Friday, February 27, 2015

RIP, Mr. Nimoy

I've got a lot of memories of Mr. Spock. Played by Leonard Nimoy in the iconic Star Trek series. I grew up watching him, and enjoying his character. While I liked Scotty, I think Spock might have been my favorite of the main characters.


He died today at 83, which I should have expected at some point, but after seeing him in the latest Star Trek movies, I thought he might live for quite some time. It's a huge reminder of my own mortality as I see more and more people I've known, or enjoyed, for most of my life.

A sad day indeed, but I'll have many, many fond memories of Mr. Nimoy in the years to come.



There was enough snow coming down yesterday that Kendall's practice was cancelled. Actually, both Tia and I were disappointed as we were planning to go. However we decided to try the gym instead, since it didn't look too bad. There was supposed to be open volleyball, so we packed up and went out in the snow.

When we got down there, Tia and I took the barbell class, which is an hour of aerobic lifting. You set your own light barbell with weights, and it's lots of sets. I bet we did 100 squats, maybe 100 barbell curls, and more. Sets of 8 and 4, though the 4s were usually slow or had a series of pumps during the exercise. It's a good workout. Not super hard, depending on your weights, and I've learned to keep between 5 and 20 on each side of the barbell, not more.

Afterwards, we got the gym to set up the volleyball net, which they hadn't done. The snow had kept a lot of people away, and no one was really interested. Tia, Kendall, and I warmed up and a guy came over, so we did some 2 on 2, which was hard. We couldn't cover the court well, and with Tia and I not having great passes, we were a mess.

But it was fun. We grabbed dinner and went home.

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I was beat, however, with my having ridden the bike for 45 minutes earlier in the day in prep for Kendall's practice. However it was a good feeling, except for my knee. Between biking and squats, it was sore. Have to watch it for a few days. I'd swim today, but it's cold and I'd rather not go out if I don't need to.

When we got home, it was tough down the road and driveway. Snow had blown across, which gave us nightmares of our second winter here when we were snowed in and got stuck coming home one night in the road, because of wind blowing snow.

This morning Kyle tried to get out and got stuck. I raced around, glad he'd walked back since he reminded me how bad things were. I used the tractor to plow out and then when I took the kids, we pushed Kyle's Prius with the Suburban so he could get moving. He wisely turned around in the cul de sac and called it a day. I made it to school, but it was cold.

4F when I left, 7F when I got back.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

An Education Issue

We've got an education issue, at least in the way that we report and talk about education in America. I know that most people don't feel this way, but the more this makes headlines and has been presented by media, the more people start to form opinions. That saddens me as I think that we should ensure our citizens in society have housing, food, and education. I'm starting to see health care as important in there as well.

I read a piece on conservatism and education from a conservative veteran turned libertarian, or maybe more liberal. It's an interesting read, but a couple quote stand out:

"Educational success has little to do with innate intelligence or “goodness” and almost everything to do with class, upbringing and privilege."

"In America, to our everlasting shame, money is the absolute yardstick of goodness. "

The first quote, I think, fundamentally conflicts with conservative views. Far, far too many people see success or advancement solely on their own merits. That makes lots of sense if you work in a blue collar situation where you can advance based on being a better mechanic/ contractor/miner, etc. Often it is your work ethic and willing to work more/harder that advanced you.

However in academics, where you need more mental stretching and growth, it's support and assistance of teachers, parents, friends, and more that help. Pushing back on this because of your religious belief, or your distrust of other's beliefs doesn't help others succeed and grow.

The second quote seems to be a problem that we talk about in the US, but don't take seriously. We seem to think you are a "money over everything" person, or you are a hippie/communist that doesn't need money. There are far, far more nuances on the spectrum of valuing money. I want a level of security, as many do. I think lots of people feel the same, realizing that more money isn't always the goal, especially when you've reached some level. I'm not sure if that's $75k a year, $100k/yr, or something else, but it's there.

You have the view of "more money" or "profit is most important" when you don't have that level of security. There's another quote here that might follow on from those thoughts

"The Tea Party thrives on blue-collar “common sense” that is composed of a combination of ignorance, superstition and fear. A literate and educated populace is an existential threat to the kind of thoughtless rage that has consumed the right over the past few years."

