Author Archives: Zach

Deseret Peak with Isaac, Charlotte, and their grandma

After our hiking adventures in Arches National Park a couple of weeks ago, I started getting the thought that the kids (especially Charlotte) could take on a serious hike. I had a really great hike on Deseret Peak a few years ago, and the week after Labor Day seemed like a good time, but I hadn’t really committed to anything until the night before. It all felt like it was a little impulsive, but I invited my mom, told the kids, and we set off at 6:30 on Saturday the 12th. It’s a bit of a drive out to the trailhead; we got started hiking around 8:30.

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One thing about Deseret Peak is that it’s an alpine wilderness surrounded by Utah’s desert. There are lots of woods on the way up, and even though it was late in the year, the stream was still running. A view of North Willow Peak through the trees from the trail:DSC02430-01

We took it easy on the way up, with lots of stops for rest and snacks:DSC02433

I said this is a serious hike. Well, for folks more athletic than I am (and that’s most of you!), it’s not so bad. A little over 4 miles to the summit, but a lot of elevation gain: about 3600′. Here’s the crew climbing up some switchbacks:DSC02441

There’s a tough climb up to a ridge that’s right around 10,000′. Once on the ridge, a big meadow opens up, with some nice rocks for having lunch:

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Isaac was pleased to note that no one had thrown up at this point. (Isaac threw up on our Delicate Arch hike, and I have a little history of barfing when I get to about 9500′.) After our lunch break, we hit the trail up toward the summit. At this point, there’s still another 1000′ to climb, and after the switchbacks up to the ridge, it can be a little tiring. We met some nice folks from Florida who called it quits at about 10,500′.

I kept telling Isaac and Charlotte that they’d know we’d made it when they looked around and there was nothing higher than them. I could tell they were hurting a little on this last stretch. You really feel the altitude, and it takes some commitment to keep going up. There was a little complaining, but I kept telling them to think about the positives: think about telling your friends how you toughed it out; think about being higher than you’ve ever been before; look at how far up we’ve come already.DSC02449

Here we are just a bit below the summit:

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Finally, I was able to shout: “CHILDREN! Is there ANYTHING higher than you are?” (There was not.)DSC02479

 

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The view from 11,031 feet:

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Time to head back down:

 

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We made pretty good time back down to the ridge, where I got a nice picture of the kids enjoying the view to the north. The van is 2600′  down and 3 miles away still (somewhere behind Charlotte’s head, I think):DSC02513

Here we are at the sign post at the top of the ridge, just before heading down the switchbacks (this is looking the other way, to the south):DSC02515

Coming down wears you out, and we were all starting to feel it. Here we are making our way down the switchbacks below the ridge:DSC02528

The trail back always seems twice as long when you’re tired, and we were all glad to be back at the van. Charlotte was proud of how dirty her feet were:DSC02546

Our final obstacle was this ridiculous deer. She just looked at me when I beeped the horn at her, but the kids thought it was pretty funny. DSC02553

I was proud of how well Isaac and Charlotte (not to mention my mom!) did with this hike. It’s a lot of climbing for a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old, and they toughed it out. I’m always pleased when they’re willing to do tough things, and this hike will prime them for more adventures. Assuming I can keep up with them.

Trip to Huntington and Arches with Dan and Bethani

I’m a murderer. A mur-diddly-urgler.

Well, that’s how I feel sometimes after underestimating the desert. But let’s not get too far ahead! Let’s go back to August 4th.

With my sister and her husband visiting us from California, the time was right to get out to the red rock. Dan hadn’t ever had the chance to see it, and Bethani hadn’t been to Huntington in many years. For those who aren’t aware, Huntington, UT is where I lived until I was 8 years old. My dad taught at the LDS seminary there (and did about 40 other jobs as well). And since we weren’t able to make the trip to Seattle this year, I thought that the children could use an adventure. So we loaded selected children (those I figured could do some hiking) into the Sienna and headed south and east. Read more »

Cedar Point 2014

Ever since I married Kathleen and we started visiting Ohio occasionally we’ve made it a point to go to Cedar Point. I like roller coasters (though I wouldn’t say I’m as hard-core as some of the nerds on the internet), and Cedar Point is probably the best single collection of coasters on the planet. So with our trip to Ohio this summer, we made plans to go and bring Isaac and Charlotte along.

