Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bear Lake with the Fam

This past weekend, my parents traded their time share for a condo at Bear Lake.  They invited us to come up and join them.  Clearly we weren't going to turn down a free lake adventure.

My sister, Mellen, and her daughter, Adalyn joined us for the car ride up.  Adalyn wasn't super excited bout riding in the car for three hours, but we discovered that she doesn't cry as long as I'm singing.  I mean, who could do anything but smile when they hear my golden voice?

We got to the condo fairly late on Friday night, so Friday mostly consisted of hanging with the fam in the condo.

Saturday morning, Robyn and I made breakfast for everyone.  We made epic breakfast burritos.  We cooked more sausage than you can possibly imagine.  The deliciousness was off the charts.

After a lazy morning, we all went down to the beach.  Here are some highlights of our adventures.


Dad wore Adalyn's hat.  I don't really know why.  I don't ask questions, I just take pictures.


I really wanted to get a picture of a pokemon under water.  There were no pokemon at the lake.  But at least that gym back there is blue because it has my vaporeon in it.
Mellen and Adalyn hogged all of the preciousness.
Adalyn and I ate our hats to show family unity.
Mom and dad were just eating up the opportunity to be grandparents at the beach.
Meanwhile, Robyn was the only one who could compete with Adalyn in cuteness.

It was a fun weekend.   We headed home after a fun Saturday and got to sleep in our own bed.  All in all, the trip was a success.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

2016/1941 Hugo Votes

This year the Hugo committee decided to do another Retro Hugo Award.  The year they are retroactively awarding is 75 years ago in 1941.  Unfortunately, I was not a very good reader this year.  Normally, I would try to vote in every category for both 1941 and 2016.  But I didn't do all the homework.  So here are all the categories that I voted in.  There were some very good works this year.


1941 Best Novel

Slan was a lot of fun.  A little bit dated, but it was basically X-Men.  How could I not love it?

1               Slan by A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science-Fiction, Dec 1940)
2               Kallocain by Karin Boye (Bonnier)
3               Gray Lensman by E.E. "Doc" Smith (Astounding Science-Fiction, Jan 1940)
4               The Ill-Made Knight by T.H. White (Collins)
5               The Reign of Wizardry by Jack Williamson (Unknown, Mar 1940)

1941 Best Novelette

Does my bias for Heinlein show?  Probably.   This was a really fun story about a neat technology.  I agree.  The roads must roll.

1               The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, June 1940)
2               Blowups Happen by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, Sept 1940)
3               Vault of the Beast by A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1940)
4               It! by Theodore Sturgeon (Unknown, Aug 1940)
5               Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates (Astounding Science-Fiction, Oct 1940)

1941 Best Short Story

My bias for Asimov is even greater than my bias for Heinlein.  But Robbie is his first robot story.  That's some serious history.  

1               Robbie by Isaac Asimov (Super Science Stories, Sept 1940)
2               Requiem by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science-Fiction, Jan 1940)
3               Martian Quest by Leigh Brackett (Astounding Science-Fiction, Feb 1940)
4               The Stellar Legion by Leigh Brackett (Planet Stories, Winter 1940)
5               Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges (Sur, 1940)



2016 Novelette
This was a hard one.  But I really liked Stephen King's story.  It was pretty unique, and a bit frightening.

1               Obits by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Scribner)
2               Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)
3               Flashpoint: Titan by CHEAH Kai Wai (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
4               What Price Humanity? by David VanDyke (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
5               And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, Feb 2015)


2016 Short Story


I really liked this story.  Stories about artificial intelligence are always a lot of fun.

1               Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer ( Clarkesworld, January 2015)
2               Seven Kill Tiger by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
3               Asymmetrical Warfare by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
4               No Award


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Helicopter over Kauai

Another fun adventure that we had on Kauai was riding the helicopter.  Remember that time we rode a helicopter to get out of Havasupai?  This was way, way better than that.

That ride lasted about 6 minutes.  This one lasted about an hour.  That was to get us to our destination as fast as possible.  This was to enjoy the ride and the scenery.

