Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gingerbread House 2010

A good start to the winter break for the girls as we wrapped up a trip to Peacock Lane, a visit to Aunt Katie's house, and a sleepover with the Farleys! In order to make sure the kids got to bed on time we tried to wear them out by taking ours to the park (the Farleys went rock climbing) and we settled for Gingerbread House decorating in the evening with the hope that all of the girls will sack out come 9 PM. The beverage on the table is Susan's really.

The girls made quick work of the gingerbread house and some of the candy even made it on as decorations.The Christmas music was playing and the kids debated their favorite song. The consensus was Jingle Bells and we were treated to a rousing rendition when they could remember the words. The four of them did a good job of putting it all together and it was fun for us to take a listen. Maybe some caroling later in the week is in order.
The girls really took pride in the decoration of the 2010 edition, but perhaps it was just the sugar rush that was helping with the smiles on their faces. Abby's favorite part of decorating was "eating the icing" Katie liked the candy best and Lucy liked the roof. Amelia enjoyed the extra halloween candy that we broke out to supplement the provided provisions. There was Dots and Smarties that were from October but does sugar really ever go bad? Lucy really got into the action and it was fun to capture them all into such a project. I don't think it took them more than 15 minutes.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Grace's Birthday and Cyclocross Nationals 2010 in Bend

We went to Bend for Grace's Birthday and it was the same weekend as the Cyclocross Nationals.
It was a wet weekend in Bend (pretty rare) and windy which made for tough conditions for the cyclists and good conditions to watch the race. A lot of mud puddles and slippery conditions.
We had a great time checking out the activity at the race grounds near the Old Mill. Abby was dressed warmly and was very curious about the bikes and the competition having been in the Kiddy Cross a few months earlier. She also had a good time running around the various sand mounds that the City uses for keeping the streets passable during the winter months. Amelia had a good time at the start until she did a face plant into a puddle and got muddy.
We got to the start of the race and managed to catch a huge pile up. Yes, those are bike tires in the air. Someone in the front of the pack took a spill and it caused chaos throughout the pack. The rider with the wheels in the air, tried to pick up some ground by sending his bike aerial and getting past some of the competition instead of having the problem of the bike getting caught up.
The conditions were very difficult and there was some pretty significant ponding that resulted in changes to the course throughout the week. I had a hard time believing that there puddles would be a good line, but many of the racers seemed to embrace it to avoid getting tangled up in the fencing, which we saw later in the action. It was a bit daunting to consider the course as we saw it, but I think it would be fun to try next year at the start of the season.
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Saturday, December 4, 2010

2010 Civil War

Football in December had to mean Civil War! The 2010 edition featured the Beavers fighting to get to .500 on the year and the U of 0 trying to punch their ticket to the National Championship game. We were happy to have kept our tickets although I would be lying if I hadn't thought about selling out to a friendly Duck Fan or two. If the shoes were on the other feet, I would want to be in Eugene to see the Beavs extend their record to 12-0.
The start of our trip to Reser was to hit the Crowbar downtown and eat our pregame salad.
We paused to take photos outside Reser. The scene on the street was great, there were a ton of tailgaters and many that came fror the party without tickets.
Kurt and Monica were excited about the game and ready. Susan and I had to scramble a bit for help with the kids, so we were relieved to be there.
The pregame had started a long time before we got there as the Ducks record attracted the ESPN GameDay crew with Lee Corso, Desmond Howard, and Kirk Herbstreit. The pregame started at 6 AM, so there was a lot of fun to be had early on in Corvallis. Seeing the action from home, the Memorial Union Quad was packed and they had separated Duck fans from Beavers, which was probably a pretty good idea.

This was Susan's second game this year with the first being against the Washington State Cougars, where the Beavs mailed in a pretty bad performance. We were hoping for the best, but expecting the worst given that the Ducks were the #1 team in the nation. Yet, as true Beaver Believers you have to be happy that we do as well as we do and that we are competitive and have hope for the future.
So, into the stadium we go with just a bit of business to finish before we jump in to the vat of Potato Salad.
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

DC Prepares for Christmas

I travelled back to Washington DC for a FHWA workshop.
The travel took me back to the scene of one of the most exciting moments of my life (which I would prefer not to repeat). Walking past the GWU Hospital made me think back to the people that helped me during a time of need. I felt very small walking next to the Metro station and thankful that I wasn't taking another mode today.
If that wasn't enough to make one think deep thoughts, I walked past the White House on World Aids Day, with the red ribbon dorning the Obama residence on Pennsylvania Avenue.
A challenge of epic proportions which we can look across the globe and recognize that as far as we can go, there's a need to work together to meet our common foes.
My last stop in DC that was blogworthy was Union Station. I am always happy to spend a little time in this great monument to transportation and appreciative of the great things that we have done in this country that have made our world a better place.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

A very nice letter from Mayor Sam Adams Giving Thanks. I hope he doesn't mind me poaching the graphic. It's so nice I thought it was worth posting.