Charlotte is just barely 48″ in shoes, which means she wasn’t tall enough for many rides, but she was tall enough for some of the best. Isaac was just short of the 52″ requirement for that next tier of rides as well. So we planned accordingly.

We wanted to give Isaac and Charlotte a chance to experience some really great coasters, and we wanted to break them in gently so they’d have a good time and not be too intimidated. We loaded up and headed for Sandusky with Bryan, Grandpa Bird, and Cousin Paul to hit the park.

It turned out Paul was too small to ride anything big, which was disappointing for him, but he still had a chance to ride a lot of smaller rides with his grandpa. We split up to try our first coaster – Paul and Grandpa to some smaller rides, and the rest of us to a pretty mild coaster, the Iron Dragon, that we’d picked as our starter.

Isaac, Kathleen, Charlotte, and Bryan in line to ride the Iron Dragon

Isaac, Kathleen, Charlotte, and Bryan in line to ride the Iron Dragon

Charlotte was pretty nervous, but she tried hard to be brave, and it seemed like she had a pretty good time. We took a break from coasters to drive the antique cars:

Isaac drove me around.

Isaac drove me around.

Charlotte was nervous about this at first, too.

Charlotte was nervous about this at first, too.

From there, we thought the mine ride would be a good next stop.

Isaac, Kathleen, Charlotte, and Bryan waiting to ride.

Isaac, Kathleen, Charlotte, and Bryan waiting to ride.

Then it was time for lunch. We had a quick snack in the van, than a too-long line for bumper cars, and then Charlotte went with Paul and Grandpa Bird for some more gentle rides while Kathleen, Bryan, Isaac and I went to ride a coaster.

We opted for the Magnum XL-200, which was one of the early “hypercoasters”, built back in 1989. It was the first coaster higher than 200 feet and was the tallest, fastest, and steepest coaster when it opened. It’s still a pretty great ride. But sadly, it broke down while we were in line, so we wound up jumping out of line and riding a new ride, the Pipe Scream:

It was OK, but the line was kind of long. But when we got off, we saw that the Magnum was running again, so we headed over there to give it a ride. Isaac was a little nervous, but he seemed to have a good time, and more than that, he was pretty proud of himself for being brave and riding it. Here’s the official video so you can get a sense for it:

We also took the time to re-create a famous picture, with Kathleen as a stand-in for another participant:

Bryan, Isaac, Kathleen, and Zach reproduce a prior photo.

Bryan, Isaac, Kathleen, and Zach reproduce a prior photo.

After this ride, things got a little muddled. Kathleen and I had really poor phone reception (in fact, we wound up borrowing phones from people at points during the day), so we had trouble connecting with Grandpa Bird and meeting up again. But we wound up going to the van to get some snacks and drinks, and then getting Charlotte again to try to hit some more rides. We didn’t want to abandon Grandpa Bird, but since Paul couldn’t ride anything while Isaac and Charlotte could, we thought we’d try to get Charlotte a chance at another big coaster. Kathleen and I also decided to try the parent’s pass thing, which lets one parent ride while the other one is with the kids, then they trade off and the other parent rides without waiting in line. We were able to try a couple of new rides this way:

Somewhere in this mix we lost Bryan, though, and then we weren’t able to connect with our next meeting. After looking around for a while, Kathleen, Isaac, Charlotte and I went on to try to ride the Millennium Force.

Millennium Force was a new coaster when Kathleen and I first visited Cedar Point, and it was another record breaker. It’s still impressively high and fast, and Charlotte was pretty intimidated. The track runs past the line, so you are quite close to the trains whipping by at close to 90 mph. Pretty soon into our wait in line it was clear that Charlotte was too scared to try this time. So when we got to the station, Isaac and I got on while Kathleen and Charlotte went around to the exit platform.

