Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Mustang GT 5.0 and the Raid boat arrive.

Kathy and I have closed and sold the Richmond House. It was an insane time. We hired movers to move us. They took the furniture, but left tons of stuff behind. Hunter took some of it. Trey came over, high graded what was left and stuffed it in the Mustang.

It is very hard to move cars and boats. You can move a car. You can move a car fairly reasonably. You can move a boat, though it is harder than a car. But it is hard to move both a car and a boat with one moving company; we could not find one that would.

We were ten days from closing and still did not have a solution and I was at the weakest point in my life since I collapsed in my crib at 18 months with polio. My plan B was just put them in storage till we could figure out a solution.

Enter the SANS AV team. They prayed for us, they, Will, in particular, brainstormed for us. Going to skip the details, but the plan was get a hitch for the Mustang and tow the boat. Several people volunteered to do the drive, because right then I physically could not do it.

Long story short, Will from the AV team, got the nod. We got him a train ticket from Washington to Richmond, he took a cab to the house and with help from Trey and Hunter, got the boat loaded up and took off.

I will pass on the details, suffice to say Will made it over the rockies in the face of a massive snowstorm with a trailer. He is also a professional trucker, meaning he has a lot of experience pulling trailers of every sort.

What a glorious day when he pulled up about noon on Christmas eve. He ended up missing his original flight, but Kathy had already calculated he could not make it and called United and set him up for a flight on Christmas day.

While he was here I tried to show hospitality. Cooking for the SANS AV team is a bit challenging, imagine trying to cook jerk chicken for someone from Jamaica, or in Will's case meals for someone who is from New Orleans, I understand they have a couple decent restaurants there *grin*. But I did my best.

Now, we have to take all this work on the Virginia side apart here in Washington. The first step was to get the ropes off the boat trailer and empty it. The knots had been through the storm and they were hard to untie. Fortunately I still have my marlinspike and that made short work of the problem. I got the sails,  mast, oars and sliding seats out of the boat and stacked them under the trailer. I started to unload the Mustang, Trey did an incredible job of packing the boat. I decided to finish on Christmas day. First, we made breakfast, then we dropped Will off at SEATAC airport. Then we headed back home, and took on the Mustang.

We aren't totally finished. There was some glass damage. We swept and shop vacuumed to remove the glass from the car. Tomorrow, I will call the local Ford dealer and see if they can help. If not, I suppose we can find a specialty glass shop of some sort.

The bottom line is I am deeply grateful that my teammates made the impossible or at least the very difficult to happen. I am really looking forward to warmer weather and being able to play with this craft on the lake. There are still problems to overcome, how to store the boat in the summer season, do I moor it or shore storage.  However, last summer every time I saw a convertible drive on a gorgeous Pacific Northwest day, I felt a twinge, I wanted to drive my pony car. Starting to look like I will get a chance.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Working to duplicate the Russia House Wild Elk Sausage served with Mostarda Cherries

We enjoy this appetizer and decided to make a version for supper.

I don't have an easy source, for Mostarda Cherries, so had to substitute Oregon Fruit Products Montmorency Tart Cherries packed in water. I poured them, water and all into a sauce pan. This is a sweet and sour dish, added some lemon juice for the sour and tablespoon of homemade cherry jam for the sweet. Finally added about 1/2" of a butter stick, put the pan on my smallest burner on low for three hours to reduce the liquid to a thick sauce like Russia House's. It came out really well. The cherry dish is a foil to the salty smoky Elk Sausage.

Don't really like sausage unless I make it, that way I know what is in it. There is a specialty butcher shop six miles away that sells Elk. I chose the New York Strip cut. Cut one steak up thin and put it in my Traeger smoker on a medium temperature for 45 minutes. Don't have a meat grinder, used my BlendTech and yes, Elk will blend.  It was really hard to get all of the Elk out of the blender, but at that price per pound, I did my best. Elk is a VERY lean cut of beef, added olive oil, some salt and some "No Salt" and then the herbs; Kathy grows fresh herbs, took a pair of scissors to collect some herbs of the field, chopped the herbs up finely and mixed them all up, (glad I did this yesterday, it is snowing and that can make low lying herbs hard to find).  Put a small amount in a non-stick skillet and cooked it up for a taste test. The smokey flavor came through fine, but it was too dry and not salty or spicy enough. The winter weather has killed my fresh basil, had to use dried. Added more olive oil. For salt I used Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning,  (essentially salt and hot pepper). Took another small bit, cooked it up and tried it with a miniscule amount of the cherry dish on the side. Wow this is working. Formed patties, heated my skillet on my biggest burner, full on. Seared one side and flipped to sear the other side to seal in flavor. Removed and put on the smallest burner on low for three minutes, (the smoking process partly cooks the meat and I did not want to overcook). Set them aside, at show time, I will only bring them to warm.

Russia House makes the third part of the appetizer Kubotcha Squash cut up like micro fries. They seemed bland to me. Decided to substitute a rice pilaf, red rice, black rice, table spoon of red lentils, herbs, as the rice was almost done added some mixed nuts chopped fine and some crasins, ( sweetened cranberries). Tasted it, it was OK, not spectacular. Decided to create a sauce to put on top. Opened a can of chicken broth, started it on high to reduce it just a bit. Tossed in some crushed dried black morel mushrooms, some more chopped fresh herbs, and a dash of "No Salt", (the chicken broth has plenty of sodium). Thickened with a gluten free roux. With the sauce, the pilaf is quite tasty.

With the second Elk steak, I decided to put it on the Trager smoker and pan sear. Topped it with Truffle Mayonnaise. This super easy to make. I use Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil. Then mix in a small amount of truffle oil to taste. I learned about this from Smash Burger and it is a really nice topping for various meats.

Washington IAD to Seattle SEA - CDI

In a real surprise, the Washington Hilton and Towers arranged to have us transported to Dulles, we had planned to take a taxi.

We arrived at Dulles early. Kathy got PRE *again*, I did not *again*. Made it to the United Club lounge to see if one of my students had turned in his paper; nope he punted.

We had not had lunch. We found a restaurant called Moe's Bar and Grill. It was terrible, both the food and the service, though the Shrimp Cocktail was not bad.

Made our way to the gate, it was at the very end of the D Gates. We boarded and for my last trip as a SANS instructor, we were blessed with business class. United 326 was just a bit late, but they offered a pre-takeoff drink; I do not usually touch alcohol on a plane in case something happens, but was feeling a bit festive, so I had a Vodka Tonic, boy that is a blast from the past. The inflight meal was chicken with Marinara Sauce, I ended up polishing the whole plate off as I did not eat much of my food at Moe's. The service was excellent and the seat belt sign due to turbulence only came on once. Starline was prompt at picking us up.

We arrived home in Seattle, fired up all the gas fireplaces since we had left the thermometer at 65 degrees. It is funny, I feel just a bit wistful about retiring as a SANS instructor, but am thankful that I will not be flying 100k miles in 2014. When I crossed 1M miles, I became a United Premier Exec for life, (whatever that means). We have a bit over 300k miles on Alaska as well, when we do travel we should be able to avoid the seat in the back across from the bathroom.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Last night in DC - Russia House

When Kathy and I stay at the Washington Hilton and Towers, we try to visit the Russia House at least once. I suppose it is a bit pricey, but we have learned if we get there early, we receive excellent service and usually have the downstairs dining room to ourselves. Arrived at 5:25 PM and scored once again.

They have a huge vodka list from multiple countries; we do not usually drink vodka, but when in Russia House ..... Plus if you only have one, there is no chance of getting inebriated. The glasses are about 2.5" tall and the diameter is about the size of a quarter. Kathy chose  a Square One Cucumber flavored and really enjoyed it. I chose the Van Gogh Pomegranate and also enjoyed it. The only flavored vodka I had ever had before was Mount Rainier Cherry.

We split an appetizer, the Cherry Elk Sausage. The name does not mean the sausage tastes like cherries, rather there are Mostarda Cherries  and there is a pile of Kubotcha Squash "pasta". Kathy does not usually eat sausage, but she likes this dish.

Kathy's main was Shaslik, Pork Marinated in beer, (I think), and Rice Pilaf, with Spiced Honey; it is pretty tasty. I had the Kobe Duo, a generous portion, served with Spinach.

They asked us if we were celebrating anything, (30th anniversary was just a bit ago, Kathy shared that), after the meal they brought us a warm dark chocolate cake with molten chocolate in the middle with a pink and blue birthday style candle. Nice touch, but I was stuffed and Kathy can't do gluten. I ate a couple bites to be sociable.

Price of meal before gratuity was 103.00.

All in all it was a very pleasant experience. Not sure if we will be back, I hope to still do some work from home stuff for SANS, but retired as a SANS Instructor this week. 16 years being constantly on the road has taken its toll.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Smashburger Dupont Circle, 1739 Connecticut (SANS CDI)

Had 45 minutes between grading sets of graduate students and knew the night was going to go till 9:30 PM and do not like to eat supper that late. Raced out of the Hilton. The restaurant is recently opened, but no signs of chaos.

Ordered the Truffle Mushroom burger to go, it was about 7 minutes because they cook to order and raced back up the hill. Did not have enough time to finish it, but my room has a fridge.

