Herbfarm

Herbfarm

Well we had our Herbfarm dinner last night. Quite an experience, we can see why this place has a national reputation. The owners are passionate about their restaurant and they create a real event, almost a festival atmosphere.

The restaurant is in a beautiful building. A gorgeous dining room, a large open kitchen, an attached wine cellar, all in french country style.

We sat down at 7pm and got up a little after midnight. The food list (none of these huge servings):

– Sauteed Oyster with Sorrel Sauce
– Quail Egg Benedict with Cured Salmon and Watercress Sauce
– Perigord Black Truffle & Leek Tart
– Celery Root & Oregon White Truffle Ravioli
– Alaskan Side Stripe Shrimp in Truffled Garlic Sabayon
with Fennel Tempura and Apple Slaw
– Seared Duck Foie Gras and Perigord Truffles
with Yellow Finn Potatoes, Briased Endive & Shallot RIngs
– Sorbet of Douglas Fir
– Thyme-grilled Squab
with Oregon Black Truffles, Lentils, Bloomsdale Spinach and Golden Beets
– Juniper Grove Goat Cheese Buche
with Charlotte of Spice Bread & Tart Cherry Chutney
– Wild Huckleberry Souffle with Rose Geranium Sauce
– Armagnac, Thyme & Prune Ice Cream Crepe with Maple-poached Pears
– Chocolate Eclair with Lavender Praline Cream
– Assorted chocolate Truffles

And we had 6 different wines – 97 Argyle Brut, 2000 Matthews Cellars Semillon, 99 Adelsheim Clone 76 Chardonnay, 98 Beran Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir, 94 Chateau Sainte Michelle Artist’s Series Meritage, and an 1875 Barbieto Malvazia Madeira.

It was quite an adventure. We had more fun than we anticipated, the service was amazing and friendly, and we were seated close enough to other tables to talk with other diners (a couple who had driven 7 hours from Missoula for the dinner).

To our surprise I think we liked the Foie Gras the best of all the dishes. But they were all fascinating.

Herbfarm

Herbfarm

This coming Friday night C and I are going to dinner at the Herbfarm, the most famous restaurant in the Pacific Northwest. We bought the dinner at a school auction. You typically have to reserve a year in advance. Very French with a lot of snooty wine and stinky cheese and strange animals and parts of animals. Wish us luck.

Ooh I see this weekend they are featuring truffles. This is much preferable to sweetbreads or gosh knows what else.

Back to the Grind

Back to the Grind

Both L and J back to school today. A tough morning, everyone up and moving by 620 am. 6 weeks of grind until mid-winter break in february. That’s not so bad. We’re going to Arizona for a week in February so we have something to look forward to.

Raining raining raining today. As it was yesterday. Why we hate Seattle. But on the good side of the ledger, the daffodil shoots all broke thru in the last 4-5 days, so spring is already on its way!

College Update

Another school L is now considering is Occidental in LA. She met a student from her high school who now goes there and loves it. And per the website, Oxy is ‘Hot’, according to Newsweek and the WSJ.

C and I are trying to figure out why “Oxy” is the abbreviation for “Occidental”.

Webcam

Webcam

Another new toy I am playing with. You can check out the view from our back upstairs deck by clicking on the Webcam link at left. I only update this picture once a day at 10am currently. i am playing around with camera settings and location so it may change from day to day.

The Outback Bowl

The Outback Bowl

From my Dad, today’s guest blogger:

“Whoa! What a second half and a fantastic fourth quarter! We were glued to our seats for the entire game!(after the first half—there were some who wanted to leave!) We prefer to think that Ohio State lost the first half 14 to zip…but won the second half 28 to 17! The team played well but our offensive coordinator needs a little work. We expected them to go for the bomb on the last few seconds of the ball game…not with so much time left on the clock…..in my opinion the coaches got lost in the excitement of the game amd lost site of their objective. We would of preferred overtime to this ending! Oh well…there are many fans who believe Tressel will really make his presence felt in the oncoming years!”