Isaac was pretty scared; the lift is very high and very fast, and the cars are really open. He spent the lift looking at his shoes, and I didn’t blame him; when I was his age I was scared to death of the Colossus at Lagoon, which is 85 feet high with a top speed of maybe 55 mph. Millennium Force is 310 feet high, by comparison. It’s a scary hill. But once we were over the top, he started to really enjoy it. I love this coaster; it’s very fast, very smooth, with huge sweeping turns. Isaac had a good time too. Here’s the official video so you can get a sense:

As we came into the exit platform, Kathleen and Charlotte were waiting. Kathleen hopped on to ride while Isaac, Charlotte, and I exited. As we were waiting for Kathleen’s ride, Charlotte started to cry.

“Dad, can I have another chance?” In spite of everything, being so frightened, and getting right up to the ride, Charlotte still wanted to go.

“Of course you can!” So when Kathleen got off, they went right into the line to try again. I was proud of Charlotte for giving it another try in spite of being scared.

We’d promised Charlotte she could have Panda Express for dinner if she gave it a try, and that’s where Isaac and I went. Unfortunately, just as Isaac and I got our food, they shut down the restaurant, so Charlotte didn’t get her reward. (Coincidentally, I’m finishing this post after returning from lunch with Charlotte at Panda Express; we finally kept our promise!)

Charlotte and Kathleen came off the ride, and then we started heading for the exit as the park was shutting down. Kathleen and Charlotte ran one way to hit Charlotte’s favorite ride (the Matterhorn, a spinny flat ride) and Isaac and I went to ride the Blue Streak, which we regretted since we got knocked around a ton and got a headache (still fun, though).

So we came with the hope that Isaac and Charlotte would get a chance to try some roller coasters, and just maybe they’d be brave enough to ride a big one. In the end, they both got a chance to ride one of the biggest and best in the world, which I call a successful day at Cedar Point.

Zach at 37 – the Oldening

Birthday Songs:

Bon Jovi – Just Older
Robert Earl Keen – Feelin’ Good Again
Semisonic – This Will Be My Year
Taj Mahal – Further on Down the Road
Stars – Changes
The Soul Stirrers – God is Standing By
Leon Russel – Say Yes To Jesus
Harry Connick, Jr. – S’pposed To Be
Johnny Winter – Johnny B. Goode
OMD – Metroland
Billy Joe Shaver – Ride Me Down Easy
Slaid Cleaves – Hard to Believe
Bob Marley – Coming In From the Cold
The Rentals – Please Let That Be You
Weezer – Memories
Sly and the Family Stone – I Want to Take You Higher
Willaim Elliott Whitmore – Not Feeling Any Pain
Daft Punk – Fragments of Time
Guy Clark – Maybe I Can Paint Over That

Vitals

Height – 5’ 9 5/8”
Weight – 190
Build – Muppet

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Hair – Brown. Needs a haircut.
Eyes – Brown
Teeth – No cavities

Cat

Sandy

Name – Sandy (from the Bruce Springsteen song, “4th of July, Asbury Park”)
Age – about 6 months
Color – grayish
Behavior – pretty bad (mothers-in-law strongly cautioned!)

Car

honda2

Year: 1988
Make: Honda
Model: Accord LXi Hatchback, 2.0l, 5-speed
Color: Montreal Blue
Status: Runs great, but needs struts, CV axles, maybe a clutch, and an oil change. Also needs a new glove box.

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Children

kids

I think there are five of them.

 Interests

I still play piano, guitar, and harmonica, all pretty badly, but I have fun.

I still write a little.

I still like computer games. Favorites these days are Starbound (I like to play that one with Isaac), Xcom (I usually play on the Classic level, with Ironman enabled, which means I get slaughtered), and anything in the Total War series.

I enjoy music, especially odd-balls like Belle and Sebastian, Texas country, rock, blues, and whatever. I don’t listen to as much jazz these days, but I still enjoy it.

I like to watch sports, especially the Colts, the Jazz, BYU, and the Vols.

Love thy neighbor, or “The Legend of Crapfridge”

My wife recently told me about an exchange she had with her sister. The story goes that once when my mother-in-law visited my family, I greeted her with the unpleasant rejoinder to not “crap up my fridge”. Now, there’s some missing background. I like a fridge to be arranged pretty openly, so it’s easy to get access to what I need quickly. My in-laws like to make efficient use of the fridge, and they’ll fill it up. When they visit, they like to buy groceries to help out with meals, basically trying to be good guests. But that means a fridge collision! My fridge sometimes becomes more crowded than I like when company visits.

