25 August 2006

Conference in the Mountains

After our week-long windsurfing camp, Corinne spent the following week in Keystone, CO at an AIAA conference. Being the smart planner that she is, rather than staying in the usual conference lodging, the boring hotel, she decided to take advantage of Keystone's resort location and rent a condo for the week with some of her former Draper pals. Much late-night card playing and YouTube.com watching ensued.

Mike (not me), Fred and Corinne, just before their downhill mountain biking trek. No one was (seriously) injured.

And speaking of mountains... since her flight plan out of Portland flew just south of Mt Hood, she captured some cool shots of the chain of mountains in our area:

- Mike (& Corinne)

18 August 2006

Windsurfing Camp

Windsurfing - or "sailing" as it is referred to around here - is a requirement in the Gorge. The Columbia River is one of the great sailing destinations in the United States, and many of the people who live here moved here for the sailing. In fact, our company is located here because the founder was a windsurfer. So I guess you could say that windsurfing even brought us here, if indirectly.

We learned to snowboard this past winter, so we decided that this was the summer when we learned windsurfing.

Rather than try to learn on our own, we decided to go all out and sign up for a week-long windsurfing camp. ABK Board Sports offered 5-day and 3-day camps in a variety of locations, and we opted for the former. Our original plan was to combine the windsurfing camp with a trip to some exotic place - Southern California, The Caribbean, or someplace like that.

Then we bought a house.

So with much less discretionary money than we had before, we determined that we didn't need to go anywhere at all. After all, isn't the Gorge one of the best windsurfing locations in the country? We used some of the money we saved on travelling to buy ourselves wetsuits, made locally by ProMotion Wetsuits.

The class was Monday through Friday from 9:30am-6pm with a two-hour break for lunch, with Wednesday a half-day (of rest!) Since we had never sailed before, we were starting from scratch; they taught us the basics, from the proper "Number 7" position to uphauling, beach starting, tack, fast tack, water starting, and the pivot jibe. Over the course of the week we were at least able to try each of those techniques, even if we weren't able to execute some of the more advanced ones, such as the pivot jibe.

The wind was varied throughout the week: a good light to moderate wind on Monday; extreme winds on Wednesday; and zero wind on Friday, which ended up being a "here's how to rig the gear" day. We would have liked one more good wind day at the end to solidify some of the skills we were just starting to grasp. I guess we can now better appreciate the phrase "praying for wind."

These photos, taken on day 2, show the 7 position, so named because of the shape that the arms and body are supposed to make. We had plans to take photos on the last day, to show the progress we had made; but standing on a board in the middle of a glassy lake just didn't make for a good photo. I managed to pick up water-starting this week with about a 25% success rate, which made me pretty happy.

Aside from a fat, sore lip I have as a result of another sailer not paying enough attention to where their sail would flip, we had a great time. And since we actually live here - unlike every other person in our class - we can practice anytime we like!

- Mike (& Corinne)

13 August 2006

Garden: Compost & Tomatoes

We've always loved the idea of compost. It does so many great things for the soil of a vegetable or flower garden. But the reality of creating our own compost just hadn't worked out for us. Either through a dearth of material, or lack of maintenance, I was never able to produce any useable compost.

The gardening classes we took in April of this year definitely helped us to manage our composting better, and now we actually have some output! On Sunday I worked and sifted through our three composting piles, and produced approximately two wheel-barrow full of compost. We haven't used any yet, but we will likely work some into the soil when we plant our fall greens. By spring we should have even more, and we'll gradually be able to build up the organic and nutrient content of our garden soil.

If we were to grow only one crop in our garden, it would be tomatoes. So we were disappointed with how our tomato plants had been progressing; compared with those of some friends, they looked pretty small and scraggly. But now that it is a few weeks later, it is clear that they are going to produce fruit!

These Golden Nugget Tomatoes are the first to ripen; we get about a half dozen to a dozen every couple of days from the two plants we have, and boy are they tasty. It will be another several seeks before any of the larger varieties can be harvested, but they are bearing fruit.

- Mike (& Corinne)

12 August 2006

Uncle Uncle Mike & Aunt Aunt Corinne!

We are now officially Uncle Uncle Mike and Aunt Aunt Corinne! My brother Drew and sister in-law Michelle are the proud parents of twins: Katya Beverly Daly and Nadija Cookie Daly were born on August 12th, 2006. Both babies and parents are healthy despite the month-early delivery.

The family, now 100% larger!

Congratulations! We can't wait to meet them!

- Mike (& Corinne)

04 August 2006

Dog Sitting

Our friends Ryan and Jenny went on vacation recently, and they asked us to take care of their dog Charlie for part of the time they were away. Corinne has always had a soft spot for Charlie; on "dog Fridays" at work, Charlie is one of her favorites. A border collie & blue healer mix, Charlie is cute, fun and full of energy.

We didn't realize how much energy he had - and how limitless it was - until we had him for the weekend. I recall one instance in particular when we sat on the couch and tried to watch TiVo, while Charlie ran as fast as he could around the couch. And around. And around.

Playing Tug-of-War. This was probably his favorite game. We basically played this game until I got tired; I'm sure Charlie could have kept going for some time.

The softer side of Charlie.

Charlie reminded us of my old (now deceased) family dog, Sam. I think Sam was a bit more mellow than Charlie is; or maybe it's just that the difference in energy between me and the dog when I was 15 is a little different than it is now. I still like to think it's just the dog.

Old photo of Sam, the family dog.

- Mike (& Corinne)