Saturday, August 30, 2008

Earworm Saturday

Give me a break,
Give me a break,
Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Joke Friday

An Aussie was sitting at a bar in Sydney when this huge, burly American guy walks in. As he passes the Aussie, he hits him on the neck knocking him to the floor.The big, burly Yank says,"That's a karate chop from Korea." Well, the Aussie gets back on his barstool and resumes drinking his beer.

The burly Yank then gets up to go to the bathroom and, as he walks by the Aussie, he hits him on the other side of the neck and knocks him to the floor."That's a judo chop from Japan", he says.

The Aussie decides he's had enough and leaves.A half hour later he comes back and sees the burly Yank sitting at the bar. He walks up behind him and smacks him on the head, knocking him out. The Aussie says to the bartender, "When he wakes up mate, tell him that was a crowbar from Bunnings."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I can't find where the Vienna Boys Choir performs

I've been working a lot, so I haven't seen much of Sydney except for the road between the office and the hotel. At least I have a nice hotel room view. The hotel breakfast buffet is yummy, but I've stayed away from the Vegemite after that first trial. The coffee is good. It's served from an individual pot on your table. At first I was puzzled by the sediment that was always in the bottom of my cup, but then I realized that the coffee pot is not just a serving carafe, but a french press. That explains the sediment and the good strong flavor.

Here's a couple of pictures from the d10 lab setup if you're interested in what I've actually been doing.

12 KVS

Order Ready Boards
That's Malcolm on the left

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Play yer didgeridoo, Blue.

Not much new to say today. The work on the lab is coming along well. Most of the components are set up and configured. I've got the drive down now. I can get there and back without getting lost. I went out of the hotel on foot today to find a different restaurant for dinner. There are a lot of pub style places in this area, but it was late when I got out, and most places were not serving food any more. The bartender at one recommended a restaurant not too far from here that would still be serving food and I got some potato soup and a steak sandwich there. The steak sandwich was served with a slice of beet on it which I found unusual but tasty.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where's the Kangaroos?

I had dinner in one of the hotel restaurants last night. They had an extensive buffet available but I settled for some French onion soup and a club sandwich. The sandwich was interesting. It had a fried egg in it. Breakfast this morning was in the same restaurant and also offered a buffet. The buffet had all the usual breakfast choices plus some unusual ones as well. I remember the buffet breakfasts in Japan offered some things that we didn't think qualified as breakfast foods. There were some of those kind of items here too.

When I was talking with my colleague Dave, he suggested I try some Vegemite if I had the chance. Well sure enough, there was vegemite available from the buffet, so I spread some on my toast. Vegemite is a dark brown paste about the consistancy of Nutella, but the similarity ends there. It is made from yeast extract, and has a bitter taste. I suppose you acquire a taste for it, but I wont be trying to do that. I'm bringing some home for Dave.

I have a very nice view from my hotel room. Here's some pictures.

Night View

Sunrise View

Daytime View

Monday, August 25, 2008

Do The Drains Swirl Backwards?

Almost exactly 24 hours after leaving the house Saturday afternoon, I arrived here in Sydney on a crisp cool Monday morning. The flight was not too bad. I managed to get enough sleep on the SFO to SYD leg to get through the day today. I checked into my hotel and then drove to the company offices in a north suburb called Thornleigh. The only navigation system I have is a map, although it is a very detailed one. I managed to get lost going to the office, but a few stops to examine the map got me going the right direction.

We made a little progress today getting the d10 lab set up. There were still quite a few components that weren't even unboxed yet, so there was quite a bit to do just getting the lab up and running. There's still quite a bit of staging and configuring to be done. I stayed in the office till nearly 7:30pm.

I probably should have left the office a little earlier because I had to find my way back to the hotel after dark, and I ended up getting lost again. The office is on one side of the Harbor Bridge, and the hotel is on the other. It's easy to get confused and turned around, and I ended up crossing the bridge 3 times before I made it back to the hotel. I think I have it figured out now though.

