours in the pool. We had a very late dinner (Sharon had a ceasar salad and I had some great breaded grouper) at the Treetop restaurant in the resort.

Everglades Air Boats

On an air boat in the everglades

Monday, August 09, 2004

Florida Day 6

Sharon got up and did a Yoga Class at the hotel. After she got back, I ran a hard 4.10 miles on the treadmill. We packed up, had room service and checked out of the hotel.

We spent the morning at the The Salvador Dali Museum. This museum boasts the most comprehensive collection of Dali's work in the world, spanning the years from 1914 to 1970. While Dali is not Sharon's "cup of tea," I was amazed at the diversity that of his work; it was interesting to see how his style changed over the course of his 55 plus year career.

Monday night is the only other night that we originally did not have a hotel reservation. Checking the web on Sunday night, I found a "cheap" room at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida. This is just about where we wanted to stop for the night before heading to Key Largo and Key West. It took us about two and a half hours to drive south from St. Petersburg to Naples.

We were very pleased with the room. It has a view of the hotel courtyard and fountain and beyond that the Gulf of Mexico.

After checking in, we wandered around exploring the hotel and walked on the beach. Jack wanted to go to the pool so we headed there. Jack spent about two hours playing in the pool, while we enjoyed a couple of cocktails.

We headed back to the room to enjoy the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico and get ready for dinner. Sharon had arranged for a babysitter. She and I went to dinner at the The Grill and walked on the beach after dinner.

Gulf of Mexico Sunset

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Watching the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Florida Day 5

We got up at 3:30 a.m.! Based on our decision to stay Saturday night in St. Petersburg. We were faced with an 1 hour and 40 minute drive to Homosassa Springs to go snorkling with the manatees. We had made a reservation with Captain Mike's to go snorkling with the manatees a couple of months ago and had already paid our money. We needed to be there at 6:00 a.m.

Although it was a little bit of a struggle to get going in the morning, we had a great time. The tour company took 17 people out on a houseboat and within about 15 minutes we were in a small bay that probably had a dozen different manatees feeding in it. Jack and I got in the water and I towed him over so he could see them under the water and scratch them. After a while Sharon took Jack and I followed a group of five them away from the boat. It was pretty cool to snorkling along by myself with a group of 2,000 pound animals. They were heading around the bend away from the boats so I eventually started back towards Sharon and Jack. We got Jack back on the houseboat. Sharon and I spent some time with a group that was following a pair. Sharon got cold and headed back to the boat, while I drifted along following one. Occasionally, the manatee would roll over on its back so that people could scratch its underside. In total, I probably spent almost an hour and a half in the water. I purchased a waterproof camera and took a roll of film. I will probably try to get it developed when we get to Key West.

Afterwards, we had breakfast at a local bar and grill and then started back to St. Petersburg. We were back at the hotel by about 11:45 a.m. We crashed in the room for about an hour and a half.

In the mid-afternoon, we took off to the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. The museum was smaller than either of us expected. Sharon liked Sea of Grass-Sunset by Jimmy Ernst, Poppy by Georgia O'Keeffe and Brittany Girl Fishing by Daniel Ridgway Knight.

Leaving the museum, we walked out on the St. Petersburg Pier. Although architecturally interesting with a nice view of the area from the fifth floor, neither of us were impressed.

We went to St. Pete's Beach for dinner at Sea Critters Cafe, Food & Bar. We had originally intended to go to another place, but the hotel said the food was better at Sea Critters. Neither Sharon or I were impressed with the food or the drinks; I think we are going to have a hard time topping the meals from the first two nights. Nevertheless, Jack had fun feeding his table scraps to the catfish!

After dinner, we walked along the beach. Given our 3:30 a.m. start, we were all in bed and asleep before 9:00 p.m.


Jack getting ready to go snorkling with the manatees

Manatees Pictures

Day 5