December 31, 2005

2005 In Review

My top highlights from this year are (in chronological order):
1. Our nephew Dio is born.
2. We bagged Castle Peak on snowshoes.
3. I won two Toastmasters Table Topics contests and made it to the Divison level contest.
4. I backpacked the Skyline-to-Sea trail.
5. I started donating blood via the ALYX system.
6. Checked out the Reno River Festival
7. Backpacked Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park.
8. Had a nice vacation in DC and NYC.
9. Climbed Mount Whitney as a 22 mile day hike.
10. Played Pebble Beach (Poor Man's Version) for my birthday.
11. Met up with my parents for an action packed weekend in Eureka, CA.
12. Went to Alaska for Ava's 1st birthday.
13. Kicked some serious Dolly Varden ass at Skilak Lake.
14. Added a Vespa Granturismo to our family.
15. Went on a Golden Gate Bridge VIP Tour.
16. Backpacked to Fern Canyon.
17. Threw a kick ass holiday party.
18. Attained ATM Bronze Certification (Toastmasters).
19. Checked out the Elephant Seals at Ano Nuevo State Reserve.

Posted by troutm8 at 06:22 PM | Comments (301)

Slow Drive Back

We got home from Tahoe last night around 9 PM. We left Truckee at 2 PM. It was raining cats and dogs nearly the whole trip back (even at Donner Pass @ 7200 ft) and traffic in Sacramento was really bad. At least we were leaving Tahoe, the traffic going to Tahoe looked worse. Today we'll get some things done around the house, run some errands, and have a nice relaxing New Years. Happy New Year's everyone!

Posted by troutm8 at 10:28 AM | Comments (385)

December 29, 2005


I know better than to go to a ski resort on a holiday week, but every now and then I have to do it to reiterate why one should not go to ski resorts during holiday weeks. Case in point, on an average day, Northstar gets about 3000 skiers and snowboarders. Today they got 9000. That translated into us waiting in lines quite a bit today. We waited in a long line to get into Northstar and long lines for all the chair lifts. In fact, we talked about what were the best lines to wait in instead of talking about the best runs. For lunch we had the chili at the top of Mount Pluto. If you're ever up there, give it a try. It is great chili with large pieces of steak in it and it comes with some pretty good cornbread. As far as the snowboarding goes, the conditions were pretty good. There was great powder when going through the trees and the trails were pretty well groomed for the most part with a few ice patches here and there. It was also nice to see the progress made in the construction of the new village at Northstar. It is going to be really nice when they finish (this time next year).

Posted by troutm8 at 05:46 PM | Comments (87)

More Rain

If you've been in Tahoe for the past few days you're probably just as disappointed as I am about the warm weather. Starting this morning it was raining up to 7500-8000 ft and toward the evening it finally turned to snow at 5000 ft as things cooled down a bit. Tonight it is cold enough to sustain snow and we are planning to hit Northstar tomorrow. So instead of going snowboarding today we made a nice breakfast of Belgian waffles and then did some house shopping near Truckee (overpriced). Then we grabbed a snack at a shady mom & pop operation in Truckee before heading to Incline Village to find out that there was a 3 hour wait at the bowling alley. There really isn't much to do around here once you get off the slopes. :-) For dinner we grilled a nice tri-tip and some chicken to go along with assorted veggies and other yummy and somewhat healthy foods. And on top if it all Jenny won our Risk game. Dammit, we can't let that happen again. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 12:09 AM | Comments (112)

December 27, 2005

Sugar Bowl Rained Out

We got up early (for us) and hit Sugarbowl today. The conditions this morning had the temperature in the low 30's (F) with light snow and occasional gusts of wind. Overall it wasn't bad, and I noticed when we started that the snow was dry and I couldn't make decent snowballs with it. There was also a reasonable amount of powder when going off trail. But by noon the light snow had turned to rain and of course the moisture content of the snow went way up, but it made for awesome snowballs. With the rain starting to come down hard we went to the ticket window and got vouchers and left early (12:15 PM). The voucher was worth $15 off of a full day lift ticket, so we'll go back again sometime when the conditions are better. After we left Sugarbowl we had lunch in Truckee at OB's Pub & Restaurant. The burgers and fish & chips were good, but the corn chowder was worth skipping and they didn't have many beers on tap. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale and Guinness worked nicely though. It has continued to rain throughout the day which is washing away all the snow. :-( The only way we are going to be able to snowboard or snowshoe while we are here is if the temperature drops and we get a good 6 inches of snow. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Posted by troutm8 at 08:18 PM | Comments (193)

