Spring Break – Sacramento

March 29th, 2007
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March 28, 2007

Spring Break – Lake Tahoe

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 2:45 pm

To start off spring break Kim and I flew into Reno, where we immediately got in a rental car and left. We got into Tahoe at about 2 in the morning, and unfortunately the free camping sites Kim remembered were covered in snow and not open. We just setup camp in some KOA style place which we found out in the morning cost $30. Robbery. Cheaper than the $85 motels though.

We spent the day driving around the lake and doing a few small hikes. It was gorgeously sunny, something Seattle has been lacking. Surprise surprise. I think Emerald Bay is the prettiest area of the lake. We hiked down to the cool house on the edge of the bay, Vikingsholm. Rich people definitely have the coolest houses. We also hiked to a waterfall above Vikingsholm. Kim was fighting a cold so we checked into a time share rental that her boss had been nice enough to set us up with. We checked in and by 8 or so Kim had zonked and slept for about 12 hours.

The next day we had planned to ski but got up a little late. We drove up toward Heavenly ski resort, but didn’t want to spend $75 for a day of skiing since we were starting late and the half day price was still $60 something. Outrageous. We went to a local ski shop and they suggested we do a half day at another resort a little farther away and ski Heavenly tomorrow since a snow storm was predicted for the evening. This turned out to be great advice.

We went down to Sierra ski resort for a half day, which was a good amount of time for us to get back into the swing of skiing and snowboarding. Kim hadn’t been up on the slopes and years and it I’ve out very infrequently the last few years. The snow was a little slushy, but we still had a lot of fun and even found a few fun routes in the trees.

That night it absolutely DUMPED snow. We had two feet of fresh powder to ski in at one of the premier ski resorts in the country. It really was some of the best skiing I’ve ever seen. The mountain is huge with runs in California and Nevada. We skied almost all day on the California side since the snow stayed fluffy there longer being on the less exposed west slope. I introduced Kim to the joys of tree skiing, that is ignoring the groomed runs and making your own run between the trees in the powder. At first she had a really hard time with it. I think she just wasn’t used to moving through powder, but by the end of the day I practically had to drag her off the mountain. There were a lot of sections that had been closed the day before that were now wonderlands of amazing snow. Sometimes the new snow hid rocks and stumps that scraped up my skis and Kim’s board a little, but they were rentals so it wasn’t too big a deal :-). The morning was sunny, it blizzarded a bit in the afternoon.

By the time we were done skiing it was back to sunny, but we weren’t sure if we’d be able to get out of the Lake Tahoe area without chains. Unfortunately nobody else seemed to know if chains were required, so I bought some. They weren’t required. Oh well. I figured we’d have them in case it snowed while we were with Brendan in Yosemite later…

March 24, 2007

VegFest 2007

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 7:33 pm

I didn’t volunteer this year at VegFest, but Kim did. VegFest is a vegetarian food festival in Seattle. It was nice for me to be able to just walk around and try food without working. Kim likes the volunteering more than I would since she gets to meet chefs that are big names in the vegetarian culinary world and work with them. I ended up helping at the Lucky Palate booth to give Ray and Bonnie a break. Kim works there making the desserts. There was a lot of good food to try as always, even if I was completely soyed and sugared out by the end of the day. Quorn is still my favorite VegFest discovery. I hope next year they do a different T-Shirt.

March 21, 2007


Filed under: General,Politics — mmrobins @ 6:57 pm

Some more posts from my friend Les Ratcliff in Iraq. I asked before I put his name on these since I didn’t want to get him in trouble. He said

Again these are my personal opinions so I hope they do not offend. Being here has changed my outlook and perceptions. Despite the Jingoist slant on many I must reinforce that I hate it here, I hate being away from my wife, and I hate seeing good men die. However, I would do it again, being here has reinforced for me the feeling that ethics, honor, and duty are more important than any sacrifice I must give. I long to go home, but not at the cost of those who depend upon me, and not at the cost of my honor.

Here’s a post he’s entitled Tigers. Grrr!