I am thankful for family, friends, and our collective health. I am really grateful for so many things and hopeful to demonstrate my gratitude in my actions. I have been very busy but as the Mayor suggests, need to get into the spirit of giving. I believe it's really important to instill that in the kids and hoping to do that this season.

Off to Estacada to visit with family.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Snowmageddon 2010?

It's the week of Thanksgiving and we're getting ready for a Portland snow storm. I characterize it as a Portland storm because we're not anything like the east coast cities where you get a foot or two and then the City is a winter wonderland and there are enough snow plows that go about their business.
The City is rapidly preparing and I am on the Incident Command System for the City.

The Mayor has had two press conferences and is getting the word out to the public. Clearly, we're talking about it at the City and getting staff aware of the potential situation. We'll see how it unfolds. We may not have all of the facilities to deal with a major arctic blast like two years ago, but if we can do the best with what we have, I would hope that would be good enough with the citizens of our fair City.
You have to wonder if the expectations are high for such an event?  Last year we had a sneaky snow event after Christmas that resulted in a bad evening commute. It is just one day and how much do you invest in equipment when it's just one day. Well, with global warming (weirding) maybe you have to use the old Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared!

The kids are very excited about the potential for the weather.
Abby says: "I really really like it because it is very cold and we get to be very warm. It's fun to slip and slide on the ice. Two years ago, I found an ice chair in our yard."
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sellwood Moreland Traffic Signals

Monster March was held on Halloween day this year and it's always a great event. One of the most interesting parts of it is that we repurpose the streets for the mass of people. This year, the number of people marching continued to grow and some folks indicated that the parade was nearly 30 minutes long. The Llewellyn Foundation had some discussion on tying some of the business activity to the event. It would be great to have a street festival as a part of the day closing the street for a longer period.
The kids always have a great time and enjoy getting candy from the local vendors.
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Muddy Buddy - McIver Park

Susan and I decided to do the Muddy Buddy a bike-run relay race out at McIver Park.
McIver is out in Estacada, so we stayed the night at the Kishpaughs and then headed over for the EARLY morning start. It was on a Sunday and we had to be there by 7 AM.
We got information on the event from Groupon and it looked like fun when we watched the Youtube videos, so we thought it would be good to try it out and to expose the kids to such an event. Both the kids were interested in the idea and the registration for them was cheap, so why not!
The race was a 5.7 mile course that had the team split up into a runner and a cyclist. There was on bike, so if you weren't running, you were on the bike. There were five legs and obstacles in there as well. The final obstacle was the mud pit! A cold, wet, pond/swamp like creation that had flags that made it like a low clearance wading pool. This is Susan and I before the mud pit.
Sheila brought the kids down at a more reasonable hour to capture these photos.
Here we are after the mud pit. It was a cold morning, so it was a little bit of a shock to get in the water. With temperatures probably about 40 degrees, we were fortunate that we were so warm from the exercise that we could endure the watery mud.
In the mud pit, you definitely had to keep moving. Once when I stopped for a photo opportunity, I felt the mud sucking me in a little which actually gave me reason to pause when I really thought about my next move in the pit. Crawling through we were definitely mud soaked to our elbows and midsections and it was saturated because the pit wasn't particularly short. It was a great end of the course, we felt really fortunate they did not spring that on us earlier.
Abby was a little smarter when she did the course, she decided to walk through and pick up the flags and put it over her head as opposed to getting down on all fours. Picture of her forthcoming.
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Muddy Buddy - McIver Park

Abby emerges victorious from the mud pit. Her approach to walking through as opposed to crawling through left her slightly less muddy at the finish line. She still had her share of rocks in her shoes and was looking pretty cold at the finish line. Nothing a little sports drink and a cold shower couldn't fix.

Susan and I entering the mud pit. Part of the haze was from the heat exchange between the people that had just come off the course and the serious cold they were getting into as a part of the mud pit. It was quite a shock putting your first hand down in the water. You can see Susan with an open mouth in that picture.... yeah, that's not really a good idea when your partner is splashing mud next to you!

We both sort of slowed down through the pit to appreciate the experience. I think also they stopped your time prior to entry into the pit based on a beep that we heard when you're jumping through the path into the mud pit area.

It's important to take a moment to celebrate the mud, so we did and showed the kids it wasn't so bad.
All of our cajoling didn't persuade Amelia. She chose not to do the Mini Muddy Buddy with her sister. That was okay with us since we would have had to get back into it following freezing cold visit to the "shower" area. And by shower area I mean twenty hoses connected to one spigot at two separate locations. They actually ran out of water (from the truck) and had a delay of 15 minutes until the next one showed up. Lucky for us we were just going back to Susan's parents' house.

Another after shot from the mud pit. They gave you sport drinks as you emerged which resulted in some more mud ingestion.

