Category Archives: Travel

hug your cyclists

A busy weekend. 

Kris completed the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.  This is a 200 mile ride (not a race, not timed) that’s happened for over thirty years (other than in 1980 when it was cancelled due to the ash from Mount St. Helens).

Kris did about 140 miles the first day, leaving just 60 for the second day.  I’d tried to goad her into doing it all in a single day, but she pointed out that we’re both registered to run a marathon in a couple of weeks, so technically she’s in her taper for that.

Kayla was down at a theater camp in Portland this past week, so with Kris riding I needed to get down there on Saturday morning to catch her show and pick her up.  Side note – great camp – the Columbia River Gorge School of Theater does a great job at keeping things fun, safe, and challenging the kids to improve there performance skills.  Definitely recommended for interested kids!

Logistically, this posed a bi of a challenge.  The younger child would spend Friday evening and Saturday with my parents while Kris was riding, and I was between here and Portland.  I got a chance to visit with some family in Portland on Friday evening.  Saturday, it’d be showtime and then back up to Seattle.

Aside from a hellish ride south on Friday, things went well.  Great visit, and the performance was great.  Kayla had a great time at the camp – and was already lobbying for more time there.

We hit the road shortly before noon.  I figured we’d stop[ to get something to eat early afternoon, hopefully getting home around 4 or so.  As luck would have it, we ended up stopping for lunch in Castle Rock, which is where Kris would stop for the night.  She’d texted me about her progress, and I figured we were about 60-90 minutes ahead of her.  It seemed silly not to try to say hello.

So Kayla and I finished lunch and headed over to the high school where Kris would arrive.  When we got there, I looked around for a place to leave her a message if we didn’t catch her.  Kayla hung out outside, waiting for Kris to roll in.  Suddenly, I heard a horrible crashing sound, and then some people saying “cyclist down – call an ambulance!”.

I turned and looked – there was a small crowd of people gathered over by the entrance to the parking lot.  Incoming cyclists need to make a left turn across traffic here.  We’re still not sure what happened, but the driver of a Honda Civic had run into a cyclist on his way into the lot.  The rider had been been knocked about 12 feet or so, but appeared to be conscious.

I checked on Kayla.  She’d apparently seen the accident – not well enough to see precisely who was where, and when.  I asked her if she was okay – and then we walked over.  The cyclist was indeed awake and moving around.  He was banged up, and definitely shaken up – but was responsive to questions like “what year is it”, “what’s your name”, etc.

I’ve tried to find out how the cyclist is doing – but have not yet heard.  I can only hope he’s okay.  I honestly didn’t know whether it would have been better for us to move away from the scene, because of the feelings a cyclist getting hit stirs in both of us. Both Kayla and I are definitely still processing what happened to us.

Today I heard that another friend riding with his son, had a very close call. Around mile 167 or so, he was hit by a pink tricycle that had been unsecured in the back of a pickup truck coming the other way. It hit Greg’s tire, wiping out his front fork, and causing him to fly over his handlebars. Very fortunately, he’s just bruised and scraped. Wow.

Well – after that, there was really no question that we’d stay and see Kris ride in.  And she did, still smiling after riding farther than she had in a single day.  She had a decent ride the next day, and was in Portland in time to catch the first bus back up to Seattle.  We’re very proud of her, and are really happy that she had a safe ride.

If you’ve got a cyclist friend or family – give ‘em a hug.


greeting Kris in Castle Rock after she’d completed her first day’s ride for the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.


travel buddy

Ran across an interesting time sink this evening – travbuddy.  Amongst lots of things I’m not (or not yet) interested in, you can map where you’ve been in the world.

Where I’ve been :

new york, NY

So last week, I was in New York for work.  I flew in for the weekend, did some sightseeing and visited with family in the area.

It’s funny – although I’ve not lived in New York since I was nine, I feel a sense of ‘home’ going back there.  That usually lasts until I’m trying to hail a cab in freezing weather though.

This time, I stayed down in lower Manhattan for the first time.  On Saturday I walked around a lot and took pictures.  I visited St. Paul’s Chapel and Trinity Church, both near the World Trade Center site.  This is the churchyard at St Paul’s, looking out towards the WTC site :

I’d not been to "ground zero" since October of 2001, when the WTC ruins were still smoldering.  Now it looks like any other huge construction site.

Back to the churches though – these are real treasures.  They’re great for taking pictures, because there’s so much to them, and because the light’s so great.  Here are some handheld, natural light photos taken inside of them :

Dating from the mid 19th century, they’re a look back to a day when there were no skyscrapers.  Here’s a look down Wall Street at Trinity :

After that, I continued on towards the Woolworth Building :

Along the way, I snapped some street scenes, and some pictures that emphasize the great architecture and geometry of the buildings :

I walked up past Mulberry Row, and through Chinatown to the Lower East Side and the Tenement Museum.  Some of these "tenements", or apartment buildings date from just after the Civil War.  Finally, I ducked into a small restaurant to grab some lunch.  The interior of this place was great for trying out my new-ish 12-24 mm lens !

I brought the 12-24 and my 18-200 mm lens on this trip, leaving my nicer 70-200 VR f2.8 and 50 mm f1.4 at home.  This was kind of a tough decision, but I wanted to try taking Ken Rockwell‘s advice to schlep along less.  It worked out great.

On Sunday, my cousin Sandy picked me up and we drove to visit her brother and his family up in Connecticut.  Mostly we hung out, and visited, and then went to watch their son play basketball.  This was a very nice, low-key day.