Driving on the left side is challenging. I find myself concentrating intently on my driving much more than I had to driving in France or Germany. But more disconcerting than driving on the left is driving from the right side of the car. The cars all have the steering wheel where you expect the passenger seat to be. Twice I got in the car from the wrong door and had to embarrassedly get back out. Some of the controls are reversed also, so every time I try to signal a turn, I end up turning on the windshield wipers. I'm sure the Aussie's see me going around the corner with my wipers on and laugh about another 'Yank' driver. The sensation of having all that car to your left is unsettling also. You feel like a new driver trying to judge how to turn a corner without hitting the curb. I've done that one a few times too. At least I haven't hit any pedestrians yet.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Measure Up Saturday

I wont be able to make any measurements on Monday, but I had a couple of things to say, so I'm posting today. I had a month of no progress so I decided I had to do something else to get my weight moving down again. So this week I took up walking in the morning. I only managed to get 2 days in this week, but I walked about 2.5 miles each day. It must have helped because I'm able to report a 3 lb drop to 210 as of Saturday morning. That may be unrealistically low considering I normally report my weight on Monday after a weekend of less careful eating. Hopefully I can keep up the walking and the weight drop while I'm away on business.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Friday, August 22, 2008

No Joke Friday :)

Sorry, I didn't have time today to search for a Joke.

Today will be Bonzer Website Friday instead.

I heard about this interesting website recently. It's called DrawBall, and is an open canvas for anyone to place their art on. It's amazing how detailed and beautiful some of the art there is, condsidering that the artists have to know that it will eventually be vandalized, or overwritten by someone else's art.

If you're interested, you can check it out at

Monday, August 18, 2008

Measure Up Monday

Not too bad. Vacation only added 1 pound. I expected worse. Although it's been a month now with no progress. Next week's business trip could be a challenge.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 10

Hey, It's good to be back home again.
Last night we stayed at a very nice Marriott in Omaha. We had a good dinner in the hotel restaurant where they served Omaha steaks. Thank you Jennifer and Paul for enabling us to stay in such nice hotels for such great prices. We finished up our trip today with a drive through Iowa and Illinois. The weather was good the whole way. We took our time checking out of the hotel this morning, and drove home at an easy pace, stopping several times for gas, food, and rest stops.

We're home now and have to face the unpacking, laundry, and mail sorting tasks. And tomorrow I must face the scale and tape measure once again. In all we drove nearly 3600 miles, used about 129 gallons of gas at an average price per gallon of about 3.93, and stayed in 7 nice hotels (including the Mirage at Las Vegas). The total cost of driving was probably more than a flying trip, but the sights we saw along the way made the trip worth the extra cost. I'd do it again next year.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 9

Navigating Nebraska
Last night we stayed at a very nice Marriott Renaissance near Boulder Colorado. It supposedly had a view of the Boulder Flatirons, but with the soupy weather, we could barely see the parking lot.

Not much of interest to report on our drive from Broomfield to Omaha today. We had heavy rain a good part of the way through Colorado, but we drove out of it by the time we reached Nebraska.

One interesting anecdote is the fun we had following the Garmin's directions from the hotel to I-76. It took us on the E470 tollway from Broomfield to I-76 which made perfect sense. We didn't know that E470 only connects to I-76 East from the northbound lane, so imagine our confusion when Garmin had us get off the tollway at 120th street (paying a .75 toll), drive around the block, and then get back on the tollway at 120th street (paying another .75 toll).

Don't ask questions, just do it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 8

Unbelievable Utah
We drove I-70 through Utah and Colorado into Denver today. This drive really defies description. You have to experience it yourself sometime. This part of Utah is absolutely beautiful.

Driving Through Utah

I-70 Descending through the San Raphael canyon

Our weather was nice for most of the drive, allowing for some more top down time. When we got near Vail the temperature dropped and it started to rain. It rained all the way through the Rocky Mountains. We heard on the radio that there was a possibility of snow in the higher elevations and sure enough, as we came out of the tunnel spanning the continental divide there was snow falling. We tried to photograph it but it looks like a foggy blur. We arrived at our hotel in Broomfield Colorado sleeveless and in shorts but the temperature was in the low 50's.