When we got there, they had a little briefing on how to use the life jackets and everything.  It was kind of like every time you get on a plane, only they did it before we boarded.  They also explained to us that the rotors are way above our heads and we didn't need to duck down.  But when it came time to get on the helicopter, there was still a little 5 foot tall lady who was bending way down so that her head wouldn't get chopped off.  It was funny to watch her stooping way low, when the rotors were a good ten feet above her head.

Robyn and I paid extra to get the good seats next to the pilot.  That was soooo worth it.  They loaded everyone else into the back, and then it was our turn to get up front.  I was next to the window, so I got in last.
Robyn putting her headgear on.

Cutie Robyn and the pilot, Trevor.

Me.

Our shadow on the fields.

Jurassic Falls
The above waterfall is very important.  That's actually the waterfall that they show in Jurassic Park when the helicopter comes in.  The helicopter pad that is in the movie was destroyed by a storm like 10 years ago.  But the important thing is that I actually flew over Jurassic Park.
Na Pali coast

Na Pali Coast


Tunnels Beach  (Where we went scuba diving)
Flying into the volcano

Little waterfalls inside the volcano

I know you think my caption on the above 2 pictures is a lie.  Kauai is the oldest hawaiian island, which means its volcano has been extinct the longest.  It's had 4 bajillion years (that's an exact number) for nature to take its toll.  One side of the volcano has completely eroded away.  That's the side we flew in to.  Inside the volcano has been completely taken over by vegetation.  The waterfalls aren't normally there, but it had rained the night before.  (Trevor told us we were very lucky to get all the waterfalls, and yet have it be clear enough to have such good visibility.)

Overall, it was a great experience.  There were a few spots when the helicopter would bank to one side or the other where my tummy was not too happy about it.  I do tend to have problems with motion sickness.  But it was no worse than flying in an airplane.  (In fact, it was much better than flying in an airplane, because the chair I was sitting in was comfortable and the views were much better.)

When it was all over, I jumped out first and turned around just in time to snag a cute picture of Robyn.
I call this masterpiece, "Disembarking Robyn"
The moral of the story:  Helicopter = Awesome.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hiking Kauai

The majority of our time in Hawaii was spent in and around the ocean.  However, Hawaii also has pretty fantastic mountains, so we had to do a bit of hiking.

Kauai has a massive canyon called Waimea Canyon.  It is affectionately called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

Naturally, we couldn't go to Kauai without exploring some of that massive canyon.

The first thing we did was head to the Waimea Canyon overlook.  This part didn't require any hiking.  (Well, it was about a 30 foot climb from the parking lot to the overlook.  I'll let you decide if that is hiking.)

But it had some great views of the canyon.

Selfies with a canyon are the best kind of selfies.


I had to do a panoramic shot, obviously.


After the overlook we headed to the Canyon trail. This trail ends at a massive waterfall, but we were more about the overlooks and views of the canyon.



This hike was a little bit different than your normal hike.  Usually, you're starting at the bottom of a mountain and climbing up.  We were climbing down into the canyon, so we were hiking downward.  As we got lower, we got more into a jungle setting.

Isn't she cute in the jungle?
It was raining on and off while we hiked.  Robyn liked to stop and enjoy the rain on her face.

There were some ancient carvings made by the ancestors of Steve Jobs.
The trail kept going down, and we were starting to get nervous about how difficult the climb back out would be.  I think we were probably pretty close to the waterfall, but when we got to this view below, we decided that would be a good destination and turned around.
My watch said we did about 4 miles round trip, and we climbed around 1000 feet.  That climb on the way back was plenty to get us good and tired.

Also on the way back we got to have a good discussion about parenting.  There was a mom who was terrified of heights and was really struggling.  She was doing her very best to convince their child that he should be terrified.  The dad was getting cranky about it and making the whole situation worse.

We like to be hypothetical parents, because in hypothetical situations we handle everything perfectly.  In this hypothetical situation, neither of us fed our children a phobia, and neither of us got cranky.  It was great.

