2011 Mar 29
I’m a big fan of Google and their Calendar application. It might not be the prettiest calendar out there, but it’s pretty reliable and keeps my schedule in order and syncs to my Android phone instantly and wirelessly. Mariko always complains that I can’t remember things like appointments and stuff so now I try to put upcoming events into my calendar right away to avoid the “but I already told you that” moments. What’s really cool is that you can create different calendars for different types of events. Here’s a list of stuff that I use Google Calendar for:
- Kids’ School Events: We get lots of email from the kids’ school and they’ll have reminder dates scattered all around. I’ll make an event for each one as I come across it and put it in the “Kids” calendar. Stuff like Picture Day, Field Trips, Project Due Dates, etc.
- Travel Itinerary: I keep my flight info as an event that spans the entire vacation, but then I also add events for each day if needed. Since Mariko usually plans out our schedule I can keep track of it here. I can also save URLs to places we’ll be visiting.
- Recurring Events: The kids’ afterschool schedule changes every few months, and each time it does I have to shift my thinking. “Was this session’s Tumbling class on Wednesdays or Thursdays for Koa?” Here’s where I set up the weekly recurring events so I can quickly glance to see if I am supposed to drop someone off at dance or tumbling.
- Dodgers Schedule: This one is a public calendar that I found on Google’s site. I subscribed to it and now I can see when and where my team will be playing. There are a lot of public calendars that you can subscribe to, such as various countries’ holidays, star dates, and Sunrise/Sunsets. I’ve also subscribed to my local library’s calendar to keep up to dates with events and activities going on there.
- Recurring Reminders: This calendar has things like “Change Aquarium Filter”, “Backup Data”, and “Pay Utilities”. I also have a reminder for “Recycling Day” since I can never remember which week it was.
- Journal: I use a calendar named “Journal” to keep a record of important things that happened that I might need to reference later. For instance, documenting each correspondence I have with my mobile-phone carrier to get an issue resolved, or jotting down when I paid the Property Taxes. Later if I need to reference it, I just search the calendar for “Tax” or “Phone” and the dates all come up. I also make a note here for when we do any car or house maintenance (replaced air filters).
- Gardening: This calendar is where I put in events like when I planted a certain veggie or when I should do certain yard maintenance. Helps me keep from over-fertilizing, or remembering what was planted where the previous year.
- Library Book Due Dates: My local library has a cool checkout system. You can either get a printout of your receipt or have the receipt info sent to your email. I have it sent to my gmail, and from the gmail message I can select Create event from the More actions menu. This will prepopulate an event on the due date (how does it figure that out?) and the body of the email as the description. I just set an email notification for two days before the due date, and I am all set.
- Shared Calendars: You can share your own calendars if you’d like. I’ve shared my personal calendar with my brother, and he with me so now I can get a little window into his daily life. Pretty fun.
What is also cool about having multiple calendars is that you can toggle them on or off, and color-code them. This works for both the web version and mobile. And if you have an Android phone, you can put the calendar on your desktop in a widget like Google’s standard widget, or something more customizable like CalWidget. Makes keeping up-to-date super easy!
2011 Mar 28
My favorite song by Capsule.
2011 Mar 24
How is it I’ve never seen this? Two of my all-time favorite bands playing together.
2011 Mar 22
This past weekend we went camping at Pedernales Falls State Park. We’ve visited here a few times, but never stayed overnight. The park ranger asked if it was our first time there, and since it was, she assigned us to campsite #8. She said it was a nice one but if we didn’t like it we could select another site. Well, campsite #8 was great! In fact, most of the sites looked really nice. Each one had an electric hook-up if you needed it, a fire-ring, water faucet, picnic table, and open area for a tent. Our campsite had an open area underneath the trees, so we pitched our ”castle” back there.
After a lunch of submarine sandwiches and chips, we headed to the falls for some fishing. Of course I had forgotten the nightcrawlers back home, so we had to use some cheese as bait. While we didn’t catch any fish, we had fun climbing around the rocks and dipping our feet in the water. After that we decided to head to the wading/swimming area to cool off. The weather, by the way, was perfect: light clouds and a temp of 80°F. The water was nice and cool, but not too cold. The kids splashed around a bunch, and I had fun making underwater videos.
When we returned to the campsite, we started up the fire and made a great dinner of gyu-don (beef bowl). Cooking rice at the campsite was pretty new to me but is really easy if you have the right cooking pot. We also enjoyed some wine in small containers. They looked like large juice-boxes and were so convenient for discreet consumption at the campsite. After a dessert of smores we retired to the tent and slept well.
The next day we went back to the falls for some more hiking and fishing. We walked up-river and found a lot of cool little fishing holes but unfortunately we were unsuccessful landing any fish, although Mariko had something big on her line at one time. We left the park at about 2pm and headed home, tired but happy. Pedernales Falls is not the most popular state park, but I have to say it was one of the better campsites and had some fun activities. It’s not far from Austin and would make a nice daytrip as well. We will surely come back!
