Friday, October 29, 2010

Life in a small town

Julie went to vote this week. We both prefer to vote early and miss the lines. Julie took "early" a bit too far when she stopped to vote at about 9:15 a.m. It turns out the early-voting polls don't open until 10:00.

However, we we live in a wonderful small town. They went and found someone to open the polls early, turn on the voting machines, and let Julie go ahead and vote while she was there. I think people are nice in Raleigh, but I can't imagine this happening there.

Loving Park City!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Somedays it sucks to be me

15 or 20 years ago, I had a wisdom tooth pulled. Just one. Who do you know who does just one? I was happy to have all four out but the oral surgeon said "Why bother? The other three are fine." They weren't fine and they should have come out then.

I have declared this year to be "fix my mouth" year. Back in May I had some fillings done and had a minor surgery to fix the crappy work from the first wisdom tooth extraction. Today, the other three wisdom teeth had to go (teeth numbers 1, 16 and 17 for all you study-at-home dentists).

The process was pretty quick and easy, as long as you aren't squeamish and don't mind a bit of pain. It was all done with a local pain killer and only took 30 minutes. The good news and bad is that I still have strong jaw bones. Probably comes from eating as much as I do. It means my jaws are healthy, but it also meant the teeth put up more fight than expected.

Now all my wisdom is in some trash can at the surgeon's, but at least I should have fewer problems keeping my back teeth clean and shiny.

Assuming my extractions heal as planned, I hereby declare an end to "fix my mouth" year.

UPDATE 1: OK, this is unpleasant. The two teeth that came out with a standard "grip it and rip it" are dandy. They stopped bleeding quickly. No swelling. No pain. Life is good. The one he ended up having to break and then to drill and dig to get the roots out is very unhappy. Go figure! Swollen. Sore. Took 10 hours to stop bleeding. Just to magnify the annoyance, I am eating luke-warm mushy food and drinking my coffee warm as well. Hoping for big improvement today.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It finally cooled down for some powder

We had about 8 inches of fluffy dry snow here at the house last night. It really does look very wintery outside and it is interesting to see how people are dressing. Most everyone is in their winter woolies (hats, gloves, boots, ...) but I was driving down I-80 this afternoon and saw someone driving with no shirt on. The temperatures hadn't hit 30.

"Stupid is as stupid does."

Glad we squeezed in a last round of golf on Friday. This is the 16th fairway. You probably wouldn't get much of a roll with your drives.

And this is the 16th green.

But if the golfers were unhappy, the dogs of Park City are more than making up for it.

Now it is warming back up into the 50's, but the nights will still be in the teens or 20's, so maybe the snow on the ski slopes will hang around. Only 3 and a half weeks until opening day!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pictures from my iPhone

You may have seen the video of Jasper with his friendly llama buddies from a few days ago. Two days later, we stopped near the FOAU Recue Ranch to visit with a few mules and horses. Quite a different story from the llamas. Notice that Jasper is not in the picture. He wouldn't come closer than 5 feet from the fence, and only then if he could be stuck to my leg. Mules: 1 Jasper: 0

I have read a ton about the star of the electric car market, the $100,000+ Tesla Roadster. I finally got to see one the other day at the Hotel Park City. Things to notice:
  • The huge 220V power cable that runs out from the hotel to charge the car. You must be someone important (owner? big customer?) to get that kind of service. The Tesla is a pure electric car (versus a hybrid). No electricity, no driving.
  • The fact that this car is in a handicap spot without a handicap placard
  • The sign that says you can also park in that spot if you are 65 or over
I wish I had someone standing next to the car. I swear it barely comes up past my knees. I simply can't imagine anyone other than a professional contortionist being able to get in and out of this car after year 65 or with any kind of handicap. It has to feel like you are driving a go cart, albeit a very expensive one.

First snow of the year

After quite a few weeks of sunny, warm weather, we are finally turning the corner for winter. The world is white and at 9:00, it has surged to 24 degrees. I was surprised to hear the snow guns working over at Park City, but I guess it makes sense. They are scheduled to open on November 20th and they need to start building a base.

There is still just a bit of color left on the trees, but not enough to grab shots like we had last year. It all comes down to timing.

