Thursday, May 29, 2008

A few more pictures from the weekend

On Memorial Day, Curt stayed at home to pack up the last of the equipment and papers from the home office that had to be returned before his last day of work. Loren and I went to a picnic in Stuyvesant Town organized by Lisa and Chris (yes, the same ones we went to Sesame Place with). Here Loren helps me prepare brownies for the picnic...

...and shares her picnic set with Lily.

Later that evening, I pulled out the guitar that I have owned for years (since the Tod Street house, for those that can remember that far into the past) but have never actually learned to play...teaching myself out of a lesson book didn't get me very far. I've decided it is time to fix this situation and have signed up for the Guitar for Absolute Beginners class at the NYC Guitar School. I go for my first class, and a restringing tutorial, on Saturday.

Loren helped me tune the five remaining strings, and then showed off her musical talents.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sesame Place

We didn't have any specific plans for Memorial Day weekend, so when my friend Lisa asked if we would like to meet up with her, Chris and Lily (their 14-month-old) at Sesame Place on Sunday, we decided that would make a great day trip out of the city. What's kind of funny is that Loren has never watched Sesame Street or Elmo's World -- we taped a couple for her but she just didn't get into them. But she knows all the characters from various bath toys, placemats, etc. that she has received, and, as other Pampers users will know, from every diaper she has ever worn. So is the park an advertisement to get us to spend money on the products, or vice versa?

She loved the photo ops with the characters:

She was a little shy about approaching Big Bird, but she got over it.

I was amazed that she let Elmo give her a huge hug.

Loren also had a great time on the rides.

We met up with Chris, Lisa and Lily around lunchtime, and Loren and Lily played in the mat area for a bit. We also went to the Elmo's World live show and learned a little bit about fish (e.g., you can recognize a kingfish because it wears a crown). Loren sat through the whole show, but luckily this has not given her any inclination to want the TV show.

We will be going back sometime this summer, partly because Loren loved it, partly because we were expecting cooler weather so we didn't bring bathing suits for the water rides, but mainly because for the same price as a single-day ticket, you get a second day free.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stardate 62398.66 - Frak

Today we got back from being out with Loren at the Sesame Street park in PA and the Dell Inspiron E1705 had an error message about not being able to boot. Odd, since it was running with the screen saver on when we left. To make a long story short, here is the problem:

*** Hard Drive - DST Short Test ***
Test Results: Fail
Error Code 2000-0148
MSG: 0: IDE ERROR: Status 3E No additional sense information

The laptop will not boot from the hard drive. And if I boot from CD-ROM I can get to the Hard Drive but I cannot see the "Users" directory at the root level. To make matters worse, the backup (which seemed to complete successfully yesterday) will not permit me to restore. It just does not show any restore points available, even though I can see the data files on the drive for yesterday. I tested the restore function back when we first got the drive, but it failed a couple of months ago and I had to scrap the backup data and start over and I apparently never re-checked the restore to ensure it was working property.

We're completely screwed. We'll loose months and months and possible more than a year of photos if I cannot get the data either from the hard drive or from the backup. I'm going to call the tech support line for the backup software tomorrow, but I'm not anticipating any luck with them. My next option is to send the drive to one of those data recovery outfits and spend whatever it takes to get the data back. (Anyone got any suggestions as to a good place?)

I am ready to throw the laptop out of the window and into the courtyard below. I've now spent the past 3 hours trying to fix this, to no avail.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Stardate 62395.71 - A Little Picnic

For dinner tonight (Saturday, May 24th) we decided to pack it up and have a little picnic on the roof deck. It was pasta all around, with salad for Cheryl and me, topped off by water (and milk for Loren). The wind was a little high and the tiny, plastic wine glasses tipped over a couple of times, but the 3 10-year -old hooligans who came up unsupervised and proceeded to climb to the top of a mechanical structure and kick roof tar down onto the deck were the greatest annoyance. Their ineffective parental unit, who showed up 5 minutes later, was a close second place on the annoyance scale.

We had a nice view, however, and mostly ignored them and they went away soon after regardless.


Stardate 62395.22 - MoMA Little Members

Saturday morning we went to MoMA to an event they call, "Little Members." We were permitted into the museum for 2.5 hours before they officially opened, so our children could look at works of art and complete some educational material. Loren found a couple of paintings she liked, including one by Paul Klee called Cat and Bird. But she was too young to complete the learning packet, so after looking around for 30 minutes she was ready to leave.

We then strolled up to Central Park, and tried to get Loren to go on the Merry-Go-Round. She had been on one before at the Bronx Zoo back in February, but these horses were high and the ride was fast so before it even started she wanted off. Oh, well--guess that $4 was just a donation.

We then went to one of the playgrounds where Loren demonstrated her climbing ability.

She also briefly enjoyed the swings.

We then stopped at Mon Petit Cafe for lunch, but the coffee and food were disappointing. After failing to get Loren to nap, we played in the apartment for a while and then took a brief trip out to the playground across the street. As I'm writing this we're back in the apartment, it is getting overcast, and we're trying to decide if we want to venture out for a little shoe shopping for Loren before we get too settled in to leave.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Stardate 62390.04 - CA Day Eight

Sunday morning (May 11th) we got up and drove to Santa Cruz to Janice and Steve's beach house. They were about to have the entire thing torn down and a new one built on the lot, so I helped pack items into a "POD" while Cheryl took Loren to the beach.

