Love being able to relax and just spend some quality time with the family for once. Had a blast all weekend long and even spent a night out with just Rachel, which is I think is important for us to do now and then.
Since we were only in the park for a few days, we wanted to see and learn as much as possible. What better way than a guided tour through the entire park on one of the old Red Buses?
We struck out at 8:30 on the Crown of the Continent Tour with our guide Matt. Matt was a nice guy who introduced himself as someone who’d grown up his whole life wishing he had a place in the backwoods where he couldn’t be bothered. He told us that once he saved enough money that’s exactly what he did. His place is 8 miles from the nearest telephone, 4 miles from the nearest neighbor in the winter and 1 mile in the summer. He parks his truck and ski’s 2 miles into his house in the winter time because that’s as far as it’s plowed. He has a generator for power but no TV, no internet and no phone. I’m sure I could live that way if I had to, but I’m not sure I’d want to. Still, it has a certain appeal. I could probably write a whole post just on Matt so we’ll stop there. There is an funny story involving Laura Bush though so maybe I’ll write that up some day.
The tour took us over the going to the sun road and back into Many Glacier Hotel for lunch. It was amazing, and informative and the going to the sun road takes you through some of the most breathtaking scenery I’ve ever seen. We saw 9 of the park’s 27 Glaciers from the bus and countless Perennial Snow Fields. Matt informed us that a glacier has 3 requirements.
It must have a surface area greater than 25 acres
It must be greater than 100ft thick
It must be moving
If a chunk of ice meats some but not all of these requirements it’s considered a perennial snow field. Yes, perennial because it comes back (or remains) every year just like your flowers. Speaking of flowers, we got a glimpse of some of the alpine wildflowers while stopped at Logan’s Pass and they’re amazing!
On our way back through we stopped at a little parking lot just past Logan’s pass where the Mountain Goats hang out. They were everywhere. In the parking lot, on the walkways, on the rocks nearby, in the trees nearby, hanging out on the man made walls… literally everywhere.
The downside to making land like this accessible to the masses is you begin to affect the wildlife. The goats are no exception. Anti-Freeze is now a delicacy in their diet. Don’t worry though, they can’t ingest enough of it to hurt them, remember… they’re hard core. They live above 7,000ft 365 days a year, avalanche’s and all.
After the tour we cooked some hot dogs and pasta to end the night on a good note (full) and drifted off to sleep.
You can always tell its fall again when my department organizes the annual Maize Maze team building exercise. This year is no different and Friday my team (consisting of myself, Mike and Matt) came in 3rd overall and 2nd among those obtaining all pieces to the map.
While we were at the Farm we had to give the coops something to do and we arrive at the ‘Cool Bus’ Ryan and Matt are up front with our coops, Anne, Andrew and Matt taking the backseats.
Saturday we went to Grandpa Heath’s 80th Birthday surprise party. It was awesome because he has relatives all over the country who were able to make it, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Massachusetts and even Hawaii. It’s very rare that they all get together in one place and its even more rare that he doesn’t know its happening. You could see the joy on his face as he entered the door and saw all these family members from distance places. I’ve met most of the immediate family (Rachel’s uncles and aunts) but there were several that I hadn’t and lots of cousins that I had not met before.
I had the chance to meet Rachel’s uncle Brian, for the first time, who lives in Texas with his wife Carolyn and daughter Kristin. I’m very glad I did, They’re neat people and we got to spend even more time with them on Sunday. Brian owns a paint contracting business near Dallas/Ft Worth. I offered to let him stay busy painting our dining room while they were in town but he declined. C’mon man we’re family now!
I had the pleasure of meeting two more distant relatives, Rachel’s father’s nephews, Matt and Dan. Matt has a house in Hawaii and offered to let us stay (although he assured us he would not guide us around, he draws the line there) the next time we go. That’s fine Matt, we’ll be happy to hire a tour guide with the money we saved staying with you! As it turns out Dan is very much into Genealogy and we got talking about Rachel’s family tree. Apparently he has traced their tree back to a revolutionary war soldier. That means Rachel can join the daughters of the revolution! Not quite sure what that gets her besides a plaque and probably a lot of junk mail though… We traded E-mail addresses and Dan agreed to send us the tree, I agreed to get it into Geni which I’m trying to get all our family to use and I strongly recommend it for those of you who haven’t yet.