I had higher hopes for the Tea Party when it started, with the goals of lowering taxes and limiting government. I supported those goals, being Libertarian thoughts. However the party seems to have morphed into a combination of political party and mega-church. The quotes from Tea Party politicians seem to always contains a level of insanity blended with sheer mean-ness designed to sometimes advance a position, but more often just to detract from others.

My opinion, and I might be wrong, but I'm not looking to be right. I'm looking to help people get housed, fed, and educated. Even at some cost to myself.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Six Months with the iPhone 6

A couple years ago I switched from iOS to Android, pre-ordering a Samsung Galaxy 4. I wrote about my decision and then a short term update before I moved back to my old iPhone 4S and iOS. I have a few more thoughts on what was better on Android, but in the end there were a few things that really annoyed me, specific to how I use a mobile device.

Last fall I eagerly looked forward to the iPhone 6 as my 4S was getting old, slow, and the battery was dying. I pre-ordered the 6, and switched from Verizon to T-Mobile at the same time. I decided to take a look at the past six months and my thoughts. I've broken this into two parts because the carrier and phone are separate.


I have mixed feelings here. I really like lots that T-Mobile has done. The freedom from contracts, the high speeds, the music streaming, the wi-fi calling, overseas data, it's a neat company. And in some ways, they perform well. I remember sitting in Starbucks, in Parker, CO, and trying my speed test app on the phone with T-Mobile's LTE network. I got 40Mbps down, better than I get at home!

At times, it's amazingly fast and I appreciate that. However, at times it's really, really bad. I live out in the country, and service is spotty near me. I can accept some of that, and certainly in the last six months I've seen LTE get close to me and have better service.

However I've been in buildings in Denver and other cities, where I have great connectivity outside, but inside a building, even a smaller two story one, I'll see very, very poor service. Near my house the service is flaky, and T-Mobile hasn't given me the ability to turn off data roaming near my house. Since I only get 50MB each month of roaming data, I don't want to waste it. However I have no control, and I've given up. If I'm using the phone near my house, but not on wi-fi, I'll run out of data in a few days. Even if I'm not actively browsing or searching, apps on the phone will use data.

Slightly maddening.

Overseas access has been good, and I've appreciated the connectivity without additional costs in the UK. Since I go 2-3 times a year, this is handy.

Wi-fi calling is spotty. At times I know my network has hiccups, but I'll drop off  the wi-fi calling and it doesn't come back quickly. I'll have to drop into airplane mode and back out to get wi-fi to reconnect. The transition from wi-fi calling to cellular hasn't been very smooth, which is disappointing.

iOS8 / iPhone 6

The phone came with iOS 8, which is an evolution, not a revolution, from iOS7. I was somewhat excited, as there are a few enhancements, but also disappointed in some ways. I'll cover a few things I like and some I don't.

The phone itself is an iPhone. Slightly larger than the 4S, thinner, and light. It's basically a slightly stretched version, and I haven't noticed much. I get 5 rows of icons on the screen, which does look amazing at times. A few of my pictures, or videos I've shown on there look fantastic. As good as my Galaxy 4 screen. Battery life seems inconsistent. At times it runs down far too quickly, and at times it lasts. I've uninstalled apps at times when I've noticed poor battery life, but haven't really figured out what's happening. I have a battery case, so mostly I don't worry about it.

iOS 8, however, took a few steps back.  The biggest thing I noticed right off was that when I get forwarded to some web pages in Twitter, Facebook, or other apps, I'll only get a partial page load. Then I'll get white screen halfway through an article. I know this is iOS/Safari somehow, because if it happens on all kinds of target sites, and if I reload the page in Chrome, it works fine. That's slightly maddening.

The music app works fine, and the camera does well. It's quick, though once in a great while it hiccups. Overall, this is a better photo/video/music device than any I've had, but just because it's a bit faster and it works well. I love the slow motion video, especially capturing my kids' sports events.

Navigation/maps are fine, though I wish I could switch defaults from Apple to Google. Not that Apple maps are bad, but I often want to get a look ahead at the route. Apple maps does not make that easy.

I love having Passbook again, and I use that extensively for airline tickets, movie tickets, and Starbucks. I also use Apple Pay at a few places, but since most don't accept it, it's not super handy. However being able to give my phone to my daughter to go get coffee while I get gas is very nice. It's also super handy. It wasn't as clean on Android, though I suspect the Starbucks app there would do fine.

