Going on a Digital Vacation

3 03 2009

As we enter our final week prior to our big family trip to Hawaii, I’ve been scurrying around trying to get things in place. Flight info, travel, hotel, the usual things right? Well, as a Dad, a geek and a budding amateur photographer, I’m also struggling with the questions of what gear do I take? This isn’t going to be a camping trip where electronics aren’t allowed. But, I still want to take the fewest things possible. Here, I present my vacation suggestions.

First, take your laptop. I recently upgraded my MacBook Pro to have 500 GB of drive space. That sounds like a lot, and normally it should be enough space. But, since I’m going to basically be on a mission of gathering digital artifacts, I’m going to need all the space I can get. I’m also bringing along an external drive with 250 GB of space. This drive is a normal laptop drive housed in a nice enclosure. In all, ~650GB of space should be enough. I like to be prepared. But, what is all this space for? Well…

Second, take a digital camera. I’m taking two. Recently, I upgraded my DSLR to the Canon Rebel XSi. I’ve got a few good lenses now, and I plan to set aside some time during this trip to just take some photographs. Hopefully the kids won’t mind. I’m also taking my new Canon SD880. The photos that come out of it are terrific for the size of the camera, and I’ll have it in my pocket, ready at a moment’s notice. Perfect for those times when you just don’t want to lug around an SLR and three different lenses. But these cameras only take a few GB of pictures, you say? Sure, but I use the DSLR in RAW mode, so I’m using 12 MB per picture (it’s a 12 megapixel camera). Ok, fine, but that still seems like overkill on the space…

Until you consider the digital camcorder. While my SD880 does have a movie mode, I also plan on packing my Sanyo HD1000. This high definition camcorder is capable of recording in 1080i resolution. I have a 4 GB card for it to help my be more mindful of my recording. I may yet still find an affordable 16 GB card for it. But, if you add up a few hours (over two weeks) of video, well, you can easily eat up the 250 GB drive alone.

Now, if you’ve read down to this point and started thinking “This dude is a total geek, and is crazy for trying to do all that to his family on vacation”, well, you’re right. I don’t plan on record every single second of my trip. However, there will be days where I will be focused on the pictures, and others where I will focus on the activity in front of me. But, it sure doesn’t hurt to bring along these little items just in case because they are just so small these days.

So, check back here, our vacation site, or on our photo page to see how our vacation is going!



Croquet Anyone?

2 03 2009

I always love an excuse to have pizza at Zach’s pizza in Tucson. We’ve been regular patrons of this place for nearly 10 years as it is located very near the University of Arizona campus. A few years ago, my good friend Tom took up croquet, and has encouraged us to give it a try on more than one occasion. Recently, however, it has been a regular post Zach’s pizza staple. This particular game was made particularly interesting because the course was very dry (it makes the ball go fast) and bumpy. The real tough part of staking out (winning the game) was that the stake was in the middle of an elevated mound, like the 18th hole in a mini golf game. The drama lasted longer than most of us had wished (we finished our game near midnight), but in the end, we all had a good time. I’m looking forward to the next match, Tom.

Little Gym Rat

16 02 2009
Little Gym Rat

Little Gym Rat

Our youngest daughter loves to play, as any toddler. I try to participate in her life despite my work schedule. The local Little Gym had a fun toddler class, and I decided to record one of our visits together. Annabelle revels in the full attention she receives from one of us at a time, but she should know, it’s just as fun from our side to focus on one child at a time as well.

Birthday Number Three

15 02 2009
Birthday Number 3

Birthday Number 3

“Annabelle, my younger daughter, recently celebrated her 3rd birthday. We live in a multicultural house, and thus had two different types of ways to celebrate. The first is the traditional Korean seaweed soup breakfast. The second is the traditional cake and ice cream party. We didn’t have a large party for Annabelle this time because she was a little sick the day before and didn’t want to get everyone else sick. She had a fun day either way.”

I Need to Unplug

29 01 2009


I’d consider myself fairly patched into the grid. You can search for me on Google, and get something fairly accurate. I do nearly everything online: search for restaurants, get maps of the world, watch TV shows. In fact, when we first moved into our house three years ago, the cable guy said he could connect our TV that night. We told him it was more important to connect the Internet. We didn’t get cable TV for another three days, and later cancelled it anyway.

There are many a days where I feel like a character from the Matrix: weaving my way in and out of weird places on the Internet, looking for the answer to the ultimate question. Of course, regular life isn’t as exciting as a multi-million dollar cult movie, but I still can’t help but feel the similarities. I’m sure I’m not alone. Most of my waking day is near a computer of some form or fashion. Thus is the world we have made for ourselves.

I find it difficult to remember a time when computers were still a hobby for most people, or when most technologies were based on analog foundations. Can you remember how it was in a time before cell phones? Life is more convenient in many cases now, but I still can’t help but wonder if this is the right direction for society to move towards.

I still love what I do, being in on the edge of technology and being there for the next big thing. But, working in a field that changes on almost a daily basis takes a toll. Add in other life interests and children, and there is not a whole lot of downtime factored in there. As such, it is easy for someone like me to become overloaded.

Many days, I find that my brain just can’t do everything it needs to do in order to grok the latest information of the day and deal with family issues and still try to work on things that I find personally enjoyable. I’ve had a backlog of personal todos for quite a while, but I find that I haven’t been able to make a significant dent in any of them.

