Some of you may know that I have been participating in trail runs for a long time – 17 years to be exact. My first year I ran in two of them, and one happened to be the inaugural run of the event. It is called the Monroe / Dunbar Brook run (originally Dunbar Brook, then Monroe, now Monroe / Dunbar Brook?) because the course tracks the Dunbar Brook for much of the course as it makes its way from up in the mountains down to the Deerfield River. This is in the town of Monroe, Ma. This year my brother Will, who is editor and publisher of the WMAC (Western Mass Athletic Club) newsletter took my picture and put in an entry about how my colleague Poncho Mach and I are the only two runners to have participated in all 17 of these races. Here is the page from that fall newsletter with my picture.
This is a few weeks late, but it is worth mentioning about my eventful business trip the last week of October. It was Oct 29 thru Nov 1 (including Halloween – the first time I have been away for that night). As is usually the case, this one was to the Bay area in California for a Sun Microsystems meeting. The meeting was early afternoon on Monday which meant I had to travel Sunday afternoon/evening. Little did I realize when I booked the flight that the Red Sox would be playing game four of the World Series that night, which ultimately turned out to be the final game of their four game sweep over the Colorado Rockies. I wore my red team jersey on the plane for the occasion.
Fortunately, being a Boston based flight, the pilots patched the game through one of the audio channels from ESPN radio. The announcers definitely had an anti-Red Sox air to them. Anyway, the game went on and on as we approached San Francisco airport and prepared to land. We touched down when it was in the ninth inning with Papelbon on the mound and two outs. He was working the count and the announcer said, “And here’s the two-two pitch …”
What happened next was very predictable, and I knew it was coming. The Flight Attendant cut off the audio and went into her spiel about, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to San Francisco where the local time is …” Everyone started moaning and yelling to put the game back on. Didn’t matter. She had no idea what she had just done, and kept going through her speech. When it was finally over (an agonizing wait), the game came back on just long enough to hear that the game was over and the Sox were World Champions yet again, the second time in four years! They are 8-0 with two sweeps in those appearances! At least I got to see replays later in the terminal and back at the hotel. A few people in the terminal called over to say they won in case I had not heard, or to ask how they made out. Most people didn’t seem to care. That’s OK – there was plenty of celebrating by Red Sox nation anyway.
On Tuesday I had to make a visit to the Santa Clara campus to do some work in a new computer lab we are building in the group I work in. It was late at night, just past 8:00PM when I was packing up my laptop and other material when I heard some rumbling, like a truck driving by. Only the building was not near a road and it was later at night. It continued to grow louder. Then the monitor on the desk started shaking and rattling. Then the floor got wobbly, like It was soft. By then I realized what was happening – AN EARTHQUAKE!. I grabbed my stuff and headed out the door since I was near an exit. By the time I reached the door, it was over. It only lasted 15-20 seconds. I heard later on the radio that it was a magnitude 5.6 quake centered in Milpitas, which was the next town over from where I was! There was no damage anywhere, but some stores had items knocked off shelves. Later I went out to eat and everyone was going about their business as usual. You wouldn’t even know anything happened if you were just arriving there.
It is funny, but many years ago when I first started making business trips to California, I would think about earthquakes when I was out there and what I would do under various situations. But after more than 50 trips over the years I have long ago stopped thinking about them, such that I did not even realize at first what was happening.
On Wednesday, I took the opportunity to attend class live at Stanford. This is the Computer Architecture class I mentioned in an earlier post. It is held Mondays and Wednesdays 11-12:15 so I went. It was a very worthwhile experience. A little wierd and maybe a bit of feeling out of place since I last attended classes 22 years ago. Later I went up and introduced myself to the professor and TAs. Two observations I made. One is that I otherwise watch the classes on video on my computer, because they are recorded and put on-line later. The audio and video content are of very good quality, compared to being there live. That is one way they are the same or very similar. The big difference, however, is that being in a live class felt like it was only half as long as a lecture on video. Or more like, it takes at least twice as long to watch a class by video than in person. The reason(s) I figure are that in a live class all your attention is on the front of the room and the professor. There are no distractions. At home, your attention is on your computer screen which is not very exciting. Plus it is in our family room which has other things to look at. There are distractions at home and other commotions going on while watching the class. Finally, it is usually later at night when my concentration is not as high. Definitely makes for a longer class. The locals have a big advantage this way.
