Friday, December 31, 2004

Sharon and Liz

Sharon went over and had lunch with Liz and spent the afternoon.

State of Fear

I finished reading Crichton's State of Fear. I am not really sure what to think of the book. It is part thriller and part political statement. The book questions the science behind global warming and includes a number of charts in the text and footnotes to scientific research.

As a thriller, I feel like too many things happen to the protagonist in too short period of time for the story to be believable. Much like Dan Brown's Deception Point, there are just too many outlandish plot twists.

As a political statement, it was more interesting. My emphasis in college was statistics; I got interested in computers using them to build econometric models. It is my experience that you can use statistics to argue almost any side of an issue. Along these lines, the following statement by Crichton in the author's message rings true to me:

"We know astonishingly little about every aspect of the environment, from its past history, to its present state, to how ot conserve and protect it. In every debate, all sides overstate the extent of the existing knowledge and its degree of uncertainity."

Thursday, December 30, 2004

BitTorrent

Wired 13.01: The BitTorrent Effect: "Analysts at CacheLogic, an Internet-traffic analysis firm in Cambridge, England, report that BitTorrent traffic accounts for more than one-third of all data sent across the Internet. "

"BitTorrent does not require the wires or airwaves that the cable and network giants have spent billions constructing and buying. And it pounds the final nail into the coffin of must-see, appointment television. BitTorrent transforms the Internet into the world's largest TiVo. "

Disaster Relief

I made a donation to the American Red Cross for disaster relief at this Amazon.com page.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

North Shore Day 3

We never seem to be able to get up and going very early when we are on vacation. Well, almost never... By the time, we got up, got packed and were checked out of the hotel, there was not enough time to stop and have breakfast before getting Jack to his skiing lesson. We ended up dashing into a supermarket in Tahoe City and getting Starbuck's coffee and bagels for breakfast.

Jack took a private ski lesson for almost an hour and a half at Granlibakken. This was his first time on skis. Jack had complained about the idea of skiing for days, but once he got going he did great. One of my goals for the trip was to get Jack into a lesson; I was very pleased to have gotten it done.

By the time, we got back to the car, it was about 1:30 p.m. and we started for home. We stopped and got a couple of fast food burgers in Truckee and then joined the long line of cars trying to get on the freeway. The chain control was right at the base of the grade leaving Truckee going west. Once we got on the freeway, the traffic crawled up the grade. It snowed pretty heavy all the way to Applegate. It ended up taking us about 5 hours to get home with two short stops.

Skiing





Tuesday, December 28, 2004

North Shore Day 2

Sharon spent some time logged on and answering e-mails using the PCMCIA cellular card in her laptop and then on the phone with a client, while Jack and I read our books. The plan for the day was to get Jack into a ski lesson. By the time, we had breakfast and got to Diamond Peak all of the group and private lessons were sold out for the next two days.

One of the problems with going to Tahoe during the week between Christmas and New Year's is that there are a lot of people everywhere! We may decide next year to try and take this trip at a different time.

We did some shopping and then had lunch at the Cafe Echo. This restaurant was next door to where we stayed last year. We both had fish tacos and the food was excellent again.

Afterwards, we ended to Granlibakken and spent a couple of hours sledding. As we left, I made a reservation for Jack to have a private ski lesson the following day.

Years ago (1997?) at a Western Farm Credit Legal Conference, Sharon and I had dinner at the Crystal Bay Steak and Lobster House. She had been very impressed with the food. We had dinner there on Tuesday night. The food was again up to Sharon's standards!

Sledding






Monday, December 27, 2004

North Shore Day 1

We had a lazy morning and got a late start, not leaving the house until 12 noon.

It was an easy drive up through Truckee. We stopped at Squaw Creek Resort. I had mentioned to Sharon that Morgan, Drew and I had ice skated there ten years ago. This was probably a tactical error on my part. It is a very nice hotel; Sharon liked it a lot. We will probably look for an opportunity to stay there at some point. We ice skated for about an hour and a half.