This may sound like a problem whose solution is the GTD system. While I like the idea, I never really seem to modify the system to work for me. I think I’m not trying hard enough. Maybe I’m just too tired of looking for the next system that will work for me. Always looking for the next big thing is part of my job and career and life, and not doing that is tough.


I want to be more proactive in tackling things from here on out. But, still, I feel that I (not to mention my family) is in dire need of a true vacation. So, we’re going to head out to the Islands of Hawaii in the next couple of months. We’re going to do our share in helping the american economy as much as we can (it’s just one excuse we joke about). And while this trip was a spur of the moment decision, as the days approach, I find myself more and more excited. I feel like a kid on Christmas day; a feeling I don’t think I’ve allowed myself to have for many years. It feels good. But still, I wonder if these feelings arise because we’re going to travel to a whole new part of the world for us, or is it due to the simple fact that we’re going to Hawaii. The reason I wonder is because I really think I’m more excited to go just to be away from everything for two whole weeks. Instead of just taking a week off here or there, and taking care of things at home, really pack up, get out and don’t think about the grid for a while. That is something I haven’t done in a long time, and frankly, it’s probably going to feel like trying to break a bad habit cold turkey. In the long run, it will be better for my to unplug from the grid for a while and try to soak in some tropical nature. I can’t wait. And, neither can my family. Aloha!

Princesses must be housed accordingly

4 01 2009

Before Extreme Makeover

In the past three years since we’ve lived in our current house, I have managed a painting project, on average, twice per year. I have single-handedly added a bit of color to an otherwise drab-white color scheme. I tend to like wild, solid colors, but those don’t work to well for housing interiors sometimes. Besides, if had left the internals of the house plain white (or the default off white color from the builder) I would have gone mental a long time ago. Some will argue that I already have gone mental: that’s another topic. As far as the house painting goes, I was first tasked with painting the entire downstairs area, visible to visitors and guests. The entire painting job was done by me, myself and I with some help from my then pregnant wife. I managed to go from masking to painting in 24 hours. It was not pretty. I was not pretty after that. I didn’t think I would ever paint again, but, like all things, time tends to heal wounds, even psychologic wounds caused by bad planning.

The next rooms turned out better and better over time as I had gotten the hang of masking to save time later. So, while still not perfect, each painted room in the house looked a bit better than the previous one. The colors help set the tones for each room, and give a bit of variety to an otherwise common house. While most rooms are still in the “mostly done” stage, they are a lot more fun and colorful.


After Surgery

The last room that remained to be painted was the girl’s bedroom. We had high hopes in transforming their bedroom into something every girl would want. I wanted them to have a bedroom that they would look fondly on in their older years as a room they cherished. So far, it hasn’t happened for one reason or another. Whether it was because we (the parents) were busy with work, or just tired, I think mainly it was because I hadn’t spent the time to put a plan of action or a color scheme together that would be to our girl’s standards. (When did they get so picky?) I had planned on making them some sort of princess themed room, despite my best efforts to convince them otherwise. We ended up with some pretty nice colors from the official palette of Disney colors from the Home Depot. And so, yesterday afternoon, I set forth to complete a task that I had started three years ago: to paint the house for every member of the family. The journey has been long, and wrought with disappointments, trials and tribulations. Its also been really tiring. Every time I paint a room, I find more muscles I never knew I had. But, pain in temporary, and the rooms will at least be that way for a few years. I think next time they want to paint their rooms, they are going to have to help a lot more.

The Polar Express

18 12 2008

Nearly two weeks ago, my wife and I took the kids on a trip to the North Pole. Amazingly enough, there was a train that goes right near Santa’s village. The Polar Express was a fun ride for the kids, and they had a chance, ever so quickly, to see Santa Claus.20081208-IMG_2613

The trip to Williams, AZ was fairly quick from Phoenix. I guess that’s just me getting old. After three hours of driving, we arrived at our hotel only to be greeted with cold air and a long checkin line. Santa set up accommodations for us in his hotel, the Grand Canyon Inn. The checkin line went very quickly, as this seemed to be the normal daily routine.

After settling into the hotel, the kids, excited to see Santa again, put on their pajamas. The rule is, on The Polar Express, you can only see Santa in your pajamas. After dinner, we ran out in the chilly air to our seat on the Polar Express. The silly Dad, me, picked the wrong car to get on, so we had to run back up to the head of the train to the correct car. After a few minutes, the friendly helper elves gave us friendly instructions on being safe on the Polar Express.


And then we were off to the North Pole.

On the train, we were provided refreshing hot cocoa and a chocolate chip cookie. And, then we read the Polar Express story. And, it happened so quickly, that after a short while, we eventually made it to the North Pole. And Santa was there waiting for us. The girls we excited to see Santa. As the train turned around, Santa had disappeared. Then, the conductor told us that Santa was on the Train with us! Great!

Santa made his way to our car, seeing every girl and boy on the train and making sure they received their christmas present.

On the way home, we sang christmas carols, something I haven’t done in years. I only wish the cold air hadn’t had an effect on my throat.

I think next year, we’ll make reservations on the Polar Express again. Seeing the joy and excitement in the kids is what makes being a parent so fun. The girls, in their excitement do get a little wild, but the world melts away when you’re on the Polar Express. After all, Santa knows when you’ve been bad or good.