Video games, wood preservation, PC hardware, and a quick trip to Las Vegas. Read on.
We took a family trip to Hawaii for Jes's birthday, linking up with Derrick and fam for part of it. Mom came too.
We decided to go to NorCal for xmas this year.
I did some more Keras dabbling since there was cold weather and time off. I continued down the autoencoder thread that I'd explored a bit previously.
We headed up the coast for some holiday time with the family.
After travel and catching up, things are getting back to normal.
I'm not really a fan of photographing food, but as this was a food/wine tour, I figured I'd at least aggregate food photos/commentary to a single, skippable post.
I drove in France and Switzerland. Germany would have been fun, but train travel there made more sense. It all went pretty smoothly, though as you'd expect the streets can get pretty narrow in towns. The motorways are great - a generally high speed limit and people are very good about driving in the right lane, leaving the left open for passing. Roundabouts beat the hell out of stop signs and lights. The French motorways seem to be pretty much all toll roads, we ended up spending about $...
Tuesday we returned the rental car and had a bunch of time to kill in the not-super-comfortable Geneva airport.
Part of the Switzerland choice was to visit Jes's bff Jocelyn in Lausanne. Joce had an afternoon planned out for us, so we hit the buffet at 0800 again and headed down the gondola to the car. It's hard for any drive to measure up to the one we'd just done, but the more 'normal' part of Switzerland was still rather impressive. Miles of green pastures set against snowcapped mountains, then a huge blue lake.
We started Easter Sunday at 0800, enjoying the Jungfrau's great continental breakfast. The options were a big day hike or a pricey but scenic gondola ride up to the Schilthorn peak. We decided on the former, since standing at a summit and looking around sounded less awesome than hiking the mountain and looking for goats. Actually the ideal would have been both (gondola up, hike down), but the concierge told us the snow was still pretty deep at the peak.
Saturday morning I strolled over to the Hotel Metropole to get the rental from Europcar. The drive back to the hotel was a bit circuitous due to one way streets, construction, and pedestrian areas. Navigating + following unfamiliar road rules + avoiding vehicular 187 is a lot to do at once. But outside of town, driving was easy.
We didn't want to risk transport issues on a holiday, going from a small town to a small town far away in another country, so we hit the train platform early for our local train into Mainz to catch our direct (with stops) train to Interlaken. Pulling up the web site, it appeared the last ten miles of our commuter segment was replaced with a bus ride that was projected to arrive just twelve minutes before departure.
Two nights in Bacharach meant we could daytrip to one of a few options we had listed. After some breakfast in bed, we decided on the hour-ish train trip to Rick Steves's favoritest castle, Burg Eltz. This barely edged out seeing Katz and Maus castles.
The thing we'd missed out on the previous day was, of course, Belgian waffles.
Tuesday we caught the 10:00 Thalys train from Gare Nord up to Brussels. The pleasant two hour journey meant we had some time to kill before check in. One option was to check the bags and find something to do, but as I was down to my last pair of underwear, inside out, round two, we decide to find a laundromat between the station and the hotel.
After the late night at Moulin Rouge, we slept in until it was time to walk a few blocks to our lunch reservation at Saturne. I'm purposefully keeping the food talk/photos in a separate post, but suffice it to say the lunch was delicious.
Of absolute course our arrival in Paris meant Jessica would come down with the cold that resulted from hours next to me on a plane. But her mind was set on loading up on meds and pushing through it.
Saturday morning Boukarou Beach delivered on the kayak rental and we paddled around the coves for an hour. The weather was nice, the water was nice.
Friday morning we had pastries and coffee at the town's boulangerie and decided to start the day with a hike. Gmaps told us there was a natural park, Sentier Fenouillet just a few km east.
The unconventional sleep schedule from the first night worked, we woke up at 0830 and enjoyed a huge breakfast in the tasting room. We had a few options for places to visit on our drive to Rayol Canadel Sur Mer.
After hitting the hay at 20:00 the night before, Jes and I both woke up at midnight - which I don't think was morning in any time zone we crossed the previous day. Getting adjusted to local time seemed rather critical, so we downed a melatonin and slept for... eleven hours. Whoops. Happily, France doesn't do any of that 11:00 checkout nonsense.
Despite illness and loading up on all downers imaginable, I didn't get any sleep on the eleven hour trip from LAX to CDG. Jessica got ten minute dozes in, but wasn't able to get comfortable. What did wake us up was getting struck by lightning on the initial descent into Paris. The plane lit up and everything shook very briefly.
Our departure was out of LAX so we had the option of driving and leaving a car or taking the train to Union Station and then Lyfting to the airport. Neither was a very exciting option but since we were looking at many hours of airplanes it seemed like the train would be them most free range option.
