Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And Now...The Main Event

It's Tuesday, which means I finally have to fulfill the reason I'm in Hawaii...the second annual Honolulu AUGI CAD Camp. The event was sponsored by SPEC Systems Corp. Former AUGI President Yoshi Honda was the content manager and did an excellent job organizing the day's events.

The team in Hawaii had a few instructors that haven't been regular participants on the mainland. My old friend dave espinosa-aguilar, always one of the top instructors at Autodesk University, flew in from eastern Washington and taught three classes.

Local Felicia Provencal, also a long-time AU instructor, also taught three classes, as did I.

Other instructors included Autodesk regulars Heidi Hewett and Todd Hunter as well as locals Daven Homamoto, Veronica Lamb, and Jamie Casile.

A crowd of nearly 240 attended, making the Honolulu CAD Camp one of the most well attended CAD Camp events yet.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Keeping the Day on Par

This is a short one...and no photos.

Before I left, I said that I wanted to do three things while in Hawaii: I wanted to go diving (something I didn't get a chance to do back in February), I wanted to spend more time on the water (another thing we didn't get a chance to do on our previous trip), and I wanted to play some golf.

So...Saturday we did our dive (see Yes...I'm Here on Business, below), Sunday went kayaking and cliff diving (see No Resting on Sunday, below), and today we played golf.

We played at the Navy & Marine golf course near Hickham AFB. Our foursome consisted of my son, myself, my son's roommate's father Bill (a retired USAF and NWA pilot), and his Australian friend Mic (also a retired pilot). The previous evening, at a barbeque at Bill's house, we were all dancing around the issue of whether any of us was actually a decent golfer. I for one am decidely not. I'm a 30 handicap on a good day and have not played much this year. But some how, I managed to par the first two holes, got another par on the eighth hole, and was only one or two over on the other holes on the front 9. It must be the relaxed atmosphere of Hawaii. I was putting like the ball had its own GPS guidance system.

I kind of blew up on the 10th and 11th holes, so my final score of 106 was definitely in line with my 30 handicap. But what a nice feeling. As they say, it's rounds like this that keep you coming back.

And by the way, one of the perks of the military is definitely their golf courses. How else could you play a round of golf in Hawaii for $20 each?

After golf and a nice lunch at the golf course's restaurant (joined by two other pilots from my son's squadron who drove over from the nearby base), we went back to Bruce's house and took a nap. Later this evening, Bruce will drive me into Waikiki to the hotel where I speak tomorrow. Yes, after three days of nonstop fun, I finally have to go to work.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

No Resting on Sunday

Sunday in Hawaii dawned beautiful, like every other day in Hawaii. After a relaxed breakfast, we rented some kayaks at the nearby Marine base and paddled over to the Mukulua Islands, two small islands about a mile off Lanakai Beach. It took us about 30 minutes to cross, paddling against the current.

Once there, Bruce, Jill, and I climbed around to the ocean side of the island. Bruce had shown us these islands when we were in Hawaii visiting in February, and I had heard the story (and seen the damage) from when Bruce and his friend Phong had attempted this same trip last winter. At that time, a wave washed Phong onto the rocks, resulting in a trip to the hospital and a number of stitches.

Happily, our trip was totally uneventful, although Bruce had not told me that the goal was to climb around onto the back side where there was a protected inlet and some very high cliffs, perfect for cliff diving.

It was a bit intimidating the first time, but quite fun after that.

After several solo jumps and dives, Bruce and his friend Jill jumped together. Of course, none of us attempted to jump from the higher cliffs around to the south of the inlet.

After spending an hour or so on the island, we paddled back to Lanakai Beach, a much shorter crossing thanks to the current.

Some of the homes along Lanakai Beach are quite spectacular. Jill rents a small apartment behind one of these homes.

After returning the kayaks, Bruce and I had dinner at the home of Shannon's parents. Shannon is the pilot with whom Bruce shares a house. She's currently at Instructor Pilot training.

Tomorrow morning, we're playing golf with Shannon's dad and a friend of his visiting from Australia.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Yes...I'm Here on Business

Any of you who know about my travel horror stories will not be at all surprised by the first part of my story.

I had to fly to Honolulu so that I could speak at the AUGI CAD Camp event there on Tuesday, July 31. Since my son Bruce lives there, I decided to fly to Hawaii on Friday afternoon so that I could spend the weekend visiting with him.

