Monday Nov 06, 2006

My mother passed away...

I miss my mom terribly. It was Halloween the other day, and I couldn't figure out why I was sad. I realized that I had a habit of calling Mom on Halloween talking about what the kids wore, how trick or treating had gone, and how much candy the kids had eaten. And I didn't have anyone to call any more.

For the past many years, I would call mom virtually every day, sometimes twice a day (on the way to work, or the way home from work). Her positive attitude was always there, and she always offered a tidbit or two (or three or four) of advice. I shall miss her council, her ability to listen and her laugh. I picked up the phone and hit speed dial only to realize there was no one to answer.

Mom always had a twinkle in her eye, through good times and bad, we'd find something that was funny and giggle.

I learned so many things from my mother, I can't begin to share them. Her work ethic, her love of music, her willingness to help others, her letter writing.

Mom was a doer - she wasn't happy unless she was doing something. And usually two or three somethings. Baking a cake, making brownies, running errands, Mom was always on the move. She was most happy when she was doing things for other people. Either baking a little something for them, writing a letter, shipping this or that, getting special tickets to a game, the hollywood bowl, etc.

Mom was an avid reader, and she instilled that love of literature in me. Even to the end we were exchanging books or talking about things she had read in the paper. She would frequently surprise me by asking very detailed technical questions about my company, or discussing a book we'd both read in depth.

Mom, I shall miss you, and hold you in my heart forever.

Mom passed away on October 25th after a long battle with cancer. I wasn't able to be by her side but I'd spent many of the past weekends with her.

Friday May 13, 2005

Ferrari's are fun...

It was a beautiful day here yesterday and a nice night, so I took a drive with a buddy of mine in the Ferrari...

We left my house off Sand Hill in Menlo Park, and drove up 280 to 35 (Pacifica) then headed to Hwy 1, South to Half Moon Bay, and by that time we were thirsty, so we stopped in at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay. Man, that's a killer hotel. My buddy Kent stayed there with his wife and said it was just incredible.

Then back over the hill - up 92 from Half Moon Bay and back on to 280 South to Sand Hill Road and home. A great drive, good company and man, is that car nice. Kent and I were both reflecting on how nice having a sports car would be. Not going to happen for me any time soon (2 kids, no back seat doesn't work). I'm lucky to have a friend that has loaned me this one!

Thursday May 12, 2005

A look at new cars...

So my good friend Joanne loaned me her old school Magnum PI Ferrari 308 GTS.. As I've previously written, I'm currently driving a rather ho-hum Volvo S40 sedan. The Ferrari is a bit different, needless to say.

It's so old school, it's funny. Built in 1980, it's got all the ickiness of the first emissioned engines. A mere 208 HP, with a Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system. Nevertheless it's a beautiful car, and sings as you drive. Really. If you've not had the pleasure, listen to a Ferrari some time... Better yet, drive one. Everything is manual; not a pushbutton to be found (all these toggle switches everywhere - I keep feel like saying "missle away" when raising the antenna...)

It's a pleasure getting back into driving a manual transmission as well - it's been literally YEARS since I drove a manual, but it's like riding a bike. Of course, with the 3 pressure plates on the Ferrari, it's like riding a bike uphill in top gear... Geez, you'd think they'd have a hydraulic clutch or something. Oh, did I mention it's got totally manual steering? If the car's not moving, the steering isn't either...

All in all a really fun ride, and has made my week. Thanks Joanne!

Wednesday Mar 02, 2005

I love cars...

I Love cars. Really. I don't know why, but I always have. Little slotcars, RC cars, whatever.

At one point, I even had a racecar and a pro racing license. I've let the license lapse and the racecar was sold, but I still have the passion. Somehow I've ended up as the butt of my own car jokes. I drive a Volvo S40. Ick. It was my wife's car before we were married, and I drive it now due to some manipulations I don't even understand... Let's see, I sold the Audi S4 to buy her a Honda Pilot... Gah!