Truckee Bound

After a long day of helping the girls do some after Christmas shopping and watching King Kong (pretty good by the way), we've made our way to Truckee. We rented a place in Truckee and will be hitting Sugarbowl, Squaw Valley, and Northstar assuming the conditions cooperate.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:18 AM | Comments (97)

December 26, 2005

Belated Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone! I had a wonderful Christmas at home with Timber and her family. We went to have the traditional #15 from Pho Y #1 for dinner. Yummy! We're off to Roseville so that Timber and Jenny can browse the after Christmas deals at the mall up there. Then we are going to Tahoe for a few days of snowboarding. We got a cabin in Truckee so we can sleep in.

Posted by troutm8 at 05:10 AM | Comments (434)

December 24, 2005

Chronic...(What?)..cles Of Narnia

If you have iTunes (who doesn't?) you should download this free video. I first saw it last weekend while watching SNL and couldn't stop laughing. Also, Magnolia Bakery was on our list when we were in NYC, but I heard that it wasn't that great and we hit up Roxy instead. Roxy is in Times Square and has some kick ass cheesecake.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:54 AM | Comments (84)

December 23, 2005

Jiu Jitsu

I got to go up to San Mateo to train today (thanks Rong), which is the first time I've been able to do any jiu jitsu training in about a year. I really need to make a schedule to train in 06.

Posted by troutm8 at 07:50 PM | Comments (93)

December 22, 2005

Año Nuevo SR Rocks

I got to check out Año Nuevo State Reserve today which is something that I've wanted to do since I first found out about its existence. It is situated on the coast between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. It took me almost exactly an hour to get there from my house. The cool thing about this reserve is that Elephant Seals come out of the water here to give birth, mate, and fight. They have guided walks (you must have a reservation), and on those walks you can get within 25 - 30 feet of seals that can get up to 5,000 lbs. Getting to check them out was really cool, I felt like a kid on a field trip. I saw a few males fighting for harems and I also got to see a seal pup almost get squashed by a big male flopping around. You can find out more about the reserve here. And I've posted my photos from today here.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:56 PM | Comments (552)

December 21, 2005

Rancho Canada Closed

I wanted to go for a hike in Rancho Canada del Oro Open Space Preserve today, but when I got there I found that it was closed. Apparently all the rain had made the trail really muddy and the creeks impassable. Bummer. I'll have to try back another time.

Posted by troutm8 at 08:17 PM | Comments (90)

Lunch At The Mothership

I had lunch yesterday with Timber at Cafe Macs. That is the cafeteria in the main building at Apple. And I have to say it was very nice. They had pretty much everything, pizza, sandwich bar, salad bar, sushi, pasta, soup, smoothies, daily specials, etc... I ended up getting a pizza, which set me back $5, which isn't a bad deal. After lunch we checked out the on campus Apple Store which was also pretty cool.

Posted by troutm8 at 07:51 PM | Comments (70)

Elderly Drivers

I've been running errands over the past few days during the day, which is something that I rarely do, and while driving around town I'm seeing an awful lot of elderly drivers around. I don't have a problem with elderly drivers per se, in fact, I'd like to eventually become one, but I noticed that a lot of them can't drive. Here are a few examples. I was going north on CA-85, it was three lanes wide, and there were three cars with elderly drivers in them strung across all the lanes going about 60 mph. I don't have a problem with people driving slow, but they should move over to the right lane so people going the speed limit can go past them. It was at least 5 minutes before the formation broke up and people could go around the elderly drivers. In another example I was driving down Camden Avenue (two lanes), and in the right most lane was an elderly driver that had their right turn signal on. I was getting ready to go past them in the left lane (assuming they were going to turn), when I get cut off by them changing into the left lane. The whole time their right turn blinker was on. And I saw them driving very slow (25 mph) through a 40 mph zone backing up cars as they went. I hope I live long enough to become an elderly driver, but hopefully I'll remember my driving skills more than the people I've observed this week.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:36 PM | Comments (51)

December 18, 2005

New Dog Law

I hope everyone can see this link. It looks like the city of Berkeley, in their infinite wisdom, has passed a law specifying that dogs who live in the back yard must have five-sided dog houses, fresh water in their bowls, nutritious food to eat, and adequate exercise. Good luck enforcing this new law. While they are at it they should legislate that people should be payed adequately for their work, people should get enough exercise, people should treat each other fairly, people shouldn't stress out so much, cars should be zero emission, public transportation should be free and run on time, there should be no traffic, all Cal students get good grades, people shouldn't make fun of Berkeley, etc...