After lunch Cheryl took Loren for a walk and she fell asleep for her nap so Cheryl could also help out. We ran about 1.5 hours longer than Steve and Janice wanted to, but we did finally finish enough to enable a short sail in the afternoon.

Some seals were floating on their backs with their flippers in the air. It was a weird sight, but they were most assuredly alive...just floating around the bay.

Obligatory picture of Loren working the winch handle.

I'm not sure if the wind was really bothering her a lot or what, but Loren wanted to spend a lot of time below in the v-berth and also horsing around with the horseshoe PFD.

We finished up the sail and left for the airport within our time zone, but about 30 minutes later than we should have. We were pushing it to get the rental turned in, get checked in, get through security, and arrive at the gate in time for the flight. We got there about 15 minutes before boarding, which is perfect timing in Cheryl's book but about 30 minutes late in my book.

Regardless, we all managed to get some sleep on the red-eye and we arrived in NYC early Monday morning (around 0630). Cheryl stayed home from work and Loren stayed home from school. I managed to get some work done, but we were all pretty tired.

This was a visit-people trip as opposed to a relax-on-the-beach trip, but all-in-all, a very nice vacation! Thanks to Steve and Janice and also John and Jeff for the free lodging!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stardate 62387.55 - CA Day Seven

Saturday morning we went out with the gang for breakfast to Mel's Diner. Loren really enjoyed her bagel with cream cheese.

We then took a drive through the Presidio (future home of Starfleet Command) and took a stroll on the beach. Loren immediately wanted her sand toys, which of course we did not have with us.

Here I helped her to "fly" across the gaps in the wall.

Later in the day we went to the Walter Hass playground, which is located on top of a high hill. This location provides nice views but also incredibly strong winds. Cheryl said it was "the windiest playground on the face of the Earth!"

Late in the afternoon we went down to the Marina to sit on a boat owned by friends of Steve and Janice, as there were fireworks scheduled for around 9 PM. Loren was disappointed we didn't get to go sailing, but we did end up going out the next day in Santa Cruz.

Here Loren decides that she'll just go ahead and take us out.

And it wouldn't be a visit to a sailboat if Loren didn't get to work the wench handle.

The fireworks were quite nice, although we could only see the bottom half of them due to the fog and later the smoke from the fireworks. Afterwards we went back to John and Jeff's place for one last night in San Francisco. Loren seemed to like the fireworks, but I think the noise and everything also was a little unsettling for her.


Stardate 62386.24 - Happy Birthday to Me

I'm going to interrupt the California vacation series to talk about my trip this past weekend. As an early birthday present to myself, this past weekend I went on a sail from Newport, RI to Block Island. It was a pretty cool time, both in temperature and in fun factor. It was the skipper, me as first mate, and one crew member on a Beneteau Oceanis 461 (a 10-year old model). At 46 feet, it was the largest sailboat I've ever sailed. We chartered the boat from Bareboat Sailing Charters in Newport.

We drove up to Newport on Friday morning, and spend the night on the boat there. It was pouring rain all night and into the next morning, so we didn't leave until around 1000, but just as we sailed out of Newport the clouds cleared and the sun streamed down. It was a little over a 4-hour sail to Block Island, where we went ashore for an early dinner.
Sunday we sailed around off of Block Island in the morning, ate lunch on the Island at Oars, then rented bikes for afternoon exploration (we ended up biking about 10 miles). We then returned to the boat for dinner.

Monday morning we were up early and left around 0700 to return to Newport. We had 25 knot winds, gusting to 30 knots, and 3-4 foot waves. It was a tense beam reach up the the first buoy when we turned and broad-reached all the way to Newport. Just short of Newport the winds died down to 15-20 knots and the waves dropped to about 1 foot. We got to Newport in 3.5 hours - a new record for our skipper. After squaring away the boat we drove back to the city. It was a great experience, I got a huge amount of time in on the helm, and I really enjoyed the trip.

Thanks to Cheryl for letting me go! ;-) And thanks to Thomas, our skipper, for organizing everything and for these great pictures!


Stardate 62385.94 - CA Day Six

Friday was a busy day in Berkeley. After breakfast at the hotel, we walked around for a while and found a playground where Loren could play. She enjoyed it so much, that I left her and Cheryl there while I went back to the room, packed up the luggage, loaded it into the car, and checked out. I then came back to the playground where Loren still did not want to leave.

Finally we went to meet Cheryl's previous boss (who is now back teaching at Berkeley) for lunch. Afterwards we drove up to Inspiration Point in Tilden Regional Park for a short hike, during which Loren took a little nap. Did I mention that the rental we had was a Prius? We went about 830 miles during the week and only put 11 gallons of gas into the car (we did return it empty as I purchased the gas option, but that is still some really good mileage).

Here Cheryl and her former boss, John, pose at the end of our hike.

Back at John's house Loren and her kitty wanted to play with John's cat.

We then drove into San Francisco to our friends John and Jeff's place, where we planned to spend Friday night. John had a photo show that evening so we went to take a look at his (and other's) photos on exhibit at Fort Mason. Here John poses with some of his photos.

Loren enjoyed the food, especially the strawberries. She even was using the cheese knife to put cheese on crackers and eating them. Unfortunately, she also licked the cheese knife at one point which led one exhibitor to have a conniption.

The sun was setting as we left the show to drive back to John/Jeff's place.