Monday, October 25, 2010

Hawaii Trip #1: Days 7 & 8

Given that there was a dusting of snow on the neighbor's lawn and my roommate's truck this morning, I feel kind of nostalgic for the time I spent in Hawaii. The funny thing is that the whole week before I left, highs were in the 80s here in Salt Lake, so the warmer climate in Hawaii didn't really feel like a reprieve from colder weather. While I was away, though, Utah definitely went from Indian summer to late autumn. Sometime I'm going to need to go for a visit when it's actually cold here.

In any case, what should have been the last day of our trip started bright and early with us loading up our luggage into George's car and heading over to Honolulu. Check-in and security went without a hitch, and we soon found ourselves grabbing some breakfast and waiting to board our flight to Los Angeles.

We boarded, settled in, and were a good hour into our flight when we heard the dreaded overhead announcement: "Anyone on board this flight with medical training, please press your stewardess call button." It quickly became apparently that someone on board was experiencing a medical emergency, and the decision was made to turn around and return to Honolulu so that the passenger could be taken care of. A decision that I wholeheartedly support. Sadly, it also meant that we'd get an extra 2 hours of flight time (1 hour back and then another hour to get back to where we'd been when we turned around). We also spent about an hour hanging out in the plane while the passenger was carried off the plane, our brakes and landing gear were checked out, and the plane was re-fueled. We also got a bonus viewing of the safety video (FAA regulations require that it be shown before each takeoff, regardless of whether or not you've been off the plane in the meantime.). "Oh, lift UP on the buckle. I was going to try to break the metal apart with my bare hands."

Anyway, a few hours later than originally planned we once again headed for the mainland. Despite the fact that we'd now ultimately be spending 8+ hours on board the plane, we still were only offered the usual peanuts, pretzels, and Biscoff cookies for nourishment. I was definitely glad I'd brought some of my own snacks along for the flight.

We landed at LAX about 3 hours later than planned and had definitely missed our connecting flight to Salt Lake. Delta was kind enough to put us up at the Holiday Inn for the night. And by "the night", I mean, I got up at 3:30 am to take a shower so we could get back to the airport in time to catch our 6:15 flight out. Thankfully that flight went without event and in short order we were arriving home and heading back to our daily lives.

Anyway, it wasn't horrible, but it was nice to finally make it back home. I DO love to travel, but I also love coming home again. Something about the comfort of the familiar, I guess.

Anyway, Hawaii trip #1 was definitely a success and I look forward to further adventures in the islands. Thanks to George and Kimi and the kids for being such great hosts. Aloha!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hawaii Trip #1: Day 6

Our 6th day in Oahu, George had to go back to work at the clinic, so we had to make do without him. I started out by taking a short morning walk over to Burger King so that I could try some local cuisine. :) Actually, I'm only kind of kidding. I got a spam, rice, and eggs platter that turned out to be pretty tasty.

Spam & Eggs
Flavor of the islands

BK Hawaiian Style
Don't know where you'd find a BK with a better backdrop.

Later that morning, we headed over to Honolulu to check out some of the more historic sites there, including the famous statue of King Kamehameha I.

King Kamehameha
Hail to the King

While we were there checking out the statue, a busload of Asian (probably Japanese) tourists showed up, and suddenly Austin and Elise became one of the highlights of downtown Honolulu, as person after person wanted to take pictures of them and/or have their picture taken with them. What can I say? I guess I'm not the only one who would fly across the ocean to see them.

Rock Star children
And so it begins...

It's tough being a celebrity

After escaping from the paparazzi, we made our way across the street to check out the Iolani palace, and then the state capitol building. In between the two buildings we saw some cool banyan trees.

Banyan Trees

After seeing pretty much everything we could find to see nearby, we headed back to the car, and drove back over to Kaneohe for lunch. After lunch, I went over to the local mall (Obama saw Avatar there!) to do a little shopping. Got a couple things. Hit up Longs Drugs for more souveniry knick-knacks (chocolate macadamia nuts, for example).

Then we headed home and had a fairly relaxed evening hanging out with the kids, packing up our stuff, transferring pictures from cameras to computers to memory cards, etc.

At one point, I went outside to hang out with Austin and watch the cars and trucks drive by on the highway. He was just kind of talking to himself and I thought I'd capture the moment on video:

More pictures from Day 6.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hawaii Trip #1: Day 5

For our 3rd day of playing in Oahu, I was kind of in the mood for something non-snorkeling to start the day, so someone suggested flying kites, which I thought sounded fun. Kites were acquired and we headed north a bit to Kualoa Beach park for kite flying and beach enjoying.

Kualoa Beach Park
Kualoa Beach park

We had 3 kites in all, and 2 of the 3 launched fairly easily, and after some reengineering by Grandpa Tom the lizard kite joined the others in the sky.

