Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recent Happenings

Lately our respective jobs have been really busy so there's been a lot of working going on. We have managed to see a couple of movies, Crazy Heart and Green Zone. We found them both to be very good movies but very different - Crazy Heart was certainly my favorite of the two.

Last week I had some kind of stomach virus and had to stay home on Wednesday. Sadly most of my sick day was spent either in the bathroom or asleep somewhere. Fortunately it had mostly blown over by Thursday and I could resume my normal routine. However it's been a week and I still don't feel quite the same...

Last weekend I spent both days attending the Boise Code Camp as part of my never-ending professional development agenda. While it cost me a weekend, it was definitely worth it. While I was off being an uber-nerd, Katie spent Saturday with some friends watching various Corey Haim movies in memory of the recently departed teen icon. Katie reported that the movies they watched weren't very good which validated my decision to not go!

That's about all from here. Despite some snow today, we're excited about Spring (well, except for the yardwork part...)!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Danskin Mountains Hike

Since the weather has started warming up and the snow line has been receding, Dan and I decided to arrange a weekend trip. Since Dan wasn't available until late morning we opted for a quick hike near Boise, specifically Peak 5160+ in the Danskin Mountains. This is actually a fun area for Spring hiking... very open with wildlife and actually quiescent since ATV season doesn't start until April 10.

Our hike was uneventful and we got to spend lots of time leisurely hiking and catching up on things. We did see our share of wildlife... birds of prey, chukars, deer, and elk. The promised sunny weather didn't materialize but it was still a great first hike of Spring!

Trip statistics: 5.5 miles, 2150' elevation gain, 3.5 hours

Danskin Mountains Hike Pictures!

GPS Track

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day!

Ian used to make us aware of Pi Day, so in his honor we decided to actually celebrate this overlooked occasion. Katie said she would be making a pie and I got to choose what kind - so I chose key lime! As expected, it was amazing and the highlight of an otherwise subdued Pi Day. We hope all of our readers also had a great Pi Day!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tennessee Visit

After my business trip in Raleigh, I flew to Nashville Friday night. Not surprisingly, the flight was filled with spring breakers departing the various universities in the Raleigh area. After arriving in Nashville, renting a Yaris, and driving to Winchester, I arrived at my Grandma's house at about 12:45am. My Mom was there too as she is helping my Grandma in her recovery from a recent knee replacement (her recovery is progressing nicely). After talking with my Mom for a bit, we both went to bed.

While at my Grandma's I got to spend time with my Grandma, Mom, Aunt Joy, and cousin Logan. I also took care of a few things around the house and also checked out some vintage slides from the 60s and 70s that I hadn't seen before. Also, my Mom had just gotten a new laptop and after setting that up I accompanied her on wi-fi expeditions to area hotspots Krystal and McDonalds. Other highlights included playing tennis (for the first time in at least five years) with Logan and driving my Grandma's new Prius. The Prius was a novel driving experience, mostly because it has that newfangled push-button ignition.

On Monday afternoon I had to drive back to Nashville to catch a flight back to Boise. The flight was uneventful but I was disappointed to find the temperature about 20 degrees cooler in Boise! After arriving at 11:30pm, it was off to bed and work on Tuesday.

Tennessee Visit Pictures!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Business Trip

My boss arranged a trip for several of the software developers at the Boise office to meet our counterparts at corporate headquarters in Raleigh. As part of the group chosen to travel, I was able to go on my first ever business trip! We left Boise around mid-day Wednesday and got to Raleigh just after 8pm. On the flight out of Boise we were on the same flight as Olympic biathlete Sara Studebaker who was returning to Lake Placid for more training. I'm particularly glad I didn't check a bag - not only did I save $25 in fees but the two people who checked their bags both had them miss our connection in Chicago!