Our hotel reservation was at the Cal Neva Resort [not as nice as the Squaw Creek Resort :-)], just over the Nevada border on the way to Incline Village. After checking in and getting settled, We headed out for dinner.

The place that Sharon wanted to go was closed on Monday nights. After stopping one other place that was booked, We ended up at Jason's Beachside Grille in Kings Beach. After a hour wait in the bar during which time we fed Jack, neither of us were very hungry and ended up having burgers.

Ice Skating 1


Ice Skating 2


Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Day 2004

We had a great Christmas morning. Jack is at the perfect age for the holiday.

One of the things that Santa brought Jack was an ESPN Game Station [21 electronic, arcade-style games featuring baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf and soccer]. After opening the presents and having breakfast, Jack and I dragged the box up to the bonus room to put it together.

I got a little bit of a shock when we sat down with the manual. The assembly instructions included 87 steps and the suggested assembly time was 2 1/2 to 5 hours! Three hours later, it was up and running. Sharon and I had talked about trying to put it together Christmas Eve after got back from her brother's; I am sure glad that I did not try to start then.

Given that we went out to dinner for Thanksgiving, Sharon decided to cook a turkey dinner for Christmas. After dinner, the three of us watched Elf.

ESPN Game Station


Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve 2004

We went to Christmas Eve Mass at Good Shepherd. Afterwards, we headed to Sharon's brother Tom's house. The group included Sharon's parent, her brothers Tom and Tim and their families, Jim Dunn and Sharon, Jack and I. We had a nice dinner and exchanged presents afterwards.


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

2004 has been an exciting and varied year for us!

Sharon spent the first three months of the year working as in-house counsel for Tower Records on a temporary assignment. She had a great time; while we were fixing dinner one night, Sharon noted with glee that "I get to call Peter Frampton's attorney tomorrow."

In spite of their father’s complete lack of musical ability, Drew and Morgan continue to shine artistically. Drew got cast in a musical theater review of Steven Sondheim songs that was lead by the director of the UCI musical theater program. Morgan continues to excel at the piano and play in the high school jazz band.

In March, Mark traveled to Arizona for baseball spring training and a side trip to Sedona.

Jack played his second season of baseball. After playing T-ball in 2003, he played in the Rookie Division of the Elk Grove Cal Ripen League this year. Next year, he is looking forward to moving up to Single A.

In May, Mark flew with friends to Cabo San Lucas to celebrate Connor’s impending marriage. He landed a 7 ½ foot striped Marlin in the Gulf of Mexico!

Sharon had a wonderful time serving as the Art Docent for the afternoon kindergarten class at Jack’s school. She is looking forward to doing it again in the next school year.

Mark finished up his sixth year at Sutter Health. It has been an exhilarating and rewarding place to work. Sutter Health’s IT Department was rated 44th overall and 4th in healthcare in the 2004 Information Week Top 500 Innovators rankings!

In July, we traveled to the northwest for the Wallen’s 25th Wedding Anniversary. It was a great party in a gorgeous setting at the Wallen’s home on Puget Sound.

August was a very busy month! We took our seventeenth annual trip to Almanor with the Tomasins, Wallens, Hunters and Chabriers.

Afterwards, Sharon, Jack and Mark spent fifteen days dodging hurricanes and covering 1,500 miles in 15 days in Florida. Highlights of the trip include: DisneyWorld; snorkeling with manatees in Homosama; watching the sunset on the gulf of Mexico in Naples; an airboat ride in the everglades; snorkeling in the coral reef off of Key Largo; South Beach; Key West and; the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

Drew returned to the University of California at Irvine for his sophomore year as a theater major, Morgan started her senior year of high school at Union Mine and Jack started first grade at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School.

In the fall, Jack played his first season of soccer. He had a great season and scored 14 goals in eight games.

