December 2004

December 30, 2004

My favorite photos of 2004

Categories: Photos

Sacre Coeur

I took a ton of photos this year, mostly snaps of the kids. I did manage to produce a few shots that don't show Michael hitting Andrew with a stick though. Here are my favorite shots of 2004 (some have appeared here before.)


Posted December 30, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

December 27, 2004

Mr. Neat

Categories: Kids

As usual, we set out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa. Once the kids go to bed and after we've set all the gifts out, Michelle and I (or just I) eat the cookies, drink the milk, and maybe leave a note. Andrew used to love this and really thought Santa had eaten the little snack.

This year, when Michael came out Christmas morning, Michelle pointed out that Santa had left the cookie plate and milk glass out (instead of putting them away like we tell the kids to do), Michael got mad and said, "Oooh, I hate that guy!"

Not even Santa gets a break from Michael.

Posted December 27, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Twas the night before Christmas

Categories: Random junk

We had a small, very enjoyable dinner party Christmas eve. As usual, we topped it off with dessert and decaf coffee. Once we got our guests out safely and the presents out, we went to bed -- relatively early even.

That night, I couldn't sleep a wink. I even started re-reading a JavaScript reference, normally a sure fire way to put me out. Nothing doing. My mind was racing. I solved all the world's problems in my mind that night. I was ready to get up and write it all down, but I really did want to sleep.

In the morning, I was a wreck when the kids came racing out to see what Santa had brought. Michelle and Ives (my brother) looked like hell too. Turns out the coffee was improperly marked; the decaf was really caffeinated coffee! None of us slept that night; we all shared the mind-racing phenomenon.

We took turns taking naps and building Lego creations for the boys. It was a long, long Christmas day...

Posted December 27, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 22, 2004

What's in my camera bag: Keep it clean

I'm continually messing with my camera gear and accessories and have slowly come up with the set of stuff I like (for now, anyway.) It turns out I carry a lot of stuff depending on what I'm doing, so I thought I'd break this into a few posts.

In addition to the camera and no matter how light I'm travelling, I always have some way to clean the lens. Expensive lenses and cameras and great photo training are meaningless if your lens is filthy. Sometimes, I just have a handkerchief, but usually I have one or both of the following:

  • A LensPen : This is the best little gadget. Easy to carry, cheap, and useful. One end has a little chamois tip, the other is a retractable brush. I use the MiniPRO Everyone should have one (or more).

  • Lens cleaning cloth. My favorite is a big chamois one I found in Japan, but I can't recall the brand (got it at Yodobashi, if that helps...) I also have half-a-dozen little microfiber cloths I've picked up at various times and have them stuck in pretty much every pocket of my bags.

I don't carry spray cleaner, but I keep some at home. Before my trips and big shoots, I clean all my glass thoroughly, and I usually do it again afterwards. I haven't really tried a lot of different brands. I'm currently using V-Vax Products Residual Oil Remover. I can't find a website for them, but I understand it's pretty widely available. It works well for me. I use old undershirts to clean the glass. (I read somewhere once that you should never use wood based fibers on lenses. Dunno if that's true, but it seems reasonable.)

Anyway, enough on lens cleaning. Stay tuned for more photo gear rants...

Addendum: The brand of my favorite cleaning cloth is "MicroDear". You can get them from Adorama.

Posted December 22, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 18, 2004

Dinner at the Herbfarm

Categories: Food and Drink

Michelle and I had dinner at the Herbfarm this week with Scott and his wife Patti, our friend Angie, and our friend Mike. We've been to the Herbfarm several times before, although this is the first time in their new location (their first place burned down, then they were in a few temporary locations.)

Both Angie and Scott beat me to writing about the dinner in their blogs, so I'll leave you with their descriptions of the menu and evening. I will say, though, that dinner at the Herbfarm is always great and interesting, but boy, it's long. Six hours is quite an endurance test. I think it's easier to bear when the weather is nice since you can walk around outside between courses. A good group of friends who are active and scintillating conversationalists is a must as well (fortunately, we were covered there.)

Anyway, it was nice to see the Herbfarm is still wonderful. I'm looking forward to our next meal there -- after I've slept a bit.

Angie's view
Scott's view

Posted December 18, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

December 15, 2004

Smoking on a flight

Categories: Random cool stuff

When I was in Seoul last week, I had a great evening with our awesome Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Professional). (Joe - my VP - and I actually met with MVPs in Taipei, Seoul, and Beijing.) These guys (and they are almost all guys, unfortunately) are volunteers who are super enthusiastic about Microsoft products and support our users in newsgroups and via their websites and blogs.