The TouchID, which I thought was gimmicky, is great. I use it all the time, letting me unlock my phone while I'm walking or trying to move through a line without looking at the screen. I have a password manager that uses it as well and I love it. It's not a great security feature, but it works well enough for me for now.

The third party keyboards don't work. That's one thing I am disappointed in. The responsiveness of Swype and Swiftkey aren't' there, and at times they freeze up, especially in messaging. It doesn't have to happen more than a few times before I abandoned them.  I hope they fix this.

I do miss having the ability to resize icons, or move them around on the desktops. I'm slightly jealous of my wife's LG III, as she got an amazing loader that gives her different backgrounds on different screens. It also rotates through all her "desktops" in a circle. I'd like to have my icons around the edge of the screen and see the background clearer as I like pictures.

I'm not too concerned anymore about which apps are where. Since I can pull down and search, I do that often, and rarely look through screens. That's a feature I great appreciate.

The Future

I'd still like to see Windows Phone succeed a bit and evolve, but I also want it to get more apps and have more choice. That's still a failing that keeps me off it.

I am tempted by Android, except that every time I hear a camera click or text pause the music on my wife's phone, I'm glad I'm not using it. She did get a third party camera app that responds much quicker than the native one, so I suspect that real time interrupts and issues with the camera and music apps I had on Android are built in, but potentially handled with third party apps.

I may switch at some point, but for now I'm very pleased with my iPhone, despite a few glitches.


I was thinking I'd get to the gym tonight, but then I went to pick up kids in this:

Photo Feb 25, 4 07 48 PM

A couple inches of snow dropped in a couple hours, so I decided to stay home, work out here, and cook for the kids.

The forecast was amusing as well

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The Internet and The FCC

My response to a post on Facebook. It's based on this article, and then responding to these comments:

Comment 1: "“What it comes down to is, the net has worked,” Mark Cuban said. “We’re not in an industry where the technology has become stagnant and there’s no more enhancements so we need regulation to try to make things happen. We’re not there. And so as long as the technology is allowed to advance, we’re OK.”"

Comment 2: "I think a law or two are warranted to prevent mischief, but regulating the Internet under Title 2 is a massive overreaction to a problem that doesn't exist."

My thoughts:

Except, Cuban, who I admire and think is a thinker, has a conflict here. He's right in that things have worked, but I'd argue the last couple years we have changes, with the telcos/ISPs starting to interfere with traffic, and potentially causing issues with QoS.

That's where monopoly, which many have in their local area, starts to cause issues. They monetize the monopoly to the detriment of consumers. We often do have business models that work well for a long time and then start to fail when the field narrows, or choices get suppressed by consumers.

I do think we have some issues in the US, and a lack of competition. We've seen far too many companies fail and leave us with just a few choices, or one, in many localities. The idea of having multiple access to lines from different companies, with different levels of service has declined for consumers. Businesses still get some choice, but I see less companies that are competing as colocation providers, renting space and bandwidth from larger companies and reselling it. While we can argue this is the cyclical nature of business with economies of scale, I do think we see a trend here that will hurt consumers over time.

I don't think every aspect of Internet access and ISPs need to be regulated, but we have a lack of information and choice now, so I think the FCC can set some wide limits, and perhaps have more local entities regulate businesses to ensure we have fair competition. We want to allow smaller companies to have the chance to use the Internet.

I do agree with Cuban that we can't prevent NetFlix or Google, or large companies from buying larger pipes to ISPs for their content. That's what I can do as well. I can pay more for more bandwidth.

What I don't think is acceptable, or even moral, is to allow Netflix to pay for higher priority than Hulu in terms of traffic. We accept packets in the order they are received. Larger pipes send more packets, but ultimately we don't decide which packets to drop based on the source. Only the capacity of the devices.

There are problems here as well, though I can't solve every one and don't want to. I would like to see, however, competition preserved, with a minimum of 3 providers allowed in each market. I'd also like to require some level of maintenance in facilities. I don't think we can force investment, but the market will handle that, IF we allow multiple companies to exist. We can't allow a Verizon or Time Warner to crush local competition in a market.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

2015 Book #17 - Odd Thomas

A re-read for me, but one I thought was one of my favorite books of all time. We were making suggestions for Kendall over the weekend as she needs an advanced book for school and we stumbled upon Dean Koontz in the ARBookFinder. We immediately suggested Odd Thomas, though Kendall wanted another one. However I loved this book, so I bought it.

