Vacation: Best of California and Oregon

Here are the best photos from the California and Oregon portions of our recent vacation. Mount Shasta was quite impressive, as was it’s baby brother Black Butte.  After being underwhelmed by Medford, OR we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Winston’s Wildlife Safari. It was a great time including seeing baby ostrichs (not pictured). We spent a couple nights coming and going in the Portland area, and the boys had fun in the fountain until Quinn slipped and skinned his knee.

North! To Alaska

cruiseWe’ve made our summer vacation plans and this year we’re heading to the home Governor Sarah Palin herself, Alaska. We’ve booked a Princess Cruises 7-day cruise roundtrip from Seattle on board the Golden Princess vessell. The ports of call are Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria. Our cruise leaves on June 27, so we’ll be leaving the Bay Area a few days before to drive up.

We were thinking about a cruise but Disney priced themselves out of our summer budget. We had taken an Alaska cruise back in 2001, so we knew what this would be like. I’d be happy to show you photos of that trip but that was the last big trip we made before digital cameras, so you’ll have to do with the itinerary map. There was another cruise that started and ended in San Francisco, but it was a 10-day cruise and a lot more expensive even when you consider hotel and gas expenses for the drive to Seattle. Plus, the boys (especially Riley) really wanted to go back to Seattle. Which is okay, because it’s definitely a great city.

We’re really looking forward to the cruise. They’re always so relaxing and we hope to see some great sights. We’ve been to all the ports of call before, but there is always something new to see in each city. Maybe we’ll stop by to see the Governor, too.


(no, I have no idea why Princess left the U off their map in the brochure)

Peanut Butter and Jelly in a Hot Dog Bun

This idea didn’t come because of a burning need to try something new but out of necessity: I wanted peanut butter and jelly and the only bread was hot dog buns.

But, I must say, PB&J on a hot dog bun is better than okay. It’s better than simply delicious. It’s even better than amazing. What’s better than that?

PB&J on a Hot Dog Bun is the Future!

How to Make It

It’s fairly simple but the key part is to layer the peanut butter on both sides of the inside of the hot dog bun. And, unlike a hot dog that’s too long or too short, you have the full amount of bun to play with and can cover the entire inside. It’s probably best to open the bun up really wide. I happen to like Skippy Natural Chunky style peanut butter but it’s really up to you.

After the peanut butter is applied then you pour the jelly down the middle. This is where you need to be a little careful not too get too much near the ends of the bun. Go ahead and layer on the jelly extra thick – the bun is thicker than regular old bread so it’ll handle it.

At the end it should look something like this. Then all you have to do is pick your favorite beverage and enjoy.

Peanut Butter and Jelly on a Hot Dog Bun

As I said earlier, this is the future of PB&J. My son Quinn, pictured above, is kind of a picky eater. When I first invented this he wanted no part of it. But today he actually asked for it.  He asked for it! And he ate it up way quicker than a regular sandwich and didn’t even eat around the crust like normal.

So mark the date. February 5, 2009: The Day PB&J on a Hot Dog Bun went mainstream.

Give it a try – and leave a comment to say how you like it.

MacWorld 2009 Impressions

I attended the MacWorld Conference & Expo on Wednesday. I had intended to post my comments that night but a comedy of errors caused me to miss one BART train, wait 15 minutes for another, and then end up taking the train all the way to Dublin where I had to turn around and transfer again to get back to Fremont. Took me over two hours to get home from San Francisco!

Moscone Center - Home of MacWorld 2009

MacWorld 2009 was great as always. I arrived in plenty of time for the opening of the Expo floor and met my father who was also attending that day. Here we are in the Apple booth, where a kind Apple employee took our photo. Apple had a nice display for their iLife and iWork products, and their usual stage. They also had a nice display of their recently updated MacBooks. However, the other side of their area was kind of bare, like they had intended to announce something and dropped it at the last minute (can you say “updated Mac Mini?”).  The iPods were on display and getting no foot traffic, hence the perfect location for this shot.

Frank and Kevin Crossman at MacWorld 2009

Overall, the traffic and activity seem on par with past years, though obviously next year without Apple may be another matter. Here are some of the things I saw at MacWorld.

I did like the display of iPod Touch and iPhones that Apple had on display. I got to play with some great iPhone Apps and try them out. Saved me some money on some I was considering purchasing – now I won’t. But, I did see some that looked coo.

Apple App Store

You gotta love how Apple gets the attendees to fetishize the Apple hardware. People were literally waiting in line to touch the brand-new Apple MacBook Pro 17″ notebook computer. Where was I in this photo? Yep. Standing in line.

Brand New 17" MacBook Pro Gets Plenty of Attention

I must say I liked the look of this 17″ MacBook Pro. I’m really a fan of the matte screen option, which is what I use on my MacBook Pro at work. I am not a fan of glossy screens.

Now the cool thing about trade shows like MacWorld is the thing that companies do to draw attention and get people into their booths. Beejive had their “booth babes” dress up as bees. And it was very memorable since I took this photo. I think they make some sort of instant-messaging client for the iPhone. See how that costuming has paid off in the mind of the consumer (me)?