Posted by troutm8 at 11:59 AM | Comments (152)

December 15, 2005

Don't Eat The Sloppy Joes

I had what would be classified in medical terms as a mild case of food poisoning over the past few days. Since I've never had food poisoning before I wouldn't classify it as mild, I'd classify it as totally lame. It all started on Tuesday when I was lured by the prospect of a Sloppy Joe at the work cafeteria. It's not that Sloppy Joes are my favorite dish or anything, it was the nostalga factor. I haven't had a Sloppy Joe since I was a kid and was interested trying it again. Big mistake. I had it at noon and by 3 PM I had to go home. The chills, nausea, pain, and other fun symptoms took over from there. I slept from 3:30 PM through 8 AM the next day almost continuously. No appetite, no comfort, no relief. In the morning the chills were gone but the pain was more intense so I decided that I needed to see a doctor. So I called my lovely HMO, navigated through 15 menus and finally talked to a nurse. After giving her my contact information which I thought they already had, I walked her through my symptoms and listened to her advice. Then I was informed that they would call me back when they had an opening for an appointment. Her advice was to drink lots of fluids, have some jello, have clear broth, maybe have some white bread, take some tylenol, etc... That was great except that I didn't have any jello, clear broth, white bread, or tylenol. Obviously I'm not well equipped for coping with food poisoning. I was able to scrounge up some gatorade and bread sticks. Things started getting better around 11 AM. And sure enough, when they called me back at 1 PM I felt much better, and decided that I didn't need to see the doctor. I felt so much better, in fact, that I jumped on my laptop and did some work. As expected, the world did not fall apart in my less than 1 day absence from email and work, but there was still plenty for me to do. I got things done and stayed off of IM until roughly 7 PM. At that point Timber came home and was glad to see that I was feeling better. I'm apparently somewhat irritable when I'm not feeling well. :-) I'm at roughly 90 %, back at work now, and I finally have an appetite again. So the moral of the story is don't eat the Sloppy Joes unless your mom makes them.

Posted by troutm8 at 02:12 PM | Comments (69)

December 12, 2005

A Glimpse Of The Future

This is an interesting glimpse of a future where search, news, blogs, shopping, and much more are integrated. The year is 2015...

Posted by troutm8 at 01:43 PM | Comments (358)

Christmas Tree Preservative

Here's a Christmas tree preservative recipe that I plan to try:
1 quart of water
1/2 cup of corn syrup
1 teaspoon of bleach
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Posted by troutm8 at 10:42 AM | Comments (41)

Merry Christmas To Myself

I hadn't been planning on buying a motorcycle jacket this weekend, but it just kind of happened. I got the Anzug Savanna 2. I was at the Vespa Dealership getting license plates and other miscellanous stuff for our GT. While I was waiting for them to find my touch up paint I started trying on jackets. The one I was trying on at the time was nice, and the guy there told me that they were going to be selling them for a pretty good discount at the Motorcycle Show this upcoming weekend. He also said that he could give me that deal right now if I was interested. I pondered it for a little while and decided to try on the different sizes and another model to see if I really liked it and decided to get the jacket and the gore-tex liner. I got a good deal on it, but I wasn't planning on buying a jacket when I walked in the door. The cool features of this jacket include shoulder pads, elbow pads, a brace for the back, great ventilation, and you can store the gore-tex liner in a special pocket so you can keep it with you at all times. I couldn't find any english web pages for this jacket but here's a german link. So I guess this is my Christmas present to myself.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:39 AM | Comments (74)

Work Holiday Party

ASR had a holiday party last week in downtown San Jose at Il Forniao. I ended up taking light rail to get there, and it was a good thing that I did because 85 North was snarled with traffic. When I got there I saw that the turnout was pretty good, and even better a lot of people brought their significant others and children. It was good to see some of my collegues with their families, it kind of adds another dimension when you see them outside the context of work. And as one would expect, those with families and children didn't stay too late. Once the party was over I went with Rudy and Piyoosh to check out "Christmas in the Park". I brought my camera and took photos, but I think they would have turned out better if I had brought a tripod. I'll do that next year.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:28 AM | Comments (1459)