I was also able to see some relatives whom I’d met before but hadn’t seen in a while. Among these was Rachel’s cousin Becky, who was pregnant with her second child, Cheyenne, the last time I had met her. This time around she had the third child, Desmond, with her. They were very energetic which meant they probably slept like a log that night and I’m sure Becky is thankful for that.
Towards the end of the day Grandpa Heath opened all of his wonderful gifts and Matt, whom I had met earlier, presented Him with an American Flag which had been ceremoniously flown over the USS Arizona memorial in his name on September 11, 2007. It also came with a plaque with a military seal providing documentation that it was indeed flown over the memorial in his name at the time and date noted. It was all very moving because Grandpa Heath long ago served in the Navy during World War II until his responsibilities at home had called him back. The USS Arizona memorial had always held a special place in his heart but he hasn’t yet had the chance to visit it. I’m sure the flag and plaque will be long remembered by him as well as the rest of his family who was there to witness the gift.
A while back I posted about feed 43 and Feed Rinse. Since that time I’ve become even more of a feed junkie. I find not having to go searching for information a monumental time saver, and as such I’ve let my subscriptions grow to well over 200. Also I’d say I’ve become much more informed which may or may not turn out to be a good thing. My weapon of choice is still Google Reader and while talking with my friend Matt I discovered he has been using bloglines. We talked for a bit about the different features and I came to realize Google Reader is missing a few really nice things. Since our brief chat I’ve found several new feed tools to enhance my tool set. There are three features which Matt takes advantage of which I was unaware existed.
E-mail feeds. Use this feature to sign up for a newsletter which you want to receive but prefer to read in a feed format rather than E-mail. It can also be used for any site which you don’t want to have your email address. This is especially handy for those sites which block the ‘+’ operator in your E-mail address (which I wrote about here).
Tracking Shipments. Create a feed that directly links to your tracking number so you can keep ‘track’ of where it is and what it’s doing.
Public feed sharing. Let people know what you’re reading and where. I recently wrote about using the shared items feature on Google Reader but that was just for individual items. This brings it to a whole new level. It can also be used to share your blogroll so you can provide an automatic blogroll list via feed.
Let me first tackle #1. A few days ago I discovered Mail Bucket. This handy website will create a feed out of any email address you send it. They allow dots, dashes etc. All you need to do is have E-mails sent to email@example.com and the feed for that E-mail address instantly available at mailbucket.org/blurb.xml. Remember though, this is publicly available so make sure no sensitive E-mails are being sent there.
#2. Matt happened across Power Sellers Unite. This site allows you to create a feed from a UPS or USPS tracking number. This is something I had previously attempted to find but other sites had been blocked by UPS. Let’s hope this one doesn’t anytime soon.
#3. This one turned out to be much easier than I had thought. As it turns out you can make any folder in Google Reader public. Thanks to Google Reader’s tagging/folder system this turns out wonderfully as any feed can exist in more than one folder. Therefor you can keep them categorized as you wish, and simply add a feed to the ‘public’ folder (or in my case use the blogroll tag).
Another helpful site I happened across recently that can help you Up Your (feed) Arsenal is Yahoo Pipes. This fancy little site might one day replace both Feed 43 and Feed Rinse and numerous others but for now it’s just a site to keep an eye on.
Last night I went saw Blades Of Glory with some friends. I give it a 7/10. Lots of good quotes. Some of my favorites:
– you put the bone in zamboni
– Work the Google on the Internet Machine
– Mind-bottling. Like your mind is trapped in a bottle
– It makes my hair shine like the Belt of Orion
Afterward we went downtown. I read this on the wall at O’Callaghans and thought I’d share:
Irish Diplomacy – The ability to tell a man to go to hell in such a way that he looks forward to the trip
Ryan came up with an Idea for Guitar Hero. Not going to mention any details but we may be asking for help from everyone so be prepared.
