A Light in the Dark

September 28, 2015 7:34 pm

I wrapped an LED around a button battery with a little material to keep it separated so you push on it to turn the LED on.  Then we took turns waving it around while camera took a picture with a long exposure.

Heather's work was usually very...nuclear:


We encouraged her to move around more:


I tried to write my name, but my spatial awareness is apparently not great:


Jess did better with her contribution:


Lunar Eclipse 2015

September 27, 2015 8:41 pm

We and a few families from Church went to a local park and climbed a hill to try and get a decent view of the lunar eclipse tonight.  Despite having had nothing but clear skies for about 9 months we managed to have clouds covering the eastern sky, and only the eastern sky, this evening.  We waited around for a while and did manage to get about 5 minutes where we could see the moon.  I had had plans to try and make a nice timelapse image as the moon came up over the horizon, but that didn't work out.

Here's the best shot I managed to get:

Lunar Eclipse from Livermore, CA
Lunar Eclipse from Livermore, CA

But at least we got a chance to hangout with friends for a little while and we did get to see something.

Of course, after the eclipse ended the sky cleared up perfectly:


These were just using my Pentax K-7 with a 200mm lens, nothing special.

And here is some of the group that was up on the hill watching:


Scott Adams, Donald Trump, What is Real?

September 9, 2015 11:19 am

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, has been writing a series of articles discussing Donald Trump and his presidential campaign.  Scott Adams is, so far, the only person I've seen who can build a coherent argument about who Donald Trump is, what he's trying to do, and why it's working.  That makes me pay attention.

He started with his post on August 13 titled "Clown Genius."  You should go read it and if Adams' hypothesis intrigues you then keep looking through his blog posts after that date, he writes a lot about Trump and gives really interesting examples and details of what's happening and why it's working.

His most important point thus far, I think, is understanding that Trump is, first and foremost, a businessman.  He literally wrote the book on negotiation.  Anything he says is part of a negotiation.  We find this strange in U.S. politics because negotiation in politics has been dead for 20 years or so.  "Compromise" has become a career killer.  But it's necessary to be successful in business.

So, Adams says, when Trump presents some extreme position he's just using it to anchor the negotiation and then he can move to the middle as he sees fit and compromise; just like any negotiation.  You never open with what you actually expect to get--that would simply guarantee that you don't get it.  Politicians act this way, but they seem to have forgotten the part where you then negotiate to something more reasonable.

Adams believes Trump will easily reposition himself as necessary and that he'll do it in a way that is immune from people calling him a "flip-flopper."  That is, he will task underlings with studying the topics and putting together proposals that outline costs, likelihood of success, etc--standard business practice; then when he picks a more moderate position it will be based on analysis of data and facts which is totally reasonable--not flip-flopping.

The overall concept that Adams discusses is the "Master Wizard" hypothesis (so you'll see that term in his writing).  That is, people like Trump have studied and learned the art of getting what they want.  Call it persuasion or manipulation or whatever but the result is the same.  They get people to agree with them and then give them what they want.  He suggests another  Master Wizard you might recognize: Steve Jobs.  By all objective accounts he was a jerk with no technical skill.  Yet he was absurdly successful running a computer company.  He got people to do things for him, no question about it.

Here's one example Adams calls out: Trump was getting a lot of press recently for calling Ben Carson a "nice guy."  It's an interesting phrase to use and he carefully ends his statement with it so it's left hanging.  What do many people mentally fill in when you drop the phrase "nice guy(s)" and then leave it hanging?  "Finish last."  Adams argues that Trump fired this "linguistic bullet" to end Carson's campaign.  In his opinion, millions of people now believe Carson has no chance of winning because he's too nice, but they don't realize why they think that.  That is how wizards operate.

The thing that's scary to me is that the more I read Adams' thoughts on the subject the more is seems like Trump isn't necessarily a bad candidate.  Someone who actually negotiates would be good for the country, we need to bring compromise back in to politics.  But then another part of my brain just says, "Buuuut....he's Donald Trump....seriously?"

Adams believes Trump will win the Republican nomination and then win the general election.  I don't know if that will happen, but Adams has convinced me that I should definitely pay more attention to the details of how Trump is operating and that there is more there than meets the eye.