December 10, 2005

ATM Bronze

I gave a speech (with the help of Piyoosh and Kalpana) earlier this week which got me to ATM-B (Advanced Toastmaster Bronze). For those of you that are not familiar with Toastmasters, it is an international speaking organization whose goals are to "help men and women learn the arts of speaking, listening and thinking – vital skills that promote self-actualization, enhance leadership, foster human understanding, and contribute to the betterment of mankind". They have curriculum to help members acheive those goals. When one first starts at Toastmasters they have 10 speech projects in their Communication and Leadership manual. After they have given their first 10 speeches they will reach CTM (Competent Toastmaster). Once you've gotten your CTM there are two tracks you can take, the leadership track and the communication track. The next certification on the leadership track is Competent Leader. To attain this certification you have to have attained CTM, served as a club officer, participate in District-sponsored club officer training, and given two speeches from the Successful Club Series and/or The Leadership Excellence series. I attained CL last year. To get ATM-B, you must first get your CTM and then complete two Advanced Communication and Leadership manuals which comes out to 10 advanced speeches. My goal for next year is to attain ATM-S (silver) which requires me to have ATM-B, complete two adanvced manuals (10 speeches), and conduct two speeches from The Better Speaker Series and/or the Successful Club Series. I know you are probably thinking that it is a lot of work, and it is. But the benefits of investing in yourself are tremendous. I do it because I feel that effective communication and leadership are needed throughout industries, especially tech, and those people that have these skills have a leg up on their competition. So hopefully by this time next year I will have attained ATM-S.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:15 PM | Comments (97)

December 09, 2005

The Stage Is Set

The stage is set for my boys in the 2006 World Cup. We get to play Italy, The Czech Republic, and Ghana. It looks to be a tough group for us. Analysts are already doing what they do best, analyzing the match ups and what could play out for the US team. The best prognosis I've seen thus far are that we will finish second in our group to Italy and then play Brazil to start the elimination round. And no one says anything after that. I think we are being underestimated and I think the analysts assume that we are happy just to get to the elimination round and maybe to the group of 8. I say screw that. We want to win the world cup and we can win the world cup. We are going to have to play some tough matches against really good teams to do that, so I say so be it. Mark my words. We are in this World Cup to win it.

Posted by troutm8 at 02:11 PM | Comments (59)

December 08, 2005

Irish Emails

My name is pretty common, especially in England and Ireland. As a result I frequently get emails from across the pond that aren't meant for me. This morning, for instance, I got an email about the Kinsale roundabout closures in Cork City. But hey, I'm not Irish. Or am I? Not all of these apply to me, but a lot do.

What it means to be Irish:
1) You will never play professional basketball.
2) You swear very well.
3) At least one of your cousins holds political office.
4) You think you sing very well.
5) You have no idea how to make a long story short
6) You are very good at playing a lot of very bad golf.
7) There isn't a huge difference between losing your temper and killing someone..
8) Much of your food was boiled.
9) You have never hit your head on the ceiling.
10) You spent a good portion of your childhood kneeling.
11) You're strangely poetic after a few beers.
12) You're, therefore, poetic a lot.
13) You will be punched for no good reason...a lot.
14) Some punches directed at you are legacies from past generations.
15) Your sister will punch you because your brother punched her.
16) Many of your sisters are Catherine, Elizabeth or Mary....and one is Mary Catherine Elizabeth.
17) Someone in your family is incredibly cheap. It is more than likely you.
18) You may not know the words, but that doesn't stop you from singing.
19) You can't wait for the other guy to stop talking so you can start talking.
20) "Irish Stew" is the euphemism for "boiled leftovers from the fridge."
21) You're not nearly as funny as you think you are, but what you lack in talent, you make up for in frequency.
22) There wasn't a huge difference between your last wake and your last keg party.
23) You are, or know someone, named "Murph".
24) If you don't know Murph, then you know Mac, if you don't know Murph or Mac, then you know Sully, and you'll probably also know Sully McMurphy
25) You are genetically incapable of keeping a secret.
26) Your parents were on a first name basis with everyone at the local emergency room.
27) And last but not least... Being Irish means... your attention span is so short that ... oh, forget it.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:18 AM | Comments (77)

