Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I can honestly say that I didn’t mind being stuck in Detroit for an extra few hours because that airport was simply amazing. I hadn’t been to the Detroit Mid-Field airport in more than 15 years, and since that last visit they have completely re-modeled everything. Not only was the terminal super clean, but the design was like nothing I had ever seen.
Like most large airports, Detroit Mid-Field has a train system to move people long distances. However as you can see in this image, this train shares the same open space as the passengers on foot. It is elevated above the gate area and since it is an electro-magnetic train it is virtually silent.
Another element that I truly enjoyed about this airport was that everything was in one long terminal. Yes, it could be a very long walk from one end to the other, but that is where the train comes into play. The train system consists of one train only with 2 cars. It travels from one end to the other with a stop in the middle where the security egress exists. When it get’s to an end, it just heads back the other direction.
The Detroit Mid-Field airport is an exercise in the beauty of simplicity.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Greg is currently stationed at Naval Base Kitsap, which I understand is a Submarine base. However, when we drove in we noticed several aircraft carriers just before we entered the gate. On the way back to my Mom’s house we stopped to take some pictures of the 5 aircraft carriers we saw.
Most of the carriers we could see looked like they were being prepared for mothballing since only one had it’s hull number still on the island. The one that we could make out the hull number on is below and it is CVN-72, named the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Seeing CVN-72 was very special for me as it is a Nimitz class carrier and Barbie’s niece, Bianca, is currently deployed in the Arabian Sea on the USS Nimitz.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
While visiting Zabrina and Greg we got to meet their new sons, Xavier and Xander. Twins who were born just a few days before our arrival. We also got to see their older brother Tomas who was now at the ripe old age of 18 months. This was the first time I have ever held more than one baby at once, so it was quite something for me to experience. Barbie, on the other hand seemed quite comfortable holding a pair of new born babies as you can see here.
In all reality, these were some of the quietest babies I have ever seen. Barbie and Mery laughed when I said this to them as they both reminded me that babies don’t really make a lot of noise until they get into the “terrible twos”.
Yeah, yeah, but even with that, these boys were very sweet and calm and quiet. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I can say for certain that it was not what I expected.
As impressed as I was with the twins (I refer to them as them X-Men), what was even more amazing to me was how Tomas behaved. He didn’t seem to be jealous at all of the attention that the twins were getting. Tomas is just learning how to walk (I think I saw him get 4 steps a couple times before falling), so he is fairly mobile. Even when he would come to an adult who was holding one of the twins, he would be very careful when he got near them. He would even kiss them on the forehead. Simply amazing, I tell you.
We also got to visit with PK who at 9 years-old has moved from the baby of the family to one of the oldest children in less than 2 years. PK seemed very comfortable in his role as a “big” brother. We hadn’t seen PK since Zabrina and Greg’s wedding two years ago, and I must say that there is a big difference between a 7 year-old and a 9 year-old. I had fun letting PK play with my iPhone and Barbie enjoyed playing with him on our netbook. Everyone had a great time.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Like most families, Barbie’s family has several Christmas Food Traditions. And we love two of them in particular. The first is Tamales! This is a common Christmas tradition among Hispanic communities, and part of the experience is the effort involved in making them. The process is so complicated, that typically tamales are made in huge quantities to maximize the output for the work expended.
This picture was taken not long after we arrived as a batch of frozen tamales which were made a couple days earlier were put into a put to begin cooking as part of Christmas dinner.
The second tradition is Mexican Wedding cookies! Yummy. These are so addictive, but so work totally pigging out on. When we arrived, this batch was already done and sitting in a covered bowl. However, I think I started a trend of uncovering the bowl and sneaking cookies out when Mery wasn’t looking. :-)
In the early afternoon on Christmas day we made the 2 hour drive to Naval Base Kitsap to visit Zabrina, Greg and Barbie’s Mom, Mery. The drive was not too difficult and as soon as we arrived the hugging began!
We arrived just before Christmas dinner was ready to be served, so Zabrina and Greg’s house was full of anticipation and energy. We got to visit with both of them and with Mery as they finished preparing the Ham and Turkey.
We hadn’t seen Zabrina or Mery since our wedding, and we hadn’t seen Greg in more than 2 years since his wedding to Zabrina. A lot of catching-up was done among the three of us.
We were also surprised to find that Zabrina’s daughter, CZ and her husband Connor were in town from San Diego visiting as well. We hadn’t seen them since Zabrina and Greg’s wedding, but more notably we hadn’t seen them since they got married themselves!
The trip from my Mom’s place to Zabrina’s has an interesting half way mark: Galloping Gertie. Ever heard of it? If not, you may know it as the Tacoma Narrows Span. Sound familiar? If not, it is the bridge that most of us saw film of when we were in high school science class where a bridge was shaken apart by the wind. Yes, that bridge. Although, as you can tell by the image below, the bridge we saw was much more stable and beautiful that the one we saw from 1940.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
It was nice to spend a some time with my Mom and Sher for the holidays. It was the first time we got to spend any time with each other since Barbie and I got married. We spent some time visiting with extended family, played a few throw-down games of Uno, and had a great holiday dinner on Christmas Eve together.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I have been coming to Seattle to visit family for nearly 30 years. Even now, when I see Mount Rainier (or Mother Rainier as some native Americans call it) I am in awe. Below is a picture that Barbie took of the mountain, and it simply does not do justice to the size of it.