While the ski resorts are probably celebrating the snow and colder weather, no one is as happy as Jasper. He has been running everywhere, chasing snowballs and just enjoying the white powder. It is amazing how his energy level and excitement go up with even just a few inches of the magic powder. He's definitely a Park City dog.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The gadget to go buy

I mentioned Roku two years ago, and it is still one of my favorite gadgets. It keeps getting cheaper, better, and more flexible. It is a tiny little box that connects to your high-speed Internet connection and your TV and then streams video from numerous sources. My favorite is Netflix, but there are lots of choices including Amazon, YouTube, Hulu Plus.

Check out for more information. There are three versions and the most expensive is only $99. DVDs will soon be dead. This type of device will be what drives video on demand. Right now I think think this is a much better choice than either Google TV or AppleTV.

Jasper and his llamas

I go to Home Depot frequently. Rather than taking the highway, I always drive along the frontage road, because Jasper loves to see the llamas. If we see them close by, we stop and Jasper gets out of the truck and waits for them. I've taken pictures, but without video it is hard to imagine how curious the llamas are. They see Jasper and come from everywhere.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Golf tournament

We entered an elite group of golf hackers in a tournament today. We got spanked. We didn't finish last, or even next to last, but we did manage to finish 11 strokes behind the winners. We probably had more fun though.

Our team, from left to right, included Doug Drexler, Bill Benson, Derick Loyola, and me, behind the camera.

Notice the long pants and sweatshirts. This was the first chilly day in quite a while. Damp. Cloudy. Getting ready for Monday's snow.

The good news is that all my CrossFit workouts are paying off. I won the longest drive contest by 20-30 yards. It was about a mile short of what the pros hit, but it was a legitimate 300 yards on a flat hole. Definitely one of my longest ever. My prize? A golf bag. I have only won two golf prizes in my life, one for longest drive and one for closet to the hole. Both prizes were golf bags. Too weird.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A change in the weather?

After a very warm and comfortable fall, we are getting tired of seeing this little image in the weather forecast.

Monday's forecast is the first day this fall that has included this lovely picture.

Think snow!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gorgeous morning at the Swaner Nature Preserve

I was driving to get a physical this morning around 8:15. There had been a pretty heavy frost but the sun was cooking it off, adding a low fog layer. As I passed the Swaner Nature Preserve, I had to stop and snap a few shots. Just gorgeous.

It's nice to have my little Canon in the camera all the time, but it sure would have been nice to have my real camera and a tripod. Oh well.... Maybe I'll drag it along to Crossfit in the morning.

Stop using CDs and DVDs for backup

There are some wonderful reasons not to back up your PC, including:
  • It's too hard
  • I don't know how
  • I don't have a single thing worthy of backing up
  • I'm just lazy
One thing that makes backup easier and faster is the cheap prices and growing sizes of USB Flash Drives. Writing to a CD just doesn't hold enough data. DVDs are better, but still pretty small. Neither of them last very long, which would surprise most people. Even stored in a seemingly safe desk drawer, they start losing data after about 5 years.

My suggestion is to throw away all your CDs and DVDs used for backup and start using the much faster, smaller, more reliable USB drives. As I posted a week ago, I use SlickDeals to find great sales, but you don't even need to do that. At Amazon, without a sale, I found a nice 16GB version for $25. There are tons of choices and a good sale can get you closer to $15. 32GB versions sell for around $60, but the prices just keep on dropping.

Remember, you don't have to back up your whole hard drive. You only need to back up the files in your User Directory (My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, ...). For most people, all this would fit on a single USB drive.

Another consideration is to do what my mom does. She brings a recent backup when she visits in Utah. She leaves that at our house and takes the old flash drive home. By cycling through them, she always has the most recent backup somewhere other than her house. This makes a lot of sense when you consider natural disaster or a house fire.

