Friday, December 17, 2010

Triannual UK trip

When I was in College in 1982 I spent the month of January in London studying theater. I spent the following summer back home working and living off $100 a month to pay it off but the trip was worth it and I fell in love with the country.

Chris and I were married in 1983 and we have been traveling to the UK since 1993 every three years around November. Our first trip was 7 days in London in 93. We then did 14 days in London in 1996 but we took a weekend trip to Paris via the new tunnel and a weekend in Edinburgh Scotland. It was that trip that we fell in love with Scotland and it's people. We took a 3 week trip to the UK were we spent 1 week London and 2 weeks in Scotland in 99'. We took 2 trips in 2003 one week in February for my 40th birthday in London and 2 weeks in Scotland for our 20th anniversary where we stayed in a castle with our family and friends for a week and then a week in Edinburgh. We spent 2 weeks in the UK in 2006 staying 3 days in London and the rest in Edinburgh Scotland.

During most of our trips to London we have taken day tours all around the area to Dover, Canterbury, Salisbury, Bath, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Oxford, Warwick, and Windsor. But we also like to just stay in the city and go to museums and theater. We always rent an apartment if we are staying at least a week no mater where we are so we can feel at home.

We had planned on taking our next trip in 2009 but the exchange rate was so high we decided to skip the trip and wait a year. So in 2010 we planned a 3 week vacation to the UK. So many of our friends had heard about our stay in the castle in 2003 that they wanted to arrange another trip like it. So we rented a castle and had 5 other couples stay with us. We stayed 3 days in Edinburgh our favorite city before the castle stay in West Kilbride on the west coast of Scotland. After the castle stay we traveled to the southern tip of England and stayed in Penzance and traveled around Cornwall which is an area we have never seen before. We then spent our last 3 days in Bath which included a day tour of the area and a day train trip to Cardiff Bay to see the Dr. Who exhibit.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A photo

This photo is sort of a famous one in our family. It s the last photo taken of my mom before she died in a car accident on July 14, 1983. My sister reminded me of the date today. I was 20 and my sister was 18. She and my dad had been married 20 years and met in high school. The photo is of her seeing off Yuko our Japanese foreign exchange student as she traveled back home.

But for me this photo isn't the one I like the best. Actually there isn't just one photo. It's more the different phases in her life in my 20 years with her that I remember.

This is one of my favorite looks. The 70's straight long hair. A young boys memory of his mom before he got too old to hang around her.

The business professional look. The bank manager during my teen years.

I can't say that I remember this one but I love the late sixties outfit with the gloves. This was probably Easter Sunday.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Best Christmas present ever

My wife gave me the best Christmas present ever last year. It is a hand painted sign for my shop. She even cut the wood trim and puttied it and sanded it. The lettering is all free hand and the design is hers.
I have wanted a shop sign for a long time and was considering either a metal plaque that just said Jeff Davis Shop on it or a hanging metal sign that said the same thing. Either one would have been pretty simple. This sign is so cool since it has that old 18th century English pub feel to it.
She finally finished putting the last of several coats of lacquer on it and I hung it on the shop this weekend.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The basement - the bigger picture

The office project is just phase 1 of a 4 phase project to remodel the basement. The office was the cheapest and easiest part to do first. It also helped us get more organized and forced us to clean out the basement of all our junk.

The grand scheme is to put a 1/2 bath in the basement and divide it into an extra living space and storage/laundry area.

Now that the office is done our next project is build the dividing wall between the living space and the storage and laundry area with a 36" pocket door in it. This is a little tricky because we are also going to replace our water heater with a tankless water heater that will hang on the inside of the wall. This has to be done all at the same time. Shut off the water, remove the water heater, build the wall, install an outlet for the tankless, install the tankless. It will take the framing guys and a plumber working at the same time almost. Once this is done we'll build some more storage shelves on the inside of this wall and move all our storage to that side.

The 3rd phase will be to install the 1/2 bath. We want to use a standard toilet which means cutting into the concrete and connecting to the exisiting cast iron sewer stack (our quote for this is pretty expensive so we'll do it next year) . Then we have to frame the bathroom and plumb the water for the toilet and sink. Then do the drywall and finish work. The bathroom will have a standard door.

The 4th phase will be to finish the main living space by framing the outside, doing the electrical including lighting, insulating and then drywall the entire room including the ceiling. Then we paint and trim the room and decide on flooring options.

I used this software to do an initial drawing of the what we wanted to do.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My new office

We've been working on my new office for over a month now. We started planning it at the beginning of the year. You can see some of the construction progress on our house blog.

For over 20 years we have shared an office together. Now that I work from home these past few years it has got a little too crowded for the 2 of us so we converted our junk/hobby room in the basement into a nice new office and I moved my stuff into it this weekend.

I have all sorts of plans and just got the basics up and running for work but it is going to be a nice setup and it is the most modern room in the house right now.

Now Chris has all this extra room to work with. We even set her up with a cool old office desk from my parents and a little hutch to hide all the routers etc.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My birthday present

I bought tickets to see Carole King and James Taylor play at our local Rose Quarter Stadium.
I've seen JT many times before but have never seen Carole King and seeing them together was a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

Their music is the music of my childhood and a deep connection to my parents. They had her Tapestry album when it came out in the 70's when I was just 10. My mom was close with a high school girl she was trying to help stay out of trouble and the album was a favorite of both of theirs.

I went with Chris and afterwards I told her that seeing this kind of thing is like dropping mentos into my emotional 2 liter coke. Hard to maintain my composure.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My wife is the coolest person in the world!

There are a lot of reasons but the biggest one this week is that she worked it out with her work to let me borrow their brand new iPad for a few days to play with. I've been in heaven.