For complete coverage, check out the Dispatch or the State.

Fitness

Fitness

One of the great things about our Outward Bound trip last year is that it forced me into a fitness regimen. I am a goal oriented person and I need some form of clear tangible goal to get me into the gym.

I think I have found my next goal. I want to eventually hike at least a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. I’d like to do a 5-10 day trip on the trail, in a small group. I have a lot to do to get ready. First of all fitness. Carrying a pack for 5-10 days while hiking some reasonable altitude gains is going to be tough. Then I need to get updated on first aid, on orienteering, on water use, on camping, etc.

Since we also have a lot of family activities, personal activities, and of course my job, it is going to take me a few years to get everything ready for this. But I am excited about the goal. It will be a stretch and I will learn a lot.

Books

Books

The Economist’s book picks for the year. A pretty interesting list. I’ve ordered 4 or 5.

As indicated in my book links, I am reading a great book on construction failure right now. Deep in my heart I’ve always wanted to be an architect and I guess I am going to slowly read my way through the field. The best thing I have learned in this book so far — poorly constructed concrete and masonry structures can be deadly out here in earthquake country. Now I understand why Seattle buildings have so little ornamental stonework on them — it falls off in quakes and kills people.

Portland Trip

Portland Trip

We had a nice trip down to Portland. What a great city — feels much more old world than Seattle. Narrower streets, older buildings, just a lot more style. A great city for walking around. ANd you have to love no sales tax.

We stayed at the Heathman Hotel. We recommend it if you ever get Portland way. A beautiful lobby in which they host a holiday tea. It was booked too far in advance for us to partake but we will try to do so in the future.

We visited Reed and Lewis and Clark Colleges. Both beautiful campuses. Reed felt more like a midwest or east coast campus with older buildings and a lot of deciduous trees in a suburban setting. Reed has about 1400 undergrads, 77% from outside the Northwest. It is a very short drive into downtown Portland.

Lewis and Clark is a bit further out, also in a suburban neighborhood. The campus feels more typically northwest with a lot of douglas firs, etc. A little larger than Reed, about 1800 undergrads.

A great trip and I am sure we will go back to at least Reed when L starts making formal visits this spring.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone is having a great day. We are all well and enjoying the day together.

This past weekend we went to see, among other things, a performance by The Bobs. What an amazing group. They did some great a capella holiday music, and the most astounding a capella version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”. I know this sounds bizarre, it was but it was great. Worth a night out if they ever come your way.

We also saw two movies this weekend — Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and A Beautiful Mind. Both great flicks.

If I had to choose between them and a night with The Bobs, The Bobs would win every time.

L begs to differ. She thought The Bobs were scary.

Pictures

Pictures

I am trying out some simple picture posting ideas. You’ll see on the left some links to photos. These are stored up on Shutterfly as we use that as a photo printing service. You can actually print photos from there if you want some of these.

Let me know if any problems viewing these.

College Thinking

College Thinking

One constant theme of conversation in our house these days is college — in particular, where might L go.

I have no idea where L will ultimately decide to go — I am enjoying learning about schools with her and watching her think thru the decision. I am sure she will make a great choice.

One factor will certainly be our location. The West, and in particular the Pacific Northwest, is just not as well provisioned with lots of private universities and liberal arts schools, certainly not in the way that the Midwest or East is.

Working from North to South, some of the schools we have talked about in a positive light include:

– the University of Washington
Reed College
Lewis and Clark College
UC Berkeley
UC Davis
Stanford
Santa Clara University
UC Santa Barbara
Pepperdine University
UCLA
Claremont McKenna
UC San Diego

Other schools we have considered but probably ruled completely out are Gonzaga, UC Santa Cruz, and Harvey Mudd. Interesting schools all but not a good fit.

And then there are some that we may learn more about — Caltech, Loyola Marymount, University of San Diego, University of Redlands.

All lists are very dynamic. I’ll try to keep you up to date.