There are constant calls at home for a political solution to this conflict, and cries from protestors that violence is not the answer. I would dispute these claims. In an insurgency it is true that military force is not enough to win, however, it is required in conjunction with other efforts. There can be no peace without security, and whomever can provide that security will be able to dictate the terms of the political sentiment. Economic aid, and political pressure will not sway a public under threat, it takes Soldiers on the ground and willing to fight to provide the security that will enable people to concentrate on something other than making it to the next day. To those crying that violence is not the answer, I would answer that in this world there are tigers, and the only thing keeping that tiger from their throats is the Soldier who is willing to fight. Despite all of the rhetoric, there are still those out there with the means and will to take what they want, and no diplomatic or economic package will prevent them from that. Unless you are willing to fight for your beliefs, someone will change them for you. In a world where tigers prowl it takes those willing to go into dark places to keep them out of your backyard.

March 20, 2007

I Now Consider Myself Vegetarian

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 9:30 pm

This is something I’ve been working toward for quite some time now. It’s been months since I’ve eaten meat, and before that it was very occasional (I still haven’t found a really good bacon replacement). I think for me it was a lot easier to slowly reduce meat in my diet rather than just one day deciding that I was vegetarian, which I tried to do in college. I did it for I think 4 months before I kind of gave up on it because I wasn’t eating well. I think this is common for people who want to be vegetarian, but haven’t thought through their diet without meat. It’s not that difficult, but when you’re not used to it, it takes more conscious effort than most people are willing to put into their food choices. I think if there was a term for people working toward vegetarianism that might help, like meat reductionist. It might sound silly, but a lot of times people want a quick way to define their outlook without sounding wishy washy and taking a long time to explain their position. I guess now I’ll work toward becoming vegan and be “quasi-vegan” or something, but man oh man is cheese gonna be hard to cut out, so I’m not willing to commit to that yet.

As for why go vegetarian I assume most people with the goal to become so already know why, at least for them. The big reasons for me are environmental, health, and ethics. If anyone needs more info on that just go to google and type “why vegetarian”.

Finally, if anyone is in the Seattle area this weekend, Vegfest is happening. Lots of free samples…


Filed under: General,Politics — mmrobins @ 2:30 pm

Another post from my friend stationed in Iraq.

I was watching the news the other day and saw GEN Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, speaking to wounded Veterans, and he said that they “did not loose an arm, they did not loose a leg, they gave an arm, they gave a leg”. This is an important distinction that is little understood. Everyone talks about how much the war costs and how hard it is on everyone. I would beg to differ. This war has cost the military and their families nothing, we have sacrificed and given more than is measurable, but it still has cost us nothing. Those who do not understand pity us, and say they want to bring us home as soon as possible, we do not want and nor will we accept your pity We are proud of our sacrifices in ways that only those who have truly sacrificed can fully understand. Our sacrifices hurt, and cut deep. Seeing good men give everything, and the pain in their loved ones voices and hearts is a hard thing to bear, but this is a willing sacrifice given for their comrades in arms. We ask for support, especially for those left behind, we ask for compassion, we ask for remembrance, we ask for others to come and share the burden, and most of all we ask for respect. We ask for the means to ensure that these sacrifices are not given in vain. To demean our sacrifices with pity and false support is the worst sort of betrayal to those who have given so much, and will continue to give more.


Filed under: General,Politics — mmrobins @ 2:28 pm

Another post from my friend stationed in Iraq.

One of the greatest displays of courage I have ever seen was exhibited by the soldiers of my battalion on the day of our deployment. Most of these guys are straight out of basic, 18 years old and this is their first experience away from home.

As everyone is waiting for the order to march over to the manifest site, they wait with those close to them. Parents have flown in, sweethearts, wives and children are gathered everywhere. In the background, a football flies and anyone driving by could understandably mistake this for a party or unit picnic. As you look closer you see couples holding each other close and parents still striving to explain what is going on to their small children. Every so often someone finds an out of the way spot to compose themselves as the emotion becomes too much. In spite of everyone’s attempts to remain strong, the sense of loss is already palpable, and as the order comes to move, so comes the courage. All of these soldiers from the old veterans to the newest soldier packs up and marches smartly away when the order comes, leaving behind everything they cherish for uncertainty and danger. It takes a remarkable person to do this and an even more remarkable one to do it with dignity.