So, imagine that you got to go to Hawaii for business. Imagine that you could get there a few days early so that you could enjoy the island before having to work. Now imagine that Northwest Airlines cancels your flight.

That's right. On Friday afternoon, upon arriving at Seatac Airport from Bellingham, the woman at the Alaska Airlines Boardroom, upon looking up my reservation, informs me that NWA flight 607 to Honolulu has been cancelled and I am now scheduled to arrive not on Friday evening but on Sunday morning.

Some very quick work by the wonderful woman at Alaska Airlines remedied that situation. She got on the phone with Northwest and secured me one of the few remaining seats on a flight leaving in 35 minutes for Maui. She also called Northwest baggage department to make sure that my bag got transferred to that flight. I ran through the airport and managed to get onto the flight just before they closed the door.

The flight was uneventful, thank goodness, although I could certainly complain about NWA's lack of food. By the time they got to my row, all that was left among the $5 deli sandwiches was tomato and mozzarella. So be it.

Upon arriving in Maui, I quickly changed my Hawaian Air flight from a 9pm departure to a 7pm flight. I actually arrived in Honolulu 35 minutes earlier than my originally scheduled Northwest flight.

And miraculously, my bag arrived. Among other things, my bag contained my new underwater housing for my Canon SD600 digital camera. The following are some of the photos I took the next morning when we dove the Sea Tiger, a wreck just off the coast.

Resting in just over 100 feet of water, it was quite a nice wreck.

Bruce's friend Jill arranged the dive for us. We met at the dock early on Saturday morning and did the first dive of the day on the Sea Tiger.

After a short surface break, we did a second dive on a small reef in about 40 feet of water. The sea life was interesting, but not spectacular, although we did see a small white tip shark.

We also saw several nice morays. There are more photos of the dive on my Flickr site.

The Canon digital camera is not only great for photography, but also takes excellent video. Here's a short video of our dives.

Later that afternoon, after a very pleasant lunch, Bruce, Jill, and I hiked to Maunawili Falls. Here's a photo from the hike. But again, there are more on the Flickr site.

The plan for Sunday is to kayak over to a small island off Lanikai Beach. More on that in my next posting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

PSAUG Meeting

I got to share the stage with my friend Lynn Allen at the July Puget Sound AutoCAD User Group meeting at Renton Technical College.

Lynn was there to talk about the new features in AutoCAD 2008.

Before Lynn's presentation, however, I spoke for about 15 minutes specifically about the new data extraction and linking capabilities in AutoCAD 2008, including some of the bugs that currently exist (which should be fixed when Service Pack 1 is released later this year).

Thanks once again to my friend Jamie Thomas from Midpoint CAD for organizing a great meeting.

Before the meeting, on a tip from one of my fellow PPI employees, I visited the grave of Jimi Hendrix.

It turns out that Hendrix is buried in the cemetery right across the street from the college.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Vincent Visits

We had a rare treat in mid-July. My old friend Vincent Everts visited from The Netherlands, along with his wife Katie Lee and their young son Vince.

I've known Vincent since around 1989. He's one of the founders of Cyco Automation, an early AutoCAD third-party developer. I first met Vincent in Vancouver when he visited CADalyst magazine, and we've been friends ever since. We've skiied together at Whistler and my daughter Andrea visited Vincent when she toured Europe several years ago.

This was my first opportunity to return the hospitality, and we had a very nice, very domestic weekend. We walked the Interurban Trail here in Bellingham, taking a brief break on the Fairhaven Village Green.

It's been a while since we've had a toddler in the house.

We even encountered someone walking their pet iguana in Boulevard Park. You never know what you're going to find in Bellingham.

Later in the afternoon, Vincent, Katie Lee, and Vince visited the BSME model railroad club and got a chance to ride the 7.5-inch gauge outdoor railroad.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fantastic Sunset

How do you equal a great concert by a fantastic jazz musician? Well, in Bellingham you walk outside. Upon leaving the Ferry Terminal after the Greta Matassa concert, we were all treated to Mother Nature's visual concert, in the form of a typically incredible Bellingham sunset.

Even the ducks posed for their cameo.

Personally, I think we've got the best sunsets on earth.

Greta Matassa Performs in Bellingham

You may recall that jazz vocalist Greta Matassa opened for Herbie Hancock on June 20 in Seattle. In chatting with her after that show, I learned that she was going to be performing in Bellingham on July 11.