I just read this morning that Michigan is thinking about spending $38 million to buy all of its students IPods? How freaking crazy is that. I’m all for new an innovative ways to teach, but IPods? I don’t get it. When I took calculus it was required that I buy a Graphing Calculator, the state didn’t buy it for me.
Dan’s Video of the day for Friday: Internet Sys Op. Pretty damn funny if you ask me.
If you want to know how to get the best deal on your Cingular plans and phones, Take a look at the 7 Confessions of a Cingular Sales Rep. It’s worth a read, and some of the tips would probably work with more sales reps than just Cingular.
A while ago I wrote about how Toshiba was going to be including solid state drives (or SSD’s) in some of their laptops. The biggest drive they had thus far was 32gb. Samsung just released a 64gb drive with some crazy performance specs. Check it out.
Continuously Variable Transmissions (or CVT) have been around for a long time. In fact snowmobiles have been using them since they were originally created. Just recently some incredible advancements have been made. I just read about a new implementation on a Bike by Ellsworth. They call it the Continuously Variable Planetary Drive. Be sure to watch the video, it’s very interesting.
If you’ve got money to burn I suggest you either throw it my way or buy one of these million dollar laptops.
Matt was talking about how he wanted to have a conductor game for the Wii. A while ago I saw a video with people conducting using the Wii. Yesterday I ran across the Wii Loop Machine. Pretty interesting the amount of stuff it can do and how easily.
Youtube has announced the winners its first official Youtube Awards. My favorite is the following:
how to freak out other drivers:
Yesterday Rachel and I went to go see the Puppies again. They’re getting Huge! I think we’ve picked out the one we want. Rachel and I both like “Mr Light Blue.” Maybe I’ll setup a poll to let people pick which puppy they think we should get. We still need to decide on a name. If you have suggestions let us know.
Matt showed a few coworkers and myself two cool things to fight off SPAM. A feature built into all E-mail servers and a new telephone service. Both of which if implemented properly will significantly reduce the amount of SPAM you’ll get.The following E-mail addresses are all equivalent:
Start only handing out E-mail addresses with +___ in them. This allows you to filter the incoming E-mails very easily, see where a lot of your spam is coming from (aka who’s selling it) and maybe take some actions in that regard.
Grand Central is a free telephone forwarding service that you can use as your own personal phone screener. One of my favorite features is the ability to send all incoming phone calls for anyone you don’t already know to voicemail. If you do want to take all phone calls, people you don’t know are prompted for their name and you are given several options before ever talking to them. The available options include recording the conversation, sending it to voicemail (and listening in) or simply taking the call. Check it out it’s really slick.
If you like to browse Blog’s In the WordPress development Blog‘s most recent post they listed the speakers of the SxSW this weekend. I started browsing a few of them. Some are very interesting, I’ll post my favorites later.
I’ve said for a while that the next car I buy is either going to have built in GPS or i’m going to build a computer (with GPS) to put in the car. It looks like BMW is getting it right. Check out their latest onboard computer, its pretty sweet:
I’ve always kept track of a lot of websites and with RSS it certainly makes it nicer. However I never found an RSS Reader that I really liked. Recently a friend alerted me to Google’s Reader. I’ve started importing RSS feeds that I like to keep an eye on and it’s pretty nice. However I found that it means there’s just another site I have to go to to see if anything new has happened. I did some googling and found a Google Reader Notifier Extension for Firefox. Seem’s to be exactly what I wanted.
I added a Wedding page to the site. At the moment it just contains a count down timer. We’ll add more relevent info later like time/date/place/photographer/dj/honeymoon/hotel suggestions/etc.
Rachel and I will be in Buffalo for St Patricks day. We’re going to see Piebald. They’re kicking off a new tour starting in Buffalo and Rachel’s friend Allison knows them. We’re tagging along and we might even get to meet the band. Pretty sweet. If you want to listen to some of their stuff take a look click here.