Kite Flying
Kite Flying

After a while playing with kites everyone was ready for more beach time and we all pretty much ended up over at the beach, just across the way from the famous Chinaman's Hat island.

Kualoa Beach Park
Lucy playing in the water

Kualoa Beach Park
All the kiddos at the beach

George decided to snorkel out to the island and after a while we couldn't see him anymore, which got Grandma Liz worrying. A sign indicating strong currents didn't do much to help settle her down. In the George returned safe and sound and reported that the water was shallow enough that he could have stood up all the way out to the island.

Mom worrying
Mom worrying

After a fun morning at the beach, we headed back to the house to clean up and get ready to head to Honolulu for a special, military-only tour of Pearl Harbor. We made a quick stop at the big swap meet that surrounds the University of Hawaii football stadium, where we picked up a variety of knick-knacks and souvenirs.

Then we headed over to Pearl Harbor to catch our tour boat. Only it turned out that we'd been given the wrong time. Luckily we were early instead of late. After a quick stroll over to McDonalds, eventually our tour boat arrived. An admiral (retired?) described what we were seeing as the boat took around most of Pearl Harbor, ultimately arriving at the USS Arizona Memorial. Among the interesting sites we saw along the way was the wreckage of the USS Utah, which is very much destroyed and rusted. I wasn't sure if we were supposed to take photos, so I didn't take any until we arrived at the Arizona.

One of the most interesting things (to me, at least) was how shallow the harbor is (around 50 feet deep). Many of the ships that were sunk during the attack were ultimately rescued, repaired and put back into service. The Arizona Memorial sits over the wreckage of that ship and some bits of it even poke up above the water level. As you may have heard, there is still oil slowly leaking from the wreckage that you can watch.

USS Arizona
USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona
You can kind of see the oil sheen in this shot

USS Arizona
Part of the ship that is visible above the water

After our tour, we drove over to the Hickam portion of the base (Pearl and Hickam had just merged the week before we were there) to see the clinic where George works and just drive around the base a bit.

We then headed home, had dinner (I think that was the night we went to a burger joint), and got the kids packed off to bed before calling it a night ourselves.

Grandma Liz reading stories
Grandma Liz reading the kids a story. Austin was definitely more interested in smiling for his picture. :)

More pictures from Day 5.

Old Book, New Book #26: Catching Fire -> Mockingjay


Well, I was correct in thinking that Catching Fire would be a quick read. :) And I actually started reading it a few days ago. Not just yesterday when I posted it to the blog. Anyway, it was an interesting sequel in that it has many of the same elements of the first book, repeated but with some variation. Still held my interest though, and I was interested to see how things turned out.

And now I'm continuing on to the 3rd and final book in the series, "Mockingjay". I've been hearing about these books for a couple years now and kind of thought it would be nice to wait until all 3 of the books were out and available before I started reading them so that I could finish them quickly and not be stuck waiting around. So I guess I'm glad that Natalie waited until they were all out before getting me the first one for my birthday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Old Book, New Book #25: Mythical Man-Month -> Catching Fire


I read most of "The Mythical Man-Month" during my flights to and from Hawaii, and then took my time getting around to finishing it after I got home from the trip. Despite most of the book being written in 1975 (this was the 20th anniversary edition that also included essays from 1986 and 1995), it definitely had some insightful principles for managing large software development projects.

The book's namesake premise is that the idea that the amount of work to be done in a software project can be measured simply in "Man-Months", i.e. the amount of work that one man does in a month. And that a project that can be done by 5 men (or women) in 10 months (50 Man-Months) could be done equally by 10 men (or...who are we kidding, like you could find 10 woman software developers) in 5 months. Not so! says the author. Adding more people to a software project requires extra work to split the work up between developers, and more work to keep more people in communication regarding the project. This problem is exacerbated when trying to add more people to a project that has fallen behind schedule. The author states a theory that "Adding more people to a late project makes it even later."

This might be the first book I've ever read on the topic of software engineering that wasn't a textbook I was reading for a class (and actually this book was actually recommended as supplemental reading for a class I took). I found a couple of the author's thoughts on what makes a programmer a programmer to be interesting. Early on he says one of the challenges of software development is the requirement of perfection. Compilers don't intuit things. Corner cases have to be addressed. In computer programming, the devil truly is in the details and a successful program has to be built all the way in order to be robust and reliable. So programmers tend to be people who are perfectionists and who can deal with that requirement for perfection and completeness.

In a later section, he speaks of asking programmers "Where is next November?" and goes on to say that most programmers are very spatial thinkers and they generally have spatial interpretations of time. That certainly struck a chord with me, given my own mental maps of numbers of calendars.

