Sunday, December 13, 2009

Closing off the charitable mailing labels and other mail to deceased parents

Ann's mom, whose mail is forwarded to our house, receives 1-2 charitable requests/day in the mail. These come from many groups including such well known organizations as the Disabled Veterans of American, CARE. We've tried to contact the organization to have these terminated and have not had success.

I was reading a direct mail publication from the USPS and saw an article on the Direct Marketing Association Deceased Do Not Contact registration service. They maintain a database of deceased people for the sole purpose of removing names and addresses from the marketing lists of nonprofit organizations and other direct mail groups.

We knew that Ann's mom received many such mailings from non-rpfit firms; she had a drawer full of return address labels that had been sent to her. Theough the DDNC list, we now know how to have these cease and save some trees.

Taking up a new cause in my blog - dealing with the affairs of a decesased parent

You've seen from my blog that my father and Ann's mother passed away in the past year. We've been learning many issues about settling estates and affairs after death, and I wanted to be sure to pass these along. One of the key reasons for this is that I don't see these described in the typical financial publications or materials that funeral homes, churches, or estate lawyers distribute.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Multiple Sclerosis Waves to Wine 2009

I have been a participant in the two day bike ride for Multiple Sclerosis since 2003. This was going to be my seventh year of riding. However, Ann and my lives as well as the the lives of our parents have been very complex since November 2008. Ann's mom was diagnosed with Leukemia in November in Michigan and died a month later; we cleaned out and sold her condominium by May 2009. My mother in Rochester had heart surgery but then had a stroke in surgical recovery; she has come back through rehab and is doing very well. My parents moved into a new senior community apartment in February, we cleaned out the house in May and are within a month of closing on the sale. On top of that, my father succumbed to prostate cancer in August after a six year successful fight; you can see details earlier in my blog. The most telling statistic is that I have traveled to Rochester, New York eight times in the past ten months; at times these trips were direct from Muskegon, Michigan. Needless to say, I have not been staying on top of all of my various activities and disciplines in life.
  • The items above are my reason for not sending a printed thank-you note after the ride. The ride was great: two beautiful cool (high in the 70s) days, with 100 miles the first day and 75 the second. With your help, I raised $12,000. This 6th ride for me and 25th for the Northern California MS chapter raised $1.62 million dollars for 2000 riders and 400 volunteers. Thank you all.
  • I have been working at staying in shape between trips to Rochester, but have been only marginally successful. I'd typically have done five or six hundred mile rides at this point in the year, and would be biking almost 200 miles/week. Instead, I have done two 63 mile rides and am just now working back up to 60 miles/ week.
  • I reviewed my chances of biking 175 or even 150 miles during the weekend of September 12 and 13 and realized that I was not going to succeed. After much deliberation, I decided to continue my participation, but in a different role this year. I will be taking Ann's car that has a four-bike rack on the back and will be a SAG wagon for both Saturday and Sunday of the event. I'll help people change tires and recover from other mechanical issues, ferry people who have to bail on the ride, provide water and food to the thirsty and hungry. I've used SAG services at various times on many other rides, so it will be fun to return the favor to other riders.
Even though I'm not riding myself, this is a charitable event. I'd appreciate your financial support for my efforts of the two days. You can contribute through the my personal page on the MS web site; if your company is like Adobe and does matching funds, please file for matching funds to make your contribution go further.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Charles Rudolph Myers III died on August 7, 2009

My father died peacfully on Friday, August 7, 2009 after a month-long difficult fight against prostate cancer. He'd been successfully fighting it for six years, but lost the battle this time.

Peter, my son, Dan, his brother, and I all collaborated on the following obituary.

Charles R. Myers III, 85, of Pittsford, New York, died peacefully Friday, August 7, 2009 at Rochester General Hospital due to complications from prostate cancer.