It is one thing to read about this wonderful device and another to actually use it. The unit I have is the WiFi 30Gb model. Pretty much a high priced netbook with touchscreen.

Couple of frustrating things with it so far. The USB cable won't let you charge the device off of the computer you must plug it into the wall with the wall adaptor. But you have to connect it to iTunes to begin with to get the software loaded. It has the same issues as an iPod when it comes to content downloaded from your iStore account. If you switch iStore users the content is not there. I downloaded a free book but when I logged out of the store I went away? I am also not in love with the onscreen keyboard. Not sure what it is exactly but it has been difficult to use for me.

The App store is fantastic. While I don't own a iPhone I am familiar with the number of free and low cost apps on the store from my friends with iPhones. It is similar to the Andriod store I have for my G1 phone. But there are apps just for the iPad and some of the recent ones are even in HD so they graphics are amazing. Lots of free stuff and all kinds of apps.

By far the coolest thing about this type of device is being able to use it while watching TV. You can browse the web and see what you are reading. The news readers for USA today, NPR, and AP are all very nice. I can add Netflix movies/shows to my Instant Que while I am thinking of it instead of going into the office. I can manage my DirecTV recording. A lot of this you can do on your phone these days but on a very small screen with a tiny keyboard. Plus just reading on this device is so much easier. It is a book reader on steroids.

I am not looking forward to giving this back. But when I do I won't go out and buy one. I'll wait for at least a year for the price to come down a bit and for 2nd generation units to show up.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I got a new phone

Funny thing is that I'm not much of a cell phone user. Or at least I never was before I found out about data phones. My last phone I had for over 2 years and that one I got for free because my wife upgraded her phone. I only use it when someone calls me or I'm

Which is how I got my latest phone. She needed something she could text with and had good email, contacts, and calendar features so she can stay connected with home and work. The touch screen phones didn't work for her because she has fingernails and you have to use the pads of your fingers to touch not your nails. So she wanted a full pull out keyboard. So she got the Motorolla Cliqe. It also has twitter and facebook integrated so you can stay connected to your social network which she loves.

When we got her phone it was a better deal to upgrade our plan which allowed me to also get a data phone. So I got the cheaper and simpler Google G1 phone which basically has the same features just not quite as nice of a user interface. I have to say this phone is pretty cool. I love the free apps that you can get with it. The pop out full keyboard is fantastic for texting which I have found myself doing more recently and with the number pad on a phone it took forever. Now I can type out full messages in no time. With the built in GPS and google maps you have great navigation and location finding tools. I set up a twitter account and hooked my facebook page up. Now I am more social than I was before. I set up all my email accounts so now I get email notifications when I'm not at my computer. I even setup my Instant Messaging so I can tell when someone is trying to contact me. I LOVE the cool apps that let you take a photo of a bar code and look the product up and give you the cheapest place online and locally to buy it.
My only negative thing about these data phones is that the screen is too small to practically surf and read stuff on the web. It is also too small to watch videos or look at digital photos of any quality. But those tasks are better suited for the PC anyway. The other drawback is that the battery drains pretty quickly if you are using all the features. If you just let it idle and only used it as a phone it would be fine but since you are playing with all the apps and touching the screen it quickly kills the battery. I find I have to charge it every day where as my old cell I could go a week without charging it.
I'm getting a lot of grief for being so into my new phone when I always said I didn't care about a new cell phone. But I love gadgets and this is a fun one.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

This is the coolest thing ever!

Apple just announced their new product the iPad (click on the image to go their site). As everyone has probably heard it was one of the most anticipated releases of a new gadget in quite some time. And it turns out it was worth the wait. I can't wait to own one of these. It will be great for browsing the web, email, organizing photos, watching movies, listening to music, reading books, navigating, taking notes, and maintaining your calendar and contacts.
It has a 9.7" LED backlit IPS display with a 178 degree viewing angle.
It weighs 1.5 pounds is 0.5" thick.
It has a 10 hour batter life.
It will come with either Wi-Fi 802.11n or 3G for fast internet connectivity
The interface has an onscreen keyboard for typing or you can buy an external keyboard dock.
Comes with either a 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive
16GB 32GB 64GB
Wi-Fi $499 $599 $699
Wi-Fi+3G $629 $729 $829
I can use this to surf the web and check email on the couch or while traveling. I can watch a movie almost anywhere. It is a ebook reader and so much more.
They start shipping the Wi-Fi versions late March and the 3G in April. I'll probably wait a year if I can stand it just to see what kinds of issues they have and get them worked out first and let the price drop.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Robots, Spaceships, and Ray Guns, Oh my!

This blog post is the coolest collection of Robots, Space ships and Ray Guns I've ever seen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Future

Well, its 2010 and everyone's talking about where's their flying car and robot maid, even me. This year seems so futuristic. But the Jetsons, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon that we base all future expectation on, was made in 1962-1963 based on a future in 2062. So we have a while to wait for our car and maid.

The other image that comes to mind with this milestone of a year is Arthur C. Clark's 2010 the sequel to 2001 in which the US and Soviets send the Discovery 2 to Jupiter to find out what happened to David Bowman and the Discovery 1. The book came out in 1982 and the movie was made in 1984 which does seem like a long time ago. But we haven't sent any maned spaceships to anything further away than the moon. And although we have a space shuttle named Discovery which is about to retire and a International space station we are no where as close to the type of space travel that the movie and book describe. We are still thinking about going to Mars and that's still in the early planning stages. Plus, our relationship with the Solviets is so different today than the early 80's the storyline hardly makes sense now.

And of course we have not colonized the moon or found any large black monoliths. Nor have we found any new life on other planets. So even though 2010 sounds very futuristic I still feel we are in the stone ages.