Hi – Dan here. It has been a while since my last post. I have been busy with outside activities. The big new one is because …
From: Dan Danecki [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2007 4:26 PM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: I is a student again!
Check out my new email address! Pretty neat! Think it will impress anyone?
In case you did not know, Stanford and MIT are the top two engineering schools in the world.
What this is all about is that I am taking a course in Computer Architecture at Stanford University through their industry partnership program. My company Sun Microsystems is in that program. Many of you may not be aware that the name SUN stands for “Stanford University Network” which is still the name of Stanford’s internal network. The founders of Sun attended Stanford (well, most of them anyway). Here is a link to more information:
The other thing that keeps me busy, which has been going on for four years now, is my involvement with the Merrimack Valley Venture Forum. This is a non-profit business and networking group meant to promote entrepreneurial activity in the region by “Connecting People, Ideas, and Resources” (which is our mission statement). I am Chairman of the Program Committee and a member of the Board of Directors. Our committee is the group which hosts monthly events featuring (usually) a keynote speaker followed by a panelist discussion led by a moderator. The participants tend to be company leaders in the Merrimack Valley region and talk about topics such as an industry sector like medical devices or nanotechnology, financing options for your company, exit strategies, and so forth. The events are typically held at UMass Lowell, my alma mater, which is only 10 minutes away from our house. So no excuses! I do this for education, the networking contacts, and because I enjoy entrepreneur related topics. Check us out at:
I need to study for my mid-term exam now, so gotta run. 😉
New York City
The BIG APPLE
It’s not often we go there (like, never except for Dan and work) but Sunday July 15th found six of us behind enemy lines in the heart of Gotham. There was Barbara, Dan, Carolyn, Matt, Andrew from across the street, and Kaweh – another Redefining Voice band member. We had this trip planned since January when we bought tickets to a concert at Madison Square Garden by a favorite group of ours: Dispatch. A big thanks to Matt for introducing us to their music. They are a folk/reggae/rock band formed at Middlebury College in the 90’s who never signed on with a record company but instead relied on word-of-mouth and an Internet fan base including a presence on MySpace. As a result, they have a tremendous underground following which allowed them to sell out MSG three nights in a row in no time. For a good description of the band, take a look at their wikipedia entry.
We decided to make a day of it by going in early and seeing the sights. We drove to Stamford, CT to the Metro North train station for the final leg of the trip into Grand Central Station in midtown Manhattan. First we walked over to the United Nations building but were disappointed because none of the flags for all the countries were flying. They must have been on summer recess. We had a good lunch in the area anyway. Next we headed northwest to Sak’s Fifth Avenue and were amazed at the $3500 leather jackets and other outrageously priced items. Almost across the street we went inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Quite an impressive place.
We were basically going in a counter-clockwise circle through midtown Manhattan heading over to MSG. Next stop was Times Square and the Hard Rock Cafe.
After that, we stopped into Macy’s to cool off and have a drink at the Starbucks inside. There are Starbucks stores on just about every block in the city.
We finished our tour by going up the Empire State Building. Here is a scan of the brochure with good descriptions of what we saw, along with proofs of the photos they take of everyone and try to sell you for $25.
Finally, it was on to the concert!
Here are a number of articles about the show and group, both before and after. The show lasted more than three hours, from 8:30 to 11:45 PM! They played 27 songs including the encore. We barely made the 12:25 train back to Stamford, getting there at 1:30AM. We got stuck for over an hour on Rte 91 in Connecticut just north of New Haven when the highway was shut down for some reason we never found out. We pulled into our Driveway in Tewksbury at 6:15 AM. Night owls, indeed!
Carolyn reached a very significant milestone in her life Saturday May 19th when she graduated with Honors from UNH. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science with a Pre-Veterinary option. We are very proud of how well Carolyn did in college, and graduating with honors was something we consider very special. She needed to maintain a GPA of at least 3.2 her entire four years there, and she was able to do that.
On Friday night, May 18th, there was a special ceremony, called Honors Convocation. It was held at the Whittemore Center, the UNH hockey rink and athletics complex. There all the Honors students were called on stage and had their names announced while receiving their award. Grandma Celia was able to join us that weekend to see the honors night and the graduation.