Busy Bees at Beejive

Google took a different approach with this iPhone Charging Station. I didn’t need to use this but glad I had the option! It was funny to see people waiting to get charged up – one woman screamed at another guy that “your iPhone is finished” so she could get a turn. The guy charged up and demanded “No! See this… that means it isn’t charged yet!” Yeah! Duh!  The things people do for free electricity…   Google also had a British phone booth to use as a YouTube uploading station. I went in but couldn’t figure out how to use it, so I left.  Google would probably like me to mention their brand-new Mac version of the Picasa photo management app. But I don’t care, so I didn’t look at it.

iPhone Charging Station at Google's Booth

Here we go for the hands-down best booth at MacWorld. The Delicious Monster folks are know for their beautiful software, Delicious Library. And this year, they decorated their booth to look like the software itself. Plus, they had these girls dressed up as “Delicious Librarians” (no, I’m not kidding. They even had name badges that said Delicious Librarian). I guess there was something about this outfit that had some appeal for the MacWorld attendees.  And, giving credit where it is due, the librarians did seem to know their stuff.

Delicious Librarian

All in all, a great time at MacWorld Expo 2009!  All photos courtesy my iPhone.

MacWorld Predictions

On Wednesday I will be making my yearly trek to sample the Kool-Aid at the MacWorld Conference and Expo. It’s always fun to see the latest Mac, iPod, and iPhone goodies and at times I’ve even run into celebrities (yes, it’s Sinbad!). Of course, with Apple announcing this is their last year at the show it is a melancholy time, doubly so with all the speculation about Steve Jobs’ health. Steve made a statement today about his health that I view as a positive indicator, though I’d take issue with those headlines that stated “See, he’s okay.” He certainly wasn’t when he dropped out of the Keynote and is far from fully recovered. But, as always, we wish Steve well.

maclogoI’m attending MacWorld on Wednesday, which is good for a couple reasons. By then I’ll have had a time to hear about some of the announcements from Apple and others, so I’ll be able to hit the ground running to check out all the things I want to see. Plus, there is a Podcaster Birds of a Feather event at 6:30 on Wednesday being organized by Adam Christianson at The MacCast that I’ll be attending. Speaking of which, you might wish to listen to the first 30 seconds of the the December 20th episode of the MacCast podcast…

I’ll also be attending the MacWorld Town Hall event at 5:00 on Wednesday, where the Expo organizers will talk about the future of the event. I hope I can come up with some constructive suggestions.

Anyway, to get myself ready for the annual Apple overindulgence, I hereby present my MacWorld 2008 Apple Keynote Predictions.

Will Be Announced

  • Updated Mac Mini with lots of expansion options
  • Updated iMac with faster processors (larger screens are a possibility, though I think it’s a longshot)
  • Updated MacBook Pro 17″ with unibody enclosure
  • iWork ’09 with online/web/MobileMe component
  • iTunes DRM free
  • Hulu viewing on AppleTV
  • iPhone 3G 32GB
  • iPhone tethering option with AT&T (for too much money…)
  • Pricing and ship date for Snow Leopard
  • Lots of Christmas quarter sales numbers

Won’t Be Announced

  • iPhone Nano (though I think a smaller form factor would be cool)
  • iPhone/iPod/Mac Tablet (though I think a larger form factor would be cool)
  • Mac Netbook
  • Touch screen iMac
  • Mac Pro update
  • Cinema Displays
  • iLife ’09

According to the MacWorld folks, AT&T has brought in extra cell towers to handle extra capacity. I know last year all phone and data reception was pretty much killed by 10:30 am until about 3:00 pm, so it would suck if that happened again.

Of course, the big news that we’ll be paying attention to at the keynote is to see if they’re doing anything with iPhone pricing, form factors, colors, etc.  That is because today is Julie’s birthday I have agreed to get her an iPhone for her birthday.

But I’m not stupid enough to buy anything from Apple the day before MacWorld… whether Steve Jobs is presenting or not.

Wii Sports Tennis is My New Obsession

Santa was pretty good to the kids this Christmas and got them a Wii (no, it’s technically not called a Nintendo Wii., like the “Nintendo DS” but just Wii. Really!). Actually, I hear Santa was smart and stored one of these away for the kids all the way back in August. And the kids are loving it. They especially like the LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones games.

As for me, I am really enjoying the launch title, Wii Sports. And while the Bowling and Baseball games are fun, and Boxing is a hoot if you have a partner, the game I most enjoy is Tennis (the less said about Golf the better). Having played a little tennis myself as a kid this game is hardly realistic, but at least the old “skills” translate fairly well.


The graphics on the game are okay. I like that the default surface is grass, like tennis should be played on. There’s an Easter Egg to allow you to play on a hard surface (hit the 2 button after selecting players), which eliminates some funny ball hops. But overall I like the vibe from this game. I’ve been playing the computer and have gotten pretty good at the game. After you play a game you are awarded points based on the number of winners or errors. When you reach the 1000 point level you’re considered a “Pro.”

I’m up to 1684 points now, almost as good as the best Pro in the game (2000 points). Problem now is that if I don’t beat the computer I can actually lose points. The horror!

I also like the Tennis training games where you can try to return the ball into a moving target. Lots of fun and just long enough for a quick game after work or before bed or something.  

I hear there are some “realistic” Tennis games for the Wii. Probably something I should look into, though I suspect they’re not as fun as Wii Sports Tennis.