Just to give you some idea about where I come from... I started out driving at ahem, 15 in my dad's 1969 convertible bug. That was a fun car, but it had lived many years on the east coast - in New York and Michigan no less, so it had seen wayyyyyy too much salt and abuse. The ratio of rust to steel was going the wrong way fast. I painted it, put on a new top and drove the heck out of the car. Absolutely a great car for kids - no power whatsoever, gets you from point a to point b (for me that was to the beach, and to class after a surf session :). Next up, I got a newer (older) car - a 1963 bug... GREAT car - 1300cc's 6 volt circuits. I worked the hell out of that car - changed to a 12 volt alternator, new shocks, performance tires, all kinds of new meters (gotta see what the dang thing is doing, right?) That was a fun car.

Then we get to one of my few experiences with american cars - a mercury capri. Gah. That car was just not fun. A little more power, but a stick shift with the throw of a truck. A high propensity to stall when you hit the gas. Loads of fun. No power. Hatchback. Wallowed in curves. I hated that car.

Then we moved on to the Lancia Beta Coupe. Yeah baby! That was one sweet machine. Electrical was a total nightmare, but Italians do know how to make sweet rides. Front wheel drive, leather seats, performance car. That was my first year in college. Loved that car (and hated it - it was forever breaking down). Crashed the dang thing when a local in a stationwagon turned right in front of me. I saw the motor chug out it's last breath on the pavement about 6 feet from the car. I learned a little about the benefits of a safe design, and damaged my knee forever at the same time.

Then came the venerable Honda Accord hatchback. Not a lot to it, but it ran well, was miserly on gas, and I could strap surf racks on it. Drove that for the rest of college. My first experience with a honda and it was very dependable. Very little tweaking - just performance tires and a great stereo...

My first real "I have a real job now" purchase was of a VW Jetta. Great car, I did very little to it - just gas, oil, etc. More service than the honda ever had, but the feel of a german car is special. Not quite the same as an italian car, but taught and crisp.

After the Jetta, which I drove for several years, I bought my first real performance car - a 1974 Porsche 911 Targa. Wow, that's a whole lot of car. Quick, twitchy, and hella expensive to maintain. I lived near work so it wasn't a big deal, but dang. I blew out the exhaust one day when I was "driving quickly" through the hills of Portola Valley. Patched it and kept driving it until I moved to San Francisco (2 years). Never did anything very interesting from a performance perspective, just tweaked what I could that wasn't too expensive (which on a porsche is \*nothing\*). Hot tires, great stereo, and the car was jammin'.

Next came the Nissan 240SX hatchback. I drove the heck out of that car. Changed wheels and tires, sway bars, springs, exhaust, intake, tweaked the water coolant temperature sensor, performance catalytic converter, slotted disks, performance (race) brake pads, you name it. I was well on the way to turning it into a race car when I just up and bought a real race 240SX - same car, built & run by some pro racers in SoCal. Kept the street car, Of course, I had already put in the rollcage and race harness...

So now I had the 240SX street car, the 240SX race car (on a trailer in the driveway) and I decided I needed more. So I bought a Porsche Boxster - one of the first off the line. Waited 18 months for the dang thing. Great car, fun to drive, tight right to the limit. By this time I'm racing and had my pro license, so I actually know what the limit is... Unfortunately the Boxster is so tight to the limit that when it lets go, you are in for a ride... I spun the car 3 times. Finally sold it. A sad day, that's for sure. Again, stunningly high maintenance, but I guess if you buy a Porsche you're supposed to expect it to be in the shop every other month.

And after selling the Porsche, I sold the street 240sx. A sad day. I spent many hours working on that car. I think I get more out of working on the cars then racing them. Nah.

So I had to have a street car, so I bought a 2000 Audi S4. That's a biturbo 240hp all wheel drive 4 door sedan. Hauled serious butt... I really liked the car. Never did anything to it as it was too expensive to modify. I drove that for quite a while. Really fast, kicked butt on some otherwise fast cars at Sears Point/Infineon raceway (in the rain). Having a corvette driver BEG me not to lap him twice in a session had to be one of the funniest experiences I've had racing... Only problem with the car was the maintenance. It made the Porsche look like a cake walk. Pretty much EVERY month something went wrong. That's ok if there was a dealer near me, but there isn't. I got to the point where I'd just wait until several things were broken before taking the car in for service.

And to get back to the beginning, I realized I left out the several trucks I had (ok, I had the ex-wife drive 'em 'cause I wanted the sports cars...) I had several Nissan Pathfinders - reliable dependable vehicles, an old BMW 530i, a Saab turbo - GAH, and a GM Yukon Denali.