The truffle mayo is fantastic. You can order several versions on the Internet, I think that I will. Hopefully I can find a healthy one that is largely olive oil based.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bad Haircut - Haircuttery Dupont Circle

Great. Three days before my retirement party, I walked down from the Hilton to get a trim and ended up with the worst haircut of my entire life. Part of the danger of travel, you do not have a regular stylist. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Old Glory All American BBQ Georgetown DC.

We had a very light breakfast today, Kathy had a hard boiled egg and I had 8 chunks of watermelon. There were some errands we had to run, but we were able to get everything we needed at the Rite Aid that is a block or two from the hotel. Kathy even splurged on a spray Argan Oil & Shea Butter bottle that you are supposed to spray on your hair.

We brought our treasures back to the hotel and I said let's go to Georgetown. I do not have to work today till 4:30 PM. We both have fond memories of that part of the city (and no, I will not write those stories down). There we so many cool restaurants for lunch, but we settled on Old Glory. Even though Kathy does not eat much meat, we are both suckers for BBQ. Is this the best BBQ I have ever had? No, but it is in the top ten and that says a lot; the now closed hole in the wall on Ride Out Road Huntsville Alabama and the now closed Ollie's in Birmingham remain my top one and two, (BTW, you can still buy Ollie's Sauce online, if you like a vinegar based BBQ sauce, you would be wise to treat yourself to this):

Kathy had the Salmon Lollipops with Mango Salsa and the Collard Greens. I had the Cuban, (I think this is the best Cuban I have ever enjoyed, the extra pickles were a wonderful touch). All of the food was top notch, very well thought out flavors. The sauces on the table are a real blast, Service was excellent as well; 3139 M Street NW, (202)337-3406. We scored a table by the window so we could watch the people going by. Kathy and I sometimes play a game where we pick a passer by and make up their life story. If you find yourself in Georgetown, and you like BBQ, Old Glory is worth checking out. One note, they do not have a wine list. Apparently their specialty is bourbon. I guess I have had a glass of bourbon at some point, but never got the hang of it, but they seemed happy to just serve us water.

Seattle to IAD to Washington Hilton

Starline picked us up on time and the snow was not a big problem. Kathy got PRE, I did not, but sailed through TSA security anyway. United 1548 was on time, service was good, not much turbulence. The Hilton sent a car and the driver was there when we arrived at baggage claim.

It was fairly late when we arrived, the only hotel restaurant that was open was Mccellan's Sports bar. The service was great, Kathy had some form of Chop Salad and I had the Pastrami Sandwich, probably closing in on my salt budget for the week, need to be careful; the good news is I have lost 44 pounds in 8 months, so this should be less of an issue if I can stay on course.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The American and US Air Merger

There have been a number of Articles and blogs recently celebrating the merger. Some of them say this will create the world's largest airline. Others talk about taking market share from United and Delta.

Gosh, I am not an airline expert, though I have probably flown over two million miles. I am not an investment expert, though I purchased my first stock at age 14.

However, I have been a CIO and CEO for more than a couple years. Please let me be clear, what you are about to read is not a criticism of American Airlines, they were my go to airline until 9/11 when they cut the direct route to Kauai and closed the club at Honolulu airport essentially forcing me to switch to United.

Most of you have read about problems with the United Continental merger. And trust me, there were problems. Since I was on a plane almost every week as well as someone who follows investment analysts, here is what I think makes or breaks the effectiveness of the merger:

1) The merger of the IT systems. United Continental had some glaring and famous problems, but as an IT guy, I think they actually did fairly well. Trust me, at that scale it could have been a lot worse; think Obamacare, (and I am not being political, I am talking about large scale IT). If the IT systems do not work, then passengers will not get to where they need to go and United and Delta will gain customers.

2) Culture. With the United Continental merger, the Continental folks really seemed to have a chip on their shoulders. If American/US Air should lead to employees that want to abuse customers, they will lose market share. Make no mistake about it, travel today is about two things, the least pain and lowest cost.

3) Leadership. Say what you want about Jeff Smisek, but he is not a passive leader. And that is important. The American/US Air employees are going to need someone to look up to for guidance.

4) Cost management. This goes everywhere from reducing redundant routes and employees to fuel efficient planes, though I am starting to wonder about the success of the dreamliner.

The bottom line: I wish the merger the best, I really do. Competition not only helps with the cost of flying, but also can be a driver for better customer service. But I have to be honest, all of my instincts, observations and analysis lead me to believe this is going to be a very bumpy merger. They may start out as the largest airline, though if you made me bet, that will not be true 18 months after the merger.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An experience with Clearwire

Two years ago we were in San Francisco and the conference hotel had incredibly bad Internet. But one of the facilitators, Tim, had a clear modem and it was flawless. That sold me. Got one for Richmond VA and it worked great. When we moved to Seattle, I ordered another one and it had no reception, but they were very helpful to take it back. All that is the good news.

Now the bad news. The house in Richmond is up for sale. I wanted to close the Clear account so two months ago, I called them from Hawaii and customer service said you can only close accounts between 8 and 12 AM East Coast Time. Yes, I can get up that early in Hawaii, six hours later than East Coast, I have done it for business meetings, but I do not like it.

I could not find a way to do it by email. Finally, in frustration, I cut up the credit card. And that generated the following note:
= = = =

CLEAR internet service
Customer Number: 2993129
Service Name: RV1016347

Dear Stephen NORTHCUTT,

We have been unable to process payment for your CLEAR internet service(s)and
your account has been suspended. Please contact us right away to update your
credit/debit card or electronic check payment information to avoid continued
suspension of your CLEAR internet service.

  •  Online: Log into My Account at to update your payment

  •  By Phone: Our Customer Care Support Team is also available to assist
     you at 888.888.3113

We appreciate your immediate response and look forward to continuing to
provide you with CLEAR internet service.



Note: Please do not reply to this message. This email was sent from a mailbox

that does not accept replies.

= = = 

Called them at the 888 number. Spoke with three people before I received someone that might be able to resolve this. Miles said, "we only have one phone call from you, it was November 4 and from your son". That alone is interesting because my son does not know the answers to my security questions; I NEVER give a correct answer for a security question. I replied, that is not correct, I have called multiple times. And then he said "you owe us $75 dollars."

I offered him the opportunity to escalate this, but no. I will mail them a check for $75 dollars. There is no way on God's green earth I will give them a credit card number, they would probably charge my account until the second coming of the Lord or force me to kill another credit card.

The bottom line. Am I saying don't do business with Clearwire? No, look at the top of this post, I have had some good experiences. Am I saying watch your stuff? Yes. They do appear to have some deceptive practices. If you have had a similar experience, I would love to hear from you: stephen at

Update: NOV 6, 4:46 EDT: I just got a phone call from the Clearwire "robot" asking about my customer experience. I was able to answer the first question, "How likely are you to recommend Clearwire). But the question, did the call solve your problems,  However, after 15 tries I gave up pushing "1, 2, or 3) on my keypad, the robot would not accept either 2 or 3 and there is no way in heck I was going to push 1, solved all my problems. (Wonder if they used the same coders that did the Obamacare web site. Ooooh, that was mean, sorry. I will try to keep this clean. )

Update NOV 6, 5:04, EDT when I was on the phone with Clearwire, I asked for a local Clearwire store because I did not want to give them a credit card over the phone, they are just too screwed up. We called the number Clearwire gave us; I am not going to list the store, but they were wonderful. First she told me they do not accept personal checks, which I had already filled out and addressed the envelope since that is what I told Miles that is what I would do. But then the kicker, she said there was no way I could have a balance since they pre-charge. So what do I do?

Update NOV 6 5:35 EDT Ahhh, I think I understand a bit more about what they are going through. In September 2013, Sprint began the process of laying off 70% of the workforce. That will mess up any company. Word on the street is they only acquired them for their spectrum.

Update NOV 7 3:47 EDT Kathy called Clearwire and there is an escalation department. He said, "As long as we do not reactivate the account, he would waive the fees". My guess is they will not still be in business 90 days from now, so this is a safe bet. Despite all this, I will not be surprised if we do not hear from a collections department in a few weeks. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Richmond to Seattle

Not too bad of a trip, I was wiped out. I think moving must have been stressful. United 3387 from Richmond (RIC) to Chicago (ORD) was on time and hassle free. United 817 was also on time. Starline Limo picked us up and traffic was light, what is not to like.

We got in late and poured into bed. Would have slept late, but they are doing something with the road upgrading the power; Tonka trucks everywhere; back up beep sounds all the time. They went through an incredible amount of gravel.

On the plus side, it rained all day, so we do not need to water Kathy's plants.

We went to the Costco, Kathy's glasses broke and we ordered replacement players before this trip. They had some gluten free bread that looks really healthy and I got a chicken. Costco does a better job with Chicken than I can so I tend to use theirs. I am 33 email messages in the hole, so need to work on that next.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Boston: Stephanie's and Summer Shack

Last night Kathy and I went to Stephanie's on Newbury after work. She had the Chunky Chicken Salad, I had their Meatloaf. Neither of us could finish the meal. We had a reservation, but when they got there they said it would be a 20 minute wait. We decided to eat at the bar and found a table.

Service was reasonable considering how crowded they were on a MONDAY!

