September 2018, Part II

Cousins A & E Dubs had a birthday party. We went to it. Gifts, cake, running around, chaos, even a little beer. A’s theme was star wars, and E’s was…pink and colorful stuff?

KrisDi signed up for the “Summer’s End 5K”, and both the kids signed up for an associated kids’ 2K. The kids’ run was first. Chilkoot had been training with his mom beforehand — he’d go and run with her when she ran in the evenings or on the weekends. He did great — he ran the whole way. Chilkat’s strategy was to not run at all beforehand — to save her energy. She was by far the very last person done. I think she was lapped by a two year old. She whined and complained almost the whole way. She wouldn’t have finished if I hadn’t insisted (and walked with her the entire last lap). Chilkoot ran ~10:15 mile — personally, I think that’s pretty damn good for a five year old. KrisDi didn’t quite make the same speed (but she ran 2.5 times as far).

I had a business trip out to Phoenix. This is my once a year trip that is usually in July, but the company we visit didn’t exactly get their act together and consequently it was delayed a couple months. Anyway, the main interesting non-work-related part is that it rained pretty significantly. I walked around the giant hotel trying to get interesting pictures of rainy / wet cacti. I got desert mud on my shoes and pants.

Chilkat’s friend L had her 8th birthday party. It was Harry Potter themed. Costumes, decorations, snacks, the whole deal. It was fun to hang around with them in their own digs.

On the 27th, KrisDi took the kids on a plane to California for the weekend (which included another 5K for her), and on the 28th, I got on a plane to Japan. At least when I was leaving, a large typhoon was predicted to run over my airport in Japan within an hour of my plane landing there.

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September 2018, Part I

I’m not really sure why I like the wilted flower photo above.

On the first day of September, I returned from 2017’s first trip to Japan. Then we went to Wild Waves and did all the normal Wild Waves stuff; rides and overpriced garbage and whatnot. The kids had fun, and they bickered, and I moped and grumped about and probably ruined everyone’s day a little bit. This was the last weekend before school.

So school started. Chilkat’s now a second grader, and Chilkoot is now a kindergartner. We no longer have a day care bill, just a before-and-after-school care bill (substantially lower than day care). Chilkat is still an excellent student. Chilkoot seems to be doing very well, although I think he’s suffering from the cessation of afternoon naps.

We took the kids to the Puyallup Fair. We even paid godawful prices (actual money) for the kids to ride really boring rides. We saw animals and ate various unhealthy foodstuffs and wandered about.

After getting the Megalens last year and realizing that high quality lenses have a significant impact on photography, but also recognizing that a lens that can only shoot photos from a kilometer away is a bit unwieldy for daily usage, I wanted a high quality day-to-day kind of lens. Planning ahead for a trip to Guam, I wanted it in September. KrisDi got me a Sigma 24-70mm f2.8, which is pretty darn cool. It’s my Christmas present, but it seems to have arrived early. I like it a lot. Although, I have learned that high quality lenses do not improve the quality of the photographer.

Our friend Mr O from Medford is a truck driver; lately, his company has been sending him up near my work, where he then has to spend the night alone and drive home the next day. Now that the kids are in school and I don’t have anyone close to me at work, I can, if I choose, not leave work immediately at 4 PM and drive directly home. Consequently, I can do evening things, like go out to dinner with friends. So I took Mr O to a beer place one night, which was nice. I also drove down to Seattle and met up with another friend for dinner, which was also nice. Grownup activities are fun.

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August 2018, Part II

I’ve mentioned that August was busy.

The week before my board of directors visit to consume a week of work is always busy with preparation work. This time, I was also solo dad, since KrisDi was in California for work.

The weekend in between, KrisDi and I went to New York City for a night for her birthday — basically just to see the Pietasters. The Pietasters are a band KrisDi introduced me to when I met her, that she’d been listening since at least college. They never made it big, but they toured with big bands and are well known within the subculture.