Joining us on our trip up to UNH for Graduation Day, were Matt, Grandma Celia, Grandpa Stan, and Sue (Carolyn’s Aunt and Godmother). It was a BIG event because of the guest speakers – former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton. Click here to read about what they had to say. Apparently the interim President of the University had connections to them and was able to secure their participation. Here are a few pictures we took while in the stands.
After the ceremony we converged on Carolyn’s apartment, not far from the stadium, to let the traffic clear out and to help her pack.
Then we all returned home to have a graduation party/bar-b-que.
Matt’s graduation from high school was Sunday June 10th. Both Matt and his cousin Steve graduated together from Bishop Guertin High School. We had excellent weather – sunny and in the low 70’s so it was very comfortable inside the gymnasium and out. He graduated with honorable mention status and a career GPA of 3.34. On Friday, June 8th, there was a Baccalaureate Mass and dinner for students and their parents. We thought Matt had a shot at a the perfect attendance award, but that went to a girl who had perfect attendance and no tardys. Matt had a few of the latter (ok maybe more than a few). Still, we think his noteworthy accomplishment deserves mentioning. Even though he was late a few times for homeroom , never being absent from high school for four years is pretty good. It should also be mentioned that Matt received a prefect attendance award for junior high school (6th , 7th , and 8th grades at NDA).
After the graduation we had a party for Matt and Steve on Sue and Gary’s porch. Later in the evening we had some live music entertainment from Matt and Andrew Southworth, who along with Eric and Kawhe make up the band Redefining Voice.
Here are some pictures from Friday and Sunday.
Finally, here we are all together to recognize both Carolyn and Matt on their significant graduation milestones!
What’s next for these two young adults? Carolyn has a job as a lab technician in Billerica on Treble Cove Road at Bristol-Myers Squibb (the Former NEN / DuPont-Merck facility). Matt will be attending UMass Amherst in the fall to study Mechanical Engineering.
Better late than never. The past several weeks have been very busy due to work travel and college graduation activities so I am a bit behind on my blog entries.
I actually got to go to Las Vegas on a business trip. Sun Microsystems does not have a facility there, but they are building a new data center
hosted by one of the top data center hosting companies in the world. Check out http://www.switchcommgroup.com/ . The provisioning team needed help in doing the build-out and asked for volunteers. That was an easy decision for me.
So for the week of May 7th through 11th, I was there. Being the first time I have ever been in that part of the country, it was exciting. I am still not sure what to make of that city. On one hand, Las Vegas is a colossal waste of natural resources and energy. On the other hand it is an incredible well-done testimonial to living life to the fullest. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
The temperate hovered around 100 degrees the entire time I was there, one time peaking at 105 degrees. It really is true that it is dry heat so that it does not feel nearly as bad as the same temperature in a humid climate. I stayed in two hotels, both just off the famous strip. The Flamingo Hilton was mostly geared for vacationers but went out of their way to make me feel wanted. The Westin did not, but was a typical decent hotel.
The Westin did have a casino as part of the lobby. It took me a couple times at first to figure out what they meant by play 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, etc. lines and bet 1, 2, 5, and some of the other options but eventually I got it. One night I started with $5, drained it to less than $2.00 but then hit some jackpot to raise it to $7.50. It eventually got back down to $5.00 when I cashed out. so I broke even and played for one hour. A good night, I would say. Then the next night I started with $10 which yo-yo’d until I eventually lost it but I lasted 90 minutes. $10 for 90 minutes of game playing is not so bad. I did not try any tables. I did watch a couple, and saw one older gent lose his chips at the craps table but then took out his wallet and put down three $100 bills for more. I guess that is nothing compared to the “High limit” rooms behind glass. Not too much activity there from what I could tell.
The first night I went out to dinner with the work gang at a German beer garden restaurant chain called the Hofbrauhaus made exactly like the original in Munich. I had a plate of various sausages and tried several brews.
Another night I ate at Morton’s steak house and had a $46 Chicago Style Bone-In Ribeye Steak. That was one of the cheaper entrees. They had a $96 double porterhouse steak at the high end.
