Up For Air

Clouds as my plane approached Minneapolis last night (click to enlarge):

Home after a week in Milwaukee, working and sleeping in hotels.  I had packed my electric drill but, sadly, Erin Andrews was definitely not in either room next to me.  In fact, I believe that my hotel in Milwaukee is a ghetto for old white-guy road warriors.  I’ll spare you the video.

I did get out on my bike while I was there, as well as a couple of workouts at the nearby gym.  The weather was surprisingly temperate, actually about 10 degrees cooler than Seattle.

I haven’t posted it here (I have to keep telling myself that Facebook is not blogging), but I went with a group last Saturday to kayak in and around Deception Pass, at the north end of Whidbey Island.  It’s a narrow passage between two land masses, and builds a rousing current at each flood and ebb.  When the wind is blowing against the current, the result is standing waves that are sort of like riding a bronco.  We surfed the waves, and had some fun crossing eddylines.

A friend who decided not to paddle into the pass took my camera up on the bridge above the pass, and got some nice shots, including a series of me being rescued (I can’t yet to an eskimo roll) after a wave kicked my ass:

Here’s the GPS tale of the trip.  It’s amusing to click the forward arrow at the top and watch the marker trace our route, especially in the pass as I go around in circles.

In other news, the screen on my laptop has been experiencing blackouts.  I’d been thinking it was time for a new laptop anyway, and it might have picked up the vibes of betrayal.  When it first blacked out, I specked out a new Dell Inspiron 15, and was almost ready to type my credit card number when a guy I was working with that day said, “Whoa, read these reviews first!”  It was typical malcontent user-review fodder, but enough to make me wait a bit.

Then the guy suggested I look at a Macbook.  I’ve never considered Macs, simply because all the consulting work I do is with Windows software, but I was intrigued that it seemed, as I read about the Macbook, that the recent Macs can run Windows sessions pretty seamlessly.

So I went to the Apple Store to see one.  Even in jeans and Keens, I was the un-hippest person in the store.  I shook it off and allowed one of the swarm of eager salesfolk to give me the tour.  Reader, I was completely smitten.  Once I convinced the salesperson that I knew a little bit about computers, he passed me on to (God, and they do this with straight faces) one of the Genius Bar people.  This guy was able to show me the VMWare add-on that runs Windows in a concurrent session with the Mac OS, and I made it do a bunch of stuff.

In the meantime, of course, my laptop screen has been working, at least most of the time.  I have a quote in hand from The Genius, about $1k more than I was going to spend for the Dell, and my mouse finger is gettin’  itchy.  One more deep breath, and I’ll order one or the other sometime this weekend.


  1. LOVED the kayak photo sequence. You don’t look any the worse in the last picture–you’re wearing a drysuit? Great group of companions for the trip.

    When I hesitated in getting a new computer, mine fried before I moved. It was not a fun transition.

  2. Phil:

    Kathleen - yes, I have a Kokotat Goretex drysuit. They’re expensive, but cheaper than a funeral. The “rescue” really wasn’t an emergency - several others got kicked out of their boats. The goal for me is to perfect an eskimo roll so that I can right the boat without assistance.

    The rescue sequence is something we all have practiced - make sure the swimmer isn’t injured or daft, lift the boat across the rescuer’s deck to drain water out of the cockpit (saves a lot of time pumping it out with the bilge pumps that we all carry), then hold the boat while the swimmer lifts himself onto the rear deck and rotates his body smoothly into the cockpit. Doing it in rough water is a challenge. We could have executed a rough-water rescue, but my rescuer wanted to practice towing, so she clipped my boat and towed us to calmer water before executing the re-entry. I was getting a bit cold toward the end, as our water, even in hot weather, is a frigid 50-55 degrees.

    As for the laptop, I feel the screen dying, as well as my extended Dell warranty expiring, is an indication that it’s time to move to something newer. Also, I’ve become frustrated, a little bit, with the processing performance as I handle photo and video files of greater size and complexity. Hope I make the transition in time.

  3. May:

    A few months ago, I gave my 18-month old MacBook Pro away for free (to my Daddy) and got myself a Sony Vaio VGN. Windows is much more my environment and I love this small (but not too small) laptop.

  4. Thanks, Phil, fun to have the explanation. Good thing you’re in a dry suit! Before we left Florida, I’d begun to covet a semi-dry suit for winter diving but then it just seemed easier to wait for summer when the air was warm too. Of course, you might whine at the air temp.

    When I was a sailor we regularly practiced ‘man overboard’ maneuvers. You never know…