Charles, who was known to most as Chuck, was born to Charles R. Myers II and Myrtle (Kress) Myers in Passaic on February 11, 1924, and was a descendent of the Myers family that had built, owned and operated the Chelsea Hotel and the Breakers Hotel on the Atlantic City Boardwalk starting in the 1890s, as well as other enterprises including the Myers Union Market. He attended Haddonfield Memorial High School, Class of 1941, and graduated from Duke University with an Electrical Engineering degree in 1944 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Following graduation, he returned to New Jersey to work for RCA and RCA Service Company.

His work at RCA put him on the cutting edge of government technology usage. He installed the first radar system on Truman's presidential plane, the Independence, and developed ice detection technology at Point Barrow, Alaska. He placed the first television antenna on the Empire State Building, and engineered the television recording system for NASA's Ranger 7, 8 and 9 missions. His first day on the job at RCA Service Company, he met his future wife, Rita Belamarich, the secretary who would type his reports from Alaska; they married in 1952.

In 1965, Chuck's career took him and his family to Rochester, New York, where he worked at Kodak's Research Lab. While in Rochester, he was active with the Boy Scouts as a senior leader. Chuck retired in 1989, and traveled extensively with Rita, visiting places such as Germany, Russia, China, Egypt and Thailand.

Chuck is survived by his wife, Rita; his brother, Daniel W. Myers II of Harvey Cedars and Cherry Hill, New Jersey; his children, Charles R. (Ann) Myers IV of Los Gatos, California, and Lisa (James) Hand of Brighton, New York; and his grandchildren, Peter and Claire Myers and Taryn Hand. He is preceded in death by his sister, Gretchen Barstar Reid.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 22, at 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church in Rochester. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Pluta Cancer Center of Rochester. Arrangements by Anthony Funeral Chapel in Brighton.

You can find links to the obituaries and their various guestbooks at
Anthony Funeral Chapel
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
New Jersey Courier Post
Press of Atlantic City

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Progress at last on Umunhum

You've probably seen my posts in the past about the abandoned Air Force base in the Santa Cruz mountains. There was some great news recently, where the House of Representatives adopted a bill that would give $4M of the estimated $11M to clean up the base. The remaining $7M would be filled through local and private funding. You can read more about this at the Mercury News and Mike Honda's website (you'll need to search down for "Almaden Air Force Station Environmental Assessment and Remediation"). This appropriation will be considered in the Senate in September: a good time to write to Senators Boxer and Feinstein.

The Open Space District has a web page page about "Mt. Umunhum Clean Up and Restoration", complete with a short (5 minute) video about the base and a link for donations. One small plug is that Peter Myers, my son, helped David put this video together when Peter was working as a One-to-one instructor at the Los Gatos Apple store.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The fate of my father's PDP-11

One of the most common questions I received after my cleanup post of a few weeks ago was "I hope you kept the PDP-11." The simple answer is that I not only kept it, but immortalized it.
I started on this project in February as I was moving my parents from their house to Cloverwood. We began that week with the side goal of cleaning some of the items out of the house; that thought was quickly abandoned as we realized the level of effort that would be required. But we did bring the MINC-11 computer up from the basement, where it had been sitting since my father retired 20 years ago. I realized that an old PDP-11 was too good to lose, so I took the main boards from it: the CPU and the 64K memory board. My plan was to take these back to California, have these framed and then to present these to my father in a later trip.

Then, on one of my last days in Rochester in February, I happened to be at Pittsford Plaza and saw a Great Frameup store. It occurred to me that it would be easier to frame the two boards in Rochester... they did not need to transit to Caliifornia. So I dropped them off at the store, and told them that I'd email them some content to be engraved onto a plaque on the picture. So I too a picture of the computer and went back to California.

Once I returned home, I realized that a gold-colored plastic plate saying "MINC-11" would not have the same impact as the nameplate from the computer. So I asked my sister and her husband to take this off and take it to the store. Little did I appreciate that the nameplate was etched into the grill that was the full height of the unit (see the picture at the top of the blog): it was more than just the nameplate. Lisa dropped this off at the store, which called me to say "sorry... we can't handle this large a piece and don't have the tools to cut it." I resolved to deal with this when in Rochester in May for the cleanup.