One night I played tourist and walked the strip taking pictures. The strip takes a while to go up and down. Quite the elaborate buildings. Very different how everyone is dressed to show off, and people walk along with beer and margaritas in-hand.
Another night I went to see Red Rock Canyon to the west. I got stuck in a traffic jam so the sun was already over the mountains by the time I got there but I made the most of it. Red Rock Canyon was all about colored sandstone. It is a very popular rock climbing and hiking area. I did some power-hiking in the short time I had available before it became too dark. Those rocks make for great footing! I was in a different part than the main visitor’s center and loop road, however. If I ever get back to the Las Vegas area, I would definitely like to visit the Red Rock Canyon again.
Thursday night I got to fulfill a long desire to see the Hoover Dam. Very impressive engineering accomplishment for its time. They finished the six year project two years early. Worker were paid $4 per day which at the time was a very good wage during the depression. They stayed in a town created to house them at the top of the canyon leading to the work
site called Boulder City. I stopped there on the way back. It is a very nice town, great main street, and excellent microbrewery. The dam was originally called Boulder Dam because it was built in Boulder Canyon. A few years later Congress passed legislation to change the name to Hoover Dam.
One souvenir I have that they were selling for $5.00 each is a section of the original copper transmission lines used. They are hollow and make a nice pen holder.
From today’s Boston.com site:
Boat flips, dumps tourists in Everglades
April 11, 2007
MIAMI –A group of tourists got a little more adventure than they wanted during an airboat ride in the Everglades.
A commercial airboat carrying five adults and four children flipped to its side Tuesday in the alligator-infested waters near Tamiami Trail.
“They spent about an hour in the murky mash,” Miami-Dade Fire Lt. Eddy Ballester said. “I am sure they had the scare of their lives.”
It wasn’t clear how authorities were notified of the accident, but the tourists were brought ashore by rescue teams on airboats. One boy had a broken collarbone, and the airboat driver and another man were treated at a hospital for minor injuries.
The airboat struck land before ending up on its side, said Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Mechanical failure might have caused the operator to lose control of the airboat, he said.
The cause of the crash was under investigation.
During high school vacation week Dan, Barb, and Matt went to Florida (5 days Feb 27 thru March 3rd) to take in some Red Sox spring training action and other activities. We had GREAT weather, unseasonably warm in the mid 80’s all week. We had arranged for a Ford Mustang convertible which turned out to be an excellent choice. It even had Sirius satellite radio as a free extra.
[TIP: Click on most photos in this March 4th post for a full size view in a new window, which you may need to expand depending on your browser]
Our flight was from Boston to Miami to Ft. Myers, and the return was Ft. Myers to St. Louis to Boston. Frequent flyer points don’t give you a lot of choices, and we were group 6 for boarding 🙁 Fortunately for all flights we got plenty of overhead cabin room since we had all carry-on luggage. We stayed at the Ft Myers Marriott Courtyard, about two miles from the facilities.
We did miss the pros working out at the training facility on Wednesday since the games started that day which means they moved out to the City of Palms Park already. They are not at the training complex very long. The week before was the best time to go, but that is Massachusetts school vacation week, not New Hampshire’s which is where Matt goes (Bishop Guertin HS). We did see the minor leaguers working out, though. We read in the spring training program that this year, the Red Sox set a new record high of 12,441 visitors over a 10 day period at the complex, with 2,577 on Feb 22nd!
We then decided to take a drive to see the Everglades. It was a couple of hours drive, mostly because we were on a route that had stop lights every intersection for 30 miles. In general we spent a LOT of time waiting at traffic lights down there. There are a lot of people living in that area, which means a lot of cars and traffic lights.
Once we got to the very northwest corner of the Everglades, we saw a coconut tree and a pelican diving for food at the visitor’s center.
We then went on an air boat ride at this place. The boat goes through the swamplands with lots of mangrove forests and saw grass. There were birds everywhere, mostly the white (common) egrets with black legs. However, one time we came across a flock of Roseate Spoonbills.
And of course, there were ALLIGATORS! We got pretty close too. I am sure these ones are so used to tour boats coming by multiple times each day throughout the year that they could care less, but still it was a rush.