Snowing in the Rockies

The hotel is a very nice Marriott and our room is spacious and comfortable. We finished the day with a nice meal in the hotel restaurant. Tomorrow we leave for Nebraska.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 7

Leaving Las Vegas
Today we checked out of the Mirage and started on the trip home. Overall, our stay at the Mirage was very nice. We had one of the newly remodeled rooms and an extra large one at that. We liked the outdoor cafe by the pool and had good food at several other restaurants in the Mirage.

The room had a few shortcomings though. I tried to iron one of my shirts one of the nights we were going out to a show, but the iron in the room didn't work. The water control in the shower didn't seem logical. When you first turn it, hot water comes out. The farther you turn it, the colder the water gets. That seems backwards to me. Our room was on the 24th floor. It seems that the rooms on the 25th floor were still undergoing reconstruction. Each morning we could hear hammering, drilling, and other construction noises from the floor above. But today as Janet was using the computer, we heard what sounded like water running in the bathroom. When we investigated, it appeared that a plumbing mishap from the floor above resulted in water pouring out of the exhaust fan in our bathroom ceiling, splashing all over the floor and toilet seat. It stopped shortly and was easily cleaned up with a couple of towels. We're just glad the toilet wasn't engaged at the time.

Our drive today was another scenic one. Our destination was Richfield Utah which was a short enough distance to allow us to revisit the canyons on the way. We drove through Zion National Park, starting at the main entrance and leaving through the east entrance, which includes driving through a narrow mile long tunnel. You begin to run out of adjectives to describe the views. Awsome, amazing, breathtaking, just don't seem to say enough. We took pictures but they just don't tell the story any more than 1000 words do.

Driving through Zion

Viewing the Checkerboard Mesa

From Zion we returned to Bryce Canyon for a few sights from view points we didn't have time to visit before. The views from the high "Inspiration Point", and the even higher "Bryce Point" were spectacular.

In Red Canyon on the way to Bryce

From Inspiration Point

From Bryce Point

We left Bryce as the sun was setting and had to drive the hundred or so miles to our hotel in the dark. However, we didn't have to cross a mountain this time and we had an almost full moon to help light the road. Tomorrow we're heading to Denver.

Road Trip Report - Day 6

Shuffle Up and Deal
After another breakfast by the pool, I spent the day in the poker room today. At first the poker room was pretty much empty, so I played some more unprofitable blackjack instead. Then I signed up for a sit-and-go and played in a 3/6 limit game until the tournament started. I only lost $3 in the live game before the sit-and-go began. I finished the sit-and-go in 3rd, but they pay 1st and 2nd. I signed up for another one, and played in a 1/2 no limit game until it started. I lost my stack in the no-limit live game when my kings were beaten by someone who called my raises with crap, and outdrew me with a straight.

I did a little better in the 2nd sit-and-go, finishing in the final 2. The two of us agreed to chop 60/40 with me taking the bigger amount instead of playing it out for a 70/30 finish.

Encouraged by my sit-and-go finish, I signed up for the 7pm big tournament, which in this case was about 34 players, and paid the top 5 finishers. I held out through the first hour and a half or so. Somewhere in about the 5th level, I caught KQs, and raised big. I got one caller. The flop came A x x, and the villian checked. So I pushed all in, thinking he missed the flop and I could push him off. Unfortunately, he had AK and insta-called my all-in. I didn't improve and was out of the tournament. Oh well, that's poker.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 5

No pictures today.
We had a day of relaxing today. We went to breakfast at the outdoor cafe by the Mirage pool. It was very warm outside and even the misters didn't offer much relief. After breakfast we walked around the pool area for a bit and then headed back to our room to plan our day. We needed to pick up our Jersey Boys tickets at the Venetian, so we walked over there to get them. The new Palazzo hotel is open now and we walked around there a little bit too. Then we crossed over to the Fashion Show mall, and I tagged along while Janet shopped.