Using the football tickets

I have lifetime rights to 4 NCSU football tickets, about 10 rows back on the 40. As long as I buy them every year, I keep the rights. I was worried about this when we moved to Utah. Works great though. This year we only had 6 home games instead of the normal 7.
  • Western Carolina - gave the tickets to family
  • Cincinnati - sold the tickets for $400
  • Virginia Tech - in Raleigh, saw the game
  • Boston College - in Raleigh, saw the game
  • Florida State - sold the tickets for $600
  • Wake Forest - gave the tickets to family
The two sales didn't quite pay for the entire season, but they sure did a nice job of cutting the costs. If NCSU could ever crank out a great football team, I could come out way ahead. Go State!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tear it down, but build it back?

Over three years ago, I posted about a sad little lot someone was selling in Park City, right at the bottom of our hill. It had a "historic cabin" on the lot, which apparently had to be incorporated into any house that was built. I kept wondering why the shack didn't accidentally burn to the ground one day.

We came back from our trip to NC and found that the shack had been torn down and tossed in a dumpster, except for the facade. I figured someone was finally going to build a house and may they would include the facade in the design somehow.

Nope. Wrong again. I stopped to ask some workers what they were going to build. They are replacing the shack with a new, more modern, less rotten shack. I can't even imagine what they are thinking. Too bizarre.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Getting some super deals

It's a slower time for the blog, so I thought I might take the next few days and throw out some suggestions of things that I love, and you may not have heard of.

One of the great things about the Internet is how easily people can share information. The trick is to sort through the crap and find something interesting or helpful. My favorite web site for saving money is called Slick Deals. People post hundreds of deals being offered around the web. Then others can vote on the quality the deal with a thumbs up or down. The default view is to see only the Hot Deals.

An example: the other day I bought two reams (20 500-packs) of quality paper from Office Depot. They were normally $52 each. The deal listed two valid coupons and a rebate. My total cost for $104 worth of paper was 18 cents, shipped. When you are shopping for a non-profit, you can't beat deals like that.

If you are shopping for something and are willing to wait for a deal, enter your search. At the top of the search results, there is an option to "Create a deal alert". Make your search as specific as possible, and then tailor your alert to only be sent when the deal is 4 stars or higher. You'll get an email the moment something interesting shows up. I have found this to be very helpful for things like little Canon cameras and USB Flash drives.

Monday, October 11, 2010

5-1 with 6 games to go

Our trip to Raleigh allowed us to see two football games. The second had a much happier ending than the first. It was a cloudless day and unusually toasty for an October afternoon.

I still think it is great that they actually shoot off fireworks in the stadium as the Wolfpack takes the field. Seems like our paranoid rules and regulations would prevent that.

We have our new live mascot, a Tamaskan Wolfdog. He looks almost exactly like a wolf, but has a disposition that is better suited to posing with children instead of gnawing on them.

This is what happened to Boston College over and over. State blitzed. The quarterback threw in a hurry. The ball went somewhere unpredictable, sometimes to the NCSU defense.

Our group for the day: Julie, Barbie, and her fiancee Vern. Barbie is healing nicely from her skiing accident out here in January 2009.

This is what I like to see in a football game: no time left on the clock and a 27 point NCSU lead.

A side sport tied loosely to football is cup collecting. People like bringing home the cups you get at the stadium when you buy a soft drink. Vern was quite happy bringing home a dozen cups, until he saw what these young ladies had collected. Now that's a stack of cups! I can't imagine how many dishwasher loads it takes to get through that pile.

And then there were none

Our sad and lonely garage....

We used to have four cars in the garage. I got rid of my Porsche 911 American Roadster about three years ago. Then I sold my Ford Explorer and BMW M5 to Mark Reid about a year ago. That left us with Julie's lovely Infiniti M45. Before we came back to Raleigh, Julie listed it on Craigslist. Right at the end of our stay, she closed the deal with someone from Wake Forest (the town, not the school).

It's one more step towards really being Park City residents. Anyone want to buy a nice house?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

IBM Ultimate

I used to play a lot of Ultimate Frisbee. It started with the NCSU club team. Back around 1987, one of the NC State players, Todd Groshung, started working with the IBM Rec Center to create an Ultimate league. I jumped in to help and recruited a lot of people, many of whom had never played. Todd got everything in motion, but oddly enough, never played in the league. The league is still going, with 23 years in a row of Ultimate.