Sharon finished the year expanding her business to include processing of Small Business Administration loans.

Wishing you a happy new year,
Mark and Sharon Heringer

Kings versus Heat

Sharon, Jack, Joe Larkin and I went to the see the Sacramento Kings play the Miami Heat. Larkin and I sat in one of the suites during the first half, while Sharon and Jack sat in our season ticket seats. During the second half, all of us camped in the suite. Donna Gainsley and her friend Laurel wandered over to visit at half time. The Kings sizzled at the end to lose the game by a score of 109 to 107. I am increasingly impressed with Dwayne Wade.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Telemarketing Calls from India

Before the implementation of the National Do Not Call Registry, we might have gotten three or four telemarketing calls some nights. These completely disappeared under the new program.

We are now starting to get telemarketing calls from India. The first one surprised me and I hung up on them. Starting with the second one, I begun asking them what country they are calling from; all of the calls are coming from India. The most recent call was for Discover card.

I am concerned that this is a loophole in the law. I sent e-mails to Boxer, Feinstien and Ose complaining about getting telemarketing calls from India and asking if this was legal under the current law.

Is anyone else getting telemarketing calls from India?

Patience

Some things require patience.

Armstrong, Lance. Every Second Counts. New York: Broadway Books, 2004. page 231

Monday, December 20, 2004

Back from Holland

One of Sharon's closest friends, Liz Deuso, has lived in Holland for the better part of the last 17 years. In the last week, she has moved back to Sacramento. Sharon and Liz met for dinner at Monterey Bay Canners Restaurant & Oyster Bar. Sharon commented on how dead the restaurant was [there was one other person in the bar] and how bad the food was.

New Harry Potter Book

During 2004, I have read all five of the Harry Potter books. The sixth novel in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, will go on sale in Britain and the United States on July 16.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Yet another Xmas Party

With the house decorated for Christmas, we decided at the last minute to put together a small Christmas party. We invited the Wongs, the Bells and the Gainsleys.

The Wongs have a boy the same age as Jack. The two of them had a great time playing basketball, hockey, football and video games.




Saturday, December 18, 2004

More Christmas Parties!

Saturday night, we went to Andrea Turner's Christmas Party. Andrea is Jack's godmother. Jeana and Larry Hultquist were at the party. We also ran into Rose Campbell and Carla DeNijis; they worked at the Western Farm Credit Bank during the 1990's. We had a great time and stayed later than we originally intended given that we had Jack with us.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Christmas Parties!

Sharon went to the Christmas lunch for the Sacramento office of the US AgBank FCB at Il Fornaio. The lunch included Dave Parker, Dan Mattos, Randy Pattani, Roger Lown, Jeana Hultquist and Sharon Vestal. The US AgBank was created by a merger of the Farm Credit Bank of Wichita and Western Farm Credit Bank. Sharon worked for the Western Farm Credit Bank from late 1988 through early 2002. She continues to do some contract work for US AgBank.

Afterwards she went to a Christmas party at T0wer Records. Although it tailed off for awhile, Sharon has been doing more work for them lately.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Long Day

Long day... I drove 2 1/2 hours down to the bay area, participated in a six hour meeting, drove 2 1/2 hours home and then took Jack to a Cub Scout Pack Meeting.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

More Itunes

Over the last couple of nights, I installed Itunes on both of Sharon and my laptops. The HP Media Center PC in the den has about 1,600 songs in Itunes. Using Itunes capabilities, it is possible to access this library from either laptop when connected to the home network. The laptop can play these songs on the speakers attached to the laptop or select the speakers connected to the Airport Express and play music on those speakers.

Last night, I was sitting at the island in the kitchen working a Christmas letter on my laptop, connected wireless to the home network, selecting songs off the computer in the den and playing the music on the speakers attached to the Airport Express in the kitchen.