Tonight we treated my co-instructor Richard to dinner at the Summer Shack in Back Bay, I have always loved this place. Richard had the Fish and Chips, Kathy was the hungriest I have seen her in months, she had the Steamers (clams), which she felt were so so, the Mussels in Herb Broth which she loved and the Calamari Special, an unbreaded Calamari, which she loved. I had the Shack Paella, it was OK, not great, Hawgs Seafood Bar in San Jose is still the source of my favorite restaurant Paella.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Leaving Seattle, first day in Boston

Both of the eagles are nesting in the tree across the lake. We have hauled up the boats and they are upside down. In an hour Starline will pick us up and we will head to SEATAC. It has been a wonderful time to rest from Denver and I have had the privilege of helping many students with their projects and papers.

We do not have a direct to Boston, we will first go to Dulles ( IAD) and then head to Boston. It will be a red eye, not sure how that will go, but ready to try.

We went through July with almost zero rain, so Kathy and Tammy put in an irrigation system to  preserve the landscaping work Kathy has done. Be interesting to see what is still alive when we get back from Boston/Richmond.

The Starline driver was a personable guy; he is here from Russia. He was very excited, on Sunday he and his wife are going to Soap Lake in Eastern Washington, one of the classic mineral bath spas in the USA. The more he talked, the more we got excited and I think we are going to try to go.

United fails at customer service, 3 and 4 August 2013

US 262 Seattle (SEA) to Dulles (IAD) was late leaving the gate, but not horribly so. The movie was some cartoon. The screen in front of us was so washed out we could not have watched it if we had wanted to and I did not want to. But the worst was the service. It was a five hour flight and they brought exactly two small plastic glasses of water, one after takeoff and one an hour before landing. I always carry a thermos and shared it with Kathy, but we were both "a quart low" by the time we landed and refilled my thermos and spent five minutes at the water fountain.
From Dulles (IAD) to Boston (BOS) we scored first class on UA 764. We did fall asleep after takeoff, we had just flown a redeye, but they never offered to bring us anything, no snack, no water after did wake up. Not the end of the world, flight was only about 100 minutes and I had refilled my thermos, but clearly these are two of the suckiest flight crews I have run into in a long time.

Taxi to the Hilton Back Bay was uneventful. Room was not ready, the hotel had sold out the night before, something about a Red Sox game ( This hotel is about 1,500 steps away from Fenway Park). They kept our bags and we took a walk.

Before we left Seattle I packed a picnic for the airport. I will pay airport prices for food, but I want it to be at least close to what I can make. It was in a separate insulated bag so I grabbed it and my trusty thermos from the luggage chart and we headed out to Back Bay. We found a park bench out of the glare of the sun. We just had a snack, we were not hungry, but I had snagged a bag of ice to keep the food safe till we got our room which has a fridge.

There was a Trader Joes, we grabbed some gluten free ginger snaps for Kathy and their papaya digestive pill. The is a micro-sized Trader Joe, you can't buy a bottle of Two Buck Chuck here, they do not have a wine section, which is OK, I don't really like Two Buck Chuck.

Then I asked Kathy if she wanted me to try to organize a massage. My Google Fu is very powerful on my MacBook Pro, but on a phone when I can barely see the screen it is harder, but I had heard good things about the Rainbow Health Center and they were able to take us in their couple's room for an hour. Kathy really enjoyed hers, mine was so so, but a great way to pass the time when your hotel room is not ready.

Then we wandered over to Newbury Street, ( I love people watching on Newbury in the summer time), there were a few empty outdoor tables at Trident Booksellers and Cafe. The weather was absolutely perfect, not too hot or cold and the lightest of breezes. Kathy had a hard cider, I had the Long Trail Double Bag beer. Kathy ordered the Vegetarian Frittata, I ordered the Prosciutto/Brie/Date sandwich.  We waited and waited and the Frittata come, but no sandwich. Finally the manager came out, apologized and took it off the bill. I was not mad or anything, did I mention I love people watching on Newbury Street? But it shows excellent customer service. We came back to the Hilton, our room was ready. It is nice, what they call a Panorama room. It is recently refurbished, has a fridge, but no de-frumping mirror. Kathy has a travel one, but I think that should be mandatory for guests over 50.

Kathy crashed, went hard down, so I went out for a walk. Picked up a slice from Perfect Pizza, the Mediterranean. That was just perfect. I will be headed down to meet with my co-instructor in ten minutes to strategize for tomorrow.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mike and Joanne - Lake Tapps/Bonney Lake/Sumner

We are having some folks from Lake Tapps Community Church over for dinner. Here is the playlist:

Water and Tulsi Tea to drink:

Salads, on large plates three salads:

Smoked Salmon Salad on a thin Corn Bread
Chicken Salad on a Brown Rice and Quinoa Patty
Apple Salad right on the plate
NOTE: immediately after loading the salads put the cobbler in the oven at 300.

Mains, switching to small plates:

Elk, Ribeye cut and Potato Medallions
NOTE: after serving the Elk, broil the Zucchini
Chicken in Ancho Marinade, Fresh Corn, Broiled Zucchini w Pesto and Parmesan Cheese

Desserts, also on small plates:

Apple/Cherry Cobbler with Almond Flour Crust
Chocolate Crepes

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Denver to Seattle

I think the conference in Denver went well. We had a really civilized flight out from a time perspective. The hotel let us stay till noon. We holed up in the United Lounge till it was time to board, but United 1214 ran late. Not United's fault, dicey weather conditions in Denver. Couple hours in the lounge, couple hours at the gate and a couple hours on the tarmac, but we did not have a connecting flight, so I was chilled.

I watched the latest Die Hard movie on the airplane. It was OK, not great, but it helped pass the time. I also read the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. We landed at ten something and were home about midnight. One of the elder's of Lake Tapps Community church did the preaching today and he had clearly prepared, but towards the end of the sermon I was afraid I would fall asleep.

Watched a bit of a risqué movie tonight with Kathy, The Sessions with Helen Hunt. Kathy bought it for me. As a fellow polio, it was really touching. It also reminded me of how God has richly blessed me, I may be a polio and to be sure, there are effects, but I can still walk without assistive devices and do not have to live in an iron lung.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Udi's Denver

Udi's gets it. Kathy is living gluten free and it is working well for her. She got to eat her first Cuban sandwich ( I had the same thing with gluten). She had the sweet potato fries, I had the regular fries. Enjoyable fast food.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

This is across the street from the hotel and I was beat. I like the Hyatt restaurant, but they keep it so cold and there was a line to get in, so we went to Bubba's. They were also full, but there was room at the bar. That worked. Paul the barkeep was friendly and attentive and kept our water glasses full which is a plus with spicy food.

Kathy just wanted a blast of protein so she ordered the Net Catch, which is peel and eat shrimp in a bucket. I had Lt. Dan's Drunken Shrimp which is blackened shrimp and sausage arranged around a pile of mashed potatoes. It is at my spice limit, but it was good.

I had not been to a Bubba's since my trip to Maui, so that was fun. I would go back. Price before gratuity was 32.18.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Seattle to Denver

We got to SEATAC early. Scored TSA Pre, so security was really easy and holed up in the lounge. Didn't really want to do a lot of email, so read newspapers and magazines. Could not ignore the CNN screen, Zimmerman, Zimmerman, Zimmerman.

United 1607 was a tad late, but it was a direct flight so we were chilled. Bit bumpy, but no complaints. They were serving a "snack". At this point in my life I could live for two days on that amount of food. The Purser asked for my food preference and I said whatever is left, airplane food is exactly that. The soup was good, ate half of it, did not even attempt the sandwich.

We landed, got our luggage, found a taxi and motored to the Hyatt Regency. It is an OK hotel in a GREAT location near the theater district. We have two double beds, the good news is you can use one as the storage/staging bed, the bad news is Kathy and I are pretty large people even with the weight we have both lost. I love cuddling with Kathy, but this is going to get extreme. We will make do.

Wasn't really hungry, but we felt we should eat something so we went to Appaloosa's Grill. This is one of my favorite spots in Denver; great live music, acceptable food, fair prices. I knew I could not eat much so I got the Mac Cheese, (amazing how many times I have made that choice lately).

Woke up this morning, blinky as all get out, it will be interesting to see how things work out this week. Kathy slept late and I am very happy for her, conference life is a huge energy burn. She is reading the weekend of WSJ while I blog. We are going out in a few minutes to get some lunch. I can't say I really want to eat, but I know I should. Plus, we will get to see an interesting place, I am sure.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Washington DC to Seattle

On my last day of teaching MGT 512, I finally got my trip to 5 Guys. They make  one of the best burgers in the world, but it has its cost. I gained 4 pounds during the trip and my bacon cheeseburger is probably part of the reason. No worries, I have three weeks to manage what I eat and work out before the next trip and I really enjoyed the burger.

The trip to Dulles was easy, love flying on a Saturday. Dulles was fairly empty and we scored TSA PRE so getting through security was easy. United 1617 was either on time or close enough not to notice. This was one of those former Continental planes with direct TV. I mostly slept, I was spent, but I did watch a bit of the latest Bruce Willis, a good day to die harder or some such. Rookie flight attendants that did not bring water, but I had my thermos and it was full of water.

Starline was there to pick us up and we crashed into bed. We woke up three or four hours before time to go to church. It was a great lesson and we got back and I fell in bed. Got some respiratory infection in Austin and still have not shaken it. But hey, got the job done in DC, now I can rest and heal.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Russia House

My class, MGT 514, is going pretty well and Kathy needs to shoot the evening talks at SANSFIRE tonight, so we decided to get an early dinner. When we stay at the Washington Hilton, we always try to visit the Russia House at least once.