You can check out some more video that I took over at Pedernales Falls at my YouTube Channel, or see more pictures at my Flickr set.
2011 Mar 21
It was a sad day yesterday, as one of our cats passed away. Amo was 15 years old. We left the cats at home on Saturday and spent the night camping. When we returned home Sunday evening, we found him lying on the sofa. We all thought he was just asleep at first, and we went about our business putting away the camping gear and the kids taking their showers. I was the one who discovered that he had died. Apparently he had laid down for a nap earlier in the day and passed away in his sleep. Seems like a good way to go. He didn’t show any signs of illness before we left, so we were all shocked and the kids were especially sad. Amo was a great cat, loving to his family and “entertaining” to our friends. Mariko and I first brought him home as a kitten when we lived in Japan in ‘97. He made the trip back to the States with us in ‘99 and moved with us from apartment to house, and then to our current house. He was so affectionate to us, and when the boys were born, Amo was loving with them too. We’ll miss him.
2011 Mar 20
Back when I was in High School, my parents went on vacation to Europe and one of the gifts they brought back for me was this cool Swiss Army Knife, engraved with my name. I still have it and use it whenever we go camping. The corkscrew has come in extra handy! Besides that I’d say the can opener and bottle opener have been the most used tools. Of course I lost the tweezers ages ago, but surprisingly, the toothpick is still with the knife! When my boys are in High School, I’d like to get them their own engraved Swiss Army Knives.
2011 Mar 19
I’m not a Billy Joel fan. But I do remember this album cover. The only problem was that I never really what was up with it. I didn’t realize he was holding a rock. I didn’t know that the album was named “Glass Houses”. Up until a couple days ago, I had always just assumed he was making a silly “Saturday Night Fever” pose. Cuz dang, it sure don’t look like a natural throwing position to me.
2011 Mar 18
I never got into the whole papercraft thing which was popular a year ago. Mostly because there was nothing I was interested in making (except for a couple motorcycle models). But a few months ago, Bay discovered PaperPokés — the unofficial Pokémon papercraft site. If you’re not familiar with papercraft, it’s basically creating three-dimensional models from paper printouts. All you need is the printout, a scissors, and tape. Having small fingers seems to help as well.
You download the .zip or .rar file, and inside there are PDFs that you print out. There’s usually a couple sizes, plus letter or A4 versions. If you need help, there’s also a cool program for the PC called Pepakura Viewer in which you can open a .pdo file (which is in the .zip file) and view a 3D model of the pokemon. You can rotate it and click on a certain piece to highlight, and it will show you the corresponding piece on the printed paper. It’s very cool.
Bay has created several of these paper pokémon and they’ve turned out pretty nicely. I’m amazed that he has so much patience to keep at it, as these can take multiple hours to complete. I guess it helps that he is crazy about pokemon!
2011 Mar 17
Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion show came to town and so we all went to go check it out. It was at the Cedar Park Center, which is about 10 minutes away from us (so convenient!). As usual the Cirque du Soleil production was great! The theme seemed to feature four different cultures: Indian, African, Southeast Asian, and European. The show starts out with the “clowns” who speak some kind of strange language that vaguely resembles a romance language. It was mostly gibberish but sometimes a “bellisimo” or “amigo” was thrown in. Throughout the show these clowns make funny appearances. I think it’s to give the stagehands time to change things up and maybe let the performers change costumes. This time, I didn’t think the clowns were as funny as usual and their skits weren’t that easy to follow. I was mostly just waiting for them to finish so that the next group of performers could wow us with their incredible performances.
And there were plenty of incredible performances to be seen! Up early was a truly fantastic juggler. That to me is always so mind-boggling how he can keep track of so many flying objects. Other familiar performances were the group of gymnast/contortionists who do their incredible balancing act. These girls must not have any vertebrae because they can bend to impossible angles. Then there was the man and woman who fly around the stage from those long ribbons. This was the “artistic” portion of the show, and frankly, I was struggling to keep my attention focused. Could have done without this part… But some new things that I haven’t seen before really made this show memorable. There was a trampoline act where the performers would jump off a wall and then bounce back up to ledges on the wall. It was so cool because they looked like they were running up the side of a building. Then there was another act that involved acrobats jumping through rings. This was neat because the would do a tumbling run, then jump through the ring, do another roll, and then through yet another ring. You just have to see it to believe it. Towards the end there was a group jump-rope act. And by group, I mean about a dozen guys jumping over multiple ropes while forming a pyramid. It was some crazy stuff!
Another cool thing about these shows is that the music is live. You can see the drummer and percussionist just behind the stage, and the singers can really belt out their new-agey tunes. Dralion was an incredible show and I’d easily recommend it for all ages. It’s definitely worthy of the Cirque du Soleil name.
Make sure to click on the link above, then watch the preview video to get a taste of all the performances.