Thursday we spent most of the day at the Morrisville office in a meeting with the software developers and managers from Raleigh. It was actually a very interesting and beneficial meeting as we gained a much better understanding of what really goes on from a technical perspective and how us Boiseonians could benefit from all of the software investment being made at the corporate level. I was very impressed to find a fridge stocked with free pop, great people to work with, and a generally nice office environment. After being in a conference room all day, we adjourned around 4pm to get ready for dinner. We had a nice meal at Firebirds - I had the coconut shrimp which were very good and discovered my new favorite beer: Duck Rabbit Milk Stout. It's like a light stout but with extra creaminess that I've never experienced in a beer. That stuff was so good - I wish I could somehow take some home!

Friday morning we had more meetings which included some other Raleigh staff where they explained some of their technology at the hardware/firmware level and their testing strategies. Once again, all good stuff for us to better understand the company we now work for. We also got a tour of their facility which included some interesting equipment, such as electric meter calibration gear, electro-static discharge (ESD) test equipment, an x-ray machine for identifying component failures, and even an anechoic chamber (used for RF testing). Pretty darn cool stuff! Afterwards, we picked up lunch at a Chick-Fil-A which was actually the first time several of the group had eaten there. After lunch we took a brief tour of the headquarters in Raleigh where most of the my division's management is located. We then drove around town a little before heading toward the airport to catch our various flights.

However I did not go to the airport - I scheduled a late (7:45pm) flight to Nashville so I could spend some time with my family in Tennessee. I was dropped off at the hotel and John, a friend from college and resident of Cary, NC, picked me up from the hotel just after 4pm. I got to meet his girlfriend Crystal and catch up on everything. We had a small dinner at a nearby O'Charleys before I was dropped off at the airport. From there, it was on to Tennessee for a brief family visit!


Morrisville Office


Fridge full of free pop (refilled every day)


Sensus Office in Raleigh

Monday, March 1, 2010

Craters of the Moon Snowshoe

Matt and I decided to go snowshoeing on the 27th. Weather around the state wasn't looking good so we decided upon Craters of the Moon National Monument which seemed to have the most promising forecast. Craters of the Moon is a volcanic area in eastern Idaho with lots of interesting volcanic formations, open terrain, and groomed winter trails. The lava fields, normally black in summer, was instead bright white with snow!

I met Matt just after 6am and then suddenly realized I left my snowshoes at home. D'oh! After driving back to my house to get them we ended up leaving Boise 45 minutes later than we had planned. The drive across the state was a little bit snowy at first but once we got to the Camas Prairie the weather turned into high broken clouds - about the best we could hope for! We parked at the visitor's center and began snowshoeing the groomed road just before 10am. We made good progress and were quickly at the end of the groomed road and had to start breaking our own trail toward the formations we were planning on climbing.

Overall the snow conditions were decent... usually there was a supporting layer underneath a few inches of soft stuff. Some areas were total sugar which was frustrating... but in roughly two hours we attained the summit of Broken Top. After taking in the view, we headed down and over to Big Cinder Butte, the highest volcanic feature in the park. Big Cinder Butte is a neat spot with a commanding view of the surrounding area. The weather appeared to be deteriorating so we quickly descended through the beautiful limber pine forest and headed up Half Cone, a minor summit near Big Cinder Butte. After relaxing on Half Cone for a few minutes it was almost 3pm and with still worsening weather we had to start heading home. The snowshoe back to the car was long and somewhat tiring and we got back to the vehicle under a light snowfall at about 6pm.

When we were roughly a quarter mile from returning to the groomed road, Matt had one of his snowshoes totally fall apart. We were both lucky this happened where it did - if it had happened far from the road we would have had a serious problem likely requiring some Bear Grylls-style improvisation!

A final footnote is that I was stupid and neglected to apply sunscreen because it wasn't sunny... needless to say my red face was the source of comedy at work on Monday. Once again I'm reminded that the red man reaction is not satisfaction!

Trip statistics: 13 miles, 1600' elevation gain, 8 hours

Craters of the Moon Snowshoe Pictures!
Matt's Trip Report