In July, my Mom and Dad made a trip to California to see us, the first time since we had moved to Santa Cruz. It worked out well – they had done an Alaskan cruise with my sisters in the weeks prior, visited Vancouver, and hit up Seattle before flying south to us. They got to be with us for almost a week and a half.
My Mom was so excited to see Luna, her most favorite dog in the world. For someone that was bitten by a neighborhood dog as a child and had to endure rabies shots, to see Mom play with and show such affection for Luna is truly remarkable.
Though we had to mostly work during daylight hours, they got to see the highlights. Our company’s offices in Scotts Valley, West Cliff and Steamer Lane, Downtown Santa Cruz, DeLaveaga Park, the Buttery, and even a Sunday champagne brunch on a boat charter cruise along the coast.
We also took a drive up along Highway 1 to Pescadero, where we picnicked with artichoke & green chile soup and sourbread bread from Duarte’s Tavern by the shore.
To top the trip off, it so happened that my friend Greg’s parents were visiting California too. So we got the two families together in downtown Santa Cruz for dinner one evening. Our parents hadn’t seen each other since our NC State graduation! John and Nancy have been so incredibly kind and supportive of me ever since becoming friends with Greg as freshmen in undergrad.
Another bit of excitement my parents got to experience while out here was me and Chrissy putting a bid on a house….and suddenly closing on the offer way faster than we expected. But more on that later….
This is amazing — The Bugle is one of my all time favorite podcasts, a sonically sublime satire of international news and politics. However, it has seen a publication decline ever since co-host John Oliver’s fame skyrocketed in recent years. Radiotopia is a collection of podcasts helmed by Roman Mars, host of the wonderful 99% Invisible, and now they united!
Radiotopia is proud to announce The Bugle as our 16th show. The podcast is the ultimate pan-global audio home of international satire. It’s a weekly eruption of comedic comment about the world’s most, and least, important news stories. The Bugle will relaunch with it’s new season today. Since 2007, the show has been co-hosted transatlantically by John … Continue reading Radiotopia Welcomes The Bugle (and The West Wing Weekly)!
At the start of June, I finally made it up to Portland, Oregon. The occasion was the bachelor party for my friend Paul, so we had a raucous great time. Brew Barge pedal boat along the river, brewery crawls galore, hiking through a cave near Mt. Saint Helens, etc.
Equally, if not more important, my relative Puja lives in Portland! She works as a process engineer at Intel, and after spending a couple days with the boys I got to spend time with her. She showed me sides of Portland I hadn’t seen, experienced some of her favorite food places, and took a leisurely drive out to the famous Multnomah Falls.
For our first wedding anniversary earlier this year, we returned to a place that we visited early in our relationship – the San Luis Obispo area. Just a few hours drive south of the Bay Area, this little pocket of California has rugged mountains, pretty beaches, and a cluster of neat towns.
We hiked Valencia Peak, enjoyed an oceanfront suite, discovered Chrissy’s new favorite restaurant (Ember, in Arroyo Grande), my new favorite brewery (BarrelHouse Brewing, in Paso Robles), and even squeezed in a four mile run along a coastal trail.
There’s a photo I saw just recently, though originally taken in 2014, that stopped me in my tracks:
As told at a blog called Reel Foto, this picture was taken by White House photographer Pete Souza during a 3D portrait project by the Smithsonian Museum. So many things instantly flashed across my mind when I saw this photo.
The perfect framing of Obama, the symmetry of the lights, and background.
The idea that Obama is having a modern, technologically advanced, digital “portrait” taken while seated before an old portrait painting of a sitting Abraham Lincoln — and the symbolism isn’t lost of it being Lincoln for our country’s first African American President.
The cold, blue light of LED labs illuminating the subject, in contrast to the antique candle holders on the ledge behind.
The juxtaposition of an array of harsh lights spread out before Obama, who is seated alone and vulnerable. It evokes to me the intense scrutiny that President faces, from all corners, and the loneliness that the burden of responsibility bears onto the person serving the office.
Obama’s back is to the camera, we cannot his face or read his emotion. To me this conveys the often inscrutable nature of all the decisions and actions of a modern Presidency.
It has easily become one of my favorite photos from Obama’s eight years in office.
Some of you might have noticed a cryptic error message recently when trying to access this site — sorry about that. I finally got it resolved. Hat tip to my friend Chintan who alerted me in the first place.
I’m going to be posting some quick back-dated updates over the next two weeks to get y’all caught up on the highlights. Lots of things have happened since the Kentucky Derby!
This year I got to experience my first Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. This was a wedding gift from Chrissy’s parents, and what a wonderful experience it was. The Derby is famous for its Southern fashion and the dazzling large hats for the ladies. I wanted to have some fun with it, so with Melih and Greg’s help I got a killer outfit together. Chrissy found the perfect dress and spruced up a hat with feathers. Turned out great:
Super fly, with the entire attire for just costing ~$120.