It's a narrative, with the main character, Odd Thomas, writing his story in the past. He sees dead people, but not like the sixth sense. He sees ghosts and senses criminal activity, doing his best to prevent it or get justice.

However it's overwhelming, and he lives in a small CA desert town. He simplifies his life to make things easier to survive reality. He's a short order cook, with visions of moving up to sell tires if his girlfriend will marry him.

It's a hard story to explain, but it's captivating and exciting. Worth the read.

Back to work

In more ways than one. Taking kids to school, working all day, getting in a bit of bike time, and then Scouts tonight.

A busy day. A contrast with vacation that makes the weekend seem surreal.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Colorado Crossroads 2015–Day 1

We were excited for this year’s Colorado Crossroads tournament. Last year was our first year, and a tough Saturday, but better Sunday and Mondays. Last year it was a long weekend, so I used my Hilton points to book a hotel downtown and avoid the drive. We got the Embassy across the street from the Convention Center, which was nice given the fact the forecast called for a foot of snow.

We left the house at 6am yesterday, heading down for a 7am meet. There was an 8 am first game, and since we seeded first in the pool, we had no idea what to expect. Kendall’s 14 National team is in the 14 American group, playing in the 11th pool of 32. The girls were excited and all the parents were hoping they bounced back after a tough tournament a few weeks ago.

Photo Feb 21, 10 42 46 AM

Things didn’t start well. The first team had lots of tall girls and hit well. They were bigger and more talented, and not a good match for us.

IMGP7163 (2)WWe hung with them, and came back from a deficit, but lots the first match.


That seemed to deflate the girls and they never really recovered. The second set wasn’t that close, and we were dejected after that.


Kendall played well, which we were glad to see. She had some long stretches on the bench, when we couldn’t get a point, but overall, she got lots of playing time in both games.

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She was active at the net, up and down a lot for blocks against the other team. She had some nice touches, slowing the ball down for the back row to pass.

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She had a few good hits as well, getting not that many sets, but a couple. Her serves were great, and I think she got them all over in these two sets.

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Afterwards, she was disappointed, but not too much and had enjoyed the experience.

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We had to ref, and then play again. The second match was against another good team, but I thought we matched up well.

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We see-saw’d a bit in the game, went behind and came back.

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We got it to 24-24, but then dropped two points to lose. A tough battle. Kendall played well again, and she’s somewhat cemented herself as the main middle hitter. She gets in every game, and the two backups take turns in the middle when Kendall rotates back.

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Some good plays in there, and lots of excitement from the girls. They enjoy the wins, and fall down on the losses. Kendall’s more even keeled, but I wish the entire team wouldn’t celebrate quite so much because I think they a loss or a miss has them more down.

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Kendall’s serves were awesome. I think she only missed one, and it seemed that she made the shots where the coaches called them.

The second set was a loss, and the girls were disappointed, but no time to feel bad. They played right away against the third team, who I was sure they’d beat.


I tried to loosen them up before the match.


And it seemed to work. They were smiling more.


They even got a bit silly


They started out well, but let the other team get back in the game. They ended up losing the first match, which was surprising.


We were worried this would be an 0-6 day, but they came back to play well in the second match.


They tried to lose, letting the other team back in there, but they eventually won to force a tiebreaker.


They let down and fell behind. Before we knew it, the girls were switching sides, down 4-8. It was 11-8 before we started to do well.


Kendall had some good serves, and completed a comeback, getting us up 14-13. However a couple mistakes dropped three points quickly and we lost.


A 1-6 day, not what we wanted, but fun and excited, with all the parents watching and enjoying the experience. At least I enjoyed it.


Later that night we had the boys come up and we all went out for a nice dinner. Good to see them, and neat that they can manage their way down here.

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We’re in the lower division today, which is fine. We’re looking forward to some good matches, hopefully a few wins, and then the chance to play a final game or two tomorrow before heading home.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Missing Workouts

It's been a strange few weeks for me, being a bit sick, traveling, and being too busy to workout as much as I'd like. While I have 12 workouts this month (out of 18 days), that feels slack to me. It's not great, and last night was a good example. I held back, thinking I'd go to the gym last night. Kendall wanted to go to yoga class with me, but Tia asked me to help her pick up some panels and drop off her trailer. That ended up taking an hour more than I thought and I couldn't then go to the gym. Plus it was late, I was tired, and I had more work to do.