Gosh sorry for being gone so long

Gosh sorry for being gone so long

This is a super busy season for us — Thanksgiving, then L’s birthday on 11/20, then C’s birthday on 12/5, then J’s birthday on 12/15. Of course, Christmas and New Year’s coming.

Birthday highlights — L is heading to the Jingle Bell Bash tonight with her friends for a big night out. Should be major fun. J took his group of friends to the local lasertag emporium — I think I enjoyed that as much as anyone. And on C’s birthday, the Christmas ships stopped in front of our house and did their annual carol concert — wonderful timing.

Volleyball continues to keep L busy. Her high school team had their end of season awards banquet on Friday, and L won the Coach’s Award for the third year running, and she won awards for having the best service percentage and the greatest number of assists. Oh and she was named to the first team league all-star team. She is also getting busy now with her club volleyball team.

Yesterday we all attended a Christmas singalong with the Choral Arts Northwest troupe at the symphony hall here in Seattle. A great time, C and I both loved their rendition of “still, still, still”. There is something about a great choir performance that is so uplifting.

Happy Holidays to you all.

Busy Weekend!

Busy Weekend!

On Friday, I finally joined the ACLU and the EFF after years of claiming I was going to. I am all for tracking down terrorists and bringing them to justice, but in our zeal to do so, I hope we don’t crush important civil liberties.

On Friday night, We went to the Father/Dottir Dinner at school and had a wonderful time, while C and John stayed at home and had a movie night. Great bonding all around.

On Saturday, we went with the rest of the lemmings to see Harry Potter. While not an A+ movie in our view, it was still a great deal of fun. We all agree, we like Ron the best.

On Sunday, digital age disaster! We had taken a lot of pictures Saturday with our digital camera, hoping to use one for our Christmas card. And we had a lot of other pictures in the camera. On Sunday I took the compactflash memory card out of our camera and attempted to upload the pictures to my PC. Oops, the card was corrupted. And it was no longer readable by the camera. All our pictures were gone.

Major unhappiness. Thankfully I knew people at Microsoft who knew the experts on compactflash, and they directed me towards Ontrack. Not for the faint of heart, this is a pretty techy tool, I had to figure out that my compactflash card had a FAT32 file system on it and had to scan the compactflash card many many times, but I finally recovered 90% of the pictures.

Lesson learned yet again — back up early and back up often. Never leave pictures sitting around for months in your digital camera, get them uploaded and stored securely right away.

One more digital disaster — I love my blackberry, but I am getting blackberry thumb, a variant of carpal tunnel. ouch.

This Day In History

This Day In History

First of all, when it comes to doughnuts, we’re #1!

I hope the weather doesn’t prevent us from consuming even more doughnuts.

More importantly, let’s wish the microprocessor a happy birthday. In one form or another it has had a huge impact on our lives. Certainly on my life anyway.

I still remember the first Bowmar Brain that Dad brought home. Wow. I was entranced. I soon graduated to the TI-59, which introduced me to primitive programming. Then I managed to buy a TI 99/4 and had my first personal computing experience. This machine was a dog but the notion of personal computing was infectious for me.

I quickly ditched the TI (which again was a dog) and got an Apple ][ which was a great machine. I loved buying software in ziplock bags at the Microcenter on Lane Avenue. I loved the huge market of addon cards. I loved the nascent computer industry press — Byte magazine and Creative Computing were my monthly bibles.

Then I read an article about the Smalltalk programming environment in Byte magazine and was hooked on the idea of a graphical interface, and bought a Mac at the first possible moment — my second year in grad school, C and I had absolutely no money, but I managed to buy a Mac the first day it was on the market.

Then I moved out west here and had to adopt Windows and PCs wholeheartedly. By now I am probably on my 20th Windows PC in the workplace and probably 10th at home — my latest being a hardcore game machine from Alienware.

And of course I now use microprocessors in about 100 other machines in my daily life — in my stereo, in my car, in my MP3 player, in my cell phone, in my Blackberry, etc…

It has been fun so far…

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme

OK folks it is just a doughnut. Why this town has gone nuts over them I do not understand.