We took the redeye out on Friday, arrived Saturday morning, took the train into Manhattan and walked to the hotel. Then we went to breakfast at the Cook Shop, walked along the High Line (an interesting elevated park, converted from a former elevated train track), Ubered to Other Half (fantastic beer), went to El Mate for Brazilian/Argentinian (fantastic food), then Ubered again to the 9-11 memorial. Back to the hotel to check in and prepare, then Joe’s for pizza (it’s not bad, but give me deep dish any day), then finally to the show. After the show, we had a beer or two at the District Pub, and walked back to the hotel. I was shocked how many people were wandering around the street that late — enough to make walking through the street annoying.

The show itself was excellent. It was on a river cruise — I think the original venue was a boat named Lucille, with 100 tickets for sale, and it didn’t sell out. They moved us to a different boat that looked smaller. Of the people there, it seemed like about half were friends or family of the band. There was no opening band, and there was no space between the band and the crowd. The cruise was 3 hours, and they played the whole time (except for a ~20 minute break in the middle). I cannot name a single song they’ve ever released that they didn’t play. The singer would walk right into the dance floor and share the mike with audience members (including me). During the break, we talked to him for a bit and took the picture you see above (his name is Stephen Jackson). During the break, we also took some pictures of New York’s night time skylines. After the show, we talked to him again. We had already told him we flew in from Seattle; he asked us how long we were staying. “Uhh…just tonight. We’re going home tomorrow.” “You guys are crazy! I gotta get you some shirts or something!” So he gave us some shirts. It was the most fun I’ve ever had at a show. I just wish I had remembered to bring earplugs — my ears rang for days after.

The next morning…breakfast at Brooklyn Diner, which was very good. Then we went to Mamafuku Milk Bar and had sweets (KrisDi’s are better) and I got coffee. We walked around (probably past several dozen major tourist sites), then walked along the southwest edge of Central Park (I was surprised to discover how huge it is). We went to get bagels to bring with us on the plane. Then we checked out of the hotel and ubered to a liquor store in Newark to buy beer, and then to KrisDi’s internet mom friend’s daughter’s birthday party. We socialized awkwardly for a while, drank some beer, and then ubered to the airport.

The flight back was one of my worst flight experiences in my life. It was late to depart, which is annoying but not especially abnormal. The onboard entertainment system was broken, which is unusual but not an issue for me (since I never actually use it). The big problem came when I tried to sweep my bagel crumbs into the barf bag, and discovered by putting my hand in the bag to open it that someone had previously used it. I felt wetness, then I smelled vomit, and then I was in a big hurry to get to the bathroom to wash my hands and possibly vomit myself. “Please move, I need to get to the bathroom right now.” Dad experience helped me out — I felt hot and clammy, and while I was waiting for one of the bathrooms’ occupant to leave, I thought to myself, ‘When was the last time I had vomit on my hand? Oh yeah, that time Chilkat barfed right into my palm. This will be fine. It’ll wash off.’ And then I felt better. After I got into the bathroom and washed my hands, I talked to the flight attendants, who were suitably horrified by my story and gave me 10,000 miles and two whiskeys and told me to write to the airline — “This should never happen to anyone.” No shit!

All of this excitement was enabled by T’s willingness to watch the kids for ~48 hours. Thank you so much!

August marked the end of day care — forever. Chilkat and Chilkoot had to say goodbye for real to Miss K, the phenomenal teacher who has coincidentally followed Chilkat through every room in daycare, and is consequently closer to being family than acquaintance. We wanted to give her a more meaningful gift than a Starbucks gift card, so we put two things together and gave her a rather unusual gift (at least, probably unusual in terms of gifts from parents to a day care caretaker):
(1) Several years ago, after an unexpected and unpleasant breakup, the kids and I started telling Miss K, “Don’t worry, everything will be OK.” This continued ever since.
(2) She clearly likes tattoos. She has well over a dozen.

So we took her out to dinner on the last day, and offered to pay for a tattoo that said, “Everything will be OK” (or whatever she would like for a tattoo if she didn’t actually want that). She got the tattoo, and wouldn’t let us pay for it, but wants us to take her out for dinner again sometime. Which we definitely will.