Miscellaneous Links

Sutter CEO stepping down

The New York Times Sunday Book Revew 10 Best Books of 2004

Google to scan books from five libraries

Brokaw's Parting Thoughts

War of the Worlds Movie Trailer

Monday, December 13, 2004

Drew

Drew finished up his fall quarter at UC Irvine and drove back to Northern California.

On Sunday, Drew went on a casting call for extras for the next two Pirates of the Caribean Movies. He said that they had advertised in Harley Davidson magazine for pirate looking men with long hair. As a result, there were some very interesting looking characters in line (e.g. long hair, missing teeth, ...).


Great Lunchtime Run

I had a great run at lunchtime. I covered 6.30 miles in 52 minutes and 5 seconds; this is an average pace of 8:16. The splits were: 8:30; 8:20; 8:11; 7:58; 7:53; 8:40, and; 8:36 (0.30). These are chasing Wallen times. This is a personal best over this training course.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Santa

Jack and I went to Mass, while Sharon shopped, then cooked and took food to her parents.

One of Jack's classmates had a Christmas party in the afternoon. The party featured an appearance by Santa.


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Pavilions 2004

Sharon insisted that we needed to go to Arden Fair Shopping Mall so she could return something. My idea of a good time does not include going to the mall on a Saturday before Christmas.

Afterwards, Sharon, Jack and I went to the Pavilions Shopping Center on Fair Oaks for the afternoon. Santa makes an appearance and they have complimentary carriage rides. This is the third year in a row we have spent an afternoon at Pavilions during the Christmas season.

After taking a carriage ride and wandering through a few shops, we had an appetizer at Piatti's and then went to dinner at Bandera.



Friday, December 10, 2004

The Pianist

After getting Jack to bed, Sharon and I watched the The Pianist.

2004 Holiday Lunch

Christine Vaca planned a team holiday lunch for the business system team this afternoon at the Claim Jumpers restaurant in Roseville.

Managed by Donna Gainsley, this team includes about 60 plus people working on implementing and supporting Lawson, Kronos and a couple of smaller applications; more than fifty people made it to the lunch.

Google

Google Suggest Beta: "As you type, Google will offer suggestions!"

Jack's Birthday

Sharon's Dad, Jack, turned 87 today; he was born on this day in 1917.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Lake Trinity--August 1, 1985

When we were at the Wallen's in July for their 25th wedding anniversary, I saw this picture in a montage on the wall. I asked Jill to scan it and send me a copy.

It was taken August 1, 1985 at Lake Trinity. Drew was eight months old and the group was celebrating Robbie Hunter's first birthday. Right to Left in the picture, it is Tomasin, Nooter, Wallen, Dave Hare and me. Dave Hare died of brain cancer in February of 1992.

click on the picture for a larger copy!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Fun, fun, fun...

Fun, fun, fun... Jack threw up in class and is down with the stomach flu.

NBA Power Rankings

ESPN ranks the Kings as the fifth best team in the NBA in this week's Power Rankings behind the Spurs, Timberwolves, Suns and Sonics.

Running on the treadmill, I watched the Sonics run out to a 20 point lead on the Spurs and hold on to the win on NBA League Pass on DIRECTV.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Sharon took off Tuesday night for El Retiro San Inigo, the Jesuit Retreat House of Los Altos. She is going to spend the day at a retreat titled "O Come, O Come Emmanuel - The O Antiphons."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Monday, December 06, 2004

Beard

From late 1991 until the middle of 1999, I wore a full beard. Twice in the last six months (during the Florida trip and over Thanksgiving), I started to grow the beard back out again.

An odd thing happened. As my facial hair has gotten grayer over the last five years, it has done so in a pattern. As my beard grew out, there was a distinct stripe on one side: dark above the stripe and grey below. It almost looked like the beard had been dyed that way. I did not like the effect and went back to just a goatee.