It is this experience and courage that no one who is not in, or close to, the military can understand or comprehend. There have been many songs on leaving home and loved ones behind, but in all honesty what do they know. They usually know when the person is coming home and unless there is an act of god, that person will come home, and come home much as they left. These amazing soldiers are setting of for who knows how long and are not even allowed to speak of most of their experiences until they return, and that is if they return. Who knows who will still be here when we return home and how will they be changed. What scars will they bear physically, mentally, and most tellingly, what will be the damage to their spirit. How many relationships will be strengthened and how many will break under the strain. It is into this uncertainty, danger and change that we go, and go willingly that sets the soldier, and those that care for them, far above the regular citizen. I am honored to call these fine soldiers my comrades and at the same time, I am completely frustrated with the outside world’s lack of understanding and unwillingness to help shoulder the burden. The outside world touts their patriotism and says they support their soldiers, but if you want to support them, join up, or if this just is not for you find some other way to render service to your community, nation and those around you. Our nation has too long looked only after itself, and I feel that these Soldiers are one of the last vestiges of our true national spirit that we do not even acknowledge we have lost. I ask that everyone seek to find this courage within themselves and strive to do something that is difficult, changing and at the same time important. Release your secure world and strive to serve a better one!

March 19, 2007

Cost of War

Filed under: General,Politics — mmrobins @ 3:39 pm

A highschool friend of mine is currently serving in the military in Iraq. He had some writings to share and asked that I post them.

I finally have a couple of those blog posts I was talking about. I pulled no punches, hopefully you don’t take offense. Things are going pretty well, aside from boredom. A couple of comments on the war, most of the footage on the news is years old, most of the reporters and politicians who visit never leave the green zone, weapons are coming in from Iran (they killed two of our Soldiers and took the legs from another), and the surge has the bad guys running scared and attacks are down.

Here’s one of his posts.

There is a sharp debate going on in the government and across the country on the cost of this war. The debates are full of experts talking about a losing battle, and the high cost of war. They have no idea of the cost of war and what it means to leave with the job unfinished. The American public, the government and the media have regularly spoken on how much they support the troops and how much the war is costing the nation. The nation has paid next to nothing for this conflict and honestly does not care to. Taxes have not been raised and 99% of the people in the nation do not even know anybody in the military. The highest price they pay is the occasional ugly image on the TV and they cannot even handle that. This conflict has not changed their habits or affected them on any deep level and will not despite their claims. They have not given years of their lives simply because that was what was required of them. They have not spent hours in 120º weather patrolling the streets, they have not missed anniversaries, first steps, births, deaths, and holidays on the other side of the world away from everything they cherish. They have not seen their friends and comrades injured or worked to stop the bleeding as their friend slowly slips away and then had to wash the blood out of the vehicle and go back out on patrol. They have not had to walk up to the front door of a Soldier’s house and tell his wife and children that their loved one is not coming home. They have paid none of the cost of this war and yet they are the ones who cannot handle the cost and want to pull out. To pull out before the mission is accomplished is to tell all of the Soldiers and their families that their sacrifice was for nothing. If this nation can so unthinkingly tell all those who have sacrificed, that the war costs too much, then perhaps the nation we are serving is already dead.

March 14, 2007

Switch Complete – Mostly…

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 10:46 pm

I’m considering this done, because I’m as switched as I’m gonna get. I run Linux on my home laptop and about 90% of the time at work. I’ve been on Ubuntu since before 6.06, and I’ve stuck with it despite horrible upgrade experiences to 6.10 and now to 7.04. I run windows dual boot still, and even have a version of windows running in VMWare. But the Linux momentum is there and I haven’t given up on it yet like I have in the past. I’m learning a LOT from using it. The learning curve is definitely steeper than most people will be willing to handle, but has definitely been worthwhile as I feel a lot more comfortable with a lot of widely used technologies (web servers, command lines, text editors, compilers). I really hope Dell really does start selling Linux preloaded, because getting it OEM will really spur adoption and development.

March 7, 2007

Email Subscriptions Now Available

Filed under: General,Technology — mmrobins @ 3:44 pm

I realize that most of my friends and family don’t have a clue what RSS is or use any kind of feed reader, so I’ve setup email subscriptions if you want em.

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I’ve also converted my feeds to feedburner so I can see if anyone ever actually does subscribe to an RSS feed. I figure once I move to Peru more people might be interested in reading about that than me moving across town.