Anyway, it was an interesting read and gave me some things to think about in my own work in the large-scale complex software development environment there.

Having finished off a book of nerdy essays, I've moved back to lighter fare, borrowing "Catching Fire", the 2nd book in the Hunger Games series from a friend. I enjoyed the first one and it was a quick read, so I'm hoping for more of the same in the 2nd installment.


Hawaii Trip #1: Day 4, Part II

I finally got the film from the waterproof disposable camera Meili gave me developed (remember when it just took an hour to get film developed?) and despite having to take most of the photos while contending with waves and just having a little plastic viewfinder, some of them managed to turned out alright.

Hawaii October 2010 (24)
Like I said, one of the highlights of Shark Cove was swimming with big schools of fish.

Hawaii October 2010 (20)
More school pictures

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If you look close there's a Moorish Idol in this one.

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That's the state fish of Hawaii. Down at the bottom. It has a long Hawaii name. Or you can call it a reef triggerfish.

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This fish is yellow.

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Portrait of the Author as Snorkeler

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One I took from the tide pools when I was taking a break from fearing for my life. :)

The rest of the photos from the disposable camera are here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hawaii Trip #1: Day 4

Despite going to bed the night before feeling like there was no way I could get up early again to go snorkeling, I found myself wide awake a full 30-40 minutes before George and Dad were leaving, so I decided I might as well go check it out.

We headed up to the North Shore of Oahu to a place called Shark Cove that was definitely a change from Hanauma Bay the previous morning. For starters there were actually waves coming in. Probably nothing too crazy but I was a little more leery than I'd been the morning before. To get out into the cove, you had to swim out through a rocky stretch where it seemed like every crevice had a sea urchin sitting in, so that was kind of stressful, too. Once you got past that stretch it was a lot easier to get around and it was pretty amazing to see huge schools of fish swimming all around, as well as many of the tropical fish we'd seen at Hanauma. Also, in contrast to Hanauma Bay, the water quickly got much deeper, so there wasn't anywhere I could just put my feet down and take a break when I got a little tense, which meant if I wanted to take a break, I had to swim back through the rocky area.

Anyway, let's just say it was a little more stressful than it had been the day before, but I still did enjoy seeing the fish and attempting to take some underwater photos with a camera Meili had given me. I dropped that camera off at Walmart for developing a week ago and it's still not back from wherever they send their photos out to. Film developing sure ain't what it used to be.

I was ready to be done snorkeling earlier than George and my dad, who ventured way out into the cove and even out of the cove into the open water. I wandered around some tide pools that were there and also spend some time looking through interesting rocks on the beach.

Shark Cove
Shark Cove

Shark Cove
The channel out to the cove is through the rocks on the left of this photo.

After we were finished, we headed back down to Kaneohe, picked up lunch at Subway and headed home to eat and hang out.

After lunch, during the little ones' nap time, George, Kimi, mom, Lucy, and I went for a short hike to a little waterfall not too far from their house. It was a short hike (maybe 20 minutes), but it was cool to be out in the jungle and see some of the cool trees there.

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At the waterfall

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On the way back down

That night we watched "Riding Giants", a documentary on big wave surfing that featured some of the beaches there in Oahu. The big waves come in the winter time, so we didn't really see much surfing during our time there.

More photos from Day 4.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hawaii Trip #1: Day 3

Day 3 started pretty early (Hawaii time, not Utah time) as we (mom, dad, George, and me) got up early and left the house at 5:30 to head to Hanauma Bay for some snorkeling. By arriving before 7 we were able to get in for free and also skip a long video on how to stay out of trouble (don't stand on the reef, don't touch stuff).

My first attempt at snorkeling was when I was 10 and in Mexico and I think I was missing some teeth at the time, so water kept getting my mouth. Last year on my cruise, we did a little snorkeling, but they made us wear life jackets which in retrospect definitely made it harder than it should have been. I mean, yes, I didn't have to worry about drowning, but I quickly found out in Hawaii that snorkeling is basically like floating on your back except easier. As long as you keep air in your lungs it's super easy to just float along and check out what's in the water. And in Hawaii (at least the places we went) there's definitely plenty to see down there. The water was teeming with all kinds of colorful fish. My dad even found a sea turtle for us to swim over and check out. He had a waterproof, disposable camera with him, so we'll have to see how his photos turn out, but for now, you'll just have to take my word for it. Snorkeling is one of George's favorite things to do in Hawaii and I can definitely understand why.

After a full morning of snorkeling around, we loaded back in the car and headed back to Kaneohe. Enjoyed some fun time with the kids and then headed out for lunch and more beach time. We ate at a place called Bob's where I just happened to run into an old friend who was a counselor in my singles' ward bishopric about 6 years ago. So that was pretty random. He also ended up being on the same flight home with us.