We were the only customers in the downstairs room for our entire time, you have to love that. We do not usually drink wine before the job is complete, but it was day 4 of my course and I have taught the day 5 material many times, so we splurged on a 13% wine from Georgia ( as in Russia), called Mukuzani. We could not eat a ton of food, so we both ordered two appetizers. Kathy had the Elk Sausage with Cherries and the Squab Waldorf Salad. They were out of Squab so they substituted venison.

I had the Duck Confit Blini and the Potato Mushroom Cocotte. Generous portions, neither of us could finish our food.

All in all, a great experience, very glad for my visit to the Russia House.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tribute to Hal Pomeranz at Morton's

It has been a year since Hal fell. He has had a clean bill of health since and has serious Unix and Forensics Fu. Mason, threw a party for him at Morton's and I am pleased that Kathy and I were invited. We gave him a toast and the conversation drifted around older Hal stories. It was a great night!

MGT 514 and Flipping Pizza

Day Two of MGT 514 IT Security Strategic Planning, Policy and Leadership went OK. This is the scariest day of that course to teach, because the students provide the inputs and the instructor has to create the product. However, it is the best way I know to demonstrate the role of a facilitator in strategic planning.

Why I like this pizza place so much is beyond me, but we got a break in the rain and I was hungry, hiked down and did the two slices and a drink for 6.00 deal. I got one slice of a Bronx and also a Triboro. Yumm. Now I just need a chance to commit my favorite eating sin and visit a 5 Guys. I will probably be dieting a month to make up for all this, but it is worth it!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thaiphoon Restaurant 2011 S. St N.W.

I do not start teaching till Monday, so we had a bit of time off.  When we stay at the Hilton, we tend to get at least one meal at Thaiphoon. Thai cooking in general is very healthy and the spice can be a nice touch.

Kathy had the Steamed Mussels appetizer and the Fresh Garden Roll. I had the Crispy Duck, (which I think is the least healthy choice on the menu, but you only live once). I also ordered a Thai beer called Singha.

Service was great, they were attentive to the water glasses. Price before tip was 33.94.

Seattle to Washington DC

Savvy solutions came to pick us up at 8:00 AM. United sent a note that we needed to allow three hours at the airport. Maybe that is due to sequestration, not sure. All went well though, so after clearing security, we dropped in to the renovated United club.

We didn't take the guided tour of tasting of Glenfiddich, nor did we see anyone else taking advantage of that benefit. The club is new, so the chairs are not raggedy yet, but I think it was poorly designed. The mens bathroom has one toilet in a club that can probably hold 200 people. The food, coffee and tea station is in a hallway creating a checkpoint. However, that is neither here nor there, I surely like being in A gates more than N gates.

Flight 260F was on time or close to it. The in-flight movie was Safe Haven, a love story of a girl that left an abusive husband and found a new life; I cried several times. Not sure it the movie was that good or if I was weepy, but would be willing to own the DVD.

Hotel sent a car for us, driver, born and bred in DC was pleasant. Staff at check in here at the Washington Hilton and towers was quick and professional. The room was pretty nice, though the long black hair just outside the shower took a bit of the joy away. We decided to eat in the hotel, so dropped into the Sports bar. Food was OK and ran into friends, which was even better.

Gosh it was great to climb into bed, woke up naturally with the sun coming through the window at 7:30 AM which is a great way to jump into this time zone.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

First Washington State Paddle of 2013

Killer weather, we started work at 5:00 AM and at 2:30 PM, we took out the canoe for the first time on the lake. Got to catch up with Ron and Lynn, she is now retired, so they are both retired now though Ron works three days a week to keep health insurance.

Saw one of the bald eagles, and they are still being harassed by the crows, why they don't just wipe them out is beyond me, but I have never seen an eagle strike back. Great way to end the work day.

On the way up the hill from the lake we noticed our leeks have fallen over which is a sure sign it is time to harvest. If you have never cooked with fresh leeks, let me encourage you. The ones in the store are pretty tough.

I cut up four red potatoes and set them in a pan of water, then the green part of the leeks, I will save the white part for tomorrow. Use more leeks than you think is possible, they end up vanishing into the broth. A bit of red curry, sea salt and garlic and we are off to the races. It takes about 20 minutes to cook down and then I will poach a bit of true cod in the sauce. Yumms the word.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A hotel in Puyallup

During the excavation for the renovation, all of the wires, pipes, cables etc coming to the Seattle house from the street were wiped out. That is normal considering we were changing the entire front yard.

We have replaced everything except the analog phone line and needed to do that and the worker came out and said it was dire and it would take weeks.

However, I needed to teach MGT 512 via vLive tonight and cell coverage here is iffy at best. Not wishing to leave anything to chance, as I was finishing the last business meeting for the day, Kathy was packing and we chose a Hilton branded hotel ( Hampton Inn ) in Puyallup. I have most of my miles with Hilton right now and a free water bottle, thing of cookies and free wireless isn't much, but it beats less. Alex told me to get a room with a wired connection and they had one.

We set up, checked the Internet, brought up the slides for the class and decided to get some dinner, we had two hours until the class. We asked the hotel for a walking distance recommendation and they suggested Jason's, a family owned sports bar type place.

There were only four tables filled in the restaurant, but the kitchen was so slow, we had to take our food to go. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either, but what really ticked me off, is the menu claims the chicken was smoked, and no way, overcooked to cardboard, but not smoked. Kathy chose sides and came out better.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Sleepy Memorial Day Weekend

Back to back jobs in San Diego and Austin had their price; we both hit the wall. I managed to get up yesterday (Saturday) and make it to Fred Meyer's for some provisions.

We had Lasagna last night, but in a different way. Made everything on the stovetop, so we could both choose how much of each ingredient we wanted in our lasagna. Found some brown rice pasta noodles at Fred Meyer (FM); they were not awesome to be truthful, they went from very Al Dante, to soggy very fast. Chopped up a Sweet Vidalia onion and finished off a jar of artichoke hearts using the oil and spices from the jar. Did not find Ricotta cheese at FM, but did find low fat Cottage Cheese which I cooked up with two eggs, was very pleased with the result after mixing in some Parmesan. FM had some beef that had just gotten out of date and looked great, very dark and little fat or gristle. Chopped into an analog for ground beef and mixed it with the "No Sugar added" Hunts Tomato Sauce at a dollar a can sauce. For cheese, we had some United Club cheese ( I know that sounds "cheesy", but once again our United flights were delayed and we took some cheese from the Club in case we were stuck in a hotel with all restaurants closed; it happens). I used one personal serving of medium cheddar, a serving of pepper jack and a block of some non-descript white cheese. The thing that took this lasagna over the top was to do it  Puttanesca, we had some pitted Kalamatas from Costco that Kathy insisted on months ago. I never thought they would get fully used, but she put fifteen or so on my cutting board. That was the ticket.

Last night we watched one movie, it was all we could stay awake for, Chasing Mavericks, I had seen it before ( on an airplane of course). I think it is a great movie, Kathy was asking me question in the beginning, but I was too emotional to answer.

I just woke up for the day, (Sunday); we missed church, but we did a Bible Study together on Ezekiel Saw The Wheel. That is one of the toughest passages I think, but there are a number of helpful commentaries. Normally, I favor Chuck Smith's, but this is one of his weaker efforts. Of course no two seem to fully agree and most of them change the subject, since it is a tough passage. When we were done we celebrated with the Dixie Hummingbirds version of the Gospel Song, I know the Charioteer's have the most famous rendition, but the Hummingbirds are still my favorite.

When I was in Hawaii, I ordered a "Zombie" machete from Kennesaw Cutlery. It is stainless steel and comes fairly sharp. Obviously the combination means a lot of edge maintenance, but I enjoy sharpening tools. I gave mine to a young man who is living in the Kalalau Valley. They just had a free shipping offer and Kathy needed some black parachute cord so I added a replacement machete. I suspect I am going to learn that for me, the classic carbon steel and a blunt edge for landscaping is better, but I have some bushes that need trimming and am pretty sure I can restore the edge so I will give it a try. I must admit I would love to hear how the young man uses the blade though, I am guessing he is not planning on trimming Ironwood bushes.

The air is still and the lake is like a mirror, the Cottonwoods are still "cottoning" to the great delights of the ducks who eat it off the surface.

Kathy is still in bed and I am very happy for her. We have done a lot, we can use this three day weekend to catch up with rest.

The new addition is almost done. Lord knows we have been patient, but I thank our builder, (who had just rebranded as Macfarlane homes), he has been patient as well.

Don't think I will take the truck out today, there is nowhere that I want to go, but I did buy a potato and some Orange Roughy at FM, I think that will be the highlight of the day.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Roaring Fork Austin

Roaring Fork is a wood fire restaurant. When we visited Steve Santana was the chef. I was not very hungry so I went with the Green Chili Macaroni and Cheese and Kathy had the Mexican Street Corn and Spicy Yukon Mash Potatoes. I would be happy to visit this establishment again. Price was 18.20 before gratuity.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day one in Austin

Today was the first day of MGT 514 in Austin. We have 21 people which frankly was a surprise, I thought Security Strategic Planning, Policy and Leadership would only work at the larger venues. I am co-teaching with Mark Williams, after this he should be read to take the class on solo.

After school, we caught up on our email and then went to dinner at the Driskill. I believe it was established in 1866. Kathy had the Quinoa Pilaf and I had the Chicken Mac Cheese. Neither of us could finish our dinner. For the first half of the meal we had the place to ourselves.