The plan started way back in September-ish, when Josh found a hot deal on flights to Geneva. We booked those and decided to fill in the trip casually over the next few months. Fast-forward to March and we really hadn't done anything beyond buying and doing some light reading on Lonely Planet and Rick Steves.
Friday, Derrick and I caught a flight up to PDX where Jon and Arthur picked us up for the snowy drive up the mountain.
2019 has been all work and all play.
Christmas was the usual fare: travel, eggs benedict, prime rib, secret Santa, wine.
Jes and I went up to Seattle/Burien to see Jon/Tori's new place and new pup. Jes went up early, I joined on Friday and we took Pepper to the shore.
Jon, Dan, Derrick, and I took a trip to Park City. After considerable research, it appeared Snowbird would have been the preferred resort (acreage, conditions) but has a small and expensive inventory of on-site accommodations. To add to that, many of the ski areas have insane rental tax rates. Who would have thought Park City would be the more reasonably-priced option (for a ski-in/ski-out trip plan).
The usual drive. Jes accompanied on the way up but had to fly back for work. We stopped for a night in Burbank and did a meal with her family.
Jes and I took Kaf down to the cove. Rain had washed part of the path away, so we had a difficult descent and even more challenging return.
Jes and I took a trip up to Oakland to catch up with the hometown crowd and see some Raiders football. There was a bit of haze from the Santa Rosa fires, but not, like, SD in '03 or anything:
The iron fence around the front walkway was pretty well finished, so with the parents wanting to take on a project we decided to do a wood slat replacement.
Of course more east coast trips. I can't be mad, I brought some Pot Belly peppers back this past time. And the one before that I got to ride the sweet Detroit airport tram that is overhead in the terminal.
This Saturday was the annual BLAH Cape Run. We went orange this time around.
Idaho Falls was pretty mellow. We got a few rounds of Snow Eagle's Beaver Dick and executed on a project goal of obtaining the giant guiness cup from The Celt.
The 'rents were out on Kauai for a birthday, so I joined them.
The Galaxy S3 finally died after it took a tumble off of my soccer bag not long ago. I was way out of contract so it was a good time to evaluate the options:
Nothing really to report, save for an interesting TSA experience. I received some extra attention because a dive housing apparently resembles a fluid-filled container when x-rayed. So the pat down the conversation began with expensive hobbies and progressed to the TSA dude talking about skydiving and the explosives involved in reserve chute deployment. Connection: pyrotechnics are necessary for automatic deployment and must be inspected (for a fee) on a regular basis.
After five years I bid qcom adieu to take on a new challenge in the startup world. This meant cleaning the cobwebs out of the study and setting up a proper work environment.
Thus begins a tldr story of my journey to the 2014 World Cup. My buddy Ryan had an in with the American Outlaws and brought me along as his +1. AO had two chartered jets and the majority of a few hotels down in Natal with catered transportation to each US match.
Five days on Oahu, three days on Kauai. Ty was kind enough to put me up on his futon, fry me linguicas in the morning, and be an all-around pal; like old times. Ninety minutes after my arrival, the Volcom Pipeline Pro final heat was on, so we booked it to the north shore to catch some excellent wave riding.
I mostly finished the vaulting:
I spent most of the fourth getting the master bathroom ready for cement board. The cuts all worked out pretty well but when I went to the hardware store for roofing felt I came back with more projects. Bulbs for the cable lights, a concrete pier for the deck, chlorine granules for the pool, and rock for the planters. I wound down the afternoon weeding, painting, and rocking the planters.
Two weekends ago was a trip out east to the Commonwealth. J and I co-opped Army of Two, ODST, and New Mario, start to finish on consecutive days. Monday featured some epic Halo firefight scenarios. Of course we mixed it up with some MST, Always Sunny, and a trip to the Dulles air museum. Mandy was awesome throughout, and filled me in on some of the great new J-isms that I've missed.
The flight out was excellent all around. No rush, no traffic, no waiting. Jon was happy to take me to the airport at 5:45 and I got into Portland on time. Getting through Portland was smooth, the trolly is adjacent to the baggage claim and will take you all the way to Beaverton for a mere $2.00. I got through a fair amount of I Am America (And So Can You!) on the way.
I just realized I'm 24 and I've never been out of this hemisphere. What the hell have I been doing all this time?
Due to a hard drive failure, this is all that remains of my trip to meet Jes in Hong Kong, Chengdu, and beyond.
I went on a photography-oriented RV trip with J and his family. We roamed Alaska from Juneau to Fairbanks.
Dave and I decided to try to climb Shasta. We made it just about to the Red Bluffs before turning back. It was a lesson in the importance of acclimatization - we more or less drove up from sea level and spent the night in Ayr's mom's yard.
Dave, Shane, and I wandered the sierras for a couple days.