Eventually we made it back to our room again, and since we needed a couple of things from our car, we decided to retrieve it from the valet and then drive over to the LV Hilton for the traditional drink in Quark's Bar. Janet had her obligatory Chocolate Obsession, and I wanted something with rum in it. The fellow next to me at the bar suggested a Mini Warp Core, which contains 5 different rums and bubbles with white smoke from the dry ice they put in it. It was delicious. We ended up striking up a conversation with the guy who recommended my drink and it turned out that he is from Sydney Australia. He was in Las Vegas for the Star Trek convention that just ended Monday. We learned from him that the 10 year old "Star Trek Experience" attraction is closing at the end of August. There will no longer be a Quark's Bar at the Hilton. That's the reason he and several "trekkie" friends decided to make the trip to this years convention. It seems a little sad that there will no longer be a place to get an official Chocolate Obsession.

We attended the Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys tonight, and it was very good. The music of the Four Seasons was performed flawlessly, and the story of the group was interesting. After the show we had some good food at the Grand Lux Cafe, including their famous fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

Road Trip Report - Day 4

Ups and Downs in canyons and Las Vegas
Last night we stayed in Cedar City Utah. We arrived late after our stop in Bryce Canyon, and after checking in and getting our keys we went to dinner at a nearby Applebee's without even stopping to bring our luggage up to the room. When we got back from dinner and went up to the room, we found an unmade bed, towels on the floor, and various other signs that the room had not been cleaned. After pointing this out to the desk clerk we had to wait while she called somebody because she couldn't figure out how to transfer us to a clean room. We did get a clean room eventually.

Monday morning we went to the Kolob canyons in Zion National Park. There is a 5 mile scenic drive that starts not too far from Cedar City. We took the drive and the views of the canyon were fantastic.

Kolob Canyons

Another view of the canyons

At the end of the drive was a trailhead for a 0.5 mile trail to the Timber Creek overlook. We decided to walk it and were treated to some really beautiful sights, including a view of the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It was quite sunny and hot however, and we were not very smart hikers. I was wearing a pair of deck shoes, and Janet had on thong flipflops. Neither of us put on sunscreen or carried any water. Even though the trail was short, it was a little steep and uneven, and by the time we got back to the car we were getting overheated and thirsty.

On the Timber Creek Overlook trail

View from the Timber Creek Overlook

We left Zion National Park and drove to Las Vegas. We are staying at the Mirage, which has recently remodeled their guest rooms. I used the $20 trick at check in and we were given a very nice large room on one of the floors that you must use a key in the elevator to access. Tonight we went to see Danny Gans. In all the times we've been to Vegas and the Mirage, we've never seen his show. Some parts of his show were very good, and other parts were just OK, but it was good entertainment overall. I played some blackjack, but not profitably. I think I'll switch to poker instead.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 3

A day of fabulous vistas
Last night we stayed at a nice Marriott resort in Vail Colorado. We had a very nice although pricey dinner in the hotel restaurant. It's an expensive resort even in off season, but we got a really nice room discount thanks to Jennifer and Paul.

Today we continued along I-70 west through Colorado and into Utah. A little way out from Vail I-70 runs through Glenwood Canyon. This is a beautiful drive. We stopped at a rest area in the canyon along the Colorado river to take some pictures.

Glenwood Canyon

River rafting on the Colorado River

The water's very cold

We had really nice weather today and got in some more top down time. The views along this part of the trip are awesome. We made several stops to take pictures.

Fooling around at a View Area

Black Dragon Canyon

We got to Bryce Canyon an hour or so before sunset so we visited the canyon for some more spectacular views and hiked down a short way into the canyon before leaving for our hotel in Cedar City. The drive from Bryce to Cedar city was along a 2 lane road that went through some mountains part of the way. We drove a good part of it after dark, but took it easy and safe.
View from Bryce rim

View from in Bryce canyon

Gas price survey: Nebraska - 3.79, Colorado - 4.29, Utah - 4.13

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 2

All about the weather
Due to our late arrival Friday night we slept in Saturday morning. After a good breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we started out on our next leg of the journey. It was raining as we left Lincoln, and continued to rain for the next hundred miles or so. After about 2 hours the rain stopped, and we had dry, but completely overcast skies. We chugged along through Nebraska, where there wasn't much interesting scenery. A few pretty fields of sunflowers brightened the view for a while. (picture from web, not Nebraska)

As we got close to Colorado, the skies cleared up and we had mostly sunny skies all the way into Denver. It gave us a chance to put the top down and soak up some sun.