They park horse carriages outside of the hotel and Kathy was watching one of them (Cavanaugh) through the window the whole time we were eating. After we settled up with the restaurant, we took a one hour tour on the carriage to the lake and back.

Now it is time to get ready for tomorrow, day 2 is the hardest to teach by far.

Seattle to Austin

Friday, we did as much work as possible including training on EnrollmentRX, then got our car to the airport. On the way we stopped at the open house of Macfarlane Homes, led by Chris Welch. This was a spec house that has been completed. It seems pretty nice.

Then on to the airport. Pre was closed and the security line was incredibly long, but a United person took us straight to the TSA person that checks your identity.

Second time in a row we were massively delayed. Flight 1294 had a "crew delay" whatever that was. When we checked in the gate folks mentioned problems and asked if we would  like to be booked on an alternate flight, we said we would do what ever they recommended. They said stick with your current flight, our plane was already in the air. We sat in the United club in view of a flight status board; our flight kept running later and later. Either it was not really already in the air, or it was experiencing terrible headwinds.

I went to customer service, but it was already too late. The four seats on the alternate flight were given to four global services people and no hope for us.

But wait! Our names were not even on the standby board at all. What? Called the 1K desk, they had rebooked us on Alaska Airlines and it was a direct flight. They printed us tickets and then offered to upgrade to first class for $50.00 a ticket; oh yes! On time flight, decent service, the standard cold chicken breast snack, but hey!

Starline limo was able to adapt, and picked us up after we collected our bags

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

San Diego to Seattle

This is the first time I have ever tried to fly the day I taught. But it worked out. The Hyatt Manchester was kind enough to offer a ride to the airport. It was in one of those Escalades so there was plenty of room for our bags.

We need not have hurried, our flight ( UA 522) was delayed due to no crew. As we checked in, we asked about the wisdom of switching to UA 5553 which left about the same time. The check in agent said that 522 was already in the air, so it would only be 30 minutes late so we could still make our connection in SFO to UA 351.

We found the United lounge, it was almost empty, and I set up my laptop. The United web site said the plane would depart San Diego about 10:17 and since our connection left SFO at 9:49, that would not work. I went to the United desk and they put us on standby for UA 5553 scheduled to depart at 7:47 and told us to be at the gate at 7:15. We were there at 7:00, I went up to the gate agent and she told me she could not talk to stand by passengers at this time.

I watched the board and our names were not listed as standby? So I called United 1K desk and they said we had been rebooked on Alaska Airlines, would have been nice to have told us. I wandered over to Alaska and they printed tickets for Alaska 479U direct from San Diego to SEATAC. Then I called Starline limo and told Sergei about the change. 479U was on time and the service was excellent. The snack was cold chicken breast and salad, it is hard to make cold chicken breast really appealing, but if I soaked bits in my lemon vinagrete I could swallow it.

We reached SEATAC, but Kathy was asleep and her ears did not clear. As a result, she had balance problems and we were packing heavy with luggage. I called Starline and the guy was there faster than I have ever seen. My house is under construction ( we are adding an addition) and I had to get through the home security systems. The driver just left the bags in the driveway and Kathy was trying to carry them, couldn't roll them, they haven't poured the concrete driveway yet. I may need to try another car company. Anyway, I got all the doors open, got the bags into our room and we crashed, didn't eat, didn't brush our teeth, pulled back the covers and crashed. We awoke the next morning to the sound of construction. Going to be an interesting couple of days.

Mother's Day - San Diego

Taught day 4 of MGT 512 today. I think it went well, though the risk management section is still rough. The new version rolls out next month at SANSFIRE and I hope it teaches a lot better. Kathy was shooting the conference events so I caught up on email.

When she was all done, we opened a 2009 Carruth Cellars North Coast Barbera and had a glass of wine.  Then we went to Sally's on the water for Mother's Day dinner. Kathy had the "Small" Seafood selection, I had the Lobster Paella.

The food was tasty, but it was not the best experience. My lobster was bullet proof, the kitchen did not do any helpful cuts in the shell and their lobster cracker was anemic. It was late and the wait staff were really interested in collecting our dishes and took Kathy's away before we could harvest the lemons. When you are on travel having a few extra lemon slices is a big win and getting the bum rush on Mother's day is uncool.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

San Diego wine train tour

We came in early for business meetings, but they got canceled. I wanted to do something. Did some research on the Internet, and found the San Diego Wine Train Tour. Let's start with the bottom line; we had fun. That said, they are incredibly disorganized, their tour web site is awfully vague.

However, Diane managed to figure it all out. We took a cab to the downtown San Diego Santa Fe train station/transportation center. We needed to buy tickets on the Coaster to go to Carlsbad. We were there early, so we decided to get a light lunch at Grand Central Cafe. I liked the place, it is not gourmet, but the prices are fair, the food is good and they are not pretentious. I would eat there again. Diane had the German Potato Soup, Kathy had the Grand Spud and I had the Grilled Fish Tacos. Food was good, price before gratuity including tax was 23.11.

The first stop on the tour was a walk to Fresco Trattoria, where you have a "3 course meal" and a wine tasting. The first two wines were supermarket type wines a Pino Grigo and a Davinci Chianti, I didn't recognize the third and didn't write it down. One suggestion to the wine tour is make it easy to track what you taste.

First stop was Witch Creek winery. They are putting an amazing mural on the wall BTW. We went through the pours; our favorite was Kathy's Cuvee ( cuvee seems to mean something different to every winery and I didn't ask). David bought a bottle and we each had a glass on the train as we headed South to Solano Beach.

Our next stop was Carruth Cellars, an urban winery ( they make the wine from grapes they source from growers. We had a tasting of mostly Barbera's and purchased a bottle of their 2010.

Our last stop was in Old Town at Hacienda de las Rosas. This was the least interesting of the pours. By now it was 7 P.M. and food sounded like a good idea. The oldest restaurant in Old Town is La Pinata and I once hosted a party there, so we gave it a try and they still have great food in huge portions. Diane had the Guacamole Enchiladas, Kathy had the Shrimp Enchiladas and I had the Carne Asada Dinner. Price before gratuity was 39.50. Then we took a taxi back to the Hyatt and went to sleep.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Kauai to San Diego

Got a ride to the airport from Garden Island Concierge. They were on time as usual. We were early in case of delays based on TSA furloughs due to the sequestration, but the airport was nearly empty.

Dropped into the bar restaurant. I had an orange juice and the Fried Rice, Kathy had a water and a Salad. Then we made our way to our gate. United 479 was on time and the purser, Deana, was someone we have flow with before and it was fun to catch up. The movie was The Guilt Trip, which did not work for me, but Kathy loved it and wants to own a copy.

We made it to LAX and for some reason did not want to visit the United club so we just made our way to our gate. We found a row of seats that did not have arm rests and Kathy was able to lay down and get an hour or so rest.

United 6320 LAX to SAN was also on time. Very small plane, smallest overhead I have seen yet, but it got us there. The hotel ( Hyatt Manchester) sent a driver to pick us up. I am not sure why:
A) We are considered a VIP and
B) Why they work so hard at it
but the service was incredible. This has long been one of my favorite properties in the entire hotel universe SANS uses.

The room was not available ( I think we arrived at 7:40 A.M.), so we sat in some comfortable chairs until they had made up a room. We crashed. Then we got up to get Kathy's Mac fixed at the Apple Store. The power button has ceased to boot the system. We took a taxi to Fashion Valley Mall. This is a classic big American mall. She had already had diagnostics done, so they put the Mac in a bag. While we were there we decided to eat lunch. We went to Stacked. I do not know that I can do this restaurant justice. It is bar food, but most of the interaction with the restaurant is done with a wireless iPad ( kind of poetic when you are visiting an Apple store). Everything can be custom. We ordered water and a gluten free pizza, maybe a bit pricey, but I honestly believe this is the restaurant of the future.

The rooms here are very nice, no signs of dirt or wear. The art in our room has one incredible piece, it is a map of San Diego, clearly computer generated, but really clever, it is all done with words.

We arranged for two in room massages from a Massage Envy type that was free lancing and then headed out for dinner at the Greek Island Cafe in Sea Port Village. It is not the best food in San Diego, nor the best atmosphere, nor the best service, but after fifteen years of conference life at either the Hyatt or the Marriott, it has become comfort food for me. I get the Combo, Kathy gets the Salad and life is good. We even had a glass of Greek wine (My Big Fat Greek Wine, I kid you not). Then two tried travelers tumbled into bed. Sadly, one of them woke up in the middle of the night as you can see from the time stamp on this blog post. No problem though, I have some leftover food from my combo and need to service my email anyway.

Friday, May 3, 2013


We took four hours of Paid Time Off today and headed to Hanalei. It was the least crowded I had ever seen Blackpot. We did a beachwalk first and then put on our fins and swam the area. It was fun watching the rain form up in the valley and then start moving towards the beach. No worries, we took our showers and went to Chicken in a Barrel for lunch.

I had the Combo plate and Kathy had the Hanalei Salad.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sharks at Perfects and Baby Beach

Perfect day. After work we went swimming upside down holding hands at Perfects and talking about our day. Have to say there were great water temps. We were making our way up to the soccer park and two locals yelled at us and waved to come in. We turned around to meet them and then one gave the shark hand signal, so we dropped hands and started using the waves to come in. Noticed they had spears and guessed they had caught some fish and the shark had followed them back so we turned up current of them and aimed for about 30' away up beach.