This excursion ended up being our only hiking on this trip.  We had planned on hiking the Na Pali coast, but our legs were a little sore and on the day we had planned to hike, we just decided it would be more fun to spend the day at the beach.  We didn't want to do it just to cross it off a list, so that just means we'll have to go back.  Next time on Kauai:  Hike the Na Pali Coast.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Scuba Diving Kauai

One of my favorite adventures on Kauai was scuba diving.  We decided to do our scuba dive at Tunnels Beach.  It's famous for a a barrier reef with tunnels that go through it.  That sounded fun and exciting, so how could I pass it up?

We had to be at Tunnels Beach at 8 AM on Wednesday.  It turns out Tunnels Beach is really hard to find.  There are no signs for it at all.  There is a little road that goes to the beach, but it isn't marked, and it's not anywhere near where Google says the entrance to the beach is. We eventually pulled up to that little road and I walked down it.  I found the people we were Scuba diving with, and they told us to park at Haena Beach which was a quarter mile down the road.

Robyn was stressing out (like she does) but we got there and got suited up without any problems.  They gave us wetsuits and put all the gear on us.  We got in the water and had to swim out to where we actually began the dive.  It took us a a minute to get back into the groove of how to move with all the gear and everything.  But once I was back in the water, everything went super smooth and it was great.

We saw some really cool things while diving.  Here are a few of them.

Swimming underneath a turtle
A sleeping turtle
Seeing an eel
Swimming through a tunnel

We did a two tank dive, which means you do one dive and then come back and get another tank to go out for more.  In between dives, they gave us snacks and our dive masters acted as sherpas, hauling the empty tanks from where we left them in the water and replacing them with full tanks, so that we could put them on in the water and not have to haul them down ourselves.

It turns out I breathe way more than Robyn.  Near the end of our first dive, I told the dive master I was down to 200 PSI in my tank, so he told me to go to the surface.  At that point, I took the regulator out of my mouth and put in the snorkel.  I snorkeled directly above Robyn.  She didn't see me go up, so she continued to follow the group.  She said she was a little concerned that she couldn't find me, but she trusted that the dive master was taking care of me. She didn't realize that I was snorkeling directly above her.  I just continued to follow her until she was ready to surface.  I never lost sight of my dive buddy, even if she didn't know where I was.

All in all, it was super fun.  It was a little more work than a boat dive, because we had to swim out from the shore, but it was still really cool.  We had planned to snorkel at Tunnels Beach after our dive was over, but we were much more tired than we had anticipated, and we realized we wouldn't see anything snorkeling that we hadn't already seen diving.

So instead of snorkeling after diving, we went back to the condo and took a nap.

Naps are a great part of Hawaii too.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Getting to Kauai

Well, we're home from our trip to the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai.  That means it's time to share all of my experiences.  I'll get to the good stuff in a future post, but first I thought I'd share the difficult time we had in getting there.  (Don't be confused.  I'm not asking for pity.  This story still ends with me in Hawaii.  Nothing that ends in Hawaii is bad.)

The day started much too early.  I set my alarm for 3 AM.  (I set my alarm.  That's generally against everything I believe in.)

I randomly woke up at 2:45, and wondered whether I should just get up.  The next thing I remember my alarm went off, so I guess that was my decision.

We had planned to leave at 3:30, but we got off a little late at 3:40.  That was fine, though.  We still had plenty of time to grab breakfast and get to our flight.  Especially since our flight was delayed a good 30 minutes.  The reason for the delay?  They said they were changing a light bulb in the lavatory.  I'm no handy man, but I could have changed that light bulb in under 30 minutes.  I mean, I get that it takes a few minutes sometimes.  If it's anything like my house, you have to find a chair to stand on, and then climb up on the chair, and then realize you shouldn't have picked a chair with wheels, and then you find a different chair.  That whole process can take a good 5 minutes, but 30 is definitely pushing it.

