The long-overdue "I know what I did last summer" post

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3033 days ago

Wow, according to my last post, it’s been 144 days since I blogged. Too long, but it’s a sign of how busy life has been. I’m going to use this post just to catch up quickly, then future posts will hopefully be more insightful:

  • I’m still a vegetarian
  • The new job is good (and I was promoted!), but time-intensive
  • The dogs are awesome
  • Buying the Honda Element was very much the right decision – it is perfect for the dogs and for Kristina’s plant (and dirt!) hauling
  • The new house is great
  • I did buy that motorcycle I had my eye on (and I love it!)
  • I sold my domain (truist.com) and replaced it with the one you see before you (rainskit.com). (And truist.com now has some very interesting content. But it’s a dumb name for a company.)
  • We all finally hired the right president

But of course, all of that put a ton of stress on my life and my wife, and we are still trying to recover from it. Speaking of which, she (my wife) also:

  • Turned 30, and got through a party that I think she would have preferred to delay
  • Took care of the dogs while I was traveling
  • Worked an internship
  • Took over as president of Pi Alpha Xi at OSU, and has had a stellar experience
  • Took a full load of classes this fall

Regular life things also happened. I’m sure I’ve forgotten many of them, but notable items include:

  • Discovered Pistacia Vera, an absolutely life-changing “dessert botique” (in Columbus!), that we now go to every weekend
  • Found DropBox and Carbonite, which are similar services that finally make file sharing and backup (respectively) just work the way they should have all along
  • Found Woot and its associated sites and got addicted; we’ve probably ordered 10 things from them so far
  • Amitai visited and during that visit, I bought a first-gen iPhone and hacked it to work with T-Mobile. (I love it!)
  • Had a very good Thanksgiving at my dad’s house, at which we learned some great news (that isn’t quite yet public)
  • Released two new versions of tru_tags, and used one of those releases to make this site’s archive page

So anyhow, it’s been really busy, and many parts of our life have fallen behind where we’d like them to be. The busyness hasn’t really been a problem… it’s just prevented us from doing other things we might want to be doing. I think our priorities are in the right place, though – I’m doing what I love, and Kristina is working toward a new life where she gets to do what she loves. I think that’s how things are supposed to be.

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Oregon trip

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3493 days ago

Kristina and I took a vacation in Oregon this August, and as expected, we fell in love with it. We’d both always had this idea that we’d like Oregon, and one of the people on my team at NetJets lives out there and invited us to visit, and this year is our fifth anniversary, so we decided to go. With the help of a few borrowed guidebooks and the advice of a local, I did a lot of planning, made a loose itinerary, and booked the flights and hotels.

I’ve posted about 500 pictures over in the gallery, and they tell the basic story. (I know, 500 is way too many… but we took 1300 originally so this is a huge improvement.) We started in Portland and wandered all around town on the very-well-done public transportation. While there, we went to the world’s largest bookstore and went there again to stand in line for the midnight release of Harry Potter. We also went to the stunning Japanese Garden and the much-less-stunning International Rose Test Garden. From there, we got on the road and happened to pass by (and stop at) an aviation museum that houses the Spruce Goose. We then drove down the coast to Yachats, which is now the easy winner as our favorite place to vacation. I was a little sneaky and had rented a room with a view, and we spent a lot of time exploring the rocky coast and playing in the tide pools. Driving around there, we saw these cool Tsunami Hazard Zone signs, went to the famous Newport Aquarium (and stopped by the headquarters of Rogue Brewery), and took a few long-distance (but free!) pictures of the Haceta Head Lighthouse. You can see our cool Mustang convertible in some of those pictures :) Sadly, we eventually had to leave Yachats, and we semi-intentionally ended up having a crazy driving adventure through deep forest roads housing scary people who really, really don’t want visitors. From there we visited a few waterfalls and drove out to Bend. (Bend is the town where the person I work with lives.) Somehow, we don’t have any pictures of Bend, but we really liked it there. We do have pictures of our canoing trip and a trip we made up the Mt. Bachelor ski lift to try to eat dinner, but we ended up not eating there. Finally, we drove back to Portland, did a little more sight seeing, and flew home.

Phew!