Robocop Revisited

One great thing about Netflix is that you can easily browse and stumble upon movies that you weren't expecting to rent. That's how I came upon Robocop. I hadn't seen that movie in at least 10 years but it was just as much of a guy movie as I remembered (notice I didn't say it was good). I observed two interesting things in this movie. First, the movie came out in 1987, and they correctly predicted DVDs (it is set in the future). Secondly, the humor in some of the commercials is great. Take the car they were advertizing. It was the 6000 SUX, and it was an American Tradition that coincidently got 8.2 MPG. Great stuff. If only more movies from the 80's were as entertaining as Robocop.

Posted by troutm8 at 08:57 AM | Comments (268)

Home Schooled

This is not your typical home schooled kid.

Posted by troutm8 at 08:54 AM | Comments (1696)

December 05, 2005


The party is over now and I think things went great. We got up fairly early yesterday to pick up the last minute items (casava cake from Goldilocks, Pumpkin Burnt Almond Cake from Peter's Bakery, and some freakin' awesome pepperoni from an Italian deli in Willow Glen) and then we got everything together and took it over to J&R's house. At that point we started prepping the food. We made pigs in a blanket, sausage philos, scallops wrapped in bacon, bruschetta, crostini, swedish meatballs, vegi trays, hummus, crackers, and other assorted items. I also made a gingerbread christmas tree which I got a lot of compliments on. We also prepped the water, beer, sodas, wine, and bar for mixed drinks. People starting showing up a bit after 7 PM, and things really started hopping around 8:30 - 9:00. For a while everyone was hanging out by where the food was laid out and then they moved over to the game room. We ended up making a few mixed drinks for people, namely key lime martini, creamcicle, cosmopolitan, peppermint martini, and a few other assorted drinks. And guests were more than welcome to mix what they liked from our drink library. It didn't take long to get people to play poker. We played Texas Hold'em with a $20 buy in, winner takes all. There were two sessions, one after another so there were two overall winners. When I played I did really well for a while, but then I lost on a few of my bluffs which pretty much put me out of it. Diane ended up winning the first session. Christian won the second session and they both took home a decent amount of money. At the other table the Brocade people were playing blackjack. I call them the Brocade people because they all worked at Brocade and they didn't seem to mingle outside of their own little group. I talked to most of them at some point during the night and they weren't anti-social or anything, they just didn't take any initiative to go mingle and meet people. And these were the least techie out of all the people we had at the party! Other than that I enjoyed catching up with people that I hadn't seen in a while and I think the combination of food, drinks, games, and people made it a really fun party. The last of the people left a little after 2 AM and we didn't get things cleaned up and back home until 4 AM. Obviously I'm not going to do a whole lot today. But as the official party photographer I've posted my photos here.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:36 AM | Comments (104)

December 02, 2005


John Madden has been arrested for possession of a turhumanheaducken.

Posted by troutm8 at 02:12 PM | Comments (528)

T Minus 1

The holiday party is tomorrow and Timber is taking the day off today to prep for it. She is running errands to get the last materials needed for the party, prepping trays and other things for the party, and generally going over the plans. I hope to get out of work at a decent time today so I can pitch in. We will probably take everything over to J&R's house tonight and walk through the plan for tomorrow. Then we'll do even more work tomorrow like picking up the catered food and getting everything set up. I think this is good practice for planning our wedding.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:21 PM | Comments (99)

New Park To Open Nearby

Tomorrow a new staging area for the Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve will open to the public for the very first time. I didn't even know about this place, so I'm looking forward to checking it out on Sunday morning. I'll post a review on it sometime next week.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:32 AM | Comments (51)

December 01, 2005

T Minus 2

Two days until Timber & Jenny's holiday party extravaganza. I have lots of tasks leading up to and during the party. For instance I'm the official party photographer which means that I'm supposed to run around the party taking photos while I do other things. Other tasks that have been assigned to me are bartender, DJ, blackjack dealer, poker game starter, waiter, cook, etc... It kind of reminds me of that part of the movie "Forrest Gump" where the drill sergeant goes over to Gump and asks him why he put the rifle together so fast. Gump responds without the slightest hesitation, "Because you told me to drill sergeant." Yup, I'm one of the Gumps for this party.

Posted by troutm8 at 02:23 PM | Comments (542)