Tried to time the shore break and said a quiet prayer, "Lord, please don't let the waves knock us down". Not so much fear of the shark as a bit of a crowd had gathered and I didn't want to be a stupid haole. We both made it on to the beach standing up.

Wandered over and they said they saw the shark near us. It was a white tip so really no danger unless you stick your hand in their mouth or are holding something that is on their menu.

Then he came right by, three feet from the waters edge. One of the locals said, "look at all that meat". Spears up. He came by again, the guy with the spear gun pulled the trigger, safety was on. Shark passed by again, shot was high. I sort of felt bad for the shark and was amazed when he came by again after being shot at.

At that point we told the guys thanks for the warning and headed for the beach shower. We met a couple on the way from Tacoma that said yesterday a smaller shark had come over the inner reef at Baby Beach ( about 300 yards south and over the bridge from Perfects). That has happened before. Baby Beach is named that because it is a very safe place for small children, I can imagine seeing a shark with a bunch of toddlers gets the moms excited.

Really it is all minimal danger, but maybe, just maybe, we will go to Lydgate after work tomorrow for our swim. I have not seen the place since the did the work on the rock wall anyway.

No, that's not the shark from yesterday, this is the Sydney acquarium, but I thought it would be fun. We did go to Lydgate and it is trashed, there is all this biological matter and the entire center of the pond is black. My new plan is to go to Hanalei tomorrow.

More VOG - four full days of Vacation left

Not complaining mind you. This is not a VOG formulation that causes asthma in either Kathy or I. We slept in the bubble last night. We will sleep in the bubble tonight as well. Had to be up early for an East Coast meeting. Got the job done. Then I was so very tired. Gave myself permission to rest for an hour. Wierd technicolor dreams, all I had was one Costco Benadryl, how cool is that; LSD at one gazillionth of the price of the real thing, legal and a lot less risk.

Did my best, but this was not my most effective work day. Knocked off at 4:00 PM (we started at 7:00 AM, actually earlier). We went to the beach. With no trade winds it was flat and very, very safe. We watched a floating coconut stay in the same place for ten minutes - unheard of at Perfect's beach.

I would love to say we swam two miles in these optimal conditions, but the VOG can sap one's energy, so we just floated around. Great break from the heat though, the wind, (which is  was almost silent.

Then we sat in our chairs ( we have a beach cart to carry our fins, chairs, towels etc) and just listened to the ocean for forty five minutes, that was the highlight of the day for me.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Guacamole and Egg White Cornbread

South winds today again, really sapped our energy, but we are breathing OK. Did not bubbleize. After work today Kathy and I went swimming. Much less debris today.

After swimming we had a cold food supper; high time to start clearing the fridge. We had tostados, guacamole, a chicken breast and some parmesan reggiano cheese. Tasty, but there was guacamole left over.

So, I resolved to cook it up into a cornbread. Had a couple slices of tri-tip, sliced them up, found a hot pepper, always a plus. I have three cartons of egg white, so one carton was a sure thing. I am finding flax seed in a cornbread adds more than just health, busted that out. Obviously there was a need for some cornmeal, sea salt, spices (garlic, fresh basil and chili powder). Poured them all into a non-stick skillet, stirred them up, put it on the burner on low head and then finished with the broiler. The crazy thing is that I do not add baking powder or any other rising agent to my cornbreads, I like them dense. But with all that egg white this rose and is fluffy; kinda cool.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Trifecta, Kauai, and Freedom(tm) book review

South winds today, but my respiratory system seems to be handling it OK. The VOG also seems to screw with my nervous system. Woke up this morning, Kathy greeted me with a cup of Kona coffee; yes after five years respite we are drinking coffee again; now days the doctors say it is very good for you like dark chocolate. Time to take a shower and go to church.

"No can", (Honolulu style pidgin for could not do it). For the second time this year I just could not function. Back to sleep, woke up from time to time and then back to sleep. Finally, had brain and body function about 12:30. Whatever.

We decided to move from our ocean view bedroom to the bubble, (we have a filtered air bedroom with a murphy bed adjoining the office we call the bubble). I carried the pillows over, shut all the windows and started the bubble. Kathy crashed; the VOG is hard on her.

I had about 40 pages to go to finish Daniel Suarez's Freedom(tm) so I sat down and started reading. I can't read in bed anymore, not sure why. I have fond memories from when I worked for the government of taking a day of paid leave and doing almost nothing but reading in bed. Got hungry, went for the works, steak and egg and potatoes, not the most healthy meal to be sure, but tasty and kind of special to me.

When I was training to be a helicopter search and rescue guy, one of the schools is called SERE school, you can Google it. Not going to go into the details, but it is a profound experience and when it was all over and they bussed us back, we went to the chow hall and they fed us steak and eggs; guess I will always remember that.

Got back from brunch, finished the book.

Freedom(tm) has a much better ending in terms of writing craftsmanship than Daemon, though the author still left room for a follow up book. I do not tend to read fiction, there is just so much to keep up with in the IT field. But this was recommended by Wesley McGrew and I have developed a profound respect for his thinking.  It is the same gripping action filled story with lots of dead bodies and awesome technical toys, but he really fleshes out his alternate reality. When I reached the end something bothered me.  This was similar to something, what was it? Then it hit me, Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

On a whim, I punched in Isaac Asimov in my Google toolbar. I have got to say I love Google's initial presentation format for famous people. I picked one link at random to click on, a YouTube video from 1989; jeepers that guy had vision.

The bubble does a decent job of protecting us from sulphur dioxide, but for reasons that would take too much time to explain, it means a windowless environment. A computer screen and no windows can make one feel fenced in. There isn't only one VOG, the form of air pollution depends on the mix of gases, the temperature at which they form and so forth. Today's VOG impacts my nervous system more than my breathing so I decided to go for a walk. But hey, if I am going for a walk, why not go for a swim too? I peeked out the oceanside of the house and the ocean looked a lot friendlier than yesterday so I switched to boardshorts and put a bottle of hotel shampoo and my keys in my pocket, brought along a t-shirt, but decided to get my ten minutes of sun walking.

Walking along the bike path I saw a familiar face walking his dog, Dileep Bal, former president of the American Cancer Society, Chief Health Officer for Kauai, in demand speaker, ( he flies more than I do, he is at 3.6 million, .4 more and he is global services for life). He is also one of my favorite people to talk to, the breadth of his knowledge and sense of humanity reminds me of Mike Poor. Whether I got in the ocean now or later didn't matter, so I walked with him and his dog Kona and we chatted.

I told him about the books Daemon and Freedom(tm); I could see I didn't make a sale. We talked about retirement, he already has retirement from California and is vested in Kauai. Hope this does not sound like prejudice, but I have learned when speaking to someone born in India, you have to at least touch on money, but then we got to meaning. He said, I wonder what I will leave behind. Now this is a Harvard educated man, with Harvard educated children who served as the president of the American Cancer Society. Hmmmm. On the flight to Kauai I did a re-read of the Essential Drucker, (highly recommended), and what always strikes me is the concept of the second half of life.

Dileep does not suffer from VOG effects though his wife does, so he does not understand why we want to live in Seattle part of the time. And he really does not understand why we have a house in Richmond ( not sure I understand that either). As we were approaching the bridge to the Lihi boat ramp harbor, Dileep said something that got my attention, "with three houses you are placing a trifecta but without the return if you win". So true, it made sense at the time.

I bid Dileep adieu, I strongly prefer swimming on the Kapaa side of the harbor. I don't usually swim in Kauai waters without fins, but it is much calmer than yesterday so I jumped in; felt great. The current in this section goes from North to South along East shore. However, when it gets to the rocks protecting the harbor, there is only one direction for the water to go; out to sea. Usually the current can only move you if you are floating, today it was a bit stronger. I let it take me out about sixty yards and then practiced using the waves to get back in. That current can be moderately strong, though nothing like the rip at the Na Pali rocks side of Kee. It is the only risk spot in front of Pono Kai Resort that I have ever experienced in the 13 years I have been swimming there daily ( when on island) after all, it is a lagoon. But they had to cut a path through the reef so the small boats can use the harbor and the water has to go somewhere.

Six days left of our "Hawaiian vacation". It has been great. I do hope there is a nice day next week and we can go to Hanalei, but truthfully, now I find my brain focusing on the closeout. We will not be back till after SANS CDI in December.

When I was walking with Dileep, he asked me why I blog. The superficial reason is easy, it is very common for people over 50 years of age to start having retrieval problems. One day it might be nice to go back through some of my life experiences. Another reason, Mason Brown has taught be a lot and it is interesting to listen to him problem solve. He does it out loud, I do it writing. And then there is my duty as an academic. I read once that an academic must do three things:

  • Gather knowledge, usually by research
  • Chronicle current events for the future to understand the past
  • Mentor others

Whatever form the second half of life takes for me, I hope I can do those three things.

Kathy has gotten up, let me see if I can feed her :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sunny, but rough waters

It is a nice day, lots of sunshine, not too hot. I spent most of my time working on my trading notebook; trying to decide whether to open a position on Genworth. But by 2:30 PM, it was time to get into the ocean.