I was watching for the Rocky Mountains to appear as we approached Denver. I expected to see them gradually rise up from the horizon. There was heavy cloud cover to the southwest as we headed that direction along I76, and perhaps that was the reason, but we couldn't see mountains until we were about 35 miles from Denver. Then almost suddenly their dark outline began to resolve itself against the clouds, and they were already looming tall against the horizon. It clouded over completely again by the time we reached Denver, and as we headed up I70 into the mountains it got much cooler. We stopped to put the top up, and just in time because it began raining shortly after. We had rain on and off almost the whole way to Vail.

Just before the Eisenhower Tunnel we heard a loud dull thud. We thought the car had been hit by a falling rock. When we got to Vail we checked the car but found no dents. Investigating further, we figured out that a plastic tub with a sealed lid inside the cooler had popped open from the reduced outside air pressure. It must have popped like a balloon.

Here are some pictures from Vail:

I-70 towards Grand Junction

The Marriott Vail Resort

Empty Ski Slopes

View from our hotel room window

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Road Trip Report - Day 1

Our first day out was pretty much uneventful. Janet picked me up at work a little after 2pm. As we were re-arranging the contents of the car, Jody from the Innovation Center came out and asked us to wait for a minute. When she returned, she had packed us a large bag of road trip snacks: chips, candy, granola bars, slim jims, etc. Thanks Jody! Before hitting the road we made one more stop at a Jewel for some ice and a couple of other road trip essentials: pretzel rods and twizzlers.

As I said, the drive through Illinois and Iowa was uneventful. We've all seen our share of cornfields, so I don't think pictures are necessary. We passed the highly acclaimed World's Largest Truck Stop, but we weren't hungry and didn't need gas, so we didn't stop. There was a pretty sunset that we got to watch for quite a while since we were driving west right into it.

A few hours later we were starting to run low on gas, so we started looking for a gas station. It was getting late and being unsure when the next exit with fuel would come up, we exited at a small Iowa town that advertised fuel and camping. It was about a 2 mile drive off the highway to the town. When we got there, we found 2 things open in the town: the gas station, and the American Legion hall. We laughed about going in for a drink, but continued on. We made it to Lincoln around 12:30 AM. The Cornhusker Marriott is very nice. Gas price survey: Illinois - 3.99, Iowa - 3.47

Friday, August 8, 2008

Joke Friday

Late Night jokes about the Beijing Olympics

"China is getting ready for the Olympics. The official motto for the Olympics is 'One World, One Dream.' Restrictions Apply. Tibet Not Included." --Jay Leno

"There's excitement in the air over the Olympics...also lead, arsenic, benzene." --David Letterman

"Beijing skies are so polluted that Chinese authorities are planning emergency measures for the Olympics. For example, protesters will now only be run over with hybrid tanks." --Jay Leno

"Now you think I'm exaggerating, but they had a practice today in Beijing for the Olympics and a javelin thrower threw the javelin up into the air and it stuck." --David Letterman

"The government of China announced that it will ban restaurants from serving dog meat during the Olympics. Which gives new meaning to the phrase, 'Hello Kitty.'" --Conan O'Brien

Monday, August 4, 2008

Measure Up Monday

I managed to get rid of last week's pound of birthday cake, but that's all. Only 7 weeks left to lose 13 more pounds if I'm going to hit my target. It may be time to speak the dreaded "E" word. I shortened the table to just the last 4 weeks, since it could end up taking up the whole page before I'm done.

DateWeightGain/LossUpper WaistLower Waist

Friday, August 1, 2008

Joke Friday

A doctor and a lawyer were talking at a party, but their conversation was constantly interrupted by people describing their ailments and asking the doctor for free medical advice. After an hour of this, the exasperated doctor finally asked the lawyer, "What do you do to stop people from asking you for legal advice when you're out of the office?" "I give it to them," replied the lawyer, "and then I send them a bill." The doctor was shocked, but agreed it was a good idea and decided to give it a try.

The next day, still feeling slightly guilty, the doctor prepared the bills. When he went to place them in his mailbox, he found a bill from the lawyer.