For beach time we went to Kailua Beach which is near Kaneohe, and also happens to be the beach that President Obama stays at when he comes to Hawaii for vacation. Anyway, George was really excited about boogie boarding and I was mostly up for being lazy. :) So I played with the kiddos on the beach and took some fun photos.

Kailua Beach
Grandpa Tom building sand castles with Elise

Boogie Boarding
George trying to talk Lucy into boogie boarding

Boogie Boarding
Her response

Kailua Beach
Austin contemplating the vastness of the universe

Kailua Beach
Deciding that really his truck is more interesting than that.

Kailua Beach
Kimi and Elise checking out the water

Kailua Beach
It was nice of Kimi to dress Austin in a color that matched his truck. :)

Boogie Boarding
Lucy could only resist for so long.

We ended the night with dinner at a nearby Italian place. I thought the chicken parmigiana I got was decent if not delicious.

Ready for more ice cream
Austin patiently waiting for his next bite of ice cream.

Once again, I was pretty wiped out after dinner and didn't last too long after the kids went to bed. George and my dad were talking about getting up early again the next day to go snorkeling and I thought there was no way I'd be able to do that, so I said I'd pass, and headed to bed.

More photos from Day 3.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Old Book, New Book #24: The Hunger Games -> The Mythical Man-Month

Hunger Games

The Hunger Games was another quick read that I ALMOST finished before I left for Hawaii. But I was quite finished in time to not take it on the trip. I just had to make sure I packed another couple books in case I needed them. I ended up finishing the Hunger Games on board the first leg of our flight, while we were waiting for everyone to finish boarding.

I thought it was a pretty cool book with kind of a post-apocalyptic dystopian kind of setting with some sci-fi aspects. Definitely a little bit on the darker side. I can see why it's been such a popular series, though. At least based on the first book.

Haven't managed to track down a copy of the 2nd book, "Catching Fire" yet, though, so for now I've moved on to something completely different: "The Mythical Man-Month", a collection of essays on Software Engineering, and more specifically the managing of large software engineering projects. I nearly finished this book as well on the Hawaii trip and have about 20 pages left to go, but have been kind of busy since I got back. Anyway, I'll save my comments about the book for the post-reading post. For now, here's the cover:


Hawaii Trip #1: Days 1 & 2

Ok, so I'm finally getting around to blogging about last week's trip to Hawaii and since George's family is going to be there for the next 3 years, it seemed wise to number this trip as #1, knowing that it definitely won't be the last time that I go. :)

I flew out with mom and dad on Saturday afternoon. Our original itinerary called for us to go through Seattle, but there was some concern that the plane we were supposed to take to Seattle was going to be late arriving in Salt Lake, so Delta switched us to another flight, through LAX. And that worked out fine. We got to Honolulu around 8 pm local time (midnight Salt Lake time). Strangely, our checked baggage still ended up going through Seattle. Even stranger, it arrived at the luggage carousel in Honolulu right next to the one where the Los Angeles flight luggage was arriving but a few minutes earlier. So it was nice that that turned out so conveniently and not in a much worse way.

George picked us up and drove us through the mountains to his home in Kaneohe. We pulled out mattresses to sleep on and called it a night.

The next morning we got up early (for Hawaii, late for Salt Lake, a common theme of this trip) to watch General Conference, which starts at 6 am Hawaii time. It was nice to be able to watch it all streaming online. Glad we didn't have to get dressed up and go watch at a church building. Their kids started getting up throughout the morning and it was fun to be able to sit with them and watch conference and play a little bit too.

Austin playing with his airplane

Story Time with Grandpa Tom
Grandpa Tom reading to the kids

After 2 sessions of conference and lunch, George took us on a drive, up to see the Pali Lookout, then to Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery, and then on a windy loop through the mountains on a road called Tantalus.

Pali Lookout
From the Pali Lookout

Hawaii October 2010 016
At Punchbowl

Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery
At Punchbowl

Looking down at Waikiki
Looking down at Honolulu/Waikiki from a little park up on the Tantalus loop

By the time we got home, I was feeling pretty wiped out(another recurring theme on this trip). We had dinner, played with the kids for a bit and then after they went to bed we called it a night.

More pictures from Day 2.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Blah, blah, blah, back to work

Kailua Beach

First of all, what the heck? The week before I left for Hawaii, the highs here in Utah were in the 80s. Now I need to wear a jacket to work. I guess it's definitely fall for real now. :)

Anyway, I've definitely got a lot of blog catch up to do (finished the Hunger Games, almost finished with the book I started after that), went to Hawaii, lots of things to recount about that trip. But I'm also busy catching up on everything else in my life. Hopefully I can get around to all that shortly.