I took in two shows while in the city too.  November is a political farce starring Nathan Lane and Laurie Metcalf.  This was light, pretty funny, not a classic, but definitely worth the half-price ticket I bought (front row!).  the other show I saw was the revival of Pinter’s The Homecoming.  This was not light, but excellent, and definitely a classic.

An interesting footnote to sightseeing was running into Curly Neal and "Sweet Lou" Dunbar of the Harlem Globetrotters in a deli near Times Square.  Despite approaching 174 years old, Curly still looks the same.

can’t eat anything on the menu

While in NYC this week, I went to one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants, Hangawi.  I always enjoy going there.  The food is all vegan, all pretty unusual, and all very delicious.
This time I ordered the Chef Emperor’s Meal, a prix-fixe meal including appetizers, salad, soup, and a main course.  I do not remember exactly what I ate, other than it including lots of mushrooms and roots.  But it was very very good.  I enjoyed some traditional Korean rice wine (nongju) with it too.
I’d had a long day interviewing, so I was pretty content to bring a crossword puzzle and magazine with me, for some sedate entertainment.
The way the tables are set up a person dining alone (that’s me!) will sit nearby to 2-4 others.  Two young women sat at the table next to me.  It sounded like both were professional actresses, both in the perpetual audition, disappointment, audition cycle.  Then is came time for them to order.
One of the women said – "you decide, you’re the one who can’t eat anything".  And indeed that was the case … she ran through a list with the waiter of all of the things she couldn’t eat.  It included wheat, soy, and a number of other ingredients often found in a vegetarian Asian restaurant.  Then she informed the waiter that if any of the verboten ingredients were in her food, he would need to call an ambulance, and that it was quite possible that her death would be on his conscience.  Wow – no pressure.
On the other hand, I can’t imagine living with dietary restrictions like that.  You have the constant choice of being a pain in the side whereever you go out to eat, or ending up in the hospital or dead.  I wondered whether there are restaurants for people with dietary restrictions like this.  What’s the menu like : lettuce soup, with a tossed lettuce salad, a lettuce casserole, topped off with lettuce pudding for dessert?
I enjoyed my dinner, and left before any ambulance was called.
And unless you have severe dietary restrictions about soy and wheat, I’d highly recommend a visit to Hangawi.  You might combine it with a nighttime trip to the top of the Empire State Building, which is right around the corner.

global warming? not in the northeastern US!

Just got back from a quick business trip to New York City.  I always enjoy going there, both to visit family, and to enjoy what the city has to offer. 
Sunday, I visited with my cousins in New Jersey and Connecticut.  Got to watch a couple of the kids’ basketball games.
I stayed on the Upper West Side in a place I’d been a handful of times before.  They gave me a nice room on a high floor.  The only problem was that the wireless net was flaky.  Eventually I pestered them about to the point that they upgraded me to a king suite with a wireless router in the room.  Flaky wireless aside, it’s so nice staying in this smaller hotel instead of the big corporate places they ordinarily book.  It’s lots closer to work, very close to the park and subway, and in a great neighborhood.
Monday and Tuesday I worked.  I interviewed 26 students at Columbia.  It was a pretty good trip, we’ll get a number of good candidates.  One of our competitor companies was also their.  I’m not exactly sure what they do, but I think it involves colorful shorts and lots of advertising revenue.
The last interview Monday was interrupted by a fire alarm.  We had to evacuate the building, so the candidate and I found a room in the faculty house across the way.  I’ve had several interviews interrupted before – once by military helicopters!  In this case, we managed to make the best of things though.
Tuesday night, I was still reeling from the effects of two things I’d done earlier.  The first was going for an early morning run in Central Park.  It was 11 degrees (-10 with the wind chill).  I think that’s the coldest weather I’ve run in.  Was not as bad as I’d feared.  I kept moving, and wore big woolen socks over my hands.  I stopped for breakfast on the way back to my room, but couldn’t get warm.  I downed two douple-espressos in hopes that this would help.  It didn’t.  I stayed cold for hours.
After showering up, I came back down and ordered one more douple-espresso to take up to Columbia with me.  They made two instead, and offered me both.  Against my better judgment, I took them and eventually drank them both.
By 11 am, I was flying.  Actually worried that I would rattle myself apart or perhaps have a cardiac event.  The rest of the day I drank lots of water as I tried (in vain) to dilute the caffeine in my bloodstream.  I don’t know when I’ve been that wired.  With the few few candidates I felt like I was jumped out of my seat at them.  Later in the day, I felt more like a rehab patient.  Fortunately, the candidates were pretty good the second day, so I didn’t get too cranky or impatient.
In the evening, I took in the Knicks game, got a late dinner, packed, and tried to settle in for some sleep.
Not happening.  I think I eventually got about two or three hours before I needed to drag my hollow self downstairs to take a cab to the airport.  Yesterday was kind of a blur.

some minor fame on the jobs blog

My post about the Egypt trip is up on the Microsoft Jobs Blog … comments are coming in, including from some of the folks we spoke to, and some who are going to join us in Redmond!  Got to share some of my pictures too.  Check it out :

ma’as salaama!

I’m camped out in the departure lounge, with one hour to go before boarding.  I have a five hour layover in Hamsterdam – depending on what the passport control lines look like, I may venture out again.  It’ll be early morning though, so I’m not sure what will be open.
I went back to Abu el-Sid for one last meal – babaganoug, ta’amiyya, and kosheri.  So I leave full of food and rich with experiences.