The concert wasn't well publicized, however. I didn't see anything in the paper about it. Only by stopping at the Ferry Terminal this evening at around 6:30pm did I learn that she was indeed performing with her trio in a free concert at 7:30pm

What a wonderful show. Part of the Blaine Jazz Festival, Greta performed music of Cole Porter, backed up by her incredible trio of Clipper Anderson on bass, Darin Clendenin on piano, and Lou Abbott on drums.

Ms. Matassa was in wonderful form, doing many Cole Porter standards, including "I Love Paris", "Miss Otis Regrets", and a swinging rendition of "Love For Sale."

With Bellingham Harbor as a backdrop, the Greta and her combo did two sets with a brief intermission.

She will perform again at the Blaine Performing Arts Center tomorrow night as part of the main festival. A new CD of Cole Porter music was not ready in time for this show, but will be released sometime next week. If you haven't yet gotten a chance to hear this wonderful performer, check out her website at www.gretamatassa.com.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sunday Morning Ride

We were in Seattle for the weekend to celebrate my sister Lori's 50th birthday on Saturday night. Then, on Sunday morning, Lori, her two children (Emily and Martin), Bobbi (my other sister), and I rode 18 miles from Lori's house to Redmond Town Center where the rest of our families met us for breakfast.

I haven't done much biking lately, whereas both of my sisters are avid riders. But Lori promised that the trail was virtually level. Lori lives right on the Burke-Gilman Trail. So we rode the trail up through Lake Forest Park and then connected to the Sammamish River Trail in Bothell.

As promised, the trail was virtually flat, and it was an absolutely gorgeous morning. The trail took us right through Blyth Park, the park in Bothell where we had gone to see American Idol finalist Blake Lewis back in April (see "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles"). At that point, it becomes the Sammamish River Trail.

The trail then continued through Woodinville, Washington and on into Redmond. We made it to Redmond Town Center at 10am, a very enjoyable and easy 90-minute ride.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th of July

We spent a quiet Fourth of July in Bellingham this year, really just puttering around the house. Amazingly, the weather was beautiful all day (usually, it rains at least some time during the day, and then summer starts on July 5th). We even went to the pool for a while and then went to an early Bellingham Bells baseball game at Joe Martin Stadium.

But what would the 4th of July be without fireworks. It gets dark quite late in Bellingham, so the fireworks display over Bellingham Bay didn't start until 10:30pm. Around 9:30 we drove over to the harbor. Our favorite place to watch the fireworks is from the lawn in front of the Bellweather Hotel. But we've learned from past years not to park in the lots near the hotel. It has sometimes taken us more than an hour to get out of the parking lot. So this year, we parked out off the main road and walked in. (I won't reveal the secret of exactly where we parked.)

The beautiful weather led to a picture-perfect fireworks display. And this year I did things a bit differently when it came to photograhing the fireworks, and I think the results paid off. I used a 28mm lens on my Canon 10D digital SLR, set the camera into completely manual mode, turned off the auto-focus and instead simply set the lens to infinity, set the equivalent film speed to 100 ISO, and set the shutter to f/11. Then I shot exposures ranging from 2 to 5 seconds. The camera was on a tripod, of course, and I used a cable release.

I think the results speak for themselves. Out of about 100 frames, I got around 30 really good shots. These are two of my favorites.

There are more on my Flickr site.

By the way, the parking worked out perfectly. Rather than sitting in traffic for an hour, we were back at the house (and I was uploading photos) less than 30 minutes after the end of the fireworks display.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A Typical Saturday Night in Bellingham

I can't think of a better place to live than Bellingham. And a beautiful Saturday night is a perfect explanation. Last night was the first Movie on the Green, a summer tradition here in the Fairhaven district. Every Saturday night for 10 weeks, they show family-friendly films on the Village Green behind the Colophon Cafe and Village Books.

The evening started with live entertainment from Bent Nail, a local bluegrass group. There was also a concert going on less than a mile away in Boulevard Park, which is connected to Fairhaven via a pedestrian trail along the bay. So when that concert was over, a lot of people walked back into Fairhaven for the movie. The bluegrass music was followed by the movie, which was "A Mighty Wind." It was fun seeing it again, particularly with a crowd. And it was amazing how many people in the crowd had never seen it before.

Of course, the movie couldn't start until after dark, and this time of year, it doesn't get dark until 10pm. Sunset was officially at 9:16pm and dusk at 9:58pm. And of course, sunset in Bellingham on a beautiful Saturday evening includes a natural show of its own.