KrisDi and I wanted to go to a Chinese dumpling place (Dough Zone), and we slyly got the kids to try new stuff. I was proud of them! And they liked it!

Then I went to Japan. This was an unusual trip for me, in that it actually interacted with Sales representatives (from around the world). I had a day of routine “what’s going on in the project and what do we need to do right now” discussions coupled with some unusual demos and topics. Then was planned a day of worldwide sales meetings about my system and systems like it, followed by a dinner/party for the whole group. After the party, I went out with two guys from the US sales group for more food and more beer, which turned out to be a terrible decision. We went back to the hotel about 2 AM, I slept through my alarm (4:30 AM) and missed the first 40 minutes of meetings the next day, felt horrible (physically and guilt-wise), and got much less out of the meetings on that day than I could have had I been a smart and responsible person and just gone back to the hotel after dinner. It’s hard to describe how terrible I felt and feel about this, even though that day was not of particular value to me, since it was all about systems and markets that are fundamentally pretty different than mine.

While I was in Japan, the kids had their piano recital. They dressed up nicely and looked especially cute. They also did pretty well, from the videos I saw.

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August, Part I

KrisDi and Chilkoot got haircuts. Both of them were cute before, and were still cute after. Chilkoot’s hair is a bit more manageable now. KrisDi and I had a chance to go to the Berliner Pub, a local German place. Their schnitzel was really good, but their schweinhaxe was disappointing. KrisDi went to Olympia to meet her internet friend for lunch and to hang out. I got Dad some some sweet socks for his birthday, and I got myself a matching pair.

KrisDi and I got to go see Weezer and the Pixies in White Center. We went to dinner at Geaux brewing’s new location, had a couple beers, filled a growler, and drank it in the parking lot outside the show. Once we got in, we paid $22 for a can of Sierra Nevada BFD ($2.29 retail). Both the Pixies and Weezer were cool. Weezer was more of a stage act, with set and costume changes and everything. It was a nice evening.

KrisDi went on a trip for work and left me with the kids. She ate barbecue and drank beer in Virginia, while I worked and watched kids. I took the kids to Chace’s Pancake Corral for breakfast one of the days, which was nice. On her way back, after she landed, she sat in the plane for an extra 1.5 hours or so due to the suicidal maniac that stole a plane.

The family’s big excitement for the first half of August was our camping trip to Steamboat Rock State Park. We learned on our drive out there that the park was under a burn ban, so the firewood and charcoal we packed for amusement and cooking were useless. We stopped at a hardware store on the way out and bought a little propane grill and some propane. When we got to the campsite, we had to set up our tent in a pretty stiff breeze, while smoke from nearby wildfires built up around us and KrisDi’s iPhone lit up with “emergency evacuation” notices. Camp hosts told us the fire was on the other side of the water, and if we really needed to leave, park rangers would come tell us. On the bright side, the smoke created pretty sunrises and provided a nice campfire smell since we weren’t allowed to actually burn anything.

This was our third annual attempt to watch the Perseid meteor shower. We finally succeeded — the kids each saw one or two meteors; the adults each saw 6-10. We also got to swim and play, and adopt Mr. Rocky, a rock I found underwater that Chilkat befriended and named. I refused to carry Mr. Rocky back to the campsite (very upsetting to Chilkat). Later, Chilkat convinced Chilkoot to help her bring it back — between the two of them, they rolled this ~30 pound rock ~0.5 miles (including up a sandy hill) back to the campsite. I agreed to take it home (it’s in our front yard now). I’m not terribly pleased with keeping the rock, but I’m proud of the kids for working together and persevering.

We had some camp food experiments that we had planned for the camp fire but had to figure out how to implement on a small grill instead. French toast (a whole loaf of bread with french toast liquid dumped on it, wrapped in tin foil, and put over heat), and grilled cheese / reuben sandwiches in sandwich presses.

Overall, it was a good camping trip. Overall, it was an exceptionally busy month.

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