I stopped into the store in May and appreciated the difficulty of the problem; the metal was almost 1/4 inch thick aluminum. A simple hacksaw would not do the job. But fate came to my rescue. My father had an oxyacetylene torch and arc welder that we planned to donate to the local vocational high school where he learned to weld. A metal shop would probaby have the tools I needed. And they did: a band saw with a 48 inch arm on it, grinders, etc. The teacher was more than happy to oblige and trimmed the grill from the nameplate.

From there, it was easy. I dropped the nameplate off at the store and they finished the job within 24 hours. We presented this to my dad on our last night in Rochester; he beamed with delight in the best smile I have seen from him in years. We came up with a way to honor some of the valuable equipment he preserved without taking up floorspace. The LSI-11/2 16-bit CPU board (which would count as .1 MIP I would guess) and the 64K memory board are now immortalized on the wall of my fathers room. Early computing lives on, although I do have problems think of computers whose architecture came out when I was in high school as "early computing." The 8080 and 8086 were brand new as this PDP-11 architecture was mature.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

My parent's house is on the market

45 Milford Road house for saleThe cleanup is now complete. The legion of boxes are on their way to California. Lisa worked with landscapers, painters, handymen and the like and finished the work off to put the house in shape to be shown. The results can be see on the Nothnagle Realty site. Our specific broker at Nothnagle is Garry Britton; he's been wonderful.

The house looks great. Go to the listing to find more pictures. Now someone needs to find it and want to turn it into their own. In case the listing at Nothnagle is not available any longer, I have captured the current listing page into pdf.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Parental House Cleanup

The last two weeks have been physically and emotionally draining. Ann and I started with four days in Muskegon, Michigan at her mother's condominium. The good news is that it sold within two weeks of when we put it on the market. The bad news was that the remaining items in the house needed to be cleaned out. We donated to Goodwill, friends, and even the desk clerk at the Hampton Inn we were staying with. A few bits of furniture even made it back to Chicago for Claire. It was a few long days of work; at least the final episode of Lost gave a bit of a break.

After we finished in Muskegon, we went to Rochester to my parents house. We moved them out of the house to a senior living apartment in February. However, this left a full basement and large attic full of stuff; I did not take pictures of this, as pictures did not do justice to it. This trip was to move the rest of the stuff out of the house. I knew that there was a lot in the house... my father had old PDP-11 computers (a LSI-11/2-based MINC-11), typewriters, bicycles from when I was a teenager, etc.

There was also a loft above the garage; here are a few pictures. Note that the valance in front of the 30 gallon drums (third picture) came with the house when we moved there in 1965 and were still around the house. The black bicycle in the foreground in the last picture was the one that I used to deliver newspapers for years as a teenager.

The task was enormous. Only statistics can tell the story, so here they are:
  • Six family members working from Sunday to Saturday, as well as some bits of cleanup afterwards. Ann and I worked the entire time, while Jim, Taryn, Lisa and Claire worked as much as they could around paying jobs and family commitments - I would estimate that we had over three hundred hours of work among us.
  • 8 movers, 9 hours to haul things to the first floor or dumpster
  • One full 30 cubic yard dumpster, and then a second time half full - there was a total of 15 tons of material. This was a massive dumpster. Lest you think that we had to toss the material over the walls, there was a large door at the end (near the garage) and you could walk into the dumpster so that it could be filled to the brim.
  • 200 gallons household hazardous waste. This included some mystery chemicals and a few dozen quarts of oil; they were old enough that much of the oil had leeched from the cans and permeated the cardboard box. There were even 5 gallon drums of Kroil Much of it was paint, paint thinner, oil paint, shellac, etc.; I tried to find good homes for much of this, but there were no takers.
  • Ten boxes of books given to the library.
  • Significant amounts of furniture given to the Salvation Army (a small bit is at a local consignment shop, Windsor Cottage. This included a nice pine/cedar Lane armoire there as well as a china/curio cabinet.
  • My parents first chambers range which I remember from my childhood, made available for sale; however, there were no takers so it went off for the metal value. It was heavy iron.
  • Oldest National Geographic found - January 1954; my parents bought a lifetime subscription to National Geographic for my first Christmas. This magazine was still in the attic.
  • One oxyacetylene torch and one electric arc welder, eyeshields, gloves, given to BOCES, the local vocational high school where my dad learned to weld post-retirement.
  • Four 22 caliber rifles and one Ithaca pump 12 gauge shotgun - these were sold, including the rifle that my father used for target practice during WW II
  • Significant amounts of metal recycling, including the rear axle and transmission assembly from a 1968 VW 1600, the transmission from a 1972 Chevy Vega, steering columns, car windows, VW fenders. There were hubcaps from many cars, including the Buick Special that was implicated in my first speeding ticket.
  • Significant quantities of screws and nails, masonry tools, electrical junction boxes and fixtures, the acetylene torch, and some extra hammers and a few other tools to Habitat for Humanity Restore
  • Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs from 1971-1978
  • Punchcard desks for some of the programs I wrote on an IBM 1130 during my sophomore year of high school
  • And I was still finding notes from college classes in boxes in the attic.