Actually, it was great. We had 9 days, and no set schedule except for the hotel bookings. We were able to take our time and do whatever struck our fancy, from a big menu of previously-researched sights and activities. It’s my new favorite way to take a vacation :)

I have a few lasting thoughts / advice that I want to save, also:

  • Portland was an OK city, but we didn’t really love it. The highway traffic sucks, and the sky is always gray. It does have some great vegetarian food and good public transportation, but it just didn’t grab onto us the same way Chicago did.
  • The Japanese Garden is truly incredible. Wandering through there, I could help but feel awe and wonder, and be inspired by the talent and energy and time that went into making it. I will go back.
  • The International Rose Test Garden was boring (for me). It is just row after row after row of roses. If you really love roses, maybe you’ll like it.
  • Voodoo doughnut is only going to seem cool to you if you come prepared for it to be a dingy place from the 70’s.
  • When you think Portland Saturday Market, think “flea market” and you’ll have a good idea what to expect.
  • The Newport Aquarium is well worth visiting, and it’s even worth the price of admission :)
  • Never, ever, ever go to Yachats. If you do, you’ll be tempted to stay, and then it will be more crowded when we retire there ;) If you must visit, it’s well worth the money to stay at the Overleaf Lodge. You should also eat at the Drift Inn Restaurant (we ate there five or six times) and at the Yachats River House.
  • The best thing about Bend is that you can drive 30 minutes one way to be in desert, or 30 minutes the other to go skiing, or you can just stay in town to have great weather and lots of cool things to do. It’s the ultimate in micro-climate adjustability!
  • The Mt. Bachelor twilight dinner is a giant rip-off. We thought it would be really nice, but it’s really just a cheap ski lodge trying to sell fancy food. We tried to eat there, but they didn’t have anyone to seat us, didn’t have a table ready for our reservation, don’t have a good wine or beer selection, and ran out of steak (one of the four dinner choices). We left, and ended up at the Seasons restaurant in the Seventh Mountain Resort. It is now at the top of my list of all-time best restaurants, for service, atmosphere, food, and wine. Dinner there was absolutely amazing.

Anyhow, the trip was fantastic. We will go back to Oregon, maybe this winter. We want to see what it’s like in winter, and we’re already wishing that we’d brought back some good art from there. If not soon, though, then someday.

One last thing: I’ve put together a folder of favorite pictures, suitable for framing or giving as gifts ;)

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A silly driving game

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4067 days ago

I think about driving. A lot. (I will someday compile and post a complete set of driving rules that they should have tought in drivers ed.) One of those thoughts is about a somewhat silly game I want to play, with rules that go something like this:

  1. Pick a starting point. A starting point is defined as a particular direction in a particular lane on a particular road in a particular place. So, for example, I might choose “going North in the only lane on Main Street in Springfield, NJ, USA.”
  2. Pick a single rule for what to do when that lane changes in any relevant circumstances, such as:
    1. Forks off in multiple directions or splits into multiple lanes (ex: “follow the right-most fork”)
    2. Dead-ends (ex: “turn right”)
    3. Hits a detour (ex: “follow it”)
    4. Anything else relevant (ex: “always use the left-most open tollbooth”)
  3. There are two more pre-defined rules:
    1. Whenever the lane merges into another, start using that new lane
    2. Whenever you are forced to take a turn, take it (ex: at an intersection with a right-turn-only lane, or an exit off a highway)
  4. The only rule you can’t make is one that says “change lanes” – you always have to stay in the current lane, unless you’re forced out, or forced to choose a new lane.
  5. Then start in the point you specified, drive in the direction you specified, and follow all the rules.
  6. If you reach a situation for which you don’t have a rule, that’s it – the end of your trip. (ex: the road dead-ends and there is no right turn)

The goal of the game is up to you. In a single-player version the goal might be to find long routes, or routes with lots of turns, or a route that loops, etc. Or you could use this to start a road trip to anywhere. In a multi-player version of the game, you might compete to see who can find the longest/turniest/interesting-est route. Or you could look for the longest route that ends at a particular place. Make up the goal!

I always think about this game when I find myself on such a route, and I wanted to share it with the world. So here you are – enjoy!

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