Anyway, as you might guess, much of the conversation was around geeky stuff, but we had a great conversation where they discussed how to best sneak a cigarette on a trans-Pacific flight. Apparently, almost all these guys smoke heavily and find it difficult to make the long flight to the US with a smoke.

So, the strategies that seemed most popular were:

  • Wait until the flight attendants eat. There's usually only one on duty then, so it's easier to sneak the cig.

  • Find a charitable soul among the flight attendants, one who will take you into the baggage hold to let you smoke. (There might be other good applications of this location with certain flight attendants...)

  • Smoke in the bathroom and then apologize profusely when you're caught (beware the bathrooms with automatic fire suppression systems, though.) Apparently, the flight attendants don't typically want to bother with the paperwork of arresting you when they land, so if you don't bug them again, they'll let it go.

It was a surprising but fun conversation. It was nice to get to know these guys as people, something I wouldn't have been able to do in the newsgroups or on email.

Posted December 15, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Walter the Farting Dog

Categories: Kids

Walter the Farting Dog book coverNot sure whether to file this under "Kids" or "Cool Stuff". So, my dear friend Connie (who I mentioned in my last post) gave the boys a nice Christmas gift last night. One of them was a book called Walter the Farting Dog. Really.

This is the charming story of a dog (named Walter, obviously) who, well, farts a lot. It's a big problem for the family, they try all sorts of remedies, but nothing works. Dad wants to take the dog to the pound, but the kids love him. Walter, not wanting to leave the family, holds his farts in until one fateful evening. Robbers break into the house and tie off his muzzle to keep him from barking. As you might guess, Walter saves the day with his unique affliction, endearing him to the family forever.

I'm not making this up.

Michael (4), of course, loves this story, especially in light of his fondness of farting (which Connie gleaned as one of four regular readers of this blog.)

Thanks, Connie!

Posted December 15, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

December 14, 2004

Devastating and Dangerous

Categories: Kids

We had dinner this evening at the Seattle Yacht Club with our good friends Connie and Mike (two unrelated friends who were both in town). While we were catching up, Michael (4) sauntered over to a table of pre-teen girls, struck a pose, and informed them, "I'm devastating and dangerous." He then just stared into each of their eyes.

It apparently worked. They fawned over him for a while. I think if I tried that I'd get laughed out of the restaurant.

Posted December 14, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

December 13, 2004

Home again

Categories: Random junk

I'm home again after two weeks in Asia. I'm still in a weird time zone delirium, compounded by the weird Groundhogs Day effect of travelling from Asia. (I left the hotel at 6:30am Sunday in Beijing and arrived in Seattle at 6:30am Sunday.)

Lots of bloggy stuff to write about -- later...

Posted December 13, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 5, 2004

A bad way to wake up

Categories: Kids

Michelle emailed this little vignette today (since I'm on the road).

Michael (4): "Mommy

Posted December 5, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Seoul Man

Categories: Food and Drink

Yesterday in Taipei, we had a little press interview and went to kick off the Microsoft booth at InfoMonth, an immense trade show that was packed with people. We saw some cool stuff, especially the Cappuccino computer, a tiny desktop PC with full specs. Lots of cute booth babes (especially the Microsoft booth) topped off this great geek fest.

Afterwards, we had a great lunch at Ting Tai Fung. This is a super popular restaurant in Taipei (so popular they've opened additional branches including some in Tokyo.) It was listed by the New York Times as one of the ten best restaurants in the world. I don't know if that's true, but it was pretty damn good. The restaurant is nothing fancy and specializes in dumplings, which really I love. We had way too much food, but it was amazing.

We finished up the day with a trip to the National Palace Museum (great, but under renovation), a stroll through the Shihlin Night Market, and some shopping in the great electronics district.

The tropical storm took a turn out to see, so the rain eased up and didn't really cause much hassle for us.

I'm in Seoul now, and just had a great Korean bbq dinner. There's nothing better than a little kalbi (bbq'd short ribs) washed down with soju (Korean rice wine) -- except maybe a lot of kalbi washed down with soju. We had a lot of kalbi.

More meetings and MVP stuff tomorrow. Wahoo.

Posted December 5, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

December 2, 2004

Storm brewing

Categories: Random junk

I'm in Taiwan right now, looking down the barrel of Typhoon Nanmadol, the first December typhoon to hit the area since 1964. What luck! No one seems too concerned here. I got lucky on my trip to Puerto Rico, missing the tropical storm that hit the island. Hopefully, this storm will pass uneventfully.

Posted December 2, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)