Comments on process: The family worked on things Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We tried to go through books and boxes to find items of value. There were a clear set of zones in the house, and we directed the movers to deposit material in the following places.:
  • Living room: electronics recycling and Salvation army
  • Garage: Household hazardous waste
  • Master bedroom: items destined for California
  • Lisa bedroom: books and memories to be sorted through before determining destination, shredding, potentially valuable books (whether monetary or sentimental value)
Ann and Lisa sorted through the kitchen as well as some of the desks. I got the task of sorting through the books, papers, electronics, and tools of my father's. Let's just say that he had a lot of stuff to sort through.

The sorting process was interesting. I started slowly on Sunday and had this down to a science by Wednesday. If there was a box of magazines or papers, I had to go through them document by document; gems like my father's high school yearbook were stuffed in a box of old National Geographics. By the time we got to Wednesday with the movers present to haul, I'd look at a box, pull all of the tools and electronics and send them to the California. I knew that I'd have to sort them later, but did not have the time to do that in Rochester. The same was true with loose family pictures, slides, and super 8 movies; they all went in boxes and are being sent to California. I'll sort through them at home, and then digitize all of the remaining material to go into iPhoto or make DVDs from it; at least this way the content can be shared between my sister and I and the three grandchildren. But I will have three torque wrenches, a new small workbench with a drill press, bench grinder, and the vise that I grew up with and perfected many a pinewood derby car. It will be great to have my father's tools and to share them with my son and daughter. But I am far from certain that the three of us will ever be able to use 180 hacksaw blades that my father had on a shelf. I would have liked to spend more time, go into material in detail, send less to California, sell more on ebay, and the like. But I've gone negative on vacation time and thought that the most important task was to get the house on the market; it had to be cleared before this could be done. There are 80 book boxes, 110 pieces, being sent from Rochester to California; I have no idea where they will go when they arrive.

We did have some fun in this. Claire, our recently Masters degree graduated soprano did a small recital at Cloverwood on Friday for my parents and other residents. She and Tatiana, her pianist, were wonderful.

We did have a family dinner on Saturday night after people cleaned up from a day of final sorting and boxing. From left to right, are me, Lisa, grandchildren Taryn and Claire, spouses Jim and Ann, and my parents Chuck and Rita. It was great to have this much of the family together. The only person missing was Peter, who is down in Guatemala learning Spanish; he participated in the move in February. And I am now looking forward to a trip to Rochester when I get to see my parents rather than spending time with all their stuff.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blogging again after a long silence

I've been pretty quiet with blogging of late. I'd like to start again by blogging my excuse, which spanned from beginning of November to the end of May. Ann and I have been dealing with parental issues left and right. The easiest way to describe my state is my Adobe vacation hour balance: -23 hours. I've taken so much time off with medical procedure support in November, memorial services in December, moving, dealing with doctors, pharmacies, assisted living, and the other details of the affairs of others. I'm grateful to Adobe for a policy that allows vacation exceptions like this, as well as forbearance of my managers in people in my marketing group for my absence.