We finished the sightseeing at Big Cypress National Preserve. There is a .5 mile walkway through the forest with lots of signs pointing out items of interest. It was like a rainforest through there, although that was in part due to the heat and humidity we were experiencing. The amazing part was there was not a single insect to be found (on our entire trip).
We finished the day eating at an excellent seafood restaurant back in Ft. Myers called the Prawnbroker. We were told by our waiter that Jonathan Papelbon was in for dinner the other evening along with Gabe Kapler.
This was a day to go to the beach. The temperature was predicted to be sunny and warm, in the mid-80’s, with only a slight chance of rain. And it did not disappoint. We chose Ft. Myers beach, since the other choices were a bit more of a drive. So we put the convertible top down, put our sunnies on, and headed out. When we got there around 10:00 AM, the public parking lot was already full and there was a lot of traffic on the one main road along the island. Fortunately there was a private parking lot just a little farther up the road for $5.00. I was thinking, “What a bargain – I will gladly pay that for all day parking right across from the beach, compared to what I would pay to park in Boston or somewhere like that.
It was a busy place, with some similarities to Hampton Beach but much nicer. The sand was very fine, white, and like powder. Very soft, and it would tend to stick to our skin. A steady wind from the ocean blew it around and quietly drifted onto our blankets and stuff. The water was surprisingly warm, in the mid to upper 70’s maybe? It just felt warmer than New England coastal waters ever get. There were not too many people in it, but we were, even going underwater.
There was a pelican that hung out at the end of the pier, probably to get handouts from the people fishing. He was quite comfortable with people so Barb was able to get real close for a picture. These things are the equivalent of Canada Geese in New England. We assume this one was a male, because of the coloring.
We took the long route home, down southward to the other end of the peninsula through the town of Bonita Beach. There were some very nice and no doubt very expensive homes around there, but also a lot of homes along the road that were For-Sale. Dinner was at the Ft. Myers Ale House which we could walk to since it was right next to the hotel.
Game day. We wanted to arrive early to catch batting practice and possibly snag some autographs. The gates open 2.5 hours before the 12:35 game time (there were two games that day, with Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first start of his new Sox career in the evening).
So we got there around 9:45. Matt was immediately able to get Johnny Pesky’s autograph as he was sitting just over the railing next to the dugout.
Later, Terry Francona came by and signed a lot of autographs. Matt got his also.
Not very many other regular players stopped by. Manny, Big Papi, and Youk signed a few autographs just briefly but by that time the area was packed. Matt did get one of the “invitees” who played in Japan last year (Alex Ochoa). We then walked around inside and bought some souvenirs.
It is a nice park, with a feel to it like LeLeacher park in Lowell, only a bit bigger and nicer.
In these spring training games, the stars only play a couple innings before pulling them for the subs. We did see a good lineup to start, however, including Manny’s first game of the spring season.
The Japanese media were all over the place and on the field. When the other Japanese pitcher, Hideki Okajima, came on for a few innings, the media all came running out to take pictures. He pitched good.
One unknown pitcher for the Sox gave up six runs in one inning. The Red Sox eventually tied it in the ninth but then lost it in the tenth. No big deal since they don’t count for anything anyway. We had an early dinner at “The Shrimp Shack”. Good food, good prices, casual
atmosphere, lots of senior citizens. We were definitely the youngest people there. We arrived before 5:00 PM and still had to wait for a table.
On Saturday we left early for our flight to St. Louis to Boston. When we arrived, it was 53 degrees but felt like 30 to us. And the sun was noticeably cooler.
Today was Barbara’s birthday and one of the gifts she received was a Killycross Belleek vase to replace another Belleek vase that Wally the idiot cat knocked off our mantle when he decided to jump up onto it and walk around all the items up there even though there was no room.
Sylph and Foxy Reality enjoying the first real snowstorm of 2007, which fell February 14th.
In today’s Boston Sunday Globe was an article about a German farmer raising extremely large rabbits for meat. Barb and I have seen Flemish Giant rabbits before, but they are nothing compared to this!
You can read the full article here.
While on a trip out to Adams, I stopped to take a few camera pictures of the famous hairpin turn icicles.
Today, Sunday, the four of us went on a winter hike up Holt Hill in Andover. This is a reservation with various hiking trails and conservation land. Here is a link with more information:
We took a few photos, included below.