Churchill Downs, the racetrack located just south of downtown Louisville, is enormous. There’s the towering grand stand on one edge, bleachers on the other, and the infamous infield which has the feel of a bring-your-own-picnic music festival but where everyone is wearing Vineyard Vines. Our seats were in the grandstand, but the lowest level — literally eight feet from the track itself. My friend and old Apple colleague Nevin was also in town for the Derby and amazingly enough, I discovered was in our very section. So cool and random to reconnect with him two thousand miles from California.
Here’s the view of the track and the grandstand. The famous “fastest two minutes in sports” race of the Kentucky Derby itself is actually just one of the horse races run that day. There are a total of 14 races, starting at 10:30am and spaced out every 30-45minutes. The Derby is the 12th race of the day.
We got there right around eleven. The weather — Kentucky can be notoriously fickle in May — was cooperating. There was a two minute shower in the afternoon, but thanks to seeing the radar on our smartphones, we ducked inside the concourse and avoided getting wet.
Cyril and Chrissy taught me how to bet at the windows. The minimum bet is only $2. There’s a whole smorgasbord of bets you can make that involve picking horses to win (1st), show (2nd), or place (3rd). For example, you can place a $2 bet on horse #10 to win. If you bet on picking the 1st and 2nd place horses, it’s called an exacta. So $2 on Horse #10 to win and Horse #7 to show. You can hedge that bet by “boxing” it, to make it a box exacta. That makes either combination win — horse #10 and horse #7 finish in the top 2 spots, no matter the order. Picking the top 3 horses is a trifecta, and you can box that bet too.
So there we went, spending the day betting on the races, drinking mint juleps, and took a gander around the infield. I was only making 1 bet per race, and was losing on every single bet. Cyril, Chrissy, and their mom were all scoring wins.
The excitement for the Derby is palpable. People might have been trickling in all day, but by 6pm the entire grandstand is packed. The Derby is also famous for running 20 horses in the field. Most races of the day only involve 8 to 12 horses.
This year the big story was Nyquist (#13), who came into the race undefeated in eight starts, but still had doubters. By the start of the race, he was still the clear favorite at 2-1 odds. A lady in line whispered an inside scoop on a horse named Exaggerator (#11). When it came time to bet, I put $5 for Exaggerator to win, and $4 down on a box exacta for Nyquist and Exaggerator. The favorite has won the last three times at the Derby, so not making a bet at all on Nyquist would have been foolish.
The gates flew open and the horses stormed past us at the start, then make the first curve and enter the long stretch on the other side of the track. Here I pick them up as they make the final turn into the home stretch:
Nyquist won! Followed by Exaggerator who burst ahead of Gun Runner in the final stretch. Wait a minute — that means my box exacta bet won!! I showed Chrissy my ticket and her eyes went wide. She snatched that ticket out of my hand “for safe keeping”, and when she cashed it in, came back with $76. That $4 bet turned into $76! With my only win of the day, I managed to be the only part of the group to finish in the black.
Amazing people watching, great weather, fun entertainment, a snazzy outfit, and even made some money too. Not bad for my first Derby!
The Westside of Santa Cruz — the neighborhood we live in — just saw a location of the famous Verve coffeeshop open up in the recent weeks. The Verve is probably Santa Cruz’s most famous coffee; in addition to four locations in town, it also has expanded to three in Los Angeles and even one in Toyko.
The coffee is not the dark roast side of the spectrum that dominates chains like Starbucks and Peets. The Verve features more light roast that bring out the origin of the beans — the result is a more tangy, tart, exotic brew. They did a beautiful job on the interior of this Westside output, and I love the fact it’s only three blocks from our house!
It’s hard to convey just what a gorgeous day it was last Sunday in Santa Cruz. The kind of day that you want to (and can) spend every minute outside while being comfortable. After an early morning hike through the redwoods of Henry Cowell State Park, we took Luna to the lighthouse dog beach.
The surf was huge — easily crashing in at 12+ feet. And there were dozens of dogs of all breeds and sizes running around. One was a giant black mastiff, easily could have been a 150lb+ dog!
All I want to do is insert photos taken with my smartphone into this WordPress blog. But for some reason, this seemingly common act is extraordinarily difficult for WordPress to manage. When I go to Add Media in WordPress, I just want to be able to select photos from my phone to insert into a post.
First, the photos need to come off the phone. They all upload automatically to Google Photos, but Google Photos doesn’t provide a direct link that WordPress can use to insert. I found a plugin that can make the links work, but it adds an ugly large caption to the bottom of the image that isn’t easy to remove. I tried finding alternate plugins to insert photos from Google Photos, but they all require involved (and extremely poorly documented) steps like getting API keys and OAuth client IDs. After 30 minutes, I gave up.
I tried uploading the photos on the phone to Dropbox, and then see if I could get a plugin here to work. It was easier to link, but the plugin failed to load my images.
So finally I just upload the photos from Dropbox (via my laptop) straight into WordPress. But the photos are taken at 12 megapixels and are ~7MB each. WordPress shrinks down to just 342kB and lower resolution to fit it on a page, but it’s compression algorithm isn’t very good so the resulting image looks really bad.
I’m just sort of amazed that in the year 2016, it’s still not simple or intuitive to get high quality photos off a smartphone and into a WordPress post. Sigh.