Sunday, December 05, 2004

More HDTV plus Kings

Jack and I watched part of the Sunday night football game between Pittsburg and Jacksonville and then switched to the Kings game. I continue to be amazed at the picture quality of ESPN's HD football telecasts. I have watched parts of games on CBS and FOX in HD, but quality and clarity of the Sunday night ESPN and Monday night ABC games seems much higher.

We watched the Kings roar back from a 20 point deficit to beat the Celtics on Comcast SportsNet West. With 11:37 left in the second quarter, the Kings trailed by 20. With 4:01 left in the fourth, they led by 26 (112-86).

Second Sunday of Advent

Sharon, Jack and I went to Mass at Good Shepherd and Sharon served as eucharistic minister.

Gerald Wallace

Larkin and I have tickets to Tuesday's game against the Bobcats. I was looking forward to seeing Gerald Wallace play. Unfortunately, he ran into an elbow during practice. Wallace suffered a concussion and will miss at least three games, including what would have been his Arco return Tuesday against the Kings. Wallace has been starting at forward for Charlotte, averaging 11.6 points and 5.9 rebounds.

100 Notable Books

New York Times: Sunday Book Review--100 Notable Books of the Year

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Decorating the Tree

We spent the afternoon decorating the Christmas Tree.

Decorating the Tree #2


Decorating the Tree #1


More fun with my Explorer

In July, I had the transfer case replaced in the Explorer. Over the last two weeks, the front-end has started to make more and more noise. I took the car in on Friday to have the noise diagnosed. It turns out that the wheel bearings on both of the front wheels are failing. I had to have the bearings and the supporting housings replaced. We picked it up this morning.

The Explorer has almost 148,000 miles on it. I was thinking that I would try to get two more years out of it, but now I am starting to rethink that strategy. In particular, if the automatic transmission fails (something that they expressed concern about when they replaced the transfer case), I am not sure that I am willing to make that investment.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Kings versus Indiana

Well, we missed the Gainsley's Christmas Party for the third year in a row... We just can not seem to get our act together!

Sharon and Tim went to the Sacramento Kings versus Indiana Pacers game. The Kings spanked the depleted Pacers by a score of 113 to 87.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Christmas Tree 2004

We went back to the Cal Expo lot for a Christmas Tree again this year. For at least the last four years, we have bought a flocked tree and the Cal Expo lot has a huge selection of pre-flocked trees.

Afterwards, we went to the Cheesecake Factory restaurant for dinner. I have eaten at this restaurant chain one other time in Las Vegas. Both times, the service was very poor.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

ITIL Foundations Day Three

I spent the first half of the day in the last day of the ITIL Foundation for Service Management Class. The class concluded with an hour test given by a separate proctor.

It is a somewhat odd test. There are a number of questions that ask you which answer is the most correct. Additionally, you have to pay close attention to qualifiers like always and maybe. To complicate things even further, the methodology and the exams were originally designed in England. As a result, there are some odd words and phrases.

I did three practice tests last night and never felt good about any of them. Nevertheless, I got a passing score on each of the practice tests, missing only about half of the maximum number of questions that you could miss and still pass the certification exam.

I think I passed the exam, but there were enough curve balls on the exam (things that were not really explicitly in the class) that I left the test with a certain amount of uneasiness.

Kings Record

With the win over Memphis, the Kings have 9 wins and 5 losses (0.643) as of November 30; they have played 7 home and 7 road games.

At the end of November 2003, the team had 12 wins and 4 losses (0.750) with 10 home and 6 road games.

At the end of November 2002, the team had 13 wins and 5 losses (0.722) with 8 home and 10 road games.

At the end of November 2001, the team had 13 wins and 4 losses (0.765) with 7 home and 10 road games.

At the end of November 2000, the team had 10 wins and 4 losses (0.714) with 7 home and 7 road games.

At the end of November 1999, the team had 10 wins and 2 losses (0.833) with 7 home and 5 road games.