I was in California this week on Sun business. At the San Fran airport, there was a display of music, video, and electronics gadgets over the years, both for home use and studio. One enclosure had some Star Wars props. Here are a couple camera phone pictures. They are the original Darth Vader mask and two light sabers. The light sabers looked like two long fluorescent bulbs with a glass (acrylic?) enclosure over them. It must have lit up and they enhanced it later in the studio.
This picture was taken the afternoon of January 6th, 2007 (72 degrees, in the shade):
Wally is the ultimate lap cat
You’ve only been playing the guitar for three years. Did playing come naturally to you?
I’d say I picked it up pretty fast.
Why is that? Does anyone in your family play music?
No one I know (in my family plays). I just started playing and it came to me. I started playing the electric guitar and then switched to acoustic.
I understand you have recorded an EP. How many songs are on it and are they all originals?
There are five songs; they’re all originals.
What are you listening to?
I listen to acoustic, hard rock, classic rock — pretty much any type of rock music.
What’s your favorite album of all time?
Bang Bang by Dispatch.
Who are some of your major musical influences?
My mother always wanted me to get into music. It was a combination of her and seeing other friends playing.
What was the last great live performance you saw?
I went to one concert that had my old favorite band playing, Dream Theater. I went backstage, so that was cool.
Where was that?
The Bank of America Pavilion in Boston.
If you could share the stage with one big-time band, who would it be?
Probably either Dave Matthews or Dispatch.
Catch Southworth’s open mike every other Friday at J Beaners Coffeehouse & Cafe, 25 Route 101A, Amherst, N.H. starting Jan. 5 from 6-9 p.m.
Be sure to check out The Sun’s entertainment blog at TheSunBlog.com/entertainment.
Want to be in the spotlight? E-mail Andrew Ravens at email@example.com.
Who: Andrew Southworth Band
AKA: Andrew Southworth, vocals, guitar; Matt Danecki, drums, guitar.
Backstory: Tewksbury High School freshman Andrew Southworth is only 15, but he has already managed to land a regular musical gig at J Beaners Coffeehouse & Cafe in Amherst, N.H. He plays and hosts an open mike there and is joined on stage by Matt Danecki, who lives across the street from him in Tewksbury. The Sun recently spoke with Southworth about his budding career.
Dan would like to make our inaugural blog posting to be something he wrote
in October of 2004, which would have been in a blog if we had one. Here it
is, written on an airplane trip Thursday, Oct 21, 2004 coming back to Boston
So, I parked myself in front of the hotel room TV Wednesday night and
fidgeted through one of the most glorious victories I have ever seen. I
couldn’t relax until there were two out in the ninth inning. I have seen too
many bad things happen over the years against the Yankees, especially in
Yankee Stadium. But not this time. It was all the sweeter being right under
their nose, in the house that Ruth built.
Early the next morning (I was still on East coast time) I was walking down
the hall in the hotel to go have breakfast and every room had a USA Today
newspaper in front of it, all prominently displaying pictures on the top
front page of the Sox celebrating. It was the biggest news in the nation,
and it finally sank in that the Red Sox and their fans were on top of the
On the trip out, the pilots kept coming on the airplane intercom to give
us score updates on the Tuesday night game (game 6 vs. the Yankees).
The game was still on when I arrived in San Francisco. When I picked up my
rental car, I was somehow able to find the game on ESPN radio. I was still
in the car for the bottom of the 9th inning, with the Sox leading. I was
nearing the hotel, but instead I pulled over into a strip mall and parked
the car to hear Keith Foulke get the Yankees out, striking out the final
batter to tie the series.
After Wednesday’s game, I went out to eat dinner and ordered a
small bottle of champagne to celebrate the series victory in the greatest
comeback in sports history (some would say the greatest choke in sports
history). I told the waitress that this was a special occasion because I was
celebrating the Boston Red Sox winning the American League championship. She
asked me if I was with the team :-0 (People outside of Red Sox
Nation just don’t get it).
On the plane trip back to Boston, when the stewardess gave her
announcements, she said something like, “Welcome from your Boston based
flight crew, home of the American League champion, and soon to be world
champion Boston Red Sox! The weather in Red Sox nation is …”.