I'll take some time tonight while Kendall is practicing.

2015 Book #16 - Ready Player One

readyplayerIt's the future. An online, virtual reality, multi-player game almost rules the world. People with nothing else spend much of their time playing to get away from their miserable lives. When the founder of the game dies, he leaves his entire fortune, billions, to the person that can solve the puzzle and hunt he hid inside the game. Years go by and no one has done it. Ready Player One is the story of the hunt.

Wade is a high school kid that goes to school online, hides in an old van hidden near stacks of trailers outside Oklahoma City, where his Aunt lives. He spends most of his time researching and trying to solve the puzzle and hunt. The founder was obsessed with the 80s, and all sorts of pop culture, games, and movies, and these are littered in the story.

When Wade, known as Parival online, finally has a breakthrough, he finds the first of three keys. However as he's leaving the cave where it was kept, he encounters Art3mis, a famous gunter (game hunter), who he has a crush on. She's discovered the cave already, but hasn't solve the puzzle. He gives her a hint, and when he comes out, he's famous. The first person to solve the puzzle, with Art3mis following, and then Wade's friend, Aech, right behind them. There's, of course, an evil corporation, IOI, who also wants to solve the puzzle and offers Wade money. When he refuses, they try to kill him.

The rest of the story is the hunt. A typical story, the hackers banding together (somewhat), their efforts to get ahead, but then fall behind, and a plan to exact revenge on the corporation and solve the puzzle.

It's exciting, it's interesting, it's sad that people live inside a computer game, but also exciting to think of how amazing it is. At times, I'd forget it was a game, and think it was just an incredible world.

A page turner, easy to read, and fun.

Book #15 - When I Found You

whenIfoundyouMy wife recommended this, and told me a bit about it. I was skeptical in the first few chapters of When I Found You, but I eventually couldn't put this book down. It's an amazing story, and some incredible life lessons in there. Some heartstring tugging, and one that really brings tears to my eyes in places.

Nathan finds a child, a one day old, abandoned in the woods while hunting. He brings it to the hospital, and is moved to ask to adopt the child. He can't, but he visits the grandmother and asks her to know the child, or that if she ever can't handle him, bring the child to him. He's a married accountant, with no kids, in the 70s, and he faithfully follows the child, never meeting him, but leaving birthday and Christmas gifts every year.

The child, Nat, grows up in a household with his grandmother, never really knowing much until he's a teenager when he finds out the truth. He was abandoned by his mother. He's learning to box, and runs away, eventually upsetting his grandmother so much she leaves him with Nathan.

It's only a couple days, but Nat gets arrested, and Nathan refuses to bail him out. However, he refuses to wash his hands of the child and visits him every week for years while he's in juvenile incarceration. Eventually he comes back to live with Nathan, who's a widower that's remarried.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


A bit of a bust day. Didn't get enough work done with a few distractions, and I had to help Tia with a few things later, so I missed the gym.

Sad smile

Not a big deal, but not what I expected. The day got away from me, which isn't what I wanted. However it happens.

On the positive side, it was a beautiful day

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and we got a new dishwasher

Photo Feb 18, 12 51 38 PM

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Valentines Getaway

Tia and I took a couple days away in Winter Park. We've been trying to plan more couples trips and this was a good time. Nothing happening for kids this weekend, and Kyle was able to help out, so we left early Sun morning to stay up there.

We'd spent Sat night with the kids, dinner and a movie so they weren't sitting around all weekend.

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We'd hoped they'd come up Monday, but with a big snowstorm Sun night and Kyle having class in the afternoon, we told them to skip it. Kendall was disappointed, but I'll try to take her in two weeks.

It's hard to see, but there were easily 6-8" on top of the car Mon morning when we went outside and our drive home was slow with an icy, semi-plowed Berthoud Pass.

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The skiing was tough Sun. Lots of ice as they haven't had much snow in the last two weeks. Tia and I had to take it easy, and actually called it a slightly earlier day than we'd planned. It was fun, but with knee surgeries and other commitments, we were both slightly nervous.