After getting divorced and remarried, I had 2 kids. 2 kids changes your life with cars - no more small backseats. You need space. Not just for them, but for all the junk (crap) you have to bring everywhere with you. So I traded in the Audi for a Honda Pilot. LOTS of room. Gas and oil pretty much are all the service needed, and we're good. Except that I don't get to drive the Honda. I get my wife's freaking VOLVO s40. Oh gee. That's fun (not). At least it's a turbo, but the dang thing wallows like a boat in corners and squeals like a stuck pig if you go more than 20 around a corner. Gah. Every once in a while I beg my friends to let me drive a real car - and occasionally Joanne will let me drive her Ferrari (old school 308 GTS - you know, the one Magnum PI drove? Yeah, that's right!)

This wouldn't be so bad, but I learned how to drive in LA - where your car is who you are

Thursday Jan 13, 2005

Ahh, a new bed is a good thing...

I finally sprung for the big daddy of all beds - the Tempurpedic Celebrity Bed. I already had one of their original beds, but only in a queen size. My 2 kids have decided they like sleeping with mommy and daddy on occasion (that occasion being every night right now), and frankly I was getting bumped off the bed onto the floor. King size here we come!

Man is this a sweet bed - by far the best I've ever slept in. I tried a Dux Bed and didn't think it was anything special. I blew my shoulder out surfing when I was a kid, and basically had issues on every bed until I tried the tempurpedic. A nice side effect is that if I roll over or get out of bed, no one else notices, except for the rustling of the sheets. This is a good thing as I frequently get up rather early (is 4:30 early?)

Of course, I wouldn't write a blog entry just praising something, or would I? Well, since the goal was to get a wide bed, I ended up buying an Eastern (Standard) king size bed. That's a good thing - Eastern Kings are 76 x 80". Only thing is I live in California. Home of the California King. The CA King is 72 x 84". Guess what? It seems that most people in California buy CA Kings, so almost every store around carries sheets, blankets, etc. for ... California Kings. Great. Super. So I have this killer bed and no sheets. Guess I'm going to be ordering some sheets online.

Tuesday Dec 21, 2004

Talking and walking at the same time

So yesterday my son Liam decided to surprise me with a double whammy. He decided to walk and talk on the same day. Needless to say I was shocked.

Liam carries a plastic hammer around like it's been glued to him. He's never without it for more than 15 minutes or so. This doesn't seem all that unusual, heck I carry my blackberry around like it's been surgically attached to me...

So last nite I decided to hang some pictures in our hallway. Ok, the wife decided and I was just the muscle... Actually I love doing home improvement projects. I used to do more of them (installed wainscotting through a large portion of the house, etc.) but with 2 kids now and my staff being recently doubled, I just don't have the time. Oh yeah, back to the real story. So there I am hammering in a picture hanger and I feel Liam using me as a crutch to stand. Nothing unusual there. I lower my hammer to pick up a nail and he reaches out for the REAL hammer, and says "Hamma, hamma!". Dumbstruck I look at my wife and we start laughing. Then, quick thinker that I am, I decide to see if I can get Liam to chase the hammer. I start waving it down the hall, and sure enough, he follows me (the hammer really, but I can dream, can't I?) down the hall. All 15 feet of it. Walking like Frankenstein. Where's the freakin' video cam when you most need it. Drat.

Walking and talking in the same day. Who'd of thunk?

Tuesday Dec 14, 2004

I feel like the worst parent in the world

My daughter tripped and broke her tooth on my watch. I feel terrible about it. I was holding her hand, she was running along side me (we were late to preschool) and she tripped. Slid right out of my hand. Hit the ground with her teeth. Didn't sound like anything at all. And then the blood and screaming started. Luckily it looks like it wasn't a "bad" break. We'll see in another week or so if they can fix it or what. She's only 2 1/2 so she'd be without a tooth for 3-4 more years. At least it wasn't a permanent tooth.

I console myself with the fact that my sister had her son lose 3 teeth on the trampoline (he brought a sippy cup into the jumpy and sure enough landed on it with his face.) Geez, I can't imagine that one...

Today I took her to preschool and she pointed out where she tripped, and talks to me about the dentist, and how he was nice and she likes him. Strange to hear her say that as she was screaming at the top of her lungs while we were at the dentist...