Now, in honor of that moment, my wife’s sister ensures that there’s a space ready in their fridge to “crap up” if needed. It’s a bit of a jab at me, and a bit of a way to make my mother-in-law feel more welcome there.

But I don’t remember that original exchange. I’m not saying it didn’t happen; when I’m feeling stressed and cranky, I might say something unkind. I think I have a reputation as an ogre among my wife’s family, and it’s not for no reason. But I was hurt to hear that this had become something of a legend and a tradition to members of my wife’s family. I don’t remember the original remark, if I meant it as a joke, or if I didn’t mean for my mother-in-law to hear, or even if I said it at all. I don’t remember my mood or what my work day had been like or if the children were acting up. And it was all these self-justifications that got me thinking about how we love our neighbors.

First, I thought that I’d better be more careful about what I say. I think that a lot, unfortunately. Then I thought about what it means to love someone the way you love yourself. C.S. Lewis had this to say:

When I look into my own mind, I find that I do not love myself by thinking myself a dear old chap or having affectionate feelings. I do not think that I love myself because I am particularly good, but just because I am myself and quite apart from my character. I might detest something which I have done. Nevertheless, I do not cease to love myself.

So all the justification and irritation I felt on my own behalf, that I’d been misunderstood, or taken out of context, or that my mother-in-law had misremembered, ought to be applied to others when I feel they’ve offended me or hurt me somehow.

Lewis also said:

For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life–namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.

So I can draw several lessons from this. First, don’t be a jerk. Be thoughtful of others. Second, when someone offends you, give them the benefit the same excuses you’d give to yourself. Third, I think we’ll take on the same tradition here. Why not facilitate guests’ good intentions, and why not do it with good humor?

 

Christmas Thoughts: Silence

One of the most beautiful things is being outdoors in a heavy snowstorm where there’s no wind. It’s a frightening thing if there’s no home close to warm up in, but standing alone, it’s a beautiful and quiet thing. Voices and footsteps are muffled, and there’s a near perfect stillness in the air. I have a vivid memory of a snowstorm like this as I was walking through the parking lot at the BYU Art Museum, probably when I was 17 or 18.

We live in noisy times. One of my flaws is that I crave constant input. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts in the shower. I watch TV while I clip my nails. I have magazines next to the toilet. I will be eating, watching a football game, and surfing the web simultaneously. It’s jarring how much my mind demands distraction. I don’t think I’m alone in this. As a result, demanding quiet time for meditation and pondering starts to feel like an urgent need. On some level, this constant flow of stimulus is diabolic. It makes me think of Elijah:

“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

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Christmas Thoughts: Children

Some more Christmas thoughts in the same sort of stream-of-consciousness mode.

It’s been said often that Christmas is much more special with children around. I remember as a child that there was nothing in a year that caused me more excitement and anticipation than Christmas. I loved Christmas Eve most of all. That last anticipation, and the sense of mystery are powerful memories for me. Even later (and still today) I loved to be out on Christmas Eve when everything is still and quiet, especially with the deep quiet of snow falling.

As we get older, I think the joy grows a little deeper, if we let it, and the anticipation looks to promises farther out. I think Paul’s words in Hebrews show something of what Christmas comes to mean:

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

The days leading up to Christmas are something like a pilgrimage. I think this is something that we do less formally as Latter-day Saints (and Christians in general). I’ve gone to some of the holy sites of my faith; Martin’s Cove; Palmyra, NY; Nauvoo, IL; Kirtland, OH, and so forth. Even the shorter pilgrimages to the temple serve the same purpose: we look for a promise afar off, hoping for enlightenment and clarity, with a renewal of our commitment and spirituality at the end.

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Christmas Thoughts: Presents

Our family has celebrated Christmas in what seemed like tough circumstances the last couple of years. In 2009, we’d just moved to Tennessee and didn’t really know many people. We missed our families a lot. We’d just had a new baby and so we didn’t put a lot of effort into making the time special for the kids. It just seemed kind of lonely and anticlimactic. Then, in 2010, we were in the midst of packing up for our move to Seattle. We had Christmas on the floor amid piles of boxes, eating on paper plates. Kathleen and I both had talks to give in church the next day, and on top of that was the immense stress of packing for a cross-country move with all the uncertainty that brought with it.

