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 FM had some beef that had just gotten out of date and looked great, very dark and little fat or gristle.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.