Anyway, we finally got on the plane and got in the air.  Our first layover was in Seattle.  I'm not sure how much closer that is to Hawaii, because for every mile you go west, you go north almost just as much.  Our plane landed, and we only had about 20 minutes until they started boarding.  We had to go from the A gates to the S gates.  Robyn was super stressed out because we had to take a train to get there.  I thought a train sounded perfect, because it dropped us off where we needed to be.  I think she was imagining it being like taking a train from Lehi to Salt Lake.

She kept saying, "We'll never make it.  We have to get on a TRAIN!"

The train got us there in just a couple minutes, so we had time to spare while we sat and waited to board.  They got us on the plane, and then we sat on the plane for about an hour.  There's nothing like rushing to get somewhere only to just sit forever.

After about an hour of sitting on the plane, they announced that they couldn't find our pilot so we were all going to deplane.  The words they used were, "We don't know where the pilot is."  I find myself wondering, how do you lose a pilot?  I mean, they didn't say, "Our pilot called in sick" or "Our pilot was in a car accident on the way in."  They said they don't know where he is.

So we had to get off the plane and wait for them to find a pilot.

They gave me free chips to eat while we waited for a pilot.  So there's that.
Eventually, they found a different pilot and let us get back on the plane.  He came over the intercom and let us know that he wasn't the one who didn't show up for work.  They got him out of bed on his day off to fly us to Hawaii.
When we got back on the plane I had to take a selfie with some of my plane mates.  These are the people that will form our society when we crash on an island in the middle of the ocean.
By the time we arrived in Honolulu, they were already boarding our connection to Kauai.  We were supposed to have a 3 hour layover.  It was going to be great.  We would grab a bite to eat and wander around the airport.  (It's a beautiful airport.)

We had to take a shuttle across the airport to find our gate.  We also had to get our boarding pass printed, because this flight was with Hawaiian Airlines, and Delta didn't give us a boarding pass when I printed the others.  No one was working at any of the service desks, so we went and asked the ladies at the gate.  They eventually got them printed, but their computer apparently had no idea who we were.  They asked questions like, "Do you have any infants with you?"  Or "Where did you fly in from?"

But we got it printed and got on the plane.  We sat down with me on the aisle seat and Robyn in the middle.  There was no one in the window seat.  The plane seemed to be completely boarded.  Maybe we would get lucky and have some space to spread out.

No.  There would be no luck today.  I saw a giant man walking down the aisle.  I looked around and realized there were no other seats.  He came to our row and pointed to the window seat.  Robyn and I got to snuggle real close to make room for the giant in the window seat.

But, hey, it was our last flight of the day.  Only 40 minutes to Kauai and then all of our travelling troubles would be over.

Not so.

Our plane landed on Kauai.  We got off the plane and could finally relax knowing we arrived safely and nothing else could go wrong in getting us to our destination.

We went to pick up our bags at the baggage claim, and they weren't there.  What?

It turns out that our short layover where we rushed to the plane was too short for our luggage to make it.  We went to talk to the baggage claim guru, and she said it was very likely that it would be on the next flight in, that came an hour later.  There was a nice family who had also been on the Seattle flight and they had the same problem.  It gave me a little comfort to know that they were in the same boat.  To me that meant it really was an issue of not making the flight, and not an issue of the luggage being lost.

We went and picked up our rental car.  I thought we would be back in 20 minutes or so and have to wait a long time to see if our luggage was there.  Luckily, it was the least efficient rental car facility I've ever seen.  It took about 90 minutes to get our car.  By that time, we drove back to the terminal and our bags were there waiting for us.  The baggage claim guru that we spoke to had gathered them all together, so I just had to thank her and roll them out to the car.  We were on our way.

We grabbed some dinner and drove to our condo.  It took about 40 minutes to get to the north shore.  The first thing I did after bringing everything in was plop on the couch and just look out the window.
The ocean view was beautiful, and I stayed awake just long enough to see the sunset.  Then it was time for sleep because I was more tired than you can possibly imagine.

It was a rough day but it ended in Hawaii, so it was great.

Stay tuned and I'll share some of the adventures we had while we were there.
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