This year, I’ve wanted to make it memorable. I’ve been buying gifts here and there since summer; the children have lots of great gifts, and I’ve probably spent a little too much. I’ve been trying to think of new traditions and events we can have. I’ve badgered my parents and sisters into driving here and spending Christmas with us.

But something has still been a little bit off.

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

It’s never a bad time to count your blessings, but today is a great day to do it. Things may change tomorrow, but even if they do, I’ll be glad for all I’ve been blessed with today.

And I do mean blessed. I know some people think it’s just luck or genius that determines our place in the world. My experience tells me that’s not quite right. While our own effort matters, we rely on the Creator of this world to provide for us. So that’s who I’m thanking primarily, along with my friends and family (and even some of my enemies!) who helped bring me where I am today.

I’m grateful to be in Seattle. I’ve always kind of wanted to live here, and now I’ve got my money where my mouth was. I’m glad to be so close to my family. I love that it’s cool and gray, and that when it’s not, it’s beautiful. I love taking the bus into that gloomy fog-shrouded city on winter mornings. I love spending time with my grandma and all number of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I’m grateful for our new ward here, and for the fine young men I work with in the Priest Quorum.

I’m glad I had the chance to live in Tennessee. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t miss it at least a little. I made more friends in the short time we lived there than in any other time except my mission. My neighbors in the Knoxville 1st Ward are so close to my thoughts and my heart. I am glad I had the chance to be there.

I’m thankful for my job. I am painfully aware how many people who are brighter than me and harder workers than me and more deserving than me are out of work. I am thankful for the string of events that led me into my career and that gives us the means to keep the children home with their mom.

I’m thankful for the church. Every day I see buses and billboards saying “I’m a Mormon”. It puts right in my face the things that set us apart along with the similarities we share with everyone else. I know that all men are my brothers and all women are my sisters. I know that the hard things in this world can be turned to our benefit through the grace of Jesus Christ. There’s more hope than any despair or discouragement can swallow.

I’m thankful for my family. I’m glad to have a new brother-in-law this year, and I’m so grateful he takes such good care of my sister. I’m thankful for the technology that lets me talk with my sisters and parents every day, so it’s almost like they’re here with me. I’m thankful for my mom and dad, who take care of so many things for me still and who helped us make the move last year. I know they pray for my little family, and I’m glad for it.

I’m especially thankful for my wife and children. I remember the birth of each child distinctly, and the flood of love that came over me when I held each one for the first time. I love their crazy play and their goofy ideas. There’s nothing better than to take time and play with them or read to them. And Kathleen, who does so much each day to hold things together. The long-standing joke is that her love for me is expressed through laundry. Well, it takes a lot of love to manage the laundry for this house. But she also keeps the family united together and makes us all happy. It’s not home without Kathleen.

There’s lots more I could write, but I’ve got to watch football, play with the kids, eat turkey and pie, and talk to my grandma. So happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Bedtime at our house

I did my rounds checking on the kids and thought I’d just snap a fairly typical scene about an hour after formal bedtime.

Isaac read a LOT, and had come out to tell Kathleen all about the book:

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Charlotte was asleep. Often she’s awake with her cat or just thinking, but sometimes she falls asleep quickly. Usually her bed is a mess; I fixed her blankets for her so she’d be warm.

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Nicole almost always falls asleep looking at books. This is a huge Curious George book from the library.

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Ila is often in a very silly mood when she ought to be asleep.

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The Boys Have Adventures–Part 2

Saturday last week I got tickets to go to the air show and hydroplane races. I imagine you can still get a good view without tickets, but I wanted to be front and center. Isaac and I took the light rail to Othello, then took a shuttle over to Genesee Park on Lake Washington. We just grabbed a spot in the grass along the shore to watch.