I finally sympathize with my mother - she lived through my misadventures as a kid - and there were quite a few. Heck I was on a first name basis with the nurses in the local hospitals until I was 21 (broke my ankle surfing at 21 - niiiice)

Wednesday Jul 14, 2004

I can't believe I have another stroller

What did you do over the 4th of July? As you all probably know, Sun "takes a break" - we get the entire week off.

I took the opportunity to get the heck out of dodge (ok, Menlo Park) and went to see my mother in LA. Yes, that's right, I'm from LA. Ok, not exactly LA, Palos Verdes Estates to be exact... You know, the beach. I thought a few days of hanging at the beach, surfing a little, playing with the kids in the sand would be good. Little did I know we'd be adding to our incredible stroller collection yet again. Yes that's right, we bought a new stroller. This time it appears to be a good one - the Sit & Stand XL. Madison can stand on a little platform, and Liam gets to ride around in the front.

Enough about strollers. I've filled half my garage with strollers. LA was fun - June Gloom has set in so the beach is pretty cool until around noon. From noon till 8pm all we heard from Madison was "I walk the sand, I walk the sand, I walk the water". So we walked the sand, we walked the water, Madison and Liam ate the sand, rolled in the sand, etc. 2 kids, my wife and I means a heck of a lot of crap to tote to the beach. Seriously, 2 trips from the car down to the sand and back up. If you know the beaches in Redondo Beach, it's down a short cliff to the beach. So I toted my surfboard on the car, flapping all the way from the bay area to LA, and didn't end up using it once. At least I spent some time in the water bodysurfing.

My younger sister Becky lives very close to my mom in LA - about a block and a half away. She decided to spend the 4th in Charlotte, NC with my older sister. It was great 'cause that meant we got to use her house, my mom could visit and help take care of the kids, and it was all "free". Becky has 3 young boys, so the house is built for kids, complete with about a zillion ride on cars, trucks, etc. Seriously a zillion. She even has a huge trampoline in the backyard.

Kids and trampolines. Between the "I walk the sand" and the "Jumpy, Jumpy, Jumpy", it really got to be a bit much. It was a lot of fun spending time with the kids on the jumpy tho - Madison learned how to climb the ladder all by herself. Kinda scary. One minute she's off riding one of the zillions of ride on toys, the next I see/hear her running around the jumpy squealing with joy. Needless to say, I was in the jumpy with her in about 6 seconds flat. Dang do those things give you a workout.

Friday Apr 30, 2004

The Stroller Collection from hell

I can't believe how many strollers we have. I have 2 kids, 22 months and 6 months old. I have 6 strollers (used to be more, but I managed to zap 2 others). You ask why? Well, each has it's benefits. Some of the manufacturers get it, others don't.

Our favourite is the Mountain Buggy double stroller. A good stroller, but not really good for jogging, and it's kinda heavy to toss into the back of the Honda Pilot. It's got a few misses too - the rear wheels are hard to remove, the rear axle prevents me (I'm taller) from taking full strides, and the handle bar is a fixed height, which means it works for my wife, but I can't really run with it. The front wheels randomly lock straight, and it doesn't store compactly. The sun canopy doesn't come down enough and the peek-a-boo window doesn't have velcro to keep it open. The things I like about it are that it reclines, it fits through standard doors (almost all other doubles don't) and it seems to be comfortable.

We also have a Kelty Joyrider 20. Overall a great jogger, but sucks at anything else. You can't change the front wheel to turn, it's kinda heavy, and the basket underneath sucks. The best things are it's easy to use for jogging, the wheels pop off really easily and the sunshade is great (esp with the accessory version). This is the one I use most if I can get away with taking only one of the kids on a walk. The harness to hold the kids in is the best I've seen, and they seem to have the best seats for the kids too. The biggest issue is the back doesn't recline at all.

And then we get into the other strollers. Long after we had our base set of strollers, we saw the Bugaboo Frog jogging stroller That seems to incorporate a lot of the features I'd like to see in a stroller. Of course, I'm not going to go get one now that I have (a) 2 kids and (b) 6 other strollers.

About

I run the engineering group responsible for Sun.com and the high volume websites at Sun.

Will Snow
Sr. Engineering Director

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