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We stayed across the road from the resort, and this was our view out of the room. A bit pricy, actually more than I've ever spent personally on a single hotel room night, but worth it. We had a nice happy hour after skiing and then actually crashed in the room. I slept until 9, and then didn't feel like going out. Tia was fine with that and we snuggled up, read, watched some snow and plows at night.

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Monday was great. When we were skiing, we slightly regretted not having the kids some up. Three hours of skiing went quick until we were tired and hungry. There was a ton of powder, and it was neat to go through it.

We'd learned to avoid some of the mogul runs and really had a good time. I don't love Winter Park, with lots of flat areas that are tough on snowboards. I also think I need some waxing, but it was still a good day.

We did avoid the blacks as they tended to have moguls, and I was amused by this sign, taking off to the South of Mary Jane. We saw a few people go through here, and I guess they must have rides or just hike back to the base from the bottom. Seems like lots of back country people at Winter Park.

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Overall a great weekend, and looking forward to going back for Spring Break, and then again for Easter when the nephews some.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

2015 Book #14 –John Adams: The Man from Massachusetts

adamsMy second Presidential book. I could have read the popular John Adams book that became a TV show, but I went with a shorter one, John Adams: The Man from Massachusetts. This one is written as though it’s a conversation or letter from John Adams himself. His personality, taciturn, Yankee, stern, comes through. However not without some humor.

We learn he really liked being a landowner. He loves his wife, and valued his friendships with Jefferson and others, even though he was upset that he lost to Jefferson and was a one term President.

Certainly he was more influential than I thought at the beginning of the country and this overview didn’t give me enough information. I need to pick up another book on him.

2015 Book #13–George Washington: Life and Death

gwI have to admit that I knew very little about the first President of the United States. The cherry tree fable, his leading the Continental Army as a General, Valley Forge, really minimal stuff. I decided to read about each President, so I started with #1.

I grabbed George Washington: Life and Death, a shorter book, more a middle or high school book to get started. It was interesting to see at a high level what his life was like, which was different than I expected.

Born to a family that wasn’t super prosperous, but somewhat well off. His father died when he was 12, and he inherited part of an estate and become head of it. is mother and younger siblings lived with him, but he was in charge. He became a surveyor and when his older brother died, who had inherited more land, he became in charge of Mount Vernon.

His earlier adulthood had him in the Virginia militia, and he went to the Ohio Valley at one point to dislodge the French and Indians. He didn’t gave a lot of success, but he learned and was wiling to learn.  That helped later when the colonies had trouble and he was appointed General of the army. We know he had success, though I didn’t realize that he was always fighting the colonies for resources (men and supplies). He knew he was outmatched, but he pushed his troops, which helped.

After the Revolutionary War, he went back to be a farmer. He liked his land and farming. It wasn’t until the first government started to fail that he went to the Continental Congress and helped get the Constitution written. He then agreed to be the first President and was elected. He stayed on for another term, though he didn’t want to. He was careful, knowing that his model for the President would end up influencing later men.

He grew old and died prosperoous, unlike Thomas Jeffereson. He seems like a fair man, and a thoughtful one. I need to read another book.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

2015 Book #12 - The First Rule

firstruleThe First Rule is from a book of rules that gangsters in Eastern Europe. It's literally a book and the first rule, gangsters must be alone and not place family or anyone else above their work, opens the book.

From there, Frank Myers is killed in his home. He was a former mercenary that worked for Pike, and when Joe finds out, he calls Stone and they begin to hunt. Eventually we find out that the Serbians who killed him didn't mean to, but that doesn't matter. Pike is committed and continues on.

We see more of Stone, who is an interesting character. We also get a view into a more twisted plot than Crais usually writes. We're never sure what is going on as the story unfolds until we get past the middle.

Even then, we see a more human Pike, when a baby gets involved.

A good addition to the series.

Friday, February 13, 2015

2015 Book #11 - The Sentry

sentryAnother Joe Pike book, The Sentry is interesting. We see lots of Pike, a little Cole, and a bit of a nutcase. The book opens in New Orleans, where a deranged killer is torturing and questioning someone along with two friends. Or is he alone? We never really know how crazy he is.

We cut to CA, where Pike sees two thugs causing trouble in a sandwich shop. When he stops them, the owner is upset, not wanting police or interference. His niece comes and thanks Pike. We see Pike fall for her a bit, but then she's missing.