But we've made significant progress. Ann, sister Paula, cousin Jane, daughter Claire and I have spent time at Ann's mother's condominium in Muskegon to prepare it to be put on the market. Wallpaper was stripped, walls painted, electrical fixtures updated, belongings donated, etc.; I am particularly proud of changing an exterior door lock set in April, since I was unaware that I had this degree of mechanical skill. In the end, the condo looked wonderful when we put it on the market at the end of April. And we discovered that property that is in move-in condition and priced well does sell, even in the current market; the condo was under contract within two weeks; it closed earlier this week. And this is even more phenomenal as there were 3 other identical units within 1/10 mile. This is part luck, part preparation, part pricing, and part having a wonderful hard working realtor like Reggie Balcom.

We've had two shipments of goods and furniture from Muskegon. The first went to Ann's sister, Paula, who pciked up some great furniture and artwork. And, after our final cleanup in mid-May, the first week of our two week parental trip, we have a shipment of the remaining boxes, photo albums, artwork, etc. coming to California. It should arrive next week so we'll be spending some time preparing space in the garage.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mt. Umunhum in the news; Time for Action

I've had a love affair with Mt. Umunhum since I moved to the bay area. I drove up the road to the base on the day I declared my heart healed after my heart attack 10 years ago. I rode my mountain bike from Los Gatos to the last gate before the road is closed to the public; I marveled at the incredible views from below the summit. And, as you may have seen, I have blogged on this topic in February 2008 and again in October 2008 and spoken to Mike Honda during my son's campaign for Congress; this was one of the conversation topics as I sat next to Mike on a flight from San Jose to Washington last year.

I was pleased to see a 5x7 photo of Mike Honda on Mt. Umunhum on front page of the local section of the Mercury News this weekend. It was also covered in the San Jose Mercury News editorial page on Sunday. I'd suggest that you read these two articles and then send email to or call your representative or senator as well as our governor. Mike can use your help as he tries to get this cold war legacy addressed and the beautiful park returned to the people.

If you're not familiar with the area, here's a small map from the Mercury News article.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

2008 is not a good year for Mothers

For those of you that know me, you're already aware of the interesting family life I have had starting in November. The short version of it is that my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia and she died at the end of November, just after her 86th birthday; her daughters were there with her and she had a beautiful memorial service a few weeks later. Many people have said that they would like to go quickly the way that she did.

The drama on my side of the family was even more interesting. My mom was diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis earlier this year. She was planning on having surgery in 2009, but events moved the schedule up to November 11, Mom had a stroke the next day, and has spent more time recovering from the stroke and hospitalization than the heart surgery. She has recovered well, moving from Intensive Care to Cardiac Care to Acute Rehab at Rochester General and finally been reunited with my dad in an assisted living facility in Penfield. She is doing great at this point, and they are looking forward to moving from their house to Cloverwood, a retirement independent living complex in the adjacent town.

Mom had been discussing relocating to Cloverwood for over a year. But the events of the stroke and uncertainty of her recovery, as well as the fact that does have a few minor deficits, caused the timeframe to move up. They are planning on making their move at the end of February.

I'm looking forward to 2009 being an easier year.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bicycling becomes a family activity

My blog and website attest to the fact that I have become a serious cyclist in the past nine years. I even ride my bike to work a couple days a week. But this year I brought my son, Peter, into the world of cycling. We gave him a basic bicycle for his birthday; he commutes to work on it a few times weekly.

But this Sunday was special. We did our first century together this Sunday, even if it was only 100 kilometers. It was the Surf City Century in Santa Cruz (Aptos) that wove through redwood canyons, eucalyptus groves, strawberries fields (they did seem to go on forever), raspberries fields, and apple orchards to the south. The temperature was in the mid 70s and it was a beautiful day. We had a great time, and it was wonderful to hear Peter say "I'm doing this ride with my dad" to various people at rest stops.