I stopped in yesterday to watch them play. They only have four teams this year. It's hard to recruit new players because IBM is hiring lots of new young talent, as long as you live in China or India.

The guy with the disc in the photo below is John Holtman. He is one of the last three people playing in the IBM league, that played back when I was there. Perhaps to prove a point about why some people have stopped playing, John rolled his ankle while I was there. Ouch!

The other two that are still playing are Missy Summerville and Julie Holloway (left two). Nice to see a few people still hustling up and down the field.

I definitely miss playing Ultimate. It amazes me that Park City doesn't have a lot of it going on. It's such good exercise, very social and easy to learn. Perhaps now that we are full time out in Utah, I can get something going.

Dinner with the Joyce clan

When you don't get to Raleigh very often, you need to gather as much family as you can. My mom stopped in on her way back from a story telling festival in Tennessee. We got everyone together for a great Italian dinner at Nina's. For you Raleigh people, if you haven't been and you like Italian, you should definitely give it a try. Great pasta!

From left to right we have Julie, cousin Sara, Colleen and Doug (father, remarried), Emily (mom) and my Aunt Martha.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Dining at the Huntley farm

To this day, I still find it difficult to picture Tim Huntley, the president of our company Ganymede Software, as a farmer. But a farmer he is, and an excellent one. Each time we visit, there is something new to see. A while back it was the goats, but the goats are gone now. This time it was meeting the new cows, Penny and her calf Daisy. Daisy was a sweetheart and came over to get her head scratched.

Tim also has about 20 beehives now. Yet another big project.

The boys, Neal and Evan, seem just about perfect. They're polite, fun, and seem great at entertaining each other. They go to a brand new school that can't be more than a half mile away. They seem quite happy and it is nice to find kids today that don't spend every second with their nose in a video game. Jenny does a lot of volunteer work at the school. My favorite job she does is the lettering for the school's sign out front. They would let me do that for no more than a day or two before I would spell something that only I thought was funny.

In this picture, they stand proudly after I got my butt whooped 10-4 in Foosball. I knew I should have learned from the Wolfpack this weekend and just stopped when I had a 1-0 lead. They told us they wouldn't normally both wear a red shirt, but they did it to honor NCSU and us as their guests.

I wish I had grabbed a photo of the end result, but it was too tasty to wait for. Our dinner was homemade pizza. We started with freshly made pizza dough and then went through the fixin's bar to customize each one. There was red pepper, garlic, mushrooms, sausage, sun dried tomatoes and much more. Yum.

Then Tim took the pizzas and cooked them in their outdoor bread and pizza oven. You start a wood fire and let it burn for a few hours, heating the brick oven to over 500 degrees. Then you shovel out the remains of the fire and slide the pizzas in. They were wonderful!

It was a short visit, but such a nice one. There is just so much to see: Tim and Jenny, the boys, the cows, the chickens (dozens right now), the collection of mostly feral barn cats (and one house cat), the bee hives, the outdoor oven, the farm plantings, ....

One more thing. A few years ago Tim got me hooked on his Chipolte pepper sauce he made by smoking home-grown peppers. I don't make my own, but I buy the can in the store, grind them in the food processor, and use the sauce with lots of food. There's always some in the fridge. This time Tim gave me a taste of his homemade catsup. It was a lot spicier than store bought and had little or no sugar. Much better than what everyone thinks of as catsup. Now I just have to figure out how to buy something similar. I don't think I can duplicate Tim's 180 tomato plants and his 80 quart pot to cook them in.

Down to 4-1

We are back in NC for about a week and it looks like we will be blessed with gorgeous weather for the entire trip. We started by joining Ken and Catherine Miller for an outing to see the 4-0 NCSU Wolfpack take on Va Tech.

Tailgating just isn't quite the same when you are doing it from the back of you rented Kia instead of an SUV full of stuff.

The game started great, with NC State pulling ahead 17-0. Then the wheels cam off and they ended up losing in the last few minutes. An unfortunate loss, but we are still 4-1, which is a lot better than anyone expected. Our next two games are Boston College and ECU, both of which should be wins.

Of course, even with a loss, I couldn't help but smile at the nice sign someone had hanging in the trees. Some things never change.