The book has a strange plot, one not worth going through, but we see some attraction and emotion in Pike. He doesn't display much, but Cole picks up and it comes through. Even when he finds out things aren't as they seemed, he continues to press on as though he wishes they were.

A good read, but introspective and thoughtful more than action packed.


Last night's volleyball practice was a tough one. They started out with a serving drill early on. The coach was tough on this one. All 10 players needed to get a serve into the deep part of the court. If anyone missed, they ran back and forth across the court, stopping on a whistle for planks.

They did that for the better part of an hour. There were always two or three girls that couldn't do it. Kendall did well, but missed a few, as did everyone. They were beat by that time.

They started out doing hitting next, with Kendall getting some in the middle spot, and some outside. She looked pretty good, and had some nice hit.

Photo Feb 12, 7 26 47 PMThen it was scrimmage time. The 15 National team was practicing next to us, and the last 20 minutes was a game like scrimmage.

At first our girls really struggled. They were slow to react, tentative, and perhaps a bit intimidated. Just like the last tournament, they were passing poorly, and not getting the plays set. We had few good sets, and not many hits. Mostly just reacting.

The game went to 25, and they only scored around 14, but they were getting better as things progressed. Certainly it helped that they rotated and had some time to settle down from the start.

A little worrisome for the next tournament, but maybe they'll start to come together in the next week.

Photo Feb 12, 7 07 37 PMKendall started out as middle, and played well. She was active, and managed to touch a few balls on blocks and push a few down. She got a couple hits, but really few good sets in her area. Most of that was because of poor passing to start with.

Our girls served well, and with the coach calling spots, they managed 4 aces on serves. That really helped them to a 10-7 lead when practice ended and the game was called.

Good to see them coming together more, but they have work to do. Next week is Colorado Crossroads, a huge tournament with hundreds of teams coming to town. They'll face some stiff competition, and it will be interesting to see how it goes when they get there.

A long session, and Kendall was exhausted, especially after agility training later. I expect that she'll be ready for the long weekend.

New Recipes

I tried out a few new recipes this week that went over well. I told Kyle I would do Shrimp Scampi, and he got excited. It took me a few days, but I made it and the only complaint was that I should have made more. Tia and the boys loved it. Not quite my thing, but it was good.

Kendall doesn't like shrimp, so I made some chicken cordon bleu for her.

The other one was a slow cooker black bean and rice dish. I set it up yesterday before I left to take Kendall to volleyball. I heard later that it was really good.

Now do I do something else today or lay low. hmmmmm

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spring Weather

I didn’t really need the sweatshirt, but had it on anyway.

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I also got a picture today from my talk in Germany. An audience member sent it over.

Photo Feb 11, 6 05 42 PM

2015 Book #10 - Taken

takenI was on a Joe Pike kick, and Taken was the next one I read. This is the last one in the series, until a new one comes out in a few months.

In this one, we have a college girl and her boyfriend out in the California desert. They were there with friends, but stayed behind. The boy has one thing on his mind, but as the girl starts to tell him she knew about the place they were, an old plane wreck, people arrive. It starts out as what her mother must have experienced, brought up as an illegal from Mexico. However as another group is brought up, they are attacked by others who kill the coyote and kidnap the illegals, intending to use them as hostages for ransom, and eventually kill them.

Elvis is hired to find them, and he brings in Pike and Jon Stone. However when Elvis is taken, Joe and Jon somewhat frantically search for him. It's a very wild ride and perhaps one of the most exciting Crais novels.

The entire book centers around when people are kidnapped. Chapters move around a little in time (mostly it's chronological), and each title tells us is this before or after Elvis or the girl was taken. We find out about illegal entry, cartels, Korean gangsters and more.

Very, very good read.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Delaney has been growing, and we noticed his slacks were too short at the last orchestra concert. Since he has that, along with his mock trial work, Tia took him shopping the other night to get some clothes. He had to get the pants altered, and so I went to pick them up yesterday and then drop them by school before he left for the mock trial competition.

Here the suit was on his bed.

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A nice jacket, tie, and a couple shirts, along with a vest. Never a vest person myself, but Delaney liked it. We didn't see the competition, but I did see him come in last night and snapped a shot.

Photo Feb 10, 9 29 39 PM