We watched a couple of heats of the hydroplanes first, which was a lot of fun. My camera was acting up a little, but I did get a few videos:

Here’s Isaac with his binoculars trying to get a better look at the hydroplanes:

Seafair 2011 (2)

The air show came next, with a few really neat demonstrations. Air shows present some unique photography challenges, and my little camera wasn’t up to capturing a lot of good images, but I did snap a few shots. Things I didn’t get good shots of were a visit from a P-51 Mustang and a Spitfire. I couldn’t have captured the really great sound of those Merlin engines anyway. The did several low passes for us.

After the WWII planes, we had a demonstration by Vietnam-era choppers, a Cobra and a Huey. They did several maneuvers showing us tactics that were used in Vietnam. The Huey would go in first, low and fast, snaking back and forth, scaring up ground fire, while the Cobra would arc up high and take out any VCs who were shooting. Great demonstration, and some really low flying.

The Coast Guard did a nice demo, where a rescue swimmer jumped into the water and was then picked up. My picture is terrible, but you may be able to click through and see them hoisting him back in.Seafair 2011 (9)

Next up was a demo from an AV-8B Harrier, which was really cool. It was also very loud, as loud as all the Blue Angels together. Isaac kept his ears covered. Here’s a video I took of its departure:

After this, they had a routine by a stunt pilot named Sean D. Tucker, in a little custom built plane for the Oracle team. Holy carp. I have seen some ridiculous things, but he was bonkers. He was doing prop stalls, strange high-angle ultra-slow passes, outside loops (-6g!), and a really silly series of front flips where he literally just whipped the tail around over the cockpit. Ridiculous. Amazing. My video stinks, so here’s a better shot of his routine if you’re interested:

Isaac LOVED this, and I thought it was amazing too.

We had a demo from the C-130 attached to the Blue Angels, Fat Albert. Here’s a video of their big climb-out:

They used to use RATO for this, but from what I hear they’re running low on those; not as much need for them these days.

Finally, we had the Blue Angels. I’d seen the Thunderbirds before at Hill AFB in Ogden, but this was my first time seeing the Blue Angels. We’d been watching them and hearing them fly around the city all week, so Isaac and I were ready. It was a great setting; they zipped all over the lake and over Mercer Island for their routine. Isaac was getting a little worn out by the time they were flying, so he wasn’t as excited as I expected, but he still enjoyed it. I was able to get one fairly decent shot of them in formation:

Seafair 2011 (34)

Once they were done, we headed back to a long, hot line for the shuttle, and then the train home.

There’s one picture I kept even though it didn’t turn out, and even though I’m looking a little scruffy. The reason I kept it was because Isaac took it. He’s getting more independent, and I sent him out with my camera to take pictures. Most of them were of the camera strap, or the ground, but he got everything but the focus right here.

Seafair 2011

It was a busy week, but a lot of great fun with Isaac.

The Boys Have Adventures–Part 1

Last week was the main week of Seafair here in Seattle. That means parades, hydroplane races, an air show, and visits from the Navy. Isaac and I took advantage, and went on some fun adventures.

On Thursday, Isaac came to work with me. After I got through my morning meetings, we hopped on a bus and headed down to the pier to get a tour of the USS Bonhomme Richard, LHD-6. This is named after John Paul Jones’ famous ship, which itself was named to honor Benjamin Franklin.6016437915_25e6d8e2f3_b

First I should probably explain what an LHD is, for those who don’t know. An LHD looks a lot like an aircraft carrier, and it is in a sense. In fact, it displaces nearly twice as much water as HMS Invincible, the lead British aircraft carrier, and nearly as much as the largest carrier outside the US, the French Charles de Gaulle. The big distinction is the role.

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Isaac Joins the Bomb Squad

The young men from our ward had the chance to have a presentation from the King County Bomb Squad this evening, and I thought I’d bring Isaac along. It turned out to be a great idea. He was completely riveted. 1303957334524

The officers were very gracious, answering lots of questions. They told stories about some of the calls they’ve been on; mostly suspicious packages, fireworks, or old dynamite people find. I recognized the smaller robot they had, since it’s the same company that makes our vacuum. It’s an iRobot Packbot. Isaac was so excited when I told him that he really wanted to tell the officers. He raised his hand.

