March 28, 2006

Travel Cheat Sheet

I think I will be traveling a bit more this year, and as a result I decided to put together a travel cheat sheet. Hopefully you'll find some information that you find useful, and if you know of some useful travel sites that I should know about please let me know.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:13 AM | Comments (41)

March 27, 2006

Wookie Unleashed

We didn't do all that much this weekend other than running errands and taking care of a few things. There were two notable developments however. Timber's nephew Dionicio started walking. We spent some time with him on Saturday watching him walk, fall, then crawl. It was pretty cool. Other than that we started letting Wookie off his leash near the end of our walks. It is good to see that he doesn't just bolt right away, and even with some distractions he does come when called and always stays close by. We'll have to continue working with him and building up that trust, but so far he's on track to be a really good dog.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:48 AM | Comments (69)

March 24, 2006

Beat The Traffic

I've been getting up early for a while now (one of the benefits of getting a dog), and I've been watching the local news while getting ready for work. One cool tool that I saw yesterday was Beat The Traffic. They (BeatTheTraffic) have access to roadway sensors (everyone else has them too), but they also have commute forecasts for lots of metro areas. The parts that I found particularly interesting were the charts they showed on the news of the travel time forecast from San Francisco to Truckee. The charts have travel time (usually in minutes) on the Y-axis and the time of day a person leaves on the X-Axis. The pattern that emerges is that you can see spikes in commute times depending on when people leave. For instance, if you are going from Sacramento to Truckee today, the worst times to leave are between 4 PM and 6 PM. If you leave in that window you can expect to take about 115 minutes to get there. If you leave after 7:30 PM tonight you can expect to take 110 minutes instead. I'm not sure if they take weather into account, but I think using this tool in conjunction with checking the road conditions and weather could give you all the information you need before you head to Tahoe.

Posted by troutm8 at 07:45 AM | Comments (93)

March 22, 2006

Macs @ Costco

Over the weekend I saw that Costco now sells Macs. They had the Mac Mini bundle and the iMac (G5). The Mac Mini bundle was $699 and came with the Mac Mini itself (G4, 80 Gb HD, 512 Mb RAM), a wireless keyboard, a wireless mouse, and 3 years of AppleCare. My sources inside Apple tell me that this is a pretty good deal. So if you already have a monitor and want a computer that doesn't take up much space and just works, check this baby out.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:00 PM | Comments (57)

Stretched Homeowners

I saw this article yesterday and have to say something about it. It basically talks about homeowners being stretched by variable interest rate mortgages and having more difficulty in selling their homes. Living in an expensive area myself I've seen this happening for years. It seems, at least in San Jose, that a really popular thing to do is get an interest only (lowest possible monthly payment) loan or a 3 year fixed (not quite as low but still kind of low payment) mortgage. This is risky for several reasons. One, as the interest rates continue to rise, these people will get hit with higher payments. Another is that the interest only loans will not build up any equity in their homes through their monthly payments. They are effectively banking on the value of their homes going up and then they can sell it and pocket the equity. This strategy will get hammered as the housing market softens and interest rates rise. A lot of people are also buying rental property and trying to make money by renting out the homes and property. In general this is a better strategy as long as they don't do the whole interest only loan and stretch themselves too thin. I would expect bankruptcies and loan defaults to rise as housing prices soften and interest rates rise. So if you're looking at buying a home or rental property do your homework first.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:21 AM | Comments (105)

Juggling Tricks

I learned how to juggle for Ava's first birthday, and I'm thinking about learning these tricks for her second birthday. I'd better get practicing!

Posted by troutm8 at 11:10 AM | Comments (577)

March 21, 2006

Forrest Is A Scrub-a-Dub

Forrest runs a website called (which just got hacked), which is a place where a bunch of us post information about upcoming backpacking and mountaineering trips. This is a lesson in why you don't leave a structural engineer in charge of a website. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 02:06 PM | Comments (134)

March 20, 2006

Spring Is Here

Spring is officially here. Huary! It is time to finish off the snowboarding season and start doing some mountaineering and backpacking. The biggest trip I have planned thus far is an early May mountaineering trip to Mount Shasta. There should still be enough good snow to tag the top of the mountain and snowboard down. Another fun trip will be snow camping in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:51 AM | Comments (39)

March 17, 2006

Timber In Tahoe

Timber is in Tahoe today and tomorrow going snowboarding with Jackie, and I'm stuck here in town because I have to compete in a Toastmasters contest tomorrow. :-( She called me around 5 PM today to laugh at me because the conditions were so nice. I don't know if I'll ever compete in another Toastmasters contest after this.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:52 PM | Comments (59)

March 10, 2006

Snow In The Bay Area

Here's a shot that someone took today of my work site (IBM's Almaden Research Center). You can see in the background that the Santa Cruz Mountains got a fair bit of snow. I can tell that this photo was taken a little after 8 AM yesterday since my truck (the blue one) is one of the only ones in the parking lot, and I was in the office at 8.

Posted by troutm8 at 04:41 PM | Comments (73)

March 08, 2006

Squaw Valley

Timber and I both took the day off from work today to go snowboarding at Squaw Valley. We figured that today being a Wednesday, they would not be too busy, the traffic getting to Tahoe would not be too bad, and the conditions would still be pretty good. We were more or less correct on all counts. This was definitely the best snowboarding day of the year for me, and it was quite nice to have lunch in one of the restaurants in the village without hordes of people all over the place. All in all it was a well spent day. Oh yeah, and Wookie came with us too. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 09:50 PM | Comments (75)

March 05, 2006

Another WF Article

It's not exactly an article centered around WebFountain, but it does mention it. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 07:57 PM | Comments (69)

March 01, 2006

Wookie Lost Weight

We picked Wookie up from Spots on Monday night after our plane got in, and he was really happy to see us. It was already late at night so we didn't give him an official meal, but I did give him lots of snacks on the way home. I weighed him the next morning and saw that he had lost 1.5 pounds while we were gone. He seems to be eating now and should add that weight back on in no time.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:06 AM | Comments (75)