All said, we were 11th in our age group out of 45 co-ed teams, so we felt like we didn't fair too poorly until we learned that we were 104th overall. I am not sure how many teams that was. It took us 50:29 to complete the course, the winning team which included an Ironman Triathaloner was 40:25. Guess we need to work on that running training!

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Bike + Walk Day at Llewellyn School

Abby's school had a fantastic Bike + Walk Day with more than 75% of the students walking, biking, or taking the bus to school that day. It was a great event as clearly evident by the bicycle racks where every one of them was full and double parked.
The City had recently installed 14 additional racks and even those were full. There were about 20 bikes locked up to trees, the fence, and elsewhere around the grounds in imagery that reminded me of train stations in Amsterdam. The scene outside of Abby's classroom (last year's) were crowded and it made for a challenging trip into the school because the kids were clanging into each other looking for spots to lock up. It's probably debateable of whether they need to lock up, yet it is a good habit for the kids to get in and with Abby it has made her a little more responsible and I think she likes the feeling of responsibility associated with this everyday task. Her dutch bike has the built in lock, so when she's ready to ride that beauty it will be great for her.
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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Saturday in Tokyo

A few more photos I thought would be fun to add to the blog included me in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. 45 stories up is where the observation deck is.
Did I mention it was Saturday? That's right sports fans, Beaver Game Day. I wasn't able to be in Corvallis with my beloved Orange and Black clad friends, so I was proud to wear my Beaver Believer T-Shirt around Tokyo. I think I caught some folks off guard with a bright orange shirt. It brought good luck, becuase OSU was victorious in their Pac-10 opener.
I was wearing headphones because I was looking for some sort of stimulation other than street noise as I walked through the City. I walked about 8 miles a day by my estimation, which was something I enjoyed.

These additional pictures were from various spots around the town. The first picture I enjoy becasue it has multiple levels of transit and traffic and the variable message sign that is displaying real time traffic information based on the sensors that they have deployed all throughout the City. More on that at my geeky Transportation blog.

This picture is particularly fun because you have folks fishing right next to the highway. Again, similar to the Willamette in Portland, but at a much larger scale of roadway and development surrounding this little body of water.
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Outside of the Tokyo Metropolitian Government Building is the Shinjuku Chuokoen park. There was a tremendous waterfall that greets you upon entering the park that was a nice backdrop for the bazaar of yard sale vendors that were carefully organized throughout the square. This makes sense because the Tokyoites don't have garages or yard with which to have sales, so why not all gather in one place and try to dump old clothes, or sell things that you have picked up along the way. There was a wide variety of things for sale and I picked up a few toys for the girls for a fraction of the price of something at a store. The TMG was fairly desserted, save the tour groups that were travelling up to the 45th floor to catch a bird's eye view of the bazaar in the square.

The selection of goods at the bazaar ranged from someone's personal belongings that were just extras to folks that looked like they were involved in estate sales. It was an interesting mix and not much different than what you would see in the U.S., yet again, this is much more organized becuase of the limited space that you have available in the big City.
Here's a few shots from the ground and then one from the tower.
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Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The Tokyo Metropolitan government has gotten into the skyscraper building excitement as they have their offices in a 50-some story building in Shinjuku area of the City.
The observation deck was free and came highly recommended by the Lonely Planet Guidebook that was my companion on this trip. The new Tokyo Tower is being built further off into the distance as seen in this picture. That building is supposed to be the tallest in Japan when it is completed.
The picture shows it's clearly dwarfing the other major buildings throughout the landscape. After 9/11, I am not sure I would want to be in the tallest building in the world on a daily basis. I am quite content with the third or fourth place one. There's the flip side to that which would suggest we need to build these...

The TMG as it is described on the sign out front has two towers. you can see the other on the left in this picture and the model in the next photo. The architecture of the building was unique with lots of different building facades that made it look like a computer chip of sorts (per Loneley Planet).

I'd like to know how much these buildings cost to construct as opposed to two smaller ones that would hold the same space. It seems like there's an environmental aspect to these buildings that at some height they become significantly harder to construct, but I am not an architect.
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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tokyo Tower

A mentioned the Tokyo Tower in a previous post, so this is mostly just for the pictures.
The structure of the building is impressive and probably more small members than the Eiffel Tower.
My host Mr. Tamoto and I took a cab from the Tokyo Traffic Management Center to turn quickly from business trip to tourist very quickly. It was a transition that I wasn't anticipating but Shigeshi suggested it as we were nearby and he thought it would be a good thing to visit. He said he has been two times before and I thought: why not!
An observation I will make about Japan is that there seems to be an inordinate amount of people in uniforms. It could be that I started my trip near the government sector of the City, but the Tokyo Tower had some snazzy uniforms for their guides in the Tower.

The Tower has a goofy looking mascot that I caught leaving the top of the Tower. I am not sure why the mascot is pink as opposed to the orange on the building.
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