Heather's First Day of Preschool

September 8, 2015 5:34 pm

IMGP3705asHeather was super excited for her first day of preschool at Cottage Preschool.  It was a little overwhelming at first, a lot of people moving around and unfamiliar terrain, but it settled down.  She did end the day slightly disappointed that they didn't learn Spanish, but it doesn't seem to have been a devastating let down.

Also, I had a really hard time getting a decent picture of her this morning.  Our yard does not lend itself to pictures at that time of day.  Either too much sun, or a sunny background (like this one), or speckled sunlight, or the sun hitting directly on the sensor preventing the off-camera flash from firing.  I was getting a little frustrated, but I think I unlocked a "Dad Achievement."  Heather was getting tired of taking pictures too and I got my first, "[sigh] Daaaad. Are we done yet?"

Monterey Bay 2015

September 5, 2015 9:09 pm

We went down to Monterey for the weekend of August 21, 22, and 23.

I took that Friday off from work and we drove down mid-day to avoid morning rush hour traffic.  When we got there we grabbed lunch at Point Pinos Grill, which was considerably nicer than I was expecting considering the prices.  After lunch we walked across the street to the Point Pinos Lighthouse.


This picture would have turned out better if the sky weren't so heavily overcast, but not much I could do about that.

After touring the lighthouse we headed to our hotel room at Asilomar Conference Grounds.  Once we were checked in we walked down to the beach (Asilomar State Beach) to do some playing.

I dug a hole, because why not?

And Heather stood in it, because why not?

We hung out in our little beach shelter (which worked fairly well overall):


We walked along the beach and dabbled in the water:




This was Heather's usual reaction to the waves coming in:

beach (small)

I tried to take some artsy pictures of the waves stacked up as they came in:


Then we headed up to the room for a dinner of hastily retrieved McDonald's; eaten on the floor (there never seems to be a good place to eat food in a hotel room).

Saturday we eventually made it out the door and down to Monterey's main drag.  We ate breakfast at Coco's which was....not a highlight of the trip.  It could have been a smoother experience, but the food was fine.

With food taken care of we walked down to Monterey Bay Aquarium to spend most of the day.  Public Service Announcement: Buy your tickets online and print them out.  We walked straight in the door while a line down the block was waiting to buy tickets.

Heather got to see some baby moon jellies up close as we walked in.


Heather, Jess, and Corinne sat in a giant clam:


And some more jellies, because they seem to make the most successful pictures at aquariums for some reason:



After completely wearing everyone out at the aquarium we headed to a local pizza joint, Gianni's, for dinner.  It sounded like a sit-down and order kind of place, but it turned out to be a place-an-order and seat yourself kind of place.  Which would have been fine, except they were packed and there was nowhere to sit.  And Heather was DONE with the day and couldn't take being in the restaurant.  So we converted our order to takeout and I took Heather back to the van to decompress while Jess waited for it to be ready.

Once it was ready she called me and we drove around to pick it up (couldn't drive up earlier because there would have been nowhere to park).  That worked well for Heather and we had another dinner on the floor of our hotel room.  The food was good though.  Probably would have been better not stuffed into takeout containers and driven across town though.

On Sunday we got up and eventually got packed up and out of the hotel.  We headed down to Carmel-by-the-sea for breakfast at Em Le's.  They have famous deep-fried french toast:


Em Le's is just a tiny little restaurant tucked into the corner of a building.  There's only seating for maybe 25 people at a time.  The food was really good; give it a try if you're in the area.

See with the Point Pinos Grill, Gianni's, and Em Le's? I tried to find unique, local places to eat; but it's tough not knowing what to expect when you have little kids.  Don't want to unintentionally go somewhere too upscale or non-kid-friendly (Em Le's was close on these criteria, but we didn't have any problems).

After eating we went down to Carmel Beach for a few hours, but didn't take any pictures this time around.  Then we loaded up into the van and headed home.  Which took much longer than it should have.  I was expecting weekend traffic heading back into the Bay Area so we left at like 2, but it was terrible.  So try to avoid that.  We ended up needing to stop for food so we found a Habit Grill (which is a chain, but I hadn't seen one before) which was decent.