Waves were about 3 feet which matches the surf report of 2 - 4'. That is well within my capability to handle with fins on even when swimming alone. But then I started to get psyched out, some of the waves further out were brown (must have rained upmountain). And there was a lot of material in the water, not just the usual sticks and leaves, but I saw a five gallon bucket float by and then what looked like part of a fishing rod. I think I managed to get my full aerobic 20 minutes, forgot my dive watch, but decided to get out. Of course, my shoes were down at the other end so had to walk back about a mile barefoot on the bikepath, but my feet have toughened up some this trip so it wasn't that bad.

Took a longer beach shower than usual because of all the junk in the water, was glad I had remembered to bring a hotel shampoo bottle to wash the stuff out of my hair.

And enjoyable quiet day.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hey now, hey now, the VOG is back

Yesterday was epic ( as they use the word in Hawaii surfer speak). Perfect weather, warm, not hot. The waves were perfectly formed, not choppy. We went swimming and then I got to hike to Kelia. On the way back though I started to sneeze; a sure sign the VOG was coming back.

Last night was pizza night. I made the crust with fresh herbs, flax meal, a little corn meal, a hot pepper, garlic and some egg white as the binder. On top of the crust, added chicken, mushroom, garlic and rosemary. Then a marinara sauce on top of that followed by a three cheese topping. There is a piece left over and after writing all this down, I am suddenly hungry :)

Today, you can't see the mountains, the VOG is so thick, and I am coughing. There are some other quality of life issues worth mentioning.

Congress is working to remove themselves from Obamacare. They were supposed to be part of the system so they would understand the impact it had on the rest of us. Apparently, this is one of the few times the republicans and democrats can agree on something.

The FAA just released a press release that due to sequestration travelers can expect to see delays especially in Vegas, LA and Dallas. Great!

But I am not complaining, oh no! Despite the best efforts of the VOG and our government, life is good.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pa'ina on Aloha Friday

Every once in a while the Kauai SANS office gets together for a potluck lunch. I wanted to bring a fried rice dish, but have not been ale to determine whether to do it Island style, Terriyaki style or more of a Mediterranean style. Got some frozen Raw Shrimp, have some truly lovely (no nitrate) Canadian Bacon and some Chicken along with plenty of Peppers, Celery and Onion. Or maybe Creole, that is sounding even more fun. . . Well things just got a bit more complex, Kathy wanted me to add Mung beans to the rice, so I will taste it and see what can be done :)

Kathy saw some whales breaching today right out the bedroom sliding glass door, she called me and I came over, but missed them and today was a busy day, so I zipped back over to the office.

The weather yesterday and today is epic. Great swims during the heat of the day both days and then come back to the office and make the time up by staying late.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pa'ina tonight

Excited about tonight's dinner party.

We will start with a Wahoo salad on a tostada in a pupu size serving on the same tostada another pupu, Ahi Mole ( by the way, next time I think I will buy the Mole, making it from scratch takes a bit of time). Then fill out the pupu plate with a slice of Potato with two kinds of cheese (Romano Pecorino and Cheddar (Tilamook) fried with Rosemary and Taragon and topped with an uncured piece of Canadian Bacon.

For the main, we will have a Chicken, Mushroom, Brown Rice stew, with Bacon garnish.

Dessert: Banana Nut Pancakes cooked with a Pistachio and Pecan Nuts, Dark Chocolate and Cherries sauce. The cherries are very happy right now, they are soaking in Dark Rum.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

VOG - we are in the bubble on Kauai

When you build a house, there are always things you forget or can improve on later. When we built our home on Kauai, they did not have the VOG problem they have today. I was having trouble getting into and out of my sports car (Honda 2000) and the guy that built this house (Luis Soltren) was between jobs.

After we built the house, the weather pattern changed and we started to have VOG. Neither Kathy nor I have industrial strength respiratory systems and we both tend to get asthmatic when the VOG blows in on a South wind. We have actually jumped a jet and just left before, but it would be nice to have a choice. I wanted to have the ability to button up the office and a bedroom so that when the VOG comes we can breathe filtered air. Luis was willing to trade the car for his labor.

We still need one more improvement, we do not have a flat screen in the office, so watching movies is a challenge, but I have the last 17" Macbook Pro model, so country boy can survive.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Monk Seal, what a pleasure ( and Red Cabbage Goulash Cornbread)

I took a walk near the end of the workday because I heard that K12, the Hawaiian Monk Seal that survived a shark attack had beached in front of Pono Kai resort. The seal response team had already roped off the area and were available to answer questions. There are an estimated 1100 remaining Hawaiian Monk Seals, so they are beyond endangered at this point. This was the first one I saw on my vacation to Kauai.

Amazingly, in 2009, Charles Vidnha, shot and killed a pregnant monk seal. Many people were outraged that he only spent 90 days in jail and was issued at $25.00 fine. There were also two Molokai seals that were found bludgeoned to death. No arrests were made, if you are local on Molokai, it is very unlikely you will ever be arrested for anything.

There are efforts to convince the locals on the Hawaiian Islands to quit being a big part of the problem. For instance, many school kids write essays on monk seals. Here are two of my favorites.

Anyway, all that walking made me hungry. I decided to do a Goulash, but instead of the macaroni, make it as a cornbread. I also decided to make it vegetarian. Instead of ground beef or another meat, I used red cabbage.

1.5 cups corn meal
2 eggs
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1/4 onion chopped finely
1/2 cup red cabbage chopped coarsely
10 fresh cherry tomatoes ( from the garden)
1 tsp garlic
Water, milk, veggie or chicken broth till it is the right consistency (I used water)
Salt, paprika, chili powder to taste

Mix pour into a non-stick skillet, put on the range on low head to make the bottom a bit crusty, put in broiler to make the top crusty. NOTE: my big skillet was busy at the time, so I made it thicker than intended, if it is about 1/2" you are done at the point. I put it in the oven for twenty minutes to make sure the middle was cooked.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pa'ina at my house tonight

We are having our first dinner party since being back on island. It was fun getting ready. For pupus we have some patties that I have been experimenting with. For the first course we have Ahi Cerviche and Kale chips. Second course is Stroganoff with Artichoke rice and Red Cabbage Cole Slaw. We will finish with Chocolate Banana Pecan crepes.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Musings about retirement

I plan to semi-retire at the end of 2013 due to some health issues. There are a couple of points; one that is on my mind from reading AARP is do I have enough money? The answer is I think so, I have a financial advisor working on an analysis and I have done some of this myself in my trading notebook.

To determine if I have enough money to retire, I started a budget looking for the sources of income. We have some fixed annunities, dividend portfolios, interest payments on a house we owner financed and so forth. The budget was a major step in letting me really start to think this was possible and perhaps even wise.

The next question is what do I want to do with the time that I currently spend working. And it is an important question. When I used to work at NSWC I would watch people retire at 55 ( the US Government had a system called CSRS that allowed that). Then it was not uncommon to learn that they died within a year. I guess they just did not have anything to do with their life, so I would like to avoid that. By the way, speaking of CSRS, I will not receive retirement benefits until age 62, it is called deferred retirement, but that is fine.

I would like to keep teaching, I enjoy it and just completed an update of my flagship course MGT 512 SANS Security Leadership Essentials. Kathy and I have talked and we think teaching six to seven weeks a year would be a nice balance. I have another course as well, MGT 514 Security Strategic Planning, Policy and Leadership, so it would be nice to mix and match those a bit.

Kathy currently works as an hourly employee. That sounds pretty attractive, but the other alternative would be teach as a 1099 independent contractor. Need to puzzle this a bit there are positives to both. Not that it is my decision, it is SANS decision, but I should learn to articulate the merits of either choice.

If I become an hourly employee, I could simply do projects for SANS.ORG and SANS.EDU. I have been working on the college rubrics lately and am enjoying the work. After the rubrics are done, it would be great to have a chance to update the college's leadership essay. I think SANS policy project is an important asset to the community and would love a chance to spruce it up. A big advantage of being hourly would be health care.

However, there appear to be advantages to being a 1099. I would need to create a corporation and have SANS pay for teaching through the corporation and the corporation could pay the health care. This way I would get full author fees and at least so far MGT 512 has run a lot, but that is partly due to 8570 which seems to be winding down. Another question would be where to locate the corporation, probably Delaware, they look to be fairly straightforward, not Hawaii, but maybe Washington, our residence. There is some evidence Washington is a good choice for a corporation, but other evidence that it is not.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March rains on Kauai can cause floods

If you are a tourist, you probably do not want to pick March for your vacation to Kauai. Seven years ago, it rained for 30 days straight and the Ka Loko dam burst killing seven people. Last year there was massive flooding, we were overseas and due to come to Kauai, but we diverted, they didn't need two more people using resources.

We just went through a fairly serious rain and they closed the bridge to Hanalei and redirected traffic, but we stayed inside and watched a movie.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Vacation on Kauai March 2013

Received a note from a reader of my SANS.EDU blog and they asked for an update on Kathy and my "Things to do on Kauai" file. Last night, was a bit slow, so I worked on that file. This morning I woke up with the sun and was really hungry.