Mount Rainier is more than 13,000 feet tall, and is the highest peak in the Cascade Mountains. It is actually higher than K2 (although by less than 100 feet). It is so high, that the peak has it’s own weather system that many people believe can be used to predict the weather in Seattle 3 or 4 days later. Crazy!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
After finally arriving in Seattle and getting to my Mom and Sher’s house we crashed hard and slept for 10 hours. By the end of our first day visiting we had told tons of stories and had several bouts of laughter. We also found that my Mom and Sher’s dog, Avi, was quite photogenic as you can see in the image below:
Monday, December 21, 2009
Shortly after boarding our plane, we were told that the pre-flight check had revealed a problem with some type of a static line and that we would all need to de-plane while it was worked on.
While we were waiting, we were told that the airline didn’t have any spare static lines in Dulles, and that it would not be until tomorrow before another one could be flown in. So, the only alternative was to contact the aircraft manufacturer in Brazil to determine if the plane was still “flight safe” with the damaged static line.
In the end, the aircraft manufacturer gave the plane the green light to fly and we left Dulles 6 hours later than scheduled. The irony is that we had a 6 hour delay to change nothing…just to get confirmation that we could fly. Oh well, better safe than sorry.
After two feet of snow, and the the plows hadn’t made it to the driveway we needed to ensure we could escape the confines of the snow to get to the airport.
So, Barbie decided to film my late night attempt to free the E! Once again, the weight distribution and torque management of the Element came through. On the first attempt I was able to escape.
In case you are wondering why the windshield wipers are up, that is something that we do to prevent them from freezing to the windshield when temps drop below freezing. :-)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Every once in a while I realize that I have been taking something for granted without realizing it. Today I realized that one of those things was the knowledge of what it is like to get ready for and play in deep snow. Well, when the snow stopped falling and Barbie said she wanted to go play in it I suddenly became aware that she didn’t have the same knowledge that I had when it came to deep snow. :-)
So, after getting both of us wrapped up in our winter gear we ventured out into snow that was up to our hips. Barbie immediately found the snow to be fun to play in as you can tell by the smile on her face.
Part of the knowledge that I took for granted included how difficult it can be to stand up in deep snow if you fall down. In the picture below Barbie was in the process of figuring that out herself.
By the end of our time playing in the snow, we had been outside for just over an hour, exhausted ourselves, walked maybe 100 yards, and created a couple of deep snow angels. :-)
Saturday, December 19, 2009
For the last week or so we have been monitoring a storm that is inbound from the Gulf of Mexico. As is typically the case, the media was making this storm sound like the worst thing that could ever happen to the area. But something very unusual was going on with the media reports and forecast updates with this storm…as the storm got close, the anticipated snowfall amounts were growing. The first reports said to expect 8-10 inches, then 12-16 inches, then up to 20 inches, and just before the snow began to fall we were being told to expect up to 24 inches of snow. This picture was taken after only a couple hours of snow fall.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
We have officially moved up to the next level of “yuppie-ism” this week, as we bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner. For the last several years I have scoffed at people who would boast about their vacuums, almost as though they were bragging about their child.
However, when we needed to replace our vacuum, I decided to take a look at the Dyson offerings to compare them with what I thought would be much more reasonable alternatives. Then, after only a few hours of web research I found the Dyson Blueprint and realized that it was perfect for us.
We then located a family owned home appliance store in Massachusetts with an on-line sales channel who was selling the model we wanted for nearly $100 less than anyone else. Plus, they had free next day air shipping and additional incentives for paying with Google Check-Out or PayPal.
So, having the vacuum we wanted – WIN; offering it at a much lower price than anyone else – WIN, WIN; giving us free next day air during the Christmas shopping season – WIN, WIN, WIN; giving additional discounts for using a method of payment that we already use – WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
It’s that time if year…er….decade again. All sorts of media outlets are releasing their “…of the decade” lists. You know, the best…worst…longest….most embarrassing things of the decade. I was reminded of this yesterday when I was driving into work and heard a local DJ say that the most downloaded song of the decade in the US was…
wait for it…
Flow-Rida’s “Low”! Yeah, take a moment to let that settle in. (It took me a couple minutes for me to accept this.) However, it was determined by the Nielsen agency so I trust that it is was an empirical study that determined this.
So, I figured I would start my own quasi-best of the decade list by starting with my take on the funniest commercial. With that preface, I present “The Bud Light Swear Jar” below:
Sunday, December 13, 2009
We made a simple white pizza with pepperoni, black olives and shredded mozzarella cheese. As a white pizza, we did not use any tomato sauce. Rather Barbie made a garlic infused olive oil that we brushed on the dough before any toppings were applied. The crust came out much thicker than we expected, but it was also fluffier than we anticipated.
We cooked the pizza on a cookie sheet, which constrained the shape to that of a rectangle (which explains the un orthodox shape in the picture to the right).
Next steps will include getting a quality pizza stone and/or a pizza sheet so that we can have a round crust. :-)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Over the last few days we have seen our share of winter-like temperatures with lows in the 20’s. Thankfully, there was minimal precipitation so ice wasn’t much of a problem. However, I found this video that made me realize that it could be a lot colder..and cooler?!
Last February, Red Bull’s unique marketing team took a few of the world’s best surfer’s to Alaska to check out the waves there. Check out what they did!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
We were outside last night with some friends and the dog for a winter party. It wasn’t very cold last night (we had on jackets, but no hats or gloves were needed). However, when we woke up this morning, this is what we saw outside of our bedroom window: