April 2007

April 30, 2007

I'm Lando Calrissian

Categories: Random cool stuff

As you know, I love these stupid web surveys. According to the latest, my Star Wars identity is Lando Calrissian.

Hm, not sure how I feel about this, but these web surveys are never wrong...

Posted April 30, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

April 17, 2007

Back from Cabo

Categories: Travel

Michelle, the boys, and I just came back from a week of sunshine and in Cabo San Lucas. It was a good trip. Tons more later. Time to go to bed now.

Posted April 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

April 8, 2007

Geocaching with the Herons

Categories: Kids Random cool stuff

Last weekend, Andrew (9), Michael (6), and I had a grand ol' time geocaching in a park in Renton (a suburb on the south end of Lake Washington). We even found the cache this time (not always the case, unfortunately).

The cache the guys found.

First, a little about geocaching for the uninitiated. Geocaching is a game where people hide caches and then list the coordinates on Geocaching.com. More often, there are multiple sets of coordinates, each leading to a clue that plays into a subsequent set of coordinates. Seekers then use their GPS' to work through the coordinates/clues until they find the cache. The caches vary, but they're usually some container with a logbook and some trinkets (the boys each picked up a small toy in this last one.) The guys (and I) love geocaching because it's a treasure hunt; it adds a lot of dimension to our hikes. It's a good excuse to play with gadgets too...

Herons fill the trees at the Black River Riparian Forest

Anyway, the park where we geocached is the Black River Riparian Forest; the unique thing about this park (other than the fact the Black River has been gone for the almost ninety years since the Montlake Cut lowered the water level of Lake Washington) is that it's home to a huge heron colony, one of the biggest in Washington. As you can see from the photo, the trees are filled with heron nests. I understand they've laid their eggs already; the ones that survive predation from the bald eagles that have taken up residence very near by (we could easily the eagles' nest) will hatch in a few weeks. I want to come back then and see the hatchlings learn to fly. It was pretty cool even now.

A few tips if you go:

  • Bring binoculars. The viewing area is across a creek, so you need magnification if you want to see anything.
  • Bring a loooong lens. If you're planning on taking photos, you'll need a lot of reach. I had my 70-200 2.8 with a 1.4x tele and didn't have nearly enough reach to get a good shot. I don't think 500mm with an extender would be crazy. Compounding the difficulty, the birds move quickly and its often overcast here. High ISO, fast shutters, and stabilization are key. I was shooting on my monopod, which was good. There was a guy using a tripod next to me, but he seemed to be having problems tracking flying birds. Much easier on the monopod.
  • <spoiler warning>The geocaching clue tells you to count the number of nests and work that into the equation. While I was busy getting frustrated counting the nests through the binoculars, Andrew noticed the value canceled out in the clue (you added it at the beginning and subtracted it back out at the end). Good thing one of us can do math.

If you're interested in trying to find this cache, it's GC5602 on Geocaching.com.

Posted April 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 5, 2007

Another Scotch Malt Whisky Society Evening

Categories: Food and Drink

Last week was definitely a week of conspicuous consumption. On top of the Oyster Games, I went to another Scotch Malt Whisky Society tasting at the Rainier Club. This year, I went with Alex, a crazy smart and fun Russian developer on my team (and a good photographer, as you'll see from his site).

As usual, there were many fine whiskies. More than the other years, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottlings were simply superb. One of my favorites was 33.63, a young (7 year old) bottle from Ardbeg, one of my favorite distilleries. It was fantastic - true to form for Ardbeg: smokey and wonderful. Alex's favorite was 113.14, a 12yo from Braes of Glenlivet (it was nicknamed "Sinful and Naughty" which I think enhanced the appeal for Alex.) The 1.120 was a 39 yo from Glenfarcas, and 4.114 was a 22 yo from Highland Park (another favorite distillery of mine). These were both fantastic. I will likely buy a bottle of each of these.

Macallan had their Fine Oak 21 year old, which was even better than the 17yo I tried and loved last time. It was definitely more refined and lighter than the younger Fine Oaks (I love this whole line, I admit).

Suntory had their Yamazaki Sherry Wood there for the first time. I thought this was great as well; full-bodied and raisiny -yum. Unfortunately, not available in Washington (our liquor sales are run by the state gov't).

Alex and I were split on the Glenlivet Nadurra, which was new to both of us. He loved it; I didn't care for it. It's a light, flowery whisky. I just didn't like the tail.

Finally, I had to have another glass of the Talisker 175, which was a fav from last time.

I was much smarter this time around. I poured out the whiskies I didn't care for, took smaller pours, ate earlier in the evening, and stopped drinking after we left the event and met friends in a bar afterwards. Most important I skipped the cigars entirely (big win). I was totally sober a few hours later when we left the bar and headed home.

I met a bunch of nice people, ran into some friends, and tasted a mess of great whisky. What could be better? (OK, if we had some oysters or bacon, it would be have been perfect.)

Posted April 5, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 4, 2007

Oyster Games

Categories: Food and Drink

Katya, Oyster Girl, Kellie, me, Jane, and Kristen at the Oyster Games.For the past three years, I've been a regular at the Oyster Olympics, a fundraiser for the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. This year, the US Olympic Committee decided that after eighteen years, the Oyster Olympics impinged too much on their Olympics and issued a cease-and-desist letter (losers). So, after a naming contest, they changed it to the "Oyster Games". (My losing entry was "Oysterpalooza".)

This year, I had the good fortune of going to this amazing event with four lovely ladies from the office: Kellie, Kristen, Katya, and Jane (Jane was invited for name alliteration diversity.) Kellie came with me last year; Katya and Jane are also oyster buffs. Kristen was a raw oyster virgin, having only eaten cooked oysters until now. I think we converted her. Katya shocked us all by eating a huge oyster; she apparently loves the really big oysters. Even as an oyster lover, I must admit it was too daunting for me.

Once again, I ate my way through my weight of oysters. As usual, I loved the Kumamotos and Pacificas, particularly from Hood Canal. I also found the Olympias to be a special treat; I don't recall ever eating so many Olympias before. They were the surprise highlight. I thought the Virginicas were watery this year and only OK. As usual, I don't care for the more metallic tasting European Flats.

As a special treat, I brought a flask of Ardbeg 10 years old Scotch whisky, one of my favorite whiskies and a great match with oysters. I would pour a few drops onto an oyster and slurp the whole thing down. Simple heavenly. I started handing out spiked oysters to the people serving plus any nice people I met. I soon became the Pied Piper of oysters with whisky. Jane brought a flask of Laphroaig, which was lovely with the oysters as well. Those peaty, ocean-y Islay whiskies are just ideal with oysters. Mmm.

This is always one of the highlights of my food year; this year was no exception -- even with the Grinchy USOC trying to ruin the event.

Click here for photos from the event in 2004 (I didn't take as many photos this year.)

Posted April 4, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)