I offered that he could do 100 miles with me next weekend, but he declined, somewhat to sleep well tonight and to recover tomorrow. But I think we're both proud of each other.

Mount Umunhum Revisited

I wrote a long blog about the abandoned Air Force base on Mount Umunhum a few months ago. It came back into the news again this week, with another visit of veterans and family to the dilapidated base, as reported in the Mercury news, complete with photos.

Also, the article pointed to an website run by Basim Jaber which contains pictures from both reunion tours.

The point of this article is that it is that we still need to pressure the Defense department to clean up this site and open it to the public. Below is a quote from the Mercury News Article on October 5, 1998.

"In 1986, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, a public agency based in Los Altos, purchased the summit for $260,000. But it has remained off limits because its 84 abandoned buildings are a crumbling ghost town contaminated with asbestos and lead paint. They must be demolished and hauled away. The district patrols the site, and trespassers can face fines of $300 or more.

For 22 years the district has insisted that the Defense Department pay for a cleanup. But the Pentagon has done little, largely because the base is in a remote location, with little political pressure.

"We want the Defense Department to clean it up as soon as possible so people can enjoy this inspiring place. This is one of the most scenic views in the Bay Area," said Rudy Jurgensen, a spokesman for the open space district.

Rather than clean the site up and repave the road itself — a job now it now estimates will cost $11 million — the district has spent its money, raised from property taxes on San Mateo and Santa Clara county residents, buying land. It has spent $52 million buying up 17,400 acres around Mount Umunhum — an area 17 times the size of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco — and named the area Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve.

In 2002, U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, announced he would push for federal funding to clean up the site and open it to the public, creating a South Bay park on par with Mount Tamalpais in Marin County or Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County. But he's had no luck. Honda's request for $4 million this year died in committee. He is now working to organize a meeting with Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and Anna Eshoo, D-San Mateo, and John Paul Woodley, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works."

Let's see what we can do to pressure our government to take action on this cold war remnant.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Time to consider the VP choices and to watch the debate Thursday

I rarely give strong consideration to the vice presidential candidate in my choice of a president. And anyone that knows me has heard my opinion that Joe Biden is a seasoned and knowledgeable foreign policy expert and trusted senator. I've also had my concerns about McCain's choice of Palin.

Fareed Zakaria, who I watch on CNN, wrote an article in Newsweek on McCain's choice of Palin. A summary exists on CNN.COM. I saw the sketch on Saturday Night Live and initially found it humorous. However, her rambling answers near the end of the sketch were not gross exaggerations.

Here are a few text bits of the real interview. The videos of the Katie Couric interviews can be found on YouTube.

When Katie Couric asked how living in the state closest to Russia gave her foreign-policy experience, Palin responded thus: "It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where—where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to—to our state."

COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

If you don't believe the text, watch this interview on Youtube; this interchange starts at 1:45.

Watch the interviews and decide for youself. And then watch the debates on Thursday at 9 PM EDT.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Waves to Wine 2008 MS ride recap

The Waves to Wine ride was last weekend, and it was great. I'd like to give a few statistics and then share some stories.

The ride was a success for the MS Society. They had over 2000 riders, and, as of the evening of September 13, had raised 1.325M towards their 1.5M goal; they are sure that they will reach their goal, especially as they had raised 1.41M as I write this on September 21. I've reached my fundraising goal of $12K, especially once Adobe matching funds come through. Thank you all for your support.

I rode 178.6 miles over the two days. The first day was more challenging than past years, as they added a real century (Pt. Reyes Station to Petaluma, and then back on Marshall Petaluma Road). It was a beautiful day, cool (never over 80) with a light breeze. It was a overcast until around 11:00 each day, which cut down on scenic pictures but made the day easier also. I took the trip easier than I normally do, as I only had pitching my tent awaiting me at the end of the day. I did later learn that there was Fat Tire beer and Dry Creek Zinfandel awaiting me also; If I had known this I would probably have lingered less at the rest stops.