Flax and Cornbread Morning Flat Cake

1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup corn meal
1 egg
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt
Chicken broth as needed

Mix oil with the corn and flax meal. Add egg, yogurt and chicken broth. Pour into a non-stick skillet and gently brown the bottom. Add some sprinkle cheese to the top and broil to a light brown color.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Orlando to Kauai

Since we moved back to the mainland, we haven't gotten to spend much time in the Hawaiian Islands. This time we have an unprecedented 45 days on the island. We left the sliding door open from our bedroom to listen to the ocean. When we landed it was flat, no white caps, but we sat our on the Makai lanai and saw the swells coming in from the distance. We did see a whale as we were landing, when the ocean is completely flat they are very easy to spot. This is only the second time I have seen a whale from the plane while landing. It will be interesting to see what things look like after the sun comes up.

It was a journey to be here. Our car was at 0430 to the Orlando airport. We were on United 1216 which was on time.

A wheel fell off my carry on bag right as I boarded United 785 from Chicago to Los Angeles which departed at 1000. We had an hour between flights in Los Angeles, so we thought we could purchase another. This was the top of the line Samsonite and it supposedly has a lifetime warranty, but a fat lot of good that does when you are on travel and your bag is broken.  Anyway, no joy on a new bag when we got to Los Angeles, the gate was not ready so we sat on the tarmac for 45 minutes. When we got to the gate there was nobody around to drive the jet bridge. We ended up racing through the airport to get to our gate. The flight to Lihue was also United 785 ( hate it when they do that) and I did not have a seat assignment, but every thing worked out OK.

Saw Jeff Frisk on the plane, I guess he also got up very early from Orlando as well. The sun is just coming up, it is a chilly day, high 50s I would guess. I made Kathy some gluten free pancake/blintz cakes for breakfast. Someone was kind enough to put a carton of eggs in our fridge , so used two eggs, some cheese, some greek yogurt and a handful of craisins. They came out great, some of these gluten free mixes are incredibly easy to work with.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Marriott World Center and Orlando

We have spent the week at the world center putting on a conference. I am pleased to report that my newest class, Management 514, Security Planning, Policy and Leadership did well. During our time here we have eaten at three of the on-property restaurants.

Mikado. Just like any other Japanese Teppenyaki grill. It is amazing how similar they all are to each other. Huge portions, I had the Scallops and NY Strip Steak, Kathy had the Shrimp and Filet Mignon. We did not try any adult beverages, since we had to go back to work, but noticed a full bar and wine list.

Hawks Landing Steakhouse. Service was great, but food was so so. I had the pork chop, which they cooked into cardboard. We shared two sides, their awesome hashbrowns and also the mushrooms. Wine list was not that impressive, we shared a bottle of Murphy Goode Cabernet.

Siso, the replacement Italian restaurant. Kathy had the Kale Caesar and I had the Grouper, which was very nice. This was our best experience and we are going back tonight.

Friday night after work we took a cab to Universal and ate at Emeril's. I had the Redfish and Kathy had the Pork Chop. We also had a bottle of Gilgal Cabernet Sauvignon and shared their newest desert, the Trifle to cap the night. It was a wonderful experience. Great service, great taste.

We woke up early Saturday morning. For some reason, we are still here, so we decided to go to the TBN Holy Land Experience. I am glad we started early, because this quickly got very crowded and the aisles are narrow and in all my days on this earth I have never seen so many people that just stop in a passageway and block everyone else. By eleven AM I was starting to lose it and Kathy and I decided to bail out. The Holy Land Experience may be fun when it is not crowded, but I have to put it on my not recommended list.   The Holy Land Cafe, did not look appealing and was already crowded with limited available seating. Hey, I thought, why don't we go back to Emeril's for lunch. I had a phone number for Orlando Checker Cab in my contacts list, they had a cab there in ten minutes. Emeril's was not crowded, was quiet, we got a seat at the kitchen bar so we could watch our food being prepared. Kathy got the Wedge Salad, I had the Truffle Flat bread, all is right with the world!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Richmond to Orlando

James limo was on time for an 8:30 AM pickup, traffic was light and we made it to the airport easily. When we walked up to the Airtran counter, there was no line. Kathy's check bag was a bit heavy ( she is used to flying United where as a 1K she can go all the way to 70 pounds). But all I had in my personal effect was a box of cereal and a book, so we packed my second carry on full and got exactly to 50 pounds.

The plane was on time and it was a quick two hours from Richmond to Orlando. On the way out of the airport, I stopped at the McDonalds and pick up a cheeseburger, this will be the last cheap eats for a while, the resort charges, well resort prices. The Marriott World Center was kind enough to send a bellman to come get us at the airport. We have a nice room and I am excited about starting the conference off well.

This place is huge, I have never seen anything like it outside of Vegas. And there are so many SANS classes, the depth and breadth is incredible.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Last day in Richmond VA (and Cinnebistro)

Last night we went to Cinnebistro for a date and watched Safe Haven. This is a high end dinner/movie establishment. I tried their Drumstick in, Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast, it was cooked to perfection, but the flavor was so so. Kathy had their Collard Greens which she loves. We shared a bottle of Paso a Paso, which was also so so. It is a bit on the spendy side, movie tickets were 26.00 and the food and wine came to 59.76, so 85.76.

We started packing up for our trip to Orlando. I have my carryon in pretty good shape, just need to locate my knife, I hate it when I donate my knife to TSA. Well, we just found it, the dryer was making this horrid banging sound so I will get it under control in my checked bag.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snow in Richmond VA

According to weather sources, there is no precipitation to the South of us, rain to the North and we have 3.1 inches of snow and it is still falling. Winter Storm Saturn has also been active with thunder, lightning, and high winds.  It turned from rain to sleet at 4AM, Kathy heard the difference and parked the Mustang in the garage.

I turned on all the electric floors in case we lost power and made up some high protein cornbread so we would have food if we lost power.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Trader Joe's and Short Pump Park

It got up to 60 degrees today, not bad for February in Richmond and we were going to Trader Joe's a half mile away so we decided to stop at the park and have a picnic. Short Pump Park is next to the old one room Short Pump schoolhouse which is in immaculate condition. 

There is a soccer and baseball field. There are some open picnic tables and a covered area as well. The bathrooms were clean and in good working order. Considering that it is in the middle of one of the busiest parts of Richmond, this is a nice spot to visit on a Sunday and enjoy a Trader Joe's Brown Rice Bread and Uncured Pastrami sandwich.

Atlanta to Richmond

One of the facts about travel is that eventually your luck is going to run out. I got cleared for Pre, but Kathy did not know if she was cleared so we took the regular line. Kathy packed the bags while I was finishing with the National Science Foundation meeting and there was a full thermos in the bag which they confiscated. Sigh.

The first flight was Atlanta to Chicago. We found a United Club and I read the Financial Times, our plane, United 3487, was running an hour late and Kathy was a bit stressed we would miss our connection. I told her not to worry, when one plane runs late, the odds are that many planes are running late. Boy was that correct.

We made it to our gate area and found another United Club, I think this one must be either new or freshly remodeled. Found a USA Today and an Investor's Business Daily. United 5965 was originally scheduled to leave at 4:55 PM, but the dreaded "Awaiting Aircraft" sign was on, then it was 5:30, 6:30, 7:00 and finally 7:30. We boarded at 7:45, and finally left around 9:00 PM. Kathy and I got to the Richmond House at a bit past midnight and stayed up talking with Hunter till 3:30 AM. Long day.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Holiday Inn Express Atlanta Camp Creek

This is a new facility and that is great. They are just trying to get their act together to be a meeting space, no flip charts etc.

Rooms are spacious and ours was clean and they accepted early checkin, which was deeply appreciated since we flew in from Kauai.

The serve breakfast in the morning. It is adequate, not great, no fruit, but plenty of everything else.

Warning: their shuttle service is widely know as very slow. If you have an important connection either book early or take a cab.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Last day on Kauai

It has been a great time on Kauai, only two weeks, but an incredible two weeks. I would have expected rain, but we have had incredible weather. I got to swim almost every day and packed a hotel shampoo and shower gel and used the beach shower instead of the one I have off my bedroom; not being cheap, but I get tired of squeegeeing the shower.

Kauai to Atlanta

We took Hawaiian Airlines 240 to Honolulu. The flight was on time and there was only one problem, even though we booked through United they charged us for our bags and it was 85.00. I asked United customer service and the United people at the gate in Honolulu and they said call the 1k desk, not sure that is going to work. But will let you know.
Update Feb 20, 2013. I have now made four calls to United. They have a webform, There is a category for baggage charges, but it is not accepting the baggage document number. Ready for call #5. He suggested that I try contacting the web development team and forwarded me and after being on hold for five minutes, United hung up on me. Call #6, this guy is really trying, not sure what will come of it, but it is nice to see someone try. Funny thing though, he put me on hold to  and I finally got a baggage document number.

We had some time in the airport on Kauai and I had brought healthy food so we ate at our gate till it was time to board. Somehow we scored exit rows. They even had time to serve drinks, a pretty good trick on a 20 minute flight.

United 140 Honolulu to Houston was a great flight. It was a 767, we scored first class and they had lay flat seats. I am too tall for the lay down seats, but they certainly recline. I watched movies, I really enjoyed Chasing Mavericks, I was crying like a baby at the end. Then I watched Grease, gosh it has been a long time since I have seen that. After that, I could not keep my eyes open and crashed for a while. I woke up in the last hour of the flight and could not go back to sleep so I watched a bit of Liz & Dick, the story of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Not sure what I think about it, but, it was interesting and brought back some memories.

Our final flight, United 5208, was also on time making us three for three. It was a puddle jumper so we had to check our main carryon bags.