World map of countries I have visited.

I have set foot inside the boundaries of each of the countries colored red on this map.

Create your own visited country map


Jill Carroll freed

I was elated to hear on KUT this morning that the CSMonitor reporter Jill Carroll has been freed after three months in captivity. As a freelance journalist covering the Iraq conflict, Jill has been a voice for those often overlooked in the struggle: ordinary Iraqi people. It's good to know that her voice will still be heard. My heart goes out to Jill and her family in what must be for them a time of great relief and joy.


And now a few assoorted photos from Ethan's surprise party.

Because we had a surprise birthday party planned for Ethan, we had to have a "decoy" party earlier in the day to allay any of his suspicions. So we met around 9:30 at Cafe Java.

I gave Ethan the complete Calvin & Hobbes collection and an undercut saw. He got an angle drill from mom & dad. I forget whence the giant bottle of Bailey's came.
Ethan seemed convinced by our charade. I think he was genuinely surprised when we had another party for him later in the day.

On Thursday there was a little "networking social" downstairs in the cafeteria. There was live music, food, beer, and of course foosball!

My colleague Darren was in true form.

Håkan is getting really good too. In the background you can see the instruments that the jazz band was playing. The lead saxophonist in the band is actually an IBM manager. He's responsible for AIX kernel development.

Back at the office.


Putting Ethan's birthday present to good use.

At a surprise party on Saturday for my brother's 30th birthday, I gave him a nice new saw blade designed for making fine cuts in nice wood.
He was a bit confused by the ten-inch blade, because his handheld saw uses much smaller 5½ inch blades.

Then I showed him his real present, a new Ryobi table saw. He was very surprised!

Sunday morning, we put the saw together and continued putting in the hardwood floor in the living room of Ethan & Kelly's new house. Don't worry: we still have all our fingers.

We worked from 10 o'clock in the morning until after 7 in the evening. When we finished for the day, we had completed the living room floor.

As you can see, we also took up all the old tile in the entryway. Ethan is going to install new tile there to match the tile in the kitchen.

We also left an space in front of the back door for few rows of tile. Our next challenge is the hallway and our first doorway. I also gave Ethan an undercut saw designed for cutting through door jambs and surrounding trim. We tested it on the left side of the doorway leading into the study. It seems to work well. The trick we haven't figured out yet is how to angle the planks in under the door jamb, but so that the tounge and groove can still lock with each other.

After we finished for the day, Ethan treated me to dinner at Mangia Pizza. We started off with a pitcher of locally-brewed Live Oak Pilz, and then consumed about two-thirds of a medium Mangia Mia stuffed pizza.

Those pizzas are big!

All in all, it was a very fun and productive weekend. Tonight I'll have dinner with an old colleague of mine and taking a look at his new MacBook Pro. I've been thinking about getting one for myself, so I'm eager to see what it's like.


I'm Kermit.

You Are Kermit

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over-think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone knows it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!


Friday night I went to the Dog & Duck Pub to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I met Warren and Janice there, as well as their friend Laurel. The place was as crowded as I've ever seen it.

There was a big tent in the parking lot and there was live music from several different bands. The beer was mostly Irish beer of course, but I had a few local lagers too.

To get non-Irish beer, one had to go to the bar inside. There were surprisingly few people inside. I guess most people wanted to enjoy the music outside.

I used to go to the Dog & Duck Pub every Friday night with the European Students Association when I was at UT.

Here you can see a small part of the crowd outside the bar. There was a row of portable toilets outside to accomodate the crowds. They were not quite sufficient for the demand.

Lastly, here's the back of the bar. This is where the ESA gang used to meet, way back when. It was here in 1998 that I met Lotta.

Yesterday and today I have helped Ethan begin to install the hardwood flloor in his house. Here is the bay window where we began.

Ethan has a nice cordless circular saw that's lightweight and easy to use.

This is how far we got last night.

Cutting one of those 45° angles.

Another view of the floor below the bay window.

We only made a tiny bit of progress today because we decided it might be better to install the tile by the back door before laying the wood that goes around it.



Down with a cold

I wasn't feeling well yesterday, so I stayed home. I'm quite a bit better today. I guess it's just a cold. At least now, the fever is gone so I'm back at work. I had hoped to go to the Draught House again last night, as has become my Wednesday tradition here in Austin; but I just didn't feel up to it.

With any luck, I'll feel better tomorrow. I'd like to go to the Dog & Duck Pub for some St. Patrick's Day festivities.


Weekend visit to Dallas

On Friday, I drove up to Dallas with my parents to help take care of my grandfather Lorn, who was having his pacemaker replaced. He recovered from the surgery quickly and was in good spirits.

I accidentally bumped into his chest where the new pacemaker was installed, and he joked that I was trying to kill him. We then posed for a photo to commemorate the joke!

My grandfather and I have always had a special connection because we're both scientifically-inclined and both love music. So it's nice to get a chance to spend time with him, even if just for a day.

We had a good time visiting.

On the trip, I also had an opportunity to visit with my grandmother Etha and my aunt Melanie.

My cousin Mark was also there. He has been a real help to my grandparents over the past years. Thanks, Mark!


Happy International Women's Day!

Today is International Women's Day.

On this occasion, I'd like to honor the women in my life: my mom, my grandmother, my aunts and my cousins; my girlfriends, my colleagues, my friends, and my future sister-in law; my dance partners and my climbing/biking/running/skating buddies.

You're all wonderful women with unique gifts.

The world wouldn't be the same without you!


Tonight after skiing, we took the RFTA shuttle bus from Snowmass into Aspen. The main purpose of the trip was to visit Susie's, a consignement shop where we have found some great bargains in the past. We arrived just 15 minutes before closing time, but still managed to find a few good deals. I think that's Susie hualing in the sale merchandise.

Ollie checks out the menswear.

Need a handbag?

Alaire seems to be having fun.

Shopping completed, the gang headed back to the bus stop. In the background you can see Aspen Mountain, also known as Ajax Mountain.

Alaire shows off her acquisitions: a handbag, a pair of Italian leather boots, and a fur hat.

I picked up an olive green silk sweater for $40.

Now we're safely back home in the Timberline condo, where I've opened the last of my bottles of Blue Paddle — an excellent Pilsener lager brewed by the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. They're best known for their famous Fat Tire ale. One of these years, I'll have to swing by the brewery for a tour.