Officer: “Yes, do you have a question?”

Isaac: “No, I have a compliment. We have three robots at our house that are from the factory of that robot.”

After questions, we had a chance to take a closer look at the robots, and some of the young men got a chance to interact with the robots. Isaac watched carefully for a while, and then wanted to try himself. Together, we figured out how to manipulate the arm and maneuver the bot. Isaac was very careful and explored each feature. He had it pretty well figured out; the officer was very impressed with him. I was pleased my boy didn’t wreck a robot that costs around $100k.

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Isaac and I finally play with his Christmas Present

With the move and all, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and play with the boy as much as I’d like. Remember how I mentioned his favorite part of the Smithsonian was when they had these Snap Circuits kits for him to play with? Well, I got him a set for Christmas, and we’ve been working together on them.  Here are a couple of videos.

BBC Book Meme

In response to Laresa’s post.

Bold means I read it completely, italics mean I started it. Underline means it’s retarded and I refuse to be bothered with it. I won’t get into what this lacks, but I will list a few quick life-changing books:

  • Suttree, Cormac McCarthy
  • All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
  • East of Eden, John Steinbeck (better than the examples below)
  • The Golden Age, John C. Wright
  • Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott
  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John Le Carré
  • Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury
  • Perelandra, CS Lewis

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Tonsillectomy: Mission to My Mouth – Aftermath

So the week was hard.  I came home from the hospital in some discomfort, but not anything unbearable. Just the knowledge that something had really been trashed in the back of my mouth. (It took me a couple of days before I even wanted to get a flashlight and look back there.)  I settled in to bed and tried to just sleep through the discomfort.

As the anesthetic from the hospital wore off, the pain started to get a little more intense.  Kathleen went out right away to get my prescriptions, but it took a couple of hours since there were four to fill and the pharmacy is about 20 minutes away.  I was getting pretty uncomfortable by the time she got back with the pills.

I was given four (eventually five) prescriptions:

  • Demerol, for pain.  This turned out to be a little bit weaker than I needed, and may have been the reason I didn’t get as much to eat and drink early.  It just didn’t seem to do much for the pain.
  • An anti-nausea medication, to take with the Demerol. I was scared to death of vomiting with all the damage in the back of my throat. Luckily, this was not a problem.
  • Prednisone, for inflammation.  This actually really seemed to help. I iced my throat too, which eased my discomfort somewhat.
  • Keflex, to prevent infection. I’m still taking this.
  • Lortab – when the Demerol started to run low, I called in for another painkiller prescription.  I thought they’d give me more Demerol, but they went with Lortab instead.  This turned out to be a good thing; the Lortab worked much better at taking the edge off the pain so I could eat. 

As of today, I’ve lost about fourteen pounds. It’s kind of a combination of nothing being appetizing, and everything being really painful to swallow.  I had the weight to lose, really; I’ve been getting kind of fat in my old age.  This took me from 190 to about 174, which is better for my size (I’m 5’9”, with a kind of skinny frame anyway).  That’s not the healthiest way to lose weight, but hey, I’ll take it.

The foods that worked for me were tuna sandwiches, gummy worms, applesauce, and otterpops.  Last night, I begged Kathleen to run to Taco Bell and get me a Baja Gordita (also a Baja Chalupa, as backup).  It stung a little bit going down, but it was so nice to eat something tasty.

So the past nine days are kind of a mélange of grumpiness, hunger, pain, and boredom.  However, I find myself breathing through my nose more comfortably already (the doctor went ahead and took my adenoids as well).  If I have any improvement in the number of throat infections this next year, I’ll call it a win.  I had eight throat infections over the last twelve months.

That’s the summary for now.  I’ll post more when I have my post-op appointment with the otolaryngologist.

Tonsillectomy: Mission to My Mouth – Part 1 “Preparing the Chamber of Rejuvenation”

Upon orders from my doctor, I am having tonsils and adenoids removed.  I’m 33, which people tell me is rough.

I’ve made as much preparation as I can think to do.  I’ve purchased a number of soft foods, got some drinks, got my Camelbak filled up and ready (they say fluids are very important), and I’ve got a lot of technology and reading to amuse me.

Videos follow.

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