I guess we don’t have the Mariners to talk about any more. No one cares enough about the Seahawks to talk about them. The crummy local weather is old news. And the national news scene is just not very uplifting.

So we obsess about doughnuts. Topic number one every morning is Krispy Kreme gossip — how long is the line, have you had one yet, did you hear about the 5 additional outlets they are going to open in the Seattle area.

If we could only get a White Castle now…

Weblogs

Weblogs

Perhaps the best way to build a personal website these days is as a weblog, or blog for short. This site is an example — your typical blog is a set of short notes posted in chronological order, most typically with references to other sites. It is kind of the web equivalent of a diary!

You can get more information on blogs at lots of places — the blogger site has lots of info and is the tool that I use to build and maintain my site. Super easy to use, and I can add new items to my website from anywhere — at home, at work, at a friends house, anywhere. Weblogs.com also has a ton of info and you can buy software up here to help you build and run a blog (or any other kind of website). There is more info on these sites than I can possibly summarize, including a lot of info on or near the weblogs site concerning web services and xml which is a whole ‘nother discussion.

To get started building a blog using say blogger, you’ll need to first decide where to host your blog — i.e. what server will it physically reside on. If you don’t care what domain name you have, then you can use a free homepage service like Talkcity . You’ll have limited storage and probably some ads inserted in your page but hey it is free.

If you want your own domain name like I have, you’ll need to register your name at someplace like Network Solutions. This isn’t hugely expensive — $35/year is the listed price tho i think i have seen cheaper deals. Then you’ll need to pay some more to host the domain somewhere — you should be able to get this done for $10 a month or less. Or you can do like I do and host it at your workplace for free, though you will need a friendly employer.

Once you have your free homepage or hoisted domain set up, just point blogger towards it and go! I’ve skipped about a zillion details but part of the fun is learning how to do all this and I don’t want to spoil your fun!

Volleyball Season Finale

Volleyball Season Finale

Well L’s volleyball season ended today at the district tournaments in Edmonds. This was the first time that Forest Ridge had ever made it to the district tournaments and they faced a set of very tough teams. In their first match they lost to Orcas Island High School in a hard fought match. In their second match they were eliminated by LaConner High School.

It was a great experience for the team. They experienced the atmosphere and intensity of the district tournament for the first time. Despite losing, they all had a great time and felt great about their day. L’s team is made up predominantly of juniors so they fully expect to be back at the districts next year.

Carter Beats The Devil What

Carter Beats The Devil

What a great fun book. John and I have both read it, it is a great yarn. And for those with a Marion, Ohio background, it has just enough mentions of Marion and Harding and Nan Britton to make you feel right at home.

Ignition Update Some of you

Ignition Update

Some of you have asked about the companies that we are investing in here at Ignition. Here is a quick rundown of our investments to date:

Seven — founded by a great entrepreneur, Bill Nguyen. This company is doing great, they are solving wireless network problems for large companies.

Avogadro — founded by longtime friends from Microsoft, this company was sold earlier this year to Openwave for nearly $100M at the time. A great set of guys, we wish them well.

RLX — working on next generation server designs that are orders of magnitude smaller, cooler, lighter, less power consumptive.

Gitwit — founded by a brilliant guy, Eric Engstrom. Working on the coolest technologies ever for cell phones.

Etrieve — down in Portland. Letting you work with your email and calendar by voice.

Airwave — working on next generation wireless networks. In stealth mode.

Radioframe — working on a very cool solution to allow your cell phone to work well indoors — in buildings, in parking garages, in all the places that cell phone coverage is weak today. Great set of guys behind this one.

IR — a team of very bright guys working on some secret stuff.

In addition we have some entrepreneurs sitting in our offices working on some very early business ideas that may become companies.

None of these companies are public entities nor are they likely to be so anytime soon. The market for public offerings is pretty tough these days. But most of them are good solid companies that will become cash flow positive and when the markets improve, we expect some very positive outcomes.