A key metric for the first day is that I reached the second rest stop at 2 hours and 20 minutes - 14 minutes faster than I did last year. I take this as a health metric and was quite happy with this. I felt good for the rest of the ride, although, as people at Adobe can tell you, I was a bit sore for a few days afterwards.

The second day was equally wonderful. It was an easy riding day with no significant hills, cool weather, and a grape harvest in progress to add a perfumed scent to the air.

I've placed a photo album of various shots from both days of the trip up on my website.

I'll send out a printed newsletter when all the results are in a month from now. But I did want to give you an early synopsis of the weekend and to thank you again for your support.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The delights of monitoring SPAM

I receive over 500 SPAM messages a day, most caught by Postini. I do look on occasion to see if there are any false positives.

But the message that came to me today, pointing to a server in Hungary to watch the video (no, I did not take the link) was the most creative I have seen in a while.

The sender was (suspect at best), but the title "Sarah Jessica Parker Arrested For Gross Negligee" took the award of the most humorous SPAM title yet.

It brings a chuckle to an otherwise quiet day.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Olympic Fever

I've got Olympic Fever of two kinds. Take your choice on the difference. Past or present. Winter or Summer. In the USA or in China.

On the first, I'm in Lake Placid right now, home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. We spent today at the ski jump (those people are insane to jump into the air like that, as was more apparent as I stood at the base of the jump where they took off for the distance) and the bobsled run. we went past the arena where the US beat the Soviets with "the Dream Team." But it all got me thinking about the current Olympic fever with Beijing, which starts very soon.

I was in Beijing in April of this year for a W3C meeting which was held near the Olympic area; it was also near the convention center, which got us the low hotel rates (<$100/night). You'll soon being seeing many pictures of a glowing clear-skied (hopefully) Olympic area, but I wanted to show what it was like 3.5 months before the opening day. This is not a criticism of China, as I am sure that your could have seen pictures like this for Athens or even Los Angeles. I was impressed by the massive new Beijing airport, but that faded fast as I left the airport for a cab to my hotel. My eyes began to tear and my throat tightened from the air. It was a combination of the worst smog I ever saw in Los Angeles (brown air that obscured all) with the dust and smoke particulates of Delhi. In other words, it was awful. The first picture is taken from my hotel room at around 4:00 on the Saturday that arrived. There was not a cloud in the sky; all of the haze that you see is pollution. Note that NBC's Olympic site does report that blue skies have appeared at last. Note that you can skip through all of this "how it looked in April" and just see the present on NBC's site.

The weather did take a few turns from there. Sunday was rainy (terrible for tourism, but it cleaned the air). These two pictures were from the street on that Sunday. The Olympic Stadium (aka the birds nest) was beautiful. At night it would glow red from the inside and was quite striking. Even through the rain, you can see the tower on the left with the multistory TV screen. The rain persisted for the rest of the day. I elected to visit the Forbidden City and see something incredible in person that was also no longer under construction.

A few days later the weather became more clear and the skies blue. It was hard to believe that it was the same city that had been so polluted a few days earlier. I took a few pictures from the window of my hotel room so that you could get a better idea. The tower that is shaped like an olympic torch with the four-story-tall television screen and the adjoining housing that had mini-screens (only two stories tall) was the neatest. In that picture you can see much of the Olympic grounds and the acquatic center on the right. The other pictures are of other Olympic venues across the ring road and the birds nest with the torch tower behind it on the left. My only regret was that the area was blocked off from public access, unless you were attending one of the qualifying events that they held in one of the venues; that was how people entered the Olympic grounds on that rainy Sunday.

My last view of the Olympic area was viewed from my cab as I went to the Adobe office on Wednesday and Thursday. There were good views of the Olympic area, still under construction from the road. In fact, many people walked down the access road parallel to the highway to get a better view of the area. While it looked much better with blue sky, they obviously had more construction and much more landscaping to do.

I can't wait to see how all of this looks when it is done.